By My Side

by Barb DeCello
Our Lord has risen!
 
What beautiful words, what an exceptional God, and what an overwhelming love!
 
During this Lenten season, I look back over the previous two years. Did I lean on the Lord for everything? Did I? Was there a time that I forgot? I don’t think so, yet when life gets rolling through the months, it is very possible. Did I remember to Praise our Lord? That I trust I did; I am a secret car singer at times to my own type of praise and prayer, an off-tune, ear-piercing worship. Ahh…but did I leave God when my brother was diagnosed with Renal Cancer or when my husband was diagnosed with LBD? God clearly states in Deuternonomy 31:16, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Wow, I could have turned my back in frustration, yet He still walks with me.
 
Trials come in many sizes, not one more important to God than another. Always listening and watching is a God that has led me through many rough years, the cancer that took my brother Doug in 2017 and my husband’s declining health. I can say, “okay, enough is enough, God,” but is it? Christ died on the cross for me—for you. Could we really get mad and pull away from that kind of love? Don’t pull away, because it states in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Faithful He is, gently guiding me through the rough patches and hitting me square in the heart with His blessings.
 
Frank’s illness, Dementia with Parkinson’s, created a syndrome, Capgras, a rather cruel syndrome where Frank begins to look at me as an imposter in his life; he feels that I am someone who at times is trying to deceive him into thinking I am his wife. Still, Frank recognizes everyone else in his life. That is the cruelty and reality of Capgras. However, God uses all to His good. On New Year’s Eve Frank went to the ER with pneumonia and an UTI. On January 2 we went to the Brethren Home at Cross Keys Rehab. Frank spent 21 days and I spent every day for six hours alongside Frank, leaving at the end of the day.
As many of you may have experienced in these situations, it was difficult, especially when God revealed to me His great gift and lesson for me. Frank recognized me the entire time during his stay at the rehab and yet here at home, how long will this last? Obviously, I wish forever more, but honestly it does not matter. Our Gracious Father reminded me that my husband still loves me, and his heart recognizes me. God says in Joshua 1:19, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.”
 
I think there is a lesson in that which we can all learn. For me, it is that God will forever be by my side guiding me, loving me and setting me straight when I walk in anger and frustration. God also taught me the biggest lesson at this time in my life. I am loved by Frank, my husband of 29 indescribable years; he knows me in his heart even when disease tries to push me out.
 
I pray for all of us that during and after this Glorious time of year where Our Saviour, our King, our God is risen, our hearts will rise as well to the possibilities that God has so much more planned for us. Life may get tough­­— that’s a given— but if I had turned away I would never have tied the gift of recognition back to God. And that would be a shame. Praise God in all ways.

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ABC’s of Bible Memorization

by Barb Schumacher
Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee. (Psalm 119:11)
 
In 2016 a little four-year-old boy from Tyler, Texas became a YouTube video star when his father posted a video of him. What was little Tanner Hemness doing in the video? Well, he was reciting Scripture verses from A to Z. Yes, within six months Taylor Hemness taught his son, Tanner, (yes, from Tyler, Texas…lots of “Ts” here!) 26 Scripture verses—one for each letter of the alphabet!
 
My friend, Bonnie Fuhrman, urged our Ladies’ Bible study group to do the same—memorize! UGH! While I was totally impressed with little Tanner, I knew that I would not be so successful at this memorization thing. And at this writing, I am nowhere near my goal…..but I am trying. And I would like to encourage you to do the same. And what better season to “hide God’s Word in our hearts” than Lent.
When I first started this exercise, I was planning to write just one verse for each letter. This project has now grown to at least one and many times three or four for each letter. But I must tell you that the greater blessing that has come from all of this Scripture reading, writing and memorizing is the blessing, the joy, the peace, the gratefulness and the change in me that comes from my devotion time as I read these ancient words.
 
