Monday, June 1, 2020

Wise & Beautiful Scriptures About Our Day of Death

My times are in your hands...Psalm 31:15

...all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16
Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath...Psalm 39:4,5
A person’s days are determined;
    you have decreed the number of his months
    and have set limits he cannot exceed. Job 14:5


Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Luke 11:25 

Mortals, born of woman,
    are of few days and full of trouble.
They spring up like flowers and wither away;
    like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. 
Job 14:1-2

The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him...Psalm 103:15-17


You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered. 

Psalm 90:3-6

Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 
Psalm 90:10

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

Psalm 90:12


Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21
In His love, God will carry you through
these times of suffering.  -fh

Monday, May 25, 2020

This Year It's Personal

(Please click on the title "This Year It's Personal" if the video does not appear here).



On Sept. 27 we said "good-bye for now" to my dad. On behalf of my brothers and sister, I was presented with the flag for his service with the US Navy on board the New Jersey battleship during the Korean War. Thanks for a life well-lived, Dad, and the protection and care for us you always provided through God's grace.

Day is done, Gone the sun,

From the hills, From the lake, From the skies.

All is well,  Safely rest,

God is nigh.

Pause in Remembrance - In an effort to ensure Memorial Day is the sacred and noble holiday it is intended to be, pause for 1 minute in an act of national unity wherever you are at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day. Accompany that time of cessation with prayer for our country and our veterans. If you are fortunate enough to have a trumpet or bugle player in your neighborhood, listen for "Taps." 

Monday, May 18, 2020

True Help During A Time of Dread


Dear Friend,
The diary pages I mentioned a couple weeks ago have really helped my outlook during this time of dread. Do you have yours yet? Do you need more? Email me at WCplace@gmail.com .
The overview for it is posted below. You can view the diary pages here.
Try keeping the diary for 3 weeks straight. I think you’ll see good results the first week but 3 weeks will make it more of an automatic lifestyle. I’d love to hear how this helps.
Remember that God is in control and loves you so much that Jesus Christ lived, died and arose from the dead for our salvation and freedom from sin (including fear and anxiety). Keep trusting in Him.   ferree

 

Diary Overview

Each weekday is composed of six exercises that are commonly cited as effective for guarding against stress, depression, anxiety and unhealthy grief. Sunday and Saturday are different; Sunday’s entry is for looking ahead and Saturday’s is for reflection at the end of your week. If, like so many people, your life doesn’t fit the Monday-Friday schedule just rename the days accordingly.

What’s most important is to personalize this and do what works for you. You don’t have to do each of the six things each and every day, it’s better to aim for consistency than to add more stress. Start with one or two things: perhaps reading a Bible verse and getting some exercise. Pick any combination. Nail them down and then add more. 

SUPPLIES:

  • paper for making copies
  • hole punch (optional)
  • 3 ring binder (optional)
  • pencil or pen and highlighter

One week of entries will fit on two 8.5”x11” pages.  Copy single sided or use both sides. Print pages for as many weeks or months as you’d like. Hole punch them to fit into a 3-ring binder if you want.

Remember this is a task-oriented diary, not the “Dear Diary” kind. Compose short phrases. You don’t have to write complete sentences. No one is going to grade it. You don’t even have to explain yourself. Write key words that will jog your memory when you look back at your week. Journaling—letting your thoughts and feelings flow out through your fingertips—is great, too, especially if you are lonely. But this is not a journal so quick notes and key words are enough.

SUNDAY

Highlights from church

What impressed your heart most at church today? Jot down two or three words that express most what you want to remember or attach your sermon notes.

Problems, choices, etc., challenging me this week

What problems and junk will you face in the week ahead? You might write, “I hate my job!” or “I need a job!” or the initials of a person you need to confront—all the sorts of messes we dread.  This helps define the burdens you are bearing. Although God knows them, once YOU are able to name them, then you are able to pray about them effectively. Cast your burdens on Him.
MONDAY – FRIDAY Each day has 2 sections. Use the first at the beginning of the day *** the second at the end.

Something positive from the past 24 hours. This can be as ordinary as a dandelion (if you like dandelions), or as unusual as someone leaving you a $1000 tip. Just.One.Thing. On some days that’s hard to do if your brain is stuck in negativity. This exercise is very important. It will help you become more aware of the good stuff around you. There will be less reason to be critical, defensive and perfectionistic. You’ll start feeling a tad bit happier, others will feel it too and it will grow.

People, things or events I’m grateful for. List at least three. Every day.  A different three every day. There are way more than three things to be thankful for every day so don’t you dare use the same ones over and over! And if you want to list 20 or 50 things, go for it!

One Bible verse or inspirational thought to carry with me today.  Do your daily Bible reading or devotions and pick one verse or line to transpose here. You might also want to put it on a 3x5 card or Post-It note so you’ll see it throughout the day too. The main purpose is to get into the habit of latching on to life giving words.

***

A kind thing I did: Write this down at the end of your day. If you didn’t accomplish any act of kindness then leave it blank and remember to do something tomorrow. You’re not racking up goody points or earning your angel wings, God doesn’t keep score like that. This is even better if no one sees you do it. It can be random or planned. Smile and say thank you to the cashier, pick up litter, make your bed, surprise your family by playing a game with the kids, do the dishes without grumbling or leave that $1000 tip for the waitress. The possibilities are endless, switch things up every time.

Music that meant a lot to me: Write down the song titles or phrases that pulled you in, made you smile, dance or simply relax. Some days you might have more than one, somedays none. That’s OK, this exercise is to help you develop awareness of this powerful tool for your emotions. But…if you find a Christian song or hymn full of God’s truth playing in your head when you least expected it? Tune in and listen. That’s the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, loving on you.

Exercise  Bible reading  Specific prayer time  Check these off at the end of the day. No excuses, just a check mark. You choose your own routine. This is just a tool for accountability and consistency. They can all be enjoyable and rewarding and research shows that exercise is an effective aid for depression! 

SATURDAY

Review the notes you’ve made this week and consider this question: What life giving word or action from God spoke to you this week?  Highlight or mark the things which were most significant to you. 

This could be the most impactful day of all—and you might not write a single word. Reviewing your week will help you begin to notice that God truly is working in your life for your good and his glory. You’ll see changes. Others will see you change. God will get the credit and the glory, and you will discover he is blessing you. Not because you deserve it but because he is God and God is love. That’s what he did for us on Calvary—even though we were sinners, Christ died for us—that’s the greatest gift of all. His love didn’t stop there though, He conquered death! He gives us life both now and forever! He continues to reach out to us with his love, redeeming our mean little days so that we can choose a life that doesn’t crumble under stress, despair and pandemics. We will finally know who we are, why we are here, and where we are going.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Wings for Widows

Psalm 57 seems like it was written for today and the compounding disaster of this pandemic. In the last part of verse one the writer tells God this: 


I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings

    until the disaster has passed.


Don't we all need to scoot under the wings of the Lord?

Wings are a special picture of God's care for widows. 

Remember Ruth? Here's what Boaz told her when they first met:


Ruth 2:12-  May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.

Another psalm describes the same idea:

Psalm 91:4- He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  

Here's a "coincidence" that surprised me after my book was printed. I only met with the graphic artist who designed it once or twice to bounce around some ideas for the book cover. Her final product included a feather pen. I thought, "Hmmm...That's not historically accurate for Bible times, but then again, neither are postcards." So I just OK'd it because it complemented the classical art. We also decided to put a feather motif to mark sections and the end of each chapter.


It wasn't until almost a year that I understood! I connected the dots! 

The feather on the cover of my book was a great foreshadowing of Boaz's words to Ruth, "under whose wings you have come to take refuge..." If your Bible has cross-references then Ruth 1:12 will reference you to Psalm 91:4. 

If people ask me to autograph their book I'll often put Psalm 91:4 and hope they remember it whenever they come to a feather in their reading.

I hope this little coincidence encourages you to know that God sets up stuff to work out in some really cool ways--better than we could plan.  This pandemic was no surprise to God. He'll take care of you too, just like he cared for Ruth and Naomi. ❤  ferree

PS. Have you ordered your copy of my book yet? If not, right now I only have 50 left and with all the uncertainties ahead I don't really know if I'll be able to get more. But you can easily order today right here. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Our Cry -- God's Response

Dear friends,

In keeping my own diary last week I once again landed in 2 Samuel 22. And once again saw verse 33 which I'd come across the week before a couple times. Stuff like this is not coincidental; God loves to repeat himself just so we are sure we know he is with us. If you had any "coincidences" you'd like to share please post them in the comments. Thanks!

2 Samuel 22 is chock full of our heart cries---

It starts out with naming who God is to us. He's my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my refuge, my shield, my salvation.... (verses 1-4) Which of God's attributes have you experienced?

Then I love this next section because it can describe widowhood so perfectly:
In light of your husband's death have you felt overwhelmed too? (verses 5 - 7)

  • the waves of death swirled around me
  • torrents overwhelmed me
  • cords of the grave coiled around me
  • snares of death confronted me
  • in my distress I called to the Lord 
David was praying supplication prayers like I describe in the Casting Our Prayers On God form for praying. This wasn't "Bless so and so," he was calling out to God because he was going to die without God's help! He was lamenting! God thoroughly accepts laments.

But look what happened when David called to the Lord in his distress: 
  • God heard him
  • God came down like a blasting storm of thunder and lightning! 
  • God took hold
  • God drew him out of deep waters (a widow I know named her blog "Out of Deep Waters" after her husband committed suicide)
  • God rescued and so much more...
Let me urge you to camp out in this chapter this week; unpack it personalize it, and adopt it as your own.

The elements of it are rich: 
  • Adoration (2-4) Who God is to me
  • Lament (5-7) 
  • God's response (8-21) 
  • My response (22-25) right living
  • Adoration (26-37) What God does for me
  • My response (38-43) right warfare. (Personal note: When I used to read passages like this I shrugged them off because nobody wants to kill or attack me like they did David. But then the Lord corrected my thinking because the truth is this: I do have an enemy! See Saturday's post, especially number 5. These verses apply very much to widows!) 
  • Praise! (44-51)
God, not COVID-19, is keeping us home, praying on our knees, for such a time as this. I do not know what is going on in the heavenlies, but I do know that there is much we cannot see at the moment. You are here for a purpose and a part of God's plan. I know how much widowhood hurts, the heartache, the loneliness and so much more. Praise God it won't last forever; but for now please know that you won't always just merely survive, look forward to a time you'll thrive. 

Once again, if there's anything specific I can pray about for you this week, or if you want the files to make your own diary pages please email me at WCplace@gmail.com  ❤


Saturday, May 2, 2020

When God Seems Silent: 7 Ways to Break Through

It's Saturday and you've done your diary pages all week long. As you look back over the week do you see any times that God has shown up or spoken to you? What if you don't? This post is for you my friend.

It really hurts if you don't. Believe me, I know. Before you give up and decide to become an atheist, let me reassure you that this is a pretty normal path. It's called 1). PERSEVERANCE. Hang in there, gather godly friends, even a biblical counselor, and consider these possibilities and helps:

2). Suffering calls for LAMENTING. Have you lamented enough? Don't suffer in silence. I envy the "40 days of mourning" they did in Bible times; it would be a great help to modern society if people could go home after the funeral, put on sackcloth and ashes, take off work and wail their hearts out for 40 days.

However we can open our Bibles and "lament." Pour out our hearts to God like the psalms say. Over one-third of Psalms are actual laments. Read them OUT LOUD as your prayer to God. The sound of your own voice will probably make you cry and that's a good and healthy thing. Add your own additional words and requests. Think of it--over one-third of the Psalms--did God know that we'd need that many? Yes! Read Lamentations and Job if you run out of Psalms. You're in a good crowd of people to whom God eventually proved true, and faithful and worthy. Put words to your sorrow, give it a voice. This is a necessary task of grief.

My "Casting Our Cares On God Prayers" are perfect helps for laments. Here are four of them. To choose any one of them and start today click here:  #1 , #2, #3, or #4.

3). CONFESSION. Consider if un-confessed sin is stalling God's work in your life. I'm sorry to say, but grief does not give us a free pass to think or act like a pagan. Read Psalm 51 and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart. Confess what you realize does not please God, ask his forgiveness and receive a second chance. I John 1:9

4). SALVATION. Is the power of the gospel's new life your experience? Has there been that point of decision in your life when you responded to the tug of God and put your faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus? Do you know for certain that you are His? We can answer those questions with certainty if we can put our name in the blanks of John 3:16  For God so loved ______that He gave his only begotten Son, that if _____believes in Him, _____will not perish, but _______will have everlasting life. If you're uncertain, pray and ask. Email me if you'd like me to send you some examples of how you could pray. wcplace@gmail.com

5). SPIRITUAL WARFARE. Christians have an enemy, Satan, who is a liar and a predator. Just like predators in the animal kingdom go after the weak and wounded, so too will our enemy not hesitate to attack a Christian who is hurt, weak or deeply wounded. We are all targets, but don't be afraid. This is more normal than not, but most importantly God is connected to us in the midst of it. See pages 46-49 of the book "Suffering," by Paul David Tripp. This cannot be trivialized nor pitched far away to the lunatic fringe of Christianity. It cannot be summarized in this little nutshell of a paragraph. But it's not that complicated either. Learn Ephesians 6:10-18 and put your armor on every day.

6). BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT. This should not be relegated to a superior. Being filled with the Spirit is not just for when the pastor preaches on Sunday morning, or for people who've received "the call" to be missionaries, or for "prayer warriors," etc. A prayer for this is Ephesian 3:14-21 and the practice of it is Ephesians 4:1-5:18. But again, it's not complicated but neither can it be trivialized by a flippant WWJD? Please email me if you need more or consult your church leadership.
   
7). PHYSICAL ISSUES We are complex beings and need health for our body just as much as we do for our soul. Stress, insomnia, lack of exercise, not enough hydration, and poor nutrition will make matters seem much worse and they actually will become worse. Passivity is your enemy; it is not merely neutral it is exponentially negative. Part of the battle is that you just don't care anymore--- but now that's admitted and out in the open it's time to do something about it. Set a doctor appointment today or speak to someone in the healthcare field who you know and trust. Be accountable to them. Use common sense and don't get suckered by entrepreneurs selling their unique, "miracle" cures. Start with one thing, even if it's as simple as drinking an extra glass of water every day.

Are one or more of these a problem and hindrance to you? It always helps to identify the issues. That way we know what we're up against and can counteract it. These are from my personal experience and observation. They're also from time spent with various counselors, the research and the current literature out there.

Often, when you tell someone your problems they are only able to work with what you reveal but our problems are like moving targets. When you look at all seven of these challenges you can hone in on the one that you need to deal with today. Don't give up! I know that you can begin to work on these as God leads you. And I know that if you do, you will be amazed at how the Lord has helped you!

I look forward to hear your stories of breakthroughs!  ❤