Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Last night at church, the pastor preached a message from Genesis 16. It's the story where Sarai grows tired of waiting on God to fulfill His promise, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. So, Abram has a child with Sarai's servant, Hagar. We are still reaping the consequences of this foolish act today.
Whenever I hear this story, I get so aggravated with Abram and Sarai. Why couldn't you just wait on God? I wonder. Why did you think you knew better than He did? Didn't you trust Him to keep His promise? But about half-way through my rant, I realize that I do the same thing day after day. I ask God for something. He promises to supply my needs. But if He doesn't answer within my time frame, I take matters into my own hands.
By taking control of the situation, not only do I miss out on a blessing from God, but I also make a mess of things. But that isn't even the worst part. While cleaning up my messes and licking my wounds, I have to ask myself, Who else did this affect? As I stated earlier, Abram's and Sarai's mistake is still causing massive trouble today. What kind of trouble are my mistakes causing?
Just this week, I have been fighting this battle again. I've begged the Lord to help me with a certain situation, but it seems that He hasn't heard me. My "natural man" wants to take control and say, Fine! You won't help me; I'll help myself! But the "spiritual man" is asking, Lord, what are you trying to teach me during this time of waiting? I can't listen to both. I must make a choice. I believe last night's sermon was for me. I believe God was reminding me to be careful, for when I try to take matters into my own hands, I may be hurting more than just myself. And that's not a risk I'm willing to take.
Trust in the Lord with all thine hear t; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6
(Excerpt from Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead. Get your copy HERE.)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Do you ever long for a day when something doesn't break, blowup, or crash? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a day where everything worked as it should and no problems arose? Sounds a bit like a fantasy, doesn't it?
For the past month, I have battled one problem after another. E-mail issues, newsletter software problems, malware, dead batteries, empty toner cartridges, malfunctioning programs, mice under my house, and wasps in my laundry room. Frustration after frustration! But I think that the straw finally broke the camel's back this morning when my laptop powered down and then refused to power back up again. I don't know if there's a problem with the battery, the charger, or the computer itself. What I do know is that I lost "my cool."
Fortunately, only a couple of moments into my tirade, I stopped and prayed. My prayer went something like this: Lord, I am very frustrated at this moment. I'm so tired of facing one problem after another, but Lord, please help me not to be angry. I know You are in control of all things and that You have a purpose for these trials. Please help me to understand what I need to do and what I need to learn.
To be honest, I felt much better after I prayed. No, my laptop still isn't working, but the Lord is giving peace. You see, I'm finally learning that the best way to handle my problems is not with anger, bitterness, or worry. It's with prayer. Plain and simple! My request doesn't have to be long, and my words don't need to be eloquent. But I have found such peace in simply pouring my heart out to God and leaving the burdens in His hands.
Facing heartaches or frustrations today? Don't worry. Don't be angry. Take it to the Lord in prayer, and leave it there. You'll feel much better when you do!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
As I drove through my neighborhood this morning, I noticed one of my neighbors has some extremely tall sunflowers. The flowers were growing very close to the house, and a couple of them extended above the roof of the house. Now that's some tall flowers!
Sunflowers are an interesting plant. At sunrise, they are turned toward the east. But over the course of the day, they follow the sun from east to west. I find that truly amazing. I also find that it's a very good reminder for me.
During the course of my day, am I constantly facing the Son? Do I follow His movements? Do I walk in His path? Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Many times I get so caught up in what I'm doing and where I'm going that I forget to seek God's will in all things. I forget to keep my face pointed towards Him. When this happens, I suffer the same fate as the sunflower if it fails to face the sun: a weakening, and in severe cases, total destruction.
You see, the sunflower needs full sun. Not partial sun. Not full sun part of the time. No, it needs full sun all day long. I'm the same way. Despite how many times I think I can accomplish things on my own, I need the Son all day, every day. The sooner I remember that, the better off I will be.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Does anyone else have any trouble with your mind wandering during your prayer time? Does your prayer time sound like this:
Dear Lord, please bless Suzy and heal her broken foot, although she probably wouldn't have that broken foot if she hadn't attempted to skateboard at her age, and speaking of age, Ms. Vicki was looking very old and frail on Sunday, of course that could have had something to do with the hideous color she was wearing, no one looks good in that color, except that woman I met the other day at the grocery store, but I think that was because it really complimented her skin tone and hair color, which reminds me, it's time to color my hair again, the roots are starting to show, but that's probably because I've been so stressed lately, and good grief, I just realized that I forgot to pick up milk while I was at the grocery store. . .
Okay, so maybe it's not quite THAT bad, but you get my drift? Why is it that when we sit down to pray, our minds go in a thousand different directions? The answer is simple: Satan wants to keep us distracted. He doesn't want us to tap into the awesome power of prayer. Oswald Chambers put it this way: "The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. . .The prayer of the feeblest saint on earth who keeps right with God paralyzes the darkness--that's why he tries to keep our minds fussy in active work until we cannot think in prayer." So true, so true!
I like the approach Cheri Fuller, author of A Busy Woman's Guide to Prayer, takes. She uses an acronym of the word "bless" to help keep her prayers on track. The acronym is this:
By keeping this acronym handy during our prayer time, our prayers are likely to stay more focused and more productive. But no matter what approach you take to your prayer time, please don't fail to pray! It is truly a source of strength and power.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. - James 5:16
Friday, July 16, 2010
When I took the dogs for our morning hike today, I decided to take one of my trekking poles on the journey - not for support, mind you, but as a spiderweb catcher. I've discovered that if I wave it in front of me like a sword, I can catch most of the webs with it instead of with my face. To be honest, I felt a bit like Luke Skywalker swinging his lightsaber. Die, evil webs, die!
When I reached the creek crossing, I decided it would be best to use the pole as it was intended. I was amazed at the speed and ease in which I was able to make the crossing. (I've slipped off the rocks and into that particular creek more times than I can count.) Today, however, my feet stayed dry as I was able to avoid falling due to the support of one skinny, little trekking pole.
I think of the many times in life I try to make my own way. "No, no, God. It's okay. I've got this one." And what happens? Splash! Into the creek I go. "That's not the right path, Lord. I know what I'm doing." The result? Wet socks and wrinkled feet.
Why, oh, why do I constantly feel the need to create my own path or walk in my own strength? I know I can't do it. I know it will lead to a fall. I know I'll be walking around in sloshing shoes for the rest of the day. So why do I continue to do it? I feel like Paul when he said, "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."
My prayer today is that I would walk with the Lord at all times. He alone can be my strength, my sword, my shield, and my support. By staying close to Him, not only will I stay dry and safe, but I will also remain on the right path.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Yesterday I came across a quote that read, It needs more skill than I can tell to play the second fiddle well. I found this very interesting. I love music. For upbeat, work music, I listen to
Southern Gospel. But during those times when I need to relax, I love listening to instrumental music. Two of my favorite pieces begin with a piano. The music is simple, yet lovely. However, in the middle of the song, the solemn tones of a cello appear. This combination usually moves me to tears. The two instruments are playing two different melodies, but they sound so beautiful
What amazes me is that when you look at the album cover, the name of the pianist (the one
playing the MAIN instrument) is bold and prominent. However, the name of the cellist (the
one playing the "second fiddle") is difficult to find. The song would have so little of its beauty
without the second instrument, yet little recognition is given to the one who added such harmony to the music.
In following the Lord's leadership, we often find ourselves completing tasks that add beauty or
harmony to someone else's work and receiving little credit in return. On the surface, this seems
so unfair, but if you think about it, it makes sense. If we are really doing things for Jesus (the MAIN musician), we won't want the praise and recognition. After all, what are our efforts compared to the Master's?
Sometimes, we need to remember that life is not about us. It's about doing all things for the glory
of the Lord. If that seems difficult (and I know it sometimes does), then just remember this.
Jesus knows what we're doing, and He will reward us for our efforts. Isn't that all the recognition we need?
So, go on. Make some beautiful music today and give all the honor and glory to the Lord. He
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. - Colossians 3:23
(Excerpt from Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead. Get your copy today. Use this coupon code, and receive $2 off: 4V5WGK4F Click here to purchase!)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. - I Samuel 17:38-40
We all know the rest of the story. David faces
Goliath and brings him face down in the dirt with
a stone from his sling (not to mention a mighty
shove from God). Have you ever wondered what
would have happened if David had faced Goliath
as Saul intended for him to do? What if David
had gone out wearing over-sized armor and
carrying a sword that was likely as big as he was?
