The Shepherd Or… #WilcoWednesday

Welcome to Wilco Wednesday! If you are a new around these parts, “Wilco” is Army-speak for “Will Comply.” Think of it as saying “Roger, God. Got it. Will do.”  So that is what Wednesday here at 7 Days Time is all about– exploring his decrees and seeking guidance for what complying with Him looks like in everyday life. The best part? He loves us for who we are, not what we do.  Remember: He doesn’t want perfection, just obedience. Share. Enjoy. Interact. Please help me welcome a passionate follower of Jesus, and a very wise woman, Sammie– as she shares one of my favorite faith-based illustrations. 
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Have you ever heard a sermon that just impressed you so much it stayed with you for a long time? You know the kind I mean, where the Pastor waxes bold on the efficacy of following The Shepherd – “I am the Shepherd and my sheep know my voice.” (John 10:27)

That’s an interesting concept; One that catches our imagination on Sunday mornings and provokes our minds to aspirations of walking the walk as well as talking the talk.  But if you are like me, as well intended as I may be, my week gets busy, the days fly by – there’s so much to do. I’m stressed about this and/or that and before I know it my devotions are off schedule. The Wheels of my Spiritual Life seem to roll along with one side a little flat. Or worse, I become stalled altogether.  I ponder… “Now, what did the Pastor say about the Shepherd and His sheep?  Wish I could remember the details!” 

One morning, during a busy season of my life,  my Pastor gave us a wonderful story that has stayed with me 35 years!!   It has helped me stop and pray through many a “flat wheel moments” or when I can’t seem to hear My Shepherd’s Voice.  It has helped me part the veil of confusion reigning in my heart and see with clarity the spiritual battle that is happening at those times. (Eph. 6:10-18)

I’d like to share that story with you, with the prayer that you too will be helped by its simplicity but great message.

Shepherd Or

There once was a small congregation in England who had a wonderful Pastor who guided and nurtured them. He taught them well from God’s word.  One day, as a congregation, they all decided to visit Israel.   While flying to their destination, their Pastor encouraged them to pay particular attention when they saw a Shepherd, with staff in hand and guiding his flock; how the sheep would docilely follow him here and there – bleating softly – happily following him wherever he would lead. This, of course, is an example of how our personal walk should be with our  Shepherd.

One day, outside a small village, they saw a man with his sheep.   However,  the sheep were stressed, frantic in behavior, running here and there,  panting and scurrying as he drove them from behind, prodding unkindly with his staff. 

 The little congregation was confused!   They went to their pastor and said… “We thought you said the sheep were calm and happy and willingly followed their Shepherd!?  Why was he behind them? Why were they frantic and stressed?”    The Pastor was just as perplexed, so he asked their guide for clarification,  as this was contrary to all he had read of how shepherd’s herded their flocks. 

The Pastor approached the guide and posed the question: “Why, after all we have learned and been taught about shepherding here in Israel, is the flock of sheep so harried and discontented when interacting with their shepherd?”

Without miss a beat, the guide replied: “Oh, that’s NOT the Shepherd… That is the BUTCHER!”  

(1. Peter 5:8) 

Beloved sisters in Christ, when you are feeling harried, stressed, frantic, depressed, anxious, fearful, undone, scattered, or unsure which direction to go: ask yourself this question… Am I following the Shepherd who leads me OR…  Am I being driven forward by The Butcher?!

I pray this little sermonette stays with you for years to come too.  Be blessed, know His voice, and stay close to THE SHEPHERD.

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Dear, sweet readers– take a quick peek at your heart today… Are you being driven forward by the Shepherd or the Butcher? Join the conversation and leave a comment.

Sammie headshotSuzanne (Sammie) Gray has been a Bible Study leader with PWOC,  International  Women’s Club, and  Campus Crusade for Christ ministries for over 42 years.   Her passion is teaching women how to walk in victory in their knowledge of our Jesus Christ.  Her hearts calling and personal ministry Scripture is Is. 61; 1-3 helping women to discover Christ’s Divine Design and calling on their lives.

She has two children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  She spent 15 years in the Corporate  world,  has owned/operated three  businesses, and traveled the world extensively.  Her hobbies are gardening, music, and studying Paleo-Biblical Hebrew interpretation of Scripture.  

