Monday, December 10, 2018

The Eternal Potential of Suffering

The Northern New England Presbytery of the PCA recently hosted a conference entitled "Disability and the Gospel." Joni Eareckson Tada joined the event via video feed in which she commended all in attendance to take up the cause of graciously and completely including those struggling with disabilities within the full life of our churches. Less than two weeks later Joni herself underwent surgery for cancer - her second time around. She gave an interview to John Stonestreet in which they discussed what John describes as the "eternal potential of suffering." The difficulties we all face now are somehow preparing us for life in a future world without trials. John's conclusion is that we will all profit the most from afflictions when we are willing to treat others with different frailties as fellow heirs of the covenant. Amen to that!

John Stonestreet Column

Monday, December 3, 2018

Thoughts on Money

"And Amaziah said to the Man of God, 'But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?' The Man of God answered, 'The Lord is able to give you much more than this.'" (2 Chronicles 25:9)

Spurgeon's thoughts: "This seemed to be a very important question for the king of Judah, and possibly it is of even more significance for the tried and tested Christian. To lose money is never pleasant, and when it involves principle, we are not always ready to make the sacrifice. 'Why lose what could be put to good use? Is it not possible to pay too much for truth? Remember the children and our small income!' All these things and a thousand more would tempt the Christian to participate in dishonest gain or prevent him from carrying out his conscientious convictions when they involve serious loss. Not everyone views these matters in the light of faith; and even with the followers of Jesus, the idea that 'we all have to live' carries quite a bit of weight.

'The Lord is able to give you much more than this' is a very satisfactory answer to the anxious question. Our Father holds the funds, and what we lose for His sake He can provide for us. The Lord will be no man's debtor in the end. Christians know that an ounce of contentment is more valuable than a ton of gold. The person wearing a threadbare coat over a good conscience has found a spiritual treasure far more desirable than any he may have lost. God's smile and a dungeon are enough for a true heart; His frown and a palace would be hell to the trusting soul. Let the worst become worse still, let all the talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. In the meantime, even now the Lord makes the meek to inherit the earth, and He keeps back nothing that is good from those whose walk is blameless."

Candy's thoughts: I distinctly remember the day when Steve and I decided to tithe to our local church. We were relatively new believers, and the concept of giving a set amount to our church was truly daunting. We were living in one of the most expensive towns in the state of Connecticut, in the cheapest rental house we could find, and we had wild mushrooms growing up through the floor in one of our rooms! We also just had our second child with a third one following soon after, the business that Steve was working in was struggling (and did fail), so financially we were looking at an uncertain financial future. But Steve did a biblical study on tithing as a Christian minimum and was persuaded (and then persuaded me) that we should do this. So I said "Okayyyyyy, we'll see how this goes" and more than 30 years later I can validate Spurgeon's claim that "Our Father holds the funds, and what we lose for His sake He can provide for us."

I'm guessing some of you may have had a similar experience?


Monday, November 26, 2018

3 (Evangelistic) Reasons to Quit Complaining

Today I discovered a new series of devotionals to read! Yay!

Here is the description: "In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life Series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God's word to your life in practical ways day after day."


While I have not yet received the books, I am confident they will be very good because of previous books I have enjoyed by these authors. The specific volumes I have ordered are Grief: Walking With Jesus by Bob Kellemen, Doubt: Trusting God's Promises by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and Contentment: Seeking God's Goodness
 by Megan Hill


The first of these three authors is one of the experts interviewed on the GriefShare videos. The second I've heard speak at conferences and she has written some wonderful books. The third I met on a bus while traveling from the Indianapolis Airport on our way to a Gospel Coalition Conference for Women where she was a speaker and I was an appreciative attender.


There are 3 that I did not order yet: Pornography: Fighting for Purity, Addictive Habits: Changing for Good, and After An Affair: Pursuing Restoration. All 6 of these are published by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers.


I stumbled upon these books after reading an article on the Gospel Coalition website by Megan Hill entitled 3 (Evangelistic) Reasons To Quit Complaining. Here is the link to that great article:


https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-evangelistic-reasons-quit-complaining/ 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Don't Be a Turkey This Thanksgiving


I'd like to take a moment and introduce CandyceLand readers to another blogger. Her name is Sharon Gamble and she writes at sweetselah.org. She and I go waaaaaaay back to the days when 3/4 Magee kids attended Portsmouth Christian Academy and her husband was (is!) a terrific teacher of history there. Anyway, the title of her post today REALLY caught my eye, and if you are reading this, it obviously caught yours as well! Sharon reminds us that Scripture can inform us even how to 'behave' and therefore bring glory to God around a Thanksgiving table. I hope you enjoy this article, and please be sure to check out her other musings which can be found at the link above. You won't regret doing so.  💕

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.—Proverbs 9:10 NIV
Turkey (slang): one who is inept; a failure; a dud
Dear friends,
Let’s take some notes from Proverbs today so we don’t wind up being the “turkey” at Thanksgiving this year. God’s Word is full of advice on how to behave. So … as a holiday approaches and you are asked to be in close proximity with people you love and sometimes people who are a tad bit hard to love … take note. And have a great Thanksgiving!

Don’t …


Take offense easily. “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV). Some people have extra sensitive spirits. Perhaps they were teased as children or feel foolish in a crowd. For whatever reason, these dear ones can often misinterpret words, ending up feeling slighted and offended. Perhaps that’s you and me at times? I love this verse. It reminds me that it’s to my glory—my shining—to overlook a comment that I perceive as an offense. Wisdom yields patience. We need to be patient with others and believe the best of them. Words often pop out of a mouth sounding harsher than the speaker meant. Let’s overlook these words and live “unoffended,” having patience with others and knowing we are loved by the Holy One, and, therefore, we are … just fine.
Urge people to eat what they shouldn’t. “If you find honey, eat just enough—too much of it, and you will vomit”(Proverbs 25:16 NIV). It’s actually unkind to push food on someone. As a person with a special need in my diet, I can attest to the awkwardness that results when someone wants me to try something I really shouldn’t. Offer food and smile, whether the food is accepted or rejected. Let’s all be mindful of others’ food needs and restrictions.
Run from difficult people. “It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy” (Proverbs 14:21 NIV). Difficult people have a story. Each one of them. Yes, sometimes they are the product of their own foolish decisions. At the same time, they also come with genuine hurts and wounds from a past that we can’t begin to understand. There are all different kinds of needy folk: those who live in financial poverty and those who live in emotional or relational poverty. Listen to that difficult person. Love them as Christ loved you. Make them welcome at the table and help them belong. Always be kind. It’s often the difficult ones who need kindness most of all.
Kindle gossip. “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28 NIV). To kindle is to light a fire, to activate, or inflame. When we engage in gossip, speaking unkindly about someone who is usually not present, we stir up conflict and separate even close friends. Oh, let’s be careful with our tongues! I always play a mental game when someone starts talking about a person not present. I immediately picture them watching us as we talk. I imagine that they hear every word I say. That totally changes what I say! Try it. It really helps.
Envy others. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30 NIV). Envy is horrid. When you look at what you don’t have, you are robbed of the joy in what you do have. Envy gives you an unkind heart toward others. As the proverb says, it “rots your bones.” Literally makes your insides hurt. Yikes! Let’s be content with what we have. Seriously. Are we wearing clothing? Do we sleep on a mattress at night? Then, we are blessed. When we focus on all we have, our hearts are at peace and our bodies flow with life.
Yak. “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 NASB). To yak is to talk at length, especially idle or trivial chatter. Oh, how easy it is for me to get going with a good story and keep going. And then going some more. Although it’s fun to “entertain” in this way, it’s also unkind. In a good conversation both parties share and talk. I want to do a better job of listening and drawing out the quieter person so I can hear their thoughts and their stories.
Dear Lord, here I am. Imperfect. Prone to selfishness and loving my own comfort. Help me, please, this Thanksgiving to heed Your Word and to be kind, putting others’ needs ahead of my own. Help me to be an encourager, a listener, a peace-bringer in all the events I attend. Lord, help me to shine Your love in all I do! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, November 12, 2018

What if? Even if?

Vaneetha Risner's thoughts: "I've spent a lifetime considering the what-ifs. Those questions have a way of making me uneasy, destroying my peace, leaving me feeling hopeless. When negative possibilities loom before me, I can't seem to rein in my thoughts. Just asking "What if..." unsettles me.

People in the Bible were unsettled by what-if questions, too. When he was told to lead the Israelites, Moses asked God, "What if they don't believe me?" Abraham's servant asked about Isaac's future wife, "What if the young woman refuses to come with me?" Joseph's brothers asked, "What if Joseph bears a grudge against us?" All of them wondered what would happen if circumstances went awry. Just like we do.

We all face a staggering array of what-ifs. Some are minor inconveniences while others have potentially life-altering repercussions. What if I lose my job? What if I never have children? What if I get cancer? What if my spouse dies? What if my husband never loves me? What if my child never believes in Jesus?

In the Bible, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not guaranteed deliverance. Just before Nebuchadnezzar delivered them to the fire, they offered some of the most courageous words ever spoken. "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it... But even if he does not, we want you to know... that we will not serve your gods" (Dan 3:17-18).

Even if. Those two simple words can take the fear out of life. Replacing "what if" with "even if" in our mental vocabulary is one of the most liberating exchanges we can ever make. We trade our irrational fears of an uncertain future for the loving assurance of an unchanging God. We see that even if the very worst happens, God will carry us. He will still be good. And he will never leave us."

Candy's thoughts: I have struggled with two "What if" questions for 37 years. The first began to invade my thoughts at age 24 when our first child was born: "What if one of my children dies before I do?"  Well, as most of you know, that fear became reality 11 years ago with the death of our son. Immediately after his funeral the second "What if?" question started to plague me: "What if this happens again and another child dies?"

I wish I could say with confidence that I have learned to be "content in all situations" as the Bible instructs us, but I have not. I wish I could say that I "count it all joy when I face various trials," but it takes me a long time to get to that point. Maybe the divine direction through the verse in Daniel 3 will help me to make progress. Even if the unthinkable happens, God will still be God, and heaven will remain a place of supreme joy without any trace of lingering 'what if's.'

With these truths in mind, I can be in full agreement with the great hymn "All Praise to God - Who Reigns Above,"  especially Verse 6:

                                      Then come before his presence now
                                      And banish fear and sadness;
                                      To your Redeemer pay your vow
                                      And sing with joy and gladness:
                                      Though great distress my soul befell,
                                      The Lord, my God, did all things well,
                                      To God all praise and glory!

Even if great distress should come upon me once again, I pray that I would believe, really believe, that the Lord does all things well. To God all praise and glory!




Friday, November 9, 2018

"My Times Are In Your Hands" Part 3

Alistair Begg's continuing thoughts regarding Psalm 31:15: "My Times are in Your Hands."

(If interested, scroll down 5 articles for Parts 1 & 2.)

#3: I am being trained in the school of God's providence

"God wrote the Bible so that we might know that He sees, cares and acts. He stepped down on to the globe from the glory of heaven. He revealed Himself in the person of the incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ... Do you know what that means? It means we are not trapped in the grip of a blind force or being tossed about by chance. It means we are being trained in the school of God's providence. It means that our times are in His hands. In Scotland we used to sing the following hymn:

                                           My times are in your hands.
                                                My God I wish them there.
                                           My life, my friends, my soul,
                                                I leave entirely to your care.
                                           My times are in your hands,
                                                whatever they may be,
                                           Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
                                                as best may seem to thee.
                                           My times are in your hands,
                                                why should I doubt or fear?
                                           My father's hand will never
                                                cause His child a needless tear."

Candy's thoughts:  "Why should I doubt or fear?" Is there one of God's precious children who would deny that fear of the unknown and doubt of God's love should be cast away forever from our minds? Yet when tragedy strikes, are there any that haven't experienced these unbelieving emotions? I know that there are wonderful testimonies in our present day and in past generations where faithful children of God have ultimately come to the right conclusion that God is sovereign over all "pleasing or painful, dark or bright" providences. We need to learn to embrace the words of our Savior: "Not my will, but Yours, O Lord." As this beautiful hymn quoted by Alistair Begg states, "My father's hand will never cause His child a needless tear." What a comfort when painful and dark sorrows threaten to overwhelm us.





Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Privileges and Obligations of Citizenship


Here is a timely letter from Alistair Begg that I recently read regarding Election Day:

"Many passages and examples in the Bible clarify our responsibilities as citizens, not the least of which is found in Paul's letter to the Romans, where he writes, 'Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment' (13:1-2).

Two observations come to mind regarding this. First of all, government is God's design. The sinful predicament of man necessitates oversight, and government is God's way of providing for the well-being of human society. This doesn't mean that all governments are good, nor do all governments recognize God's supreme authority. Yet, the book of Daniel teaches that God 'removes kings and sets up kings' within His sovereign will and purpose. It's no doubt challenging to understand God's purpose when we watch the news or read the newspaper and see so much that is upside down - yet even in this, we must remember that nothing is unfolding outside the sovereign will of God.

Secondly, obedience to the government is not optional based upon our views or affiliations, but rather, is God's command. We're accountable to God to obey the rule of law so that we contribute to an orderly, civil society. With this comes our duty and privilege as citizens to participate in the electoral process.

This provides us all with the opportunity to heed the directive given by Paul to Timothy: 'First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way' (1 Tim. 2:1-2). We dare not be negligent in this, because our leaders need our prayers as much as ever. Prayers for our nation will not go unheard.

When I find myself distressed by the chaos, to my Bible I go, confident that God is on the throne! I need not live in fear regarding these affairs but can instead rejoice in the prospect of the great appearing of King Jesus, when we will join with an eternal company of citizens declaring then what we affirm now: "The Lord God omnipotent reigns!'"

With my love in the Lord Jesus,
Alistair