Archive for July, 2014

The Battle is Not Ours

If feels like there are so many world crisis right now reeling out of control; the Israel & Gaza conflict, Christians persecuted in Iraq,  the crisis at our own borders with children and immigrants, the aggression of Russian in Ukraine, the Ebola plague in West Africa and numerous others.  Often we feel concern but are basically untouched until it hits home, then it becomes personal. The crisis takes on a face and a name and we feel the weight of the battle.

For our family it is the Ebola plague that has us watching, waiting, worrying and praying.  I wonder, will I still care about Liberia when our family is safely out of harms way?  Will I still pray for the thousands of suffering, dying people trapped in superstition and hopelessness?  Will I still pray for wisdom, safety and strength for the numerous faith and health organizations on the front lines of this crisis?

Sometimes our unconcern stems from the fact that we feel helpless, unable to do anything.  What can I do about missiles in the Middle East?  My voice is small and weak at the injustice in our own land.  I can not get my arms around the tragedy of children stuck in “no-man’s land”.  I can’t tell Putin a piece of my mind or stop his aggression.  I can not stop that horrific Ebola virus but I can pray.

When the reality of the our family situation hit this past Sunday I thought immediately of the verse in II Chronicles 20:15b,  “The battle is not yours, but God’s”.   That very evening, would you believe what I read in my daily devotions…..II Chronicles 20! I am using the Daily Bible and that was the reading for the day. Isn’t God good?!!!

Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and he received word that a vast army from numerous countries (Moab, Ammon & Syria) were enroute to battle against him and were already at En Gedi.  This was the biggest external threat of his reign and he was greatly afraid.  King Jehoshaphat humbled himself and sought the Lord. He called his people to Jerusalem and proclaimed a time of prayer and fasting.  The King stood before his people and prayed.  He not only acknowledge God but proclaimed their unfailing trust in God even in the midst of incredible odds. “Even if disaster comes on us-sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine-we will stand in this temple because this is where your presence is.”

An amazing thing happened. The Spirit of God fell on Jahaziel and he prophesied, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.  You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”

The King and the people knew they had heard the voice of God. They fell on the ground and worshipped.  Then they rose up and sang praises to God. What a time of spiritual refreshing that was.

The next morning they were up early and the King stood before his army and said, “Believe in the Lord your God.”   After consulting with his people they appointed everyone who could sing to go before the army and sing praises.  Can you imagine an military army coming at you in battle with a huge choir in front singing about the goodness and holiness of God?  The forces of evil were turned into total chaos and the advancing armies turned on each other and the battle against themselves was so intense that no one escaped.  Victory came in a strange but powerful way.

There are so many good lessons to gleam from this incredible story of God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His care and protection. Sometimes I feel crushed by the weight of a challenge I face.  But I am struck how powerful praise births victory over insurmountable battles in my life.   When I face difficult circumstances, the dark season of night in my life, I usually retreat in prayer  but true victory comes when I began to sing.  Psalms 22:3 explains that God is enthroned in the praises of his people.  Somehow prayer releases the power of God. Somehow praise becomes oil of joy for a weary, burdened soul.  Whenever and wherever God’s people praise Him, God moves in their midst and miraculous things happen. It may not be as expected but like the people of Judah we experience God.

This past week in church we sang “Put on the Garment of Praise” and that has become my heart cry this week.

Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness

Lift up your voice to God.

Praise with the Spirit and with understanding

O magnify the Lord.

All you that mourn in Zion, I have authority

To appoint unto you in Zion, oil of joy that will set you free.

Lift up the hands that hang down. Lift up the voice now still.

Give unto God continuous praise. Sing forth from Zion’s hill.

Sing to Yahweh, alleluia. Worship and praise our God.

Praise and adore Him, bow down before Him, O magnify the Lord!

We don’t know how God will work or intervene in Liberia.  But we do know He knows what is happening and His heart breaks at the pain and suffering.  I wonder why the life of a young doctor, 33 years old with a wife and young children, and has a heart for medical missions, is hanging in the balances?

 I am reminded of the moving story of Jim Elliot and the other four men who were killed by the ambush of Auca Indians as they were landing their plane in the jungles of Ecuador.   They had felt the call of God to bring the gospel to an unreached people.  God was able to use their seemingly untimely deaths to bring about what life could not give and the hearts of many Aucas were changed as a result.

His story can be found at http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/jim-elliot/

Maybe these battles are not ours to fight.   Maybe if we just declare His praise and then stand back we can watch God’s glorious victory!

