Sunday, May 31, 2020

Moving Day

Six years ago my family and I began a two-day journey to the place we now call home.  We left behind a church family, many friends, close relatives, and the city where I had lived a lifetime.  Apprehensions were few because we knew this was what God had ordained.  As we celebrate our new life here and the many blessings we been gifted since our move we cannot help but give thanks to the One who orchestrated it all.

Three months after we changed our address I stepped into a job that became a ministry and a great source of joy.  I found a new family and friends who have loved and supported our family in so many ways, and I am blessed beyond measure.  We all are.  But just as God saw fit to move our family away from everything that was familiar, He has been stirring something inside me and calling me to leave home once more in search of His next assignment.

Today I officially step down from a dream job to move on to whatever God has in store next.  The move has been prayed over for many months and the pandemic has brought clarity in the decision-making process as I have had much time to press in to God and really seek His heart.  I realize that there are many people who will not understand my decision to leave a job which was such a perfect fit, and I pray they will know that they are the reason the decision did not come easily.  I will always love the congregants I served and look forward to maintaining and nurturing the friendships that have been made these past six years.

Time does not stand still for any of us.  There is work to be done for the children of God, wherever we find ourselves.  The coronavirus pandemic and the protests raging across our nation this very day ensure our job security as prayer warriors on the front lines.

I don't know what the future holds in terms of my work, but I entrust my future and the care of my church family to the Lord who holds us all in His hands.

To my Bethany church family, know that I am stepping away in obedience to God's call -- not for lack of love for our church family or because of any of the challenges we have faced.  You are my family and I love you.  But God has said it's time for me to "leave home" and move on to the next assignment.  I covet your prayers for His provision and guidance in the days to come, and I will be praying daily for you.




Thursday, May 14, 2020

Broken Sacrifice

Lately many of us have struggled with emotions.  The coronavirus  pandemic has created stress we did not anticipate, yet has provided a golden opportunity to look at present circumstances and determine if we are living our best life, or if there are some changes we need to make.

Much of what we have experienced is heartbreak, plain and simple.  There is a grieving process we go through -- or grow through -- when things change.  Whether it is the loss of a job due to unforeseen circumstances or a shift in our ideology brought on by outside forces, it is natural to mourn the loss and be anxious about whatever changes we may need to make.  For the introspective among us, deliberating and thinking about these things can bring on a brokenness and guilt that is oppressive.

As I was praying about my emotions, I felt led to write the words of Psalm 51 in my journal.  It is a familiar psalm to many of us.  Of particular comfort to me were the words in verse 17:  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (ESV).

If God regards a broken spirit as a sacrifice, and does not despise a broken and contrite heart, then why should we feel guilty about the emotions and sorrow we may feel during this very stressful season of our lives?

God is merciful.  He understands.  Rather than fret over our lives and the hard challenges we may be facing, let us offer up our broken hearts as a sacrifice of praise.



Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Challenge to Change

The coronavirus pandemic has given many of us the opportunity to reassess our lives and make changes, whether we want to or not.  Some of us have viewed this uncertain time as a curse while others have taken advantage of this season to sit back, take stock, and reassess our lives in hopes of finding a better way to live going forward.

For many families the pandemic has resulted in financial difficulties they never saw coming.  With little warning, jobs have been lost, businesses have closed, and income has stopped. Bills have continued to arrive and savings accounts have been quickly depleted.  Difficult decisions are being made.  Do I pay the utility bill or feed my family?  If I don't pay the car note and my car is repossessed how will I look for a job or get to work after all this is over?  If this ever happens again, how can I do things differently so that the consequences won't be so devastating? 

Our family went through a financial reversal during the last recession after my husband lost his job.  We were sitting on a mountain of debt with absolutely nothing in savings.  Yet God met all our needs.  Some of his provision came in the form of food stamps and unemployment benefits, but much of it came from caring friends and our church family.  I believe that our obedience in the area of tithing to our church while we were both employed resulted in God's generous provision in our time of need.  We learned a lot of hard lessons about financial management during that time and determined to do everything in our power to more prudently handle money once the crisis had passed.  We changed habits, slowed our spending, paid off our debt, shared the lessons we learned, and positioned ourselves to not only be able to face the next crisis with greater financial stability but to also be able to help those in crisis.  As we reassessed our lives during that time of financial hardship, we changed our reality with God's guidance and the help of others.

I love the story of Job.  He was a righteous man who loved God wholeheartedly, yet suffered great loss in a very short period of time.  While God didn't cause Job's suffering, he allowed it.  He allowed Satan to have his way in Job's life -- to strip away everything of value, including Job's family, possessions, and health -- yet God forbade Satan from taking Job's life.  Job did not blame God (Job 1:22).  In fact, when his wife urged Job to curse God and die he said to her, "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil" (2:10)?  Job experienced his own season of doubting, complaining, and questioning God.  After all, he was human.  His well-meaning friends fanned the flames of Job's disappointment and despair.  But in the course of time, as he continued to seek answers to the hard questions brought on by his calamity, God revealed himself to Job, perhaps in ways Job could never have experienced otherwise, and Job repented his sins of self-pity and doubt. Scripture tells us the LORD restored Job's fortunes and "blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12).  Don't you just love a happy ending?

As you take the time to reassess your life during this season of uncertainty, what are the lessons God would have you learn?  Are there changes you need to make in order to more fully live out the purposes God has for you? 

In chapter 23, verse 10, Job declares of God -- "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold."  May we all allow God to use the challenges we face to fit us for his purposes and change us to be more like him.





Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Sheltering in the Right Place

"Shelter in place" is a commonly-used term these days because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also used when we are threatened by events such as mass shootings, natural disasters, and other emergencies.  Often we associate the word disaster with something we can see -- something which we are warned about ahead of time and can prepare for.  However, nothing could have prepared us for the disaster we are now experiencing -- this deadly virus that is as invisible as the air which has carried it all over the world.  Despite every effort to contain it, we have realized that we are no match for this silent enemy and that our best defense against it is hygiene, social distancing, and sheltering at home whenever possible.

As I was having my quiet time this morning I came across the following familiar verse: 
"Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed" (Psalm 57:1, NIV).
As many times as I have read that verse I have never really noticed the last phrase, "until the disaster has passed."  This morning it caught my attention as never before.

The Bible has much to say about shelter.  Psalm 91:4 (NLT) says, "He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection."  Did you hear that?  God's promises are our protection!  How can we know His promises?  By reading his Word to us, the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 (ESV) reads:  "For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it."  Seems like wisdom is pretty important, right?  So, where do we find this wisdom?  Where do we find the truth we need to make sense of and survive the difficult circumstances of life, such as this global health and economic crisis we are experiencing?  From the 10:00 news?  No.  From God's Word.  Psalm 12:6 (NIV) tells us that "the words of the LORD are flawless."  With God, there is no such thing as fake news!

As you ride out this pandemic, make sure you are standing on God's Word.  In it you will find the wisdom you need and God's promises of peace, protection, and provision in these troubling times.  Use this time of sheltering in place to draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  As you do, you will find that your loving heavenly Father is a solid rock on which to stand and a strong tower to shelter you until the disaster has passed. 



Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Monday, April 27, 2020

Winds and Whispers

I love wind, especially a cooling breeze when I'm doing yard work or taking a walk at the end of a warm day.  The way the wind sets water in motion, causing waves to splash along the shoreline or the pine trees to sway, is nothing short of wondrous to me.  But a strong breeze is not always welcome, especially if I am cleaning up leaves or walking up a steep hill.

The coronavirus is the storm we didn't see coming -- the BIG one that has blown us all off course and resulted in death, destruction, and a virtual shutdown of our lives, our economy, and our world.  It has forced many of us to change the way we work, worship, and interact with others.

There are several references to wind in the Bible but the one that sticks out to me in this season of upheaval is found in the story of Elijah's encounter with God in 1 Kings chapter 19.  In verses 1-8 we read that after learning from Ahab that Elijah had killed all the prophets, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah threatening to kill him.  In fear he ran for his life, traveling into the wilderness, where he sat under a broom tree and asked the Lord that he might die.  After being roused from sleep and fed by the angel of the LORD, he arose and ate and drank, and journeyed forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.  Picking up in verse 9:
There he came to a cave and lodged in it.  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts.  For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away."  And he (the LORD) said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD."  And behold, the LORD passed by and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  And behold, there came a voice to him..." (1 Kings 19:9-13, ESV).
The coronavirus pandemic has created a perfect storm which has forever changed our lives.  But I also believe it is providing fertile ground for God's Word to go forth and for many lives to be saved as we adopt to a new normal.  God has promised to be with us in times of trouble and his Holy Spirit still moves like a mighty rushing wind (Acts 2:2), filling us and empowering us to do his will, no matter how battered we may feel by the storm in which we find ourselves.

Whether you are sheltering in place at home or working the front lines of the battle, step into the stillness of God's presence and listen for the whisper of his voice.  "Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"  (Psalm 46:10, ESV)


Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.  www.deedeewike.com

Thursday, April 16, 2020

New Normal -- Same God

I'm not one to cry easily, except at happy endings or when I am angry about something. However, I have had a couple of moments recently when tears just came out of nowhere -- no particular stress trigger or depression, just intense momentary sadness. As I prayed this morning for God to reveal why, I realized that like so many of you, I am GRIEVING. As blessed as I am -- as we all are -- we are each grieving, on some level, the loss of our lives and the reality that our "normal" is forever changed.

Some of us have lost jobs, loved ones, and the sense of identity that comes from being employed or in the company of those whose presence we can no longer enjoy due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders. ALL of us have lost the freedom to come and go and do as we please without fear of becoming infected or infecting others.

We have seen the best and worst of humanity during this crisis and learned hard, hard lessons. Many of us have risen to serve, some making the ultimate sacrifice to care for those who have been sickened by the virus. Some of us have sunk into despair because of loss and loneliness. All of us have been changed in some way.

Despite all the changes we have seen and the reality that life will never again look like it did on January 1, 2020, we can still enjoy LIFE and walk in FREEDOM because of what happened on Easter -- not this Easter, but on that first Easter when Christ, who IS our FREEDOM and our LIFE, forever conquered death through His Resurrection.

For those who know Christ:
He is our Life. -- John 1:4
He gives us Freedom. -- Galatians 5:1
He himself is our peace. -- Ephesians 2:14
He is our hope. -- Colossians 1:27

If you don't know Christ -- if you have not asked Him to save you from your sins and entered into a personal relationship with Him -- I pray this will be the day you ask Him to be your Savior and Lord and begin walking in the freedom, hope, and peace that can be yours as a child of God. The Bible tells us:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17, ESV).

Life will never be the same again, but "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

This world -- this broken, sickened, saddened, decaying world -- is not our home. Jesus himself says, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:1-3, ESV).

"Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear away from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:3-5, ESV).

Praying for you,
Dee Dee


Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Finding the Good in Life When the News Isn't

As I wrap up my fourth week of working remotely, knowing that there are possibly several more weeks of isolation ahead of us all, I pause today to give thanks for the unexpected blessings of the pandemic that has affected so many of us.  Not only has COVID-19 adversely affected most of the world, but it has also caused many of us to reassess the things we value and to focus on the simple joys that we overlooked before this plague descended upon us.

Among the simple joys for which I'm thankful:
  • The technology and ability to work remotely and continue my ministry to the church.
  • The joy of riding out this season of social distancing in our new home, where we have a little more room to distance ourselves from each other and a lovely, usable yard to work in and enjoy when the walls begin to close in.
  • The view outside my sliding glass door, which affords me the opportunity to enjoy bird watching and seeing the beauty of spring while in lockdown.
  • Additional time with family and my cat, who loves to bird watch too. 
  • The new ways I am learning to connect with others in our church and community....ZOOM!

Even bigger reasons to give thanks:
  • My salvation through Jesus Christ, and my relationship with God the Father through Him.
  • The guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
  • The promises of God's Word to encourage and strengthen us when our faith is weak.
  • God's provision of our daily needs, especially when the economy is in such turmoil.
  • The knowledge that God is still in control, ever-present, all-knowing, with grace sufficient for every circumstance.

But what if COVID-19 resulted in the illness or death of a family member, or the loss of my job, or the loss of things I count as blessings?  Would I still be thankful?  Would I still believe in the goodness of God?  Or would I succumb to despair and lose all hope?  

As Christ followers we are not exempt from trouble, heartache, sickness, and death. In John 16:33 (ESV), Jesus said, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."  

In Philippians 4:11-13, the apostle Paul writes:  "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."  Is there anyone out there who doesn't feel brought low by the coronavirus pandemic?  In our struggles, are we allowing God to teach us the secret of being content in any and every circumstance?

Despite all that is happening around us, those of us who follow Christ have hope because we know whose we are, that God sees us where we are, and that Christ through His death and resurrection has already won the victory!  

Friend, if everything you are facing right now seems too much to bear I encourage you to pray, seek God's face, turn to His Word for the answers to your questions, and trust in Jesus for salvation if you have never done so.  Rest in these assurances from 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV):
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever.  Amen.





Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com