The Waiting Room

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The Waiting Room

I don’t know too many people who enjoy sitting in the waiting room, yet at some point, we will be required to bide our time there.  God has His own waiting room for us.  In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we find that there are seasons to our lives.  One of those seasons can be God’s waiting room.  For those of us who feel useless, or struggle with a lack of self-worth if we aren’t doing something which we feel is productive, it can be torture to endure.

Let’s take a visit to some of God’s waiting rooms.

First, there is a time to be born. Perhaps God has shown you a ministry He wants to give you.  Before He births it, He has to conceive it in your heart, and then you must go through the ‘pregnancy’ stage where it grows deeply in your spirit.  Finally, you get to experience the birth pangs and ministry is born.

Sometimes God calls us to the waiting room to die. Sometimes dying to our flesh will be a very quick death, similar to one who has had a massive coronary.  Other times, dying to our flesh can be a slow, arduous process, similar to one who is slowly dying of cancer.

We also visit the waiting room for a time to heal.  Whether we’ve been hurt physically or emotionally, sometimes God calls us to the waiting room so that we can experience complete healing.

Other times we may be sent to the waiting room so that God can help us tear down strongholds that are hindering us spiritually.  When we are too busy, we often are unable to see those things which hinder us, so it’s time to visit the waiting room.

There is also a waiting room where we can weep and mourn.  Before we can experience the true laughter and dancing, we may go through devastating times that require us to just sit in the waiting room, soaking up God’s comfort like a sponge.  Eventually, we will find laughter and dancing replacing the depths of our mourning.

There’s also a time to embrace and a time to refrain.  We have seasons in our lives where we will be heavily involved in ministry, but sometimes God calls us to the waiting room and asks us to refrain for a while.

There’s also a time to give up.  If God is calling you to give up something, yet you stubbornly hold on to it, He may call you to the waiting room for some counseling.  He’ll do whatever it takes to get to the root of why you refuse to give it up.

There’s a time to be silent.  Sometimes God calls us to the waiting room just so we will learn to be still.  He wants to teach us to be quiet and listen to Him, and sometimes it’s only a visit to the waiting room where He is finally able to get our attention.

There’s another waiting room that can be an intense waiting, for there is a time for war and time for peace.  When we go through seasons that involve intense warfare over a situation, God may call us to His waiting room.  Once the spiritual battle is won, He may quickly transfer us to the waiting room of peace so that we can take some time to be rejuvenated from the intensity of spiritual battles.

While we may not enjoy the waiting room, God uses it to show us that His power is made perfect in our weakness. (II Corinthians 12:9) Jesus is the one who perfects of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and sometimes the perfecting process requires a visit to the waiting room.

Are you in the waiting room right now?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

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Struck by Lightning

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Struck by Lightning

One day while it was storming, I was talking on the phone to my friend, Brandie.  Suddenly, I heard a loud, thunderous boom, seemingly right above our house.  Brandie heard me let out a yell – not of fear, but of pain.  I had been struck by lightning!

The jolt of the electricity caused me to quickly drop the phone to my side.  I could feel a tingling sensation down the left side of my face.  Shortly after, I had a ringing in my ear and a pounding headache that lasted for several hours.

Needless to say, it left quite an impression on me.  I now understand that when Grandma told me to stay off the phone during a storm, it was not just an old wive’s tale.  It was wise advice!

Too often, I think the church takes the attitude of, “Reading the Word is just an old wive’s tale.  I can do just fine without it.”  We continue doing things our own way, only to feel like we have suddenly been struck by lightning.  Because we failed to read the Word and seek God’s counsel, we find that we are jolted, much like when the lightning jolted me.  We are shaken to the core of our being.  We are left with the excruciating pain of reaping what we have sown.  How much better we would have been if only we would have taken time for God and His Word!