Praise the LORD

For His mercy endures forever.

II Chronicles 20:21

Related Posts:

Ebola in West Africa – Too close home

(Journal of events as they have unfolded for our family this week)

There is much unrest and very dangerous situations happening in the world right now. They sometimes are hard to grab ahold of,  understand and feel compassion for until they hit home and you have family and/or friends there it can suddenly feel very personal. Right now this is happening with the Ebola crisis in Liberia in West Africa.

See my blog post “The Battle is Not Ours” for more of my personal thoughts on dealing with difficult circumstances.

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Sunday-July 27, 2014: I don’t know if you are following the news but there is a very serious situation in Liberia with the Ebola outbreak. It is getting worse as the day progresses…. Here is the situation my brother’s (Richard) family is dealing with.

My niece, Melanie, and her husband, Jake, are serving with Samaritans Purse (SP) in Liberia. The outbreak has now hit their compound and their house. They live in a duplex and the doctor next door who shares the duplex is the one making world news today. He is the lead doctor and now he has Ebola. He is from Texas and they were due to go home for a family wedding and much needed vacation. His wife and children flew home last week and he was due to leave today.  Now today word has come that a nurse also has contracted Ebola.

Yesterday morning Mel talked to Dr. Brantly on their front porch.   Later in the day on Saturday he realized that he too had become a victim of the dreaded disease. Yesterday Mel & Jake were given 5 minutes to evacuate their house. They are temporarily living with another family. Their home will probably be turned into a hospital unit and probably their possessions burned. It is questionable if they will be able to retrieve anything else.

Mel and Jake have 2 children and are expecting a third. This is a scary time for everyone and particularly for family back home waiting, watching, worrying  and praying.

Tomorrow morning SP is having a meeting and it is highly likely that only essential personal will stay and everyone else sent home before doors close and the country does not allow anyone to leave. Much is at stake. You probably haven’t been really following the situation as we have. Here is a little clarification.

The compound where the Neiss’ are at was not a medical compound. Jake works with maintenance keeping all of SP helicopters in the area running for the larger ministry. When the first wave of Ebola hit this spring SP sent Mel and the children home for six weeks until it abated. (It was only in their area) In the mean time SP felt that they were there in Liberia “for such a time as this”. They set up a hospital on the compound and have been on the front lines helping the Liberian people. From Mel’s fb page it sounds as it the hospital just started receiving patients a week ago.

This disease is brutal and swift. They will know in several days if Dr. Brantly will live or die. There is a 90% death rate. It is unreal what they have to do to work in these conditions. Here is a link to a SP video from that unit that is a real eye opener.

http://video.samaritanspurse.org/samaritans-purse-responds-to-ebola-in-liberia/

This is a huge blow to SP ministry there and a dangerous situation for all the workers. Please join us as we pray that SP will have wisdom how to proceed and move forward and how to protect their workers.

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Monday July 28: Here is word from Rich & Marj this morning…… Keep praying.

This is the word from Melanie after their meeting this morning. Samaritan’s Purse is evacuating their whole team from Monrovia. They’re leaving for the airport today at 3:00 their time (11:00 ours) and flying to to an undisclosed location. They will all be together at a motel for the next 21 days, which is the gestation period for the Ebola virus.  She didn’t know how much they’d be able to get from their house. Someone does need to go in for their passports, at the least.   I didn’t think to ask what they’re doing with Dr.B. In answer to my question as to how he’s doing this morning, she said, “very bad”. Keep praying for him!!

Marj wrote to family…”One may wonder (here where we’re nice and safe) about Christians pulling out at a desperate time of need like this. However, the culture there is quite different. Superstition and distrust often supercede truth and the reception of assistance. The clinic has been receiving serious threats and last p.m. there was an attempt to take life. Please continue to pray for mission agencies who have tough decisions to make, and for the individual people like Jake & Mel who are there because the LORD led them there. We are confident that none of this is a surprise to Him. May He be exalted, even now.”

PS: An informative article about ebola is http://www.vox.com/2014/7/23/5930311/ebola-virus-disease-outbreak-africa-facts-guinea. There are many other sites you can google if you’re interested.

Here is a blog from the sister–in-law of Dr. Brantly.   http://www.carrollcrossroads.com/blog/urgent-prayer-request

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Tuesday-July 29: The prayer concern today is not only for the doctor (last evening the word was he was in grave condition) and nurse but also for the safety of the rest of the SP staff that did not make it out of Liberia. After the group that Melanie and Jake were in was evacuated the border closed. It’s a bit more tricky now and they say to stay could be a life and death situation. This is being taken into consideration. You will find more info and details about what’s happening at this at

http://bit.ly/1rv5RcR Samaritans.Purse link.

