Sunday, June 29, 2003

Weekly Word for June 29 - July 5, 2003

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.” (Mathew 13: 44)

Ted woke up early this morning and told me about a dream he had. In the dream he saw a place that was like a mall. It was a large store and very open so that people could walk through it. In this particular store the owner had decided to change things. The place had sold a particular brand name of a product, but now the owner had decided to go with a “no-name” brand of products - not as good - and the cost was less! The owner had decided to change “everything” about the store! Ted (in the dream) knew that this was not good! He woke up wondering what was so wrong in this dream. I have to admit - at first I really wasn’t sure what to make of it all.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

Quite a number of years ago, I was working in a ministry that seemed to be in the midst of change. There wasn’t a lot of money coming into the ministry, and we were all trying to figure out what we should do next. The decision was made to start a program that would offer people good teachings about nutrition, exercise, all sorts of good things to help people to become healthier. There were a number of people in the ministry who could teach these workshops, and everyone was very excited! Lesson plans were made, brochures were printed and mailed out, posters were put around the community - everything seemed to be in place for this new endeavor that the ministry was embarking on! Then during a meeting just before the seminars were to begin, we all began to pray. The presence of the Lord filled the room in such a way that to this day I can remember being in awe! We knew that God was there for a very important reason. And He was! His question to us: “who’s plan do you want?” “Yours, or mine?” We were stunned! So much had gone into the planning of the seminars! Should we stop and change course now? Could we? At the time we did! We wanted a ministry that was in “His” name - not our own! The cost? We had to give up our own plans in order to accept His plans for us! We had to give “our” will over to Him!

So then you are no longer strangers . . . but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, (Ephesians 2:19)

There is a very famous saying that goes like this: “What is in a name?” When I was 18 years old I got married for the first time. At that time I took the name of my first husband. I was very glad to give up the name that I was born with. There were many hurts between my family growing up. Over the years though, the Lord has taken those hurts and replaced them with healing and love. Now (at 47) I can say that I have a healthy relationship with my family. But back at 18 - I did not! So it was with happiness that I took a new name. It meant that I was a different person - belonging to a different family.

And even though that marriage ended after quite a number of years of struggle and more hurts - I kept that name! It was the name my children had - and they belonged to me and I belonged to them! And then I met and fell in love with Ted. The day that the Lord brought us together as husband and wife - I was honored to take the name Ayers. It meant that Ted and I belonged together - as one! We were a family that God had put together. “What is in a name?” It tells us who we are - who we belong to!

Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:7)

Ted carries the name of both his father and his grandfather. In these two men - Ted learned what it meant to be a man. He watched each of them as he was growing and learned compassion, how to love, how to care for his family - from these men. I asked him once about his name - and what he thought about having the same name as them. He told me that it was an honor to have his name. And I knew it was true.

I then thought about Ted’s dream again. What each of us has to offer another - is what we have inside of us. As I have learned to trust the Lord - I want all that He has to offer me. And it is from that - the gifts the Lord has given me - that I minister to others. I only want to give them what is the “real thing” - as the advertisement says! The cost? The price is everything! All my plans I give up for His plans - His blessings!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name.” “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”

(John 16:23 & 24))

“What is in a name?” Everything! I come to you not in “my” name but in the name of Jesus Christ! Who’s name will you take as your own? My hope for you is that you will ask Him to come into your life and make you part of His family - an heir to all the good gifts He has for you. There is a cost! But it is worth everything!

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Weekly Word for June 22-28, 2003

“for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Mathew 17: 20)

When I was a little girl I was given a bracelet which had a glass ball with a mustard seed inside of it. I was then told of the bible verse above. My grandmother gave me the bracelet, and that in itself made me happy. But the fact that she too always wore a bracelet just like it made it extra special. I wish I still had that bracelet! But being that I was little - of course I lost it! The teaching of the bible verse though has stuck with me to this day. In it, I learned that the mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds there is! But it grows to be one of the largest plants. My grandmother was planting a small seed of “faith” within me.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith - it is such a difficult word to understand. It is the hope in something that is unseen. Believing in something that we do not fully know yet. Jesus used the words faith and belief interchangeably. I have learned that “fear” and “faith” are opposites. If we do not have “faith” - we will make our decisions from “fear”.

Ted has a friend he has worked with for a number of years. Bill seems to always find the negative in everything that is going on around him. It is as if his “faith” is that something will go wrong! His fears have grown instead of his faith. So when he makes a decision, it is because he is afraid of what might happen. This has limited Bill’s ability to freely live life. Our hope for Bill is that he will someday stop to listen, stop and see the “good” things that are around him.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17)

Our “faith” comes from the evidence of what has happened before. It comes from what we hear, see, and experience in life. If we have lived with abuse, punishment, and hurts all through our lives; we then will have a difficult time not choosing out of fear. I guess that’s why I am so glad that you only need a little bit - and it will grow! I am also thankful that He sends us “friends” who help us to grow in faith.

Years ago, homeless with a teen-age daughter, I have to admit my faith was about the size of that mustard seed. I knew that God could do miracles! I knew that He could “move mountains”! But for me? I felt as if the Lord would not “want” to do anything special for me. I felt as if I didn’t deserve anything good, anything special. And yet He gave me so much! All the circumstances leading up to renting that house were amazing. I had gone to see a friend and told her that we needed to find a house close to Jen‘s school.

She mentioned her grandparents were looking for someone to move into the house they owned right next door to their house. She gave me their number and I called. I went to visit this wonderful couple. I told them I really didn’t know how I would fill a whole house with furniture (at that time I only had the clothes that Jen and I owned!), and still they rented it to me. Within two weeks the house was filled with furniture donated by friends or found at yard sales - and yet it all matched!! The house was beautiful. I know that the Lord did it all! The couple became like grandparents to Jen, and wonderful friends to me. The house itself was always full of laughter and warmth. To this day it amazes me!

Ted and I are again facing the question of where to move and when. Again, I wonder at how “impossible” the situation looks! I know that the Lord has brought us through so many obstacles and places in our lives. My “faith” is not as large as I wish it were. But I know He can show the way!

“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

“for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Mathew 17: 20)

Faith - The Lord tells us that it will grow. It only has to start the size of a mustard seed!

What is it that you have “faith” in? What is it that you “hope” in? Will you ask Him to replace your fear with “faith” and “hope“?

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Weekly Word for June 15-21, 2003

For He gives to His beloved - even in his sleep. (Psalm 127:2c)

Beloved - The Lord calls us His beloved! Jesus was called The Beloved - the One God Loved. And yet throughout the New Testament, you will find that the word beloved is used to address believers. I started thinking about this word. What did it mean?

A few days ago I was talking to my brother. He told me about a project he was working on. He is restoring an antique truck. He had just finished putting in a critical part of the motor. During the night, he found himself awake - knowing that “something” was very wrong with the part he had just put in. He didn’t know how he knew this, he just knew that he was uneasy. The next morning he left early to check the work he had just finished. Pulling the motor apart, he found that there was a break in this piece he had just put in. If left broken, the motor would not have worked, and may have caused damage. My brother couldn’t understand how he knew something was so wrong. I laughed and told him I knew why - The Lord! The Lord knew what was wrong, and wanted the best for my brother! He wanted to keep my brother safe. It doesn’t always happen this way - but if we listen - He does tell us when things are not OK, even in our sleep!

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. (Phil. 4:1)

Beloved - in my bible the word is defined as “chosen”, cherished, to be loved! How many times do we read in the newspaper of the passing of a “beloved” wife - the one who is loved the most by this one other person. So the Lord calls us His “chosen” - the one He loves that much!

Jesus told the story of the shepherd - of how when one sheep is lost, he will go find it. This is the story: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost; until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” We are that one sheep! He loves us that much - each of us!

Over the years I have come to understand that so many of us have been wounded by those who were supposed to love us. Our response to those wounds are to build walls, to cover the areas that are sensitive and might get hurt again. And then comes this message: My beloved! Most of us don’t have a clue what to do with that! How do we take those walls down that were built from years of hurts? How do we open doors that we have padlocked tightly against all that might want to get in? He knows how!

