Thursday, June 28, 2012
In the last few days I have had several people ask me for directions. Because I haven't had anyone ask me for directions for a very long time, I began to wonder if I looked like a walking road map. I do have a pretty good handle on directions. I am the copilot in the family. You see, I don't like to drive but I do like maps and directions. So when complete strangers stopped me for directions I knew right where they should go to get to their destination. It was easy. I started thinking about this and I have decided that, as a follower of Christ, I should always know where to go. In our American culture so many people are lost. They are looking for love, acceptance and direction in all the wrong places. Many have degrees in occupations that they no longer wish to work in and are lost in their occupation. Aimlessly searching for a place to fit in, they spend money, waste time and expend all of their resources, trying to find their way, trying to feel like they fit in. How can they find their way if even those who have been directing them are lost? How, as followers of Christ, have we wondered so far from His path, that we have become the blind leading the blind? I need to know how to follow Christ is such a way that those who follow will have a clear path already lit with my experiences. I need to live in such a way that those who follow will not be lost in my wonderings but directed in the way they should go. The Bible says, in Proverbs 22:6, that if we train up a child in the way he should go, that he won't depart from it. I have often heard this verse quoted as a faith statement in regards to children who are not walking with the Lord. It is true, this is a great verse to stand on, in that situation. However I would like to focus on the part that says, "Train up a child in the WAY". Did you catch that? Train in the WAY! Loosely translated, "Lead a child on a clear path and He will not wonder off, he will be safe". We, you and I, need to be a road map for others to follow. Our lives need to be such that others can follow and find, not only eternal life, but direction, peace and a happy life here and now. After all isn't that what Jesus died for? Isn't that what people are looking for? John 10:10b "I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly."
Friday, June 22, 2012
An elderly woman in Greece NY is about to receive the blessing of a lifetime. Karen Klein, a 68 year old school bus monitor, was just doing her job, when middle school boys began taunting and bullying her. The boys said unbelievably cruel things and left Karen crying in her seat. Someone video recorded the boys and posted it on YouTube. From that moment on, people began to take notice of Karen Klein. A fund was set up to send Karen on a vacation however, people from all over have sent in thousands and thousands of dollars and it just keeps adding up. Right now more than 22,589 people have donated more than $485,123. Yes that is right, four hundred, eighty-five thousand and one hundred and twenty three dollars. The original goal was $5000. Now there is enough money for Karen, that she will never have to step foot on that bus ever again. I can't even begin to understand how Karen felt on that school bus (you can watch the video here: http://www.indiegogo.com/loveforkarenhklein). I am positive it never once entered her mind that this cruel event would become the blessing of a lifetime however, that is exactly what happened. Karen chose not to press charges against the boys who made her cry. She didn't try to defend herself. She just went home like she did every other day (I am sure this wasn't the first time Karen went home after a long day on the bus, crying) to find that there are good people in the world and that they would defend her. Karen must have felt alone and defenseless and yet someone was watching and someone cared enough to say, "This isn't right." You may be in a difficult place and, like Karen, you may feel alone, like no one is standing with you, that no one is defending you. If you get only one thing from Karen's story, get this...there IS someone who is watching. There is a God who cares and He has people who are willing to be his hands and feet, ready and willing to stand up, when it counts, and defend the defenseless. This is a lesson of faith and endurance, faith that there is a God who sees, faith that says not all people are cruel and endurance that says, don't give up, you can go on another day. Today may be your worst day ever but it may also be the day of your greatest blessing. Don't give up. You never know what today may bring, it just might be the blessing of a lifetime. Saltkeeper.blogspot.com
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Last night, I was talking to my dad about the killing of a nurse in Buffalo. The alleged shooter is a surgeon who had served 18 years as a decorated special forces soldier. As we talked about how sad this situation is, my dad reminded me of another decorated soldier who is in a maximum security prison for a similar crime. My dad then said, "It's sad because these men have been trained to kill and fight but they have not been trained to live. That phrase struck me as I thought about us as Christians. We have been taught how to fight the enemy. We know how to resist the devil and make him flee. We know how to put on the whole armor of Christ. We know how to fight but many of us don't know how to live. Yes it is true, we have many good teachings on family and relationships however, a teaching and a sermon is not enough when it comes to training. A good soldier does not just listen to instructions and watch how-to videos. No, a good soldier trains and develops discipline. He practices how to put his gun together in seconds. He also knows how to shoot that same gun and can hit the target every time. He lives the life of practice, practice, practice. According to the Barna research group, "conservative Protestant Christians, on average, have the highest divorce rates among conservative Christians and are significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics." Wow! The "research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages." (quote from http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm) This is not a condemnation to those who are divorced, I only use this example to show that in our churches we are not doing a very good job teaching people how to live. We need to take the same principles as special forces soldiers have done in training to fight, and apply them to living. For example, if you don't know how to communicate to your spouse than practice communicating until you can do it right. Don't give up just because you have a fight or get wounded. Remember we need to be able to live better than we know how to fight. If you don't apologize well, or don't know how to, or just plain don't like to, than you need to practice until you get it right. If you don't know how to serve one another in love than practice until you can do it in your sleep, and with a good attitude. By the way, attitude is learned behavior. A good attitude takes a lot of practice and skill. As I gave this some thought, I paused when I thought of some of the greatest warriors, prophets and kings in the Bible. These great men knew how to fight but they didn't know how to live. King David, raised a bunch of fighting kids who fought and killed each other. Solomon obviously had relationship issues as he had 700 wife's and 300 concubines. Mannasseh was one of the most wicked men mentioned in the Bible and, yet, his father was the godly King Hezekiah. Samuel had two of the most wicked sons, Joel and Abijah. We should not forget Isaac's two fighting sons, Esau and Jacob or the priest Eli and his wicked sons. For me, this is a wake-up-call. We all need to learn how to live, not just fight. As for me, I will practice until I get it right. I hope you will too.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
It has been one of "those" weeks. You know, one of those weeks that doesn't seem to go as planned. It started out with a spillover of last week, which was also one of "those" weeks. My father-in-law has been very sick and we have done several of the 74mile trips back and forth to be with him and with family, at the hospital. My poor husband had to fix a bunch of electrical lines on the second floor of our house. The girls all have had school projects to do. I've done at least 12 loads of laundry. I've cooked dinners and little wedding cake things for a friend. I smashed my finger and now have a bruise on a knuckle. And last night my oven started smoking. Don't anyone make any comments about my cooking. Ha ha. I wasn't cooking anything. However, it is not un-usual for my oven to smoke as I hate cleaning it but when the oven isn't on and nothing is inside, and it starts smoking well..there is something wrong. It took us all a few minutes to find out why it was smoking. It seems that the switch that turns on the oven light had started to melt down, but we didn't find the culprit until Fred spent hours getting the stove apart, finding the burnt out switch and putting it together again. I didn't know the oven could come apart in so many pieces. First the top came off and then the back. All of the burners had to come off. This seemed like a good time to clean them. So I scrubbed and cleaned. Oh yes, and we had to pull the oven from the wall. Now I won't go into a little sermonette of "Be sure your sins will find you out". Because I think we have all heard that one, but there are a lot of "food sins" that lurk under and behind a kitchen stove. I'll leave you to guess what I found. Hours later, the stove was cleaned and Fred was putting it all back together. He plugged it in and I said to him, "Oh look, the light still works.". He then told me the light couldn't work because it was the light switch that he took out. It was then that I realized I had misspoke. It was the clock that came on. I started pushing buttons to make sure it all worked right. The top light worked and the burners worked and then I pushed the only remaining button on the stove and when I did, something amazing happened. The oven light came on. I wish you all could have been with us in the kitchen when that happened. It seems there are two switches that control my oven light. I only lost one of them, behold my oven light still works. We were all laughing. I laughed so hard I was crying. I couldn't stand up straight. I wish you could have seen the look on Fred's face when that oven light flashed on. There were two switches for that light, almost like a backup plan. Years ago when I had cancer, I had to have a pretty invasive surgery. When I came out of the surgery, I found out that I was now missing quite a few "parts". I didn't know a body could function without all of those parts, but mine does quite well. I lost over 29 parts if you count each and every lymph node that was removed. Amazing! God created us with a back-up plan. Our bodies work even without all of our parts. God has a backup plan for you too. Perhaps the devil has stolen from you and you feel broken, beaten up bruised, and missing parts. Maybe your light has gone out, you have lost your family, your health, your finances, your good name and reputation. Don't be afraid and discouraged. God has a backup plan for you. He created everything you need to start over. Your light will still come on. Your family can be restored. Your body can be healed. Your finances can increase and you can have more than enough. Your reputation can be built back up again. All is not lost. Don't say it can't happen because it can and it will. I just love it when God starts fixing things that are broken and missing parts. When my oven light came back on I was beside myself with laughter. God has a backup plan for you and when you see what he can do for you, you will laugh too.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Sad things happen. They happen to everyone. Sad thoughts stir up memories, that should stay buried in the past. While stress, bad diets and inadequate rest accumulate to become bad attitudes and fearful hearts. These all keep us from being as effective as we should be. God has given us a key to fighting these thoughts and feelings. It is called the Joy of the Lord. A dear friend said to me the other day, that her situation seems hopeless however, she is trying to laugh about it because she will either laugh or cry and laughing is better than crying. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a joyful heart is good medicine, and that a broken spirit dries up the bones. This means that if our heart is joyful that it will bring healing to our spirit. I don't know about you but sometimes I need my spirit healed. And you know what? I would rather laugh than cry. Yes there is a place to cry but I don't think anyone should be in that place for very long. Crying is often the expression of being overwhelmed and it comes with hopeless feelings and despair. When it is finished it leaves a broken heart. Laughter, on the other hand, brings a lightness to the heart and stirs faith in our spirit. It is an expression of faith that says, "I can laugh at this situation because it isn't as bleak as it seems. My situation can't get me down. I am in charge of my emotions." We are all in a difficult time right now. There are wars and rumors of wars. There is a worldwide financial crisis that has touched everyone both great and small. People are frightened, jobs are scarce and prices are going up. In the midst of all of this the devil, the enemy of our souls, is trying to steal our faith, break out hearts, and make us give up. I think we should all laugh in his face. After all what do we have to lose? It is better to laugh than to cry.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
It seems like our weather is changing all around us. As many of you know I love the snow. This year for the first time in fifteen years I was in NY for the month of March and I was expecting a pretty good snow fall. Instead, what I got was eighty degree days and my kids were outback having a water balloon fight, wearing their swimsuits. Can you believe it? I never would have imagined eighty degree days in Western New York in the middle of March. I have to say I felt cheated. Now we are having tornados, cold days and unbelievable weather. It's June and 54 degrees out. I might have to go dig out one of my winter sweaters. This reminds me of an old hymn we used to Sing. "I don't know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day. I don't borrow from its sunshine for its clouds may turn to grey.". It goes on to say that there are many things about tomorrow that I don't understand but I know who holds tomorrow and I know He is holding my hand. In the same way that the weather seems to have a mind of its own so do the days of our lives. I have often told Fred that I feel like I have lived many different lives, my childhood, our early marriage, our early ministry and now today. I have been to so many places and done so many things that sometimes it feels like my life has been a book I once read. Years ago I heard a motivational speaker instruct his listeners to write out a plan for their lives. I remember telling Fred that no matter what I wrote it would never be able to predict where God was taking us. I can honestly say, that even today as I look towards tomorrow, with all my plans and scheduled days, that I don't really know about tomorrow. BUT I know who holds tomorrow and He holds my hand. Jesus the great creator of tomorrow has never let go of my hand. Arm in arm we have walked through dangers, sorrows and mountains of adventures. Never once has he left me. Never once has he released my hand. You may be going through a difficult day today. Or perhaps it has been a terrible year. You may be afraid of what tomorrow brings wondering if, as some would say, for the other shoe to drop. Don't be afraid. Jesus has already been in our tomorrow. There is nothing in tomorrow that you and He can't face. I don't know about the weather in your life, I don't understand how or why the seasons of life change the way they do. But I know who holds tomorrow. I know He holds my hand. Look! He's holding yours too.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
The other day, Fred and I went for a walk and as we were walking Fred looked down at my shoes. I say shoes because I don't wear sneakers but these were sort of sneaker/shoes, good shoes for walking that is. Well, these shoes had a big rip across the top and Fred wanted to know why I didn't throw them out. I told him that they were my best most comfortable walking shoes and, yes I did have some others but, I was hoping to use these as long as I could. Besides, new shoes would just cause me blisters at first and I didn't want to break in new shoes. I decided that duct tape would be the best thing to close the rip. You can fix everything with duct tape, right? However, looks are important to me, yes vanity, and so I tried to put the duct tape on the inside of my sneaker/shoe. By the time I got home my foot and toes were all glued together with the tape but the rip remained open, perhaps a little wider than before. I still haven't thrown the shoes away, don't tell Fred, smile... We do the same in our spiritual life, we keep the past because it feels warm and comfortable. Walking around in our old shoes/old life, we worry our rips and tears will open up and expose our heart. While all the time we are stuck and unable to walk properly. Jesus came to give us new shoes, new ways to walk out our new life. We don't need to keep the old but step into the new. One day when I was about 16 years old, I was folding towels and putting them into the cupboard. We had just moved and so the bathroom shelves were different from what I was used to. My mom had told me to fold the towels a certain way to fit the new shelves but, my 16 year old brain said, fold them the fastest way you can and get the job done. Of course I folded them the old way and they didn't fit the cabinet. When my mom asked me why I didn't fold them the way she had told me to, I said I had forgotten. Then she said, "What's wrong, can't teach an old dog new tricks?". At 16 I wasn't old so I got her point. I could learn to fold the towels right. In our mind, we think we can't learn how to live our life differently. Old habits are hard to break and sometimes it's easier to just walk around in our old shoes/folding towels the same way that we always did. Walking in our old life we carry things like sorrow, anger, frustration and unforgiveness, because we have always walked in these things. We think that it is too hard to change. Past emotions feel comfortable because they are familiar and we are afraid of change. At the same time we are afraid of exposure. We think if someone saw what we were really like on the inside they would know we aren't who they think we are. So we invent ways to hide and protect ourselves, never walking in the freedom Salvation gives. Jesus came to give us a new life and our old shoes don't fit our new feet. We aren't old, we are new. Our old thoughts and emotions don't fit us any more. We can learn new ways of living, thinking and relating. It isn't too hard to change, after all Jesus paid for our change. Walking everyday in our new life, Jesus gives us the power to change who we were into who he created us to be. After all duct tape doesn't fix everything.
Monday, May 14, 2012
We went to a very nice restaurant for Mother's Day. It was one of those lovely old buildings where the ambiance was almost as good as the food. It just so happened that we were late making reservations and since our group was rather large, we ended up being the very last group to be served dinner. As we were leaving, the waiters and waitresses were cleaning up. Just as I rounded a corner, I saw a young man pick up a large basket of muffins and rolls. I could hardly believe my eyes. He was about to dump the whole basket in the garbage. Before I could stop myself, I said, "Hey! Don't do that. You can't just throw all of that away! Can I have it? ". I told them that I had a lot of people in my house. Which is true. Ten minutes later I was leaving with two big boxes of goodies. I began to think about all of those yummy pastries being dumped in the trash and how easy it would have been to just walk away. If I had not asked, that waiter would have just gone on cleaning and trashing food. However as soon as he heard me ask for them, he gladly gave me two big take-out boxes. I filled them so high the boxes didn't even close. The Bible says that we have not because we ask not. If I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have gotten even one muffin. We need to speak up and ask. In the next few days, spend some time asking God to meet your needs. Be specific. Can you just imagine all of the blessings you are walking by, never receiving, because you didn't think to ask? It is true that we shouldn't fill our prayers with an endless shopping list, however the opposite is also true. How foolish it is to go without, never asking God to help. A few months ago a very dear friend said to me, "If I ever find out that you have a need and you didn't tell me, I'm going to be very angry". I got the message. If I have a need that isn't being met, I'm going to call my friend. Wouldn't God feel the same way? Our loving Heavenly Father is longing to meet our needs. He is faithful even when we don't ask. How much more is he willing to provide when we do ask. I have no doubt that He will fulfill His promise, to meet our needs and do abundantly above all we could ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us," KJV
Friday, May 11, 2012
Romans 8:1 says, that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. If this is so then we need to live like those who are not condemned. Those who go to jail after committing a crime are condemned. However Jesus has paid our debt and we don't have to go to a spiritual jail. There is no condemnation for us. Even as I write I hear the Spirit of the Lord say, "Just what part of NO don't you understand?" It's like we have made judgements upon ourselves. We condemn ourselves and feel unworthy, worthless, sad, and rejected. We put ourselves in a "time out" feeling like we need to punish ourself. We feel guilty and sad. Today! Jesus is saying, "There is NO condemnation!" I was thinking about the ways that Jesus carried our sin. He was in all ways tempted like we are. He was lonely as he prayed in the garden alone. He was sad when his friend Lazarus died. Depressed, yes he was depressed. He was so depressed that he cried great drops of blood just thinking about his future. He was all of those things and yet he did not sin. However when we feel those same emotions we feel condemned. Why is that? Feelings are not sin, it's what you do with those feelings that becomes sin. The Bible tells us to be angry and sin not. What was that? We can be angry? Wouldn't that be the same for any emotion? Be sad and sin not. Be frustrated and sin not. Be depressed and sin not. Remember there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We all struggle with feelings and we condemn ourselves for those feelings. Jesus is asking us today, "What part of NO do you not understand? There is NO condemnation for you. I took all the condemnation. I took it all so you don't have to!". My friends, feelings come and feelings go. Have you ever watched a movie and in the time-frame of a 2 hour movie, you have felt stress, sorrow, happiness and contentment. All of these feelings came and went in a matter of minutes. Like I said they come and go. Feelings indicate to us what kind of battle we are fighting. If you are sad. Take some happy Bible verses and read, and re-read them until your feelings change. If you are stressed, read calming Bible verses, play some worship music, do something that can help change your stress into your strength. If you are depressed, get up and do something for someone else. Take control of your feelings and make them obedient to you. Sin comes when we allow feelings to have lordship over us and dictate our actions. Don't allow your feelings to control your life! What part of NO don't you understand? :)
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I'm going to tell you all something that I am sure will bring many comments in regards to my stupidity...what can I say....yesterday was not my best cooking day. It all started when Marie-Louise wanted me to fry some plantains for her. Well... I do hate deep frying, but I said I would do it for her. I was in a hurry, mistake #1...never fry in a hurry, so I poured the oil in a smaller-than-usual sauce pan and dumped in the plantains, mistake #2. The oil sloshed over the pot and flames licked up the side of my pan. This wouldn't be so bad if I had a gas stove but no, I have an electric stove and you are not supposed to have flames coming from the coil. So I reached into my cupboard to get my baking soda. I grabbed the first white powder I saw in my cupboard and dumped several cups of corn starch onto my fire....then I put a big lid over the fire and waited for it to stop....how was I supposed to know that corn starch burns. As soon as I picked up the lid I saw that the fire was burning along quite nicely, that is if you wanted to roast hot dogs. Since I don't like grilled hotdogs, I went in search for some baking soda and dumped almost a whole box on the fire. Replacing the lid, I decided that I would put the pan on another burner. I turned on the back burner forgetting the fact that I had lost several pieces of macaroni under that coil. I case any of you have a need to know, macaroni will also burst into flames when under a pot of oil. I still had some baking soda left and so I dumped the rest on that burner and covered it with my now blackened lid. I don't get very uptight nor do I freak out..I just went from fire to fire, while Hannah sat watching my comedy of errors. Clean up was interesting...so much for cooking those plantains in a hurry. I have pondered over this for the last several hours and I got to thinking about how we often spend our life putting out fires. Going from problem to problem we try to put out the flames only to have them burst out again and again. We pour out some prayer, douse the situation with some quick praise and worship and then to our surprise the fire just comes back. My cooking fire was not the fault of the plantains or even the oil. No it was my fault. I was in a hurry. I didn't use the right size pan. I hadn't cleaned out my drip pan under the electric coil. That's right, the fault was all mine. Nothing would have happened if I had slowed down long enough to do the job right. Our life is much the same. We get so busy that we don't spend time meditating on God's word. We don't take the time to clean out the old gunk lurking in our heart after the last spiritual attack we tackled. Weary and stressed we go from day to day wondering why the fire follows us. One time while on a mission trip, I was shopping with my daughter. The person arranging my schedule had just changed all the plans without telling me. To say the least, I was miffed. Marie-Louise and I had had a great day when all of a sudden I snapped at her for wanting to buy another shirt. "You don't need another shirt...you have spent enough money already!" My irritation and biting remarks caused a look of confusion on her face. After all it was her money and she had earned all of it just for this shopping trip. Why did I care? Then I realized, I was mad because of the change of schedule not because of Marie-Louise. I quickly apologized. Then I made a conscience decision to forgive the person changing my plans. I had to ask God to do a work in my heart. I had to take the time to do it right! It wasn't my daughters fault, it wasn't even the fault of the friend who had changed my schedule. My anger was my fault and I needed to do some quick house/heart cleaning. I don't know if you have noticed this or not, but in my life, these little fires pop up when I least expect them. Blaming others for our frustration we often wonder why we can't seem to shake feelings of irritation, anger even fatigue. I guess it just all boils down to this one thing, take the time to do it right. Take the time to really forgive. Take the time to make a real apology. Take the time to meditate on God's word. Take the time to pray and get the old gunk out. Take the time to do it right. You don't want to spend your life putting out fires. I know that I don't!
Friday, April 27, 2012
I was looking through my jewelry box the other day. Lifting up some little boxes, I came upon two lariat type necklaces. One was silver with clear glass gems and the other identical except for pink gems. Just looking at those two necklaces brought back memories. They had been a gift from my son, when he was about 5 years old. I will never forget his words as I unwrapped the gift he had so carefully purchased for me. Under all of the bright colored tissue, I found the two necklaces, each with more than half of the gems missing. Christopher's eyes were bright with excitement as he said, "Mom, I found these two necklaces and they were so beautiful. Look, Mom, look look..they have real diamonds. I know they are real because someone already stole half the diamonds. I thought they were so beautiful that I bought you two!" In my heart I chuckled at his little boy happiness and how sweet it was that he thought he had bought me real diamonds. They have always been one of my most precious gifts, not because they have real diamonds (of course they are only glass), but because my little boy said they were real. Marie-Louise did a similar thing when she was about seven. Across the street there was a yard sale that she went to with one of her little friends. Coming back from her shopping adventure she said, "Mom, I got you this.". In her hand was a chipped piece of decorative glass missing an obvious top piece. "Mom, look how beautiful this crystal is, I just knew you would love it. Happy Birthday!" Of course I wore my necklaces a few times and for a while, that piece of broken glass sat on a shelf in my kitchen window. I have saved them both. Not because they have any monetary value, but because they are among my most precious possessions. Both having much more value to me than to anyone else in the world. Thinking about those little gifts, I'm reminded of the gift of Salvation that Jesus gave to us. Being the most valuable and costly gift ever, he sold everything to give this gift to us. And what did we give him in return? We gave him ourselves, broken, chipped, worn out, and missing pieces. Gladly he took our gift and wearing us like a precious gem around his neck, he has taken upon himself our brokenness, our failures, our hurts and pain. Never once has he said our gift isn't good enough. Never once has he rejected our gift. Looking at our lives, he sees the missing diamonds, and broken crystal, and says, "Look, the Devil has stolen some of your diamonds. Your crystal is cracked a broken. Come, let me replace your diamonds and mend your cracks.". Fixing us up, he then declares the we are his most precious possession. I can just imagine what it is like, as he polishes us up and shows us to his Father. "Look, Father, at what I have brought you. See how beautiful these are? I found this one and she was missing diamonds,you see. The devil had stolen them. I took her and replaced the stolen gems. See how beautiful she is? And this one, see what a beautiful piece of crystal he is? Isn't he just amazing? When I got him he was cracked and broken but I have mended him. Just look at the way the light makes him sparkle.". Then, because Jesus said we were of great value, the Father accepts us and puts us in a place of prominence, seated with Him. I have treasured my gifts from my children because they came from their hands. The missing parts and broken pieces only made them more dear and special. My friend, we all come to Jesus, broken and missing pieces. But He doesn't care. Coming to Him broken and lost, only makes us more dear to Him. He doesn't see what is missing, He just finds pleasure in who we are in Him He treasures us and likes to show us off to His Father. He treasures us. He treasures YOU! So when the devil tries to remind you of your worthlessness just remember who you belong to. Just remember where you are seated. Just remember what Jesus says about you. With excitement in His voice and a twinkle in His eyes, He comes to the Father and says, "Look what I brought to you Father." Just remember that twinkle in Jesus' eyes is for YOU! Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you are saved! -and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
Friday, April 20, 2012
I don't think I am any different than anyone else. I have aches and pains and days when I would rather stay home and sleep a little longer. I have days of frustration and stress however one thing I know is this.... I have a reason to live and a passion to express. I have a Jesus to live for and a calling that won't let me go. Many times I have prayed for people who seem to have nothing to live for. Depression and hopelessness consume them. As I pray, I often reflect that I am no different than they are, except for one thing. I have a reason to live and a passion to express. I know who it is that I believe in. I know why I am alive. I know that no matter what comes my way I have a God who lives inside of me and He won't let me go. But as I said before, I am no different than anyone else... except for that one thing. I know the truth. The Bible says that you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. But truth alone won't set you free, you have to know the truth. It is in the knowing that we are made free. Jesus is the Truth..once while Jesus spoke to is disciples he told them that there will be those who at the end of their life, will stand before God and He will say to them, "Depart from me. I never knew you." Matthew 7:15-23 Jesus knows us and He desires for us to know Him. It is in the knowing that we are made free. Freedom brings life and a reason to live. Freedom gives us hope and passion. Freedom changes who we are and what we will become. Freedom gives us a future and a hope. Jesus is my reason to live and my passion to express. If you are discouraged and facing troubles today remember, Jesus is the reason you live. Jesus gives you hope. Jesus give peace in impossible situations. Jesus can burn a passion in your soul that will consume you. The next time you feel sad, or lonely or defeated just remember this...you too, have a reason to live and a passion to express. His name is Jesus!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Sometimes kids say things so profound that it is hard to believe that those words came from the mouth of a child. Many years ago, I had a friend who was emotionally needy and seemed to always be angry, upset, afraid, you name it, she could be all those things in one day. My son, who was quite young at the time, heard me praying for and counseling my friend. After she left, my wise little boy said, "Mom, you know how everyone says, just be yourself? Well I think your friend should try being someone else for a change. Being herself just isn't working." I don't know whether or not his words struck you as profound, but I have never forgotten what he said that day. You see, we should all try being someone else. It's never good enough to settle for who we are. We should be like Jesus however by ourselves this is impossible to do unless the Holy Spirit helps us. Today my mind has been bombarded with thoughts of someone I have been angry with, and in the middle of my mental ranting and raving I remembered, "try being someone else." "Yes Jesus, I will try being someone else..being me isn't working out so well. Would you help me to be more like you? Fill me with your Spirit and make me new. I don't want to be me any more." I doubt that I am the only one who needs to be someone else. How about you? How's being "you" working out for you? We can't forgive by ourselves, we can't go on by our selves. We can't have faith or joy or peace in ourselves. Try being someone else for a change. May we all be like Jesus! Then let me know how it's working out for you.
Monday, April 9, 2012
This morning I was reading in 1 Chronicles 17, where King David desired to build God a great temple. Nathan the prophet, speaking for God, responded to David's desire and said in verse 4-6, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders[a] whom I commanded to shepherd my people, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ NIV Notice where God said that he moved from one tent to another, from one dwelling place to another. Wherever the Israelites went, God moved with them. God never asked for a temple. He never once showed displeasure or impatience because he was forced to travel and move from place to place. No, rather he was pleased to travel with Israel. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19, that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God takes pleasure in inhabiting his people. He desire is to dwell in our tent, to travel with us from place to place. He is not happy in a building built with bricks and wood. He doesn't want to be set aside in a building made with human hands. His desire, is to live inside of the temple that he built. You! You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Each and everyone of us was designed to contain God. Imagine that! We were created to house Almighty God. Instead of fear, sadness, defeat, or rejection, we can contain God. Instead of being the temple of hopelessness, sickness and pain, we are the temple of the Living God. So today, remember that God is with you. You didn't leave him in some church building or beautiful temple. He is inside of you. And remarkably, instead of you carrying him along, he is carrying you. All through your day, no matter what happens or comes your way, God Almighty is carrying you! He likes it that way!
Monday, April 2, 2012
Have you ever had a thought, that was like a flash in your mind, telling you that you just read something very significant? Well, today, when I read 2Kings 23:4, it was like a light bulb went on in my brain. Josiah made a covenant before the Lord and commanded the priests and the "Keepers of the Threshold" to take all the idols and wicked things out of the house of the Lord. Did you catch that? The Keepers of the Threshold! If you have followed me in my journey of covenant teaching, you will know that the Threshold was a significant place of covenant. Josiah told these "Keepers", to remove all the wickedness from the temple of the Lord. These men, charged with keeping the Covenant place of God sacred, had failed and had let all kinds of evil cross over the temple threshold. Now they were commanded to remove such things. We are called the temple of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Our duty is to place guards at our threshold, the place of covenant, the place of entrance. Our hearts and minds are fragile and easily wounded and deceived. So we are commanded to guard our hearts, to defend our threshold. The enemy of our soul is planning, even now, ways to conquer you and I. He is sneaky and will try to enter our temple through any way possible. He will use movies, music or even our friends to cross over into our temple and cripple us. Right now it is spring time in New York and as the sunshine bursts through my windows I can see how grungy my curtains have become, how dusty and dingy everything looks. The Spring sunshine reveals everything and it's time to clean house. Charged by God to defend His dwelling place, we are commanded to clean our spiritual house. Ask the Lord to shine his light on you and reveal what has crossed over your threshold. Perhaps you have been going through a winter season in your spirit. Ask God to show you where you have become dingy and dull. Let's polish our windows and mop the floors, wash away the grime and let the Son shine through.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Why do we always want to be like someone else? I guess the reason I am thinking about this is because I live in a house with many females and each one has an attribute they don't like. Whether it's their nose or their hair, their height or their feet, discontent stalks them like a hungry predator. If something goes wrong in their day, it's because their hair didn't work the way they wanted it, and of course "so in so" who has perfect hair doesn't have those problems. Their day went just fine. Everyday the battle of discontent stalks my girls. Somedays he is more subtle and other days we are in all out battle. I don't think my girls are so much different than the rest of us. Secretly we wish we were smaller, more tanned, had straight hair or curly. We don't voice our discontent so much because after all we should be grown up and past that. Still the predictor stalks us and somedays we lose the battle. The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God in His great creative wisdom made each and everyone of us. He isn't prejudiced against us because of how we look. On the contrary, He looks with pride and pleasure at His workmanship and loves us all the same. Our greatest enemy is our own prejudice against ourselves. We covet someone else's body and Discontent becomes our friend. Don't fall into his trap. Thank the Lord for The great job He did making you. Break free from discontent. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Pinky Swear. The other day, my daughter gave me a quick lesson on the seriousness of a "Pinky Swear". Now, I have heard of such a thing but I was not aware of what it meant. For those of you who do not know, a Pinky Swear is an unbreakable covenant, usually made by little girls. It can never, (according to my daughter) ever, under no circumstances be broken. A promise can be broken (not in my book!) but a Pinky Swear is unbreakable. If someone wants to make such a Pinky Swear or, if you have read my book, covenant oath, you make your solemn promise, then link your pinky finger with your friend's finger. Voila you have just made an unbreakable covenant. I couldn't help but ponder over this as my daughter was explaining a Pinky Swear. In our culture, when people are working so hard to removed us from the consequences of a broken covenant, our children are longing for stability and truth. They want to know that when they make a Pinky Swear, that it will be honored above everything else. My daughter told me that she has never known anyone to break a Pinky Swear. Imagine a covenant so great that it can never be broken and is honored above all other promises. Knowing you can depend upon someone's word brings stability. Knowing that your Pinky Swear friend is speaking the truth builds faith. I am a follower of Christ and I believe that we should be people of truth and faith. That what we say should be the truth and that we should keep faith, not only with God but with our family, friends, and anyone else in our life. How can we be an example of God working in us if we don't live in the truth and keep our faith. A broken promise here a broken commitment there. Oh, it's no big deal we say, but it is. I think we should take a lesson from my daughter. Our word should be our word. Our covenants, or can I say promises, be unbreakable. I don't care what we call it. Be it a covenant, a vow, a Pinky Swear...let's be responsible and keep our word.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
In Psalm 51:10, King David cried out saying, "Create in me a clean heart oh God". This very statement brings us to a window of David's soul. Looking inside we see a man grieving because of his sin. Desperate for Gods acceptance and fearful that he would, one day, become like King Saul, David says the only thing he knows. "Create in me." I have spent much time thinking about this verse and I always seem to zero in, to the part where David asked for a clean heart. But tonight as I read these words I was struck by the simplicity of the word "create". David cried out to God and he said "create in me!". As incredible as this may sound this is exactly what God wants to do in us all. He wants to create in us. Where there is sorrow God can create hope. Where there is fear, God can create courage. Where there is hopelessness, God can create faith for the future. We serve a God who creates. Out of nothing God created the world and every day there are new creations. God never stops creating. Life and the wonder of his creation surrounds us on every side. No matter where we look we see His handy work. Yet for many of us, we have given up hope that God could ever do anything good in us. Some have even asked, "Does the God of creation even know that I exist?". Its time we went back to David's simple words " create in me". Simply said, these words come from faith in the God who can make something out of nothing. My friend, if you have nothing left, no hope, no friends, no money, no job, no family, no health, whatever it may be that is missing in your life, pray with King David, "Create in me. Create something out of nothing. Create in me!". He did it for David. He'll do it for you.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Last night I had a late night conversation that caused me to reflect on the way, we who profess to be Followers of Christ, communicate. A young adult woman, who was expressing her confusion in regards to Christianity, said she was very unhappy about how Christians spoke so hatefully about people who believed differently then they did. She said that she could not understand why Christians hated homosexuals, Muslims, or those who were of a different political persuasion. She was confused and even hurt at the hateful things she has heard people say. I could tell that, as far as she was concerned, she didn't want to be a Christian, if hating people was what was expected of her. For a few minutes I was in shock. I am sure that even as you read this you may be in shock too because as a follower of Christ the last thing a Christian thinks about is hating people. I asked my friend if she had ever heard me say things that sounded hateful and I was relieved to hear her say that no I had not but many others had. I then began to ask her what kind of things had been said. I began to realize that what was spoken from a passion for right and wrong was, in truth, interpreted as hatred for people. We have all heard it said, "Hate the sin but love the sinner.". I am sure you would agree with me that that is the right way to think however when we start expressing our hatred for sin, it becomes too easy to lump the sinner with the sin. Too often there becomes a hard tone in our voice when we talk about liars, adulterers, drug dealers. You name the sin we talk about it. Should we? Sure. But shouldn't we spend more time loving the sinner? After all how can we expect those who do not walk with Christ to have the same qualities as those who do? They just need Jesus? How can they change who they are until they change whose they are? As an illustration, today, we have a president who is mired deep in controversy, both pros and cons. I didn't vote for him, however he is my president and he deserves the respect and honor due him as president of the United States of America. Because of that I am also obligated to pray for him and for our nation. Why do I say that? Because I don't hate him. I dislike what he does and the decisions he makes. But hate him? No. I don't hate him, after all he is doing what he truly believes is right. And God loves him as much as He loves me. The same blood of Jesus was shed for him as it was for me. The same grace that is available for him is available for me. I just believe he is wrong. However, no matter what I believe , he still needs God's help to rule this Nation. He needs godly advisors and I have an obligation to spend more time praying and blessing him than complaining and cursing him. After all, people may get the wrong impression and think that I hate him. No wonder my young friend is confused!
Friday, March 2, 2012
I happened to watch a movie tonight with some friends. I don't watch a lot of movies and since this movie was a favorite of several friends (some with me and some not), and since I had never seen this film before, I agreed to watch it. Now after some reflection I wish I had not. This is not one of those movies that, right on the cover of the DVD case, lets you know that you shouldn't see it. No, this was a kid's movie, half animation, and half more realistic or could I say human. It was beautifully and masterfully filmed as to entice people to watch it. The thing that disturbed me most about this movie was the blatant witchcraft and and mother/earth worship. And second, the number of Christians who recommended it. We live in a day when Harry Potter, Zombies, and Vampires are common words in the American home. Not only are these books and movies accepted by many (including Christians) but we, the church, deny the power of God. So the demonic is seen as good and even desirable and the power of God is seen as week and in most cases nonexistent. Some of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have even begun to worship angels/demons and call it good or even seen as a way to become closer to God. I spend a lot of my time in other countries that fight evil, dark, powers. Countries where Christians routinely fight the demonic without shame and even expect to see people delivered from demons as soon as they give their lives to Jesus. However in the USA, I see Born Again people struggling with demonic activity, fighting principalities and powers without much success. Mostly because they don't believe these powers are at work in their lives. And yet, at the same time these same people are embracing the demonic celebrated through the media. And when challenged about this issue, accusations of legalism are brought up. Now our consciences have become so violated that we have embraced evil and have even declared it good. One may argue that I am picking on a movie with just a few allusions to witchcraft or the demonic, however this movie had numerous mentions of a female deity and also spent most of the movie in earth worship. Twice there was a demonic service where one was "sacrificed" for another, people channeled their spirits, and witches who led multitudes in chanting and "worship ", were seen as heroines. These were not small allusions but obvious, blatant, in your face demonic activity, cloaked in a beautiful wrapping and declared GOOD! I'm not going to mention the name of the movie because I want everyone, including myself, to start looking at the media that we allow to penetrate our spirit with more critical eyes. Don't just take issue with one movie, book, game, or song. Take issue with the entire system that has brought us to the place where we see evil as good and good as evil. Our whole nation is bing sucked into spiritual quicksand that if we don't grab a hold of the truth and pull ourselves out we may just dry up and die. God help us. Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before my eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
There is a lot of talk these days about grace. Most of the time grace is referred to as "the unmerited favor" that is ours as a free gift of eternal life bought by the blood of Jesus and granted by our heavenly Father. All true. However there is another grace that I would like to talk about and that is the grace that enables us to live each day. The grace that we have for our family or our job or even for those we don't like. It is an unmerited favor that we give to others. It is our opportunity to become like Jesus. If you have been following my blogs you will recall that God has added to our house and with it He has added grace, both the need of it and the working out of it. I have many names in my house, Deb, Hunny, Mama, Aunt, Tante, and Nana. I answer to almost anything but the grace shows up when everyone is calling at once and there are questions I can't answer or the answers are not what the asker wants. In the midst of the hubbub and confusion God's grace says, "It's OK, don't worry. We can do the math. Diagram sentences. Go for a walk. Kiss the boo boo. Talk about boys. Do the laundry. Buy international airplane tickets. Mail news letters. Hem pants. Answer the phone. Pack. Make dinner and don't forget the cookies. And oh yes spend a little time with God.". Grace says, "Don't worry about tomorrow. Don't fret about money. Don't question the wisdom of God. Just rest each day, knowing that God is bigger than any situation you have whether it is a big problem of millions of little ones." We need to exercise and practice grace every day. Oh we love to receive it from others and especially from God however, it is a gift we are also expected to give. Tomorrow night I have the privilege to be a part of a wedding ceremony and it has caused me to reflect on my own marriage and family. Fred and I have been married 33 years and I think I have one of the most gracious husbands there is. He puts up with me. He encourages me in my ministry, listens to me when I grumble or tell the same story for the tenth time (at least I think he is listening), and even goes shopping with me. Now that man is truly a gift from God. He has had a lot of practice. Smile! I would like to encourage you to also practice grace. Offer a little unmerited favor today. Smile at the cashier in Walmart. Forgive someone even if they don't deserve it. Listen when you just don't want to listen any more. Open up your heart and live the life of grace. It works!
Saturday, February 25, 2012
In my house I have 6 girls. I have not given birth to any of these girls. No, actually, I have only one birth child, a son. Raising a son was a delight. Now that he is grown and married I realize how easy I had it. He was easy and fun. Now however, God has blessed me with six girls. Easy? No. Fun? Yes! Why is it that girls are so much harder? Maybe, for me, it is the shear number of girls. I have almost every possible size and personality in these six girls. I have the quite type, the moody type, the girly type, the Tom-boy type, and "the fun has arrived" type. Girls can go from laughing and crying in a matter of seconds. The transition from crying back to laughing isn't quite so fast. My number one girl, I adopted from West Africa. She has been mine now for over ten years. The other girls are kind of, on loan, for various reasons. One thing I have discovered about girls is that they collect more girls. Last weekend there were 14 spending the night, squealing, laughing and eating pizza. I don't think they slept at all. I love all of my girls. They are great girls and yet there are days that I feel like pulling out my hair and locking myself in my bedroom. Last week I was sitting between two of my girls, while they argued and accused each other. And what was I doing? I laid down on the floor and begged, yes begged, God to give me the wisdom of Solomon. After awhile I decided I had had enough and decided to go upstairs. When I arrived another girl was crying over her homework and upset with her computer. (You know how frustrating computers are...they are even worse during PMS) I turned right around and went back downstairs. I think I will make a room for myself in my attic, you know, some place to hide. As I thought about all of my girls, I thought about God. He never runs away from us. Isn't it wonderful how he sticks by us and never gets tired of our complaining. He doesn't get weary, and he isn't looking for a place where he can have peace away from us. He loves to be with us and he takes pleasure in hearing about our life both the good and the bad. He doesn't care if we have PMS, if we are boy crazy or just plain cranky. Oh yes He takes pleasure when we are happy. He loves it when we are thankful and not always asking for this and that new thing, that we "just have to have". But we don't scare him away when we are having a bad day either. He is still sitting with us, never leaving no matter what we are like. I'm going to try and be like God. You see I think that I have needed these 6 girls as much as they needed me. I need to learn to depend on the Lord Jesus regardless of the attitudes of those around me. I need to find the peace of God inside of me and not look for it in the situations that surround my life. So today I am writing while the little girl is doing Karate to invisible opponents, another is doing homework, one is getting ready for basketball practice and others are eating breakfast and doing various chores. Cartoons are playing in the background and the rocking chair is banging against the wall....yes I did ask for the chair to be moved but at the speed it is rocking it seems to walk back to the wall all by its self. I am not upset and I'm not running to the attic. God is giving me peace. God doesn't always remove us from our situations sometimes he just gives us the peace we need to live right where we are. I hope you have a nice day. I plan to.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
This morning I was listening to my audio Bible, as I do most days, when I got to the part where the Cities of Refuge are mentioned in Joshua 20. My mind began to run with thoughts and ideas about these wonderful cities. Imagination a place when you can run to, to hide from the avenger of blood. It made me think about what Jesus did for us. We are that person who has to run from the avenger. The devil is the avenger and he will relentlessly pursue us however, once we are secure in the City of Refuge we are safe. We are the innocent sinner who, by the blood of Jesus, are no longer guilty. Running for our lives on the day we become Born Again, we rush through the gate of the City of God, pass through the blood of Jesus as it is poured out for us in the doorway. We state our case before Almighty God, He sees we are covered by the blood of Jesus and declares we are not guilty. As long as we stay in the city we are safe. As long as we are careful not to pass out of the gate, the avenger can not touch us. In my minds eye I can see that city. It is an awesome city with healing trees and cleansing rivers. It has homes and families and food without end. However I also see many who live close to the gate, ever looking outside. They are the people who like to live on the edge of the city's boundaries, longing for the past. Saved yet not convinced of the goodness inside of the city, they look outside and long for the day they can be free. They sneak out at night and wander the surrounding woods, thinking that as long as they stay close by and can run back inside they will be OK. They forget that the avenger of death is waiting outside for them and one of those times when they sneak out they will become trapped and the city of safety lost to them. Dear Friend, don't live on the edge of the city...come deep inside and take advantage of the wonders you will find there. It's a good place to live... I'll see you inside. Joshua 20:1-6 Then the Lord said to Joshua: 2 "Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. 4 When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. 5 If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. 6 They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled."
Monday, February 20, 2012
It seems like it was just yesterday when I first heard the song, My Tribute, by Andrae Crouch. The beginning of the song rings even now in my memory, "How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved yet you gave to prove your love for me...". The song goes on but these first few lines of the song sum up the depth of awareness we all feel when we are faced with the grace and blessings of a merciful God. I relate with the words, "How can I say thanks?". I am left speechless, unable to correctly articulate the gratitude I feel to the Lord, my Lord, the Lover of my Soul. How can I say thanks? In my years of travel in Africa I have discovered a custom that addresses this thought. If you give someone a gift, especially is it is an expensive gift, the recipient of the gift will go to another friend or relative and ask that person to say "Thank you," to the giver. He or she will say to their friend, "I am unworthy to properly say thank you to this person who has given me this wonderful gift. Will you please say thank you for me?". It is with great humility the giver is thanked. I believe that this is what Andrae felt when he penned these words, "How can I say thanks?". I feel that gratitude and the loss for words as I write and so in African tradition, I ask you, my friends, please say thank you, for me, to the Lord for all He has done for me. "Things so undeserved, yet He gave to prove His love for me." "To God Be The Glory!"
Friday, February 17, 2012
Just when I think I have seen the best God has for me, He surprises me again. A few weeks ago a friend called Fred and I and said he had a Word from God for us. He asked if he could pray for us and after praying he began to tell us what he felt God was saying. Well, he finished his prayer time by saying, "God is going to bless you with food." Anyone who knows us understands that we go through a lot of food these days. With several of our African friends living with us as well as others from time to time the food just flies off from the table. We appreciated the prayer and the words of encouragement but within a day or two I sort of forgot all about it. That is until this week happened. Day after day someone has blessed us with food. Not just a little food, but bags and bags of food. Not only that but as we run out of something that very item shows up in the hands of a friend. I started thinking about this and I remembered the prayer and Word from God we had received just before all this food arrived. I have been feeling, for some time, that God was about to do something BIG. Yes I suppose there are many people feeling this but for me it's a more personal BIG. I have been sensing this for months now and everyday my anticipation grows bigger. I believe God gives us moments of his attention, giving us gifts and paying attention to the details of our lives just to show us that He is involved even in the smallest details of our life. For example, Tuesday morning my niece told me that we were out of jam. Before the day was over we had four jars of jam, all blessings from a friend. So back to my point, these small gestures from God speak to me of the promise of "something BIG". Every time I see the jar of jam, the can of tuna, the bag of apples, or the box of pasta, I hear God say, "You think this is good, just wait till you see what comes next." I would like to challenge you, my dear friend, look and see what small things God is doing for you and as you look consider what God is trying to say to you. You have not been forgotten and the future is bright even if all you see are clouds. There is an answer to your prayers even if you feel feel like there is no hope. Like I said, "God is about to do something BIG."