Time Flies…

Time Flies… and I Wasn’t Even Having Fun!

We’re probably all familiar with the quote “time flies — when you’re having -fun” but I’ve also discovered that time can fly by without our awareness when we are just doing life. Recently, I was trying to recall when I had last written on my blog and much to my chagrin, dismay, and embarrassment, I discovered that a full year had passed. In fact, that blog acknowledged the first anniversary of the publishing of my book, “If I Tell You I’m Gay, will you still love me — One Mother’s Journey to Truth and Grace.”

How could that much time pass by and I not be aware that I was not regularly writing my blog? Then I ealized… this past year I was just busy doing life… and not all of it was fun — especially as it was happening. in retrospect, however, I did have to acknowledge — God was at work in all of it.

I’m a planner, and I thought I knew what would take most of my time this past year. In May, I would be observing a mile-stone birthday and recognizing the need to be practical and plan for the future, I knew I needed to sell my condo and move into a one level, smaller rental apartment or duplex. So, aside from selling a few of my books to people requesting them, my plans were to move into a low-key mode for the book and put my time and efforts into getting my condo ready to sell and doing major downsizing of all my accumulated “stuff” after 15 years living in the same place.

But God in his foreknowledge knew that was not all that this year would hold. In March, I received a call from the Herman and Sharron Bailey Television program in Clearwater, Florida. Someone had sent them a copy of my book, and they wanted me to appear on their program for an interview. Recognizing this was an unexpected but much appreciated opportunity from the Lord, I accepted the invitation but asked permission to delay the trip to Florida until July to finalize getting my condo ready to put on the market the first of May.

Within days of that phone conversation, I received a very unexpected and shocking email from CrossBooks, publisher of my book, that as of the end of May they would no longer be printing any of their titled books– that included mine! (Translation — they were going out of business — the sad fate of a growing number of publishers) While that was a complete shock to me, it obviously was not unexpected to the Lord. The development created (in my mind) a crisis for me… how was I to continue to promote my book when it was no longer being printed and how would this affect the July TV interview which typically informed viewers how they could obtain the book. In retrospect, I thought I was delaying the interview until July to give me time to prepare my condo for sale but the Lord knew the time was needed to make arrangements to have books available at the time of the interview!
I never cease to be amazed at the Lord’s foreknowledge and sovereignty and working all things together for his purposes. The previous summer (2014) a good friend of mine had felt a burden to help me purchase another large shipment of books (250). Thus, when CrossBooks was no more, I personally had a good supply of books. Also, through my friend’s many ministry contacts she was able to get some of my books on the website of Hope for Wholeness, a ministry ministering to those struggling with same-sex attractions and their families, which was the source for books we used for the TV interview. Also from this shipment of books she was able to keep books available on Amazon for people who might search for the book on the internet.

Back to the TV interview — I was understandably nervous about the interview since I had no idea what questions Herman might ask. I was also having some voice issues and was concerned that could be a problem during the broadcast. Following my usual custom, I enlisted the prayer support of a number of friends whom I knew would pray for me. My Father faithfully answered their prayers and during the interview kept my spirit calm, my voice steady, and enabled me to give clear answers to Herman’s questions. The interview proved to be another opportunity from the Lord to share the message of my book and hopefully to inform and encourage families and individuals dealing with the issue of homosexuality.

Within days of my return from Florida, I received another shocker email… this time a very positive and good shocker. This email was from one of the producers of Focus on the Family. Somehow Focus had received a copy of my book and she wanted to record a 45-60 min phone interview with me. Their staff would then review the recording to determine whether my “journey to truth and grace” after discovering my son was gay would be an appropriate and helpful topic to families listening to Focus on the Family radio broadcasts. Evidently the recorded interview was well received by the staff because on October 16, I received an email asking me which dates in March 2016 I could come to Colorado Springs to be interviewed for a Focus broadcast!

This unexpected opportunity was more intimidating than the TV interview — not only because of the much broader audience, but also because of some health issues that had developed in the intervening months. Would I be physically able to travel to Colorado and do the interview in March? Again… much prayer was needed to discern God’s will and how I should respond to the latest email. (I have committed to go.)
During my lifetime, the Lord has graciously blessed me with good health with very few instances of health issues. However, this summer, I began to experience some balance problems, some changes in the quality of my voice, and then daily headaches. My primary doctor eventually referred me to a neurologist to see if the symptoms might have a neurological source. The last resort effort to find a cause was a spinal tap to make sure the spinal fluid was clear.

However, during the procedure a very rare complication developed — the abrasion of a nerve — resulting in extreme leg and foot pain with on-going spasms. (Gave me a new appreciation of the word “pain.”)’ This resulted in 38 days confinement, first in the hospital to get the pain under control and then in two different rehab centers for physical, occupational and speech therapy. This was followed up by home health care and then out patient therapy. Thankfully, all that therapy…and the prayers of many Christian friends…brought about the greater stability and mobility that I needed.

I share all this as illustrations of the unexpected events and complications — both positive and negative — that can fill our days and take up our time in ways we had not planned or even thought possible. This year has also been a strong reminder that God is very much in control of time and of the events that come into our lives.

For some reading this blog, this past year may have brought deep pain … the loss of a loved one to death — which God calls our enemy– and even though we may have the assurance our love ones are with the Lord, the separation on this side of eternity is very painful. For many others, the increasing threats of terrorists attacks even in American have brought increased fears. but even the reality of deep pain or realistic fears can and should be wrapped around by the truth of Scripture… God knows… God cares.

