Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Little more time...

This past week was my birthday and our wedding anniversary of 45 years.  All I wanted in my life was to be a wife and mother.  I thought it would make me and my life complete.  Don't look to anyone to bring you happiness or worth. Only Jesus can fill that void in your heart.   I was self centered and self righteous.  Danny was a gruff coach.  The years and the good Lord has soften Him and brought me not to be so self centered.

I love Danny more now than I have every loved him before.  Marriage is suppose to be a picture of Christ and the church, His bride.  We have learned how to love each other selflessly.  Not perfect.  We apologize a lot to each other and go again depending on Christ to give us that love we need.

These last few days I have been reflecting what life is all about and marriage.  How to love someone more than you do yourself.  How to want more for them than yourself.  I have come to value each day with him.  We will not always be here together.  We will not always have precious moments like today.  It is a glimpse of heaven where God is making us both more into Jesus as He shows us a love that is so unlike us.  There have been a lot of joyful and painful moments for us both but I would not change a thing.  God had a perfect plan for us and our family.  We are so blessed with our children.  We are so proud of them and thank God that they are walking with Jesus.  My heart is full and thankful for who they are and how they give glory to God with their lives.  They have compassion out of hearts that have suffered but been healed and pass that on to others.

No matter what has happened in your life time.  No matter how painful. I don't like being mentally ill.  I have slept for days now.  But it is the plan God has for me to depend and trust more in Him and I hold His love for me in doing so.  Embrace the plan God has for you and give thanks in all things for your Father loves you.  Love the people you have now and see things in their hearts, good things, that they cannot see.

Thank you so much for all the well wishes and blessings for us.  I was touched, Danny was touched beyond words.  You have always supported us even in the tough times and we thank God for you.  Live life as full as you can and when you can't know God, your Father, holds you close.  He is oh so near and knows your heart.  Trust Him with it.  To please God is to trust in His Son.  His greatest give to you and me.  I will see you in heaven one day if you know Him, if not before.  Choose Jesus and life eternal that begins now.  As for now...I have a little more time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When Time Turns Around

Many years ago I went to an FCA meeting and heard Elizabeth Elliott speak.  I remember several things about that night but one is, when she said, when you don't know what to do, just do the next thing.  There were many times, I would get overwhelmed with my husbands job duties for a wife, 4 children and all that went with community, church and school.  I would stop running around and putting out fires, it seemed, and just... do the next thing.

Jump with me now, to something that has been wonderful in your life.  You felt Gods leading there, you grew, others seemed to benefit too, but then there was a gentle nudge from the Lord to change directions.  You try to close the door, but it is too difficult.  It means, and the people mean, too much to you.  It is a place of security and comfort.  A place you are loved and ministered to and you grow in many ways in dependence on God, so you do nothing.  Time passes and the nudge and thoughts come to mind again.  You ignore them once again.  Then good seems to turn to bad.  The door is shut and there seems no wise decision but to move on.  When you hurt the ones you love it is time to change directions.

I have seen counselors, had mentors, taken classes, had pastors for many years.  I think it was a sense of safety for me.  I felt secure and safe knowing what the best thing to do was.  I was always trying to figure God out, what He was doing and what I should do, to make my life work.  I was information overload and weak faith.  Oh I had faith in certain areas but when it got down to the plan God had for my life...  I had my own plan.  It was far and between would I say, Your will be done Lord, not mine.  I would get a plan in my head.  I would go full throttle ahead and pray for it to happen.  It occurred to me, once before in my life, that my idea might not be what God was doing in my life.

I have been center stage all my life.  I always wanted to be loved and approved of and accepted and thought, I had to know more, do better for that to happen.  If I messed up enough they would leave me and maybe even God, when I was sick...It is no reflection on those around me.  It was the bent in me since I was born.  I wanted to do something great for God.  I wanted to make a difference in the world.  I was trying to get value instead of my value being in Christ.  His righteousness was not enough for me.  I was indeed trying to save myself by my knowledge and beauty and the beauty went and the mental illness came and it devastated me as it interrupted my plans for my life.  I had become the lowest of low as far as the worlds sigma said.  Even the christian world had thoughts about it that were a load to carry as a christian.

So now, some doors are closing and I ask God, what do I do now Lord.  Not out of too much to do but too little... I hear a gentle whisper from years the next thing.  I may become more insignificant, but in Gods eyes I am the apple of His eye.  He will never, never, never, never, never leave me and nothing can separate me from His love.  So today Lord, I live in the moment with you.  I may sleep until the meds are right and struggle just to get a shower, but I am valuable in you Jesus.  I am over flowing with His love and blessing as my heart is brought into submission with His will and enjoying Him more than I have ever before in the smallest of things.  Submission brings freedom.  The fullness of Christ is the joy set before Him, I am that and He is mine.  I no longer want His glory but to just be near Him.  He really can guide me through out my day and I still can bring Him glory as I look to Him, depend and enjoy Him and rest in what He has done instead of me.  So my life has turned around and upside down.  I am not who I thought I was nor would I do what I hoped but God has something better in mind.  It is me trusting and enjoying Him through out my day no matter what that looks like. If I fail to lean on Him, He is waiting still for my return.   His vastness has bent down and kissed me on the cheek.  My child I love you.

So now my husband is my mentor, my friends my disciples, the Spirit my counselor and Jesus my value and Rescuer and God my Father.  Is it too late just to focus on my marriage, seek to love those in my world today and rejoice in the love and acceptance and the peace that brings in this moment.  Whatever I chose to do today, I can bring glory and enjoy God.  My work is not done but His is.  So I persevere with great expectation of my Lord.  Love says I have seen the ugly parts of you and I am staying...Matt Chandler.  He, God, loves the unlovely...that is me!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dear Pastor Perry

Dear Pastor Perry,

I don't know if you will receive this but I felt like the Lord wanted me to encourage you with what words I have for encouragement that He has given me over the years. You may not even know who I am but we use to be at Clemson and we have met but you meet so many.   I am so sorry you have gone through criticism recently.  I know how painful that can be.  Although it is wise to have those who watch over us with care it can be done in not so kind of ways.  I know you know, as I do in writing, that it is a huge responsibility to handle God word with wisdom.  But at the same time as your response said and I so admired we are all sinners, even those who criticized you unkindly.  This does not take God by surprise.  He prepared for us in Jesus.

I have prayed for you, your family and ministry.  We have dear friends in common and I have kept up with your story and admire you very much.  My daughter told me one of your sermons saved her life.   It was a sermon she heard on her kitchen floor November, 2012. It had been a long few years and she had been through so much.  Hard does not come near to explain it.  She was desperate and found life, Jesus and hope, in the words you shared that was sent to her all the way in Texas by her cousin that goes to church at New Spring.  She is an amazing woman and God has used her and has changed her and has helped her survive unbelievable circumstances.  Jesus has brought beauty out of ashes.  How do I thank you and Jesus for that?.  I have been amazed at how God has used you but you are a broken man and God uses those who love Him and have a broken and contrite heart.  I know you know it is not of yourself and you never stop short of giving God glory.  I have loved the sermons and services me and my family have visited over the years.  It was indeed a pleasure to meet you.  You remind me of my husband who always cares so much for people.

As you know we were in the public eye early on in our lives and received much praise as well as criticism.  Frankly I worried about both.  I use to sit in the stands and hear how great we were to how we needed to be fired.  I use to tell my children...they pay for their seats.  These people have had a hard week and this is their outlet don't take it personal.  Then we were criticized nationally in papers and news all over the country.  My children had to wake up and go to school the next morning and face the voices of others.  They never were critical of their dad or their team, fans, staff.  It would serve no purpose to say all that came our way as negativity in being such a position. They always held their head high and treated others with kindness. They have much compassion until this day.   It was painful and they had to learn to deal with it as young children.  Me too.  We defended when we could but that was not very profitable.  God used it in my families life to learn to deal with people and learn to forgive.  I cannot tell you with reason all the ways our family had to learn to deal with being in the public eye.  It was a tremendous blessing as well as a struggle in life that brought us all closer as a staff, and all who were supportive.  It was our family.  Til this day players come by and say what an influence my husband had in their life.  People still love and admire him.  He goes and visits the sick and dying and never tells a soul.  I believe it was meant by God for our family to be in the limelight and have the influence to point others to Jesus and love them and to be loved by so very many til this day.  God will and has used all you are going through for good and for His glory.

Recently, I have corrected someone I care about a lot.  I did it in an unkind manner.  It makes me sick and I am so very sorry.   I realize these things take time to recover from and deal with for everyone.  When you have hurt someone you love and respect their integrity as a Christian as much as anyone you know, you can't fix it, not their pain or yours.  All you can do is cry out to God for there to be no other harm to them, as the consequence of your actions, confess your sin and ask for forgiveness from God.  Hopefully forgiveness from them in time and learn from your mistakes.  I am just so aware how fallen I am and how I could be wrong on both sides of the situation.  So I pray for grace for you Pastor, me and the ones I hurt.  We do the things we hate and hate the things we do.   Paul said something similar.  We hurt the ones we  love and support and they hurt us.  We are a mess and Jesus is our only hope.  We need to hear when we are wrong, but in a loving, gracious way, speak the truth in love, valuing others more than ourselves.

Please know the community is in your corner.  None of us know it all and won't until we see Jesus.  As you continue to labor for our LORD and His sheep, know God is faithful to keep us all humble.  We all need our Savior.  I pray He is glorified through all our sin.  God bless you Perry Noble, your sweet family and His church.  I hope this is received in the light of someone who cares deeply and wanted to encourage you.  Blessings friend.  I know we all need to move on, so hope it was ok to pass this along to you for future.  Just some thoughts from an old woman for what they are worth.  As you and I know, the Gospel is true.  Gods grace is true.  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Father and Spirit amen.

Deborah Ford

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Go with me there.

When I was a young girl we had many animals.  One I remember being most amused by was my hamster.  It amazed me how it never tired of going around and around on the red and yellow wheel and shredding tissue paper and burring itself, coming out and doing the same things again over and over again.

Today has been a slow day.  Now much I felt pressing to do.  Started reading about solitude and silence and was just quiet for awhile.  Read about the endless Love of God for us and was amazed that He had saved me and that there was a burning fire of His heart that I could enter in and be so satisfied by His love.

Then my mind bounced around a little.  I read a few blogs.  Thinking about creativity, comparing myself to others, discontent and praying that I be more creative and glorify God and use it to enjoy Him more and more.  Sounds good huh?  I started thinking about new things I could start in the coming year.  Wish for this and wish for that.  Thought about what I could buy, read, write.  What my week would hold and who I might call.  I thought more about God and how His Spirit lived within me and this love He has for me.  I thought about new ideas for an ebook, that I would join the gym on Monday, about church tomorrow and then what...things that needed cleaning out and I might get a new rug to replace the torn one in the den that was way overdue.  I would come back to God, think, meditate on His goodness, pray for my family, think of things I might gift them that was ours during the coaching years and my moms things she left to us.

Then I read a blog that Tullian had written on New Years resolutions.  He talked about how change is not a bad thing but that our hearts reason for wanting change can be.

I was climbing a ladder, spinning the wheel and burring myself in the stuff that I thought...what will bring joy, excitement, be fun.  Was I searching for true love and acceptance and some life I didn't think I had,  that only God can give me and fulfill me?  Did my silence show a void in my heart that I was trying to fill with the world, a need that only Jesus can meet.  Why do I search for life apart from God?  Things today seem so quick and fast.  I want now...give me what I need to fulfill me and make my life count.  I want to do something for God.  Something big that matters.  Then I will be fully satisfied.  Or if I volunteer to the needy and the brokenhearted they might can love me like I so crave.

Tullian said there is a difference in doing something out of needing love and doing something out of being loved.  Lord, it has been a good day.  Thank you for the message those so faithfully spread the gospel, Jesus.  Thank you for guiding my heart today to the depths of yours where I can taste and see that the Lord is good.  Thank you that you called me unto yourself today and filled my cup with deep waters of love and faithfulness.  It is a good day.  It is going to be a great year because I am His.  Even the hard stuff you make an unbelievable promise for my good and you are going to bring me to a point of my life giving you the most glory it can.  I can't wait to see but now I rest in the fact that you said, "it is finished and you see me in the righteousness of Jesus and I have nothing to prove to anyone, not even you Lord."  There is more grace to me tonight than my heart can contain and I am blessed.  Won't you go with me there?  Into the very heart of God?  It is Jesus that brings life and life abundant.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The New Year, a blessing

It seems odd to me that we all are wishing everyone happiness and a good new year, better than last year we say.  Is that the way we should look to the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one?  We talk about New Years resolutions.  When we look at the last year more than likely we feel defeated by the ways we failed or proud about the things we managed to get done.  God has brought about change in my life and I am thankful but this cannot be my focus except to give Him the glory for the good and the hard.

What I have noticed is God has used the hard things that happened last year to drive me deeper into His heart.  He has revealed fears and doubt, sin and self righteousness and independence of Him to bring me to more and more lean on Him.  So I am not only thankful for the easy things but thankful for the hard.

So for the coming year I pray I trust Him more.  That I rest more in His finished work for me.  That I fight the good fight of faith because He is so faithful to me.  I want to see life with new lens of expecting good only from God even if it is hard and to see beauty, His beauty in a whole new light.  I hope I love others better and serve God from a willingness to be sacrificial for the good of others.  I want to keep my eyes on Him the author, perfecter of my faith.  I want to quit trying to get the approval of man and my glory because I get it right and know all I receive is from Him and it is all for His glory but also for my good.  He is a loving Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.

So as we go into this new year may we keep our eyes on Jesus, praise our God for sending His Son and giving us to Him and the gift of the Spirit.  That it is complete and I can give up my striving for Gods favor and know it is already mine.  He has given me value and worth that is beyond anything I can hope for in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He has a plan and I can't mess it up.  Nothing can separate me from His love.  I have the seal of the Spirit and I am forever secure and His.  He is about growing me into the likeness of His Son and when I see Him face to face it will so be.  Jesus has defeated Satan at the cross.  God has given me His Word to fight evil victoriously and He fights for me so whom do I fear?

So may the circumstances of this life in the next year press you into the heart of God to trust Him more.  May we proclaim the good news of the Gospel and believe it with our whole heart, growing each day to trust in Jesus.  So may this new year be a blessing to you and me as God is at work teaching us to persevere and trust Him with each area of our lives and our very hearts.