Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Silent Monks

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Search and Rescue


I've been following the story of the two missing hikers in Oregon. Evidently, three friends set out Friday morning a week ago to climb Mount Hood. A blizzard came in that night, and the three hikers didn't return. One body was found on Saturday. The news said that the hiker had minor injuries from a fall but died of hypothermia. His gear was gone, so it is supposed that the other two hikers have the gear which would provide them a few extra supplies. However, weather conditions only worsened as the week went on, and at the time of this writing, the search has been called off until the weather clears. What was once a "search and rescue" mission is now being termed as a "recovery" mission. In other words, they've given up hope of finding these two hikers alive.

It's a sad story that has my emotions in an uproar. On the one hand, I can't help but wonder why they would try to climb the mountain when they knew bad weather was imminent. On the other hand, I can't imagine what their friends and families must be going through right now. What a sad twist to the holidays!

Do you realize that we, as Christians, are on a search and rescue mission? When Jesus was on the earth, He said, "I have come to seek and to save that which was lost." However, when He left this earth, He gave us a command to carry on His work. No, we can't save, but we can seek, and we can lead those lost souls to the One who can save.

I can't fathom the number of souls that are lost and on their way to Hell. It's our job to reach them. It's our job to seek them out. It's our job to lead them to the Savior. When are we going to start taking this search and rescue mission seriously? Unfortunately, when our work is called off, there is no recovery mission. Let's act now before it's too late.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Check the Ingredients


Once a month, Jason and I will go to the bargain grocery store and check out what they've gotten in recently that we can use. For the most part, it's a "scratch and dent" kind of place, but you'd be amazed at the discount you can get on some of this stuff just because the cans are ugly.

Anyway, when we go, he tries to stock up on coffee because they'll carry brands that we usually can't afford at a VERY good price. His recent discovery was a lovely hazelnut blend. I love hazelnuts, and usually the smell of anything with hazelnut in it makes my mouth water. That was not the reaction I had yesterday morning when I first smelled the coffee.

"What's that smell?" I asked wrinkling my nose and trying to calm the tickle in the back of my throat. My first thought was that Jason had spilled some of the cinnamon deodorizer that he uses for work. It didn't take me long to realize it was the coffee. I turned the coffee pot off and grabbed the new can of coffee, searching the label for the ingredients. Coffee, Natural and artificial flavors. Hmm, well, I can tell you what one of those flavors is.

I called Jason. "How was your coffee?"

"Great. It's really good. In fact, you might even like it." (No, he wasn't kidding. He didn't realize it had cinnamon in it.)

"No," I replied. "I don't think I'll care for it. In fact, I already don't like it." By this time, my throat was closing up, my eyes were watering, and I could feel a headache coming on. Even my own home is not cinnamon-proof this time of year. What's a girl to do?

As much as I hate it, Jason will have to give away a perfectly good can of coffee. (Anyone like hazelnut coffee with a touch of cinnamon?) This reminds me that in food, all does not necessarily work together for good.

In life, however, we are assured that God is in control. He sees the big picture. He knows the entire plan. He has His eyes on the beginning and the end. He will see that all things work together for good.

Things may not seem good now, but the rest of the story has not yet been told. God is in control of all the ingredients, and He will blend them together in a way that only He can to bring about a result that only He can imagine. Whatever you're going through today, be patient and trust that God will be true to His Word. Trust in His ingredients.

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Our Choice


The other morning I was getting breakfast for my dogs. Mitch wakes up each morning with a growling tummy, so he's very adamant about getting his breakfast. Tippy loves to eat as well, but she has a hard time getting down off the bed by herself. I've discovered that it's easier to fix their breakfast with only one dog dancing around me instead of two, so I leave Tippy on the bed until I have their bowls ready. I set Mitch's bowl on the floor, and while he's eating, I'll get Tippy and then set her bowl on the floor. This usually works well.

On this particular morning, I brought Tippy out, but she immediately left her eating spot and came to me in the kitchen where I was fixing my breakfast. That's odd, I thought. Tippy NEVER leaves food behind.

"Go eat your food," I prodded her. No luck. "If you don't hurry, Mitch will eat it." Still she stood there begging for my breakfast. "No," I chided, "this is my breakfast. You go eat your own food." She wouldn't budge.

Finally, I walked her over to her bowl. . . only her bowl wasn't there. It was still sitting on the counter where I had set it to fix their breakfast. I laughed at myself, set the food on the floor, and she immediately started chowing down. (Don't laugh at me. I know you've done something similar. Admit it!)

Unlike Tippy, many times we go hungry and it's no one's fault but our own. I'm not speaking of being physically hungry. I'm talking about spiritual malnutrition. God has prepared a feast for us to sit down to every day. The Word of God. The Bread of Life. It's there for the taking. Whether we eat or not is up to us. God has prepared the meal and placed it in front of us. From there, it's up to us. Eat or don't eat. It's our choice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Soldier's Silent Night

The poem's author, James M. Schmidt, was a Lance Corporal stationed in Washington, D.C., when he wrote the poem back in 1986. In Corporal Schmidt's own words (December, 2002):

"The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, D.C., under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers (in 1986), I wrote this poem to hang on the door of the gym in the BEQ. When Colonel Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire Battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed worldwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine."


TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, HE LIVED ALL ALONE,

IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE MADE OF PLASTER AND STONE.

I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,

AND TO SEE JUST WHO IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.


I LOOKED ALL ABOUT, A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,

NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS, NOT EVEN A TREE.

NO STOCKING BY MANTLE, JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,

ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.


WITH MEDALS AND BADGES, AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,

A SOBER THOUGHT CAME THROUGH MY MIND.

FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT, IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,

I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER, ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.


THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING, SILENT, ALONE,

CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.

THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE, THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,

NOT HOW I PICTURED A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.


WAS THIS THE HERO OF WHOM I'D JUST READ?

CURLED UP ON A PONCHO, THE FLOOR FOR A BED?

I REALIZED THE FAMILIES THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,

OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.


