Our Refuge

Have you ever just felt like a tornado was let loose in your head!?  There are so many things to do that you just can’t keep up?  That you can’t even get one thought completed before you are thinking about something else?  Then you end up spending your day walking in circles without accomplishing a single thing completely?  I have had one of those weeks…oh, let’s just be completely honest, it’s been one of those months.  I’m really hoping that you can relate to this and I’m not crazy.  I did have a birthday this month so, you know what they say about getting older; you start losing things.

 

I was encouraged by Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Sometimes the storms of life are all around us, beside us, and even in our head!  We can find comfort, strength, and peace in the loving arms of the Lord.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1.  If you are going through a storm in your life, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, you’re not crazy, and that you can find refuge in the Lord.  Just take some time to be still in His presence; taking refuge in Him during your storms, for He is the Most High.

-Sharon Hoskins

My One Thing

I heard a message this past week from Bobby Hughes. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” Psalm 27:4.

Bobby asked, “What’s your ‘one thing’?” I had to think, if it’s not God, then what is my ‘one thing’? Am I totally satisfied in Christ? David’s desire for the Lord was unquestionable; is mine?  I began to ponder this question while sitting in the pew last Sunday and today I am still examining myself to find that ‘one thing’.  I love thought-provoking questions that cause me to really look at my heart and examine my life because the process draws me closer to the Lord in the end.  We probably all have something in our lives that drive us each day.  We may have a goal we are working toward or a position we are trying to achieve but at the end of it all, we find another goal and new heights to climb.  Today is the last day of 2015 and people everywhere are making some kind of New Year resolution.  Many want to be healthier, lose weight, make a career change, get organized, and thousands of other personal goals that we are committing to changing in 2016.    My commitment (resolution) is to be sure that my ‘one thing’ is the only One Thing that matters; Christ.

Sharon Hoskins

Unsung Heroes

I appreciate the fact that I can sit in service on Sunday morning and focus all of my attention on the message taught from the pulpit.  That blessing would not be possible without the devotion of the children’s church leaders.  The time that they put into studying and preparing the lesson for my kids takes dedication and sacrifice.  They give up so much of what I get to take advantage of and enjoy.

 

My kids learn a lot from them and have grown closer to God through their teachings.  I love to visit with my kids at the dinner table and hear all that they learned in children’s church.  I always encouraged my kids to pray, but could never get them to want to pray out loud.  A few years ago they started learning to pray in children’s church, they became excited about praying, now, they love to pray.  Some people don’t really like the idea of the family being separated on Sunday morning because we are separated all through the week with school and work.  That is something to think about as an individual family.  Some families don’t go to church together.  Kids ride the church bus or get dropped off and they have a place where they can be taught because of the children’s church leaders.   We don’t have to send our kids to children’s church; many kids sit with their families on Sunday morning right beside moms and dads.  This past Sunday a father and his 11-year-old son were at the altar together; there is little more beautiful than that.  Whether you send your kids to children’s church or not, the people who devote their lives to teaching God’s word to children are still doing the job for someone’s child.  Remember to extend your appreciation to them often.

Sharon Hoskins

A Great Woman

Behind every great pastor is a great woman.  We all have different opinions about what makes a great pastor’s wife.  Some think that she should be quiet; others think she should be center-stage.

Many think of the pastor’s wife as the woman who plays the piano, sits on the front row, teaches Sunday School, takes care of the nursery, plans dinners, cleans the church, leads children’s church and ladies group, organizes community events, and anything else that needs to be done.  We have our ideas of what she is supposed to do, how she is supposed to act, and the services she is to perform.  However, a pastor’s wife can have any number of characteristics, qualities, gifts, and abilities.  She is an individual, with her own personality, and she doesn’t have to meet our expectations.  We are sometimes very critical of the woman God called to work alongside our pastor; “We love our pastor, but his wife…”.  I have been a Christian for many years and I have heard horrible things come out of the mouths of people about their pastor’s wife.  Let’s stop making snide remarks and subtle jabs.  A wise pastor’s wife once told me that the only ones she needs to please is God and her husband; they are the only ones that matter.  With so many expectations from so many different people, how could she possibly please everyone?  The truth is she can’t.   We need to remember that when God called her husband to be a pastor, He called her to be a pastor’s wife, and whatever that means is between her and God.  Let’s extend love and thankfulness to our pastor’s wife for all that she does.  Let’s accept her for who God has called her to be in our life as our pastor’s wife.  Find out if there is anything she needs help with.  Encourage her with love and acceptance.  She is the woman who stands beside the pastor, who encourages him to keep going, takes up the slack when he has to study, and forfeits time with him when we call with an emergency.  She willingly fills her position with love for God, for her husband, and for us therefore we are blessed to have her.  If you are guilty of being too critical of your pastor’s wife, I encourage you to pray to God for forgiveness, and then start helping her through prayer, encouragement, and love.

