Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Break

As you can see, my posts have been very hit and miss lately. I apologize, but I admit that I'm swamped. This is a very special time of year, but it's also VERY busy. My days and nights have been filled with Christmas parties, Christmas parades, shopping for Christmas presents, wrapping Christmas presents, decorating the house, sending out Christmas cards, and of course, practicing for our church cantata. With all of that on top of my already full schedule, there just hasn't been much time (or sanity) left for anything else.

That being said, I'm writing this post to inform you that I'll be taking an official break from the blog until after Christmas. Hopefully, things will slow down then, and I'll be able to focus a little more on my writing and ministry. Until then, I pray that God will bless each of you with a wonderful Christmas!

No matter how busy we get this time of year, let's remember the following: God gave His Son, Jesus gave His life, what have we given? I pray we each have a truthful answer. God bless you all, and Lord willing, I'll talk to you more after Christmas!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Gentle Reminder

Today, I would like to share with you an e-mail that I received. It's precious, and I hope that you'll enjoy it.

REMEMBER:
Jesus is Better than Santa
Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.
Santa rides in a sleigh
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.
Santa comes but once a year
JESUS is an ever present help.
Santa fills your stockings with goodies
JESUS supplies all your needs.
Santa comes down your chimney uninvited
JESUS stands at your door and knocks..
and then enters your heart.
You have to stand in line to see Santa
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.
Santa lets you sit on his lap
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.
Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is
"Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?"
JESUS knew our name before we did.
Not only does He know our name,
He knows our address too.
He knows our history and future and
He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.
Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly
JESUS has a heart full of love.
All Santa can offer is HO HO HO
JESUS offers health, help and hope.
Santa says "You better not cry"
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you".
Santa's little helpers make toys
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts,
repairs broken homes and builds mansions.
Santa may make you chuckle but
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree
JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.
It's obvious there is really no comparison.
We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.
We need to put Christ back in Christmas.
Jesus is still the reason for the season.

May the Lord Bless and Watch over you
and your loved ones this Christmas
And may He Prosper and Bless the work
of your hands in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Joy of Giving

Yesterday, during my piano lessons, a couple of my students (who are brother and sister) reminded me of the joy of giving to others. I could tell when they arrived that they were excited about something, and it didn't take them long to tell me what had brought them such happiness. "We volunteered to help the Salvation Army make Christmas packages for needy families," they told me.

As they explained to me the process of choosing a needy family from the long list available at the Salvation Army, their eyes glowed with excitement. They went on to tell me how they basically get to shop for each member of the family and come up with a certain combination of outfits, toys, books, etc. The more they spoke, the louder their voices became. By the end of their tale, they were literally bouncing off their chairs, barely able to contain their excitement. And all I could think is 'Wow!'

We live in a day and age of greed and selfishness. I've seen people get that excited about shopping for themselves, but never for someone else. These children were literally thrilled to spend their time giving to someone else. How many of us can say the same?

I think the world would be a much better place if we could all find that joy of giving. After all, isn't that what this season is about? God gave His Son. Jesus gave His life. What have we given? It's something worth thinking about!

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
II Corinthians 9:7

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Never a Dull Moment

Yesterday, I visited Old Faithful. No, I'm not talking about the punctual geyser in Yellowstone National Park. I'm actually referring to my laundry basket. It seems to erupt just as faithfully. I don't get it. There are only two of us (well, two of us that wear clothing, although I'm beginning to suspect that the dogs play "dress up" every time Jason and I leave the house). How can the laundry basket always be full to the point of overflowing?

Unfortunately, the kitchen sink is the same way. No matter how many dishes I wash, there are always more to take their place. What? Do these things breed like rabbits?

As I tend to the "Old Faithfuls" in my life, I realize that our spiritual walk is very similar. Each time we think we've conquered a sin, it erupts in our lives again. Each time we think we've grown in Christ, we find ourselves acting like a spiritual toddler, throwing temper tantrums and whining to get our way. Just like my dishes and my laundry basket, no matter how many times I "conquer" the problem, new ones seem to always be on the ready to act as a replacement.

The truth is that unless my husband and I decide to stop wearing clothes (not a pretty picture), the laundry will never be finished. And, unless we decide to stop eating, there will always be dishes to wash. Even so, unless we stop walking our spiritual walk (which shouldn't be an option), there will always be new giants to face.

Does it mean that we haven't made progress? No, even though it may seem like it. But, what it really means is that we haven't quit. We're still running the race. We haven't given up on account of the obstacles. I know that sometimes our effort seems to be in vain, but one day, when we stand before the Lord and hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," we'll discover that it was worth it all. So, go out today and conquer some geysers in your life!

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
II Corinthians 9:8

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On Eagles' Wings

Today I would like to share with you a passage from a book I'm currently reading. The book is The Tender Commandments by Ron Mehl. This example really touched my heart, and I pray it will touch yours as well. It's a bit longer than my usual posts, but I promise it's worth it.

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Exodus 19:4

What does that mean, anyway? If you were a regular reader of "Ranger Rick" magazine, you would know very well what that means. A mama eagle will make a nest at least eight feet by eight feet. . .

She will fill it up with leaves, animal fur, and down from her own breast, making a warm and cozy nest for her chicks. . . But when the time is right, she will start making things a bit uncomfortable for those unsuspecting little eaglets. It all begins when she takes them to a "home" that will be more important to them than any nest or aerie in the world. . . the sky! She will pick them up, take them in flight to a great and dizzying height, and drop them.

This is all shockingly new for the little eaglet. He's never flown a day in his life. For him, life has been a comfy, snuggled-down, fuzzball existence. A soft downy nest, little pals to play with, regular meals, and Mama's protective wings at night. But now Mama kicks him overboard and there is nothing between him and certain death but the wild blue yonder. . .

As the little fella plummets tot the earth, contemplating his comfortable but surprisingly brief life, mama eagle watches. And what does she do? She swoops down just before her eaglet hits the ground, flies underneath, and picks him up. And of course, the poor little bird has gone into cardiac arrest. But there's a happy ending here for the baby eagle, right? Mom is climbing back into the heavens. Oh boy, the nasty trauma is over. Back to the beloved nest. . .and isn't it just about lunchtime?

But what does she do when she regains her original altitude? She drops him again! And again! And each time she swoops down to save him and bears him up. . . on eagle's wings.

And that's exactly what the Lord is saying: "Moses, please tell them--make sure that you remind them-before you give them these commands, how must I have loved them in the past. Remind them how I've watched over their lives every day and concerned Myself about their future."

We can look back on the same thing in our own lives, can't we? Everything we have and everything we enjoy are because of Him and are blessings from His hand. We, too, were headed south one day. There was nothing between us and an eternal abyss but empty space and a long, long way to fall. As Paul put it, we were "having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).

But what happened? In Christ, the Lord swooped down and picked us up and gave us everything that we have. And now He sustains us and keeps us every day of our lives.

If we lose sight of that, we can't see anything at all.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Book Recommendation

It's getting very close to Christmas, and I'm sure many of you have already begun your shopping. No doubt, though, we all have someone on our list for whom we have no idea what to buy. Am I right? If so, may I suggest the newest addition to my favorite books? The title is Welcome to the Funny Farm: The All-True Misadventures of a Woman on the Edge.

This book, written by Karen Scalf Linamen, is hilarious. She has a very unique sense of humor that will have you laughing so hard you'll cry. The book contains 50 chapters, each of which are very short, and divided in four sections which correspond with the seasons. Each chapter contains a comical story along with some great spiritual wisdom.

So, if you're looking for a good gift or if you just need some laughs to get you through this stressful season, I highly recommend this book and any of her other books. They're all great!

Happy shopping!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Know He Heard My Prayer

Have you ever wondered if God was really listening when you poured out your heart to Him? You know that He must have heard, yet your circumstances have not improved. That's exactly what David speaks about in Psalm 66. He talks of our God who is so great that He controls everything. He goes on to explain how God provides good things for His children, but also how God tries His children. Despite what many think, the Christian life is NOT a bed of roses. There are trials and tribulations. There are disappointments and troubles. But, God knows that. He controls our lives and everything in them, including the hard times.

I'm reminded of the story of Joseph. It seemed like every time he caught a break, he would be thrown down lower than he was before. But, we know from reading the end of the story that God had a plan for Joseph, and the trials he faced were just God's way of getting Joseph to where He wanted him to be.

God works the same way in our lives. Sometimes we don't understand. Many times we complain that life is unfair. But, what we must always remember is that God is in control of our lives, both the good and the bad. Let Him work with you through your trials so He can get you where He wants you to be--in His perfect will.

But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
Psalm 66:19-20

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'Tis the Season to Be STRESSED OUT!

I love this time of year. I really do. The fall colors are beautiful. The cool air is refreshing. The holidays are full of joy and time spent with family. I love having the opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ and a season to remember how much I have to be thankful for.

What I don't like about this time of year is how busy I become. Between Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas plays, programs, and presents, plus the various other obligations that come up this time of year, I find myself overwhelmed and not very much in the "holiday spirit." As of right now, I don't have all my food for Thanksgiving, I've only bought one Christmas present, and my December calendar is SCARY!

Could it be, like so many other things in our lives, we've complicated the joy right out of the holidays? If I'm not mistaken, the Christmas carol says, "Joy to the World" not "Stress to the World." We have to be very careful not to get so caught up in the holidays that we forget what they're truly about. They are supposed to be a time of remembrance, a time of praise, a time of thanksgiving, and a time of celebration. Let's be sure to keep this in mind as we jump from one Christmas cantata to another. It's important that we not lose our focus (which is really easy to do when we're under so much stress).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Teaching Is the Best Way to Learn

Yesterday for Sunday School, I taught an object lesson that I found in Everyday Object Lessons for Youth Groups by Helen Musick and Duffy Robbins. The lesson was short and very basic, but it made a very strong point and made me examine my own life to see where I stood. Here's the lesson in a nutshell:

What Kind of Shoe Are You?
I began the lesson by presenting several different types of shoes to the girls. Then I asked, "If you were a shoe, which one would you want to be, and why?" The girls thought for several minutes, then gave their answers. Then, I revealed what each shoe represented as follows:

Dress shoes: I have a nice, shiny faith on the outside--but I only bring it out on Sundays and special occasions.

Bedroom slippers: I've made a commitment to Christ, but I've been pretty lazy in terms of trying to serve Him.

Work boots: It's been hard work lately, but I'm actually following through on my responsibilities.

Running shoes: I feel like God's helping me finish the race.

Worn out shoes: I've come a long way, but I need some serious "heeling."

Holey shoes: I don't worry much about a relationship with God or the state of my "sole."

We then read some Scriptures about how we should walk with the Lord, and I closed the lesson by asking these two questions:
Which of the shoes best represents your own walk with Christ right now?
Which of the shoes do you think most represents our youth group?

I must admit that, as the teacher, I was convicted by the lesson. As I studied for the lesson, I found myself praying and asking God to forgive me for sometimes being the wrong kind of shoe. I asked him to help me to keep a faithful walk with Him.

It just goes to show you that if you really want to learn something, teach it to someone else. You'll be amazed how much more you get from the lesson. With that in mind, what kind of shoe are you?

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Micah 6:8

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Resting With My Master

I think my dog is ADHD. Mitch is a 75 lb. Shepherd mix, and I'm beginning to think he's mixed with the Energizer bunny. There is just no end to his energy. When he runs through the house, he breaks the sound barrier. He jumps. He dances. He even sings (I didn't say it was pretty). But of all the things Mitch loves to do, three things are his favorite.

First, he loves to eat. It doesn't matter what kind of food or treat it is, the boy can chow down! I think he should have been named Hoover.

Second, he loves to go for a walk. We have to be very careful not to say the word unless we're ready to walk out the door with him because he goes CRAZY. He'll howl and growl until you put the leash on and take him out. He loves to walk, run, and even hike. He's very active and agile, so he really enjoys getting to go off and explore.

Third, he loves to stretch out between Jason's legs and sleep with his head in Jason's lap. Often, at the end of the day, we'll lie in bed and watch re-runs of The Amazing Race. Mitch loves this time because he knows during this time, he gets a lot of his daddy's attention. He rests in Jason's lap while Jason pets him. It doesn't take long for him to fall asleep. It's really sweet.

The other night, we were just getting settled into bed when we noticed a large nose and a pair of eyes at the end of the bed. We acknowledged Mitch and told him he could come up. He jumped on the bed and with an enthusiasm I'd rarely seen walked right up to "his spot" and plopped down, closing his eyes in complete contentment.

The scene made me wonder if I'm that enthusiastic when I rest with my Master. Am I too busy to be content simply resting in His warm embrace? Do I come to him with joy and excitement, eager to spend time with Him? Do I go to Him often enough that I have my own "spot"?

It's something worth thinking about. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Mitch and I have a lot in common. I love to eat! I love to walk and hike (although I don't care much for running). And, I too, love to rest in the lap of my Master. I only pray that I can do it with as much enthusiasm as Mitch does.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We All Need Encouragement

A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! (Proverbs 15:23) Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

I think we all know at least one person who could use an encouraging word today. Right? That being said, when was the last time we sought to encourage someone? Did we call that shut-in to brighten their day? Did we call that sick to friend to wish them well? Did we call that family member in need to remind them that they are in our prayers? Did we send the card or e-mail? Convicting, isn't it?

You see, life is hard and busy. We are so often preoccupied with just getting through each day that we often forget that someone may be struggling more than we are. When we help that person by encouraging them, not only are they blessed, but we are too, and we find our own way is not as difficult as it seemed before. There is great joy in lifting someone up, so I encourage you today to contact someone, whether it be by phone, mail, e-mail, or even text message. Get in touch with at least one person today and let them know that you're thinking about them and praying for them. (Of course, if you say you're praying for them, make sure you do!)

Try to make this part of your daily routine. Each day, pray for the Lord to put someone that needs encouragement on your heart. Then, reach out to them and remind them that someone cares. Sometimes, being reminded that they're not alone makes all the difference in the world!

Monday, November 17, 2008

All Things Are Possible

We had a guest speaker at our church last night, and he brought a wonderful lesson on how all things are possible with God. He went through the Gospels and pointed out the number of times God had said in one way or another that all things were possible through Him and by Him. Check it out:

Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mark 9:23 - Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Mark 10:27 - And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Mark 14:36a - And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee.

Luke 18:27 - And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Once again, we see God repeating Himself, and I don't believe God wastes words. I think He repeats Himself because we need that repetition. We need to be reminded that all things are possible. No matter how dark the valley we are facing, nothing is impossible with God. What a great promise!!!!




Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm So Confused

I've been researching the fitness industry for content to use on a new fitness program review website. All I can say is that there are as many fitness theories as there are stars in the sky. I'm serious! Low fat. Low carb. No meat. Only meat. Moderate exercise. Intense exercise. Workout daily. Workout two to three times each week. Not only that, but each one claims that their program is the best, and some of them even contradict themselves if you read enough of the material. It's been frustrating, to say the least.

All of that being said, I'm so glad that when I sit down to read my Bible each day that it doesn't contradict itself. I'm so thankful that the Word of God is true and that it is constant. It doesn't change from day to day depending on new theories or statistics. It's not watered down to be more appealing to the masses. From day to day, it stands. Am I saying that I completely understand everything in the Bible? Of course not! I don't think anyone does except for the Author. But, when I open my Bible, I'm not bombarded by errors and inconsistencies. I'm not overwhelmed by contradictions. The Bible says what it means and it means what it says. Case closed!

When reading the various health and fitness manuals, I've learned to not put much stock in any of the information. After all, it may change on the next page. When reading my Bible, I'm reminded to take in every word, for each one is important, and the message is unchanging!

Heaven an earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Luke 21:33

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Something to Think About

My pastor read this in church last night, and I must admit, it was very convicting. Read on . . . if you dare!

I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bibles like we treat our cell phones?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we used it as we traveled?
What if we used it in case of an emergency?
This is something to make you go "Hmm...where is my Bible?"
Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don't ever have to
worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill! And, there are no dropped calls!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How Complicated is Prayer?

Have you ever noticed how many books about prayer are out there? There are books on how to pray, when to pray, where to pray, and on and on. Now, as a writer, I love books, and I love to read. That being said, I'll admit that at this very moment, I have several prayer books on my bookshelf. There are many that I've read and really enjoyed. There are others that I've purchased but haven't yet had the opportunity to read. In my mind, books on any topic are great. I love books!

However, do you ever get the feeling that we sometimes over-complicate things? For example, in one book, the author comments that every successful Christian has done their praying first thing in the morning. Another author will comment that it's best to end your day with a conversation with the Lord. One book says that prayer should be friendly and conversational. Another says it should be holy and reverent. Many books use the Lord's prayer as a guide and then give an outline of what to say and when in your prayer to say it. It's no wonder so many of our prayer lives suffer!

God is not the author of confusion. Prayer is not supposed to be complicated. If you're concerned about when to pray, the Bible is clear on that. I Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." So when's the best time to pray? Anytime. All the time. As far as how to approach prayer, I've found the most comfort when I just come to Him in my current state. In other words, sometimes I need my Heavenly Father to wrap me in His arms and give me advice or direction. Sometimes, I need my Heavenly Husband to whisper words of love to me and to accept those endearments in return. Sometimes, I just need a Friend to listen to the burdens that are weighing heavy on my heart. Then, there are times that I need Mighty God to remind me of how great He is and what He can accomplish. I approach my prayer time differently depending on my need or state of mind.

That concept may or may not work for you, and that's fine. My point is that we don't want to make prayer time so complex that it's more of a drudgery than a joy. We should enjoy our conversations with the Lord instead of making them a glorified wish list or a step-by-step outline. If you're unsure how to simplify your prayer life, ask the Lord for guidance, then LISTEN for His response. Remember, it takes two people to have a conversation.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
I Peter 5:7

Monday, November 10, 2008

Small Word; Big Meaning

I think every Christian (and probably several non-believers) can quote from memory Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. We've read it. We've studied it. We've heard sermons and Sunday School lessons on it. Why? Because they are two very important verses. The passage is an excellent reminder to us to trust God even when we don't understand what He's doing.

Often, this passage is given as encouragement in a time of great trial or suffering. However, today, I'd like to look at it from a different angle. If you will look at verse six, you'll see a tiny little word that has a huge meaning. Look carefully. It's easy to miss. In all thy ways acknowledge him. Did you see it? That little word "all" is very important.

You see, this passage is not just for times of trouble. It's for all times. We should constantly be trusting the Lord and seeking His guidance. It's easy to stop and seek God's will in times of confusion or tribulation, but in this passage, God is reminding us to always acknowledge Him, to always seek His advice.

Even more to the point, we're not just talking about big things like whether or not we should move to a new location or take a certain job. God says that even in the usual, mundane activities of every day life, we should seek His face, acknowledge His presence, and ask for His guidance. So, whether we spend our day cleaning bathrooms, raising children, working a job outside the home, etc., we should trust in God and acknowledge His presence in our lives.

It's easy to pray in the morning and ask God for help and guidance, then to go off and do our own thing, heedless to the voice of God. I know I've done it several times. Unsure of how to get everything done, I seek God's help. I ask Him to give me strength and to guide me from one task to the next. However, as soon as I say "Amen," I jump up and go about my day, struggling to make it through and wondering why God isn't helping me. Could it be that it's because I'm not acknowledging Him?

So, as you go about your tasks today, no matter how tedious or mundane they may seem, remember to place them in God's hands. Trust in Him, and acknowledge Him. It will make even the most difficult or boring of tasks seem pleasant because you'll realize you're doing it for Him. And that, makes all the difference in the world!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Annual Amnesia

Isn't it funny how much we forget things from one year to the next? I've been riding around for the past couple of weeks in complete awe of the beauty of autumn (maybe that should be spelled "awe"tumn). The colors are so vast and vibrant. The shades of red astound me, and that yellow-orange takes my breath away. I don't even know the names of many of the shades that are visible this time of year. Often, all I can say is "Ooh!" and "Aah!"

The amazing thing is that autumn is beautiful every year. Each year, we have the opportunity to study colors that only God could have thought of. We enjoy the crisp weather. We are fascinated by the colors. We can't wait to take that trip into the mountains. But, come winter, all the joy of autumn is forgotten. How sad!

The Christian life can often be the same way. When we are on the mountain tops, everything is beautiful. Life is good! We have our health. We have money in the bank. The road seems smooth. But, as soon as hard times come, we instantly drop into despair and experience spiritual amnesia. We completely forget about the good times we've just had or the past troubles that God has seen us through. During these times, it seems like all we can do is focus on the problem at hand. We focus on the dark, cold winter.

Yes, winter can be tough, but it's necessary. Winter is a time of rest. It is a time for the plants and many of the animals to be renewed. Without winter, things just wouldn't work right. (Plus, we'd have no Christmas!)

Just as winter is necessary, hard times are also needed. It is during these times that we grow in our Christianity. It is during these times that we learn to trust God a little more. It is during these times that we realize how much God loves us. Painful? Sometimes. Necessary? Always.

My advice? First of all, if you haven't taken the time to enjoy the beauty outside your window, stop everything and go do it right now. I'm serious! Go take a deep breath of that nice air. Study the different shades around you and see if you can think of a name for each of them. (If you think of one for that shade that looks like red, orange, and yellow all blended together, let me know.) Above all, praise the God who loves us enough to surround us with such an awesome view.

Second, remember. Remember the good times and the bad. Remember that you will face hardships, but that beauty is waiting on the other side. Remember that God is faithful, and that He knows what you're going through. Remember that winter is only one season, and it too shall pass.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with my husband. We're going up to the mountains to do a little sight-seeing. After all, it's a beautiful day, and I don't want to waste it.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Votes Are In

Well, the votes are in, and it's official--God is still on the throne! Yep, you heard me right. Now, before you say things you shouldn't, allow me to explain. I'm not saying that God wanted the election to turn out the way it did. But, He did allow it. Did He not?

Despite our fear, God has things completely under control. He is not sitting in Heaven, wringing His hands, and thinking 'Oh no! What's going to happen now?' Instead, He is nodding His head and thinking, 'Yep. Things are turning out just the way I knew they would.' He knew this was going to happen, and He allowed it. Why?

Could it be that these are signs of the times being fulfilled? Could it be that Jesus is getting ready to come back for His bride very soon? Could it be that the rapture is just around the corner?

If so, what are we doing about it? Instead of sitting around and complaining about the state of our nation or the election results, we need to get busy. There's a lot of people out there who are lost and on their way to hell. We need to tell them about Jesus before it's too late. We have a work to do while there's still time, so let's get busy! After all, time is short. The Bible says that we don't know the hour or the day of Christ's return, but the signs are saying His return is imminent. Let's not waste this opportunity! Let's shout from the housetops, "Jesus saves!" We have the chance to make a difference. We may not be able to change things here on earth, but our witness can make a HUGE difference in Heaven.

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.
Matthew 9:37

Monday, November 3, 2008

Idol Worship

The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them. Psalm 135:15-18

Often we think of idol worship as a thing of the past or something that is only observed in far-away countries. However, if you look up the definition of "idol," you'll find "an object of extreme devotion." Anything come to mind? How about television, internet, cell phones, shopping, eating, etc.?

In today's world, it is so easy to get sidetracked from our priorities. There are so many things screaming for our attention that they drown out the voice of God calling us to come and worship Him. Instead, we spend our time checking e-mail and working on our "My Space" pages. When that's done, we plop down in front of the television because we feel the need to relax. As long as we're just sitting there, we might as well have something to eat, too. Do you notice the trend?

When do we pull ourselves away from the many "objects of extreme devotion," and take the time to truly spend some time with God (who should be THE object of extreme devotion)? I'll be the first to admit that I've had my devotion time in such a hurry and with such a half-hearted effort that I had to remind myself later that I had actually done my devotions. What's the point in that? If that's all we're gaining from our time with the Lord, why do we go through the motions at all? Habit? Guilt? Obligation?

Now, before you through out your television set or sling a baseball bat through your computer, let me say that I'm not against any of these things. The things, in and of themselves, are not the problem. The problem occurs when we allow these things to take priority over God in our lives. The problem is when we allow these things to become our idols. We must be careful! Let's keep our priorities straight and keep our worship and devotion where it belongs. After all, God alone is worthy of our praise!

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exodus 20:3




Friday, October 31, 2008

Just a Quick Post

Any of you who know me know that I am not a political person. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of hearing about the election. Don't get me wrong. I know that it is important, but as a preacher recently said, if we would talk about Jesus as much as we talk about Obama and McCain, our country would have revival. AMEN!

That being said, the Lord has laid it on my heart to share with those of you who may not know that there is another candidate in the presidential election. He's not gained much popularity because he is a Baptist preacher. If you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, check out www.baldwin08.com.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making a Point

Before I get into today's discussion, I want to thank all of you who faithfully follow my blog. As many of you know, I started this blog to build my online platform so that publishers would see me as "already having a following." I know that many of you read this blog daily, but I need to ask a favor. At the bottom of each post, there is a link you can click on to add comments. Earlier, I had trouble with this link, but I think I have fixed the problem. I'd like to hear from you. Did you like the post? Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? I would love to see more of you get involved because as it is, when a publisher comes to my blog, they will see a lot of postings but no comments which makes it look like no one is reading it. That is the opposite effect that I'm going for. Please understand. I know you are all extremely busy, and I'm not asking you to write a book or to post a comment every day. But, I am asking if you will help me to make it look like this blog is read. I feel silly asking, but as a writer, I have to promote myself, and blogging is one of the best ways to do that . . . if the blog looks like it's being read. Thanks in advance! And, if you have trouble posting a comment, please send me an e-mail so I can try to figure out the problem. Okay, enough commercial. Let's get to the good stuff!

Have you ever noticed how God has a way of getting a point across in the Bible? Sometimes, it's almost comical how He beats people over the head in order to get their attention or to make a point. (I have also been the recipient of that head-beating, and it's not so comical then.) Anyway, in my Bible reading, I found another occasion where God was trying to make a point. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, 31.

Did you catch that? Those four verses read exactly the same. God put the same sentence in this one psalm four times. Why? Could it be that He wanted to make sure we didn't miss it. After all, it's a very important verse. Through this passage, the psalmist is talking about how God provided for the children of Israel and delivered them from Egypt. Yet, they were not happy. They complained of hunger, thirst, fatigue, obstacles. You name it, they complained about it.

So, the story is being told. They complained, and God said, "Oh that men would praise the Lord." They rebelled, and God said, "Oh that men would praise the Lord." They cried, and God said, "Oh that men would praise the Lord." They worshiped idols, and God said, "Oh that men would praise the Lord." Do we get the point?

The Israelites were so wrapped up in their complaints and criticism that they ignored or forgot (I often wonder which) all the things that God did for them. He fed them with manna and quail. He gave them water from the rock. He delivered them from captivity. Their clothes never wore out. He continuously forgave them for their bickering and sinful acts. But, do they appreciate it? No, they complain!

Now, before we get too hard on the children of Israel, aren't we often the same way? When tragedy or hardships come, don't we often fret and forget how God delivered us in the past? We focus on our problems instead of on the Solution. We complain about our current state and wonder why life is so unfair?

This psalm is an excellent reminder to all of us that no matter what we face, good or bad, we need to praise the Lord. He has been good, and He has done wonderful works. Shame on us for overlooking that!

Whatever you're facing today, put aside the complaints and murmurs, and instead praise the Lord for all that He's done. After that, the problem may not look so bad anymore.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:8,15,21,31

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Thorn in the Flesh

We are all familiar with Paul's thorn in the flesh. Granted, we don't know specifically what it was. I know many believe it was a health issue of some kind, like blindness perhaps. We can't be certain, but we do know it often hindered him in his service to God. That makes me wonder.

Have you ever questioned why God would give us a thorn in the flesh that prevents us from serving Him at our greatest capacity? Paul said that it was so that he wouldn't be exalted above measure, but is that reason the same for all of us?

I know of Godly people who can't make it to the church because of physical ailments. I know of others who can't come to many events because they are needed to care for a loved one who is suffering from physical illness. I, myself, am constantly battling various physical conditions. During these times of suffering, I turn my face toward Heaven and cry, "Why, God? Couldn't I serve you better without this thorn? Don't you want the complete service that I could offer if I were healed?"

The answer I receive is the same as the one Paul received. "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

I don't understand God's ways, but I'm sure He knows what He is doing. So, for all of you out there who are suffering physically or take care of those who are suffering physically, take heart. It's not easy, but God's grace will be sufficient. We don't need to understand; we only need to trust.

My prayers are with you all!

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.
II Corinthians 12:10

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm Back!

The past couple of weeks have been a true test of patience. I know that patience is a good thing, but the Bible says "tribulation worketh patience," and let me tell you, I understand.

We were able to get our home phone number routed to a cell phone and to establish a new DSL connection. The process was supposed to take a few days. From the time we called 'til the time it was completed was two weeks! Two weeks!

As if that wasn't enough to get me frustrated, my bursitis decided to flare up, causing me to miss out on several work days and to have to pay for a chiropractor visit. It is doing a little better now, but I still can't type for very long at all before it really begins to throb and ache. What a pain! (literally)

There were other difficult situations that I had to deal with this week, but they're personal, so I won't go into a lot of detail. Needless to say, it's been a rough couple of weeks, and my stress level was through the roof.

But, the Lord knew all this was going to happen, and He had already planned a little weekend getaway. My in-laws had reserved a cabin on Lake Keowee for the weekend, and they invited my husband and I to join them. It was so quiet and peaceful there. That alone was enjoyable, but then we also hiked up to Twin Falls. Gorgeous!!!! As I sat there beholding the enormous power of the water as it gushed forth from the top of the falls, I was reminded of just how powerful God is. The problems that seem so huge to me are nothing to Him. He is in control, and He is all-powerful.

The trip was short, but it allowed me some time to regain some focus on who God is and what He is capable of doing. I needed some time to be still. I needed some time to get away from all the distractions that drag me down. I needed a renewed fellowship with God. I wish we had had a little more time for vacation, but I'm extremely thankful for the time we did have. What a blessing!

PS- I'll try to put up some pictures of Twin Falls as soon as I can get them transfered from my phone to my computer.

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
Psalm 4:4

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Just a Reminder

Just wanted to remind everyone that AT&T will be working on our internet and phone lines for the next few days. I won't be able to post anything until they're finished, so until then, may God bless you all. I'll be back as soon as I have my internet back. I think I'm already suffering from withdrawal!

A Really Big Bottle

Any of you who know me know that I am a VERY tenderhearted person. I think sometimes that I'm too tenderhearted. I can't watch someone cry without joining them. If I see someone hurting, my heart aches for them. I can't even watch a touching movie without crying my eyes out. It just doesn't take much to make me cry.

For that reason, whenever I read verse 8 of Psalm 56, my mind begins to spin. It says, Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? I'm wondering if God keeps all of our tears. If so, does he keep them all in one bottle or do we each have our own bottle? Even if I have my own personal tear bottle in Heaven, can you imagine how big it must be? I know that I've cried oceans of tears in my life, and I just can't imagine a bottle big enough to hold them all. It's an interesting thought, isn't it?

But, there is one thing I do know for sure. God sees each of my tears, and more than that, He understands each one. During those times when I just can't find the words to express how I feel, my tears can speak for me. What a blessing to know that God understands! What an even bigger blessing to know that one day, He will wipe all the tears from our eyes. We won't need them anymore. So, I wonder, what happens to our tear bottles then?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wings Like a Dove

And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Psalm 55:6

What a beautiful verse! So poetic! So applicable! I know I've had the same feelings that David portrays in this verse. When life gets overwhelming, I cry for a way to get away from it all and to be at rest. I think we all often feel that way, but most of us are unsure how to express it. David allowed his heart to speak.

I don't have the time or opportunity to drop everything and go on a vacation every time life gets tough. Do you? I didn't think so. But, all hope is not lost. There is still a way for us to find peace and be at rest in the midst of life's complications.

First, pray. I know it sounds simple, but you'll be amazed how much more peace you have once you turn the problem over to God. Things won't seem so bad, and rest will seem within reach.

Second, take a walk. All of us can find 15 minutes to take a walk. I suggest walking in a pleasant environment, if at all possible. For example, I love to walk at the local park. There is a river and a waterfall. It is peaceful and soothing to me. It takes a little extra time because I have to drive there, but it's well worth it to me. However, if it's not possible to go somewhere nice, just walk wherever you can. It is an exercise that is not only good for the body, but also for the mind. As you walk, don't focus on your problems. Focus on the walk, on your breathing, and on all the things you are thankful for. If you really want to save time, pray while you walk, and you can kill two birds with one stone.

Third, close your eyes and allow your mind to drift to an imaginary place or a place you would love to visit. Spend five to ten minutes dreaming of this place. See, smell, touch. Incorporate as many of your senses as you can as you picture yourself in this peaceful place. When your time is up, before you open your eyes, promise yourself that you can return to this place any time you need to. After that, take three deep breaths, and open your eyes.

While it's not always feasible to get away when we need to, the above exercises will help us to deal with life's interruptions. They will make it possible for us to keep going until our next "real" vacation. We may not be able to fly away, but we can be at rest.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Singing With Understanding

Have you ever found yourself singing a song but not really paying attention to what you're singing? I've had times where I lifted my voice in joyous song, the words rolling off my tongue, but the meaning completely lost to me. It's not that I didn't understand what I was singing. It's just that I wasn't paying attention. Don't look at me that way. I know you've done the same thing. How many times have we stood in church and sung, "I Surrender All" without even heeding the promise we were making?

In Psalm 47:7, the author says, For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. Did you catch that? Don't just sing it; mean it! That might limit our song choices a little. Won't it? For example, there's a song that I absolutely refuse to sing. It's a beautiful song entitled "Whatever It Takes." The song basically tells the Lord that I will be willing to do anything or give up anything for Him. Not just that, but that I'll do it gladly. I'd love to say that I know for a fact that I am in that position. However, when I think of Job, I ask myself if I'm REALLY willing to face that. I want to be, but I don't think I've arrived at that place yet. So, I don't sing the song because if I did, it would be a lie.

I often hear people comment on a particular song, about how beautiful the music is and everything. Then, when I hear it, I discover that it's completely against the Scriptures. The doctrine is messed up or the message is just wrong! But, it's a beautiful song because the music is pretty? Oh, we'd better be careful.

The Bible encourages us over and over again to sing praises unto the Lord. But, if we don't mean it, we shouldn't sing it. So, to keep from making this mistake, we would do well to pay attention to what we are singing. Sing? Yes! But, sing with understanding.

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
Psalm 66:1-2

Monday, October 6, 2008

Facing the Obstacles

Why is it in life that every time you get things rolling, something happens that causes you to lose your rhythm? Isn't it frustrating? I'll give you an example. Things were rolling along quite well in my writing. I've just finished the rough draft of my new book, and I have a couple of other projects that I'm working on. I've being doing good to meet my daily writing goals and to stay focused on my projects. Things seemed to be going well, after all, I'm doing the work the Lord called me to do. Right?

I woke up yesterday morning with a severe pain in my neck and left shoulder. The pain continued all day, working its way down my left arm. It didn't take me long to realize that I had done something to aggravate my bursitis. The last time it acted up, I was out of commission for nearly a month. A MONTH! I can't afford to lose a month of work, but just typing this short post is killing me.

During times like this, I can't help but turn my face to the skies and ask, "Why, God?" Why must we face obstacles when we're doing the Lord's work? Why would God lead us to do a work and then make that path so difficult to travel? I believe that the answer is that God is helping us to grow in our Christian walk.

Have you ever heard of growing pains? Well, they're not just physical. Spiritual growth can cause some growing pains as well. But, think about it. If everything in our lives were simple, we would have no need to grow. We would grow complacent in our current state. That's not acceptable to the Lord. He wants our faith to grow. He wants to see more and more of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. In order for this to occur, we must face some obstacles.

Let me hasten to say that understanding the process does not make it any less painful. I am in pain. I'm frustrated because I can't do my work. I'm discouraged because I lost my rhythm. However, I am NOT defeated because I know that this is for my good. I may not like it, but I know I need it. So, as I stand here facing today's problem, I must make a choice. Am I going to look at the obstacle, or am I going to focus on the One who will get me through? I think the answer is obvious!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Thursday, October 2, 2008

O Taste and See

O taste and see that the LORD is good. (Psalm 34:8a) What an interesting verse. I mean, for David to say, "See that the Lord is good" is nothing unusual, but taste? How does one taste the Lord? I believe it is an expression similar to what we use today. We often say, "let me get a taste of it" or "let me get the feel for it." In other words, let me experience it and get the hang of it. Wow! That's powerful! What could our lives be like if we allowed ourselves to fully experience God, to "get a handle" on his love, mercy, and grace. I don't think we'd be able to control ourselves.

I read this verse in my Bible reading this morning, but I was also thinking it when I first woke up. This is, by far, my favorite time of year. I love this season! I like the colors. I like the temperatures. I like the freshness the air holds. I just love it! Last night, we opened up our windows and allowed the fresh air to cool the house. When I awoke this morning, I was snuggled deep into my covers, for the air was indeed cool. I took a deep breath and savored the crisp, fresh air as it energized and renewed me. Through my window, I could see the bright blue sky and the sunlight as it began to warm the earth. My first thought was 'Wow, God is good.'

Think about it. He didn't have to give us the different seasons. He could have allowed us to have Summer all year round, or worse yet, Winter. But, in His goodness, He allows us to experience four seasons, each with their own unique characteristics and attributes. To me, the change of seasons is just another reminder of what a great God I serve and how mighty He is. If you haven't done so already, go outside and take a deep breath. Enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air. And, take a minute to thank the Lord for such a privilege.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why the Change?

Psalm 23 is a very familiar psalm. In fact, I think believers and non-believers alike have heard it so many times that they can quote it from memory. Memorization is great, but we must be careful to not allow the words to lose their meaning. When we quote a verse, are we just reciting the words or are we really thinking about what the verse is saying?

While doing my Bible reading this morning, I read through the familiar psalm. I was almost through when I realized I wasn't paying attention to what I was reading. My eyes saw. My lips spoke. My brain? Well, it was somewhere else. So, I went back and started reading again, and I saw something I had never noticed before. In the hundreds of times I've read, heard, and quoted it, I've never seen this. It's amazing what happens when you actually pay attention!

In verses 1-3, David is talking about the Lord. "The Lord is. . ." "He maketh. . ." "He restoreth. . ." But, look at what happens in verse 4. He completely changes his point of view or point of reference. Beginning in verse 4, David is actually talking to the Lord. "Thou are with me." "Thou preparest. . ." What happened between verses 3 and 4? Why the change?

Could it be that in the writing of this psalm, David remembered how precious the Lord is? Perhaps, David's change had to do with familiarity. After all, verse 4 talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. David had been there. Maybe, these verses meant so much to David that they reminded him that he was not alone. It could be as simple as the fact that he wrote it the way God told him to. I don't know, but I find it very interesting. There are many changes like this throughout the Psalms. Read a few, and you'll see what I'm talking about. In the first half of the chapter, David is questioning God. He spells out his complaints and troubles. He describes the trials he's facing and wonders why God won't help him. But, then in the next verse, he's praising God and singing songs. Wouldn't you love to know what happened in between those verses? Did David just resolve to be thankful? Or, did God come down and thump him on the head, telling him to quit his griping? (Don't laugh. God's done it to me a time or two.)

What's my point? First of all, when reading God's Word, pay attention. It is so easy to let our minds drift, but when we do, we miss out on something special. Second, look for God's work between the lines. Even if we can't figure out what the work is, it's a reminder to us that God is always in control, and He is always working in our best interest. If that's not worth paying attention for, I don't know what is.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

Monday, September 29, 2008

In His Likeness

Wow! The Lord has really been speaking to me this weekend. On Friday afternoon, Jason and I went to see the movie Fireproof. What an awesome movie! If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. I cried through most of it. I don't want to give the story away, but there were many times throughout it that I was reminded of how many times I've let God down. Yet, He has always forgiven me. Even though I've disobeyed and failed Him time after time, He still loves me and calls me His child. What a blessing!

If that wasn't enough, on Saturday, I was doing some studying for my Sunday School lesson. The Lord was leading me to teach on patience (a topic I'm not very familiar with). As I studied, again I was brought to tears when I was reminded of how patient God has been with me. It seemed to tie right into the movie.

I taught the lesson Sunday morning, and many of the ladies approached me later saying that I had really stomped on their toes, but they thanked me anyway saying that they had needed to hear it. The two messages from our pastor went right along with the lesson, emphasizing the fact that if we want to change anything in our lives, we must keep our eyes focused on the One who can bring about the change. Needless to say, it was a weekend full of spiritual blessings!

The lessons continued in my devotions this morning. I was reading in Psalm 17, a passage that I've read probably 100 times. But, this morning, I noticed something special in the last verse. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. In this passage, I don't think David is referring to a physical likeness. Instead, I think he is referring to the time when his words, thoughts, and actions reflect the Lord. He is stating that he won't be satisfied until he is a true picture of Christ. What a challenge!

While some of my words, thoughts, and actions reflect the Lord, I have not arrived at the place where I can look at myself and see Him. I still have a lot of areas to work on before my character resembles that of Christ. And, until then, I won't be satisfied. Until the world can see Jesus, and only Jesus, in me, I must keep striving to grow more like Him. How? Through prayer, Bible study, and walking with Him day by day. The task will not be easy, but the reward will truly be worth it!

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
II Peter 3:18

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where Have I Been?

Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted anything since Tuesday. This week has been super busy. Not only have we been looking into dropping our home phone line, but I've also been tied up finishing the first draft of my second book. Yep, it's done. Now comes the hard part. Now, I have to add the final touches, cut out the parts that are just fluff, correct my many typos and grammar errors, and on and on. The writing is fun because the story can come alive as I type. The editing and revising can be a very tedious process, but it is a necessary part of writing.

Concerning our home phone line, we are dropping the home line and transferring the number to a cell phone. This is going to save us a lot of money each month. The problem is that our internet will be down for a few days while AT&T does whatever it is they need to do to set up our internet so that it is no longer connected to our land line. I don't understand all the specifics, but I do know that sometime in the near future (probably next weekend), we will be without the internet for a few days. This means no e-mail and no blogging. Pray that I don't go into withdrawal.

I will make every attempt to get back on track with my regular blogging on Monday. Until then, God bless you all, and have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

God Works in Mysterious Ways

This morning I went outside to do my devotions. I was reading and meditating when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this white blur. Looking in that direction, I saw my dog, Mitch, running as fast as he could run with his long white rope dangling from his mouth. He made circles around the yard, running and growling. I can't describe the sight to you, but it was so funny that I laughed uncontrollably. The more he ran around, the harder I laughed. The more I laughed, the more he wanted to run. I guess he liked the approval.

I looked at Tippy, my older dog, who was just staring at Mitch like he'd lost his mind. "He's a mess. Isn't he?" I said to her. (Yes, I talk to my dogs. Get over it.) But, then the thought hit me of how much we have enjoyed having Mitch as part of our family. He's been a real joy. That thought in itself isn't strange, but the thought that followed was that we never would have gotten Mitch if Tessa hadn't passed away.

I believe Tessa's passing was God's way of directing us to another one of His creatures that needed love and care. If you had seen Mitch when he was at the pound, it would have broken your heart. I've seen a lot of "puppy dog eyes," but he was truly pitiful. I've never seen anyone or anything look as lost and abandoned as he did. Today, he doesn't even look like the same dog. He is happy and energetic, lovable and rotten.

He will never take Tessa's place, and I don't think God intended for him to. But, I do believe God worked this out, even though it's hard to understand and even sometimes hard to accept. But, I love Mitch. In just the few months we've had him, he has wiggled his way into my heart, and life with him is VERY interesting. I would love to have my Tessa back, but I see now that the Lord was working things for the good. It is true that God's ways are not our ways. The sooner we accept that, the better off life will be.

For my thoughts are not your thought, neither are you ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8