Poem: Cherished Friends

Cherished Friends

God knows that there are times
We need a word of cheer
Someone to praise a triumph
Or brush away a tear.
He knows we need to share
The joy of “little things”
In order to appreciate
The happiness life brings.
He knows our troubled hearts
Will sometimes throb with pain
At trials and misfortunes
Or some goals we did not attain.
He knows we need the comfort
Of an understanding heart
To give us strength and courage
To make a fresh, new start.
He knows we need companionship
Unselfish…lasting…true,
And so God answered the heart’s great need
With cherished friends…like you.

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Modest Dress Illustration

A girl bought an iPad, when her father saw it, He asked her “What was the first thing you did when you bought it?

“I put an anti-scratch sticker on the screen and bought a cover for the iPad” she replied.

“Did someone force you to do so?”

“No” “Don’t you think it’s an insult to the manufacturer?”

“No dad! In fact, they even recommend using a cover for the iPad”

“Did you cover it because it was cheap & ugly?”

“Actually, I covered it because I didn’t want it to get damaged or   decreased in its value.”

“When you put the cover on, didn’t it reduce the iPad’s beauty?”

“Actually, I think it looks better, and it is worth it for the protection it gives my iPad.”

The father looked lovingly at his daughter and said, “Yet if I had asked you to cover your body which is much more precious than the iPad, would you have readily agreed???”

She was mute…..

The father made a great point to his daughter, “Indecent dressing and exposure of  her body will reduce her value and respect.”

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Dear Ladies,
I just came across this article in my files and  thought you might appreciate it.

Why the Pastor’s Wife is the MOST Vulnerable Person in Your Church
Written by Joe McKeever

We’re all vulnerable…Everyone who walks in the church door can be helped or hurt in what happens during the next hour. Whether saint or sinner, preacher or pew-sitter, oldtimer or newcomer, child or geezer, everyone is vulnerable, and should be treated respectfully, faithfully, carefully.

No one in the church family is more vulnerable than the pastor’s wife.  She is the key figure in the life of the pastor and plays the biggest role in his success or failure. (Note: I am fully aware that in some churches the pastor is a woman. In such cases, what follows would hardly pertain to her household.)

And yet, many churches treat her as an unpaid employee, an uncalled assistant pastor, an always-available office volunteer, a biblical expert and a psychological whiz.

She is almost always a reliable helper as well as an under-appreciated servant.

You might not think so, but she is the most vulnerable person in the building. That is to say, she is the single most likely person to become the victim of malicious gossip, sneaky innuendo, impossible expectations and pastoral frustrations.

The pastor’s wife can be hurt in a hundred ways—through attacks on her husband, her children, herself. Her pain is magnified by one great reality: She cannot fight back.

She cannot give a certain member a piece of her mind for criticizing the pastor’s children, cannot straighten out the deacon who is making life miserable for her husband, cannot stand up to the finance committee who, once again, failed to approve a needed raise, or the building and grounds committee that postponed repair work on the pastorium.

She has to take it in silence, most of the time.

It takes the best Christian in the church to be a pastor’s wife and pull it off. And that’s the problem: In most cases, she’s pretty much the same kind of Christian as everyone else. When the enemy attacks, she bleeds.

The pastor’s wife has no say-so in how the church is run and receives no pay, yet she has a lot to do with whether her husband gets called to that church and succeeds once he arrives.

That’s why I counsel pastors to include with their resume a photo of their family. The search committee will want to see the entire family, particularly the pastor’s wife, and will try to envision whether they would “fit” in “our” church.

The pastor’s wife occupies no official position, was not the object of a church vote, and gives no regular reports to the congregation on anything. And yet, no one person in the church is more influential in making the pastor a success—or a resounding failure—than she.

She is the object of a world of expectations … She is expected to dress modestly and attractively, well enough but not overly ornate.

She is expected to be the perfect mother, raising disciplined children who are models of well-behaved offspring for the other families, to be her husband’s biggest supporter and prayer warrior, and to attend all the church functions faithfully and, of course, bring a great casserole.

Since her husband is subject to being called away from home at all hours, she is expected to understand this and have worked it out with the Lord from the time of her marriage—if not from the moment of her salvation—and to have no problem with it. If she complains about his being called out, she can expect no sympathy from the members. If she does voice her frustrations, what she hears is, “This is why we pay him the big salary,” and “Well, you married a preacher; what did you expect?”

She is expected to run her household well on the limited funds the church can pay and keep her family looking like a million bucks.

And those are just for starters!

The pastor’s children likewise suffer in silence as they share their daddy with hundreds of church members, each of whom feel they own a piece of him, and can do little about it. (But, that’s another article.)

What we owe to the pastor’s wife …

  1. We owe her the right to be herself. She is our sister in Christ and accountable to Him.

My wife was blessed to have followed pastors’ wives who cut their own path. So, in some churches, Margaret taught Sunday School and came to the woman’s missionary meetings. In other churches, she directed the drama team and ran television cameras. A few times, she held weekday jobs while raising three pretty terrific kids.

And, as far as I know, the churches were always supportive and understanding. We were blessed.

Allow the pastor’s wife to serve in whatever areas she’s gifted in. Allow her to try different things, and to grow. But do not put your expectations on her, if at all possible.

Do not try to tell her how to raise her children. Do not try to get to her husband through her with your messages or (ahem) helpful suggestions.

  1. We owe her our love and gratitude. She has a one-of-a-kind role in the congregation which makes her essential to the church’s well-being.

Recently, as I was finishing a weekend of ministry at a church in central Alabama, and about to drive the 300 miles back home, a member said, “Please thank your wife for sharing you with us this weekend. I know your leaving is hard on her.”

How sensitive—and how true, I thought. That person had no idea that my wife underwent surgery two weeks earlier and I had been her nurse ever since, and that in my absence, my son and his family were taking care of her, and that I was now about to rush home to relieve them.

Church members have no clue—and no way of knowing—regarding the pressures inside the pastor’s family, and should not investigate to find out.

What they should do is love the wife and children and show them appreciation at every opportunity.

  1. We owe her our love and prayers. While the Father alone knows her heart, the pastor may be the only human who knows her burdens.

Pray for her by name on a regular basis. Then, leave it to the Lord to answer those prayers however He chooses.

If we believe that the Living God is our Lord and Savior and that He hears our prayers, we should be lifting to Him these whose lives are given in service for Him.

Ask the Father for His protection upon the pastor’s wife and children—for their health, for their safety from all harm, and for Him to shield them from evil people.

Pray for His provisions for all their needs, and for the church to do well in providing for them.

Pray for the pastor’s relationship with his wife. If their private life is healthy, the congregation’s shepherd is far better prepared for everything he will be asked to do.

  1. We owe her our responsible care. What does she need?

Do they need a babysitter for a date night? Do they need some finances for an upcoming trip? If they are attending the state assembly or the annual meeting of the denomination, are the funds provided by the church budget adequate or do they need more? Is the wife going with the pastor? (She should be encouraged to do so, if possible.)

Ask the Holy Spirit what the pastor’s wife (and/or the pastor’s entire family) needs, and if it’s something you can do, do it. If it’s too huge, rally the troops.

  1. We owe it to the pastor and his wife to speak up. Sometimes, they need a friend to take their side.

If your pastor’s wife has a ministry in the church, look for people to criticize her for a) dominating others, b) neglecting her home, or c) running the whole show. To some, she cannot do anything right.

You be the one to voice appreciation for her talents and abilities, her love for the Lord and her particular skills that make this ministry work.

Imagine yourself standing in a church business meeting to mention something the pastor’s wife did that blessed someone, that made a difference, that glorified the Lord.

Imagine yourself planning in advance what you will say, asking the moderator (who is frequently the pastor) for a moment for “a personal privilege,” without telling him in advance.

And, imagine yourself informing a couple of your best friends what you are planning to do, so they can be prepared to stand up “spontaneously” and begin the ovation. (Hey, sometimes our people have to be taught to do these things!)

The typical reaction most church members give when someone is criticizing the pastor’s wife is silence. But you speak up. Take up for her.

Praise God for her willingness to get involved, to not sit at home in silence, but to support her husband and bless the church.

  1. We owe them protection for the pastor’s off-days and vacations.

After my third pastorate, I joined the staff of the great First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi, and quickly made an outstanding discovery. The personnel policies stipulated that the church office would be closed on Saturdays and the ministers were expected to enjoy the day with their families.

Furthermore, when the church gave a minister several weeks of vacation, it was understood at least two full weeks of it would be spent with the family in rest and recreation and not in ministry somewhere. As one who took off-days reluctantly and would not allow myself to relax and rest during vacations, I needed this to be spelled out in official policy.

When a pastor is being interviewed for the position and when he is new, he should make plain that his off-days are sacred. The ministerial and office staffs can see that he is protected.

The lay leadership can make sure the congregation knows this time is just as holy to the Lord as the time he spends in the office, the hospitals or even the pulpit.