This week I was reminded of some mind-boggling scripture verses in Psalm 139 regarding this very truth.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:14-16 NIV).

Even before our physical bodies were being formed in our mother’s womb, God had his eye on us and had already written down in his indelible records what each day of our life would hold for us! I repeat — that is a mind-boggling thought and truth! It is also a very reassuring truth that can enable us to walk in peace and assurance as each day unfolds. God has already written down what that day will hold for us and therefore has already prepared and made available the resources and strength that we will need for that day.

Psalm 31:15 reinforces the truth of God’s sovereignty and his ordering of the events in our lives…
“My times are in your hands,” and because of this assurance, the Psalmist could declare, even when his enemies were plotting against him,
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

God reminds us that the days he gives us are a sacred trust to be used for his purposes and glory. The “milestone” birthday I mentioned early was my 80th….so Psalm 90: vs 10 & 12 have taken on special significance for me.

The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty, yet their span is but toil and trouble;; they are soon gone, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Is that our prayer? — that God will teach us to number or value each day he grants us and that we will set our hearts on increasing in biblical/spiritual wisdom — seeking to know how to live godly lives directed by his Word and his Spirit. Scripture also reminds us that since we do not know what a day will bring (Proverbs 27:1 and James 4:14a) we are submit our days to the will of God (James 14:15).

In my Bible, I gave written by Psalm 90:14 the note “my prayer” and the date “12/24/12.”
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all
our days.

That is still my prayer and desire as I close out the year of 2015….and as I close out this blog.

May all the joy and promise of this Christmas Season be yours, and may you face the new year with peace and confidence that our loving Father is ordering our days and preparing the way before you.

P.S. The Lord has confirmed to my spirit that the invitation from Focus on the Family is another opportunity from him and I have committed to the taping of the interview on March 8 — all to his glory!

And… my book is now available at Redemption Press.com and on Amazon.

A Special First Anniversary!

One year ago this week, my first  (and maybe only!) book was published by CrossBooks. I knew the book was due to be published sometime in mid-November, 2013, but did not know it was actually “out there” on line until I received an email from my son, Dan, sending me a link to my book he had found on the CrossBooks website. That email was quickly followed by another email from him excitedly proclaiming:   “Mom! Your book is all over out there on a number of websites!”

My heart began to beat with anticipation as I clicked on the Crossbook.com link Dan had sent me …and there it was!  The book popped up before me with its bold and eye-grabbing title and cover:  It I Tell You I’m Gay, Will You Still Love Me? One Mother’s journey of Truth and Grace.

My initial excitement was immediately followed with overflowing praise and gratitude to God for his faithfulness and very evident sovereignty and provision in bringing the writing and publication of the book to reality.

The journey to publication had been long, and not without its discouragements, frustrations and delays, but through it all, God continued to manifest his provision, his enabling, and his placing special people in my life at just the right time to keep me encouraged and moving ahead.

The journey began in June, 2007, when I was invited to give a “parent” testimony at the annual Exodus Conference in Irvine, California. Later that day I was approached by Nick Harrison, the acquisition editor of Harvest Publishing House asking me if I had ever thought about writing a book.  That initial contact and subsequent conversations turned out to be one of God’s divine appointments and the impetus I needed  to launch me on a seemingly overwhelming task.

I knew my first step had to be to ask my son’s permission to write and hopefully publish a book, detailing in a very personal way our journey together through uncharted waters. To my immense relief, Dan readily agreed for me to write the book and continued to give his strong support all along the way. His personal reasoning was:  “Other Christian parents need to know it’s okay to love their gay kid.”

Another important beginning step was to take a course in Creative Writing at a local university. Although the course was designed for fictional writing, I gained much information that proved to be very helpful.  Nick continued to give practical information, guidance and encouragement.  He saw the need and value of such a book — the personal sharing of the journey of a Christian mother discovering her only remaining child is gay, and involved in a homosexual relationship.

The actual writing of the book began January, 2009, and was not completed and ready to submit to possible publishers until early 2011. Because Nick  believed so strongly in the book, when his company decided not to publish the book, he graciously introduced me to a number of other acquisition editors, asking them to consider the book.

I thought the writing of the book was tedious and difficult, but learned  that the publication process was even more difficult.   In March, 2012, when I had not been successful in securing an editor to accept the book for publication, Nick strongly encouraged me to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference in California. God graciously worked out all the details for  me to attend and it was literally a “mountain top” experience — both physically and spiritually! There were so many evidences of God’s provision, divine appointments, encouragement and acquiring of valuable information.  I came home with renewed vigor to pursue getting the book published.

But in spite of pursuing editors who had expressed interest at the conference in my book, another year passed by without any definite offers of publication. When discouragement threatened to engulf me and derail me from pursuing further with publication, my faithful Father would always provide encouragement to “press on” or to wait upon him and trust his timing. God’s Word was my rock, that I could claim for a secure place to climb up on.  I could see his fingerprints so obviously all along this journey; I knew that I just needed to continue to trust him and his timing.