I have seen many farm houses that have a lightning rod to protect the house if lightning should strike.  As Christians, we have a rod to protect us.  God’s rod and His staff are there for us. (Psalm 23:4)  When we are faithful to be in His Word, He will use the rod and staff to guide us and correct us if we start to stray from His path.  He will use His Word to teach and rebuke us, to correct us, and to train us in righteousness. (II Timothy 3:16)

The result will be that when we face a crisis, it won’t jolt us like a bolt of lightning.  Instead, we will quickly look to our Shepherd, finding comfort and direction in the rod and staff.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Space Invaders

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Space Invaders

We live in a time where many things need our attention.  We can easily neglect the really important things (people and relationships), to take care of the lesser things, which I will refer to as ‘space invaders.’

I know in my own life, one of the important things that space invaders attack is my time with my husband.  Granted, we all have times when we have a child with the stomach flu, and so the child gets top priority.  But, what about those times when everyone is healthy?  What space invaders keep you from getting that quiet time with your husband?  There are so many obvious ones — exhaustion, bathtime, bedtime rituals, television, cleaning the house, doing laundry, repairs, too many outside activities (even good ones, like church), phone calls, working outside the home, paying bills, helping the extended family, and even our own selfishness, can all become space invaders.

Space invaders love it when we are selfish.  Selfishness rares its ugly head when we find ourselves wanting to read a book, rather than giving some attention to our husband.  It can be seen through our desire to watch our favorite television show, neglecting our husband’s need to ‘vent’ after a grueling day at work.  We can show selfishness by choosing to call a friend while he is at home.  Surely we can find another time to chat!

In a time when divorce is so prevalent, we need to be on guard against space invaders.  They can come in very subtly, sometimes through romantic movies.  We can watch these shows, filled with romance and begin to resent the lack of romance in our own marriage.  This can cause emotional distance (space invaders), between us.  What about romantic novels?  Yes, even Christian fiction can bring a sense of dissatisfaction to us when we see the couple in the book in such romantic scenes.  They can cause us to get romantic notions in our heads of what we’d like to see in our marriage.  When it doesn’t happen, we allow more space invaders to enter, causing more distance between us.

When we said our wedding vows, we never promised to love him only when he is romantic with us.  Reality is that the romance parts fades rather quickly because we are consumed with working, taking care of the house, paying bills, then raising children.  We must remember that any romance movies or books are not based on reality.  They are simply a story.  I’m not saying that romance will never be a part of your marriage again, but the times of romance will usually be few and far between.  And, who said that it needs to be left up to our husband to bring the romance back to the marriage?  You have the ability to do things to spark romance from time to time, and I’ll bet that even if your husband doesn’t comment much about it, he does appreciate it.

Another very subtle tactic of space invaders is to get us to focus on another Christian man, observing how seemingly spiritual he is.  The next thing we know, we are criticizing our own husband, even if the criticism goes no further than our thoughts.  Often, thoughts become words, and words become actions.  This is a very dangerous place, Sister!  Satan delights in destroying marriages, and to destroy a Christian marriage is his ultimate pleasure.  Don’t let these kinds of space invaders get a foothold in your marriage!

One thing I have discovered is that the closer I walk with the Lord, and the more I fall in love with Jesus, the more I love my husband.  I am able to see more clearly that serving him, pampering him, romancing him, and cherishing him is the same as doing it for my Master, honoring Him by my actions toward my husband.  And one more thing — NO ONE ELSE is called to do this to my husband!  It is for ME ALONE!  No one else gets this pleasure, this intimacy, this thrill!

Sister, go fall head over heels in love with Jesus.  See what sparks come alive in your own marriage, keeping those space invaders at bay.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Shifting Sand

Shifting Sand

When my daughter was a toddler, we frequently sang a song about the wise man and the foolish man.  I had no idea how the truths of that song would affect me I in years to come.

Part of keeping our house on the rock is to make sure that we refrain from choosing the better over the best.  Sometimes I see the need to give up some very good activities so that I am able to grab hold of the best.

In my quest to try and keep my house built on the rock, I frequently assess the activities in my life.  I usually try to do this about every three months.  Occasionally, I may need to do it on a weekly basis during excessively busy times of the year, such as the Christmas season.  There are also some days when our schedule is extremely hectic.  On those mornings, I will often surmise each activity, trying to place the most important ones at the top of my priority list.

