I have invited my sister-in-law, Anne Snider, to contribute to my blog for the next couple of months. I trust God will use her words to encourage you, as they have encouraged me.
My mother was the daughter of a very prestigious upper class landowner in South Devon, England. She was raised on a sprawling estate, sent to private schools and taught the Queen’s English. She became so disillusioned after her fiancé, a prisoner of war in a German camp, broke off their engagement that she hastily joined the Royal Air Force and became a Morse Code Operator. My father was a Canadian Pilot Officer with the RAF coastal command and, unbeknownst to her, was certainly of lower class standing. They met in a pub in Scotland when they were both on leave and married after knowing each other for less than forty eight hours. My mother just wanted to leave England and her memories of her one true love.
She never felt at home here in this vast country. She disliked the cold, harsh winters and the hot, humid summers. She always spoke in glowing terms of her homeland, especially the seaside, and traveled back there every couple of years leaving my father to care for five rambunctious children. In July of 1969, just a month before I was to marry, she took my sister and me with her back to her beloved England. We flew into Heathrow Airport then took the train to Kingsbridge. I vividly remember the clickity clack of the train’s wheels on the rails.
South Devon is a county in England with the English Channel on its east coast. It is the most beautiful part of England and is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. These sandy beaches have become known as the 'English Riviera.' We visited my aunt who lived in Torquay, a small seaside resort town right on the English Channel, and spent the day at Babbacombe Beach. It was the first time I had ever been to a salt water beach and the white sand was glorious on my bare feet. No wonder my mother loved her homeland so much. It was incredulous!
There were children building sand castles, folks sunbathing and others just strolling along soaking in the warmth of the sun. Sand is an amazing substance. I discovered that sand is composed of sand grains which range in size from 1/16 to 2 mm. It’s virtually impossible to count the grains of sand as they are so small. That’s why it amazes me when I read Psalm 139:17-18: “So precious are your thoughts of me, O God; they cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand." What imagery! The God who knew me before the foundation of the world thinks about me all the time. I am always on His mind. He’s thinking about you right now too. Let's praise Him and thank Him for His constant love, care and thoughts about us for "they outnumber the grains of sand."
I have invited my sister-in-law, Anne Snider, to contribute to my blog for the thext couple of months. I trust God will use her words to encourage you, as they have encouraged me.
"I had a Major for a Father. He was small in stature but most certainly could command utmost attention and respect. He flew in the RAF Coastal Command as a gunner during the Second World War. After the war, my parents settled in Stratford where my brother was born in December of 1945; however, he was not the son that Dad had envisioned. He wanted a son that would share some of the same interests as he so much relished but my brother wasn’t interested in the militia, Dad’s passion, nor was he attuned to sports which Dad thoroughly enjoyed. Because of this, there was a definite disconnect.
My brother tried to interest Dad in what he enjoyed most. He loved to gaze at the stars and spent countless hours reading and studying about them. All he desired for Christmas were telescopes and books on astronomy. He familiarized himself with the different constellations like Leo and Pisces as well as star patterns such as the Big Dipper, part of the Big Bear, and the Little Dipper with the North Star at its handle’s end. His interest in Star Trek began in 1966 and hasn’t really waned over the years.
“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight . . . “ We are all familiar with this phrasing often found in a book of children’s nursery rhymes. Childhood songs like, “Twinkle, twinkle little star,” are passed down to future generations. “When You Wish upon a Star . . .” is a familiar Disney song in the movie “Pinocchio.”
But there is so much more to consider in the heavenly realm than knowing the different constellations or wishing upon a star. Have you ever gazed into the night sky with awe and wonder? I learned that the naked eye can see 20 quadrillion miles away. The farthest object visible with the naked eye is the Andromeda galaxy, located an astonishing 2.6 million light-years from Earth. Scientists have suggested that there are more stars in the sky than grains of sand in all the beaches in all the world. My finite mind cannot begin to comprehend such vastness.
Isaiah 40:26 tells us to “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? God brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.” Wow, that’s so amazing to think about. Every star has its own name!
Sometimes we feel we are misunderstood by those we know and love, but our Heavenly Father knows us far more intimately than we even know ourselves. In Isaiah 43:1, He tells us not to be afraid for He has ransomed us. “I have called you by your name: you are mine.” In Isaiah 49:16, He tells us that He has written our name on his hand. That is so awesome to ponder. Psalm 139 tells us that He knit us together in our mother’s womb and we are made so wonderfully. How precious to know that even the hairs on our head are numbered. (Jeremiah 1:5) Indeed, we are God’s crowning creation.
The night sky is magnificent to gaze upon but let us be mindful not only to enjoy the creation but delight in the Creator. Let us like the psalmist, “Look at the night sky and see the work of ‘His’ fingers”. “O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth!” (Psalm 8:1, 3)" - Anne Snider
Have you ever had to speak into a difficult situation? This could be very challenging.
When there is a problem, and you know God is leading you to speak into the situation, don’t be afraid to address it. In Scripture, we see several successful examples of the proper way to accomplish this.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was not afraid to talk to Moses about the need for better organization. We learn in Exodus 18 that Moses respected Jethro, and so when Jethro pointed out a better way to govern the Israelites, Moses was ready to listen.
The prophets of the Old Testament were often instructed to point out the sins of God’s people. These representatives of God provide many examples of initiating difficult dialogue.
We learn in Acts 18:24-28 that God prompted Aquila and Pricilla to approach Apollos, a successful preacher. They recognized some areas in which he needed more training; some areas where his theology was lacking. It may have been difficult for them to approach Apollos and offer to tutor him, suggesting that he still had much to learn. But they obeyed the leading of the Lord and approached Apollos. Apollos was a wise follower of Christ and accepted the wisdom and guidance of this couple. His ministry and message became even more powerful as a result.
The apostle Paul, in the New Testament, carefully addresses the sin and error in the church at Corinth. The John Maxwell Leadership Bible described Paul’s method of managing difficult dialogue as using “The Velvet Covered Brick.”
It is pointed out that Paul dearly loved the people of the church at Corinth. He had founded the church and was invested in their lives. (Acts 18: 1-17) But there was sin in the church that needed to be addressed and Paul could not ignore it.
“It was as if Paul were hitting the Corinthian church on the head with a velvet-covered brick— the brick being his condemnation of their sin, the velvet being his love for those whom God had set apart for good works.
It isn’t always easy to speak correction to those we know are clearly in the wrong. But the Lord uses strong leaders to correct His people, courageous leaders who can speak the truth in love. May each of us whom God has called be that kind of leader.”
The next time you need to speak to someone about a problem, remember these examples that teach us how to approach the situation. Don’t run away, but picture yourself using a velvet-covered brick to lovingly, but firmly deliver your message.
 Maxwell Leadership Bible, page 1390. Thomas Nelson 2002
Summer is an important time for rest and relaxation, a time to be refreshed and recharged. It is also a wonderful time to focus on some spiritual disciplines that tend to be pushed aside during our regular schedules. These practices are able to give us the spiritual renewal we need to face the hectic fall schedules and responsibilities. There are many activities that are considered spiritual disciplines. Prayer, fasting, meditating on God and His Word, worship, and concentrated Bible study are some that come to mind. Three of these are on my heart today; extended times of prayer, biblical fasting, and in-depth Bible study.
Extended Time of Prayer
A good friend of mine has a ministry in our area to encourage and bless women. Once a month she opens her home for five women to come for a Personal Prayer Retreat. She offers a time and place that allows women to set aside the cares and demands of the world, and focus completely on God’s Word and what He is saying to them. It’s a time to bring life’s problems and cares to the feet of Jesus. The better part of one day is made available to be still and hear God’s voice. Ellen always begins the day by sharing what God has been teaching her. It never ceases to amaze me how her words are always so relevant to me. She often addresses an area of my life that I had not even been focusing on.
Although it helps to go away from your own home environment, away from the temptations of responsibilities and distractions, with great effort and discipline, you can have a Personal Prayer Retreat right in your own space. If you are not accustomed to long sessions of prayer, add several minutes to your normal prayer time. Do that again several days in a row. Begin your prayer time by reading from God’s word, and then move to your prayer list. After several days you will notice that time is going very quickly. A search on the internet may give you ideas for your personal prayer time. However, be careful not to allow this time to become rigid. Allow God to guide your thoughts according to His agenda for you.
Fasting added to the discipline of prayer is powerful. But it is one of the hardest disciplines for me to implement. When I put it into practice God speaks to me very specifically, and more powerfully than at any other time. If I am earnestly seeking Him, and listening, He reveals areas that I need to confess, and areas where He wants to help me to be more like Him. As I write this blog, I realize that it has been too long since I have put this discipline into practice. I found the following website which I am going to use to determine just how I will begin my fast. I know that the link speaks of “women”; however, as I read the article I see that it is not for women only, it will be helpful to men as well. http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/the-different-types-of-fasts-11626299.html
In-depth Bible Study
Psalm 119 describes numerous benefits to the study of God’s Word as it becomes ingrained deep within our mind, soul and spirit. Some benefits are promises that have conditions to be met before the promises can be fulfilled:
I am sure you would be able to add to both of these lists, and perhaps you can think of even more benefits of in-depth Bible study.
What portion of scripture should you delve deeply into? I suggest that you go to a passage of scripture that resonates with you. Read it over many times over several days. Stay with that passage and let the Lord really work it through into your life. Be sure to journal what God is saying to you over those days.
In these last days of summer, consider carving out some extended periods of time for a Personal Spiritual Retreat. Is there a special need in your life that you should be Fasting about? Determine to spend extra time in Bible Study. See how God prepares your heart and renews your mind, body, and spirit for the days ahead.
I would love to hear how God renews your soul. (email@example.com)
Debi Snider... more
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