Sharon Hoskins

Pastor Appreciation

October is Pastor Appreciation month.  This is a time that we can express to our pastor how much we appreciate all that he does.  Many times we take him for granted and have unrealistic expectations, or set him on a pedestal that he is sure to fall off of.  He has a job that is his life, he takes little time off and never clock out.

He is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; in the middle of the night or right before dinner.  We may never know what our emergency has interrupted in his life because he will never tell.  No matter how he is feeling he always has a smile and an outstretched arm.  No matter how busy he is he will always say, “Come in” to a knock on the office door.  He will put on his work boots and hammer a nail.  He will climb a ladder to get the job done, even if he is afraid of heights.  He will sing, play the guitar, piano, or box drum to help the praise team if they need it.  He will join the kids for a game of kick ball even if he ends up with a cracked rib.  He allows youth boys to preach who feel called to ministry, believing in them and encouraging them to follow God.  If we go to him with our problems, he never judges, he truly wants to help us successfully overcome.  He remembers our name, our struggles, and our pain and he prays for us daily.  He studies Gods word and prays for God’s guidance to lead us in truth.  He teaches in a way that is understandable and applicable to our lives.  He has a heart that desires God; all of Him.  He is transparent about his struggles and honest about his flesh.  He has sincere, unconditional love that is felt in everything he does.  If this sounds like your pastor, you are blessed to have him.  Pray for him and his family every day and love him unconditionally in return.

Sharon Hoskins

Changing Seasons

I love this time of year, the weather changes, the leaves change, and with it, there seems to be a change in the hearts of men.

We start examining our lives for the good things and expressing thanksgiving for them. We start challenging each other to share something that you are thankful for every day in November. We start thinking about what we can give to others and making plans to spend time together. More than any other time of year, we feel the need to “put on a happy face” whether it is real or not. This is a time to be happy, joyful, and thankful, so if we’re not then we “stick out” in the crowd of happy faced people. So, is the change in the hearts of men as real as the changing of the leaves? We seem to change only for a season, just as they do, except our season ends the first of January. The leaves don’t just change colors to fit in with the crowd; they go through a transformation from the inside out. There is no doubt that every one of us want to be happy on the inside, not just putting on a face. So, where can we find happiness that brings joy and thanksgiving that will last through all seasons of our life? We will find that happiness in a complete transformation from the inside out, which is only found in Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, He rose from the dead to give us life, and He sits at the right hand of the Father as our intercessor. (Hebrews 12:2) I pray that if you don’t know Jesus that you will find Him today. You don’t have to search far, just open your heart, and share it with Him; He is right beside you waiting.

Sharon Hoskins

Entertaining an Angel

Becoming a Christian was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life, but it was very confusing at first.  What would be expected of me?  How am I suppose to behave?  I had always understood Christianity to mean that I had to be perfect and sinless; if I wasn’t then I must not really be a Christian.  As God began to take real situations in my life and open my heart to see the spiritual application, it changed my perception of Christianity.  I realized that becoming a Christian meant that I could start a new life and begin a journey with God.  This story is part of my early journey with God and what He taught me about being obedient.