For instance, I was looking forward to attending a dinner with our women’s group at church.  It started at 6:30.  That same evening, my daughter had PE class from 5:00-6:00 P.M.  Time did not allow me to do both, so I had to make a choice.  While the women’s dinner would have been fun and uplifting, my daughter is higher on my priority list, so my choice was to give up attending the dinner (the better choice) so that Rachel could still attend PE (the best choice).  By making this choice, I kept my house built firmly on the rock.  It also made a deep impression on my daughter when she realized that I saw her activity as more important than my own.

My normal routine is to attend church on Wednesday evenings.  However, one Wednesday, I could tell that my husband was incredibly stressed.  Since my husband is higher on my list of priorities than my church attendance, I chose to drop off Rachel at church.  I came home to be with my husband while we had the opportunity to be alone for a while.  Dean was very pleased to see that I viewed ministering to him as more important than church attendance. Giving him a chance to vent his frustrations of the day was very therapeutic.  Again, I set aside the better choice (church attendance), in place of the best choice (ministering to my husband).

Another opportunity for making a choice between building on shifting sand or the rock came when a friend discovered that her son had a cyst on the brain.  I had been unable to reach her, so I left a message for her to call me the next day, even if it was during our homeschool hours.  She knows that I am adamant about not being disturbed during those precious schooling hours.  Hearing my message let her know that I saw her need as one of top priority.

I went through a spell where I had not been able to write any devotions.  I simply did not have the time.  While I enjoy writing, and even feel the Lord has gifted me to write, I cannot let it take the place of my own personal time with the Lord.  I must also be careful to not let writing take priority over my family and managing things at home.

During that period of time, it would have been very easy for me to become frustrated over not having any new material to send to those on my mailing list.  Instead, I focused on building on the rock.  I knew that if I kept my priorities in order, daily choosing the best in place of the better, God would honor those decisions.

Eventually, I sat down one evening to write.  It was like a dam that burst forth.  Not only was I was able to write six devotions in a very short amount of time, but I could not seem to write fast enough to get my thoughts on paper.

As I have had to set aside a few of the things that I really wanted to do, in order to choose God’s best for me, I have had no regrets.  God is so faithful in pouring out His peace and granting clarity of mind to me.  The sense of balance I feel in making choices that honored Him has made it easier for me to say “no” to that shifting sand so that I can say “yes” to a firm, strong, and stable rock.

Are you choosing to build on the rock?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Power Outage

Power Outage

Early one morning, our power went out.  I had no idea it was out until I opened my eyes and saw the lights flashing on my alarm clock.

Samson had a ‘power outage,’ and he was also unaware that he had lost his power. (Judges 16)  Just like Samson, we can also suffer from a power outage that can be very subtle in sneaking up on us.

Samson thought that he could ‘toy’ with Delilah and the Philistines, yet maintain his power.  He didn’t realize that day by day, as he played with them, he was becoming self-sufficient and even arrogant.  Next, he became less dependent upon God.

We do the same thing.  We play with worldly passions, and when we don’t see an immediate consequence, we continue in that path.  We think we can handle things on our own, so we quit committing our daily work to the Lord.  Finally, we face a power outage, and we never saw it coming.

The power outage may start like this:

A major event takes place, so instead of reading the Word in the morning, we turn on the TV instead.  We only intend to watch it for a few minutes.  Suddenly, we hear the rest of the family arising and we realize that we’ve been engrossed in watching the TV for forty minutes.  Now it’s too late to read the Word.

We manage to go through our day just fine, so we don’t feel too bad about missing out on our quiet time with the Lord.  It makes it easier the next morning for us to sleep in when we’ve had a rough night.  After all, we did just fine yesterday without our quiet time, so what’s one more day?

Since we still have some spiritual oil in our reserve tank, we manage to gracefully get through another day, even if we didn’t read the Word.

The following morning, we decide to quickly check our email before doing our devotions.  Before we know it, we’ve been online for over thirty minutes.  We realize that we still need to jump in the shower before the rest of the family awakens.  Devotions will have to wait again.  Now we feel a little pressured to get our shower finished before the others start yelling, “Mom!  I need the bathroom!”  The pressure builds during the day, making us feel like a pressure cooker that is ready to blow its lid.

