A Dream

February 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By DiAne Gates –

SCRIPTURE: “How precious are Thou thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with Thee” (Psalm 139:17-18 NAS).

A dream. A realistic dream. A dream that remains alive and vivid hours later. A week later. What about you? Ever had such a dream? Did you dismiss it? Miss it? Or forget about it?

In the early hours of last Tuesday morning, I had such a dream. I’ve never put much stock in dreams. But this one—so lifelike, so clear, so intense.

Monday night I went to bed mulling over a problem and the dream opened with me telling two men about my problem. One, a dear friend, the other the pastor of the church where I grew up—Dr. Homer Lindsay, Sr.

I finished stating my problem. Dr. Lindsay got up out of his chair, came over, and put his arm around me. He leaned close to my ear and said, “DiAne, you remember Jeremiah 29:11, don’t you?”

I replied, “Yes sir.” And we quoted it in unison, his voice recognizable and intelligible. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

The dream ended, my eyes flashed open, and a sense of comfort and hope that only God can give wrapped around me and carried me through the morning with a renewed sense of security and joy.

Until four A.M. the following morning when my husband woke me. “DiAne.” He spoke in a voice I’ve come to understand means trouble. “We have a problem. It’s my heart. I want you to drive me to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.”

We were in Longview, Texas—two hours away from Dallas and Presbyterian Hospital.

I sprang from the covers and pulled on yesterday’s jeans and a shirt. “O Lord!” my mind raced and my heart quaked. “What’s he thinking? I can’t drive two hours with him. In the car. About to have a heart attack.”

Another thought zipped through my mind. Look at his color. I turned on the light and looked at his face. His color was good. Warm. Not the pasty gray of a heart attack. Immediately the dream of the previous night flashed across my consciousness and the peace of God took control of my terrified heart and I heard—drive him to Presbyterian in Dallas.

We made the drive in record time. And for the next thirty-six hours, the medical staff at Presbyterian Dallas accomplished the necessary tests to confirm that my husband did not and was not having a heart attack. His previous bypasses and stints were unchanged and blood was coursing through his arteries as it should be.

For once in my life, I rested in the promise God confirmed to me the night before all this transpired, and reminded Him of that promise during that two-hour drive Wednesday morning. I traveled through those thirty-six hours at peace with the knowledge God was in control—not me.

Almost a week has passed and I paused this morning to contemplate how many times I’ve missed or dismissed God’s instructions and warnings. Choosing instead to race ahead of the stresses and strains of life. Always running. Refusing to be still. Neglecting to rest in Him.

Father in Heaven, help me remember. Remember to listen and heed your Word and Your warnings. Remember that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. And remember that You think of me—all the time.

Texting God

December 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By DiAne Gates –

Are we raising a generation of young people who are incapable of understanding the deep bonds of love and the necessity of personal relationships with others and with God?

I believe we are.

Christmas morning my eleven-year-old grandson texted me to say he received a brand new phone for Christmas.

“Great,” I texted back. “Now you can call me more often.”

He quickly returned my text. “No, Mimi. Now I can text you faster.”

I sighed and typed a response. “Focus on calling, sweetheart. Mimi loves to hear the sound of your voice.”

My grandson came for a visit between Christmas and New Years and for some unknown reason, in the middle of the week, his new super phone screen went black. He could receive calls but was unable to text. The boy had a momentary meltdown. His communication to the outside world—ceased! But as the week progressed, we had time to talk. He had a wonderful time and the world did not end—even though he couldn’t text.

Texting, emailing and all the other timesaving technological conveniences of this age are no substitute for face-to-face, one-on-one, verbal communications with family, friends, and especially with God.

“Relationships.” Do kids even have a clue what a relationship is?

My grandkids may have 200 “friends” with whom they text and email on Facebook, Twitter or whatever. They believe these are relationships. But they are mere acquaintances—if that. Three and four word texts, via electronic device, cannot weave lasting emotional bonds between people.

And talk about “text,” what about the Bible?

Are today’s young people even able to read passages longer than a three line text or comprehend the eternal consequences of ignoring or rebelling against The Lord God Almighty who is the same yesterday, today, and forever? They can text and operate all this plethora of high tech machinery, know the lyrics of every song on their IPod, but have trouble believing or caring much less connecting the dots from creation, to the cross, and into eternity. And forget about “hiding God’s Word” in their hearts (Psalm 119:11 NKJ). They will tell you they don’t have the time or inclination to do so.

