Are you Hot, Cold, or Lukewarm?

100_4861

Hot or

100_6843

Cold?

Abigail and I were helping in a kitchen to feed a crowd. There was food sitting in a warmer that wasn’t used. When the meal was over we were transferring the food to the refrigerator. She was explaining to me the importance of keeping food really hot or in the refrigerator or freezer.

She warned me that if the food wasn’t hot enough, it didn’t take long for the food to grow bacteria and be dangerous to eat. If the food was put into the refrigerator, the food would stay fresh much longer. However, that lukewarm temperature is very dangerous and can be deadly.

I thought about Revelation 3:14-22 where Jesus gave a very similar warning about our relationship with Him. He was addressing the church at Laodiceia when he said he wished they were either cold or hot, but they were neither…just lukewarm. And that made him want to throw up.

Because they thought they had plenty to eat, nice clothes, and money in the bank, they didn’t need God. Jesus told them they didn’t realize they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. You would think they would at least realize it if they were that bad off!

But I have been right there where the Laodiceans were. I was going my own way, doing my own thing, thinking I was just fine figuring out life on my own. Thank the Lord He showed me I wasn’t nearly as well off as I thought I was!

In verses 18 and 19 Jesus asks the Laodiceans to come to Him and repent because He is standing at the door knocking wanting to be involved in their lives, meet their needs, and have them live with Him in heaven.

Jesus says eveyone he loves, he rebukes and chastens. Now chasten isn’t a word I hear every day. When I looked it up, it means to correct by punishment or suffering, to discipline, purify. I feel like I’ve had some of that in my life. It’s not anything a person would ask for, but like disciplining a child, it brings about great results.

My grandfather went to be with the Lord when I was a teenager, but I can still see him sitting in a cane-backed chair…all 6’3” and 250 pounds of him, saying and then winking, “Sometimes you gotta get the kid’s attention.” When I heard that, I shivered knowing exactly what he was talking about! I think God has had to get my attention a lot over the years.

Jesus wants the same for us today as He wanted for the Laodiceans. He wants a vibrant daily relationship with us. Are you tired of life getting you down? Are you weary of trying to solve your problems only to see things get worse? Do you long to rest and not worry? In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says,

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

In I Peter 5:6,7 the apostle Peter said,

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20150913_172516774

Poppy Seed Muffins and Pride

This morning as I was stirring the batter to make some muffins, Abigail, a culinary arts major and chef commented, “Mommy, you are using the wrong motion to stir those muffins.”

Immediately, it was like in the cartoons where the little red devil with the pitch fork appears on the shoulder. Except now he was on MY shoulder. The conversation in my head went like this…Who does she think she is to tell me how to make muffins? I’m fifty years old and she is twenty. I’ve made more muffins from scratch than she has ever thought about making.

Then the angel appeared on the other shoulder and rebuked me. Gaye, are you so smart you can’t learn anything from anybody else? Do you really think you are so good at cooking that there is no room for improvement? Maybe Abigail has learned cooking tips in class and from the chefs that you have never heard about.

As I realized these things, I was glad I had kept my mouth shut and not responded to Abigail the way I had wanted to. And as much as I would like to blame the devil for my initial response, I really don’t think he had anything to do with it.

I had pride in my heart and did not like being corrected and was not teachable. God’s Word says a lot about pride and how it affects relationships. Here are just a few verses.

First of all, pride produces arguments. The more pride, the more arguing. We can measure the spiritual temperature in our homes by the amount of arguing that goes on. Pride is the opposite of humility and a teachable spirit. Proverbs 13:10 says, Only by pride cometh contention.

Pride destroys relationships. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty (blatantly and disdainfully proud) spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

We should think about pride the way God does. God says it is evil and he hates it. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward (perverse) mouth, do I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

We will not get away with it. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

If we don’t repent and turn from our pride, there is a high price to pay. The LORD will destroy the house of the proud. (Proverbs 15:26) I don’t believe this means literally as much as it means the relationships with our family members and those we love the most will be destroyed. Isn’t that sad, that we allow our pride to come between the people who are dearest to us?

But God always gives us a solution for our sin. I John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God tells us how to make things right with others. Proverbs 6:2-5 tells us if we have said things we shouldn’t have, to go right away to the person, humble ourselves before them, and plead with them. We can’t be completely right with God while having problems in our relationships with others.

I have found that memorizing Scripture that applies to my problem helps me to combat sin in my life. God wants to deliver us and is fully capable of doing so, but we must want it bad enough to deny ourselves and turn to Him for help.

