Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Change in Country Leaders

If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. 1 Samuel 12:14 NKJV

I read this verse and what stuck out to me is the writer was talking to a specific person or group of people about fearing God, serving God, obeying and not rebelling. But the promise that comes with it, is not just for the audience, it is for the ruler over the audience too.

I immediately turned my attention to "the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. Speaking only for myself, I want leaders over me that are following God. I pray on a regular basis for God to lead, guide, direct and give wisdom to those in authority over me. This verse, in the first part says what I must do for the second part, which is what I want, to happen.

So this verse makes me think that instead of Christian's complaining about our leaders actions destroying our country, we need to be fearing God. Instead of complaining about our leaders actions, we need to be serving God. Instead of complaining about the laws and policies, we need to be obeying the Spirit and Letter of His Word. Instead of picketing and protesting, we need to not rebel against His correction.

I believe that a lot needs to change in our great country, but I know that it must be done God's way to bring about lasting change. I believe that there must be accountability in our leadership, but I also know ultimately they will answer to God for their actions. I believe in grass roots change and advocacy, but just like in Daniel 1:8-19 and Daniel 3:16-30, it must be done respectfully, honoring the position even when disobedience to the decree is needed.

God's Word is unchanging. It it was true then, it is still true now. If God required fearing Him, serving Him, obeying Him and not rebelling against His command then - it is no wonder that our nation is in the state it is in. Our nation's actions are not fearful of God, they are fearful of public opinion. Although service is increasing, one has to question if it is self-motivated service (it will look good on my application for work or college or for the judge or this girl/boy, etc), not God driven service. Obedience has been out the door for a long time as the nation rebels against every one of the ten commandments - working on the Sabbath, lying to get ahead, abortion, adultery as prime time TV, and keeping up with the Jones' to name a few.

So it is time for a change in our county leaders, election in next year. Let's try it God's way. Lets spend the next 13 months in preparation for the election with a reverent fear of God, serving one another to bring Him glory, being obedient to Him and not rebelling against His commands. That is how we will get a leader that is really following the Lord our God.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lessons of Destruction in the Aftermath

In the days following the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin, I spent hours driving back and forth searching for God to reveal Himself to me in the midst of the aftermath. He showed me many things, not really about the storm, but about life during those long drives.

The first thing was about the destruction that lay before me, and at times all around me.

The morning following the storm, as I drove into Joplin I was rerouted and missed the true picture of the destruction. So many times in life that is what happens as we step into sin. We reroute off the narrow path into the broad road. We don't see how the sin is impacting us, and so we see no reason to stop.

The second day, as I left I drove directly into the destruction. It was overwhelming to say the least. I so wanted to get out of it, but I didn't know how to because I couldn't see my way out. There were no road signs and no structures to guide me to where I needed to be, so I had to go through the destruction that the tornado had cause. I realize so many times we get into a life of sin and lose our way. Then we realize that it is overwhelming and we don't want to be in it. Unfortunately, we often have to work our way through the destruction to come out on the other side.

When I went back on the fourth day, I was able to go more of my regular route. I made it into Joplin before I saw any signs of the destruction, and even those were deceiving to the real damage. I saw a road sign, and two billboards destroyed. I thought about how sometimes, people will see that we are headed into destruction and they can see what is going to happen, they see the signs and try to warn us about the destruction we are headed for, but we ignore it and continue on.

A few weeks after the tornado, I went and helped a coworker whose home was destroyed, but there were some things in the home salvageable. The coworker had written everything off, but was willing with some convincing to let us come help with "clean up." I thought about how many times, even as Christian's we write off people as destroyed when they are in the midst of personal sin and destruction. I thank God that He doesn't write us off, but instead convinces others to come along side us and show us the truth of our worth and value. I thought how many lives could be salvaged for Christ if Christians would just be willing to roll up their sleeves, offer hope to the hopeless and be willing to help people clean up their lives.

As I see the destruction today, my heart still sinks at times. It can be so overwhelming, as the television and pictures are nothing to the reality of what is there. However, I am also filled with hope for the future. I know that we, that the Joplin community will rise from the destruction. I see and hear the resiliency that as Christians we should also have, as we know the end of the story. We know that no weapon formed against us shall prosper and that no mater what we come up against, no matter where we derailed that with God all things are possible if we just believe and stand in faith.

Psalm 107:19-21(NKJV)Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,And He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destruction. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Purpose and Blessings in the Storm

It has been three months today since destruction hit Joplin, and indirectly impacted my life as my workplace was destroyed and life as I knew it was changed.

Many thoughts have come to me as I hear the stories from people at work, patients, families, that were directly impacted by the tornado. People who were in it. People who lost everything. People who lost loved ones. There are days still that my breath is taken away as I hear people tell their stories. Stories they need to tell to heal.

One thing that sticks out most to me about the tragedy is the compassion and unity that was birthed out of it. Shortly after the tornado, I started hearing things and reading thing about how the destruction was God's fury at Joplin. I admit, that certainly enraged me. God is a God of love, and is not willing that any should perish.

While God can and does calm the storm, sometimes it is what is birthed out of the tragedy that is God's desire, not the destruction itself. As I looked around Joplin the day following the storm, and even today three months later - one thing stands out. People helping people. On a small scale, I know that was there before, but tragedy on the scale of what happened in Joplin, has a way of bringing people of all types together for a common cause.

People, as a whole, support the community of Joplin. They support the rebuilding. They want to help and they want to find a way to give time, money, resources. Even those with what would be considered nothing, want to help. That is to be the purpose that comes out of devastation - to wake up the world to reach out and help each other. Any other time, we go about our daily lives completely oblivious to the world's pain around us. On occasion, we might be bothered to help a friend or family member who is in need, but rarely do people reach out and help a stranger.

And yet, that is what has been happening for the last three months. Strangers from across town, across the county, across the state, across the nation, and even across the world have been reaching out to help complete strangers. So when I hear people ask where God was, I know the answer. He was right there in the storm.

Isaiah 25:3-4(NKJV) Therefore the strong people will glorify You; The city of the terrible nations will fear You. For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat.

And when I hear people offer hurtful explanations to the destruction, I am reminded that sometimes the storm is for our blessing, and to call us into the actions that will bring us that blessing.

Matthew 10:40-42(NKJV)“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

Small Christianity

There are a lot of nice things about living in a small town, but on my way to work I became frustrated with a small town I drove through. First, the highway I usually take is closed due to bridge work. I have to take a small farm road to get back to another highway to take me to the interstate. I came to a train track with the little rails that come down to block your way and flashing lights. The lights were flashing, one rail up and another down. I waited a few minutes and then it was clear a train wasn't coming, I drove around the guard, through the ditch.

Then I turn on my highway to take me to the interstate, and I waited 45 minutes for a wreck to be cleared. It must have just happened as I drove upon it, because much of the wait was for emergency personnel to get through the line of cars, who decided impatiently to turn around in the 2 lane road, thus blocking the emergency personnel and tow trucks from getting to the scene. The unfortunate thing was after that long wait, a sure test of my patience, I finally decided that I had to get out of the line of traffic and find my way down another farm road that might eventually lead me back to the highway I needed to get on to get to work.

I realized that sometimes, Christians are like that scene in the small town. First, God puts things in our path from going the wrong way, or for our safety. We decide it is easier to go around than back track or wait on God's timing. We don't call for help, like maybe I should have to help out the next person who came along to the flashing lights and guards. Instead, we do it our own way, in our own timing, often without consideration for anyone else. We don't stop to think that God puts roadblocks in our path for a reason.

Many times, Christians are insistent on the one way things are always done. I drive to work the same way every time, barring a road closure, which has happened a lot lately. I can't count the number of times I have heard someone in a church meeting say "That's how we have always done it." There are other, possibly better ways to do things, but as Christians we get stuck in a rut, conforming to things around instead of being transformed from faith to faith. We begin to trust our routine more than we do God to provide and help us grow.

On the way home, I had one more thought about small towns and how they can relate to small Christianity. It was almost midnight, and everything was black because things were all closed, no cars on the road, and only a few street lights. I was reminded of a quote I heard "If your church disappeared, would your community notice?" Hopefully we don't allow church to be contained in the four walls of a building, so that our lights stop shining with services are not being held. The world is dark without the light of Christian's sharing the good news of Christ. As Christians, we have to be out in the world to illuminate the darkness, lights don't shine very brightly when they are surrounded with light.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

I was gonna title this Small Town Christianity, but I thought some might think I am implying that those in small towns can't live God-sized lives, so I changed it! Small groups have the ability to do great things for Christ!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The aftermath

It has been a month today since the tragic tornado in Joplin that claimed the lives of over 150 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, leaving a large path of destruction. I praise God that I was not in Joplin that day, but was instead at home celebrating my daughter's high school graduation. I remember standing outside watching the storm that had just some time before ripped though Joplin, unbeknownst to me. It would be several hours before I would find out that the hospital I have worked for since April 2009 was destroyed.
I guess the stages of grief started immediately. I was in deep denial. I didn't believe that it had happened, and certainly would not believe the magnitude of the destruction. My friends and family questioned if I needed to do anything and what they could do. My heart felt helpless as I had no clue what to do. My mind knew that we have a disaster call list and that I would be called when and if they needed me. I got the call that night to come in the next day.

