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Archive for December, 2013

The quiet voice echoed through the sad, lonely corridors of my heart and soul—“Is Jesus Enough?” I sniffed back tears that had become a way of life for the past few weeks and blew my nose as the voice inside me asked again—“Is Jesus Enough?”

DSCF1479I slumped in my chair, Kleenex in hand, forced to examine the implications of this question and where I had drifted and what had brought me down this treacherous road.

Even as I write this morning, my mind retraces the rabbit trails I allowed to lead me away from abiding in the light of the Word into the murky, stagnant puddles of lingering grief. And the moreDSCF3280 time I spent wandering in this swamp, the more impossible it became to extract myself.

Self-pity clutched its slimy tendrils around every thought and drug me toward the pit of depression as I counted, recounted, and added to what I didn’t have.

Trapped in a snare. Two weeks before Christmas. The tree wasn’t trimmed, the house was a mess, but the state of my heart and mind needed emergency medical care. And, thank God, the Great Physician was on-call.

Jesus tells us:

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 14:5 NAS).

I could indeed do nothing. The last few months I had lost focus on the important and allowed the urgent to shove my time with the Lord each day to those last few moments before exhaustion cemented my eyelids and brain shut for the night.

My disposition cranked to critical and I neglected to put on God’s armor each morning. I gave the enemy of my soul numerous opportunities to shoot his fiery darts into the chinks, resulting in great pain, loss of joy and my ability to focus on God’s miracle of Jesus. Immanuel. God with us.

But the good news is Jesus left a message for me and all who struggle in this battle:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29 NAS).

DSCF3521I heard—Is Jesus enough? And I understood the question and all the associated implications.

Regardless of the loss, trouble, or pain God allows to touch our lives we must ask ourselves—Is Jesus enough?

Jesus was enough for ancient Christians forced into an arena filled with hungry lions. Jesus was enough for the Apostle Paul when he faced his executioners in Rome. And Jesus is enough for Christians in countries where living their faith means persecution or death.

Will Jesus be enough for you and me as we walk through turmoil, distress and heartache during our lifetime?

Jesus also told us:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19 NAS).

The hours of 2013 are slipping away and 2014 will arrive a week DSCF3551from today. Will we replay the trials, pain, and grief of past years or will we quake when difficult times arise in the future? Or will you guard your heart and mind, abide in the Word and in prayer, and confirm with me, “Yes, Jesus is Enough!”

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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“Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of me.
But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
I and the Father are one’”
(John 10:25-30 NAS).

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EACH OF YOU
FROM THE GATES HOUSEDSCF4225

Thank you for your friendship. And thank you for following, reading, and sharing on this blog. I look forward to 2014 as we continue to share the promise of God’s love through the message of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

DSCF4254 DiAne

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Have you ever held a baby lamb? Felt the softness of the white wool? And understood the vulnerability of this little creature?

In the 12th Chapter of Exodus God instructed Moses to have each household of the congregation of Israel take a lamb for themselves, according to the number of people in the family.
Their lamb had to be an unblemished male, a year old, and they were to care for until the fourteenth day of the same month.

Can you imagine the joy of the younger children in the household?
I can hear them say, “Oh Daddy, can we keep the lamb?” But on the fourteenth day of that month, at twilight, each special lamb, in every household of the congregation of Israel was killed.

Imagine the number of lambs slain that night. Imagine the tension in each family. Imagine the fear. The anticipation. The hope. They were instructed to paint some of the blood on the two doorposts and on the lintels of their houses.

Roasting directions were given and they were to eat all of the lamb, have their clothes packed, and be ready to leave Egypt at dawn. This meal would be known forever as The Lord’s Passover—the night the Lord passed through Egypt and killed the first-born of every household without the lamb’s blood on the doorposts.

God told Israel, “I am the Lord.” And the blood would be a sign for them, when He saw the blood He would pass over them, and no plague would destroy them when He struck Egypt. And God did just as He promised.

This Passover Celebration continues in Jewish households today and is a permanent ordinance for them. Forever. The date of this event would have been around 1445 B.C.

Let’s fast-forward through the pages of the Old Testament. God told Israel over and over again in the fullness of time their would be another lamb. One Lamb, Messiah, Prince of Peace would come and deliver them. And they envisioned a king. A king who would sweep in, deliver them from all their woes, set up a regal kingdom and life would be good. They refused to hear and understand what God said.

We have the complete Word of God. They didn’t. And we still refuse to hear God’s Word. Like the stubborn and prideful Israelites, we apply our own understanding to what He has said rather than read and heed the beautiful painting of words our merciful God has preserved for us?

From that Passover night in Egypt how fitting that shepherds would receive the good news of the long awaited Savior—Christ, the Lord—a baby—God’s Passover Lamb, laying in a manger in Bethlehem. Just where the prophets said He would be. Yet, everyone but the shepherds missed it.

God’s Lamb left His throne in heaven and submitted Himself to the confines of a human being in order to become our Kinsman Redeemer. He loved us enough to live on this hostile, sin-filled planet in order to become our perfect, Passover Lamb. He obeyed the Father’s just judgment in order that you and I might be painted with His blood and washed clean and white. Forgiven. And through God’s mercy and grace and love adopted into His family. Forever.

Have the door posts of your life been painted with the blood of the Perfect Lamb, God’s Only Lamb, your Passover Lamb?DSCF2349

If you hear His voice today, be very sure, because the Word tells us He’s coming again. And soon. And this time He won’t be in a stable in Bethlehem. He will be The Prince of Peace, The Lord of Lords, and The King of Kings. Forever.

“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37-40 NAS).

Have a joyful and blessed Christmas as we celebrate The Lamb!

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STORM TO STORM–FAITH TO FAITH.

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So how are you managing the preparations, shopping, and joy of the Season? Staying afloat atop the increasing swells or wishing they would swallow you—then afraid they might?

Are the red flags of storm warnings unfurling in your spirit tonight? Or are you traumatized by the tsunami of tragedy 2013 is depositing along the shoreline of your life?

DSCF4068For thirteen years the holidays have been difficult for me. In those first years, after we lost so many of our family members, I wanted to curl up in bed the week before Thanksgiving and remain comatose ‘til the week after New Years. But, be encouraged if on-the-outside-looking-in is a new thing for you—it will get better. Much better. However, it takes time and a determination to reach your destination.

The first step along this journey toward healing is make a plan. My husband and I planned and spent Thanksgiving weekend on DSCF4085Galveston Island this year. We had not been there since the hurricane of 2008 did so much damage to the island. Five years later there are still traces of the storm’s damage, but the island has cleaned up the debris, repaired the destruction caused by the storm, and is moving forward.

Just like we must do when storms ravage our lives.

For three days I watched tankers and freighters travel in and out of the Port of Houston. These enormous workhorses of the sea DSCF4074sliced the water in silence, leaving large wakes as evidence of their passing.

Just like we move in silence through the holidays, smiling on the outside, but knowing grief has left a seemingly never-ending-wake-of-sorrow in our heart. But wakes don’t last forever. They eventually ebb and are absorbed by the changing tide.

I watched fancy sailboats maneuver around these large ships. Their DSCF4144sails catching the wind and pushing them quickly over the white caps. Wouldn’t we love to be like those sail boats? Zipping here and there, turning on a dime, dressed in beautiful colors against the sky and sea. But these fragile boats are built for calm waters and gentle breezes.DSCF4063

Just like we were before trials and tribulations became part of our vocabulary.

The tankers moved steadily across the bay waters into the Port of Houston. Sitting low in the water upon arrival yet taller when DSCF4080their mission was accomplished. Dark, rusty hulls marked each ship from the battering of oil and salty waves. They moved in soldier lines, waiting their turn, then departing in the same manner. The object of their journey? Getting to the other side.

Just like our journey on this earth—we too are traveling to the other side. Sometimes across calm waters, but more often acrossDSCF4115 oceans filled with swells and storms. Our objective is the same as these powerful ships—getting to the other side.

In years past we’ve all been like those snazzy little sail boats, pretty on the outside but no inner strength, no power to endure lashing assaults from the deep, no thought of God’s purpose for our life.

God knows we must be transformed into ocean worthy vessels. Vessels engineered to maneuver safely through storms, weighted byDSCF4073 the filling of the Holy Spirit. Guided by the compass of God’s comfort and love. Protected by His mercy and grace until He calms the turbulent waters.

How does this transformation happen? One swell, one gale wind, one raging storm at a time. Paul tells us in the first chapter of Romans: “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” Surviving a storm teaches us that God is faithful in the midst of every storm and He will see us through the next storm too. And the next…and the next. Because we don’t develop courage and strength paddling around in the secure mirrored waters of a lagoon.

Like those freighters lined up in the bay, waiting their turn toDSCF4081 go into the Port of Houston, our position in the residue from the storms of life is to do the next thing.

The morning after our daughter died I couldn’t get out of bed. My husband picked up the telephone and called my prayer partner.

Barbara prayed for me as I lay there sobbing, depleted of strength, my heart breaking. Then she said, “DiAne it’s time to get up. Your family needs you.”

“I can’t.” I wailed.

Her quiet, steady voice instructed, “You must. Roll over and put your feet on the floor.”

And I did the next thing. I groaned, rolled over, and put my feet on the floor. Your next thing may be as simple as putting clothes in the washing machine or brushing your teeth.

“Now I want you to remember,” she explained, “God will see you DSCF4095through what He already knows you must go through. But, He never gives you the ticket ‘til you’re ready to get on the train.” And thirteen years later, I’ve come to understand God has an unending ticket supply, tickets given to me, to you at the exact moment we need to do the next thing.

So, dear one, whatever the state of your mind and heart this evening, however strong the gale, however deep the pain and wreckage of your heart, however flustered you are, remember God will give you the strength, wisdom, knowledge and ability to move forward to accomplish your next thing.DSCF4087

You were created to travel stormy seas and to carry heavy loads, but He is right beside you, ticket in hand, even when you don’t see or hear Him. And He will carry you to the other side—from faith to faith.

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