God Is Faithful

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

As I sat outside with Baxter in the windy and rain-free morning sunshine last Wednesday after four days of constant flooding rainfall, courtesy of Hurricane Harvey, I praised God for this faithfulness and prayed for those so horridly impacted by the destruction.

Pilot and I were spared with very minimal damage. Many, many others unfortunately were not.

Isn’t it peculiar how a few short hours and a shift in the wind can shift our perspective?

Monday evening after three very long, hard days of dealing with incessant rains which caused water to leak into our living room, and maybe a grand total of six hours of sleep during those three days, I felt depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Almost.

Prayer partners worked overtime on our behalf. Thank you, Jesus.

We knew the same Jesus who stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee could calm our storm. We knew the Maker of the Wind could blow the bands of rain stuck between two high pressure systems out of our area, or better yet, simple remove the storm’s power altogether. We knew this. What we didn’t know was when.

Although Monday night was bleak, Tuesday dawned with promise. The rain didn’t come down so hard. There were breaks between downpours. The water that came into our house slowed. The end looked like it might be in sight. Praise God.

So Tuesday evening, after four dreadful days, God decided it was time.

No matter what storm each of us faces in our lives when we know the Maker of the Wind and Master of the Waves, we can be confident God is faithful and he is able. Although we may wonder when he’s going to rescue us, his timing is perfect. Just because we can’t see God working, that doesn’t mean he isn’t.

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On one of those days Jesus and His followers got into a boat. Jesus said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” Then they pushed out into the water. As they were going, Jesus fell asleep. A wind storm came over the lake. The boat was filling with water and they were in danger. The followers came to awake Jesus. They said, “Teacher! Teacher! We are going to die!” Then Jesus got up and spoke sharp words to the wind and the high waves. The wind stopped blowing and there were no more waves.  He said to them, “Where is your faith?” The followers were surprised and afraid. They said to each other, “What kind of a man is He? He speaks to the wind and the waves and they obey Him.” Luke 8:22-25 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures Helping Houston Flood Victims

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Christian brothers, we want you to know how the loving-favor of God has been shown in the churches in the country of Macedonia. They have been put to the test by much trouble, but they have much joy. They have given much even though they were very poor. They gave as much as they could because they wanted to. They asked from their hearts if they could help the Christians in Jerusalem. It was more than we expected. They gave themselves to the Lord first. Then they gave themselves to us to be used as the Lord wanted. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NLV)

In an email exchange with a writer friend in Harlan, Kentucky, Carlton told me a lady from Harlan organized a donation drive for the Houston flood victims. Oh, my. The truck was scheduled to leave Kentucky yesterday, September 2, 2017.

Unless you’ve been on the receiving end of such generosity you might find it hard to understand the impact that sacrificial act of the folks in Harlan has on my heart.

Kentucky and Houston are not next door neighbors by any stretch of the imagination. I just Googled it. The distance is 1,021 miles, and the predicted time to get here from there is 15 hours and 38 minutes. That is if the roads are passable and there is no traffic. Over 1,000 miles! For strangers. Amazing.

Houston has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of sacrificial love not just from fellow Houstonians and Texans, but from people all over the country.

This outpouring reminded me of the Macedonian church Paul spoke of in his second letter to the Corinthians. Macedonians were Greeks, not Jews. They were new Christians. They were people the Jerusalem Jews often looked down on. Yet … out of their poverty they gave to the Jerusalem church because of their love for God first, then their love for their fellow man.

I am not saying that you must do this, but I have told you how others have helped. This is a way to prove how true your love is. You know of the loving-favor shown by our Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, but He became poor for your good. In that way, because He became poor, you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 (NLV)

Only the Sovereign LORD knows how long the recovery of the Houston area will take. He is the one who places the desire to help on people’s hearts. There is great need, but I’m aware enough of my abilities and lack of, strengths and weaknesses to know although my heart cries for those who lost so very much, I’m limited in what I can do.

As a former elementary school teacher, my heart grieves for the children who lost all their new school clothes and fresh school supplies. I grieve for the teachers who worked so hard over the summer to have their classrooms ready and inviting those first few weeks of school.

I grieve. And in my grief I make a decision. I will contribute new clothes. New shoes. New school supplies to the school district where I taught. Clear Creek Independent School District is taking donations both physical and monetary to help those students so horribly impacted by Hurricane Harvey’s destruction.

Other districts are doing the same. If this is something that interests you, here’s the CCISD link to learn more.

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If a man is ready and willing to give, he should give of what he has, not of what he does not have. 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Hurricane Harvey and Houston Texas

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

If, like most people, you spent the greater part of this past week glued to your television or device for updates on the news regarding Hurricane Harvey and Houston, Texas; the rain event the weather service called an unprecedented catastrophic event with record-setting historical rain fall, perhaps your heart was grieved at the sight of people young and old rescued by boat, front loader, dump truck, and helicopter from the rising flood waters.

Pilot, Pie, and I live in the Houston area. We’ve been through Alison, Rita, Ike, and now Harvey since moving here from Florida in 2000.

Right now I’d like to thank each and every one of you who faithfully prayed for us, and the rest of the area, during this unprecedented catastrophic event. God was again faithful to hear and answer. Proving it is through placing our trust in him that fear is driven out.

You may have heard Houston Texans football player, JJ Watt, established a fundraiser to help with the recovery efforts. Here’s a link if you feel moved to contribute to help those who lost so much. The storm may be in our rearview mirror when you read this, but the recovery efforts will last far into the future.

I find it interesting that right before Harvey hit Texas, I’d been thinking about Job’s conversation with God. I wrote a post on that conversation before Harvey was a blip on the weather screen. I bumped it from today, and rescheduled it for September 7, 2017.

Near the end of the Book of Job God challenges the man who dared question him. These last five chapters may have been intended for Job, but are written for each of us as well.

In the midst of Job’s suffering he and his friends talked to each other a lot. But they didn’t talk with God very much. Did you ever notice that? It took the whole Book of Job before God answers Job from the whirlwind and asks, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” (Job 38:1-3)

In the midst of our personal suffering we may talk a lot to our family and friends, without spending much time talking with God about our situation.

I sent more texts to family and friends during the days of Hurricane Harvey than I have at any other time. (I am not a proficient texter as those who receive my texts can attest.) Sissy also served as a contact person dispensing updates on our situation.

Along with communicating with others, I stayed in constant communication with God. As Job showed us, that is key is it not?

Our lives and wellbeing are ultimately in the hands of an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator God who spoke the world into being, laid the foundations of the earth, told the sea it can only go THIS far, and controls the wind, rain and lightning.

Friends are good to bounce things off and listen to their counsel, but in the end it is better to spend more time listening to God than discussing the hows and whys of things that are beyond our comprehension and control, don’t you think?

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“Who shut up the sea with doors, when it rushed out from its secret place? I made clouds its clothing, and put much darkness around it. I marked the places where it could not pass, and set locks and doors. And I said, ‘You will come this far, and no farther. Here will your proud waves stop.” Job 38:8-11 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Extreme Heat Advisory

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

(This post was written the week before Hurricane Harvey descended on our area of Texas and delivered several feet of rain. 🙂 )

Once again, our area has been under an extreme heat advisory for multiple days running. Hot. Unhealthy. Miserable. No rain. Little relief.

With the heat comes wilted grass, plants, flowers and shrubs. Not to mention people. Even outdoor-loving Baxter has his limits for how long he will stay outside.

I am always amazed at what a little water does to revive plants that are in desperate need of watering. They are wilted to the point of looking as if they will not survive, then bounce back to face the extreme heat of another day.

As I watered our pineapple sage and watched the leaves spring back to life, I thought of how our words and actions could be the soothing, much needed water for those we meet in our everyday lives. Those facing extreme heat in their lives who need to be revived.

Think back to when the right words or gestures came to your dry and thirsty soul. Wouldn’t you like to do the same for someone else?

It really doesn’t take much to lift someone up. We only need to open our eyes and ears to those around us. Sometimes that may mean closing our mouths to listen.

Is the fast food attendant wiping the counter where you’re filling your soda cup? Tell them they sure are making that stainless steel shine.

Cashier at the store seem a little frazzled? Be pleasant. Tell her thank you when she’s done.

Mother of screaming toddler in a public place? Say a prayer for her, and mean it.

Of course, opportunities to build up our family members and close friends abound.

Do something nice for them, without being asked. Offer to help with something you know they are struggling with.

Encourage their efforts. Applaud their successes. Comfort them when they are distressed. Give a needed hug. A listening ear. Pray.

Is there someone around you who could use a comforting word? A kind gesture? An affirmation that they’re doing a good job? Step out. Open the faucet. Be that gentle shower on a dry and thirsty land. Make a difference in someone’s life.

Just like water on drought stricken plants, your kind words and gestures will bring relief to those facing the extreme heat of their lives in your sphere of influence.

What do you do to build up one another? What have others done to build you up?

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So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now.  I Thessalonians 5:11 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Unsin Me

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

While preparing to lead a lesson on David’s penitential Psalm 51 this month, I read a commentator who said “purify” was the same as “unsin”. Isn’t that interesting?

Psalm 51 is David’s petition to God for forgiveness after the prophet Nathan confronted David about his adultery with Bathsheba, and murder of her husband, Uriah. In this psalm David admits his guilt, and asks for God’s forgiveness. He pleads for the restoration of his relationship with God.

David pleads with God based on knowledge of who God is.

God is gracious, loving and compassionate. David understood God is our only hope. He understood we can go before God and confess our sins, knowing God will not hurt us despite our sin.

In this psalm David didn’t rationalize his sins as we might. He did not blame others for his actions. He made no excuses. He owned his sin and bowed before God in humility, begging for God’s forgiveness.

When David asked God to purify, or unsin him, he asked for God to take David’s sin away. Cleanse him through the sacrificial blood. Blot out his guilt as if no sin occurred. David asked God to return him to fellowship with God, and change his heart and life.

Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and shed blood paid the debt we owe for our sins. Still, God wants to see evidence of sorrow and brokenness over our sins from those who claim him as Lord. It is only through repentance of our sins we can have a restored relationship with God, and that restoration allows us to be useful to him once more.

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God, be merciful to me because you are loving. Because you are always ready to be merciful, wipe out all my wrongs. Wash away all my guilt and make me clean again. Psalm 51:1-2 (NCV)
 I wish you well.

Sandy

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Does Shunning Work?

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Baxter attended only one puppy obedience class before the canine influenza hit our area, eliminating all gatherings of dogs from his schedule for four weeks until his body builds up immunity from his flu shots.

At the one class he did attend, Pilot and I were taught to handle Baxter’s jumping on us by crossing our arms and turning from him. Pie calls it Amish Shunning, which is a pretty good description of the position. The puppy trainer said Baxter would automatically know not to jump up, and would sit when we turned.

Yeah. Well. I have scratches and bruises on the back of my legs to prove shunning doesn’t work.

Instead of jumping on the front of me, the turn and shun move lets Baby B jump on the back of me.

Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere. And I think I might know part of the problem.

In Amish Shunning, we turn from Baxter and refuse to give him attention, but in the process, we expect him to figure out what his correct behavior should be without actually showing him what it should be.

He’s a puppy for goodness sake. How’s he supposed to know what humans expect from him unless that proper behavior is demonstrated?

All this shunning led me to think about how new Believers are sometimes treated by long-time Christians. Often, long-timers expect new Christians – puppies – to know what the proper way to behave is, and we do the Amish Shunning-thing by crossing our arms over our chest, and turning away from them when they don’t behave as we expect.

In the process we leave it up to them to figure out how they should live.

courtesy pixabayJesus didn’t do that. He stepped right into a person’s messiness, loved them, and lovingly explained how they should live.

He didn’t shun the woman at the well. He purposefully met her where she was and had a two-way conversation that showed her a better way to live.

Jesus did not condemn the woman the Pharisees brought before him to be stoned. He showed compassion, mercy, and grace – ah, yes, grace. Then he told the woman to go and sin no more.

When Simon huffed about a certain woman anointing Jesus’ feet with oil, Jesus told a story to illustrate which of the two did what pleased God.

Pilot and I continue working with Baxter to help him learn what is acceptable behavior in the Quandt household, and what is frowned upon. He’s a smart puppy. He’ll figure it out, but we don’t believe shunning will be the most productive way to reach that goal.

Just as Baby B needs to be shown what is acceptable in a loving way, so do those of us who strive to follow Jesus.

It’s a life-long process, so how about we all agree … no Amish Shunning?

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 You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors? Proverbs 5:12-13 (NLT)
 I wish you well.

Sandy

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