Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Needed this today...

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\ / Charles Spurgeon's MORNING & EVENING http://www.heartlight.org/
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009



MORNING:

"For my strength is made perfect in weakness."
-- 2 Corinthians 12:9

A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and
for doing God's work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own
weakness. When God's warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own
might, when he boasts, "I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm
and my conquering sword shall get unto me the victory," defeat is not
far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own
strength. He who reckoneth on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for
"it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of
hosts." They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall
return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and their armour
stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must serve him in his own
way, and in his strength, or he will never accept their service. That
which man doth, unaided by divine strength, God can never own. The mere
fruits of the earth he casteth away; he will only reap that corn, the
seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by
the sun of divine love. God will empty out all that thou hast before he
will put his own into thee; he will first clean out thy granaries
before he will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God
is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs.
God will have no strength used in his battles but the strength which he
himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage,
for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give
thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being
filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting
up.

"When I am weak then am I strong,
Grace is my shield and Christ my song."



EVENING:

"In thy light shall we see light."
-- Psalms 36:9

No lips can tell the love of Christ to the heart till Jesus himself
shall speak within. Descriptions all fall flat and tame unless the Holy
Ghost fills them with life and power; till our Immanuel reveals himself
within, the soul sees him not. If you would see the sun, would you
gather together the common means of illumination, and seek in that way
to behold the orb of day? No, the wise man knoweth that the sun must
reveal itself, and only by its own blaze can that mighty lamp be seen.
It is so with Christ. "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona:" said he to
Peter, "for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee." Purify
flesh and blood by any educational process you may select, elevate
mental faculties to the highest degree of intellectual power, yet none
of these can reveal Christ. The Spirit of God must come with power, and
overshadow the man with his wings, and then in that mystic holy of
holies the Lord Jesus must display himself to the sanctified eye, as he
doth not unto the purblind sons of men. Christ must be his own mirror.
The great mass of this blear-eyed world can see nothing of the
ineffable glories of Immanuel. He stands before them without form or
comeliness, a root out of a dry ground, rejected by the vain and
despised by the proud. Only where the Spirit has touched the eye with
eye-salve, quickened the heart with divine life, and educated the soul
to a heavenly taste, only there is he understood. "To you that believe
he is precious"; to you he is the chief corner-stone, the Rock of your
salvation, your all in all; but to others he is "a stone of stumbling
and a rock of offence." Happy are those to whom our Lord manifests
himself, for his promise to such is that he will make his abode with
them. O Jesus, our Lord, our heart is open, come in, and go out no more
for ever. Show thyself to us now! Favour us with a glimpse of thine
all-conquering charms.

Please Pray for Paul

Hi Everyone.

I received this message last night from my friend, Paul Pierson. Please be praying for him. In the short time that I have known him, he has truly impacted my walk with the Lord. He is watching for the Lord to do something amazing. Join with me in praying God would be glorified in this. Below is his message:


--------------------
Subject: Kidney Update

So 6 weeks ago I scheduled a check up with my doctor to see how my kidneys were functioning, before I planned on leaving for Thailand.

That was last week.

If you read my last email, you know I was diagnosed as Stage 4 Renal Failure.

Basically that means I have 19% kidney function. Not good.

If you have 15% kidney function, you start dialysis and then, if your kidney's don't start working, you get put on a kidney transplant list. This stage is called Stage 5: End stage renal failure. End being the key word.

So I'm 4% away from from Stage 5.

Or so I thought.

I went to my new kidney specialist this morning and I have a new chapter in my life.

The "average" kidney disease takes about 25-30 years to "kill" ones kidney's, so to speak. That's why it's mostly older people who are on dialysis and then on transplant lists.

I've had this disease for about 14 years, but because of the aggressiveness of it, it's almost like I've had it for 40+ years.

__________

I found out this morning that my kidney doctor has decided to skip dialysis altogether.

I must get a kidney transplant.

On Thursday, 11/5/09, I start the process for a kidney transplant.

Unfortunately, this means my Thailand trip is going to be delayed a minimum of 6 months, possibly 12 months.

_________

I don't have health insurance, so this is going to be fun.

I mean that sincerely. I think God is going to do some amazing things during this process and I"m excited to see how it all pans out!

In fact he already started today. I put missionary as my job title and when the doctor walked in, he immediately started talking about my travels, where i've been etc.

After 15 minutes of talking about the the poor in various central Asian countries (he's from central Asia) he said (in regard to the $400 doctors payment I had to pay)

"Don't worry about today's fee. You do good work. Besides, you and I are not done talking about these things."

Ha! How sweet is that?

Who ever heard of a Doctor waiving a $400 fee?

I truly believe that's just a "minor" miracle Jesus is going to work out for me during this whole process.

Keep your eyes open and be ready to Praise God for all that's about to happen.

Love ya,
Paul
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Calvary Love

Here are some words that stirred and broke my heart today. From "IF" by Amy Carmichael. There are a number of areas in my heart and various situations where these apply...ouch.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Saviour than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, "You do not understand," or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying "Peace, peace," where is no peace; if I forget the poignant word, "Let love be without dissimulation" and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I fear to hold another to the highest goal because it is so much easier to avoid doing so, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice; if I give any room to my private likes and dislikes, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and in the power of Him who works in us to will and to do, keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not give a friend "the benefit of the doubt," but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily; if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I say, "Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget," as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I want to be known as the doer of something that has proved the right thing, or as the one who suggested that it should be done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I avoid being "ploughed under," with all that such ploughing entails of rough handling, isolation, uncongenial situations, strange tests, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the love that "alone maketh light of every heavy thing, and beareth evenly every uneven thing" is not my heart's desire, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Wisdom from Storytime!

Sometimes, when we least expect it, God shows up in a fresh way. On Tuesday night, as we were waiting for everyone to arrive for Bible Study, the students and I decided to have "Storytime". Those who were there ran around the kids' section at Barnes and Noble and found their favorite books. We read, "Brown, Bear, Brown Bear", "The Giving Tree", "Goodnight Moon", and "The Angry Ladybug". Then, Laura-girl, brought over a book called "Incredible You". In a move only God could make, this story became our lesson for the evening. It may have been one of the more memorable lessons for this group! (Which proves it's about what GOD's doing...not what I am teaching!!!)

I wanted to share the questions in the back of the book and see what your responses may be. Some of them were easy, some deep, and others difficult to answer. Here they are...let me know what you think!

1. Do you dream of doing something adventurous like taming lions? Or something that seems a little safer, like being a veterinarian? Close your eyes and imagine yourself doing it. What is that dream?

2. If someone or something makes you feel sad, embarassed, or angry, what do you do to make yourself feel better?

3. What makes you feel scared or worried? What are some positive, strong words that you can say to yourself to overcome your fear?

4. Everyone needs to be alone sometimes. Where do you go if you feel like being by yourself? To your room? Up in a tree? Or in a nice, comfy chair?

5. If you have a problem or something is bothering you, who do you talk to? Your Mom or Dad? Your dog? Your teacher?

6. It's important to make time for the things you love. Do you have a passion? Something you love to do more than anything else?

7. What are some things you have done that make you great? Have you ever drawn an awesome picture that made you really proud? Have you ever won a medal or an award?

8. Everyone is special and one-of-a-kind. What are some things you love about yourself, and how do you share that love with others? DO you bake cookies for your friends or pick flowers for your mom?

9. The kids in the book set up a stand to raise money for the animal shelter. What helpful ideas do you have inside your mind, and what can you do to share them with the world?

10. Some people feel a loving Spririt around them. Some feel it in a church, a place of worship, or in nature. Do you feel this mysterious love that conncets us all? Where?


I'd like to add one more that has come up as I've talked about this lesson with my friends:

11. We are all created to reflect God in unique ways. We all carry the mark of our Creator in a way that is different from others. How were you made to reflect God? In what ways are you being Jesus to those around you?

OK...I look forward to your answers! If you want to check out the book you can click the link below.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Incredible-You/Wayne-W-Dyer/e/9781401907822

Friday, September 04, 2009

Let This Be An Opportunity To Die

The Lord has been working on my heart pretty intensely these days. I've wrestled with an area of unforgiveness for several days and I believe I have finally been able to let go of the hurt. But, it seems that I have barely settled my heart on one issue before the Holy Spirit brings another to mind. It's what I want. I want to be more like Jesus and this is the process. But, it's so difficult and so much work. It's hard to look your failings and weaknesses in the face and lay them at the feet of Jesus!

A few days I read something that has really be gnawing on my heart. I am reading a biography of Amy Carmichael, a turn of the century missionary to India. When she first arrived in India, she had an occasion to be sternly (and perhaps not appropriately) scolded by an older missionary woman. Being of Irish stock, her temper started to get the best of her when she heard a voice whisper, "Let this be an opportunity to die".

What?

It took me a moment to see what the Spirit was whispering to her. Let this be an opportunity to die...to yourself. Put yourself aside, Amy, and let me bring about more of Jesus. Don't claim your right here. Let this be an opportunity to die.

This has been echoing in my heart. I am beginning to see moments when I can "Let this be an opportunity to die". I am learning that I do not always have to demand my due, or claim my right. It is okay to remain silent and let it be an opportunity to die to myself.

Pray for me as the Lord continues to shape and refine me. Pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and brave enough to dig into the darkness in my heart and remove it for His glory. I want to be more like Jesus.



So if there is any encouragement in Christ, an comfort from love, and participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:1-11

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. In deed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. - Philippians 3:7-11

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Verses on Forgiveness (MSG)

Matthew 6:9-15 (The Message)

7-13"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

14-15"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

Psalm 32:1-5 (The Message)

A David Psalm
1 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start,
your slate's wiped clean.

2 Count yourself lucky—
GOD holds nothing against you
and you're holding nothing back from him.

3 When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans.

4 The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.

5 Then I let it all out;
I said, "I'll make a clean breast of my failures to GOD."
Suddenly the pressure was gone—
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.

Matthew 18:15-20 (The Message)

15-17"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church. If he won't listen to the church, you'll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving love.

18-20"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there."


Matthew 18:21-35 (The Message)

A Story About Forgiveness

21At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?"
22Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
23-25"The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
26-27"The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
28"The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!'
29-31"The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
32-35"The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?' The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that's exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy."

Mark 11:20-25 (The Message)

20-21In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, "Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!"
22-25Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, 'Go jump in the lake'—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it's as good as done. That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you'll get God's everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it's not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins."

Luke 6:27-42 (The Message)

27-30"To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
31-34"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
35-36"I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
37-38"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."
39-40He quoted a proverb: "'Can a blind man guide a blind man?' Wouldn't they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn't lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.
41-42"It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.


Luke 7:36-50 (The Message)

Anointing His Feet

36-39One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee's house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him."
40Jesus said to him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Oh? Tell me."
41-42"Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?"
43-47Simon answered, "I suppose the one who was forgiven the most."
"That's right," said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, "Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn't quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn't it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal."
48Then he spoke to her: "I forgive your sins."
49That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: "Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!"
50He ignored them and said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."



Luke 17:1-4 (The Message)


A Kernel of Faith

1-2He said to his disciples, "Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time!
3-4"Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it's personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, 'I'm sorry, I won't do it again,' forgive him."
Ephesians 1:3-10 (The Message)
The God of Glory
3-6How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7-10Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.





Ephesians 4:17-32 (The Message)

The Old Way Has to Go
17-19And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
20-24But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
25What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
26-27Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
28Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.
29Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
30Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.

Colossians 3:1-17 (The Message)

He Is Your Life

1-2 So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5-8And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
9-11Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
12-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
31-32Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

James 5:13-20 (The Message)

Prayer to Be Reckoned With

13-15Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
16-18Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn't rain, and it didn't—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.
19-20My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

Other Verses:
Psalm 86:5
Matthew 12:31-32
Mark 1:4; 2:5-10; 3:28-29; 4:12
Luke 1:77; 3:3; 5:20-24; 11:4; 12:10; 23:34
John 20:23
Acts 5:31; 8:22; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18
Romans 4:7
II Corinthians 2:7,10; 12:13
Colossians 1:14
Hebrews 8:12; 9:22; 10:19
I John 1:9
I John 2:12

Thursday, August 13, 2009

48 Accountability Questions....OUCH!

I just found this post in my drafts folder this morning. Apparently, I never published it. It's interesting to me that I came across it just a few days after posting about accountability. I'm not certain where these questions originated, but where possible, the credit was given. This post was saved about this time last year as I began my journey toward ordination in the Free Methodist Church, so I'm pretty sure they are from the resources I was given then.

CAUTION: These questions are tough! They are good ways to measure where we are spiritually, but you will probably feel a bit of a sting once you're done reading them (I know I did!)


ACCOUNTABILITY QUESTIONS


John Wesley's Small Group Questions:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?

5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6. Did the Bible live in me today?

7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

8. Am I enjoying prayer?

9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?



Wesley's Band Meeting Questions:

1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?

2. What temptations have you met with?

3. How were you delivered?

4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?


Reference: John Wesley's Class Meetings: a Model for Making Disciples, by D. Michael Henderson, Evangel Publishing House, 1997, pp. 118-9


Chuck Swindoll's Pastoral Accountability Questions:

In his book, The Body, Chuck Colson lists the questions used by Chuck Swindoll.


1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?

3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?

4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?

5. Have you given priority time to your family?

6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?

7. Have you just lied to me?



Neil Cole:

1. What is the condition of your soul?

2. What sin do you need to confess?

3. What have you held back from God that you need to surrender?

4. Is there anything that has dampened your zeal for Christ?

5. Who have you talked with about Christ this week?

HT: Journey

Church Multiplication Associates.

The ten questions are as follows:



1. Have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and actions?

2. Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about someone who is not your spouse this week?

3. Have you lacked any integrity in your financial dealings this week, or coveted something that does not belong to you?

4. Have you been honoring, understanding and generous in your important relationships this past week?

5. Have you damaged another person by your words, either behind their back or face-to-face?

6. Have you given in to an addictive behavior this week? Explain.

7. Have you continued to remain angry toward another?

8. Have you secretly wished for another's misfortune so that you might excel?

9. Did you finish your reading this week and hear from the Lord? What are you going to do about it?

10. Have you been completely honest with me?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doing All Things With Excellence

In the past couple of weeks I have really been challenged by watching the life of a friend of mine. I've watched him take on a couple of projects and go hard at them without complaining. As I've watched him and seen the results of his hard work, I have been awed by what a difference it makes to do something with excellence.

Many, if not most, of us are usually satisfied with "good enough". We don't give our best effort at everything and simply settle for whatever we accomplish. I am guilty of that often. I usually get a "good enough" result with a minimal or average effort, and I've been content with that.

No more.

As I've thought about this during the week, the Holy Spirit has really convicted me. There are areas of my life that really need attention in the excellence department. I've been reading the Scriptures (Colossians 3, II Peter 1, Philipians 4, etc) and it only reaffirms what I am feeling in my spirit. Everything I do, whether in word or deed, should be done as if to the King.

Now, of course, this is something that I've always known, but I have failed in this area. So, I am redoubling my efforts to take on life with excellence. It's requiring a great deal of work in preparing and organizing, but then, I am playing catch up. I hope to look back in a month and be able to see the fruits of my labor and see a significant difference.

Please pray for me as I pursue a life that is worthy of the call of Christ. Please pray that I will set myself aside and do all things to the glory of my King.

Thanks, Friend, for living your life as an example for others. You never know who is watching. You never know whose life may be changed by your faithfulness. A good lesson for us all.

Health Care Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting of Government Health Care
August 26th 7:00 PM
City Hall Peachtree City GA. Hwy 54 & Willowbend
Newnan Town Hall Meeting

August 17th 7:00 PM
Newnan Fairground, Newnan GA. Pine Rd.

please tell all your friends/family and church to attend this very informative meeting with panel of speakers and a Q&A Time (Bring Your Questions!!!)

Thanks

Friday, July 24, 2009

What was in that bill? You mean, I should have read it?

For anyone who has talked to me in the last couple of weeks, this won't be news to you. There are many things in the political system and in the government that are making my blood pressure spike!

Is it just me, or does it make anyone else crazy that our representatives in Washington are voting on bills they haven't even read? I came across a few organizations today who are taking the fight to the Hill. I wrote letters to my own representatives this morning. But, I have to say, I felt completly ridiculous asking my Senators and Representative to read the bills before they vote! It seems like common sense to me, but obviously, not everyone thinks so!

Check out:

www.DownsizeDC.org (Read the Bill Act)

and

www.LetFreedomRingUSA.com (Read the Bill Pledge)

Here's the letter I wrote today:

Dear Senators Chambliss and Isakson:

I am writing to request that you investigate the possibility of legislation or a Congress-wide pledge that all representatives in the House and Senate be required to read legislation before voting on it.

It seems ridiculous to even request this. However, in recent months, it seems as though legislation is flying through Congress at break-neck speeds. I am speechless at the thought that representatives in Washington are actually passing legislation they haven't even read.

It is my understanding that the recent Cap and Trade legislation presented to the House of Representatives had 300 pages added 24 hours before the vote. I do not understand how, in good conscience, legislators can vote on bills they have not even read.

I realize that the Cap and Trade legislation has slowed down in the Senate, but I am concerned this speed of legislation may become a trend.

I understand that you have been provided a copy of the Read the Bills Act by Downsize DC (www.downsizedc.org) and also a pledge from Let Freedom Ring (www.letfreedomringusa.com) stating you will read the bill and allow the public time to read the bill and debate before a vote. Please consider one of these or something similar. I believe it is of the utmost importance that legislators and the public read legislation before it is passed.

Many Thanks,
Christina Solly

Thank you, Senator DeMint (Of South Carolina)

It's good to know that some of our representatives in Washington are willing to stand up for Democracy. Senator Jim DeMint, of South Carolina, is standing up for Honduras with 17 other Senators (still trying to find out who they all are). Here is his press release regarding the situation there. He is also calling for a full investigation into the parts played by Chavez, Ortega and Castros in the Honduran situation.

So, thank you, Senator DeMint, for standing up for democracy and the people of Honduras!



DEMINT STATEMENT ON HONDURAS
“Americans should support the Honduran people and their legitimate leaders in their brave and heroic stand for freedom and the rule of law.”

Greenville, SC - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, made the following statement about the ongoing situation in Honduras.

"The people of Honduras have struggled too long to have their hard-won democracy stolen from them by a Chavez-style dictator. The Honduran Congress, the Honduran Supreme Court, and the Honduran military have acted in accordance to the Honduran constitution and the rule of law.

“For weeks leading to his arrest, Zelaya flouted the constitutional authority of the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court, and claimed for himself extra-constitutional control of his nation’s military and political institutions. Every institution from the Electoral Tribunal to the Supreme Court ruled that his actions were unjustified and illegal. Zelaya’s open defiance of democratic norms has set Honduras on a path toward violence, instability, and tyranny.

“I am hopeful that as President Obama grows in office, he will eventually turn away from despots like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, and Zelaya, and give the United States’ full-throated support to the people of any country who are fighting for the same values we cherish and defend in America. The people fighting for freedom around the world, in Iran and Honduras, should never have to wonder which side America will choose between freedom and tyranny.

“President Obama’s call for the reinstatement of Zelaya is a slap in the face to the people of Honduras. And the resolution written by the Organization of American States tramples over the hopes and dreams of a free and democratic people.