I had a friend who helped to open the doors that I had shut, out of my own woundedness. This friend would ask me to go out for coffee, go on walks with her, to just spend time talking about all those things that were in my heart. One day while on one of our walks, I told her how I had stopped praying. I was hurt and angry because of the things that had happened during my life. She stopped walking and turned toward me and said: “That’s why you have friends, we do the praying when you can not!” And she did! God knew who to send to help me re-open those doors that I had bolted shut! Little by little, I started to “feel” again - to feel His love for me. I was able to accept His Love - to be loved! He knows your needs also, he knows how to open the door for you!

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd;” (John 10: 9, 10,11a)

A few years ago, I was talking to another minister. During the conversation, I asked this minister if all they were ever asked to do in ministry was to change “one life” - would that be OK? They looked at me as if I were speaking another language. Then I knew that this was the question that He was asking of me! Impressing upon me that each life was that important! One life! - one sheep!

You are that one sheep! The Lord is opening the door for you! Offering to you - His beloved - life abundantly!

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Friday, June 13, 2003

Weekly Word for July 13-19, 2003

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. (Psalm 100:1)

I have known this Psalm since I was about 9 years old. In Sunday school we had to learn bible verses - and this was one of the verses I learned. I learned it this way: “make a “joyful noise” to the Lord”! It made it so much easier when, years later, I would sit in church with a very close friend who could not sing a note - they were tone-deaf! With their whole heart they would be singing - and everyone around us would turn to look! At first I was a little embarrassed - and then I remembered the passage.

A joyful noise! - the other day I was coming out of the shower and realized I was singing. I have an OK voice - but it is just that - just OK. I love music and have it on in the house all day long. But my singing? Well . . . it isn’t exactly one of my better gifts! When I came out of the shower, I was singing an old Christian song that I hadn’t remembered in many years. The song is called: “Just a closer walk with thee”. When I realized I was singing - I said to Ted: “I wonder why I was singing that song?” He looked at me and said: “Maybe the Lord wanted to hear you sing it”. I laughed - the Lord wanted to hear me????

The Lord wants to hear us - hear our hearts. He already knows what is in them - but sometimes we need to hear it ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even know what is there.

I love the Lord, because he hears My voice and my supplications, Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1)

He hears our voice. He hears all that we ask Him - everything that is within us - He knows it. The Psalms are full of praising the Lord! They were written by King David. David wasn’t a perfect man, he wasn’t without sin! He coveted another’s wife, he murdered her husband, he was full of faults! The Lord knew David’s heart - and He loved him anyways! And David loved God! I find it amazing - that even though we are full of sin - the Lord loves us! He does - He loves us and can fix those things that we cannot.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord with gladness;

Come before Him with joyful singing.

Know that the Lord Himself is God;

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

(Psalm 100: 1-3)

Shout joyfully! - Sometimes it is not so easy to be joyful! The Lord knows that. He knows our sorrows as well as our joys. He knows those things that even we don’t - those things that still hurt. The other day I got a phone call from a very old friend of mine. I hadn’t talked to her in quite a while. She had been a very large part of my life for many years, we had worked in ministry together, and then somehow we had drifted apart. A lot of changes had taken place since I had last talked with her - including my moving and getting married. When she called, she wondered if I had mistakenly taken some books that we had used years ago. I told her I would look, and hung up. After I got off the phone, many emotions welled up inside of me that I didn’t even know were there! I felt angry, and sad, and all sorts of emotions that I had locked away. When Ted came home we talked about all of this. He let me yell and cry and just “be mad”! The Word tells us to: be angry and sin not! (Ephesians 4:26) - Well . . . I was angry! And I can’t say I wanted to be nice at that time.

Whenever we have change, whenever we leave others, there is hurt. I had not dealt with the hurt of leaving my friend. I know that I still haven’t fully done so - but I have begun to. Because I also know that I can see the good that we shared - the ministry that was good and helped others. I also know that because of that period of time - I am who I am today! And that makes me full of joy!

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,

And His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him; bless his name.

For the Lord is good;

His loving kindness is everlasting,

And His faithfulness to all generations.

(Psalm 100: 4-5)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord! - We don’t do this because we have no sin, no anger, no pain - we do it because the Lord knows we have it - and loves us anyways! He knows how to heal our hearts, to set us free, and fill us with more joy than we can possibly imagine!

Will you give your anger, your hurts, all that is within your heart to Him? Will you allow Him to come closer and heal you? When you do - then, you will know how to make a joyful noise to the Lord!

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Weekly Word for June 8-14, 2003

...but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:51b & 52a)

July 4, 1998 - That is one day, one moment that is forever etched into my memory. It is the day that my son and daughter-in-law (Mike and Becca) were married. They had been planning their wedding day for a few months. They had picked a date: February 1999 - and then proceeded to make all the arrangements. On this particular day -July 4th- Mike called me. I hadn’t heard from him or Becca for a few days. He said: “Hi mom!” “Guess where we are!” Of course to this day he still tells the story of my answer! I told him I didn’t know - and said a couple of places including “prison!” He then told me that they were in Las Vegas! I have to admit I was surprised. But I wasn’t upset by it, or sad. He sounded so excited and happy. He told me that they were getting married that evening. I listened to him and told him I was happy for them. He then told me he would call the next day. That night, at 1:00am to be exact, I woke up to hear the song “From this Moment” by Shania Twain. I knew that at that precise moment that my son was getting married! I felt as if the Lord had awakened me just so I could be there, in spirit, with him. The next day when they called, I asked the time they got married. He said 10pm. Which was 1am here on the east coast! He said they walked out of the chapel and looked up at the sky - and there were fireworks - and he felt as if they were just for them! It was one of those special moments - those gifts of time - that are but a blink of an eye!

We all have them - moments of time - that are special, that we remember that strongly. The moment we hold our new baby, the first time we kiss the love of our lives, the moment we first say good-bye to a loved one. Moments - passages of time that slip away so quickly.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - (Eccl. 3:1)

We all know this verse. A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. Yet I know that many of us miss those moments in time. And sometimes they never come again! Over the years the Lord has shown me how important it is to pay attention to those moments in time that He shows us. It is as if He opens the door, and we have the choice to walk through or not. Each of us have, at times, missed walking through some of these doors. Does the Lord open new doors? Yes! But there are losses!

Years ago I lost a best friend to cancer. It was an amazing time - walking with her the last months of her life. We would talk about everything - her fears, her wants, those things that she was thinking about as she got closer to leaving this earth. I consider this time to be one of those gifts - moments that I will always remember! A few weeks before she died, we were sitting in her living room talking. She started talking about the things she wanted to give her family and friends to remember her by. Just then, I knew that the presence of the Lord was in the room with us. His want for her was that she would do this - and do it now! So we talked about all that she wanted each to have! We laughed and smiled as she decided what each would get and what they would think as they held their gifts. Somehow I knew that she had to do this immediately - time was running out. When I left she told me she would continue to think about each person and each gift. A few days later I asked her if she had written down what she wanted to do - and if she had given her husband and son what we had talked about. She said “no” - not yet. It was as if she figured if she didn’t do it yet - she would continue to live here on earth. A few days after this - she slipped into a coma. She left us a week later. She never did talk with her family and friends about the things she wanted them to have. It was a moment that never came again!

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - . . . A time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak. (Eccl. 3:1, 6b-7)

Some moments in time are of life and death importance. It is as if the Lord is saying: “I need you to do this - and to do it now!” One of these moments happened when my daughter was about 16 years old. She had been working at a horse farm, and her friend came to pick her and another friend up to take them home. The three teen-agers got into the car and started driving home. Somehow they angered two men. These men then got into a truck and started chasing these children. I later learned that at times the speeds got upwards of 80 to 90 miles per hour! On very small, winding back roads they were being chased. As this was happening, two of my closest friends were visiting each other and felt an urgent need to pray. They felt that it was so important that they stopped everything and prayed and prayed! The two men then cut off the car that Jen and her friends were in. The men jumped out and attacked the car! Smashing in windows, and grabbing at the terrified kids! The driver, Jen’s friend, somehow got the car to back up, and they got away! I received the call from the police station. When I got there, the three of them had only minor cuts from the shattered glass! I could only stare at them, and at the smashed in car with amazement that they had lived! Then I learned of how my friends had been praying for someone in my family (they weren’t sure who!). I thank the Lord that He asked them in that specific moment to be part of helping my daughter!

We all have moments in time that we either say “yes” or “no” to! Those moments that He opens to us - those are the ones that we need to say “yes” to!

“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life,” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Will you take this moment - and choose to say “yes” to what He opens to you? Will you choose Life? And not let the moment slip away!

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Weekly Word for June 1 - 7, 2003

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mathew 5:8)

I was talking with a young mom a week or so ago. During our talk, she asked me this: “Have you ever wondered about all the different denominations and which one is the right one?” As she asked this question, I knew she was looking to me to help her to figure out how to be “right”. Sue (not her real name) had come from a harsh family where being right meant that she wouldn’t be severely punished. This foundation had gone into everything she chose to do. As I pondered my answer to her, I could remember back to when I too had wanted to do everything “right”!

Like Sue, I too had come from very strict parents! I also needed to find a way to be “right” in order to feel safe! Over time, the Lord has taught me that His Love is not one of condemning - but of freeing! .

Then I told her what Paul had taught in Romans. He was talking to Peter, who was upset that some of the early Christians were not doing things exactly the way that they had been done when Jesus was with them. At the time there were many rules about what could be eaten or not eaten - as well as what days to worship, etc. This is what Paul taught: He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself. . .(Romans 14:6 & 7a) I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Romans 14: 14)

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

My question to Sue then was: “where did she feel comfortable, cared for?” Where could she spend time and listen for that “still, small voice” that would answer every question she had? We all struggle with what is the “right” answer. It took years but the Lord showed me that what I believed was “right” wasn’t always His answer!

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33)

Many years ago I worked in a ministry that was a crisis pregnancy center. We worked with young girls that were facing a “crisis pregnancy”. Our goal was to help them to choose Life - for themselves as well as for their babies. Very early in my time of working there, I met a 14 year old girl who was pregnant. The counselor who was to work with this girl called in sick that day - and I was to take over and help this girl! I was terrified! But I did what I thought was best with this young girl. She was 8 months pregnant when I met her, and was deciding to give her baby up for adoption. She also did not have a place to live! I made the calls to find a place for her to live as well as to the adoption agency to help her place her baby in a good home. A plan was made to put the young mom in a Christian foster home and when the baby was born it would be placed with a loving family. Even though I had been nervous - I felt good about what had been achieved for both mom and baby.

Then I got the call - the baby had been born and given a good home with a Christian family - but mom had changed her mind - and bolted with the baby! This young mom then went from foster home to foster home with her young baby. I found myself crying and crying - asking God why? I was so angry! I felt that the baby would not be alright - and was mad at God for letting this happen. I thought I knew what was “right” for this situation!

How wrong I was! Years went by. I was working at a community fair - at the booth for the crisis pregnancy center. (I was filling in for my friend who had become quite sick at the time!) I hadn’t even planned to be there. As I was standing there, a beautiful family came up to me. There was a mom and dad with 4 adopted children in front of me. The mom said to me: “if it weren’t for you - we wouldn’t have our son!” There stood a beautiful 8 year old boy. I looked at her questioningly. She said: “don’t you know?” “This is Pete - his mom came to you when she was 14 years old. You helped her.” All of a sudden I couldn’t breath - there stood the baby of my little 14 year old mom. She had taken him with her from place to place for 2 years. During that time, she had learned to love this little one, as well as learned to love the Lord. Mom then finished her high school test and determined she wanted to be a Missionary. Because she loved her beautiful son - she gave him up for adoption - to this family standing in front of me. The lives of mom and child were very different from the plan that I had determined was "Right"! This was God's plan - and His plan for us is always for good - for Life!

I have since learned that I don’t always know the “right” way to do things. What I do know is that God’s way is always for good - and it is always better than anything I could think of!

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Will you allow Him to show you His plans for you - for Life - for all that is good and full with joy?

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers