Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Outside"

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” 
John 1:11 

They sit in a room being observed by prospective parents. These children can’t see the couple making the decision, but they know they’re being watched. One of them will soon be chosen for adoption. The others will be left out...outside the family.

Not many things in this life make us feel more unloved than the feeling of being left out…left out of activities, circles of friends, special projects. Whether imagined, or real, outside is a lonely place to be.

These feelings can be formed because of several reasons: age, marital status, culture, beliefs, physical appearance, etc.

What is there in your life right now that is excluding you from things you were once a part of? Is it a job, or a relationship? Maybe it’s a dinner or a wedding where you weren’t invited to participate.

Perhaps others classify you with who you are, or who you aren’t.

Ever been rejected by someone you admired and respected?

It can be devastating…being outside!

It can destroy our feelings of self-esteem. It can harm our efforts to reach our full potential.

It could possibly affect our health, our attitude toward others, especially toward those who have left us outside.

Mindy (not her real name) sat watching the power point presentation of her dear friends…pictures taken years ago when they were children. The music was perfect for stirring up feelings and emotions of love.

She was attending their wedding.

But she had been left out…outside the group of friends who formed the bridal party.

She sat there with tears in her eyes, chiding herself for even caring…for feeling sorry for herself. This was a joyous celebration. But her only feeling had been, “I was left out…outside.”

Laura’s special project had just been taken from her, and given to someone else without an explanation. What was once the highlight of her year, and occupied hours and days and months of planning and preparation, had now been given to someone else…taken from her.

Is jealousy at the root of this snatching on the one part, and losing on the other?

I say, “Yes.”

But regardless of feelings, one was inside, and the other was outside.

The friends at the wedding were on the inside; Mindy was on the outside.

It’s the feeling of inadequacy that they battle.

While I’m not an expert on analyzing emotions and feelings, I would like to attempt to help Mindy and Laura, and any other outsiders who might be reading this.

1. While I sympathize with my friends, we must realize that at the root of all negative feelings, whether brought on by real or imagined reasons, is sin. When we compare ourselves to others, we are saying, “I am as good…young…qualified…as you are; and how dare you leave me out!” The devil puts negative thoughts in the minds of my friends. The sooner they realize who is making them feel worthless, the better. Remember, God accepts you just the way you are. Ephesians 1:6 says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
2. Sometimes our emotions run wild, and pull our imagination along with it. Could it be that Mindy and Laura are imagining things that aren’t true? The author of confusion (see point 1) is also the great accuser. Revelation 12: 9, 10 calls the Devil or Satan “…the accuser of our brethren…” 
3. Since Mindy and Laura are Christians, I must remind them that Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible, and applies not only to those who are suffering losses and hardships, but also to those who feel left out. They should remember that all the things that have been happening to them are working for their good. 
4. My friends are self-centered, thinking only of themselves. Life is not all about them. They should take their minds off themselves, and focus on others who are suffering tragedies today. But above all, they should keep their focus on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus…” It’s when we take our eyes off Him that we sink, like Peter did when he focused on the negative that surrounded him.
5. They should not follow their emotions. Pouting, withdrawal, and vengeance are the natural responses of the outsider. Those are immature characteristics of a child. I Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
6. Mindy and Laura should realize that God is allowing these trials to come into their lives in order to conform them to His image. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son…” John 15:18 says, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” Who more than our Master understands what it’s like to be left outside? Do we forget Him? Are we ashamed of Him? Do we share Him with others like we should? Do we include Him in our plans for each day, for our life? 
7. There’s something else my friends should do. In fact, the Bible commands us to do it: Forgive those who have left them outside. This is perhaps the hardest step to take for the outsider. There is a burden lifted when we forgive. Sincere forgiveness frees us from bitterness. Colossians 3:13 admonishes us: “…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Right alongside forgiveness is the advice given us in Matthew 5:44 “pray for them which despitefully use you…” Mindy and Laura, pray for those who have left you outside. There is a healing balm in those two exhortations the Bible gives us. Only then will you be free to serve the Lord, while living on the outside. Don’t let bitterness ruin your life, or your service for the Lord.

How many times have we, by our attitudes shut God out? And yet He loves us still; he doesn’t reject us. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” 

There was no room in the inn the night of His birth. I wonder how Mary felt to be left outside to have her Baby. The very Son of God was left outside to be born in a stable, among the cattle. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11 

While outside is a lonely place to be, it can be fatal. The well-known story of Noah and the Ark proves that to be true. Only the 8 people who were inside the ark were safe, while those who refused Noah’s 120-year invitation to join them proved to be their death. We can actually choose to live outside the will of God. He has a perfect plan for our lives. The first part of that plan is Salvation…the Salvation of our souls. We are born sinners, and at the root of our negative feelings, such as rejection, is sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all indeed left outside, we’ve “fallen short.” We live in a world of sin. But Jesus died on the cross for our sin, and when we accept Him as our Substitute, and ask Him to forgive us, our sins no longer condemn us. We are free from sin’s condemnation.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, invites you to come inside the fold. If you reject that invitation, you indeed are outside.

And that could be fatal!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chapter 18 - "My Grandkids and Me" or "Shhh... Mimi is getting faith in God"

You knew this chapter was coming, didn’t you? I thought this would be a good place to put this, since we just celebrated Grandparents’ Day a few days ago.

Even as I start this chapter, I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot, my recliner. It’s in the corner of my cozy living room, and if I look to my left a bit, I can see through the lace drapes, out into my yard. For the last thirty minutes my ears and eyes have been “tuned” to my gate, waiting for the sound and sight of my grandchildren’s arrival. They have the key, so they’ll be on my porch before I can get out of my recliner.

This is a happy day for me, because I haven’t seen these particular “grandkids” (I use that word in keeping with the title of my book, because I don’t usually refer to my children and grandchildren as kids and grandkids, since I’m not a goat, and neither are my daughters and daughters in law) in about a month.

There are some great stories, and so many cute things my grandchildren have said, and so many things we’ve done together:

Monday's are Philip and Liz's "day off."  Philip had left to make a visit (did I say day off?), and after settling the boys down with their toys, Liz went to take a shower.  She had just dressed, when she walked into the living room, which was nice and clean when she left out. Now it was cluttered with their toys.  She proceeded to scold them very sharply, when she looked out at the gate, and there was a strange man standing there.  He was with a young lady from the church who had brought him to the pastor's house.  He had a long beard.  Liz went out to the gate to see what he wanted.  She called Philip, and he said he was on his way home, so she invited them in.  She realized that Sam wasn't in there, so she went to the bedroom to see about him, but he had locked himself in.  "Sam, open this door right now!"  He said, "I'm not coming out...I'm scared of Santa Claus!"
Andrew is learning to tell time on a clock with hands.  Yesterday morning Anna asked him what time it was.  "9:15," he said.  "Andrew, that's good...how did you know?"  “Because when the big hand is on the 2, it's 9:10, and one more number is 5 more."  She said, "Andrew, how did you know that?"  He said, "Because I always sleep with my thinking cap on."
I have to include this one from one of my own "babies:" My daughter, Ruthie sent me a message while I was at the airport during one of my trips one Mother’s Day.  She wished me a Happy Mother's Day, and then she said, "I'm so glad I grabbed you when it was my time to be born."
But I’d like to share the ones which consist of the times I’ve stayed with my grandchildren while their mommies were in the hospital having their little siblings.

I wrote a devotional once called, “Adjust Your Oxygen Mask; or Mimi, I Want My Chocolate Milk!” I actually wrote that lesson while I was keeping Jacque and her 4 siblings, while their Mommie was in the hospital, having her sixth baby. The idea of the lesson was: if you are going to help someone (like on a plane to adjust their oxygen mask) you need to have your act together first, (just like you should adjust your own oxygen mask in case of emergency, before helping a child or someone else.)

Because Sarah had a C-Section, it took her a little longer to recuperate than it did with her other five. So I stayed a few extra days until she was able to get around.

While Sarah was in the hospital, and even after she came home, as soon as Jacque would get up in the morning, she would patter downstairs in her bare feet and gown, go into my room where I was reading my Bible, and say, “Mimi, I want my chocolate milk.” I learned really fast that if I wasn’t prepared for the day before these little ones got up, chances were I wouldn’t have another chance until the next morning.

The lesson I learned from Jacque was: I don’t know what this day holds. Before interruptions come “pattering down the stairs” I’d better “have my oxygen mask adjusted” by spending a quiet time with God, and turning over the events and interruptions of the day to Him.

