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Let’s Lament

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. (Lamentations 3:19-20)

There comes a time in everyone’s life when we just have to vocalize all that’s wrong with the world and everything in it. It Today is the Day of Lamentation.

In the past few months, our country has suffered horrific fires in the west, hurricanes in the east, tornados in the middle. We’ve been threatened with nuclear warfare from foreign countries. Civil war pends at the hand of radicals. All authority is questioned and under fire. We’ve seen terrorist attacks from our own countrymen.

My heart breaks for our nation, our children, and all of humanity.

During 2017, my mother passed into eternity, my sister had breast cancer, my daughter had radiation for thyroid cancer, my nephew was treated for leukemia, and currently, I’m going through chemo treatments for breast cancer.

These treatments have taken my otherwise healthy body and made it a wreck. My fingers and feet are numb. My bones ache. My vision’s blurry. I have no energy. I struggle to put two thoughts together to make a paragraph. And even if I manage to do that, I can’t stay awake long enough to actually get it written.

To make matters worse, my best friend’s husband is in critical condition, and I can do nothing to help her. I can’t even sit by her side to comfort her because of my own health issues. And there are my daughters who also have situations I cannot fix for them. I feel weak and oh, so insignificant.

My heart breaks for my friend, her husband, and my own daughters.

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, knew the heartbreak of a fallen nation and the anguish caused by the inability to fix his people’s circumstances. He wrote an entire book about it. While penning his lament for Israel, he reached a point where he confessed his hope in the Lord. That’s where our laments should lead us as well.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone (Lamentations 3: 21-26, 31-33).

How about you? What are you lamenting about until it turns your head back to the Lord’s love?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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Enough with the Surprises Already (Part 1)

Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Surprise!

unexpected guestsFriday evening as we approach our cabin, a car has taken up residence in our yard along with its driver and passenger, who are sitting in beach chairs, sipping wine coolers, and enjoying a campfire.

If you know me, you know I need solitude … not company at the cabin.

Gene looks at me before climbing out of the truck and says, “Who is that?”

Too befuddled to speak, I shrug.

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in years. How are you? Brenda, this is one of my hunting buddies …”

Turns out the intruder had been invited several times to hunt, but hadn’t been there for about 5 years. He and his fiancé had dropped his daughter off at a college in northwestern PA. Our cabin was closer than traveling home. So they thought they’d spend the night. I guess, since he knew where we kept the extra key, he assumed he didn’t need permission to use it.

Excuse me—not your cabin. There’s a name for this. It’s called trespassing. I say little and make my way into the cabin, laptop in tow.

Another Surprise

Gene, however, offers them our Bar-BQ sauce for their hot dogs, sits with them all evening, chatting about old times, and shows them pictures he’s captured with trail cams.

Meanwhile, I’m in the cabin, screaming in my spirit—“Why are they still here?” Yes, I am an introvert. I thrive on solitude. Gene comes in and assures me they’ll be gone in the morning.

In the morning? Seriously? The morning begins at 12:00 a.m. and ends at 11:59 a.m. During what part of that 11 hours and 59 minutes do they intend to depart? Gene gets up at 5:00 a.m. to check his trail cams. That means I’ll be alone with these people for … . Will they expect coffee, eggs, pancakes, and pleasant conversation? Yikes! I’m not prepared for this.

By now I’m in tears. I know I should be more like Jesus and Gene, accepting the uninvited guests with open arms. Show them kindness. Show them hospitality. But all I want to do is show them the road.

The Biggest Surprise

So I pray for forgiveness. I get an unexpected answer as I sense the Lord speak to my spirit.

What did you come here for?

I came to spend some time with you, Lord, to write, and maybe get a painting done.

So why aren’t you doing that?

I pause. This isn’t a test of hospitality. It’s a deterrent to keep me from doing what I’d come to do. If I let my emotions control the situation, I’ll waste precious writing and painting time. Peace floods my soul. I get busy on my synopsis and get it about halfway finished before bedtime.