  1. We owe them the same thing we owe the Lord: faithful obedience to Christ.

Pastors will tell you in a heartbeat that the best gift anyone can give them is just to live the Christian life faithfully.

When our members do that—when they live like Jesus and strive to know Him better, to love one another, to pray and give and serve—ten thousand problems in relationships disappear.

Finally, a word to the pastor’s wife …

It’s my observation that most wives of ministers feel inadequate. They want to do the right thing, to manage their households well and support their husbands, keep a clean house, sometimes accompany him on his ministries, and such, but there are only so many hours in a day and so much strength in this young woman. She feels guilty for being tired, and worries that she is inadequate.

The Apostle Paul may have had pastors’ wives in mind when he said, “Not that we are adequate to think anything of ourselves, but our adequacy is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

We are inadequate. None of us is worthy or capable of this incredible calling from God.

We must abide in Him or nothing about our lives will go right.

One thing more, pastor’s wife: Find other wives of ministers and encourage them. The young ones in particular have a hard time of it, with the children, the young husband, the demanding congregation and sometimes, Lord help us, even an outside job.

Invite a couple of these women for tea or coffee. Have no agenda other than getting to know one another.

See what happens.

After five years as Director of Missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner where he’s working on three books, and he’s trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way. He loves to do revivals, prayer conferences, deacon training, leadership banquets, and such. Usually, he’s working on some cartooning project for the denomination or some agency.

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Miscellaneous Organizing Tips

We all are looking for new ways to organize. I hope these few tips help you!

  • Get rid of cereal and snack boxes by placing them in airtight glass jars.
  • Replace wire hangers with matching plastic hangers.
  • Take clothes that you haven’t worn for one year to Goodwill.
  • Throw away old makeup. Replace mascara every three months…replace foundation and concealer each year…replace lipstick, eye shadow, and blush every two years.
  • Throw out old spices. You should replace most spices once a year. Test…smell the spice…if there is no scent, there will be no flavor.
  • Throw out last year’s Christmas cards. Be sure to record any addresses to your phone or computer before you throw them away.
  • Throw away any canned goods that are past their expiration date.
  • Avoid using folding closet doors for young children’s rooms. Hang Curtains with tie backs over closet area and place dresser with drawers inside closet area so that children can easily get their clothes.
  • To help children stay organized, use clear storage for small art and craft supplies.
  • Use shoe boxes and bank-check boxes (both lids and bottoms) as drawer dividers.
  • Place all your instruction manuals in a three-ring binder.
  • Use one shelf in your linen closet for party essentials, such as candles, place cards, napkins, and vases.
  • Put things where they work for you: vitamins by the juice glasses, coat hooks in the garage by the car.
  • Keep a small basket on the coffee table to keep TV remotes.
  • Store sheet sets in the same room as the bed. If you have limited closet or dresser space, put sheets in a box under bed.
  • For children, keep a light-weight wicker basket at the foot of their beds to hide blankets and extra pillows.
  • Place a small whisk broom and dustpan in each bathroom for a quick pick-up.
  • To help keep track of children’s shoes, place a shoe basket by the front door.
  • To help children stay organized with their dirty clothes, keep a two-compartment hamper in their room. This helps them learn to separate the darks from the lights when they undress.
  • Use a mini flowerpot with drip tray near the sink to stash sponges, steel wool and food scrapers.
  • Always have a spare set of car/house keys in another place.

 

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Helpful Tips When Preparing for Guests

Being a good hostess does not require a formal education, but it is helpful to know a few basic tips. Some of the following tips I have learned by trial and error.

Several years ago, my husband and I became stewards of a large home. After we moved in, I was so excited about having the room to entertain, I invited twelve pastors and their wives over for dinner.  Since I had moved from a house that had one bathroom to a house that five bathrooms, I did not bother to check the supplies in each bathroom. During the evening, a distinguished pastor sheepishly had to come to me to ask for toilet paper…number 1 rule…make sure all your bathrooms have plenty of toilet paper, hand soap, and air freshener.

  •  Supply feminine products to guests by putting those items in a pretty box or bag and place on the back of toilet.
  • Clean house before guests arrive. Do not rush around cleaning parts of house while guests are there.
  • Chill drinks and make extra ice.
  • Arrange furniture to maximize seating for everyone.
  • Make sure table is set before guests arrive.

 Overnight Guests

 Overnight guests can sometimes feel uncomfortable being in an unfamiliar room. Try to make your guest room as comfortable as possible.

 Items Needed for a Guest Room

  •  A clean bed with extra bedding
  • An iron and ironing board
  • A comfortable reading chair
  • A good lamp and good selection of books
  • A good mirror
  • A clock
  • A box of tissue
  • A small sewing kit
  • A small trash can
  • A good supply of plastic hangers in the closet
  • A writing desk with pens, pencils, paper, scissors, and envelopes
  • A power strip for guests to plug in cell phones and other electronic devices
  • An index card with the code for wireless internet placed in desk drawer.
  • A welcome packet with information about the area
  • A folding luggage rack (this makes a convenient place for a guest to put his suitcase) 

Tips to Make Overnight Guests Feel Special

  • Leave a welcome gift and note.
  • Leave two Hershey kisses or Mint Patties on pillows.
  • Have a basket of fresh fruit, two stemmed glasses, and two bottles of water.
  • Keep a snack tray available in the kitchen. This tray could include microwave popcorn, oatmeal bars, and individual bags of peanuts, hot chocolate mixes, and herbal teas.
  • If your guest room is large enough, keep a compact fridge and stock it with waters, sodas, juices, and other snack items.
  • If your guests have to share a bathroom, you might keep large terrycloth bathrobes in the closet.
  • Place a TV with a DVD player and inspirational DVDs in guest room.
  • Place a stuffed animal on a child’s bed to make him feel more secure.

 Tips for Supplying a Guest Bath

When preparing for a guest bath, think about things that you might find in a nice hotel or an upscale Bed and Breakfast. You find nice plump towels, great toiletries, and fresh, clean smells.

Items Needed for a Guest Bath 

  • Towels and washcloths
  • Extra toilet paper and tissues
  • Disposable cups
  • Fresh soap
  • Extra toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Body lotion and moisturizer
  • Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray
  • Deodorant
  • New toothbrushes ,toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Waste basket
  • Air freshener
  • Razors
  • Bubble bath or bath oil (always a special treat)
  • Plunger under the sink
  • Night light

You might also consider keeping common medicines such as aspirin, anti-diarrheal pills, acid reducers, and a first-aid kit in your guest bath.

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Outreach Ideas for Small Churches

35  Outreach Ideas for Small Churches

  1. Sponsor a school or classroom
  2.  Annual revivals
  3. Christian-Family movie night
  4. Neighborhood dinner
  5. Community festival
  6. Halloween alternative
  7. Honor community heroes
  8. Christmas play
  9. Community garden
  10. Buy school supplies for poor children
  11. Parents’ night out or Mother’s morning out
  12. Homecoming…invite former members back
  13. Recognize veterans and military
  14. VBS
  15. Community thanksgiving service
  16. Church day camp (Good soul-winning and training tool for children)
  17. Day trips for senior citizens
  18. Senior adult programs, lunch
  19. Church yard sale
  20. Free carwash
  21. Host English as a second language class or a computer training class
  22. Grief ministry (Check obituaries and deliver baskets with goodies and a pastor’s letter)
  23. Grandparents day
  24. Mother’s day and Father’s day
  25. Church Anniversary
  26. Nursing home ministry
  27. Report card rewards and recognition
  28. Lock in or lock out
  29. Door-to-door food collection for community food bank (Good way to hand out tracts)
  30. Christmas parties for seniors, kids, families, target groups
  31. Volunteer recognition (Could be for church volunteers or community volunteers)
  32. Addiction programs
  33. Single adult or single parent programs
  34. Neighborhood inventories and assessments
  35. Prayer ministry
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Jelly Bean Story

 Little jelly beans, tell a story true
A tale of our Father’s love –
Just for you and me.
Green is for the waving palms
Red is for His precious blood
Black is for the sin He washed from your soul and mine
White is for our hearts now clean from sin
Purple’s for the sadness of His family and friends
And Yellow is for the glory of the day He rose again.
Now you’ve heard the story, you know what each color means.
The story of our Father’s love told by some jelly beans.
So every morning take a bean, they’re really very yummy.
Something for the soul, you see, and something for the tummy.

If you need coloring pages and stories for Resurrection Sunday check out http://ministry-to-children.com/childrens-ministry-links-for-easter/. This is a great resource for Sunday School lessons, coloring pages, video clips, etc.

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Strongholds That Hinder Our Prayers

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The word translated “strongholds” in this passage also means “fortresses or to make firm.” Just like military forts are established in firm places such as hilltops, Satan attempts to establish strong forts in our minds to hold our thoughts captive.

