Good News

In my last post I indicated that while out walking and praying one morning I asked God to speak to me and direct my thoughts on what to write. He answered that prayer and gave me a good word to share. However, before writing on that subject, I chose to write on the fact that God Speaks, because he does! Now it is time to write on what I heard in my heart from him that morning.

Jesus Saves

Everybody struggles with something. There are no perfect people. This is just a fact of life, because we are all born with a sin nature and there is nothing we can do to fix it. We can try to classify people into the bad, the very bad, the not so bad, the pretty good, and the ones who look almost perfect! No matter what your classification system may be, the truth is that we are all sinners and we cannot escape that reality. Scripture simply states, “for all have sinned ….” Romans 3:23

The good news is that JESUS SAVES. God provided a way for us to be saved from that sin nature, regardless of what our stories may be. Jesus is the solution for our sin problem. God sent his son to earth where he lived a sinless life and died a painful death to pay the price for all our sins so we could be forgiven. What a gift; what a sacrifice. God raised him from the dead and he lives forever. All who believe God and receive Jesus’ payment for their sin are redeemed and made new spiritually. Those who are saved have the presence and power and peace of Jesus living within them. They also enjoy the assurance of life forever beyond death – eternal life in heaven with Jesus. This good news is worth sharing and provides hope for every hurting person.

Be sure to note this. Saved people are not perfect people. Those who have experienced the saving grace of Jesus realize more than anyone else how broken and needy and empty they are without him. Any good you see in a Christian is representative of the love and grace of Jesus who lives within. A healthy Christian is a mirror, reflecting Jesus and pointing people to him. However, Christians sometimes succumb to the temptations of Satan and make choices that are not reflective of the nature of Christ. Jesus promises power to resist Satan, but we don’t always make the right choice. Keep in mind; people, even those saved by Jesus, are not perfect. But Jesus is, and he is the one to keep your eye on!

Jesus Sustains

Life happens — good and bad — to all people. We have to fight the cultural trend of thinking “well if I am a good person” or even “if I am a good Christian” these bad things should not be happening to me! Says who? And, by the way, is there really such a thing as a “good Christian?” We established earlier that a true believer in Jesus knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is nothing good in himself/herself. So bad things happen – from natural disasters to criminal and terrorist activities – from bad choices that hurt our lives to disease and rebellion that have terrible consequences.

If a Christian is not guaranteed a life without heartache, pain, suffering, disappointment, tragedy, what difference does it make to even be a believer? Good question – and the good news is that JESUS SUSTAINS. When the bottom falls out, you are not alone; when crisis demands immediate decisions, he speaks and leads; when your heart is breaking, he comforts. Ironically, most people who have walked with the Lord over a period of years will tell you that some of the sweetest times in life came during and through some of the most difficult circumstances. You have to take a leap of faith and trust him in order to experience God in this way, but the joy and peace are indescribable and not to be missed.

Jesus Satisfies

Finally, everybody I know longs to be content, at peace, filled with joy and few regrets. Wouldn’t that be great? Most of us have tried many things over the years to fill some void in our lives – if I could just let go of the hurt, the hate, the resentment — if I could just make more money — if I could just be nicer — if I could just get that job — if I could just lose that  weight — if I could just go on vacation — if I could just get away from these people — if I could just have another chance — if I could just look like that person — if I could just move… all the things that we think would change our lives for the better. Perhaps you longed for something and finally you made it happen or it just landed in your lap. Did it bring all the good you thought it would?

The good news is that JESUS SATISFIES.  You have to experience it to believe it, but if you believe Jesus, focus on him, depend on him, and praise and thank him for the good in life (and there is always some good), he brings satisfaction that is deep and healing.  “He restores my soul.” Ps. 23:3  An old hymn starts with these words, “I am satisfied with Jesus, He has done so much for me; He has suffered to redeem me, He has died to set me free.”

Do you want to be set free from the bondage of sin? Jesus saves.

Do you want to feel secure when your world is out of control?  Jesus sustains.

Do you want to be content and free from anxiety?  Jesus satisfies.

I know these things are true because they are the best part of my story. Every now and then I feel compelled to shout out this good news, throwing it as a life saver to any who may be ready to believe and receive.


Shugie

God Speaks

Starting out on my walk this morning I prayed for friends and family, many facing challenging situations, health issues, and uncertainty regarding their future. I also prayed for God to speak to me and provide ideas and words to share through my writing. Soon a very clear thought came to my mind and I knew it was something God had given me to expand on and write about in a blog. But, before pursuing that idea I feel very compelled to write on the subject of God speaking.

I don’t know about you, but I believe God speaks to his children. Throughout the Bible God spoke – sometimes his children obeyed and sometimes they did not. It is the much same today. Most people want any goodness God might throw their way but they do not want to submit control of their lives to him. I have found that God can be trusted, he is always working for my good, and life is much, much better when I seek him and obey him.

So, how does God speak? That’s the fun part! He is God and we are not. He will not speak the same way every time. He will speak differently to each individual. But I assure you He will speak.

Let me illustrate. In my mid-20’s I began to feel a stirring in my heart that God wanted me to go to seminary for graduate work. My plan was to stay in the business world. But I could not shake this sense that God was leading me towards ministry. I prayed hard that this would go away or that God would confirm and speak to me in some unmistakable way. Because I had family at New Orleans Baptist Seminary I assumed that would be my school if, indeed, God was calling/speaking to me.

A few months later I planned a vacation to see friends and family in Texas. I was taking a break and just wanted to enjoy some time away. My first stop was Ft. Worth where my cousin and her husband were finishing up their studies at Southwestern Seminary. They wanted to show me the campus and as we drove up I thought, “well this place certainly isn’t as pretty as the campus in New Orleans.” As we got out of the car, the minute my feet hit the ground I “heard” a clear voice inside my heart saying, “This is where I want you!” My first thought was, “I’m not even praying right now! I’m taking a break!” But I knew immediately that God had spoken to me and that he was really turning my life upside down. So then I had to decide – was I going to trust him and obey his call to seminary and to ministry? Was I going to disappoint my family and go to Ft. Worth instead of New Orleans?

The more I thought and prayed about all this I came to this ah-ha moment — the people who know me, love me, and want the best for me all have the potential to be wrong. But a word from God will never be wrong – because He is God. I knew he had spoken – mainly because what he said was so contrary to my thoughts on the subject. Off to Ft. Worth I went, with some of my family a little frustrated, at least initially. It was a wonderful season of my life. Thank you God!

In the Bible, God spoke to Moses from a burning bush; no one else had that same experience, but it was how God chose to speak at that time.

When God spoke to Joshua and gave him specific instructions concerning the city of Jericho, he followed the instructions completely. Amazingly, following complete obedience to every silly detail, the walls of the city fell, just as God had promised.

One other illustration from my life was some years ago when my daughter, Mary Margaret, wanted to go on a school trip that cost $1200. We could not afford it and told her so. A few weeks before trip she got a call that a $1000 scholarship was available to her and she just needed $200 in order to sign up! She came into my home office so excited and – I hate to admit it – I must have been having a bad day, I replied, “We did not have $1200 and we don’t have the $200!” (It’s tough admitting I said that.) Immediately, the Lord zapped me and clearly spoke to me, “you have two one hundred dollar bills behind you on your desk; give them to her.” That money was a Christmas gift from my Mama to buy clothes and I had not yet spent it. Shopping is not my thing, and I had put off going because I am not good at it. After praying about it overnight I called Mary Margaret into my office and gave her the money, knowing God told me to do so. She was overjoyed and so grateful. I felt such a peace and was thrilled when she had a wonderful experience on that trip. As to God’s overflowing goodness . . . in this case I got the big after-surprise of a blessing. A friend called a couple of weeks later and announced she was taking me on a shopping spree for my birthday and she would be my personal shopper! She had no idea about the $200 I gave away, and for my birthday that year we made a sweet memory of shopping for clothes together and her gift to me exceeded $1000! Who knew? Only God. Does God speak? Yes, he does. Can we trust him, even when we do not understand? Absolutely.

Unfortunately many people don’t give God credit when he speaks. They say it was a coincidence or a random act. How sad that God speaks through nature, through his word, through friends and co-workers, through his Holy Spirit who lives in believers, and yet we refuse to acknowledge his involvement and activity in our lives and all around us.

Are you struggling with something in your life? Is your future uncertain? Do you wonder if God even exists?

Pray, and ask God to speak to you. Then wait and watch. Open you eyes and your ears. He will speak and you will be amazed! Be prepared to be surprised because he will probably speak in a way you were not expecting. That’s confirmation that he is the one speaking.

He loves you with an everlasting love; he is faithful. His instructions may contradict your logic or your preferences. But his plan is always best. You can trust him with every facet of your life.

Be still and know that I am God.


Shugie

Every Day’s a New Adventure

July 25, 2014 — Last Friday I was on a jumbo jet flying home from Italy. Today I was on the Megabus. Every day’s a new adventure! I have seen the big blue and yellow bus and have heard people say it is a good and economical way to get from point A to point B. But I never thought I would need this service. Famous last words….

While JB and I were on a trip overseas our son Wes accepted a job in Nashville which meant a move from Lexington, KY. He called and asked, “Mom, when you get home can you come help me move?” Now, let me say, “Shugie’s Moving Service” tried to go out of business a few years ago. With three young adult children, there have been many moves, and for years I was available to help pack, heave, shove, load and unload – usually up and down many flights of steps. After some back trouble I knew that had to stop, but the organizing, packing, directing and driving were services I could still do. Of course I told Wes “yes.” I planned to drive to Lexington and carry some stuff in my car to Nashville. But then he informed me I really needed to fly to Lexington! He would drive a loaded Budget truck and he needed me to drive his car.

Our daughter, Mary Margaret, lives in Nashville also so the reality of having two of our three children in the same city is very exciting. Add to that the fact that Wes is getting married in November and Taylor will be joining him there makes it even sweeter!

IMG_3133 Haven’t you found that when we make plans we have to always be ready for things to go sideways? This little trip was no exception! The flight to Lexington was fine and we picked up the big truck right away and then finished packing his things. That part went well as he had done lots of packing before I arrived (thanks, Taylor!). Good friends came and helped load the truck and we were ready to head to Nashville on Thursday afternoon. I planned to stay a few days to help Wes get settled and then have a visit with Mary Margaret who was returning from a business trip on Saturday evening. Wes was going to drive me to Chattanooga Sunday afternoon to meet JB who would pick me up there. BUT, as the things of life happen, Taylor’s granddaddy died a few days ago and the funeral is Saturday in Ohio. The night before I flew to Lexington, Wes said to me, “Mama, I am driving to Ohio Friday morning to be there with Taylor and her family.” While I totally support his care for Taylor and her family during this difficult time, I had to ask, “Well, Wes – what about me? How am I going to get home?” “Uhh – we will figure it out,” was his reply.

The next morning I volunteered to get a ticket on the Megabus to Atlanta. He was not excited about that idea but it was the only option and I was really okay with it. Of course I did have certain expectations….

IMG_3137

The drive from Lexington went well and we made it through Nashville late afternoon with only a small slow-down in traffic. We arrived at the storage unit place and new friends from Rolling Hills Church showed up to help unload. Wise Wes chose the right size truck and the right size storage unit. He is a smart guy and I am so proud of him.

Late last night we pulled into the 24-hr. drop-off place for the truck. I had to laugh and immediately texted Mary Margaret – “Wes and I are returning his rent truck and just pulled up to the same place we returned yours two years ago when you moved here! Haha. I should get a job here!” Wes and I were fading by the time we arrived at the home where he will be living the next few weeks.

Up early this morning Wes drove me into downtown Nashville where I was looking for the Megabus STATION. We drove to the address and landed in an industrial, sketchy part of town, coming to an old rundown parking lot where a few people stood with suitcases – no sign, no station, no building, nothing – just an address! Maybe this is how they can keep the fares so low!

Since we were very early Wes just kept driving and said in a low, commanding voice, “Mama, I am going to stay with you till the bus arrives!” We found a Chick fil A close-by and had a quick breakfast and then eased our way back to my point of departure. More people were waiting and I got out and queued up with the others. I had some friendly conversation with a few other people waiting and found that many have ridden Megabus numerous times and are big fans. The nice, clean, sharp bus arrived right on time and the driver loaded our luggage and welcomed us aboard.

I had never noticed the Megabus is a double decker. Several people recommended I go upstairs, but I headed toward the front of the bus, downstairs, and took the first seat I could find. Riding the red double decker bus in London was an adventure a few years ago with my family, BUT, I decided I would fare better on the lower level today. I was seated next to a quiet young girl headed to Atlanta from Chicago. She put her hoodie completely over her head as soon as we “took off” and I did not force her to have conversation with me!

Just when I was about to say “so far, so good,” we came to stop and go traffic north of Chattanooga, mostly stop. Checking my maps app I noticed red dots all along the road for quite a while. Oh well, what’s the hurry? Finally the traffic started flowing and we made it to Chattanooga. Our stop there was in the parking lot of a rather old shopping center. At least there was a Megabus sign (more than Nashville had), but still, this was a hilarious new concept for me. I felt (and looked like) an odd duck on this trip!

Perhaps I could complain about this week, but I would much rather count all the things to be grateful for:

  • Wes is the new Technical Director at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville. We are so proud of this promotion for him in the career he loves so much!
  • Rolling Hills is Mary Margaret’s church! She has been there two years and loves her church. She had nothing to do with his connection there but what a joy that they will both worship there and share friends.
  • The weather was beautiful for loading and unloading and for the drive – even unseasonably cool! Having done this type work on rainy days and very hot days makes me especially grateful for the weather we had.
  •  What great friends in Lexington and in Nashville! Wes is blessed to have friends who care and show it by offering time and labor.
  •  I love to talk with strangers and the Megabus experience provided a few new interesting people to meet!
  • Some friends of JB are willing for Wes to live in the apartment in their home the next few weeks while he gets settled in the area – thank you God for your detailed provisions!
  • I love making memories with my children! All these moving experiences have been some of the best and have provided great stories to be retold for years.
  • While riding along today a blog has been written. It is tough to discipline myself to focus and write. Perhaps this is the beginning of a writing office on wheels – more Megabus trips to follow?
  • JB arrived just minutes after I got off the bus and was standing on the sidewalk in downtown Atlanta. Thank you, honey. Yay – I made it!

Shugie

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