The woman comes in for blankets. They’ve decided to sleep outside—under the stars or in their SUV, I’m not sure. Gene hands her an armload of blankets and pillows. I offer her sleeping bags for extra cushion and tell her they’ll be more comfortable outside because it’s so stuffy in the cabin, especially in the bedrooms with their small sealed windows. In the summer, humidity is almost unbearable back there.

I wake up the next morning about 7:00 a.m. to find the blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows on a tidy pile on the coach closest to the door. I have the cabin and a couple hours to myself. I finish my synopsis and two cups of coffee.

Then Gene comes back from his mountain excursion with another surprise. I’ll tell you about it next time.

How about you? How have you handled one of life’s surprises?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

I’m a Prisoner and so are You

Spiritual Warfare

Part 21

So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. (Genesis 3:23)

Prisoner #0213Remember high school? Fun, excitement, zeal for life mingled with the longing to be free—free from books, rules, teachers, principals, and parents. We thought we’d be our own bosses after the completion of our education. Some opted to take four or six more years of the drudgery of school. Some dove head first into the real world.

No matter what path we followed after graduation, we all eventually discovered freedom from school only imprisoned us in some other form of institution. At work, we are accountable to those above us. Even if we’re self-employed, we conform to the demands of those who patronize us. At home, we answer to our spouses, our children, and even the dog. On the road, we succumb to traffic regulations.

Add to that our health, finances, and emotions and we hear the clank of the prison door slamming shut, the tumblers on the lock falling as the key turns. We are incarcerated in a world of shame, suffering, sin, and death.

No wonder there is such a longing for freedom.

Read More

Next Week:

We’ll look at Joseph’s response to prison. Prepare by reading, pondering, and praying about Genesis 39:19-23.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Purity is What You Think

Spiritual Warfare

Part 16

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:5 NIV)

Double-Minded 3In high school, I had a friend who proved somewhat less than trustworthy. She’d start a conversation about another girl, and I willingly added my thoughts. I might mention the other girl and I liked the same young man. The “friend,” in turn, took my comments back to the other girl. It didn’t take me long to realize what she was doing and refuse to talk to her about my feelings. Back then, we called people who pretended to be a friend only to get something two-faced. Sometimes we added liar to that label.

Along the same lines, in old western movies, the Native Americans said white men spoke with forked tongues. Time has not changed the way people treat one another, certainly not in politics. In government, the color of the skin makes no difference. They all speak with forked tongues.

I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to trust those who speak with forked tongues.

Apparently, God’s not too thrilled about two-faced people either. He calls them liars. He commands that they purify their hearts.

But before I get to self-righteous, I need to …

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Next Week:

We’ll begin to study the enemy’s tactics. Prepare by reading, pondering, and praying about 1 Peter 5:8.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Who’s Fighting?

Spiritual Warfare

Part 1

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)

Join the Lord's Army

Join the Lord’s Army

Recently a visiting pastor told our congregation about a young woman who sat in a church service. Her spirit, dark and anxious, caused her to fidget in the pew as the preacher gave the altar call. The woman had a sorted past marred by witchcraft and drugs. No one in the church encouraged her to step forward, although some may have felt the Holy Spirit’s nudging. The service ended. The woman walked out and got in her car. Twenty minutes later…

Read More.

Next Week:

Prepare by reading, thinking about, and praying about Ephesians 6:10-11.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Joy to the World

Twelfth Day of Advent 2013

“…He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:16b NIV)

Day 6 arrangementChristmas is a time of reflection…a time to look back and see all that God has done for us. He has provided rain for crops so we have food. He has provided jobs, shelter, family, and friends. He has provided the very air we breathe. Even if you lack some or most of these things, God can fill your heart with joy.

Recently, I’ve read testimonies from people who have plenty of sorrow. They have lost their jobs, their homes, and their families. They suffer from cancer. They are paraplegic or quadriplegic, blind, deaf. Yet they are happier and have accomplished more than most who have both health and wealth. What enables the misfortunate to sing God’s praises and capable of achieving their goals?

Read More and View Joy to the World

Enjoy the sounds of Christmas as you prepare for Jesus’ second coming.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks