Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Immanuel - God With Us


Is He Immanuel to you?

If you pray, do you often pray for God to "be with" you and/or others?  I do, too, at times.

However, if we consider that Immanuel - Jesus Christ - who was born as a baby on this earth so many years ago is truly "God with us" as the very name "Immanuel" means, then is there ever a time when He is not with us?

Let me present His Word to you and let His Spirit speak to you as He has been speaking to me as I ponder this.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). - Matthew 1:22-23
 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered!
   Listen, all you distant lands.
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
   Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
   propose your plan, but it will not stand,
   for God is with us. - Isaiah 8:9-10
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? 
If God is for us, who can be against us?  - Romans 8:31

The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress. - Psalm 46:7

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; 
no one will snatch them out of my hand.  
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; 
no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 
I and the Father are one. - Jesus - John 10:27-30

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you 
and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. 
The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. 
But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. 
Because I live, you also will live. 
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, 
and I am in you." - Jesus - John 14:16-20

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, 
the gospel of your salvation. 
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, 
the promised Holy Spirit, 
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance 
until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—
to the praise of his glory. - Ephesians 1:13-14

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.- Romans 8:35-39

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  
- Jesus - Matthew 28:20

So, I ask you again:
Is He Immanuel to you?
If not, He can be.
If He is, rest in knowing that He is in you and with you 
now and forever. 

Merry Christmas!
God is with us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Wise Men image from's Easton's Illustrated Dictionary
Wise Men.

I have been thinking a lot about them lately.  Even moreso after my son portrayed one in his kindergarten's Happy Birthday, Jesus play depicting the birth of Jesus as told in the Bible.

Were there 3 of them? 
Not necessarily.  Between the lot of them they brought three gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh - that we do know.  (Matthew 2:11)

Were they kings?   
Not necessarily.  Matthew does not call them kings in his gospel account to us of the birth of Christ.  According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, they were not called kings until A.D. 225 by Tertullian.  Depending upon the version of the Bible you read, they are however interchangeably called "magi".  The Holman Bible Dictionary says that their interpretation of the stars led them to find and honor Jesus, the newborn King.

What has had me thinking about these men so much lately?  
(Other than the seasonal obvious reasons...)
I have always taken for granted that the Bible refers to them as "wise men."  Sure that is also a somewhat technical descriptive term referring to their profession or position in society.  However, I kind of have this new notion in my mind that God, when inspiring the writing of His Word by His Spirit through Matthew, specifically chose to use words for these men that could and would very often be translated as "wise men." 

These men truly were wise in a few major aspects, if no other.  
  • They were wise enough to recognize the star that announced the arrival of our King.
  • They were wise enough to not only know the prophecies about the coming Messiah, but to recognize and acknowledge publicly that the Messiah had come and fulfilled the prophecies of Him.
  • They were wise enough to unwaveringly follow that star until it led them directly to Jesus.
  • They were wise enough to know that they were in no way above this new baby King, but instead owed Him great reverence in the form of bowing down to Him, worshiping Him, and even bringing Him precious and meaningful gifts.
  • They were wise enough to not trust King Herod but rather to trust a dream which warned them not to go back to Herod and tell him what he wanted to know about this new Kingly competition in the form of a baby.
I may be way off here, but I just love when the Spirit of God cues me in to some of the precious tapestry of how He has woven His Word together so perfectly and so specifically - word for word. 

With all of this in mind, you may or may not know or be royalty in human form---however, you can be a wise man just as these magi were in the days of Jesus' royal arrival on this earth. 

So, no matter what your status in life nor your current and past mistakes, do you still seek Him?  Will you now?
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.  Jeremiah 29:12-14
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find meProverbs 8:17
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  Isaiah 55:6-7

Wise men (and women) still seek Him.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Secrets of the Sixth Edition by Randall Hedtke

Natural Selection, Survival of the Fittest - ever heard of it?

I would venture to say that most if not all of you have.


Have you ever read the Theory of Natural Selection for yourself?

How about On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin - Have you read that?  Not just have you heard of it and/or learned about it in school---but have you read it for yourself?  How about all six editions of it?

Most people of our day have not actually read On the Origin of the Species (which contains the Theory of Natural Selection), though we have "studied" it in school and heard a lot of debate about it.  I myself fall into this category, I must admit.  And, as Randall Hedtke points out in his book Secrets of the Sixth Edition, I am not unlike most other people of my time - no matter what side of the fence we claim.  Basically, as he puts it, few people bother to read Origin,
"for two reasons.  First, Darwin's writing style was wordy, repetitious and vague; consequently, few people have the mental stamina or desire to read the book from beginning to end.  Second, there is little reason why anyone would want to read the Origin, since the basic concept of natural selection, or survival of the fittest, is explained in just a few sentences in most high school or college textbooks."
For this reason, Hedtke has not only read all six editions of Origin, but in Secrets of the Sixth Edition he has also brilliantly and logically presented quotes from each edition as well as countless other documentation from Darwin and a myriad of other well-respected scientists from his day to this day.  Secrets of the Sixth Edition is actually a collection of essays Hedtke has written based on his research over time of Darwin and Darwin's life work, On the Origin of the Species.

Rather than just taking what we hear as the "proven" gold standard for science and the origin of life, Hedtke challenges the reader to consider the facts and even the lack of facts for yourself.  As he repeatedly and accurately points out,
"In order to qualify evolution as a scientific theory, one would have to include alternative points of view for each item of evolution evidence, something evolution proponents, beginning with Darwin himself, have studiously avoided. In addition, all evidence unfavorable to evolution would have to be included. ... The typical evolution curriculum is not scientifically objective because it does not include counterinduction: alternative points of view for each line of evolution evidence.  Doctrines abhor counterinduction because it tends to enhance skepticism.  Theories, on the other hand, embrace counterinduction because it nurtures skepticism.  Evolution, as the textbooks present it, is not true science at all."
Futhermore, throughout Secrets Hedtke gives the reader a thorough presentation of who Darwin was, from Darwin's own words as well as that of many of his closest contemporaries.  As he shows us, Darwin was very mentally conflicted for many years of his life...until he published the sixth and final edition of Origin - the edition is which he deliberately discredits the theory of natural selection.  No, he did not recant evolution, but he knowingly discredited the cornerstone theory (natural selection) which gave/gives any merit to the theory of evolution as a whole.  Hedkte gives even more in-depth and compelling evidence and quotes that show that Darwin himself often wavered between opposing explanations for the world's origin, and,
"...if Darwin himself can waver between two opposing explanations for an earth's origins evidence, why are students not granted the same privilege..."?
Hedtke even points out that,
"Late in his life, in a conversation with the Duke of Argyll, the duke commented to Darwin, 'It was impossible to look at the numerous purposeful contrivances in nature and not see that intelligence was their cause.' Darwin 'looked at [him] very hard and said, 'Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,' and he shook his head vaguely, adding, 'it seems to go away.'"
 These interesting, intriguing, very little-known quotes, conversations, and letters are mere tidbits of the wealth of information Hedtke offers in this logically presented argument for allowing alternative theories for the origin of the earth and of life itself to be presented, specifically in the classroom.  After all, evolution is not nearly as true to objective science as many may assume based on life-long indoctrination without counterinduction.

So, I challenge you - read Randall Hedtke's Secrets of the Sixth Edition.  Keep on open, objective mind as you do.  Use his numerous cited references to look deeper into it for yourself, if you like.  Then, come back to this evolution table and consider what you have objectively discovered.  No matter what you come away with, I challenge you after having objectively read this work of Hedtke's, to consider why it is so "wrong" to allow students in a classroom to be presented with more than just the evolution side of the origin of life coin.

Aren't we claiming true, objective science in the classroom and textbooks, after all?

Oh, and one other point of interest regarding the book:  though it is relatively short in length, it is not, in my opinion, a light read.  Hedtke does a great job of explaining the various quotes he uses, but those he quotes - especially Darwin - are often wordy and difficult to follow due to the time period in which they lived as well as their profession.  Additionally, as Hedtke is logically presenting a case and proving his point, he uses a large amount of scientific discussion, which is to be expected and is very thorough...but definitely not light reading by any means.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The War of the Socks

"Put your socks on." 

"I don't want to."

"I said put your socks on.  You get to wear your pajamas and house-shoes to school today for the Polar Express party, so you need to wear your socks in case you want to take off your shoes.  Your feet will stay warm and clean."

"I said I don't want to."

"I didn't ask what you want to do, I told you to put your socks on.  Do it now, or you will miss the party."

Sound familiar.  Possibly so.  But, it gets even better...

Finally, after crying dramatically while brushing teeth, getting two spankings, and stomping around the house saying, "I SAID I'M SORRY!" - finally, a truly apologetic five year old son came to me and had his socks on as he asked forgiveness for talking back and being bad.

I forgave---of course.

Then, I sent him to get his coat from the other side of the house.

I heard him calling me to come to him, and what did I find when I walked into the living room?

There he was, sitting there in the recliner with the most innocent look on his face and his legs crossed...socks laying ON THE FLOOR...putting his house-shoes back on...saying, "Mommy, can you call my teacher and ask her if it is okay if I come to school with no socks on?"


Where did that sweet, repentant, sincerely apologetic boy go?  Mind you, he was still being sweet...BUT, WHAT IS HE THINKING!?!  Oh, the nerve!

Fast forward a bit and a boy with socks on under his house-shoes finally got to school late after having very sincerely apologized again ("Mommy, I'm sorry for all of that trouble."). 

Knowing these are his last few days at this precious school he loves before changing mid-year to a new one very far away, this mother just could not force him to stay home from such a special day...rebellion or not.

All of this reminds me of how God loves His children - the Israelites of the Old Testament days as well as all of His children in all generations.  As I am reading through Isaiah, I see our Father repeatedly warning the Israelites of the dangers of not obeying Him and of seeking refuge in anyone other than their God.  He loves them and us so much, it truly angers Him to know His children will repeatedly rebel, disobey, and even scoff at Him and His words of love and protection for them. 

Yet---He still promises them renewal and refuge.  Hope and peace. 

In spite of their inevitable attempts at life without Him, He continually protects them and provides for them---and us.  Yes, punishment is often necessary as is purging and cleansing from the idols His children often welcome into their lives.  But, after the purging and cleansing, there is a promise of peace and rest.

See for yourself:

“Woe to the obstinate children,”
   declares the LORD,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
   forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
   heaping sin upon sin;
who go down to Egypt
   without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
   to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children,
   children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction.  

 “In repentance and rest is your salvation,
   in quietness and trust is your strength,
   but you would have none of it."

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
   therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
   Blessed are all who wait for him!  Isaiah 30:1-2, 9, 15, 18

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
   who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
   and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
   or seek help from the LORD. 

...the LORD Almighty will shield Jerusalem;
he will shield it and deliver it,
   he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.” 
Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against.  For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made. Isaiah 31:1, 5-7

The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert,
   his righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
   its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
   in secure homes,
   in undisturbed places of rest.  Isaiah 32:16-18
In this season of the year in which we reflect on our lives - past, present, and future - consider what part(s) of your life you are trying to do on your own.

Are you struggling to get your own way?  To go barefoot instead of putting on your socks, as you know you should do? 

Quit being obstinate.  It's more strain on you, now and in the long run. 

"Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against."

Return to Him and rest in Him.

Does this resonate with you?  If so, how?  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  Oh, and sorry for the long absence from posting on my part ... life has been "happening" ... a lot!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What if... life has made me cynical?

The other day when I was listening to Lee Strobel on the radio, he said something that struck a nerve with me.

When describing three different types of people who choose to not believe in God, one of them was very familiar to me.

The cynical nurse.

The nurse he described was cynical for many life reasons beyond her career.  Those reasons are something with which we can all easily relate.  Relationships gone bad – repeatedly.  Being let down by those you once looked up to and respected.  Loss of many kinds, whether by physical death or various other types of separation.  So many reasons to be cynical and hardened by life.

Then there’s the nurse part.

That’s what struck me most.

You see, I am a nurse.  And, for many years, I was the cynical nurse.  I knew and still know many other cynical nurses.

Why do we caregivers often share that common trait?

Yes, the various life struggles and disappointments I previously mentioned do play into our commonalities—but what makes us, as nurses, share in the overwhelming cynicism?

Our job.

I know, caring for others seems so glorious and rewarding and ooey gooey with warm fuzzy feelings of doing good…from the outsider’s perspective, at least.

Imagine—it is the night shift in the ICU (the 3rd of 7 in a row) and you have one patient who is teetering on the brink of literal death all night long and requires untold amounts of energy, attention, and awareness from you – physically, mentally, emotionally…all of you.  AND, you have another patient to care for who is just hitting that magic hour of “delirium tremens” (a.k.a. “DT’s”) in which their alcohol withdrawal symptoms have become extremely severe to the point of uncontrollable mental status changes as well as serious physical manifestations.  The latter patient, when you are able to break away from the other’s bedside and come and care for him, is physically and verbally lashing out at you – the caregiver – the one who is doing everything within your power to help keep him safe and alive.  In addition to all of this stressful patient care, which is your top priority, you also have to make sure to document thoroughly, accurately, and in a timely manner everything you are doing throughout your shift as you care for these patients. After all, you never know when someone or their family may come back and name you and/or the hospital in a lawsuit regarding the time that this patient was under your care in the hospital.

There are many other factors I could describe to you that play into this whole patient care thing, but I think you are getting the idea.

By the end of the shift, and definitely by the end of the seven shifts in a row, you are at your wit’s end – exhausted beyond comprehension…physically, mentally, and emotionally.  This is not what you signed up for.  This is not what your caring, sympathetic heart was feeling led to do.  At this point, just knowing your patients both survived through the night – and you did, too – is quite a relief.

Then, the mind games kick in…

“I should have done that better.”  “Did I forget to check that lab value on the DT patient while my other patient was being resuscitated?”  “If I had only thought to do ____, my patient may not have almost died tonight.”

And on, and on, and on it goes.

And so goes the formation of layers of cynicism in the life of a nurse.

We somehow let ourselves, as caregivers and healthcare providers, take on the feelings of ultimate responsibility of a patient’s life and death.  True, much of that can lie in our hands in certain situations.  BUT, we can so easily get swooped up into the whirlwind of thinking that our patient’s life is something we are ultimately in control of and responsible for and at fault for if their life is harmed or even ends on our watch.

Yes, I know we do need to realize and not take lightly the important role we play in the life of a patient.  Trust me, as a whole, we do.  This is why we struggle with sleeping and caring for ourselves like we know we should.  We worry.  We fret.  We then, to cope, begin to harden and become more and more cynical.  It’s what we do.

Mind you, I am speaking for myself and many others, though I know I do not speak for all nurses and healthcare professionals.

So, my point with all of this?

Well, as a new nurse I went down this cynical road.  It was a very tough one.  It just so happens that I was also deliberately running away from God during this time as well.  Denying everything I knew to be true about Him – The Truth.  Trusting in what I saw in front of me daily at work – death, addiction, child abuse, negligence, self-destruction, cancer, disease, and those who thought they could just dial in the perfect recipe and fix all of those people’s problems and ailments.

The sand kept washing out from under me.  I was always struggling just to remain standing.  I had no solid foundation beneath my feet.  No matter what I told myself, I knew my God was not who I was trying to make Him out to be.  I knew He had never changed, but that I was the one who had changed.  I knew I had no power to help these people and literally save their life on my own.  I knew that I did not have the energy, strength, knowledge, nor endurance to do this job of a nurse day in and day out and survive unscathed.  I knew that I could not do this alone.  I knew that His ways are higher than mine and any patient’s or doctor’s.

I knew all of these things deep down.  But I chose instead to cover up these things I knew with layers and layers of cynicism and doubt in my God, my Father, my Daddy.  The One who all along was holding His arms out to me saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

It was only when I did just that – came to Him with my burdens and trusted in Him alone – only then did I find rest and freedom.

The life of self-reliance only leads to burden and bondage and guilt and helplessness.

His yoke – trusting in Him alone – is the only way to true rest and peace and freedom.

When you do finally decide to give up the struggle against what you feel tugging in your heart from His Spirit, you too will know a life of freedom and life like you have never before experienced.  I did not say a life of ease and without difficulty…but even the difficult times will be different because the well of His Living Water will be springing up inside you, refueling you all along the way with an unending supply of His Eternal Life.
In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12:1-3
*Scripture from

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What if...things just aren't going as planned?

I just posted this on one of my other blogs, "What If...".

Well, my week progressed much better than it began last week.  (See the Part 1 post from last week for more on that)

My son’s health improved.

I drove safely to work in New Orleans.

I am now stopped for a break from driving for a few minutes while I am on my way back home from New Orleans.

I just finished a phone conversation with someone from work regarding the project we just launched this past week.  Seems to go along very well with this issue of planning not always panning out as hoped.

You see, I work with healthcare computer systems.

Myself and a couple of other co-workers recently developed and launched an innovative, cutting-edge computerized nursing documentation tool which intuitively guides nurses in more accurately assigning a stage (level) to a patient’s pressure ulcer.  They stage them in order to track their progression of healing or worsening as well as to know better how to treat the ulcer based on evidence proven to help in the healing process.

This new tool is so innovative and needed in this field that it has recently been presented in a national Wound Nurse Conference and has even more recently been awarded first place in our hospital’s annual nursing poster/project competition which was judged by an external panel of nursing school professors.

Now, with all of that said, there is no amount of planning and programming that can replace the human mind and its ability to make decisions.

Now that this tool is in use, we are finding some flaws in it, which we expected, but are also seeing errors based on poor judgment due to lack of knowledge.

My point?

We can guide and direct and suggest and even offer additional resources for accurate and informed decision-making, but ultimately the choice is up to the individual.

In spite of the thorough, extensive planning involved in this project, we cannot force people to make accurate decisions 100% of the time.

Life is very similar.

Our God has given us tools, evidence, support, direction, suggestions, and even examples from previous wrong choices made by individuals.

We, however, still often choose to go our own way, try out our own ideas, ignore the resources available to us, and just flat out refuse to trust the One who has a specific plan for us.

The difference here is that our God is not faulty in His planning and preparation and orchestration of the day-to-day events, big and small.  He is in no way weak or powerless in spite of the fact that we often choose to ignore His guidance.  Even that, He has a plan for.  He lets us choose our way, but He can and will intervene when necessary in order to work out His perfect will in our lives and for the sake of His glory.
Even if you’ve been ignoring and/or avoiding Him for a very long time, it is never too late.  His guidance is always there.  His Word is our Resource.  He will even send people along to help us understand things a bit better so that we can choose to make better decisions.  No matter how many bad decisions you or I have made, the next one can be the right one.

Don’t throw in the towel just because you’ve messed up in the past…even in the past few minutes.

Trust our Divine Planner, our Creator, our Father, our God.

Admit you don’t have it all figured out, and trust His guidance today!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado

"Our common concern gave us a common song.  

This was Jesus' plan all along.  None of us can do what all of us can do."

"He teaches us the vocabulary of distant lands, the dialect of the discouraged neighbor, the vernacular of the lonely heart, and the idiom of the young student.  God outfits His followers to cross cultures and touch hearts."

These are quotes from a challenging, transforming, and inspiring book by Max Lucado called Out Live Your Life.  I know I have mentioned this book before, even before it was officially released to the public.  I just gave you a snippet of my opinion then, but I am sure you could tell how much I was impressed by it.  Not to mention that I have had the video trailer of it at the top of my blog for a while now.

As Max & some of his friends are currently touring the States on their Make a Difference Tour to benefit World Vision, I felt now was the time to share just a bit more about this book with you.

In Out Live Your Life, Max gets on-the-level with us and clearly guides us on why and how we need to all realize that we are each called to take up our part in the world wide Hope Revolution.  We often think, "I am just one person with very little influence or ability, so what can I do?"  Additionally, as I recently asked Max myself while he was visiting the Max Lucado Community, "How can I 'outlive my life' when I can barely 'live' my life? Considering constant financial struggles, work/family/health issues, busy schedules, etc..."  His answer to me in that forum was,
"It is important to serve within your giftedness and realities. Analyze your strengths and passions, balance those with your prior commitments and see if you don't discover a good game plan. You may be at a stage of life where your plate is full. If so, be patient. At the right time God will slow things down and you can ramp things up."
Not only did he answer that question for me directly in the discussion that evening, but he also very thoroughly gives direction and inspiration in this book regarding the various questions and thoughts we may all have related to stepping up and Out Living Our Lives.

I challenge you today to get a copy of this book (if you haven't already), read it, and trust the Lord to guide you in knowing what your part is in this great mission we all have in life as His representatives on this earth.  And...there's another part to that trust thing... remember to obey!

Trust and obey.  

He will show you what to do and when.  He will facilitate the means for you to do it.  You must then do it.

This world needs us...this world needs YOU!  

Bring His hope to all whom He places in your path.  Our mission is here and now - not just that glorious day when we get to heaven!

Now, the spotlight is on you---tell me---what are you being led to do to Out Live YOUR Life?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Picture this...

Picture this...

The man who had first introduced Him to the world in the flesh - one of His best friends, His cousin - was just beheaded.  He had just heard the news.  Imagine how he was feeling.  Just picture it...feel it.

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."

Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.

"Bring them here to me," he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.  (Matthew 14:13-21)
 My Savior and Friend cares that much for me...and for you.

Not only does He have compassion so much as to put aside His own grief, but He also has the power to do for me what I cannot fathom. 

"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," and I am only one person. 

"The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children."  The amount of tasks I need to complete and bills I need to pay and people I need to spend quality time with are upwards in the number of this crowd Jesus fed that day - that's five thousand MEN...PLUS women and children, mind you!

Again, I say, ""We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," and I am only one person with very little resources.  The tasks before me are humanly impossible.  As was supper for the crowd that day.


My Jesus is the same Jesus who welcomed the crowd, had compassion on them, healed their sick, and fed them so much out of a young boy's scraps of lunch that there were twelve basketfuls left over.

That's my story.  That's my Jesus.

Is He your Jesus, too?

He can be.  He wants to be.

Come to Him and He will welcome you with loving arms.  He has already made the way.

And if you, like me, already know my Jesus, don't forget Who He is.

Do you have only five loaves of bread and two fish today...or less?  Is your refrigerator bare?  Is your gas tank on empty, literally and figuratively?  Is there more month left at the end of your money---more bills than you can conceptualize how or when to pay?

He is the same Jesus today for you and me that He was so many suppers ago for that crowd and His disciples.

Trust Him.  He will carry you through---with leftovers.

And to top it all off, do you know what He did next?

Hint:  Go read Matthew 14:22-36 and come back here and share your thoughts with us in light of what I have shared here today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review of My Take Along Bible by Alice Joyce Davidson

Recently I caved and joined the Twitter world.  Yes, I know...some of you are saying, "What took you so long?"  Others are saying, 'Why?  It's pointless to me."  And still other are wondering, "What is Twitter?"

As I delve more into this writing thing, I have learned that the Twitter I once found no point in and utterly avoided is actually a bit of a necessity and an asset for those who hope to eventually have a book or two published. 

What does all of that have to do with this precious Bible?

I attended a Twitter Party!!!  Yes, a Twitter Party! 

My husband was working late one night, so I jumped in and figured it out as I went.  It was F-U-N.  Even moreso, because I W-O-N this precious Children's Bible! 

The "My Take Along Bible" by Alice Joyce Davidson is a precious board-book style Children's Bible with a few essential, foundational Bible stories each told on two very colorful, well-illustrated pages.  Each has a precious nugget of truth at the end as well.  Additionally, it has a nice, colorful, *sturdy* plastic handle on it so the child can carry it around with them wherever they wish.

I read this to my son over the course of a couple of evenings before bed, and we very much enjoyed it.  Then, we were so excited to be able to give it to his little cousin this past weekend for her one-year-old birthday.  He even looks forward to reading it to her sometimes.  (He is only five, but is quite the advanced reader for his age.)  Really, it doesn't get any more priceless than that!

Thank you, New Leaf Publishing Group and Master Books for this precious gift in the form of a Twitter Party prize.  It is truly the gift that keeps on giving! 

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do you "Ripple" like Grateful Dead?

Positive or negative, I must admit that Grateful Dead truly has had a ripple effect, as have many music and entertainment icons over time.

However, the "Ripple" to which I am referring is actually one of their songs.

A friend of mine mentioned to me recently that he had a bit of an epiphany when this song came on Pandora as it not only reminded him of how much he has always liked "Ripple" but also made him realize why he liked it so much - beyond the Jerry Garcia music part.  He said it was because the lyrics (written by Robert Hunter) "just absolutely slammed (him)."

Then he requested my thoughts on it.

So, here I will provide you with the lyrics followed by my thoughts on them:


If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

My thoughts:

Those are very good and deep lyrics (no water pun intended).

Makes me think of how we all have our own intended path & purpose in life that no one else can fill.  Also that our words and action may be that ripple that start small but ultimately reach much farther. 
And the reference to leading yet following...perfect example of a good, true leader - a servant leader.  I personally think of Jesus in that aspect because He was/is the true servant leader who taught His disciples and us, His followers, to lead by serving and genuinely caring for others regardless of whether they recognize or appreciate it and regardless of whether the love and service is returned.  
Also, to me, the reference to the fountain not made by the hands of men, a very clear reference to the fountain of living water of eternal life and ultimate, eternal fulfillment in Jesus.  He says in John 4 to the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Referring to His Holy Spirit which comes to live in us when we ask Him to and confess that we believe in Him.) 

Even the songs references to reaching out your hand if it is empty reflect that initial asking for the drink of Living Water. And though we, as believers, have His Spirit in full forever in us, some days we feel less full and drained from this life and don't always live in the fullness of His power and love that is in us, so in those times, all we have to do is tap into the One who resides in us and we will feel full again.

Oh, and then, the part about the road, ours as followers of Christ is just that - a narrow, road - not a simple highway. We are assured in the Bible that there will be few who will follow that road, so many times we feel we are even on it alone.  The road of faith is often lonely and is tough, because it is just that - faith - "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)."  So as we walk that road, we are, like the song says, risking falling "alone" since so many others choose not to walk that road at all for fear of being wrong. But the hope and assurance I have, which I feel the song writer at that time was just on the edge of but not quite ready to go there, is that I am not alone. My God is always with me and though no one on this earth may be able to guide me safely, He is my guide as I stand and as I fall and is leading me safely home.

That's my take on the song.

What is yours?  I would love to hear your feedback.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

What would you do if you were kidnapped in a foreign country knowing practically none of their language nor their intentions behind your kidnapping?

Would you - could you survive?  Considering torture, unsanitary living conditions, and uncertainty of rescue or release...How long?  A few days?  Possibly even a few weeks?

How about almost a full year?

Roy Hallums did.  As the title of his book alludes, he was even literally Buried Alive, yet his faith in God and his resolve to live and see his family again miraculously carried him through to the time of his unexpected and dramatic rescue.

This book is not one that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat with suspense, nor is it filled to the brim with him expressing his love for and faith in God.  However, Mr. Hallums recounts with straight-forward, realistic honesty the tortures and emotions he and his stateside family endured throughout his 311 day captivity.  Not just 10 months, to him each of the 311 days was unique and difficult in itself.  And throughout his retelling of these days, from both his and his loving family's perspective, the thread of God's love and provision over them is woven.  Though the story is in no way beautiful, until his blessed rescue at least, the tapestry of God's plan for his life is to be treasured.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of what goes on in all aspects of kidnapping in foreign lands, I was most touched by the dramatic rescue of Roy Hallums.  It brought me to tears to read how our military men risked their lives to go in and save his and anyone else they may find. 

"The first rescuer pulled off an American flag patch that was velcroed on the sleeve of his uniform and pressed it into the palm of my hand, which he clasped with a handshake.

'You've been rescued,' he said to me.

I hugged him and thanked him.  To this day, I carry that little flag in my pocket wherever I go."  (pp. 206-207)
During these times of international struggle in our world, this book would be an interesting, informative, and enlightening read for you.   This man's struggle in captivity is not to be taken lightly as there are so many others daily who are enduring very similar circumstances, many without the hope of rescue.  Let this book be a guide for how better to pray for those people and their families.  It has been that for me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It is what it is...or is it?

Having spent two years of my adult life living in New Jersey with my husband and son, this Southern girl picked up on a bit of their regional phraseology. All regions have it. They are no exception.

True, I heard things that sounded like they could have come straight out of The Sopranos, but trust me, Jersey folk are in no way accurately characterized by the likes of the mafia-based show - at least not as a whole. In the Garden State (a.k.a. New Jersey), we had a wonderful Christian community of neighbors and friends.

What kind of phrases did I hear frequently in the great Garden State?

"It is what it is."

"What are you gonna do?"

"Not for nothin'..." (This one was usually followed by a statement of the person's opinion or something of that sort.)

Fast forward a few years to this Sunday morning in church.

My pastor was reminding us of Nehemiah and his "Heart for Home" as he was burdened to pray for and help begin the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 1:1-11). One of my pastor's points was that Nehemiah had the right heart---a heart for the way it could be. Not just "It is what it is."

Unbelievable! This Texas-born-and-raised, long-time Louisiana resident said something very familiar to my New Jersey memories. And it struck a big chord with me.

Very recently while studying Joseph, I was very impressed by the fact that he told his brothers and his father his dreams (Genesis 37:1-11) regardless of the fact that he may look foolish or even egotistical. He had to know his brothers were already jealous of him and did not care for him, yet he boldly and honestly yet humbly told them the strange dreams he had in which it appeared that he would rule over them---which later came true.

Do you have dreams?

Not just the strange ones from your sleeping hours that stick with you, but even the God-given visions and callings on your life.

Are you afraid to share them with anyone? Afraid of what they will think?

Nehemiah prayed for almost four months that God would grant him "success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man (the king)." (Nehemiah 1:11 - italics, mine) He did not fear when he finally went before the king with his plan to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so the Lord's people would again have a safe home in the City of David.

Nehemiah knew what he was called to do. It was not at all something that most would find to be wise nor beneficial, but he knew the way it could be---the way it should be. He would not settle for just saying, "It is what it is. What are you gonna do? Not for nothin', but do you realize how much work that will take? And for what?"

No, Nehemiah did not let fear get the best of him. He shared his dream and pressed on, knowing God was supporting and sustaining him all the way.

Okay, so this fearless thing works fine for Nehemiah and Joseph, but they didn't live in my world. Enormous obstacles are in my path daily. Things much larger than anything I can handle. And God, yeah, I sense He is calling me to do some pretty big things...but they sound so far-fetched that there is no realistic way I can ever do these things. What if I try and fail? The "I told you so's" will be more than I can face.

Does that sound a little familiar to you?

Then consider the man I was reading about just before church this Sunday morning---Gideon in Judges 7.

Was Gideon convinced? Was he a "yes man"?

Not exactly.

He wanted to be, but his real nature was that of fear and doubt. He constantly needed reassurance from God before moving forward with his assignments.

Yes, you probably recall his back-and-forth with God in which he requested many specific signs from God. (See Judges 6) Each time, the Lord obliged him and gave the signs he requested. God didn't belittle him about his fear and doubt. He lovingly and specifically delivered as requested.

Then, in Judges 7, as Gideon and the Israelites were camping in preparation for attacking the Midianites, God woke Gideon up in the night and told him,

"Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp." (Judges 7:9-11 NIV)

I love that. God knew Gideon would be afraid to attack the Midianites as God was instructing (and with a much smaller army than the enemy), yet God again did not belittle him. Instead, God gave Gideon an acceptable, non-humiliating option of action to take in order to overcome his fear and be encouraged. God used the enemy's words to encourage His Gideon, His "Mighty Man of Valor. (Judges 6:12 NKJV)"

And again, God used His chosen man to change something from "what it is" to "what it could be."

God used the sleeping dreams of the Midianites as well as some clever trickery by the Israelites to send the numerous Midianite enemy army running for their lives in fear and even turning their swords on each other. Gideon and the Israelites in the name of the Lord won the victory.

Again I ask---What dream(s) do you have?

What seemingly foolish and insurmountable task(s) do you know the Lord is calling you to do?

Fear not. Tell others your dreams. Go to God with your doubt and let Him reassure and encourage you.

It's time to do what He says.

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'" (Mark 10:27 NIV)

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

The time for a Hope Revolution is now.

God is leading us into revival just as He led Nehemiah, Joseph, Gideon, and so many more. His Word is full of proof and instruction.

Read it. Trust Him. Do it.

Not for nothin'---let's do it for Him!

*Scripture is from

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forget the ladybug...gimme the dirt!!!

This morning has been a beautiful time of enjoying the nice weather while sitting on the back screen porch in the wicker chair with the comfy pillows.  Bird watching, eating breakfast and drinking hot tea with my precious 4-year-old son who was sitting in the other big comfy wicker chair doing the same. 

He LOVES ladybugs!  And they seem to love him, too.  Seems there is always one somewhere near him...they even mysteriously find him in the house.  He tries to trap them sometimes so they won't fly away.  Other times he has one crawling on his shirt as he walks around the house.  They are his "buddies".  And he "wuvs" them, as he says.  He has even said that the ladybug is his "best friend".

So, while he was playing with one on the porch this morning, he spotted another even bigger one.  As he was trying to catch that one, it managed to crawl in the tiny space between the planks of the floor of the porch, and then it made its way outside of our screened-in area via its little tiny space.  He was soooo disappointed.  He wanted to catch his ladybug friend, but it had gotten away.  So, now he wanted to go outside and catch it, since he could still see it.  Now, he was still in his cute striped pajamas and socks.  So...I convinced him that he had to change clothes and put on shoes before he could go trampling around outside trying to catch it.  (I know, I know...I'm a bummer of a mom!)  ;)  Anyway, with his new goal in mind, he ran to his room with me and we found him some play clothes and his "favorite, cool blue tennis shoes" (that are really almost too small for him now).  We got him all dressed for the task at hand...all the while I knew what would soon be coming that he had forgotten about, hence why I made him get fully dressed in play clothes.

Then, just as we came back out on the porch and he was making his way down the steps into the back yard to go catch his ladybug (who was now no longer visible...but he was determined!)...I alerted him to what was off in the not-too-far-off distance in the back yard...Pops (my father-in-law) had his truck backed up with a trailer FULL of DIRT being emptied right there in our back yard!!!!  A boy's dream!!! 

What ladybug!?!  The little man went running full force straight to the mountain of dirt!!!  "Pops, this is sooo cool!!!", he was yelling over and over as he ran.  WOW!  And, of course he dove in head first!  Then he proceeded to climb up one side and dive down the other riding on his belly all the way.  Then, he climbed back up to the tip-top and stood with his arms out to his sides, wind blowing his jacket in the air (picture the scene from Titanic) and he yelled over and over, "I'm the King of the Mountain!  Everybody see me!?!" 

What a hey-day!  Fun times!  And to think...if he wouldn't have listened to me, he might have stayed focused on that little ladybug and missed the whole least for that moment.  (And it's supposed to rain a good bit later, so really, this might be his one chance for the day to play in the fresh dirt.)

You see, I knew all of the above was in the plans for the day.  I knew the big picture all along.  Therefore, I guided him carefully in when and how to get dressed as well as what to pay attention to at just the right time.  I let him enjoy his little ladybug for the time he needed to, but when I knew something better was coming soon, I prepared him at just the right time for it.  Then, when it arrived, I made sure to direct him to it so that he could enjoy every minute possible of it.

Though I am in no way comparing myself to God, this scenario is much like what He does for us, His children.  He knows the BIG picture...He is the one who not only knows all of the plans, but has made them.  He knows what we love, what excites us, what refreshes us, what we need, what we want...He created us with all of those desires and emotions.  He also knows what can ultimately hurt us that seems good for the moment, and even what is good and okay for the moment but may cause us to miss out on a much bigger blessing and joy if we don't follow His redirection at just the right time.  We often kick and scream when He tries to redirect us from what we think is best for us, like my son could have done (and often would have done)...but thankfully for him, this time, he didn't...all he had to do was turn his eyes a few inches in a different direction and...OH, MAN!...A MOUNTAIN OF DIRT!!!  Same goes with us...just a few inches of adjustment in our view and...OH, MAN!...blessings beyond our wildest dreams!!!!  Ones He knew and planned all along for us, and even gently, secretly prepared us for all along as well.  But ones we were completely oblivious to until they are right there in front of our eyes! 

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."  (Proverbs 19:21)

"But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations."  (Psalm 33:11)

"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)

"Let him not deceive himself by trusting in what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return."  (Job 15:31)

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."  (Psalm 40:3-5)

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture."  (Psalm 37:3)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." (Proverbs 16:20)

"He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe."  (Proverbs 28:26)

"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?"  (Isaiah 2:22)

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."  (Isaiah 30:21)

There I go again...getting carried away with His word!  Hope you were encouraged and maybe even convicted by some or all of the above, as I am. 

I know that I was meant to share this, because I have this nasty little computer bug that only rears its head every once in a while...and it did several times while I was trying to copy and paste those verses.  The first time, my heart sunk for a second because I thought I had lost ALL of the stuff above the verses!  And then as I was beginning to try to retype it, I remembered that Blogger has this wonderful "Autosave" that creates a draft for you throughout your typing!  Thank God for Autosave!  I merely had to come back in and edit the last draft that was saved to complete the post.  And...I figured a way around that little bug!  ;)

So...can't wait to hear what He is speaking to each of your hearts through this lesson in ladybugs and dirtpiles!

Guess I better go do some constructive things around the house now...and mentally prepare myself for the inevitable DIRT BATH of the 4 year old!  HaHa!  Maybe Daddy or Pops will take that one on for me!  We'll see...

(I am re-posting this for two reasons:  1) For my newer followers, in case you haven't come across it yet, and 2) I am entering a contest on The MOB Society's blog.  Go check it out!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Movies and Museums---Who needs 'em!?!

Fiery pinkish orange popping out against a backdrop of grayish blue with splashes of aqua randomly poking through.

Rembrandt?  Van Gogh?  Picasso?  No.

Flashes and flickers lighting up the blackness.  Over there---to the right---there's one.  Oh, and another to the left.  No, not on a movie screen nor on a red carpet.

Driving along the highway, I was mesmerized by the display.  Beautiful, intriguing, indescribable.  Words cannot compare to the colors and majesty of it all.  I even experienced some 3-D effects of strong wind and heavy rain at one point.  No special glasses required.

How could I for a minute begin to think that such beauty and complexity just happens?  Yes, I know of the science behind it all.  I don't dismiss that.  But to think that the intricacies of that very science just happen---I don't think so.  How could they?  They did not and do not cause themselves.  They are too spectacular and precise.  Too mind-blowing to just happen.

No, the only One who has no cause is the One who created cause itself.

His unique, delicate, yet intricate fingerprint is in everything.

The breathtaking views that overwhelm the mind were borne of His mind and painted with His hand.

The mind-boggling scientific details of how the human body works, let alone a single leaf on a tree---those too are evidence of Intelligence beyond anything we can fathom.  Intelligence that pre-dates any design we can imagine.  Each thing intentional and specific.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

I cannot help but marvel when I observe Him watering His garden and field just a bit to the left of the highway on which I am traveling.  Very precisely pouring out His rain in just His intended place at that time.

  • "He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them." (Job 37:11).
  • "Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?" (Job 37:15).
  • "What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?" (Job 38:24)
  • "He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth" (Job 37:3)

And, of course, to top it all off, He has a sense of humor, too.  He created us, after all!

Yes, near the last stretch of my drive, some of my fellow earthlings were observed towing an antique car behind a truck.  No big deal, except:
  • It was almost pitch black outside.
  • No lights on the vehicle appeared to be working whatsoever---specifically tail lights.
  • It was being towed with a chain of some kind (too dark to see it).
  • The car was a convertible car with the top down.
  • A guy was in the driver's seat of the car as the two vehicles were together only going maybe 55 miles per hour on I-10 in a 70 mile per hour zone---remember the pitch dark and no taillights!?!  
Once I got over the shock of almost rear-ending them, I just had to laugh at us humans.  Yes, thankfully He made some of us a bit smarter than others.  However, I'm sure we all have those "towing with the top-down in the pitch-black with no taillights" kind of moments.  Don't judge lest you be judged!

And to top off this movie and museum-free mind trip, as I came over the last hill on the bridge headed for my exit, what do I see ahead of me in the direction of the City of New Orleans on this non-descript August Sunday night near 10:00pm?  A grand fireworks display.  Really---a real fireworks display, visible for several miles.  This weary traveler has no clue what they are celebrating so elaborately on this random August eve---and come to think about it, they probably don't either.  That's just how they roll here.  Cherish and celebrate the life you have.  They know this first hand and live it every day.  It is who they are.  It is evident in their demeanor, in their talk, and of course in their cooking.  They know each day is a gift and they make it count.

How about you?  Do you know your life is a gift?  Each day of it?  Do you make it count?

Better yet, do you live your life in a way that you will ultimately Outlive Your Life?  You should.  I should.  We all should.  Our world is in need of a Hope Revolution.  Will you join me in being part of that starting today?  You can get a good idea of how and why to do it in the book I am reading right now by Max Lucado called Outlive Your Life.  It's not even out on shelves yet, but will be very soon.  I highly suggest you get a copy as soon as you can.  You'll see why.

And the next time the sky is full of color and flashes of light, be sure to tune out all distractions and enjoy the show.  Your Creator is playing it just for you---LIVE and in color---to show you that He truly is with you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I like a BIG knife!

As I was chopping up the ingredients for supper just now, I found myself hunting down the biggest knife we own.  Not that the job really required that, but I just like to chop with a BIG knife.  As a matter of fact, while living with my in-laws and cooking in their kitchen I always LOVED to use my mother-in-law's cleaver!!!  It's still my favorite knife, I think. 

Now I know that some tasks require a much smaller more delicate knife that can fit into tight spots, like a paring knife, for instance.  (I love those, too, by the way!  They are so cute and usually much sharper than their little size leads you to believe.) 

No, don't start thinking I'm some crazy knife person who loves to cut things!  BUT, when slicing and dicing is the task at hand...I like to come to the chopping board properly (maybe even overly) armed. 
The same can be said for the battles of life, you know. 

If you come to a major life battle, or better yet are unexpectedly ambushed by one, I don't think a little paring knife is going to do the trick!  Is that what you are fighting your battles with?  Are you being caught off-guard and all you have to pull out and wield around is a cute little paring knife?

I think it is no coincidence that Joshua's weapon in which he was highly skilled was the sword.  You see, not only was Joshua very skilled at using the sword, he also - by faith - obeyed and trusted God when leading the Israelites in battles throughout the Promised Land as they went in to take possession of it.  They didn't just win these battles (see the book of Joshua), they went in led by God through Joshua and "put the sword" to everything, completely destroying the enemy...and leaving NO survivors!

There are a lot of parallels in this that we cannot overlook.

We need to be armed with and becoming more and more skilled with THE Sword...of the Spirit...the Word of God! (Ephesians 6:17)  Not only do we need to have a Bible and even occasionally read it...we need to dwell in it, let it soak in.  Kind of like how you unknowingly memorize television commercials and such, the more you expose yourself to His word, even if you don't understand it all, the more it becomes familiar to you and stored in your head and in your heart.  Then, when the unexpected comes, rather than floundering around in fear, you will have things come to mind and even come out of your mouth that you did not even realize you knew.  Sharpen that Sword!  Practice swinging it around.  It will be a bit heavy at first, but as you lift it and use it more and more your strength and accuracy will increase.  Before you know it, you might just be a Spiritual Samurai!

