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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When You’re Mad at God

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Have you ever been mad at God? Did I hear a gasp?  You may think, “God is love.  He gave His only Son to be crucified for mankind.  How can anyone be mad at Him?” (I John 4:8, John 3:16)

I recently talked with a woman whose father had suddenly been snatched from this life by a massive heart attack.  I was surprised when this woman readily admitted that she was very angry with God.  It wasn’t her anger that surprised me so much as the fact that she recognized it as such and publically confessed it. When I’ve been angry at God, it took me awhile to realize exactly what was going on and then I was embarrassed to tell anyone.

After all, how do you fight your Creator? How do you win a battle with an omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (all present) God? Nevertheless, the feelings are there.

When I’ve been mad at God, my thinking went something like this. If there is a God and He is in control, why didn’t He stop this? If God loves me, why is He allowing all this pain in my life?

 We have to remember that heartache and sorrow entered this world on our watch…not Gods! We live in this world that has a curse on it because of our sin….mine and yours and it was (and still is) our free choice.

God made a perfect paradise for Adam and Eve with scrumptious food, furry gentle animals, and beautiful nature for them to enjoy. God didn’t want humans to be like robots.  He wanted sweet fellowship with Adam and Eve and wanted them to have the same desire to be with Him.  He could have forced them to love Him, but He wanted them to choose to love Him just as He chose to love them.

So although God made lots of luscious fruit trees for Adam and Eve to enjoy, He made just one that He asked them not to eat from. That is the exact tree (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil)  that Satan  tempted Eve to eat of to thwart God’s perfect relationship with her and her husband and God.

When she and Adam disobeyed God, sin entered the world.  God then asked them to leave the Garden of Eden, lest they eat of the tree of life and forever be in their sinful state. (Genesis 3:22) Because God is holy, He could not let sin go unaddressed.  God’s punishment of death was actually an act of mercy.  Would you really want to live in a sin cursed world forever?  I wouldn’t.  God cared too much to allow Adam and Eve to live forever in this sinful condition.

Is it a horrible thing to be angry with God? Actually, I think there are at least a few positive things to be said about it.

First of all, one can’t be angry with someone they don’t believe exist.  So the fact that feelings are directed toward God means you believe there really is a God.

Second of all, if you are angry with God, you believe He has the power to change things. You may be upset and not agree with what He has done or allowed, but you do believe He is in charge.

As a parent, I have never enjoyed disciplining my children.  It is much easier to ignore or excuse their disobedience than to address it.  But the reason I haven’t taken the easier route is because I have high expectations of a successful future for them because I love them and that means more to me than their present happiness or how much they like me.

God sees the big picture.  He wants the best for His children.  No pain, no gain.  If I understand my Bible correctly, one of God’s purposes for my life is for me to have the opportunity to make preparations for my eternal life.

Unfortunately, it usually takes the school of hard knocks to get the desired results. I know it does for me!  It takes the fire to burn the dross away so I can get my priorities right.  It often takes tough times to get us to think about how we are living and what and who we are living for.

If you find yourself mad at God, it may not be all bad.  The important thing is to tell God how you feel.  He already knows it, but it will help you to admit it. Ask Him to forgive you and help you trust that He knows best. Ask God to show you what He wants you to learn through the trials you are experiencing. Whatever you do, don’t give up on God, because He hasn’t given up on you.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Where Do You Stand?

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I was at the event, One Day of Hope, in Manchester, Tennessee. This is a yearly event where the surrounding churches come together to provide for many needs in the community. Medical and dental services are provided along with lots of clothes, bags of groceries, hair cuts, family photos, hot meals, etc. and everything is free. It is such a blessing to see so many various churches work together to show God’s love to others.

The volunteers began working a few hours before the recipients arrived to make preparations. I noticed a line started forming outside the gate an hour before the doors were scheduled to open. It occurred to me that the only thing that separated those receiving from those giving was a chain length fence.

I thought of a few of the thousands of possible reasons why one person would be on one side of the fence verses the other side. It could be as simple as the family one was born into. Maybe it was a job opportunity afforded verses one that was not. It could be the result of a critical decision.

I was humbled to have the privilege to be on the giving side of the fence today. It has been no merit of my own. God has abundantly blessed me much more than I could ever deserve.  The Creator of the universe has extended grace and mercy to me when I have acted foolishly and not sought His will as I should have.

