Thursday, April 09, 2020

Jesus Loves Me—So Much

A new poem to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”—a celebration of what He has done for me:

Jesus Loves Me —So Much 

c Barb Irwin
April 7, 2020

Jesus loves me, this I know; He lived and died to tell me so.
As I received, He took my sin; I was re-made, born again.

Chorus: Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, 
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

I was in Him when He died. Made new, now I don’t have to hide.
Since He was raised from death and grave, in Him I’m completely saved. Chorus.

Now I live life from above with Jesus in unending love.
I learn to walk in His shoes; sin habits now I learn to lose. Chorus.

As I walk close to His heart, my mind is new, never dark.
Changing daily, now I find, my life is His, I have His mind. Chorus.

He lives through me, I have a place; I joy in mercy and in grace. 
I now love as He loves me; this life of God has set me free. Chorus.

I love Jesus, yes I do. He will always guide me through 
Waters deep and rivers wide; in Him I will always hide. Chorus.

When at last I see Your face, marvel at unending grace,
You’ll have brought me safely home, and I will bow before Your throne.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Chaos, Changes and Renovation

I got this poem 30 years ago last Sunday, and it fits again now. May it be an encouragement. God is changing many things through the chaos in this season!

by Barb Irwin
c April 5, 1990

I hear foundations all around
Cracking, some crumbling to the ground.
God’s church is shaking—let it shake!
Through the pressure self-will shall break.

Self-made walls, illusions shatter,
Pretensions fall with a clatter.
God’s allowing our flesh to fail,
Man’s might and power to derail.

Satan’s strongholds are being revealed;
No dark secrets will stay concealed.
The Husbandman plows fallow ground,
Uncovering all that can be found.

No place to hide but in the Truth;
Foundations quake built from our youth.
All that’s of man will be no more—
Life won’t be like it was before.

These old wine skins can’t hold new wine,
But those God’s making will be fine.
Be patient while the work gets done,
And you will see the victory won.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Learning to Walk in Trials

I’m trying to get this message out wherever I can right now, because the Lord gave me this encouragement, so be blessed.

Learning to Walk in Trials

Jas 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you 
from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (The Message)

Rom 5:3-5 ...Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us! (TPT)

Rom 5:3-5 ...We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (The Message)

Troubles develop us in God’s ways as we listen to His wisdom in the trial and do what He says: 

Jas 1:5-8 If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. (The Message)

But you can’t ask boldly, believingly if you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That tactic of the enemy makes us have less strength when trials hit, because we haven’t been fully able to enjoy the good times, and have been worrying instead of trusting.

As I come to a trial, I have to listen, even if the trial is like one I’ve had before, because God may not want to approach it the same way this time. He may want to teach me something different.

“When I learned something new from God, my biggest temptation was to think, “I’ve got it!”. But no, it just meant I had it for that time. Whenever I assumed that was the new way to always do things in a similar situation, God allowed me to fall flat on my face. Every trial has new things to learn from God, and that is why I must constantly ask, keep on seeking Him, and continue knocking. He says if I do that the door will be opened.

“For years (in trials with my kids especially) I felt I was doing things wrong because what I did seemed to contradict God’s word. But no, by His Holy Spirit God was expanding what I knew of His truth.”

“Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door. Matt 7:7-8 PT.

The enemy tries to come at me with panic when a trial begins, but if I can settle down I will hear God, and as Gal 2:20 says He will give me His faith to walk through the trial victoriously.

There are times when my walking something out will not be agreed on by those around me. Sometimes I need to love them by doing what makes them more comfortable, and sometimes I need to walk it out anyway. I need to pray for discernment to know the difference.

“I had to learn to receive peace when there was little to be peaceful about—God’s good about things like that. Learning to live with uncertainty peacefully trusting the Lord is a work of the Spirit. I’m still learning.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Talk with God

The past few months have been a stabilizing time for my mother, who is now in a nursing home. With the right medication, her disposition has grown calmer and sweeter again. Her love for Jesus has resurfaced in the last three months, and she’s asked to have communion about once a month. I’m so thankful to the Lord for His grace, mercy and love every day, which puts me in remembrance of a poem I recently shared on Facebook. Here it is. Written in 1992, it’s just as true today!