Having an accountability partner is almost essential too. If we have a good friend we can confide in and have them ask us weekly, “Hey, how are you doing with _____?”, it can often deter us from sin and motivate us to do the right thing.

My muffins didn’t turn out as fluffy as I had hoped. It was probably because I didn’t stir them right. I’ll try tasting them now that I’ve had a large slice of humble pie. 🙂

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20150510_202132526

Abigail and me June 2015

“I can do this if I know there is an end!”

100_3747

David, Bethany (age 16), and I ran our first half marathon in Lynchburg, TN in April 2010. Bethany won first place among the girls in her age group. David and I just survived.

                                                                                                                                    My friend asked me to join her and several others who are trying to get in better physical shape. The goal for this ten weeks of training is to be able to run 3 miles without stopping. As we were driving to the park I reminded my friend that the only reason I was going, was to be with her. Yes, she is that fun!

Kathy and I after running the Huntsville Half in November 2010

My dear friend and running buddy, Kathy, and I after running the Huntsville Half in November 2010

I used to enjoy running, but I’ve just gotten out of the habit of it. However, I found myself getting excited as we started warming up with a walk around the parking lot. We then did some stretching exercises. After we divided up into small groups with a leader to help us maintain a good pace, we began jogging. We would run for a few minutes and then walk some. Listening in on different conversations distracted me as my legs were yelling, “Ok, will you please walk now!”. I realized that although I was enjoying doing this with a group, I would not be motivated to do it alone. When it began to be uncomfortable, I would have started walking had I been alone.

DSC04950

David had been through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for pancreatic cancer. Two years later we ran the Deer Run in December 2012. I was overjoyed and thanking God that day to complete this race with David after all that he had been through.

After about 45 minutes of running and walking, I heard a lady say, “I can do this if I know there is an end.” Instantly, my mind started analyzing that statement. What is the importance of knowing there is an end? When the going gets tough, we can remember the finish line and know relief is coming!

When Jesus was on the cross,

Hebrews 12:2 says, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus was suffering great agony on the cross for our benefit. He was paying for the sins of the whole world so all repentant believers could live forever with him. He looked beyond his suffering to the time that he would be joyfully enjoying being in the presence of his father once again.

This is a tool we can use to help us through hard times. When we are suffering physical or emotional pain, we can remember that there is an end!  For believers we have a bright, happy future ahead! We can look forward to eternity in heaven with Jesus where there is no pain, suffering, or death ever again. This gives us the strength to keep going when life gets hard. What a blessed hope we have!

Running the race,

Gaye Hughes

Bearing Others’ Burdens

charlesdickens163892

I sent a message to a sweet friend of mine last night telling her how my heart is heavy for her and her family. Her husband is going through chemotherapy treatments now. After both my husband and my cancer diagnoses, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I can empathize all too well with their situation. Her faith-filled response was as follows.

Please don’t let our situation be heavy for you. As you know, God is sustaining us and we see His handprints all over this circumstance. Hard, yes…absolutely and yet such blessings in this storm. I am sorry if this situation is causing any pain for you. I know how hard it was for us to see you go through this. He (God) is our strength (Rock) and our Redeemer…we are sustained by the prayers of His people.

Again, I could relate to her feelings. God’s sweet peace and faithfulness is a balm for the soul in the dark valleys of life. I also understand how she doesn’t want others to suffer because of their situation. I didn’t (and still don’t) want people to feel bad for me either. I began to really think about exactly what my response should be toward others who are hurting. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, always has the answers. This is what I found…

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

Romans 15:1,2 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities (weaknesses) of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification (being built up).

After I read these verses I concluded, “If I’m NOT concerned when fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are struggling, I should be worried about my spiritual condition.” It should be a natural response for a believer whose heart is filled with Jesus’ love to hurt when others are hurting. Maybe the Holy Spirit burdens our hearts to motivate us to pray for others. Prayer is a benefit to both the ones being prayed for as well as the one who is praying. Praying helps us to not worry and trust the only One (God) who can change the situation anyway. Praying also reminds us that we need God and His help, which keeps us humble and dependent on God. Also, a heavy heart should motivate us to action.

God meant for us to be in community with other believers. Power and strength can be gained when our hearts are knitted together with God’s love. There are some special verses in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 that talk about the importance of not being alone in time of trouble…

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth:  for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

SONY DSC

As we see others going through their own storms in this life, may we love them like Jesus loves us. May we be motivated to pray instead of worry. May we be moved to ease their suffering as we are able.

Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Road Trip 101

IMG_20150903_202158659

Anna and Danilo with friends

                    

Recently I drove alone to visit my daughter, Anna and her husband, Danilo in Oklahoma City. The most I had driven by myself was about 450 miles to NC. I’ve made that trips numerous times to see my family in the past 25 years. Now I would be heading in the opposite direction driving 750 miles. I had only made the trip once before and had a couple of drivers to help me. This would be a solo trip.

I was excited to surprise my daughter on her birthday so the adrenaline was running. I was stocked up on crunchy veggies, fruit, nuts, and plenty of water and juice to help keep me awake. I had plenty of good praise and worship music and sermons to occupy me for the 12 hours too. I was excited!

I am pretty good directionally, but my first challenge came when I knew I needed to head west, but the global positing satellite (GPS) was directing me to take the road heading east. Did I trust the GPS or my instincts? I decided to go with the GPS. As it turned out, after I got passed the unseen curve, I was heading west.

I thought about how this is the way it is with God so many times. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) When God’s ways aren’t making sense to me, I have a decision to make. Do I go the way that seems logical to me or do I trust Him and obey His word? It’s tough. It’s hard to trust and obey, when my brain and instincts are yelling to do the opposite. But as I’m learning to lean on God and HIs wisdom, I feel more peace, see much better results, and my faith is growing. These are some of my favorite Bible verses.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy body, and strength to thy bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

My next obstacle came when I ran over a large piece of plastic. I immediately began to listen for air blowing out of my tires or feel the wheel tug. I started praying, “Oh Lord, PLEASE don’t let me have a flat tire!” When it seemed everything was going to be alright, I stopped at a gas station to check my tires and thankfully they were in good shape.

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was enjoying having half of the trip behind me when…the check engine light came on! Again, my first reaction was to panic. But then I remembered this had happened several months ago while we were traveling to Florida. We had the van checked and the mechanic assured us it was nothing to worry about. When we got home, we had it checked again, and everything was fine. So I talked myself into not worrying about it.

Oklahoma City is a large city and they have toll booths on the turnpikes. I nervously and cautiously drove up to throw the change in the compartment. I counted and recounted the change before I tossed it into the plastic machine. As I drove away, a loud horn went off and a red light flashed. There was no one around for me to ask why that machine was so unhappy with me so I drove away hoping I wouldn’t see a parade of blue lights flashing in my rear view mirror.

I made the trip there and I made the trip back home. Because I’ve driven it twice, I know it will be easier the next time, but it wasn’t without its challenges. I’ve said all this so you’ll understand why I wanted to laugh when someone said, “You sure are brave to make that drive alone.” I wanted to respond, “I’m glad you think so, but I don’t feel brave at all. I’m really a scared chicken!” I just wanted to be with Anna on her birthday. I made the decision to not let my fears keep me from making memories with my daughter on her special day. It’s just that simple. It was a wonderful weekend.

                           IMG_20150903_202250672

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I had also been concerned about there being a lot of traffic on Labor Day traveling back home. There wasn’t. Most of the things I’ve ever worried about have never happened. God is so patient with me as I’m trying to listen, lean on, and trust Him. One of my goals is in those moments of unexpected distress, that my first reaction will more and more be one of prayer, trust and praise instead of panic. If that is unrealistic, may the time between the panic and the prayer become less and less.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

What a sacrificial gift!

gift-image

I was in church recently trying to prepare my heart for communion when someone mentioned how special it is when someone gives you a gift as a result of great personal sacrifice. How does it make you feel? Special and loved right? He went on to say that Jesus’ gift of salvation cost Him the ultimate sacrifice…His life. And if that wasn’t enough, along with that sacrifice He gave us the opportunity to become joint heirs with Him.

When we repent of our sin, ask God to forgive us, fully put our trust in Jesus who paid for our sin, and confess Him before others, Jesus becomes our Savior. We are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

His father becomes our father. That father in heaven owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and the world is His (Psalm 50:10). His provisions are unlimited! The Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside us. (I Corinthians 6:19) Along with that privilege, comes a responsibility for us to glorify God in our bodies because they have been bought with the blood of Jesus and are now the temple of the Holy Spirit.

He has given us all we need to live abundantly in this life. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice we can now enjoy the heavenly gifts of love, joy, peace, contentment, etc. in this life.

Just thinking about Jesus’ great sacrifice and what all that means, humbled me and filled my heart with gratitude. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why?” It is so hard to comprehend such love and not just for beautiful, innocent babies, but for all of us! We were all guilty before God. While we were Jesus’ enemy, dead in our trespasses and sin, Christ died for us. (Ephesians 2:1)

But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled , we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)

If we ever doubt Jesus’ love for us, all we have to do is think about Calvary and the great sacrifice Jesus made there on the cross. He died for the sins of the whole world and He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)