Never Too Late

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

In Christine Caine’s book, Unexpected, she relates the story of Caleb showing it is never too late to do what God calls us to.

Right now in this season of my life, I’ve questioned whether it’s time to move on past certain dreams I’ve long held, or keep pressing on. Christine’s recounting of Caleb pressing on even into his eighties proves it’s never too late to pursue the call God has on our life.

We remember Caleb as one of two spies who, along with Joshua, entered the Promised Land, saw the giants, and announced, “No problem. With God on our side, we can take them. Those giants are gonna fall.”

Unfortunately, the people believed the fearful accounts of the other ten spies, refused to take the land, and wandered for another forty years in the wilderness.

Christine says:

During all those wilderness years, he kept believing. And he kept himself vitally alive — spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally — eager to possess what God had promised him. Over the course of four decades, he never let go of the promise that Hebron was his. His attitude was all in — he looked to the future with nothing but hope and courage.

Caleb never quit. He refused to allow himself to stop believing he’d reach the Promised Land, even after four decades of trying. He refused to sit back and rest on previous victories. He held firm to the belief it was never too late to see God’s promise fulfilled.

When Caleb was eighty-five years of age, Joshua gave him the land of Hebron as the Lord commanded. But first Caleb had to drive out three clans of the descendants of Anak. That fierce giant who stopped the Israelites from entering forty years earlier.

Caleb was prepared to take his rightful place in the Promised Land.

He put in the hard work to reach it.

He didn’t give up when opposition pressed against him.

He could have retired and let others fight the battles, but he didn’t.

He fought for his Promised Land.

How willing are we to keep fighting and truly believe it’s never too late to accomplish all God’s called us to?

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As the Lord commanded Joshua, part of the territory of Judah was given to Caleb son of Jephunneh, from the tribe of Judah. He received Hebron, the city belonging to Arba, father of Anak. Caleb drove the descendants of Anak out of the city—the clans of Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. Joshua 15:13-14 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Ignore the Noise

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

Eight o’clock in the morning. Sitting in the backyard with a hot cup of tea. Gentle breeze rustles the leaves causing them to dance. Birdsong fills the air.

Perfect.

Until the chainsaw roars to life and the wood chipper chews into the limbs being cut down in the yard next door.

I have a choice. Continue to stay outdoors, or retreat inside. I choose to stay.

But why? you might ask.

I’m not really sure. Maybe because the beauty of God’s creation outweighs the distraction of the world.

We live in a world full of noisy distractions, do we not?

A world filled with divisive debate, opposing views, and personal attacks.

Loud and annoying.

Just like the chain saw and chipper.

Maybe I stay in my backyard full of dappled shade under blue skies and gentle breeze because I refuse to retreat inside, knowing the noise is filtering through the walls of the house.

Perhaps I’ll stay until I can’t stand the stench of gasoline and noisy ruckus any longer.

While I sit, God sends a stronger breeze that pushes away the stench. A breeze which captures the tubes of the wind chime and provides something besides noise if I choose to listen.

I hear the faint chirp of a cardinal. I watch a juvenile squirrel navigate the crepe myrtle. And I am glad I remained.

All of this led me to consider how noise and strife descends on our lives daily, stealing our serenity and peace.

We can retreat, and miss the joy God gives amid the chain saws and wood chippers of life, or we can put on noise cancelling headphones – which I eventually did – ignore the noise and focus on the good.

By the end of an hour the noise ceased, and calm once again prevailed.

Until the next time.

What do you do when the noise and strife of the world invades your peace?

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And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Philippians 4:8 (NLT) 

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God is Good All the Time

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Growing up in church, one of my mentors had a simple response to everyone who said, “God is good” after they experienced some wonderful event or news.

She would reply, “ALL the time.”

To which the person usually said something like, “Why yes. Of course he is.”

That doesn’t mean every situation and every circumstance is good. Far from it.

Are you kidding me?

I’ve had my share of dreadful valley of the shadow situations and circumstances, and I imagine most of you have as well.

Since God is immutable, unchangeable, and we know what is true in the light is still true in the dark, isn’t it reasonable to trust God is good all the time; in every situation and every circumstance?

Do you remember the song “Count Your Many Blessings”? Name them one by one, and see what God has done.

It’s easier to look at what we’ve lost and ignore the blessings, but is that the best way to deal with the things God allows in our life we wish he hadn’t?

Job is a great example for us of believing God is good all the time.

He lost pretty much everything; except his less-than-encouraging wife, yet he continued to say, Still I will praise the LORD. My Redeemer and my God.

Job turned his laments and pain into praise and worship.

Even during those times when our circumstances are anything but good, God’s goodness doesn’t change.

God is good ALL the time is something I try to remember.

For God truly IS good ALL the time, is he not?

What helps you remember God is good all the time?

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Go through his open gates with great thanksgiving; enter his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation. Psalm 100:4-5 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Can Worship and Suffering Co-exist?

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Can worship and suffering co-exist? Can pain and praise inhabit the same space? Can we sing that God is good when life is not?

According to the psalmists, we can.

These psalms are called laments. As Chris Llewellyn from Rend Collective puts it, laments are full of the truth of what we’re going through, but are at the same time full of hopefulness.

Last week I mentioned the Rend Collective concert I attended.

One of the songs they sang was, Weep With Me.

Before singing the song, Chris said because we have a God who cares, and wants to hear from us as we honestly wrestle with the issues of our life, he invites us to come to him, and truthfully tell him how we are feeling about what we are going through.

God doesn’t want us to be less than honest. He’s big enough to handle the truth, don’t you think? He already knows how we feel, after all.

So we circle back to the questions I asked at the beginning of this post.

Can worship and suffering co-exist? Can pain and praise inhabit the same space? Can we sing that God is good when life is not?

Yes! A thousand times yes.

Over the past months God has taken me to places of sorrow through the lives of my friends and in my own life.

Just as the psalmist did, I’ve lamented. I’ve asked how long must those who love you feel anguish in their souls and sorrow in their hearts? I’ve asked the Lord my God to restore the sparkle in our eyes. I’ve asked if worship and suffering can co-exist.

And like the psalmist, our sorrow can turn to rejoicing because we trust in God’s unfailing love. That is the reason we can sing that God is good when life is not.

Are you in a place of lament? Lift your eyes to the Lord who weeps with us.

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O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
    How long will you look the other way?
 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
    with sorrow in my heart every day?
    How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
    Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

 But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
 I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me. Psalm 13 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Store Up Treasures in the Right Place

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Last week Pilot, our son Pie, and I attended a Rend Collective concert. The place was energized and jumping, that’s for sure. Literally. If you have ever attended one of their concerts, you know what I’m talking about. If not, take my word for it.

Before Rend took the stage, Eric Timm, a minister from Minnesota, spoke on the subject of hope. In his talk he stressed the importance of storing up treasures in the right place. He explained how throughout his life he put his hope and money in things which were either destroyed, stolen, or damaged. They were things he treasured and put his hope in, but which did not last.

He cautioned us to not store up treasures on this earth, but to store up treasures in heaven where our treasures won’t be destroyed, stolen, or damaged. He suggested out of our abundance, we use our resources to help others find hope.

Eric said when we treasure the wrong things, as he had, we place our hope in the wrong things.

I’m sure we can each relate to what he said. We save and save and save to purchase the perfect whatever, only to have it destroyed, stolen, or damaged by unforeseen circumstances we have no control over.

Bottom line?

Treasure people over things.

Simple, right?

Put others’ wellbeing before our own desires. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Love mercy. Seek justice. Walk humbly with the Lord. As much as it depends on us, live at peace with others. When we see a need, if it is within our ability to do so, help meet that need. Offer others the hope we’ve found in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Redeemer and King.

Where is our hope? Where is our strength? Where should we store up our treasures? The answer lies in Jesus.

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Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Matthew 6:19-20 (MSG)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Let God Fight Your Battles

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

I’m in the middle of Joyce Meyer’s Let God Fight Your Battles, and thought I’d share some of what I’ve read so far.

Right off Joyce states we’ll all face storms of life, but God has a plan to bring us victory. The battle is the Lord’s. While we stand in the midst of the battle and let God fight for us, Joyce suggests we worship God.

Fear is a huge battle for many of us.

Fear of the mountains and giants we face. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the known. Health fears. Financial fears. Safety fears. Fears for our family. Fears for our country.

And for those of us who have recently experienced major weather events, or are in the midst of them, there is fear of the rain, the fire, the mud, the ice, the wind, the snow …

Opportunities to fear abound.

Joyce continued by saying in the midst of all this, however, we need to realize each and every fear we experience comes from Satan. The father of all lies. He knows fear keeps us from going forward in God’s will and experiencing God’s good for our life.

He also knows which thoughts to plant in our minds that will trigger our fears.

Another thing Joyce said is when we understand God’s unconditional love for us, we realize he will always take care of everything that concerns us. Knowing that truth delivers us from fear.

Sounds oh so simple, and it is, but why do I continue to have trouble with this area of my life?

Maybe it goes back to what Jesus said about us needing to have a childlike faith?

When we were children, didn’t most of us trust that our parents had our best interest at heart, and would do their very best to protect us from all the things that went bump in our night?

Once we grow up, I believe we lose a bit of that innocent trust. Yet, God cares for us even more than our parents did. More than we, as parents, care for our children.

I’m sure I’ll gain more from this book, but for now, this is enough to cogitate on, don’t you think?

Is fear something you struggle to overcome? If so, what helps you stand back and let God fight your battles?

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He has a great army, but they are all mere men, while we have the Lord our God to fight our battles for us!” This greatly encouraged them. 2 Chronicles 32:8 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Joy of the LORD is Our Strength

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

How would you define joy? Is it a feeling? Is it a state of mind? Is it dependent on outward circumstances? Are joy and happiness the same thing? What about the joy of the Lord?

Webster’s dictionary defines joy as:

 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

b : a state of happiness or felicity

          c : a source or cause of delight

It defines happiness as:

a : a state of well-being and contentment joy

          b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience

In defining both words, joy and happiness were used in the definitions. Interesting.

courtesy pixabay

Years ago one of my ministers said joy and happiness are not the same thing. He said joy is dependent on our relationship with God. Happiness is dependent on our outward circumstances.

There are those I know who seem to have an overabundance of joy regardless of the things going on in their lives. They have a perpetual smile. It’s not that they are always happy, it just seems as if their happiness isn’t dependent on their circumstances.

There are those I know who seem to always be joyless. They rarely smile. Are their circumstances stealing their happiness along with their joy?

As much as I’d like to say I’m joyful and positive all the time. That’s not true. I’d have to say I’ve had my fair share of joyful/happy days, as well as my share of joyless/unhappy days. I’ve enjoyed times of joy amidst utter despair, and experienced joylessness amidst times of your basic run-of-the-mill annoyance.

In our times of joylessness, one thing to remember: God never changed in those times. What changed is what we allowed to bother us; steal our joy, and how far we allowed  our self to drift from praising God. No matter what.

The joy of our LORD is our strength, is it not?

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I will shout for joy as I play for you; with my whole being I will sing because you have saved me. Psalm 71:23 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The One Who Fights For Us

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

I certainly did not expect to have a meaningful theological discussion with a man who lived in the bushes near the pavilion on the Florida beach where we held Pilot’s brother’s memorial service.

But that’s exactly what happened as the mourners who filled the pavilion shuffled off after Tom’s paddle out this past June.

As Tom’s service unfolded with dinner beneath the pavilion following the paddle out, Steve and others with nowhere else to go waited respectfully nearby. I saw them watching us, and realized the pavilion we occupied must be where they spent their days. Probably even their nights. Each man carried his possessions in backpacks or strapped to their bicycles.

After most people left to go home, the back area of the pavilion opened up, and one by one the homeless men reclaimed their space.

While I picked up flowers from one table near the back, Steve approached pushing his bike beside him.

He paused, and asked why all the people were there. I explained about Tom. He offered his condolences, we shook hands and introduced ourselves.

It was then God opened the door for the two of us to have a conversation about the One who fights for us; Jesus Christ, God’s son.

Steve and I talked for awhile about his life and things he dealt with on a daily basis. I’m really not sure how we got around to talking about the Bible, but I do know it was a natural progression within our discussion. As Steve and I shared scripture back and forth, I found myself envious of his ability to quote massive sections of scripture from all over the Bible.

I do remember one verse I shared. I’m sharing it with you today. It’s the verse I started, Steve joined me in, and both completed together.

It’s the last verse we quoted before I shook his hand again, wished him the best, and promised to pray for him; which I have done.

But I should have prayed with him right there on the spot as well.

Because Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb who was slain for all, tore the curtain which separated mankind from the throne of God, we can boldly approach God knowing he is there, and welcomes each and everyone of us who come through his Son.

There is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus, the One who fights for us, no matter who we are, or where we lay our heads at night.

Amen and amen and amen. Thank you Jesus.

Do you find it easy or difficult to share your faith with others?

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So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Riding The Carousels of Life

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Riding the carousels of life can be a lot like riding the carousels in a park. You go round and round and up and down, but don’t seem to get anywhere.

As a child there were times I rode carousels and got so dizzy I could barely make my way off the ride to reach my parents. I tried to keep my eyes on my parents, but as the carousel made its round and I reached the other side, my parents were out of sight. That is until I made my way back to where they stood watching for my return.

As a parent if I wasn’t riding right alongside Pie, I watched from a close distance, kept my eyes on him, and was right there when he got off the ride. At times I saw him strain to look backwards to make sure I was still there. And I always was.

On our carousel rides of life we may get dizzy from the ups and downs of the whirl of activity going on around us. Our equilibrium may become off balanced by the things life throws at us. We may even turn our backs on God as we continue to go round and round and round.

 

When we finally come back to where God’s waiting for us, relief fills our hearts, we get off the merry-go-round, and gratefully stumble into our Father’s protective arms.

Although we may not be able to see God with our physical eyes while we’re riding the carousels of life, like we can those who stand on the sidelines and watch us go round and round on the merry-go-round, we are told to fix our eyes on what is unseen.

God doesn’t leave, you know. He’s not the one who moved. We are. He’s always standing right where he’s always stood. Keeping his eyes on us, waiting for the carousel to stop so he can guide us safely to his open arms, and hold us until our dizziness goes away.

Do you have any carousel stories you’d like to share?

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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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