Friday, February 24, 2017

Not My Own

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Bereans Study Bible)

It has been a beautiful spring day in my neighborhood, a perfect Friday to cap off a busy work week. Many thoughts are running through my mind as I write this -- the physical I had yesterday, a closed door, financial needs that I'm confident God is going to supply, the lack of time I have to write and maintain two blogs, the joy of seeing trees and flowers in bloom at the end of a dreary, dark winter. 

How thankful I am to be alive! How grateful I am to have a reason -- several, actually -- to get out of bed each day.  To work at a job I love, watch my children grow into responsible adults, and to have the love of one man for over thirty years are blessings I do not take for granted. I have had many jobs I did not love, have survived the challenging years of raising teens, and have had my heart broken by "could have beens." God has been faithful in the good times and the bad.

I learned a long time ago that life, as hard as it may be at times, is much better lived on God's terms than on mine. A life surrendered to His will is a far greater adventure than I could ever have imagined. 

I am not my own. My possessions, my health, my job, my children, and my spouse are not my own. God reserves the right to rearrange the life I love any way He chooses, at any time. Surrendered to Him, I am fearless. Trusting in Him, I am triumphant. Living each day to the fullest and for His glory are my highest aspirations.  

To be fully His rather than to be my own is a joy, not a burden, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Why I Gave Up Cable TV

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:15-17, ESV).
People already think I'm weird because I went vegan in 2016, but even stranger perhaps is my decision to give up cable TV, or at least most of the channels our family has enjoyed these past three years. Not that there is anything wrong with watching television -- I am simply not disciplined enough to step away from it and give my attention to more beneficial activities and interests.  I did subscribe to a basic programming package that will give us network and public broadcasting channels. After all I do need to know what tomorrow's weather will be and the news that affects my family. But the cost is exorbitant, the value limited, and my time too precious to be spent on something of so little benefit.

But why did I really downgrade my cable subscription?  Because I am convinced that God has bigger plans for me than to mindlessly watch hours of sappy love stories, and because the hard-earned money he has entrusted to our family can be better invested in doing his will and enriching the lives of others.

It is hard to hear God's voice when the TV is on all the time. It is easy to let TV become an excuse to put off exercise or that important project that needs my attention. TV has stolen too much from me -- dreams, inspiration, time, and money.

Is there something that is robbing you of the truly important things, like relationships with family and friends or that special task to which God has called you? TV, social media, and even "good causes" can distract us from the more important things.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:1-2, ESV).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

This Is a Test...This Is Only a Test

Here I sit, in exactly the same predicament I faced this time last year, wondering how God is going to pull off the miracle I need. It's true, you know. History does have a uncanny way of repeating itself. Question is, as I go through this test will I have the patience to endure it and better yet, keep in mind that God has come through so many times before?  Or will I do what I am so prone to do -- take charge and try to come up with the solution all by myself? That seldom turns out well for me.

Life is full of tests. Tests that make us squirm and steal our joy. What if in the heat of the furnace we could remember, "This is a test.  This is only a test"?

I don't know how God is going to work this out. I only have to know that He is. I don't have to do anything but pray, wait, and trust him -- to guide me, to open and close doors, and to supply my every need according to his glorious riches (Philippians 4:19). He is able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  "He knows the way that I take, and when he has tested me I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

What impossible problem are you facing today? Do you have the faith to take God at his word and to believe in what he has promised to do for you?

Even for the most seasoned believer it can be hard -- so very hard -- to surrender ourselves to God's unseen plan and trust him with the outcome. But with God, the one who works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), nothing is impossible.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Is God's Will a Cop-Out?

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. -- Romans 12:1-2, ESV
Recently someone asked me to pray for God's will in a particular matter. It was a situation that could easily be changed by a willful decision to make different choices that could be beneficial. As I pondered a response I wondered just how often we use "God's will" as a cop-out rather than simply walking in obedience to it, doing what His Word tells us and experiencing the blessings that come as a result of our obedience.

Many times I have used "God's will" to justify purchases of things I didn't really need, resulting in debt, or actions that were premature and clearly outside of His perfect will for my life.

If I know that God's will is for me is to be in good health (3 John 2) and to treat my body as the temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20), I am not going to pray for His will to make that happen. I am going to pray for His conviction and strength to resist the foods I know to be harmful to my body and to eat the foods that will nourish it. I am going to exercise my fearfully and wonderfully made body (Psalm 139:14) rather than spend countless hours sitting behind a computer or in front of a TV.

Sometimes God's will depends on our willingness to act upon His will. It is not enough to daily surrender our lives to His will, we also need to choose to walk in obedience to it.

There will be times when it is appropriate to pray for God's will, such as when we are faced with circumstances over which we have no control or critical decisions that must be made. For instance, knowing God's will is that "none should perish" (2 Peter 3:9) without a saving knowledge of His Son, we should pray for God's will and salvation in the lives of our unsaved friends and loved ones. When others are faced with chronic diseases or terminal illness we need to pray for God's healing and His will for their lives. But we need to realize that when it comes to those things we can control and know to be God's will our prayer should be for wisdom, strength, and conviction to do His will.

Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Make the Most of It

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." -- John 14: 15

Lately I have been struggling with anger and resentment over things that are beyond my control. A summons to jury duty, while an answer to prayer on one hand, has complicated life during my two busiest work weeks of the year.  Thank God for an understanding boss who is handling this better than I am!  I am also frustrated over having been committed to something I didn't sign up for, all because someone acted impulsively and didn't stick to the original agreement we had. I have spent more time stewing over these things, chiding myself for feeling resentful in the first place, and praying for the grace to get through the rest of the holidays without being a Grinch.

When life throws us a curve ball and our patience is tested, what are we to do? Why should we have to do something we hadn't planned to? Why not just cancel and be done with the conflict? Could it be that God is at work with a higher purpose? Perhaps he has planned an encounter that is meant to bless someone, perhaps even me. Even though I could certainly insist on having my own way, what if I simply make the most of it?

God provides us an invaluable resource for dealing with the conflicts in life -- his Word. It's as if he says to us, "Let's see if you can recall what I have taught you and apply it to this situation." Of course we can, if we choose to. Here are a few reminders from his Word to help us -- to help me -- when frustration rears its ugly head:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." -- Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28, ESV

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil." -- Psalms 37:8, ESV

"Know this, my beloved brothers:  let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." -- James 1:19-20, ESV

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." -- James 1:2-4, ESV

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful." -- Colossians 3:12-15

"The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies -- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen." -- 1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV

God doesn't bless us when we act like spoiled brats -- something I seemed to have done a lot lately.  But he does bless us when we obey his Word. Why not simply obey and make the most of it?

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Other Side of Loss

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him"  (James 1:12, NIV).

Lately I have been contemplating loss.  The news has been full of stories of great tragedy and human suffering.  People have been gunned down by angry men, killed by raging floods and wildfires, and been victims of accidents that might or might not have been avoided. Children have been orphaned. Spouses have been widowed. Health has been decimated by cancer, addiction, and chronic illness.

As I pray for those who are suffering, I think about the losses I have experienced in my fifty-plus years on this earth -- the deaths of my dad and stepdad, my grandparents, and other beloved family members; the loss of jobs (both mine and my husband's); and the disintegration of my own moral compass during a lengthy season of rebellion.  I have not suffered poor health, but I have experienced a painful financial reversal and had my heart broken more times than I can count.

One thing I have never lost, though, is my faith in God.  On the contrary, my greatest joys have been experienced on the other side of loss.
  • When I nearly lost my mind with worry over my wayward teenager, God gave me sanity and peace through the promises of His Word.
  • When my husband lost two full-time jobs in 18 months and we found ourselves living on food stamps and the charity of others, God gave us adventure, new jobs, and a truly wonderful life in another state.
  • When I chose to give up a job I dearly loved in order to better serve my family, mourning that loss for more than two years, God began healing my marriage and my relationship with my son.
  • When I suffered the bewildering heartbreak of a broken relationship with a dear friend, God filled the hole in my heart with His love and unbridled joy.
  • Through every loss I have suffered God has taught me valuable lessons and afforded me opportunities to encourage others who are struggling to make sense of their own troubles.
It has been my experience that God doesn't allow us to suffer loss without giving us more of himself. God will turn our tragedies into triumphs, our weeping into laughter, and our mourning into dancing if we will trust Him in our trials.

Whatever you are facing today, know that God is with you.  Know that His heart breaks every time He sees you cry and that He longs to comfort you with His grace, peace, and love.  The loss you have suffered is not all there is.  God is standing on the other side of loss, longing to receive you into His loving embrace and to restore your joy and peace.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My son has had an uncanny way of keeping me grounded.  When he was a young child, I remember him saying to me during a moment of my own frustration, "Mom, stop, breathe, and think!"  "Stop, breath, and think" was a phrase he'd heard on one of his favorite kids shows, "Blue's Clues."  I have remembered that word of admonition many times through the years.

Now nearly two decades later my first-born has shared the following encouragement on Facebook in the wake of the recent presidential election:  "To everyone, those in favor or opposition of the new president. Have faith. Love. Live your life. Things will be bright again." My son, whose ideas about life have often clashed with my own ideals, couldn't have said more simply, or profoundly, what we all need to remember -- that life is short, love is invaluable, and at the end of the day our faith will help preserve our joy.

Thank you, Chris, for once more teaching your mother that there is indeed a better way.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.