Thomas Gregory, who was named after his two grandfathers, has two siblings, Andrew and Debbie. Tommy Greg was born here in my town, so I got to stay with Andrew and Debbie.  I think my favorite part of having a new grandbaby, is getting to share those special moments right after the birth, with the baby’s siblings. I never cease to be amazed at how fast these little guys bond together, right from the beginning. Actually, I think they’ve already bonded before birth…feeling the baby move; seeing the ultrasounds…things we never shared with our children when I was expecting their siblings. That was sort of taboo back in the 70’s and 80’s, at least around the Sloan house, where we didn’t even use the word “pregnant” in mixed company.

Tommy Greg was born in January, a very cold month here in my mountain home. So after visiting with Mommie and Baby for a while, we left Daddy to take care of Mommie while Andrew and Debbie and I took a taxi home. It was about 5:00 Saturday afternoon. We went down to the corner store, bought some treats (I’m a real party grandma), came home, had supper, and showers.

As soon as they were in their jammies, and the dishes were done, we went into my bedroom; I put a Little House on the Prairie on, turned on my electric blanket, put on my gown, and crawled into the warm bed with my grand-treasures. When Mama Bear and Papa Bear came home from the hospital with Baby Bear, that’s where they found us, eating ice cream! What precious, happy memories.

Mark Allen Ralph decided to make his appearance four years ago, the first day of Vacation Bible School. That was fun, but a special challenge, since I had to juggle getting out the door and head for Bible School, with two little boys in tow. Actually Mark’s arrival was scheduled. Isn’t that funny? I don’t think I’ll ever get over the very well planned births mommies give these days. Isn’t there something missing, a little mystery element when you know what you’re going to have, where, when, almost the hour? Anyway, “planned births” sure make things a lot more organized for everyone involved, I guess.

When my 5th baby was born in 1977, I couldn’t believe my ears when my hospital roommate told me she actually went to K-Mart on February 13 to do some last minute shopping before checking herself into the hospital on Valentine’s Day. She knew what time her baby would be born, and that she would be a girl…and a Valentine Baby.

But I don’t know…there’s a special feeling about a sudden burst of pain…no pain…“It’s a girl!” that is exhilarating! You haven’t had months to prepare yourself for what your baby will be. It all happens in that incredible moment when you know it’s over, and then finding out who he or she is at the same time.

Not all births are like that, of course. Anna’s deliveries were never scheduled, although she knew what her baby would be before he or she arrived.

We’ve all heard stories about babies being born on the way to the hospital. A lady who lives near my house had her baby just as she stepped into the lobby of the hospital…in front of all the people sitting there.

But back to my grandchildren:

Time and space fail me to tell of everything. But perhaps among my many favorites, is the little hand-written note on my bedroom door.

I live alone. But I am blessed to live in the same town with one of my sons, and within a few hours of three of my daughters. So during one of the visits of my daughter, Anna and her family, Debbie wrote me a little note, and put it on my bedroom door: “Shhh…Mimi is getting faith in God.” Let me explain:

I take advantage of the fact that when my children are here, they can answer early morning phone calls, and receive early morning visitors. So I get up, shower, put my gown back on, and crawl under my blankets on my un-made bed, to have my devotions. My grandchildren are very well trained by their mommies to respect my “corner of the world”…whether I’m visiting in their home, or whether I’m at home in my bedroom, especially early in the morning. Hence, the precious little note written from the heart of a 6-year old and her opinion of what it is to have a quiet time with God.

How right you are, Debbie. I lack so much faith this morning. Things are a bit upside-down in my world. So it’s in my little corner of the world, every morning, behind closed doors, that I “get faith in God,” and things come into the right perspective.

There are decisions to be made that perhaps will change my life, and the lives of so many others; legal affairs to get in order; travel arrangements to be made. I really need to “get faith in God.”

How do you get your faith in God? I do it by:

1.
    Getting alone with Him early in the mornings in prayer and Bible study.
2.
    Remembering how He has brought me through difficult times, and helped me to survive.
3.
   Keeping my focus on Him. To me, this simply means going about my daily routine with a positive attitude.
4.
    Realizing that negative thoughts are put there by the devil.
5.
    Negative thoughts can lead me to doubt.
6.
    Doubt is the opposite of faith, and can lead to depression.

“Thank you, Lord, for my precious grand-treasures, and for the lessons You’ve taught me through them. Amen.”

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Prayer letter - February 2013

Mission work, like any other work, often follows a routine; like my weekly Bible study, mainly for lost ladies; and my Friday morning ladies’ radio program. But sometimes, right in the middle of routine and normal life, God drops a special, unexpected blessing. Yesterday, while shopping for groceries, I received a call from my daughter, Sarah. She and Jason are missionaries in Jáltipan, Veracruz, about four and a half hours from my home in San Cristóbal. She called to let me know that two of their six children, Kenny and Jacque, were saved that morning. What a blessing to know that sixteen of my grandchildren have trusted Jesus as their Savior.

For over two years now, I have been praying, along with Sarah, for her to be able to have a Pastors’ Wives’ Conference. The Lord laid this desire on her heart to be a blessing and an encouragement to the ladies in her surrounding area. On January 24, God allowed her to see that dream come true. She rented a “palapa”…a tabernacle of sorts…in a beautiful garden setting. It was so well organized. She also invited her sister, Anna, to speak. I was so proud of my two daughters: Sarah is an excellent organizer, and as a mother of six, has been gifted with the virtue of patience. I watched as she calmly drove several van loads of ladies from her home to the nearby conference area, through the pouring rain. Jason entertained almost as many fathers and children as Sarah did wives and mothers. He prepared a delicious spaghetti dinner, complete with salad, French bread, and dessert, for the ladies and their families. Between sessions, the men brought in fresh coffee and sweet bread. There were 53 ladies who attended this first conference, nine of them wives of pastors orfull-time workers, and members of their churches. This was the first conference Sarah had ever hosted. Everything was so lovely. The ladies sat like eager little birds, wrapped in shawls anxious to learn what Anna and I taught.

I saw a talent I didn’t know Anna possessed. She is an excellent speaker, and was able to hold the attention of the ladies.

I love visiting my children’s works. I always try to be a blessing and an encouragement to them, but I always leave feeling like I am the one who was challenged and encouraged. Please pray for Jason and Sarah, and the vision he has for this very unusual work. It’s “off the beaten path,” in a rather obscure area of México. But God has given him and Sarah a burden and love for those precious people.

And this afternoon finds me in Ixtapa, in the home of my daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Ulises. Even as I write, he is spending time with the men he is training to carry on the work he started three years ago, and is extending the work my husband left over thirty years ago.

Last month ended with our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast on January 29, where I challenged ladies to balance their lives. To the lost ladies, I spoke about the futility of balancing our sins with good works. Only Jesus can step in that side of the scale.

I’m afraid my mother-grandmother heart was revealed in this letter. You moms will agree with me, that our first and most important ministry is our home.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

"Doors"

“Set a watch, oh Lord, before my mouth;
keep the door of my lips.”
Psalm 141:3

I’m writing this at the beginning of the New Year, and I have just gone through my very favorite time of the year: Christmas.During that jolly season, my house was full of my children and their families:  24, to be exact. When I’d go into my bedroom and close my door, I would feel something akin to what the captain of an army must feel when he takes possession of a city. I would get this feeling of control over the situation. While I’m in my bedroom, alone, I can relax. This is my space. I can control everything in sight. It’s here that no one makes me angry; here I offend no one. I’m alone; at least while my door is closed. I can take a delicious nap, and while my door is closed, no one bothers me, because all the Mommies have warned my grandchildren: “Mimi is taking a nap. While her door is closed, don’t bother her.”

I’m inside my room, with my door closed. And I just expressed my feelings to you.

But what about my little ones? How must they feel when they get to their Mimi’s door, and see it closed? They know that sooner or later that barrier that separates us will be opened, and their Mimi will come out, and they can go in. But in the meantime, they must feel isolated from me, and I from them.

There are other doors in our lives that are invisible. Just like the ones we can see, they can be opened or closed; and we can find ourselves inside, or outside.

1.     
     The door of indifference. As wives, mothers, and grandmothers, and every other relationship a woman can have, at times we have the attitude, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me what you think, or what you need, or what you want.” Sometimes being left outside invisible doors is more painful than it is for my grandchildren to be outside my bedroom doorWe put barriers between us and those we love most. Our marriages and our homes have turned to ashes because of indifference. We all have problems. We need someone who will listen to us. But more than that…someone who cares about what is causing our pain, our fear, or our grief. Sometimes we simply need someone with whom we can share our joys and victories; our dreams and plans. Put yourself on the other side of the door of indifference that you have closed. What do you feel? Reproach? Rejection? Worthlessness? This is what others feel to whom you have shown indifference. We’re busy women, with pressures that our grandmothers, or even our mothers didn’t have. We don’t have time to sit down with our husband over a cup of coffee, and listen to his plans and his challenges. Our children scream at us: “LISTEN TO ME!” And indifference slams the door in their faces. I believe with all my heart that there are young people who take drugs, because when they came to Mom, wanting to talk and share their fears, they found the door shut in their faces. Mom didn’t care about the relationship with her daughter, because the potatoes were not done, and it was almost dinner time. She was more concerned about folding the laundry, than she was about her son who was silently crying, “Mom, I think I’ve gotten into trouble with some bad friends.” Open the door to your husband; invite your child to come into your space. Slam the door in the face of your appointments, and your weekly lunch with the girls, and keep the door open to your daughter.

2.
     The door of self-centeredness. Perhaps this door is the most difficult to recognize, because it is decorated with flowers and ribbons. Self-centeredness is sly. At times it takes on the form of heroism. But this door is thick; sometimes it’s made of iron. It may even have bars of protection. Inside this door lives the great “Me.” This door even has our name written on the outside, so that everyone can tell who’s inside. Pride and haughtiness reign insidethis door. The one who lives here separates herself from those who are not inside her own circle. Did you know there are other people in this world who do not belong to your family, or to your group of friends, or to your Church?Every week, someone appears at my door, usually a salesman selling things I will never buy; or asking for help I don’t have time to give. And because MY family and MYchildren don’t have a need, I turn them away. Ever have a boy rush up to your car while you’re stopped at a red light, offering to wash your windshield for a dime? They really bother me. They’re annoying. The best remedy for your self-centered closed door? Put yourself in the place of the person outside that door. Better still; put yourself in the place of the mother of that young man who rings your doorbell, wanting to sell you something you don’t need.Did you know he doesn’t really want to sell you something you need? He doesn’t care if you have Internet service or not; or that not one more skillet will fit in your cabinet. He has a need, and the only thing you can think about isYOUR need, and those inside YOUR door.

3.
     The door of self-sufficiency. This door, when it is closed, says to those outside, “I don’t need you. I can do everything.” Let me tell you something that I’ve learned in the 70 years that I’ve lived on this earth: I need people. I will never have too many friends. Every person that God puts in my path can be a blessing to me. Why are we that way? Why do we reject the help of others? By the way, teach your daughters while they’re young to let their brothers help them with the door, or to put on their coats, etc. This is the attitude that prevails today: I can do everything by myself, and I don’t need anyone. How many blessings have we missed because we refused the help and support of others? Just like the door of self-centeredness, inside this door reign self-sufficiency, pride, and haughtiness. We refuse to humble ourselves to the point where we must say, “I can’t do this alone. I need your help.”  Did you know that’s the reason a lot of people reject Christ? Jesus died for our sins. He gave His life on the cross in our place, but you’ve closed the door…the door of self-sufficiency, and you’ve said, “No, thank You. I can be good enough to go to Heaven. Or one of these days I’m going to fix my relationship with God so that He will take me to Heaven when I die. I don’t need the blood of Christ to cover my sins, because I am self-sufficient, and I don’t need a Savior.” Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,…” In another passage in Revelation 3:20 the Lord says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Since I’m writing this during the New Year, my personal prayer for myself this year is that I may learn and know more about God than I did last year. The lovely thing is that God also desires that more than I do. He’s ready. What’s more, He’s at the door, and He’s knocking.My Spanish Bible uses the word, “calling.”  What do you think He’s calling out? I imagine He’s saying my name. He’s calling out your name. Do you hear His voice? He will never force open the door. He calls out, but He won’t enter unless you invite Him to come in. And when you do, He’ll have dinner with you, and you’ll have dinner with Him.That means we’ll fellowship with Him. One of the most wonderful ways to get to know someone, and to visit with others is during a meal. Imagine having an invitation from the Lord to go out to dinner! How do we accept that invitation? We accept it by opening the door of our heart to Him; by laying aside our pride, our self-sufficiency, and our self-centeredness. Let me share a secret with you: when you and I open the door to Christ, whether to be saved, or to have fellowship with Him, He helps us to open other doors to our husband, to our children, and to those whom we love most, and who need us.  Have you closed the door to someone? Is someone you love, and who loves you outside that door? What about the Lord Jesus? Have you closed the door of your heart?

Let’s throw open some doors this year, and leave them open!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prayer Letter - December 2013

“For unto us a child is born,...” Isaiah 9:6

Are you pleased with what you did for the Lord this year? As we end 2013, looking back, I agree with the song writer, “I wish I had given Him more.” But what little I did get to do for the Lord is so satisfying, I hardly know how to begin to tell you.

Counting my blessings is so easy for me: the Lord gave me a darling little granddaughter, Mackenzie Grace, born to David and Jolene Sloan on November 22. “I pray the Lord will use your life in a wonderful way, Precious Princess.”

I’ll never forget the date of this year’s Banquet, which came on the day of Mackenzie’s birth. But besides that, this was the largest Banquet we have ever had, and when Pastor Henry González gave the invitation following the message and the clear plan of Salvation, seven precious ladies lifted their hands for salvation, two being leaders here in our city.

Another unexpected blessing: last year our Church opened a mission in the little town of San Lucas. The Lord seemed to have closed the door, there being no place to hold the services. But the wife of the former mayor there attended the banquet, along with her husband, Don Jorge. At the closing of the banquet, my son, Tommy, asked the mayor to come up on the platform with him. Don Jorge said, “Tonight I promise first God, and then Pastor Thomas, that if you will come back to San Lucas, I will provide a place for you to have services again.” I had personally prayed for San Lucas every morning, even though the door seemed to be closed. I am still rejoicing over answered prayer.

My weekly ladies’ Bible study in Dali’s home around the corner from my house is a blessing to me. One of the ladies who attend is a military wife, and she was able to accompany me to the Military Base here, and visit the General’s wife. And in my last class, a precious lady was saved!

What a joy it was for me to get to attend the first service in Xalapa, Veracruz, on October 6, where my son, Philip and his wife, Liz have started a church. The Lord is opening doors for what is sure to be a thriving work. God has laid a prison ministry on Philip’s heart. I pray every morning for that to be a big part of this new work.

Another first service was held in Berriozabal on November 1. Wilber and his wife Jessica have moved there, and made their home where God called them.

I can’t wait until my next prayer letter to let you know that after I finished this, little Gabriel Robert Joel was born to Philip and Liz on December 12. “Thank you, Lord, for my beautiful 39th grand-treasure!”

And thank you to my children, Ulises and Elizabeth, and the churches under his care for the 53rd Anniversary celebration of my living in México, 46 of those years as a missionary. They arranged for several of my out-of-town children to join in the celebration, and the ones who couldn’t attend called me during the service, while the ushers presented me with beautiful bouquets from each of them.

Undeserving as I am, I am thankful for honors lavished on me, as it shows how much I am loved. Not a word of complaint from you, Sloan, for the rest of your life!

Thankfully yours,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prayer Letter - October 2013

Just when you think your ministry has reached a plateau, the Lord opens another door of service. You will never hear me complaining about that. My hairdresser, who was saved at our Ladies’ Christmas Banquet last year, asked me to start a weekly ladies’ Bible study in her home. Please pray for this precious lady, and for the opportunity for us to serve the Lord together.

Radio Compasión (Compassion Radio) celebrated its First Anniversary on September 4, with an overflow attendance. The men put a tent outside the door, and with the loud speakers, no one missed the service and the message. We are already reaching into Central America.  Please pray for the Lord to provide the money to purchase the transmitter for the new tower addition to the network of Compassion Radio Ministry, located on top of Tzontehuitz Mountain.  I’m no technician by anyone’s standards, but I understand this will extend the broadcasting capacity to double, reaching many more states in México, and even further into Central America. This 24-hour a day ministry is bringing new people into almost every service. My son Tommy has trained a young man in our church, and he has almost completely taken over this amazing ministry.

I love my home, and hate having to leave, even for a few days. But I can’t deny the pleasure it gives me as a missionary/mother to be invited by my children to participate in their ministries. Going to Ixtapa once a month and teaching the ladies’ Sunday school class in Ulises and Elizabeth’s church is such an honor for me.

Philip and Liz are now in Xalapa, Veracruz. Xalapa is a beautiful college town, where Ulises obtained his degree as an architect. But it is also needy for the Gospel. Please pray that the Lord will open the door for them to begin a solid work there.

Our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfasts are mainly for the purpose of praying for the special ladies who will be honored at the Christmas Banquet in November. But the Lord also gives us surprise blessings each month. The mother of Erica, a young lady who died of cancer right after getting saved at our Banquet three years ago, was there for the first time. Please pray for Margarita to soon accept Jesus as her Savior.

Wilber was ordained a couple of weeks ago. He is the young man whom I mentioned in my last prayer letter. The Lord has laid it on his and his wife, Jessica’s hearts to start a new work about two hours from here.

We are in count-down mode as it is about a month away from our annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet, November 22. Lots to do, but everything seems to fall into place every year in time for this special event. Please keep that evening in your prayers.

I know I’ll have to edit some things out of this letter, because of its length, but it won’t be our service last Sunday. As part of Tommy’s birthday celebration, he invited the orphans who participate in our Banquet every year. Their pastor preached, and shared the tragic, incredible stories of some of the children. I listened through tears and was moved beyond words at the amazing work Pastor Carlos and his wife, Yara are doing with these precious children. I certainly want to have a part in this fruitful ministry.

Thank you for having a part in mine.
Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Windows"

I wrote this back in February, and I still need this lesson as much as I did back then...


“I made a covenant with mine eyes;”
Job 31:1

This morning, I’m enjoying my favorite time of the year. Here in my little town, in the month of February, we begin to enjoy the loveliest season, when we’re saying “Good Bye” to the cold winter days. When I get up in the mornings, I love opening the windows of my house. But I’ve noticed something here lately: they’re a little dirty. It’s time for me to begin my routine spring cleaning.

God has given us “windows.” What’s more, He’s put them in our bodies. They’re our eyes, and our ears. All kinds of information and knowledge enter through these “windows” of ours. People who are deaf or blind need to use different methods so that these “cloudy windows” can allow entrance to information and knowledge.

Have you ever considered how little control we have over these “windows” of our body? For example, maybe in your home you don’t listen to worldly music; it could be that you are careful with what you watch on TV. But if you go to the mall, and there is wild music playing there that isn’t pleasing to God, you can’t avoid its entering into your ears. Although we can close our eyes, at times there are images that suddenly pass before our eyes unexpectedly, leaving an unforgettable impression.

There’s a children’s chorus that goes something like this, “Be careful little eyes what you see…Be careful little ears what you hear…” Actually, that children’s song could be a prayer for us ladies. Just as the Psalmist David says in Psalm 141:3, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” it would be a good idea to do what Job did with his eyes in Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with mine eyes;”

Has it ever occurred to you how many images enter the windows of our eyes every hour? What we do with those images is what’s important. While there are things we can’t control, we can control the way we react to those images.

What do you do with the things you hear? While we can close the windows of our eyes, or look the other way, at times we have no control over the things that enter into the windows of our ears. By the way, have you noticed in the past months how many people use earphones? Could it be because they’re so considerate of others that they don’t want to be a bother? Or is it because they don’t want others to hear what they’re listening to? For example, ever seen anyone in Wal-Mart, or in line at the bank, or behind the wheel of a car talking and talking as if they were talking to themselves? No. They put these things into their ears, or hook them around them, so they don’t have to use their hands. That way they can drive without putting others in danger. Or they can load their shopping cart and talk at the same time on their phone. Those are just some observations I’ve made perhaps because I’m a little behind the times in modern technology. It still looks strange to me to see kids…and adults…be-bopping to the sound of nothing.

Through the windows of our eyes and our ears we receive much more information than we did ten or twenty years ago. That’s why we need to care for them more than before; we need to keep them cleaner.  It may even take more work, more time to be careful of what goes in.

