Friday, September 1, 2017

So Much On My Mind

Hurricane Harvey, the catastrophic storm that dumped unprecedented, historic rainfall on Texas and neighboring states, is finally beginning to fizzle out, but not without causing widespread devastation and mass destruction. I can't fathom being a victim of that storm, being uprooted and losing everything as so many have. The question of how to help is overwhelming because the need is so great and the manpower so limited to distribute items necessary for survival. Prayer is the best I can do right now, and it seems so insufficient. My prayer is not only that those who survived will recover, but that they will come to know the God who sees and experience the peace of His presence through the volunteers, rescue workers, and relief organizations that are working to get them all to a better place.

This morning I had to drop my car off at the garage to have a water pump replaced, another unanticipated expense, but no doubt a blessing in disguise. Even though I question it at times, God's timing is never off, and I trust there is a reason why this repair is necessary at this particular time. With a hurricane churning in the Atlantic, taking a path that could jeopardize the east coast, perhaps He knows that we are going to need a mechanically sound car that will safely get us from point A to point B, in the event an evacuation becomes necessary. I am thankful that God my Provider has already supplied the funds to replace the water pump and prepare for any storm that may be headed our way.

Recently I was diagnosed with a skin cancer on my face, a non-invasive melanoma that we were fortunate to catch early. Caught a little off-guard by the diagnosis, I am now preparing for a consultation with the surgeon who will be removing the cancer. How extensive the surgery will be remains to be seen, but I trust that God my Healer, the One who has fearfully and wonderfully made me, will bring me through this. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day." I am not afraid, but I am concerned for family and friends who, as I did, will put off a skin checkup because they consider the appearance of a new spot as "no big deal." Friends, get a skin checkup!  Don't take a chance on your health.

Despite all that is on my mind, this one thing I know:  God is bigger than any problem I will ever face. Bigger than any storm, any health scare, or any financial crisis. Bigger than the state of Texas, He is the creator of the universe and the ruler of all creation. He is big enough to calm the storms in all our lives if we will invite Him in to do His work in our hearts.

God never promised us an easy life. He never promised us that our days would be trouble-free. As long as we live on this earth there will be storms and cancer and broken things. But there is coming a day when "the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV).

This promise is for those who know God and have received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This promise is the hope of every believer.  If you have not taken that step of faith, confessed your sin, and acknowledged your need of salvation through Jesus, I pray you will surrender your heart today. Only then will you know the peace that passes all understanding and find strength to stand in your storm.






Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Unfocused...Unfruitful...Unfaithful

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV).

I have a great job. In fact, I am often heard to say that my job is a joy. Truly it is. But sometimes distractions and disruptions cause me to become unfocused and unfruitful and make me feel unfaithful to the God I serve. When that happens I tend to engage in self-condemnation, throw up my hands, and call it a day.

Do you ever feel that way? As though you have delivered less than your best and ultimately failed God? It is easy to fall into a defeated mindset when we are unfocused and unfruitful, but we don't have to remain defeated. God doesn't want us to beat ourselves up over our humanness or our shortcomings (Romans 8:1). He knows how feeble and prone to unfaithfulness we can be. But He is merciful and forgiving when we confess our sins and failures (1 John 1:9), and even when we are unfaithful, He is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13)!

God calls us to be fruitful and work in a manner which will bring Him glory, but He also knows that we will face obstacles and trials that will hinder us from time to time. When that happens and we are tempted to throw in the towel, may we lift our weary hearts to the God who sees, knows, and understands us, trusting in Him to forgive our failures and restore us to fruitfulness.




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Sunday, August 13, 2017

On Charlottesville

How profoundly saddened I am by the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12! To see fellow humans violently attacking each other -- even to the point of death -- sickens me. But it does not surprise me. God told us there would be days like this.
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 such people (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV).
This is not the America I grew up in. Whatever decency and innocence existed have been crucified on the altar of greed, selfishness, and disregard for the moral and spiritual principles on which our nation was founded. We have lowered our standards so much that it will be impossible for us to recover our greatness. We are lost, and without the assurance that Jesus is coming to take us to heaven where injustice, evil, and greed will be forever gone, there is no hope.

There is a part of me that wants to lock the door, shutter the windows, and live out the rest of my days in the peaceful surroundings of my home. But there is still a war to be fought and won -- not for the right to eat bacon or to preserve the lives of animals, not for the right to bear arms or the supremacy of any given race -- but the fight to win souls for Christ. We must be in the world but not of it (1 John 2:15-17), hearers of the Word and not doers only (James 1:22), and holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). But how?

Micah 6:8, AMP, tells us:  "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?" The problem with humanity is that we have lost sight of, or in many cases totally disregarded, His Word. We are so caught up in doing our own thing -- or in fighting battles based on impulse rather than in fervent prayer -- that we have lost sight of God's will and His ways. God never intended for man to resort to violence to solve conflict or right injustice.

Mine is not the only heart grieving and broken. So is the heart of our holy and righteous God who created man in His own image. Only by repenting of our sins and crying out to the One who able to save us and set our feet on the solid Rock, will we ever be able to regain what we have lost -- faith in God and the belief that there is still good in this great land of ours.




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Every Little Bit Helps

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, ESV).
I used to fret over my inability to do anything to solve the problems of hunger, homelessness, and injustice. It pained me to see needy individuals whose problems were seemingly insurmountable, knowing that I did not have the resources to do more than put a band-aid on their situation.  Not too long ago, our family was in a season of financial reversal, facing foreclosure and shopping with food stamps. Were it not for our church family, caring neighbors, and generous in-laws we would have languished in our hopelessness and been out on the streets. I am convinced the reason we found ourselves on the receiving end of the generosity of others is because we had been faithful and obedient givers in our local church.

