Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gratitude is a Gamechanger

Are you at the end of your rope, hanging on for dear life?  Do you often feel that life is unfair, that nothing good ever happens to you, and that you have had more than your share of grief and pain?  I think we all feel that way at times.  When we do, we have a tendency to indulge in a pity party for one -- to seclude ourselves, lick our wounds, and wallow in our misery.  I know, because I have done my share of it.

Our family has gone through its share of tough times the past few years.  I have tried to teach my children to handle their personal stresses and negative situations by finding reasons to rejoice.  Let's just say, there have been many teachable moments!  And while I have done my best to set the example, I will be the first to admit that I sometimes forget the power of a grateful heart.

I'm not really sure when the light went on for me and I became a thankful person, but as I sat down to journal my prayers this morning I found myself starting nearly every prayer with the words "Thank You."  Gosh, my friends, there are so many reasons to give thanks! 

Do you have a roof over your head?  A car (or maybe three or four) in your driveway?  A job?  Good health?  Are the lights on and the water running?  Is there food in the pantry?  Did you survive yesterday and all its troubles?  Instead of complaining that it's raining, give thanks for the roof!  Rather than whining about yard work, thank God for the health and strength to push a lawnmower and the blessing of a shower to wash off all the dirt when you're finished.

I know there are people who are in the fight of their lives right now, facing health, relationship, and financial challenges that I can't even fathom.  I've had a few of those myself.  I have suffered the painful consequences of very foolish decisions and survived, only by the grace of God.  I have experienced His grace and favor when I didn't deserve them.

Depression is real.  I have suffered that, too.  But I have learned that the dark night of the soul doesn't last forever and that even in the darkest hours, I am never alone.  God is with me.  He always has been, even when I have ignored or denied His presence.

God gave EVERYTHING for me!  His own Son died on the cross to save me from my sins -- past, present, and future.  How can I not be thankful?!  God has promised to work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  Do you love God?  Do you have any idea just how much He loves you?

Copyright © 2019 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Convenient Christianity

The Church in America is in crisis.  Christianity is declining, particularly in the Western world.  As a people, Christians are losing influence in politics and society, in our families, and even in our own churches.  Why is this happening now, when God knows the world needs Jesus more than ever?

In the second book of Timothy, chapter three, the apostle Paul writes:
But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them" (verses 1-5).
While this passage of scripture, perhaps more than any other, speaks of the current state of the Church and Christianity in general, I believe a big reason churches are hurting and diminishing in effectiveness and influence is that many believers have forsaken their first love (Revelation 2:4) and no longer find church "convenient."  Weekend sports and recreational activities have become the norm for many Christian families. Financial obligations and a love for material things have diminished our ability to be faithful givers.  And I'll be the first to admit, I will skip choir practice on occasion if I can find a convenient excuse not to go, even though I know my participation matters.

Was going to the cross for our sins convenient for Christ? Was it fair that He should die in our place for the sins that we have committed?  No, but "for the joy set before Him Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame" (Hebrews 12:2) in order that we might enjoy a personal relationship with Him here and now, and eternal life when our days on Earth have ended.

Thank God that He doesn't listen to and answer our prayers only when it is convenient for Him!  Thank God that He doesn't heal the sick only when it is convenient for Him!
Thank God that He loves us, even when we fail to love Him in return!

How can we become the solution in our churches instead of the problem?  By making worship and giving priorities, and by stepping outside of our comfort zones and sacrificing a little personal time to serve.  Get off the bench and back into the ballgame!  Team Jesus needs every single one of us, especially you!

Copyright © 2019 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Only Thing That Matters

Every now and then, someone who knows that I once  wrote blogs and books will ask me if I am still writing.  My answer is always "That was a season.  I'm too busy working and dealing with life's ups and downs to write these days."  While that is largely true, I do miss sharing my thoughts on what God is doing in my life and the lives of those I love.  I miss the joy of knowing that God can use the burdens I bear to minister to someone else who may be treading through valleys of their own or hanging on to the last bit of hope they can muster.

Like so many other families these days we are dealing with challenges that keep us on our knees.  Caring for aging parents, making ends meet the best way we can, and making every effort to model authentic Christianity to our young adult children, coworkers, and friends sometimes takes its toll on us emotionally and physically.  As we move through each day and watch time pass more quickly than we think it should we are increasingly aware of how precious each moment is.  We don't always make the most of each moment but we try our best to give our time and attention to the people around us, those we know and love dearly, knowing that at any time God could call them or us home.

