Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Whirlpool Blessing

God’s blessings begin like a small eddy in a pool that continues to swell with our obedience, into an all encompassing whirlpool reaching to heights and expanding to distances that we never dreamed possible.

God always, first calls and blesses us. Then it is our privilege/responsibility to respond to His blessing, which in turn, He blesses even more. We see this throughout the Bible (and history) as He calls, blesses, expands, enlarges, and blesses even more according to the individual’s (or nation’s) obedience.

The danger in understanding this (at least for me) is that one must be very careful that service to God always be due to love for God, and in response to, His blessings, rather than so that He blesses. In other words, what’s our motive for service? What is our attitude in service?

Often, as I am praying, or in joyful thanksgiving to God for His blessing, the (Satan inspired) thought comes to mind, “Well, you knew He would bless you. Isn’t that why you did it?”

I know that at difficult times in my life (and even not so difficult times) I’ve rejoiced in knowing or finding out that someone was praying for me. There have been times that knowing that was the only thing that got me through the struggle.

So, I like to let people know that I am praying for them, but as I do, I begin to think, “You know that God blesses in return according to or in proportion to, your prayer for others. You only want to be “noticed” by them. That’s the only reason you’re doing this…” And it truly isn’t! But what keeps it from becoming true?

Why not just pray in silence? Why risk the temptation that might come from this? The risk is worth it because encouragement, by the very definition of the word, comes with the giving of strength or support, and so it is what I must do. And so it is what I, in practice, do.

And I pray, “God, protect my motives, protect my attitude. May all that I do be in pure obedience and adoration to You.”

To God be the Glory - Amen.

Betty Newman

Monday, August 29, 2005

Holy Hands

Everyone struggles. There are times when we can read one phrase of one verse of Scripture and it can speak volumes to us. That is why it is so important to read God's word - especially when we don't feel like it.

This piece was written one day when things were not going well. And God spoke to me.

Thanks be to God, that He is much more willing to speak to us, than we are to listen.
Holy Hands

The scriptures tell us (1Timothy 2:8) that we should pray while lifting up "holy hands." But my hands aren't holy. They're dirty. They're stained and they're scratched and they're worn. They cling tightly to resentments and regrets, and then clutch at annoyances when they think no one is looking...

There's anger under the fingernails and if one sniffs closely, the stench of ground in sin still lingers where they have dug through dirt and sought to uncover filth. Despite my vain attempts at washing, they just… won't… come… clean…

Depression ties them together and fear paralyzes them. While (I don't think) they have deliberately sought to harm someone, they have not always been extended in help and friendship either. And sometimes, they're even clenched in isolated exclusion.

Furthermore, they hurt. Scars of long ago wounds can still be seen and callouses of painful memories and hard times cover the palms. And occasionally, a raw word can still pull a nail to the quick.

So how, I cry, can they even attempt to lift themselves anywhere near, anything holy? The answer is, "they" can't.

I close my eyes and imagine the blood of the Lamb pouring over my dirty, filthy, stinking hands and watch as it all just washes away.

Every mar and every stain; every hurt and every pain. Every failure, every sin, every "almost, might have been", are now gone. And I sing, "Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

And then I see, as Aaron and Hur held Moses' tired and aching arms up during battle, so Christ Himself has washed me and His nail scarred hands hold my now holy hands aloft while I pray.

And so pray, I must…

Betty J. Newman ©2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Blessed Be the Word of the Lord

Blessed be the WORD of the LORD
He spoke the world into existence
And He has spoken to man.

He spoke to Moses in a fire
He spoke to Job in a whirlwind
He spoke to the children of Israel
in an earthquake
And He spoke to Elijah
in a still small voice.

He spoke to the wisemen’s intellect
And He spoke to the shepherds’ hearts.
Now He speaks to us,
Wherever we are…

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Prayer for Meals

God, as I take this time to stop and eat, may I be ever mindful that You created this desire and need within me. You created my body with not only the requirement for nourishment and substance, but with a want and an enjoyment of food as well. That didn’t have to be. You could have created a process similar to putting gas in an automobile - an impersonal replenishment of fuel for the body.

In fact, we’d probably be better off if You had. But as in all areas of our lives, You’ve given us free will - free choice of how to satisfy our desires. May we, in this, as in all areas of our lives, seek Your Divine wisdom to determine what is “best” for us.

But again, thank You that food tastes good!


Betty Newman

Sunday, August 21, 2005

To our younger son

A few weeks ago, I shared parts of my letter to our older son and his new wife. For this week, I am sharing parts of my letter to our younger son as he enters The University of Tennessee.
August 20, 2005

This day, you are moving out. Nothing will ever really be the same after today. Oh, I know that we'll remain close - we just have that kind of relationship - but "things" will change.

And do you know what I will miss the most? Our talks. I really enjoy talking with you. You are a highly intelligent person - seems like you always have been. I enjoy discussing marketing and theology and music - well, you discuss music, I just listen at that point… But, I will miss that.

I believe that God has a calling for you. I'm not sure what it is, but He will lead you to it. Just listen for Him.

I want you to know, that I will be more excited and more proud (more humbled) to know that you are serving God, and are where He wants you, than any "fame and fortune" you may ever amass.

When each of you boys was born, I told God that nothing would make me more humble and more thankful than for you each to become a "man of God." And I am humbled, and I am thankful, for I believe you are a man of God. A "young" man, but a man of God, nonetheless. (We have been so blessed by both of you boys.)

And so today, like a little bird, I watch as you fly from the nest. And I will say all the "Motherly" things, like - eat well, take care of your health, do your laundry, but what I mainly want to say is, take care of your Soul. Listen to God. Serve Him, and Him only. And most of all, there are no shortcuts, there are no "yeah, buts" God is Lord God, all the time. Live that - all the time.

Yes, after today nothing will ever be the same. And, I wouldn't have it any other way. God didn't give us a child to raise. He gave us an "adult" to nurture. But I will have to admit, it tugs at my heart a little (well, a lot actually) but, know this - we will always be here for you. We love you and are SO proud of you - the man that you are, and the man God is leading you to become.

We love you.
Mom and Dad

Betty J. Newman

Thursday, August 18, 2005

How Much Time

It’s a football game, perhaps it’s the Super Bowl or maybe even the Playoffs - it’s the 4th quarter, and the players are tired. Their legs are aching and their lungs are burning, but they give everything they’ve got - and then some. They hold nothing back because they know exactly how much time is left. They know that in x number of minutes or seconds - win or lose - it will be over. And then they can rest.

“Life” is not like that. There is no time clock, we don’t know “exactly” anything, and so sometimes we seek a little respite; a little reserve.

When my Mother died I was there, but if I had known that that night was to be her last, I would have set beside her bed and held her hand all night, but I didn’t, and so I tried to get a little sleep, because I didn’t know how many more days and nights it would be. I knew it would be soon, but not exactly how soon. There was no time clock.

I don’t feel guilty; I don’t regret it, really, because I know that’s how it is. And I would have to do that again if a similar situation arose.

But because of that, I pray for strength for those who sit by bedsides, for those who try to grab a few moments of rest during the trial, because for them, there is no time clock either and they just don’t know how much more will be needed.

“God grant them grace, peace and strength.”


Betty Newman 1/18/05

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Touch of Fog

There’s a touch of fog
in the valley this mornin’.
Soft and light
just enough
to soften the edges…

It brings a wash of peace
to my harried spirit
and I don’t quite know why…

As the sun breaks through
and a hint of blue appears
the fog
slowly fades away.

But not before
it begins to restore
my soul…

Thanks Lord.
I needed that…

Betty J. Newman ©2001

Monday, August 15, 2005

As I Went Down to the River to Pray…

I went to an old fashioned “down at the river” baptism yesterday. As I watched the preacher immerse the participants, I noticed that with each one, as they went into and came up out of the water, the water rippled out from them much in the same way as when one tosses a rock into the water.

As I watched the ripples waft farther and farther away, the next person was submerged and the ripples started anew. And I thought about how appropriate - how metaphorically true that was. Each of our lives “ripples” out to reach other’s lives, and then their lives in turn “ripple” out as well. You will reach people that I will never know, and your impact on my life will, in turn, reach people you will never know - and their lives will reach even beyond your or my wildest imagination.

Someone once said, “We stand on the shoulders of the Saints…” and indeed we do.

Then I saw another thing. There were 3 adults and 2 children. The adults went first with the children following and I thought again, how true. For as the ripples of the adults begin to fade away and meld into the river’s current, then the ripples of the younger generation started anew. And that’s how it should be. As God calls Saints to their reward, this earthly cycle starts yet again.

Moses died and Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River. Elijah laid his mantel on Elisha. David gave the throne to Solomon. Jesus told Peter to “feed My sheep” and He gave us the Great Commission to go into all the world, “baptizing in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit” so that the “ripples” will continue to flow…

Think about it, are we creating ripples, or just making waves?


Betty J. Newman ©August 14, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

David's Temple

Everyone talks about Solomon’s Temple, but it isn’t Solomon’s Temple at all - it is David’s Temple.

“Wait a minute,” you say, “God told David that he wasn’t to build a temple.”
That’s right, but it is “David’s Temple” nonetheless.

As I was growing up, many times my parents would dicker (good naturedly) over projects. As my Mother would be telling Daddy how to do something, Daddy would say, “Now, who’s doing this - me or you?” To which Mother would reply, “Well, you are - but I’m having it done!”

That’s the way David’s Temple was. Read the account in 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 of David’s offer to build the temple and God’s loving rejection of David’s proposal.

Then we see in 1 Chronicles chapters 22, 28 and 29 that David gathered the materials, David drew the blueprint, and David secured the money.

So you see, Solomon actually did it, but David “had it done.”

What is God “having you do”? Paul could have thought that all he was getting done was writing a bunch of letters - oh but what a bunch of letters they turned out to be!

God may have us do great things, or He may lead us to “have others” do great things. All we can do is “bloom where you are planted” and “Whether you eat or drink” (or drive a truck, or wash dishes, or sell stuff) “do all for the glory of God!”


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Life cycles

Oh Father, how our lives seem to go in cycles. One moment we’re on the top of the curve - praying for and ministering to others. The next thing we know, we become the “prayee” and the one being ministered to. How quickly these things happen.

Help us to see that “life” doesn’t always play fair. What can begin as a “joy ride” can so suddenly turn into a harrowing journey. Let us never place our trust in things of this world. May we always comfort, strengthen, and encourage ourselves with Your love, and delight in Your presence - regardless of the circumstances.

Now Father, we know, that is so much easier said, than lived - so much easier proclaimed than accomplished. Give us grace to see Your will, and allow us mercy to know Your peace.

In Jesus’ Name - Amen

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A prayer for teachers at the beginning of a new school year

Father, as I stop in this moment to pray, I wonder, how would You have me pray for these teachers? How would You have me lift them up?

What are their concerns? What are their fears? What are their apprehensions? Do they feel the same “butterflies” that the students feel? Are we ever really as sure of ourselves as we would have the world believe?

As they “start back to school”, indeed, many of them have never left. They’ve been there all summer, off and on. One would almost say, “Without the kids” but there have also been students there as well - summer school, plus the various “camps” that take place all summer. So for some teachers and staff, it’s a year-round thing.

But in the mindset of “starting back to school” it’s a “new year” a new beginning, a “clean sheet of paper.” And so I pray for them.

I pray for the struggles and “life” that they take into this new year with them. I pray that You will give them strength to “compartmentalize” their lives enough to be able to leave “home” at home and give these fresh minds their whole attention.

As they look into the new eyes, give them the ability to look at the “clean sheet of paper” and not carry over smudges from previous years’ experiences, or even the smudges of siblings. They know in their hearts that isn’t fair, but they are only human - and need Your grace to do that. After all, they know You look at “clean sheets of paper” without looking for smudges and erasure marks. Christ wiped it all clean and it’s gone. Help them to do the same for these dear charges whom You have placed in their hands for the next school year.

And I pray, not for teachers only, but for every staff member who interacts with a student. We all remember special secretaries, “lunchroom ladies” and custodians who played a huge role in our growing up. I believe, Lord, that everyone who touches a child touches God. And how would we touch You, Father?

We pray specifically now Lord, for those teachers who only have a “job.” Those who don’t see Your calling in their work. We pray that their eyes would be opened and their hearts touched by Your love. I pray for every teacher who knows You, that their example will lead those who don’t.

And I lift up administrators; those who are experienced, those who are new, and those who are tired. They may be out of the classroom, but their calling now is to “lead leaders.” Give them grace, give them wisdom, and give them patience.

Then the counselors, Lord. What an impact they have on young lives - those who depend on their counsel. Help them to see into the souls of the students - help them to ferret out dreams and discover the hidden talents and abilities. And give them wisdom and faith to direct Your next generation.

And finally, Lord, I pray for everything that they do, that has nothing to do with teaching. There’s so much of it now, Lord. The things that our society has thrust upon us, is piled doubly on schools, I think. And so I pray for clearness of mind, steadiness of nerves, and purity of heart in their endeavor this year. And may it be a “good year” for Your honor and glory.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Life (a poem)

How does one describe a life
in terms of hunger, growth and strife?

How can I, in honesty
relate the joy that it can be
and tell of triumph, not defeat
without once sounding incomplete?

How can I convey the pain
and still have hope then, to regain
my reputation for my wit
after all, that would admit
that I have questions, too...

Betty Newman © early 70's but still very relevent today...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Prayer for my son

I pray Lord, when he reads Your word (however sporadic that may be) that as he reads Your word, he will hear Your word.

I used to pray that You would “speak to his heart”, but as I prayed that, I came to understand that even as You did indeed, speak to him, he might not hear You speaking - or choose not to hear You speaking.

So now I pray, that he will hear Your word; that You will soften his heart to hear and respond to Your calling.

I know that as one reads Your word, and hears Your word - the more the desire intensifies to know Your word, which leads to reading Your word even more - and the cycle continues. And so, I pray for him.

Indeed, I pray for both sons - and the sons and daughters of friends - and the parents of my sons’ friends. Oh Father, that Your sons and daughters would hear Your speaking to their hearts…


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Answer to a struggle

During a time of intense struggle, I was in an attitude of crying out to God. It didn’t take place all at once, but was more of an on-going thing; an “attitude” pervading my every waking moment.

My soul was in turmoil, and as I went on with “life” - working, home life/farm life, making deliveries, running errands - just “stuff”, I was crying (literally and figuratively) out to God for answers.

One day while running errands, I stopped to eat lunch and realized that I didn’t have anything to read. (I usually keep a book or magazine with me at all times.) All I could find in the van was a NIV Bible. I don’t particularly like the NIV, and this particular bible is a huge paperback, and although I certainly don’t mind being seen reading a bible, this one makes it quite blatant, and I don’t do that. I will “stand” but I’m not an “in your face” sort of person, either. So I didn’t take it in to the restaurant, but I did thumb through it before going in. The scripture of Zechariah 10:1 caught my eye - “Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain-- The LORD who makes the storm clouds; And He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man.”

That intrigued me and I began to meditate on it and study about it. Nothing earth shattering or unusual about it, it was just something I was doing. I even wrote a prayer and some commentary about it. I saw it more as part of my daily “spiritual discipline” than part of the “answer” to my struggle.

That seems at first glance as to have nothing to do with the answer I received, but ultimately became a big part of it.

The next day I was out seeing customers and as I was driving I had the radio on the local Christian talk station, and was “listening, but not listening” (you know what I mean.)

As I was driving, I kept asking God for answers - for direction, for encouragement that I was doing the right things. I was in a writing ministry (of sorts) but was getting no response. No one seemed to be reading what I was writing. I didn’t want praise from readers, or recognition from others, but just to know that this was what God wanted me to be doing - that it was a blessing to someone, somewhere. (My “theme song” sung to the tune of “It’s Me Oh Lord, Standing in the Need of Prayer” said “Not for fame, not for fortune, but for Thee, Oh Lord…”)

I thought of the Zechariah passage and asked, pleaded really, for God to answer within seemingly “natural” and “normal” incidents, as in asking for rain within a normal time for rain. I did not want a miracle. I just wanted to hear God. Anyone can see God act in unusual occurrences, but it takes a believer to see God working within the ordinary.

I had struggled unusually hard with questions such as, “Who do you think you are? What makes you think God speaks through you, or uses you, or even that you have any wisdom or knowledge of God’s will? All you’re doing is making a fool of yourself…” I’d had similar feelings before, but it always seemed to be in conjunction with searching for God’s direction. But now, I’d been experiencing God’s direction in a more fulfilling way than ever before - at least I thought it was God’s direction… I just wasn’t really sure anymore.

The next few incidents took place simultaneously, so it’s kinda hard to write down, so bear with me.

The program that was on the radio was “Turning Point” with David Jeremiah who was teaching a series on the 7 Churches of Revelation, this particular day - the Church of Philadelphia. He was teaching on the things that the Lord commended them about, and on the “door” of opportunity that they had, and that they were to others. Then he talked about being patient, letting Jesus “unlock” the door and open it - not to rush into where God was not ready for you.

Just as he was saying that I was beginning to think that maybe God was saying “wait” - that a ministry of this type needed the “Spring rains” to make it grow - that witnessing opportunities needed to “ripen” before they could be harvested, but before that thought fully materialized, I “heard in my spirit” “It doesn’t matter who reads what you write, or even IF anyone reads what you write. Your responsibility is simply to study and write. I will take care of who reads it and when.”

Just then Dr. Jeremiah said that Philadelphia had the 4 characteristics that are often associated with Church and ministry growth. As he stated them, I “heard” a response. These were:
A door of opportunity (and I heard, “You have an opportunity, Betty, with the blog and with the e-mails.”)
They had “little strength” they knew the only strength they had, was from the Lord. (“It is not your strength, it is Mine. It is who I AM not who you are.”)
They were committed to keeping the Word of God. (“You have “kept” the Word, even in time of questions and doubt. Keep studying to prove yourself faithful.”)
They held fast to sound doctrine and did not deny the Lord. (“You have sought to do what is right. You have never denied Me.”)

I erupted in tears (which is no simple thing doing 65 mph down the interstate!) And just as soon as was safely possible, I pulled over and wrote down the 4 things.

God answered my cries within one of the most normal occurrences of my day - driving and listening to the radio. It is utterly amazing how so many words and feelings and actions can take place at exactly the same time.

So I guess I have my “marching orders.” “To God be the Glory - great things He hath done!”

Betty J. Newman © July 26, 2005

Monday, August 01, 2005

Zechariah 10:1 Prayer

Zec 10:1 Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain-- The LORD who makes the storm clouds; And He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man.

Give me what I need Lord, at the time that I need it. Open my eyes to see Your providence in seemingly “natural” and “normal” occurrences.

Father, I know that “every good gift” comes from You. When those “good gifts” come packaged in difficult times, give me strength and wisdom. Just as the “spring rain” causes the crops to grow, so I realize that it is in the difficult times that we most often do the most growing.

Thank You for the “showers of blessings” that you have so graciously and lovingly poured upon us. Father we know that we have been so blessed. My struggles and difficulties are so minute when compared with others, but they are huge to me, and I know that as Your child, what concerns me, concerns You. Thank You for that assurance.

Now give me grace to ask, grace to receive, and grace to stand within the storms to await the growth that the “spring rain” brings…

In Jesus’ name - Amen


The "spring" rain - from reading the other commentaries - this rain was (in their climate) for the ripening of the harvest.

We (in our climate) think of "spring" rains as those that prepares the harvest, that allows and supports the crops in their growth phase.

So we must look at this in its original meaning of the "latter" rains, but as I read and study this passage for my own life - I must read it as God speaks to my heart in my own atmosphere and environment.

In that regard I see this as ask God to act or intercede in a manner that is in keeping with his character. In other words, don't ask God for snow in July or for cows to fly. Ask for the rain at the time of rain. The unbelieving man will say that it's just "time" for the rain anyway, but the believer will know that God could just as easily withhold the rain, but instead blesses us by giving it.

This, of course, is not only speaking of rain, but of every blessing from God. And indeed, every good gift comes from God.

Someone once said, "if we never prayed, how would we know to thank God when He acts?"