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Linking up today with my friend Kristin over at Three-word Wednesday and having a little Coffee for your Heart with Holley.  

 

7 Days Time

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A Comedic Comparison: Deployment Beginning Vs. End

Deployments are a funny thing.

They are (of course) very much a challenging part of this army wife life, and they are always full of surprises. As I type this, sitting in the Fort Lewis Starbucks, we are in the homestretch of our latest deployment. (Yes. We see the humorous signs that homecoming is coming!)

Hopefully by the time this post publishes, my Beloved Husband and I will be back in the same zip code. (Pending broken planes, incorrect scheduling, etc.) [Read more…]

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Faith is a Gift #WilcoWednesday

Welcome to Wilco Wednesday! If you are a new around these parts, “Wilco” is Army-speak for “Will Comply.” Think of it as saying “Roger, God. Got it. Will do.”  So that is what Wednesday here at 7 Days Time is all about– exploring his decrees and seeking guidance for what complying with Him looks like in everyday life. The best part? He loves us for who we are, not what we do.  Remember: He doesn’t want perfection, just obedience. Share. Enjoy. Interact. And let’s respond to God’s call with  a hearty “Wilco, Lord!” Please help me welcome my friend Amy to the blogging “stage!” 

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“Faith is a gift from God.  It is our duty to accept it.”  –MNSGR Gerald Ward

Many years ago, my husband and I attended a marriage retreat when we were stationed at Fort Campbell, KY.  I couldn’t have been more excited.  A weekend away in Nashville at the Opryland hotel!  All expenses paid!  Just us!  My mom had even flown in to watch our 20-month-old.  Fresh from his first deployment, the husband and I were more than ready to delve into our marriage through some bible study and companionship with other military couples.  I even remember pulling out my “formal shoes” and my go-to little black dress in the hopes of a fancy dinner.  This. Was. Serious. [Read more…]

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Faith: Do I have enough? #WilcoWednesday

Welcome to Wilco Wednesday! If you are a new around these parts, “Wilco” is Army-speak for “Will Comply.” Think of it as saying “Roger, God. Got it. Will do.”  So that is what Wednesday here at 7 Days Time is all about– exploring his decrees and seeking guidance for what complying with Him looks like in everyday life. The best part? He loves us for who we are, not what we do.  Remember: He doesn’t want perfection, just obedience. Share. Enjoy. Interact. And let’s respond to God’s call with  a hearty “Wilco, Lord!”  Welcome today my wise and loving friend, Katharina as she shares her heart with us. 

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Have you ever wondered how some people have faith that can move a mountain? I have! It seems to me that my faith is overshadowed more with doubt than anything else.

I would like to introduce to you George Müller (1805-1898). He opened up his heart and house to serve the orphans in Bristol, England. He and his wife started their ministry in their house with a Breakfast Club that began with 30 orphans, eventually growing to five large houses, which ultimately served over ten thousand children (Benge, J. & H., 1999, George Müller, The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans). [Read more…]

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God’s Principle of Because

 

Today I am so privileged to introduce you to one of my (new) dear friends and kind-of-partner-ish-boss from Army Wife Network, Crystal Niehoff. She is AWN’s Owner and “Commander” (and I am blessed to be her Editor-In-Chief and Deputy Commander.) Crystal has a lot of great things to share– and this post is one of them!

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It is perfectly normal to question “why” when we are in the midst of trials and adversities. Why is God allowing me to suffer? Why doesn’t the Lord heal this illness? Why can’t we get ahead financially? Why is my family facing all these difficulties?

These past few years (due to some tragic events that have occurred in my family) I have searched God’s Word, seeking answers as to why we have to go through such grief and difficulties in this life. I would be lying to you if I told you I figured out the answers to all these questions. Truth is, there are just some things we will not know, or fully comprehend, this side of heaven.  For whatever reason, trials are a part of life, and in John 16:33, Jesus acknowledges that “in this life we will have trouble.”  Christ then gives us the assurance that He has overcome this world.  One day, for those who believe, we will be in glory and there will be no more tears (Revelation 21:4). [Read more…]

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Immediate Obedience (and Why it Pays off!)

