Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Back on track <3

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Hey-ho and Happy Monday!

We had a good weekend and thank you for your prayers for our John. He is back in his apartment with power, no water yet as of last night, but able to find places to wash dishes and take a shower. 

Thank you for continued prayers for the state as they recover. I don’t think we can adequately understand the breadth of damage and heartache they endured last week. 

On Sunday we had some wanted and unwanted guests. 

These three needed a place to hang for a while…

and this one must have been very hungry because it camped under our bird feeder most of the day. 

Rachel said it took him a while to get across town but he finally found us. Hope he didn’t bring Gary Groundhog with him. 

For our devotional thoughts today, I wanted to be very upfront with you about a little struggle I had and almost lost a battle that I am so grateful I didn’t cave into. 

I have gotten behind in my Bible in a year reading and as I added the Elijah study with Priscilla Shirer and began contemplating what else I might want to do for Lent, I jotted down in my journal around Wednesday that maybe it was a year to not read through the Bible. 

Then I picked up Priscilla’s study for the day and she opens with how one year she determined to read through the Bible and found it challenging but hung in there. 

Okay. 

So on Friday I took The Message to work with me and decided that in down time moments instead of scrolling or texting, I would catch up reading. 

I am so very glad I did. 

I am in Deuteronomy now and everywhere I turn, I am seeing passages from that same chapter shared and posted and talked about. 

The Word is jumping off the pages to me as I read Moses final sermon to God’s people. 

There are so many thoughts I could share but for today, I have to land on this one from my morning reading. 

Often when I am praying for something good, I tend to want to point out to God why I deserve it…sigh…yes…that’s why I need to read through this book every year…still a work in progress. 

Then I read in Deuteronomy 9 what God had to say to Israel about how He was going to clear the way for them as they moved into the land that He had promised Abraham and his descendants. 

He basically tells them…don’t think I am doing all of this for you because you deserve it. You are stubborn, disobedient, rebellious and unfaithful of heart. Prone to straying frequently and rather unpleasant to be around when things aren’t going your way…no. I am clearing this area because I promised I would and I don’t break My promises. I am emptying this land of wickedness not because you all are good but because I am holy. 

Wow. 

I love it. 

I love God. 

He puts me in my place and then He meets me where I am and dwells with me. 

Wonderful <3

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Lesson application and being given a test….

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Well, well, well…

We seem to have a new situation across the map of the USA and it all stems from bizarre and dangerous weather. 

Which seemed to be a proving ground yesterday for me and all the things I said in my posts last week. 

Because the rubber hit the ice packed roads as we monitored our John down in the frozen south where we normally are envying him for being out hiking and riding his bike while we hunker down for a snow day. 

I got a text early morning that he had been without power since 3 A.M. and it was hovering above 50 degrees in his apartment. 

Being born and raised in the Midwest affords the young man quite a bit of knowledge on how to navigate these kinds of cold weather challenges like ice, snow and wind chills…but he now resides in a state where there are no salt trucks, snow plows and the demand on power across the state wreaked havoc that sent this mom to her knees. 

All day we touched base with him, family, friends, friends who have family…thinking of them trying to get out and get phones charged and get warm.

Hotels that had power were sold out – and really no guarantee they would even have power through the night. 

So as I was repeatedly tempted to succumb to fear and anxiety throughout the day, the words I typed last week rose up and reminded me to ask myself…what I am saying to myself and to others about this situation that is out of my control.

It was a mighty battle my friends as I applied those lessons. 

I did reach out and ask several friends to pray. One responded with Psalm 91 so I headed right there and I camped there. 

Those feathers that He is supposed to surround us with became a down jacket and blanket wrapped around our son and others as I prayed. 

When he was making his way after dark to a friend’s home that had power, and we weren’t hearing from him; I spoke things like…

I don’t know where he is, but I know You know. I know You love him and You are with him no matter what and I will trust Your love and care for him. 

I still cried from time to time. 

I still was honest that I was deeply concerned for him. 

But I did do what I said last week we should do. 

I read things that spoke of His promises to never leave or forsake us and I hummed praise songs and I forced myself up out of my chair and away from my phone to get some house tasks finished. 

And when he texted that he had arrived and sent video of a room with lights and space for his things to camp out for a day or two, I thanked the Lord with all my heart and thanked our praying friends and continued to pray for and check on others who were still in homes without power. 

It is a good thing to love to speak Life. 

I will assure you, the outcome could have been different and yet – the process must always remain the same. 

He or she who loves to use the tongue to speak life, will eat the fruit of it. 

Prove it out for yourself in all the circumstances and see.

Today we pray for the homes that are without power or water throughout the South. We pray for those whose lives were ripped apart in North Carolina and we pray for the first responders, the road crews, the utility workers, community leaders. Our hearts and prayers are for you.

We will sing praises over you and we will thank God for His love and provision for you. We will pray for your safety and for comfort. We will pray that in all things, the good and the bad and the ugly, your hearts will be drawn to Him <3

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Wrapping up our week with some power workouts for our words <3

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We have been looking at a sermon given by Chris Otts at Antioch ATX in Austin TX (our son’s home church) all week here on the Journey. I have been learning and relearning with you and I hope it has blessed you. If you missed the series, start at Monday…and here is the link to the podcast for the original sermon https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/new-year-talk-to-me/id1257271009?i=1000504316920

Today I am covering the bulk of his message which was based on Acts 16.I suggest a refresher read of this chapter at some point but let’s dive in.

In the Acts passages, Paul and Silas have been beaten and are imprisoned. The charges against them are based on exorcising a demon out of a slave girl. Her masters, who made a good bit of income off of her, were so angry they roused a mob and attacked Paul and Silas. Their bleeding bodies are chained in an inner cell of a prison and they are assigned an armed guard. The situation was completely out of their control as they were foreigners held in a high security prison with no means of escape or representation. 

So they sang. 

In their confinement, under the watchful eye of an armed soldier, they sang praise songs. And so the other prisoners and the guards and anyone within ear shot heard these two carrying on a worship service through the night. Pretty sure that was a first for everyone listening 

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When I read that I am reminded of the last trip I made to Kenya. We had left the clinic way too late in the afternoon and so as we drove, night fell. Our host missionaries had been warned by the people of the village that there were rumors of bandits waiting for us along the rough roads that led back to our home base. It was quiet and tense in the vehicle I rode in. My friend and I prayed together, but then the Kenyan drivers of our car suggested we sing praise songs. They sang the most beautiful Maasai hymn with gusto and then asked us if we would sing something. 

I am embarrassed to say we stumbled around racking our brains for some song we could sing that we would know both the tune and the words. We explained that we aren’t really talented singers, not on the praise team at all…not even asked to be when they are desperate to fill a choir. Even in the dark I could sense our brothers were a bit confused by our hesitation to bust out a praise song.

Much time has passed but as I recollect, we may have managed a feeble attempt at Jesus Loves Me. We got home safely that night and it troubled me that as Americans, we traveled halfway around the world to bring Jesus and we couldn’t even muster up a song of praise. 

I realized how much I rely on Christian radio and the praise teams to lead worship and I can just mumble along to the words on the teleprompter. I am not alone in this. Our worship music tends to be trendy and we pick and choose the songs we like to listen to without giving much thought to raising the voice God gave us to sing back to Him. 

You would think I learned my lesson, but no. 

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Years later I found myself in homes in Cuba where our hosts and hostesses for dinners invariably ended up suggesting a hymn sing. With windows wide open to passers by who glared in; and knowing that outward expressions of their faith could mean serious sanctions, they sang with unabashed joy.

Teenage boys and girls, young couples, children, grandparents…all singing loudly. Again I found myself red-faced amongst my American friends having to try to drum up some song we stood a chance of remembering the lyrics to. Without the help of a few instruments and some strong lead singers, we warbled out what we could. It was a noise, but not so very joyful. 

It was, as I think of it, extremely self-conscious…which is completely the opposite of what a praise song is supposed to be. 

So as I have pondered this week about speaking words of life instead of death, and the power of the tongue and the example of Paul and Silas, it occurs to me that instead of using many words to explain to God what is so very wrong around me or share with my fellow humans the plight of my misery as I struggle with keeping myself upright in a world that has gone topsy-turvy or consuming the many words of others who are in similar chains of the times, perhaps the lesson here is to use my tongue to learn to sing praises first. 

For Paul and Silas, praise broke the chains that bound them, flew wide open the doors that confined them and brought the entire household of the jailer to salvation. 

Yes. I think I need to go dig out that journal I started many years ago where I was collecting the lyrics to old hymns and new praise songs and practicing singing them all  by myself….off key, wrong tempo, sometimes substituting words in that sounded like what I thought they were saying…but God-conscious instead of self-conscious. 

Then with a tongue that has been eating words of Life…and a heart that is bearing the fruit of worship…I can speak life and hope and Jesus to those around me who are desperate for hope and healing. 

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