Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easier Said than Done

One of the occupational hazards a devotional writer faces is living out the advice offered to her readers.  It is something I struggle with often.

While facing a difficult decision recently, I requested prayer for wisdom and a word from God that would bring peace and clarity to my troubled heart.  I searched scripture for insight then turned to one of my own devotionals to see what if there was any direction I could glean there.  Amazingly, there was!  The scripture on which the devotional was based help clarify and give me peace about the decision.  Still, making that decision was easier said than done.

Often we are quick to give advice, whether or not solicited.  But how often do we follow our own advice, even when we know that it is the will of God to do so?  For me, whether or not I am obedient is often dictated by the way I feel about someone else or what kind of mood I find myself in. 

If we learn to walk in obedience to what God's Word says about a situation -- not how we feel or whether someone else deserves the grace God calls us to extend -- then we will have peace and the assurance that God will work it all out for good.  The right thing is seldom the easy thing, but we will never find peace while we are in conflict with God's will.


Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Monday, July 29, 2013

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Then God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” And it was so. The earth produced vegetation: seed-bearing plants according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11-12, HCSB)


This picture of the fruit on my kitchen table is not my artistic rendering of a "still life." But I couldn't resist photographing it after reading the origin sticker on the bananas, which were grown in Guatemala. When I considered the number of bananas my family consumes in a given year I had to do a little research into banana production. I was amazed by the amount of bananas produced and the number of countries that grow this fruit so many of us enjoy. How great is the God who conceived and provided such a broad variety of food to nourish and satisfy His created ones!

As I folded a load of mismatched towels it dawned on me that nothing matches in my house -- not my furnishings, dishes, or even the wood surfaces in my den. My family room clearly displays how decor-challenged I am. No wonder I feel like such a misfit at times!

Clearly God loves variety. Why else would He create a world with so many climates, so many different races of people, and so many kinds of food? Who but God could design an interdependent system of cultures and economies so that nations can share their resources with other countries that lack them? We need each other and we all need God.

The fact that none of us is like the other is God's plan.  As different as we each may be, we are uniquely beautiful to the One who created us. Not one of is a mistake or a misfit -- we are all loved and accepted just as we are because He made us and loves us.


Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Living Wisely in a World of Fools

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17, NKJV, emphasis added).
We all have "sandpaper people" in our lives -- those individuals who often rub us the wrong way and bring out the worst in us.  Sometimes we call them fools because of their outlandish behavior.  In our wisdom we try to deal with them the best way we know how, but therein lies the problem:  we are relying on our wisdom instead of God's.

As I read the verse above the phrase, "willing to yield," caught my eye as never before.  This verse from James pertains to godly wisdom, something we as Christians should aspire to possess every day of our lives.  Never had I considered willingness to yield a characteristic of godly wisdom until my children became teenagers.  In light of that context perhaps the phrase, "pick your battles," has some merit after all.

One thing is for certain, I have much to learn about godly wisdom.  Based on the passage below I have not yet attained it, at least not with any consistency.  Read how Eugene Peterson translated James 3:17-18 in The Message:
"Real wisdom, God's wisdom -- begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.  It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.  You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoys its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor" (emphasis added).
Holy life, getting along with others, gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings...I have a LOT of work to do.  God has a lot of work to do in me!

Consider this:  We are fools when we behave in ways that turn others from the cross of Christ and hinder His salvation of those who are lost.

Lord, give us your grace and power to live wisely in a world of fools, rather than live as fools in our world.

Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com


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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Friday, July 19, 2013

After All, I'm Only Human

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter serve a useful purpose.  They provide a place where we can encourage others, get news, and even solicit prayers and help when we need support.  Often though these sites are used as a place to vent and complain, spew negativity, and attack others.  I'll admit it -- there are times when I post my own personal lamentations.  After all, I'm only human. 

I try not to post my complaints in an attempt to gain the pity of others -- I am quite accomplished at pitying myself -- but rather to point out the common plight we all share living in a fallen world.  Sometimes, though, my posts elicit a response that leaves me feeling that somehow I am expected not to feel hurt, frustration, or fear.  Sure, as children of God we should all have the faith to live above the negative circumstances of life, but some times a girl just gets weary of the stress day after day.  After all, I'm only human.

Although I have published inspirational books designed to encourage others, that doesn't somehow make me a "super saint," impervious to the problems that others face.  In fact, it is because of the problems I have faced and the hope God's Word has given me in the midst of them that I have written these books in the first place.  They aren't made up, feel good stories about how great the Christian life is, but how great the God is who helps us day by day.