For several months I had been without a job.  I wasn’t really looking for one but I wanted to do something more productive with my life.  I received a call from Naomi, the secretary at my church.  She had a job offer and I accepted.  I was on my way to fill out the papers to make it all official when I stopped to pick up a combo meal from the local burger joint.  While waiting to order I decided to get two combos and take one to Naomi as a thank you.  I had never been to lunch with her and I didn’t know what she liked, so I got hers the same as mine.  I felt very proud of myself for doing something nice for someone else and could hardly wait to get to the church.  About that time I remembered that sometimes a volunteer comes to help her.  What if she was there and I didn’t get her anything, so I decided that I could give her mine.  This meant that I would have to see if she was there before I ate any of my food or drank my soda.  Just when I thought the problem was solved I wondered what I would do if they were gone to lunch or already had plans, then I would have extra food, and reheated burger and fries are gross.  As I was dealing with this dilemma in my head, I saw a man on the side of the road in front of a convenient store.  He looked to be barefooted and his clothes were old and worn.  He had long blonde hair matted with dirt.  I had never seen him before.  I live in a fairly small town and it is uncommon to see people on the roadside like that but he was my answer.  If they already had plans, I said to myself, then the extra food I could bring back to give to him.  Again, just when all my problems were solved, God said, “Give it to him now.”  “Wait, what, NO!” I exclaimed as I sped up, “I got that for Naomi.”  And He said again, “Give it to him now.”  “But Lord,” I said in disappointment, “I want to give it to Naomi, that’s who I bought it for.”  He said, “Naomi is taken care of, I want him to have it.”  By this time I was about a mile down the road.  I turned around and headed back to the store with a whole new argument.  “What am I going to say to him Lord?  I don’t want him to think I am looking down on him.  What am I supposed to say?  ‘Here, you look like you could use some food’ or ‘The Lord told me to stop and give this to you.’  I don’t know what to say.”  God said, “Don’t worry about what to say.”  When I got back to the convenient store,  I didn’t see him.  I was afraid that I had argued with God too long.  But, just as I was about to give up hope, there he was walking across the parking lot.  I walked over to him calling “Sir”, and my eye was drawn to a couple in a car, they were looking at me as I walked toward him.  I heard the man say, “Oh, I thought you were talking to me.”  I turned my attention back to him and said, “Oh, yes sir, I was talking to you, I’m sorry…”  I don’t know what I said after that.  Something about a friend and extra food.  He was following me to my car when I said, “It is only going to waste if someone doesn’t eat it.”  I lead him to the passenger side and pulled a hamburger and fries out of the bag; I handed it to him along with a coke.  I never looked at his face I only saw his hands.  I watched him walk away struggling to carry everything.  Then, a couple getting gas caught my eye, they were watching me, as I watch him.  I didn’t look for him after that but he was headed for the back of the store.  I got in my car and continued on my way, but I was only a few miles down the road when I realized that I did not give him a napkin.  Then an avalanche of mistakes came rushing into my head.   I didn’t give him ketchup, salt, or a bag!  I had an empty bag sitting in the seat next to me that he could have used to carry his food.  I didn’t need that bag; it was serving me no purpose. And how could I leave without telling him about Jesus!  I didn’t tell him about the Lord!  It was so hot that day I could have let him sit in the air-conditioned car to eat, then I could’ve shared Jesus with him.  While I was beating myself up for all the wrongs I did, God said, “Thank you for being obedient, you did fine.”  I always look for him when I pass that convenient store and remember the day I pleased God.

This story is one that I cherish because looking back I believe that I am the only one that saw the barefooted, long-haired man that I fed that day and God taught me a lesson in obedience.  God didn’t ask me to share Jesus with that man, He didn’t ask me to give him a ride, or give him a napkin, bag, or condiments.  God asked me to give him the food and told me not to worry about what to say, and that is what I did.  Be careful that you are not too critical on yourself.  Just obey God and enjoy your journey with Him.

Sharon Hoskins

Directions

The other day I got lost trying to get to an appointment.  I had a map, an address, and even directions, but even with all those instructions, I still was not able to find the facility.

I know that sounds crazy, I had looked at the map and read the instructions so I was pretty confident that I knew where it was, but when I got to that location, it wasn’t there.  I stopped and read the map again and according to the map, it should be right where I was sitting.  Apparently, my map was wrong or I had misinterpreted the instructions in some way.  I drove up and down the streets and turned around several times.  I made several phone calls to no avail.  At one point, I thought it was hopeless and I would never arrive on time, but I finally was able to reach someone who knew how to get there and instructed me as I drove.  I thought about how sometimes we get lost in our walk with God.  We think we know exactly where we are going, but when we get there, we are lost.  I have done this many times in my Christian journey, and I have wondered if my map was wrong, or if I misinterpreted my instructions.  I have been guilty of calling on the wrong person to help me find my way, driving up and down streets that only lead me in circles.  But when I have gotten tired of being lost, I found the right One to call on, the One who knew exactly how to get there, and could instruct me as I drove.  “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known My name.  he shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”  Psalm 91:14-16  I pray this encourages you in your journey today.

Sharon Hoskins

Unconditional Love

I learn so much from my kids about God’s love for us.  I’ve heard other people say this very same thing, but I didn’t understand what they meant until I had kids of my own.

Of course, we have an unconditional love for them that we don’t naturally have for everyone, the same way God loves us.  They will always be ours no matter how many times they mess up; we will forgive, just as God does for us.  We hate to discipline them when they do wrong, but we must so that they will know right from wrong just as God does for us.  This morning, after dropping my daughter off at school, my 5-year-old son, asks, “Why do we have to give you a kiss every day before we get out of the car?”   My response was, “You don’t have to give me a kiss every day.  I would like a kiss every day, but you don’t have to give me one.”  He was then silent.  When we pulled up to his school, he peeked around the seat to give me a kiss.  I said, “You don’t have to give me a kiss if you don’t want to.”  He responded with, “I want to give you a kiss because I love you.”  It reminded me of how God gives us free will in our life.  He wants us to give Him a kiss every day because we love Him, not because we have to.  God doesn’t put a requirement on His love to us; let’s not put a requirement on Him to receive our love back in return.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  Matthew 22:37.

Sharon Hoskins

Change is Beautiful

My daughter, Rachel, and her grandma Kathleen love butterflies. It is so cute to watch the two of them when they see one. They get so excited, their voices squeal as they run to see how close they can get. Rachel loves to scoop them up into her hands and hold them.

My step mom has a collection of beautiful butterflies in a frame on the wall. They are vibrant colors of yellow and blue. Now I won’t pretend that I know anything about butterflies, so I couldn’t tell you what kind they are, but what I do know is that the butterfly is one of the most beautiful insects I have ever seen. There are many different species, colors, and life spans, but the one thing that is consistant with all of them is their beauty. Butterflies are beautiful, not just in color, but also in their movements as they flutter through the air. When we consider the butterfly, we find the beauty only comes from the change in its life.  Change is a beautiful thing! It is a natural result of growth. When we grow, we change, and when we change, we grow. When God makes changes in us, He wants us to grow. It’s not always easy; it often hurts, and takes time to work through, but is well worth it when the beauty of our life begins to break out of the cocoon. “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21. Allow God to make changes in you, that you may emerge a beautiful butterfly.

Sharon Hoskins

 

Relaxing Change

We all need day to sleep in and lay around half the day in our pajamas, right. For me, this day is usually a Saturday. The kids are out of school, daddy is home from work, and if nothing else is going on there is no reason to hurry up.

It’s a good day to rest and enjoy each other. I realize that this is not the case for everyone, if fact, many people have to work on Saturdays as well as through the week, so the only day they have to sleep in and spend time with family is on Sundays. I’ve heard people say this is why they don’t go to church. Sunday use to be the day that everything in town was closed so very few people worked. If you needed something on Sunday, you might find a convenient store open. Times have changed and now more and more people have to work. I know we can’t go back in time, but it would be nice if Sundays had stayed the same throughout time. I love to wake up on Sunday morning and gather my family to go to church. It is a time when we can learn more about God and His word, a time to draw closer to Him, and a time to find strength for the days ahead. I know that every day is important to spend with God, but there is something special about Sunday that causes excitement for me. Maybe it’s because we are coming together with other believers in one accord or the anticipation of what God may say through the mouth of His servant. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and if filled all the house where they were sitting” Acts 2:2. I pray that you will fit church into your schedule this week and find the excitement of Sunday morning worship.

Sharon Hoskins

 

Beautiful Changes

The snow is so beautiful this morning as the sun begins to rise. My kids love to play in it and I love to enjoy it from a distance with a nice cup of coffee and a warm blanket.

snow-and-coffee

I remember the days when I loved to make snow angels, snowmen, snowballs, and any other kind of snow things as long as I was in it, but now I don’t even want to go outside when it’s on the ground. It is funny how we change as we grow, not just on the outside but also on the inside. Yesterday my daughter shared with me three things she wants to be when she grows up and I remembered myself at her age sharing what I wanted to be. Now, all grown up, I didn’t become any of them, because I changed as I grew. Growing is such an important part of our life cycle, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is important to be healthy in all these areas of our life and part of being healthy is growth, but our spiritual growth is the most important because it affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally. How we think, feel, and look will change as we grow in Christ.  I know this may sound crazy but it is true. Examine your own life and see if it’s not true for yourself. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” 1 Peter 2:2. If you haven’t changed then you haven’t grown. It is important for us to grow and change to become more Christ-like (Philippians 2:1-8). I was looking at a person’s Facebook page the other day, they wrote something that made me curious about their faith. I became very confused when I found that they proclaimed Jesus, but at the same time had pornography posted everywhere on their page. It makes me sad to know that there are people who really don’t understand what it means to know God, who have said a prayer, but never change or grow. If you haven’t grown or changed since you said your prayer, please take a moment to open your heart, receive all that God has for you in a relationship with Him, and allow some beautiful changes to take place in your life.

Sharon Hoskins

Adventure

I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for the real cowgirls. I see them as brave and strong, willing to step into the unknown and be adventurous. I think if I had an alter ego, she would be a cowgirl. Cowgirls are not wimpy, squeamish, or afraid to get dirty. Horses are hard work, but a cowgirl doesn’t notice because she loves it.

change2

I have ridden a horse but I am NOT a cowgirl; there is a difference. If I compare myself to a cowgirl, I would have to say that the closest I could get to being one would be my Christian walk. I think spiritually we have to be like cowgirls. Being a Christian is not an easy life, but we don’t notice because we love it. We have to be brave and strong, willing to step into the unknown with God as He makes changes in our life. Even if we are a little wimpy or squeamish, God gives us the courage to move forward in spite of our fear. Being a Christian is an adventure when we allow God to guide our path. He will lead us down trails that we can’t see around the bend, through waters that we can’t tell how deep, and over mountainous terrain that we can’t determine how high we’re going. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; who shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1. This scripture says it all. I guess I can pretend that I am a cowgirl spiritually and enjoy the exciting adventure of living my life with Christ.

Sharon Hoskins