What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Be Anxious for Nothing

As I finish up my study of Philippians 4:4-9, several of the sentences from Max Lucado’s Anxious for Nothing are worth exploring. I have another week or two before totally leaving this study (before starting on 1 and 2 Samuel), and I may make further comments as I come up with a summary of the lessons I’ve learned. However, for now, these are my thoughts.
“Anxiety is not a sin; it is an emotion.” Emotions are tricky things for me. I’ve spent most of my life thinking that feelings are to be avoided at all costs. After years of therapy, I’m beginning to see the value of the emotional aspects of our being – aspects God created us to have. Yet, I struggle when it comes to “negative” emotions. Somehow I got it into my head that feelings such as sadness, frustration, loneliness, guilt, anger, depression, and yes, anxiety/fear are not good and we shouldn’t have them. This quote reiterates what my therapists have been telling me all along. Emotions are just information. They are not sins. God knew we would have these feelings and thoughts. What we do with them, our behavior, determines whether we sin or not.
“Have I yielded sovereignty to God?” I’ve known and understood the concept that God is sovereign over everything: creation, spiritual battles, weather, people, etc. Yet, I still tried to hold onto the idea that I was self-determined and in control of my life. That it is up to me to effectively manage my world in order to get outcomes that are positive. Wrong! Everything is in God’s hands. I am sovereign (able to rule) over nothing in this world. Yielding my self-sovereign ideas to God’s sovereignty makes life so much easier and less stressful. When I truly believe that God is able and willing to take care of everything, I can freely go about serving Him and trust Him for the outcomes according to His plans. There’s peace in that. Outcomes are not my responsibility.
“The mind cannot at the same time be full of God and full of fear.” I’ve found that to be true. In the last year or so I’ve started everyday with a focus on God. I’ve opened my day with five minutes of praise. I’ve devoted myself to the study of Scripture. I’ve started a prayer journal again. And, throughout the day, I revisit those activities as often as possible (especially the praise). I’ve found my fear to cease as I reflect on God’s power and might and love and mercy and compassion, etc. Fear comes back of course, but I pause and praise and meditate on memorized Scripture, and calm returns. Sometimes, I have to do this many times a day. I’ve found that the more God there is in my thoughts, the less fear affects my attitudes and behaviors. Ultimately, the more peace I have.
“Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your Father increases.” That goes right along with having a mind full of God. The best (and only?) way I’ve found to truly increase my understanding of my Father is to read, study, memorize, and meditate on His Word, the Bible. I can’t think myself into understanding God. I can’t wish myself into understanding God. I can’t really get an understanding of God by listening to other people’s experiences with God. I need to spend intimate time with Him and His words in order to get to know Him. I need to give Him at least as much time as I would give a person I’m hoping to develop a friendship with. It does require quiet, purposeful discussion and conversation. I can’t really hear God without knowing His Word. Also, I don’t want to know what other people think about God. I want to personally know Him. That means personal time with Him learning about Him through His words.
Hopefully, these thoughts have given you some things to think about. They’ve been great lessons for me, and great reminders of what can happen when I apply Philippians 4:4-9 to my behavior and thoughts.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Quick Thoughts on Philippians 4:4-8

I did not have time this week to write a blog article. Appointments and computer problems got in the way. However, I do have some thoughts on Philippians 4:4-8 and being anxious for nothing.

My Bible study partner and I have been using Max Lucado's book and study guide on this passage of Scripture: Anxious for Nothing. I highly recommend it for everyone, and especially for those who struggle frequently with the issue of anxiety.

In the midst of these familiar verses is verse 5: "Let your forbearing spirit (gentleness) be known to all men. The Lord is near." In situations that can bring me anxiety, remaining gentle and kind, -- instead of frustrated, angry, and defensive -- can help soothe the situation instead of creating further anxiety. And the reason this is possible? Because the Lord is near. Some versions say, "The Lord is at hand." This is not only a true statement, it is key to our existence. He's available. He's taking care of things. He's always working and using situations in our lives to bring about His glory.

Knowing that, we can lay aside our anxieties and trust Him. We can more easily do what verses 6 and 7 say to do: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, practicing verse 8, meditating on the good things in this world and on the good character of God, will impress upon our hearts and minds the fact that the Lord is near. Peace comes from that.

Doing this study and memorizing this passage (in its entirety which I've never done before), has given me a new sense of God's peace in my life. I highly recommend it for everyone. If purchasing the books is not possible, meditating on Philippians 4:4-8 will change your perspective as it's changed mine. And the peace of God will guard you as a result.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Acts 12: Fervent Prayer

When I was writing about the Book of Acts, I did not write anything specific about Acts 12. Here are some thoughts I had as I was rereading this portion of Acts this week.
Most of Acts 12 gives us an account of a miracle involving Peter. Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of the Herod the Great who ruled at the birth of Jesus, was now ruling in Jerusalem. He was supposedly a “zealous practicer of Jewish rites and a religious patriot (Ryrie Study Notes).” In Acts 12 he was busy rounding up the believers still in Jerusalem “in order to mistreat them (vs. 1).” “And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword (vs. 2).” The mistreatment seemed to please the Jews so he also had Peter arrested and thrown in jail.
Peter was chained to guards and other guards were blocking the doorway. Just before he was to be brought to Herod for judgment, the miracle happened. An angel came and broke the chains, opened the doors and escorted Peter out of the prison. Once free, Peter realized just what God had done by sending an angel to rescue him. Peter went to a specific house where he had probably been many times. We can assume he knew people would be there praying.
In verse 5, we have a description of what was going on in that house: “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” This is a challenge to me. Is my prayer “fervent?” Is the prayer being made in my church “fervent?” According to Merriam-webster.com, fervent is defined as: “exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling: zealous.” Great intensity. Can my prayer life be described as having great intensity? I think I’ve rarely been in a situation where I would describe the prayer as being fervent.
At an Easter Sunday service at my church recently, the Pastor was explaining the gospel message tracing Jesus’ role from Genesis to Revelation. There was an opportunity for people to come forward if they had made a decision to follow Christ during the last year or if they were making first time decisions right then. This was a cause for fervent prayer. Throughout the services, there were people praying – individually and in small groups. I think I experienced fervent prayer as I was part of one of those small groups. However, it was relatively short-lived compared to the all-night praying of the early church for Peter’s situation.
I also wonder if we prayer fervently for those in our world today who are imprisoned for the sake of the gospel. I’m convicted by my lack of knowledge of such people around the world. I know there are some, possibly many, but I just don’t know any specifics about them or their situations. I do, however, have first hand experience with situations in Haiti involving social unrest, poverty, health concerns, and educational issues. I can be fervently praying for the people I met and those who are on the front lines trying to minister in those difficult situations. I need to do more of that. I think we also should all do some research into which and where people are imprisoned or under persecution for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think there’s a place for fervent prayer in our world today. Maybe even more so as the time of Christ’s return is closer everyday. Am I, are you, praying angels into situations where believers need divine help? I’m going to start doing more of that kind of praying.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Haiti Part 8: People

This will be the last post about Haiti for this year. I thought I’d end with some photos of various people. I will not identify them to protect their privacy. I will comment about them a little.
Spectators at various roofing sites. The children loved having their photos taken.

Children playing.

At the American University of the Caribbean talking to students learning English.

A man de-husking coconuts for us.

 A family in front of their newly roofed home.

So farewell. Orevwa. Good bye. From Haiti.
I hope you've enjoyed these articles about my trip -- God's work -- in Haiti. I pray you will continue to pray with me for Haiti and the work of LSM.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Haiti Part 7: A Developing Country

I hinted at the ruggedness of Haiti. What we all need to keep in mind is that Haiti is a developing country. We can’t go there expecting the amenities we are accustomed to in the United States. The economy is developing. The construction is developing. The government is developing. Education is developing. Transportation is developing. However, Haiti has a rich culture and traditions that should not be overlooked.
On Day #7, as we were trying to get to the airport in Port-Au-Prince from Les Cayes, there had been some demonstrations going on in a town about halfway to our destination (2 hours into the 4 hour drive). We were delayed alongside the road for several hours. There were many rumors about what the disturbance was about, but God had kept us safe by causing us to have to stop in a queue of traffic several miles before the troubled area. God had arranged for our safety – using the LovingShepherd Ministries hospitality people and a very skilled Haitian driver to keep us safe. Sure, there was some fear. However, I knew we were in God’s hands and under His protection. Whatever may come, we would be safe (if not in the present, in eternity). Just another indication we were in a developing nation.
As a result of the delay in our drive, we missed our flight out of Port-Au-Prince. The LSM support person was able to arrange for lodging for the night, and new flight arrangements were made so we could leave the next day.
On Day #8 of the trip I wrote in my journal:
Right now as I sit in a hotel room in the heart of Port-Au-Prince (near the airport), I’m fully aware this is a developing country – used to be referred to as third-world but that sounds too close to third-rate or a low priority. As Christians, we should see it as God’s harvest fields, ready for harvest, a first priority, a first-rate country [Matthew 9:37-38: “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’”]. [The hotel is] in the heart of the industrial areas and there are sheep bleating, chickens clucking and crowing, intermingled with the roar of diesel engines and cars honking. I don’t quite feel safe – I do feel God’s protection. I feel my vulnerability as a mere human in the masses of people. Yet, again, I’m experiencing God’s peace and love in the midst of “scary” situations and the fears of my own mind.
I share this so you have an accurate picture of Haiti and an understanding of its great need for help. LSM is doing much to enhance the development of Haiti’s economy, availability for education to some of the most vulnerable children, and training for future workers. Again, I’ve said it before in previous blogs, LSM is a ministry worthyof our prayers and support. And, Haiti is worth such support.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Haiti Part 6: Some of the Sights

This blog post will mostly be photos of some of the sights we experienced with brief explanations about what you are looking at.
Some contrasts first. 
 Most of the shoreline in Haiti is littered with debris. The people use the riverbanks during dry seasons as places leave garbage. When it rains, the garbage gets swept out to sea and ends up floating back up on the shores. There are some (mostly) private beaches that are well-kept and swimmable. We saw both. This nice beach is in Port-Salut south of Les Cayes. 

There are open fields between the hills and crowded cities. The city is Port-Au-Prince from the balcony of our hotel. When you think “city” do not picture Chicago. As many people might live there, but homes and facilities are still rather unsophisticated.

The landscape can be described as mostly hilly and mostly rocky. It’s amazing to see the people navigate the hills and the rocks as though they were on a flat sidewalk in the U.S. The climbs and walks were very challenging for me. Being able to walk a couple of miles on my road at home did not prepare me well for the terrain in Haiti. Next time (hopefully there will be a next time), I will be more prepared.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Haiti Part 5: Homes of Hope

Haiti Part 5: Homes of Hope
On two of the afternoons we were in Les Cayes, we visited the Home of Hope our church helps sponsor. This home consisted of a married couple as the parents and fourteen girls ranging in age from about three to late teens. This provides a family-like environment for these vulnerable children.
On Loving Shepherd Ministries website these homes are described the following way:
Homes of Hope are not orphanages. They are not institutions. They are not group homes. Within their permanent family, each child receives the love, spiritual guidance, and close parental relationships they need to feel safe and loved. The very same things we strive to provide for our own children.
That dynamic was very much in evidence during our visits. They are a family that provides the security and guidance we would all like to see in every home. These “vulnerable” children and the home environments are best described in LSM’s own words. Please visit their website using the various links in this blog to read more about this exciting ministry and find out how you can help.
We were shown the family’s garden that they took great pride in. It supplies fresh vegetables to them and plenty of coconuts. They shared coconuts with us and I had my first taste of what coconut is supposed to be like. I’ve never been one to enjoy the dried, stringy stuff we get in our markets in the States. I usually avoided it, but fresh coconut is nothing like that. We drank the liquid from the inside through a hole chopped into the “shell” before it was cut in half. Inside was a soft, pudding-like food, which we ate with spoons. It’s something I will remember (and it will probably prevent me from buying coconuts from the supermarket).
The girls, through our translator, asked us many questions. We asked some of them. On the first visit, as we were getting ready to leave, the girls spontaneously broke out in song There’s a short video on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mary.grimm.9) from February 7th. Then they asked us to sing and we stumbled our way through the first verse of Amazing Grace. They were much, much better at carrying a tune than the six of us. Then we all sang, in English, Jesus Loves Me. It is a memorable experience from the trip.
Again, please visit the Home of Hope page on LSM’s website to find out how to help support these terrific ministry situations. There are about 20 homes all together, some for boys and some for girls. The education and training these children are getting is making lasting changes in Haiti and you can be a part. There are other ways you can help. Contact Loving Shepherd Ministries to see what they need.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Haiti Part 4

More about the third day. Last week I described what we did in the morning of January 22. The afternoon was spent doing the key thing on our agenda (and what we would spend the next couple of days primarily doing).
We assisted LSM’s Haitian team build roofs on several houses. Specifically, on the third day, we completed one roof in the Cavaillon area of Les Cayes. The roofs had already been roughed in with pole rafters. Our job was to help “flesh out” those rafters giving nailing surfaces for the tin that was to be attached as the final roof. Three of us were moving around the roofs with the efficient and skilled Haitians, doing this work. One was involved with on-the-ground preparation work and handing materials to the men on the roof. My role was to be a “go-for” going for various items the roofers needed, such as water bottles, more nails, and various tools.
When not getting things for the roofers, I tried to stay out of the way and mingle with Haitians who had come to watch the construction. I was not very good at it due to the language barrier, but most of the children loved having their photos taken and then looking at the digital displays on our phones. Often I found myself sitting in the shade praying for the projects, the men, the attitudes, and that we would truly be helpful in building the various roofs.
A little about the roofs. Some of the homes we put roofs on had lost their roofs (and most of their walls) during the hurricane from a year and a half ago (Matthew). The houses had been only marginally useful to the owners and the new and improved roofs of tin were greatly appreciated. Some of the families had been living with other families since the hurricane. With the roofs they were one step closer to moving back into their own homes. Others had been using thatch for their roofs. Thatch (made from straw, reeds, palm leaves, etc.) was available but leaked. It was also dislodged by storms and wind. Tin roofs are wonderful replacements and would keep the families dry for many years to go. The Haitian “crew leader” said that in normal conditions, a tin roof could last for up to ten years. That’s a marked improvement from the thatch!
Just as we returned to our lodgings at the end of the day, it started to rain. Our prayer was that the family had been able to get their belongings moved back into their newly roofed home before the rain, and was able to enjoy a dry shelter.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Haiti Part 3

On the third day of the trip, we started the day with a tour of two of LSM’s projects. These projects and various other ones LSM has planned impressed me. The projects are designed to be training facilities to give Haitians jobs and sources of income. They will be self-sustaining once totally operational. It is an exciting situation.
The first place we visited was a block making enterprise. Haitians do not build buildings the way Americans do. Lumber is scarce and expensive. Rocks and rock by products (aggregate and sand) are readily available. The block plant utilizes these available resources to make cement blocks the Haitians use to construct sturdier buildings. Houses, storefronts, businesses, everything can be constructed using block. There has been no industrialized block making facilities in the Les Cayes area. All high quality block had to be trucked in from Port Au Prince. This facility is greatly needed in Les Cayes. LSM is providing a service to the people, the other industries, and themselves by making block and selling it at reasonable rates. They’ve already begun selling stone aggregate to various businesses. We were able to see one such contractor come in for a large truckload of aggregate. Currently LSM is the biggest customer for the block being produced as they expand their network of Homes of Hope (family-oriented orphan groups I will talk about in next week’s blog) and other projects.
The next place we visited was an agricultural center being implemented near Les Cayes. This center currently is a working farm with cattle, chickens, and pigs. However, it is being developed into a training center with dormitories and classrooms to train people in all kinds of areas dealing with producing, making and marketing food, and technology. Currently, the chickens are providing enough eggs to sell to several retail outlets, including some as far away as Port Au Prince. As the farm grows more of the chickens will also be sold to retail outlets. The hotel we were staying at served us omelets several mornings – made from the farm’s eggs.
We were also told about and driven by a new grocery store in Les Cayes that was supposed to open last week. Staff was being trained and merchandise was being delivered. There are also plans to build a retail center similar to our strip malls. This will be located not far from the block-making facility and house several businesses. One will be a retail outlet for their block, with a motorcycle store/rental place also being planned. All to be operated by Haitians for the Haitian people. All while making the message of Christ’s love known throughout the region.
I’m impressed with LSM’s devotion to giving the people of Haiti a “hand-up” versus a “hand-out.” They are in the business of training people to be independent and self-sustaining, to be able to house, clothe, and feed themselves by their own efforts. I found the Haitian people to be resourceful, resilient and hard-working people. LSM is trying to capitalize on those qualities to better Haiti and share the message of Christ. This is a ministry worth supporting.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Haiti Part 2

One of the key things impressed upon me on the second day was how God is at work in our lives. When I first became a Christian, God surrounded me with people who were interested in reaching the world for Christ. I knew many individuals, couples, and families who left their comfort zones to live overseas to be a part of serving Christ by living and sharing their faith among people who may not have otherwise heard Christ’s salvation message. Some of the places these friends went to were China, the Philippines, France, England (to the Muslims there), Ireland, Indonesia and Hungary.
During my early Christian life, sharing the gospel message wherever and whenever possible was also impressed upon me. However, I felt God calling me to be involved in world missions. Shortly after graduating from college, my husband and I went to help the missionary in Hungary for a short-term mission trip. This was before communism’s grip was diminished in Eastern Europe, yet the people wanted to learn English. We went to be native English speakers at a camp for some of these people. However, we were also there to show them the love and message of Christ as much as possible. I rejoiced in the opportunity to serve God in that way. I began thinking and praying about other short-term (and maybe even long-term) mission trips even more. I had a vision that God could and would use me that way.
Then life hit! I developed several chronic illnesses, was busy pursuing a graduate degree, had children, and other illnesses became acute. My vision seemed to be dead. Life had just gotten in the way. We still supported missionaries and prayed regularly for them. We prayed God would send out laborers into the harvest (Luke 10:2). We hosted visiting missionaries in our home. We got involved in mission conferences/weekends with our church. Our hearts ached for the harvest around the world (and in our own neighborhood and country) to be appropriately dealt with. I still longed to be a part of God’s harvest around the world, but my illnesses and responsibilities seemed to put to death the vision I’d had in college. I gave up hope of ever “going” again. It seemed as if I’d gotten the wrong message early on; God wasn’t calling me to the mission field as I had thought.
Fast-forward thirty years. All the obstacles were still present in one way or another, and in varying degrees of severity. Yet, the youthful vision again blossomed in my heart. When our church started going to Honduras on regular short-term mission trips, I had a longing to go, but just couldn’t. When our church started partnering with Loving Shepherd’s Ministry in Haiti, I began praying for them, resigning myself to believing that was the role God now had for me regarding world missions.
However, this year in the fall, I couldn’t shake the feeling that God wanted me to go. I argued with Him. I pointed out all my illnesses (which were in great control, but seemed insurmountable to me). I thought my husband would say, “No.” I thought my therapist would say, “Not a good idea.” I thought my diabetes specialist would say, “It’s too dangerous.” I thought my psychiatrist would say, “You might cause depression or mania to return if you try this.” All of them thought it was a great idea! They were excited for me to do it. They encouraged me to apply. I began to get excited, but I thought it was probably too late and all the spots would be taken or I’d never raise enough support.
None of that was true. God answered in big ways and confirmed that He wanted me in Haiti. The vision from my youth had been restored. God works when all hope seems gone. He’s in the business of making miracles. I had learned this lesson earlier in my Christian life, but I was not convinced of it. I had a vision, a death of a vision, and now the miraculous fulfillment of the vision. I’m excited to see what God has for me next.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Haiti Part 1

