Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"A house needs a grandma in it."

Louisa May Alcott

A southern summer's day was a sweet dream when I was ten years old and in my favorite place. My grandma was blessed to live in an antique-filled Victorian home in a quaint old town, just a short hour's drive from Atlanta, where I lived. What a perfect place her home seemed! An oval beveled glass door led from an old-fashioned, roomy front porch to a living room filled with a glorious staircase, an old coal fireplace with a mahogany mantle, and stained-glass windows that reached so high, almost, it seemed to the soaring ceiling.

I wanted to call it mine, but was so happy to be there in brief. Just blessed to be with my Grandma and spend days with her. Those humid days passed so quickly, yet while there I clung to Grandma like honey on a buttermilk biscuit.

I was her shadow. And she never seemed to mind. She seemed happy to have a frolicking granddaughter beside her night and day for a "spell."

She taught me much. Quality and quantity. Partly because I fiercely questioned her about anything and everything that visited my ten year old brain. But mostly, Grandma taught me because of love. Her love was unique. It went beyond instruction and gravitated to discipleship.

I specifically remember one quiet day when, as customary, I followed her from room to room. She told me she had some "sprayin'" to do and she had to be alone. Most naturally, I assumed inquisition.

"What's sprayin', Grandma?" My ten year old mind just couldn't wrap around the idea of spraying being so important. And what in the world was she talking about anyway?

I watched the back of my little gray-haired Mom's Mom walk away from me, but she quickly turned, and with her eyes, cauterized a hole through my skinny, dangly figure, adding distress to my confusion. "Andrea, don't you know what sprayin' is?"

"No, mam." I started to feel defensive. I didn't understand the big deal. But I knew my simple curiosity had led me to trouble. I sort of felt I had come in from a sandbox and needed a bath.

Grandma turned again and walked. I followed. We stopped in her makeshift closet, which was really a large hallway in the back of her aged home. Surrounded by clothes and shoes and scarfs and coats and whatever else fancied her, we stood and stared at each other, and though she was under five feet tall, her presence seemed as mighty as a red oak.

"Grandma, what's sprayin?" My stubborn curiosity was not deterred, for I knew my grandmother's strong heart of discipline could be melted by her compelling, loving leadership. As expected, my young ignorance was too much for her to resist.

"Andrea, do you mean to tell me you don't know what sprayin' is?"

"Nooooo," I slowly answered with hope of subduing dissatisfaction.

"You've never heard of it? Don't your mama spray?"

Interest was now eating me alive. I thought I had stumbled onto a family secret. Or maybe spraying was something grown women had to do to stay clean.

"Andrea I can't believe you don't know about prayin'!"

"I thought you said sprayin', Grandma!" I was at once relieved and disappointed. Happy to be out of the woods. Sad that I was now devoid of a divulged secret.

"I know what prayin' means. And my mama does pray."

How my sweet grandma and I ever had such a misunderstanding I do not know! It looks like one of us would have sooner known the difference between a p and an s. Nonetheless, she was satisfied and relieved, and refocused, my gray-haired companion told me it was her time for prayer. Grandma remained in her closet, while I made my way into her nearby bedroom, and lingered there to listen to a melodious voice speak to God for each and every one of her children and grandchildren. It was like hearing an angel. So sincere, so pure, so heavenly, so selfless, so vibrant and alive, so true, and so unforgettable. It was spoken words showing unseen power.

As Grandma lifted her voice to the Lord, I would occasionally sneak a peek from around the bedroom corner. And with increased courage, I finally made my way into her closet to stand behind her and watch. Grandma's back was toward me, and she was on her knees, weeping, crying out, lost in a heavenly world of praising and asking and receiving. Her head even swayed in rhythm with her resounding words.

Etched in memory as a faithful portrait, those sterling moments on a sultry, summer Georgia day changed my life. If ever I had doubted what prayer was, the mystery was solved. Surely, Grandma had taught me to pray.

She had given me a foundation, a beginning point from which God could build prayer truths later in my life. And today, many years later, I am still learning truths, still searching for a deeper well, still grasping for greater power in prayer.

In our omnipotent God can I only find power in prayer. God is infinite. Limitless. And I am human and fully aware of my many limitations. And yet, those limitations should not bring me a dab of discouragement. FOR, Christ has given a promise! "[W]hatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you. Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24).

ASK! GIVE! RECEIVE! Action verbs! And some of Jesus' final words to His disciples before His passion began. And the message in that scripture from John is greater still, as it reveals His and the Father's heart. THEY WANT US TO PRAY! THEY WANT OUR JOY TO BE FULL!!! Christ has shown us the key to prayer and joy! It begins with a gift of contract left to us from God the Father and God the Son. We can use the name of Jesus to implore our Father to respond to our needs!

And our needs, all of them, God knows all about and fully understands. "For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8).

Before. Not just when. Before. God knows. He Sees.

El Roi is one of my favorite names of God. Its Hebrew meaning is The-God-Who-Sees and is described in The Woman's Study Bible as The Responder to needs!

Hallelujah! Oh, how the Lord loves us!!! He looks! He sees! He knows! That prayer truth fills my soul with unspeakable, bubbling joy!

God is so amazing! He loves us so! He longs for us to pray!

He watches us! Examines our needs with His divine eyes. Looks for us to look to Him! Wants to share life with us! All of life! To have communion with us!

And God wants us all to recognize our need for Him! To see our needs in light of Who He is! God wants to fill a void in us that cannot be filled any other way but by prayer. God wants us to see Him as our Father. And from our parental relationship with Him, God wants to meet our needs, to answer our prayers. And our answers will come as you and I see God as El Roi, as our very own Father in heaven, Who loves and cares for us, Who sees, and Who wants us to connect with Him through the name of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Let's take a quick but closer look at John 16:24. Notice again the reason for answered prayer is "that your joy may be full." The Greek word John used for joy is chara, which means calm delight, the cause or occasion for joy, or exceeding gladness. It emphasizes the abiding permanence of joy.

Pleroo, the Greek word for full, means to fill to the full; to make complete in every way; to bring to realization; to cause God's will and promises to receive fulfillment. Pleroo is also found in John 15:11 and I John 1:4.

Consider also that the Greek word for ask implies a continuous state of asking! And remember that Jesus, in John 15, had just revealed our necessary state of abiding in Him, a living, constant, unbroken relationship where we remain fixed in Christ. Through union with Him, we take our needs to God, those needs that our Father already sees and understands, and we ask for divine intervention in the name of Jesus.
And the God Who sees us and the God Who hears us is the God Who answers us. He answers that we remain in a constant condition of calm contentment. He answers that in the middle of a mess, in the context of need, we can have delight, contentment, peace, joy. Our imperfect, fleshly life can have perfected joy through the Holy Spirit.

Joy is ours to realize. It is ours to ask. Christ is ours for abiding. Yes, simply asking, just pouring out our hearts to our Savior, to our God, will bring us joy complete. For our asking is our faith in action when Jesus is our vine and we one with Him.

As I close this post, I am asking myself, "Andrea, why in this world would you ever doubt The-God-Who-Sees? Why should you ever use God as a spare tire(please see quote at post's end)? Why do you sometimes delay asking when God desires you have delight?"

My friend, God longs for the melodious sound of your voice. Yes, your cry to Him is like my grandma's were to me. Sweet harmony. Yours is the voice of His beloved. And your rejoicing is the overflowing completeness of His kingdom revealed in you. Right now, God's hands are extended to you. In them he holds your joy.

All of us have a measure of faith given to us by God. How much faith does it take to receive not only salvation, but the fulfillment of joy?

How do you, in your walk with God, reach a level of prayer that leads to completion of joy?

What specific times in your life do you remember abiding joy?

Hagar said that the Lord was to her ""the God Who sees me" (Genesis 16:13). Have you ever experienced such helplessness as Hagar did and in your despair, been blessed by the presence and intervention of El Roi?

"Is God your steering wheel or your spare tire?"

Corrie Ten Boom
Research is from e-sword.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It's simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step."

Joni Eareckson Tada

Just ten days ago, my husband and I returned from Springfield, Missouri, where we spent several days with our younger son, Chris, who was hospitalized. A late afternoon phone call had turned a typical Wednesday into flurry. The following morning, we rushed to Missouri, not knowing what illness had gripped Chris's life. His symptoms were intense and confusing to us and the doctors. And for some time, the culprit remained a mystery. Accordingly, the enemy worked his work of fear, speaking untruths to our minds.

Many stormed heaven on Chris's behalf! The prayers of saints poured into the throne room! God's people prayed! And Chris improved. Glory to God!!! (The doctors told Chris just two days ago he tested positive for salmonella. More tests are pending, and we believe, know, Chris will be 100% healthy!)

We left Springfield once Chris was home and stabilized. As we travelled back to Alabama, we were met by a car that swerved into our lane. Jeff and I gasped, inhaled, spoke the name of Jesus. My husband had just enough room and time to move to the right, avoiding a tragedy for our family.

Arriving home about 10:00 Monday evening, I unpacked our suitcases, while Jeff went to Ruby Tuesday's to get us a salad. We ate, watched a little television, and got ready for bed. Our phone rang early Tuesday morning. You've had those phone calls. The ones that feel important when you hear the first ring. I had just awakened, but was still in bed. Jeff was in the kitchen making coffee, and he answered the phone. Five minutes later he came into the bedroom and announced that a dear friend had, in the night, left his mortal body to join the Lord. It was sudden death. Unexpected. A shock.
Danny's death was a blow to his family and all who knew him. He was a vibrant, fifty-seven year old man, who made everyone who knew him feel a little more special after leaving his presence. My husband and I stood in line at the funeral home two hours before we were able to greet the family. Danny was much loved.
Ten minutes after arriving home from the visitation, my phone rang. Seeing it was my sister, and knowing a late evening phone call from her was rare, I answered with concern and immediately heard the stress in her voice. "I hit a deer on my way home from work tonight. I think my car is totaled."
My sister, Nancy, was OK, but the pressing thought of a near-missed tragedy bore its truth through my heart like a laser. Later, we learned Nancy's life was spared because the deer did not go through her windshield. Our family praises God, and deems my sister's survival a miracle. Angels were near, and saved us from overwhelming grief. My dear friends, I am not sharing these incidents out of fear. I am not sharing out of depression or anxiety about the future. I am certainly not sharing to gain pity or to manipulate emotions. I am sharing because of reality. The reality of our faith! The reality of our lives! That our fleshly tabernacles are simply housing our souls, which can depart this world in a matter of seconds. With no warning. With no control of ours or others. With no choice of life or death.

And such stark reality brings home a collision of faith and flesh. Recent circumstances have brought me face to face with self. I have looked. Searched. Questioned. Pondered and wondered my faith, its strength and its weakness. Looked in the eyes of uncertainty and realized the shaky state it can bring. Realized the only certain situation in this mortal life is uncertainty itself.

Collision of faith and flesh is stunning. It is gritty reality right in your face. It can be quite rude and ugly. Its abruptness raises personal inspection, a microscopic look of survival faith, that part of your life in God that is left when living gives you less than best, or worse that worst.

A simple knowledge of God, dear friends, is not breath enough for survival faith. No, survival faith, the shattered remains from collision of faith and flesh, must have something more. Deep roots, fertile soil, good water, tender care. A divine taproot that glues faith fibers together, so that no tugging, pulling, or digging can transplant or destroy our life in God.

Greater than physical life and greater than human emotions, survival faith is staying strength. Our lives are fragile. Tender. Always changing. In a moment's notice or less, our world can turn upside down. Stability turn to chaos. Joy become sorrow. Love lead to loss.
But for the taproot of Jesus Christ, our faith would be vague in those moments. Without Him, we would stumble in our darkened rooms for faith's failing glow.
Yet, there is no stumbling, when our taproot is strong. Jesus is divine light and strength. He is our intercessor. He is our peace. Our comforter. Deliverer. Friend. The I Am Who is more sure, more certain, than every uncertainty. The Faithful, Changeless One Who remains in our faithless, vague moments.

I desire divine light and life. I am praying God will purify my faith. To be honest, it's an intimidating prayer. I fear what testing it may bring, but the silent alternative will only give stagnation: a state of inactivity; still waters, without current or circulation. What an unbearable thought of compromised Christianity! No, I must choose to venture into deep waters with God.

I don't want to be stale, my dear friends. I want, need, must have living water that mightily flows through my spirit. I crave a river of God that sanctifies and changes who I am. Not only for myself, but for my husband, my children, grandchildren, family, church, and friends. And most of all, for the glory of God! That God would be glorified in my life in all things! That in everything I do others would see less of me and more of Jesus!
Many have chosen deep waters. So many saints have had devastating, life-changing collisions, not just potential traumas, with faith and flesh. So many servants of God have given all they have for the kingdom. Their stamina of faith puts me to shame! Their lives of victory challenge my life of less! Their belief in God for great things proves my life simple. Their joy in trials gives me hope, however, for pure faith!

May the Lord give us grace to allow Him to take survival faith and multiply its seed. With joy, let's pray to grasp Christ's hand and trust Him as He leads to deep waters, though their isolation and profoundness overwhelm us. May every challenge in life send us to the mirror; to see reality of flesh; to face the truth of human inability; to turn to a limitless God; to hope in the Hope of our salvation; to trust in His name, El Roi, the Responder to needs; to take Christ's hand and believe His leadership as best, even if He guides to deep waters. Even if faith and flesh collide!

Heavenly Father, please help me to learn complete trust in you. It is a process, dear Lord, and I must yield to its work in my life. May I, in faith, take your hand, in all situations, and walk with you to deep waters. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*When thinking of those whose faith has survived truly amazing challenges, I am reminded of Paul, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, and so many others in the Bible. I also think of Elisabeth Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, and Catherine Marshal, and Amy Carmichael. And then there are those so closely connected, whose everyday personal lives are overwhelmed with the need for survival faith. I have seen many here on blogger, whose lives are beautiful testimonies of God's amazing grace and His ability to carry us when faith and flesh collide.

When you think of survival faith, whose life most influences you? Perhaps it is one from God's word, or another saint from history, a contemporary individual, even someone you personally know.

*Research and scripture are from www.thefreedictionary.com and www.biblegateway.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009


"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us."

Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"

Pressing my nose against the glass, I glared at the plenty. Their presence was within arm's reach, yet untouchable through the clear, clean shield. Chocolates, pastries, cakes, candies, pies, rolls. All looked divinely created. The scent, undaunted by the glass case, seemed from heaven. The dream of taking home such sweets surged through my eight year old imagination. Jubilation!

As I peered through the glass, my heart pounded for the passing pleasure of a chocolate eclair. My favorite. And my father's. Thankfully. So, anytime a shopping trip to Rich's department store in Atlanta was deemed by my mother as a definite Saturday diversion, I knew my father would, just before leaving, stop by the store bakery and reward us for our patience and fortitude.

I loved inhaling that distinct scent that wafted through the white bakery box. I could not wait to get home, where Daddy and I would sit and enjoy our eclairs together. The taste of the chocolate icing and the flaky, fresh crust is now lodged in my temporal lobe. It seems unforgettable. Which explains my undeniable weakness for pastries, which I must presently curb, when possible.

We all have those special sweet shop memories. The delights of dining, feasting, on our favorite confection. Their tacky presence in our brains brings us blessing when we ponder their unique flavor and unforgettable smell.

We are designed, wired, by our Creator, to remember. To not forget. To absorb our experiences. To take in our perceptions. To have them unite and form in our fleshly tabernacles attitude and purpose.

Attitude of self. Of life. Of others. Of God.

Purpose. Of being. Of belonging. Of reason.

Attitude and purpose. Joined together. Come from a lifetime of moments.

Here it is that our personal "what if's" begin. What if our memories, unlike those from the Rich's bakery, are not so sweet? What if our memories are full of pain, sorrow, suffering, confusion, hurt, abuse? What if our memories hold armfuls of choice words that still echo, making us cringe, condemned, holding us prisoner in a cataclysmic state? What if our memories are our own private world of pain?

In Biblical history, one suffered such a private world. His life was an epitome of Jewish zeal and perfection. A Pharisee of Pharisees. A leader of leaders. A man setting the example for God's chosen people.

Until, . . . that bright and shining moment shocked suddenly, and his world was struck down. And destroyed. Completely vanished. Everything. Except the memories.

The Apostle Paul was never the same after his trip on the Damascus Road. He had seen Jesus. Heard Him. Believed Him. Knew the Lord's forgiveness.

And the greatest persecutor of the church of the living God was never the same again. Saul turned. Walked away. Became Paul. And our world has never been the same again.

What great doctrine, what inspired words of the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul, as he penned most of the books of the New Testament.

Yet, in Paul's still moments, agony collided with joy. Memories clung. Past sin collided with present grace. The sights and sounds of stonings, tortures, floggings of the innocent remained. Echoed. Resounded. Stood.

And were it not for Paul's great walk with God, the Apostle could have crumbled under the stress of his past.

But, . . .

God had not only saved Paul's life from sin and chaos, but also, Christ had brought healing to his harrowed mind. And though Satan longed to hold Paul in condemnation and suppress his new voice, a voice that proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul, through grace, found victory. Vicious memories the enemy meant for death, God used for life.

In Romans 8:1-2 Paul wrote, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death." Paul knew the sanctifying power of salvation. Utter cleansing. Total healing. Real life.

And though the struggle and power of distressing memories were troubling, the power of Christ stood greater against their chained voices, giving Paul the liberty to proclaim, "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Sour became sweet. Grief turned peace. For Paul. For us. For we, too, deal with anguish. With the not-so-nice thoughts of our pasts. Whether we have a few unpleasant experiences, or whether our lives were, or perhaps are, full of chaos and abuse, God is able, my dear friends, to heal. The Prince of Peace can reach your heart today, right where you are, and give you joy despite the many sorrows you carry.

I have carried sorrows. My own dear father, with whom I shared eclairs, who taught me to tie my shoes, who took me to church, whose arms made me safe, whose love I knew, passed away when I was twelve. My loss sent me into a spiral of confusion and pain.

Dear friends, I am nothing but a product of God's grace. Of Christ's life-giving, nail-scarred hand that reaches down to the deepest grief and need and pulls the undeserving out of a vicious pit. How thankful I am to know Jesus! I can write not because of personal resilience. No, I write because of the work of Christ in my life!

And if today you are carrying sorrow, aching memories; if now your soul is troubled by past sin, old grief, recurring regrets, know this: God does not respect one person above another. What He has done for me and so many others, He will most surely do for you. The grace God gave to the Apostle Paul can also be yours. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

Turn your eyes to Christ. Give your whole self to Him. Let God be the God of your past, present, and future. You, my dear friend, will never be the same again.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


“God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.”

Peter MarshallThe soft glow of light came through a single window. Though faintly seen, it gave relief. I was tired and eager for a soft bed, but my heart leaped with excitement to see the gleam of a lamp through the panes. A rush of anticipation seized my thoughts. To walk to the door. To tap on its hard wood. To hear its familiar creak as it widely opened. To see my mother's small frame standing in her tiny kitchen. To hug her neck and see her rejoice as she held her our little sons. To walk in and inhale the purity of a place that alone could feel so safe and smell so unmistakably distinct. To be home.

Through our early years of long distance living, the same scenario played again and again. Jeff and I would plan the day. We would set a leaving time, a particular hour, and anxiously await departure like two wrens perched two minutes from dawn.

It was a joyful time of forward thinking and living! The hope of soon-to-come distilled our loneliness and added life to our lives. Yes, we had our own sweet nest, which we so loved. And our call to the ministry was without regret. The sacrifice of nearness of extended family was ours to make, and we did so willingly, by God's grace, with joy, and in peace.

But how grateful we were for those few moments of the special soothing presence of mothers, grandmothers, brothers, and sisters and others. It was ease and removal of pain for two young lives who had come to know the grief and stress of bearing God's call; for while our baptism of ministry fire had brought new mothers, and brothers, and sisters, it had also brought new knowledge of the ways and means and labor in God's vineyard. That some well-meaning or not so well-meaning people say and do hurtful things.

We soon came to realize that such was part of our sacrifice. That if God so allowed bitter words, He was only using them for a sweet purpose. And that the cross was our only hope for removing the stinging acid that could eat away our souls.

No one enjoys the thought of drinking from Marah. God's chosen people were dismayed and murmured against Moses when a three-day journey in the desert brought them to that bitter place. Thirsty, dry, exhausted, they discovered waters that seemed an oasis but were quickly declared sour. It may have seemed to them a cruel gesture. They must have hastily remembered the sweet waters of the Nile, widely known for its pleasant, smooth taste.

And the Israelites didn't waste a moment. Their complaints about Moses' leadership were vociferous. "'What are we going to drink?' they demanded."

He didn't know. Didn't have a clue. But, Moses turned to God. He realized his helplessness. The wilderness life was new to him, too. And Moses knew the company was too tired to continue. There was no other source. BUT GOD!

In response, in faith, Moses, lifted his voice to the Lord, and God heard him and showed him a piece of wood, a tree. Moses threw the wood into the water, and the molecules of the bitter were altered. It became sweet, drinkable liquid, perfect H2O. And their thirsty, parched bodies were satisfied.

Now, I have to confess to you that I can feel no judgement toward the Israelites when I read Exodus chapter 15. I am not sure I would have responded any other way than they. No, it's not very spiritual, but had I and my family been without water in a vast nomad's land for three days, my patience would have been thin. In my thirst and desperation, I, too, would probably have cried and complained. I can only hope and pray that I would have ultimately lifted my soul to God as my source.

A sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon speaks to our need to always realize God as our source. And, within that sermon, his remarks about Marah are so timely for us. He talks about the humanness of the Israelites and their struggle with the flesh, their failure to have faith in Him who had just delivered them from the power of the Red Sea.

Yet, Spurgeon also speaks of our deeper need for grace in trials. For the necessary of sweet in bitter. The voice of wisdom while waiting. The lifted hands of faith in a dry place. The source of hope that turns troubled waters into palatable drink.

We must have a flow of the living liquid of life. We must all spiritually survive. But when bitterness challenges us, when words of others pierce our hearts; when we have financial loss; when there's little money for the doctor and nothing in our bank account for medicine; when we see the tread showing on our tires and our children need new shoes; when God in silence dwells; when drained from ministry; when a sudden shock wave collapses the world around us; it is at these points of testing we most need the cross of Jesus. We must cry to God to show us sweet wood.

As I read the thoughts of Spurgeon about Marah, I found his words so compelling. "As soon as we have a prayer God has a remedy. The remedy is near at hand; but we do not perceive it till it is shown us. 'The Lord showed [Moses] a tree.' The tree had been growing for years on purpose to be used. God has a remedy for all our troubles before they happen to us."

Praise God! Rejoice in those words! They are not just for his 1871 listeners, but they are for you today! God has grown wood for you, dear friend. Its sweetness is there, and your faith, your precious voice lifted to Him in prayer will reveal its place and purpose.

That God would so plan our steps amazes me! We have a heavenly Father who allows our trials and in His omniscience sees our future desert places. In seeing, God plans. Makes our ways of escape. Personally, in forethought, God plans our paths of deliverance. He plants the seeds for our pieces of wood. God, dear ones, crafts our destiny.

It is all set in order. And when our Marah moments come, our desperate disposition leads us to choice. Die from despair, drink the bitter before us, or cry to God with every ounce of energy and faith we have and wait for his tree.

Be encouraged today, dear friends. If a vast, dry desert has led you to Marah, do not give up. Do not despair. Do not give in. God has a tree. He grew it for you. For this time. For His purpose. For your good. Accept it. Place it in your bitter water. Then drink its life. It will heal your soul. Dry your tears. Soothe your weary voice. And make alive your desert place, so your way is perfect.

Quote from C.H. Spurgeon from biblebb.com
Scripture reference in Exodus 15 is from NLT.