Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pathway of Sorrow Leads to Stronger Faith {Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-up}

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}


"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ." {1 Peter 1:6-7} 



The old empty flower pot sits in the corner. Mostly forgotten. From where it came, I am not sure. It has a story of it's own, with the lines etched in and the bark worn away, but I only know a small part of it's past. Some creative person saw beauty in all the broken pieces and fashioned together something useful. Crafted beauty from all the ugly parts.

***

I know what it is to sit empty and feel forgotten. I know the pain of broken pieces and ugly parts.

You, too?

***

Suffering.

Grief.

Various trials.

Trouble.

Laid aside.

In sorrow

or pain

or sickness

or grief.

It may seem like there is no end.

You may feel you have been made for more than this.

Rest.

We are all but a vapour.

These difficulties will last a little while.

Rejoice.

Give thanks that this heaviness might be used to grow your faith into something far more precious than gold.

See that the pathway of sorrow leads to a stronger faith.

Results are of eternal value.

Allow this suffering to purify and burn away the dross and see what beauty remains.

May your genuine faith be found to result in praise, glory and honour to the One who suffered beyond any suffering we could even imagine.



“The way to stronger faith usually lies along the rough pathway of sorrow . . . I am afraid that all the grace that I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable . . . Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library. ” {Charles Spurgeon}




I know He will take the painful parts and purify them into beautiful praise.


***

May our suffering grow a stronger faith.

May our pain be found to bring praise.

May our hard times result in honour for all eternity

to the Lamb who was slain

as His scars remain.


***



{Email subscribers can click here to listen to "Pieces" by Meredith Andrews}
***
A Soft Gentle Voice

{Also linking with Coffee For Your Heart}


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hope of The Resurrection {Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-up}

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}


We have groaned for new life. Hoped.

It has come.

Wounds of winter past, the deadness of sin has passed away.

Sure hope of spring eternal, the new life has come.

***

He took his children and together they planted bulbs of garlic in dark soil before the cruel winter settled and it's winds whipped us down. All winter the old life died.

We waited.

And there in the spring, it came up.

New life.

The old had passed.

The new had come.

We rejoiced.

Oh, the joy of new life.

***

Because of the resurrection we have been given hope.

Nothing is impossible with God.

We do not need to stay in the wounds of the winter, the deadness of sin.

There is a way to life.

But it is to die to self.

To be alive in Christ.

"Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." {1 Corinthians 15:3}

A Soft Gentle Voice

{Also linking with Coffee For Your Heart}


Sunday, April 20, 2014

He is Risen and They Worshiped Him


"Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 
Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 
So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him."
{Matthew 28:1-9 ESV} 

***

JESUS, who was CRUCIFIED . . . 

He is RISEN!!!

May our RESPONSE be to TELL,

with FEAR and great JOY,

the WONDROUS GOOD NEWS,

and WORSHIP

the RISEN LORD.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend ~ "Consider Him Who Endured From Sinners"




"What is the meaning of all this? 
Why is He going to the cross and to that death? 
There is only one answer to that question. Sin is the cause; and sin is something that can be death with in that way only, and in no other. Sin is something, let me say it with reverence, that has created a problem even in heaven. It is as profound a problem as that, and we must start by realizing this. Sin in you and in me is something that caused the Son of God to sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. It caused Him to endure all the agony and the suffering to which He was subjection. And finally it caused Him to die upon the cross . . .  
. . . what we have to realize is that, because we are what we are, the Son of God had to come from heaven and go through all of that, and even die that cruel death upon the cross. You and I are such that all that became necessary. Such is this pollution of sin that is in us. We can never look too often at the nature of sin and its consequences. One of the most direct roads to holiness, always, is to consider Him and His suffering and agony. Nowhere is the nature of sin displayed in such a terrible and awful colours as in the death of the blessed Son of God. 
. . . Man, according to the Scriptures, was meant to live entirely to the glory of God. He was meant to love the Lord God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength. The whole man of God was meant to glorify God. Therefore, any desire to glorify self or safeguard the interest of self is of necessity a sin, because I am looking at God and seeking His honour and glory, and it is that very thing in man which God has condemned. It is that which is under the curse of God and the wrath of God . . . holiness eventually means this, deliverance from this self-centred life. 
. . . if we say we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and believe that He has died for our sins, it means that our greatest desire should be to die to self. That is the final purpose of His dying, not merely that we might be forgiven, or that we might be saved from hell. Rather it was that a new people might be formed, a new humanity, a new creation, and that a new kingdom be set up, consisting of people like Himself
I have finished with self, I have died to myself, and my one concern now is the glory and honour of God."
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount [emphasis added]

***

A Soft Gentle Voice

{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 

For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebration in the Air (Titus 2 Tips on Thursdays ~ A Guest Post}


The truth is: I like to do things well. Running was something I could not do well. Even as a child I dreaded the once-a-year-all-school cross-country race day. I often felt it was a minor miracle that I survived to the end of the 1 km run. Running was tough, all those hills to navigate, the need to persevere even when you could barely breathe and always finishing last was difficult on my pride.

Two years ago, my husband started training for half marathons. I was adamant that I would never go into such a thing. Yet something deep within intrigued me about the actual race day. There was celebration in the air that comes from goals accomplished. Laughter and joy permeated the atmosphere. Strangers cheered one another on. That’s the part that touched my heart. A sense of community with people I had never met, rooting for one another when life felt hard. It was beautiful.

My children wanted to follow in the footsteps of their father. I didn’t want to push them into anything. I know that the running world can be intense, focussed and driven. Let them be kids and run when and wherever they want. Not everything needs to be structured in their lives. Yet they both said they wanted to try and now they love it. Their smiles are big and genuine. They are learning life lessons about setting goals, working hard and finding joy in finishing what they have started. Their enthusiasm called me to take to the track as well. My young daughter’s words run through my mind each time I lace up my running shoes. “Don’t worry, Mom. The first kilometer is the hardest. It gets easier.” My trainers, my family, have loved me through the hard bits and found ways to help me persevere.

A few months after my husband started his running training, I also joined a club. My group involved women from different ages and stages of life getting together a couple of times a month to share stories of how God was working in our lives. I needed to hear from those who have walked through valleys in their faith and have come to the other side and still say “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” I don’t always run the race of faith well and I get discouraged all too easily. My support group, these women of wisdom, articulate the importance of listening for God, using our eyes to see Him and opening our hearts to understand His Word. Our time of prayer together renews, breathing hope and joy into my life. They are not merely cheerleaders, but coaches who need to say challenging things at times to help growth occur.

A journey of faith requires living in a community that loves, supports and encourages. 

Meditate on the powerful words of Hebrews 12:1-3: 
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” 
Listen for Him.

Look for Him and keep your eyes there when you find Him.

It will reap blessings far more precious than any running medal ever could.



 
Stephanie loves children and knows that they have taught her many life lessons about faith and loving Jesus. She is a wife, mom and Kindergarten teacher.  
Although reluctant at times to embrace change, she loves to learn from others. 
This year she may even enter her very first running race.


A Soft Gentle voice
I am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women 
Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.
You will find all the posts in the series here.


"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour,
not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."

{Titus 2:3-5}


Monday, April 14, 2014

3 Prayers on Your 13th Birthday {Meditation of My Heart Mondays}


It never dawned on me when I looked down on you all pink in my arms that I would have to look up at you in a blink of an eye. At 7:02 I heard your cry for the first time after groaning in labour all that long Good Friday. We made a few calls to let family know of the safe arrival of our firstborn; our baby girl. We heard later that word went round to our friends at the Toronto Easter Conference. That's how the news traveled those days, before Facebook and insta-announcements on social media. I know I should not be surprised. I figure I will be outgrown by all my children. I honestly didn't expect it to happen so quickly.

Exactly a blink later, so it seems, we were singing a jazzed up Happy Birthday to you on Palm Sunday at 7:02 on your thirteenth birthday. Yeah, we completely forgot to sing it with your friends and family gathered around to celebrate you. You wanted home-made donuts so I mixed, rolled, cut out and we cooked up a hundred of them and friends and family surprised you and came to help you eat them all. Somehow all those people fit in our kitchen and living room and your Dad spoke words of praise for you and to your Creator and thanked family and friends for speaking words of truth into you and appealed to them to pray for you as you begin these years of becoming a young woman.









After the donuts had disappeared, friends and family had filled pages with words of love and encouragement from their heart, and they took reminders to pray for you, we counted down minutes and sang in celebration.

We blinked and I'm still learning to breath. It still hurts.

I'm not sure who has learned more in the last thirteen years. I know we have both grown in unbelievable ways. I'm also aware that I used to be taller, but the bend in my back has notched me down an inch. I thought I knew everything there was to know about being a Mother, but it took me less than 12 hours to come to the conclusion that I had a lot to learn. It's a humbling experience, to become a young Mama and realize you have a lot of growing up to do. It notched me down, made me to bend down low and surrender everything I thought I knew, admit that I can't do this in my own strength,  and cry out the One who loves you more than you or I will ever realize, to give me wisdom and grace and love.


"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14,16-19)
I beg prayers for you, cause I've learned I don't have the slightest idea of what I am doing. I hardly knew how to grow a child and I confess to you I have no clue how to raise a young woman.

Oh, it's true, I've read a lot. Ever since we stared stunned at the two stripes, listened in pre-natal class to learn how to properly breath a baby into the world, and checked on Google to see if I really was in labour a week early, I've read and read and read some more. Turns out I didn't really need pre-natal or to search the internet. You were coming whether Google said so or not and whether I was ready or not.

I've tried a slew of what some claim to be tried and true methods of children rearing, sleep training, ways to grow children. Dabbled in some of it, but thankfully didn't get sucked in and eventually tossed them aside. You and I didn't fit the mold. We didn't work well under strict, regimented rules. We cried together and even screamed and I should have known better. But, I didn't.

We've locked horns and I've had to pick the hills to die on and you've stomped your feet and I've put my foot down. I expected perfection and we've cried together as we have grown to learn that peace is so much more precious.

I wanted an easy way to raise a perfect child. I learned that there is no easy and there is no perfect. How should a mother demand perfect when she is no where near it? But, until she's taken down a notch, she might be blinded to see what she really needs. What her children really need.

We needed grace and love. And to be granted wisdom.


"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." ( Colossians 1:9-10)
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what I am doing as we venture into the years ahead. But, I try not to depend on Google anymore, but turn to God first.

I worked hard the day you were born and the day you turned thirteen. But, I don't take any credit for the young woman you are becoming. God is working in you to bring you to completion.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
Not for my benefit, or even yours, but all for God's glory.

We both have a lot of growing to do, but I am thankful that I get to be your Mom. To watch you transform from a beautiful child to a beautiful young woman—and not because of the make-up you could hardly wait to get your hands on. I'm mesmerized how you care with tender heart. How you can laugh at your mistakes and cry with others who are hurting. The way you are learning to persevere when things are hard and help others even when this world tells us to help ourselves first.



And when you hugged your weary Mama the night you turned thirteen and you seemed to tower over me already as I still held you it my arms, I breathed with a sign of relief that God is growing us both in grace and He looks down on both of us and holds us in His loving embrace.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)


A Soft Gentle Voice


Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Letter From a Mentor {Titus 2 Tips on Thursdays ~ A Guest Post}





"Dear Rebekah,

As I have reviewed many of the times of the Lord's guidances in my life, it has been a joy to recall, and as well, remember times of struggles! Our Lord has ALWAYS remained faithful in His love and mercies! Certainly there were times when I tried to understand and even thought that I knew "better", He kept on guiding me and loving me as He taught me. I am writing a quick summery of many years and I desire to highlight areas where I was shown that His ways and His timing are always best!