The next morning we still remember the stresses of the previous day, so we opt to get a jump-start on our day.  We get our shower done early.  Next, we focus on finishing some chores.

By this time, we are having a severe ‘power outage.’  It manifests itself later when one child is facing a crisis with a friend at school.  With our power gone, we have no mercy to offer this child.  Our youngest child falls and gets hurt, and we lack in compassion.  As if this isn’t enough, another child is struggling with a new math concept and our patience is waning very thin.  For the friend who is in desperate need of a listening ear, we fail to notice that God wanted to use us to minister to her need.  Instead, we ask her if we can return her call later since we are busy.

The only way to defeat the Delilahs and the Philistines in our own life is to guard our time with the Lord.  We must remain connected to the Power Source so that we don’t experience a power outage.

What Delilahs and Philistines are leading you toward a power outage?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Homework

Homework

Some of you may ask why I bring up this subject when school is out for summer break.  I’m not referring to school work, but to our work in the home.  Titus 2:4-5 gives us an assignment for our home work.  It says that we are to love our husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, also to be busy at home, kind, and subject to our husbands so that the no one will malign the Word of God.

I am going to be sharing a lot from my personal experience in trying to live out the above scripture.  It was not an easy transformation, and I still have struggles at times, but it is an assignment that I am willing to continue doing because I have seen the fruits of putting it into action.  I hope that some of you are able to learn from my mistakes.

1.   We are to be busy at home.  (Titus 2:5)  As a new mom, who was used to working full time, this was really hard for me.  I craved time with adults.  Often, if I wasn’t leaving to go visit a friend, I was at least spending a large amount of time on the phone talking to friends.  While it’s not bad to converse with friends, many times I found that the conversations were going in a direction that wasn’t good.  Yes, I admit it, we were gossiping.  (I really don’t like that word!)

I was feeling isolated, trying to stay at home.  Part of the reason I was isolated was because I was out of God’s will.  The Bible tells us that we are to be busy at home, not to be busybodies!  The isolation was because I wasn’t obeying what God said.  As I began to read Proverbs and several books about women’s issues, it was becoming so clear to me that I was out of God’s will in several areas.  To try and stay home more was going to take a lot of work!  I began to ask the Lord to help me learn to be content at home (in all circumstances).  Phil. 4:11

2.   We are to love our husbands and our children.  (Titus 2:4)  To do this, you can’t be running on empty all the time.  I found that I was leaving home to go shopping or going to garage sales on a frequent basis.  There’s nothing wrong with doing these things, but if they become our focus, we get ourselves into trouble.  I found that on the days when I did so much running around, Rachel and I were both cranky.  We were both tired and I was very stressed.  I have found that running errands or going shopping are big users of my energy!  When evening came, I didn’t feel motivated to fix a big meal, nor did I feel like being too kind to my husband.  I wanted him to come in and take care of Rachel so that I could have a break!  It sure wasn’t a good way to show love to him or Rachel.  I’m sure that it often left him feeling like he was being taken for granted.  As I continued to pray for God to help me learn to be content to stay at home, I quickly saw that on the days when we did stay home, the atmosphere was MUCH more peaceful for all of us.  My stress level greatly decreased.  It quickly became my heart’s desire to be home as much as I could.

3.   Be self-controlled.  (Titus 2:5)  If we aren’t self-controlled, then our home work is going to haphazard at best.  I saw in Prov. 1 that the Proverbs were written for attaining wisdom and discipline, for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right.  I want to focus on the word “prudent.”  It refers to one who is exercising sound judgment in practical matters, who is cautious in conduct, and manages carefully.

I had begun to spend more time at home, but was feeling no real sense of purpose, beyond changing diapers, being a built in milk factory, and personal laundry attendant.  As I pondered on the word “prudent,” I came up with the idea of checking out the prices at several grocery stores.  I found out that I had been shopping at the most expensive store in town.  To use “sound judgment in practical matters,” I began to revise how I did my grocery shopping.  I was very quickly able to save us at least $20 to $60 a week.  I found a real sense of purpose in what I was doing.  I saw that I was putting some principles from Prov. 31 into practice by doing my husband “good, and not harm.”  I saw that my “trading” was profitable because it was stretching the money which my husband was earning.  I had a new sense of purpose and a joy in my heart because I knew that I was starting to live out more of the principles found in the Word.