The following day, I went to Joplin. I needed to be there. I needed to feel like I was doing something. I also knew that many of my coworkers had lost everything. They needed to focus on their own basic needs, not those of others. I also knew that many of my coworkers had been working during the tornado, I knew that their adrenaline would soon run out and reality would start to set in. I knew the sooner they could start the process the better.

As I drove in, my route was detoured, so I had little knowledge of the extent of the damage and destruction. It was more of a personal inconvenience as traffic was insane, backed up and police directed as the stop lights were out. I had to get directions on my cellphone to a location that I had never been before, Memorial Hall.

I was protected from the devastation driving in to Joplin that day. Reading about tragedy, for me, is much different than seeing it or experiencing it first hand. And that first day, I had only read on the Internet reports and seen darkened news reports on television and heard things on the radio. I believe that was purposeful on God's part. I might not have been able to handle the trauma that I would need to help people through if it was being filtered through my own secondary trauma and loss.

When I got there, everyone was being ushered in to emergency shelter as a tornado warning was in effect. I would visit those emergency shelters three more times over the next twenty-four hours. Honestly, I would moan and complain about having to be in the basement of some building. I want to be able to see what is going on outside. They were on high alert, I was still in my own little world.

I spent the next 24 hours helping people seeking medical treatment to make sure their physical, social, emotional, and psychological needs were also met. I could see the Spirit of Mercy was alive and well, despite our home being gone. We talked with every patient and family that came in to assess for needs. Shelter was the most common need, and transportation, both were readily available.

Many people wait months before the onset of processing things, others wait a lifetime and let things build up to the point they have no other choice but professional help. For many, that Tuesday morning would be worse than the tornado. My heart broke the following day as people who had spent the night treating others, came back realizing they too were injured. Their emotions were raw, their faith broken.

I remember walking the perimeter of our makeshift hospital around midnight praying to God to comfort those who had suffered loss. I prayed for Him to give strength and energy to those wanting to reach out and help. I prayed for God to help workers find those who were still alive, and to identify those who were not. I knew that praying was the one thing I could do as the patient's stopped coming due to curfew.

My heart was blessed as I came back around to the main entrance of the building. People had been dropping off donations since I had arrived that morning. The whole entrance was full of clothing, shoes, hygiene products, water, food and other items people use on a daily basis. There were donations of medicine and other medical supplies that were needed. It truly was a work of God how quickly things had come together.

I left the following morning, and was unfortunately taken down through the hardest hit areas. I felt saddened as I saw the people rummaging through what was left of their homes. I was angered as I saw people who were, in my opinion, making light of personal tragedy as the drove snapping pictures of people's private pain. My heart sank as I saw the outside devastation of the hospital from Main Street, especially knowing that despite its damage, it was the only thing really standing off in the distance and that from where I was I shouldn't be able to see it.

I went home, emotionally and physically drained. I knew I would have to be to sleep after all that I saw and heard that 24 hours before. Every person with a story that needed to be told, every person with a pain that needed to be comforted, and every person with a loss more real than anything I have experienced. Sleep did not come easily.

Like I said, today it has been a month. At times, I still feel helpless. At other times selfish because I don't want to see anymore, seeing pictures of the inside of my hospital tore my heart. I don't like hearing the sirens, or anything like it. I can't imagine how those who lived through it feel.

Helping remove rubble from a destroyed home, gave me some sense of purpose, but it was so minimal compared to the needs I see before me. Comforting families who lost loved ones, providing encouragement, donating time and goods it all falls short of what is needed. But I know that it is going to take everyone doing something to meet the need. It is hard for me to go to Joplin, to work in a tent, that praise God meets the needs of the people, but is a constant reminder of what was lost.

Then I ram reminded that it is through our hardest times, that God draws the nearest. It is in our weakness, He is made strong. I think about the lessons I have learned from this devastation, and hope to get them shared soon here on my blog.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Self discipline

I was pausing my exercise program (EA Active Sports 2) today, sitting there trying to catch my breath, asking "When is this going to get easier?" I have been doing it eleven weeks, at least 4 days a week, sometimes more. I have burned over 14,502.5 calories, exercised 27 hours and 40 minutes, completed 73 workouts, and logged over 75.3 miles during this time. I mean, I am on the easiest level of the easiest level! Yet today, it feels just as hard for me as when I first started.

I thought "God why can't You just take this from me too? Why can't I just surrender this, and You handle it from there?" I admit, my own choices got me in the condition that I am in, and although I pray that I would just wake up one day and my health would be restored - AKA health weight, I know that I have to do my part and God will meet me there.

