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Archive for the ‘Contributor: Barb’ Category

Learning from Adversity

Posted by Cinda On May - 26 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

from Barb’s own personal journal, desiring to give hope to others…

It was February 4, 1983
… a bitterly cold night in Minnesota, but my husband and I decided to continue with plans to attend a concert in Minneapolis with friends. When the music was interrupted mid-program for a short message on Romans 8:28, I wondered idly who might need its truth that night.  Someone there must need reassurance that God would work their troubles out for good.

firedisasterIt was not until two days later that I realized I was one who had needed that reassurance.   For when we arrived home we found our house being consumed by fire.  Although firemen came, they were too late to save anything but the nearby trees.

One of my first thoughts was that now we would have an opportunity to live out our values and to be a witness of God’s presence in a time of loss.  For many weeks afterward we had a platform for proclaiming His faithfulness.

During the early weeks I prayed often, “Lord, don’t let this loss be wasted.”  How could I know that our witness would prompt a young couple to make a commitment that would lead them to become missionaries overseas.  Or that another couple would reach out to non-Christian young people in their community because of a change of focus.  Our sorrows were not wasted.  And we learned, among other things, that God is true to His promise to “work all things together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”

We learned, too, how impermanent material things are.  II Peter 3:11 says, “Since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conduct and godliness.”  Our priorities became more spiritually attuned when we saw how quickly our possessions could disappear.

We still enjoy having a few nice things around us, but we hold them lightly as a trust from God.  We know how temporal they are.  The fire could not take anything from us that was truly important.   That was a valuable lesson to learn.

Author: Barb / CCF Contributor
All Rights Reserved
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God in the Darkness

Posted by Cinda On April - 29 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

walkingcoupleFor many years, I have counseled others in the dark to remember what God told them in the light. I forgot, a long time ago, where that thought originated but it seemed to sum up well my philosophy about trouble: be prepared and be faithful.

In 2008, I had reason to put that advice into practice. My big, strong husband who was seldom sick with even a common cold, spent a year battling colon cancer. There’s nothing like the word “cancer” to keep a person awake nights, and this one was persistent, returning just two months after surgery. I had to face all the “what-ifs” and “what-fors” of a complicated treatment schedule and uncertain outcome. But here is where my preparation made a significant difference.

Knowing how to draw on God’s Word, gave me the strength and hope I needed. Verse after verse poured balm on my soul, verses such as Psalm 10:17 “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them and you listen to their cry.” And Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”

Through it all, I determined to remain faithful to my commitment to trust and obey God no matter what, just as Jesus did when He said, “Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?” How could I do less? If we believe God loves us, we can trust Him in the dark just as readily as in the light. We only have to make the choice, and His grace sustains and blesses us.

Author: Barb / CCF Contributor All Rights Reserved. Coffee Cup Friends

Paul’s Pattern for our Prayers

Posted by Cinda On April - 23 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

prayer05Colossians 1:9-14 Since my husband’s diagnosis with cancer we have been deeply comforted by the many assurances of prayer from friends near and far. There is no sweeter gift that one can receive. But sometimes we are at a loss as to how to pray in times of uncertainty.

I found this prayer of Paul’s after I had been asked to pray for a friend after he had a very serious heart attack. I felt that my feeble prayer had been ineffective because I didn’t know what to ask God for my friend. This passage is an excellent pattern for our intercession. Here are some things we can ask for that God will be pleased to answer.

1. For understanding of God’s will… Colossians 1:9 Although we can’t know if God will heal our friend or take him home, if He will intervene in a wayward child’s life, a conflict at work or a financial hardship, the Bible is very clear about His intention for all His children, namely our sanctification.  We can always pray that the difficulty another is going through will bring them into a closer relationship with the Lord, a deeper knowledge of His Word and a greater understanding of spiritual truth.  This is a request that is in line with God’s will in any situation.

2. That they might gain spiritual wisdom   Colossians 1:9b Wisdom is the ability to apply what we know to our experience. It has to do with discernment. We need God’s enlightenment as to how our trials can be used to impact our own growth and our witness for our Lord. It is a good thing to pray for others in their time of trial.

3. That they might please and honor God   Colossians 1:10a This is the high calling of all believers.  Instead of asking that others will be happy, we need to concentrate on God’s pleasure instead.  Living a life that pleases God is a goal that God honors and does His part to bring about.