I don’t know if you expected this or not, but I’m planning to write a series of sorts about my experiences and God’s work in my life based on my recent mission trip to Haiti. I learned so many things, and God laid so much on my heart, that deciding what to write about will depend heavily on the journal I kept while there (and continuing now as God still gives me insights based on events from the trip). I am also grateful to Loving Shepherd Ministries (LSM) for the opportunity to serve along side them. (https://loving-shepherd.org/about-lsm/)
On Day #1 we traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida via Dallas/Fort Worth. Going through security checkpoints was a little scary. I was afraid that one or the other of my carry-on luggage wouldn’t pass muster for what is allowed. I was mostly afraid they would be too big or that some of the contents would not be allowed. I, of course, had an abundant supply of my various meds and supplies for my insulin pump and glucose meter (some of which have sharp things associated with them). I had done thorough research on the TSA website as to what is allowed and what is not, but there was a nagging feeling that I would be without something I needed in Haiti.
However, God is faithful. I had figured out from the way my support for this trip came in that God wanted me in Haiti. I should have taken some of that confidence with me to the airports. I had no more problems that anyone else did. (They did “inspect” our various snacks we took along. I’m not sure what they were looking for but something sent alarms off as they passed through the scanning equipment. Also, in Fort Lauderdale, before boarding the plane to Port Au Prince, Haiti, they hand inspected my diabetes supplies, but let them go through without a word.) God still wanted me in Haiti. God is faithful.
Not having flown much in airplanes, I was afraid I would not do well and get motion sickness or something else. My ear pressure was uncomfortable on take off and descent, but not unbearable. I did not get sick in any way, and actually enjoyed most of the flights. I wish I had taken some ear buds or some earphones since to watch the movies I needed them. Just a suggestion for others who might take long flights: Take some.
That pretty much covers the first day. It was a day of travel and a day in which I had much time to pray and praise. I asked God to prepare my heart for the adventure ahead. He partially did that through my time in the Word that day, 2 Peter 1:1-9. This passage talked about how God is keeping “His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature” (vs. 4). As God keeps His promises to us, we are to reflect His nature by also keeping our promises. I knew not to promise to the people of Haiti what I could not deliver upon. We should be demonstrating God’s character by keeping our promises. This concept was important to me as the Haitians had so little and I wanted to provide for them the world, but I just can’t. My service would have to suffice (and it would be much appreciated by those we served).
More next week. We will see what God lays on my heart to share with you then.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thoughts on Prayer

I’m actually writing this last week. This week I’m in Haiti serving God wherever and however He leads. In getting to this point, I’ve seen some miraculous answers to prayer. Many people have been praying for me, just to get me to Haiti. Those prayers have been answered.
Many people continue to pray for this mission trip. Maybe some of you have been praying since I initially wrote about this trip on November 23, 2017 (you can look that up by choosing the date from the list of blogs on the left side of this page). I thank you for those prayers. Please continue this week. (We are scheduled to be home on Saturday, January 27).
One of the things people have been praying for is the finances. I didn’t have much time to raise support and I was prepared to spend my “new computer savings money” to round out the balance. However, GOD came through in a big way. In about four weeks, people gave enough to cover my expenses and to provide extra towards materials and supplies for the various projects on which we will be working. I’m grateful to these people, but I’m also very grateful to God for working in people’s hearts to give, and give generously.
I’m expecting to talk more about the various God-sightings from this week in future blogs. Please pray we will see God at work and rejoice in Him. Please pray we will accomplish out goals (one of which is to build six roofs while we are there). Please pray for our safety as we travel and mingle with the people of Haiti (specifically in Les Cayes on the south side of the long, skinny peninsula, about four hours from Port-au-Prince by car). Please pray for the health of the team (six members including myself; five men and me!) Please pray we will be excellent witnesses for Christ and good representatives of what some Americans are like.
Thank you in advance for your prayers. A report will follow shortly.
                                            Les Cayes                     

