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Hope of our Faith. Proof of His Glory.

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A New Song

You may have noticed from my previous blogs, that I frequently refer to Christian song lyrics.  I enjoy listening to Christian music, and feel that it is a beautiful way to spread God’s message.  But it hasn’t always been that way for me.  In the past, I thought of Christian music as fuddy-duddy and boring, like the Lawrence Welk show (if any of you are old enough to remember who he was).  It wasn’t cool, it didn’t have a good beat, it wasn’t exciting.

 

Once I had children, and they were old enough to start understanding the lyrics to the songs that played on the radio, a lot changed for me.  I started to become uncomfortable listening/singing along to songs that talked about sex while they were in the car with me.  And let’s face it, a lot of songs talk about sex.  Wow!  How can I talk to my kids about proper behavior when I’m singing a song that promotes just the opposite?  People may say, “It’s just a song!”, but to me, if I am listening to it or singing along, it means I am accepting and endorsing the singer’s perspective.  It sends an unspoken message that I believe in the words of the song.  And if I purchase the song/CD, then I am financially supporting that singer and the words that he/she chooses to sing which encourages them to record more of the same. 

 

And I know I can’t control the songs played at football games, at Mardi gras parades, at restaurants/bars, but I can control the songs I listen to in my home and car.  So I would change stations whenever an inappropriate song came on, and then I heard a song by Brandon Heath: “Give me your eyes.”  This song changed the way I thought of Christian music, so I started to listen to Christian radio.  At that time, there was only one station.  And they were sponsoring a challenge: listen only to Christian radio for 30 days.  I’ve read that anything done for 30 consecutive days has a greater chance of becoming a habit, so I knew the station’s ulterior motive, but that was OK.  And what I discovered is that I liked Christian music!  It wasn’t fuddy-duddy, many of the songs have awesome music, and many of the lyrics come straight out of the bible!  Wow!

 

And what happened after 30 days?  Well, when I went back to the secular radio stations, I was often appalled at what was playing.  I became sensitized to the lyrics and the messages that the secular songs were sending, and it made me rethink what I listened to.  What did I want to promote to my kids?  What messages was I sending them through the songs that I chose to listen to?  Yes, there are good and appropriate songs on secular radio.  And yes, there are annoying songs and DJs on Christian radio.  It just comes down to being more mindful of what I was choosing.

 

That has been several years ago, and now there are several Christian music stations available in my area.  While I don’t listen exclusively to Christian music, I do enjoy it.  During their annual pledge drives, the Christian radio stations often ask people to let them know what Christian music means to them.  It is inspiring to know the power of a song, and of a radio station that sends out positive messages of hope and love.  I love listening to these testimonies.  Many people speak of these songs and this music helping them make better choices, turning their lives around, remaining hopeful in spite of the difficulties of life.  In Philippians 4:8 it says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”  I find that it is much easier to think about these things when I am listening to Christian music.  It helps me remember that while I live in this world, and am surrounded by the messages coming from the secular media, I don’t have to live like that.  I can choose a different way.

 

Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” 

 

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What's in Your Closet?

So God used something extremely personal and embarrassing to teach me a lesson the other day. And when I felt that nudging of "blog this to the BOWABites"....I'll be honest. I cringed. So here's the raw, horrible truth. 

 

This summer I've had a fruit fly infestation in my apartment. (Fruit/drain flies....whatever you call the little bitty black terrorist with wings.) I had tried everything under the sun to get rid of them from home remedies to chemicals to praying them away. I was on the verge of losing what sanity I had left. My bathroom, kitchen, living room were the worst. But occasionally I would have one wonder into the bedroom and attempt to land on my face while I slept. After much cleaning, fumigating, and screaming, the situation had improved...but only slightly.

 

Until last Thrusday.

 

I went grocery shopping early that morning. Came home and put everything up but a bag of small red potatoes. I laid down for a few hours before getting ready for work that night. When I walked back into the kitchen I was met with more flies that I had ever seen in there. Turns out there was ONE rotten potato in the bag I just bought (Don't ask me how I missed it. I wish I knew.) That one potato turned to the Ryan's Buffet for these pesky black flecks. As I'm throwing them away, I had a "lightbulb" moment. I turned and walked into the walk-in pantry I have (and never go in). In there I have a canvas bin I keep my baking potatoes in. Weeeelllll I forgot about a few potatoes from weeks ago. The one potato may have been Ryan's, but that bin had become the Ruth's Chris of fly dining. I screamed. Wished for once I wasn't an adult that had to deal with this. And them preceded to throwing the entire bin away...flies and all. After a few days of further cleaning and spraying, I'm pleased to say I now can get ready without a fly nosediving my face. (Gosh...I told you this was embarrassing!)

 

So what does this have to do with anything? Well while I was cleaning out that pantry/closet, God dropped this question in my spirit: What's hiding in your closet? What is in the back corner of your closet that is rotting and causing you trouble that you don't even realize is there? Sometimes we have these things in life that we don't want to deal. And we keep pushing them back and pushing them back until all the other junk in our life has covered it up. We may have forgotten about it but we didn't deal with it. We didn't take care of the problem. Throw the potatoes out so to speak. Then when things start going wrong, the "flies" of life show up, we wonder why. Those "flies" may be bitterness, anger, relationship trouble, seasons of prayerlessness, sickness. Maybe you feel like you take care of one problem only to face another.

 

Maybe its time to stop and clean out the closet. Maybe its time to say "God, what is there that I haven't dealt with? What is there that I don't want to admit to but is holding me back?" Those are the hardest questions we can ask ourselves and Him in my opinion. Its easy to point out how dirty someone else's "house" may be. But we never want to admit that our "house" may be dirtier. But when we do, and God shows us things He wants to work on and throw out, it feels so much better. I promise you I sleep better now knowing I'm not going to be toted off in my sleep. Wouldn't you sleep better knowing that your "closet" was clean enough for God to hang His coat in? That nothing is holding you back from everything He has for you? 

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What Makes You Special?

A friend told me the other day that she was trying to figure out what makes her special. I suggested that she would only find that answer in her relationship with God. She countered that she knew why she was special to God but she didn’t know why she was special to humans. I don’t think there’s a separation between the two. Sure, if you want to talk in broad, general terms, God loves us all as His creations. But I think you can ask Him for guidance with your gifts and strengths and He’ll reveal those that are specific to you. They’re the key to fulfilling His plan for your life and they’re also the reason people glow inside when they think of you.

 

One of the ladies at my church is a gifted musician and a kind, welcoming soul to everyone she meets. Everyone! I can’t fathom it! No one seems to irritate her or make her uncomfortable. She just gives beautiful love to everyone! And I think of those qualities when I think of her, and her spot in my heart glows. Those are her strengths for God and for humans.

 

My sister is this brilliant, insightful treasure who knows just the way to touch another’s heart. She understands human nature and emotions better than anyone I’ve met. She uses her power for good, finding small ways to make the lives she touches richer. I think of that uncanny ability when I think of my sister, and her spot in my heart glows. That is one of her strengths for God and for humans.

 

A guy I knew in school is working with the teens at his church now, engaging them in fun, exciting ways and modeling for them a disciplined life. The same as he was always my friend and both encouraging and inspirational to me, he’s blessing those kids. My friend examines himself, is able to maintain a sense of humor, and above all has remained true to his faith. I think of those things when I think of my friend, and his spot in my heart glows.

 

The catch is that many of us don’t recognize our own gifts because those are the aspects of our personality that come as second-nature. God is able to send the right people to highlight them for us, allowing us to polish those skills and use them to further God’s kingdom. If you’re not asking for direction, though, you may miss out on them and focus on your areas of struggle.

 

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,so in Christ we, though many, form one body,and each member belongs to all the others.We have different gifts,according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying,then prophesy in accordance with yourfaith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement;if it is giving, then give generously;if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:4-8

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Pick Your Spots

The other day I saw a story about an NFL player who was returning to practice after the death of his infant daughter. The Facebook page for this story had many comments. The top comment at the time expressed sorrow for the man and mentioned that heaven was receiving a “beautiful angel.” There was a response to that comment from a “devoted christian” who points out that “people that go to heaven don’t become angels.” And, “Angels have been in heaven since the beginning and that won’t change.” My thought about that comment whether or not the statements are technically correct is “Why would a person choose that time to make a technical point?”

One of my favorite aspects to Jesus’ personality is His snide streak. He did not shy away from calling people out. (Such situations were glorious.) He didn’t always call people out. He showed compassion when people erred but were respectful of Him and recognized His greatness and power. However, when people (commonly Pharisees) displayed arrogance in asking him questions to get Him to contradict or test Him or criticized Him outright, He offered rather snippy but thorough responses.

For instance, Luke 11:37-40 reads:

While Jesus[e] was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?

Another instance comes from Matthew 23:1-7, which reads:

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

Finally, an instance from Matthew 23:16-19, which reads

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

Each time, Jesus calls out the Pharisees for some bad behavior when their intent was wrong. Commonly, that behavior was hypocrisy, which God despises. So, I think we need to be careful with how we display the knowledge that we have. Just because we know stuff, does not mean we need to correct people – especially when such correction is essentially irrelevant to the situation. Showing that you are correct can be completely counterproductive. We need to be sure to pick our spots when we try to impart knowledge on others. And, if we aren’t sure, err to the side of caution and just offer compassion.

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Bankrupt

We live in a time of instant gratification.  We constantly flip the channels during commercials.  Check Facebook every 10 minutes.  We’re always changing the station on the radio looking for a better song.  We want everything to happen right then and there because that’s convenient for us.  When did we get like this?  Why do we continue to be like this?  I feel like it’s an awful curse that we have gotten ourselves into.  We’re so used to it that we even expect God to make things happen instantly.

I constantly remind others… mostly myself though, that things happen in His time.  I really need to practice what I preach.  I pray about our finances a lot.  Things are just ridiculously priced these days and it’s never easy to make ends meet.  Living paycheck to paycheck stinks, especially in my case being a teacher.  As much as I’ve prayed about it, I’ve really been meditating on it lately.  God clearly knows our struggle, I talk to Him about it all the time.  The inner child in me wants to through a tantrum because I want Him to fix it RIGHT NOW!!!!  Why’s it taking so long God?  I thought you were going to help me get rid of some of this debt.  Take away the things we don’t need. 

I’ve finally come to realize He has already helped me.  He provides us with everything we need.  We aren’t starving.  We’re not homeless.  We have wonderful careers that we enjoy.  Our boys don’t go without.  He has provided us with several opportunities to make extra money to make ends meet.  Yes, we’ve had to work for it.  Yes, it’s been long hours.  But, yes, He has answered our prayers His way in His time.   Sometimes you have to put feet to your prayers.  Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities and blessings you continue to pour out to us.  We are forever grateful of Your love… because without love, we’ve got nothing.  Without love, we’re bankrupt. 

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Golfballs, Pebbles, and Sand

So, admittedly, I’ve been struggling with what to blog about . Someone told me to think of something I was either thankful for, afraid of, or waiting for and an idea would come to me.  So I did, and…. nothing.  Well, I was looking through some pictures on my computer and came across a story that I’ve read before and have always liked. Today, it served as a much needed reminder… and I realized how much I really was thankful for!  So, the advice ended up working. The story is about a professor who is at his desk and as students come in, they see him sitting there with a large empty mayo jar.  To start class he quietly reached under his desk and pulled out bucket #1, emptying the contents into the empty jar.  Golf balls. He then asked the class if the jar was full. They agreed it was.  He reached down and pulled out bucket #2 and emptied its contents into the jar.  Pebbles.  He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles filled into the empty spaces between the golf balls. He asked the class again if the jar was full, and they agreed it was.  Next, he pulled bucket 3 from under his desk, and emptied its contents.  Sand filled into the empty spaces between the golf balls and pebbles. The class laughed.  He asked again of the jar was full.  Again, they agreed it was.  One last time, he reached under his desk, producing 2 beers.  He popped them open and poured them into the jar, and the beer effectively filled the empty space between the sand.   They room roared with laughter.  The professor then said, “Now, please recognize this jar as representing your life.  The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions – and if everything else in your life was lost and only these remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.  The sand is everything else – the small stuff.  If you put the sand in first, there would be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend your time and energy fretting the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay more attention to the things that are more critical to your happiness.  Spend time with your children, your parents, and your grandparents.  Take your spouse to dinner, play another 18.  There will always be time to fix the disposal and clean the house.  Take care of the golf balls first and set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”  A student raised her hand and inquired what the beers represented.  The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked!  The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend!”  This story makes me smile, every time.  And today, it served as a much needed reminder to stop and slow down.  To really allow myself to enjoy the important people and things in my life.  Being a single Mom, I get so caught up in the day to day, the routine.  I stress about work, about bills, and about being the only parent to my munchkin.  About my car always breaking down and not being able to afford a new one, or forgetting to buy dog food, again.  Hahaha.  But it’s easy to let the small things worry you and make you feel overwhelmed.  But really looking at it, my life is amazing.  It’s turned into something incredibly wonderful.  I am blessed beyond measure to say I have a healthy and happy child, who loves the Lord and sees the beauty, good, and innocence in everything.  My Mom is here with me now, sharing the burden of raising a child alone, and my Ace Man is so blessed to get to spend this quality time with his Granny.  I have great friends.  A job that I love, with a boss who is so understanding and kind.  He always lets me know that being a Mom is more important than anything else, and if something comes up my job is never in jeopardy.  I am so thankful for that. 

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Independence Day
Our nation just had a birthday, 239 years since brave men refused to bow to an earthly king. This courageous act opened up a place in the world that was free for people to worship their God as they see fit! What a wonderful awesome thing that turned out to be! I am allowed to worship the God of my father without fear of persecution or imprisonment for it. So many in Biblical times weren't so lucky.
In Daniel when God allowed His people to be overcome by other nations, some of the best and brightest were taken to a place far from home and trained in the Persian ways and languages. As the story goes Daniel was one of those best and brightest and he continued to excel by honoring God. He made enemies and had others conspiring to have him killed. They talked King Darius into signing a law that put anyone who prayed to any god but him in the lions' den. Daniel was a good and faithful servant and didn't compromise his faith for that law and was thrown in with the lions. As we all know the story, God didn't forsake Daniel's courage and boldness not to forsake his God.
While what the Founding Fathers did in our nation wasn't for religious freedom, they did ensure they would be allowed to honor their God without worry. God blessed these men with the stability their nation needed to succeed and flourish. As our nation comes under attack by the great deceiver, we must remember to be like Daniel and stand firm in our faith. Not hiding it in the closet but open our windows and bow to pray to God openly and proudly with the confidence that if we don't forsake Him, He won't forsake us. 
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Garden

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a day-long women’s retreat at church. It was called “Garden Getaway.” Everything was centered on plants, flowers, gardens, and growing. The metaphor was extended to growing your faith, growing in every season of your life, and walking with God through the garden.

My favorite part was the discussion about insects getting into your garden.

 

I am no gardener, and what I do try to grow dies. The deaths usually occur because of something I’ve done (or haven’t done), but recently, something else has happened. I received a potted flowering plant as a very thoughtful gift. I’m sure this beautiful flower has a name, but I haven’t a clue. I’ve watched it get eaten away by pests – gaping holes in all the leaves. Since I have no wisdom about plants, I felt helpless. Here is where the metaphor gets really good. These “pests” in our faith, in our lives, in our current “seasons” can be very destructive. And, without wisdom (or the Word), you will feel helpless. Have you ever felt lonely when surrounded by people? Have you ever felt depressed when you have beautiful things surrounding you? Have you ever felt anger over something insignificant (like traffic)? Have you ever been jealous of a really good friend – perhaps your best friend? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions (and we can all say “yes, that’s me.”), there is no need to feel helpless. The insects have gotten in… like my poor flowering-whatsitsname-plant. Insects like anger and loneliness and jealousy and greed and discontent. How can we keep these “pests” from our hearts? How do we stop them from staying if they are already there? Just like Jesus fought the Devil with the Word, we can too. Here is Psalms 32:3-6 “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity…Therefore, let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.” Keeping it all inside will give those “pests” lots and lots of food. At the time of my distress, Lord, I offer my prayer that these pests are taken away.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

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Seek Ye First

     I would like to start today off with stating I’m tired of opinions. I think the biggest thing I struggle with as a Christian is not talking about people. I come from a long line of gossipers. I am a straight forward, speak my mind kind of girl. It’s genetic. I can’t help it…. Or can I?

 

     It’s taking everything inside of me not to post my opinion about flags and rainbows. I am absolutely sick of seeing it on my Facebook feed. Yet, I keep going back to Facebook trolling. Maybe I’m just looking for something positive out of this or maybe I’m hoping God will give me a word to post…. Who knows… only time will tell.

     

     Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). But the thing that overtrumps sin in my mind right now is LOVE. We all know the verse :

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

 

Patient: God’s timing NOT ours. There’s a stirring going in our world. Be patient and seek God. He has a plan. While being patient lose yourself in His word.

 

Kind: Speak with kindness. o Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

 

     By all means, I’m not saying I agree with what’s going. But, what I do know is (1 John 4:4) He who lives in me is GREATER than he that is in the world. This is not my battle. It is His. I choose to keep my opinion to myself. I choose to use my time more wisely and pray. Things are getting rather “hairy” in our world. I want to make sure I’m the maidservant that has her oil. I want to make sure I have a firm relationship with my Savior.

 

     It’s so easy to focus on all the bad things. That’s exactly what the adversary wants. I’m not going to lie, all this ruckus had me shaken up at first. I had to step back and evaluate the situation, then I realized just how strong my faith is, how much of the Word I have retained in my studies, and how much of a burning desire I have in me to please the Lord. I’m still just a baby in my faith though, so I’m not going to sit here and worry about something out of my control. Instead, it’s time for me to dive deeper into His word. It’s time for me to show our boys there’s more time to pray than just at dinner time and bed time. I’ve got to pick up my pace in this race. I don’t want judgment day to come and God not know me.

 

Gracious Father,

I want to take this time to lift up my fellow Bowabites. Lord, open our eyes so we can see the truth, Open our hearts, so we can love as you do. Let us be overcomers, Lord. God, I ask for a hedge of protection around us. We know times will get tougher. Days will get darker. Although it may get darker God, You will shine even brighter in us. We are ready to stand our ground for you Lord. You are our rock and salvation. Father, if you want us to speak your word, may we hear your message crisp and clear. Let us stand strong like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and our Christianity not be shaken. Let us not bow down to the world for You are our one true King. You are our Abba Father. We love you and praise you. We give thanks to You.

Amen.

 

 

I would like to end with this: All though times are tough and uncertain, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. You are a child of the Most High… and you can do all things through Him as well!

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God's Judgement

Judgement is a topic often discussed today.  Judgement means weighing the evidence to make a decision.  The word is usually given a negative meaning.  We are told “Don’t judge!”  Christians are often portrayed as being “judgemental” towards others.  In reality, everyone judges each other.  And we even judge ourselves.  How do you judge yourself?  The term “self-esteem” is used to describe the way that you feel about yourself, your abilities, your appearance, your worth as a person.  It isn’t based on anything concrete or measurable. 

 

So how fair are we in this judgement of ourselves?  Do we see ourselves clearly?  Or do we magnify our faults and failures?  Would we judge another person the same as we judge ourselves?  For most of us, we are our own harshest critics.  This is a practice that starts in adolescence, while our bodies are becoming mature and we’re trying to figure out who we are.  We may compare ourselves to others, and try to measure up to worldly standards.  Often, many adults continue this devastating self-judgement.  Men may feel like failures if they aren’t athletic, or don’t have a “powerful” job, or make less money than others.  Women may feel unworthy because of what they weigh, or what they look like, or their lack of a relationship.

 

As the words to the song “Who I am” ask:

“Am I strong?
Beautiful?
Am I good enough?
Do I belong
After all
That I've said and done?
Is it real
When I feel
I don't measure up?
Am I loved?”

 

Let’s look in the bible to find out the answers.  Right off the bat in Genesis, it talks about how God created man and woman.  On the last day of creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness… So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27).”  For everything else in creation, God said “Let there be…” and it was.  But not for us!  When God created man and woman, He got physically involved.  Genesis 2:7: “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”  He got His hands dirty in the dust and formed us, and breathed into us.  Pretty amazing how up close and personal He gets with us! 

 

So why do we often think we are worthless or can’t measure up?  Who are we to judge??  We aren’t the judge, God is!  And God spent an awful lot of time and effort making us.  Why would he go to all that trouble if he didn’t think we were worth it? 

 

It’s time to start taking this in.  God made us and called us good.  It's time to quit arguing with God about that.  If you don’t believe you are good, it is like calling God a liar.  Or that He made a mistake, or messed up.  God doesn’t mess up.  So stop listening to those voices in your head that bring you down.  You don't get to decide if you're good, God has already decided.  You.  Are.  Good.  Please start believing that!

 

The song continues:

“I am sure I am Yours
I know who I am
I am sure I am Yours

Fearfully
Wonderfully
Perfectly
You have made me”

 

And just for clarification, Good does NOT mean Perfect.  The only one perfect in this life is God.  And that’s OK.  He knows we aren’t perfect; he created us in his likeness, but not to be clones of Himself.  We are images of Him, but we are NOT Him.  But that’s still OK!  Even though we aren’t perfect, He still loves us.  And nothing we do can change that.  He doesn’t want us to spend our lives on Earth burdened with feelings of inadequacy, shame or guilt.  He created us to “be fruitful and multiply” and to spread the Good News of His love with those around us.  In Jeremiah 1:5 it says that "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."  Wow!  Before we were even born, God had big plans for us!!  As imperfect as we are.  

 

So the verdict is in: God isn’t out to judge or condemn us!  He thinks we are good, and He loves us even when we mess up and make mistakes, even when we yell at our kids and cuss at the traffic, even when we strike out in baseball or get fired from our job, even if we weigh more or less than we “should”.  None of that matters to God, because He made us and loves us, no matter what.  I hope you take that to heart.

 

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How God Sees Us

 

Have you ever been to a 3-D movie, and worn the special 3-D glasses so you could see all the special effects “pop” out at you?  The 3-D stands for 3-dimension, so you see things vertically, horizontally, and also coming towards you and away from you.  It is an amazing experience in a movie.  It makes the special effects seem more “real” and helps you feel like you are actually in the movie.  It helps you see things differently.

 

So how does God see us? 

 

“Rumor has it there’s a gavel in my hand

I’m only here to condemn…” 

 

One of the verses in the song by Danny Gokey, talks about how people perceive God.  Certainly, there are a lot of reasons for us to think of God as a judge.  In the Old Testament of the bible there are all kinds of stories about His judgement: God flooding the Earth and killing everyone and everything except Noah and his family, destryoing the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire, sending horrible plagues to Egypt, drowning Pharoah’s soldiers in the Red Sea… it goes on and on.  God’s disapproval in the Old Testament was quite evident.

 

But now, let’s go to the New Testament.  We find the story of God’s son, Jesus.  This shows another side of God, a more “human” side, if you will.  And not only was Jesus here to help us understand God better, He also helped change the way God sees us.  Jesus is kind of like a pair of 3-D glasses.  But let’s call them 3-C glasses, C for Christ.  Jesus acts as a special “filter” to help block out all our sins and mistakes when God looks at us.  Our sins deserve punishment and death, but Jesus came to take our punishment on the cross.  Jesus was punished instead of us, and now God only sees our goodness. 

 

As the song ends, God is saying: “I'll catch all your tears
Burn your name on my heart
Be still And trust my plan
I'm more than you think I am.”


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{The author is barely a writer, much less an artist. So please forgive the lack of artistic ability. I hope that is not the primary message you take away from this blog!}

My child, you are so nervous, so frantic, brittle, and emotional. Chill out! Did I not lead you down this path? Have I not promised to bring you through it? Of course, the road is hard. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a calling. If this weren’t a difficult road, people would be lining up for the chance to live your life, and I wouldn’t need to call anyone. But they weren't lining up and I did call someone - I called you. And I will be here with you every step of the way, the whole way, always, as I always have been. Think back over your life…

good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?

drowning

But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.

survival

Suddenly, you found your calm. You took deep breaths and were able to rise above the surge. You floated it out peacefully.

unseen Hands

But my unseen hands were at work. I never left you.

did you see Them

Did you miss them?

*****************************************************************************************************

good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?

drowning

But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.

survival

Suddenly, you found your bootstraps. You looked inside yourself and found the strength to climb to higher ground. You waited it out peacefully.

unseen hands

But my unseen hand was at work. I never left you.

did you see it

Did you miss it?


*****************************************************************************************************

good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?

 drowning

But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.

survival

Suddenly, you found your friend. You braced yourselves against the storm together and were able to rise above the surge. You stood it out together.

unseen Hands

But my unseen hands were at work. I never left you.

did you see it

Did you miss them?


*****************************************************************************************************

good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?

drowning

But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.

rescue

Suddenly, your friends found you. They pulled you up out of the deep into safety. They rescued you from your storm.

unseen Hands

But my unseen hand was at work. I never left you.

did you see it

Did you miss it?



survival

With your friends sharing the burden, you were able to find your strength and your hope again. You began to climb out of the floodwaters to ride it out peacefully on shore.

unseen Hands 2

But my unseen hand was at work. I never left you.

did you see it 2

Did you miss it?


*****************************************************************************************************

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.  Psalm 23:4-6, KJV

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7, NIV

Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockerybecause I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; Then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!—relishing every fragment of your counsel. Remember what you said to me, your servant—I hang on to these words for dear life! These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me. The insolent ridicule me without mercy, but I don’t budge from your revelation. I watch for your ancient landmark words, and know I’m on the right track. But when I see the wicked ignore your directions, I’m beside myself with anger. I set your instructions to music and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way. I meditate on your name all night, Godtreasuring your revelation, O GodStill, I walk through a rain of derision because I live by your Word and counsel.  Psalm 119:41-56, Message

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Trust Without Borders

Earlier this year I read a blog that pushed the opinion that we should stop singing the song "Oceans" by Hillsong United. I read it with an open heart and mind, but finished it with more confusion. The clarity hit. In this blog the author quoted the song where it so beautifully sings:

 

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior."

 

Her argument was we haphazardly sing these words not thinking about their weight. I agree that our words shape our world. Proverbs says there is power of life and death in our words. (Let that sink in a bit.) To paraphrase (but not by much), her question was what if God calls you to be a missionary in another country? I had to sit and think about it. See, the problem isn't the song or its lyrics, as great as the song may be. But if I'm afraid to sing any song because God may ask me to do something for Him that I'm not comfortable with, then the problem isn't the song- its my heart. Why would I not want to be where He leads me? What is in me that is creating that fear? Have we as Christians really reached a point that our prayers resemble something along the line of "God, here I am use me....but only under these conditions?”  I have to believe that Gods knows my heart regardless of the song I sing. He knows my capabilities and my willingness. My "trust without borders" may be moving across state or joining a new ministry team at church. Yours may be becoming a missionary. Someone else may be answering the call to preach. I personally want to go where He leads me. To "walk upon the waters" knowing that the only way I am there is by God’s hand. But I do agree with this point...pray that prayer and He will answer. 

 

While praying recently about the direction of my life and what I'm called to do or be...I'll admit I was letting my flesh talk louder than my spirit. In fact my prayer one particular day was for God to help me trust Him like never before. To be reminded He doesn't call the equipped but equips the called. I selfishly asked for some sign that He heard me and that I wasn't crazy. That I was on the right path with where I think He wants me. I turned on iTunes radio to have some worship music playing. “Oceans” was the first song to play. And it has been the first song to play nearly every time I turn on my radio. And every time it starts its like I can feel God laughing, saying "you asked didn't you?" (Am I the only one who thinks God sits back and is entertained by me when I do things that deserve a V8 knock to the head? Yes? Ok! Oh well!)

 

A groups of us were talking this week about how God seems to be stirring His children in a new way. One said "I wish God would just give me a 30 second glimpse as to what my future holds. What He's preparing me for." Initially I agreed. Then I thought about it. If I had a preview of what was to come, could we really handle it or would we just mess it up and run? We forget that He really does know best. And when the time is right, He’ll reveal to us what we need to know. But until then maybe He’s just waiting on us to take down the borders and let Him be God. 

 

(Side note: As I was closing the computer from finishing this...take a guess what song came on the radio. How'd you know?

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Whom will stand against me?

 

As we all do at times, I seem to be fighting things on a few different fronts, whether emotion, professional or faith based. These things have a tendency to get us down and open an opportunity for the great deceiver to issue in doubt into our hearts. In these times God finds ways to speak to me be it at church in the pastor’s message or through friends or just a random thing I see scrolling through the ole Facebook. He guides me just as He promised He would in Psalms 23. He will guide us through our darkest days and sustain us in the face of our enemies. With that kind of promise how can we fret? How can we worry? As the Author of Hebrews states in Chapter 13 verses 5 and 6,

 

 

“5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' 6 So we may boldly say:

'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'"

 

What can man do to me? That is a powerful question! With God’s backing we stand apart from the world and there is nothing of the world that can do anything to change that! As we all go through this week let us keep in mind this fact, No matter what we face God has already conquered it and He stands with us with His rod to defend us and His staff to comfort us! May your week be blessed!

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(Aside: The devotional I heard last night was taken from Revelation 21. Upon reading the chapter, Verse 16 stood out to me. “The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.” According to the table in my Bible, a stadium is 607 feet long. So, 12,000 stadia are over seven million feet long! Assuming a rod is about five feet, you’d have to put the rod down roughly 1.5 million times to finish measuring! That’s staggering!)

The Wednesday night class I attend is going through a book on grace. I think grace can easily be misapplied and is, therefore, a controversial topic. To be sure, those who are saved are saved by God’s grace – and definitely not because of anything they do. This topic is one for countless arguments that I’ve been a witness to. In Romans 6, Paul reveals that the question of grace was a topic long ago. In Romans 6:1-14, he writes:

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Among many other things, Paul is explaining to the Christians in Corinth about the nature of grace and the life of a Christian. He is explaining that we all have the same amount of grace – we cannot increase the amount of grace God extends to us. We have no control over grace. We have no say in it. Period.

Verse 12 states that we must not let sin be within us. Sin is separation from God and that separation leads to eternal damnation. That’s the take-away I am stressing here – run away from sinful behavior. To break it down anymore just confuses the issue. God’s grace is what protects us when we fail. God’s grace is not a tool we can use – it is our hope.

I’ll end this post with a question from the Wednesday night class book: Do we trust what we do or do we trust who Christ is?

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Broken Record

Earlier this year, I hit something of a milestone. At least it seems like one to me… I’m still young enough in my ministry as a pastor to be counting events that I administer or preside over, such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmations, etc. I don’t notch my belt or anything, but one does tend to keep track of important events. I actually do have a number for an event that takes place, oddly enough, every week. When I write a sermon, I type my manuscript into a Word document and save it with a number and a title. The milestone to which I referred earlier took place early this year, and that was writing sermon number 100.

 

Ok, really it was more than 100 when I hit that point. There were events at which I’d delivered messages that didn’t make it to manuscript form, but you get the point. As I typed and saved number 100, I reflected on all those opportunities I’d had to share God’s Word of comfort and peace with others. What a privilege to have that opportunity! I find a great deal of joy in proclaiming the Gospel to anyone who comes seeking that message of salvation. It’s a message unlike any you’ll find outside the body of Christ, one of unconditional love and unwavering faithfulness and forgiveness.

 

Learning the intricacies and nuances of composing these messages has been challenging. I’ve was privileged to learn a great deal from a great mentor, and my seminary professors had a word or two of constructive criticism to contribute as well. When you compose a sermon, you want an idea to stick with the hearers, and so you include some funny stuff, interesting bits of trivia, clever one-liners, and other such useful devices to help get the message across. Many of these have completely bombed in my writing or delivery, but you get back up there the next week, stick to the message of the cross and, as that previously mentioned mentor would say, “Just give ‘em Jesus.”

 

That’s terrific advice, but as I considered how it had impacted my 100+ sermons, a small, nasty little voice spoke up in my mind. It pointed out that yes, I do vary the message according to what the specific Bible text we’re studying reveals about God. But then it casually asked me if I thought that maybe I was beginning to sound like a broken record. After all, what’s at the heart of the message each week is always the same: despite the devastating damage our sin has caused our relationship with God, He loved us enough to send His beloved Son to heal those wounds with his own suffering and death. Jesus death and resurrection fulfill for us God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life, and as we wait for his return we carry out the mission of spreading this hope with the world.

 

Like I said, amazing message, right? Go to Jesus’ church on Sunday (or any other day the message is proclaimed) and you’ll hopefully hear at least some part of it delivered one way or another. But as we hear it week after week, do our ears become desensitized? Do we begin to think, “Ok, here comes the part where he says we’re forgiven and that nothing we can do can make God stop loving us. Hey, is the acolyte asleep…?” There’s no doubt that distractions can pull us away from all kinds of messages and moments. When it comes to being told we’re God’s forgiven children, our greatest distraction is doubt- academic appreciation for the message, but doubt that MY sin is really smaller than God’s capacity to forgive. Perhaps that nasty little voice that whispered in my ear has suggested to you that the broken record up there means well, but it’s time for some new material. After all, you’ve thought and said some questionable things this week. Surely what he’s saying doesn’t apply to you this time around.

 

Once this disturbing little nugget of thought lodged itself in my brain, I had a hard time shaking it. It stuck with me as I carried out the other functions of my job and throughout my day to day life for a while, until the following evening. As my family went through its bedtime rituals, I was helping my son get settled into bed and talking to him about his week. It had been one of those outrageously busy weeks for everyone, and we were all physically and emotionally exhausted. I could tell he was stressed, so I made sure to give him an extra squeeze as I hugged him. Then I told him I loved him. It’s something I try to say at every opportunity, and I’m sure he tunes me out at times. But this night, as I said it while leaning over him to get me hug, I felt him instantly relax. It was as though he’d been holding his breath and was finally told to let it out. Telling him I loved him didn’t make all the stress go away, and it didn’t make the challenges of the week any more simple. It didn’t inform him of something of which he was unaware. What it did was remind him that something more important and permanent than all those challenges and stresses could be counted on to be in his life.

 

The realization that we all need these reminders on a regular basis of the love that sustains us and always remains with us shut that little voice up in a hurry. I realized that the message I’m blessed to proclaim, the message that you carry with you into your relationships, is a message we never stop needing to hear. It’s because we’re afraid our sin is bigger than God’s love that we need to be reminded constantly of the truth that our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Broken record? Maybe, but is there a sweeter tune?

 

As I write these words, I’m well in to my next hundred. I’ll throw out lame jokes that barely get a courtesy chuckle, and threads of thought that leave people scratching their heads. But you’d better believe that every opportunity I get to proclaim the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus, I’ll be joyfully doing so knowing that it’s the only message of hope and light in many lives ruled by darkness. It’s God’s message of love and peace to you, and it thankfully never changes. When you share it with those who need to hear it, I pray that you start to sound like a broken record- one that constantly and confidently proclaims love and forgiveness. 

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School Year Reflection

Well as the school year ends and summer begins I sit back and think of all the things that have happen this year. The changes that have happened and the growth that has happened. As a mother of four very different kids with their ages ranging from 16 to 5, I have a lot to be thankful for. God has blessed this family this year. We have had our ups and downs but God has seen us through it all. There was many times I didn't think I could handle anything else, but then I would get this inner strength that could only have come from God and in that moment I realized the true power that God gives us each and every day. I have seen the strength God gives. And so even when I'm on my knees crying and praying I know in my heart that God will see me through it.

 

Bible verses Psalm 62:5 Find rest,O my soul, In God alone; My hope comes from him Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times; O people; Pour out your hearts to him, For God is our refuge

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    Long ago, in what seems like a completely different life, I worked for a fortune 500 corporation. A Technology company that was the market share and innovation leader in its field - I thought after 13 years I had landed a career that I would retire from. That was not to be however, as the founders and investors had different ideas for the future than those who actually worked to make it happen. I suppose many would consider my old job to be a casualty of the "Dot-Com" bubble, but that was just an excuse to do what the board of directors had in mind for much of the second half of the company's existence, especially the last 5 years or so.
    One of those founders gave a speech to the employee’s before the first wave (including myself) began to get their pink slips and bankers boxes. The speaker left hundreds of young, talented and dedicated folks with these words: "In the midst of chaos, lies opportunity"........Under the circumstances those words never sat well with me. They were stated in regard to big business and a rapidly changing environment in corporate America - It was the beginning of a new phase where employees working for one place an entire career as the norm, especially in my field of expertise, was no longer. The handshake was being replaced by an Email, and glossy printed brochure's replaced by a web page on the corporate site.
    The phrase seemed so negative, so manipulative, bordering on evil, to me. It reminded me of price gouging around a disaster or catastrophe. In general, getting oneself a leg up at the expense of others. The essence of the worst of greed and ruthlessness that has given "big- _________" (choose your business sector) a bad name. It seemed to take advantage and prosper on the backs of those who get caught in a situation that wasn't their own making. I was for sure caught up in living the "me-me, mine-mine" of that period, but I drew the line at prospering at others expense. I vowed never to do so and hoped I would recognize if I ever did.
    Chaos however, can come to us in many forms, and we find out that as we go through life it’s not always related to something business, material, or monetary. Chaos can wash up on our pristine beaches of life at any time, and often does without much warning, or with warnings we do not, or choose not to see. We've all had sorrow, the loss of a loved one, a family member, a sibling, a spouse. Divorce, loss of a job, trouble with our kids, major health issues, etc. Those gorgeous white sands, blue skies and calm waters can roughen, darken and erode in the blink of an eye anytime.
    Such is the case of where my life is right now, facing an upside down world where the tables have completely turned. Nurtured, educated, unconditionally loved, my parents sacrificed much raising three boys and setting us out in this crazy world. They did such a great job, and as all you parents know so well, with no instruction manual. Living my life as an adult I was always grateful for what they did, and thought very much like God's mercy - "I'll never be able to pay them back" - and that’s the way they wanted it.
Life is funny though, and now I find myself the one who will be responsible for them as the years degrade their health. Now, I must think of what they gave up for us kid's, and return whatever is necessary to give them the best I can, as they did for me. Facing it however, certainly seems like Chaos has taken a firm hold in my life. The situation has a lot more monkey wrenches in it beyond just looking out for them, as many of you who have or are facing this also know.
    So is their "opportunity" in this situation? There certainly is. That opportunity is to connect closer with God. One of the Hymns we sang Sunday is a simple one that is a favorite of the congregation and is often in our repertoire - "Children of the Heavenly Father". The end of the 3rd and beginning half of the 4th verse are this:

 

Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;

    

     And there it is so clearly stated, including the opportunity. It demonstrates that we are never alone in our chaos, we may not understand it, and we cannot reason it. God's ways are not our ways. But he is there, he knows, he doesn't wish for us to suffer, and he asks us to hand it over to him.

We also find comfort and assurance of this in Isaiah 43:

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cushsupdata-fn="#fen-NIV-18509a" class="footnote" data-link="[a]"> and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.


    Even through the current storm of chaos that has washed up on my beach, God is always working, pulling strings, setting things up, blessing every aspect of the situation even though we do not see it always or at all. Showing me people that care and want to help. The opportunity is for me to love God more, to understand, look back. To recognize his presence, and how it guided things when I did not see it. Most of his wisdom I will never comprehend, none of anything he has done for me will I ever be able to repay - and guess what? That’s the way he's designed it. My payment has already been taken care of, as has yours. "Trust in me" is about as simple as Jesus put it, knowing as humans that something that sounds so easy would often be very difficult for us. And what is abundantly clear is that he comes to us in the form of others, even those who have some waves crashing on their beach. So many of them have given me a glimpse of their piece of sand, still with blue sky, and invited me for a rest. This is how he works, the "grace he showeth" and the promise he will "ne'er forsaketh"
    My prayer is that you have no chaos, and a pristine beach. Know that you are his child, and though good times and bad will come your way, God longs for you to be closer to him, and Love him even more. Find his peace, and set your sorrows on him - he died and lives to do just that!
    So 20 years after I heard those words that I learned to hate, they actually have a lot of truth to them, it's just all about context. You have an opportunity today, to seek another’s calm spot on the beach, or to show someone your blue-sky oasis. There is joy in seeking or finding. That is how our awesome God works - we are the medium - let him, through others Love, slay your "Chaos"! Then let him help you be the slayer for someone else's stormy skies! No matter how chaotic - he'll do all the work, just recognize the opportunity and let him!

 

    God bless You all, special thanks to those "Bowab's" and "Pineconers" that have shown me God's love through this time, and forward - some that I know of, and many I do not. They will remain unnamed here, but y'all know who you are!

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Confimations!

Today was Confirmation at our church. I had the honor of watching 3 young adults (I don't think I can call them children anymore) stand up and declare their faith, making a covanent with our Lord. It was beautiful. One of the confirms was my very own neice and God daughter "A". As I heard her vow "to be faithful unto death" to Christ's church, I was overwhelmed. What a responsibility - what a committment - what an honor. All from a 13 year old. I also know without a doubt that she will do her best do just that, and that every time she falters Jesus will be there to pick her up. He is truly faithful unto death.

 

And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

 

People often say how today's youths are lazy, indecisive, disrespectful. I think it easy to call them that instead of trying to change them, help them. I also believe anyone who thinks that should take a closer look at those young people. I think they'll see exactly what I do. It's easy to get caught up at first glance. "Oh all she does is talk or act silly." "She's never had a serious thought in her head." "She's only worried about appearances." Yet with my neice, it only takes one conversation to know that she is strong. She perseveres. She is intelligent, kind, caring, and loyal. Beautiful - iniside and out. Unlike most people, I don't think she is the exception. Though they might need some help showing it, all of today's youth have these qualities. It's our job to give them a chance to show it.

 

As for you A, I couldn't be more proud of the woman you're becoming. I couldn't love you more. Congratulations once again!

 

 

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About a Mother
**The ring in the image is my birthstone and my mother’s – a gift to me on my 16th birthday from my mother** 

 

I was crying; I felt beaten. I had failed myself and could hardly bear my own presence. In anguish, I expressed my disappointment to her. Wide-eyed, she looked at me and said, “Laurie, I think you’re wonderful!”

 

I was elated. Words weren’t there because they would only fall short of describing the joy within. The judge had signed the papers and those girls were my daughters, officially, legally, really. Mom captured the moment on camera; Mom found the eloquence I lacked; Mom hugged her grandbabies.

 

I was terrified; I was watching my dog Rosie fight a bigger, vicious dog just feet from me. I had grown up with her and now she was yelping, fighting a losing battle. I shrieked a sound I’d never heard from myself. Mom came running from the other side of the house and chased off the unknown dog while I stood there frozen.

 

I was exhausted; I had barely made it and I had worked my tail off. I was ecstatic to have made it but still I knew it was barely. Mom said she’d seen how hard I’d been working. She said she was proud of me and told me how she could see my work paying off.

 

I honestly thought I was going to die; the snake was inches from my toes and I was frozen in fear again. The snake went downstairs into the basement and the cat chased it. I couldn’t save her. The snake would get me if I did. Mom heard my shriek again and came to the rescue. That lady could fix any bad situation.

 

I thought I must be losing my mind. I was about to make a decision that would turn my life upside down and probably this little girl’s. I hadn’t yet gotten my own life together and yet I’d decided to be responsible for hers. I wondered if I was insane. Before I hung up with my mother, she had one more thing to say, “Laurie… I’m proud of you.”

 

I held the guilt inside. I had missed her last Christmas on earth. My grandmother had warned me that her time was coming but I didn’t believe it. I told her she had another 10 years at least. She said simply “No, I don't.” She died less than 2 months later. I hurt so badly with guilt and shame and I kept it bottled up until Mom told me to talk to her. Then the floodgates opened. Mom took my hand and told me what she knew. She told me my grandmother loved me and forgave me and that she knew how much I loved her. She told me my grandmother wouldn’t want me hanging on to that shame.

 

We had just finished shopping. Mom made sure I was decked out with fancy shoes, matching purse, and hair ornaments. Still, I was nervous - it had been so long since I had dressed formally... What if I weren't pretty? Jokingly, I asked if I would be the prettiest girl at the dance. Mom nodded reassuringly - I'd be the prettiest girl in the whole city of New Orleans, she asserted. 

 

I was confused. I couldn’t make sense of this feeling inside. I knew with my brain that God is real but I couldn’t hear Him; I couldn’t feel Him. She understood it; she also knew the words to express it and to comfort me. She assured me that sometimes our faith grows in the moments when we know without feeling, when we trust without understanding.

 

I could keep going. I’ve got 36 years’ worth of examples. I think you get the picture, though. My mother just happened to be a person who plays that role for me. For many of you, it may have been someone else – that person who modeled grace, compassion, and strength, that person who taught you you’re loveable and that you bounce back, that person who instilled the value of hard work, that person who rejoices with you and feels for you, that person who watches even when you don’t know she is and knows what you’re feeling even when you don’t, that person who molded your faith and helped you find your intimate and personal relationship with God. Hopefully, rather than one person, you have "those people." Let’s honor them, not just today but every day. Let’s honor them by expressing our gratitude and by living up to the example they set.

 

Comment below and tell me a little about your person.

 

We all have that person in Jesus Christ. He modeled the Father's love for us and showed us compassion while guiding us. He was a servant, washing the feet of the disciples; He was a giver, leaving us with the Holy Spirit; He was willing to sacrifice, as we remember the cross; He was a teacher, interpreting the scriptures and telling parables to the crowds; He prayed for us, even as He hung on that cross; and He commanded us to go forth and love others as He loved us.

 

You are loved, in so many ways. Now go share that love.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)

  1. If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clangingIf I have the gift of prophecyand can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
  2. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is notIt 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.
  3. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
  4. And now these three remain: faith, hope andBut the greatest of these is love.
 
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