A Weak Finish

By: Susan Bea Good

“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10/NLT)

I have a three-part theme when I coach basketball: “Work Hard-Make it Good-Finish Strong.”  Hard work and making a good effort are focused on the end result of finishing strong.  Weakness is not an option! This will continue to be my coaching theme, however, I have recently realized the value of weakness in another sense that has nothing to do with sports.

The Apostle Paul learned at the end of his own years of hardship that God offers His strength to those who finally realize they are weak.  Paul was the epitome of strength of conviction against religious hypocrites.  He showed personal bravery while being threatened in storms, enduring shipwrecks, and being snake-bit. He refused the easy life he could have enjoyed as an educated Roman citizen and instead sang with joy while shackled in a Roman prison. Yet Paul boasted, not of these dramatic physical and emotional experiences, but of the resulting spiritual weakness that was his after enduring relentless personal attacks from those whom he loved.  Paul was “weakened” and ruined by evil men…and he knew that his God ordained it!

Though he asked three times for this brokenness to be removed, Paul’s God said, “No.” And Paul learned the greatest lesson of his life- God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.

Few are privileged to finish this life understanding their own essential dependence on God.  For sure, this weak finish will have passed through many types of pain, including personal betrayal and broken heartedness.  Yet as this end appears God slowly removes our self-sufficiency and replaces it with His own sufficiency.  He has said that He is enough for us, and when we are truly weakened we can see this to be true.  What a blessing to finally realize our dependence on the strength of the Almighty!  God is great and God is good!

This blogger writes to encourage faithful Christ-followers to see God’s Big Picture and purpose to be a part of it.  Adonai Eloheinu!

 

 

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Grandma’s Greatest Gift

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One Day of Fungi Finds at Grandma’s

By: Susan Bea Good

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14/NIV)

For many years I was privileged with opportunities to fellowship with my seven grandsons. Fungi collecting, basement-campouts, river-making in the sandbox, playing catch over the garage roof, bike riding and chalk art in the driveway, Star Wars, Rikki Tiki Tavi, U-Tube puppy videos, and shooting baskets were some of the activities I shared with my favorite boys.

When they were toddlers they listened intently to my made up stories about “Bouncy Bunny.”  The moral was always that boys should listen to and obey their parents.  This is ironic as I am presently barred from direct influence upon these grandchildren due to accusations that I questioned their parents’ authority.  One of my deepest desires of life was to be a godly influence on my grandchildren.  My current designation as the “bad” grandma would seem to have destroyed that hope.

Because we cannot absorb all He has to give in one big dose God usually unfolds His work a little at a time.  I believe He has been slow-working His good through the attacks upon my grandma-status.  I’m convinced now that my present “broken” position is far more valuable than the whole one I held before.  The grandma who was “so, so, so, so fun” is now gone.  But I am sure that God is working in ways I never imagined.

I’m realizing that there is (and always was) only one effort of lasting value that I can offer my grandsons- I can pray, asking God to do good for them…and then trust Him to do so!

I am sure that God is good…and that He is working.  I’m no longer weeping over my felt-loss.  Now I’m waiting- for God to finish doing what no amount of grandma-effort could ever accomplish.  I’m embracing His will, even if it means that I never regain relationships with my grandsons in this life.  Asking for their good and choosing to trust God is the greatest gift I can give.

This blogger’s purpose is to encourage faithful Christ-followers to see God’s Big Picture and be a part of it.  Adonai Eloheinu.

 

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Are We There Yet?

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By: Susan Bea Good

“So, if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.”  (I Peter 4:19/NLT)

Years ago one of my very young sons was an impatient traveler.  Early into every trip he would ask, “Are we there yet?”  He was never satisfied with the honest answer, instead he would offer a deal- “How about two minutes?”  His daddy and I would always agree that two minutes sounded about right, and that seemed enough to encourage our boy that the trip was almost completed.

This past year has been for me like a terrible too-long trip.  I have prayed without ceasing that the end of this journey was near.  During this time I discovered that many of my friends are also on their own too-long travels.  Some are new widows, others have had many decades of struggle that have them badly worn.

I’ve asked God repeatedly to hasten the completion of my present painful journey.  Not long ago I asked Him to convince me that He is still moving my life towards a good conclusion.  Indeed He has convinced me that He’s a gracious Father who has actually been patiently carrying me as I learn just how sufficient and complete is His power and sovereignty.

Sixty years a daughter, forty as a wife, and over three decades as a mother…the relational-pain which spreads over this time has overlapped and culminated in this past terrible year.  I can testify that in all this time God protected me.  God fought for me.  God saved me.  He never left me alone!

My newly found precious church family enlisted me to teach the children on Sunday mornings.  We are almost finished with the book of Genesis.  Joseph’s testimony of God’s faithfulness is documented in the final chapters.  When his journey of suffering was complete he made this statement to his repentant persecutors, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”  This is how God works with us today!  He is faithful to carry us through the journey that seems too hard and too long to survive.  He never puts us aside or loses interest in our cause.  He is with us until the end!