I could easily find myself on the other side of the fence next year. This life is full of uncertainties. But whichever side of the fence we find ourselves on, we can count on God’s promises. One of them is found in Philippians 4:19 which says,

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ

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Also, more important than which side of the fence we are on is where we stand in our relationship with God. Are we depending on Him or what we have? Are we trusting in our Savior or our riches? Are we content and thankful for what we have or always wanting more? Do we love our things, more than we love God? What or Who do we spend most of our time thinking about?

May we whole-heartedly make King David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 our own.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Anticipation!

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David Hughes, as we were about to board a puddle jumper to Eleuthera, Bahamas. September 2011

Airplanes and flying have always fascinated me. I even considered being a flight attendant at one time. I’ve only flown a handful of times and while it was exciting to me, it was also scary.

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Flying to Nassau, Bahamas September 2011

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I enjoy observing how differently people behave in the exact circumstances. When I boarded a plane a few months ago, I was like a kid getting on a big roller coaster at Disney World. It had been a few years since I had flown and I was pretty excited, but also nervous.

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I was expecting to be able to sit next to my cousin, but she had to sit across the aisle. So I got squished in the middle seat between two young men. The one with the awesome window seat had his ear buds in, reading a book. He was obviously a seasoned flyer. I wanted to strike up a conversation, but he was clearly not interested. So I started talking to the other guy. We freely talked about what was going on in our lives and spiritual matters. I said good-bye feeling like I was richer for having met him.

Recently, I found myself in the airport again. I was waiting to meet my daughter, Anna. I asked someone where the closest place for me to wait for those exiting the plane would be. I hadn’t seen her in a month and I was almost giddy with excitement at seeing her round the corner. I kept my eye on the hallway where I knew she would enter. Every time I heard footsteps, I wondered if it was her.

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My oldest daughter, Anna Vara and me. 10/03/15

As I stood there waiting, I thought of II Timothy 4:8

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

I asked myself, “Gaye, do you look this anxiously for Jesus to come back?” Honestly, I do not. But I can say, I do a thousand times more now than I used to. I long to be in heaven with David… my best friend for 25 years, my husband, and the father of our four children. I long to see Jesus face to face and be where there is no physical or emotional pain, sickness, or sorrow…where all is well forever more.

For most of my life, I have enjoyed the daily benefits and blessings that the Lord loaded me with that I wasn’t in any hurry to see Jesus come back. As I look around at the terrible mess our world has become, I long for heaven. But God is still very good and I don’t deserve His many blessings in my life.

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (Lamentations 3:22-25)

Just as we anticipate the good things in this life, let us not forget the great things in the next life. May we be ready and looking for that day of Jesus’ return. For He promised,

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Do You Have What it Takes?

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I heard a sobering message Sunday about how to determine if you have what God requires for entry into heaven. It was a powerful message with a loving and bold delivery.  I would like to share the notes I took while Ken Freeman spoke.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. (II Corinthian 13:5a)

I’m going to give you a faith test. God doesn’t grade on a curve. He grades on the cross. You can give your time, tithe, talents, etc., but God wants you….your heart. If I am behaving like an unbeliever, maybe I am an unbeliever. If I have been redeemed, then I need to act like it. Failed means disqualified. When it comes to going to heaven, you either are or you are not.

Matthew 7:21-23 is a scary passage. Jesus said,

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then shall I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

What is missing in these people’s lives? It is clear that they thought they knew Jesus and would go to heaven. It is obvious that they believed in God. But James 2:19 says,

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

So just believing there is a God isn’t enough. But they were trying to work for God. They even cast out demons and did many good works. That is note worthy. What was missing?

If I claim to know God and be a Christ follower then 5 things must have happened.

1- The Holy Spirit should have initiated my salvation.

The Holy Spirit has to be involved in the saving of a soul. Jesus said in John 6:44,

No man come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

In John 16:1-8 Jesus said it was necessary that He leave so that He could send the Holy Spirit to the believers. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would reprove (convict) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Many people later begin to doubt their salvation because they stop obeying God’s word or quit working for God. But we can’t effectively “do” for God without the Holy Spirit’s help.

2- You have to realize you are lost.

