Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy New Year from my daughter's family

My daughter Ruth, with her husband Steve and six children:  Steven, Abigail, Elisabeth, Benjamin, Levi and Caleb:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Prayer Letter - December 2011

JOHN 3:16

Dear friends and loved ones,

Because I write this "prayer letter" to you every two months, each morning, during my quiet time, I write down things concerning my ministry that I feel might be a blessing and an encouragement to you.  This helps me to better focus, for the most part, on the positive things in my life.  Any negative report to you is so that you can know better how to pray for me.

Looking over my list of "things to report" during the months of October and November, I see nothing but positive!  And at just 6 days away from my 68th Birthday, I'd say "that's just like God."  I would like to "brag on God," as my husband, who has been in Heaven now for seven years, used to say.

Two of my grandsons, Josh and Sam, were saved and baptized during the month of October.  These two little brothers are blessed to have parents like Philip and Liz, who have trained them in the ways of the Lord.  What a blessing it is to go to one of Ulises and Elizabeth's three churches once a month and teach their ladies' Thursday Bible classes!  They will soon be moving the church in Ixtapa out to the property that God has provided for them, and where their orphanage will be located.  Souls continue to be saved through their hospital ministry, and one Sunday I was privileged to watch as he baptized a young military sergeant and his wife.  Lety was among the six military wives we honored at our Banquet this year.  Each lady received a long-stem rose and a Bible.

What an honor it was to be part of the Spanish Ladies' Spectacular in Hammond, IN, this year!  Pastor DeAnda and Ellie treated me like a queen.  My daughters, Sarah, Anna, and Ruthie with baby Caleb added a "family reunion/girls-time-out" flavor as we made unforgettable memories.  Thank you, Pastor, for helping to provide this for us.

On November 16, my son, Tommy and his wife, Mona, and their five children arrived.  They have rented a house, and plan to start a Christian radio ministry.  They're already involved in every part of the work here.

It is a joy to see little souls saved in my Saturday children's classes.  Keeps me young, too!  Remember Jesús, the father of the little girl who was killed down the street from our class?  He was recently saved in Ulises' church!  Thank you for your prayers.

Every month new ladies are attending, and being reached with the Gospel through our ladies' prayer breakfasts.  This ministry is actually for the purpose of praying for our annual Ladies' Christmas Banquet, and all the First Ladies of our town, as well as neighboring towns.  We encourage these special ladies to attend, so they can hear their names called out in prayer.

At this year's banquet, we set a record attendance of 98 ladies, including five First Ladies.  For the first time we honored military wives.  There were six present.  Pastor James Merlo did a splendid job preaching a very clear salvation message.  I'm happy to report that there were seven ladies saved, including two First Ladies, and two military wives.  One of these ladies was at church on Sunday with her sergeant husband.  Thank you for your prayers.  We're already making big plans for November 16, 2012's Banquet.

Another unexpected result of our banquet this year was the salvation of Javier.  Javier was a waiter in a restaurant where our family used to eat out when our children were all at home, many years ago.  He has since been appointed to serve as City Councilman.  This summer I was privileged to win his daughter to the Lord.  She attended our Banquet this year for the first time, and was so touched by the presentation of the orphans we invite every year, that she convinced her (in her words) "hard-hearted Dad" to accompany her to the orphanage in the nearby town.  Because of his position in our city, she wanted him to see if there was anything he could do to help these children.  She said he melted, as the children sang and quoted Scriptures for them.  But the clincher was when one of the little girls crawled up into his lap.  It was easy for Pastor Carlos, the head of the orphanage, to then win Javier to the Lord!

I've talked too long, but as I look back over my letter, wondering what I could possibly leave out, I tell myself, "How could I ever brag too much on the Lord?"

Your friend, who wishes you all of God's blessings as we approach a New Year!

Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Swallowed Up

“…lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”
II Corinthians 2:7

I’m writing this at 8:59 Monday morning. Earlier, I was thinking about two ladies who were not in my Sunday school class yesterday. They form part of the “pillars” of our church, and part of my personal “support group.” You know what I’m talking about…the ladies who always have a sweet word of encouragement, and who leave you feeling like you can make it, after all.

Both of my sweet friends “reported in” sick. And I’m sure they were. They both have serious health problems. But I believe at the root of even their physical problems lies an ailment common to most women: depression. I’m afraid when “my” ladies woke up yesterday morning, they were “swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”

Did you ever want to go to sleep and not wake up? Did you ever wake up, and (like my friend said yesterday) “don’t have the strength to sit up?”  Be careful! You may be on the verge of being swallowed up.

I love teaching children. And one of my favorite stories is Jonah and the whale. You can make all kinds of dramatic effects. Just let your wild imagination carry them down into the belly of the whale…the slime, and darkness, and stink. Does that describe what you’re feeling this morning?

We’re going into the most joyous season of the year, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’m already looking forward to having half of my children, and fifteen of my grandchildren here. I love sitting in bed early in the morning after prayer, and reading my Bible, and sipping my coffee, while planning all the things I want to do for those whom I love most of all on earth. But guess what! I’m also preparing my heart and mind to stay in tune with God. With His help, I won’t go into a fit of depression as I stand in the middle of the street, and wave to them until their Van gets out of sight.

I plan to have a lot to do after Christmas (not to mention the extra cleaning), preparing material for the publishing of a book, getting ready for a new ladies’ ministry. I don’t plan to cancel my ladies’ soul winning afternoon. Quite the contrary, I’m planning something very special for my ladies, who faithfully come out, rain, shine, cold or hot, to knock doors, or go to the park and witness and hand out tracts.

When the jaws of depression lunge toward me, I’ll shut its mouth, and refuse to be “swallowed up.”

How am I going to do this?

  1. I’ll determine with myself. That’s what Paul did. He may have thought about all he had suffered, beatings, imprisonment, cold, hunger, and perhaps he was tempted to go into a fit of depression. But all alone, away from everyone else, Paul said, “I determined this with myself.” David did the same thing in I Samuel 30:6 “…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” He encouraged HIMSELF. “David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him.” When the pressures of life, and sorrows come, get alone and determine with yourself that you’re not going to forget the blessings of God. Realize that Satan is the great “discourager” of the believer. He takes it on himself to see that you forget the wonderful things that God has given you, and done for you, and he makes you focus on the negative. In order to determine with yourself, include God. Get alone every day, preferably in the morning, and open your heart to Him. Tell Him your burdens, and do like Daniel did: “Daniel purposed in his heart.” Daniel 1:8
  2. I won’t let my unhappy circumstances affect my mood, because my mood affects those around me. Paul said, “…I make you sorry,…” There are people whose presence brings a cloud into the room. Don’t ever think that you don’t affect others. We should bring joy into people’s lives, especially our family, those who live closest to us. Don’t let your sad mood reach those around you. Paul said he didn’t want to go to the Corinthians “in heaviness.” He knew his mood would affect others.
  3. I won’t stop going to church, like my friends did yesterday. In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, they repented of their sins. Sometimes our sin can be depressing. Two things that will help you more than anything else to overcome your sin, and come out of your depression are: daily Bible reading, and the preaching of the Word of God. Without those two elements in your life, it’s going to be hard to crawl out of the jaws of depression. The reason is simple: the reading of God’s Word, and its preaching are the two things that God uses to reveal our sins. Every morning before I read my Bible I pray this prayer: “Lord, speak to me through Your Word, and help me to be obedient to it. Help it to convict me, comfort me, and guide me, and show me a truth I’ve never seen before. Amen.” I pray that very same prayer when I leave my house to go to church, asking God to help the preaching of His Word to do the same thing.

It’s easy for me to be in a good mood, and to be happy when I’m feeling good, and when I have money, or when the sun comes out. But what about the day when I don’t have good health or money, or when it’s raining? I know ladies who don’t have a lovely ministry like mine. For them, it’s a privilege just to have their lost husbands give them permission to attend church, much less teach a class, or sing in the choir. They have no hope of ever having a ministry, outside ministering to their family. What can I say to those precious ladies whose children have turned their backs on God, and on everything she has taught them?

  1. Focus on others. You can always find someone less fortunate than you. No matter how much you’re convinced that there is no one else who suffers like you do, there is. Look for her or him. Ask God to put them in your path so that you can be a blessing to them.
  2. If possible, try not to associate with negative people, those who always see the bad in everything and in everyone. When I become critical and negative, it’s usually because I’ve lost my focus on the positive things God has done for me. I’m not satisfied with my work, so I blame others. Look for those people who love the Lord, and who have a purpose in life. Remember, just like depression is contagious, joy is also contagious.
  3. Praise the Lord. Psalm 67:3 and 5 say “Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.” Just as we love hearing our husband and children express their appreciation for us, so does God. Have you told Him today that you love Him, and are thankful for the wonderful things He’s done for you? Can’t think of anything? Has He saved you? What a wonderful Salvation is yours! Tell Him how grateful you are for His sacrifice of love.
  4. Don’t forget that God loves you. Do like Mrs. Cindy Schaap does, and look for ways He tells you, “I love you” every day. When you see the sunrise, tell Him, “I see Your love.” Walk out to your garden, and smell the lovely fragrance, and tell Him, “I smell Your love, Lord.” From now on, when you drink your favorite beverage, say “I taste Your love.” When you hear your private concert of birds singing in your back yard, tell Him, “I hear Your love.” When you feel the warmth of your favorite blanket, say “I feel Your love, God.” He loves you more than anyone on earth could love you. He loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins.
  5. “This too shall pass.” That’s not a quote from the Bible, but it’s true. Nothing is permanent. Nothing lasts forever, and neither will your situation last forever. Sometimes things, situations that God brings into our lives are to test us. Be faithful. Don’t give up. Divorce, suicide, abandoning our children or our responsibilities never, never solves anything. Quite the contrary, that can complicate life, and hinder God from getting the glory in the midst of your affliction. Trust the Lord. Everything is in His hands; He’ll carry you safely to the other side. Remember, the sun will shine again.
  6. Place yourself in the Divine Potter’s hands. There are times when God allows us to pass through great trials and sorrows in order to conform us to His image, to mold us, and to make us the person He wants us to be. Sometimes He sends trials so we can comfort others who will someday go through the same thing we’re suffering. Let the Great Potter mold you, so that you can be a blessing to others.

