He Can Do It Again!

Written by: Jody Mugford

Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”  His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”  Matthew 15:32-33

Truthfully, I hadn’t studied much about the story of Jesus feeding the four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few fish until recently (Matthew 15:29-39 & Mark 8:1-10).  The teachings I had heard were mostly focused on when Jesus feeds the five thousand (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, John 6).  The “feeding of the 5000” miracle is hard to miss!  It is recounted in all four gospels.  So why is there a similar story of Jesus feeding 4000 told in Matthew and Mark?  Isn’t it just the same message again?

After doing some reading, I have discovered there are many, many lessons that can be pulled from the story of feeding the 4000, either on its own or in comparison to the 5000.  I want to focus on one of the simpler lessons but one that really resonated with me.

When studying Jesus’ provision for the hungry 4000, it is important to note that it was only a short while ago the disciples found themselves in a very similar situation.  In that instance, 5000+ people had come to hear Jesus speak but as evening approached, they were all hungry and had no food.  Jesus told the disciples to feed the famished crowd but they told Him they only had five loaves of bread and two fish.  Jesus instructs them to bring Him the food.  He gives thanks to God for the bread, breaks it and gives it to the disciples who proceed to serve people more food than they can eat, leaving twelve baskets of leftovers.  Jesus fed 5000 men, plus women and children, multiplying the food to overflowing, from only five loaves of bread and two fish!  What a miracle!

Skip ahead one chapter and we may think we are reading the same story again (although when studied, you will find many differences).  Jesus went along the Sea of Galilee and up on the mountainside to minister to the people.  He healed many and they were all praising Him.  Then He tells His disciples that these people need food as they have been three days with nothing to eat.  What do the disciples say?  “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” (Matthew 15:33)  Jesus proceeds to miraculously feed all of these people from seven loaves of bread and a few small fish.

We have no record, in either gospel account, of the disciples saying anything other than questioning Jesus on how they would feed these 4000+ people.  Having just seen a similar miracle not long ago, I had expected they would come to Jesus with more confidence.  They had witnessed Him feed even more people on less food, so why should they doubt He would do it again?  But we read that they asked the same question: How can we feed all of these people?  They could have come to Jesus with expectation, knowing He could meet the needs of these hungry followers.  With the memory of the hungry 5000 fresh in their minds, they could have been filled with anticipation of witnessing another miraculous provision, but instead, they question.  Instead of seeing the spiritual opportunity, they see the natural obstacles all around them.

There are so many people.

There is so little food.

We are in the middle of nowhere with no resources nearby.

The disciples took their eyes off of Jesus, and His ability to provide and sustain, and they set their eyes on the problem.

Friends, so often, this is me.  Is this you?  How many times have we seen God provide?  Do the miraculous?  Meet us in our time of need and speak to our hearts in the most beautiful, reassuring ways?  My own daughter is a testimony to God’s miraculous power.  Yet, when I come face to face with another uncertainty or trial, I find myself allowing doubt and worry to creep in.  How can I handle this?  What if God doesn’t answer my prayer this time?  What can I do to fix this situation? What if He doesn’t step in and help me the way I need?

Through experience, I am learning to “take every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  It takes prayer, time in the Word and practice.  What also helps is to find ways to intentionally remember what God has done for you in the past.  Keep a journal.  Write down praise reports in a notebook or on your phone.  Take pictures of answered prayers and frame them around your home.  Find something that allows you to keep those reminders nearby and always ready when your doubts and fears arise.  God is so pleased when we keep our trust in Him.  He wants us to never lose sight of the fact that He loves us beyond measure and, even in the trials and unknowns, He is there and He is good.

Despite the questioning disciples, Jesus still provides food miraculously to all the hungry people.  He is gracious with their questions and shows them, yet again, His power and love.  He knew they were still learning.  They were on a road of growth, learning to trust and drawing closer to God.  He is walking with us on the same path, friends.  He gives us opportunities to put our trust in Him and lean on Him again and again.  He encourages us to anticipate big things and expect the miraculous.  He did it before and He can do it again!

For we live by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7

Love and blessings,

Jody

Social Skills

Written by: Christianne Williams

I am an introvert.  I’ve always felt awkward and out of place in large groups of people.  I’ve heard it said the most lonely place on the planet is in the middle of a group when you’re an introvert, and I can relate. My early years I thoroughly enjoyed spending the entire weekend reading, alone in my room.  And when I reached my teenage years I was happier with a friend or two, any more than that and I struggled to fit in.  I have been know to turn bright red when someone looked at me and I had to answer a question.

If you’ve ever watched a movie that involved teenagers at a dance, that’s what my life has felt like.  While everyone else is dancing and laughing and having a good time, I was sitting by the wall.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  There are those of you reading this who have struggled to feel like you fit in, like you’re accepted, like you belong.  You feel like meeting new people is a recipe for anxiety where someone else looks at it as an exciting opportunity.  You’d rather spend the evening at home with family and a book and not out and about.

My husband is a pastor, and I’ve often said that God has a sense of humor.  Being a part of a pastors family has required us to move around, to attend social functions, and to do many other things that require social skills.  And yet, here I am.  Growth has been constant and second guessing myself and walking away feeling like I’ve said something wrong, even though I hadn’t, or that I should’ve said or done this or that, and not something else, has happened often.

I believe it all stems from feeling that you fall short in some way.  Everyone else is smarter, wittier, more interesting, maybe even fitter, has better skin, more fashionable, and many other insecurities that crop up.  It leaves you believing that you aren’t worthy.   I know, that sounds harsh, but isn’t that really the issue?  We sometimes don’t believe that we are deserving of relationships, of love, of being accepted for who we are.

In church a few weeks ago I was asking God about this.  I was inquiring of Him as to why I never feel like I fit in.  I still feel at times like the awkward teenager sitting by the wall at the dance, just waiting for it to be over.  He spoke to me about it.  You know what He said?  There are no wall flowers in His kingdom.  All who are His children are loved and accepted by Him, even when we feel alone in the world.  We are not alone by the wall, we are dancing with Him, enjoying the life He has prepared for us. Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” We are heirs, and that means royalty.

So while you may naturally be an introvert, you are surely not a wall flower.  You are not inadequate, you are a child of God.

The Things That Bind Us

Written by: Cindy Morrone

What are your biggest stressors?

Those things that cause you to go Ahhhhhhh!!! in your mind, which your behaviours shortly follow.

For me, these things have changed over my years.

From a young age it was loud noises, including fireworks.  I hated them! It was terror for me to watch them with my hands over my ears and jumping with every ignition.

Then as I started to drive it was stop lights. Yes, I began to panic as I approached a light on a highway going its speed of 80 km/h terrified that I wouldn’t be able to make the decision of whether to stop or keep going.

Later on, it was the setting of the sun. That supper hour where a sense of dread forebodes.

In each of these situations; happenings in my past; significant difficult experiences set a pattern of beliefs, encroaching onto my present.

An experience, experienced.  A word spoken and believed. A thought owned as one’s own.

These things can be debilitating.

These things can prevent us from moving forward in freedom into God’s best for us.

Today, I am happy to say that none of these things impact me anymore!!

Scripture gives us hope!!

That we do not need to hold onto these things meant to overcome us.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

Scripture reveals that importance of taking every one of our thoughts captive.  Is it true? Is it real? Is it what the Bible says?

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:4&5

It is my hope, that we will live in this Freedom, the One offered to us and be bound no more!!

More Than We Can Handle

Written by: Carolyn Ruttan

God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  I’ve heard this said so many times to people when they are facing difficulties.  It´s meant to encourage. I’ve heard it preached from the pulpit.  I’ve read it in devotionals.  Just this morning actually it was part of the devotional that my husband read to the kids before they headed out the door and off to school. I spoke out and said, “that’s not true!” And actually, it’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine actually, because I don’t believe it to be true. I believe at times that God absolutely gives us more than we can handle.

I can almost hear people saying…” Wait a minute! It says that in the Bible…that God will not give us more than we are able to bear! ” But does it really? For a long time I thought so too. Then I tried finding scripture to support that thought and found none. I can assure you, you won’t find it either.  I used to think when times of difficulty came that God must thing I am super strong because I sure didn’t feel like I was handling things so well.  Quite the opposite in fact. I used to think…how much more am I supposed to take, God? I used to wonder when things would ever end.  Would there ever be a light at the end of the tunnel? There were times it just seemed like it was one trial after another.

So, why have we heard so often that God won’t give you more than you can handle? The verse that is so often taken out of context and the verse that people are thinking of is this…

1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

The verse is referring to temptation. Not trials. Not sorrow. Not the burdens we carry. Not the things that break us….but temptation.

My thinking is that if God does not give us more than we can handle than why would we need a Savior? If we could do everything on our own and in our own strength we would not need to depend on him. We wouldn’t need him in our lives. We wouldn’t need to cry out to him when the hard times come because we could handle things just fine on our own.

2 Corinthians 1:8b-9 We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God who raises the dead.

There will be times in life where we feel like we are drowning, times where we feel like we can’t possible take any more. There will be times when our world is falling apart. There will be times that we feel like we have no more tears left to cry. There will be times in our lives when something will blindside us, and times where we are powerless.

But, here is the thing…We were not meant to do life on our own and in our own strength. God wants us to rely on His strength. Maybe we can’t handle it…but He can.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Isaiah 41.10 Don’t be afraid for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will HOLD YOU UP with my victorious right hand.

 

Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

1 Peter 5:10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So, after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support and strengthen you. And he will place you on a firm foundation.

One more thing that brings me a bit of comfort…. knowing that our Lord felt the same way. He knew what it was like to feel lonely, and rejected.  He knew how it felt to be hated, to be made fun of and accused of things he did not do. He knew how it felt to be in deep anguish.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

So if that is where you are right now, in this moment of your life…feeling like you just can’t take any more…know that He gets it. He has been there. He understands your pain and all you are going through and he cares.

1 Peter 5.7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Take Courage!

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

2 Chronicles 15:7 says “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”

Rewinding life about nine and a half years ago, I vividly remember the feeling I had after my firstborn and I were settled into our hospital room together. Labor and delivery now behind me, nurses reassigned to new labouring moms, husband sleeping soundly in the cot beside me, my sweet friend home to catch up on the nights sleep she sacrificed to help me as I laboured—and I remember wondering if I could ever fall asleep again because life was just too good to miss.

As I stared into the bluer-than-blue eyes of my precious newborn baby boy, I was ever-aware that God had everything to do with this dream come true.

I was finally a mom.

1 Samuel 1:27 says “I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.”

God answered our prayer, and gave us a beautiful family. I have many more moments like this one in my memory bank to pull out when those less-than-amazing moments arise. And they do.

There have been many moments as a mom that I wish I could go back and do differently. Pages from my mom story that I wish I could re-write. Moments that I wish I could erase, while other moments I wish I could bottle up and re-live as often as I would like.

The older my children get, the harder this mom-job gets. It is in those less-than-amazing moments, when I am elbow deep in the grit of loving and disciplining, that I desperately grasp that very first moment when I was ever-aware of the Lord’s blessing me with these miracle lives. I choose to allow the blessing of the job to outweigh the stress of it, and I press onward, holding onto the promise found in 2 Chronicles 15:7.

Are you struggling with a lack of gratefulness for a known blessing, my friend? Let’s “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Finishing Well

Written by: Conny Varga

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” (2 Tim 4:7-8)

Whenever I come across these verses written by the Apostle Paul, I can’t help but to stop and marvel. For someone – anyone – to be able to make this statement seems almost impossible.

I would venture to say that most of us, when on our deathbeds, will look back with at least a little regret, and wish we had done some things differently. Some common regrets are: I wish I had spent more time with my kids; I wish I had worked less and lived more; I wish I had shared the gospel with my extended family more often; I wish I had reconciled with so-and-so; I wish I had done more for God.

Why is this such a common phenomenon? I believe that in our heart, we all want to finish well, we all want to be able to look back and feel thankful and satisfied about our lives, knowing we did our best.

Most likely, the culprit is a wrong perspective, which results in wrong priorities. Our human tendency is to focus on the few decades we have on this earth, and to work tirelessly to make our time here cushy and comfy. And while there is nothing wrong with wanting a good life, it becomes a grave mistake when that notion becomes our priority. Suddenly, we lose sight of eternity. We get so focused on the house, the job, the retirement plan, the next vacation, that the things most important in our lives are left by the wayside.

There are times when I think that a clean house is more important than time with my kids. Having my fridge and pantry stocked is more important than giving to the cause of the poor and needy. I deserve a nice house with a finished basement, while I ignore the countless people in this world who don’t even have a place to call their own. Having a good time with family and friends sounds a lot more fun than sharing the Good News of God’s grace with them. Working extra hours to afford the better lifestyle seems more attractive than being satisfied with what God has already given me. The never-ending work around the house and property takes precedence over meaningful time spent with my spouse and children. Hockey and dance practice trump the hard work and dedication of hiding God’s Word in our hearts.

I believe this is where the Apostle Paul had it right. He dedicated his whole life to the service of God. From what we can tell, he did not lose sight of that, even when he did every-day things like earn his own living. In his writings, he often indicated that he dedicated himself to the cause of the Gospel to the point of exhaustion, persecution, and even death. He did not let a single opportunity go by without using it to glorify God, and he considered it a joy and blessing to be spent for the Gospel of Christ.

Will we re-dedicate our lives, re-focus our vision, and re-prioritize our goals to fight the good fight? It is incredibly hard, and truly counter-cultural, but so rewarding and worth it. I believe this is what Jesus meant in Luke 12:22-34. In this passage, He urged His disciples not to worry, not to run after the same things the pagans (unbelievers) run after, because our Heavenly Father knows our needs. And then He made this startling statement: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” God wants to give us the Kingdom, if we only let go of our petty little things and seek Him first! He wants to give us so much more than what we can ask or imagine. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me! Let’s take Paul’s words to heart, fight the good fight, and finish the race well! Then we will have no regrets when we breathe our last breath!

Words of Life

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

According to Webster’s dictionary the word proverb means, “a brief popular epigram, adage,” or “a short saying that is widely used to express an obvious truth.”  Often a proverb indicates a positive action necessary on the part of the reader.  Even when you break down the word proverb into its two parts you see the smaller words pro (positive) and verb (action) within.  In essence, a proverb is positivity moving forward!

I recall a time when a proverb from the Bible, one read many times before, struck me in a new way!  Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  I was walking through a particularly difficult time at work, feeling the weight and pressure of deadlines, financial upheaval and staffing dynamics.  There were days all I wanted to do was turtle from my responsibilities and take as many days off as was allowed.  There were also days where I was ready to approach every situation and interaction with fire, fury and an unparalleled ferocity.  I must admit that there were days where my words matched the latter.

Thankfully, through his incredible grace, God brought this verse along my path and by His Spirit it pierced my heart and filled my mind.  I was reminded that words have incredible power over situations and over people.  The Lord showed me again that there are words of life and words of death; that words spoken carelessly or negatively can seriously damage the work God wants to do in others and definitely wreak havoc in my own life.  He showed me that my ability to verbalize is a God given privilege, because I am made in His image, and one I should protect and use responsibly.  That I must be careful when, if and how I wield my tongue.  That I must begin to speak the name of Jesus over every broken part of my workplace so that life and healing can take place.

Daughters, it is so easy for us to bend to the world’s standard of quick-witted retorts, petty insults, hurtful accusations and slanderous gossip, in an effort to relieve our feelings of frustration and of being wronged.  The world feeds us a steady diet of revenge and retaliation, of standing up for our rights and making others pay.  We are conditioned to take action and deal quickly with situations, to speak our minds freely and pat our self-esteem.

However, God shows us a very different path of communication with others.  In James 1:19 we see that God wants us to be, “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  Much easier said than done, but an action we must all adhere to for peace and life to abound in any and every situation.  We must engage the Holy Spirit in helping us to achieve this, sometimes each and every moment of the day!

We can simply pray, “Holy Spirit, help me,” before answering a feared phone call, or interacting with a particularly toxic co-worker, or entering a heated meeting, or facing a financial partner.  Whatever we face, at home, work or play, we can enlist the help of the Almighty God, through His Spirit, to effectively communicate words of life everywhere we find ourselves.  Our words will no longer pierce, but heal!  These are split second prayers, but they keep us in touch with God’s presence, and are powerful against our flesh and the enemy!

I have learned that as I positively act to change my speech patterns, bringing them in line with the Spirit of God, I find greater joy in life and can confidently handle all that life throws my way.  My hope is this encourages you to do the same.  I will leave you with this one final verse, Ephesians 4:29.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Unity…What Does It Look Like?

Written by: Jody Mugford

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of unity among Christians.  If you’ve listened to a handful of sermons, you’ve probably heard some teaching on how God wants us to be unified as a church, a body of believers representing Jesus.  But what does that mean?  What does it look like in our daily lives?  This has got the wheels in my head turning…

Let’s look back to Genesis 11, to the story of the Tower of Babel.  The people came together and decided they would build a tower that reaches the heavens, to make a name for themselves.  God saw what they were doing and said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6).  So He intervened by confusing their languages so they couldn’t understand each other, thus incapable of accomplishing what they had set out to do.  Granted, the people’s intentions were not honourable, but even God acknowledged the power of their unity.  He said Himself that they would be able to succeed in anything they decided to do, when they decided to do it together.  How much more can WE, as believers, accomplish when we join in unity?

Throughout my life, I’ve heard many conversations about the need to be unified but we often don’t know what to do next.  It’s unlikely we will all agree on every theological detail or that we will have the same opinions about various ministries.  So how are we to be unified?

There is one thing that we can be undeniably unified about, across all churches and denominations, and that is the need to show Jesus to a lost world.

“I in them and You in Me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.  John 17:23

When we are functioning in unity with one another, the world will see Jesus.  When we are not living as a unified body, this presents a confusing Jesus.  We may say with our words that Jesus loves and saves, heals and restores, but if all the world sees are Christians arguing with each other, intolerant of differences, and hopeless under the stresses of life, this behaviour will speak much louder.  So what can we do?  Take some time to read Romans 12.  You will find much of the answer there!

“Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.”  Romans 12:16

Living in harmony is a great concept.  Harmony means to be in agreement with one another and to join different components together to create something even better, such as a musical chord.  In a chord, the notes are different but when played in unison they make a beautiful sound.  When we look at the common goal of showing God’s love to the world, we cannot forget Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ (Romans 12:4-8), and how we are not the same but all part of one body.  We do not have the same functions but we work together, using the gifts we have been given, to the show the world who Jesus really is.

“So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-13

We may feel the urge to exclude our responsibility from this verse because we are not pastors.  We may not be pastors of a church but we are certainly evangelists and teachers for Christ.  And as such, we should be looking for ways to encourage each other to use our gifts.  Some are great musicians, so let’s be intentional to give them opportunities to use their musical talent to minister to others.  Some are great conversationalists and can make anyone feel welcome and loved.  Let’s give them opportunities to chat and connect with people!  Some love to bake and it does their heart good to whip up something delicious for a person in need of care.  Some love to fix things and take care of those that may have repairs they can’t afford.  Some are great administrators and would flourish if left in charge of organizing an event for the community.  Friends, let’s start to get creative.  How do you and your brothers and sisters in Christ want to show Jesus to others?  When you think of showing love to another, what are the ideas that come to your mind?  They are probably different from someone else’s ideas because they stem from your own passions and how you would serve others best.  Let’s start creating opportunities where we can all minister in the ways God has equipped us.  Not everyone fits the same mould, and thank God we don’t!

The opportunities are endless and I’m getting excited just writing about it!  So here’s my challenge, for you and for myself.  Take some time today to think and pray about the gifts and abilities God has given you.  Do not downplay yourself, friends.  You have much to offer in the body of Christ and to those around you.  Also, take some time to think about the gifts God has given those around you.  There is probably quite a variety and you can rest assured that God has designed it that way intentionally to meet the needs of your community.  Start asking the Holy Spirit to show you ways that you can use your abilities to minister to others and how you can encourage your brothers and sisters to do the same.  Be prepared!  God will likely give you amazing ideas you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.  Lastly, when He speaks to you…obey.  Have faith and step out.  He’s with you, friend.

I believe that having eyes to see each other’s gifts and a servant’s heart to reach those in need will help immensely to unify our church.  That unity will break down walls of hurt and isolation and it will allow us to show Jesus to the world, the true Jesus.

Love and blessings,

Jody

EMBRACING FENCES AND GUARDRAILS

Written by: Christianne Williams

A few years ago, our family decided to adopt two beautiful dogs.  Our oldest boys were requesting a pet, and they were adamant that they could handle the responsibility.  Now, truth be told I’m a cat person.  They’re independent and social so you get the benefit of love from a furry friend but they can pretty much look after themselves.  No regulating food or walking necessary.  My husband, on the other hand, is a dog lover and so he sided with the boys saying it would be a good opportunity for the boys to learn responsibility and how others are dependent on our choices.

We brought the dogs home and the first few weeks were great.  The novelty of having them around ensured that they were brushed, fed, walked, cuddled, and cared for.  We made sure they felt the love.  But we began to notice that these furry kids had a wandering streak, one that compelled them to explore the far reaches of our community.  The problem with this was that they loved to go unleashed and seized every opportunity to escape our yard, leaving our children running through every neighbour’s yard trying to chase them down.

We decided that the only way to fix this problem was to put in an underground electric fence. We were certain that this would solve our problem, after all, one of our neighbors had one and his dog stayed within his boundaries. After the expense of buying the system and the labor to put it in the ground, we very quickly learned that the dogs were smarter than we thought.  One day, about a day after the fence was installed, one dog couldn’t get away from his wandering ways and so he decided to ‘jump’ it.  He started at one corner of our property and we could see right away what his intent was.  He began to run, and kept on going, right through the electric force, realizing that once he reached a certain point, he really was free.  The other dog was quick to follow, and so were the kids.

After a few years and many attempts to keep those dogs safe in our yard, we made the difficult decision to send the dogs to live on a farm.  We didn’t want them to be tied to a tree in the back yard, unable to explore and be free.  They had lots of space to run, and although we missed them greatly, they were safe.  We had done everything we could do to make them feel loved, safe, and cared for but still they chose to run outside the boundaries.  When they went outside, they were putting themselves at risk and our boys at risk, the boundaries were there to keep them safe.

As our children grow we similarly have rules in place that allow them to grow and become responsible while still keeping them safe.  We don’t do these things because we hate them and want to make their lives miserable, although that’s usually what they think, we do it because we have wisdom that they don’t and we want to give them a safe ‘yard’ to grow in.

In the Garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve the boundary of not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He wasn’t doing that to withhold good from them, but to protect them from the evil that would come from it.  Unfortunately, they felt the need to go outside the boundary God had set for them, and it cost them greatly.  There’s nothing harder as a parent than watching your child decide to go outside a boundary you’ve set for them and learn the hard way that you were only trying to protect them.

There have been times in life when looking at the boundaries God has set for us, we’ve likely felt the compulsion to push them a bit, to see what’s on the other side, like the cartoon I once saw that showed two people standing in the road with what looked like a fence in front of them.  One had decided that he didn’t want to be fenced in, he wanted to see what was so good on the other side.  The other was saying,

“It’s not a fence, it’s a guardrail” but it was too late because the other had already jumped over and was falling off the cliff that was waiting on the other side.

Let’s not despise the boundaries, fences, or guardrails that God puts in our lives.  Let’s embrace them, knowing that everything we need to go on in life is within the spaces God has allowed us to live in.  Learn from Adam and Eve’s example that God won’t withhold any good thing from us.  If it’s on the other side of the fence, perhaps then it’s not meant for us.

He Goes Before You and Me

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I love watching the Royal Family.  I am amazed at how when they enter a room, the doors are swung wide open for them and all attention is on their entering.  They carry nothing in their posed, gloved hands.

When I enter somewhere it is nothing like royalty.

I may appear disheveled on any given day.  I am fumbling to open any door with one arm carrying a car seat filled with a precious one.  There is usually a diaper bag, purse and often times a book bag slung on the other shoulder.  I may draw attention to our entering but only by those wondering, “What on earth?”  Haha!!

I was anticipating something I had never done before.  It was big.  There would be a lot of major decisions made in that one meeting, that would affect myself and my family directly.  It would impact my everyday life and my life’s calling.

I was so anxious.  Wondering about the ‘What Ifs?’ Not having control, except for a small voice, over the outcome.

I don’t know about you but the new, the unknown, the uncertain are difficult for me.

Beforehand, I was so thankful that I reached out to some dear friends because I was reminded;

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

In his last days Moses, spoke these words to his successor, Joshua.  Joshua was to cross the Jordan and enter into the Promised land.  Moses assured Joshua that the Lord, Himself would go before him.

We have that same assurance.

And as soon as I entered that meeting, it was immediately evident that the Lord had gone before me.  He had already prepared the way.

I pray, that you are reminded this very day that whatever your Jordan looks like that the Lord goes before you.  He never leaves us or forsakes us.