Being lost means without a Saviour, unable to help myself, and spiritually ruined. There are a lot of unbelievers who are better people than Christians. They are moral. But Romans 3:10, 23 says,

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

3- You have to have saving faith.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. (Romans 8:16)

If we make sin a habit and regularly practice sin and aren’t convicted of that, we are not saved.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

God gives us faith to believe.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

When there is true saving faith, there will be…

  1. A change of mind.   We will think differently.
  2. A change of direction. We won’t walk (live) as the world does.
  3. A change of purpose. Our reason for living will be for God…not ourselves.

4- Without repentance there is no salvation.

If there ain’t no fruit, there ain’t no root. Jesus said we would be able to know who the believers are by their fruit. (Matthew 7:16) Paul told the Corinthians in 7:10

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For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

A worldly sorrow is when we are just sad or ashamed of getting caught in our sin. When there is a godly sorrow, it will cause us to ask forgiveness and we will hate that sin and turn from it.

5- Not guilty. Forgiven forever.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10-12)

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins, (Acts 5:31)

Did you pass the test? Did you get 4 out of 5? If you don’t have all 5, you fail. Most people get hung up on 1 and 4. They make a decision to accept Christ, but the Holy Spirit is not involved. They know the truth in their head, but they aren’t convicted in their heart. Or they are convicted in their heart of their sin and need for a Savior while they believe Jesus came and died for them, but there is no repentance. There is no turning from their sin and self-will to an act of obedience to God and His will.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:3)

We can’t trust our gut feelings. We must obey the rules of the One who is doing the judging.  Let us examine ourselves to see where we truly stand with God.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

I did what?

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The other day my friend was telling me how touching it was to hear someone remind her of a thoughtful thing she had done nine years ago. She had given a Bible to a friend in trouble. His response at the time was that he didn’t care and didn’t want it. She urged him to just take it anyway…that it wouldn’t hurt to just have it. She didn’t even remember this happening. He had taken it and eventually picked it up and started reading it. It changed his life. Romans 12:10 says,

Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor giving preference to one another.

My friend does random acts of kindness on a regular basis. I’m not surprised she didn’t remember doing this because it has become second nature for her to be thoughtful and helpful to others.

In Matthew 25, Jesus was telling his disciples that there would be a time when He would welcome people into heaven and tell them when He had been hungry they had fed Him. When He had been thirsty, they had given Him something to drink. They had taken Him in when He was a stranger, clothed Him, visited Him when He was sick, and visited Him in prison. These people, not remembering this, will ask when they did these things.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)

I wonder if I’ll be one of those people. Will my life be so full of helping others that there will be lots of deeds I’m reminded of that I have forgotten about? I sure hope so. This thought motivates me to take every opportunity I can to help ease the suffering in this world. It doesn’t even have to cost me financially or even “put me out” in a big way. It can be as simple as not thinking about myself long enough to reach out to another person. In Matthew 10:42 Jesus says,

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

The day after my friend told me this, I saw a young homeless girl at a stop sign. At first I wondered if I gave her money if she would spend it on drugs and only make matters worse for herself. But then I thought about the verse above and decided to take the risk. I gave her some money with some Bible verses about Jesus’ love for her.

As I drove away, I thought about how the Lord had blessed me with a home and plenty of food to eat. I wished I could have taken her with me. I would tell her about Jesus, make her a hot meal, let her take a hot shower, and give her a bed to sleep in. And maybe I should have.

It’s hard trying to use discernment about to what extent do we help without putting ourselves in danger. But then I wonder if I’m most concerned about my safety or just too selfish to bother with someone else and their problems. It’s almost always easier to throw money at people than it is to “put myself out” for them. I wonder if the Good Samaritan in the Bible thought about this as he helped the beaten victim on the side of the road in Luke 10:30-37.

One thing is for sure…Jesus said every kind, selfless deed we do will be rewarded by Him if we do it with the right motive. Our deeds will be judged one day and those done because of our love for God and others are promised to be rewarded. (I Corinthians 3:13-15)

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work endures which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire.

May we all be sensitive to the needs of others and be willing to reach out and extent the same love of Jesus that has so graciously been given to us.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.                 (Psalm 139:23, 24)

Keep looking us,

Gaye Hughes

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Bethany, Nathan, and I after running the Mayberry 10k in Mt. Airy, NC. November 11, 2013

Are you Hot, Cold, or Lukewarm?

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Hot or

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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

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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

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Abigail and me June 2015

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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