Sometimes God shares a glimpse of our destination before it comes into our sights.  As with the two dreams He gave to the teen Joseph, God sometimes gives us a clearer picture of the route we are traveling.

Following Joseph’s journey has been such an encouragement to me that I have chosen to adopt his attitude for myself.  I am grateful now for the years of pain, especially this last period of intense suffering.  God has shown me that my trials were a blessing to some who watched and saw that He was faithful.  They were a blessing to me also, as God worked to convince me of His goodness.  I am hoping and praying earnestly that this time will produce a continued reward that far outweighs the difficulty invested in the journey.  I’m convinced it will!

This blogger’s hope is to be an encouragement to faithful Christ-followers as they recognize God’s Big Picture and purpose to be a part of it.  Adonai Eloheinu!

 

 

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Out of the Boat

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By: Susan Bea Good

Psalm 16:8 “I keep my eyes always on the LordWith Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (NIV)

Two thousand years ago the disciple Peter recognized Jesus from the safety of a boat. Jesus was alone and walking out on the deep water. Peter could have waited for Jesus to arrive, along with the other disciples, but instead he asked to join Him. This was risky. Peter’s bold faith resulted in him being invited out of the boat.

I too asked Jesus if I could “get out of the boat.” For decades I’ve been praying that God would save my family. I asked God to include me in His spiritual work in the hearts of my loved ones. I was willing to suffer anything if God would save my husband and children. I was ignorant of the cost, but not anymore!

(Matthew 14:26-31) “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified…(Peter said) ‘Lord, if it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water.’  ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him…”

Peter’s friends were terrified. Peter was willing to be even more terrified! Jesus welcomed that willingness and rewarded His disciple with a partnership in His glory that the others missed.

When Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he walked with Him. When Peter took his eyes off Jesus, and focused on the danger, he began to sink.

You and I can ask to be involved in God’s work. We can ask to get out of the safety of the boat and walk with Jesus on the waters of this life. At times we may struggle to keep our eyes on the One who sustains our walk by faith. We may even feel ourselves sinking and overwhelmed with the power of the waves. Jesus promises He will never leave us alone. We can be sure that He will not let us drown in this life. He will reach out and catch us. If you ask to get out of the boat keep your eyes on Jesus!

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

look full in His wonderful face,

and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

in the light of His glory and grace.”

This blogger writes to encourage faithful Christ-followers as they participate in God’s Big Picture. Adonai Eloheinu.

“Give Me Jesus” (Gokey) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbh43MGoigw

 

 

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Standing for Righteousness

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By: Susan Bea Good

Psalm 112:6 “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.” (NIV)

This year I escaped from 39 years of abuse from a man who should have loved and cherished me. That era began as I thought I was escaping from 19 years of abuse from another who should have been my protector. The immediate result of exposing my husband was that I had to leave my church, my home, my dog, and a ministry. The ongoing result, which became excruciatingly clear on December 25, was that I’ve lost family-privileges with most of my loved ones, including seven young grandsons. This seems on the surface a very bad place to be. However, this morning, two days after Christmas, I awoke to God gently comforting me with the realization that I am actually in a very good place- standing for righteousness, not just today, but have been all my life!

It’s been suggested this year that my situation is similar to the biblical Job’s experiences with unjust suffering. However, Job did not have Scripture, or the indwelling Spirit of God to guide and comfort him during the trials God ordained. I do!

For many years, especially because I’ve had so many tumultuous ones, I’ve tried to objectively assess the year as it closes out. This year I am reviewing all of the years. Being forced to “start over,” as those who escape abuse must do, I’ve had to get a lawyer, file in the courts for a legal separation, find a place to live, purchase a vehicle, open a checking account, obtain a credit card, get a job, find a different church, make out my will, and learn who I can trust. These steps have brought me to the end of 2017 with the realization that God may be close to finishing my portion of honoring Him in this life. I do feel as though there will not be much time to suffer further, which is a great comfort. It’s also an encouragement to keep standing for righteousness for however much longer I’m here.

God has never left me without hope. He has always given me enough to survive. He has actually always given me enough to thrive, even when I was too young to understand. As an elementary age girl He gave me enough to stand alone if necessary in my school setting and at home. When left un-nurtured by parents He cultivated my soul. When abused and hated by my husband He always reminded me that I was loved and cared for by my Creator. That has been more than enough to sustain and strengthen me as a child of 8 years old until now as a 59 year old woman.

When God calls His children He does it from the beginning. He states in Scripture that His call began even before He made the foundations of this world. So, it should be no surprise when we realize that He has been preparing a specific journey through life for us. He has given each of His children a path to please Him and the strength to traverse that path to its completion.

