Sunday, February 27, 2005

Dare to Believe

by Donna L. Watkins
© Donna L. Watkins - Rufous-sided Towhee

This issue I'm sharing some of the writing of Smith Wigglesworth. Don't you love the name! If you've never heard of this man, you will not forget him when you read about him, and your faith will grow by leaps and bounds if you spend any time in his books.

His name certainly is unique enough to remember it, but this man of God dared to believe God. He was called "The Apostle of Faith" because absolute trust in God was a constant theme of both his life and his messages.

About twenty different accounts were reported of people being raised from the dead after he prayed for them. He himself was healed of appendicitis and kidney stones. 

Although Wigglesworth believed in complete healing, he encountered illnesses and deaths that were difficult to understand which makes his unwavering faith even more astounding. He lost his wife and son to death, and lived with his daughter's life-long deafness, along with his own battle of sciatica.

He often seemed paradoxical: compassionate but forceful, blunt but gentle, a well-dressed gentleman whose speech was often ungrammatical or confusing. However, he loved God with everything he had, he was steadfastly committed to God and to His Word, and he didn't rest until he saw God move in the lives of those who needed Him.

Wigglesworth's works span a period of several decades, from the early 1900's to the 1940's. Born in 1859 in England and converted as a boy, he had a concern for the salvation of others and won people to Christ, including his mother. As a young man, he could not express himself well enough to give a testimony in church, much less preach a sermon. Couple this with the fact that he had no formal education because he began working twelve hour days at the age of seven to help support the family.

In 1882 he married Polly Featherstone, who had the gift of preaching and evangelism. She taught him to read and became his strongest supporter. They opened a mission to serve the poor and needy of the community and people were miraculously healed when he prayed for them.

In 1907, Wigglesworth's circumstances changed dramatically when, at the age of 48, he was baptized in the Holy Spirit and suddenly had power that enabled him to preach which was the beginning of a worldwide evangelistic and healing ministry that reached thousands in the U.S., Australia, South Africa and Europe until the time of his death in 1947.

My life has been blessed by the books about this man and I know yours will be also. Here's something from the devotional book a friend recently gave to me. It's been the most inspiring devotional I've ever had in relation to building my faith to believe that, in God everything is truly possible, and the faith we have within us is strong enough to bring to pass Jesus' words to many: "If you only believe."

"Here are Sarah - her body is almost dead - and Abraham - his body is almost dead. "Now," says Abraham, "God has made me a father of many nations, and there is no hope of a son according to the natural law, no hope whatever." Here God says, "I have made you a father of many nations," yet Abraham has no son.

How long have you believed and still suffered from some disease? How long have you been waiting for the promise, and it has not come? Did you need to wait? Look here! I want to tell you that all the people who are saved are blessed with faithful Abraham (Galatians 3:9). Abraham is the great substance of the whole keynote of Scripture; he is a man who dared to believe God when everything got worse every day.
I do not know anything in the Scriptures so marvelous, as far-reaching, and as full of the substance of living reality to change us if we will believe God. He will make us so different.

This is a blessed incarnation of living faith that changes us and makes us know that "God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). God is a reality. God is true, and in Him there is no lie or "shadow of turning" (James 1:17). Oh, it is good! I do love to think about such truths as these.

No subject in the Bible makes my body aflame with passion after God and His righteousness as this one does. I see that He never fails. He wants man to believe, and then man will never fail. Oh, the loveliness of the character of God!

" A father of many nations." You talk about your infirmities - look at this! I have never felt I have had an infirmity since I understand this chapter. My cup runs over as I see the magnitude of this living God.
It is almost as if Abraham had said, "I won't look at my body. I won't look at my infirmities. I believe God will make the whole thing right." God is reality and wants us to know that if we will believe, it will be perfect.

" God ... gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did" (Romans 4:17).