Now that we have come through our financial crisis I find myself serving in a church that truly does make a difference in the lives of the needy in our community. The tithes and offerings we give not only keep the lights on and the salaries paid, but actually do make it possible to wage war and win the battle against the social problems of poverty and homelessness in our area.

We don't have to be rich to make a difference in this world. As we work together, God will supply not only our needs but also the needs of those whose problems are far greater than our limited resources. "God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8, NKJV). Rather than withhold our giving because we feel it would be inadequate to meet the need, we should give joyfully knowing that in the end every little bit helps. If we in the Church do not give obediently and generously, then what hope is there for the world?



Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Death of Discontent

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV).

Recently, after a much-needed rain brought relief from the oppressive heat of summer, I found myself surprisingly agitated by the fact that I was not out lying on a beach somewhere enjoying the cool breeze, and irritated by every little thing my husband said or did. Never mind that I had pleasant weather in which to run errands or a quiet porch where I could sit and read for a few minutes. Despite all the blessings that I was thankful for, I was cranky and couldn't quite figure out why.

Out of boredom and longing for a little more excitement in life, I turned to Facebook to see what my friends were up to. It was there that I discovered the source of my discontent -- in the posts about their new cars, vacations, and adventures. It was in looking at countless pictures of happy couples seemingly without a care in the world. The light went on! The demons of comparison and self-pity had been raining all over my parade for far too long and it was time to pull the plug on discontent. But how?

Just recognizing the source was a beginning. As silly, or as simple, as it sounds, I realized that for me the answer lies in disconnecting myself from social media, re-engaging with my spouse, and counting my blessings, one by one, over and over. It lies in realizing that not having a vacation means I don't have the credit card bill to go along with it, and that driving an old car is far superior to going into debt for a new one. Truth be told -- I gave up sunbathing long ago because of the skin cancer risk. I don't have to drive hours to the ocean to enjoy the water, when there is a beautiful river less than fifteen minutes from home!

My world may not be very large, but my God is -- and His grace and blessings are more than enough for me.






Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Trouble with Having More

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24, NIV)
Lately I have been thinking about life, my blessings, and the dreams that I hold in my heart. The future keeps advancing without skipping a beat and I can hardly keep up.  Summer is half gone, my youngest child has just reached adulthood, and the reality that college will come sooner than we are prepared has me in a state of wondering not only how we will fund her education but also our retirement.  The golden years are fast approaching and before you know it we'll be sleeping toothless while our dentures soak in a vat of Efferdent.

As advertisers and social media steer my gaze toward lavish vacations and material luxuries that cost more than my first house, I realize that I will never keep up with the Joneses.  Thing is -- I'm not sure I even want to.  A lifetime of acquiring things, especially those I could not afford at the time, has resulted in a mountain of debt we are still paying off -- debt we should never have taken on for things that failed to satisfy our deepest longings.  The trouble with having more -- at least for me -- is that it often results in more worry, not less, and greater poverty instead of more wealth.  Don't you find that a bit odd?

The Bible tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and I am finally embracing that truth and the belief that we can never outgive God. I am learning to loosen my grip on material blessings rather than allow them to possess me. I never cease to be amazed at how much joy and blessing I receive when I open my hands and my wallet to those in need, or to causes that matter to me.

In the past three years, since our move to Virginia, we have learned to live modestly and find contentment in a simpler lifestyle. I drive a 21-year-old station wagon with no car note but a whole lot of character. Recently, as I contemplated moving back to Tennessee with my daughter and the expense that would be involved, I decided that even if we didn't move I would still need to leave the job I love and take a better-paying job in order to pay for college, a reliable used car for my daughter, and save for retirement.  But as I contemplated the trade-offs and the justification for leaving my job in ministry in order to improve our financial position, God began to show me that it really isn't up to me -- it is up to Him to provide all we need.

The temptation to leave my job in search of a better-paying corporate position -- though my motives are justifiable -- has been strong.  But the conviction that my God is able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine, and that He has chosen me to serve where I am in this season of my life, is even stronger.  I cannot improve on God's best for me, and I honestly believe that if I were to leave in search of greener pastures I would experience disappointment, stress, and discontent, despite a bigger paycheck and a benefits package.

For the first time in many years I am content and at peace with my decision to continue serving God where He has planted me.  We continue to make financial progress, and I know that eventually we will be debt-free.  In the meantime our children have learned valuable lessons as a result of our costly mistakes, and have learned to save and live within their means at a much younger age than we ever did. Trust is my choice, and faithfulness to provide for us is God's promise.  I have no doubt that as I continue to seek first His will and righteousness, all these things (our needs and even some wants) will be given to us as well (Matthew 6:33).



Copyright © 2017  by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Sin of Comparison

They say confession is good for the soul, but lately I feel that's all I do.  Whether I am confessing my frustration on the job or my envy of what others have, I find that a negative attitude is more likely to occur when I compare myself with others. Pride and envy arrive as uninvited guests to my pity party and stay as long as I allow them to. Fortunately, though, I have learned to disarm them by counting my blessings and thanking God for his favor and provision.

Pride is an ugly thing and comparison is the manifestation of a prideful heart.  I am reminded of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. Sadly I am prone to act more like the Pharisee when it comes to my attitude toward others. Who am I to judge? But aren't we all guilty of comparing ourselves with and judging others from time to time?  That doesn't make it right.

The happiest people I know are those who have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (See Philippians 4:11-13.)  When I remember to trust the God who knows me best, loves me most, and gives me all I need, then I am content. But when I begin comparing myself to others, judging them against my standards rather than his love for them, that's when I get into trouble.

What if instead of comparing ourselves with others, we begin praying for and treating them as we'd have them do for us? At the end of the day it doesn't matter what others have or who they are, but rather who we all are in Christ.




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com