Friday, August 22, 2014

The Rainbow Connection

Rainbow at Gloucester Point Beach
A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to "signs and wonders," but not me! As a lover of nature and the God who created all things I often sense his presence when I survey the beauty of his creation. That in itself is no small wonder! But what about signs? Does God still use signs to connect and communicate with his people? Yes, I believe he does.

One of the wonders God has used in my life more than once, to signal his presence and fill me with peace in a particular situation, is a rainbow. Nearly thirty years ago after my father passed away late one night, my mother and I faced the dreadful task of driving across town to deliver the sad news to my grandmother early the next morning. Knowing how devastated she would be I prayed for God to be with us and comfort Grannie in a way we could not. As we pulled onto the interstate to make the thirty-minute trip I looked out my window and saw a beautiful rainbow in the east, which was visible the entire duration of our drive. It was a sign to me of God's presence with us and his assurance that everything would be okay.

Just a few days ago I drove to the beach at Gloucester Point, a favorite spot of mine since our move to Virginia, to pray before an important job interview.  In the past few months I have visited the Point several times a week, at various times and in all kinds of weather, to look at marine life and watch the river flow. It is a peaceful and beautiful place where I often go to escape from the noise and stress of life. But on this particular day, because of its close proximity to the location of my interview, it became a place of prayer.

When I pulled into my usual spot near the bridge I looked out my driver side window and spotted a rainbow stretched across the sky above the river.  A coincidence? I think not. It was the first rainbow I had seen at the Point. Quickly I grabbed my camera to take a photo of the rainbow, joyfully accepting it as a sign of God's presence with me in the interview and his promise to meet our needs by opening the door to the job he has already chosen for me.

The connection I felt with God as I gazed upon that rainbow is a connection we each can have through a personal relationship with his son Jesus, who died to save us from our sins. If you have never received his free gift of salvation and desire to learn more, click here. It will be the best decision you ever make!








Copyright © 2014 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, August 18, 2014

At a Loss for Words

What do you do when your heart is full but you can't put your feelings into words? As a writer I sometimes struggle with this problem. Since I'm not an author of novels or longer nonfiction works it doesn't become a particularly stressful issue for me unless I feel compelled to write or am facing a publication deadline. When I do suffer writer's block a simple journal entry and a good cup of coffee will usually relieve the urge to write when inspiration is elusive and the words just won't come. I know that when God has something he wants to convey through my writing he will let me know and give me the words needed at just the right time.

What do you do, though, when you really need to pray about something but you can't work through the hurt, fear, or anger you feel?  When your thoughts are so overshadowed by stress and circumstances that you can't gain a proper perspective or clearly articulate the burden you carry in your heart?  It helps to be reminded that "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26, NASB).

We serve a God who created us in his own image (Genesis 1:26) and fully understands the complexities of the human heart (1 John 3:20).  Jesus himself agonized in prayer, so that his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Clearly he understands the burdens of your heart! Even though you cannot find the words to express them, simply uttering his name, Jesus, hearkens his ear to the desperate cries of your heart. There is more power in the name of Jesus than in all the words in all the dictionaries that have ever been written.

When you call on Jesus all things are possible!


Copyright © 2014 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!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cure for the Common Crazy

Who is it that makes you crazy? Your spouse? Your kids? That difficult coworker who shows up late or won't shut up?  If you walk this earth there is probably someone who aggravates you on occasion and brings out the worst in you. If not, then you have already discovered the cure for the common crazy:  Grace.

I never cease to be amazed at the countless ways God uses to teach me about his grace and the ways I should reflect it.  For the past few months he has used a Bible study and the relocation of my family to another state to teach me more about grace and how truly essential it is in every aspect of our daily lives.  So what is this grace?

Grace has been defined as "God's unmerited favor" or "getting what we don't deserve." The clearest demonstration of God's grace is our salvation through his Son Jesus, who willingly died on the cross for our sins. We didn't deserve the sacrifice of God's only Son as atonement for our sins, but "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NIV).

As Christians who have received the gift of salvation our lives should reflect the grace of God. When people bring out the worst in us instead of God's best, how can we bear witness to his grace rather than give in to our human inclination to lash out against that person who makes us crazy?


Remember whose you are. "You are not your own. You were bought at a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The price Christ paid by dying for your sins is immeasurable. Should we do any less in return than walk in the grace that he demonstrated to us? How else will others learn of his grace if we don't flesh it out before them?

Pray for those who wrong, mistreat, or aggravate you.  "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even then tax collectors doing that? Be perfect, therefore, even as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-46, 48). I will be the first to admit that loving someone who irritates or offends me is difficult. But I have learned that saying a simple prayer for them in the heat of the moment quickly turns my attention to God and draws him into my dilemma. When I do that I am less likely to respond in haste or with anger.

Find some reason to give thanks! "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). You don't have to be thankful for the conflict in which you find yourself but you can certainly thank God that he is in it with you! Perhaps that difficult person has issues you don't have -- give thanks!

Remember that the conflict won't last forever. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). That wayward teenager will eventually grow into a responsible adult. That annoying coworker will not go home with you at the end of your shift (unless you choose to take her there by "talking shop" with your significant other). When I struggle with difficult relationships it helps me to remember that I am not the person I used to be. By seeing the positive changes God has made in me I know that there is indeed hope for that other person whose behavior is of concern to me. It also helps to remember that God is God and I am not. There are certain things only he can do!

