Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm Glad I'm Not Famous

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (Philippians 2:1-3, ESV).
Growing up as an awkward teen with many idols I always thought it would be nice to be famous.  I remember once sitting in second row seats at a Sandi Patty concert realizing sadly that I would never sing like her.  My dreams were dashed until the Lord whispered to me that because of her fame she would face challenges I would never know.  In that moment I felt it okay just to be me.  Many years have come and gone since the dream of having a voice like Sandi's vanished. I have learned that not all of us were born to sing solo and that a truly good choir is made of voices that blend well together.

In the past few years I have written three devotional books and become a published author. It's no big deal really. That God would allow me to pen anything remotely inspiring is a blessing to me, but as I look at my life now I am glad I'm not famous. Sure, I would love a big fat royalty check but at what cost? Time away from my family to do book tours and speaking engagements or the missed opportunities to minister to people who face some of the personal challenges God has used to grow and inspire me?

I would rather be approachable any day!  No amount of money can replace the thrill and joy of knowing that God uses ordinary people like us to accomplish extraordinary things in the lives of others. The ministry each of us shares one-on-one with co-workers, family, and friends can be far more rewarding than reaching masses of people we will never know personally.  Jesus himself was approachable despite his divinity and oneness with God.

I'm glad I'm not famous!  I love my life just the way it is -- the work I do, the ministry God has given me in this season of life, and the joy of knowing that in his choir, my joyful noise is pleasing to his ears.




Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gorgeous Inside


On my way to work the other day I passed a home for sale. Prominently attached to the For Sale sign was one similar to the placard pictured above. I smiled because it occurred to me that many of us spend so much time working on "curb appeal" that we often neglect the very things that make a house a home.

As Christians we sometimes neglect the work it takes to make us "gorgeous inside." We may look good physically or appear mentally and emotionally sound but inwardly we are a wreck! When provoked (or maybe just because "everyone else does it") we spew profanity or rage at total strangers who dare to cut us off in traffic. Where is the beauty in that?

In a world where so much emphasis is placed on outer beauty we often overlook the importance of developing the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:4, NIV).  It is his love and character shining through us that ultimately draws others to him. 

When we want to sell a home we spend time making both the outside and the inside attractive to potential buyers, don't we? Then why don't we as Christians focus on what's truly important--developing love and Christlike character through the daily disciplines of prayer and time in God's Word? Only when our spiritual house is in order can we hope to sell others on their need for Christ.





Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com


Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Wouldn't Change a Thing

When I was a little girl my mom entered me in the Little Miss Parkway Village beauty pageant.  I'm not really sure why she did but I remember knowing, even as a young child, that there was not a chance I would win, let alone place.  In a homemade dress with short, unruly curls I was no match for the adorable little girls with big hair and fancy dresses.  I remember well how excited I was that our host was Trent Wood, the host of Memphis' TV program, "Looney Zoo."  My contestant number was emblazoned on a giant cardboard lollypop.  There was no prize for me that night, but I did go home with a consolation goodie bag.

After years of struggling with my weight and low self-esteem, particularly in my teen years, my sorority elected me to represent them in our college pageant.  By then I had lost some of the weight I had gained in high school.  With a month's membership to a local fitness salon, an hour of lap swimming daily in the athletic center pool, and a strict diet, I managed to drop four sizes and pour myself into a size 8 swimsuit with matching pumps.  My talent was singing and I even arranged the music for my song, which was disastrous.  But it was a great experience!  Even though I neither won nor placed, I learned a lot about poise, makeup application, and choreography.  It was great fun!

As I sit on my couch tonight watching these beautiful young women from around the world I am so thankful I am not one of them!  I can't imagine the pressure they must feel to achieve the kind of physical beauty that has brought them to this year's pageant. When I think about what has it cost them in money and personal sacrifice to achieve such poise and perfection suddenly I realize I wouldn't change a thing about myself and the life I am blessed to enjoy!

I may be fifty pounds overweight (at least), have gray hair, and sing like a bullfrog on a hot summer night, but I am beautiful to the God who created me. My joyful noise is music in his ears and he rejoices over me with singing. My hands bear the scars of one who has served and worked hard and my fingernails will never be long. But I have learned to see myself the way he does and to love the skin I'm in.

Beauty pageants will always have their place and there are those who will use their platforms to do much good in this world.  I will tune in year after year and root for my favorite contestant.  But I will never feel the need to compete with others or to be anyone but myself because I have already won the heart of my God, and he is the only audience that matters!



Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crockpot Christianity

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus"  (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV).
We often look at people like Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, and our local pastors as "giants of the faith" who have some sort of special connection with God.  To us they are the "go to" example of the kind of faith it takes to live victoriously in a trouble-filled world -- the people who have arrived and have it all together spiritually. We long to have that kind of solid faith but don't believe it is possible for us to reach that level of spiritual maturity. Truth is, they are all flesh-and-blood humans with struggles just like ours. Their faith came through perseverance in the difficulties of life just as ours must.

For us who struggle to maintain solid faith in the midst of life's uncertainties, let us be reminded that faith isn't something we can pop in the microwave or play on demand like a movie on Netflix.  Solid faith is simmered slow and steady in the crockpot of Christianity, flavored by the truth of God's Word and the fellowship of Christ in prayer. The main ingredient is our salvation by faith in Jesus.  But like any good recipe all the ingredients are required if we desire the kind of faith that produces a pleasing aroma and creates a desire for others to see and taste that God is good.  Solid faith doesn't come without a little heat, though.  Such faith is born as we endure the fiery trials of this life and remain in them long enough to let faith have its perfect work.

In Day by Day with Billy Graham, Reverend Graham writes:
The Bible also teaches that faith does not end with trust in Christ for your salvation. Faith grows. It may be weak at first, but it will become stronger as you begin to read the Bible, pray, go to church, and experience God’s faithfulness in your Christian life. You will learn more and more how to rely on Christ for every need, in meeting every circumstance, and every trial.
If you feel like you have a long way to go before you "arrive" as a Christian, you are probably right.  But don't let that keep you from pressing on in your walk with Jesus. Marinate in his love and grace, season your days with his Word and prayer, and ask God for the strength to endure the heat required to produce in you the fragrant aroma of faith that is pleasing to God and draws others to him.


Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

After the Fire

"After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (1 Kings 19:12, NIV)

For many of us life is a series of unrelenting struggles that often challenge our faith and make us want to run away and hide.  God speaks of the fiery ordeal that comes as we live for God (1 Peter 4:12). But how often do we try to escape the flames of adversity rather than listen for the still, small voice of God in the midst of them?

When Elijah fled to Horeb, the mountain of God, fearing for his life, the LORD called Elijah from his hiding place into the presence of God so he could reveal himself to Elijah.  "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, and the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper" (I Kings 19:11-12, NIV, emphasis added).

When we find ourselves in the heat of the battle aren't we sometimes tempted to leap out of the fire and run to a safe place? Perhaps we are facing a struggle and God seems distant and silent. God may not be present in the fiery ordeal we face, especially if it is a consequence of our own sin, but he allows it and is waiting on the other side to redeem and restore us.  Sometimes it is only after the fire that we can hear the gentle whisper of his voice and see his purpose in our suffering.  Hold on, dear friend -- He is so worth waiting for!



Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"Mt. Debterest"

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7, NIV).

As Steve and I keep trying to shovel out from under a heavy debt load with a plastic spoon I want to scream loudly to anyone who is remotely tempted to buy something they cannot afford, "It's not worth it!" If I had a dollar for every financial mistake I have made since graduating college and entering the work force thirty four years ago I would be able to retire tomorrow.  Yet here we are -- with a daughter in high school facing college in four years, a son who graduated three years ago but opted not to go to college, and three cars ranging from eleven to nineteen years in age, all in constant need of repair -- shoveling away at "Mt. Debterest" one spoonful at a time.  We are making progress -- painfully slow progress -- but there is no margin for error or emergencies.

Dave Ramsey, where were you thirty years ago before we dug ourselves such a deep hole?  Where were the lessons about paying with cash, building an emergency fund, and saving for that season of unemployment we would go through not once, but three times?  Sigh...we're not blaming you, Dave; we did this to ourselves. How I wish we'd had the benefit of your counsel when our train left the depot on the fast track to financial derailment!

Scripture is right, and Dave is quick to remind us, that "the borrower is slave to the lender." The shackles that fetter our ability to give generously, pay forward the kindnesses that have been shown to us, and drive a car that isn't a constant drain on our nerves and our bank account are heavy. But we are on our way to financial freedom and we won't stop moving forward until we have arrived. We may be without a surplus, or some days even an adequate supply of cash, but we are not without hope!

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:1-4, NIV).

We have forsaken all forms of plastic except, on rare occasion, our debit cards.  We don't use even a debit card if we can pay with cash. Dave is right...we spend less when we pay with cash. While we continue making every effort to save, though the emergency fund stays in a state of perpetual depletion for car repairs, medical expenses, and life's other little dollar destroyers, we are determined to keep walking toward the light at the end of the tunnel because we are convinced it does exist.

We didn't get into this shape overnight; neither will we get out of it anytime soon, barring the miracle of an unexpected windfall. And since that is not likely to happen, guess I'd better go to the bank, get some cash, and buy some more plastic spoons!



Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Living from the Heart

So many of us go through life like machines.  We click, hum, spin, and before you know it reach the end of our day with very little emotion or enthusiasm about what we accomplished or the difference we made in our world.  Our routines are dull and monotonous and we go through the motions of living half-heartedly one more day.

What if we truly became engaged with life and began living it from the heart?  What does that even mean?

Living from the heart begins with loving with our hearts -- whether it is the people around us or the tasks at hand.  What is it that you love to do?  Is it possible to live from the heart even when you aren't living your dream or doing the job you were born to do?  I believe it is.

