Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Validated -- Struggling with Approval Addiction

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.   Galatians 1:10 NIV

Approval.  Validation.  Gratitude.  These are things many of us seek, things I struggle with daily.  Even though as believers we long to follow God and live to bring him honor and glory, few of us would agree that man's approval means absolutely nothing to us. 

For years I have struggled with approval addiction.  As a devotional writer I want to know that the meditations I share are helping and making a difference in the lives of others.  How else can I measure that except by the number of Facebook likes or Twitter retweets I receive?  

How different would our lives be if we lived each day with God's approval as our goal and stopped believing the lie that man's approval is a valid measuring stick?  What if we spent less time seeking validation on social media and more time in prayer with the only One whose approval really matters?  God loves us lavishly (1 John 3:1) and wants us to come to him with our prayers, our complaints, and our joys.  

Lord, approval addiction is exhausting!  At the end of the day, when my work is done and I finally lay my head on the pillow, the only thing that truly matters is whether I pleased You with my thoughts, words, and deeds.  Help me be satisfied to seek approval from You alone and to trust that You are working in ways I cannot see.


Copyright © 2020-2021 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, January 3, 2021

If Your Ship Is Sinking You Might Be on the Wrong Boat!

At times we all feel like we are on a sinking ship, don't we?  We can't pay our bills, don't understand why we lost our job or our health, and the problems we face are bigger than the iceberg that sank the Titanic.  Like the disciples, we may feel like Jesus is asleep in the boat without a care in the world, while we are headed down, down, down.  

At some point in life most of us have heard the familiar story in the gospel of Mark, where Jesus calms a storm.  Sometimes a Bible passage can become so familiar to us that we miss the little nuggets God hides inside.  
Mark 4:35–41 (ESV): 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Wait a minute!  Other boats?  What other boats?  How did I miss that part of the story?  We know that Jesus calmed the winds and the waves and saved the lives of the men on the boat with him, but what about the men on the other boats?  Intrigued, I did a little research to see what I could find out.  

In Matthew Henry's Commentary, Henry writes:

6. There were with him other little ships, which, no doubt, shared in the distress and danger. Probably, these little ships carried those who were desirous to go along with Christ, for the benefit of his preaching and miracles on the other side. The multitude went away when he put to sea, but some there were, that would venture upon the water with him. Those follow the Lamb aright, that follow him wherever he goes. And those that hope for a happiness in Christ, must be willing to take their lot with him, and run the same risks that he runs. One may boldly and cheerfully put to sea in Christ’s company, yea though we foresee a storm.  

I wonder, might the issue not be that our ship is sinking, but that we have failed to invite Jesus to accompany us on our journey?  Nowhere in scripture does Jesus promise us smooth sailing but he does promise never to leave us or forsake us.

Friend, if you feel like your ship is sinking and Jesus is not in your boat with you, then I encourage you to invite him in.  He is the only one who can save you!  He is the only one who can calm the winds and waves that batter your ship and see you safely through to the other side.

Copyright © 2020-2021 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

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Friday, January 1, 2021

Life Doesn't Have to Be This Way -- Hope for the New Year

Happy New Year!  I really mean that.  There is not a reason under the sun why we must experience another year of misery as we did in 2020.  Sure, many of us had the dickens kicked out of us by adversities and loss, sickness and suffering.  We couldn't see coming everything that life dished out.  But, the past is past and if we change our focus a little, I truly believe we can live above our circumstances and experience joy in 2021.

Here are a few of the things that 2020 taught me:

1.    God is in control.  Now it may not seem that way to you, but nothing takes him by surprise.  Neither is God to blame for all the bad things that happen to us.  God doesn't cause natural disasters, racial riots, political misconduct, or anything else that man brings on himself or his neighbor because of his own sinful nature and willful misconduct, but he does allow us to suffer the consequences of those choices.  
        The Bible is filled with scriptures that attest to the sovereignty of God (Proverbs 19:21), his presence with us (Joshua 1:9), his promises for protection (Isaiah 41:10), and the assurance that he works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).  We know, and have seen, that God can take what man has intended for evil and use it for good (Genesis 50:20), increasing the faith of those who believe, saving those who are lost, and fostering generosity toward others.  Think of 9/11 or recent natural disasters and the many ways communities came together to help one another rebuild lives and homes.  Even in the midst of this pandemic, communities are working together to provide food for the hungry and meet the financial needs of those who have lost jobs.   

2.    God is faithful.  If God is faithful, then why did my husband lose his job?  Why did my loved one get sick and die?  Why did ________ (you fill in the blank)?  There isn't a single one of us that hasn't asked the "why?" question in recent months.  I'll even go so far as to say that we don't deserve what happened to us in 2020.  But does the adversity we experienced mean God is not faithful?  All through history good people have had bad things happen to them.  Look at Job.  He was a man of great faith yet God allowed Satan (yes, the devil himself) to strip Job of everything -- his family, his great wealth and possessions, and even his health.  God allowed all of it.  Let that sink in.  Jesus certainly didn't deserve to die a criminal's death on the cross because of our sin.  In Matthew 26:53-54 (ESV), Jesus said:
 53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
Jesus was faithful to the promises of scripture that a Messiah, a Savior, would die on a cross and be raised from the dead to forgive our sins and assure us of an eternal home with him in heaven.  I'm so glad that Jesus was faithful even when it cost him everything!  

3.    The difficulties we face should not define us; our faith should.  The world is watching us to see how we handle the hard circumstances of life.  People need to know that this ugly, broken, sick world is not all there is.  We need to believe that too.  Christians are not immune from life's troubles. 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."  Why, then, should we be surprised by anything that happens or by circumstances we cannot control?  Jesus said, "you will have tribulation."  
        As people struggling to reclaim our faith in these difficult times, may we be reminded that Jesus has overcome the world and that one day, those of us who know him will join him in the holy city, the new Jerusalem, where "He will wipe away every tear 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" (Revelation 21:4, ESV).  Let us be defined by our faith in Christ, not in the circumstances and heartbreaks we will experience in our time here on earth.

There are some reading this who may not know Jesus, or who may have wandered from the faith.  If that is you, please know that you can never wander too far from the loving embrace and forgiveness of our great God.  Jesus didn't just die for my sins.  He died for yours, too, in order that you might have a personal relationship with him in the here and now.  Eternal life with Jesus doesn't begin when we die, but rather when we ask for his forgiveness and invite him into our hearts to be our Lord and Savior.   

My prayer for you in 2021 is that you will experience the joy of a personal relationship with Christ by receiving his free gift of salvation (you don't have to earn it, just ask for it) and by choosing to surrender your life to his leading.  I learned a long time ago that life is so much better when lived God's way instead of my own.  God's word will tell you everything you need to know to live joyfully and victoriously if you will make reading the Bible a part of each day.  Living God's way and discovering his purpose and plan for your life is the greatest adventure you will have!


Copyright © 2020-2021 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Prayer for More of God

Lord, as we close the book on all the sorrow and sadness of 2020 and anticipate with hope a better year ahead, give us more in 2021.  Not more stuff.  Not more happiness.  Not more money or jobs or security.  Give us more of you.

Without you we are nothing but hopeless, miserable creatures struggling to get through the challenges and heartaches of living in a fallen world.

With you all things -- even impossible things -- are possible.  Because of you we have hope.  You are Immanuel, God with us, not just during Advent and Christmas but throughout the year, in good times and in bad.

You are our Provider, Protector, Peace, Healer, Savior, Redeemer, Strong Tower, Deliverer...the God who works all things together for good for those who love you and are called according to your purpose (Romans 8:28).

You forgive us when we sin, weep with us when we are sorrowful, and rejoice with us when we are happy.  You get us, because you created us.

The greatest thing we can pray for in the coming year is to know you more.  In knowing you more we will love you more, and in loving you more we will love others more.

Lord, open the eyes of our hearts to see others as you do and more importantly, to see ourselves as you do -- holy, pure, and beloved because the blood of Jesus has made us so.

Lord, give us more in 2021.  Not less heartache, not less stress, not less illness, but more faith in the One who will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what may come.  Lord, give us more of you.  

In Jesus' name and for your glory, amen.

Copyright © 2020-2021 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

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Friday, December 25, 2020

Reflections on Christmas 2020

To say that 2020 has been a difficult year is the understatement of a lifetime, certainly of mine.  We all have witnessed the unthinkable -- a pandemic that has changed our lives in ways we could never have imagined and taken the lives of those we know and love.  It is safe to say that most of the families I know have been touched by sickness, sorrow, and loss.  Ours certainly has, but one thing has not changed this Christmas -- the Savior whose birth we celebrate.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Steve and I are celebrating our first Christmas as empty nesters.  Our son moved out in July, 2020 and our daughter moved back home to Tennessee Thanksgiving weekend.  Because of the pandemic we made the decision not to travel out of town, or even across town, to visit family for Christmas, opting instead for a quiet holiday at home.

Rather than buying for each other, Steve and I decided to bless our kids and those less fortunate, as generously as God's provision would allow.  Even though Steve lost his job in October because of pandemic-related downsizing God provided another job so that we would have the resources to give even beyond what we thought was possible.  We learned this year that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.

Many friends and family lost loved ones this year, even as recently as in the days leading up to Christmas.  My prayers that God would provide the comfort and healing they and their loved ones need are coupled with the awareness that I will eventually face the same kind of heartaches that so many have this year.  It is not something I fear -- I know the heartaches will come -- but I pray daily for the grace and faith to meet those challenges in such a way that others will know Jesus truly does save and care for his own.

The year we thought would never end will soon be behind us. Sadly the days ahead don't look to bring any meaningful relief.  More than ever we all need to press hard into God because he is the only hope we have.  

God's word is filled with promises of his presence, peace, grace, power, and provision.  If you don't spend much time reading the Bible or talking with God in prayer, then resolve in 2021 to make doing so a daily habit.  It won't cost you anything but a little time each day -- an investment that will pay you the rich dividends of a closer walk with God and the peace which passes understanding.

Copyright © 2020-2021 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Prayer for Empty Nesters

Once upon a time my babes were small, little ones who needed parents to love and protect them.
Earlier this year our firstborn left home to spread his wings and gain his independence.  We all knew it was time.  I couldn't be more proud of him for taking on the challenges of adulthood with such courage and determination.

Our daughter is soon to fly and leave our nest, eager to see the world beyond our home and to make her way in this world.  My heart is breaking... I'm not prepared...yet I am confident that she is ready.

How to make the most of the time we have left is an overwhelming thought.  With so many details to attend to over the next few weeks, I know time will slip away and the day will come that I have to let her go. 

Soon our nest will be empty...yet I know I will not be alone.  Nor will they, for our heavenly Father has promised to be with them wherever they go.

Lord, keep our children in your care
Protect and guard them everywhere
Be their Provider, their Peace, their Friend
From now until the very end
God, thank You for the precious gift
Of parenting these kids of ours
They're in your hands now, lead them well
And be our Comfort in the quiet, lonely hours

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Becoming Invisible

"He must become greater; I must become less.”  (John 3:30, NIV)

This is a blog post I will never share to social media.  If anyone finds and reads it, it will be because the Holy Spirit directs them here.

Dear Jesus,

I am writing this to you to let you know that you are enough for me.  More than enough.  But I have thought more of myself and what others think of me than about what pleases you.  I'm sorry.

I have spent the past ten years writing books and sharing devotionals.  In vain I even attempted launching a speaking ministry. The novelty of all that wore off a long time ago because, if I am honest, I have grown weary of checking my Facebook and other social media posts to see if what I feel compelled to write and share really matters.  Why should it matter to me if anything I write makes a difference in someone else's life?

In a week I am going off the social media grid, embarking on a technology fast to heighten my sensitivity to your voice and the leading of your Holy Spirit. This will enable me to focus on learning the responsibilities of my new job and compile a book of devotionals as a gift to Mom.  Whether or not it gets published for anyone else's eyes to read will be up to you. 

When I consider my life and all the blessings it holds, I am humbled.  I don't deserve the home we live in, the car I drive, or the job that you just gave me.  I don't deserve your mercy or forgiveness, and I certainly don't deserve being used by you to accomplish your purposes, but I am SO grateful! 

Because of the pandemic and racial tensions of 2020, this year has been awful, but in the past few months of isolation you have been ever-present with me.  You have answered many prayers and brought me into a new season of service and ministry.  You know the frustrations I have experienced the past few years and you are handling them by orchestrating changes that will result in greater joy and purpose.  I receive every day, every challenge, and every blessing as gifts from your hands.

With one breath, one lightning strike, one tragic accident you could remove every source of joy and blessing in my life, but you cannot remove yourself.  Lord, you are everything to me and I am holding onto you with both hands!  As long as I have you, there really is nothing else I need. 

Lord, continue to teach me your word and your ways.  Continue to shape my desires to be in line with your will.  Give me the courage to become invisible so that you may shine brighter in my life. 

I am tired -- so very tired -- of trying to impress people.  Help me to live my life with my eyes set on you alone.  I cannot live unto myself, but until I can fully see you I will flounder in my ministry to others.  Let everything good in me be an overflow of your abundant goodness and grace.  And when I mess up and revert to my old ways, as it is in my human nature to do, gently and swiftly remind me of this prayer.

Lord, I love you more than anyone will ever know!

Dee Dee

Copyright © 2020 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

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