“The rule of law is working in Honduras. President Obama should not undermine the democratic institutions that guarantee freedom by forcing an illegitimate President back into power.

“This is not an ideal transition, but Hondurans are adhering to their constitution. The United States should support the Honduran people and their legitimate leaders in their brave and heroic stand for freedom and the rule of law.”

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

My Understanding of the Political Situation in Honduras

My previous post contains information circulating from the White House and from the media regarding the situation in Honduras.

As many of you know, I was in Honduras while the transfer of power was taking place. I have dear friends who live there and are watching their government go through a very difficult time. I've been asked this question a great deal, so here is how I understand the situation in Honduras:

The former president (Mel) wants to eliminate term limits. However, the Honduran government is similar to ours with three branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial). They also have a constitution. In order to eliminate term limits, the constitution has to be changed.

Mel decided to have a survey of the people to see if they wanted it on the ballot to change term limits. This survey was supposed to be held on Sunday (we were scheduled to leave the country the following Monday). The Congress and the Supreme Court of Honduras advised Mel that what he was doing was illegal and if he proceeded, he would be removed from power. However, he gathered support from other Latin American leaders (with Venezuela's Chavez heading up the gang) and he stirred up the people of Honduras. He told them to go to the Air Force Base where the ballots were being held and to protest.

It was interesting for me to hear the Hondurans discuss what they should do. Many of them weren't sure whether it was wise or not to go vote on Sunday. Some believed that the government only needed their presence to approve a "yes" vote on a pre-filled ballot. But, then, if they didn't go vote if they were opposed, there would be no opposition voice heard. It was interesting to have to consider those options. I don't know what I would do. I can't imagine wondering if the election was fixed and by merely showing up to exercise my right to vote, I was really voting for the opposition.

On Friday, we registered with the State Department as the situation started to get tense. We wanted to make sure we could get out of the country if something did happen or if there was real violence.

When we woke up on Sunday morning, it was to the news that Mel had been removed from power and flown to Costa Rica. The Vice-President resigned because he wants to run for President in November. So, the President of the Congress was sworn in and made the new President of Honduras.

Martial Law was instituted and a curfew had to be followed. No one on the roads before 6am or after 9pm. We expected extensive delays and military check points as we headed to the airport on Monday, but we arrived safely and in time for our flight.

From everything I could see, this "coup" (as everyone seems to want to call it) was not a surprised to the former President. He was warned what would happen if he insisted upon violating the constitution of the country. The government of Honduras acted in accordance with their system of government and allowed democracy to work. President Obama is calling Melaya the "Democratically Elected President of Honduras" and that is technically true. However, he violated his oath of office when he chose to trample on the constitution in an effort to remain in power indefinitely.

It concerns me to see us on the same side as Venezuela's Chavez. We are striving to promote democrazy all over the world, but we are spending time reprimanding a democrazy that IS working! But, that's another soapbox altogether.

Please pray for the people of Honduras and for their government. Please pray that this situation can be resolved peacefully and that the best solution for Honduras and her people is reached. I left my heart there with my sisters (Meily, Cristy, Cesia, Nicolle, Karla and Dulce). Please keep them and their families in your prayers. (Karla and Dulce live in the capital city of Honduras where the majority of the turmoil exisits).

Information regarding the situation in Honduras

I was just reading some remarks made by our President while in Russia. He had this to say about the situation in Honduras:

"Now let me be clear: America cannot and should not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country. And we haven't always done what we should have on that front. Even as we meet here today, America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies. We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not."

You can read the entire speech at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/REMARKS-BY-THE-PRESIDENT-AT-THE-NEW-ECONOMIC-SCHOOL-GRADUATION/


On June 28th, he had this to say:

"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Statement-from-the-President-on-the-situation-in-Honduras/

And the White House Press Briefing on June 29th:

Q Can we turn to Honduras?

MR. GIBBS: Sure.

Q Has President Obama spoken with Mr. Zelaya since the coup?

MR. GIBBS: Not that I know of.

Q And what kind of leverage, specifically -- what specific things is the White House doing and can it do to try to bring him back to power?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think you all know that -- I think it's -- I haven't seen this morning's news report -- that working with the OAS and others in the international community over the past few days, we were working to avert the type of constitutional action that took place in Honduras, trying to prevent that from happening.

Our goal now is on restoring democratic order in Honduras -- again, working with partners at the OAS and in the international community. And I don't want to get ahead of the "what if," as we're focused on restoring their democratic order.

Q Well, without getting into the "what if," I mean, what does it mean when you say "working with" the OAS and the international community? What specifically? Are there calls coming from the President himself? Perhaps Secretary Clinton?

MR. GIBBS: I can check on whether -- I don't believe the President has called anybody. I'm sure this will be something that will be discussed in the meeting with the Colombian President today. I don't -- I just don't want to get into diplomacy out loud right this second.

Q Or the kind of leverage you might use?

MR. GIBBS: Yes, that's I think more of a "what if."

Yes, sir.

Q Sorry, still on the Honduras issue and trying to get a clear picture of what the U.S. is considering. Is the administration looking at withdrawing its ambassador as the leftist Latin American governments have decided to do, or even looking at a possible cutoff of aid?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I think some of that is in the next -- in the frame of next steps in evaluating this. I just don't want to get real specific at this point.

Q Did the United States have any advance knowledge or word of a planned coup? Did it do anything to try to head that off? And what does the administration's failure to have headed that off say about its credibility in Latin America?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think as I said a minute ago, the administration, our government, working with partners, were attempting to prevent the type of unrest that we've seen happen over the last 24 hours. They worked on that over the past several days. And we will continue to work to restore democratic order in Honduras.

Q Did the administration warn President Zelaya that this was in the making?

MR. GIBBS: That I don't know.


(Can be accessed at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Briefing-by-White-House-Press-Secretary-Robert-Gibbs-6-29-09/ )


And his words in a statement following a meeting with Columbian President Uribe:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me first of all speak about the coup in Honduras, because this was a topic of conversation between myself and President Uribe.

All of us have great concerns about what's taken place there. President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras, the democratically elected President there. In that we have joined all the countries in the region, including Colombia and the Organization of American States.

I think it's -- it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections. The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions in Central America and Latin America. We don't want to go back to a dark past. The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies, but over the last several years, I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results don't always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable towards the United States. And that is a tradition that we want to continue.

So we are very clear about the fact that President Zelaya is the democratically elected President, and we will work with the regional organizations like OAS and with other international institutions to see if we can resolve this in a peaceful way.