I pray that you, too, take up the challenge to “hide God’s Word in your heart” and to be blessed during this Holy Lenten season.
Dear Lord, help me to delight in your Word, to meditate on your precepts and your truths and hide your Word away in my heart, so that I will not sin against you. Help me to share these truths from your Word with others, as I strive to be Your light in a dark world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
 
 
To view little Tanner and his scripture memorization go to: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2017/01/4-year-old-recites-abcs-using-bible-verses/ At the bottom of the article, you will see the listing of the verses that he has recited and the Scripture references.

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What Are You Going To Do With It?

by Dan Inners
 
On Wednesday, January 30, I had the privilege to go serve dinner to the people at the LifePath shelter in York. Now for those of you who remember, this was the first day of the Polar Vortex that hit York this past winter. The temperature was six degrees this afternoon!
My job for the evening was to serve the main dish, which started as spaghetti for the first few people and changed to chicken noodle casserole for the remainder. A few things really caught my attention this evening. As I started scooping noodles onto trays, the gentlemen running the kitchen kept telling me that I was scooping too much and needed to cut down on my serving size. I was only giving one serving spoon sized scoop and I assure you that if I were at home, my size would have been two or three heaping serving spoonsful worth. I wasn’t used to putting so little on a plate/tray.
 
The first group of people we served were people from the public, homeless people who were living outside during the Polar Vortex. They entered with their noses as red as Rudolph’s and yet they were so incredibly thankful for this small scoop of food that I was putting on their tray. Just about every person who came through the line looked me in the eye and thanked me for this food. This amazed me and humbled doesn’t even come close to explaining the feeling in my stomach.
 
As the line kept coming, the boss kept reminding me to keep my serving size small. After a short time, I noticed this one lady who kept looking at me and smiling. Of course I just smiled back. She wandered up to my station and asked if she could have seconds—I looked around and didn’t see the boss, so I said yes. Oops! The boss was right around the corner and reminded the lady as well as me that seconds were not an option. It was so hard for me to see this in action. After dinner the people we had just served needed to clear out so the people who are residents at LifePath could come eat. The residents get to eat as much as they want until the food runs out.
 
I left my duties as a server and am eager to return another time to give as much as I can. As I left, I was reminded of this: each and every day we get up, we look in the mirror, and some of us complain. “I don’t want to go to work;” “I don’t want to go to school;” ”I don’t want to eat this.” I met a bunch of people who literally have nothing and yet were grateful for small amounts of food and a little bit of warmth for a short time before being sent back out to the Vortex.
 
The next time you get up and look in the mirror, don’t look at yourself but instead see Jesus staring right back at you. Each day you awaken is a gift; you are the one responsible for how you use your daily allotted time. Let’s be thankful, joyful, humble servants. How are you going to use your time today? What are YOU going to do with it?

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Self-Love and Self-Care

by Deb Trojak
“What do you do for you?”
 
I was asked this question recently and it made me pause. We, as a culture, have begun to promote self-love and self-care. They are concepts that say you should take care of yourself first—taking time to do the things you enjoy, to refresh yourself—so that you can then care for others.
 
These are seemingly harmless ideas and ones that make complete sense if you’re coming from a secular perspective. But I’ll admit, every time I hear someone talking about them in a positive light, I cringe internally. To be perfectly honest, I have no problem with self-love. In fact, that is my problem. I love myself way too much. My human nature is such that I am constantly at war with myself. If I have the option to take the bigger piece of pie…I’m gonna take it. It is only Christ’s admonishment that I should love others as greater than myself that keeps me (somewhat) in check.
 
I’m not saying that taking time for yourself is a bad thing, but when I am faced with the concept of self-care, I keep coming back to Jesus’ example. In Luke 5:16 it says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” And this is not just a one time thing. Repeatedly, Jesus takes the time to get alone with God.
 
I need to follow my Savior’s example of self-care. There’s nothing wrong with setting aside time to do things that I enjoy, but those things are not going to rejuvenate me and allow me to pour into others’ lives the way that some alone time with God will.
What could be more refreshing and altering than spending time focused, not on myself, but on the One who actually has the ability to change me?

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Authority

by Herman Crawford
Our small group this month is looking at authority—and our homework assignment was to answer two questions: “who do you have authority over” and “who has authority over you.” The genesis of this is 1 Peter 2, where Peter tells us we are to “submit to every human authority.”
 
As I was thinking about the question “who has authority over me,” I thought about God and His authority. Talk about ultimate authority. In Genesis 1, there are about nine times in the NIV translation that reads “And God said” and things happen. He said “Let there be light” and it was so. He said “let there be” again and the heavens and waters separated. He spoke again and there was earth; again and there was night and day. This continued until finally God looked at His creation, said it was good, and rested.
 
Then look at “authority” in the New Testament. Matthew 7 tells us that Jesus was “teaching them as one having authority.” The New Testament speaks of Jesus having “authority” over unclean spirits, to forgive sins and in Matthew 28, He says “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” With this kind of power, how did Jesus end up nailed to the cross? He told Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was arrested to put his sword away and in verse 53—“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” This, my friends, is authority!
 
Then He was crucified, He died, and was buried. Is this where His authority ended? Peter says not even. Acts 2:24, Peter says “God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” Authority over death! We celebrate that authority at Easter. We celebrate a risen Christ who has all authority in heaven, on the earth and in the grave. All authority over all things—ALL things!
But does He have authority over your life?
Father, thank You that with Your authority to create with just Your voice, You also give us authority. That authority allows us to go against what You have deemed to be good and in our best interests. May Your Spirit watch over us and lead us in Your way, under Your authority. Amen.

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What About Me?

by Mark Schumacher
How often do I ask myself that question—more often quietly to myself? Well, I should keep track on a given day or each day for a week. While I believe my heart is usually in the right place, catch me in my work setting and next thing I know, a shift has taken place (not that this is the only place, but it seems to happen quicker at work). Work provides a vast array of personalities and situations, people who can’t or just don’t feel like doing their work thoroughly, followed by demands from upstairs I am not ready to hear. Well, those good intentions I carried with me from my morning devotions have taken a big hit. I am in self-preservation mode—more like selfish mode.
 
Can I give examples when I am elsewhere? You bet I can. But this is to be a short devotional, so I’ll share those another time. Why is it so easy to focus on what is best for me, what I can do for my enjoyment, what my goals are for the day and receiving what I believe I deserve? If I allow my natural tendencies to control any situation, selfishness reigns!
 
Philippians 2:3-4 reminds me clearly…“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Well, Paul has made that clear!
 
Key reminders that I see in this passage are: Don’t be selfish Be humble (lowliness of mind) Consider others’ interests more than my own These motives will stem from love (God’s love for me, passing through me to others)
 
That surely sounds like Jesus—giving up his rights for others while helping those around Him wherever He could. He is the truest, most perfect example of a servant. This verse involves what I can do for those in my workplace. It does not matter if they meet my standards. They are God’s children.
Opportunities are not limited to just my workplace, but also my neighborhood, my church family, my biological family, and the family of God everywhere. The Lord can use me anywhere and anytime to help someone and to share the love of Jesus in some way, if I am open and willing.
 
Can I start working on my perspective? Can I not allow my surroundings to distract my focus away from what God’s Word convicts me to do? I am for trying harder, loving the unlovable, and asking God to show me where He wants to use me—today and each day I wake up. Are we all up for that challenge?
 
We are only here on earth for a short time. Why not make the most of it before we meet Jesus at the end of our time on this earth. Just ask Him…where and how would you like me to serve You, Lord, and others, today, this week, this year? He will not leave our side, and I expect we will enjoy being a vessel for His kingdom work. We have to admit—it does feel better to give than receive. Also, maybe once in a while, we can reward ourselves too. We should celebrate those special times when ministry goes well and when we have cleared a hurdle that has stood in our way.
 
I guess it is getting pretty clear: it is not about me, but it is about how I can share God’s love. Others’ needs ARE more important than mine. I am already very loved and cared for—God has that covered with a big blanket!
 
Enjoy this Lenten season as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior!
 
Dear Lord, allow me to be sensitive to the needs of others around me. Let me experience the joy that comes from pleasing you and fulfilling your purposes for my life. I ask this in the name of your son, Jesus, our loving Savior. Amen.

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