Friday, November 4, 2011

"In the Potter's Hands"

Prayer Request List for our 13th Annual Ladies' Christmas Banquet
November 28, 2011

1. Wisdom and discernment in all the plans and decisions to be made.

2. Extra strength for the girls and me as we plan and make preparations.

3. For our Lady City Mayor, Cecilia Flores, to be able to attend, as well as First Ladies of neighboring towns.

4. For the wives of the former mayors, and military wives to be able to attend.

5. For extra finances for the cost of the Banquet, Hotel reservations, and plane reservation for our guest speaker.

6. Preparation of the special music, and choice of each song.

7. For our guest speaker, Pastor James Merlo, as he prepares his message for the evening, and for liberty as he preaches.

8. For the Hotel staff to be reached with the Gospel.

9. That the Lord would prepare the hearts of the ladies who will be attending, and for many to be saved, who will be an influence to others. We have had ladies saved in every banquet for the past ten years, including two former First Ladies.

10. For wisdom for my son in law, Ulises Martínez, our Banquet administrator.

Note: This Banquet is an annual affair, and will be attended by ladies, who for the most part are unsaved, and who either because of religious preferences, or pressures from home, do not attend our Church. The Lord laid these dear ladies on my heart several years ago, and I am as burdened for them as I am for the ladies in my Sunday School Class.

Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chapter 12 - "Memories of Mother"

It would only seem fitting, in a book about my “kids” to include a chapter about my Mother. And today as I thought about her on what would have been her 91st birthday, I felt a wave of inspiration, as I combed my hair and wept over her memory.

In order to convey my emotions, and why I’m feeling this way, let me set the atmosphere: I’m all alone in a house that once vibrated with the happy noise of eight children. One of my favorite memories of my children, now scattered all over Mexico, and the rest of the world, oddly enough include Daddy and Mother, and their annual visits every Christmas. Against the desires of my brothers, they preferred road trips to flying. They loved each other probably more in their final years of marriage than they did when they were newlyweds. Rarely did anything (outside the death of Daddy) separate them. So these road trips across México, literally from the northern part to the “uttermost” as I used to call the southern-most state of México, served as a get-away for the love birds, stopping at their leisure, and leaving usually before daylight.

But now I’m alone this morning with my thoughts and emotions and tears. They’re both in Heaven, but this being the celebration of Mother’s birthday, I’ll write about her.

I attribute my emotions this morning to my personality. If you know me now, what I’m about to say is going to surprise you: I was a little introvert when I was a child, and even as a teenager, I was shy and a bit insecure, probably because during the crucial years of my teens, until I was 16, I was a “preacher’s kid,” and the “normal” kids at school never let me forget that.

But my earliest memory of the manifestation of my tender emotions was the day Johnny (his real name, honest!) passed me a note. We were in second grade, and back in those days, you were 7 years old and just learning to read. (There were no kindergartens! Mommies stayed home with babies, instead of carting them off to daycare, or “professionals” who are paid to do what old fashioned, stay at home moms should have the joy of doing. Who cared that Susie was 5 and still couldn’t read. That’s what bedtime and Mommies were for.) So imagine my delight when I opened the sheet of paper, and read, “LOOK. Love, Johnny.” And drawn in the middle of the two “o’s” were two eyeballs. So I looked back at him, and he threw me a kiss.

Unfortunately, the teacher also looked up at that precise moment.

This story would be totally irrelevant, except for what happened next, and my response: She made us stay in during recess. My little tender heart was broken, and I began to weep. I had never, never been punished in the entire two years of my attending school, and had never even been called down because of bad conduct. I cried all the way through recess, and I’m sure my teacher thought twice before she punished another little girl.

But through my tears, and my broken heart, visions of Mother came to my mind…at home caring for my little brother, hanging out clothes, and I had broken her heart. I would be a shame and a disgrace to her, and a huge disappointment. I longed for her to be there with me, so I could feel her arms around me, and tell me everything was going to be all right. How dare that teacher hurt my mother like that! I almost hated Johnny for breaking her heart. Mean ole Johnny, mean ole teacher! I was ready to go home, and I wanted my Daddy to come for me.

That childish emotion is exactly the one I felt this morning when I was thanking the Lord for giving me a wonderful Mother…thoughts of how I had hurt her. “She’s in Heaven, and I can imagine her being so happy with Daddy and Jesus. Does she know what’s going on down here on earth? Do saints who have gone before us know of earthy things? And I wept and wept. When she was here, her children were her joy and her delight. We’re what made her get up every morning after Daddy went to Heaven. Our visits were the highlight of her year, and would it break her heart to know the times I’ve done things that would have broken her heart, were she here?

“Dear God! Are my children going to do things after I’ve gone that would break my heart if I were here? What can I do now to make sure that what they do isn’t just to make me happy, and once I’m gone they’ll change?”

Am I living in a gilded cage, thinking that they love each other? That they love me? That they love the Lord?

What could I have done differently when they were little to avoid the conflicts between adult children?

I don’t know.

Raising children, good children, is a lot like Salvation: it’s all by grace, not of works lest any Mom should boast.

So I sit here this morning, remembering Mother, and the godly heritage she left my brothers and me, and our children, and our grandchildren, loving and serving the Lord, and I think, “She must have done something right.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chapter 11 - "When They Don't Call You Blessed"

I hope this book would not sound “preachy” or even “teachy.” But looking back over my years as a mom, and the things I’ve gone through, I feel sorta like a person who has survived cancer, who knows what made me whole, and who must share that remedy with others; and to fail to do so would be a sin, or at the least heartless.

And since I’m writing a book, I must discipline myself to sit down at appointed times, and ask the Lord to help me share some experience in my life that is publish-worthy. If I weren’t writing a book, I probably would never have the opportunity of sharing these things with you. As I prayed while writing my book, Tom and Me, I must ask the Lord to help me to be open and honest without being indiscreet. As I write this very difficult chapter, I’ve already prayed that prayer. So here goes…

There are Scriptures in the Bible that I will never understand, although I’ve searched through commentaries, taken notes in every sermon I’ve ever sat through…unless, of course I was in Ukraine. I don’t speak Russian, and even if I did, I could never write what I understand.

Two of those verses are Proverbs 31:28, “Her children arise up and call her blessed;” and Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Based on my belief that the Bible is the Word of God, and it should be the foundation on which we build our lives, our marriages, and yes, train our children, I cannot deny either one of those Scriptures.

But I don’t understand them, and I won’t even try to explain them.

One of the hardest questions I am asked is: “How can I raise my children to serve the Lord?” So my answer is usually this: “If your children serve the Lord, it’s by the grace of God.”

And I tell you, Mom, the same: You raise children just like you do anything else. You read your Bible every day, be faithful in church, be submissive to your husband, and ask the Lord to help you meet the challenges of the day, which include those of being a mom. Just do right, and trust the Lord to make of those children what He would have them to be.

When children don’t call their moms blessed, which to me means serving her God; and when they DO indeed depart from the way they should go, does this mean that:
1) She’s not a virtuous woman?
2) She didn’t train them in the way they should go?

I don’t know. I won’t attempt to answer those questions. But believe me, I’ve been there, and I’m going to suggest some things first of all for the mother of young children, and then for moms who are there right now. Your teenager or your adult children have turned their backs on God, although they were raised in church, and you’ve done your best to train them in the ways of the Lord.

It’s easy to see why the sons of David and Eli didn’t call their fathers “blessed.” They made so many mistakes. We’re not going to mention their role as fathers, but if you like, you could read I Samuel 4, and II Samuel 12, and see the children of these men of God. David and Eli were successful in many areas of their lives, except in the most important one. We don’t have to ask ourselves why their sons didn’t serve God, why they were murderers, why they committed the lowest sins. The reason is obvious when we study the lives of these two fathers.

But I personally know women who are much better mothers then I am. They seem to be the Virtuous Woman herself described in Proverbs 31:10-31, and yet their children don’t serve the Lord.