What would have been the outcome?
David was wise enough to know that one size does
not fit all (despite what some clothing tags may
say). What may have worked best for Saul was
not necessarily what would work best for David.
That's an important lesson for each of us to
Often in life, we try to get through by using
someone else's strategy. We listen to advice
from television talk show hosts and wonder why
things in our lives aren't working out the way
they should. We follow in the footsteps of our
heroes, yet fail to accomplish even an inkling of
what they've accomplished. This leaves us
doubting our purpose in life and weary of going
on, but could it be that we are trying to fight
life's battles in someone else's armor?
God did not create all of us with the same talents
or personalities. We are each unique. He has a
distinct purpose and plan for each of us, and His
will can only be performed by using the tools He
has equipped us with.
Let me give you another example. When it comes
to cars, I'm an idiot. I can put gas in the tank,
and sometimes I can figure out how to get the
hood open. That's about it. I don't know how to
change the spark plugs or even charge the
battery. My husband, on the other hand, can take
engines apart and put them back together with
minimal effort. When he talks "car talk" with me,
it's like hearing Charlie Brown's teacher. "Wah,
wah, wah, wah." He's using words, but they don't
mean a thing to me.
So, of the two of us, which one would make a
better mechanic? Obviously, the one who has the
knowledge and the tools to perform the job.
That's how life is. We each have a purpose. It's
our job to find out what it is and to do it. The
best place to start in finding out what plans God
has for us is to stop trying to use the tools of
others and instead look at the tools He's given
us. It's good to have role models, but just
because something worked for them does not
mean it will work for us. We must find God's
specific will for our lives.
So, what tools do you possess? Patience? Skill
with numbers? Love of animals? Musical talent?
Gather your tools today and put them to work
for the glory of God. After all, our paths will be
much smoother if we'll stop lugging around oversized
armor and hand-and-a-half swords. Let's
stick to our own tools...even if they're as simple
as a sling and a stone.
Excerpt from Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead
Friday, July 9, 2010
I thought I was going to melt into a little puddle this morning. During the summer months, I try to get the dogs out for a walk on Monday and Thursday mornings. This ensures that we all get some exercise, plus it burns up some of Mitch's excess energy. It's been hot for the past month, but today was nearly unbearable.
I should have started out earlier. After all, it's supposed to be cooler in the morning, right? I did start at 8:30. Unfortunately, it was already near 90. It was pushing the "100" mark by the time we left the lake. I was sweaty and slimy. My face was red from the heat. My hair was soaked from the sweat. Each time I licked my lips, I was rewarded with the taste of salt. It was nasty. I hate being hot! It makes my head ache and my stomach queasy. I don't like the heat!
Similarly, I don't enjoy facing the heat of a fiery trial. It's a weary, miserable time when I wonder if I'll ever make it through. Often the trial leaves me tired and grimy, but as much as I hate to admit it, it also inspires growth in my Christian life.
You see, when I look at a trial in my life, all I see is one piece of the puzzle. I often forget that God has the cover to the box. He sees the entire picture. He knows every twist and turn. And above all, He knows what I need. . . and sometimes I need the heat.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
When was the last time you read John 3:16? Isn't it funny how we often categorize this verse as one for children and new believers? I mean, it's John 3:16. We can quote it in our sleep. We memorized it so long ago that we're surprised we can remember back that far. But I'm afraid many times we simplify the verse so much that it loses its powerful message. Let's look at it closely.
For God (the Almighty Creator of the heavens and earth) so loved (unconditionally, unmeasurably) the world (this land of wickedness and unworthy people) that He gave (willingly and with a cheerful heart) His only begotten Son (His child, His flesh, Himself) that whosoever (anyone, anywhere, anytime) believeth in Him (calleth Him Lord and surrenders their life to Him) should not perish (in eternal darkness and torment of the Lake of Fire) but have everlasting life (eternal paradise with God Himself.)
John 3:16 - it's not just for children and new believers. It is a beacon of hope and a promise of God for each of us. May we never take it for granted.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This was sent to me in an e-mail. It's a little lengthy, but definitely worthy of your time. Enjoy!
"DON'T LEAVE IT ON THE DESK"
There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major.
Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.
This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.
One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.
"How many push-ups can you do?"
Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."
"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"
Steve replied, "I don't know.... I've never done 300 at a time"
"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.
"Well, I can try," said Steve.
"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.
Steve said, "Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it."
Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday.. Let me explain what I have in mind."
Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.
Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?"
Cynthia said, "Yes."
Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"
"Sure!" Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.
Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"
Joe said, "Yes." Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?"
Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.
Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship..
When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"
Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"
Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."
Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."
Dr.. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"
With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.
Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"
Dr.. Christianson said, "Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.
Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.
Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"
Sternly, Jenny said, "No."
Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?"
Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.
By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, "No!" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.
Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert count the set and watch Steve closely.
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.
Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"
Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your push-ups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want." And Dr. Christianson went on.
A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!"
Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."
Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?"
Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut."
Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"
Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."
"Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?"
Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dripping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room..
The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"
Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."
Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"
Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.
Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?"
Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"
Dr Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes."
"Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?"
As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, pleaded to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten. "
Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.
"Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding, "Not all sermons are preached in words."
Turning to his class, the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His Only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid."
"Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?"
Share this with someone. It's bound to touch their heart and demonstrate salvation in a very special way.
Friday, July 2, 2010
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. - Ephesians 4:11-12
Without a doubt, God has given each person a specific job to do. For some, it is to teach. For some to pastor or preach. I believe my gift falls into the last phrase: edifying of the body of Christ. The word "edify" means to uplift or to encourage to make improvement. I feel that the purpose of my ministry lies with edification. Yes, I am still supposed to reach out to the lost, but I'm also supposed to lift up the Christian who feels too weary to go on. Encouragement -- yes, I believe that's my gift.
You have a gift too. Did you know that? Maybe you can't teach or preach or even encourage a fallen brother, but there's something that you can do for the glory of God. If you haven't already discovered your gift, I urge you to do some exploring. Speak to the Lord and ask Him to reveal His ultimate will for your life. You may be surprised at what He asks you to do. It may sound simple. It may sound too hard. It may sound like it's not enough. But whatever it is, just do it!
That being said, I have just launched my new book, Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead. Writing the book was easy. Marketing it is another story entirely. That's where I need your help. You see, I'm trying to use my gift, and so I want to get this book into as many hands as possible. But I can't do it alone. You may be wondering, What can I do? I'm so glad you asked. Here are a few things you can do to help me help others:
1. Buy a copy.
2. Tell others about it (your friends, family, neighbors, church, co-workers, etc.)
3. Request a copy from your library or local bookstore. (If they have requests for a book, they're much more likely to order a copy.)
4. Read the book and write a review on Amazon and/or send a copy to me to post on my website.
5. Pray for me.
There you have it! If you don't know what else to do as a "ministry," consider doing one of the above (or more). I apologize if this sounds like a sales pitch, for I promise it is not intended to be. However, in order for me to do my job, I have to get the word out about my ministry. So I'm starting with you. Will you help me help others?
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Blind Hope is the story of an unwanted dog and the woman she rescued. Mia is an abused canine in need of a good home and lots of love. Laurie is a lost female searching for peace and answers to questions she can't seem to put words to. When Laurie decides to adopt Mia, she hopes to find contentment in the fact that she has reached out to one less fortunate. What she discovers, however, is that Mia is the one doing the rescuing.
Blind Hope is the touching true story of the special relationship between a woman and her dog. It is a "must read" for dog lovers everywhere. I'm not sure if "non-dog" people would truly appreciate the story, for I'm not sure they could relate to the tight bond that can exist making the dog part of the family as opposed to just a pet.
Because of the way the story jumps around from telling about an event to actually reliving the event, the flow is somewhat awkward and jerky. This one flaw, however, is easily overlooked due to the many uplifting messages unveiled throughout the book. I laughed, and yes, I cried. My heart mourned for Mia as she faced one obstacle after another, but at the same time, I found myself cheering Laurie on as she fought through her uncertainties and finally found the answers she was seeking.
Blind Hope is a heartwarming tale with an encouraging moral. I highly recommend it!
Click here to purchase.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrookMultnomah as part of their