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