I.                    The window of our ears. Now, it’s obvious that we should do certain basics to keep this window clean. You and I can control what we watch on TV, or inappropriate glances at men. But what about what you see on the Internet? I thank the Lord for modern technology, and what little I know about using it. But I must watch the time I spend in front of my computer screen. Usually, if you see me sitting at my computer (by the way, I’m writing this on a program called “Windows”) it’s because I’m working. 90% of my ministry consists of preparing lessons and answering e-mails. I have to discipline myself to turn on my computer. Sometimes when I’m going to make a short weekend Conference trip, I give myself a little vacation, and leave my laptop at home, because it represents my work, besides the fact that it’s a hassle to get it through airport security. There is a very well-known Web Site on the Internet where you can go and know, let’s say, what your friend on the other side of the world is doing at that precise moment. And double blessing if she’s your daughter or he’s your son! But I’m afraid that ladies who would never watch a soap opera, will spend time chatting, sharing gossip, instead of caring for her responsibilities as wife and mother. While I thank the Lord for this marvelous method of communicating, I’m afraid we know too much. My husband always said, “The less I know about someone, the better.” I sometimes think we ladies suffer illnesses that ten, twenty years ago, we didn’t even know existed. I’m amazed at the intelligence of some women. I was married to a pediatrician for 35 years, and I don’t know half the diseases my friends know, because they’ve investigated symptoms, remedies, and causes of diseases I’ve never even heard of. We know too much for our own good about things, even though maybe they’re important, or they don’t affect us, or maybe they do, but what do we gain by knowing them? What can we do to change them? The information we gain over the Internet worries us, stresses us out, and lets us know about things we’ll never be able to change. While I’m all for wisdom, and caring for our health, and going to the dentist twice a year, eating nutritious food, resting, etc.; and I agree that we should never ignore abnormal symptoms, we are traumatized by all this accumulation of knowledge. Supposedly the Internet should be a relaxing activity. But how many things did you see over the Internet today that brought you peace? Did something you see make you want to read your Bible more, or love your husband more, or be more faithful to church and to your responsibilities? Sometimes when I go to my computer I pray, “Lord, please don’t let me get any frightening news.” Be careful of the time you spend in front of your computer on the Internet. The windows of our eyes see things that cause covetousness. How easy it is to go shopping today without even leaving our home, without going to the bank to withdraw money, or even getting dressed! With one Click, we can put products in our shopping cart that if we had to go out, or hand over dollar bills, we would never purchase. We reserve tickets, hotels, cars, and cruises. All these details that I’ve observed about the Internet, we women who are in ministry are doing, the same as wives of laymen; women of affluence, as well as the college student who can barely pay her tuition. Technology has reached the most remote corners of the world. The culture where I live consists of Indians, farmers, simple people. But it’s very rare to see an Indian without a cell phone, and even cell phones have Internet access. By the way, do you know what your children are seeing in the messages they send and receive? Have you noticed that one of the qualities of the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 is that she watches over her family? Protect your children from things they shouldn’t see. While you are responsible for their physical growth and care while they’re small, you are also responsible for their spiritual growth if they still live in your house. Protect your husband. In Proverbs 31, the Virtuous Woman protects her family. Verses 15, 18, 21, and 27 suggest that she watches over her family. We see phrases like “She riseth also while it is yet night…” “her candle goeth not out by night.” “…all her household are clothed with scarlet.” and eateth not the bread of idleness.” These phrases tell us that she gets up early, and at times she stays up late. She’s concerned about the security of her family, and she’s not lazy. The Virtuous Lady of Proverbs cares for and protects her loved ones. I believe that if she lived in our days she would protect her husband and her children from cursing, and blaspheming, and music that dishonors God.  Our eyes are the windows which allow things to enter that affect our minds. Ask the Lord to put His angels around them.

II.                  The window of our ears. Perhaps this window is much harder to protect than the one of our eyes. It’s possible to close our eyes, or look the other way to avoid harmful things from entering. But what about our ears? Even though we might cover them up, we can’t completely avoid cursing, gossip, and jokes that might dishonor God, negative comments about our pastor, or music that is displeasing to the Lord. So, the only thing we can do is to be careful of the way we respond to these negative entries through the window of our ears. The sad thing is that many times they enter without warning. A few weeks ago I was on a plane. We were waiting to get off, and there was a group of men standing in the aisle beside my seat. They had visited my state here in Mexico. I’m ashamed to say that they were Americans. They were making inappropriate comments in English about the women here. There was absolutely nothing I could have done so that those comments didn’t enter the window of my ears. Perhaps they thought no one on the plane spoke English; but it’s most likely that they didn’t care if they offended bilingual ladies who were sitting close by. I have gotten on public transportation that had the radio on to a station that played English songs. The driver didn’t even know what the lyrics said. On occasions I’ve asked the driver to turn off the music, because it was offensive to me, and I didn’t want my teenage daughters who were with me to hear it. We should protest when it’s possible, as the Virtuous Lady would have done, to protect our windows, and those of our family. But besides the negative things that we can’t avoid, I’d like to focus on those we can control. For example, what do you do when a friend or a lady in the church comes to you with a bit of gossip? How can we respond to someone who starts to criticize our pastor, or our husband? Are you like a sponge, ready to absorb every drop of the delicious bad things of an acquaintance, or a friend? When someone starts to criticize the pastor, or his wife, do you jump at the chance to deposit your juicy news that you’ve been saving for just the right moment like this? What should we do when someone comes to us and starts criticizing or gossiping? There are three things we can do:

A)     Go get the person who is being criticized
B)      Defend her/him
C)      Turn around and leave the presence of the person who is putting garbage in the windows of your ears.

It is a wise woman who protects her eyes and her ears from material impurities. But even wiser that woman who protects the windows of the eyes and ears of impurities, not only her own, but also those of her husband and her children.

So come on, ladies, and do some spring cleaning with me, starting with our windows.