SOON ROUND THE WORLD, THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,

AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.

THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,

BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS, LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.


I COULDN'T HELP WONDER HOW MANY LAY ALONE,

ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.

THE VERY THOUGHT BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,

I DROPPED TO MY KNEES AND STARTED TO CRY;


THE SOLDIER AWAKENED AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,

"SANTA DON'T CRY, THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;

I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM, I DON'T ASK FOR MORE,

MY LIFE IS MY GOD, MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS."


THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,

I COULDN'T CONTROL IT, I CONTINUED TO WEEP.

I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS, SO SILENT AND STILL

AND WE BOTH SHIVERED FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL.


I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,

THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR SO WILLING TO FIGHT.

THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER, WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,

WHISPERED, "CARRY ON SANTA, IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE."


ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH, AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT."



Friday, December 11, 2009

Owed To Joy


Written by: Ted A. Thompson

The year our youngest daughter, Shelly, was four, she received an unusual Christmas present from "Santa."

She was the perfect age for Christmas, able to understand the true meaning of the season, but still completely enchanted by the magic of it. Her innocent joyfulness was compelling and catching -- a great gift to parents, reminding us of what Christmas should represent no matter how old we are.

The most highly prized gift Shelly received that Christmas Eve was a giant bubble-maker, a simple device of plastic and cloth the inventor promised would create huge billowing bubbles, large enough to swallow a wide-eyed four-year-old. Both Shelly and I were excited about trying it out, but it was after dark so we'd have to wait until the next day.

Later that night I read the instruction booklet while Shelly played with some of her other new toys. The inventor of the bubble-maker had tried all types of soaps for formulating bubbles and found that Joy dishwashing detergent created the best giant bubbles. I'd have to buy some.

The next morning, I was awakened very early by small stirrings in the house. Shelly was up. I knew in my sleepy mind that Christmas Day festivities would soon begin, so I arose and made my way toward the kitchen to start the coffee. In the hallway, I met my daughter, already wide awake, the bubble- maker clutched in her chubby little hand, the magic of Christmas morning embraced in her four-year-old heart. Her eyes were shining with excitement, and she asked, "Daddy, can we make bubbles now?"

I sighed heavily and rubbed my eyes. I looked toward the window, where the sky was only beginning to lighten with the dawn. I looked toward the kitchen, where the coffeepot had yet to start dripping its aromatic reward for early-rising Christmas dads.

"Shelly," I said, my voice almost pleading and perhaps a little annoyed, "it's too early. I haven't even had my coffee yet."

Her smile fell away. Immediately I felt a father's remorse for bursting her bright Christmas bubble with what I suddenly realized was my own selfish problem, and my heart broke a little.

But I was a grown-up. I could fix this. In a flash of adult inspiration, I unshouldered the responsibility. Recalling the inventor's recommendation of a particular brand of bubble-making detergent -- which I knew we did not have in the house -- I laid the blame squarely on him, pointing out gently, "Besides, you have to have Joy."

I watched her eyes light back up as she realized, in less than an instant, that she could neutralize this small problem with the great and wonderful truth she was about to reveal.

"Oh, Daddy," she promised, with all the honesty and enthusiasm and Christmas excitement she could possibly communicate, "Oh, Daddy, I do."

I broke records getting to the store, and in no time at all we were out on the front lawn creating gigantic, billowing, gossamer orbs--each one filled with Joy and sent forth shimmering into the Christmas sun.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

When God's Directions Don't Make Sense

Have you ever been in the place where your common sense argues with God's directions? Frustrating, isn't it? You know you're where God wants you and that you're doing what He wants you to do, but things aren't working out so well. Common sense tells you to try a different approach. What do you do?

A friend of mine mentioned this recently to me on the phone. Just like it is for many of us, money is tight. She is a stay-at-home mom. Her common sense is telling her to get a job, but she knows that she's where the Lord has called her to be. I relayed to her that I know EXACTLY how she feels. With Jason's 6-month layoff, we're still struggling to get our heads above water. My common sense is telling me to leave my writing and go get a job that actually pays. The sad part is that I've actually tried even though I knew the Lord wanted me to stay home and write.

I was scared. I was desperate. I was confused. I kept thinking if God really wanted me to do this, He would provide for our needs. Little did I realize He was providing for our needs, just not in the way I wanted. So, I applied for jobs and even took a job tutoring. Boy, was that mistake!!! My common sense was leading me off the path the Lord had laid out for me.

Don't get me wrong. I love my job! As I type this blog entry, I'm propped up in my warm bed. My business attire consists of sweats and some days, flannel pajamas. Some days I work in my office. Other days I work in the living room in front of the fire. I love to write, and I enjoy the freedom I have by working from home. I just wish there were a big paycheck waiting for me at the end of the week.

My point? God's ways don't always make sense to us. I'm sure other people have looked at my circumstances and thought, Why don't you go get a real job? Honestly, I've thought it myself. But then God reminds me that His ways are not my ways. He knows all things. He knows where this path will lead. He knows what's best for me. And I know enough to know that the path He has me on is where I need to stay. Even if I don't understand, I can trust that He has my best interest at heart. Trust -- what a novel idea!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. - Isaiah 55:7

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Leaning on the Lord


When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? - John 13:21-25

What a beautiful image described in these verses. John, the human author of the book of John, often referred to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" or "the beloved disciple." Here we see him actually resting with his head on Jesus' chest. He is completely and totally leaning on Jesus. He's relaxed. He's at ease. He feels loved and secure.

Isn't it good to know that we can do the same? No, we can't physically lean on Jesus at this time, but we can go to Him spiritually, lay our head in His lap, and find comfort in His presence. I fear many people treat their time with Jesus as a scheduled event. I know I once did. My time with the Lord was simple part of my daily routine. Read Bible? Check. Pray? Check. Listen? Check. Praise? Check. I completed my "tasks" and went on with my day, feeling proud of myself for getting it done. Boy, was I missing out!

Since that time, I've come to realize how special my time with the Lord is. I've come to enjoy our time together so much that I don't want to get on with my day. I simply want to spend more time with Him. I've discovered the joy of laying my head on His chest and allowing Him to dry my tears. I've discovered the peace that only His gentle embrace can give. I wouldn't trade that time for anything.

So I challenge you today to make your time with the Lord special. And don't forget, He looks forward to spending time with us far more than we look forward to spending time with Him. Let's not disappoint Him!

Monday, December 7, 2009

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True. . .


We've all heard the saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." I get a good dose of that daily. Being a freelance writer, I have to focus a lot of time on marketing and advertising, which means I see a lot of ads for other products. The hype online today is unbelievable!

Make $2,500 today. Guaranteed! No experience required! Start your own business today and be a millionaire by the end of the month! Grab this FREE report and find out how to have thousands of customers beating down your door! Make $300-$500 every hour filling out simple forms! Even a child could do this!
Blah, blah, blah! Heard it. Seen it. Unfortunately, I've even tried some. The outcome? They didn't work. There's always some catch or some fine print. There's always some important tidbit of information that they conveniently leave out (but of course you can purchase that information for a small fee of $29.99). I get utterly disgusted seeing this junk every day! The bad part is that it gives a bad name and reputation to those of us who are truly marketing something real and honest. Some days it's just more than I can stand, and I allow myself to become discouraged and depressed.

It's then that I am reminded of God's promises. They sound too good to be true, but they are true! God doesn't lie. If He said He will do something, He will! Oh, what a joy to know that there's something real and honest to rely on. What a relief to know that there's no fine print or missing information. God's Word spells out His promises loud and clear, and the best part is that He sticks to His Word. God keeps His promises. There's no hype involved!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Little Irritations


The piano at church has been driving me crazy. A few weeks ago while playing an offeratory, I noticed the high "A" key was sticking. It was annoying at the time, but I calmed myself by reminding myself that it wasn't a key I used often because I don't often play in the higher range.

About a week later, the "G" below middle "C" began sticking. It was far worse than the "A" and any of you who know about music know that that particular key is played ALL THE TIME! During one service, I was so distracted by the constant sticking that I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. I stopped playing the hymn after the second verse, only to discover seconds later that there was another verse. The congregation was singing acappella because I was fiddling with the stuck note instead of playing the song. Needless to say, it was rather embarrassing.

Since that time, I have planned my offeratories around the stuck keys. It hasn't been easy, and I've had to remind myself to play that "G" an octave lower. I discovered that in trying to avoid those keys I messed up in other places. My "groove" was thrown off all because of a couple of stuck keys!

Do you see where I'm going with this? Many times in life, it only takes one wrong attitude or one bad habit to cause a major disruption in our Christian walk. These problems cause a note of discord in the beautiful melody God is trying to play through us. Whether it be a sin that we just won't let go of or an attitude of bitterness, these obstacles hinder us from making beautiful music for the Lord. Sure, we can"get by" just as I got by on the piano, but the melody won't sound as sweet. To restore the music, we need to fix the problems.

That's what made the difference with the church piano. The tuner/repairman came to look at the piano last week. He discovered the problem. Evidently, a mouse had decided to make his home inside the piano. He built himself a nest, chewed on some of the felt, and then died inside the piano. Why we didn't smell him I don't know! (Just think: I had been that close to a mouse for weeks and had no idea. Yuck!!!!) Anyway, the tuner removed the mouse (or what was left of him) and repaired the damage he had done. The piano plays perfectly now (although my groove could still use a little tweaking!)

What if we had ignored the problem and continued to try to "get by?" I cringe to think about it. There was a problem. It needed to be fixed. After the repairs were made, things were back as they should be.

That's all God wants from us. He wants us to examine ourselves and see what belongs and what is out of place. A mouse in the piano is DEFINITELY out of place. How about your life? Do you see something that just doesn't belong? How about getting rid of it and allowing the Lord to use you again as an instrument for His glory!

Now that I know a mouse can get inside the piano, I'll be watching more carefully. I can't tell you the number of times I checked around my feet last Sunday. The same is true in our lives. Once we know what we're dealing with, we know what to watch out for. That alone will make a big difference!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Just a Matter of Perspective


One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”


“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yeah,” said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless.


Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

Author Unknown


In the midst of economic crisis, may we never forget how rich we truly are!

*Story from inspirationalstories.com.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GIVE THANKS

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Forgive Me When I Whine

Author Unknown





Today upon a bus, I saw
A lovely maid with golden hair;
I envied her -- she seemed so gay,
And how, I wished I were so fair;
When suddenly she rose to leave,
I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one foot and wore a crutch,
But as she passed, a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two feet -- the world is mine.

And when I stopped to buy some sweets,
The lad who served me had such charm;
He seemed to radiate good cheer,
His manner was so kind and warm;
I said, "It's nice to deal with you,
Such courtesy I seldom find";
He turned and said, "Oh, thank you sir."
And then I saw that he was blind.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two eyes -- the world is mine.

Then, when walking down the street,
I saw a child with eyes of blue;
He stood and watched the others play,
It seemed he knew not what to do;
I stopped a moment, then I said,
"Why don't you join the others, dear?"
He looked ahead without a word,
And then I knew he could not hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears -- the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go;
With eyes to see the sunsets glow,
With ears to hear what I would know.
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine;
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Extra Baggage


Last Saturday we took our dogs over to Chestnut Ridge, a heritage preserve about 20 minutes from our house. The 2.5 mile trail is a moderate, but beautiful hike down to the peace and serenity of a gently flowing stream. It's one of our favorite places to go.

When we arrived at the gate to the heritage preserve, we stopped the truck and got out. The dogs immediately started running to and fro, exploring and looking for a place to go to the bathroom. We allow them this freedom because they know not to get out of our sight, and they're very well-behaved.

While Jason and I were getting our gear together, Mitch found an interesting item that he wanted to explore more closely. By the time Jason and I noticed what he had gotten into, it was too late. He had found the skeleton of a rather large animal and decided to roll in it. (Why do dogs do that?) As soon as Jason realized what Mitch was doing, he called him to come back to the truck. Mitch stood up and ran over to us but was immediately spooked by something that had hold of his collar. Fear filled his eyes as he ran faster towards us, a large white blur hanging from his collar and bouncing from side to side as he ran. Once we got him stopped, we discovered the item to be the backbone of the skeleton he had rolled in. GROSS!!!! When Mitch had rolled on the ground, part of the backbone had gotten tangled in his collar. Jason had to work it loose and dispose of it. (I certainly wasn't going to touch it!!!)

Mitch didn't know what to think. To him, he was just doing a little exploring, but he got much more than what he had planned on. Not only had he been "grabbed" by a dead animal but at that point he smelled like one too. He wasn't pleased. After I had calmed him down, I patted him on the head and said, "That's what happens when you get into stuff that you're not supposed to mess with." WHACK! God thumped me right between the eyes.

Many times in life, we have a knack for getting ourselves into difficult situations. Why? Just like Mitch, we do things we know we're not supposed to do. We go where we shouldn't go, watch what we shouldn't watch, listen to things better left unheard, and say things better left unsaid. We get into things that we have no business messing with and then wonder why things are going wrong in our lives. Just as Mitch got more than he had planned on, so do we when we do the wrong things. Remember the old song, "Sin Will Take You Farther Than You Want to Go"? It's true. We would be much better off if we would stick to the right path and not wander off to go "exploring." After all, who wants to carry around all that extra baggage (especially if it's part of a skeleton)?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses, But Not the Skunk


On our way to church Sunday morning, we ran over a skunk. We came up over the hill, and there he was lying in the road. We didn't have time to swerve and miss him. Needless to say, it was a VERY long ride to church. We rolled the windows down, hoping that the fresh outside air would help to get rid of some of the smell. We noticed that as long as we were moving, the smell wasn't too bad. If we stopped, however, the fragrance was overwhelming. It stunk so bad that I could taste it. In fact, it was so bad that I was afraid my clothes were going to start smelling skunk-like as well. So we did our best to keep moving. . .that is, until we got to church. (I won't even go into the smell that awaited us when we got out of church that afternoon. Let's just say it wasn't pleasant.)

You know, sometimes life stinks. Things happen that we feel shouldn't. Daily circumstances don't always meet our qualifications for a good day. All in all, it stinks just like the skunk we hit (may he rest in pieces, er, peace). But if we sit around thinking about how bad things are, the smell (or circumstance) won't get any better. In fact, it will get worse. The best way to deal with the smell is to keep moving. Keep going. Keep running the race. Keep serving the Lord. Don't focus on the smell, focus on doing all you can to please the Lord. As we do, the smell starts to wear off to the point that we hardly notice it anymore. Praise the Lord!

(BTW, if you're riding down 183 towards Pickens any time in the near future, watch out for Pepe La Pew! He's hard to miss.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't Quit

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bible Answers

Bible Answers

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If you know the Bible - even a little - you'll find this hilarious!
It comes from elementary school. Kids were asked questions about the Old & New Testaments. The following statements about the Bible were written by the children. they have not been retouched or corrected(i.e.incorrect spelling has been left in.)

1. In the first book of the bible, Guinessis, God got tired of
creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off.

2. Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah's
wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark, which the animals come on in pears.

3. Lot 's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by
night.

4. The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals.

5. Samson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah.

6. Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles.

7. Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea , where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients,

8. The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten amendments.

9. The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

10. the seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.

11. Moses died before he ever reaches Canada . Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.

12. The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.

13. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times.

14. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

15. When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta.

16. When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, the found Jesus in the manager.

17. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.

18. St. John the blacksmith dumped water on his head.

19. Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you. He also explained, a man doth not live by sweat alone.

20. It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance.

21. The people who followed the lord were called the 12 decibels.

22. The epistles were the wives of the apostles.

23. One of the opossums was St. Matthew who was also a taximan.

24. St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage.

25. Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.





Friday, November 13, 2009

Who Do We Think We Are?


With Thanksgiving approaching, I've been thinking a lot about Calvary. When I go through my list of things I'm thankful for, salvation is at the top. Without Jesus, I would have nothing! So, during this time each year, I spend a lot of time focusing on and reading about the crucifixion. I admit, each time I read it, the story becomes more touching.

Recently, my reading of the crucifixion story took my mind in a different direction. Look at the following exchange between Pilate and Jesus.

When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. - John 19:6-11

Did you notice Pilate's anger when Jesus wouldn't give him an answer? Did you see the boldness in which he basically declared, "How dare you not answer me? Don't you know who I am? Don't you know how powerful I am?" In a way, it's comical. Here's this little Roman ruler talking to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It's ridiculous!

However, I must admit that I'm guilty of doing the same thing. I seek the Lord, I ask Him my questions, and then I demand an answer. When I don't get one, I get huffy and have the attitude of "how dare you not answer me." I don't think my mouth has ever uttered those words, but my heart has spoken them just the same. Who am I to demand an answer from God? What power do I have to command the Creator?

I'm quick to judge characters in the Bible, but the more I study, the more I discover that I have the same flaws as they do. Oh, how I pray the Lord will use this enlightening to help me to become a better Christian and a better servant for Him.

It's fine to ask questions of the Lord. In fact, He wants us to. Let's just be careful that we don't demand an answer or get angry when we don't receive the answer we want. Let's remember what we have and be thankful for that. After all, we already have FAR more than we deserve!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Learning to Be Watchful


Last Saturday, we took our youth group to the home of some shut-ins to do yard work. This elderly couple has severe health problems, and we thought it would be a good thing for the youth to learn the joy of doing for others. So, we gathered rakes and attempted to rake up their yard and clean out their gutters. Notice I said "attempted."

They have several large trees in their yard, and the more we raked, the more the wind blew. At times, it was downright frustrating. We hadn't been there long when one of the other youth leaders found a baby copperhead hiding in the leaves. I DON'T LIKE SNAKES!!!!! After the guys studied the squirming creature for a few minutes, they cut off its head. Yuck! I went around and warned all the other groups to be careful.

I had been carelessly scooping up leaves by the handfuls up until that point, but after seeing that snake, I was much more cautious about what I was picking up. It was a good thing because the pile I was working on was full of giant spiders. I DON'T LIKE SPIDERS EITHER!!!! Then, to top it all off, I was on the last little bit of the pile when a lovely little scorpion came crawling out. At that point, our youth group had the opportunity to see me dance. I don't know how many times I stomped on that thing, but my feet were sore when I was done. I REALLY DON'T LIKE SCORPIONS!!!!!!!!! I was stung by one once, and I never want to experience that again. So, needless to say, we had a VERY interesting day, and I even learned a couple of things.

1. Sometimes it seems like your work is in vain, but just keep trying. There were still leaves on the ground when we left. They were falling from the trees every second. Despite that, the yard looked much better when we left. Was it clear of leaves? No. Was it much better? Yes. So, was the work in vain? No, it just seemed like it at the time.

2. It's wise to be on guard. If we hadn't found the snake to begin with, I wouldn't have been nearly as careful, and I could have been bitten by a spider or stung by a scorpion. But because I was on guard, I likely prevented some bad things from happening. Life is the same way. If we will be on guard, we might prevent some nasty falls. Watch out for that dirty thought. Be on the lookout for that unkind word. Does that mean we won't mess up? No, but we have a better chance if we will learn to be watchful. Who knows? We may even get to do a little dance!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

God's Pastoral Candidates


I came across this the other day, and I admit, it made me stop and think. God can use anybody, anywhere, anytime. More than that, God knows the best person for each job whether we agree with Him or not. I know this is a bit long, but please read through it. It's a real eye-opener!

The following is a confidential report on several candidates being considered for a pastorate.



Adam: Good man but problems with his wife. Also one reference told of how his wife and he enjoy walking nude in the woods.


Noah: Former pastorate of 120 years with not even one convert. Prone to unrealistic building projects.


Abraham: Though the references reported wife-swapping, the facts seem to show he never slept with another man's wife, but did offer to share his own wife with another man.


Joseph: A big thinker, but a braggart, believes in dream-interpreting, and has a prison record.


Moses: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator, even stuttering at times. Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly. Some say he left an earlier church over a murder charge.


David: The most promising leader of all until we discovered the affair he had with his neighbor's wife.


Solomon: Great preacher but our parsonage would never hold all those wives.


Elijah: Prone to depression. Collapses under pressure.


Elisha: Reported to have lived with a single widow while at his former church.


Hosea: A tender and loving pastor but our people could never handle his wife's occupation.


Deborah: Strong leader and seems to be anointed, but she is female.


Jeremiah: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting things, reported to have taken a long trip to bury his underwear on the bank of a foreign river.


Isaiah: On the fringe? Claims to have seen angels in church. Has trouble with his language.


Jonah: Refused God's call into ministry until he was forced to obey by getting swallowed up by a great fish. He told us the fish later spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up.


Amos: Too backward and unpolished. With some seminary training he might have promise, but has a hang-up against wealthy people--might fit in better in a poor congregation.


Melchizedek: Great credentials at current work place, but where does this guy come from? No information on his resume about former work records. Every line about parents was left blank and he refused to supply a birth date. (This aside from Les: Ancient Jewish tradition has it that Melchizedek is really Shem. If you check out the lifespan of Shem in the Bible, it seems to be true!)


John: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn't dress like one. Has slept in the outdoors for months on end, has a weird diet, and provokes denominational leaders.


Peter: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper-even has been known to curse. Had a big run-in with Paul in Antioch. Aggressive, but a loose cannon.


Paul: Powerful CEO type leader and fascinating preacher. However, short on tact, unforgiving with younger ministers, harsh and has been known to preach all night.


James & John: Package deal preacher & associate seemed good at first, but found out they have an ego problem regarding other fellow workers and seating positions. Threatened an entire town after an insult. Also known to try to discourage workers who didn't follow along with them.


Timothy: Too young!


Methuselah: Too old . . . WAY too old!


Jesus: Has had popular times, but once his church grew to 5000 he managed to offend them all, and then this church dwindled down to twelve people. Seldom stays in one place very long. And, of course, he's single.


Judas: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good connections. Knows how to handle money. We're inviting him to preach this Sunday. Possibilities here.



Author Unknown

Monday, November 9, 2009

Time Is Running Out!


In the evenings, Jason and I enjoy watching the old Star Trek Voyager reruns online. No, I don't understand all the scientific stuff, but I do enjoy the series. The only episodes I don't enjoy are the ones that deal with time travel or temporal rifts and other such nonsense. I just don't get it!

I have never understood time travel. Give me a pen and paper, and I'm still confused in the end. On this particular episode, Voyager was investigating the destruction of a planet only to find out that the destruction of the planet was due to their own rescue attempt. How is that possible? They hadn't been there yet! The whole thing just makes my brain hurt!!!!

Equally confusing to me is the concept of "forever." How long is forever? Well, it's forever! It's without end. But how long is that? It boggles the mind. All I know is that it's a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, (you get the point) long time. The real question is, where will you spend that time? There are only two choices: Heaven or Hell. Eternal pleasure or eternal torment? It seems like such an easy choice, doesn't it?

Nevertheless, there are many who are headed to a horrible forever. Let's tell them before it's too late! Make a point to tell someone about Jesus today. After all, time is running out!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Under Attack

A friend and I were talking recently about how much it seems like God's people are under attack. Honestly, I can't count the number of people I know right now that are going through terrible ordeals -- sickness, surgery, death, divorce, job loss, etc. It's so sad to see so many of God's children hurting.

I told my friend that I'm starting to understand why so many people turn their backs on God. They say they feel forsaken, that God doesn't care about them. Until recently, that seemed like total nonsense to me, but I admit, I'm truly starting to understand. In these dark times, it's difficult to hear the Lord's voice and to sense His presence. At times, I do feel forsaken. That's when I go to my Bible and read God's precious promises. They remind me that God does love me and He does care for me. He is working things out according to His plan, and while I don't understand it, I simply need to trust Him.

That being said, today's post is simply a reminder to be on guard. Satan is attacking. Are you prepared?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Powerful Phrases


Jason made the mistake of sharing his Sunday School lesson with me yesterday. Why is that a mistake? When you live with a writer, you must understand that anything you say or do is likely to end up in a story, article, book, or blog entry. To some, that may be a curse. To others, it may be a blessing. All I can say is that it is what it is! If you don't want me to write about it, you better not tell me (unless of course it's something you've told me in confidence). That being said, I would like to share with you what he shared with me.

"I AM" #1:

Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. - John 18:3-5

"I AM" #2:

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. - John 18:15-17

The same two words spoken in the same chapter of the book of John, but each evokes a different reaction. Jesus' words were words of power and confirmation. Peter's were words of fear and denial. Jesus' words bespoke His strength and authority. Peter's bespoke his weakness. Two small words. Two uses. Two great impacts. You see, it's not the words themselves that are of importance, it is the message behind them. What messages are we sending out today? Are they messages of strength and power or of fear and denial? Are they spoken in the strength of the Lord or in our own weakness? It does make a difference. Of that, I am certain.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. - Proverbs 25:11

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ignoring the Voice of God


A couple of weeks ago, I began tutoring a little boy with some rather serious physical problems. He is deaf in one ear, wears glasses, has a speech impediment, and has the worst case of ADHD I've ever seen. I knew it would be tough, but I thought I could help this child. I wanted to help him. I had no idea how difficult it was going to be.

Evidently, the boy was used to people giving in to him because of his disabilities. I don't give in, so we butted heads for the first couple of lessons. I'd ask him a question, he would ignore me. At certain times, he would even place his hands over his ears. (GRRRRR) I tried puzzles, books, puppets, and games, but he seems completely uninterested in cooperating. To be honest, I was about ready to quit (or stab myself to death with his pencil).

Then, last Thursday, the miraculous happened. He cooperated. He talked with me. He played the games. He completed the projects. He listened. He even gave me a "high five" a couple of times. I was amazed and greatly relieved!

I wonder, though, how many times I treat my Lord the same way. He tries to help me, but I ignore him. I don't like His plans or His ideas, so I cover my ears and pretend I didn't hear Him. How many times do I refuse to cooperate with Him or act according to His will?

I'm so glad He hasn't given up on me! I'm so thankful for His patience with me. This tutoring experience has given me a new outlook on my life and my attitude towards the Lord's guidance. May I never be resentful of the aid and direction He tries to give me!

Monday, October 26, 2009

ARE YOU RIDING THE WORRY TRAIN?


One of the most familiar passages in the Scriptures is Hebrews 12:1-2 which reads, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

There's a lot of good stuff in those couple of verses, but I want to pull out one little phrase from verse one: "the sin which doth so easily beset us."

Each of us has one particular sin that we battle over and over again. We work on that area of our lives. We strive to make it better. We think we've almost arrived, and then, before we see what's happening, we find ourselves back at square one. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. For many (myself included), this sin is worry.

Now, many people refuse to acknowledge that worry is a sin. They fool themselves into believing that it is just an annoying habit and nothing more. But, that's not what the Bible says. In fact, Romans 14:23 says, "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." So, what is faith? The opposite of worry. This verse tells us quite plainly that if we doubt (or worry), it is a sin. If that's not proof enough, I could take you to many verses where God commands us to "fret not." What does "fret" mean? Worry!

The first problem with worry is that it takes our eyes off of Christ and focuses them instead on our troubles. Big mistake! When we look at our problems, they seem so huge and unsolvable, but when we keep our eyes on Christ, we see how big and mighty He is. This doesn't make our problems go away, but it makes them a lot easier for us to handle.

The second big problem with worry is that it never travels alone. When we hop aboard the "worry train," we find ourselves facing doubt, discouragement, regret, and ingratitude.

In the first stage of worry, we begin to doubt ourselves, others, and even God. In our fretful state, we cling to the attitude that everyone is out to get us and that nobody cares about our problems.

That leads us to discouragement. We become so overwhelmed by our troubles that we sink into the deep abyss of depression. In that pit, we begin to re-examine our lives, pointing out all the things we could have or should have done differently. We find ourselves regretting past mistakes and decisions, then we start to dwell on those, which only adds to our discouragement.

At that point, we are so consumed that we become ungrateful and even forgetful. We forget the many stories in the Bible where God provided for His children. We forget the many times He's provided for us in the past. We become discontent with what we have and ungrateful for all the blessings we've been given. And, in that ingratitude, we began to worry if God even cares about us at all.

Did you see what just happened? At the end of the "worry train," the process began all over again, and it will keep repeating until we deal with the problem.

Elijah the prophet is an excellent example of how the "worry train" works. In I Kings 18, Elijah takes on all of the prophets of Baal. At his request, God sends down fire to consume Elijah's sacrifice while the prophets of Baal can't even bring down a spark.

This display turned many hearts to the true God. You would think Elijah would have been elated. But, in the very next chapter, when he discovers that Queen Jezebel wants him dead, he flees into the wilderness. There, he pleads with the Lord to take his life, complaining that he is the only one left who wants to serve God. What happened?

First, Elijah became worried. He was afraid of what Jezebel might do to him. That worry led him to doubt God's ability to protect him, so he fled. At that point, he was all alone (except for God, of course), but that was by his own choice. He had nothing to do but to dwell on his circumstances which led him deep into discouragement.

If you read his arguments with the Lord, you'll see his regret enter the picture. He basically tells the Lord that all his work was in vain because now he's the only one left. Do you detect a hint of ingratitude? Where is the thankfulness for the miracle God had just performed? Where was the gratitude for God's provision of food even when Elijah was running away from his responsibilities? When we're consumed with worry, we forget what God can do and what He's already done.

Now that we understand the "worry train," let's discuss how we can get off of it. First, we must keep our hearts thankful. We must never forget what God can do nor what He has already done. The best way to do this is to meditate on His Word day and night. Keep it in our hearts and minds. That way, when worry comes around, we're prepared for it.

Second, we must keep our focus where it should be. As Christians, we are running a race, and our focus should be on the finish line, not on the obstacles we have to deal with before we get there. We must keep our eyes on God! This is accomplished best by following the advice in I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."

If we stay in constant communion with God, we'll discover that worry no longer bothers us. But when we get too busy to talk with God, the "worry train" comes chugging down the track, beckoning us to climb aboard. It's not worth it. We must engulf ourselves in God's Word and in fellowship with Him. It's our only hope of avoiding the "worry train."

(Excerpt from my newest book, Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead, which is currently being considered by a publisher)

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Need a Vacation


The weather has been SO beautiful this week. Yesterday, I just couldn't help myself. I had to get out of the house. I needed to soak up some of that sweet sunshine and breathe some of that fresh air. I decided to take the dogs to the lake. It was wonderful.

There was no one there, so we had the entire place to ourselves. This allowed me to give the dogs a little freedom. I set up my chair and did a little work. Mitch explored every nook and cranny and chased every bird, bee, frog, leaf, and anything else that moved. Tippy alternated between digging holes, taking a nap, and rummaging through my backpack to see if I had any food. All in all, it was a great day! In fact, it was so nice that I hated to leave. It was almost like I was in a different world. I didn't want to come back and face the reality. That "dream world" was MUCH nicer! But there were chores to do and tutoring to accomplish, so I left my haven and returned to my hectic life.

As I look back on it, I think of that time as a mini-vacation. We need those sometimes, you know? Sometimes we just need to get away. Spending time with the Lord is another way to accomplish that. Have you ever noticed how energized and refreshed you feel when you've spent quality time with the Lord? I don't know about you, but I can tell a big difference between the times I rush through my devotions just so that I can say that I did them and the times that I really take part and enjoy my time with God. There's a peace that can't be found anywhere else. . .not even at a secluded lake.

Life is crazy. Life is hectic. Life is tiring. Need a mini-vacation? Set apart an hour today, and spend it with the Lord. Put all other thoughts and obligations aside and just focus on being with Him. I promise you won't regret it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Labels Required

On my way home from running errands yesterday, I saw an unusual (and rather comical) sight. An old, beat-up truck was pulled over to the side of the road. A man, tools spread all around him lay on the ground underneath the uncooperative vehicle. That's not the part that's unusual or comical. What was funny was that painted in large yellow letters on the tailgate of the truck was the word "CLUNKER." My first thought was, No kidding!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not belittling the fellow for having an old vehicle. Jason's bronco, The Beast, is almost as old as I am. It could appropriately be labeled as "CLUNKER," but don't tell Jason I said that. I understand that we have to make do with what we have. I just found it amusing that whoever painted that title on the vehicle felt that it was necessary. Anyone could look at truck and tell it was a clunker. No label was required.

The whole thing caused me to think about whether or not I need a label. When people look at me, is it obvious that I'm a Christian? Are my words, my actions, and my attitudes good representations of Christ? Am I living up to what God called me to be?

I've met many people who call themselves Christians, but I would have never made the connection. I can't judge their hearts, for only God knows whether or not they've trusted in Him. But, I can see their attitudes and actions. I can hear their foul language. Their mean-spirited nature is evident. If not for their "Christian label," I would have pegged them for those lost and on their way to Hell.

If we have to tell others that we are Christians, we're evidently not doing a very good job at representing Christ. Just as it was obvious that the old truck was a clunker, so should it be obvious that we are Christians. No labels should be necessary!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

No Doubt About It -- God Is Good


Okay, remember a couple of days ago when I had that glorious little pity party? I was growing bitter because God was blessing others and I felt like He wasn't blessing me. Remember that? God has a way of straightening out His children.

First off, let me say that by the time I wrote that post, I had gotten things settled. The Lord and I had a LONG talk, and I was feeling much better. I apologized for my attitude and my behavior. I remembered all the ways the Lord had blessed me through the years. Everything was fine, but "fine" is not good enough for the Lord. Now that I had my act together, He wanted to remind me just how much He cares for me and how well He takes care of me.

On Tuesday, I went to the bank to make a well-needed deposit. For some reason, we were REALLY short on money and the mortgage payment was due. I was determined that morning that I wasn't going to worry about the fact that the deposit I was making was not as much as the mortgage payment. I was going to trust God. I had no idea how He was going to do it, but somehow, He would make ends meet.

I discovered that I didn't have a deposit slip, so I had to go into the bank. As I stood at the station filling out my deposit slip, I reached into my person to grab Jason's paycheck. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that there were two checks in my purse instead of one. What in the world, I thought, pulling out the second check. Evidently, in the craziness of last week with Kristen's surgery and everything, I had forgotten to make a deposit. I had not deposited Jason's check. . . the check that had several hours of overtime.

I laughed. I stood in the middle of the bank and laughed as tears filled my eyes. God had provided the money. In fact, it had been sitting in my purse for a week! I could almost hear the Lord say, "I am here, child, and I do care. All you have to do is trust me."

I couldn't wait to get out of the bank and call Jason. He laughed too. I went home and had a wonderful day because I realized that God cares enough about me to prove His love to me even when I don't deserve it. No doubt about it -- God is good!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Miracle Grow for Bitterness?


How long does it take for a seed to become a beautiful flower? How long does it take for an acorn to become a growing oak? How long does it take for a root of bitterness to overcome all senses? Not as long as you would think!!!

I spotted that root of bitterness in my own life last week. As many of you know, my husband and I have had a tough year. Six months of unemployment have left us under a serious financial burden. I've prayed. I've cried. I've poured my heart out to God time and time again, yet things seem to only get worse. My faith has gotten weak, and my fear has grown by leaps and bounds.

I've known that I am not the best at handling difficult situations. Jason just sits back and says, "God's in control. Everything will be fine." The thing is. . .he really means it. When I say that, what I'm really thinking is Yes, God is in control, but He obviously needs my help on this one. What can I do to make this work? My prayer day after day is "Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." I want to trust Him. I just can't seem to let go. I can't seem to hand the reins over to Him. So, when things don't work out, I get frustrated. Lately, I've noticed my frustration turning to anger towards God. Like the disciples on the stormy seas, I've found myself shouting to the heavens, "God, don't you even care what's happening down here?"

I had no idea how deep my root of bitterness had grown until last Wednesday. We were sitting in the hospital waiting room during little Kristen's surgery. Our pastor was telling us of a huge financial blessing he and his family had just received. Instead of being happy for them, I found myself thinking, Lord, why won't you do that for us? We're good people. We're serving you. We give when we don't have it to give. What more do you want? (The truth is that something very similar has happened to us multiple times. The Lord has given us unexpected blessings more than once, but it's hard to remember that in the middle of a pity party.) I'm happy to say that I immediately recognized my thought pattern for what it was and dismissed it. I apologized to the Lord and went on about my day.

Unfortunately, even though it had been dismissed, the root didn't go away. It stayed in my heart and continued to grow. For the next few days, I found myself mad at the world and God. I honestly don't think I've ever been so low spiritually. I told Jason, "I understand now how people can turn their backs on God because it sure does seem like He's turned His back on me." I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of mouth. What was even harder to believe was that I meant them. The Lord used Jason to straighten me out. He forced me to take a look at my life and to see the real problem. I knew what the problem was. I just didn't want to admit it. I have NOT been trusting God. I've been planning and scheming and doing everything I could think of to "help God out." The big problem with that is that I've been so busy "helping God" that I've forsaken my writing, the very thing He has called me to do. In essence, I felt God telling me, "If you'll do your part, I'll do my part." It seems so simple. Why was it so hard for me to get to that point? Bitterness!

I read once that bitterness is like drinking a poison and then waiting for the other person to die. That's an excellent description of bitterness! Beware, the root of bitterness can slip in without notice. Before long, you're dealing with an entire tree! We must be on guard. Bitterness can ruin our lives and our walk with God.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's Better to Stay in Shape


When Jason and I first started hiking at the end of last summer, I was seriously out of shape.  I could barely handle a one-mile hike.  My muscles were sore and achy.  My heart would pound like it was about to jump out of my chest.  I couldn't catch my breath.  And I'd have blisters the size of quarters on my heels.  Some of you are probably thinking, You do this for fun?  Yes, I do, but I have to admit, it wasn't all fun at the beginning.

By spring of this year, we were tackling 10-12 mile hikes.  Yes, they were tough.  Yes, I got tired.  Yes, I occasionally came home with blisters.  But I could do it.  I had gotten myself into "hiking shape."  I had strengthened my muscles and my heart.  I had improved my lungs.  I had actually built callouses on my heels.  I was capable of hiking long distances without collapsing or dying!  Frankly, I was proud of myself.

During the summer, even though Jason was home each day, we didn't hike many long hikes.  We hiked often, but we tried to stick to easier trails or shorter trails.  The reason?  As I've mentioned before, hiking in the summer is not nearly as fun as it is the rest of the year.  There are so many things to contend with:  the heat, snakes, spiders, the heat, gnats, mosquitoes, the heat, bees, hornets, and did I mention the heat?  So, needless to say, I got out of shape a little during the summer.

Now that Jason has gone back to work, our hiking has been reduced to a few weekend trips a month.  How is that impacting my health?  Let's just say that we took a fairly easy trail last Saturday, and I had to turn back at the half-way point because of the blisters on my feet.  Had it not been for the blisters, I'm sure I would have made it, but I was more winded than I should have been on such an easy trail.  I've also noticed more problems lately with my arthritis and my bursitis.  Oh, and I'm gaining weight again.  BUMMER!!!

Through it all, I've learned a couple of things.  First, it's easier to get out of shape than it is to get in shape.  Second, it's easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape.  The same can be said about our walk with the Lord.

You see, it's not easy to get into a good daily walk with the Lord.  It's not easy to take time each day to read the Bible.  It's not easy to find the time to pray like we should.  It's not easy to shut out the noises of the world and listen for God to speak.  It's hard work!  But, once we get those things established in our lives, they become easier.  They become a part of our day.  They become things that we look forward to.  They become things that we don't want to live without.  They become as natural to us as breathing.

But if we miss a day here and there, we'll start to lose our "conditioning."  We'll start to become "out of shape" spiritually, and things will grow harder again.  When things are more difficult, we find our desire for them wanes, so we miss more days.  Do you see the pattern?  After a while, we find ourselves back at square one, desperately out of shape and wishing we didn't have to start all over again.

My challenge to you today is to stay in shape with your daily walk.  Make it a part of your life and don't let anything keep you from it.  I know it's hard, but it will get easier.  Just keep at it!

Friday, October 9, 2009

God Can Use Anybody


Do you ever have a problem with Satan coming to you and telling you that God can't use you?  You're too old.  You're too young.  You don't have enough experience.  You don't have enough talent.  You're not called.  You've got too much sin in your past.  You're just not good enough.  Satan has a long list of lies that he uses to hinder us from doing the work of the Lord.  The next time you feel that God can't use you, remember these facts about some noteworthy characters from the Bible (all of whom God used).

Rahab was a harlot.

David was an adulterer and murderer.

Jonah ran from God.

Abraham and Sarah were old enough to be great, great grandparents.

Samson had a weakness for a pretty face.

Solomon worshiped idols.

Matthew was a tax collector (aka thief).

Peter denied Christ.

Lazarus was dead.

Noah turned out to be a drunk.

Paul murdered Christians for a living.

Baalam's donkey was. . .well. . .a donkey!

The list could go on and on.  Simply put, God can use anybody, anywhere, anytime!!!!