The Weekly Encourager – September 5, 2018 – God's Timing is Perfect

It's been a long time since I've posted here, but today I have some encouragement that needs to be shared. After all, the Scriptures remind us to tell others what God has done.

I mentioned a while back that my husband Dave lost his job last Thanksgiving. Due to a change in management at that company, Dave's department was mostly eliminated. This was bad news: a 61-year-old white male losing his job right before the holidays, with no guarantee that he'd ever get a similar position again. Although he was not excited about it, that was the job that Dave had planned to do until retirement. But God had other plans.

Of course no one was hiring during the holidays, so Dave ended up out of work for four months in total. During that time he kept a daily job journal and spent a fair amount of time in God's Word, prayer, and self-examination. What a wonderful opportunity to reboot his life! It was a time of spiritual growth. One of the fruits of this time was the decision to make a major life change via bariatric surgery. Thus he began the long process of preparation and paperwork. It's important to note that if he had not been laid off, he would not have had time or energy for all this.

Meanwhile, he accepted a temporary job for six months with low pay and no benefits. As the six months were ending, the employer was impressed with his work and broadened the scope of the project, asking Dave to renew for another six months. Dave reluctantly agreed, but told them that, after that additional period, he would seek something more commensurate with his abilities and experience. A week later they called him to say that they had created a new position for him! This would be a permanent job with more appropriate salary and some benefits, too.

In answer to our prayers, Dave was approved for the surgery under COBRA and was able to schedule it just at the end of the first six-month contract! Therefore, he had two weeks of (unpaid) recovery time before beginning his new permanent role. God is so good!

The surgery went well, with lots of prayer support from many Christian friends. Yesterday, Dave had his two-week follow-up appointments, and the doctors were very pleased with his progress. He's healing well and feeling well! Yay! I've been so impressed with his dedication to the new program of healthy diet and exercise. He's lost 35 pounds since the spring, his blood sugar is in the normal range, and he looks much better. We even took a two-day getaway together.

After the doctor visits yesterday, he took the metro downtown to begin the new job. Interesting note: our new medical insurance does NOT COVER bariatric surgery, so it's a good thing he had it done while still on COBRA. We are so grateful for the job loss last November that led to this chain of events. God's timing is perfect.

These verses from Psalm 118 seem to sum up our situation now:

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous….
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly!
I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord….
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his steadfast love endures forever!”
- from Psalm 118 ESV

How much happier we pilgrims would be if we would just remember that everything God brings is for our good! What may look like a huge stumbling block in our way can turn out to be the hill we climb that strengthens our legs for new hikes ahead. God loves us! We shall not die, but live to tell the story! If we fall into a pit, the Lord's arm is strong enough to pull us out. God loves us with an everlasting love!  His covenant love, bought with the blood of Christ, endures forever.

Gracious Father, help us to trust in You despite huge obstacles in our path. Teach us to give thanks in all things as we walk along day by day. Remind us to share Your good deeds with others whom You have placed in our path. Fill our hearts with joy that we may sing praise to You!

God is faithful,

Copyright 2018 Janet A. Marney
I welcome your comments below.




The Weekly Encourager – June 8, 2018 – Resolve Relationships

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” - Romans 12:18 NASB

I'm featuring a guest author today, a young woman whose father just passed away. What she said really struck a chord with me because I've been struggling with a situation in which a relative has deeply hurt and betrayed me. Although I've tried to show love and respect over the years, there's an emotional distance between us. Just this week, I've been wondering whether I should call this person and try again to resolve things before it's too late. Here's what my friend wrote about her father:

Lots going through my mind and heart currently. Definitely sad that our relationship was in disrepair, and we had not spoken in years. Glad that when I did think of him (which was often) that I was able to pray for him and chose to keep moving forward, hoping that one day everything would work out. Unfortunately, pride and hurt feelings got in the way so much so that he couldn't bring himself share the news [of her father's very aggressive cancer] with me himself. It saddens my heart greatly that whatever got in the way, Dad felt he couldn't share the news with me personally.

I'm grateful for my friend who shared the awful news with me. I know first hand that wasn't easy as I had to deliver the news to my grandparents who are still going strong at 80+ years of age. Delivering bad news is the worst!

I'm thankful for voicemail as I wouldn't have had another way to contact my Dad or his wife to at least let them know I was thinking of them and praying for them. And I'm thankful that in the end my stepmother graciously called to give me the news of my father's death first hand. I know it wasn't easy for her and the worst news no matter how long you are apart!

So with all that said, no matter what kind of family crap anyone may be dealing with: anger, hurt feelings, resentment... in the end none of it is worth getting in the way of choosing to let go of the past long enough to express forgiveness and love to one another.

There's a lot I could be angry over. Many sins committed against me by my father that only Jesus and a few people close to me are aware of. The truth is hard to take sometimes and it's not always easy for others to want to hear or even try and understand. With all that's happened, what I have learned through this long process of silence is that forgiveness and love are always the key! Pride is killer and comes to naught!

Life is hard sometimes and it can be hard to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, a daily choice in fact, regardless of past mistakes. The enemy will use old mistakes and memories to cut you up and keep you spinning in circles away from the light if we allow it. So it's imperative to stay vigilant and choose to keep forgiving and loving one another.

Love and forgiveness do NOT mean you should over look mistreatment or that it's ok to overstep boundaries. But love and forgiveness DO mean you should still care, pray for the other, do your best to leave the door open for when peace is possible so when that time comes you can work together for positive changes. And in the meantime while you wait for enough healing to happen to start taking those positive steps forward, it's always important to do self care and work on changing what you can control, yourself.

My only wish is that in the end Dad really understood my door was open and that I still cared for him. Although I did relay that long ago to him, sometimes it's hard to hear when feelings are hurt. So I hope he knew it.

I'm sad that he missed out on so much, especially his grandkids. But I know that Jesus has it all under control and His plan is perfect. So what may not be repaired here on earth, may be repaired later after life.

I will never forget how fun he was, his love of music, word play, theater, singing, our time driving in the "rolling speaker," love of sci-fi movies, Dr. Who, running and many other things! I've been able to share so may cool things with my kids because of what Dad shared with me through the years. And I am thankful he is out of pain and at peace now. I love you forever Daddy!

Is there a relationship you need to resolve? “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” - Romans 12:18 NLT

God is faithful,

Excerpt written by Leigh Hamlet Ingham, June 5, 2018, on Facebook. Used with permission.



The Weekly Encourager – March 27, 2018 – Why?

As we reflect upon Christ's journey to the Cross, may this song by Michael Card deepen our devotion. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He embodies love, mercy, and all goodness forever.


By Michael Card

Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord
Why did he use a kiss to show them
That's not what a kiss is for

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

And why did there have to be thorny
Crown pressed upon His head
It should have been a royal one
Made of jewels and gold instead

It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live
For all who would seek to love
A thorn is all the world has to give

And why did there have to be
A heavy cross He was made to bear
And why did they nail His feet and hands
When His love would have held Him there

It was a cross for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay
And Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away

Yes, Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away





The Weekly Encourager – March 20, 2018 – Two Days Later...A Long-shot

We don't know what God is doing, but we know He is good.

If you read last week's post, you learned that my husband did not get the “perfect” job he was hoping to get on Wednesday, but we were still humbly trusting God to provide. Just two days later, on Friday, Dave got an interview for a six-month temporary job with a different organization. On his way out the door, he told me it was “a long-shot,” which the dictionary defines as “a venture or guess that has only the slightest chance of succeeding or being accurate.” After the discouraging news of 48 hours previous, he didn't want to get our hopes up. Well, guess what? The Friday interview lasted two hours, then an hour later he got the call that he was hired. “Can you start on Monday?”

Besides being good news, this whole experience brings to mind the Good News. Would you believe that a little baby born to poor parents in a stable would be able to forgive our sins? This certainly fits the definition of a long-shot! But God had a good plan. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as high as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts that your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9 The Jews of Jesus' day expected a royal Messiah who would conquer the Roman government and bring peace and prosperity. Even the most faithful believers of that time could not anticipate God's plan to save them by sending His Son to die on a cross at the hands of Roman soldiers. People wanted victory over men, but God gave victory over sin, Satan, and even death. People wanted diplomatic peace in their community, but God gave permanent peace with Him spiritually. People wanted worldly prosperity, but God gave heavenly riches beyond all measure, and for eternity. Yeah, I'd say God had a different plan, and it was far better than human minds could conceive.

Let this be an example to us. His ways are higher, so we don't always know what God is doing! I've been studying the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus' words are resonating as never before. Blessed are the poor in spirit (the humble), blessed are those who mourn (for their sin), blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Do you want to know how to live as a Christian in hard times? Here it is, spoken by Jesus Himself, “Thy will be done.” True godliness cannot exist apart from a humble heart. This heart submits graciously and gratefully to whatever our Father sends, be it disappointment, tragedy, loss, poverty, or any sort of humiliation. Yes, any sort of humiliation! If we are discouraged, we need look no further than the Cross of Christ, and His humiliation on our behalf.

We don't know what God is doing. He may allow us a glimpse at times. For example, during these past four jobless months, God had a different “job” for my husband: to grow in Christ. This down time has allowed Dave to explore some issues in more depth than before. He told me that the Lord convicted him of an attitude that needed changing in order to conform to what God desires.  In a different area, Dave made an important decision because he had time to think it through. Third, Dave started a job seekers group that has been meeting here weekly to encourage and pray for one another. He was even blessed to be able to provide direct help to enable one friend to get two part-time jobs! (Both jobs were long-shots, by the way.)

We don't know what God is doing. The job that seemed a sure thing didn't come through, and the job that seemed a long-shot did. The baby that looked like a “loser” was revealed as Lord of All. Our job is not to know everything God is doing, but to be faithful in doing what we know we need to do. Our job is not to tell God what we think is best, but to humbly bend the knee to His decree. Our job is not to grumble, but to be thankful in everything.

“But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” - Psalm 13:5-6

God is faithful,

Copyright 2018 Janet A. Marney
As always, I welcome your comments below.





The Weekly Encourager – March 14, 2018 – When God Says No

Dave did not get the job. This was quite a let-down since he was one of the final two candidates, and the position seemed “perfect” for him. Here's what he wrote today to a person who had given him a recommendation, “I just heard yesterday that I do not get the position. I wish they hadn't taken a full month to reach that decision, but it was a very cool opportunity. You know me, I'm always 110% in, so I gave it everything I had, no regrets. On to the next!”

Although his tone was upbeat, I can tell you that when we found out last night we were both sad and tired. Dave had worked really hard preparing for all the interviews. He spent many hours researching the company and many more hours developing a new web site to show what he could do for them. So many people have been praying faithfully, which has been a big encouragement to him over the last four months, but God said No to our request. Again.

I know we're not the only ones who have prayed in faith and worked diligently for a worthy goal. Some of you have been in far worse situations. I know one man who loved a woman and wanted to marry her. He was one of the final two candidates, but the woman chose the other man. God said No to our friend. Why? Was it a lack of faith on this man's part? Not enough prayer power?

The apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord for healing, but the Lord said No. Was Paul a man who could have had his wish granted if only he had enough faith? No, Paul was a giant of faith, held up for our example. And then there's Jesus. In the garden, the Lord Jesus pleaded with God to take away the horrible agony of the cross, but God said No. Was Jesus low on faith? Did he not have enough friends praying for him? That is laughable. Jesus was fully God, and therefore the ultimate example of true faith in His heavenly Father. Friends, if anyone preaches to you that you can have anything you want if only you pray hard enough with real faith, reject that false doctrine!

Nowhere in the Bible does God promise He will give us everything we want. What He does promise is that He will give us everything we need. Nowhere in the Bible does God promise His people perfect happiness, but He does promise perfect holiness. We are being refined. God will use whatever process He deems appropriate to work holiness into us. That job seemed “perfect” for Dave from our perspective, but it obviously wasn't perfect from God's perspective. What we need most is not the perfect job, perfect spouse, perfect health, or perfect house, but perfect holiness. God's ways are higher; His plans are divine. He who began a good work in us will complete it, and we will find our joy in Christ alone and give Him the glory. We will thank Him for every No answer!!

This season of waiting has been a test of our faith. Will we stay close to the Lord and keep on trusting Him to provide? Will we learn humility and contentment? All I know is that last night I heard my husband thank God for this latest No answer, and I agreed with that prayer. It's not always easy to be thankful in all things, especially when the answer is No. But then the Scripture reminds us that God is a faithful and good Father who loves us. He always does what is best for His children, even if it's trudging through the wilderness for forty years...or four months. We can trust in Him! And if we have Christ, we have all we need.

God is faithful,

Copyright 2018 Janet A. Marney
As always, I welcome your comments below.