The entire statement may be accessed at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-President-Obama-and-President-Uribe-of-Colombia-in-Joint-Press-Availability/

Press Briefing June 30th:

Q Thanks, Robert. We want to start with Honduras. Has the U.S. been in contact with Honduran military leaders to insist on the President's return to power?

MR. GIBBS: I know that State Department officials have been in touch with President Zelaya. I do not know the extent of their contact with military officials. Obviously there are -- there's a special meeting of the OAS scheduled for later on this afternoon and we'll continue working on this situation.

Q Is there any other acceptable solution other than his return to power?

MR. GIBBS: Not at this point that I think that people have in any way contemplated, no.

Q Is he meeting today with the State Department or anybody in the White House?

MR. GIBBS: I believe if he does come, either today or tomorrow, that he will likely meet with officials from the State Department, some of whom, as I said, have been in contact.

Q He won't come here?

MR. GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q That was partially my question, actually -- one of two -- the first one being, if he does come to Washington, as he says he would like to do, will the President meet with him?

MR. GIBBS: Well, at this point, I think he would -- if he comes, he was likely to be seen by State Department officials.

The entire briefing can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Briefing-by-White-House-Press-Secretary-Robert-Gibbs-6-30-09/


Press Briefing July 1st:

Q On Honduras? One of the triggers of the coup was President Zelaya's attempt to alter the constitution to allow for reelection. Does the White House believe that the President -- that President Zelaya shares an element of blame in his ouster, and what message does the White House have to other leaders in Latin America who seek to alter the constitution to further their political ambition?

MR. GIBBS: You know, let me get a little guidance on that. I don't know, except to say -- let me just say that obviously we were working in order to prevent what happened from happening. And I think -- I don't want to stray too far from just the notion that obviously at OAS there's an inter-American charter that establishes rights, rules, and responsibilities as it relates to democratic governance. That's obviously something that's been violated. And the OAS, with the help of the United States, has reacted to that. But let me get some more guidance on the other question.

Q A quick follow-up? Was one of the -- did you ask President Zelaya, in your attempts to stop this from happening, to not hold -- to not proceed with --

MR. GIBBS: We'll reach out to those guys --

Q On Honduras? Just to clarify, Micheletti, the (inaudible) President has said that he's planning to send some representatives to Washington to talk with the U.S. government. Is the White House or the State Department planning to talk with them?

MR. GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q Micheletti has also said that if Zelaya returns to Honduras, he's going to be put in jail. Do you have any comments to that?

MR. GIBBS: No, except I think, again, I would simply reiterate that I think the OAS has laid down some fairly strong conditions and a timeline that we're supportive of and think that should be met in order to restore the democratic rule of law.

Q Why hasn't the President seen him -- having deplored the coup?

MR. GIBBS: I think he's in Panama.

Entire transcript can be found at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Briefing-by-White-House-Press-Secretary-Robert-Gibbs-7-1-09/


Chavez and Honduras:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/01/AR2009070101923.html?hpid=topnews

The Wages of Chavism:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124640649700876791.html

Monday, July 06, 2009

Run for Your Life




I watched this video today and it resonated in my heart. It touched on a part of my heart that has been challenged since I've returned from Honduras. While I was there, we would have 2 or 3 church services a day. By the end of the day, I felt completely poured out. All that was in me, I had poured out for the people of Honduras. And, it was a requirement - a profound necessity - to fill back up on the Word of God, prayer, and time in His presence. It wasn't an option. It was as voluntary as breathing. We had a good deal of "down" time, but it was important to spend that time filling back up in order that we could pour ourselves out.

Since I have been home, I haven't reached that point of being poured out. It has broken my heart to realize this. It should feel as necessary as breakfast to dive into the Word in the morning. I should feel that hunger and thirst as if it were time for lunch in the middle of the day. And, in the evening, I should long for the Word of God and His presence as I would for the final meal of the day. I want this kind of life. I want to run the race in such a way that I require the Daily Bread of the Word of God. I don't want it to ever feel like an option for me. I want to pour out all I'm given and then return to the feet of Jesus for more.

Reading Hebrews 12, I see a training manual of sorts for running this race.

v1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

v2: looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

v3: Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

v7: It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

v11: For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

v12: Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees

v13: And make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

v14: Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

v15: See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled

v28: Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

v29: For our God is a consuming fire.

I want to be able to say, with Paul, that "whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness form God that depends on faith - that I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the Resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:7-11)

So, RUN - RUN FOR YOUR LIVES oh, Children of God! It's time for us to get serious about our faith. None of us knows what tomorrow brings. Right now we enjoy freedom to worship here in America. Let us not take it for granted. Let us fill up continually on the Word of God and spend time in His presence in order that we may share His love and the Hope of the Gospel with all we encounter. I pray that it may be so for me.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Unexpected Blessings in Honduras

Thursday night I returned from an 11 day mission trip to Honduras. It was a WONDERFUL trip and very intense for me. I am still working on gathering all of the miracles we saw in order to have them in one place, but it was beyond anything I could imagine. At the last service alone, 13 people had their sight restored! It was incredible to have the opportunity to minister with the PCF (Peachtree Christian Fellowship) team and pour God's love and power on the people of Honduras. There will be more to come, but I wanted to write about how the trip most affected me personally while it's all still fresh.

God definitely worked on my heart while I was there and I'm pretty sure He broke down anything left of myself that was getting in His way! For those of you who don't know, here's a quick recap of what God has been working in my life in the last 12 years. When I was 18, I first noticed that something was wrong with my body and since then, I've been seeing Doctor after Doctor in an effort to get well. It hasn't happened yet. I have some problems with my hormones that have been very challenging for me and frustrating to say the least. In the last couple of years, I've been extremely tired and in pain every day. It's become a normal setting for me, so I don't notice it as much as I did at first. I've been back and forth with Doctors and tests trying to figure it out. It's been an absolutely overwhelming experience. The week before I left for Honduras, I was visiting my chiropractor (a godly woman who prays over me and listens to the Holy Spirit) and she felt lead to check my thyroid. She felt a growth on it and immediately sent me to a new Doctor. 2 days later, I had an appointment with Coral Benge (another Godly woman who prays for her patients and listens to the Spirit) and she tested me for everything. So, going into this mission trip, I was tired and frustrated and just ready to be well. I've been seeking God in this matter for some time now and I believe that He is healing me and providing the path to healing for me. But, it hasn't borne any fruit yet, so I'm just waiting.

As I was praying in preparation for this trip and over the whole situation with my health, I believe the Lord spoke to me and said that He was going to heal me, but I needed to ask. For those of you who know me, you know that is no simple matter. I have a very difficult time asking for help. I like to be the one upon whom people lean...not the other way around! So, I wrestled with myself and my pride through the first days of the trip. I did talk to Sarah, one of the other leaders, and shared what was going on. But, I knew that God wanted me to ask for prayer myself and not rely on someone else asking for me. (But, I was secretly hoping that Sarah would take that step for me!)

A few days later, during some downtime between services, I was praying and listening to music in the camp dorm room. For a brief moment, I had a burst of courage and quickly spoke up to two of the translators/family members who were in the room with me. I told Dulce and Karla that I had to say something while I still had the courage. I told them that I needed them to pray for me and I quickly told them what was going on. I shared with them that I've been struggling with this for 12 years and I believe that it's the last thing to get in order before God releases me into ministry. Dulce said she thought she had heard from God that my health was standing in the way of the ministry God had for me, but she sort of dismissed it because I appeared to be healthy. God was preparing the way for me and making it so that others knew how to pray! These 2 precious sisters of mine spent time praying over me, sharing words of wisdom, and visions and words of prophecy the Lord gave them for me. It was a very sweet and tender time for me. One I would have missed if I hadn't spoken up. In fact, I'm holding tightly to one of the things Dulce said. She told me that she believed that God healed me the first time I asked but the answer had just been delayed (as Daniel's answer was delayed by the Prince of Persia Daniel 10:13). God reconfirmed the things they spoke in my own heart and in several other ways throughout the trip.

There was one day of this trip that will forever live in my memory. There is a remote village, Limirez, where we planned to go. But, it required a drive up into the mountains, across washed out roads, to as far as we could drive. After leaving the trucks in that village, we had a 2 hour hike ahead of us up into the mountains. Talking with Cristy Garrido (Cocoa Krispie), I knew that the hike was possibly more than I could physically handle. For 2 days before the hike, I prayed and asked God for a way out. I told Him that I would be obedient and would go if that's what He wanted, but I knew that He would have to provide the strength and the way. I never know from day to day how my energy is going to be or what I’m going to feel like. I didn't want to hold the team back or get into the middle of the hike and not be able to complete it. I begged for a way out. None came. So, I started with the team on the hike. It was the most intense and terrifying experience of my life. The climbs and descents were steep and I slid down a bit close to the beginning of the hike and hurt my hip. When we started back up the first part after making it down to the river, I got half way up and saw the swing bridge. That's when the panic attack hit. Now, not only was I unsure of the hike, but I am terrified of heights and bridges...especially bridges held by cables with broken boards! It's a long story, but in short, a combination of lack of strength, exhaustion, and panic made it nearly impossible for me to complete the hike. God provided a way for me to complete it and a team that loved me through it. But, it was an experience that broke me quite a bit. I completed the hike (with the help of a horse) and was able to participate with the team in the services in the village. And, I spent the entire day in prayer. (The horse ride was TERRIFYING!)

There were a few people who made the day bearable for me. First of all, Alan Winter stood in the place of what my Dad would have done if he had been there. He knows my situation and my heart and remembers when I would have been pressing towards the front of the pack. He never once made me feel bad about my limitations and just kept pushing me to keep going. He knew that it would have been devastating to me and to my spirit. He helped me and encouraged me the whole way up the mountain. (And, he stood beside me when I thought I was going to fall off the horse to my death!) We also had with us Jonathan, the son of the pastor in Hocon. He stayed with me and Alan as the team went ahead. He carried my pack, made sure I had water when I needed it and actually saved my life on the way down the mountain (that's a long but funny story!). They were my angels that day! And, the team was so wonderful and spoke words of encouragement. Meilly, Karla, and Dulce prayed over me when I couldn't get my spirit to settle down and when the fear was starting to take over. It was a humbling and intense experience. I owe them all so much!

Something interesting happened the next night. We were leading a service in Olanchito and Phil (The youth pastor at PCF) stood up and said we were going to explore something sensitive. He said we were going to wait on the Holy Spirit if that was ok. He asked if there was anyone who was struggling under the weight of abuse (sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, etc). He said, it's not your fault and I believe God wants to set you free from that tonight. He asked if people would stand for prayer. No one stood. He waited a while. He said he was going to wait on the Holy Spirit...and he just kept waiting. He asked for people to just raise their hands if they wanted prayer. He said he would pray for freedom where they sat. When he first began speaking, I knew in my heart he was speaking to me. I know that I have wrestled with the things that have been said to me by strangers, dirty old men and "friends". I've hidden because of it and thought it was my fault. But, I have also started wondering if something happened to me before I was old enough to remember or if I've blocked something out. Anyway, I FINALLY raised my hand and got Phil's attention. He waited a bit longer. And then, he did something completely unexpected. He SCREAMED, with everything in him, the name of JESUS! I had my eyes closed and was completely unprepared for it, but instead of startling me like it normally would have, it felt like it shed a skin off of me, just as a snake would shed a skin. But, it came off all at once. And my spirit felt lighter. I know God broke those chains that have had me bound for so long! And, the sweetest part of the evening was when I had the opportunity to pray for 3 other women who came up to the front. God allowed me to share HIS love with them and pour salve on their broken hearts in His name. It was really beautiful!

The next morning, Friday, we had our team meeting and spent some time praying over Dulce and Karla as they prepared to leave us the next day. When we were done praying over them, Sarah asked if I still wanted the team to pray for me. I told her I did and she asked me to share my story with the team. Through a lot of tears I shared my heart with the team and how much I wanted to be well enough to serve God the way He has called me. They all gathered around me and prayed and spoke words of encouragement and prophecy over me. Matt Yeager began playing a song in worship that has been resonating in my heart. It's by John Waller and the chorus is:

Our God reigns here
Our God reigns here
We claim this ground in Jesus' name 'cause our God reigns!
Our God reigns here
Our God reigns here
The battle's won, have no fear, God reigns here!

Another of the young men, Nolan, said he felt like we all just needed to yell "FREEDOM" at the top of our lungs. So, we did and it was powerful! I already feel a return of my energy and can sense that something is going on in my body. I truly believe God is healing me and restoring life, energy, and health to my body. I can't wait to see what He does!

This was just the story of my personal blessing and time with God on our trip to Honduras. There is more to come about what God did with the people there. I was so blessed to get to be part of that team. I feel as though God has knit together our hearts and I will never forget them. I miss them all so much and can't wait until God allows me to return to Honduras and minister again.

Thank you everyone for your prayers while I was away! It was an intense time. With other things that happened, including a possible coup, it was a challenging but wonderful time for me. Thank you for sharing in the ministry God has allowed for me and for being blessings in my life!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

I Get So Clumsy

I was listening to an old favorite CD today and stumbled upon this song and just had to laugh. In so many ways, it sums up what the Lord has been teaching me lately.

Clumsy
by:
Chris Rice

You think I'd have it down by now
Been practicin' for thirty years
I should have walked a thousand miles
So what am I still doin' here
Reachin' out for that same old piece of forbidden fruit
I slip and fall and aI knock my halo loose
Somebody tell me what's a boy supposed to do?

I get so clumsy
I get so foolish
I get so stupid
And then I feel so useless
But You're sayin' You love me
And You're still gonna hold me
And that You wanna be near me
'Cause You're makin' me holy
You're still makin' me holy

I'm gonna get it right this time
I'll be strong and I'll make You proud
I've prayed that prayer a thousand times
But the rooster crows and my tears roll down
Then You remind me You made me from the dust
And I can never, no never, be good enough
And that You're not gonna let that come between us

From where I stand Your holiness is up so high I can barely reach it
My only hope is to fall on Jesus

I get so clumsy
I get so foolish
I get so stupid
And then I feel so useless
But You're sayin' You love me
And You're still gonna hold me
And that You wanna be near me
'Cause You're makin' me holy
You're still makin' me holy



I really haven't had time to process fully all of the things God is doing and teaching me right now. I have so many blogs I need to write. But, while this was fresh in my mind, I wanted to share it.

For those of you who know me, you know that I struggle with perfectionism and I'm really hard on myself when I mess up. It's actually been crippling at times. What some of you may not know is that I have been a very fearful person. There have been times that fear has kept me from moving forward or trying something new. I worry about everything and it can be exhausting.

But, in the last few weeks, I've seen that spirit of fear and worry completely removed from my life. It's been a long journey for me, but I believe that the hold it had over me is finally broken and I'm gaining the freedom to move on to what is next. Some things have worked their way into my heart that had before only been in my head. My fear and worry was rooted in a false idea that maybe God wasn't going to come through for me. I felt like I had to be good enough to deserve His love (which according to scripture is NOT possible).

It took me a long time to realize that those false ideas had taken root in my heart. I know the scriptures and I know my Savior. But, somehow, I still didn't fully trust. In the last several weeks, God has shown Himself to me in new ways and the knowledge of my head has truly taken up residence in my heart and I am free!

It's true. Sometimes, I get so clumsy, but God still loves me and uses me. I'm just continuing to chase after Him so that I can love like Jesus and be obedient to His call. What journey it's been. What a journey is ahead!

I'll share more later. :-)

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Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the SPirt of life set me fre from the law of sin and death. - Romans 8:1-2

Friday, March 27, 2009

When is enough really enough? I'm seriously asking.

When is enough really enough? At what point should you draw a line in the sand in a relationship and say "I'm done"? I don't have a good answer to that question and it's really starting to bug me. I'm writing today in hopes of stirring some conversation and gaining some insight, or at least some new perspectives.

I don't think the root of my confusion can be found in human logic. From a logical and human perspective, I think those lines can sometimes be clear. If someone hurts you continually or is more selfish than not, maybe it's time to walk away. In my humanness, there have been times when I have felt like a relationship wasn't worth the work it required and I've wanted to walk away. I think that's normal and happens quite often in relationships. There seems to be a natural ebb and flow to life and people come and go from our lives and our relationships change.

But, what is the right thing to do? What is the godly thing to do? This is where I get frustrated. In the last few months I've spent some time reading Paul's epistles. The theme I see over and over again is that we are to love like Christ. That's what we're called to do. Love like Christ. What does that look like? What does that mean?

Does it mean that I keep loving someone who hurts me (intentionally or not) over and over again? Do I stay in relationship with that person? Is there a point when it's excusable to walk away?

I have a family member with whom I do not speak. She chose to be selfish, to lie, and to hurt my family intentionally. I feel as though it's appropriate for her to experience consequences for her actions. As a family, we have chosen not to be in relationship with her until she makes things right. And, part of me believes that's the best thing for all involved. Consequences are important teaching tools and, had she experienced more consequences in the past instead of being excused all of the time, perhaps she would have made different choices. But, there is a part of me that truly hates broken relationships and wonders if my family is going to have to make the first move to restore the relationship, even though the breach wasn't our fault. What if she never accepts responsibility? What if she never apologizes? What if it keeps happening? I keep hearing an echo in my heart...."70 times 7". But, does forgiveness have to mean restoration of the relationship? Can you really love someone, forgive what they've done, but not restore the fellowship? To me, that somehow feels incomplete.

In giving advice to a friend recently, I told her that things won't change overnight and that she had to choose to keep loving even when the person doesn't respond the way she hopes. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Isn't that what Christ does for us? How often we reject Him and yet He loves us. He forgives us. He removes our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. So, who am I to choose to be unloving?

My fatal flaw seems to be that I feel things too deeply and too intensely. Once I have chosen to love someone, there's not much that can change it. It is a maddening quality to those who love me. They see me take hit after hit in relationships and yet not walk away. (Let me be clear that this does not involve physical abuse of any kind. I am only speaking of the wounds we inflict upon one another when we choose to be selfish or thoughtless or intentionally mean). I tend to hear "I told you so" a good bit. Maybe I'm just stubborn and hard-headed, but I hold on until there is absolutely nothing left to hold. I'm fierce about relationships that way. But, from the outside, it doesn't make sense.

In talking to another friend this week, I was told that my ability to love and feel so deeply is a truly beautiful thing when it's right. I believe that to be true. I believe we're supposed to keep on loving and keep on forgiving and keep on working on our relationships. We have to give each other grace and find a way to keep trying. What if it actually does make a difference? What if loving someone, regardless of what they say or do, actually begins to change them? Wouldn't that be beautiful?

But, how much of yourself do you give up in the process?

Over the years, I have learned to make better boundaries for myself and have found a way to guard my heart until a person can be trusted. That hasn't always been easy for me. But now I find myself behind walls I hoped never to have because I've been wounded and need to protect myself from further injury. I wish that wasn't necessary. It's unnatural and uncomfortable for me.

So, what's a person to do? I know myself well enough to know that I’m going to keep on choosing to love even when it doesn't make sense to people around me. I'm going to continue taking the flack and doing what I believe is right. I believe we're supposed to love like Christ. I want to become more and more like Him. I want to find ways to love people in my life who have done nothing to earn it and everything to destroy it. Is that crazy? Is it wrong? What am I missing?

Seriously...feedback is encouraged and desired. Anyone have any thoughts?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Putting things in perspective....again

As I was driving this afternoon, I was surprised by a new perspective on my relationship with God. Some time ago, I was involved in a business venture that was completely frustrating. A competitor approached us and asked for help in running his business. You see, my family has been in the travel business for more than 20 years, and I, myself, have been involved with the agency for the last 15. We have seen the industry go through a number of big changes and have managed to survive, and prosper, through them all. This competitor, although a businessman, did not have any experience in the travel industry. So, as he was waiting out his contracts, he asked us if we would help.

We arranged a situation that was mutually beneficial and had a plan to help him recoup as much money as possible (or at least not lose any more) and then absorb his business once his contractual obligations were fulfilled. It was a good plan. It should have worked for both parties. What we failed to factor in, however, was his inability to truly relinquish control. For nearly a year we tried to use our experience and knowledge to make changes in the way the business was run. But, we were handcuffed at every turn. I was given the task of managing the office, but not given the authority to do so. He came in every day and questioned everything and still played the role of boss. The employees were confused and didn't know to whom they should listen. On top of everything, he had also created a hostile work environment where the employees were terrified to do anything for fear of being yelled at or made to feel stupid. It was awful on more levels than I can say. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I would come home every day completely exhausted from the drain of it. I couldn’t understand why he would ask for our help and yet ignore every suggestion and resist every change. Didn't he come to us? Aren't we the ones who have experience and knowledge?

hmmmmmm. What does that sound like? Yes. That sounds exactly like they way I often handle things in my own life. I will have moments of clarity where I know that the best thing to do is place my life, my plans, hopes and dreams in the hands of the One who made me. I know, in my heart, that He knows what's best for me and what will only cause me pain. He created me with a purpose and a plan in mind. Who better to allow complete control of my life than the One who holds everything in His hands and does all things well?

Ouch.

I'm just like that business owner who couldn't let go. I know that the best thing for me is to give complete control to the Father, but I don't really do it. I hold onto pieces and gradually take back more and more. I'm a person who likes to have control over situations. I'm very cautious and I like to know where I’m going. I like to have a plan. And, I actually like to have a number of back up plans, just in case the original plan doesn't work out. I do not like to leave control over my life in the hands of anyone. And, too often, that includes the One who created me.

I was talking to my cousin today and she was telling me of her plans. Then, she said, "but, God looks at our plans and laughs, right? So..who knows?" And, she's right. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). Psalm 2 says, "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One. 'Let us break their chains,' they say, 'and throw off their fetters.' The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them all."

I've often wondered at the Israelites and how they could go astray so many times. I have never understood how they could walk across the Red Sea on dry land and then turn around and worship another god. But, I do it too. Days like today remind me that I am just like them. I pray that each day I get closer and closer to staying true. I pray that one day I will really let go of the things I hold so tightly and find the freedom the comes with giving them into the Father's hand. Maybe having a visual and an emotional association with this failed business venture and overbearing owner will help me remember to not be like that in my relationship with the Lord.

At least I know the Lord has a sense of humor and can laugh at me in my attempts to do it on my own. That's strangely comforting...to be seen as a stubborn child who is loved so much by her Father that He lets her make her mistakes and catches her when she falls.

Praise God that He loves us like that! Where would we be without His grace?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Come Thou Fount

This is one of my favorite hymns. It resonates within my heart like little else. It's been on my mind for the last few days, and I've been meditating on the words.

Come Thou Fount

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodius sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I'm come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger,
interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above



I think there are a number of reasons why this song resonates so deeply with me.
First of all, I love words and word pictures. There are several here that give me pictures of theology that make it digestible and real to me. The picture of God's grace and blessing as a fountain flowing with rushing water and streams of mercy leaves my heart refreshed. As a musician, the thought of tuning my heart to hear His grace reminds me of the dissonance and disharmony that comes, not from close harmony, but voices or instruments out of tune with one another. It makes me recognize the discord in my own heart and relationships when I've fallen out of tune with His grace. Mixed with a melody that I dearly love, these truths and images find their way into my heart.

I relate deeply with the sentiment of the author. When he writes, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love", I feel the pain, sorrow, and disconnect that comes when I realize I have wandered away from my First Love. I feel the pull of my sin nature so often and I am prone to wander into it, even though I know it's not in my best interest. I hear the words of Paul, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing" (Romans 7:19) and I understand his struggle. I've been in that place where I have the best of intentions to do what is right, but I fall yet again. And, it's not because I don't love God, it's just those moments when I lose the battle with my flesh. And, that's why I love the beginning of that verse, "O to grace, how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be. Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee". I owe so much to the grace of God. If I were to be bound to anything, I would want to be chained to the grace of God and unable to wander from the God I love. I want, more than anything, to stay in the will of God and contiue in His grace and mercy. I hate the times when I wander.

The second verse is a quick presentation of the Gospel story. We come to God only with His help. Jesus came after us when we were strangers to Him. His blood covers our sin, takes our place, and allows us access to the family of God.

There is an argument to be made that old hymns deliver stronger messages than the contemporary praise choruses employed by many churches. I think it's good to have a combination of both and truly enjoy contemporary artists who have begun refreshing hymns for a new generation. But, what I love about hymns is the straight forward voices of the writers and the deep theology taught through song. I love how they stir my heart, challenge my faith, and remind me of deep spiritual truths. And, I love how the vehicle of song puts these nuggets in my heart in a way that few sermons ever have.

I grew up with hymns, but it has been so long since I've been part of a church where hymns are common that I've forgotten their power. I love contemporary worship songs, but there is still a place for hymns in our modern worship. Their truths never change, for they speak the truth of God. Perhaps the vehicle needs tweaking in order to find its way into the hearts of this generation. But, the truths, they are timeless, and stirring, and a tool that God has used over and over again to bind my wandering heart to Him.

Blogging Silence

The other day, I happened to notice that it had been 3 months since my last blog entry. I can't believe it's been that long! There's usually a number of reasons why my writing goes silent and the top two are:

1. Busyness
2. Emotional drain

It's not usually because I don't want to write, but because I can't. I hate those periods of time because the lack of writing usually signals real struggles in my heart, mind, and/or spirit. However, when the fog lifts, writing becomes my way of processing all of the things that have happened and a way to chronicle what I've learn.

The last time I wrote, I was processing grief. Since then, much has happened in my life and there is much to process. I love this time. Thanks for indulging me as I share my thoughts, my life, and my heart in the coming weeks.