I expect the new year to find me living outside of the physical reach of those who have chosen to harm me. Those include all who stayed “neutral,” which added terribly to my grief. I hope to stay healthy enough to continue coaching basketball, teaching Bible Club, traveling to Bolivia, sharing the Survive and Thrive workshop, and standing for righteousness until my last breath in this life.

This blog post is meant to encourage faithful Christ-followers to see God’s Big Picture and purpose to be a part of it. No doubt this particular one will enrage the self-righteous abusers I know. Adonai Eloheinu!

Highly recommended resources for those suffering with abuse or hoping to advise one in that situation is: “A Cry for Justice” (Facebook page and book by Pastor Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood)

Book by Barbara Roberts: “Not Under Bondage” https://notunderbondage.com

Natalie Hoffman’s very helpful site for abused women: https://flyingfreenow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Prayers of a Righteous Man

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By: Susan Bea Good

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12/ESV)

I heard my father pray for me yesterday, and this morning I woke up without the bitterness that has tortured my heart the last six months. The source of my struggle is still present but it seems finally I have an opening to escape a vicious cycle of personal destruction.

Two days ago I found a biblical author (to be unnamed to avoid revealing the context of this blog post) whose advice helped pave the way for my salvation from bitterness. These are the portions I highlighted:

The Apostle Paul was kept from utter despair in times of great difficulty…

God is good and is doing something good in us, even in the midst of difficulties…

Persevere until things change…

Learn the secret of being content in whatever situation God allows into your life…

Our children will watch an example of what it means to walk with God and to trust Him in all things…

When this is all over you will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”…and the pain will be gone forever!

When your life is imploding your only need is to keep your eyes on Jesus. He has already promised victory. He is always present to comfort and guide you through the terrible pathways. This is more than enough!

This blogger’s hope is to be an encouragement to faithful Christ-followers as they see God’s Big Picture and purpose to be a part of it. Adonai Eloheinu!

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Faithless

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By: Susan Bea Good

“And He (Jesus) told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9/ESV)

I wrote a short letter of resignation to my church last night. Too much faithlessness has pressed me out the door. There may not be another congregation any more faithful, but I believe I should try to find one.

For over twenty years I have taught the children in this church. Today was my last 4th grade Sunday School lesson. As I studied my Grace to You curriculum I was amazed at the Lord’s timing. I had a hard time delivering it without weeping. Here it is:

“Israel Disobeys God” (Judges 1-3)

Aim: Obey God and fear the devastating consequences of compromise.

Review: While Joshua lived the people were obedient to drive out the idolators in the land. After his death the tribes began to disobey. They failed to remove the pagan influences and instead learned to live with them and even become enriched by their presence.

Verse: “And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger.” (Judges 2:12/ESV)

Approach: How might the bad influence of others lead us into joining them in sin?

Lesson:

  1. Israel’s Faithlessness (Judges 1)- The tribes of Israel failed to obey God’s command. Manasseh, Ephriam, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali chose to do things their own way. (Proverbs 3:5-6) They decided that trusting in God was not their best option. Instead they applied their own creative alternatives and called that “obedience”…resulting in the provocation of the anger of God.
  2. God Rebukes and Warns Israel (Judges 2:1-5)- They do not repent. The Angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Jesus) informs them of the impending punishment. “The same evil that you did not remove, but instead used for your own enrichment and even embraced, will now rule over you. The pagans you adored will become thorns in your sides, and their ways a snare to your children. You will weep with brokenness, but it’s too late!” (my paraphrase)
  3. Israel’s Apostasy (Judges 2:6-3:6)-

* Faithlessness was the heart-problem of Israel (2:6-10)

* Apostasy was the result of their faithlessness (2:11-13)

* Punishment would come from the hands of their enemies (2:14-15)

* God has pity and offers some deliverance (2:16-17)

* Israel refuses to repent (2:18-19)

* God’s punishment continues (Judges 2:21-3:6)

Summary: God’s people had a choice…it was a “binary” choice. They could faithfully follow His commands or unfaithfully vote another way. When we refuse to trust God we set ourselves (and our children) up for a lifetime of hardship. Only true repentance will turn God’s wrath back, and there is a point when His anger will not be stopped!

Application: Do you personally trust God to accomplish good with your circumstances? If not you may repent and turn back to Him.

Challenge: Ask for a renewal of faith so that you may regain fellowship with God and receive every blessing He has for you.

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Before heading to church this morning I heard Pastor Charles Stanley deliver this message about faith: https://www.intouch.org/listen/featured/a-time-for-courage-part-1

As I left church today with a heavy heart I turned on my local Christian radio WCSG to hear these three songs, which took me all the way home. God is so good!

“Lift My Hands” by Chris Tomlin  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c24En0r-lXg)

“Higher” By Unspoken (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H9SXqzs0oI)

“Eye of the Storm” Ray Stevenson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sx8wTnnfSc)

“This blogger’s hope is to be an encouragement to faithful Christ-followers as they recognize God’s Big Picture and purpose to participate in it. Adonai Eloheinu!”

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