Occasionally God sends a wake-up call to remind us that we are but one breath away from a glorious eternity.  That always causes me to ask, "Am I doing everything I can to share His love and the message of redemption and salvation with those who are lost and hopeless?"  One day Jesus will return to take His children home and leave behind those who have not yet received Him as Savior.  Do we really want to leave this earth knowing that we could have reached one more soul if only we had walked a little more closely with Him?

When we reach the point that we can honestly say our relationship with God is the only thing that matters, then He will bless and use us in ways we could never imagine to reach hearts and touch lives for His glory.  I don't know about you, but that sounds like quite a glorious and fulfilling way to live!

Copyright © 2019 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The True Gift of Christmas

'Tis the day before Christmas and I'm in my chair
With the cat on my lap and without any care.
The groceries are purchased, the gifts are all bought,
The presents are gift-wrapped and I have just one thought --
The world is still seeking for that which fulfills
The longing of hearts that remain restless still.
This year may we open the True Gift of Christmas
And finally receive all our longing heart wishes --
His love and salvation, his presence and grace,
His life everlasting, provision and peace.
If you are still looking for that one perfect Gift,
Just open your heart and invite Jesus in.

Copyright © 2018 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 14, 2018

A Grown-up Bedtime Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep
These burdens I don't have to keep
For Jesus says He'll carry them
If I will cast my cares on Him
Lord, thank you for a good night's rest
In you I am forever blessed!

Copyright © 2018 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

"Does Anybody Want to Go Faster?"

Fall.  It is the season of shorter days, cooler temps, and county fairs.  The lights and sounds of the midway at night, and the lingering smell of funnel cakes and cotton candy, are reminders of happy days and youthful innocence in a world that no longer exists.  Remember those days?  I remember one particular ride where the carnies would incite us by yelling, "Does anybody want to go faster?"  We'd squeal with delight at the top of our lungs and hold on for dear life, exhilarated by the frantic pace and spinning motion of the ride.

Fast forward a few decades. Everything we've been told about time is true.  It does pass much more quickly the older we get.  These days, everything within me wants to scream, "Please slow this thing down!" But nobody is listening.

No, Mr. Ride Operator, I don't want to go faster!  I want to slow down, linger in God's presence, and walk in His ways, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-17).  I am ready to trade this roller coaster of life for the adventure of a closer walk with the One who is able to make time stand still (Joshua 10:13-14) and thrills me like nothing on this earth ever will!

Copyright © 2018 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

An Unexpected Answer to Prayer

As most of our family and friends know, our daughter Joy has had her sights set on attending University of Lynchburg this fall.  When we toured Lynchburg in the spring we fell in love with the school and began earnestly praying that God would supply the money needed to send her there. She had been awarded about $30,000 in scholarships, grants, and work-study, but we still needed $20,000 more and didn't want to incur any student loan debt.  Never losing faith in God's promises to provide for our needs, we took baby steps of faith toward admission this fall, praying at all times that His will be done.

In the middle of all this excitement, our son took on additional responsibilities at work which required weekly out of town travel and generated conversations about the possibility that he might move in order to be closer to work.  As he headed out of town last week I turned to Joy and said, "What am I going to do?  You're both going to leave me at the same time!"

"About that..." she said, handing me a stack of papers. Suddenly out of left field came an answer to our prayers that I had not even considered.  In a moment of inspired maturity, Joy took a hard look at the costs of attending Lynchburg and decided not to compromise her dream of traveling after college by taking on student loan debt.  On her own, she made the decision to work part-time and attend Thomas Nelson Community College.  She apologized for so quickly dismissing the idea of going to community college, recognizing that for us and her community college makes better sense.

We want to thank all of you who have prayed for us as we have sought God's will and provision.  He has provided, not in the way we hoped or expected, but clearly in a way that is in everyone's best interest.  Joy has made a wise decision and continues to seek God's will and purpose for her life.

Now that she is working part-time (another praise!) and getting ready to start college in the fall, we have another prayer request -- that God will provide a car for our family so that Steve and I can have the transportation we need for our jobs and Joy can have a commuter car for school and work.  Right now we are sharing two cars between the three of us and that is working okay.  But we know that as she commutes to school in the next county, transportation could become an issue.  Please pray that God will lead us to the right car at the right price, at just the right time.  We know He will, and we thank you for praying so.

Rejoicing that God truly does work all things together for our good,

Dee Dee

Copyright 2018 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2018 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.