Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Parable of the Sower

One of the things I am always looking for are ways to incorporate Biblical messages into the lives of the people I work with. Sometimes I can be direct, and just say John 3:16 says.... but other times I have to be a little more creative. Usually when I do, someone in the group opens the door for straight on discussion, but if not at least a little seed of God's Word gets planted and when they start to sprout, that lesson they learned will be brought to their memory and roots will grow, as they have hopefully already started practicing it.

So tonight I was reading the parable of the sower(Matt 13:3-9; Mark 4:3-9 and Luke 8:4-8) and REVELATION!!!! My mind looked at it from the SW point of view as I read this familiar parable, especially when looking at Jesus' explanation in Matthew 8:19-23.

A farmer went out to sow his seed.
As a social worker I pour into people's life information that will help them overcome problems they face. Ultimately they have to chose what to do with it, but I am merely a tool the gives them the information.

As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Jesus' explanation was: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

A lot of times, people are indifferent to the information being presented. They may not think it applies to them. There may be filters going on that keep them from hearing and understanding the information given. They may be physically present, but their heart and mind is closed to any lesson they might learn.

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Jesus' explanation was: The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Other times people are quick to use the tools they have been presented with. People who take in everything they can in a short amount of time. They try some skills out, and like the ones that produce immediate results. However, they never learn mastery of anything, they quickly move on saying "This doesn't work for me." They quit before any lasting changes can be made.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Jesus' explanation was: The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Other people think they can make some changes for the good, but are unwilling to let go of things that are negative. They think they can continue certain bad habits, and that a pill or counselor will fix the rest. They allow the familiarity of the old to keep out the positive changes. They are to busy trying to hold on the the old, even when they are willing to use the new techniques they learn.

Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Jesus explained: But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Others are ready for change. They are tired of what has always been and realize that a complete change is the only thing that will bring lasting results. They realize it takes hard work, dedication and commitment. They realize that it takes time. But as they continue to work towards their goal life changes for the better!

So whether you are in counseling or not, there are always things in life that need to be changed. In stead of just closing everything off and denying there is a problem, instead of trying it for a little while and then giving it up, and instead of trying to change while still keeping the bad - commit 100%. Realize there will be season of struggle, growth and finally that good thing will spring forth and the roots will be deep enough that it becomes first nature and you can begin working on the next thing!!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

4 Giving Secrets

I shared this today in group, after being told I was too cheerful for Thanksgiving where I was. Needless to say, when it was over, the people with me had a better mood too! These are four secrets to the happiness in my life.

4 Giving Secrets:

1)Giving your problems to God – He is in control anyway and is just waiting for us to let go. It is not denying that you have a problem or refusing to deal with it - just turn it over to God.

2)Forgiving – Let get of past hurts, offer forgiveness, remember God forgives us only as we forgive others. Forgiving is for us, not the person that wronged us. It does not mean that you have to be reconciled to the person, it means that you allow the past hurt to stop having control over you.

3)Thanks giving – In all things, give thanks. Regardless of what is going on around you, there is always something to be thankful for. Even the poorest of poor in America are richer than most third world countries. Very few people can say they have ever starved - we may go hungry, but starvation is the result of a severe or total lack of nutrients needed for the maintenance of life - very few of us can say whe have been there - that is something to be thankful for!

4) Giving to others – We are called to be servants – servants give of themselves with nothing in return. Giving to others lifts your spirits and theirs too. Give a smile, a compliment, encouragement, compassion or love. These cost nothing. Give your time – whether to a worthy cause or just really be in the moment with the people around you – focus on the here and now. Give of your resources – they all belong to God anyway. We all have something we can give to others!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lessons from Narnia

Tonight I was watching Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and saw a few things in a new light. I know much has been written about this series of books, but since I haven't read those works these are new revelations to me. Maybe their fresh, maybe someone else has seen these things too, but my blog, my revelations and its new to me!

I do know CS Lewis wrote these stories as a fiction example of Christ's relationship. I know that Aslan is suppose to represent God.

First I noticed that the youngest child, Lucy was the one who felt Aslan's presence. We are told to come to God as children, and here that rang out to me. She doesn't just look for him, she chases after him. She is looking for him when no one else is. She is receiving from Him when others question his presence and her. As Christians we need to be sensitive to his Spirit. We need to not only seek Him, we need to recklessly pursue Him. When everyone else is looking other places for solution, we should be looking to Him for the answer. We always need to be ready to receive from Him regardless what others think.

Second, there is a scene where the young rulers are in this cave discussing the upcoming battle. Some want to stand their ground and just be defensive. Others want to storm the enemy gates and gain the element of surprise. As Christan's, in general we have decided to be defensive against the attacks of the enemy. We wait for attack, then fight. As Christians we are suppose to be advancing God's kingdom, not just trying to hold onto what we have. We need to be bold and storm the gates of hell, because God will prevail against Satan when we do.

Third, was a scene of war. The four young rulers are standing their ground as this giant army advances against them. I don't remember this scene from the times before - but I noticed they stood confidently despite what was coming at them. That's what God wants us to do. When we have done all we can do, we are called to stand. We must stand in faith knowing that greater is He who is within us, than he that's in the world.

Fourth, was a scene were Lucy actually goes to Aslan. He asks her why she didn't come before. They converse. She asks him if things would have been different if she had. God should be the first solution we seek, not one of desperation. So many situations get worse, more damage gets done, more people get hurt when we fail to just surrender to God immediately.

Fifth, at the end Lucy stands with her little dagger drawn against the mighty army,but Aslan is at her side. With there is one mighty roar of Aslan and the battle is complete. All of nature is summoned to his command. Trees stand up and fight, the water rises in battle and consumes the enemy. God has an all consuming power, that since the time of the flood the world has not seen. He overcame evil in the world then. He did it again at the cross. And He wants to do it through His church. We allow doubt to set in. We back down in the presence of evil, instead of drawing our swords and allowing God to come beside us and win the battle.

I enjoyed the movie last night, even though it didn't have my full attention. However I enjoy more the revelations given to me. I pray that they take root and grow in my life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Today Pastor Cass talked about Contending for the Faith, part two in his lesson. He made the comment that we go from victory to victory in our Christian life, but that we have to contend for it.

The word Victory stood out to me. In every instance, the only way to have a victory is for there to be a battle. Jesus won the war on the cross, but we have to engage in battles in our life to gain the victory.

So many times, I just want to pray for Christ to deliver me from a situation. If I press hard enough, God usually does deliver me, but I end up later facing the same type of battle again. He may allow me to retreat for the moment, but the enemy is still there if he is not completely defeated. I can never gain victory over the enemy in that area if I don't engage in the battle.

I think of how many situations that I complain that I have to go through. I think of the client's I work with and the self defeating patterns that many engage in. Their faces flashed before me, the scenarios flashed before me, as Pastor Cass preached.

We have grown in a society that expects instant results. When we do not get them, we shrink back and decide it must be bigger than we are because we can't gain the victory with one little attempt. We see our immediate failure as proof that we can't overcome. But I get the message - we have to engage in the battle - to the very end - in order to gain victory.

I have overcome a lot in my life, when I was in the situation i didn't see the way out - but I kept pressing on. I knew that God was there with me, even when I didn't see or feel Him. When I thought I couldn't go on, His strength would come or He would send others to come along side me and encourage me. In the end, the victory came - not easily, but completely.

I haven't had to spend my whole life in battle. I have though been able to see battles come to an end and have obtained victory in a lot of areas in my life. What I realize is that I need to allow God to take me through the battlefields of those areas that I still haven't seen victory in. I have to trust that if I stand and fight, past where I want to give in, He will bring me to victory. (Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?)

(Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.) We are more than conquerors in Christ - but all conquerors have to stay in the fight to complete the battle!


Wednesday night Pastor Brian taught about Trust. It was a really powerful message that makes one think. As I left church, and into the following day this issue of trust continued to run through my mind. I ended up talking about it in group I lead on Thursday. I was touched how God used that message to not only challenge me, but to speak with the patients, who could take the message and apply it to their own lives too.

The message was from Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. 

Here is what I took from that message and shared. I work with so many people with "trust issues". People who have been hurt and in their mind don't trust anyone or anything. The fact is though, we all put our trust in things every day.

I trust my employers to pay me, I trust the chair I sit in to hold me up, I trust my car to get me where I need to go. I don't question all week long if there is going to be a check. I just trust there will be. Despite having been burnt once with a previous employer that wrote checks without funds, I still trust. I don't fret daily about my vehicle, despite past times when I have had vehicles break down. I trust if I maintain regular maintenance and put gas in it, I can get where I need to go. I don't question every chair I sit in if it will hold me, despite being a big girl. I just sit down and trust it to hold me.

If I can put 100% trust in material things - why should I not trust God 100%? And although there are times I say I trust Him, why then do I question His ways and timing? Either I trust Him or I don't.

In addition, trust increases with relationship. The more I get to know someone the more I should trust them. If I have problems trusting God, it is because I have not put time into our relationship.

I work in a hospital, and we have patients come in "trusting" us to provide quality care for them. So many times they will only trust the medicine they want. They get upset that the doc won't give them what they want. Either they trust the doc to make doctorly calls, or they don't.

Patients expect the hospital staff to trust the information they give us about the symptoms they are experiencing. With the number or people who are drug seeking in this world, sometimes that relationship takes a while to build, especially for those who do not have a regular doctor and are in pain. As they spend time with us, they learn what they can expect. As we get to know them, we learn more about them and what they need.

The third thing I shared is that I think sometimes it is easier for us to trust what we know, than to take a chance on something new. People trust the things they are addicted to, or a bad relationship more than they trust themselves to be able to survive without it. They trust those things to meet the problems they face, more than they trust God's willingness to help them overcome their addictions.

Sometimes it is the process that holds the answer for us, not the solution itself. Sometimes we have to learn total dependence to solve the problems we face - that doesn't including complaining and questioning every step of the way. So put your trust in God, He beats anything else we put our trust in!!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sin is dead

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Corintians 5:21

I have known that Jesus paid the price for my sin since I was eight years old and became a Christian. More recently I have been hearing that Jesus became our sin. My pastor has a great way of explaining this through scriptures, but I have never really let it sink in what that means.

As I read that verse tonight, I saw something. Jesus became our sin on the cross before He died. That is why He cried out "Father, why have you forsaken me?". He knew God hated sin. My sin, our sin - died there on that cross.

Daily I deal with people who have life controlling sin, they are blind to the great price that has been paid to free them from the bondage of that sin. But the Christian should not be controlled by sin. If I am a Christian, if I believe the Bible, and if I have asked for forgiveness - sin is dead. It has no hold on me. Jesus already took it to the grave. It was destroyed that day on Calvary. I was freed that day on the cross when he became my sin and overcame death and the grave. He overcame any power sin could have on me. He came to set the captives free. What can be more captivating than sin. Sin can only have the power we give because Jesus destroyed our sin there on the cross. It is dead. Christ lives in me and I should not take for granted what He did for me by continuing to live in sin. I must walk in His righteousness.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prosperity and Success

(Joshua 1:8) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

I was doing my study for tonight and came across this familiar scripture. I love when I read something that I can quote, but don't really understand or get. Then God just, puts it out there to me. Its like an "Ah Ha moment" and I think "gosh that's simple."

There are so many books out there about success and prosperity. Several titles come to mind that I have personally looked at. This scripture gives God's key. That is the key that unlocks prosperity and success that the world can not duplicate.

The key is God's Word. He alone holds us in the palm of His hands. He wants to direct our path but we must do certain things in order to obtain all that He has for us.

We must speak His words - "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth." We speak so many idle words. We add our opinion and our views to just about everything. Yet we fail to quote the one and only absolute truth. We use negative words instead of speaking life that comes from His word. The world tries to duplicate with positive self talk - but we can still be telling ourselves lies. If we would speak God's word in every situation, and trust it 100% we would find a complete change in our lives.

We must meditate on it - "you shall meditate in it day and night." Again so many times we meditate on negative things. We worry and fret. We spend time in regret. God tells us to meditate on His word. It will change the way we think. It will change our outlook. Meditating on God's word will give us answers to our problems thru the examples provided to us.

And then as we think and speak on His word, we must do it - "you may observe to do according to all that is written in it." We can stimulate our minds and speak out the positive - just like the world. But it will do nothing if we don't act on it. We must do what it says. Faith without action is dead.

I teach in group the importance of speaking positive and getting around people that will build up instead of tear down. I teach the importance of thought and how we have to change our faulty thinking. But the last thing I say to people is that it is their choice. We can give them all the right tools to use - but only they can chose to apply it. As much as I want to see people succeed, I can't force them to act.

It is the same way with God. He has put all the tools we need in a nice little package - easily assessable, and available for quick reference. He tells us "Speak it, meditate on it, do it. If you do, you will find success and prosper. He can tell us how to do it, but only we can chose to put it into action!

Monday, September 6, 2010

If He be lifted up

I was thinking about a conversation I had the other day with a person from another church. While I am sure her intention was to draw me to visit the church, I left only hoping my interpretation of what she was saying was wrong.  I believe that church is suppose to be a fun place. Worshiping God, great messages, fellowship - it is fun. I also believe its okay for church congregations to do other fun activities that have nothing to do with God.

However, those fun activities should be in addition too, not in place of. I understand the desire to reach more people, but if you are reaching them through fun and games - when those pass they typically don't stay around. Christ did not say if you build a basketball court, have game nights every week, spend lots of money on special occasions - you will draw people to me. He said "If I be lifted up I will draw all men to Me."

Our primary purpose as the Church is to draw people to Christ - being his hands and feet. He loved people. He fed people. He healed people. His mere presence had people shouting and gathering. We should be so full of love and joy, and so willing to meet the tangible needs of people that the lost flock to the Church because they know the Church has the answer.

I am sure Jesus was fun to be around even when he wasn't preaching and teaching. He didn't have to come up with some gimmick to hold people's attention. People wanted to hear what he had to say. They wanted to be in his presence. Not just believers, but the lost too.

It is time that the Church stop trying to draw in the numbers and focus on lifting God up. I know that if we focus our attention on Him, people will be drawn by Him, to His Body, the Church. Numbers will increase not just momentarily but will multiple as others begin drawing to Him also. There will be plenty of time for fun and fellowship and other activities that flow out of the deep hunger for God and wanting to be in the presence of like minded people.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sad heart

Last night I watched "To Save a Life." There is a scene in the movie where the new kid at church calls the youth group on the floor about the judgmental hypocritical actions of the church. It was right on, a very powerful, convicting scene. However, the movie ended and I gave little thought after the fact to that scene.

But today I met a young man, and with passionate anger he made my heart sad. His anger was pure and raw. Had I been the object of his anger, I would have been fearful. Seven hours later his words still ring in my ears, tear at my heart, and have me on the verge of tears. I am enraged and so very heartbroken.

He told of his own plea to save a life and the actions of the people at the church. He told of the heart that went empty to the church only to be judged for outward appearance. Not a small slight, but outright to the face comments, that cracked the already broken spirit or vessel. That one life, pulled on the lives of all around it.

One person's negative attitude towards someone hurting and broken, broke her spirit and the life of others reaching out for help that day. He had worked for some time to convince this small group that God held the answer. And in a moment his work, and the work Christ died on the cross for, was discarded by a judgmental attitude of a "Christian."

As I drove home, my heart sank again as I was listening to the radio talk about "Make a Difference." Reaching out to others to reach them for Christ is what the Christian walk is suppose to be about. I try to make a difference for the short time I interact with people I meet. But the truth is, I want to point them to a place that will continue to pour into their lives after they have left mine. Ideally that would be the Church - a people and place that would continue to build hurting people up while God works to heal the hurts that life has thrown their way.

But the sad truth is that most churches no longer reach out to help those that are hurting. They are okay with the slightly injured, those they can place a mask on and parade around as changed until true change can come. The fake it until you make it is a popular slogan. But the time, energy and love that is needed to bring healing to lives of those hurting - most find it is easier to push them away and judge their behaviors as not trying.  They refuse to help them work through the layers of pain and hurt, the cause of their sin symptoms, to minister the reconciliation and salvation Christ died to give them, that they are too hurt to accept.

And so I am left with a sad heart. I have seen too often the hurt that churches can cause on an already injured person. The Church is suppose to be the hospital for hurting people, emergency, trauma, long-term acute care - whatever is needed to heal completely. Instead, I have seen and heard that many are more of a screening center and specialty practice where people can get just the parts they want touched up. That is not what Christ died for.  He came to heal the brokenhearted; not turn them away. He came to set the captive free; not make their burdens feel heavier. He came to lead people out of the darkness; not push them deeper into it.

I wish I could easily sum this up and have the solution to this problem. The simple answer is that we need to do as Christ did. We need to be moved by compassion. We need to love. We need to realize that we all fell short and that God was patient with us and loved us while we were still sinners. We need to realize that God didn't clean people up before he accepted them. He accepted them and in that relationship people were changed. I don't know how God can handle the evil that some people have went through, but I know that in my sin state God sees me the same as he does the person that has been through things that I can not even fathom occurring. He loves them, and I am called to do likewise.

So I am left with a sad heart, praying not only for those who are are in the depths of despair, but for those who are suppose to be reaching out, especially within the four walls of the buildings that are suppose to be God's house.

Monday, August 23, 2010

To save a family

I was doing Bible study with the kids Friday and we were reading in Acts 16 about Paul, I was surprised at the number of times the chapter had comments like "and their family." Men, women, and children were coming to be saved and the whole household was being saved, baptized and filled with the Spirit.

Maybe because I have been waiting for my husband to surrender his life to Christ for at least fifteen years, this really interested me.

Acts 16:15 Lydia and the members of her household were baptized.
Acts 16:31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."
Acts 16:33 Immediately he and all his family were baptized
Acts 16:34 He had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

So what is different in Acts 16 than it is today. I mean Paul nor Silas were disciples that walked with Christ. We know Paul had an encounter with God when he was still Saul. And Silas had came into the picture just the chapter before, although he is described as a leader among the brothers. They were obedient to Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, and bold in thier actions.

These same things are available to the Church today. I know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So that must mean the Church is the one that is not walking in obedience, completely led by the Holy Spirit, and in bold faith. I want to see whole families come to Christ - saved, baptized and filled with the Spirit at a single setting. I want to see God work as He has, through His body, the Church in today's times. We have to get back to bold, spirit-filled obedience.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

True Freedom comes through Submission

I was teaching a group today on how our behaviors are motivated by needs that we want met. One of the needs identified was the need for freedom. Under the description one of the statements read "the need for freedom is met when do do something that we don't have to do."

Tonight in church our discipleship class talked about "How to Have a Dynamic relationship between Leaders and Followers." We were talking about submitting to those in authority over us. Pastor Curtis Holt pointed out that our leaders are held accountable for the decisions they make, we are held accountable for the way that we handle our opinion and words. He said "It's not submission until you disagree with it."

I realized as he said that, true freedom comes when we chose to submit to those in authority over us, especially if we don't want to. We always have a choice to submit. Even in the worst circumstances a person can go down fighting when they are forced to do something against their will. But true freedom comes when we make the choice to submit with a good attitude and right heart even when we disagree with it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Overflow

On Wednesday night our discipleship class is studying "Getting a Grip on the Basics of Serving God" by Beth Jones. Last week our focus was week 8, How to be an Asset to your Local Church and God's Kingdom.

A comment from the book jumped out at me. It said "Everything about fruitful service to God comes from the overflow of your prayer and Word life with God." (Pg 84)

I immediately pictured a cup that represents our individual life.

At the bottom of the cup was an object, the thing we so desperately want God to do - the loved one that needs Christ, the disease or illness that needs healing, the financial burdens that need lifting, the deepest desire of our heart.

As we pray, read God's Word, and worship Him our cup fills up with the fruit that comes in a deep relationship with Him and our service to the Kingdom.

As it fills, the desire of our heart rises and then overflows into being - not because we "wished hard enough", not because we were "good enough" but because out of relationship with God, the fruit of our life speaks so loudly that the desires of our heart flow naturally. Our cup is so full it spills out into the lives of others changing them also from the inside out.

As more Christians walk in the fruitful service to God, more cups overflow. Collectively, we have the ability to bring a tidal wave from our personal overflow that washes over the needs of this world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Lost Get Found

Yesterday I was visiting with my sister-in-law and cousin. We were talking about praise and worship music, my cousin was recommending a new CD she is listening to that inspires her. She made the comment "It really moved me."

I love music and am often moved by different songs. Today as I was driving home, I was listening to K-love. The song is by Britt Nicole, The Lost Get Found. I was moved to tears as I thought about the words that I so often sing, but never really hear.

I realized how many times our actions as Christians speak louder than any preacher could ever preach. So many people will never step foot into a church, until they come to Christ. But it is the message of our life that ministers to the lost. It is the difference that we should portray from the rest of the world that stands out and makes the lost take notice.

I was reminded of a young man that I have felt led to witness and pray for on a regular basis. He is lost. I have tried to be a good role model with my life, and my kids have too. But my heart was broken at the times that my life has modeled that of the world, and not that of my Lord and Savior.

The song says "So when you get the chance, Are you gonna take it?
There's a really big world at your fingertips, And you know you have the chance to change it."

I think about the chances that I failed and wonder if I will ever get them back. The chance to show him that Christians are different, in a good way. A chance to show him that the love of God is not demanding, but all encompassing. It is not because I am a Christian that I don't do certain things, but because in God's love for me. Because of my relationship with Him, I no longer want to do certain things.I know God can save him despite my shortcomings, but I want to make sure I take the chances that are given to me, so the lost get found!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The smallest part

We started our new discipleship study on Wednesday, the message was "The Church and you." One of the scriptures discussed was I Cor. 12:12-31, where Paul writes about the importance of the individual parts of the body in comparison to the individual members in the body of Christ.

We started talking about how everyone is important and needed in the body of Christ. And that even the person who doesn't think they have an impact on the body of Christ does impact it. And what about the members that are missing, those that have made a decision to walk away from God?

I started to think of the small body parts, that we so often take for granted. appendix, spleen, toes and chromosomes. Each one has the ability to impact the whole body, even though they are so small - some causing lasting damage.

The appendix is about 3 1/2 inches long, some question its purpose in the body, however if it becomes inflamed, it can burst and if left untreated can cause death. The little lady that sits quietly on the pew each week without saying a word, overlooked by many. She may seem like she has lost her passion and has no purpose. Maybe she is alone and has no one to share her burdens, but maybe she is the lady that prays the powerful prayers of faith. If no one reaches out to connect, what if the cares of this world start to inflame her prayer life?

The spleen is four inches long, if it has to be removed there are life long consequences as the body is less able to fight off certain infections. I am sure that there are many spiritual warriors that have went on to be with the Lord, they left a legacy that will continue to work God's mercy in the life of the church, but what this generation that is not being taught about spiritual warfare, how will they continue to fight off the infections brought by principalities and evil forces?

Birth defects develop when something is wrong with the genes or chromosomes. Genetic disorders like Down syndrome or chromosomal disorders like cystic fibrosis are caused by an altercation in one of the smallest parts of the body. Sometimes these altercations make an impact on the way someone looks. Other times they cause developmental delays. Some disorders can lead to death. All this because of a small altercation in the smallest part of the body or because it is missing. I wonder what we miss because certain members do not carry out their God given function in the body of Christ, or are not completely obedient to God's directions. Certainly when individual members act out, it can cause the lost to look and make judgements about the appearance of Christ in this world. Or maybe the delay in miracles happening or great moves of God being slow to come is because the members of the body do not act in unity with each other and in accordance with God's plan for each individual. And how many are lost because of the failed actions of individual members?

People with amputated big toes may have some difficulty when they attempt to run or increase the speed of their gait. This is because the body uses the big toe to push off from the ground when it wants to accelerate. How much momentum is lost in the body of Christ when we cast aside those that fail? Is the rate in which the lost are reached decreased because there is no one to push off of and get those members left in forward momentum?

I realized that maybe I will never be Billy Graham, Joyce Meyers, John Bevere or Francis Chan, but I have a role in the body of Christ. It is an important role. Although there are times that I question my purpose, I know however small my part I must play it.

I know that in order for the Body of Christ, the Church to reach it's full potential, it will take me, all the great leaders, and each and every Christian. We must each be doing what God has laid before us, because no one else can do our part. An eye can not be a toe, a finger can not be an ear. We each have a role, and even the smallest part must be played out to the full.

I Cor. 12:12 "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

That's not faith

I have been reading "Discover the Real Jesus" by Bill Bright. There is this line that reads "Jesus expects us to pray in Faith."

As I read that, I thought "Why would you pray in anything except faith?" I mean when you pray you make petition to the Lord for things. Why would you not pray believing He would answer "Yes." If it is worth asking for, it is worth having faith for it.

That quiet, still, small voice reminded me of the many times I have prayed without faith.

1) Praying as a last resort.
2) Praying because I need to say "I tried."
3) Praying so I could place the blame on God when it doesn't come to pass.
4) Praying with a double mind.