I wonder if you really believe that God can quicken what is dead. I have seen it many times. The more there was no hope, Abraham believed in hope. Sometimes Satan will cloud your mind and interfere with your perception so that the obscure condition is brought right in between you and God but God is able to change the whole position if you will let Him have a chance.

Turn your back on every sense of unbelief, and believe God. God knows. He has a plan; He has a way. Do you dare NOT to trust Him?"

What an inspiring man! I love his devotional book!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What Owns Your Heart?

by Donna L. Watkins
© Donna L. Watkins - Three Deer In Backyard

A fresh new year makes me want a "fresh" home. I've been cleaning out drawers and closets and feeling much lighter with things hauled off to the Salvation Army. 

I'm excited about the possibilities for this new year. It seems there's as much to life as we're willing to give into it. As I walk this path to total healing, Deuteronomy 7 becomes more alive and real to me, along with Deuteronomy 28-30. The ones about choosing life or choosing death. 

So many of our choices produce death in our lives. Worry produces death. Anxiety produces death. Fear is the opposite of Faith.
With fear we believe in what the devil can do. With Faith we believe in what God says. Deuteronomy says that if we obey His commandments "none of these diseases will come upon us."
We are going to have to wake up as Christians and recognize fear as sin and confess, repent, and turn from it. The Bible mentions "fear not" over 300 times. Do you think it was important to God that we fear not?

It's something to think about as we seek Truth in our diseases.

My thoughts as I've been clearing out have also been that I believe the amount of the stuff we own determines to some degree of our lives, what truly owns our hearts. And "where our heart is, there is our treasure." At the end of my article is a story of somebody who has struggled with where her heart is. I know many of you will be able to relate to it and possibly get freedom as she has been getting from realizing where our desires come from.

So often our heart is in the stuff we own. It's obvious because we worry over losing it and worry about not having enough of it. Instead we should be thinking of ways to eliminate it. There is peace in the midst of simplicity. I Timothy 6:7 says, "For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world."

It is a real battle and it's won with one little step at a time. When I want to get rid of something, but my "memories" don't want to let go, and it's really not something that's a family treasure, this is what I do. I picture the day I will leave this earth and this "thing" will be considered hay and stubble. The only thing that will last is what I've done for others and how much I loved and walked with the Lord in the cool of the garden.

Then I look at something I want to hold on to and think - "not really of much value." It makes it a bit easier to let go. I have to continue to tell myself though that my value is not in the things. I've had a ton of things and none of them have brought peace or joy to my life. Things can bring happiness, but happiness is based on happenings which is based on the moment at hand. Joy is an internal quality.

The things that were my mom's were harder to let go until I realized that she's in heaven realizing that her stuff had no eternal value either, so she would be praying for me to be able to let go and grab hold of more eternal prizes. It seems the hardest things to let go of are the things that others before us have held on to. It's almost like they've earned their right to own us. Maybe in getting rid of those things, we have to admit that we've spent too much time caring for them and it would be hard to justify the "why" of it.

We have limited time on earth and taking care of our things won't put many jewels into our crowns that we want to toss before our Lord. It's hard to come to the point where we are willing to admit that we've wasted a lot of time and money on stuff. The purchase of it, the cleaning/storing of it, the insuring it, and paying money (rent/mortgage) to make space for it.

Unless we come to that point, we will be owned by what we own. I like some of the statements that Mother Teresa has made: "Whoever is dependent on his or her money or worries about it, is truly a poor person. If that person places his or her money at the service of others, then the person becomes rich, very rich indeed."

She says, "The poor are very generous. They give us much more than what we give them." From one who gave her life to the poor in Calcutta, India, she would certainly know. She stated, "The less we have, the more we give. Seems absurd, but it's the logic of love."

It would seem that our love of stuff keeps us from our love of people and the important things in life. In our home we have had a zeal for not wasting things. We use all the food we buy. I've known families who weekly clear out their pantry and refrigerator of "spoiled or expired" food. Many folks have told us that not wasting food won't feed a hungry child in China or anywhere else in the world. That's a common phrase used, however, it is not accurate. It's true you can't send cooked food or spoiled produce to a starving child, but what you paid for it will feed a hungry child and give a family hope. 