My life in Jesus began when I was only eight years ole. My parents had just become Christians and began to teach us from the Bible. Older Christians were often in our home and I recall listening to many conversations regarding the Scriptures. Even at this early age, I was influence in a direction to please our Lord Jesus Christ. I was privileged to attend summer camp where Biblical teaching challenged me to surrender my life to the One who knew how best to direct my future. Little did I realize that surrendering to Him would also mean growth, sometimes hurtful, in many parts of my being!

Early in my teen years, I had a desire to help others and felt that the teaching profession would be my choice. Following my graduation I was placed in a city school where children were from mixed backgrounds. I prayed, "Why?" This is not my choice to begin my teaching experiences. I was upset and questioned my Lord! This resulted in teaching me so, so much! I was more prepared to face my years living in South America with teams of young people from many backgrounds. "Yes, Lord, You knew best!"

Shortly after being assigned to a teaching position, I was married to my sweetheart, Claude. The next 41 years (my husband died suddenly) and the birth of five children showed to us that our Lord supplies every need: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Spouses and children do teach us in so many various lessons! As I look back and remember, I recall times of joy, sorrow, questioning, doubting, amazement, etc!!!

I especially recall one time when at the bedside of my dying grandfather when I envisioned myself facing the Lord as He said that it is possible to have "everything", but have "nothing" unless it is from Him! I remember driving home as I repeated to my Lord that He may have me, my family, my desires, my all and use me as "You, O Lord, see best!" When I entered my house, I said to my husband that I am ready to go or stay or whatever is the Lord's will. I know my husband was shocked since I had thought I could never leave my house, my city, my relatives. We began to pack to live in South America and to serve in several ministries in various parts of the world.

Now, since old age is upon me, I see that so many areas of my busy life have changed. I often say that my "head says one thing and my body says that I don't think that you are able to achieve that". Again the lessons are still being given to me!

I have written of some experiences hoping that folks will be encouraged to surrender to the One who not only created us, but has a plan for each life!!!

That includes many smaller plans as one grows closer in relationship to our God.

First and foremost, build a close relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Also, build relationships with friends and others in need (physically, emotionally, or just desiring to know our Lord in a closer relationship). This area builds trust as we get to know each other. Often this takes a lot of time and sometimes I say "lots of coffee"! 

As a person is brought to my heart, mind, I make it a point to get to know them, doing something together. It is exciting to see the Lord work through us in His ways.

His blessings as you surrender to Him,

Marion J Loney"




 Marion has always had a heart to minister and mentor. 
She is blessed with 5 wonderful children and 6 awesome grandchildren, 3 good sons-in-laws and 1 good daughter-in-law. 
She has ministered around the world and loves the Lord God and His people.

A Soft Gentle voice
I am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women 
Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.
You will find all the posts in the series here.


"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour,
not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."

{Titus 2:3-5}


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What You See When You Stare Death in the Face {Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-Up}

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}


Death rattled deep for days.

Her breath laboured until the breath of life

in her ceased.

Grandma lived ninety long years.

But, it was still agony to watch death encroach upon

her final days.

*

Clouds parted and the sun beamed radiant on her face as we gathered round her deathbed as she breathed her last breath.

Heavens opened and the spring rain weeped steady as we gathered round her coffin to celebrate the life she lived.

Death, no matter the length of days, never makes sense.

We're forced to look at the depravity of man when we stare death in the face.

But as we gaze, we turn and there is the glorious grace of the Gospel.

*

Words fail when loved ones depart.

But love endures.

Love with outstretched arms offers living hope and eternal life.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood,
we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,
much more, having been reconciled,
we shall be saved by His life.


A Soft Gentle Voice
{Also linking with holleygerth.com .}


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