Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God Is So Good!

God is so Good!

God is so Good? If God is so Good, why did He allow me to be born into a home, where my father was a drunkard, and didn’t know God? God is so Good?

Yes, God is Good, because He gave me a mother who did love God, who prayed for my father, and read her Bible every night. God is so Good!

God is so Good?
If God is so Good, why did He allow my father to mock my mother and her Bible, and her God? God is so Good?

Yes, God is Good, because one day my father went to church, and accepted Christ as his Savior, and the God of my mother’s Bible. God is so Good!

God is so Good? Then why these doubts…these fears that I feel when my father explains to me that even though I’m only 8 years old, if I were to die in my sins, I’d go to hell? Does that show the goodness of God? Would a Good God condemn a little girl to hell?

Yes. But God is so Good, because Daddy read to me in the Bible that God loved me so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son to earth to die on the cross for my sins…in my place. He suffered death in my place, the death penalty for my sins so that I could have eternal life. God is so Good!

God is so Good? Would a Good God take my parents to Mexico, when in the middle of my teen years, when I was sixteen years old, I had to leave my friends, my school, my church, and my country to go to a strange land, whose language I didn’t understand, and whose customs were as different as the food and the people? God is so Good?

Yes, God is Good, because, although at times in my rebellion, little by little God let me learn Spanish, the customs, and even to love the Mexican people. And He put a desire, a call into my heart to spend the rest of my life serving the people of Mexico. God is so Good!

God is so Good? Why would he want me to serve Him alone? I was 24 years old, and not one man had appeared in my life who wanted to serve God the way I wanted to serve Him, where I wanted to serve Him. God is so Good?

Yes. God is Good, because I decided to serve God with or without a husband. God Who is so Good, gave me peace!

…and also a husband. God is so Good for sending me a husband…the man of my dreams, Tom Sloan!
God is so Good!

God is so Good? Then why did He allow Tom to suffer the last 24 years of his life from Parkinson’s disease? Why was he so limited in his medical profession? God is so Good? Then why did He take him away from me? Why did He take him to Heaven? Why couldn’t we spend our last years on earth together? Couldn’t we have served Him better together? Couldn’t he have served God better with good health?

It’s been six years now since he left, and I ask myself, “Why? Why? Why? Why so many abortions? Why so many divorces? Why so much crime? Why so many broken hearts and broken vows? Why so many abandoned children, and abused women? Why is a little nine year-old girl dying of cancer?

Could it be there are moments…instants when God ceases to be Good?
No, no! A thousand times No!
God allows sickness, and sorrows, and poverty, and abandoned children, and cancer in little ones to draw us closer to Him, so that He can show us His love and His mercy and His grace.
It’s when we suffer most that we need more of His love and His comfort.
The greater the heartache, the more of His grace and His presence I need. The more I have to depend on Him.
I give Him my sorrow, and He gives me His joy.
I give Him my battles, and He gives me His victory.
I give Him my anxieties, and He gives me His peace.
I give Him my sins, and He gives me His forgiveness.
God is so Good?
Yes, God is so Good!

December 2010 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,

As I write this letter, I am beginning what will be a new adventure for me: a furlough. Because my son, David, and his wife, Jolene and their three children are in America for the birth of their 4th child, and will be returning to Ukraine in March, I have decided to spend some of this time with them. But I would also like to present my work to your church if you think I could be a blessing to you.

Over 36 years ago, my husband and I moved with our three small sons to a little village called Ixtapa. It was there that we actually started our mission work, and the training of Indian pastors. After 32 years, God has laid it on my son in law, Ulises’ heart to return to this town to begin a new work. He and Elizabeth, my daughter, go every Saturday to hand out tracts and evangelize. Not only have they seen many souls saved, they have received an invitation to start a church there. Please pray for the progress of this work.

The theme of our 12th annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet this year was “God is So Good.” My son, David, did a wonderful job preaching, and when the invitation was given, there were four saved, including a congresswoman, and the sister of a former first lady. We also celebrated the fifty years of God’s goodness and blessings to me after having arrived in México in 1960 with my parents and three brothers. I’m thankful for the honor of getting to live in México for most of my life, and am grateful to the Lord for calling me to be a missionary.

I am including an essay I wrote and read during the program, and I hope it will convey to you the gratitude I feel in my heart, and which I pray will encourage you to be thankful during this wonderful time of the year, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

May God’s riches blessings be yours as you begin a New Year.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Between You and Me / The Power of Negative Thinking

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and there be any praise, think on these things.”
Philippians 4:8

My husband and I bought our first Van after all eight of our children were born. So with our pickups and our Suburban our front seats were not divided. Not until several years after our youngest was born did we buy our first vehicle that had a divided front seat. So for almost half of our married years, I was able to sit next to my husband when he would drive. If you’re under thirty years old, you probably can’t relate to the past few sentences.

We raised our children before the strict safety laws were passed. So we always had a baby in the front with us. Although it would have been very practical to have placed our little one between the two of us, my husband would always put the seat or bed by the door, so I could sit next to him. He was very particular about there being nothing between him and me.

That was also an important principle in our marriage. There should never be anything between a husband and wife, in order for there to be a sweet relationship.

In a few days my children and I will be remembering that Sunday afternoon six years ago, when my husband went to Heaven. Now that I’m a widow, I find myself becoming more aware of things that come between the Lord and me…things that make it harder for me to feel His presence. When I become negative in my thinking, it’s hard for me to sense His nearness.

As I prepare this lesson, I find myself in a lovely hotel room, with an adjoining room where my son, David, and his wife, Jolene, and their three children are staying. I will be traveling with them, as they visit churches in America for the next few months, before their return to Ukraine, where they serve as missionaries. If you really want to spend quality time with someone, go on a road trip with them. One thing that impresses me most about my son is his positive thinking. I’ve observed many obstacles during this trip, which included a cross-country trip through Mexico. But he refuses to give up, or give in to little setbacks. And there’s power in that kind of thinking. Positive thinking achieves goals.

There was a book out several years ago called The Power of Positive Thinking. I never read it, but without even opening it, one can imagine the teaching of the author.

But there’s also power in negative thinking. I’ve experienced it recently, as I’ve had such thoughts as: “I’m not going to have enough money, I’m going to run out of time, and I’m not going to get this lesson ready by my deadline.”

So I’ve come up with a little remedy: as we were traveling along today, I was having such negative thoughts. They began to cloud my mind, and my disposition. So I just imagined myself sitting at a big desk, in a lovely room, leisurely working on this lesson. And immediately I felt my spirit brighten, and the Lord lifted my burden.

And here I am.

When I prepare my lessons, I must keep a positive attitude. Sometimes I have to psyche myself up by thinking, “Someone needs this. This is going to be a blessing to someone today. This may even change someone’s life, or even save their marriage.”

It’s more fun to be positive than to be negative. For example, if you’re a homemaker, just imagine yourself standing in your laundry room surrounded by piles of dirty laundry. You can either lie down on top of the clothes, and cry yourself to sleep in a fit of depression. Or you can close your eyes and imagine those clothes washed and folded in nice organized stacks. That’s a great motivator, also, to get busy and do something about our challenges.

There is an element of faith to thinking positively. You have to learn to trust. Trust the Lord to supply time you don’t have, strength you don’t possess, or money you lack in order to carry out your responsibilities and commitments. That’s what Salvation is all about. If you don’t trust the Lord to supply the faith that you lack in order to believe in His death, burial, and resurrection, you can’t be saved.

Positive thinking isn’t a humanistic approach to living. It’s a biblical principal. In Philippians 4:4-8, Paul tells us that our attitude has a lot to do with our relationship with the Lord. We can either rejoice, or complain. We have the choice to trust, or to worry; we can grumble, or be thankful; we can always be telling others about our problems, or we can tell them to the Lord. When we choose the positive options, we have peace with God, and therefore our relationships with others are what they should be. I’m not making this up. That’s what Paul is telling us.

Did you know negative thinking can affect your health? I’m told that many people who have stomach ailments are worriers. Many, many years ago when my husband and I first moved to San Cristóbal, we became acquainted with a precious couple who were quite a bit older than we were. We would get so amused at them. Hubby was a happy-go-lucky sort of fellow, and enjoyed eating right off the carts of the Indian street vendors in our little mountain valley home. He never was sick. His wife, however, was always sick. She would prepare “bugs” which I believe amounted to yogurt that she would consume in ample amounts in order to “keep the bacteria away.” She would come to my young husband, being the only American doctor in town, and he would kindly prescribe medication for her stomach upsets, and lovingly and patiently give her advice to calm her tummy woes. But later he’d smile as he’d tell me, “If she’d just go out to dinner every once in a while with her husband, and eat what he eats and relax, she wouldn’t have that trouble.”

At the risk of sounding pious, my desire is for everything I do to be part of what produces God’s perfect plan for my life. So when I doubt and fear that I will lack anything in order to carry out that plan, whether it is money, strength, time, wisdom, health or protection, I’m building a wall between the Lord and me. Doubt is the opposite of faith; fear is the opposite of trust; and doubt and fear produce negative attitudes and negative thoughts.

Negative thoughts are exhausting; thinking positively energizes and motivates.

Negative thinking never makes dreams come true; negative thinking destroys.

Negative attitudes are powerful enough to make a child fail in his studies, and negative thinking makes for unreached goals.

Do you think your husband’s plan to start his own business is a lot of nonsense? Imagine him as an important CEO. Negative thinking can destroy a marriage, because it longs for encouraging words from its mates.

Do you have a child who is failing in Math? Encourage him as if he were making straight A’s. A child’s confidence is torn down by the power of a mother’s negative thinking.

I pray this prayer every morning: “Lord, help me to be a blessing to those around me.” But when I have a negative attitude, I affect others in a negative way.

However, the greatest damage my negative thinking does is to shadow the presence of God in my life. And just between you and me…

I don’t want that to happen.