The word from Melanie this morning is….”we made it out of Liberia this morning. We had no hassle at the airport except for temp checks and some new forms asking us how our health is and where we are staying. Lucas slept for only 1 hour during the flight, so we are super tired!!! Both kids did very well. The plane food was delicious—meat!! SP put us up in a small Christian hotel and it has a restaurant. The temperature here is very cool for us sea level people.:)

I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness to be able to have my most precious people with me- my family. Jake was able to get some things from our house, so we have clothes and money etc. There are many more SP staff that still need to be evacuated. They flew oxygen machines in for Kent and Nancy but we have no updates on their status this morning. We are trusting and hopeful.”

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 Wednesday-July 30: Last evening word came that the doctor’s status is deteriorating.  My heart aches for his wife and children as they watch, pray, and worry from a distance.  All the staff was involved in helping in some way; washing clothes, sterilizing, recording, etc.  They are monitoring their temperatures and we are praying that all are safe. As of last evening SP has not yet been able to evacuate the remaining staff. This is a very dangerous situation because of death threats and attempts on the lives of the staff. There is much superstition and distrust of the native people as they think the Americans are bringing them Ebola. The article below explains that situation.

Death and Denial in the Hot Zone:

Update today from Samaritans Purse:

Slight Improvement for Doctor with Ebola

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Thursday, July 31:  There is a very informative update today from  Samaritian’s Purse on the status of Dr. Brantly and Nancy.

Samaritan’s Purse physician gives experimental serum to stricken colleague

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Note from Pat:  Samaritians Purse website and fb page and Franklin Grahams fb page are posting updates on the situation. Follow them for more information.

 

Related Posts:

 

Boney Fingers

Do you ever sit and ponder life?

Sometimes I sit on the deck in the cool of the evening and wonder; why do I do all this stuff called work?  Why do I work from sun up to sun down and then some?  Does anyone appreciate what I do?  Is it worth anything to have neat flower beds, mowed lawn, and clean floors? I can’t take it with me.  I ponder the brevity of life and then the finality of death. Do the cares of this life matter?

King Solomon pondered this and wrote, “What profit has a man for all his labor which he does under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3).

Sometimes I look at my hands and the hands of older” folks.  They  often look worn, wrinkled and boney. I am reminded of the song….

Boney Fingers

(Click on the song title to hear the song)

by Hoyt Axton

“Work your fingers to the bone – whadda ya get?
( Whoo-whoo ) Boney Fingers – Boney Fing-gers”

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As Solomon pondered he wrote that life is tiresome, wearisome, unfulfilling, uncontrollable and it is all vanity.  Vanity means useless and meaningless-literally breath of breaths like the wind.  He saw that generations come and go, the sun rises and sets, the wind blows to the south and circles around and blows from the north, all the rivers run into the ocean but they are never full, the eye is not satisfied with seeing or the ear with hearing, a man dies and leaves his heritage to a man who has not labored for it, and the flesh is never satisfied.  He said, “for all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:23).

But as Solomon wrote and pondered a change began to happen. These words sprang from the depths of his soul…  “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God”. He began to see that God had made everything beautiful and there was a season and time for every purpose on earth.  He saw that God requires an accounting of what is past in our lives and there is vanity to selfish toll.  The saw the value and strength of friendships. He gave some warnings; walk prudently when you go to the house of God, do not be rash with your mouth and make hasty vows, the love of silver, gold and abundance is never satisfied and greed is a severe evil and obey the king.  He admonishes us to know our Creator in our youth before the difficult years come. And then he says, “as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him the power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor-this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly all the days of his life because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.”

Then Solomon said death comes to all, rich and poor, wise and foolish. All die and return to dust.

Does it matter what I do in life?  Does it matter how I care for my space of green earth?  Does it matter that I work and toil to feed and provide for my family? Does it matter that sometimes the routine things in life seem mundane?  Absolutely.  Solomon said there is no end to the books we can write and too much study is wearisome to the body but he said, “Here is my conclusion…

Fear God and keep His commandments for this is a man’s all.

For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14

 When I look at wrinkled, worn hands I don’t just see boney fingers.  I see tired fingers from years of  hard work done with a heart of love.

Independence Day

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Today I took a drive on Route 60 east and then on Route 13 into the village. I wanted to see how are people were celebrating July 4th-Independence Day.  I took some pictures.

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Most of the local businesses were closed.