I thought about the other addictions I have faced, and the people that I work with who face addictions. I was reminded of a more prominent wealthy woman I worked with and our discussion about her alcohol addiction. With other drugs, you can avoid the people that sell them, you can cut off that part of your life, but with alcohol, you eventually have to go to the gas station, you have to go get groceries, and whether your ready or not to be strong and resist, you are going to be presented with alcohol as you go get gas or groceries. We discussed buying the gas at the pump, and maybe having someone else do the shopping for a while until she built up her ability to say no. Unfortunately with my current addiction, I also can not just avoid it until I am strong enough to face it.

I realized sitting there in the floor, that when God saw me through my addiction to pills, marijuana, alcohol, sexual sin, and cigarettes - I was able to just lay them down and God did the rest. I don't crave those things, and as far as I know there are no adverse effects that I still have to deal with because of my addictions. Although every now and then I have that thought of use, I can make a choice to say no. God meets me there every time.

I know that God is still there, meeting me where I am. I know that in my weakness, He is there in His strength. I know that He wants me to honor Him with my body. With my addiction of food, and how I let myself go by leading a sedentary lifestyle, I have to undo those things. I know I still have to say "yes" to the exercise, and "no" to the extra serving of food, and that He will be there, growing the fruit of self-control in my life. The exercise has become a habit, some days I enjoy it, other days I loathe it. I am watching my calories, some days I blow it, usually I stay within limits. I daily have to turn it over to God.

I realize that if God wanted to I could go to bed tonight and wake up in the morning weighing 130 pounds. I have to say, I would love that!!!! But I know that reality is over the past sixteen years I put myself in this shape, and as much as I dislike it, I may have to spend the next sixteen years getting out of it. I pray it doesn't take that long, but if it does, I will have to look daily for the lessons that God is teaching me through that process. I will have to daily die to self. There are no shortcuts in self-discipline.

Monday, April 4, 2011

This place

I realize I have so much still to learn
I am faced with this, everywhere I turn.
Looking through a mirror not even big enough to see my face
How long will I be stuck in this place?

I can't see more than a small piece at a time
I just don't want Your presence to pass me by.
I want a true revelation of Your love and grace
I want to move forward in You and get out of this place
Teach me Your ways, teach me to praise
Help me to listen to only Your voice.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

This is the stuff

There is a song by Francesca Barristelli that has become one of my favorite songs. It's called "This is the Stuff" and talks about how God uses the little frustrations in our life to help grow us spiritually and emotionally. I usually have a song on my lips, but this one I sing when I am starting

I can never remember all the words so I repeat the parts I know over, and over, and over again. I am sure it annoys those around me, but it is hard to let those negative feelings in when you are singing "This is the stuff that drives me crazy, This is the stuff that's getting to me lately, in the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed...."

Friday I was feeling pretty negative about the circumstances going on around me. I should have been able to sleep in, but a bill collector for someone else called me. Then as I worked out with the Kinect, it didn't want to register me doing the exercises. Then I got in the shower, the water was cold.

As I stood in the shower singing these words over and over again, until I meant what I was signing, with the cold water pouring down on me I realized how all these little things that were getting to me were just little blessings in disguise.

When the bill collector called, it really woke me up, so my day got started a little earlier. On the plus side, the lady calling had a job that would meet her needs, and maybe that of her family. If the other person wasn't behind, the bill collector might not have a job. It also means that someone counted me a reliable enough to list as a reference.

In addition, I still slept in more than most days. I am blessed to not be able to sleep in because it means that I have children I have to get off to school and a job to go to, when so many people pray for kids and need a job.

The Kinect not registering reminded me that we are blessed to have one. And I am healthy enough to be able to exercise. Plus I got extra workout which I know I need! God was just helping me move a little closer to a healthy lifestyle.

And then, my cold shower blessing. First off, as I felt my frustration growing I started turning my attention to God which is never a bad thing! I thanked him that I have children who were home from school and that obviously one of them was concerned about hygiene whether it was for taking a shower, cleaning their clothes, or doing dishes. They were at home instead of running around the streets. Then I started thanking him for the lady with job who woke me up, to bless the person with outstanding debt. I thanked him for my job and meeting my needs. I thanked him for the extras like the Kinect and for my health.

I got out of the cold shower feeling refreshed and blessed. It was really good to know I was not going to go start gripping about all the things going wrong in my day - not to say I didn't give my daughter a hard time since she was eating breakfast when I told her I was getting in the shower. It was just more of a tease than my normal griping.

Now I can't promise that later today, or tomorrow, or next week I won't be singing this song again to remind me that there is a blessing in every problem - whether its the lesson that God is trying to teach me through the frustration, if He is trying to grow me spiritually, or just that there really is something good about the thing that is getting too me. But it sure beats getting cranky and taking it out on those around me. Thank you God for the stuff that drives me crazy!