I have done all of these things, and I am sure many more examples of prayers without faith.

When you have run through all the options and then turn to God, that is not faith.
God should be the first I turn to, not the last.

When I pray just because it is the right thing to do, that is not faith.
My part is not just asking. My part is having faith to believe God for what I am asking.

If my motives are wrong or I know it is not in line with God's will, and it doesn't come to pass, it has nothing to do with faith. Sometimes God may say "no", He has something better in store for me - this does not mean that God is to blame for it, it means that I have to have to have faith that He has a better plan.

When I ask for something, and then with the same breath tag on a question of if He will do it. That is not faith. I can't say "God heal this person, if it is your will." Or "God save this person, if it is your will." That "If" makes it double sided and not only questions my request, but also the validity of God's word.

Lord, help me to pray in faith, at all times.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dogs vs. children

I am watching television and a commercial came on for Pedigree animal shelters drive.  The video is called "Heroes."

It was talking about how animals in shelters are not broken. They have lived and have stories to tell. They have not done anything wrong. The commercial tugs at your heart to adopt one of these little dogs. The message: These dogs whether they were abused, neglected, abandoned, or unwanted are placed in a shelter because of the original home was not able, willing, or fit to continue to care for them.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. I haven't seen any commercials for this. I haven't seen a campaign to raise public awareness, let alone millions of dollars. In fact, child welfare is facing major budget cuts, which impacts each family and child.

Where is the commercial that shows the half a million children in foster care or the estimated 16% of those children that are currently waiting for someone to adopt them?

I wish that the compassion that people have towards animals would be placed with children that are in the same situation. We no longer place children in orphanages, we put them in foster care. Having worked in the field for ten years, I can not begin to tell the stories, the stigmas placed on these innocent children - placed on them by other kids, school systems, community members, etc.

Where is the commentary that tugs on the hearts of those who are able to meet the needs of these children. Where is the story that these children are not broken? These kids are hurt, but they haven't done anything wrong. The did not ask to be abandoned, abused or neglected.

These kids have done nothing wrong. Yes, many act out the things that they have been through, but it is because that is what they have known. It takes time, love, and encouragement to overcome what they have witnessed and to be able to come out on the other side to tell the story they have. It takes time to overcome things.

As I looked for the video online at YouTube, I was offended at comments on other videos that said these dogs need voices, and that children have a voice. I love this great nation we live in, but it seems to me that we need to step up and meet the needs of the innocent children in our society that have the responsibility of making sure that this nation continues.

Friday, April 23, 2010

If your gonna walk on water, watch out for speedboats

A few weeks ago in the our Wednesday night discipleship roundtable we were discussing what we had learned through the series that we just completed in church by John Bevere.

Brother John made a comment that he learned "We (Christians) need to get out of the boat and start walking on the water. That we have that ability, just as Peter did, we just have to have faith, and keep our focus on God." As he said that my mind immediately pictured walking on water, but out of no where came a red speedboat and knocked me down.

When I got home I read the story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14:25-32 verse 29-31 say "Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "Why did you doubt?"

The fact is Peter was not the only disciple in the boat, but he was the only one with faith enough to step out. Yet Jesus said of him "You of little faith." I wonder what Jesus would think about his followers of this day. He had one follower in twelve that stepped out in faith. One only needs to look at the state of this nation, founded on God to determine that the church has not had the faith to stand up in faith, let alone walk it out.

Peter got distracted by the waves and took his eyes of God. But today's Christians have allowed the fast speed of the world - whether it is the problems we face, the business of life, the accumulation of goods or political correctness - to knock us out flat.

It is time for the Church to stand up in faith, and step out on the water, watch out for the speedboats and walk out our faith.

A promise for the future

When I see a rainbow I think of God's promise in Genesis 9:13 "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth."

I was driving home from work today and in front of me was a gray sky. Upon second look, the clouds parted and a rainbow came from the midst, and the sun peaked through the blue clouds. It was beautiful. I turned the corner, and the sky was black before me, clearly a storm ahead. It started to sprinkle. To the right the sky was bright and blue, the storm was already past that area. To the left the clouds were moving and the rainbow was brightening in color.

I have been in an emotional storm so to speak. It has been hard for me to see with the dark clouds around me. I feel overwhelmed and flooded by the emotions rising up within me. But the rainbow reminded me of God's promises to me, promises like:

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus". (Phil. 4:19).

God has promised that His grace is sufficient for me. (II Cor. 12:9).

God has promised that His children will not be overtaken with temptation. Instead, He assures us that a way of escape will be provided. (I Cor. 10:13).

God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully (Romans 8:28).

I was encouraged in my spirit. I was reminded that no matter what storm I may be going through, or may be lying ahead, I need to keep my focus on the promises of God, and what he has already delivered me from.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hunger and Thirst

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

I have been trying to loose weight recently. One thing I am working on is trying to recognize true hunger. So many times people confuse thirst for hunger, therefore overeating trying to meet a need that is not there.

I thought about how this coorelates with a thirst and hunger for righteousness. So many times as people search to fulfill the emptiness in thier life that is a God size hole, they attempt to fill it with the wrong things. Drugs, alcohol, sex, food, relationships, are just a few of the things people try to fill thier lives with that leave them feeling overindulged, but empty.

Even as we find that God can feel that hole, we try to add other things into the mix instead of allowing Him to fill us and be out sole source. It seems to easy that God could meet every need. It also goes against our independent nature to think that One can fill it all.

But the Word promises those who thirst and hunger after righteousness will be filler.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I missed the boat, I guess I will have to walk on water

Lately I have been feeling like I have made some decisions and missed God completely in the process. I realize maybe what "I wanted" got in the way of what God called me to do.

It takes a lot of God to get my attention. I try to do the right thing, but I realize that the right thing in my eyes is not always God's plan at all. Yet, I keep getting little messages from unexpected places that all lead me back to this one spot where I like missed the boat.

Sometimes as the lesson I hear sticks, it is not as I hear it that I feel like it applies to me. Like reading the John Bevere book, The Bait of Satan, he talks about how sometimes God gives us what we want because we are persistent, not because it is His will for us. He gave the example of the prophet who ran from the queen and God told Him to go, but when the prophet got there and started talking to God, He asked "why are you here?"

Skip ahead a few weeks, I read another message, different author with the same story about the prophet. It makes me start thinking about the other message.

Then I get a call from an old friend directing me back to where I feel I missed the boat. "Talk to God about it" she says, "see what He says."

Then I am in the hotel last week and this commercial comes on for Fidelity. There is a green arrow on the path of his office. He is trying to leave, but the arrow keeps leading him back. He said something that caught my attention, "It keeps leading me back." The girl says "Maybe it is trying to tell you something."

So I am left thinking maybe I missed the boat. Maybe I need to go back. I guess I'll have to walk on water to get there. This time God can decide - if the opportunity presents itself, if the opportunity is offered to me, God will have to lay the path and this time I will look to Him instead of keeping my sight on what I want. This time, I only want what He wants.

Missed Doors

As I drove home from Olathe the other day, I crossed the Kansas line into Missouri and started seeing the signs that pointed to familiar locations for me. I thought about the things that led me away from the place that I once called home; and honestly the last place I truly felt at home.

I realize that life often throws us unexpected turns. I love the friends I have met since leaving KC, and I love the three jobs that I have had since that time, but I miss having a place I called home (even if I own one now, and the one I lived in there was just a townhouse). I really felt homesick.

That made me start thinking about how I ended up where I am now. I started thinking about the things that had changed, and the things that stayed the same. I can see the lessons that I have learned from the path I have chosen. My walk with God is closer, I have a greater dependency on him. But I also wonder about the missed doors, the missed opportunities.

I know that playing "what if..." can be dangerous, but as I drove I allowed myself to wonder how things might have been different, if I had placed my life in God's hands completely back in 2001. If I had stood in faith knowing that God would meet my needs instead of turning to my extended family when my husband took a sabbatical from real life. I wondered about the children and families that I worked with at the time, and how I might have impacted their life. I questioned if I had submitted to devil's plans because of the lives I might have impacted for Christ had I stood on the Solid Rock.

This thought process was very sobering. I stopped to think of something I heard that supposedly was written by Billy Graham. I heard that God had showed him, that he was not His first choice for the role that Mr. Graham played in the modern church. Mr. Graham was just the first one who was obedient to the call.

I realized that I do not want to miss any more doors. Standing in faith is not always easy. Sometimes God has to take us down to nothing before we are willing to turn to Him. Sometimes, like in my case He has to do that more than once to get it through the thick head.