Throughout scripture, God tells of His people crying out to Him, His hearing and answering their prayers. King David says, “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 116:1-2 NAS).
.
God created me in His image and for His pleasure. I was made to have an intimate, personal relationship with God the Father, and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Without that kinship, there is an empty chasm in my heart and soul. But, there can’t be a relationship unless there is time spent together, unless there is truth and respect, and unless intimacy exists between the parties, whether it’s between spouses, friends and family or especially God.

I love to hear my children and grandchildren’s voices. Have you considered that God loves to hear your voice too? Not in a three or four word text, muttered in a time of tragedy or despair or when you’re about to fall asleep. But from the depth of your soul and the need of your heart, on your knees—quiet and still, before the only One who hears and answers your prayers.

The Tough Flower in my Garden

November 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By DiAne Gates –

SCRIPTURE: “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Summer before last, I purchased a new variety of zinnias, the miniature bushy ones. They bloomed all season in a plethora of colors, draping their smiling faces over the bricks of my backdoor flowerbed.

Then winter swooped in. Early and with great gusto. Caught by surprise, I did not have the opportunity to pull up the spent annuals and mulch the bed for the coming spring.

To my delight, when spring arrived, the warm soil became home for a new crop of miniature zinnias that needed no help from me. And when the harsh Texas winter was followed by the most severe drought we’d experienced in decades, those tough little plants thrived and bloomed in even greater abundance than the year before.

Now I’m a quick study in the gardening department. I purchased three packages of their larger cousins to frame these border darlings. Those seeds also produced hardy plants with spectacular blossoms in red, purple and yellow, all summer long. While my plumerias and roses, orchids and daisies struggled to maintain life in the 110 plus afternoon heat, the $2.50 packages of zinnia seeds flourished and embellished our landscape with vivid color.

One pleasant fall afternoon, I sat in my yard swing, the spent zinnia heads in my lap, and removed seeds from each dried blossom. Every flower produced at least fifty or more seeds. What a harvest! Now that I had learned the secret of this tough flower of garden annuals, I envisioned flowerbeds this spring that would explode into patches of brilliant color.

In Genesis 1:29 God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth. . . ”

I looked at the bags of seeds I’d collected and thanked God for His multiplied provision for the next year’s garden, but asked forgiveness for countless seeds of His goodness I’ve wasted through the years, both in my garden and in my life.

In times of abundance, I’ve taken God’s blessings for granted and foolishly squandered the gifts He poured out on me. But when hard times come, and they always do, I’m quick to faint and cry for His help.

I’ve become like a hothouse plant that needs constant care from the elements of life. God places me in difficult situations to develop in me the hardiness and colorful beauty of a zinnia—able to thrive in all conditions. His desire is that I develop the ability to bloom for Him in every season, so that like that tough flower in my garden, He can multiply the harvest of my life.

Father in Heaven, help me remember when trials and hard times come You have allowed them in order to develop in me the strength, courage, and endurance that transforms me into the image of Christ Jesus as I trust You—from faith to faith.

Blurring the Ancient Boundaries

June 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By DiAne Gates –

Mother often recited, “I don’t build fences to keep you in. I build fences to keep bad stuff out.” But it sure felt like I was being detained.

Until I grew up and had my own children.

God sets boundaries for His kids too. Not to hold us captive, but to keep us safe. He’s the great protector, not the cosmic killjoy.

In the late ‘70’s, my kids were third and sixth graders in a public school that became the battleground to guerrilla warfare waged against children in the classroom.

Comments slipped from their mouths, and at first we responded, “They’re just kids.”

One afternoon our third grader retorted, “My teacher says I don’t have to mind you. You’re old. I can do what I feel like doing.”

What teacher in their right mind would tell that to a child? We instructed our daughter, “Your teacher wouldn’t say that. You need to be quiet and listen.”

But other parents voiced the same concerns when their kiddos came home with the same rhetoric. The teacher really taught these lies and the kids acted on her instruction.

We discovered the guidance counselor held classes with every kid, in all grades, each week. The School Board and school allowed this counselor to use a book not approved by the State Text Book Committee. A book not even on the list of books from which they could choose.

We tracked the publication to another school, borrowed it, and called a meeting for the parents of our elementary school. A reporter from a local newspaper, met with us and we previewed the book, DoSo The Dolphin, taught at the elementary school. The middle school taught Total Affective Behavior.

DoSo the Dolphin taught you could do anything you wanted if you had a good reason for doing it. One example in the book was this. “Little Johnny told a lie. But Little Johnny had a very good reason for telling this lie. What would you do if you were Little Johnny?” This lesson encouraged children not to go to their parents for answers, but to come to their “Magic Circle,” group, where they would find understanding. This book was used in grades 1 through 5.

Middle school kids were exposed to survival games—taught to make life and death decisions based on a person’s worth to society. This teaching became known as Situation Ethics. The situation you’re in determines the ethics you use.

The question remains: Is God’s Word truth? Is there absolute truth? Satan asked Eve in the garden, “Did God really say that?” And the blurring continues since that day in the garden.

Fast forward to 2012. We are dealing with high school shootings, drugs, gangs in schools, teen pregnancies, abortions, alarming STD rates, and an overcrowded prison system. We have raised a generation of adults who were taught in schools, “If it feels good, do it.” How can we expect them to have a moral or spiritual compass?

This brainwashed generation is raising children of their own with few, if any, boundaries. Where do we go from here? Are parents and grandparents failing our children and grandchildren in this society? Are we teaching them the Word of God?

God constructed the fence of His Statutes and Ordinances for His children, but His rebellious kids catapult over those walls of protection and find themselves in places they thought would bring freedom and joy, but instead bring destruction.

Were you a student in the classroom during this deceptive teaching or do you know people who were? How did it affect you? Please join the conversation.

Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones. . .” (Lamentations 2:19 NAS).

BLACKBERRIES, STICKERS AND COBBLER

March 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By DiAne Gates –

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, thank you for the miracle of Your creation, the love of family and friends and memories; but most of all, thank you for loving us and sending Jesus to die for our sins.

Springtime in Florida was a multi-colored landscape of green, buttercup yellow, and pastel pink. Delicate white blooms dotted prickly vines along roadsides and covered fence lines. Transparent flowers with pollen-filled centers, swayed in the breeze. Honey bees buzzed.

Lumpy, green balls replaced blossoms to confirm this was the perfect patch. We watched those hard green spheres balloon into hundreds of scarlet berries. And sunny days and spring rains urged their transformation into plump, luminous, blackberries.

The berries ripened. Our family piled into our ‘57 Ford, and headed toward our berry patch alongside a country road near the marshes of the St. Johns River, outside Jacksonville, Florida. The Gooding family joined this annual first-blackberry-picking-day.

Parents set boundaries and issued warnings about snakes, stickers and sandspurs. They might as well-a’-been-talkin’ to the wind. We grabbed our buckets and raced down the slope to be first to find the biggest blackberry in the patch.

We scrambled here and there, hoping to find the berry of the day—waiting to be picked by someone—hopefully me. Truth is, we ate as many as we picked, evidenced by toothy grins smeared with tell-tale black juice tinting our lips, our tongues, and grimy fingers.

During one of those scrambles Elaine lost her balance, bounced bottom first down the sandy slope, and landed right in the middle of a sticker-filled-cactus-patch.

Her wails brought an end to this event. Two dads carried the wounded berry-picker to the car where she laid, face-down across our laps, and cried all the way home.

Moms washed the black treasures, then mixed ingredients for the anticipated cobbler. My dad churned homemade vanilla ice cream that would crown the scrumptious berries already bubbling in the oven.

Elaine’s dad had the unpleasant task of removing those nasty stickers from her backside.

I’ll admit, we were not sympathetic onlookers. She had spoiled our fun. We snickered and giggled, sneaking peeks around the corner with every shriek of pain—secretly grateful it wasn’t one of us.

Glasses of iced tea, lemonade with mint sprigs, warm bowls filled with black-berry cobbler, piled with homemade ice cream, however, proved our berry picking day a success.

We lingered in the backyard, swaying in wooden swings hanging by gnarled ropes from aged oak trees as the last moments of the day slipped away. But fireflies flashed in the hedges and a new chase was on, to see who could capture the biggest, brightest insect.

Everyone but Elaine, who stood with her bowl of cobbler.

I no longer search country lanes, but drive to Walmart and buy expensive, tasteless berries, picked before they’re ripe, packed in plastic—not a kid’s bucket—only to find a layer of moldy ones on the bottom.

These days I sit on the patio to watch the day fade into evening while the latest accounts of troubling information blare on the evening news and my grandchildren text me in three word sentences.

I recall these joyful memories while one or two fireflies dart in the bushes around our pond and marvel that times change but God is forever sovereign and on the Throne.

My grandchildren will never experience the excitement of beating friends to the biggest blackberry in the patch, or catching the brightest firefly in their jar, or joining lighthearted conversation with grown-ups.

Memories of a tummy full of cobbler and fresh homemade ice cream, wrapped in the blanket of love family and friends provide, holding my jar full of God’s miraculous lights, are tucked into the secret places of my heart.

Precious memories this world of technology will never duplicate.

Next Page »