Go in the Strength of the LORD!

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A friend  is facing possibly the scariest and hardest day of his life today.  What do you do when a decision has to be made, your stomach is in a knot and you don’t know what to do? How does one handle this kind of pressure, stress,  and emotional turmoil?

He is in midlife and everything he has ever worked for seems to have culminated into this very day. It seems as if his whole life and the lives of the ones he loves the most are on the line.

He has been wrestling for a month over a major decision that will change everything for not only himself, but his family. How do you sleep? He hasn’t most nights.  He can’t possibly know the future.  Anything and everything is a guess.  The turn of events could go either way.

What do people do in a case like this?  What would YOU do?  This friend is wise, but most importantly, he knows Jesus.  So he has…

  • taken as much time as he was allowed to think through all the ramifications of his decision
  • weighed the pros and cons of both options
  • considered his family’s needs and desires
  • prayed earnestly for God’s direction and will for his life

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Matthew 6:33 says, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We must keep God’s perspective when making decisions.  God’s kingdom is much more important than our own.  When we seek to do God’s will, He will direct us and provide for our needs. But God also wants us to use the good common sense He has given us.

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In Luke 14:26-31 Jesus warns that people should count the cost before following Him. He doesn’t want us to have the lackadaisical attitude of, “Well, I’ll give Jesus a try.” He asked, who goes to build something before they make sure they have sufficient funds? What king goes to war before he does all he can to make peace?

When making an important decision, we should always weigh our options and the impact they will have on our life, testimony, and others.  Last week, while trying to decide what to do, I wrote out the advantages and disadvantages of both options.  It helped to see the facts written down.

Most of the time our decisions do not affect us alone. They affect many others around us. We need to always consider this.

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Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor giving preference to one another. (Romans 12:10)  In other words, Jesus tells us to put others’ needs before our own.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus said  to have faith in God that He will take good care of us….to not worry, but trust He will provide for us as he does for the flowers and birds. Although God cares about His creation, He cares much more for us.

Through God we shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies. (Psalm 60 :12)

We need to remember the battle is not ours.  It is God’s and He can handle it.

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. (Psalm 56:3,4)

 

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So, after we’ve done those things my wise friend has done, let us… be STRONG and COURAGEOUS and go in the STRENGTH and confidence of the LORD….not because we can do it, but because He can!

 

 

 

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Chocolate Bunnies and Jesus

 

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Are you concerned that your children or grandchildren won’t be able to get past all the bunnies, colored eggs, and candy to remember the real reason we celebrate Easter? I used to be! We wanted our children’s first thoughts about Easter every year to be about Jesus’ resurrection and not about candy, eggs or chocolate bunnies.

We didn’t buy our children Easter baskets for this reason, but after we had read the Scriptures about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and worshiped on Easter Sunday, Monday morning  we would help ourselves to the candy on the clearance aisle.

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The beautiful flowers the Lord gave me this year! 03-25-16

We enjoyed the baby chicks, bunnies, and colorful eggs in the context of God bringing new life into our lives after a dreary winter.  Two or three weeks before Easter we would hide colored eggs, but avoided doing it on Easter weekend.

One tradition that we especially enjoyed was making Resurrection Biscuits on Sunday morning. They were easy and fun and such a powerful visual of the miraculous resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. You and your  children and grandchildren will enjoy making memories doing this!

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Resurrection Biscuits

The 5 simple ingredients are:

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  •  Canned biscuits
  •  Butter
  •  Cinnamon
  •  Sugar
  • Marshmallows
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Roll out biscuits (which represents the grave clothes that they wrapped Jesus in, and later it represents the tomb)
  3. Spread on butter (which represents the oil)
  4. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar (which represents the spices Jesus’ followers used to prepare His body for burial)
  5. Lay the marshmallow on the biscuit  (The white marshmallow represents Jesus’ pure, sinless body being placed in the tomb.)
  6. Wrap the dough securely around the marshmallow and fold or pinch the edges tightly. (They sealed the tomb so no one could steal Jesus’ body.)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for the amount of time listed on the biscuit can directions. (12-16 minutes)

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After the biscuits are baked and you open them up, there will be a hole in the center where the marshmallow has dissolved! This represents the empty tomb! This is a simple reminder of the  power Jesus revealed when He resurrected Himself from the grave and conquered death!

The fact that Jesus had the power to raise himself from the dead proves to us He can and will also raise our dead bodies one day! What an awesome promise and what an Almighty God! This removes a lot of the fear and uncertainty of death for the believer.

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Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, inasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (I Corinthians 15:55-58)

 

No other founder of any other religion has ever been resurrected from the dead….ever!  They died and their bodies turned to dust in the grave.  There is historical evidence of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. That body that still held the piercings from his crucifixion, was seen by more than 500 people at one time! (I Corinthians 15:3-6)

Why would Sinless Jesus be willing to lay down His life for sinners who deserved punishment in hell? As puzzling as it is, it is because He loves us! I’ll never understand it.  I’ve been thinking about 2 Corinthians 8:9,

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“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” 

Wow! Just wow. He gave us His everything…right down to His own life!…so He could make a way for us to be with Him forever in heaven. I hope you have repented of your sins, made Him Lord of your life and received this incredible gift of eternal life.

In the Message in John 17:24 Jesus prayed to God,

“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me, right where I am, so they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me. Having loved me long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them–Who you are and what you do– and continue to make it known, so that your love for me might be in them exactly as I am in them.”

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May you have a wonderfully blessed Easter as you celebrate our amazing Lord  and Savior Jesus Christ!

All because of Him,

Gaye

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What is Your “Special Something”?

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In early February a conversation with my friend went something like this…

Friend: If you want to contact me, please either call or text me.  I’m going to be off facebook for awhile.

Me:  Noooooo!!! Why? Facebook is how I keep up with you!

Friend: I’m giving it up for Lent.

Me:  Ha Ha!  You’re kidding right?  (We’ve never participated in Lent before.  Is that how you phrase it? Participate? Practice? I really don’t know much about Lent. I think it is giving up something special to meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for not only the sins of the whole world, but also for MINE. The “40 days”  part comes from Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days before he began His ministry. Lent is practiced by many different religions for the 40 days prior to Easter.)

Friend: No.  For the next 40 days when I’m tempted to look at facebook, I want to  focus on the sacrifice Jesus made for me instead. I want to prepare my heart for Easter.

Me: (Sobered) Wow. That is very commendable.  But why facebook? Can’t you give up something else? After all, this will affect me too. (I’m being painfully honest here, just in case you thought I was a nice person.)

This is when she said something pretty profound that I don’t think I will ever forget.

Friend: A sacrifice is not a sacrifice if it is not a sacrifice.

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Bam! That hit me right between the eyes! She sure gave me lots of food for thought.  As I mulled over what she was doing and why, I decided that it was a very good thing. And just because I had never done it, didn’t mean I could never do it.

So I started thinking about what I “wanted” to give up. Then I started thinking about what I “should” give up.  They were different, of course.  Right away, I knew what I needed to give up, but I didn’t know if I could.  So I’m ashamed to say it, but I thought, Well, if I cave in and can’t hold out for the whole 40 days, it’s no biggie.  I’ve never done it before, so anything is better than nothing.

"When I gave up cookies for the period of fasting called Lent, I thought it would be an hour, like the period of school called math."

“When I gave up cookies for the period of fasting called Lent, I thought it would be an hour, like the period of school called math.”

I realize that isn’t a good attitude, but that’s what it was.  When I made the decision to do without this “special something,” (I’ll let you drive yourself crazy wondering what it might be. :)) I planned how to make it relatively easy for myself.  Do you know that almost immediately I was tempted from outside sources which were totally out of my control?!!!!

It became much harder than I had anticipated, BUT, when I considered giving in, I thought, Really Gaye? After what your Saviour did for you…the injustice, the beating, the mockery, the spitting in His face, the crown of thorns, the piercing in his side, the nails driven in his hands and feet,  my filthy sin He bore just for me although He was perfect and holy, the loneliness He endured, and the most horrific…the separation  from His loving Father because God couldn’t look on all that sin! (Isaiah 53) And you can’t go without_________? That is pathetic! Do you really love __________ more than Jesus?

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So I’m on Day 36 without my “special something”.  Am I proud of myself? NO! I’m ashamed how important my little “special something” ever became to me. I’m embarrassed that I’m so comfortable and complacent. I’m ashamed that I am 51 years old and have never considered doing this before. I am humbled that my Lord was willing and did give up everything for me, knowing that I would be like I am right now. But God commended (showed, proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

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One of my favorite hymns is When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). I’d like to share the lyrics with you now  in case you don’t know this song.

When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ, my God;

All the vain things that charm me most–I sacrifice them to His blood.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present fall too small:

Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.  Amen!

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Lent has made me look at the Cross in a new light.  It has also made me view my Saviour and His great love in a new way.  He is worthy of our praise. And anything I will ever “give up” pales in comparison to what He has given for you and me. He gave His all.

Keep looking up,

Gaye

P.S.  I would really appreciate comments to give me insight about Lent and its meaning!

 

What a Glorious Weekend!

I had been dreading Friday, March 11, 2016 for months. That marked the first anniversary of my husband’s home going to heaven.  In my experience, the dreading of something is usually much worse than the event itself.

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In The Message, a Bible paraphrase in contemporary language, Matthew 6:34 reads, Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

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Nathan and Anna, Wesley and Bethany 3-12-16

Wesley and Bethany had told me weeks earlier that they were coming from NC for a visit on this day and we had also invited Grandmother from GA to come so I was looking forward to seeing them. We met at Chick-fil-A for lunch because Nathan was working and they wanted to see him too. What I didn’t know was that Wesley and Bethany had swung by the airport to pick up Anna, our oldest daughter from Oklahoma! What a pleasant surprise and happy reunion we had at Chick-fil-A!

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Bethany, me, and Hannah Holt at the relay. 3-12-16

Bethany and I had planned to run in a half-marathon relay race with three other ladies on Saturday.  Since the race started at 7:00am, we were up early and quietly getting ready to leave in the dark house. I noticed someone was sleeping on the sofa and I was trying to figure out who it was,  Abigail, our youngest daughter from SC popped up and cheerfully said, “Good morning!” It has been almost a year since all four of my children have been in our home together.  Although we were disappointed Anna’s husband, Danilo, couldn’t join us, we were so happy to be together again.

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I have concluded that I can’t ever get enough time with my children.  It is never enough. They are funny, silly and crazy so there’s lots of laughing. They frequently burst out in song or quote movie lines at random times.

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We also enjoy sharing memories and having serious discussions.  I love having to pull up chairs around the dining room table to make room for them and their friends who come to visit. This quiet house turns into a happy gathering place with lots of chatter and laughter.  We love being together and making new memories.

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Wesley, Abigail, Nathan, Bethany, Gaye, Anna 3-13-16

Sunday morning, the day most of them would have to leave to go back to work and college, came all too quickly.  As we were getting ready for church, we started discussing singing a song for the worship service. (David and I taught our children lots of songs over the years and we often sang together in church.  But it is really rare now that we can all be together to sing.)

One suggested a song and another said they thought it would be more meaningful to sing something most of the congregation would not know. We only had thirty minutes to prepare a song and get three cars loaded up to leave because they were leaving right after church and lunch to go back to their homes.  They started practicing one song, but another one felt it couldn’t be learned in the few fading minutes that were left.

I began to see the loving bond that had been building all weekend begin to evaporate before my eyes as it was replaced with anger, offenses, and resentment. By the time we needed to leave for church, everyone was either mad, sad, indifferent or all the above. At this point, the song didn’t matter.  I knew somehow we had to get our relationships back in good standing before everyone went their separate ways.

I thought about Proverbs 6:16-19.  Again, I’ll quote from The Message…

Here are six things GOD hates, and one more he loathes with a passion:

  • eyes that are arrogant,
  • a tongue that lies,
  • hands that murder the innocent,
  • a heart that hatches evil plots,
  • feet that race down a wicked track,
  • a mouth that lies under oath,
  • a troublemaker in the family.

God hates division among the brethren.  There we were wanting to be a blessing to others and glorify God in song and what a mess we were in! How did it go so wrong in a mere 30 minutes? That’s when I think I began to realize what was really happening.

There is an invisible but very real spiritual warfare going on around us. Good is fighting evil all the time. That’s why it is important we obey the command in Ephesians 6:11.

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We are in a fight and we need to recognize our enemy.  It isn’t each other, it is the devil.  I Peter 5:8 says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Jesus told Peter that the devil wished to sift him like wheat. (Luke 22:31)

It is so easy to get angry with others and think they and their attitudes are the problem, but we have an unseen enemy at work that plants bad thoughts in our minds.  If we don’t recognize where this is coming from, we will act on those thoughts and lash out at others when our real enemy is the devil trying to divide us.

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Did they sing a song? No, they did not, but they did something much more important than that. They extended necessary apologies along with grace and forgiveness. I warned my children that they have a heart for serving God and loaded with potential to do great things for God and the devil knows it and will fight them every step of the way.

May we keep in mind who our real enemy is…the devil and not each other. May we guard ourselves with the armor God has provided for us, for we are defenseless without it.  Keep fighting the good fight! And keep making those precious memories with the ones you love!

Keep looking up,

Gaye

 

It’s a Wonderful Life

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It’s a Wonderful Life filmed in 1946

“It’s a Wonderful Life” has been one of my family’s favorite movies. For years we watched it as a family on Thanksgiving evening. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you do.

James Stewart plays a small town banker (George) who generously helps his community for years, but comes to think his life is worthless. God sends an angel, Clarence to convince him otherwise. Some of our favorite lines from the movie are…

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Clarence, the angel trying to earn his wings

Clarence: Let me help you.

George: I know a way you can help me.  You don’t happen to have 8,000 bucks on you?

Clarence: No, we don’t use money in heaven.

George: Well, it comes in real handy down here, bud!

In another scene Clarence says, Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.  When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

No man is an island. No one lives only to themselves. Our lives touch others in some way…either positively or negatively. Tomorrow, March 11, 2016 will be the first anniversary of my husband’s home-going to be with Jesus.  I’ve asked God for most of the past 364 days to heal my broken heart.  He so faithfully has been answering that prayer and continues to, but I’m surprised at how raw my emotions are tonight.

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David Hughes January 2014

I’m thankful David’s life touched so many in a positive way. I’m thankful for the positive influence he had and still has on our children and me. I’m thankful he is in the presence of God and will never feel sadness, sickness, or pain ever again.  I’m thankful I have much more to live for than just this life and I  know I will be able to spend eternity with Jesus, my Lord, who died for me and David, who loved me well here. I’m thankful that my God knows the pain I feel, cares, and comforts me.

If you feel like your life doesn’t really matter, please know IT DOES! You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) I can almost guarantee you there are people who love you and have never told you.  They appreciate you, but there is no way you would ever know because they don’t know how to express it to you. But one thing is for sure…there is a God in heaven that created you and designed everything about you just the way He wanted and He doesn’t make mistakes!  He loves you more than you will ever realize while living here on earth.

This IS a wonderful life IF Jesus is the center of it…..even though it is tough at times.  He is the Master with a plan. We must play by His rules (which are in the Bible). May we not take this precious gift of life for granted and live it fully for Jesus who gave His life so that we can truly live!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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David and Gaye Hughes January 2014