I ended my thought about missed doors with the song from 33 Miles - One Life To Love
From the album One Life:

You only get just one time around, you only get one shot at this
One chance to find out the one thing that you don’t wanna miss
One day when it’s all said and done I hope you see that it was enough
This one ride, one try, one life to love

I just know that with one chance, I want to make the right decision more often then not. I want to be led by the Spirit, not ignore Him. I want to be obedient and submissive to Him. I don't want to miss any opportunities to reach others for Christ.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dissipate the darkness

I was driving home from work last week as the sun was beginning to set. In front of me the sky was dark as a storm moved through. Behind me, the sun was shining brightly. For a brief time, clouds moved between the sun and my car. Then suddenly the sun peaked through and lit up a path through the darkness with a single ray of bright light directing my path. Everything else surrounding was dark an gray.

Seeing that bright light in the darkness made me praise God out loud in my car, as it reminded me that our Christian walk should also be illuminating a path in the darkness. Christians are called to be the light of the world. While sometimes this world can seem really dark, when Christians allow their lights to shine, the darkness will flee.

I was reminded that you can not add more darkness to dissipate light. However, a single light, no matter how tiny will dissipate the darkness. As Christian's we have the power to overcome the darkness (Greater is He that is within me, than he that is in the world. I John 4:4)

It is not the great preachers and teachers of this world that are going to stop the growing darkness. It is the light of Christ that shines through His followers collectively, standing together in unity that will stamp out the darkness that is overtaking this world.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Control Top

I have started reading Forgotten God by Frances Chan. As I read it, I was convicted by my need for control. He pointed out that when we feel the need to be in control, we quench the Holy Spirit.

As I was driving home, this was on my mind. I do not want to quench the Holy Spirit, I know that it is directly against the word of God. I was thinking about how I could learn to give up control and honestly, if I really wanted to give up control. I realize I like to be in control, unless it is something that is not important to me - at which time I can relinquish it (sorta). I know there is no point in hiding that from God, so I am just honest about it - I like to be in control, and when I submit to Him, although I will find freedom, I have to give Him control.

As I thought about control, I got this vision of control top pantyhose. First off I hate pantyhose, and I am certain that a man must have created the control top. If you look at the part that is "controlled", it looks okay. Maybe it is just me, but when you wear them - you end up with this muffin top kind of experience where the control top ends and things just explode out.

I realized this happens in life also as I try to take control of things that really should be submitted by me to the control of Holy Spirit. On the surface, it may look like I have control, like things are managed and working out okay. However feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness start to push out over as I realize that I don't really have control at all. And while I don't want to admit that these feelings are a result of the fact my way isn't the best or that I really don;t have control. The reality is that often times, actually most times my way doesn't work out best. In fact, when what I "controlled" does work out, it is usually in spite of me, not because of me.

I wish I had the answer to how to want to give up control and how to really do it. I know I don't want my life to resemble a bad pair of control top pantyhose, so I will start with asking God to help me set my mind on what the Spirit desires, to help me to want to surrender that control and then to actually follow through with it. I realize that it will be a struggle, like trying to put on a pair of pantyhose that are two sizes to small. I have a feeling though that when I really give up control once and for all - that it will be a perfect fit!

Romans 8:5-7 (New International Version) Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Walking in faith

I was thinking about what Frances Chan said on the radio show, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey on Wednesday night as I was driving to church. I was thinking about his comments of how sometimes Christians are afraid to step out in faith and stand on an extreme prayer request, that is asked in line with the will of God. That we are afraid of the rejection or that is something doesn't happen as we asked that we have missed God and will look bad.

It made me think about Moses. The guy had everything, but chose to leave it behind, went out to the wilderness, had an encounter with God, and then had to go back to the place he had left and 1) Go tell the ruler of the land to let the Israelites go to the wilderness to worship God 2) Go tell the Israelites that he is the one that came to speak on their behalf to the Pharaoh and led them out of Egypt.

I was looking over notes I had written from previous Bible readings and come across a note from Exodus 3 that I wrote back in September 2008. My notes state "God can reach us even when we are doing common things (verse 1). God called Moses twice to get his attention. God sees and hears us. He comes to deliver us and give us into a promised land. God will send someone to demand 'let my people go.' If he sends you, he will be with you. Moses had to tell his story to the elders. He had physical backup the king. God knew how Pharaoh would respond, but He sent Moses anyway.

I read that, and had another Ahh Haa moment - something obviously that I knew, but that had not clicked for me. If God would send Moses into a situation where he would be rejected and told no, why would He change His methods. As Pastor Curtis Holt says "Satan won't ask you to do something that will further God's kingdom." Why should I be afraid if God tells me to pray for something, speak to someone, or take a stand - of the response of others? My role as a Christian is obedience to God, not based on the response of others.

  1. There are going to be times when God sends us and we are going to hit a road block, not once but repeatedly just like Moses.
  2. Sometimes things will get tougher before we see the results, Pharaoh made things rough every step of the way for Moses and the Israelites.
  3. People in other positions may make things harder for us; the Egyptians had the Israelites to meet the same goals in their labor with fewer resources.
  4. People may complain against us, the Israelites certainly complained against Moses to just leave them alone it was easier before he came along.
  5. We may get blamed for things that happen outside of our control, Moses was blamed for everything.
  6. We may second guess ourselves and God's word to us, Moses did.

It is time we start walking by faith, lead by the Holy Spirit. It is much easier than it was for Moses as we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us and empower us and the grace of God to help us walk it out!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ahh Haa

I feel like every day something new is being revealed to me, something that I should have known for as long as I have been a Christian. I am having these "ahh haa moments" and it is just blowing my mind!!!

Yesterday I was driving to church and was running late. There is a certain point on my trip to church where my regular radio station goes out, so I hit the scan button, and was intrigued when I heard this question asked, so I stopped the scan. The person talking asked "What would be different in your life tomorrow, if the Holy Spirit left your life today." It was Family Life Today and they were interviewing Francis Chan on Forgotten God. I had no clue who he was, but after looking him up online to see the show I was listening too and his name, I think I have heard of some of his material "Crazy Love" before, but I haven't ever listened to him or ready his material.

Anyway, He shared about a faith and how the Holy Spirit help us. He was talking about how his faith had grown, but how often people are afraid to pray big because they do not want to be disappointed or look bad if God doesn't answer "Yes" to the prayer, as they requested. He told this story about a lady coming to him asking for counseling for her marriage, the week her divorce would be finalized. She was standing in faith, and asked him to agree with her. He was questioning her view on reality and not having faith. However four years later, her marriage is still restored and the couple is still married. It helped him in his walk to begin believing for the impossible.

As he shared, maybe it was the lady's story, that so resembles my own with my spouse. Or maybe it was the message from the week before I heard about how the seed of all God's character is in us at salvation. But I had this "ahh haa moment." I felt so overwhelmed by it. I am not even sure I have the words to explain what all I got out of it.

So here is a brief summary:
1) With God, all things are possible.
2) It ain't faith, if I know it can happen.
3) You have to step out in action having true faith.
4) Love never fails.
5) If Christians would step out in action, believing in faith, things would happens that would rock this world and turn things upside down.
6) You can't stop believing.
7) It is only going to happen one person at a time.
8) I gotta be part of it.

Like I said, these things are things I have "known." But I have never applied it to my life. I mean brief moments of great faith, answered prayers, and then back to mundane. This Mr. Chan was talking about being shocked when God doesn't move as he asks!!!

Maybe I will be able to reveal more about it, but right now, I am still overwhelmed by the revelation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spiritually blind

I was reading John 9 last night John 9:41 states "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."

As I took a closer look at the chapter, I noticed a familiar presence in the responses of those invovled. There is a man, who has been blinded from birth. The Disciples come to Jesus looking for answers.

Jesus takes what is in front of Him and uses it to glorify God. He responds "I am the light of the world." He heals the man.

The disciples took what was in front of them and started looking for someone to blame. "Was it the parent's sin or this man's sin that caused him to be blind from birth?"

The people who knew the man, didn't rejoice for the sight of thier friend. They took him before the Pharisee's because he was healed on the Sabbath.

The Pharisee's were divided over the sight of the blind man. Was it sin for healing on the Sabbath or a miracle from God?

The Jewish leaders didn't believe. They cursed the man.

The parent's were afraid of the personal consequences to themselves. They told those questioning them to go back to the son for answers.