4. That they will bear good fruit. Colossians 1:10b We are not here to “find ourselves” or to get as much out of life as we can.  We are here as followers of Jesus to represent Him and to influence the world for him.  When we pray that others will bear fruit we are praying for both their well being and the advancement of the kingdom of God.

5. That they will grow in the knowledge of God   Colossians 1:10c Unless we know the Lord intimately we will not be able to withstand the temptations and trials that life will bring.  Knowing God is the greatest blessing we can ask for anyone, no matter their circumstances.

6. That they will be filled with God’s strength.  Colossians  1:11a It has been said that the Christian life is a matter of will power: our will and God’s power.  We can pray with confidence that God will give strength to those we pray for to be strong in faith and courage.  Pray that they will not yield to the temptation to be discouraged or become bitter.  Ask God to open His Word to them to show them that He is a  refuge in the storm and a shield and defense against the devil’s attacks.

7. That they will have endurance and patience  Colossians 1:11b When others are going through a difficult time we can pray that they will have patience for the daily challenges, and not give up when things don’t improve immediately, that they will “endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ”.

8. That they will stay full of God’s joy.  Colossians 1:11c Because He has “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” we should be extremely grateful for our salvation.  One little boy we knew prayed every night, “Thank you SO much for dying on the cross for my sins.” Asking that our friend or loved one would be aware of the precious gift of spiritual life because of God’s mercy is a wonderful way to enhance our prayers for them.

Next time I wonder what to ask God to do for someone in need, I hope I remember to follow this list.  If someone is praying these things for me, I am deeply grateful. Whether or not God changes the circumstance, He will surely change us in answer to such meaningful intercession.

Author: Barb • CCF Contributor • All Rights Reserved

Don’t Worry – Be Happy!

Posted by Cinda On March - 19 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

A recent sermon made me smile. Our pastor was preaching through the letter of Paul to the Philippian church and had come to chapter four, verses six and seven:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need
and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this you will experience God’s peace
which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” NLT

attitudeI smiled because I had experienced that passage a couple of days earlier. I was worried about some looming responsibilities and some circumstances I could not control. So I went for a walk and talked to God about my big load of concern. As I told Him how big this mountain seemed, I was impressed to tell Him one by one the things that were bothering me.

#1 – I will be telling my story of commitment to a group of women next week, and I don’t feel adequate. Hmmm, You say You will be my strength and put Your words in my mouth? Good, then I can leave that concern in Your hands.
#2 – Our property hasn’t sold, and we need the money. Oh, yes, the promise is that You will supply all our needs according to Your riches. Then I leave that with You, too.

On we went through the list. As each item was prayed over, the burden about it was lifted. As I got to the fifth one, a piece of folded construction paper in the ditch caught my eye. As I picked it up and opened it, I saw that it was a drawing some child had thrown out the school bus window. On it was a large round face with bangs and dangling earrings—obviously a woman. Down the left side of the paper were the words in crayon, “Don’t Worry.” And on the right side, the words were printed, “Be Happy!”

It was as if God were saying to me that He had all my concerns under control, and I should stop worrying and have peace. The words of Philippians 4:6-7 came to mind, and I realized a little child had written a fitting summary of those words from Scripture.
So that’s why I smiled at the sermon. I knew just how to summarize the passage in four words:

Don’t worry, Be happy!

Author: Barb, CCF Contributor
All Rights Reserved •

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Posted by Cinda On February - 25 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

“Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry.’”

breadBread is a staple in the diets of billions of people around the world.  Whether it’s the fresh-baked crusty loaf of Paris or the flat corn tortilla in a Mexican village, bread satisfies hunger and sustains life.  When Jesus used this metaphor, comparing Himself to a daily physical necessity, he was saying that He would give life and vitality to anyone who would take in His truth and live by it, accepting His presence into their spirits just as they daily partake of a physical meal by taking bread into their bodies.  Jesus used a physical example we are all familiar with to illustrate a spiritual reality.

Physical hunger is a universal condition.  We recognize the signs when it is time for another meal.  Sadly, many do not recognize the signs of the equally universal spiritual hunger: the craving for satisfaction, the desire for peace and security, the striving to find the meaning of life.  All these are satisfied when we come to Jesus.  However, the greatest need of all is for spiritual life.  Without Jesus we are dead in our sins.  But when we accept His sacrifice for our sins we are “made alive with Christ”. (Colossians 2:13)

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10)  We need never wonder where the next spiritual meal will come from; we are eternally satisfied  by just experiencing the life of Christ every day.

 Author: Barb • CCF Contributor
2010 All Rights Reserved