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The End of Daniel

So we finished discussing Daniel 12 and summarizing Daniel. There is still much I could have gleaned from the text and the notes, but for now I have a better understanding of Daniel and his prophecies.
I don’t want to forget some of the early lessons from Daniel’s life. First, he determined he would not defile himself by giving up God’s laws. I also need to be determined to follow God’s commandments and take a stand whenever necessary. The examples of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are poignant. They stood up to rulers and the prominent “wise-men” of Babylon in order to stay pure before the Almighty God. Am I willing and able to take a stand when it counts? Do I know God’s commandments well enough to know what to stand up for and what not to? My prayer is that God will continue to show me, through the study of His Word, what is worthy of a stand.
Through the prophecies I’ve learned that God is in control and at work, even if we cannot see it in the here and now. One thought is worthy of being called a summary for the book. (It’s not my original thought. I wrote it down from the notes.) “God’s power and our deliverance come not through our strength but through our weakness.” This is demonstrated throughout Daniel, but it’s also true throughout history. When the Biblical characters (including the nation of Israel as a whole) were at their weakest, that’s when God’s power shown through and miracles were performed. Whether it’s Abram and Sarai having a son when it seemed impossible or Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection, God’s power is seen when things look the most dire. God comes through when we are weakest. It’s His power that prevails in our weaknesses.
In Daniel’s life and in the prophecies, we see God at work. We see God fulfill His promises for our welfare. We can be confident that He will continue to take care of the faithful in our weaknesses. I’m counting on His promises as I move into my future and I’m trusting God will meet your needs as you go into your futures.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Warning Signs

Last week I briefly mentioned that there are warning signs that the end is coming. The various theologians and scholars debate the timing of these signs. Some think the prophecy in Daniel 10-12 is being fulfilled now. Others think that they are only for Israel and do not involve the church at all; they believe these things will take place after the church has been removed from this earth. I do not claim to know which is the truth, and I’m not going to worry about it.
Daniel 11:36-38 lists some of the signs:
1.     the king will do as he pleases
2.     he will exalt and magnify himself above every
3.     he will speak monstrous things against the God of gods
4.     he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.
5.     he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers
6.     nor will he show regard for any other god
7.     he will magnify himself above them all
8.     instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know
9.     he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures.
We see some of these in our world today, but not all. There are many who speak monstrous things against the God of gods, but they have their own gods they are following. This end time king (often referred to as the Antichrist) will only exalt himself. All other gods will be forbidden. That has not happened yet (for a time, Russia tried to enforce this, but that has subsided.) 
As a result, many of the people groups we see in our world today are not the source of the Antichrist. We need to be busy loving and sharing Christ with those people, and praying that their eyes will be opened and their hearts will be changed. We do not know God’s timing. Anyone who proclaims they know exactly how the end times will play out is deluded. That information is not in the Scriptures. Those scenarios are developed from man’s imagination. We must be careful not to claim knowledge that only God the Father has. As we wait for God to reveal His plan for the end times, we need to be about loving and helping others in Christ’s name.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Daniel 11: Thoughts for a New Year

It’s confusing and a bit overwhelming. Daniel gets an interpretation right from the angel’s mouth as to what would happen in the future. Daniel still didn’t understand it all, probably most of it. We should not expect to understand some of the prophecies either. God has told us what He wants us to know. It’s right there in the Bible. To speculate further will lead us to disappointments and misinterpretations.
Some of Daniel’s prophecies have come to pass. Many years after Daniel, events happened that exactly fit the details of some of the prophecies. Those events are now recorded in the history books and scholarly analysis is done comparing the prophecies to what actually happened. They prove Daniel’s prophecies were from God and that God was orchestrating events to unfold according to what He said would happen. In other words, God kept His promises. I am encouraged by those kept promises.
Kept promises prove to me that what God has said, and recorded in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, will come to pass in our future as well. Even right now He is at work managing world events to bring about the promised end results. Exactly how that will happen He didn’t explain to us. There are some things we can take as warnings but we cannot tell if the time is near or still a ways off. All I know is that God is dealing with the spiritual forces and the human forces to bring His promises about. How exciting to be part of that plan.
I’m also comforted by the fulfilled promises, because God, through Jesus Christ, made some promises for this present age as well as for the future. Those can also be relied upon. Those promises can be found throughout Scripture, Old and New Testaments. Peace, hope, futures, love, acceptance, care, provision, and so much more are ours as we serve God in our lifetimes.
I’m going to start this New Year off, by focusing on who God is and what He’s promised us and living this life in the joy and hope of fulfilled promises.