Love and forgive others as God has loved and forgiven you. Loving and forgiving others are not options. They are commands from Jesus himself. "A new command I give you:  Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).  "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15). Love and forgiveness go hand-in-hand.  Always have, always will.  It is only when we meditate on the love and forgiveness Christ demonstrated on the cross that we are able to extend them to others.

Here's the bottom line:  Our lives depend on God's grace. So do the lives of those who at times make us crazy. How can they know God's grace if our lives aren't a living testimony?  As much as we may love our families, God loves them more. As difficult as some folks may be, God expects us to love and forgive them because that is what he has done for us. Pick your battles, pray without ceasing, choose joy!  Love will always cover a multitude of sins and at the end of the day, God will still be God and you will still be his beloved child.






Copyright © 2014 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, August 13, 2014

While They're Still Here

The recent death of beloved comedian Robin Williams finds many of us remembering not only his wit but learning of his compassion and involvement in causes such as animal rescue, working with the homeless, and supporting the fight against cancer. We have learned of his kindness and gentleness as a father and friend and been made keenly aware of his personal struggles with depression and addiction.  His tragic death has underscored the brevity and unpredictability of life.

Many of us have friends and family who are lost in their own stormy seas of mental illness, emotional dysfunction, or addiction.  There are others who are homeless, jobless, or lonely.  Where is their hope and how can we help?

It is easy -- and I for one have been guilty -- to get so caught up in our own problems that we lose sight of others and the things they may be going through.  Or we simply fail to look beyond the surface and truly understand the condition of the human soul.

Today take a closer look at the people around you.  Be more sensitive to the challenges they may be dealing with and look for ways you can help.  Learn what you can about the things you may not understand, such as mental illness, suicide, and social injustice.  Lend an ear or a helping hand and make a difference where you can.

Life is short.  Our opportunities to make a difference and to share God's love with a hopeless world are diminishing with each passing day.  Hug those close to you, encourage them, and express how much you love them...while they're still here.


Copyright © 2014 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, August 4, 2014

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet?  It is the unrelenting question of antsy children on a long journey, who tire of the restraints which keep them from running and playing freely.  It is the cry of the weary pilgrim, who yearns to reach his promised land.  And it is the believer's impatient plea as we long for the day when we will leave behind the trials and sorrows of our earthly existence and finally arrive in that peaceful heavenly abode our Savior is preparing for us.

In my journey to become all God wants me to be, I have struggled...really struggled...with relationships that challenge me. Because of them I realize just how much I need to mature in my relationship with God.  As a committed follower of Christ I know I should love the difficult people he has placed in my life, but sometimes it is difficult to model his grace and love them unconditionally, even though I recognize I am far from perfect and utterly powerless to change them.  Their annoying behaviors bring out the worst in me, stealing my joy and sending me into a tailspin of self-loathing and condemnation.

As I contemplate and pray about this dilemma there are a few things that come to mind:

1.  Jesus knew that we would have difficult relationships and taught us how to handle them. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45, ESV).

2.  Jesus called us to love others as he loved us, sacrificially. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13, ESV).

3.  Without love, we have nothing and we gain nothing. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV).

4.  Love possesses certain characteristics.  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, ESV).

5.  Love is an act of obedience. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments (1 John 5:2, ESV).  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him (John 14:21, ESV).

There is so much more God has to say on the subject of loving others. It should be as easy as making up our minds to simply obey God and get along, right?  Not a chance! But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our best, with God's help, to love one another, especially those requiring an extra measure of grace.

Even Paul struggled with getting it right, recognizing his fleshly limitations and frail humanity. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing (Romans 7:16-19, ESV). 

Like Paul, I struggle with sin, particularly in the area of difficult relationships. And I know that what God expects of me is something I cannot accomplish in my own power.  But Paul himself offers us all this encouragement:  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8, ESV). 

When it comes to loving the difficult people in my life I'm nowhere close to where I want to be, but with God's help I believe I will eventually get there!




Copyright © 2014 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!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Right at Home

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15, NIV).

The view from my La-Z-Boy
From where I sit this morning the world is a beautiful place and my heart is at peace.  It is hard to believe that we have been in our new home for two months now. 

Life is so different here, better than I expected. Although getting used to a smaller home was an adjustment at first I appreciate having more time to enjoy life.  With less to clean and maintain I now have the luxury of sitting in the backyard watching birds and the occasional rabbit that comes through the fence. Trips to "the beach within reach" are a frequent occurrence, not so I can soak up the rays but rather observe crabs and jelly fish in their natural habitat, watch passing boats, and marvel at how different Gloucester Point appears depending on the weather and time of day. Each visit is a new adventure.

Chris
The biggest blessing of all has been reconnecting as a family and spending quality time together after five months of separation.  I have especially enjoyed getting reacquainted with Chris, who was not home much because of his work and other activities.  Please pray for Chris and me as we continue to seek employment here.

With school just around the corner, Joy will start her own new adventure and our schedule will become busier and more routine.  Until then I plan to milk every moment of summer that I can and enjoy these kiddos while there is still time.  They are growing up much too quickly!

Joy

Life here is better but certainly not perfect. We continue to struggle with many of the same problems we had before the move. There are new challenges, too. That is part of the adventure.  But we know God is in this move and that he has a solution for every problem and provision for every need. No matter how long we stay here or where God leads us in the future, with him we'll always be right at home.



Copyright © 2014 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!