While I might not be facing devastating or debilitating illness at this moment, I do have my share of challenges where relationships and money are concerned.  I face many of the same stresses others do when it comes to job security, time management, and life in general.  I know the Prince of Peace but that doesn't mean I am always at peace.  Satan does all in his power to make sure I am distracted and ineffective in my efforts to encourage others.  After all, Christian or not, I'm only human.

Does being human give me license to complain to the point of sinning against or offending others?  Certainly not.  But being human does give me the right to feel the same things as anyone else.  It is my prayer not that others would see me as some "super saint" who knows all the answers and has everything under control, but rather a flesh-and-blood fellow human who has learned to find peace through a personal relationship with the Lord, who IS the answer.



Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

If Money Were No Object

I learned a little too late in life that it doesn't pay to live beyond one's means.  Decades of poor financial management and an unanticipated period of unemployment have taken its toll on my pocketbook and resulted in some missed opportunities to make a real difference and just enjoy life.  Although we are on the mend and have learned from our mistakes it could take years to become debt-free and achieve financial freedom.  To keep me motivated to behave myself and keep moving in a positive direction I have made a partial list of things I would do if money were no object.

If money were no object, I would:

·         Get a passport so I could go on a mission trip or an overseas vacation

·         Provide financial support for short-term and long-term missionaries

·         Buy a new appliance for a family who can't afford one or meet some other practical need

·         Adopt a shelter pet or two (or ten!)

·         Support the relief organizations that are working around the world to help the hungry, homeless, and hurting

·         Take a much-needed vacation with my family and go visit my siblings who are scattered across the country

·         Treat a friend to lunch or dinner in a restaurant at least once a week

·         Rent or buy an RV and drive cross-country to visit our nation's capital and see America's great natural wonders

·         Fund the restoration of my husband's 1972 Cutlass

·         Indulge in a personal retreat at a lake house somewhere -- just God and me

·         Hire an illustrator and publish a children's book I have written

·         Spend more time enjoying the arts by attending concerts and stage productions I cannot now afford

I know that in my lifetime I will actually accomplish some of these things.  In the meantime, though, I will be content to trust in God's provision as I continue working toward the goal of becoming debt-free, enjoy some of the simpler and less expensive pleasures like hot fudge sundaes and coffee dates, and teach my children that we are all blessed so we can be a blessing, not so we can have and do every little thing we want.

The Bible says, "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:9-11, NIV).  When we learn to be stewards rather than stealers of God's resources we will find ourselves with all we need plus a bounty we can share to bless others. 
 

Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wrestling with God

All of us have moments when we wrestle with God over a certain matter.  It could be that we question his delay in providing for a certain need or answering a particular prayer for a loved one.  Sometimes we wrestle with him over our fears and insecurities, perhaps questioning why he made us the way he did or allowed a particular someone to enter our lives when the relationship ended painfully.  If we wrestle in prayer long enough, eventually we see his answer to our prayer even if the answer is not what we expect it to be.

Often I wrestle with God over my writing and ministry.  Those times of struggle can be triggered by anything -- slow book sales, infrequent visits to my blog, or rejections received by a magazine or other publisher.  Just when I am ready to throw in the towel and put my dreams of ministry on the back burner he offers a glimmer of hope in an unexpected book sale or favorable comment from someone who was blessed by something I wrote.  I am reminded (often) that even though I am not as wildly successful as others with higher profile ministries, I am faithful to encourage others with the truths of his Word and obedient in applying those truths to my own life. 

Wrestling with God is painful and exhausting, as Jacob found out after a long night of wrestling with God.  In Genesis 32:22-30, we read the story of how Jacob wrestled with a man until daybreak refusing to let go, despite the pain of a wrenched hip, until the man blessed him. The man, whom we know to be God from the scriptural account, blessed Jacob and gave him a new name, Israel, because he had struggled with humans and with God and had overcome (v. 28).

Perseverance is a hallmark of our faith in God.  We are commanded to "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4, NIV).  But our enemy, Satan, knows that it is easier for us to throw in the towel and concede defeat than to persevere in our pursuit of God's favor and answer to our prayers.  How many blessings have we missed because we gave up on  God too quickly?

I have been wrestling with God for months over a heartbreak in my own life.  It has been painful and exhausting.  But God has proven himself faithful once more, providing the answer to prayer that could come only as I persevered and held onto every shred of hope I could muster.  I don't know what your struggle may be today, but I have it on the authority of Scripture that God will come through for you if you do not grow weary and give up (Hebrews 6:9).



Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!