If you have never heard the song, or are just feeling frustrated - click on the hyperlink above and it will take you to Francesca Barristelli's website and her song!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Be who you are

1 Samuel 17:38-40 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

As I read this scripture I thought how many times we try to be someone or something we are not. Maybe we try to "dress to impress," when really that is not who we are. Or we try to read up on something so we can be an "expert" when really we are just regurgitating the ideas and words of another.

I think whether we are doing this at the request of someone else - trying to fit into the mold they have made like Saul tried to have David do, or because of some fleshly desire of our own, it will never work.

We are uniquely designed to be the person God created us to be. When we try to put on something we are not, the burden becomes to heavy for us to bear because we weren't made for that. To often we try to make it a good fit, even though one size rarely fits all.

However, when we be who we are, we can succeed at what God designed us for no matter how impossible it seems. Just like David killing the giant with a small smooth stone.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thoughts on marriage

I have been feeling led to start working on a group about marriage. I mean I teach relationship classes and relationship skills to couples, but it is material that I have been taught, and some that I have learned, but none that I feel completely passionate about. God has been leading me more to take time with the things I teach others and really apply His word to it, instead of the secular training I have.

So here are some initial thoughts about marriage that I quickly used to respond to a dear sister of mine about marriage.

You have to stop and make your marriage a priority. He should also, but one person can make the difference. Think about all the things you do in a day - do your actions show that you value 1) God, 2) Your Spouse 3) Your Children? So many times we put all the unimportant things first and neglect the things that should have our attention. We allow cooking, cleaning, work, the computer, the television, the ____ fill in the blank to take priority in our life.

As Christians, as wives, as mothers, we have to turn to God as the supreme source on relationships. That is what he created us for. As a wife you are called to respect your husband and submit to him. As a husband he is called to love as Christ loved the church. Unfortunately, our society has failed to recognize what God pointed out a long time ago - and that is relationships work in cycles. One person does their part, and the other eventually responds as they should. Our society has taught us that we are supposed to get love, to give love. But the Bible says it is more blessed
to give than to receive.

I Corinthians 13 says Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Start practicing, even when it is hard, loving your husband. Love him - God's way. Pray for him. Pray that God will give you a heart for your husband again. Start showing him patience. Start speaking kindness to him. Do not be envious when he does not immediately respond. Do not say "I am trying, He is not" - that is boastful and proud. Treat him with respect - it may have to start in the common courtesies we allow strangers, but seem to hold against those who are closest to us.

As far as no money and mixed schedules. Make time. Your marriage has to be a priority. Stay up 30 minutes to an hour later. It is free to offer a helping hand. Compliment him on the little things you have been taking for granted. Talk. Play a game. Take a walk together. I know we keep things G rated, but sex is free and it is in marriage God rated. Put the moves on your man. You know what your spouse would appreciate the most, the small things that make a difference to him. Set aside time together - as a must. Even if it means you take the kids to the park and sit and talk while they play - whatever it takes to keep your marriage alive. You were called to be a helpmate, not a roommate.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


We live in an emotion filled world. We become sad, angry, happy over small trivial things. Possibly in the moment they seem worthy of the grand emotion, but in the eternal perspective they likely have little value. I wonder how many times we have those same intense emotions over the eternal things.

Do our hearts break for the broken marriages, the abused children, the empty lives that touches ours daily? Do we have to stop and regain our composure when we see a hurting life? Do we feel the need to reach out and help, with whatever means we can when we see someone in need? Are we moved with compassion as Christ was? Or are we so wrapped up in ourselves we can only grieve for the plant like Jonah?

Do we become enraged at the injustices in this world? Do we speak out for those who have no voice - not in anger, but in boldness for what is right? Do we have a holy anger burning inside of us when we see people that are being taken advantage of, abused, neglected, or harmed in some way? Do we stand up and fight the battle of those less fortunate, or save that only for when people wrong us personally or those close to us? Are we moved with holy anger as Christ was? Or do we just burn with anger for the things that impact us?

Do we rejoice with the angels when someone makes a personal decision for Christ. Not a small clap, but truly rejoice in our soul for the Kingdom has advanced? When marriages, families, and relationships are restored are we filled with rejoicing? When others succeed are we rejoicing with them? Or are we to busy complaining to God that we fail to take part of these precious moments?

God made us each emotional beings. I am sure he takes pleasure in our happiness and feels sorrow at our tears. I just feel that He wants us to partake in His emotions as well, as we would in any close relationship.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How to get an 8 year advance on the devil

So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery.

So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “ It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock? JONAH 4:5-11

I have read the book of Jonah before and don't ever remember this part of this story. I mean this is after his three day stay in the belly of a whale!

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own world that we fail to live in touch with the things that go on around us. It is easy to get caught up in daily activities and problems, that we fail to recognize there is a dying world around us. We like Jonah get wrapped up in "What about me?" that we forget about "THEM." It is just as easy to get wrapped up in wanting God to right the wrong that was done, we are ready to watch God's vengeance that we fail to recognize the sin issue in our own heart and admit that but for the grace of God, that would have been us.

I heard a statistic that somewhere between 80 and 100 souls a minute die without ever hearing or accepting the message of Christ. On the low end that is over 115,200 people a DAY that are going to hell. That saddens my soul and it angers me. I realize that is Christian's fault - the lost certainly are not going to save themselves and we are Christ's ambassadors here on earth. So that means it is up to us to share God's message and that if we don't - we fail God. It is not our responsibility to do anything more than plant the seed - we have to walk the walk and talk the talk for all to see.

Sometimes we expect that the pastors and evangelists will do all the work - even with the greatest of ministries that would be only additions and will not reach all the lost. For example - if every day preachers and evangelists won 10,000 people to the Lord and the end of the month that would be 300,000 people - so in 30 days they could reach enough to save two days worth of dying people. This would allow the rest of us Christians to sit and be comfortable under our little plant like Jonah while we watch over 3,000,000 more die.

However the Bible calls us all to reach the lost (AKA the Great Commission). So if each of us would tell one lost person about Christ, if they accepted Christ and told another person about Christ, and we also in turn told another person. If then the two people we reached, turned with us and we told four more, then eight people would be reached, then sixteen, and on and on. Well, this is multiplications and based on just one Christian reaching out through multiplication at the end of thirty days 536,870,912 people would be reached for Christ. That would give Christian's an EIGHT year advancement on the devil!!!

We have to stop being indifferent to the lost world around us. We have to have compassion for the lost and stop passing judgement. We have to allow our hearts to be saddened and angered so that we will be moved into action to reach out to them where they are and share Christ as the answer to everything. We have to realize those people we fail to reach, could be someone who impacts of families, cities, regions and nations - that will be lost due to our failure to obey.


“A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts To you priests who despise My name.

Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

“You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the Lord of hosts. MALACHI 1:6-8

As I read this I thought about the offering we give to God, not just through our finances but in words, actions, and through our lives. I believe that most Christians would give the very best they have to offer if Christ knocked on the door of their home.

I have dined in the presence of congress men and women, and well to do business people with finances. I have seen that when people know who they are, their words, actions, and the level of service step up. I can only imagine how much more honor would be bestowed upon our Lord if He was physically here.

And yet, what kind of offering are we giving Him? I mean, He is here, we are the temple of our Lord. He doesn't have to knock, He is already here. We should be giving Him honor all the time. Every moment should be lived as if we were in the presence of royalty - because we are. He promised, "I will never leave you or forsake you." He is here us now.

If this message from Malachi came to us today, would we receive the same message? Would He ask "Where is the reverence?". Would He say "You have defiled my name?". Would He consider what we offer as evil because we don't give Him our very best?

Lord, help us offer our lives, with every action and every word bringing glory and honor to You.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Billboard Solutions

As my husband drove me to work yesterday, he commented on a sign that said "QUICK DIVORCE." Those two words were followed by a telephone number. That was all the giant billboard said. Tim commented "you see signs like that for negative things all the time, but you never see signs by Christians for a quick fix."

I admit I had to ponder on it for a moment because I was taken aback by his comment. First he is not a believer, or is backsliding for over a decade - so that he would admit that God is the solution was unexpected. Second it was really early in the morning for such an in depth thought!

After thinking about it, and commenting openly about my surprise, I was able to respond. I told him that too often we spend years getting ourselves into a big mess. Then we want to turn to God for a quick fix. Often we get our solution only to replace the problem with one of a similar nature, because we didn't really learn anything. Look at the people who replace one addiction for another, or who file bankruptcy only to get into the same mess a few years down the road.

God wants us to come to Him and spend time with Him, not just run through the "prayer drive-thru" for a quick fix. God desires relationship with us. When we get a quick solution, this is not out of relationship, but from God's mercy and grace. As our associate pastor, Pastor Curtis Holt says, "you don't get all the blessing and promises without relationship and true repentance." I pointed out that God has the answer but usually it is in the process that we go through where most lessons are learned and true growth occurs.

As I was journaling about this last night, I started thinking about the billboard again and Tim's comment. I thought about some of the "Christian" billboards I have seen. The eye-catching, attention-getting messages from God. I thought about the catchy-slogan "Got God?" Well in all honesty, there are a lot of people out there that have no idea how to get God. So what if the message is read and the answer is "no." Where is the help in getting God? The sign may raise a problem, but offers no solution. Even the divorce billboard offered a number to meet the need.

There are also billboards that offer church location and times. Some are mere advertising campaigns that are eye catching, but nothing more than another costly billboard advertising. Some billboards have pictures that present unrealistic pictures of what an unbeliever is going to see when they walk in the door of most churches. They might be met by a greeter and receive direction of where to go, but is what is portrayed in those pictures real - or merely "false advertising."

What would Jesus have done? Would He have had a billboard? Honestly I don't think He would have. Everywhere I read - people came to Him. People sought Him out because they knew He had the answer. He was out and about doing Our Father's business and people recognized there was something different about Him. He didn't have a town crier going before him, people gathered on their own. He didn't advertise His presence, He just did what He was called to do.

What if the church billboards didn't advertise the church - but the solution? Simple messages like "Marriage Problems? Followed by the church's number. Or "Hurting" Followed by the church's number. "Stressed?" Followed by the church's number. "Problem with Addictions?" Followed by the church's number.

What if that phone was manned twenty-four seven - maybe forwarded to various members phones so that one person or a few people alone were not carrying that burden. The reality is, like my husband pointed out, the church has the solution to EVERY problem faced. The real question is "Will we step up and offer the solution?"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Freedom Choices

When I first came back to the Lord after walking away for seven years, I have to admit I defined my life in what "I can't do." You know "I can't drink." "I can't do drugs." "I can't have sex." I can't cuss." "I can't smoke." "I can't watch that." "I can't listen to that." I was always focused on the authority of my Lord, and the things I can't do and be in a relationship with him. I changed my life drastically, but my heart was not in that choice. I was doing it because "The big guy in the sky." I was not doing it because it was the right thing to do, but because someone told me I had to. My motive was not relationship, it was the punitive judgement I thought would fall on me. My flesh still cried out for every one of those things.

As I grew in my walk with God, I started to slowly renew my mind. My "cant's" changed to "dont's." I don't do this or that. My motive was not out of relationship, it was out of religious pride. "I don't do that, because I am strong enough in that area." Although I might have been, I don't think I was intentionally trying to put myself above someone else, but I think my flesh was. I wanted to show all the things I "don't do" because I am "such a good Christian." I don't have to deal with that anymore. My flesh at times still wanted those things, but I didn't partake because I needed to prove I was more "spiritual" than that.

The other day I found myself answering "I can do it, I just make a choice not to." God has revealed something else and made yet another change in my attitude as I daily chose to renew my mind. I realize now that all those "cant's" and all those "dont's" are fruitless in God's eyes because my attitude is what He is looking at. God had given me freedom of choice. I can chose to be in a relationship with Him. I can chose to put Him first. I can chose to live intimately with Him in obedience or I can chose to focus on the shouldn't and couldn't things.

He gives me the freedom to chose. He is not going to crush me and He is certainly not impressed by my religious attitude. God is looking for my choice. He is looking at my heart when I make that choice, and nothing from Him is hidden (Psalms 44:21 and Romans 2:15-16). He is looking for me to chose His ways over my own. He is looking for me to put Him first in my life. He is looking for me to honor Him with my whole life. He is looking for my actions to line up with my renewed mind. He is looking for me to chose to walk in obedience to Him because I love Him and want nothing to come between us. The freedom I have, comes from my choices!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


It is interesting to read old testament passages with the knowledge of what will happen. I was thinking, don't they get it?

People asked for signs - and yet as big and bold as they would come it was not enough.

Jeremiah spoke boldly about what would come. For the fact that he could have been killed just for speaking out - one would think that would be sign enough.

When things started to take place as he had prophesied that should have been a sign -yet again it was not heeded.

When others put themselves in danger to try to protect Jeremiah or advocate for what he was saying,that should have been a sign.

But they were all ignored.

As I passed judgement on the old testament people for not heeding God's warning, I realized that it is easy for me to see because I know what happens. However, am I just a quick to read the signs that are before me today?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I can do something

I am sitting in my car. I have been here two hours and thirty minutes. It is cold outside, and in my car too. Somewhere, I've lost my keys. I am waiting, waiting, waiting.

First, I walked back up in the freezing cold to the hospital, hoping I had just left the keys in my office. No luck there. Then I waited on the locksmith, who (bless him God), had to follow my directions and still had to ask for more from someone else. He came, but I found no keys in the car.

My spare key is an hour and fifteen minutes away. Plus, I have to wait for my husband to get to a vehicle to bring him here. Praise God his motorcycle started so he could drive to get our daughter's car. Praise God she was at work and her car was just a few minutes away. So now I am just waiting.

My husband said, go inside and I will call you when I get there. I told him I would wait, it is cold and I didn't want to walk back up to the main building. I thought I could use the quiet time with God. So I was reading in Psalms 119. David cried out "I'm homesick." several times. As I read I thought "I want to be home in my nice warm bed.". Even though this morning, I was thinking it was too cold in my bed as I grabbed a third blanket to put on at 1 am.

I realized, my nose, fingers, and toes feel frozen. I keep shifting around to add warmth. I am hungry and probably a little dehydrated. It has been two and a half hours since my "dilemma" began.

At any time I could walk about 150 feet into a warm, yet dark building. Or I could walk less than 1000 feet and be in the main hospital with other people, heat, lights, food and water. Many cars have passed without taking notice. While I was waiting for the locksmith, one stopped to tell me I could call security. I already had - security gave me the locksmith's number.

Then I realized, I feel this way after two hours; what about people who are homeless? People who truly have no options. How many times have "We just passed them by."? We ignore the person standing in front of us. Or the person standing outside their car in the freezing weather, just standing there dumbfounded like I was tonight. We ignore because of our own busyness, sometimes out of our own selfishness. Sometimes we ignore out of ignorance.

It is so easy to think "Well they have other options." No, there is not always other options. Choices can help a situation, but there is not always an immediate option. In 1996, I became homeless. I could not go home. There was no home to go to. Through a turn of events in my family, I could not just go stay with extended family. Realize, I did not have a drug addiction. I did not have an alcohol addiction. I did not gamble. I did not have a spending problem. I was not looking for a free ride.

I was a divorced mother of two young children. I made a little over minimum wage working a full time job. I had a car - no payments, it was just enough to get my kids to daycare and me to work. I made too much for assistance programs. My children's father didn't work so there was no child support.

I can still remember the feelings of desperation that I had when I turned to a living in situation that was beyond bad, so that I could keep a roof over my children's head. And to do that I had to give my son to his father to keep because otherwise he would have taken him from me through the legal system. I certainly had no money to fight that. I will still cry to this day when I say "I had to give away my son."

I praise God that I had connections to people who could pull strings and knew the resources to help me, so that it truly was a temporary situation. I praise God that I have never known what it was like to be cold and not get warm. I praise God that I have never had to go without food or water, or a bath or shower. I praise God that even though it wasn't a perfect situation that I was able to have a roof over my head and that my children were safe. I praise God that my children were young enough that when they hear this story, they look at me in bewilderment because they have no memory of "being homeless."

As I thought about the people out in the streets, I realized right right now it is 32degrees. In many parts of the country, and world, it is so much colder. There are people that have nothing between them and the elements. We are all stuck in our own little world. We live beyond our means, we waste what others would treasure. My heart was saddened, as I realized that there are enough resources in this world to meet the needs of every homeless person, but like Matthew West sings "IN MY OWN LITTLE WORLD" there is a bigger picture.

Maybe I can't rescue ever person on the streets. Maybe I can't make sure that every person has a safe place to sleep, a warm blanket all on my own. Maybe I can't feed every hungry person. However, I can resolve to do something. I can take time to notice the people around me. I can pay attention to what is really happening. I can make a difference for at least one person. I can give something - even if it is a gift card to a fast food place. I can do something - like support an organization that helps the homeless - with my time, belongings and resources. I can speak up and give them a voice - by researching the facts and making sure the legislatures know about the real problem and that funding is appropriated to it. What would happen if we each decided "I can do something."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lessons from I Kings 19

I admit lately I have been feeling discouraged and depressed. I have so related to how Elijah felt after his life was threatened by the queen following the victory God gave him over the prophets of Baal.

I was reading over this passage,  In I Kings 19 and thought God what can I learn from how he handled this depressing time in his life. Here is what was revealed to me:

1) Seek God first - Elijah didn't do this instead he ran in fear

2) Don't fear the threats of the enemy (If God be for us, who can be against us!!!)

3) When you feel completely drained, God can give you substanence

4) When God gives you substanence it will sustain you and strengthen you for whatever lies ahead

5) God doesn't want to hear our excuses, or us blaming others, or our pity party (for that fact I am sure neither do others)

6) Sometimes God will blow things away, shake our very foundation, and burn things up just to get our attention

7) God will speak to our situation if we will get quiet and still enough to hear Him

8) When we run, God will eventually send us back to what we ran from

9) God always has others that will come along beside us if we will take time to heed His direction

10) No matter how bad things seem, how alone we may feel, we are never alone.