I was learning first hand how difficult it was for a first-time author, with no name recognition or public “platform”  to break into the publishing world.  About this time, from a number of sources, I was receiving encouragement to think about self-publishing.  At first that didn’t seem a viable option because of the cost involved.  I was hesitant at this point in my life to take what savings I had (I called it my “nursing home money”) and invest it in self-publishing with no assurance books sales would return the investment. But the more I prayed about it, and the more people I respected were encouraging me in that direction, I knew I needed to at least consider self publishing. I begin to check out and compare several of the large, well-known traditional Christian publishers who had a self-publishing division. One of those was CrossBooks, the self-publishing Division of LifeWay, the very large publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Lord brought several things to pass which began to confirm my decision to pursue self-publishing.  One day, I was talking to one of the ministerial staff at my church and he asked how the book was coming along,and then encouraged me to think about self-publishing. He reached back to his credenza and picked up a business card from CrossBooks and recommended that I check then out. A few days later, very unexpectedly, I received in the mail a check from long-time friends for $1,500 — with a note saying they had been putting money aside for some time ear-marked to help me with expenses I might have in publishing the book!  About that same time, I received an email from CrossBooks offering a special and attractive discount on their publishing packages.  I believed the Lord was more and more confirming I should go with CrossBooks self-publishing.

I called Crossbooks to get more information on the special discount offer, and learned the offer was good until the end of May.  Without going into all the explicit details, by the end of May, when I had to place the order, and without my telling people I had decided to self-publish or revealing the cost — unless they specifically asked to know the cost — the Lord had sent in personal financial gifts totaling $3,500 —the exact cost of the publishing package! What a confirmation! And what a demonstration of how God would be faithful, his own way, to provide what was needed for what He was purposing.

One of God’s very needed provisions was the assistance volunteered by a good friend, Carol Eighmey, who was skilled and experienced in editing. She literally gave hours/days of her time to help with all the editing and re-editing that had to be done. We began to call the book — “our
book.”

There is not time or space to share in detail the rest of the journey. There were times of obvious spiritual warfare and the Enemy attempting to prevent the manuscript getting to the publisher.  There were unexpected developments that created the need to make last minute changes in the manuscript.  But God was faithful to work through all the hindrances the enemy tried to raise to prevent the publishing of the book. All this was just more proof of the importance and of the book and the need for it to be published. God had purposes he was going to accomplish through this book, and Satan could not hinder that.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog,  since the publication and availability of the book, the Lord has done some amazing things in promoting the book, often through others who have contacts I would not  have. In February, a lengthy interview and the front cover of my  book cover was featured in The Pathway, a semi-monthly publication of the Missouri Southern Baptist Convention. On the  28th of February, a review of my book by Nathan Collins was posted on the website of The Gospel Coalition, through the efforts of a Bob Smith, a Christian brother who has strongly supported the book. Early this fall, through contacts of my good friend, Christine Sneeringer, I was interviewed  for an article published in The GoodNews Christian newspaper in Fort Lauderdale. There have been a number of opportunities for book signings. But perhaps what has been the most encouraging has been the opportunities the Lord has provided for me to meet and talk with individuals who had family member who were gay. For some, it was the first opportunity for them to be able to talk openly with someone about this issue.

This has been just a glimpse into all the Lord has done and is doing in regard to the book, , but I wanted to publicly acknowledge the faithfulness of my Father and his mercy and goodness to me as I recognize this 1st anniversary of If I Tell You I’m Gay, Will You Still Love Me? One Mother’s Journey to Truth and Grace.  I want all glory and praise to go to my Father to whom it rightly belongs!

My prayer has not been for large book sales, but that God would use the book for his purposes — that people would be encouraged, informed, given hope, challenged and changed.  And God is doing that.

Books available at: Crossbooks.com (bookstore), Amazon.com,

He is faithfully answering my prayer and that is the best “payment” I could ever receive.

Finding Treasures from God in the Strangest Places!

One of the special joys in my almost 25 years of marriage to my husband, Jerry, was his love for God’s Word and his eagerness to share with me scripture verses that the Lord was using to minister to him or that had attracted his attention in some way. A verse which particularly intrigued him was Isaiah 45:3:

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places so that you may know that
I am the Lord, the God of Israel who calls you by name. (NIV)

On several occasions he mentioned the verse to me, commenting:

“I know that verse has special meaning and I know someday the Lord will reveal that to me.”

What neither of us could know at that time was that it was NOT to Jerry, but to me, the Lord planned to reveal and give the treasures of darkness.

At that point in our lives, the Lord had raised up a thriving ministry in our home, which came to be known as “Ecclesia Fellowship.” God was blessing in so many tangible ways; people were being saved, others were growing in their relation with the Lord and the number of people whom the Lord was bringing to our home was steadily increasing. Jerry was gifted as a Bible teacher and counselor and his quick wit and natural sense of humor were an integral part of his personality and teaching style. But he also strongly emphasized the importance of individual personal Bible study and growth in the Lord and many of those in our Fellowship were discovering for themselves a personal, daily walk with the Lord. There was an air of excitement and expectation for the future as we saw God so actively at work in the lives of people.

Then, very unexpectedly, my normally very healthy husband became ill, ending up in intensive care with a high fever and in a coma. In spite of extensive blood work, calling in specialists, and consulting with the best infectious disease specialist in the country, the doctors could not get a positive diagnosis. They only knew that an unidentified infection was ravishing Jerry’s body and he was not responding to treatment.

Many people began to pray for God’s intervention and his healing of Jerry. Literally people around the country were praying for my husband, believing, that in spite of the dark prognosis from the doctors, God could and would heal Jerry. It did not make sense to us that God would allow Jerry to die –not when he was using him so strongly in so many people’s lives.

But, after nine days in intensive care, on an Easter Sunday morning, Jerry slipped from his coma into the presence of the Lord.

Understandably, questions hung over our small Fellowship like a dark cloud. I, too, had questions: Why would God allow Jerry to die at this particular point in his life and the life of the Fellowship? What was the future for the Fellowship? What was God’s purposes now for me? Jerry and I had been partners in ministry all of our married life. I wasn’t sure who I, just Ann Mobley alone, was.

But then, in so many different and undeniable ways, God began to demonstrate his sovereignty, reassuring me he was totally in control of this unexpected and painful development. He assured me through Scripture (Isaiah 46:9-10) that he WAS God, that nothing was outside his control, that his counsel would stand, and what he had spoken, he would bring to pass.

One day shortly after Jerry’s death, I was sorting through some books in his study and I came across a book by Kenneth Wuest, a well-known Greek Scholar and Bible Teacher, and in it I read this statement:

God’s Servant is immortal until he has finished the work God has given him to do.”

With those words, God brought me back to the strong truth of his sovereignty. Nothing could touch Jerry’s life — until Jerry finished the work God had given him to do. From my perspective, it looked unfinished — but from God’s perspective the work was done — and God had said to Jerry,

“Come on home; enter into the joy of the reward I have for you.”

Morning after morning, The Lord ministered to me through his Word. Each morning as the reality of Jerry’s death would come crashing in afresh, my faithful Lord would bring to mind Lamentations 3:22-24 — that his steadfast love never ceased, his mercies never came to an end but were new each morning — great was his faithfulness! He directed me to Psalm 138:8 — assuring me he had plans in mind and in place for me personally.

“The Lord will fulfill his purposes FOR ME”

Those words seemed to light up on the page. After Jerry’s death, I felt lost and uncertain of where my place in ministry would be. During all the years of our marriage we had served the Lord together — partners in ministry. I was struggling to find my new identity and God’s place for me in ministry. God has been so true to his Word, and over the years, has so clearly directed my path and opened up the places he has equipped me to serve him and others.

In very tangible ways God demonstrated his sovereignty and ability to provide my needs. When Jerry was admitted to the hospital, we had no health insurance.— and we had no savings. We also had no family doctor at that time. Our family doctor had recently retired and we had not secured another doctor. However, unbeknownst to me at the time, God had already put in place the two main doctors that would be needed — a neurologist and an infectious disease specialist. Not only were they excellent doctors, they were also compassionate and caring, and even knowing we had no health insurance, they gave extensively of their time and dedicated attention to treating Jerry, doing everything in their power to find a cure for him. Then, much to my surprise, they also both waived their fees and did not send me a bill for their services!

God also in his sovereignty placed at the hospital the man of his choosing to be the Business Administrator — just for my benefit I was later convinced. This man took a special interest in Jerry’s case and showed me so much compassion and favor. Then — he also prevailed upon the Board of Directors of the Hospital , after I had made a few monthly payments on the very large bill, to reclassify my account as “uncollectible” and advised me I was to make no more payments to the hospital.

By this time, I was becoming more and more aware of the many ways God was demonstrating his love and faithfulness during a very painful time in my life.

One morning I was reading in one of Jerry’s books by Oswald J. Smith on Christian discipline. Smith was using Isaiah 45:3 as his text — the same verse that had so intrigued Jerry and which he had sought to understand in a deeper way. The writer used this verse to explain that it is during the dark times of our life — the painful, difficult times — that God longs to give us His greatest treasures.

As I read those words, I began to weep as I realized — that verse wasn’t for Jerry– it was for me! It was to me the Lord was giving the treasures of darkness.

In looking back, I could see he had already begun to unpack his treasures to me… The dramatic demonstration of his sovereignty was a basic foundational treasure that I needed to remember. Another treasure I early learned to value more deeply was God’s Word. During the lonely, painful days after Jerry’s death, his Word became my anchor, my strong tower, my strength and my source of hope for the present — and for the future.

God’s Word also assured me of God’s tender care and promise of emotional healing. Psalm 147:3 promises:
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

And that became my prayer back to the Lord:
“Lord, heal my broken heart — bind up my wounds.”

Over and over God’s Word reminded me of His great love for me and according to Romans 8:31-32 — NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! would ever separate me from His love.

God reminded me that the very essence of His nature is love and that everything that comes into our lives is filtered through His great love for us. Beginning to truly know that was another treasure the Lord was unfolding to me.

I was to soon learn that God had more treasures he wanted to give me, but they, too, were to come out of additional times of darkness.

And… that remains to be shared in my next blog — which hopefully will be written and posted in the
next few weeks!

It’s About Time —

I was shocked when I checked back to see the date of my last blog posting and discovered it was dated February 2! It didn’t seem possible that it has been almost 3 months since I posted a blog! Seems a little ironic when I think about it. My last blog was “My Time — God’s Time” and I was bemoaning the fact that I never seem to have enough time to do everything I plan to get done each day. Then, because of the press of other time sensitive responsibilities, writing another blog kept getting pushed to “tomorrow.” So having thoroughly trampled all over the advice of seasoned bloggers to write my blog on a regular and frequent basis to keep my “followers” following my blog, I can only hope and pray a few of you are still with me!

In contrast to our human frailties and best of intentions, it is very reassuring to know that God never runs out of time to bring forth his purposes and plans in our personal lives — and in our world! He doesn’t have to put off until “tomorrow” what he has foreordained to come to pass “today.” The strong, unchanging attributes of God assure us of this.

He is omnipotent — all powerful. Nothing is outside his ability to bring to forth or to cause to pass at the proper time. Jeremiah the prophet proclaimed:

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and
outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17 NIV)

He is sovereign — totally in control of all events. What he has planned or purposed, he will bring to pass … at his pointed time.

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2 NIV)

Along side these astounding truths of his awesome power and authority are equally true reminders that nothing is too small to escape the attention and care of our loving Father. Jesus reminded his disciples:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all
numbered. (Matt 10:29-30 NIV)

God’s Word declares in many ways the truth that nothing is too small or too big to be outside of God’s full attention and complete control. But let’s be honest. Aren’t these truths sometimes difficult to believe in the light of often perplexing and difficult personal circumstances and the rapidly changing — and not for the better — world we presently live in?

For instance we read in Psalm 47:8 another powerful statement regarding God’s Sovereignty — his authority and power over the whole world.

“God reigns over the nations; God sits on is holy throne” (ESV)

But in contrast, we see all around us a world that is increasingly drifting away from God, a world where people thumb their noses at God’s moral laws and his authority over them. We are surrounded by a world that wants freedom from the ways and laws of God; everyone wants to do “what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21L25). Our faith can be challenged and even shaken when we see a world around us that seems totally out of control, defying God’s right to rule over them and even denying his existence.

However, God’s Word reminds us that what we see in the visible, physical realm is not the full picture of what is going on in the invisible spiritual realm. The invisible spiritual world is more real and a more accurate reality than the physical world we live in! 2 Corinthians 5:7 declares succinctly that followers of Jesus Christ are to walk by faith, not by sight.

Our faith must be firmly fixed on God’s Word and the character of God as revealed in his Word, not what we see with our physical eyes. The apostle Paul, in his letter to Titus, when speaking of the Christian’s hope of eternal life, reminded Titus that this hope was promised, before the ages began, by God, “who never lies.” This truth is stated even more strongly in Hebrews 6:17 & 18, when the writer, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declared that God’s character is unchangeable and “it is impossible for God to lie.” So the greater reality, is not what we see with the visible eye, but the unchangeable character of God — who cannot lie!

God’s Word reminds us as we experience hardships and problems in life, we are not to be discouraged or disheartened, by the temporary and passing afflictions in this world, but to have an eternal perspective — to focus on the invisible realities which are eternal and not the “transient” things in this world.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being
renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight
of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things
that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are
eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18. ESV)

“True truth” (an expression coined by Francis Schaeffer) from God’s Word describes the trustworthy character of God, providing a solid foundation for our faith to rest on. He is a a totally trustworthy God we can rely on in all the circumstances of life.

Early in the Old Testament, in response to Moses’ prayer for God to show him His ways, God responded with a description of his character:

“…The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and
faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin but who
will by no means clear the guilty..” (Exodus 34:6-7a)

When we look at the realities of the present troubling world we live in, we must keep our focus and confidence firmly fixed on the character of God — who will always be true to His character and His Word.

Much more could be said, but one other thought before I close this blog.

While it is often difficult to see in the present the reality of “God reigning over the nations, and sitting on His holy throne,” that truth is a present reality we can see with eyes of faith in God’s Word and his eternal plan and purposes which he has revealed in his Word. The Bible assures us that in God’s good and perfect timing, one day
Jesus will physically return to this earth and set up his kingdom and reign, at which time the reality of Philippians 2:9-10 will be demonstrated:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him (Jesus) and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every
tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

The assurance that God’s purposes will ultimately be fulfilled is boldly declared by the prophet Isaiah:

“….I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end
from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying: ‘My counsel shall
stand and I will accomplish all my purpose; …I have spoken and I will bring it to pass; I have
purposed and I will do it.”

God’s eternal purposes WILL be fulfilled — in his perfect timing…. not a day early, but not a day late.
You can count on it!

My Time — God’s Time

I think I’ve always had a problem with time — never was enough of it! There never seemed to be sufficient time for me to do all I needed — or wanted — to do. As early as when I was a senior in high school, lack of time put pressures and stress in my life. I worked part-time, was on the girls basket ball team, in the school choir, on the debate team and was drafted to be editor of the school paper. Added to that was the pressure, totally self-inflicted, to be valedictorian, or at least salutatorian of my senior class. (I must be quick to add — there were only 56 students in my senior class which considerably lessened the competition.) Years later when I would complain to my husband about not having enough time to get everything done, his answer always frustrated me: “You’ve got the same 24 hours in your day that everyone else has in their day.” I would quickly retort: “But I’ve got more to do in my 24 hours!” and he would just laugh and show no compassion for my dilemma.

My issues with time haven’t improved with age; instead advancing age has only added to the problem. Now it takes me longer to get the same things done! I know, I know — I’m “retired,” and theoretically I should no longer have to deal with time pressures, but I’m like a friend of mine, also retired, who told me recently he has tried to retire three times….and failed all three times!

Have you noticed that God doesn’t waste any of the experiences that he allows in our lives – not even our busy, stress-filled days. There are always truths he wants to teach us — some that we haven’t known before, or ones that we know in our heads, but need to learn how to walk them out in the midst of our daily lives. As believers and followers of Christ, we are to “live” by God’s Word — know his Word and seek to obediently apply it in our life each day.

In the midst my busyness, my heavenly Father frequently and lovingly reminds me of truths from his Word and how he wants me to live in the midst of busy days and pressures of time. Let me share a couple of those truths:

1. Begin each day with the awareness of his presence and my need to trust him for that day.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. 2 Samuel 22:33-34

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace. Psalm 29:11

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

Once we are born into God’s family by the new birth, it is his plan that we live each day in dependence upon him and by the power of his Spirit within us. Jesus reminds us that “apart from him, we can do nothing!” (John 15:5b) We need to recognize the inadequacies of our own human wisdom and strength, and look to him to provide wisdom, insight, and guidance as we face each day. We acknowledge our need of him, and trust him to be to us and in us all that we need for whatever that day holds. It’s not just a quick few words in the morning but an attitude and action that we carry with us throughout the day.

I have found the daily devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young a very helpful reminder of these truths.

2. Be confident of the Lord’s ability to control the events of each day to bring about his plan for me that day — and his plans could well be different than my plans. Be open to God’s divine appointments and “interruptions.” Several verses come to mind that underline these truths.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Paul, that mighty example of a man sold out for God, gives us examples of how the Lord
changed his plans and re-directed his steps as he and his traveling party were traveling to different places to share the gospel. Acts 16: 6ff gives us these interesting developments:

“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Sprit of Jess did not allow them.” Keep reading in that chapter and you’ll see a good example of God interrupting Paul’s plans and sending him in another direction for an important divine appointment. As we walk with the Lord, we have to learn to have a listening ear, be flexible in our plans, and be willing to be available for his divine interruptions.

So much more I could write about the issue of “my time” but I’ll save it for another day, and turn our thoughts to a very contrasting view of time — God’s time!

When I stop to think about it, I am amazed that the timeless and eternal God, who is and always was and always will be (try and wrap your mind around that truth!) is also “bound” (if I can reverently use that word about God) by time. As I read through Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, I am struck by how often the issue of time is written into the Scriptures and what that reveals about God.

First, we have the very definite and orderly account of creation. The Genesis account puts the emphasis on time….each day recording God’s plans and purposes he accomplished in that day. Then throughout the Old Testament God records the number of years the persons lived showing the value of their lives. Psalm 139:16 reminds us that even when we were in our mother’s womb, God already knew us and had written “in his book” all the days of our lives. We are that valued by God!

Scriptures also reveal that God’s time is often on a different schedule than ours — and we frequently question God about that. Think about Abraham, that great patriarch in the Old Testament. God promised Abraham that he would have a son; what God did not tell Abraham was how many years would pass before that promise became a reality. But Romans 4:16 tell us this about Abraham: “In hope, he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations as he had been told.” It was not until Abraham and Sarah were old, well past child-bearing years, that Sarah became pregnant with that long-promised son. How often Abraham must have wondered, and yes, even questioned God, about the “timing” of the fulfillment of his promise. In fact, Genesis 16 and 18 reveals that Abraham and Sarah both laughed when God reiterated his promise of a child when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. (I think I would have laughed, too. “God, you’ve got to be kidding!” ) But in God’s perfect timing, when the situation seemed impossible, Isaac was born – demonstrating that God keeps his word and nothing is impossible with God.

Then there was David — anointed to be King of Israel as a young teenager by the prophet Samuel, but many years passed before he actually took his place on the throne as King of Israel. Those years were filled with running and hiding from King Saul who sought to kill David. Did David ever wonder about God’s timing? — But those years were not wasted years; they used by God to grow David into mature manhood, to give David time to become a strong leader, and most importantly to teach David to know him, to become a “man after God’s own heart.”

These are just a few of the many examples of the importance of God’s timing in the affairs on earth and in the hearts and lives of his people. One of the most meaningful examples of God’s timing, however, refers to the long awaited coming of Jesus Christ to earth — the promised Messiah — and Redeemer. Galatians 4:4-5 states very succinctly the preciseness of God’s timing for this dramatic event:

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

So very often our sense of the “rightness” of the timing of events isn’t in synch with God’s time schedule, and we fall into the trap of questioning, even doubting that his timing is good and perfect. I confess I have sometimes cried out “Why now, Lord?” or “Why is this taking so long?” I experienced this so strongly in the writing and publishing of my book, If I Tell You I’m Gay, Will You Still Love Me? One Mother’s Journey to truth and Grace. The writing of the book took two years, my attempting to get it published by a traditional publishing company another two years, and then after much seeking of the Lord, I decided to self-publish with CrossBooks, a division of LifeWay. With much excitement and sense of accomplishment, the complete manuscript was emailed to CrossBooks in mid June, 2013. Then, less then two weeks later, the morning of June 20, I received an email from a friend notifying me that Exodus International was closing down the organization! Exodus was founded over 40 years earlier as a ministry to those struggling with homosexuality and providing support for their families. They had been a source of help, comfort and hope to me when I learned my son was gay. The unexpected announcement had been made the night before at their annual conference. My first reaction was dismay and panic…because I had listed Exodus numerous times throughout my book as a source for information and help for individuals and families…and now, they were no longer in existence. There were a number of other areas of content in my book that this unexpected closing negatively impacted. I immediately contacted the publishing company to assure there was still time to put a hold on the publishing process and was relieved to know this could still be done — briefly.

Several very important sections of the book were impacted by the Exodus closing, and I and others began to pray for direction and provision of new material – quickly! There’s not time or space to share all the details in this blog but not only did God provide all the needed contacts and resources within a very short period of time, he also revealed his perfect timing.

In God’s full and perfect foreknowledge, the closing of Exodus did not come as a surprise to him. In fact, a few days later the realization dawned on me that God in his mercy had also prevented the publishing of my book before that event took place. Those two long years when I was not able to get my book published and I would get discouraged and question God “why” my book was not being accepted for publication, he was protecting me! If the book had been published earlier, it would have contained much incorrect information. The referral information would have been incorrect and the value and authenticity of the book would have been damaged. My initial dismay turned to rejoicing and praise for God’s protection and perfect timing. I was certainly experiencing the reality and truth of a powerful quote by John Piper:

“In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.”

More about the wonder and outworking of God’s timing and purposes in peoples’ lives in my next blog. Stay tuned!

Remembering and Forgetting

As the last remaining hours of 2013 draw to a close, it seemed appropriate for me to write my last blog of the year.

How are you spending these last remaining hours of 2013? For some, it’s a time to party and celebrate….ushering out a year some may be glad to see go … and celebrating with optimism that the incoming year will be better than the departing one. For some, the celebration may involve too much drinking and dealing with regrets the next morning. For others, New Year’s Eve may be a time to gather with friends and family just to enjoy the time together. There will be others who prefer a quiet evening at home, watching TV and trying to stay awake until the midnight hour. And some, like myself, will op to go to bed early and let the New Year usher in unaccompanied by their presence!

If the forecast holds true, over a million (yes, a million!) people will crowd into Times Square in New York, or as close as they can get to it, to watch the big “ball” descend, precisely timed to reach bottom as the clocks strikes midnight — pushing out the old year, and ushering in the new! Somehow, packed tightly like sardines in a huge crowd of strangers just to watch a ball drop slowly to the ground doesn’t appeal to me. I much prefer a quiet evening at home, but maybe that’s just my advancing age showing!

For many people New Year’s eve and New Year’s Day can be a time of reflection. (That’s more my speed!) Today, as reminders assaulted my mind that this was the last day of the year, two words or concepts kept coming to mind that seemed very appropriate for the day — Remembering and Forgetting. Actually, God has instructed us in his Word to do both.

Many times in the Old Testament God called his people to remember all the mighty things he had done for them.
“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” (Deut 5:15 NIV)

When the Israelites were preparing to enter the land of Canaan which the Lord had promised to give them, and they were facing strong opposition from its occupants, God commanded them remember how he had protected them in the past:
“‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ But do
not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh
and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous
signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD
your God brought you out.” (Deut 7:17-19 NIV)

One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament on the importance of remembering God’s faithfulness is in Joshua, when God in a dramatic demonstration of his power and provision, caused the waters of the flooded Jordan River to rise up “in a heap” upstream allowing God’s people to cross over on dry ground. Then God instructed Joshua to select 12 men, one from each tribe, to pick up twelve stones from the river bed, and bring them over to the other side of the river. Later Joshua would set up the stones as a memorial of God’s faithfulness. In the future when their children would ask, “What do these stones mean?” they were to be told the story of how God had miraculously parted the water so his people could safely cross over. The stones were a lasting memorial and reminder of God’s faithful provision.

There are so many wonderful accounts in the Old Testament of God’s powerful and timely provision and/or deliverance of his people — and God instructed his people –Remember these times. Let them be a faith builder in your life. Share them with your children as a demonstration of a faithful God. God wants us to build personal “memorials” in our lives of the times he has demonstrated his faithfulness, to encourage us to trust him in future times of difficulty and testing. We need to look back and “remember” his faithfulness, his love, his care, and his provision. As he was faithful in the past, he will be faithful in the present and the future.

God also tells his people to remember the times when his people have not been faithful to him, and God has had to bring discipline and correction. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul charged the Corinthians believers to “remember” the failures of God’s people in the Old Testament. I Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 6 states:
“Now these things took place as an examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” Verse 11 states clearly, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction.” So…. remember and learn from the positive demonstration of God’s faithfulness. Remember and learn from the negative choices and behavior of God’s people, and avoid the painful consequences of disobedience and the hindrances to our ongoing growth toward maturity in Christ.

Just as the New Year is a very appropriate time to remember and profit, it is also a time to forget. It is a time to let the past be the past….to learn and grow from our mistakes and failures, to confess and repent of attitudes and actions that were not pleasing to the Lord or that hindered our growth in grace and truth. The apostle Paul gives us some very helpful advice and challenge in Philippians 3:13-14:
“…But one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize o the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

This verse becomes even more impactful when we read it in it context. Paul has very succinctly stated in verses 7-11 the value of knowing, really knowing Jesus Christ in a progressively, deeper and more intimate way. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all tings and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Paul goes on to say in vs 10, that his driving goal in life is to know, to really know in an ever increasing and deeper way, the Lord Jesus and to experience the power of his resurrection in his life and being willing to enter into his sufferings…becoming like Christ in his death.” (Suggest you read these verses in Amplified Bible for fuller clarification.)

Wow! Now that’s a worthy and desirable goal for us for 2014!

For a number of years now, I have tried to structure some extra time with the Lord on New Year’s Day and use it to look back over the past year, meditating and recording in a journal the events of the year — remembering God’s faithfulness, recalling his guidance and provision, meditating on what he has been teaching me, and seeking his direction for the new year. (What a blockbuster year 2013 has been for me with the final publication of my book — “If I Tell You I’m Gay, Will You Still Love Me?”!) But it’s also a time of acknowledging my failures, my missed opportunities, my lack of boldness to speak his name and times of missed opportunities to witness for him. And there were the times when I have become discouraged and struggled with truly trusting God for the day or for the future. It can be discouraging to realize how far short I still am of my goal, like the apostle Paul, of progressively growing in my “knowing” of Jesus and valuing him more than anything else in life.

That’s where the forgetting can be a positive action. Verse 12 of Philippians states it so well:
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. ” And again vs 13b – 14 … “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for e prize of the upward cal of God in Christ Jesus.

So…. New Year’s is a time of letting the failures and shortcomings of 2013 be learning experiences, but not stumbling blocks or hindrances to our continued growth toward the goal of knowing and increasing in our understanding of God’s calling on our lives. And New Year’s is a time of recording and remembering the many times of God’s faithfulness to us this past year, and letting him use those as building blocks to increase our confidence and rest in him for whatever his plans are for us in this New Year.

My blog verse, 2 Peter 3:18, seems an appropriate and challenging verse to push us forward into 2014:
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Christmas — It’s All About Grace!

John in his gospel summed up the Christmas story in one verse, John 1:14 — one short verse, but packed full of truth.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have
seen his glory, gory as of the only Son from the Father, full of
grace and truth.”

In the fullness of time — God’s perfect timing — the eternal, creator Word became incarnate.The amazing, hard to fully grasp truth is that the eternal, creator Word stepped out of the invisible world into our visible world, taking on the bodily form of a helpless infant, so that he could dwell among his own creation. His name was not chosen on earth, but in eternity past, and an angel instructed Joseph, his earthly “father,” that the baby was to be called “Jesus” for he would save his people from their sins, being the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

The apostle Paul expands those truths in Philippians 2:5b-10a:

“…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow….”

God’s GRACE on display — in all its glory! John finishes his account of the Word becoming flesh by stating:

“…and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

In John’s daily and close association with Jesus, not only was his glory as the Son of the Father evident but also two distinctive qualities and characteristic. Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” Jesus was the embodiment of grace and it flowed out in demonstrable ways as he interacted with people – seeing their needs and responding with compassion and provision.

But it wasn’t just the people of Jesus’ day who benefited from the grace that flowed from Jesus. Verse sixteen assures us that “from his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace.” That same grace that characterized Jesus’ life is available to us…we have received grace upon grace.

Christmas time is a vivid reminder of God’s grace that is available to all who will receive it. John 1:12 declares clearly:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children o God.” Our minds can hardly grasp the enormity of this: God’s grace and our believing in Jesus and intentionally receiving him as Lord and Savior, gives us forgiveness for our sins, clothes us with the righteousness of Christ and brings us into the family of the mighty, powerful Creator God… He becomes our “Daddy.” Now that’s GRACE!

The message proclaimed to the shepherds of “good news and great joy” is desperately needed in our world and in our lives today. The grace available in Jesus is not limited to providing salvation for a needy people, although for that alone we would be forever in his debt, but as we shared in a previous blog, God continues to pour out his sustaining and enabling grace for every need in our lives.

Even though Christmas is a time of great joy, it can also be a time of great sorrow and pain for some as they walk through their first Christmas without a loved one, or Christmas may bring back memories of painful events in the past.

For me, Christmas is a reminder of God’s faithful provision of his grace at a time of great loss. The day after Christmas, 1992, my older son, Nat, (short for Nathan) was killed in a motorcycle accident, a loss compounded because it followed so close to my husband’s unexpected death, only three and a half years earlier. As I returned home from the hospital that fatal day, trying to wrap my mind around what had just transpired, I sought the quietness of my bedroom, needing time alone with my Father before facing people I knew would soon fill my home. I dropped to my knees beside my bed, and without consciously formulating what I would pray, I began to pray a very short prayer:

“Lord, this all seems so unreal; I can’t believe Nat is really gone; but, somehow, in all of this, I ask that your name will be glorified.”

I rose to my feet and sat still on the side of the bed. In the quietness of the moment, God spoke quietly to my spirit:
“You are in a very vulnerable place. You must guard your heart against self-pity and bitterness.”

And immediately Hebrews 12:15 came into my mind: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”

I knew what the Lord was saying. In the days ahead it would be extremely easy for me to be filled with self-pity, or to become bitter toward God for the loss of my oldest son, who was so much like his father. It was like losing the rest of Jerry.It would be easy to become bitter about my “lot in life” but a root of bitterness would not only be destructive in my life, it would “cause trouble” for others who were watching me — my younger son, my older son’s girl friend, the people in our fellowship. God’s grace WAS available to guard my heart from bitterness, if I would just reach out and receive it from him each time the self-pity or bitterness threatened to move in.

The days and years that followed confirmed that availability of God’s grace, and the faithfulness of God to apply his enabling and healing grace to my heart. When the waves of self-pity threatened to roll in, my Father would remind me … His grace was available and sufficient. If bitterness tried to capture my thoughts, he reminded me of his love, goodness and faithfulness.

For anyone reading this Christmas blog, I pray that you may know and experience the awesome grace of God in all areas of your life. God truly is a God of grace, and Christmas truly is a dramatic demonstration and reminder of his rich grace

I close with the same words the apostle Paul used to close so many of his letters to the early churches:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”