The man that was healed, proclaimed the truth and the revelation that came to him. He worshipped Jesus.

As I thought about these responses, all to the same situation - I realized how much things stay the same. We are all exposed to the same Light that opened the blinded eyes.

Some respond as the disciples did, trying to place blame - like Adam in the garden "It was the woman YOU gave me." Or we blame our actions and inactions on the past hurts or others>

Others start comparing, and try to get a "One-Up" on someone else. "Look what HE did on the Sabbath, we would never do that." We compare what we do or don't do to what someone else is doing wrong, to make ourselves look better.

Others try to split hairs like the Pharisee's. The blinded man could see. It didn't matter if they wanted to call it a miracle or a sin, it didn't change the face he could see. We try to argue points, to the point of denomination and church splits, that do not change the facts.

Some respond with disbelief and blatant hatred and cursing like the Jewish leaders. There are people who when presented with the truth and then just refuse to accept it and have nothing but ugly things to say.

Other's know the truth, like the parents. They are more concerned about what it will cost them if they speak openly about it. There are those who have a head knowledge, but are more concerned about what they might have to give up to walk in the truth, what other's might think, or what it might cost them.

But then there is that one, whose life was personally touched. The one whose eyes were opened. The one who can not deny the change. The one whose very life stands as a testimony to the goodness of God. The one who worships God with their whole life. The one who had a personal revelation of the truth of Christ. Lord help me to be the one who once was blind but now I see, not one who claims to see but is really spiritually blind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love's seed

My sister asked if I had written any blogs about marriage. My immediate answer was NO. I am certainly not an expert on marriage, although I have a testimony related to my marriage and will maybe someday share it. However, I do have some thoughts on love. With V-Day coming up I thought, it might be appropriate to post them here.

Love never fails. I Cor 13:8

As I was driving home Wednesday night the lady talking on the radio referred to this verse. She was talking about marriage, which is kinda a funny thought in this world we live in with 50% of all marriages ending in divorce. This verse is in the "Love Chapter" as it is often referred. Yet once again, I got a completely different message than what she was referring.

See my mind was still reeling from the challenging message of John Bevere - Week 4 Grace and Mercy of Extraordinary that we ware watching in church discipleship class. He was talking about seeds containing all the characteristics of the nature of what the seed came from.

What an amazing concept I John 3:9 states "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him." Well, it dawned on me if we have the seed of God in us, agape love should be in us.

We can love unconditionally. There is no excuse for us to not, by the grace of God. His seed is in us, and seeds contain all the characteristics of the giver (God).

I think a lot of times we come across pain in a relationship and call it quits. I am guilty myself. It doesn't matter if it is marriage, family relationships, friendships, any kind of relationship. Love never fails.

So, as a Christian there are only two options when we decide to call it quits on a realtonship. 1) You are a liar and never loved - which if you read the next chpater in I John, means you don't really know God. Or 2) You can love through the situation, regardless of what it is.

Neither is easy to accept. It is easier to call it quits. It is easier to place blame. It is easier to make excuses, to walk away.

But love never fails. It does not come to an end. Love endures. God's word is the truth. Since the seed of God lives in us, and God is love, than our love (through God's grace) (for all people) will never fail.

a whole nother level

We have been learning about living an extraordinary life in Wednesday night discipleship class. One of the verse we discussed was to live as Jesus did (I John2:6), and for some time now I have been reading the gospels to see what Jesus did and how he lived. We last night I came across a scripture that literally made me see the extraordinary life that Jesus live taken to, as Pastor Ed Young would say "A 'hole 'nother level."

I know that Jesus was God. I know that God knows everything. I just never really thought about Jesus on earth knowing everything. I think I focus on the fact that he was human, facing the same problems, tests and trials that we do. But I came across this verse, that made it very clear. Jesus knew who was going to betray Him from the beginning.

Talk about a new level, Jesus know who would betray Him, yet He still called Judas as a disciple. He still opened Himself up to Judas and was in close fellowship with him. I mean it is not like Judas was just one of His followers, Judas was one of the 12, one in the group closest to Jesus. And yet Jesus, in His human self let Judas in that circle - not by mistake or accident, on purpose.

Two sobering thoughts hit me 1) Jesus made himself vulnerable, to the point of death, by His own free will - for me. I mean He sacraficed His life, and that was enough, but He was literally sleeping with the enemy (and I do not mean that in a perverted way) to save me.

2) Jesus knew this person in His inner circle would betray Him, and He still let Judas in. He did not treat Judas differently than the other disciples, He loved him, served him, and opened his life to Judas.

And as I write this, I realize Christ has called us to live the same way. We can not carry offense, keep people at arms lengths, or just walk away. We are still to minister to people, love them, serve them, even if they have the potential to hurt us or have hurt us.

I am left wondering in my human mind, if Jesus thought He might be able to change Judas so that he would not go down that path - if the pure love Jesus gave could have changed Judas' path. I realize ultimately someone else would have filled Judas's shoes, but I am still left wondering.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

His Yoke, My Burden

As I was standing in church Wednesday evening, completely drained emotionally. I was trying to praise God during praise and worship, I realized I was doing it wrong. I can't remember what song we were singing, just that I felt so empty. I firmly believe that while we go to church to get spiritually filled, that we should also be ministering to God while we are there, with our praise and worship, prayers, and being an open vessel for His use.

So I was having a little pity party prayer to God. I was making excuses about how rough my week had been and all the problems I was facing (as if He didn't know). Matthew 11:28-30 came to mind. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

As I thought about that scripture, I realized what I was doing wrong. I had gone through the motions that day and the days previous that week, but when I said amen to my prayers, I picked the problems back up and took them with me. When I read my Bible, I wasn't looking for truth and revelation. I was reading words on a page and not allowing them to speak to my life. When I had my time of praise and worship, I had sang words to a song - not words from my heart.

I realized that God was not giving me more than I could bare. I was chosing to carry more than I needed to. My choices to not give things to God, were weighing me down. I was opening myself up to be drained, so that Satan could use my state to render me an ineffective witness. I realized my biggest weak spot spiritually comes when I am emotionally drained.

It is not hard to stay emotionally drained when you deal with other people's tragadies every day. Especially if you have control issues and personalize what others are going through. Many parents take on the problems of their children - if something is wrong with the child, the parent personalizes it and attempts to carry that burden to spare a child. Well I do that with my kids, but also with every other person I work with - patients, clients, families, plus my own personal family and friends. I hate to see people hurting.

But I know that the right thing for me to do, is to commit each situation to God and leave it there for Him. He doesn't put the expectations on me, His yoke is light. I don't have to carry them and allow myself to be so drained I have nothing to give back. I can handle things as they arise, commit it to God, and continue on in my ministry.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sharing the burden

I am a pretty independent person. Although I am known to be pretty outspoken, I am a pretty private person. I am also a person who likes to be in control, not of everything, just things that I am responsible for, and I can be pretty anal about things when I lose that control.

As I was listening in Exodus last week, I felt a certain connection with Moses over this need to be in control. Moses had led the people out of Israel, and you can imagine with the large number of people, there were lots of interpersonal problems. Moses was the "go-to person" and was burning the candle so to speak at both ends. His Father-in-Law Jethro comes to visit, and has a little meeting with him about setting boundaries and sharing responsibility (see Exodus 18:17-18).

I can definately relate, and certainly needed to hear that message. It is very easy to think my way is the right way. It is very easy to want to control my environment. It is so easy to be "needed" and to get into helping others. I know I get very possessive over the families and people I work with. I personalize things "my kids", "my family", "my patient". I always have where work is concerned. It is easy for me to try to do it all by myself.

I thought I had learned this lesson, when I started depending on God more, making Him my "go-to God". I have learned to turn to him with the big and small things. I have learned to take things to Him as a first resort not a last resort.

However, as I listened to Jethro's advise to Moses, I realized yet again God speaking to me. Speaking to me about the need to share responsibility. To focus on the big things, and know that other things can be trusted to others. I have to learn to let other people take over and trust that things will still work out for the good of all involved.

This was once again driven home by a 3rd source, an unlikely source for me to get anything from. As I woke up this morning Laurin was watching 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter. The mother there had taken on additional responsibility at work, filling in for the nurse supervisor. It took a toll on her children, with her being gone for so many hours. Then she was offered the position full time, but turned it down because she realized that she had other things in her life that were more important. I think that it is time to make some changes, and let go of things that are not as important in my life as God, my husband, my children, my family. I know this will not be easy for me, but I know God will give me the grace to do it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An offering made by fire

I was listening to Leviticus today as I drove to work this morning, where they listed the sacrifices that had to be made for atonement, peace, wave, sin, etc. I have read this information before and always thank God that He sent His Son to serve as the ultimate sacrifice. I am grateful we do not have to continue making these sacrifices on alters.

However, as I listened today there was one phrase that caught my attention. "An offering made by fire, a pleasing aroma to the Lord." As I heard this, my mind immediately thought of I Sam. 15:22 "But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

We no longer have to go to the temple and make regular repentance as they did in the Old Testament. However, we are still suppose to make offerings, and not just the financial kind. Our life is to be lived as an offering (Phil 2:17) for the Lord.

When we go through tests and trials, we are under fire. When we are obedient to God through the trial, walking through by His grace, and don't walk in the flesh when these times come - our obedience, our offering made by fire is a sweet aroma to the Lord.

I wish I could say that when I am under fire, that I walk by the grace of God, That I give an offering, a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord - but I can't. However, I know that I can now, because God's word never asks us to do something that He doesn't give us the grace to do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Road

In Luke 24, after Jesus resurrected, He walked on the road to Emmaus with two men who according to verse 15 should have known Jesus. As you read on, He talked at great length with them and spent an afternoon with them. But it wasn't until evening that their eyes were opened to who they had been with (Luke 24:31) all that time.

While it is easy for me to think, if I was walking with Jesus I would have known, but the reality is I probably would have been blind to this too. I have been a Christian since I was eight years old, and walked in a personal relationship with Him since I was seventeen. Yet so often, I fail to see Jesus in the midst of my day, even as I go about serving Him.

I know that He is with me, for His word promises "I will never leave you, or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrew 13:5)

But so often as I walk this road of life, through a day, and sometimes weeks, I fail to recognize Him. Often it is not until "I need Him" that I start looking for Him. In reality, He was there all along, walking beside me, waiting for me to turn to Him and recognize Him. To acknowledge He is there with me. I do not take the time to look and see what is really going on around me, and to whom I am giving my time.

I pray my heart will burn within me as I walk through my day with Him. That I may recognize Him as all times, as I walk and talk with Him each moment of my life.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Life without FACEBOOK

So for the month of January, God laid upon my heart to give up Facebook. See I was spending WAY TOO MUCH time on it. I would check on my way to work (very dangerous), I would check after work, and then when I would come home from work, and "just check" things out, I would be on until 11 or 12, then I would be nodding off during my personal time with God. On weekends, I would get sucked into silly applications with no purpose or eternal value and my weekend would disappear.

So during this past month, I gave up Facebook.

I have had more time to spend with God, my family, relax and reflect. It has been very hard, even now my natural instinct is to type www.fac and then I remember NO and delete it. As I check my e-mail I have pleas from well-meaning friends that miss the inspirational quotes that I send daily, and then I am quickened that maybe the too will turn to the ultimate source for inspiration - the Bible.

So in my life without Facebook, I have read two books, cover to cover. I love reading, I just thought I didn't have time. I have completed a one month devotion on the Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. And I learned I did have unforgiveness in my heart, and I was set free from it.

I have spent more time in God's Word and listening to praise and worship. I forgot how wonderful it is to spend time alone with God as a first thought instead of a last resort.

I have spent more time with my children. We have played games and watched movies together, without the interference of the computer. I have enjoyed more time with my husband, although he took up Facebook during the month - hmmmmmm.

I have gotten caught up on paperwork, and cleaned house. Of the things that I have accomplished, this one was my least favorite, but also one of the more needed things. As Joyce Meyers says something to the effect of "It is hard to take authority over things in your life, when you don't have authority over a sink of dishes."

I have written more. I love to write, and since I could post it to Facebook, without going on Facebook, it was a way to send little pieces of inspiration throughout the month. I always say I don't have time but the truth is that I do if I make it a priority.

I talked to people more on the phone. I realized just how dependent I am on Facebook as a method of communication, and how much it has taken the place of face to face communication and even phone communication in my life. There were days I felt cut off from everyone as I knew the information I missed was posted on Facebook.

So during this time without Facebook, I have realized that I need to make God and family a priority. They need to come first, not last to Facebook. I have realized that I have a lot more interesting interests than being on useless applications so much. I have learned how important human, not computer connection is to me.

Tomorrow I will go back to post my morning quotes, and checking in on friends that I have lost contact with over the years. I will keep up to date with the happenings of my family, and check-up on what my kiddos are doing on-line, but I will not allow Facebook to be the center of my world. I will have all things in moderation, and know that there is Life without Facebook.

Lesson 4: The tests we go through have a purpose

The final thing revealed was from Ex. 20:20 directly. It was reinforced through the message we heard in church Wednesday night "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

So many times when I am going through a problem I am afraid. Worry gets the best of me, as I try to search for a solution within myself to correct it. I want to show MY independence and that I can do it ALL BY MYSELF. But in my own strength, I make things worse, I sin.

Tests and trials are from God,. James 1:2-4 says "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

He is looking for me to turn to Him, in fear and reverence. It is in faith that I turn to Him. Faith that I can depend on Him no matter what I face. When I am dependent on God, He is with me. When He is with me, I will not sin.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lesson 3: Grumbling will get you no where

The third thing revealed to me as I was listening to Exodus, and the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt that correlated to the message by John Bevere in the Extraordinary series we are listening to at church is that grumbling gets you no where.

John Bevere pointed out that Moses left the finer things in life to go into the wilderness. There he had an encounter with God, and it changed him. He never complained about wanting to go back to the finer things in life. The Israelites were in slavery. Moses led them out into the wilderness to have an encounter with God, and they spent the next forty years complaining about wanting to go back.

Hearing that it reminded me of what I had heard that morning and the thoughts that came to me as I listened to Exodus. The Israelites started complaining at the first sign of trouble at the Red Sea. God stepped in to show them He is in control, and they escaped safely. The next chapter is filled with a praise song, and the very next they are grumbling again. This time for food. Again God provides. Again the Israelites grumble, needing water. Again God provides.

I immediately started thinking, how ungrateful. God delivers them, and then they immediately started complaining like He had not just worked a miracle on their behalf. And then, I was quickened to how many times I have done the exact same thing. I receive a blessing from the Lord, and then in the next moment start grumbling when something doesn't go my way.

God has brought me out of so many terrible situations. He has always provided, and yet I am ashamed to say there are times, when I forget about those miracles. I think that it would be easier to go back to previous times. When I really take the time to think about it, I know that God has delivered me and that I do not want to go back to my old life. It is just in the pressure of the trial that I think about going back. I look back to the past with rose colored glasses, just as the Israelites romanticized Egypt. Lord, help me to be more grateful for where you have saved me from and less of a grumbler when things don't go as I plan. Help me to remember that you are in control in ALL things.

I Cor. 10:10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lesson 2: Obedience is Everything

I Sam 15:22 states "But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." This verse came to mind as I was listening to Exodus on my way to work a few days ago.

In chapter 16, the Lord had delivered the Israeites from Egypt. Then they grumbled and complained and He sent down manna from Heaven. He gave simple directions to test their obedience. Gather enough for one day. People didn't listen they gathered more than they needed. It stank! Then on the day before the Sabbath He ordered get enough for two days. Some didn't gather enough, so they had no food on the Sabbath.

As I listened to this, I realized how often I do the same thing. I think that I am obedient because I follow the 10 commandments, I don't lie, steal, kill, commit adultery, etc. But God doesn't just look at the ten big ones, He is looking for obedience in EVERYTHING. When He prompts me to talk to someone, He is looking for obedience. When he tells me not to do something, He is looking for obedience. He wants me to follow all his commands, not just the ones in Exodus 20.

Ex 20:20 states "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." God gives us those little promptings to test us, to see if we will be obedient. Obedience is better than sacrifice. He wants us to obey in everything. When we obey we show our reverence for the Lord. When we reverence and fear the Lord, we will not sin.

Lesson 1: We are as close to God as we want to be

As I was listening to the Bible on my way to work, I have been listening to the book of Exodus. As I mentioned in the LALALALALA blog, I was listening to Exodus, chapter 19-20 and I was just amazed that the children of Israel had the opportunity to be in the presence of God. They went through the process of consecrating themselves for three days, to prepare for this, then when it came down to it, they were content to hear God through Moses. They chose to send Moses instead out of fear.

I realized I am more like them than I care to admit. James 4:8 states draw near to God and He will draw near to you. When I have those days where I question where God is, the answer is always "Right where I left Him." He is as close to me as I allow Him to be. When I am in His presence, I am the one who holds back, not God - He is willing to give as much as I am willing to receive.

But just like the Israelites, so many times I have been content to hear from God through the voice of others. I have been content to hear what the preacher says instead of seeking out God for myself. I have been content to read a book by a Godly person instead of picking up God's word and letting God give me a fresh revelation. I have been content to sing the praises written by another than allow God to put a song of praise in my heart to Him.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with sitting under the teaching of a Godly preacher, reading books that encourage you to grow deeper in your realtionship with God, or listen to the praise and worship music that stirs your spirit. They are all great sources to personal growth, but ultimately you have to take to the time to hear from God yourself. You have to search out God's revealation for you, and allow those sources to be a secondary confirmation of what God is saying.

God already knows everything about us, even those motives and thoughts that we don;t want to admit too. He knows it and He still loves us. His desire is still for a personal, intimate relationship. There is nothing for us to fear, He will not reject us. He will not hurt us. He will not leave us. He will not ridicule. He will only love, forgive, and change us from the inside out.

Draw near to God - that closeness is up to us to make happen. The closer you are to the source, the deeper your relationship will be.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I have to say, that there are definitely areas that God has been speaking to me about, and calling on me to change. Anyone who knows me well, knows I am pretty strong willed. Sometimes God really has to get my attention REPEATEDLY!!! There are a couple things that keep coming up that I know God is revealing to me, so I thought I would share.

I tease our discipleship class at church, that when I feel like God is speaking to me. I will put my hands on my ears and say LALALALALALA. Part of me really is yearning for that next step, but that fleshy part of me knows that when that revelation is received that I am going to be responsible for what has just been revealed. Those close to me know that God is really dealing with me when I do that, just my way of lightening things up.

I love to read God's word, and my husband bought me God's Word on CD to listen to in the car since I drive so much. I have been listening to Exodus Chapters 16-27. I have listened to the CD twice now, cause I put it out and grabbed it out a 2nd time. This one verse caught my attention as it was spoken, Exodus 20:20. Then last night, we are in week 2 of Extraordinary, a series by John Bevere based on his book with the same title. Guess what he is talking about - Exodus 20:20. "Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

Now I immediately start saying "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA" and covering my ears. My cousin, Diane is laughing at me, and I am sure everyone else was trying to figure out what was going on, as I never get what everyone else does out of the message. John Bevere was talking about the Fear of the Lord. He mentioned how Moses had left the finer things of life, went to Mount Sinai and found God, and never complained about wanting to go back to his old like. Whereas, the Israelites left slavery, Moses took them to Mt. Sinai, and immediately started complaining and wanting to go back. His message was awesome and challenging, and definitely a message I needed to hear, but that wasn't what I took from it.

The lessons that God was confirming in me were:
1) We are as close to God as we want to be.
2) Obedience is everything.
3) Grumbling will get you no where.
4) The tests we go through have a purpose.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm Sorry

So many times things happen, and no one knows the thoughts that go through your head. Well, we like to think that but God knows, and even if it would never be appropriate to say "I'm sorry" to the person that is the object of that thought - God knows our hearts.

As I was driving home, I thought of the people I needed to ask for forgiveness, people who may not even know that I have been offended at them, and yet the conviction was so overwhelming that here I am posting it for everyone to read.  There is this song "These are the words I would say". Well, these are the words I would say to those persons that I have wronged, yet held as offense against me.

1. I am so sorry if my words hurt you, or caused you fallout when I left.  I never meant to hurt you.  I was upset by your actions, but I forgive you, and I pray that God will continue to bless you and increase your ministry.
2. I am sorry that I expect you to take on a responsibility that you can not, to be someone that you can not be.  I am sorry that I have held that against you.  I pray that God will help you overcome and be reconciled.
3. I am sorry for being judgemental of your actions. I do not know what you are thinking or why you make the decisions you do, but it is not my place to judge.  I am sorry.  I pray that God will give you wisdom and guidance.
4. I am sorry for holding past hurts against you.  I thought I wasn't, but I guess I have.  I release you from not being perfect.  I release you from the mistakes that have been made.  I am sorry I let that come between us.  I pray God will help you become the person He created you to be.
5.  I am sorry I get cranky with you.  I can not imagine what you must be feeling, when I try to I remember I have compassion, but I am sorry that I have more compassion and empathy for strangers.  I pray for patience (just not too quick - cause it is a painful process).
6.  I am sorry that I put other things before our relationship.  I am out of balance in a number of relationships, and I want to do better.  I think sometimes it is easier for me to focus on other things, because then I don't have to see the mistakes I make, my faults, my failures.  I promise to keep working on this with the grace of God.  I pray that you will know how important you are to me.

I am sure that there are other things I need to apologize for, but for now these are the things God has laid on my heart.


I have been reading the Bait of Satan by John Bevere. Well technically I read it, then at the beginning of the year I decided to do the study and really digest what was in the book. I admit, as I read it, I could think of a few other people "who needed to read this book," I didn't think I had a problem with unforgiveness or offense.

Last night I finished day 25, and well maybe I do have a problem. Any time I hear a message about forgiveness, I do a brief search of people and think that I do not have any people in my life that I have not asked for forgiveness for or that I need to forgive. Last night, the study talked about emotions, and I had four listed on the negative side - OUCH! I admit that I knew that they were things I needed to work on, things even that God has been dealing with me about - being judgemental, bitterness, anger and pride. However, I never connected it with unforgiveness.

So I was still asking God today who I needed to forgive, I could not think of anyone I held something against. Then that quiet still voice said "Where do those feelings of judgement, bitterness, anger and pride usually show themselves?" Being the person that I am, I immediately said "oh just at random times." And being the God that knows me better than I know myself, he sent me two or three other gentle nudges throughout the day. The radio DJ's in the am and pm talked about forgiveness in one way or another. It seemed that the songs that came on the radio that really spoke to me were about forgiveness, and then I got that "See What I AM Talking About" message as God pointed out several behaviors that I exhibited today that were rooted in offense and unforgiveness.

So consider the message received, and accepted. I take responsibility for my unforgiveness. I need Christ's forgiveness, and it is directly tied to my forgiveness of others. I cancel all offenses against me through the grace of God.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lessons in Death

A week ago tomorrow, a young life was lost. He was just eight years old, and died tragically in a car accident with his father and stepmother, leaving behind two older brothers and a host of other family and friends who cared about him. I had the honor of being touched by this family and getting to know them pretty well.

I believe that everyone comes into our life for a purpose, and that we can learn from anyone if we open our self up to it. I started thinking Saturday after the funeral for this young man and his family about what I could gain from knowing them. Here is what I came up with after thinking about Zach and my contact with him.

1) Greet everyone with a hug. Zach was a hugger. He greeted you with a hug, and left you with a hug and often had a few in between. It didn't matter what his mood, he always had a hug. I had to smile when the pastor giving the eulogy recalled his last contact with Zach, hugging his leg. Human contact is so important, research has showed that it is vital.

2) Smile. I started thinking, there was not a single day, regardless of what was happening that Zach did not have a smile. It doesn't take anything to share a smile.

3) It is okay to show emotions. I remember one day Zach had gotten into trouble. Even though he gave me a smile when I came in, he was not concerned with letting me see how mad and sad he was about being in trouble.

4) Share with others. I admit sometimes I didn't want it, but Zach always had a gift he had made - a little arts and craft that he had made - plastic mesh, a picture, etc. He would give me clovers and flowers, whatever he had. It never cost him anything, but it was worth everything to him.

5) Take time to play a game. Zach liked to play hangman. I have to laugh because usually his word was his name. One time, he spelled it wrong. However, he didn't let it get to him, he just drew more lines as we went.

6) Someone always gets left behind. Zach left behind two older brothers, a mother, step and half siblings that loved him. As much as we like to keep connections, there are times that we move on and leave others. Hopefully it is for something better, like Zach getting to be in Heaven free from pain and the troubles of life. But sometimes it isn't, like for his family and friends. We still have to move on, taking the good memories with us and leaving the rest behind.

7) Life goes by too quick. Zach was eight years old. He had his whole life ahead of him. I know I take for granted so much, I hope that I will always remember his short life, his smile, his laugh, his hugs, his games, his gifts - and not take so much for granted.

Rest in Peace Zachary E. Smith, safe in the arms of God.
July 3, 2001 to January 19, 2010