4.   We are to be kind and pure.  (Titus 2:5)  I found that part of putting this into practice was by being cautious in friendship.  (Prov. 12)  Going again to the word prudent, we are to be cautious in our conduct.  I knew some people who were constant gossips, one of whom was constantly talking about her husband in a bad way.  It wasn’t like she talked about him to get me to keep him in prayer, but she just felt the need to give him a tongue-lashing, even when he wasn’t present.  I was striving to be kind and pure in my walk with the Lord, so I quickly began to find different friends.  I didn’t need a “friendship” that was going to suck the spiritual life out of me in just a matter of minutes.

Another way of being cautious in friendship is just by being mindful of how much time you spend with your friends.  You don’t want to cause your friend problems in her own family by the amount of time which she is spending with you.  I still visit my friends, mainly because it gives my only child a chance to play with other children.    Even then, we don’t do it more than once every 7-10 days.  The Lord has helped me to achieve a good balance there.  I also picked friendships that were like “iron sharpening iron,” mentioned in Prov. 27:17

5.   We are to be subject to our husbands.  (Titus 2:5)  Part of being subject to our husbands is learning to do what pleases them.  I don’t know of any man who desires to come home to a house that is dirty or cluttered.  Going back to being prudent, one who manages her home carefully is going to be one who manages to stay home to see that the work gets done.  Every day there needs to be a time set aside for tidying up the house before our husbands get home.  We also need to be mindful of how hard they work to make an income.  That requires sacrifice on our part at times — like staying away from the malls.  They are often a deceptive tactic of the enemy to cause us to be filled with discontentment.

6.  We are to teach what is good.  (Titus 2:3)  We are to be diligently teaching and training our children.  We are to be instructing them in righteousness.  I found that as I learned to stay at home more, I had much more energy, not to mention more time, to teach Rachel about the Lord.  We still often talk about God while we are running errands, but we are also spending a lot more time reading devotions together.  At bedtime, we are getting into the habit of reading the Word before we go to sleep.

Proverbs 19:16 tells us that she who obeys instruction guards her life.  The instruction for me, as a stay at home wife and mother was becoming much clearer.  (Although I haven’t really even touched the surface of it in this message.)  As I began to put this into daily practice, I found a new joy and contentment in my heart.  Granted, we aren’t at home all the time, but our days of errand running are down to only one or two days a week now, instead of three to four days.  I have much more energy for the tasks that are before me.

Yes, ladies, we have much home work to do, and if we allow God to teach us how to do it His way, we will find that godliness with contentment is GREAT gain.  (I Tim. 6:6)  This kind of home work may not earn us a diploma, but it may earn us these words:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of the Lord.”
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Joyful Contentment

Joyful Contentment

How many times do we struggle with being content?   We are so bombarded by things of this world that we can easily be led down the  path of discontentment.  We are told that we need to color our hair a certain way so that we can feel young and vibrant.  We need to have fine clothing so we can feel pretty.  We need to join a weight loss group so that we can have the perfect figure, therefore making us voluptuous.  We need a certain car or we just aren’t living the good life.  The cycle never ends.  If we aren’t careful to guard our hearts, (Prov. 4:23) we will fall into the snare of believing these deceptive tactics of Hollywood.  If we fall prey to these beliefs, we will quickly be spending hard-earned money on things which don’t satisfy.

Come, you who are thirsty.  Come, you who have no money.  Buy food and drink without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread?  Why spend your labor on what doesn’t satisfy?  God says to listen to Him and eat what is good.  If we do, our soul will delight in the richest of fare.  If we take time to hear the Lord, our soul will live.  (Is. 55:1-3)

When we are faithful to come before God and listen to Him, we won’t be easily snared into believing the ads that we see everywhere.  Hollywood’s version of beauty, fulfillment, and happiness will hold no appeal for us because we have found what truly satisfies.  We will discover that the Lord causes us to go out with joy and to be led forth with peace.  (Is. 55:12)  Now that’s a frame of mind which no amount of money could ever buy!

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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