Another parallel we cannot afford to miss is the fact that, because of their faith in God and obedience to His instructions to them, they went in and completely destroyed the enemy (even some very BIG and powerful ones)...leaving NO survivors!  When we fight our enemy, we cannot afford to leave any little stray bits that seem innocent and harmless lagging around.  We MUST leave NO survivors!  Otherwise, those little loose ends could rise up and come back to really do a number on us later, when we least expect it.  Whatever your enemy is...go to God first and give Him your fears, ask Him what to do (or not to do), then TRUST and OBEY!!!  Go in and put the Sword to the enemy...and leave NO survivors!

Now...can you see why I like a BIG knife!?! 

Nothing but THE Sword will do!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lazy or Loaded?

The other day my husband referred to himself as "lazy" regarding why he has not been working out like he used to over the past few years.  I quickly responded to him that he is not lazy by any means.  I know my husband, and lazy is not who he is.  He is a hard-working, devoted man of integrity...far from lazy.  Sure he has his lazy moments, as do I, but in no way would I characterize him as lazy., not in the sense of $$$...but loaded with responsibilities and even daily physical tasks that lead to him being very understandably tired, hence the lack of energy or drive to work out.

How about you?  Does that sound at all like your life and daily LOAD?

You know far better than anyone else all of the mind-boggling issues weighing on your mind in addition to the various necessary physical tasks and other responsibilities you have.  Does all of that end up overwhelming you and leaving you physically, mentally and emotionally drained!?!

When I did a quick word search on the words "lazy", "overwhelmed", and "rest", I found that there are far more times in the Bible where the word "overwhelmed" and even "rest" are referenced than the word "lazy".  True, laziness is a big problem and even a sin and should be dealt with seriously.  However, I think more often than not, we tend to see ourselves as lazy because we are not keeping up the pace of what we think we should be doing.  We are not fulfilling expectations we have put on ourselves.  We are expecting something of ourselves that is not necessarily what God expects of us or even what others expect of us.  I think that more often we are actually "overwhelmed" by the bombardment of things to do and keep up with in our fast-paced societies.  Additionally, there are many things I found in the Bible that we are specifically overwhelmed by:  dread, guilt, horror, sorrow, amazement, and even wonder.  Do any of those fit you?  Do all of those fit you at some point? 

I was just speaking with my precious cousin last night whose 5-year-old beautiful, spunky daughter is being treated for a brain tumor.  Our local community has responded literally overwhelmingly to this dear girl's cause.  There have been multiple fundraisers with turnout in the 100's and untold dollar amounts given to her fund...often by people who don't even know them personally.  My cousin is a very non-spotlight, humble person, and this wonderfully loving and gracious response for her daughter truly has her overwhelmed.  She is so very thankful, yet does not know how to react.  Is that you as well?  Would that be you if you were in her situation?

Overwhelmed...Loaded...definitely NOT Lazy.

In times where we get overwhelmed by whatever it may be at that moment, we inevitably hit that point where our body and our mind say...ENOUGH!  REST!  (That's a built-in factory perk installed by our intelligent and loving Creator!)

So, the next time you are tempted to get down on yourself and call yourself "lazy" because you're not keeping up with the Joneses physically, financially, or otherwise...stop and re-evaluate.  Is "lazy" really the right description of who you are overall?  If not, then let yourself do what comes naturally and REST.  It's okay.  You are no less of a person because you aren't living up to expectations that you may be unfairly putting on yourself.

I read a couple of great quotes today about that:
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - Albert Einstein

"Our God is no fair-weather Father. You can count on him to be in your corner no matter how you perform." - Max Lucado

And on the subject of rest:
"Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" (Psalm 55:6)  (Wouldn't that be nice!?!)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-30)

The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."  (Exodus 33:14)

Lighten your're NOT Lazy...Rest in Him!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Faith like a Butterfly

Faith like a Butterfly

As I sit here working in my office, I notice a beautiful butterfly fluttering around outside my window.  It lands on a delicate pink and yellow flower for a minute, then flutters around some more.  So beautiful, so peaceful, seemingly so free and confident.

Then, I think about how that butterfly started.  Remember, it used to be a caterpillar…no wings, no beauty (unless the beholder is my 4-year-old son, then he might argue otherwise).  The caterpillar crawled everywhere it went.  It only looked to the sky as a spectator.  I wonder if it even realized it would one day become one of those beautiful, freely fluttering creatures.  Doubt it.

But it did.  One day it emerged from a cocoon stretching its new appendages for the first time ever, only to discover they were wings!  Big, beautiful, fluttery wings.

But now what!?!

The former caterpillar had to be thinking, “Wait a minute!  What am I supposed to do with these things?  Surely I am not going to flutter around like one of those pretty things I have always admired in the sky above me.  I am a caterpillar.  I crawl…everywhere.  Nobody told me how to use these.  What do I do?  Do I just step off of this branch and hope I don’t crash to the ground?  Yikes!  No way!  I can’t do that!  Not me!  I’m a caterpillar…I crawl…I DON’T fly!  Nobody gave me any lessons.  How do I know these things work!?!”

Can you imagine what could possibly going through that poor little former caterpillar’s mind at that moment!?!
But, at some point, that former caterpillar must have decided to step out on faith and embrace this new creation he had become and stretch those new wings out and…FLY!

He couldn’t SEE the air and wind and drafts that would eventually carry him everywhere he ever needed or wanted to go.  He just had to step out on faith and embrace the new him that he didn’t yet understand at all much less know how to operate.  He had to trust his Maker to hold him up on the wind and help him soar and flutter safely to and fro.

The butterfly I am watching today must have done just that.  He has this fluttering thing down pat.

What about you?  Will you embrace this new you that you cannot fathom nor understand?  Will you step out in faith and trust your Maker to help you soar safely to where you need and even want to go?

You MUST!  This is the new you!  This is your new mode of transportation…the beautiful, fluttering wings of a butterfly…or better yet, those of an eagle!  Embrace them…stretch them out…step off of the branch…and soar on the wind of His provision for you.  Embrace the new creation that you are! You are not just a crawling caterpillar anymore!

Fly on the wings of faith!  He will uphold you!  If He keeps the butterflies and eagles in flight, He will surely do the same for you!

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.“  (Hebrews 11:1)

…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.“  (Romans 4:17b)

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  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 40:29-31)

Fly…Soar…Trust Him NOW!