When it comes to doing the “hard stuff” in life, I would say our society is a bunch of overachievers in the excuse-making-I-will-get-to-it-later category.

Wanna get fit and eat clean? I will start on Monday.

Ready to save some dinero? Maybe next pay period.

Jesus wants us me to do what now? Uh, perhaps when it is less scary/more peaceful season of life/you fill in the blank.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m totally not judging. Because I do the same thing.  [Read more…]

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When Life and Beliefs Collide #WilcoWednesday

Welcome to Wilco Wednesday! If you are a new around these parts, “Wilco” is Army-speak for “Will Comply.” Think of it as saying “Roger, God. Got it. Will do.”  So that is what Wednesday here at 7 Days Time is all about– exploring his decrees and seeking guidance for what complying with Him looks like in everyday life. The best part? He loves us for who we are, not what we do.  Remember: He doesn’t want perfection, just obedience. Share. Enjoy. Interact. And let’s respond to God’s call with  a hearty “Wilco, Lord!”  Welcome my sweet-hearted, oil-loving friend Shelby!

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For years I thought “You know, this walk would be much easier if God would lay out His will for me.” Then a dear sister in Christ took me to God’s word and pointed out verse after verse that tells us what His will is. I was stunned. So I became a student of the Bible and crammed a ton of theology into my brain because hey, if I knew all that stuff, life wouldn’t be so hard! Right?! Ha! I borrowed the title of this blog from a book that calls us to think seriously about what we believe about God. Because knowing Him and His character makes a difference when we’re faced with trials. I want to touch on two things…sickness and healing. But really, grace and faith. [Read more…]

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7 Ways Being an Army Wife is Like Parenting A Toddler (Army Wife Network)

Our Tiny Human just turned three-years-old. And with the “Terrible Twos” behind us, I thought things would flip like a light switch as the final smoke wafted from her blown-out-candles.

And it did. We went directly into the “Threenager Stage.”

It’s really not THAT bad. In fact, I like her more now than I did this time three years ago after 12 hours of Pictocin-induced labor with no pain meds. (Side note: I have, of course, always loved her. She is just more fun and like a real peoples now and stuff.)

Anywho, this girl is something else. Talk about a box of chocolates– you never know what you are gonna get with her. [Read more…]

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He Forgives & Forgets #WilcoWednesday

7 Days Time

Welcome to Wilco Wednesday! If you are a new around these parts, “Wilco” is Army-speak for “Will Comply.” Think of it as saying “Roger, God. Got it. Will do.”  So that is what Wednesday here at 7 Days Time is all about– exploring his decrees and seeking guidance for what complying with Him looks like in everyday life. The best part? He loves us for who we are, not what we do.  Remember: He doesn’t want perfection, just obedience. Share. Enjoy. Interact. Please help me welcome a passionate follower of Jesus, dear Sammie, as she shares a beautiful poem she wrote in 1980.
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The phone rang and after sprinting through the house to catch the call before the message machine engaged in its soliloquy, I was greeted by a friends warm voice whom I hadn’t seen in many months.  After a few moments of lively conversation, arrangements were made for her to come visit the next day so we could have time to indulge in an afternoon of fellowship and catching up on events.

The next day when she arrived, the teapot was nestled in its “cozy,” the cookies were on the tray and the English tea cups decorated the Garden Room table like miniature flower bouquets.  Does life get any better than this??  Our conversation that afternoon manifested the ever present “essence of the Unseen Guest” as the shuttle of our thoughts and comments wove evidence of how the Lord was moving in the warp and woof of our personal lives.

Forgives ForgetsThen, quietly my guest said, “I don’t know what to do with the guilt I feel for the things I’ve done wrong in my life.  I feel so useless to the Lord!”  I asked if she had taken those sins before the Lord in prayer and confession – to which she answered… “Oh yes, I keep confessing and confessing them but the guilt feeling doesn’t go away!”  My heart ached seeing her emotionally caught in the web of the “Deceiver.” She was temporarily unable to “lay hold of the freedom of the forgiveness through our Messiah” (Prov.4:4)

Today, I was repairing the hem in the sleeve of this jump suit when, as cutting the thread, I accidentally snipped part of the fabric itself.  I mended it and the garment is whole once again, still of value and capable of continued use; yet, you can see the “scar” where the mending was done.   Although I feel sad the episode happened, whenever I look at the repair,  I don’t need to keep bringing it back to the sewing machine and ‘re-mending’ that spot.

When we confess our sins, God Forgives AND Forgets them (AKA, separates them from us – (Ps 103:12). Through confession, we are washed in the righteousness of Jesus work on the Cross (Rom.10:4)   However, like the garment, our lives often carry the scars of our wrongful deeds.  Our freedom in Christ is  knowing HE has mended/healed those damaged parts (1 Peter 2:24) and made us whole again!  Often we confuse what God does – Forgive and Forget, removing the sin completely, (Heb. 10:17) with the reality that here on earth, we live with the consequences of our sins.  In that confusion we tend to take our eyes off Jesus and instead dwell on the scar (sin) and what caused it!

Looking at the mended part of the sleeve of my garment, I think how unfortunate the event took place – but it is mended and therefore taken care of!  When we feel sad about a past sin, the Accuser (Satan)  likes  to whisper in our ear… “Ah Ha, see that scar – you’re guilty…you’re guilty.  Look what you did!”  And at that point, we assume feeling bad means not being forgiven.  So, based on feelings, we drag our emotions back to the Cross to be forgiven (mended) at the same spot over and over.  (Like taking the garment back to the sewing machine for the same repair.) And, in the process, we hinder moving on in our walk in the Lord.  Satan likes to muddle our thinking – especially in the Forgiveness process – and delights in getting us focused on feelings rather than Scriptural Fact!

You see, our part of the Forgive could be likened to the pain experienced in child bearing.  We lived through the pain; can’t deny it happened.  In fact, we can look back and recall the experience of that pain; but, as it is in the past and done with,  we release it and move on with our lives.  To forgive in the form of release is to be set free from that event’s bondage!

God graciously calls us to live in the freedom of His forgiveness of confessed sin and walk in the newness of Christ (1John 1;7) – not heed the lies of the Accuser trying to keep us from realizing our victory in Christ!

My friend and I prayed together that afternoon and I encouraged her to experience the freedom of seeing those scars as reminders of the Joy of our Salvation (Ps 51:12).  Knowing that like a mended garment, we can see the mended areas of our lives and rejoice in the healing ministry of our Lord.  HE who mends hearts and minds, making us whole in Him, Redeemed, Renewed, and still of value in His sight.  (Luke 1:68).

Does life get any better than this?  That we could dwell in the presence of our Lord in praises and encourage one another/to taste and see the Lord is good!(Ps 34.8), She left that day pondering her new perspective of freedom in Christ!  And, as I waved goodbye, I purposed in my heart to pray both of us would continue to grow in His Grace.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” ~2 Peter 3:18  

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Think back on your darkest hours… How do the words above encourage you? Leave a comment and join the conversation.

Sammie headshotSuzanne (Sammie) Gray has been a Bible Study leader with PWOC,  International  Women’s Club, and  Campus Crusade for Christ ministries for over 42 years.   Her passion is teaching women how to walk in victory in their knowledge of our Jesus Christ.  Her hearts calling and personal ministry Scripture is Is. 61; 1-3 helping women to discover Christ’s Divine Design and calling on their lives.

She has two children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  She spent 15 years in the Corporate  world,  has owned/operated three  businesses, and traveled the world extensively.  Her hobbies are gardening, music, and studying Paleo-Biblical Hebrew interpretation of Scripture.  

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Linking up today with my friend Kristin over at Three-word Wednesday and having a little Coffee for your Heart with Holley.  

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Leadership Riches

Leadership is a funny thing.

It’s awesome. It’s challenging. It’s uncertain. It forces us to grow in ways we never considered. It reaches hearts. It touches lives.

And when we put the “Christian” spin on it, it brings Jesus to those who need it.

When I started my leadership journey over 16 years ago, I had no clue that God was already involved in that process.

Back then, it was all about ME.

Now, it’s all about HIM. (Well, mostly. I still have MY days. I’m working on it.)

But for me, leadership is one of the more enjoyable, rich, and unpredictable aspects of my Jesus journey. [Read more…]

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