Believers are called to do all things for God's glory -- in essence, to put our heart and soul into everything we do. Even if we work in a hostile environment we are to love our enemies.  That involves living from the heart.  When faced with a difficult decision or challenge we should seek the wisdom of God because we love him -- with our heart. When we don't feel like extending grace to someone who has wronged us, we need to forgive that person -- from the heart.

Jesus lived from the heart -- by leaving the riches of heaven to take the form of a man and dying on the cross to redeem us from our sins.  He lived from the heart because he loved us with all his heart. Should we do any less?


Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

***************************

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, January 7, 2015

The Glory of My Weakness

The glory of my weakness
Is the power of God's love
To look beyond my failures,
To raise my heart above
The sadness that o'ertakes me
When my wandering mind caves in,
Leading me down lonely paths
Where I am prone to sin.
The glory lies in God's great strength
To lift me when I'm down,
To pull me from the pool of sin
Where I am prone to drown --
To cheer me when my heartache's deep,
My will to fight is gone,
To lift me up once more to live
And turn my night to dawn.
I glory in my weakness
For there I find my strength
In the loving arms of Christ my Lord
My Savior and my King.


Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I Know Just How You Feel

"Lord, did you hear what he just said to me? What have I done to deserve such mean and hateful words? The only thing I'm guilty of is loving him."

Have you ever said those words to God? Have you been at the receiving end of someone else's verbal abuse, hurled at you like a grenade from out of nowhere? I think we all have at one time or another.

When we are verbally assaulted it is difficult to resist responding impulsively to the harsh words of another. Yet that is what Jesus would have us do. The Bible says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1, NASB). Sometimes, though, a gentle answer doesn't seem effective in turning around the conversation. What then? Are we justified in fighting back in order to avoid becoming someone's doormat?

As I was pouring out my heart to the Lord following an unpleasant exchange of words with someone else, I sensed Jesus telling me, "I know just how you feel." The One who came to save us from our sins, heal our diseases, and abide with us also suffered tremendous physical and verbal abuse from those who never quite understood or were willing to accept his kind of love. In fact he told us that we would be persecuted and abused on account of him and that we should consider ourselves blessed as a result. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12, NKJV).

The next time someone hurts your feelings with their words or actions remember that Jesus, too, experienced hurt and rejection by thousands of people in his lifetime. But "for the joy before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 12:2, ESV). He knows just how you feel, and one day you, too, will be with him in the presence of God where the only words spoken will be words of love, kindness, and peace.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

***************************

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!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

In Christ Alone

My mind is restless and jumbled with a dozen swirling thoughts this morning -- among them thoughts of a new direction, what it means to truly worship, feeling like a vagabond in my search for God's will, and wanting so badly to be God's instrument for drawing others closer to him.  How I long for him to channel my thoughts into constructive and fruitful action, prayerfully intertwined with his purpose and plan for my life and ministry.

I don't want this new year to be just another year of surviving life's storms with my faith intact.  I want this to be a year of growing wildly closer to the Lord, thriving in ministry, and making a difference in the lives of others. When he chooses to call me home I want to leave this planet knowing that I made a mark on my world -- not my mark, but his.  I want to be missed, not because of who I was but because of who he is in me.

Without Christ I am nothing. Outside of his will I have no purpose. Aside from his indwelling Spirit I am unable to love, to serve, or to walk in joyful obedience to his will. With him all things are possible. In him is fullness of joy and a peace which surpasses all understanding. In Christ alone.

Click HERE to hear "In God Alone" by Kristian Stanfill



Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

***************************

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, January 1, 2015

Letting Go and Taking Hold

It is shortly after midnight and like many I was more than eager to flip the calendar page to a new year. It has been a difficult year for so many.  Loved ones have died, jobs have been lost, and families have been uprooted and moved -- and that's just in my family! Planes have gone missing, disease and illness have touched so many of us, and the world has continued spinning out of control.  Yet somewhere it the midst of it all God has proven faithful to his followers even when at times he has seemed so very far away.

Many of us spend the week between Christmas and New Year's Day reflecting on the year that is coming to a close and praying about the year to come. What are your memories of last year and your dreams for the new year? Have you made resolutions that you can't keep or are you simply hoping God will keep you in the year ahead?

Last year I had to let go of everything familiar and take hold of God's plans to move our family to a new state and new jobs.  It was a God-ordained adventure that I chose to embrace despite the many challenges we faced.  The year ended on a very positive note, and for that I am very thankful.

This new year will be another year of letting go and taking hold.  I will be letting go of the hindrances in my life -- one-sided relationships, unnecessary financial obligations, and misuse of my time -- and taking hold of the greater things God has in store -- a better relationship with my spouse and kids, the fulfillment of giving my best on the job, and the financial peace that will come as I deny myself and become a better steward of his resources.

What are the things you need to let go of in order to take hold of God's blessings and plans for you?

Happy New Year!

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

***************************

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!