Paul defines strongholds as arguments, pretensions, or thoughts that set themselves against the knowledge of God. Any beliefs entrenched in our own thinking that are contrary to God’s revealed truth are Satan’s strongholds. It is these strongholds that hinder  our prayers.

Satan’s strongholds fill our minds with fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and failure. They are thoughts that tell us there is no hope for our current situation so why should I bother to pray…not even God can help me out of this mess. It is these strongholds that make us doubt God and His power.

Consider these strongholds and Scriptures to counter attack these thoughts:

• My husband is hopeless. He’ll never change. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

• I’m just a carnal person. I’ll never be free from lust. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

• I’m getting older…I feel so useless.  Feebleness and disease are inevitable. Psalms 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

STRONGHOLDS in our minds are formed three ways.

1. Arguments contrary to the knowledge of God: These are not usually arguments with other people but are battles in our minds that we come to conclusions by our own reasonings.

2. Pretensions contrary to the knowledge of God: These can happen when we exalt our own reasoning over God’s Word  and depend on our own way of thinking.

3. Thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God: These are the thoughts that we allow Satan to plant into our minds to deceive us into thinking that those thoughts are our own thoughts…but, in reality, they are thoughts against God’s will.

These strongholds are formed by:

• Reasoning a situation in my life without looking to God for guidance.
• Drawing my own conclusions without consulting God’s Word for validation.
• Justifying my situations above God’s revealed will in Scripture.
• Devising a scheme to handle my situation that is contrary to God’s will.

These strongholds can hinder our prayer lives by turning us into double-minded people. We, on one hand, profess to live by God’s Word, yet at other times, we allow our lives to be directed by our own reasonings. We pray, “Lord, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” yet in our mind, we are considering Plan B by using our own reasonings…just in case God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should.

Neil Anderson says, “Double-mindedness determines to have a Plan B of human reasoning to fall back on in case the Plan A of God’s revealed will doesn’t come through. As long as we hold a Plan B in reserve, we’re not able to pray with faith and confidence for God’s Plan A to come through. Double-mindedness leads to instability and weakness and makes us unstable in our faith and ineffective in our prayers. Much is at stake when we try to embrace God’s agenda without letting go of our own.”

Our strongest weapon to break a stronghold in our minds is to use God’s Word. I love how Jesus always used God’s Word to defeat the devil in the wilderness. Jesus listened to each of Satan’s reasons. With each reason Satan gave, Jesus refuted them with the Word of God.

James gives us four steps to destroy strongholds in our minds:
James 4:7-8. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

First Step: I must submit to God’s will and acknowledging His Will in my life.

Second Step: I must resist Satan and expose his lies by using God’s Word.

Third Step: I must draw near to God in worship. When I draw near to God in worship and resist the devil, two things will happen: God’s Will becomes clearer to me, and Satan’s strongholds become weaker.

Fourth Step: I must cleanse and purify my heart. How? By asking God to show me any way that I have used my own reasonings and been double minded. Then ask for His forgiveness for not depending on His guidance and His Word. By doing this, I can confidently enter God’s Presence with a clean heart and a single mind to pray and to worship Him.

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God’s Timing Is Not Always Our Timing

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to answer them and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him.

God has a plan for each one of His children, and He wants what is best for them. He always answers prayers in three ways … No … Yes… and… Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before God gives us the desires of our hearts. It is our human nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength.

The following story is a great illustration about how a little boy tried to help the caterpillar become a butterfly.

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life..in the pit…in the prison, and in Potipher’s palace, God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther! God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what is best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing.

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Poem: The Unanswered Prayer

Years ago, I remember praying, “Lord, make me more like You.”   Although I didn’t realize it at the time, God began sending deep trials to our family and church. I remember thinking, “Why, Lord?”  It was not until  reading this poem  during my Quiet Time  that I began to understand the purpose of those trials. God was just answering my prayer, “Lord, make me more like You.”

The Unanswered Prayer
She asked to be made like her Savior;
He took her right at her word,
And sent her a heart crushing burden
That the depths of her soul was stirred.

She wanted a meek lowly spirit—
The work He gave answered that cry,
Till some who had once been companions,
With a pitying smile passed her by.

She asked to lean hard on the Savior,
He took the human props quite away,
Till no earthly friend could give comfort
And she could do nothing but pray.

She had prayed to be made like the Savior,
And the burdens He gave her to bear
Had been but the great  Sculpter’s teaching;
To help answer her earnest prayer.

—- Publisher Unknown

 

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