 If you manage your food supply frugally and without waste, you can sponsor at least one Compassion child and that will make a difference in the entire family. The child is fed and also schooled and the entire family gets to see and know the love of Christ.

And didn't Jesus say that whatever we do for the "least of these" we do as unto Him? There are much more important matters in life than our "stuff." With the wealth of America it is hard to imagine true poverty. Yes, there are the homeless, but there are places for a meal. You won't find anybody dying of hunger in America unless they choose to. People die around the world hourly from hunger.

God wants His children to be blessed. He wants us to have nice things. He delights "in the prosperity of His servant." (Psalm 35:27) I don't want this to be a depressing issue for you. I just want you to think about what your life consists of and what you want it to be. You cannot change the place you're in unless you choose to move out of it. It's hard to get out of comfortable ruts. They hide the pain inside, but that pain is still destroying, whether hidden or not. It's time to make a choice to MOVE. God is not going to appear to heal you. He has sent His Son Jesus to do so and His death on the cross has given you the power to make the right choice. We are not programmed robots. God has laid out principles and we need to walk in them for FREEDOM!

Don't waste your life just making money and collecting stuff. 2 Corinthians 9:9 says that the deeds of the benevolent person will endure forever. Collect some eternal blessings while you're on this earth. They will mean more to you than anything you have in your home today. Here is a response from a subscriber after a previous article I wrote on "stuff."

From a subscriber of A Healing Moment:
"You're absolutely right about what we own owning us. I have to start scaling down. First, however, I have to start by NOT buying more stuff. I always think that when we move we'll need a lot of storage space because of all the STUFF I have personally accumulated. Sometimes I feel like I'm suffocating when I think of it all. It's very weird, indeed. This need to accumulate more and more STUFF ... and this other need to BE FREE OF ALL MY STUFF! Boy, I'm really mixed up. However, I'm sorting through the garbage in my mind. The book is helping me to do that.

This morning, as I dried my hair, I had a flashback to my childhood. In my face, I saw the face of the little girl I used to be. The little girl who constantly lived in fear and who never had a carefree, innocent childhood. I realized in a flash of knowing that a lot of my Obsessive Compulsive behavior had to do with my trying to control something in my life, since everything seemed to be out of my control.

My family was poor, my father was sick a lot (seriously ill), I lived in fear of having to live on the streets. My "obsessive compulsiveness" kept my family SAFE. If I did all of my rituals every single day, nothing would change. Everything would remain the same. Nobody would get sick or hurt. It seemed I was predetermined to have a chemical imbalance of serotonin in my brain. It ran in the family. But it was MY OWN FEAR that allowed it to replicate itself in me. Being poor as a child, I must have figured that accumulating STUFF meant I was no longer poor.

Stuff became my security against poverty, but it actually did just the opposite by putting me in overwhelming debt. It created a repetitive rut that had no way out other than Jesus. With the knowledge gained from the book, I am getting free of my wrong ways of thinking and God is providing ways for us to get out of debt now that I have stopped spending. I feel so much stronger now thanks to my faith in the Lord and my weekly support group. " J 

The book is "Biblical Foundations of Freedom" by Art Mathias

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Saturday, February 5, 2005

Our Garden Pond Project

Last year we decided to add a small pond to the backyard. We had done a larger one at our home in Alabama with the direction and help from Charlie Allred.

He came to Virginia for a working visit and he and Randal got supplies to build our concrete garden pond so we would have a place for the frogs and water-loving critters.

This was a nice addition to the garden and now provides additional habitat diversity for our Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

We were blessed with a pair of mallard ducks visiting us even though the pond is only about 5x8 feet. What a joy!

View photo journal of the project.

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