This poem was written after one of my winter seasons - a time when I felt God was very distant from me. It was so good to become aware of His presence again! My worship times came alive, and creativity came back with a rush. I felt I was truly seeing the world with new eyes, and I was very grateful to the Lord. I also began thinking about how I wanted to view and respond to my next winter season, and that prompted this prayer.

A Talk with God 
Barbara A. Irwin

© Copyright 06-27-92

What shall I offer You, my Lord, my King? 
Of Your grace and mercy my soul does sing. 
You give me eyes to see and ears to hear, 
And a heart to receive what You hold dear. 

The closer I draw to You, Lord, each day 
The more I want You to teach me Your way. 
You hold me tenderly with cords of love; 
Your peace enfolds me from heaven above. 

Lord, as I approach Your heavenly throne, 
I come assured, knowing I am Your own. 
Each day more and more my prayers come from You 
As You shape my thoughts, words and actions, too. 

I want to be transformed day after day, 
So secure in Your love that I'll not stray 
When life's seasons change as they always do. - 
When winter comes back, I want to be true. 

I want to realize You're there through my pain, 
That I've earth to lose and heaven to gain. 
I want to gaze on that heavenly prize; 
I want one day with my Jesus to rise. 

So for now I'll enjoy spring and summer, 
Storing mem'ries for days in December. 
Your plan is true no matter the weather; 
I'm going to be with You forever! 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

God is Greater than Anything the Enemy Can Do!

We had to move Mom into a permanent care home last Wednesday. It was so sad. She has the kind of dementia where there are psychotic episodes mixed in. You never know what you’ll face from one day to the next and sometimes one hour or even one minute to the next.

But all this is continuing to teach me how to persevere in love and warfare. Mom is still the Lord’s, lock, stock and barrel. She says she’s doubting Him, but He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He says, “I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” Our wonderful, caring Lord says, “When you pass through the waters I’ll be with you, ...and when you walk through the fire you won’t be burned.” Our dear heavenly Father says, “Even as a nursing mother doesn’t forget her child, I won’t forget you” (my paraphrase). My God says that what He’s started to perform, He will finish. Mom will have a godly finish, even though this season is really rough.

It’s hard to see when we have been dealing with the daily ins and outs of this thing since the end of October, but God really is in control. He knows those who are His and has never lost one of them. For that I’m so thankful!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mom’s Party and My Memories

When I got to Mom’s assisted living apartment on Sunday, I found her up and dressed and ready for a small breakfast. She remembered the party we were getting ready to have for her and was looking forward to it. The party was a blessing with her family, a few workers from the facility and a few friends. What mercy from our loving heavenly Father!

Mom is well loved. Her life has been an encouragement to many over the years. She endured her mother’s death just before her teens, and living in a home she ran away from at age 16. However, she ended up at her godmother’s house. Mom didn’t know this lady, but she listened to her and returned home. She was narrowly saved from going into prostitution, and stayed home till she married my dad at 19.

Dad and Mom had a good life; she met Jesus for the second time as an adult, and her life started changing. She was very hungry for God. By the time I was getting messed up in college, Dad had met Jesus and they both received the Holy Spirit, equipping them to war for their children.—I owe my salvation and freedom to God and my parents.

Then Mom's life crashed in 1983 when Dad, Mom, my kids and I were driving to visit my sister and her family. A large semi hit us head on, and the car was totaled to where we were told it was a miracle that anyone made it out alive. Dad died on the way to the hospital. Mom was quite hurt and almost died a couple times in the ensuing days, but she eventually learned to walk again, and ended up in church where she taught others about God’s love and faithfulness through her story and knowledge of the Bible. I am so grateful for the godly influence she’s had on my life. She has also mentored others, visited the sick, and been a good friend.

Now that friendship is being returned in spades. People are remembering her and her family during this season. I pray that her last days here be filled with God’s peace, His joy and His love. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

92nd Birthday Musings

I am thinking about my Mom again today. Tomorrow is her 92nd birthday, and we are having the birthday party she wanted today. In a couple hours I need to be with her as they get her ready. I am hoping and praying for God to help wake her up in a good mood so she can enjoy the festivities we are having at her assisted living residence.

The last few months Mom seems to really be going downhill cognitively and becoming very volatile mood-wise. What is my response to be? How do I love her under such difficult circumstances? I have learned I need to immerse myself in God’s Word, seeking His heart and mind moment by moment. Last night I had to confess extreme weariness—weariness to the point that I didn’t even want to seek God about it or anything. Who did I confess that to? God. Seldom in my life have I been that honest with Him, but if I’m trying to draw close to Him, I’ve learned this kind of honesty needs to become a way of life.

This morning I woke up looking for miracles again. At this point, I don’t even know what kind of miracles we need, but I’m looking up and I’m available for whatever He wants. Whatever’s going on down here, God’s in His heaven and in me, so I’m looking for how He wants to manifest Himself. Have a good day everyone—I’m going to!

Saturday, May 05, 2018

God’s Faithfulness Has the Last Word!

Good morning, everyone! Been thinking about trusting God lately. I don’t know about you, but my trust hasn’t come without fear. My fears haven’t so much been of the “What if God doesn’t show up?” variety, but run more along the “Have I been faithful with my part?” line of thought.

When there is a lot at stake and I don’t know what is required and I have to trust that others will do what they said they would do, it is easy for me to lose it. As if I can make things turn out right.

The Bible says, “Having done all, stand.” But what if I don’t know if I’ve done all? God wants me to trust Him regardless. He is in control even when people are unfaithful or make mistakes. His way is perfect even when mine isn’t.

Thank You, Jesus! I know, and had it confirmed yesterday by reading a devotional from Christine Caine’s Unexpected that I need to keep looking up past the problem and see Jesus, my unchanging, faithful Friend and Lord as higher, bigger, and greater than the problem, because He is!! 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Heart Cry

As I consider some issues before my Lord lately, one thing I’m seeking Him on is how to help keep an elderly shy, private person engaged in life. Her interests have always run towards unusual things in today’s world, such as prayer and teaching the Bible. She has never been good at small talk, but she’s been very gifted at discipling others. Today, others are trying to get her to be more social through crafts, eating in a public dining room and such. She hates it! She is the type of person who has always had few but very committed friends, friends who seek what she seeks and are even now committed to her in this season of trial.

Thinking about all this, there go I, unless God opens me out more well before then. I’m a reader/student who also loves prayer, the Bible, discipling and much quiet. In the quiet, my heart expands. Around people too often, my heart seems to shrink. So today in trying to help someone else with God’s wisdom, I’m also trying to help myself.

I know we were all created as individuals with specific inclinations and purposes from before the foundation of the world by a loving God. But I also know the enemy has tried to cause us to be much less, and closed off to as many of God’s purposes as he can. If I don’t seek my Lord now, life will only close in on me as I age.

Dear Father, in Jesus’ name, by the power of Your Holy Spirit will you please open me up to what You want for my life so I’m not limiting You or Your influence in the world through me? I want to love and walk with others in ways You want me to, ways that glorify You, bring others to You, and leave me open to life till the day I’m to go be with You whom my soul loves. Thank You so much for hearing and answering.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

GOOD News!

I’ve been thinking lately about news and what the good news of God’s kingdom does for me. First, though, I have to hear and receive it. I have the news of salvation through my Lord for the future and for now. Once I receive that, I have the good news that my Lord loves ME and wants to help me live each day to the fullest by working in, through and for me. Both those pieces of His news give me hope, but receiving is a daily proposition.

There is another piece of good news that is reawakening in my heart recently. The body of Christ for the most part lost sight of it for many years, or else has held onto it in a religious way that hasn’t brought us the life we were meant to have from it. That, according to John Eldredge, is the good news that God says He is making all things new.

Without getting into the theology of timing, etc., that promise is in the Bible, and it is for now. What it means is there is nothing that is good in this world that we won’t see again and enjoy in its best form. When all looks dark and dreary, I’m beginning to look at that promise of my Lord and say, “Because of what God tells me, no loss of something good is gone forever. It’s a temporary loss I can endure here and now, because it will be restored to me in a greater way than ever before.” I will live to see this good on the earth God made for me to rule and reign over when He first thought of creating people. 

Because of this promise, I receive the energy to fight and war to see as much of His kingdom now on earth as I can, knowing that my Father is keeping track and keeping score and will bring that promise to fruition in its proper time. If you want to have this hope deeply implanted, I encourage you to ingest (not just read) John Eldredge’s new book, All Things New. Looking for wonderful days to come...