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Disappointments Happen—Be Strong and Courageous

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

I visited my oncologist yesterday to get the results of my cat-scan. The lymph nodes with the cancer didn’t show up, which means the chemo wiped it out. GOOD NEWS! The chemo could’ve, BUT DIDN’T, damage my liver, kidneys, and/or heart. I’m as healthy as I was before my treatments. MORE GOOD NEWS! The spots on my lungs and sternum are still there. More good news … the doctor thinks. Since they didn’t disappear, they may not be cancer at all but something I’ve had all my life. MORE GOOD NEWS! However, they could be some other form of cancer, like melanoma since I had a spot of it removed a year ago from my chest. Not so good, but because they haven’t changed or grown in three months, it’s unlikely that they are melanoma or another form of cancer. MORE GOOD NEWS!

This all means I may not be stage-four, breast cancer after all. EXCELLENT NEWS!

     Jesus will carry you

So why am I disappointed? With all that good news, you’d think the doctor would’ve said go home and have a happy life, right? Nope. Instead, I heard, “We’ll start you next round of chemo, once a week for twelve weeks, on Wednesday.”

To which, I said, “The day after tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

“Wait. You said the cancer is gone in my lymph nodes. And you doubt if the other spots are cancer. So why more chemo?”

“We’re still in cure mode,” he said. “If the spots on the lung and sternum were gone, we’d know for sure the cancer had spread. Then we’d go into control mode. But they’re still there. So we have to continue with the cure mode in hopes that the cancer has not and will not go beyond the lymph nodes. We’ll do another pet-scan after these treatments. Then we’ll compare that one to the first one and get a clearer picture of what we’re dealing with.”

Ugh! The storm may have settled somewhat, but it’s still thundering. Like Peter when he stepped out of the boat to walk on the tempestuous sea with Jesus, I took my eyes off the Master when I heard more chemo and focused on the title wave threatening to engulf me. I panicked and began to sink in an emotional undercurrent.

Instead of concentrating on the unpleasantness of the upcoming chemo treatments, I have to re-surrender my life to the Divine Healer. He guided me through the previous three months of extensive treatments. He kept the side-effects to a minimum. He used the chemo as missiles to blast the cancer out of my lymph nodes and prevented it from damaging any of my organs. I can trust Him even more now … yes, I really can.

How about you? What has Jesus done for you in the past that will help you face your next storm?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

H is for Honor

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelations 7:12)

fall-path-4-webThe final letter in our P.A.T.H. acronym is honor. Praise opens the door to Adoration. Adoration leads to Trust. When we learn to trust God, we surrender our lives to Him. At that point, our lives take on a new dimension. We change our thinking to align with His precepts. We strive to do what pleases Him. We want to honor Him with our very existence.

Unfortunately, our human nature, which is in enmity with God, rebels, causing us to bring dishonor to the One we most want to honor. When that happens, God willingly, lovingly forgives us if we confess our failures to Him and seek restitution with Him.

The truly amazing thing about honoring God is He wants to honor us as well by calling us His children. What an honor indeed!

How about you? How do you bring honor to God?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Be a Service Dog

All Scripture is God-breathe and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

Lab 3 4 webBecause of a disabling disease, my friend Joan employs a service dog. This dog tirelessly caters to her every need from handing her shoes in the morning to replacing them at night. There seems to be no task he can’t accomplish short of driving her van and paying her bills. Impressive animal in deed, but he’s new at this. Although he’d been trained for two years and had earned service dog status before entering Joan’s household, he still has somethings to learn. You see, Joan is also deathly allergic to latex. The agency, which trained him, did not train him to detect latex. Joan has to do that herself. Not to worry, she trained her previous dog for her specific requirements. No doubt, she can train her new companion.

Joan hasn’t told me exactly how she managed to train her first dog to sniff out latex. But the end result saved her life more than once. One of the funniest stories she told me about it was, the dog grabbed a bag of chips from her and won’t let her open it. The only thing Joan and her husband could figure out was the company must’ve changed the ingredients in the glue used to seal the bag to include latex. Now that’s a sensitive sniffer. Joan could tell you many instances where that dog spared her a trip to the hospital and perhaps saved her life.

Like Joan’s dog, we are in service to our Master. He is training us to “sniff out” dangerous situations and warn those around us. We need to heed our Master’s voice. We need to develop sensitivity to demonic activity and satanic devices that could potentially destroy not only our faith, but also other’s souls. We need to warn those around us of the pitfalls set in their paths.

The only way to accomplish the “service dog” status is by studying God’s word and praying for discernment. Then put into practice what we’ve learned.

How about you? What have you noticed about your environment that could be a potential threat to those around you, and how have you shared your concerns?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

The Dogwood

Dogwood Blossoms

Dogwood Blossoms

The Legend of the Dogwood is a heartwarming tale. But it is just a legend. Nothing is recorded concerning the type of trees used in the days of Roman crucifixions. Nor is there any proof that dogwood ever grew in Israel.

Nevertheless, the legend reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. Most who have heard the story think of the cross when they examine the flower—the drops of “blood” on each pedal and the crown of thorns in the center.

A closer look at the legend reveals so much more about the tree and about humanity. The dogwood, according to the legend, grew strong and proud as a mighty oak in that day. Then something devastating happened. Roman soldiers chopped it down, cut it into boards, and nailed the Lord to it. If trees were capable of grief and shame, the dogwood would’ve suffered as the story goes.

Be that as it may, two similarities to Christians exist in this tale of a strong, proud tree.

Read The Legend of the Dogwood and the rest of this post here.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Branches

Grapes #2

Grapes #2

Obviously, believers are the branches. When we come to Jesus for salvation, He takes us onto Himself as hen receives her chicks or a vine receives a grafted branch. This is but another aspect of being part of His body. We are many members as we are told in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. We all have different functions, but we are one. It is Jesus’ responsibility to supply both our spiritual and physical needs. Our responsibility is to receive His righteousness, which ultimately produces good fruit. As members of His body, we carry that same responsibility to supply the spiritual and physical needs to the world. And thereby, bring others to Christ who are merely branches without the Vine. These branches are withering and dying. They need Jesus.

God’s sole purpose in grafting us into the Vine is for us to be productive, according to Ephesians 2:10—For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Although Jesus warns the unproductive branch will be cut off (John 15:6), that is not His desire or purpose. According to Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson, vinedressers value every branch. If a branch falls to the ground, they carefully wash it and tie it up again. They mend broken branches by wrapping them tight to the vine in hopes of restoration. Only if the branch is diseased beyond restoration or dead, do they cut it off and burn it.

Every time I fail, I picture Jesus picking me up and washing me off like a vinedresser does to a fallen branch. Jesus doesn’t discard me as a useless branch. He picks me up, washes me off, bandages my wounds, and holds me close again.

Although Jesus doesn’t discard us as useless branches, He may prune us to make us more productive. Pruning may come through health issues, financial struggles, relationship difficulties, or a myriad of other trials. Pruning hurts. Pruning is necessary. Pruning is beneficial. It also means we may have times of little productivity. Grape vines produce in abundance for several years. Then they “rest” for a couple of years, in that they produce less fruit than before. But their vinedressers don’t cut them off and burn them. They watch them. They fertilize them. And they wait. The branches eventually produce an abundance of fruit again.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Y is for Yield

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife [Mary]. (Matthew 1:24)

And she [Mary] brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

Mary and Joseph Yielded to God's will.

Mary and Joseph Yielded to God’s will.

Joseph could’ve ignored the angel’s message and carried out his original plans to divorce Mary privately. But he yielded to God’s will for him.

Likewise, Mary could’ve refused to become the mother of Jesus. She had the option to say, “No, thanks.”

From the beginning, there were options. Adam and Eve could have refused to eat the fruit of the tree. Perhaps they did many times prior to the moment recorded in Genesis. But eventually, Eve yielded to Satan’s ploy to become like God.

Since then, as we have seen through this study, the Bible portrays people who have had choices to make. Some chose well and yielded to God’s plan, while others yielded to their own desires and/or to the enemy.

To the day, we all yield either to God’s will or to Satan’s temptations. One or the other wins. We choose. However, God is faithful and will provide the strength we need to yield to Him rather than temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

May God grant you the strength to yield to Christ throughout the duration of this Christmas season and the New Year?

How about you? What reminds you of Jesus that begins with the letter Y?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

M is for Minister

And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days. And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. (1 Samuel 3:1, 19)

Jesus Came to Serve

Jesus Came to Serve

Samuel’s mother dedicated him to the Lord and presented him to the priest Eli when the child was weaned, probably between the age of two and four. Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli for many years as an apprentice. As he grew, he found favor with God who called him to be the last judge of Israel. The word translated as minister meant servant. Samuel served Eli until the priest died. Then Samuel served God. (Read about Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1‐21, 7:1‐8:22, 9:15‐10:9.)

Among the many works of Jesus, we find, like Samuel, His most defining attribute was that of ministering or serving. Jesus left no doubt about the importance He placed on serving when He said “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Just as He came to minister to others, we, too, have an obligation to minister to those around us, to meet their needs, to care for them. Ministering is not about preaching or standing out in the crowd. We all have a ministry, a commission, a purpose which involves serving others.

How about you? What reminds you of Jesus that begins with the letter M?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks