Thursday, December 24, 2009

Checking In... just keeps's kinda funny that way!  Oh, well, I suppose the fact that life does go on is definitely something to be thankful for, especially during unexpected difficult times.  Can I get a witness!?!

Ok, so, since it's been a while since I blogged and all, I bet you thought you were off the hook!  Wrong!

So, tell's that challenge/homework going for ya?  (You know, the one I dared you with back on the November 11th post...go check it out if you are just now reading my blog for the first time...but you others have no know the challenge I'm talking about!)  No, seriously, I do want to know how you're doing with it.  In case you're wondering...I'm still plugging along at it.  Soooo much I'm learning, too!

Well, there are only a few options of answers for "How's the challenge/homework coming?"

1.  "I've started, but I haven't gotten all the way through yet." 
- Well, I must say, very good!  Seriously, I know you may be beating yourself up over it a little (or a lot), but I promise, sometimes you just have to do things at your own pace.  And, believe it or not, that is exactly the pace at which you should be doing it.  The main thing is...just don't quit!  Don't give up!  Keep reading and considering all that is there and you will be sooo glad you did!
- Are you hung up on something?  Do you have questions that have surfaced?  Ask.  I may not know the answer, but I can sure try to help you find out.
- By the way, for any of you at whatever stage in this, one thing I have learned very well lately is to not wait until you (or I) have all of the answers and get it all figured out (we never one can).  Take Him as you know Him right now, the way He has revealed Himself to you up to this point in your life, especially through the book of John as you are working your way through this challenge.  He will progressively answer more of your questions and show you more of Himself in your life as you are honest about what you do know (little or much) and act on the knowledge you do have.  

2.  "I've already finished." 
- Awesome!!!  Now, did you really consider it as you were reading it?  If so, what kind of thoughts did you have?  What different things did you learn (or are you still learning, rather)?  Please share. 
- Do you remember the part about Him feeding the extremely large crowd of people?  Did you catch a couple of the lessons in that? 
  • Like for instance, sometimes in order to realize that God is at work we have to realize how humanly impossible the situation is. 
  • Also, when we are dealing with something that is so impossible, are you one who takes whatever you have (strength, hope, energy, belief, money, etc. - even as little as it may be) and brings it to Him knowing He can take it and multiply it like He did the food that day and do something you could have never dreamed possible!?!
  • Here's an awesome quote for you from my study of John I am going through (called BSF, in case you want to know more about it).  It's related to a lesson to be learned from the boy who gave his small lunch to be used that day, not knowing if he would even get to eat any of his own lunch, but just thinking that he might could be of some help... 
  • "You must risk in faith before you know by experience." (Will you take that risk!?!)
3.  "I haven't started at all..."  
     (followed by one of the following:)
   a.  "...but I do plan to, just haven't done it yet."
  • Again, I'm very glad you plan to (of course, it doesn't matter whether I'm glad or don't have to please don't owe anything to me...this is all for YOU...for YOUR benefit, not mine.).  Do start as soon as you get a chance, and I will say the same to you as I did above in #1..go back up there and read that again. 
   b.  "...and I don't plan to at all." 
        (To which I will then ask "Why Not?" and your response  
         will quite possibly be very close to one of the following:)
       i.  "I already know what it says, because I've read all or 
            most of John as well as the rest of the Bible so many
            times over the years...not to mention all of the 
            sermons I've heard on it (or even preached on it).  
            So, really, what's the point?  I already know all there
            is to know."
  • Really?  You do?  I do understand what you are saying, as I have thought and told myself the very same thing several times, for several years of time as a matter of fact. 
  • Is it really that you think that there is no way you could see/read/learn anything new by reading John again...or could there be more to it?  
  • Let's think about this.  Time to really get honest.  I dare you!
  • Could it be that you have been rationalizing your life and way of thinking for so long that you don't even realize that - even though you say you are happy with your life and the way you are living it and are furthermore not doing anything wrong - could it be that you are actually refusing to "come to the light lest your deeds be exposed" and you have to face and admit the fact that you have been wrong after all?  (quoting from BSF and John 3:18-21, not to mention my own experience) 
  • I know it's terribly difficult and even humiliating to consider that you might have to hear "I told you so.",  even if it is your own self saying it!  (And, honestly, you are probably the only one who will say that to you...soooo many people in your life will be so overjoyed and refreshed to see the change in you and the obvious joy in your life that they won't even think twice to welcome you home with loving, forgiving, caring arms.)  
  • No one can judge you, because no one on this earth is above sinking to the lowest depths imaginable...and each of us truly knows that about ourselves.
       ii.  "I don't believe in God, so there is no point in reading
            the Bible.  It's no more real than the mythological 
  • Do you believe everything else that you read?  Fiction?  Mythology?  Folklore?
  • If you read other things KNOWING they are not true nor real, then what will it hurt to read this one book of the Bible, John?  Besides, it's nowhere near the length/size of many highly read literary works (the likes of which you may enjoy reading as well). 
  • Why not just take this intellectual challenge and read it once through?
  • I'm not asking you to believe it.  As a matter of fact, you can even leave out the prayer part of the challenge if that's just way too "out there" for you.  No big deal.  Give it a shot.  
  • Again, as I said when I first issued the challenge...I dare you!  I'll even up the ante now...I DOUBLE DOG dare you!  :o)  To quote a pretty great movie, "What are you...yellow?"  ( anybody home!?!)  Ok, just had to throw some humor in there somewhere, whether you caught it or not.  :o)

Well, there's my re-cap of catching up on the ole assignment.  I'll leave you on this Christmas Eve with one more wonderful, thought provoking quote from BSF that is really a pretty cool concept to me...especially at this gift-giving time of year that all began back with THE Gift that was so lovingly and undeservingly given to us. 

"One who receives God's Gift of Jesus Christ and eternal life GIVES TO GOD to gift of one's love, thankfulness, and life."  WOW!  What a concept!  WE actually give TO HIM when we RECEIVE the Gift He offers US!  If only I could convince all of these people at Christmas that I really AM giving to THEM by receiving FROM them!!!  What!?!  You don't think that'll fly!?!  Me either!  But, I'm thankful it really DOES fly with Him!!!  :o) 

Merry Christmas to ALL!!!!!  :o)  God DOES love YOU!  Stop fighting it, and receive it!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

"What was I thinking!?!"

First, just to let you know, I finally got to fix my blog settings to where anyone should be able to post comments...whether you have a Google/Gmail account or not (use "anonymous").  Sorry it wasn't set right before, but I look forward to hearing from you all now! 
Now...I actually wrote this post a few days ago but have just gotten around to typing it up and posting it...

As you look back over your life, do you recall any "What was I thinking!?!" moments and/or stages of your life?

Yep...same here!  Tons of 'em!!!

Now, if you had the chance to go back and do some or all of those differently in light of what you know now...would you?  (Think hard before you respond to that!)

I would have honestly said yes to that question if you had asked me at many points prior to now...

However, I have come to a point in my life in which I can honestly say that, with all of those "What was I thinking!?!" moments included, I have NO REGRETS...and furthermore I would not go back and change a thing.

How can I say that, you ask?  Well, true, if I knew then what I know now I would have most likely done things differently in some or all of those moments.  BUT, now that I am where I am and I am who I am (not that I am anyone amazing or have everything all figured out, by any means!), I would not change a thing in how I got to this point.  Each and every moment - good and bad - has shaped me into who I am today.

Have there been times of intense hurt / pain / heartache / struggle / loss / tragedy / mistake?  Absolutely!
Would I want to re-live any of those times ever again?  Absolutely NOT!


I, today, would not go back and rearrange any of the circumstances / situations / choices in those times or any - even if I could.

Reminds me of a very familiar (and loved by me) movie at this time of year...Oh, come on, you know...

"It's a Wonderful Life!"

Was George Bailey's "Wonderful Life" the one he went back and made all of the changes to...
or the one he already had all along - deep in debt, creeky old house, sick kids and all?

I think you know the answer to that!

What about your life?  What are YOU thinking!?!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So much to say yet I don't know what to say...

Do you ever feel like that? I'm sure you do. Seriously...I haven't blogged in so long because soooo much in life is happening, as it has a tendency to do. And, now that I have a minute to sit down and try to collect my thoughts, they're kind of everywhere!

One thing I do know is that on the subject of Trust and Faith, one of those many unexpected things popped up that has once again caused me to (as someone I just read so eloquently put it) put some more shoe leather to the road. Honestly, with all of the various expected and unexpected things going on, I don't know how I could respond at all to them if not for having the strength of the One who cares about me enough to be my strength and hope and to even surround me with others who care about me, support me, and encourage me.

Strength...what a concept! You know, I used to ask Him to give me strength in different times of my life...that was until I went through some times in which I had to ask Him to not just GIVE me strength, but to BE my strength. I'll let you digest that one for a while. If you've been through those times like that, you may know what I'm talking about. Times when just asking Him to give you hope seems almost pointless, because He (especially in those times) has to literally BE your hope. The times when you literally have nothing left. Those times.

In light of those thoughts, I searched the word "strength" (on and found some thoughts that speak to what I am are a few of them just in case you were curious. (Notice how they say not only that He GIVES me strength...but He IS my strength.)

"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." (Exodus 15:2)

"[ For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: ] I love you, O LORD, my strength." (Psalm 18:1)

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped." (Psalm 28:7)

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1Corinthians 1:25)

And also Hope...

"But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you." (Psalm 39:7)

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." (Psalm 62:5)

"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word." (Psalm 119:114)

"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word." (Psalm 119:147)

" Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—the LORD, who remains faithful forever." (Psalm 146:5-6)

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:30-31)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." (Lamentations 3:21-22)

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5)

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. " (Romans 12:12)

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:11-13)

"This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things." (1 Timothy 4:9-11)

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." (1 Timothy 6:17)

"Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:17-19)

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:23-24)

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrew 11:1)

"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:14-16)

Whew!!!! I HOPE (pun intended) you stuck with me through all of that! What can I say, I can't help but get carried away with the HOPE that I have in Him! Can you blame me!?!

Okay, okay, for my skeptical friends out know who you are...if you hung with me through all of that, I'm proud of you, for one! And also, I'm sure you have lots to digest and lots of thoughts about all of the above. Let me just pose this thought/question to you...

If you're the one who is right about all of this (or even the thought that God doesn't exist because you can't prove it to your mind, so all of the above is moot)...if you are right, then what will I lose by believing all of this here and now?

AND...furthermore...if I am (and His word is) right, just think of what is at stake...on both the "good" and "bad" end of it all.

Soooo...consider...ponder...digest...take a step of faith and give Him a chance.
It's win-win either way if you do!

(Oh, and for all who are reading this...skeptics included...I highly recommend going back to each of those passages I listed above and finding them in the Bible and reading the scriptures and/or entire chapter around each one. Soooo much good stuff in there! easy way to do that is on )