Friday, December 25, 2015

Prayer Letter - December 2014

 I know I say this every year, but truly our 17th Ladies' Christmas Banquet this year was the best ever. Missionary Nathan Patterson did a wonderful job presenting the simple plan of Salvation. Using the story of the woman at the well, he preached on "Things that don't Satisfy." When he gave the invitation, 4 precious ladies were saved. Each one of these ladies is special to the Lord, and we rejoice in their Salvation. But one especially brought an extra measure of joy to many of us who have been praying for one of the First Ladies, who hasn’t missed attending our Banquets for 11 years, and often attends our monthly Prayer Breakfasts.  "Thank You, Lord, for answered prayers.” And thank you for your prayers.  

This year's Banquet was also the most financially stress-free one for me. Besides the special offerings from some of my family members, and friends in the USA, the church here contributed in love offerings, and I put less of my money into this Banquet than any other year. Now the unusual thing about this is that we don't have a pastor. The men in the church got under the burden of this banquet like never before. These are hard-working laymen who sacrificed above and beyond their means. The ladies have done banquets, some for ten years now, and did an incredible job with every detail. Because of this, the Lord put in my heart to turn this ministry over to the church. But when I offered it to them, they said they wanted me to continue to be in charge.  I’m already making mental plans for next year’s banquet. One of the results of this ministry is our new outreach to ladies on the police force. One of those ladies recently attended our Wednesday evening service.

I am happy to report to you that my niece, Tammie González, and her husband, Henry, missionaries in El Salvador, held their first Christmas Banquet on November 18. There was one precious lady saved. I’m also praying for the first ladies Christmas Banquet which will be celebrated in Ukraine on December 26. “Thank you, Lord, for giving this burden to missionaries around the world.”

In a few minutes I will dial the phone number of a radio station in a city about two hours away, and broadcast my live radio program to ladies. What an honor that God has added this new ministry to my life!

We are continuing to see souls saved, and recently 6 were baptized. A young woman accepted the Lord in our Wednesday evening service, and was present for a ladies’ meeting yesterday afternoon where I spoke.

A very personal note: my precious grandson, Levi William Miller, called me recently with the news that always brings joy to my heart: “Mimi, I got saved last night.” Twenty of my 40 grandchildren are saved. Four are waiting for me in Heaven.

May the Lord give you a Blessed Christmas, and a New Year full of dreams come true.

Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Monday, October 26, 2015

Prayer Letter - October 2015

I know that Titus 2:4 teaches me that I, as an aged woman, should be a teacher of young women. That’s what I try to do, whether I’m with my daughters and daughters in law; teaching my Sunday school class; or whether I’m speaking in Ladies’ Conferences. But honestly, they are the ones who teach me so much!

I returned home four days ago from one of the most unforgettable trips I’ve ever made since my husband went to Heaven almost eleven years ago. In fact, the date of my departure was on what would have been our 46th Wedding Anniversary. Just as I started a 35-year adventure with the most wonderful man I’ve ever known, I began another exciting adventure on September 19 of this year. I wish you had the time to hear all the blessings I enjoyed, and all the things I learned during my nine-day visit to the beautiful country of Panama. Needless to say, I got to visit the historical Panama Canal. But you can look that up on the internet and see what I saw. The joy of that trip was getting to see first-hand the different ministries of Bro. Franklin Booth, and fellowshipping with him and his lovely wife, Brenda, and their precious children, Jonathan, 17; David, 14; and Elizabeth, 10. I stayed in their home, and what a godly family they are!

I was privileged to speak 8 times during my visit: the ladies’ Sunday school class the two Sunday’s I was there; at a special meeting of twenty wives of pastors and missionaries; and 5 times at their Ladies’ Retreat. Some of my children attended Oklahoma Baptist College with Bro. Franklin and Brenda in the ‘90’s. So they were excited that I got to make that trip.

Since my last prayer letter, there have been seven ladies saved in my different ministries. Two young people gave their lives to serve the Lord during a Youth outing in the church in Ixtapa, where my son in law, Ulises, pastors. One of those young men is my 11 year-old grandson, Andrew.  A man who has been attending our church for several months was saved and baptized.

There is great hope of a new work being started in a little town about an hour from San Cristóbal, through a lady in the church who invited me to speak to ladies there. This is her hometown, and I got to teach several ladies from her family. Three ladies were saved after my lesson.

I wish this letter could be all positive. But in reality, I’m sure every work has its valleys. Our church here has been without a pastor for several weeks now. Please pray for the men in the church, as they seek God’s will for another pastor. Thank you for sharing my burden.

Are you praying for our annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet? November 20 is zooming toward us, and the ladies are working hard getting ready for this annual event, where we are expecting ladies to be saved, just like they have for the past sixteen years.

I am your friend.
Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7

Prayer Request List for Ladies' Banquet

November 20, 2015

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

  1. Extra strength for the ladies and me as we plan and make preparations.

  1. For the wife of our City Mayor to be able to attend, as well as First Ladies of neighboring towns. We refer to ladies who are in positions of prominence as “First Ladies.”

  1. For the wives of the former mayors, military wives, wives of men on the police force, and pastors’ wives to be able to attend.  

  1. For extra finances for the cost of the Banquet.

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

  1. For our guest speaker, as he prepares his message for the evening, and for liberty as he preaches.                                

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

  1. 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 fourteen years, including four former First Ladies, three military wives, two ladies who have prominent positions in our city, and a policewoman.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Prayer Letter - August 2015

Where has more than half of this year gone? Well, mine has gone very well, so far, thanks to the Lord’s mercies, which are new every morning.

I am going to share a “Mimi Moment” with you now: my son, Tommy called me several months ago to inform me that my 16 year-old granddaughter, Lydia Jean, had surrendered her life to the Lord to use her as He would see fit.  On June 2, my ten year-old granddaughter, Sophie, also surrendered to the Lord to serve Him with her life. She has started teaching a children’s class in one of their missions, and won two little girls to the Lord last Thursday. “Thank you, Lord, for Tommy and Mona, and Ulises and Elizabeth, who encourage their children to serve You.”

The Lord opened the door for several ladies from our Church to visit the nursing home here. I was touched by these dear, and sometimes forgotten older people, as I taught them the story of Simeon and Anna, and how they, too, could know the Lord Jesus as they did. About thirty-six years ago, I tried to get permission to simply go and read the Bible for thirty minutes a week in this same Nursing Home, and was refused by the mother superior. The head of the home now is one of our First Ladies (former mayor’s wife), and we have perfect liberty to share the Gospel.

C:\Users\none\Desktop\Samsung photos 2015\20150613_120344.jpg

God is Good!

It has become a tradition now with me: for eight years, I have had the honor of being a part of the Fires of Evangelism Family Conference in Bartlett, Indiana, with Pastor Elmer Fernández. He and his wife, Martha, have become some of my dearest friends. In the month of June, I once again got to speak to six different ladies sessions. I always ask the Lord to prepare my heart to be a blessing to ladies wherever I go. But as always, I am the one who receives the biggest blessings.

I got to spend a week last month in Ixtapa, with Ulises and Elizabeth, and taught their ladies’ Sunday school class. I love seeing how the Lord is blessing their work.

Vacation Bible School is always a special week, and this year was no exception. Our building was filled with children, and thirty of them came to Christ for Salvation.

At our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast last Wednesday, we had three special ladies in attendance: a councilwoman; a former nun that one of my daughters won to the Lord when they were teenagers; and her mother, who attended our very first Ladies’ Christmas Banquet in 1999. She has promised to attend again this year.

Please pray for our 17th annual Christmas Banquet, November 20. I am sending the prayer request list with this letter, and ask that you take it very seriously during your prayer time.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan  
Nahum 1:7

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Prayer Letter - June 2015

I sit here this morning in my beautiful home…at least, beautiful to me…an example of the grace of God. I just returned home last night from a trip, and this letter could be full of my telling you how God graciously cares for me and loves me, just because of things that happened on that one trip! I have absolutely no doubt that He loves me. He loves you, too.

What an exciting two months I’ve had since my last visit with you! Where shall I start? Our pastor, Emilio has baptized several converts, and you should see our beautiful outside baptistery which a brick mason and his son in our church “remodeled.” It even has stairs leading up to it, so the men don’t have to put chairs inside and outside it for the candidates to climb.

One of our precious “First Ladies,” who was saved several years ago in one of our Banquets went home to Heaven May 5. She assured one of our ladies several weeks before, that she was ready to die, and was sure she was going to Heaven. During our last visit, her daughter told us, “Mom told me she is not going to purgatory.” She is a result of your prayers for our Banquets.  

And speaking of Ladies’ Banquets:  my niece, Tammie, who is the wife of Henry Gonzalez, missionaries in El Salvador, wrote to me on May 6 to inform me that they would be having their first meeting that day to organize their first Ladies’ Banquet for the same purpose of reaching those ladies who would otherwise possibly not be reached. How encouraging!

My daughter, Elizabeth, was our speaker for our Mother-Daughter Banquet here this year. She did a superb job. I’m so proud of her and Ulises, who continue to faithfully serve in the little town of Ixtapa. I make it a point to visit there every couple of months, just to see how God is using them.

It was an “unusual” honor to have been invited to speak at the Mother-Daughter luncheon in Fallon, Nevada. “Unusual,” because that’s where my daughter, Ruthie, and her husband, Steve Miller are now living. Rock of Ages Baptist Church called him to be their pastor back in the spring, and besides accepting their invitation to speak to their ladies, I wanted to see first-hand the work that they were so excited about. After serving the Lord as missionaries in México for over twelve years, truly, they are adjusting to life in the USA, and their people, many retired naval officers, but also young military couples…seem to love them.

Another one of our First Ladies…the title we give to wives, or ladies of the families of mayors and those in prominent positions…attended our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast on May 27. She was also at church that night. She invited our ladies to visit the Nursing Home here, where she serves on the staff. So last Saturday two ladies went to minister there.

It was so exciting to have just returned from attending the graduation service in San Luis Potosí, of one of the young men in our church. He graduated from the Bible College there, where Bro. Luis Ramos is pastor. Please pray that the Lord will use Octavio’s life in a very special way.

And I pray He will use you today as you serve Him.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7

"Get Up!"

“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?”
Joshua 7:10

In the passage of Joshua 7:1-10, we read of the defeat of Israel by Ai.  Israel had sinned against the Lord.  Achan had taken something that the Lord had cursed, and God was angry.  Sometimes when we have troubles and trials, it’s because we’ve brought them upon ourselves.  And Joshua, Israel’s leader became absolutely distraught.  He was at ground level.  He felt overwhelmed by defeat.  He began to say things that later he perhaps wished he hadn’t said: “And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!”
(V 7).  And he “fell to the earth upon his face.” (V. 6)

Several years ago, I’ll have to admit, I was having a Joshua day.  I felt absolutely overwhelmed by responsibilities, deadlines, and commitments.  I felt as if I were having a panic attack.  And the harder I worked, the stronger I felt the sensation of drowning.

Just then, to add to my misery, my phone rang, and the voice at the other end asked me for a favor, to which I complied.

I went into my bedroom and locked the door.  I walked into my bathroom, locked the door behind me, and lay down on my bathroom floor, and I said, “God, this is as low as I can get.  I can’t get any lower.  You’ve got to help me.”  Then I said to myself, “Myself, GET UP!”  Then I reached up on the side of the wash basin, and literally pulled myself up to a standing position, and I’ve been going ever since.  Now I know and you know Who really told me to get up, don’t we.

If you have never come to the place in your life where all seems in vain…bills are piling in maybe; one baby gets over diarrhea, and the next one starts vomiting; you tackle your kitchen and get it cleaned, only to find that the baby has poured Downy all over your laundry room floor.  If you’ve never felt like lying down on the bathroom floor like I did that morning, your day is coming.  It’s on the way.  What are you going to do?

You have several options:

  1. You can stay in the bathroom and hide where no one can find you.  Did you know you set the atmosphere for your home?  What would my grandson have done if he had found his Mimi lying on the bathroom floor?  He’d have told my daughter.  She in turn would have called her husband, who would have immediately come home from his work two hours away.  Or maybe he would have called my son who lives in my town, who in turn would have left his pastoral duties to tend to his aging mother who was having a nervous breakdown on the bathroom floor.  What do you think the Israelites were doing or thinking when they saw their leader in despair?  Joshua was only human, but somehow we expect our leaders to have it altogether, and so do your children and grandchildren…and so does the Lord.  Sometimes I think we underestimate the Lord.  We don’t avail ourselves of His strength.  “Well, no wonder I’m on the bathroom floor…look at all I’m going through.”  No matter what you’re going through, the Lord will go with you, so if you can’t pull yourself up, then ask Him to do it for you.
2.      You can scrub the bathroom floor while you’re down there.  Did you know when you despair, the worst part about being down is that you’re not up?  You’re not where you’re supposed to be.  What on earth made me think I could help the situation by lying on the bathroom floor?  God didn’t want me to scrub the bathroom floor.  He wanted me to tackle the tasks that were overwhelming me… with His strength.  Sometimes we try to do things in our own strength.  And when our strength fails, we fall apart.  We’re proud, aren’t we?  We want to think we can do it all…we’ve got it altogether. In Isaiah 40:28-31, the Bible says: “ Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.  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.” I can see a miracle in verse 29: to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  How much strength does the person have in that verse? None. What does God say that He would do with the strength that we don’t have? He said He would increase it. One of the definitions of the word “increase” is “to multiply.” He would multiply it. Unless the Math rules have changed, 0 times 0 equals 0. The miracle here is that when you have absolutely no strength left, GET UP! God will work a miracle, and He will multiply that 0, and give you strength that you don’t have. God had things in control, even though Joshua didn’t.  While I was on the bathroom floor, things were being neglected.  The longer I lay there, the farther behind I got in my work.  That in itself could be discouraging, except that God can use even those times for our good. This devotional came from the time I spent on the bathroom floor.  Realize that God can take even your bad times, and turn them into good.  One of the most wonderful things I’ve learned in the past few weeks is just simply to BE WHERE God wants me to be.  And it certainly isn’t on the bathroom floor…unless He wants me to scrub it.          
  1. You can do like Joshua did:  Joshua 8:3 says, “So Joshua arose,…”  you can obey the Lord, reach up and take His hand, and let Him put you back on your feet.  I don’t know about your house, but the cleanest place in my house is not my bathroom floor.  In fact, it’s the dirtiest place in my house, probably.  When we get right down to it, (no pun intended) do you know what causes us to despair, and grovel in our anxieties?  It’s plain ole, common ordinary sin.  What caused the defeat of Israel, and Ai’s victory?  It was the sin of Achan, and his taking the accursed thing.  There was sin in the camp, and God was punishing His people.  He knew what He was doing.  Defeat was part of the disciplining program.  Not only did He want the sin to be confessed, He wanted the accursed thing out of the camp…and the accused, also.  GET UP, and confess your sin, and get back where you belong.  It’s a sin to fall apart, as bad as I hate to admit it. It’s a sin to lose control in the first place. Do you know why? When you have control that means God doesn’t.  Confess your sin, and give the control back to Him Who should have it in the first place. Remember:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   
I John 1:9

Monday, April 27, 2015

Prayer Letter - April 2015

How I wish you could follow me around and share in all the exciting things God has done for me these past two months. Three ladies have been saved in my different ministries…one in my Sunday school class February 8…and I am seeing significant growth in new believers.

I got to visit with Ulises and my daughter, Elizabeth in Ixtapa the week of February 9-14. Besides all the activities that keep them busy, the last day of my visit they had a special dinner in their home for their pastors and their families. What a joy it was, not only to enjoy special fellowship with them, but to think how God is using these men through the faithfulness of Ulises and Elizabeth. Pray for them as they continue to train new men to serve God full time. On March 15, their church in Chiapa de Corzo celebrated their 6th Anniversary. 

I left my beloved San Cristóbal on March 6, and flew to California to attend the Pastors’ Conference at North Valley Baptist Church, where my son, David and his wife, Jolene serve on the Golden State Bible College staff. I enjoyed attending a few of the English services, and hearing the challenging messages; but most of my time was spent in the Spanish church where David helps Pastor Eduardo Calderón.  I was privileged to speak three times to the Hispanic ladies. I don’t need to tell you that the highlight of my trip was the time I got to spend with David and Jolene, and their five precious children who have grown so much since the last time I saw them a year ago.

On the 13th, I traveled to El Paso, and two days later I got to attend the 15th Anniversary service at Living Water Baptist Church in Chaparral, NM, where my son, Joel is pastor: one church, two congregations: English speaking, and Hispanics. The guest speaker was Abram Saenz, a young man who was saved in the church there in 2002. He went off to Oklahoma to prepare to be a commercial airline pilot. But after receiving his diploma, he felt the Lord would have him serve full time. Two very special guests were present that day: a couple of gentlemen over 90 years old, both World War II veterans. One was saved in the church there last November, on his 93rd Birthday! While I was there I was privileged to speak four times, both in English and in Spanish. I always enjoy being with those precious people, and watching how the work grows from year to year.  Needless to say, I enjoyed special family time with Joel, Margaret, and my two beautiful granddaughters.