I don’t have all the answers, but without being “preachy” here goes:

I. Mommie #1: You know all there is to know about mothering. You think this is easy. “If I just make it through potty-training; through homeschooling or homework; just wait until they leave for college…” I’ve been there, secretly planning my post-baby days. Come on, don’t tell me you never look at a motherless woman, and long for her freedom. The thoughts of getting to eat everything on your plate when you go out to eat; going to bed at night, and knowing that the next sound you hear will be that of your alarm clock, and not, “Mommie, I gotta…” I’ve been there, and it’s no fair that I can’t write this book and be self-righteous, if you can pretend you’ve never had thoughts like that. But there is one huge advantage you have over us older moms whose children have already left home: you still don’t get phone calls that turn your life upside down. You lie down at night, and know your baby is in the next room. You still have control over what she puts into her mouth, his playmates, and what he wears. So what can you do so that someday that child will rise up and call you blessed? What can you do to make sure, or at least do your part, to create a desire in the little one to serve the God you love?

There are at least two fathers in the Bible, whose children rebelled against them; these were wonderful fathers.

The story of the first Father Whose children didn’t call them “Blessed,” is found in Genesis 2:16 and 17, and He was God Himself. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God placed boundaries. The word “commanded” indicates that there were certain rules for man. He was the perfect Father. He made the first man and the first woman perfect. But they didn’t make Him happy. They didn’t bless Him. They disobeyed Him. God protected them, by placing boundaries around them in the beautiful Garden of Eden. He gave them some orders, and they disobeyed them. We should place boundaries around our children when they’re small. Just as God had to punish His children, taking them out of the Garden of Eden, we must punish our children while they’re still young, when they go outside the boundaries we have set for them. When a mother lets her child do anything he wants to do, she is preparing him to rebel against authority…his teachers at school, the policeman, the pastor, and God Himself. It’s much harder for a child who is rebellious, who has always been allowed to have her way, to one day accept Christ than for that child who has been taught to obey, and to respect authority. And consequently, that could be the reason for his some day not “calling you blessed.”

II. Mommie #2: that’s me, and you if your children are teenagers or adults.
The second father we find in the Bible whose son didn’t call him “blessed” is found in Luke 15:11-32. What we learn from him, we can observe in verse 20. “And he arose, and came to his father, But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

A. When your child doesn’t call you blessed, turning their back on God, keep the lines of communication open. Never allow open sin, or a lifestyle unpleasing to God under your roof. But never, never close the door of your house, much less of your heart to your child. This father didn’t require his son to repent before he took him back. He was waiting for him. Never allow sin to be committed in your house, but precious Mom, when you say to your son or to your daughter, “I won’t speak to you until you return to God,” or “Until you confess your sin, and serve God, you can’t come into my house,” you’re hindering the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, to work in his heart. This could be the cause for their hardening their heart, and could even lead to suicide or to committing worse sins than those he is guilty of now. Your son knows you don’t approve of his lifestyle; your daughter knows the grief she’s causing you; they know they’re breaking God’s heart. You don’t need to place barriers between them and you in order for them to know that you don’t approve of their sin. Open your arms and your heart to that wayward son, your rebellious daughter; don’t reject them.

B. When your children don’t call you blessed, turn them loose. This might seem like a contradiction to the previous point, but it’s not. While you should open the doors of your house and your heart, wait until they knock. The father in our story didn’t go looking for his son. He left him alone, so that in God’s time he would return. In many cases, it’s best not to call your son, don’t send your daughter messages, or e-mails. She knows where you are; your son is the one who left, not you. Don’t tread where only the Holy Spirit can work. Don’t try to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Give Him all the space He needs.

C. When your children don’t call you blessed, bathe them in prayer. Commit your children to the Lord many times a day. Don’t you think this father prayed throughout the day for his son? I think he did. I believe he prayed believing, and he expected the Lord to answer his prayers, because apparently he knew the moment he returned. Probably every day he went out to watch the road that led to his house, and while he watched, he prayed. While he walked, he prayed. While he ate, he prayed. While he worked, he prayed. You don’t have time to pray? Do it while…every time you go to the bathroom, kneel down and pray for your child. Pray while…you wash dishes; while…you iron; while….you wait for the red light, or in the doctor’s office. While…you make your bed. If he’s far away from you, ask the Lord to put good people in his path, a Christian, a pastor, a missionary who will encourage your son or your daughter. Ask Him to keep all the bad people out of his path, all the negative people far from him. Pray believing that God will bring your child back to Him. I believe that father prayed believing. He wasn’t surprised when he saw him, even though he was still afar off.

D. It may sound strange, but sometimes our children don’t call us blessed because of our own sins. Do you have unconfessed sins? Is there something that isn’t consistent with your life at church and at home? Are you real? Are you transparent? Are you consistent? Do you criticize the preacher, and then call on him to counsel your daughter? If you criticize him in front of your children, why do you expect them to listen to him? If you’re a young mother, your children haven’t turned their backs on God. But prepare yourself for the day when you may be shedding tears over a rebellious son, a daughter who has dishonored you, who doesn’t call you blessed. I never prepare my lessons with a haughty spirit. I’ve never considered myself the authority on child rearing. Quite the contrary, when I prepare my lessons, most of the time it’s because I need to apply what I teach. Once a year I take spiritual inventory on Mother’s Day. When my children were small, I asked the Lord to show me anything that could be a hindrance for my children to serve Him. But now that they’re married, I still ask Him to help me to be the mother in law my sons in law need in order to be the husbands and fathers my daughters and grandchildren need them to be. I ask Him to help me to be the example of what a mother in law should be to my daughters in law, so that they can be the wives and mothers my sons and grandchildren need them to be. Every morning I pray this prayer for myself: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Prayer Letter - August 2011

4 year-old Camila, whose mom I led to the Lord, waits to receive her diploma from VBS.

Dear Friends and Family,

Just when I think my ministry responsibilities have reached their limit, God puts another “opportunity” in front of me.

A few months ago, God sent a young couple to our church. He was saved several years ago, but she is a new Christian. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as spending time with newborn babes in Christ, and Yessica is as vibrant a new Christian as I’ve ever been around. But more than that, she and Wilber are the reason for my brand new ministry: They’ve invited me to teach in their Bible Club in their neighborhood, and last Saturday at their second meeting, there were 98 in attendance, and 15 children were saved. It’s a delight to watch many of those children file into church on Sunday mornings as they bring them in on their van route. Do I have time to squeeze one more activity into my already full schedule? “Mom, we can take turns teaching if you like,” Anna offered. My response? “I love this, and I don’t want to give it up!”

Working with children keeps me young…or at least, thinking I’m young! Vacation Bible School…my 27th, since we started in our living room many years ago…saw a high attendance of 174, with a total of 31 professions of faith. I taught children this year, whose parents I taught many years ago.

But I still have a tender heart toward the ladies in my Sunday school class, and our ladies’ monthly prayer breakfasts. It has been my delight to have won three ladies to the Lord in our church, and I sometimes wonder if those ladies would have had more years to offer to the Lord had they been saved in someone’s children’s class when they were little girls.

June 12 was a Red Letter Day for our Church here, as we dedicated the land purchased for our building. Please pray for the Lord to provide for its construction, as we are rapidly out-growing our present facilities.

The month of June also included a trip to Chicago, where I spoke six times in Spanish at a Family Conference. Upon my return, Ulises and Elizabeth picked me up at the airport, and I took a sentimental journey to Ixtapa, where I attended their services the next day. I even made a new surrender to the Lord, to go anywhere He wanted me to go. So precious were the memories made more than thirty years ago…I could close my eyes and almost see a young doctor and his little family headed out to a village in their pickup to share the Gospel. Please pray for this “new” work, which actually began more than 37 years ago.

I ask you to start praying for our Annual Ladies’ Banquet which will take place on November 18. But you can do more than that: Pastor Corders, and the good people of Amistad Baptist Church in Del Rio, TX, have already asked me where to send their check. This is what I told him: Make it payable to Windsor Hills Baptist Church for Billie Sloan Banquet. Am I being presumptuous? Take it from one who knows: You can’t out-give God!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One of a Kind!

“...that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
I Corinthians 1:10

Most family and marital problems, most problems in the church wouldn’t exist if we would only learn one truth: WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT! WE’RE UNIQUE!

You’re one of a kind!

One of the favorite pastimes of my husband, who suffered with Parkinson’s disease the last 24 years of his life, was to go to town, and sit in the van and drink a Coke while he watched people pass by. Consequently, since I spent most of my time with him, it continues to be one of my favorites.

I remember one time, we were sitting outside Best Buy near Dallas, and our children had gone in to make a purchase. My husband suggested that he and I play a little game while we waited: “See that Jaguar parked over there?” (He once told me that if he had remained in the USA, and continued to practice pediatrics, instead of coming to México as a missionary, the car he owned would have been a Jaguar.) He continued to explain our little game: “Let’s see who can guess the owner of the Jaguar among the customers who leave the store.” I don’t remember who won the game, but what I do remember is that every person who walked out of that store was different…unique one from another, at least in their outward appearance.

I love to “study” people…not from our van as I did years ago, because my husband is in Heaven, and I’m the one who runs my errands now. But I watch people in air ports, on planes, while I wait in line at the grocery store, at the bank, and at Burger King. Sometimes I even play a little game by myself: “I wonder why that young man is buying diapers…Could it be that his wife is sick? Or dead? Is he a single Father?” Imagine! That’s the way gossip gets started!

Of all the lines where I’ve waited, of all the people of all ages and nationalities, that I’ve studied, my observation is this: NO TWO PEOPLE ARE ALIKE! They’re all different!

WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT! Each of us is one of a kind!

That’s the way God made us. Why do we have a problem with that? Yes, we do!

The problems begin when we try to change others to be what WE think they should be, so that they fit into OUR mold, 0UR plans for their lives.

If you’re a mother of young children, among your many responsibilities is to discipline, teach, instruct, educate and train. But guess what! Every child is different. My husband and I raised eight children, and not two of them are alike. Each one has his or her own personality. A baby has his own personality at birth. She’s equipped with certain tendencies, a definite temperament. The great job of a mother is to observe those characteristics, those temperaments, and train that little girl in such a way that she will develop those good qualities, and control the negative ones, or at least direct them in a positive way. For example, if you have a very aggressive little girl, at the same time you must train her to control her desire to always have her way, you should also direct that temperament in a positive way: for example, captain of the kitchen cleaning team!

If you work with children in a school, or in church or any other similar organization of children’s events, you should also apply these principles in dealing with children.

But what should you do about changing adults? What about your adult relationships, your teenage children, your husband, your married children?

1. DON’T TRY TO CHANGE THEM! The greatest challenge you will ever face is to change someone to fit your mold. Do you know someone like that? Of course, we all do. There are wives who are always trying to change their husbands so that they are hard workers, more responsible, more aggressive, and more ambitious. Not only do they have an impossible mission, they make life impossible for those around them, especially their husbands and their children. But also that wife, who always wants to change her husband, and her children, is one more frustrated woman, who is never satisfied. She doesn’t know how to appreciate the positive qualities of her husband, her children and others. Perhaps she’s a woman who always notices another woman’s things...even another woman’s husband and her children. “Why don’t you spend time with your children like my neighbor’s husband does?” “Or (God forbid) like my Dad does with his grandchildren?” One of the greatest mistakes a woman can make in her marriage, or in her role as Mom is to compare her husband or her children with others, “Your brother always made A’s in Math…”
2. ACCEPT OTHERS, just like they are. One day, sooner or later, you’re going to realize that the only way to live in peace is to accept people, things, and situations that you can’t change. I don’t like being short. I’d love to be taller. I struggle in the super market and on planes with things out of my reach. I always, always have to ask for help getting things down and back up, whether it’s my carry-on, or cans of Carnation milk. But even though I sometimes wear high heels, I’ll never be able to change the fact that God made me a little shorty. So I’ve learned to accept being shorter than most of the people around me. But guess what! I’ve met the nicest people because of my “disability.” In the grocery store I always have to wait for a tall lady or man to appear, and kindly ask them to reach the Diet Cokes for me. I’ve found that people are anxious to help a little short lady. It gives them a feeling of having done a kind act at the end of their day. I’ve never asked a gentleman to help me store my carry-on, that at the time of our arrival, he didn’t remember to get it back down for me. My short stature has turned out to be a blessing…because I’ve accepted it. Many times when a person feels our approval, he responds in a positive way. Instead of saying, “My husband always leaves his dirty clothes on the floor,” if you accept your role and privilege as his helpmeet, your task will turn into a ministry instead of a job you don’t feel you deserve. And guess what! Maybe when you quit complaining, God will work a miracle in his heart, and your sweetie will start putting his dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. What person in your life, what situation is driving you crazy? Accept him or her or it. Maybe you’re sick. You’ve done everything possible, you’ve gone to doctors, and you don’t improve. Accept your illness. God can turn it into a blessing, like He did with my stature. There are women who are missing out on so many blessings because they refuse to accept the people God has put in their lives, because they want them to conform to the way they want them to be. Just as there’s no one else like you, there’s no one else like your husband, or your mother in law. But until the day you accept the people whom you will never be able to change, you’re going to have a miserable, frustrated existence.
3. GOD ACCEPTS YOU just like you are. And thank the Lord for that! Think about yourself for a moment…your weaknesses, the mistakes you’ve made in life, your failures. God doesn’t reject you because you’re not perfect. What’s more, He wants us to give Him our mistakes…the Bible calls them “sins.” There are people who reject the opportunity for happiness and peace, because they won’t accept themselves. They won’t admit they’re weak, incapable of changing themselves. God’s not that way. God accepts us, just like we are…sinners, undeserving of happiness or of a home in Heaven. But until we accept ourselves, just like we are, sinners, we’ll never be able to change our relationship with God.
4. ACCEPT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. He accepts you. But that is of no value to you until YOU accept HIM as your Savior. God accepts you just like you are…weak…incapable of saving yourself. But you have to accept that fact, surrender to Him, realizing that without Him you can’t go to Heaven. Not by works that you might do will you ever go to Heaven when you die, but by what He did on the cross for you, dying in your place for your sins. He’s the only One who can change you. You don’t like yourself? Have you tried everything and failed? Of course, you’ve failed, because you can’t change yourself. Just as we have to accept situations in our lives, we must accept ourselves just as we are, just like God sees us: SINNERS, without hope of ever changing ourselves. But God can change you, if you accept Him as your SAVIOR. He made you one of a kind…that’s how special you are to Him!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chapter 10 - "When You Can't Be There"

My first clue that something was wrong should have been the voice at the other end of the line: “Hi, Mom.”

Jolene Sloan and I are different in many ways…she’s tall and slender, and beautiful and talented, and very creative. But we’re alike in one way: we don’t do phone calls. Except for birthdays, I never call my children.

And that’s what alerted me that beautiful Spring morning…which was late evening in Ukraine where David and Jolene are missionaries. I was visiting in the home of my children, Joel and Margaret, and their two little girls. What a perfect retreat for a writer, and grandmother! Several years ago they built a little guest apartment behind their house on the New Mexico desert, and it is close enough to feel like I’m spending time with my children, but private enough to provide peace and quiet.

There’s a lovely porch that my son, Tommy built a couple of years ago. So when I answered my cell phone, I walked outside not only to get a better connection with the other continent, but also to enjoy the beautiful fresh air and sunshine.

“Mom, I need you to pray for David. He’s very sick. He hasn’t been able to eat for several days. We know you can’t do anything, being so far away, but he wanted me to call you and ask you to pray for him.”

My mother heart sank. For Jolene to call me was major, and for a few seconds I panicked. Now, my son is already in his 30’s. He has a very intelligent wife, super capable of caring for her sick husband, their four children, juggling home schooling with housework, (which can sometimes mean doing without electricity and running water, staying warm by a little portable chimney), is expert in walking out of their village to the highway with four little ones in tow, and catching a bus into town, (they don’t have a vehicle of their own) and she is fluent in Russian. What on earth could I possibly have done had I been there?

Well, apart from making a pot of my potato soup, and spoon-feeding him, nothing.

Or was there something I could do?

What can you do when you can’t be with your children?

I remember when our 8 children were still home…half of them were already teenagers… lying in bed one night and thinking, “What am I going to do when my children leave home for college? What’s it going to be like, lying in bed not knowing if they’re sick, or lost, or hungry? What am I going to do if they call and need me? What am I going to do, how am I going to feel, how am I going to cope when I can’t be there?”

That beautiful morning, standing out on the porch, there was absolutely nothing I could do for David.

Or was there?...

In my helplessness, actually there were several things that I was able to do:

1. As soon as Jolene hung up, I went back into my little apartment, alone, and wept. “God, why are you doing this? What possible purpose could there be in this senselessness? How is Jolene going to cope? How must she feel right now? What did I do wrong? Where did I fail them? What if he dies?...” Those are all the thoughts that ran through my mind…and many, many more. I’d like to tell you that the first thing I did was to fall on my knees, and commit him to the Lord. But I’m like you, if you’re a mother! I despaired. But only for a few minutes. Despair is all right, because we’re human. Don’t look back over times like this and beat yourself over the head because you despaired. That’s human, and especially mother-human. That’s your mother instinct kicking in, and it’s part of our job description. Let the grief, the despair, the questions, do their job. I sometimes think God allows these feelings of helplessness to overwhelm us, so we can be just that…helpless. Sometimes He wants us to totally rely on Him, and just find comfort in the shelter of His arms. I remember one time many, many years ago…We lived in a little village, and I don’t know the nature of my despair, but I had done everything I could do…probably had to do with the discipline of one of my children, who were all four very, very little at that time. I put them down for their nap, and lay down totally exhausted. And just as real as I used to feel Daddy’s arms around me, I sensed the Lord enfolding me in his arms, and whispering, “It’s all right…I have everything under control. You just take a nice long nap, and when you wake up, you’ll feel better.” What precious comfort! He wasn’t angry with me because I had despaired. That’s where He wanted me. That’s the only place I could have been, in order for Him to have comforted me. The “all-things-working-together-for-good” meaning to this senselessness will make perfect sense some day. Don’t beat yourself over the head for being a Mom.

2. I was able to pray, and to commit David and Jolene into His care. I don’t think I really believed in the power of prayer until this year. But I’ve seen too many answered prayers not to know that God answers prayer. I’ve probably prayed more this year than I ever have. I pray while I’m driving, while I’m walking to my gate at the airport, while I’m shopping, in the shower, while I do my hair, and so for me to incorporate it into that Spring morning was pretty natural. I prayed through my tears that morning, but sometimes I also pray while I’m happy. I don’t know if I lack the discipline required to spend an hour on my knees, or if I have the need to be busy while I pray, but I find it much easier to pray while I’m doing something mechanical, routine, that doesn’t require a lot of brain activity. I pray for my children all day long, when I take bathroom breaks from my e-mailing, when I run across the drive from church to leave my Sunday school things in my room. I pray for special Birthday friends I know, and for a friend who is in surgery. I pray for a couple who is having marital problems, and for a mother who has deserted her four children. Praying is as much a part of my life as breathing or brushing my teeth. It also keeps my mind occupied with positive activity, instead of worrying, or having a critical spirit. Praying keeps me out of trouble, and keeps me focused.

3. I shared my burden with others. I’m not a phone caller, but I am an e-mailer, so I sat down at my computer and wrote to two dear friends who have prayer chains in their churches; one is a pastor’s wife, and the other a church secretary. By the next evening, David was able to go to church, and teach his Institute classes. When you can’t be there, share your burden with friends. A word of caution: I know there are burdens too private to share. Don’t ever share private burdens that would expose the personal lives of others. They usually have a way of revealing themselves sooner or later, but don’t you do the exposing. That could cause more harm than good. Ask yourself, “By sharing this prayer request, will I have to answer questions stirred up by curiosity?” Don’t set yourself up to have to cover up things that shouldn’t be exposed. While I believe in sharing one another’s burdens, and I believe in the power of prayer, sharing with others shouldn’t turn into gossiping. I have a ladies’ prayer meeting every week, and I’m always careful to make sure these “prayer request” times don’t turn into gossip sessions.

4. Keep serving the Lord as if your prayer were already answered. It’s so hard to “move the body” when our hearts are burdened. It’s hard to keep the right focus, the right spirit. Our mother nature wants to crawl in bed and pull the cover over our head, and soak ourselves in worry. I’ve learned something these past few months: I’m learning to enjoy what God has given me at the moment. For example, if I’m worrying and fretting over David and Jolene, I can’t be a blessing to Joel and Margaret. If I carry around my burden, not only am I not helping David and Jolene, I’m no fun to be around. I’ll look back over the precious time with Joel and Margaret, and regret not enjoying the time I could have spent with them. That’s where trust and faith come in. If I’ve prayed, and cast my burden on the Lord, and shared it with others, I can serve the Lord more effectively, and I can be a blessing to those nearest me.

5. Right now, I’m going through a very difficult time with a relationship with someone I love very, very much. I’ve been hurt, and I fear I’ve hurt someone unknowingly. I have to commit that hurt to the Lord many times a day, and not let that spill over onto my relationship with others, or into my ministry. I’m trying to let that hurt teach me lessons I’d never thought of before. And in turn, I’m teaching those lessons to others. That’s what I’m doing right now. The times in my children’s lives when they were going through difficult times, and I couldn’t be there have taught me something, and I’m sharing those lessons learned with you. You don’t have to be a writer or a teacher to share things you’ve learned in life’s experiences. Keep a journal with your Bible, and after your Bible reading every morning, jot down things you learned the day before. You’d be surprised how many lessons life teaches us just by simply living. “Don’t interfere with God’s plan,” is a good one. If you can’t be with your children, it’s probably part of God’s plan…your little one is in surgery; that’s a toughie; you’re a single Mom, and it’s your ex’s turn to have your daughter this weekend. WOW!! You could teach me something there! What did you learn about letting her go? You can’t be there on the first day of school…or you shouldn’t be there. What about leaving that newborn in the nursery your first time back at church? I’ve been there, sister.

And I’m a survivor. And you can be, too!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,

It was with much emotion that afternoon that I got my first glimpse in six months of my little mountain valley home of San Cristóbal. There is absolutely no joy like the joy of being back home. So many things have happened. When one leaves their home for such a long time, changes are inevitable, some good, and some bad. Little did I know that before my return my daughter in law, Liz would undergo major surgery. But she did on April 12, and thanks to your prayers for her, she has recovered, and it is affirmed that the tumor removed from her kidney was benign. Erica, a little girl who was dying of cancer, was a special guest at our banquet in November. She and her Dad were saved that night, and while I was gone, Erica went to Heaven.

In April, I continued to travel with Ulises and Elizabeth until their return to Chiapas the first of May. What a delight it was for me to meet scores of precious pastors and their families, and their ladies who seem to really love me. They showed me so many expressions of love, I often feel like Corrie Ten Boom, when she received honors. She would return to her room, get down on her knees, and say to the Lord, “All the honors given to me tonight, I offer them to back to You.”

In the month of May, I traveled from Texas to New Mexico. I gave my testimony five different times, and showed the DVD presentation of my Banquet ministry, taught three times, and spoke at five ladies’ banquets. My already full prayer book is now bulging with names of new friends, and their many needs. I’m happily settling back into my routine of teaching ladies in the Bible Institute here, teaching our ladies’ Sunday school class, helping with the music, and speaking at our monthly ladies’ prayer breakfast. We are now getting ready for Vacation Bible School July 11-15.

Ulises and Elizabeth had their first service in a house they were able to rent on June 19. It was my joy to get to attend last Sunday, and it was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. Thank you to all of you who have supported them financially, as well as with your prayers.

The church here has signed the papers on the land where we plan to soon start construction on our church. For 27 years it has been right across the drive from my house, and it will seem strange to drive to church. But I rejoice that Philip is leading the work here forward.

Thank you for your friendship, and faithful prayers and financial support.

Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Between You and Me... Weariness (Part 6)

“Well-Doing Without Weariness”

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Galatians 6:9

The very nature of the role of a woman is to serve. We serve almost from the time we get up in the morning, until we fall into bed at night. We serve everything from breakfast to customers. We’re on call 24/7 when it comes to serving our little ones.

There are so many examples of servants in the Bible. Even if we look only at women, there’s Sarah, and Abigail, and Esther, who served her people, and Ruth, who served her mother in law. And the most famous of all women servants, “Martha, Martha.”

The Master of all servants was our Lord Jesus Christ. Of all the people who have ever lived on earth, Jesus had the most logical right to be served. But He came as a servant. The central theme of the Bible is the Servant of all—Jesus Christ. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:7 Jesus Christ “…took upon him the form of a servant,”

But let me tell you a way to better serve others: it’s called “Rest,” or “Well-Doing Without Weariness.”

Would you fall asleep if you were to close your eyes right now for 5 minutes? We’re women, and we’re tired. We get up tired; we go to bed tired; we even die tired. Maybe that’s where the expression, “May she rest in peace,” comes from. We try to eat right, and get enough sleep, even if it has to be in the afternoons when our little ones nap. But we’re tired, in body and in spirit.

I must get my rest. I am avid fan of siestas, probably because I’ve spent most of my life in México. I try to take afternoon naps, especially Sunday afternoons. A pastor once said the acrostic of the word SAINT is Sunday Afternoon Is Nap Time. And I agree with him.

I want to tell you how to rest.

I Physical Rest
A. Get organized. I Corinthians 14:40 “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Even as a widow, I must organize my life, my time. We pride ourselves in being able to multi-task. But I find that if I can just concentrate on one thing at a time, not only do I feel less stress, but I do a better job, and enjoy my work more.
B. Get sleep. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:” Psalm 127:2b, 3a I think it’s so significant that a promise for sleep comes right before the assurance that children are a blessing. That verse must surely have been written for mothers who are up all night with little ones. So much could be said in favor of sleep. Are you tempted to eat when you’re not hungry? Go take a nap. Probably the only time we’re not sinning is when we’re sleeping.
C. Get apart. Mark 6:31 “And he said unto them, (His apostles) Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure, so much as to eat.” Do you know what had just happened in the verses before Jesus said this to His disciples? John the Baptist was beheaded. Don’t you think Jesus was grieving? No man born of woman was greater than John, according to Jesus. He knew how important it was, even for the Son of God, to get physical rest when going through an emotionally stressful time. It’s hard to separate physical-emotional-spiritual. If Jesus needed time alone with His apostles, we surely need time alone with our family.

II. Spiritual Rest
A. Wait. Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” We need God’s presence. In Exodus 33:12-14, Moses was tired. You can hear the exasperation in his voice as though he were angry with God. If God hadn’t realized that Moses was tired, he would have reprimanded him. And instead of telling him to have someone stretch out a hammock for him, and bring him a glass of lemonade, He said, “My presence will go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” He needed God’s presence. Sometimes we’re tired, and we don’t even know it. Fatigue makes us irritable. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 No one wants to be around an old woman with squeaky bones. Spend time with God, or no one will want to spend time with you.
B. Work. Hebrews 4:11 “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest,” would seem like a contradiction of terms. If you serve others, as if you were serving the Lord, your attitude toward work will change. For the last three years of my husband’s life, he had to have round-the-clock care. He was my ministry. I got very tired, but when I began to look at my care for him, and to do my tasks “as unto the Lord,” my attitude changed, and his comfort became my focus.
C. Walk with God. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 A yoke is not for just one animal. It’s an implement that enables two animals to work in harmony, to walk together. Jesus and me. He tells us to TAKE His yoke upon us, but He also asks us to CAST our care upon Him. I Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Did you know sometimes burdens can wear you out? You’re serving, but wearily. When you TAKE His yoke upon you, “Lord, I accept my work, my responsibility, my tasks,” and walk with Him, you can CAST all your care upon Him. You have no business carrying around your cares and your burdens. He wants them.

“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 4:8

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 2011 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,

The words to my life verse, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble;” have never been so dear to me as they were early Monday morning, when a tornado swept through the town where my daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Ulises and their two children and I were staying. Not only are we thankful to be alive, but are reassured that God has a work for us to do.

Ulises was able to obtain his visa to the USA, and we’ve been traveling together since February, visiting churches, presenting their ministries. I’m so thankful for the kindness of pastors, both English-speaking and Spanish, who have opened their churches and hearts to them. Beacon Hill Baptist Church gave them a 2001 15-passenger Van, which will be used in their ministry. They return to Chiapas May 2, and have plans to open a new work in Ixtapa, the same little village where Tom and I moved with our three little boys 37 years ago. It is their dream to buy property, and start a church and orphanage there. I never cease to be amazed at their faith in knowing God is going to provide the money for the property, just as He provided the Van. This will be the third church they will have started, since the beginning of their ministry two years ago. During the two months Ulises has been in the States, men who he won to the Lord and trained, have been preaching, knocking doors, carrying on the hospital ministry, and souls have been saved, and new families are attending. I feel like I’m being very objective when I say, “Ulises and Elizabeth Martínez are doing an amazing work, and are worthy of your prayers and support.”

It has been my honor to have spoken in several ladies’ conferences the past few weeks, and also it was my joy to have given my testimony several times upon the pastors’ requests, like in Faith Baptist Church in Illinois, Pastor Terry Anglea, and also in their Spanish church. I had a wonderful time, also, speaking in First Calvary Baptist Church in Sanderson, TX, Pastor Paul Ray; Amistad Baptist Church, Del Rio, TX, pastor Corders; a new experience teaching the ladies of Pastor Esteban Rentería’s bilingual church in New Mexico in Spanish and in English…at the same time! Then on to Albuquerque, where I taught the ladies in New Heights Baptist Church in Spanish. Lord willing, I will be returning there in May for a ladies’ banquet. My journeys have taken me to Kentucky, where I spoke in a two-day conference to the precious ladies of Greater Cumberland Baptist Church, many of those young military wives. It was my joy to have been a guest in the home of Pastor and Mrs. Ken Shaver. It was during the Sunday morning service, where Pastor Shaver presented three flags to three of their military people who were present, that the Lord laid on my heart to invite the military wives who live on the army base in our town in San Cristóbal, to be honored guests at our November 18 Ladies’ Christmas banquet this year.

The drive to the Los Angeles area was a long one, but worth every mile, as I was privileged to speak to over a thousand ladies under a big tent in Pastor Ezekiel Salazar’s annual Latin American ladies’ conference. After a ladies’ banquet April 29, and three more appointments in New Mexico in May, I get to return home to Chiapas, where I left my heart five months ago.

Thank you for your prayers for my daughter in law, Liz. Earlier today my son, Philip, called from her hospital room in Chiapas, to report that she was awake, but weak and pale after her four-hour surgery for the removal of a tumor from her right kidney. Further studies are being made, but they are quite sure it is not malignant, and we’re thankful they did not have to remove her kidney. I admire my son for being brave enough to be present during her surgery.

Life wouldn’t be normal, though, without its tears, and the past few weeks I have shed many. I’m so thankful for my son, David and Jolene, and for their faithfulness to serve the Lord in Ukraine. But part of my heart left with them as we said good bye over the phone on March 15, and they departed NYC for their beloved Ukraine. I miss them and their four precious children, including my newest grandson at that time.

But today, April 14, baby Caleb Philip Miller was born to Steve and Ruthie, bringing the total to 34 grand-treasures for this proud Mimi. This is a furlough baby, and I know he will adapt to life on the mission field when they return to Querétaro in August, just as little Micah is to Ukraine.

More and more tears over the home going of three very, very special people in my life:
Mrs. Colleen Bond, beloved wife of Pastor WN Bond, my husband’s former pastor, went to Heaven Sunday night, April 3, while her husband was preaching. I’m told that when he received the news, he shouted from the pulpit, “Praise the Lord! She’s not suffering any more!” But I know the grief is there, and I share it with you, Bro. Bond.

My precious friend, Mrs. Cheryl Ager, is now home with the Lord, as of last Friday, April 8. She amazed us all when she had a liver transplant several years ago. It was my joy to have spent a Sunday afternoon with her in December, 2010, and she assured me that she was ready to go Home whenever the Lord wanted to take her.

Pastor Mark Gondran, who pastored Temple Baptist Church in New Iberia, LA isn’t suffering any more from cancer. He went to Heaven yesterday evening. “We’ll miss you, Pastor, and our prayers are with your beloved Sherena, Casey and Callen, and the faithful people you loved and pastored.”

May the Lord find me faithful, as my three precious friends who are in Heaven today.

Your friend,
Mrs. Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Newest Grand"Treasure"

Caleb Philip Miller

Born to Steve and Ruth Miller

Thursday, April 14 at 2:45 PM
7 pounds, 19 1/2 inches long

To see more pictures of my newest grand"treasure," go here!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jason and Sarah's beautiful children

Sarah, my oldest daughter, and her husband Jason serve the Lord in Vera Cruz, Mexico. These are their children: Aren't they beautiful?!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Between You and Me... Rebellion (Part 5)

“…for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.” Esther 2:20
Esther became the queen of Persia. Hers is a well-known story. She’s a heroine of the Jewish people even today, because she saved the lives of thousands of Jews in her day. Every year the Jews read the book of Esther.
But there’s a seldom-mentioned virtue that Esther possessed that we can use as an example for our lives. It wasn’t her bravery; it wasn’t her beauty or the way she conducted herself among the other palace damsels that won their love and confidence. At least for me, her most noble virtue was her submission. The Bible says, she “did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.” This suggests that she was accustomed to obeying her cousin, Mordecai. So when he sent for her to do something that would ultimately help her people, although perhaps she didn’t understand why, since she was accustomed to obeying him, she did it.
She could have thought, “Who does my cousin think he is, anyway? I’m not a little girl any more like I was when he raised me. I’m the queen of Persia. The king is the only one who can tell me what to do, and if I have my way, one of these days he’ll obey me.” How different this story would be if she would have had that attitude.
The word “submission” comes from the verb “to submit.” The Bible uses that word in Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,…”
Let me give you my own definition: “To give your will to someone else; to give the reins to someone else; to surrender.”
God has a perfect order in His plan for the home:
1. Christ
2. Husband
3. Wife
4. Children
When a family lives according to this order, everything is fine. This is the way they live:
1. Husband submits to Christ
2. Wife submits to husband
3. Children submit to parents
It’s when one member of the family changes that order that there are problems; divorce, rebellious children…
If the husband doesn’t submit himself to Christ, there is disorder in the home. Or the husband may follow the Lord completely, but if his wife rebels against the husband, not only is she rebelling against her husband, but she also lives in rebellion toward God. It may be that the parents are submitted to the Lord, and the wife is in subjection to her husband, but if the children are not in subjection to the parents, they are living in rebellion toward God as well as toward their parents.
Needless to say, there is total chaos in a home where all members of the family live in rebellion against their authority.
I believe with all my heart that even though the husband and father is not in submission to God, and even though the children are living in rebellion, if only one member of the family…the wife…will submit herself to her authority…her husband…there is hope for that home…for that marriage.
Jesus Himself gave up His own will to God: “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Ephesians 5:2
Up until here, we’re all in agreement, because I’ve showed you this plan from the Bible.
But the Bible also says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Eph. 5:21
I don’t have a husband. The Bible doesn’t give instructions to widows or single ladies concerning submission. But it’s my opinion that every female should have a male authority in her life. By nature we women are followers. Woman is follower…Man is leader, whether it be in the home, in the church, or in the nation. God has put man in positions of leadership.
Now, I agree that there are women to whom God has given the talent of organizing, planning, and leading. But my personal conviction is that she should develop that gift starting in her home with her children, because according to God’s order, she is their authority.
Also in the church, a lot of times we see ladies with organizational talents, and who are great to motivate others to use their talents. But this gift of leading should be with ladies, single ladies, and with children, not with men, or even young teenage men.
I would like to say something on behalf of pastors’ wives: many times we see her as “co-pastor.” In other words, we expect her to do things that we would never expect of another lady in the church. “She should teach, organize, direct, and plan. She should be the director of Vacation Bible School, and organize picnics for the Christian School. She should counsel young ladies, and sing in the choir, etc., etc., etc.” Hey, where does it say that in the Bible? The only plan for your pastor’s wife is the same plan that God puts in His Word for you…to be wife and mother, and everything involved in being wife and mother. The only time the pastor’s wife should be involved in the activities of the church is when her husband asks her to.
But back to our lesson: every woman should have an authority, a man in her life who…excuse the profanity…commands her.
So, should a 67 year-old widow be under the authority of a man? Yes.
Should a 67 year-old widow follow the command of a man? Yes.
“Oh, sure, that’s easy for you to say, because you don’t have a husband. You can come and go as you like. You can shop and eat out when you feel like it. You can get up as late as you like.” If you only knew…
…Sometimes my daughters ask me, “Mom, would you ever re-marry?” And my answer is: “Of course not. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do!”
I say that with a smile, because the truth is, I have more “bosses” now that I’m a widow, than I did when my husband was here. I’ll live and die, and never understand a woman who complains about having to submit to her husband. How foolish! How simple your life is, so uncomplicated! Thank the Lord every day for a husband with sufficient character of leadership who will tell you what you should do.
When my husband was alive, my only obligation was to obey him, to please him, and to serve him. Looking back at the order of the home, when I was submissive to him, I was in subjection to the Lord, and everything went smoothly. My children were happier, my husband was happier, and I was happier. Even our ministry progressed when I gave the reins to my husband.
When my husband went to Heaven, that Sunday afternoon, my authority also left. But surprisingly, instead of feeling relieved, instead of a “now I’m the mistress of my time, of my talents, of my money,” quite the contrary…I felt like a little lost lamb. But I thank the Lord that my four sons and my four sons in law took his place. I’m thankful for the direction of my three brothers. My pastor was an enormous blessing. That’s why I’m writing this lesson, that’s why I’ve written a book. Immediately after my authority left, God put men in my path with enough wisdom to guide my steps, to advise me…men who have taken me out of unsure paths, and helped me make decisions, they’ve put my feet on solid ground, and I can be no less than grateful to God for them.
Sometimes I travel with one of my children, and when I do, I have to submit my will to that of the head of the family, whether it is my son or my son in law. I hear you: “I would never obey my son in law.” Well, then don’t expect your daughter to obey him.
“Oh, sure, your sons are pastors, but I would never submit to my son.” Then don’t expect your daughter in law to submit to him. And by the way, don’t expect your grandchildren to submit to their parents, either.
To me, there is nothing more repulsive than an older woman, who thinks she knows everything, and tells everyone what to do. She bosses everyone to do everything she wants them to do, and sends them anywhere she wants them to go. Don’t take advantage of your age. That’s why there are old people in nursing homes. Their children put them there because they’ve bossed them around all their lives. No one they can boss around there.
The devil is very sly in showing us all the negative aspects of submission. But at least for me, there are many positive things to being submissive:
1. Submission provides security and protection. When a woman places herself under the authority of another, she has fewer decisions to make. When she knows there’s a man who is guiding her steps she feels more secure.
2. There’s nothing more feminine than a submissive woman. It shows her vulnerability. But at the same time, it shows her character, not her weakness. Many women fear turning over the reins to a man because it shows a lack of strength. Quite the contrary, it takes more character to submit than to rebel.
3. When a woman submits herself to her authority, she allows God to bless her, her husband, her children, and her ministry. She opens the way for the blessings of God to shower on her marriage and on her home.
4. The opposite of submission is rebellion. Rebellion hinders God from answering prayers. Maybe if God isn’t answering your prayers, it’s because you’re not submitting to your authority. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,” I Samuel 15:23 I would never want anyone to call me a witch, but I classify myself when I’m rebellious.
5. Submission brings peace and joy, and good health. Many women suffer physical problems, as well as emotional problems because they live in rebellion.
6. Just as in Esther’s life, submission is for your good, and for the good of others.
Give the reins to your husband, if you’re married. If you’re a widow, or single, submit your will to those who represent your authority.
Whatever your role in life, submit yourself to Christ, Who “hath given himself for us.”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Between You and Me... Fear! (Part 4)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” I John 4:18

Before my husband went to Heaven six years and three months ago, I longed for there to be nothing between him and me. Now that I’m a widow, I’ve discovered some new goals for the relationships he left me with. I want nothing to stand between the Lord and me. I find myself constantly striving to “keep the way clear.”
In a marriage relationship, however, sometimes the problem doesn’t lie only with one partner. Sometimes both husband and wife cause divisions, and spaces between the two of them. Once I became a widow, I realized that concerning my relationship with others, most of the time I was to blame for conflicts between myself and others.
Not so with the Lord: if there’s ever anything hindering our closeness, it lies 100% on my side. That’s what my life is all about: being aware of things that hinder that closeness that I desire with the Lord, and finding out how to remove them.
When I prepare my lessons, I always try to analyze my life, and find out why I’m not perfectly content and happy. Usually at the root of all my anxieties lies that little enemy called fear.
I tried to list all the things that have made me fearful these past few weeks, and I came up with this. I have feared:
1. Not being able to complete deadlines
2. Not being able to e-mail
3. A serious illness in the spouse of one of my children.
4. Everything involved with the birth of my grandson.
5. Driving in the dark during a tornado.
6. My children having to travel on through a snow storm.
7. My having to drive through the aftermath of a snow storm.
8. The miscarriage of my daughter.
9. My children’s travels near the Mexican-American borders, and in other war-torn parts of the world.
10. Having to drive through a dark neighborhood to an empty house.
And that’s not even half of the list.
I’ve come up with this discovery: Fear leads to worry. Worry leads to doubt. Doubt leads to indecision. Indecision leads to confusion. Confusion leads to insecurity. Insecurity leads to complaining. Complaining affects others, and harms my influence and testimony. But most of all, it shows my lack of confidence in the Lord, and therefore harms our relationship.
Every mother has experienced fears involving her child. Fear even before his birth, that something could go wrong during delivery; fear that he may not be responding to certain stimuli; fear he isn’t gaining weight; fear he’s overweight; fear he won’t pass his finals; fear of choosing the wrong spouse…and on and on it goes.
I may not have the perfect solution for your fears, but I believe with the help of the Bible, we can lay down a few principles.
1. Tell it to Jesus. When you’re afraid, talk with the Lord, and tell Him openly how you feel. I don’t have a husband to talk to, and because of that I find myself talking to the Lord. I tell Him all my negative feelings. I tell Him when I’m sad and lonely. I tell Him when I’m upset. I tell Him when I’m confused. And I tell Him my fears and my anxieties.
2. Cast your care on Him. Unless you give Him those fears, and those anxieties, no amount of talking with Him will help. I don’t seem to have much trouble talking with the Lord. But “casting” is a lot harder than “talking.” “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7
3. Keep a happy heart. There’s a verse I read this morning in Proverbs 15:13: “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance:” and then in chapter 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” You may not be able to change the circumstances that cause your fears, but did you know you can keep a happy heart? I remember many years ago, my father was in Houston undergoing the agony of chemotherapy. I know he was suffering, and sick. But I rarely walked into his room that he wasn’t laughing, and making those around him laugh. I treasure many hilarious stories that mother told me of things he did when I wasn’t there. And I often wondered how many people ever laughed on that particular floor of the hospital. I’m convinced that his “merry heart” kept him around longer than he was expected to live. And I never once remember his being afraid. Did you know it’s hard to be afraid, and have happy thoughts at the same time? If you will keep a positive attitude, it will help you to overcome your fears. Several years ago, I flew to Ukraine. During my visit there, I made a trip to another country with my son, David. We had to stay in a hotel in Istanbul on our way over. As we drove through the dark streets around midnight, fear gripped my heart. I tried turning my thoughts to the happy special time I would have with my son once we reached our destination, and that was such a soothing feeling. And although we were in dangerous places during that time, which bring fear to my heart, even as I write, I will treasure forever the memories mother and son made together which will provide a lifetime of happiness for me.
4. Keep a sound mind. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7 That verse alone should bring us the assurance that the devil brings fear. When we fear, we don’t think straight, and we tend to make wrong decisions. God’s ways always bring peace, and clarity of thoughts.
5. Fear is a fact of life. That’s why the Psalmist wrote, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3) You’re not the only one who has ever been afraid. When David wrote these words, he had either once been afraid, or he knew he would one day be afraid of something.
6. Fear is fine…sometimes. If I’m afraid of having a heart attach, I’ll lose weight. If I’m afraid of contracting cancer, I’ll have my yearly checkups, and watch my diet. If I’m afraid of losing my child to drugs, I’ll train him up right, and surround him with positive influences. If I’m afraid of divorce, I’ll keep my thoughts and my heart clean and pure. If I were afraid of going to hell, I’d accept Jesus as my Savior.
But I already have, and no matter what rational fears I may have, no matter what awaits me in this life that now causes me to fear, I know that someday I’m going to Heaven.
So maybe some of the things I fear will one day come to pass. But the comforting thought that “none of these things” can move me, is the one thing that brings me peace and joy, and calms my fears.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chapter 9 - "Did I Miss It?"

(I wrote this chapter several weeks ago, and even as I sit here, David and Jolene are at the airport in a distant city. In one hour and 15 minutes, they will be flying back to their field of service. I dedicate this to them, and to all the David’s and their moms.)

I watched carefully the Van ahead of me, because David, my son was driving. He and his family were en route to the airport, from where he would be flying abroad in a few hours. As I drove along, tears filled my eyes: I would soon be separated from my son, not only for the next ten days, but from him, Jolene, and my four grandchildren, as they would soon be returning to their mission field. Two years will then separate us.
And I wondered…did I miss it? Did I miss the fun times we’ve had together? Did I miss your smile, and the way you walk, and the look in your eyes as you hold your newborn son?
Am I too busy with my own thoughts of how I’m going to meet deadlines, and make reservations, to notice how smart you are? Will I look back and wonder what was the punch line of the joke you told me Thursday?
Did I miss the meaning of your coming into my room before daylight every morning while I was reading my Bible, like you did when you were a little boy? Or will I remember my mind wandering to the list of things to do while you were sharing your plans of the day with me?
Did I miss it? Did I miss your grin when I sped out of the hotel parking lot, when I was supposed to be following you? And your call, “Mom, we’re still at the hotel.” Did I miss the humor of the moment, or being annoyed because I messed up our travel plans? The joy of the moment is what I have learned to be thankful for.
The joy of knowing you’re on your way to a challenging adventure…not the worrying about your safety and protection. I’ll cast that on the Lord, and just think of your desire to serve Him.
I’ll bask in the joy of knowing the supreme sacrifice you’re making to be away from your family. I’ll feel, at the same time, pride and peace.
I won’t miss it any more, from this day forward. I’ll put aside my fears, and my doubts, and my computer, and my phone, and learn to bask in the sunshine, and feel the coziness of being snowed in.
I’ll not complain about things like electronics, and delayed flights, and missed appointments. I’ll condition myself to just enjoy leisurely long afternoon naps, and dessert and coffee, and noisy grandbabies.
I won’t miss it anymore. Who cares that I never get online ever again, if I can keep the lines of communication open between you and me. I’ll not miss the honor of being your mother, and the peace of knowing that you can share your burdens as well as your plans for the future. I’ll not miss that anymore.
It may be too late to bring back lost joys. It may be too long to remember the story you told me while I was concentrating on my shopping list.
But there’s today. And this evening when you call me to tell me, “Mom, I’m fixing to board my plane,” I’ll take off my glasses so I can see your face across the miles, and imagine your smile and your excitement as you once again embark on another adventure, serving the Lord.
I don’t know what the future holds. But I want to share the dream you’re dreaming now, of souls you’re dreaming will be saved.
I’ll miss you these next few days, and after that the next two years.
But I won’t ever again miss the moments we share, and I’ll read over and over your e-mails, and your articles, and I’ll hold on to your words.
Your little-boy-days are gone, and I wonder, “Did I miss it? Your jeans got washed, but did I notice the domino-stacks of old cassette tapes you’d line up around the legs of the dining table, down the hall, and then topple the first one over to watch them fall for miles in your imagination?
Like the toppling tapes, that’s how swiftly those little-boy years have gone by. You don’t dream about toy cars any more. Your dreams hold a more significant meaning: the destiny of souls.
So although I’ll miss you, and Jolene, and the babies, I’ll not miss remembering all the precious memories we’ve made together these past four months, and those that are still in the making.
I miss you and love you more than life.
Mom, Nahum 1:7

Monday, April 4, 2011

February 2011 Prayer Letter

Written in February, but just now being posted by Jolene, who gave birth to her 4th baby January 26th and is, only now, catching up with her to do list!
Dear Friends of México,
How exciting to look outside my window, and see snow! It reminds me of two things: my sins, which are forgiven, and how far away I am from the warmer climate of my beloved home in Chiapas.
As I sit here, I have burdens: the spouse of one of my children, who has been in for a biopsy this morning, possibly has cancer. Another is traveling on dangerous freeways after an ice storm last night. A daughter is recuperating from the sorrow of a miscarriage, and loss of a much-prayed-for baby. But the joy outweighs the burden, as I rest content in knowing that all three of these families are serving the Lord exactly where they should be. What a joy to hear another son last night on the phone, “Mom, we’re exactly in the center of God’s will.” There truly is “no greater joy.”
In case you haven’t heard, I’m proud to announce the arrival of little Micah James Sloan, born to David and Jolene on Wednesday, January 26. Although he only weighed 6 pounds, he’s healthy and as perfect as any little sinner can be. As I watched this little one come into the world, I prayed that one day we would also be celebrating his 2nd birth, like we did for three of my grandchildren during the past two months: Gaby, Andrew, and Sophie.
Although I have left my ladies’ ministries in Chiapas for a few months, they continue thriving through the faithful ministry of my daughter in law, Liz. I am getting very wonderful reports from home about the things the ladies are learning, not only through her teaching of the book of James, but also from the very practical applications she is having them carry out. Last week she held our monthly ladies’ prayer breakfast, and she had a record attendance of thirty. Eight widows were honored, including a former mayor’s daughter whose father served during the ‘40’s.
Well, this is a prayer letter, so I ask your prayers for my safety during the next few months, as I travel to Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and California, speaking to ladies’ meetings in different churches, some in Spanish, and others in English. Most of these will be road trips, which I thoroughly enjoy. It gives me time alone with the Lord. Pray also that I will be a blessing to these precious ladies wherever I go. Thank you, Pastors, who have invited me. Thank you, also to my sons who have called pastors for me, and set up the appointments. I want to be a blessing to your ladies.
You certainly are a blessing to me.
Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Between You and Me / All These Things

Written January 25th, but just now being posted by Jolene, who gave birth to her 4th baby January 26th and is, only now, catching up with her to do list!

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

There are two occasions in my life when I realize how many things I possess: when I move, and when I travel. There is that tearing-myself-away feeling I have every time I pack for a trip. It’s only when I try closing my suitcase that I realize of “all these things,” something is going to have to stay.
Have you ever thought what you would grab if suddenly your house caught fire, or as in our case, you were to be in an earthquake? If you’re a young mother, your baby would be at the top of your grab list, I’m sure. But what about me? My purse would go with me, and then my Bible, probably in that order, I’m ashamed to say.
In fact, I’ve often wondered what I would do if someone stole my purse, or if I were to leave it in a public restroom. I don’t even want to think of the consequences of my neglect: my passport, my FM3 credential, not to mention drivers’ license, credit cards and debit cards. It’s quite a shocking realization, but who I am is contained in that black leather bag. WOW!
Several months ago, my daughter in law, Liz, and I were flying to Chicago from Mexico City. Just before takeoff, the pilot announced that our flight was being delayed (we had sat for 45 minutes on the runway) due to our over-weight plane. We watched as countless pieces of luggage were being towed back to the terminal from underneath our plane. My heart sank, as I thought I saw my luggage disappear out of sight. I felt lost, like part of me was being torn away.
See, things…all these things…are important to us, whether or not you claim to be a non-materialist. Material things are valuable to us. They help to make up who we are.
Many years ago when I had eight children to travel with, plus my husband, I watched a lady, who looked quite affluent to me, unload a single piece of luggage from the trunk of her car, and check into our hotel. I was ashamed at all the things that made up my security circle for the night…suitcases, overnight bag, ice chest, food boxes, stationery bag, Bible bag, diaper bag, diapers, portable crib, etc. Have you ever seen anyone go into Wal-Mart without a purse? I have, as I toted my oversized one of so many unnecessary things.
So this being still the first of a New Year, I’ve decided to part with the unnecessary, and keep “all those things” which are necessary. But it’s not coming easy, believe me. I’m actually “weaning” myself from them little by little like this:
Papers, which contain important notes I often have to refer to, I’m consolidating into fewer pieces of paper. Then I put them in a place where I won’t see them every day. In a few months, I’ll figure out the ones I haven’t referred to, and discard them…sorta like the “not-responsable-after-30-days” policy.
But let’s face it. There will always be “all these things” that make up our security area, our comfort zone: My Bible. There isn’t another one like it, so to say I’ll leave mine at home, and use another one available at my destination won’t do the trick. My Bible is just one of my “all these things,” like my prayer book, my diary (journal), my glasses, and even a certain perfume.
I believe we can come to terms with the “all these things” in our lives if we live by a simple rule: “If I take care of spiritual things, God will take care of my physical things…food and clothes.”
I’m a very black-and-white kind of person. I need to draw lines, and see things clearly. When I wonder what that could possibly mean, to “seek first the kingdom of God,” I can think of no clearer application, emphasizing the words “first,” and “kingdom of God,” as meaning simply this in language even I can understand: If I will devote the first part of my day to seeking God, reading His Word, spending time in prayer, and at the same time just literally putting to one side all my material concerns which could even include a daughter who is threatening to miscarry, a daughter in law who has a serious health problem, and focusing on God, He will honor my desire to seek Him early.
This is how I practically do this: when something comes to my mind, for example, when I’m reading my Bible, I just write it down on a little note pad, and promise myself to think of it later. In a very literal way, I’m putting this problem, this burden, or even a phone call, or something to purchase, to one side, until first I have sought the Lord, and His righteousness.
Matthew 6: 32-33 mentions the phrase “all these things” twice.
But there’s another “all these things” mentioned in Romans 8:37: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” All these things: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword. That pretty well covers it all. We are more than conquerors in all these things.
So while you’re resolving to clean out “all these things” in your closet or desk or kitchen drawers, how about your spiritual clutter? Worry, and negative thoughts, and jealousy, and envy. How about gossip, and a critical spirit, or discouraging words? Toss it out with stress, and depression and complaining.
Resolve with me, that at the beginning of 2012, you can look back over this year, and be on another level of your spiritual walk with the Lord. Let’s upgrade our Christianity, and as we get rid of “all these things” that clutter our closeness with the Lord, He’ll replace them with “all these things” that we have need of.
Have a Happy uncluttered New Year!