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 Every street light in the village was flying a flag.

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The Community Cemetery had quite a few flags by graves.  I wondered…did they die fighting for our freedom?

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When you left the main road and drove the side roads where the locals live, flags were flying. There were people in their yards preparing for backyard picnics.   Most of the “pop & mom” local businesses were closed.  Even in the village of Powhatan it was quiet and the restaurants were closed. They dared to have a free day to be with family and friends or to do things at home, travel or just relax.  The “box” stores; Walmart, Tractor Supply, Food Lion, were open for business as usual as well as the national chain stores such as Pizza Hut, Subway, and McDonalds.

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It struck us how here on the farm it was so quiet and peaceful.  I grilled hamburgers for lunch and we sat down on the patio to eat and relax instead of grabbing and running.  We worked at numerous projects but also enjoyed a beautiful evening relaxing on the patio with a grilled barbecue chicken supper.

Independence Day is a celebration of who we are as a nation.  We were founded by people of faith, seeking religious freedom.  The Christian faith was important and if you read the speeches, letters, documents of our Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence you will see the importance of faith in God and morality.  The whole back page of section A of the Times Dispatch today has some of these statements.   “In God We Trust” became our national motto and we believed that as long as a nation trusted and believed in God it would prosper.  Psalms 33:12 says “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord“.  Belief in God and Jesus Christ and the Bible as the inspired Word of God was the basis for education, the judicial system and executive powers.  Those who “hate” America today are those who are trying to turn us into a godless nation and they are winning this battle.  As a people we need to repent and return to our Creator, acknowledge Him, honor Him and worship Him.

It also does a community good to pause, reflect, rest, and to take a day off from the usual hustle and bustle, buying and selling.  When businesses are closed people do things together as families.  A big shout out to the businesses that honored the day. It is good for a community to come together and celebrate whether by picnics, fireworks or fun events, It would be good for us as a community to remember our roots and to give thanks for the wisdom of our founding fathers.

 

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie

I have always loved this song-just ask my family!  The beat is so catching and the lyrics crack me up. I could just imagine being that girl!

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

(click on the song title to hear the song)

It was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1960 by Brian Hyland with orchestra conducted by John Dixon.

She was afraid to come out of the locker
she was as nervous as she could be
she was afraid to come out of the locker
she was afraid that somebody would see

Two three four
tell the people what she wore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
that she wore for the first time today
an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
so in the locker she wanted to stay

Two three four
stick around we’ll tell you more

She was afraid to come out in the open
so a blanket around her she wore
she was afraid to come out in the open
and so she sat bundled up on the shore

Two three four
tell the people what she wore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
that she wore for the first time today
an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
so in the blanket she wanted to stay

Two three four
stick around we”l tell you more

Now shes afraid to come out of the water
and I wonder what she’s gonna do
now she’s afraid to come out of the water
and the poor little girls turning blue

Two three four
tell the people what she wore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
that she wore for the first time today
an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
so in the water she wanted to stay

From the locker to the blanket
from the blanket to the shore
from the shore to the water
yes there isn’t any more.

I was reminded of this song in a weird sort of way today.   I decided to go take a swim in my son’s swimming pool. They put in an above ground pool this spring and I have been invited to go dip but just hadn’t done so.  Independence Day-our store is closed and I have a day for me and whatever I want to do–let’s go for that coveted swim!

Now, I have not had my swimming suit on for about 10 years. I dug it out of it’s hiding place and proceeded to put it on.  Oops! Something has happened to the suit!  It used to fit and suddenly it felt itsy bitsy teenie weenie.  Thank goodness I have a “modest” one-piece swimsuit but it seemingly has shrunk.  Suddenly this song from the antique files in my brain sprung to my mind.   Here I was struggling to put on 2-size too small suit and singing…it was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie…..  I stuffed, pulled, huffed, puffed, jumped, and lifted and I made it.  Then I was almost afraid to go out of the bedroom!  The coverup was too small so I wrapped a towel around me. I got to their house and there was a note on the door “napping”. Thank goodness no one could see!!! I paddled and floated around for about half an hour and then made a dash back home.

And no, there are none and will be NO pictures.  So, now I have this crazy little song playing over and over in my brain… it was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini that she wore for the first time today.   An Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini  so in the locker she wanted to stay!  Two, three, four..stick around we’ll tell you more….

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A few days later…. at a family get together I was given a gift from my sister-in-law.

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In it was…… a size 3X thrift store bikini.

 

Thanks Marj for the great laugh and gag gift!

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