On March 26, I traveled to Sahuarita, Arizona, where Pastor Oscar Galván and his wife, Elinor, invited me to speak in their 17thannual Spanish Ladies’ Conference. When I gave the invitation after one of the sessions, two ladies were saved.  I spoke seven times during my visit, including teaching in Chapel at their Christian Academy. It was an honor to meet Elinor’s parents, Bro. Richard and Marilyn Pfaff, who have faithfully served the Lord for many years. 

I met a young man from Guatemala as I boarded one of my two planes bound for home. I spent special time with him after landing, and got to witness to him, and share my life’s testimony.  He asked me: “All these years you’ve served the Lord, have you ever regretted it?” I immediately answered him, “Not one minute! There’s nothing like serving the Lord.” 

And there isn’t!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Prayer letter - February 2015

It’s Monday morning, and I’m wondering where to start to brag on the Lord…let’s see. The most wonderful blessing He gives to me is found in Lamentations 3:22, 23: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” “Thank you, Lord, for a brand new week, and another chance to try to please You better than I did last week.”

How do I sum up His blessings to me and my ministry in few words, so as not to take up too much of your time? I’ll do my best.

It was an honor to be able to participate in my daughter, Ruthie Miller, and her husband, Steve’s first Ladies’ Christmas Banquet in Querétaro, on December 4 of last year. There were two ladies saved, and it was a blessing to have had as their special guest the judge (magistrate) of the Supreme Court, and her husband. She was visibly touched, as I asked her to come up and say a few words. I told her I would pray for her every morning. It just happened to be her birthday, and the ladies from the church sang “Happy Birthday” to her…actually a birthday hymn we sing in our churches here. During the mealshe asked me if I actually would pray for her every morning.  I assured her I would, and I do.

Do you remember my mentioning our new special guests at our banquet here last November? They were the eleven policewomen who attended. On January 28, five ladies from the police force who had just finished their night shift, went home and showered, and attended our first monthly Prayer Breakfast of the year. Estela was saved at our Banquet, and she told me during breakfast that she prays with her group before they go out. Estela’s baby is due in a few months. 

In 2010 for the first time in the history of our city, we had a lady mayor. She was also present that morning. She raised her hand for Salvation when I gave the invitation, but she couldn’t be convinced that she could know for sure that she would go to Heaven when she dies. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to work in her heart. 

I never take for granted the invitations my sons and sons in law extend to me to teach the ladies in their churches. On December 28, I enjoyed teaching the ladies’ Sunday school class in Ixtapa, where Ulises and my daughter, Elizabeth serve.

What has the Lord done for you that makes you want to serve Him better this year than you did in 2014? Well, let’s get busy and do it!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14

A cycle, according to the dictionary, is a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order. 

For example, our automatic washing machines go through cycles. First, is the filling cycle; then the agitation cycle; after that the spinning cycle; next the first cycle is repeated to fill the machine for the rinse cycle; then follows the last spin cycle.

We take out those clean clothes, put in more dirty ones, and the cycles repeat themselves, over and over again.

In the book of Joshua, chapter 1, we read about the death of Moses, and Israel’s new leader, who took Moses’ place. A man named Joshua became the new leader of millions of Israelites who had left Egypt from bondage, toward the Promised Land.

To a certain extent, we can compare this situation with our own lives…just as Moses had died, 2014 has died. It’s in our past. It’s buried. We will never ever see it again. Joshua could never again say to Moses the things he wanted to tell him, because Moses was dead. And so it is with us, we can’t change those negative things we said or did in 2014. The only leader that the children of Israel had after the death of Moses was Joshua. The only thing you and I have, friend, is 2015. We will never have another opportunity to go back and “dig up” the corpse of 2014.

Did you know that no one saw Moses die? No one saw his body. Perhaps there were times when Joshua didn’t know what to do. We can just imagine Joshua saying to the Lord, “Lord, do you suppose Moses really died? Is it possible that he may still be alive? Could we maybe go back and look for him, so that he can help me with this problem, to help me make the right decision?”

No! They would never again see Moses, because he was dead.

Friend, 2014 has died. We can’t live it over again. It’s time to bury it.

What’s keeping you from doing that?

Life also has cycles. The lesson today is this: we must close cycles. It is a blessing to be able to enter into a new cycle…a New Year.

Let’s compare our problems and our failures to the life of Moses, and 2014 with the desert. Joshua is going to represent us. The time came when Joshua had to realize that Moses didn’t exist anymore. No one saw him die. In the last chapter of Deuteronomy, verse 6 tells us that God buried Moses. And in the last part of that verse we’re told, but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” What you and I should do with our problems, with last year’s failures is:

1. Realize that the desert is in the past. Joshua had to decide to leave Moses in the desert where he had died, where God buried him. What problems or sorrows did you go through in 2014? Maybe you’ve tried to change situations, relationships in your life, and you can’t. It’s causing you even more sorrow, regret, insomnia, physical problems. Let God bury it. If you will give your “Moses” to God so that He can bury him, you won’t be able to find him. Did you commit a sin, or several sins in 2014, that you feel have caused irreparable damage? If you have confessed them, and if you’ve done everything you know to restore the damage, God has forgiven you. Psalm 103:12 assures us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” I have found such comfort in the words of Jeremiah 50:20, “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” Just read Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” And what about I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And Micah 7:19He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Maybe you can’t. Tell the Lord to take your sins, and put them under the ground. Or even better, As far as the east is from the west,…”
2. Realize that new opportunities to serve others lie ahead of you. Joshua 1:2  “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” Moses would have been a hindrance to Joshua, dragging his stinky body through the desert. Did you know there may be corpses in your life? One is called remorse. The other is called guilt. While you are dragging those corpses from 2014, you are hindering your effectiveness as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, and as a child of God. You can’t fulfill your responsibilities; these corpses produce “stinky” negative attitudes, which in turn, affect others.
3. Determine that your strengths are going to focus on things that really count. Joshua 1:6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Did you make mistakes in 2014? I did. We all did. Ask God to forgive you, and focus on the future.
4. Close out the cycle of 2014, with all its corpses.
a) Realize what you did right.
b) Accept what went wrong.
c) Learn from what you did right, and keep doing it; and what you did wrong, and don’t repeat it. Balance the books, just like a businesswoman does at the end of the year.
d) Just do it; start all over again; have a new vision.

God also gives us a new day every twenty-four hours. Days also represent cycles. Lamentations 3:22, 23 says, “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” We can apply this same “cycle principle” every morning. It isn’t necessary to wait another year to start all over. We can do this every morning.

Tomorrow morning get up and thank God for another opportunity to serve Him better today than we did yesterday.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Chapter 20 - "It's Too Late!"

I’m not a young mother any more, and my children aren’t little. They’re all grown, happily married to wonderful spouses, with precious children of their own. They all serve the Lord, and I believe this cycle will repeat itself in the future: my grandchildren will prayerfully marry men and women who encourage my grandchildren to love and serve the Lord, who will in turn teach my great grandchildren to do the same.

I hope I haven’t painted a picture of perfection for you. Our families are anything but perfect: we have been through struggles, and failures. Some of my children don’t agree with me on the way we raised them. In fact, there have been many, many times in recent years, when I’ve wondered: “Have my children looked back on their childhood, and their teen years, and seen how many mistakes their father and I made? They’ve probably…I hope…sworn not to make those mistakes with their children. 

So, I guess I’m addressing those of you who have passed those child rearing years. And I ask us this question: “Is it too late?” Well, yes, it is as far as those years go…years that now seem like a vapor. 

This chapter actually isn’t only for mothers who have passed their child-rearing years. It’s for everyone who has looked back on an unpleasant experience, and thought to herself, “Oh, if only I had a second chance!” But going back and un-doing our mistakes is like trying to put an egg back in its shell once it’s broken: you can’t do it.

But I think I have hope for us this morning, as I sit in my very quiet, child-free house: I have hope for those of us who were too strict, or maybe not quite strict enough. There’s hope for those things that come back to our memory…time spent on those things that didn’t really matter a hoot; failure to spend time on others things that really, really did matter. 

What about the negative things I said to my children when they were growing up? What about the positive things I didn’t say about their silly little accomplishments? Can I ever erase my failures from my mind and from my past? Of course I can’t.

But let me share some mothering things that I’ve learned in my forty-plus years in this career: 

1. I’m a sinner. I’m not perfect. God knows I wasn’t a perfect wife, and not even in my wildest imagination, was I a perfect mother. My husband was a sinner, too, and we made little sinners. We live in a sinful world with other sinners, and we’re surrounded by sinful influences. In no way am I excusing myself this morning by blaming my failures on my nature. I know mothers who have never read their Bible, who did a splendid job at mothering. I don’t even come close to their admirable qualities. And they didn’t even know the Lord as personally as I do. But in some small way, I hope to remove some of the negative feelings about past failures if I can, by letting you know why we make mistakes. 
2. While we can never go backward in life, I do believe God does close old doors, while He opens new ones. If you are the mother of adult children, maybe you have done things in your past which have actually harmed relationships. May I say something here? If your children are still small, you probably look at us older mothers, like I used to do thirty-five years ago and think, “Oh, if only I didn’t have diapers to change, homework to patrol, and baths to supervise…” Well, believe me, that day will come so quickly, you won’t even realize it. Just enjoy the simplicity of your career now. Perhaps the biggest boon of having small children is that they don’t judge you. You can pretty much get away with anything, and they will come running to you at the end of the day, and hug you. Young children usually don’t hold grudges. Big children do. Unless you know the tragedy of not being forgiven, you don’t know much about suffering. How do you cope with the burden of “sins unforgiven?” I don’t know. I haven’t really figured that one out yet. But I have found comfort in knowing that God does forgive, because He is God. Children are people. They are sinners, and they haven’t completely learned the art of forgiveness. They hurt. And when we are the cause of that hurt, perhaps the hurt has gone far beyond the capacity to forgive. Have you done everything you know to restore broken relationships? Still no forgiveness there? Don’t let it destroy your joy. Take courage in the fact that God does forgive you. Then just back off, and leave it in His hands. If you’ve confessed your sin to the child you have failed, and if you’ve asked for their forgiveness, then confess it to God, ask Him for forgiveness, and rest assured that He will forgive you. You cannot control people’s emotions. Forgiveness is an act of the heart. And the heart is sacred territory, where only the Holy Spirit can tread. Especially if that child knows the Lord, trust Him to take control as only He can. Then just claim that joy that you lost, and don’t let the devil rob you of the happiness God wants you to have. Another thing I would like to say here is this: no matter how much you are hurting, remember that child who cannot forgive you is suffering more than you are. Holding grudges always, always hurts the grudge-holder more than the person who does not receive forgiveness. If you love that unforgiving child, and I know you do, pray for healing in their heart. There is no way a person can have perfect peace and joy as long as they have an unforgiving heart. By the way, do you have an unforgiving heart? Has one of your children done something to hurt you that goes beyond your forgiveness? Shame on you. Ask God to take that hurt. Give it to Him, and ask for His healing. You do unimaginable damage to relationships when you refuse to forgive. You can forgive, yes you can.
3. Learn from your past mistakes, or balance the books. I am by no means condoning the things I’ve done wrong in my life. I never want to encourage a ho-hum attitude toward sin by thinking, “Oh, well, God knows I’m a sinner, and I’ll never be perfect. That’s just the way I am.” Never! But the past is in the past. We can’t change it, but we can learn from it. Just like a businesswoman balances her books at the end of the year: what brought a profit? What caused losses? What did I do in the past to harm relationships? What did I do right? What did I do that brought me closer to my children? What did I do that drove them away? I must analyze my actions, and my attitudes. I still have children who love being with me. I must never take that for granted like I have taken past relationships. I must guard my mind, my words, my attitudes, and my heart. I must treasure those moments that I once took for granted. I must place my priorities in order. People, not things, not time, not even ministries, are what count most, and I must place them at the top of my list. I won’t bore you by confessing my failures, but you know yours. Bow your head right now, and ask God to show you where you have failed in the past, and ask Him help you to look forward to the future; ask Him to help you not only to avoid doing or saying or thinking the things that destroyed wonderful relationships; but also ask Him to turn every negative into a positive…where you didn’t listen, be absorbed in what your loved ones are saying to you, not only in words, but in expressions, and in attitudes.

So is it really too late? It’s never too late, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Let’s say with Paul: 
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14
Personally, Mom, I think you’re doing a great job! Keep up the good work! Have a good time mothering today.