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Friday, May 27, 2011

Pulled in Every Direction

Since summer hiking is not all that enjoyable due to the bugs, spider webs, snakes, heat, etc., I've cut my hiking down to once a week. For me, that's fine, but it's not so good for Mitch. Mitch is like my ADHD child. He just has so much energy he doesn't know what to do with it all. (If I could find a way to transfer some of his energy to me, we'd be doing GREAT!) Anyway, I digress.

Jason is trying to get into the routine of jogging with Mitch in the morning before going to work. However, that dream has not been a reality this week as Jason has been working long days and not getting home until after 9:00 pm.

So, this morning, I decided to take Mitch on a jog/walk myself. Tippy was still settled in bed, so I slipped out with Mitch and walked down the road until I reached the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I took the trail and made a loop back to the house. It was longer than I remembered it being, and I'm not much of a jogger, so we walked at a brisk pace most of the time. Still, it seemed to do the trick as Mitch was huffing and puffing when we arrived home. (We won't discuss my huffing and puffing.)

I was looking forward to sitting down and drinking a nice glass of cold water, but when we arrived at the door, Tippy was there to greet us. Her barks and jumps told me that she now wanted her turn to walk. I obliged her by taking her on a short loop around the neighborhood. At her age, that's really all she needs.

You're probably wondering why I don't just take them both at the same time, right? The answer is simple: they drive me crazy!!!!! They're both used to hiking, and when we hike, they are usually free of leashes and can hike at their own pace. When I try to walk them both on leashes, I feel like they're playing tug-of-war with me. Mitch wants to run ahead. Tippy wants to lag behind and sniff every blade of grass. I just want for both my arms to be pointed in the same direction. Honestly, I sometimes feel like they're going to pull me in two. By the end of a walk, I'm not in a very good mood.

Many times, life feels like a giant tug-of-war. My desires pull me one way while the Holy Spirit leads in another. The world entices me to follow in its footsteps while the Father encourages me to walk by His side. Satan battles me with thoughts of discouragement and defeat while Christ reminds me that He is the Truth. Step after step. Day after day. I feel pulled about like a leaf caught in a heavy current. Twisting this way and that, trying to figure out which way is right. And just like that leaf, I've discovered that it's much easier to just go with the flow. But easier is usually not right.

Just as I split my dogs up for their daily walks, I need to split up the things that pull me in two directions in my life. Unlike my dogs, however, there are certain things that don't need their "turn." I need to limit my daily walks to those with the Father, Son and Spirit. I have no business walking with the others. And if I don't walk with them, they can't pull me around. By focusing on my walk with God, I'll have no choice but to be pulled in the right direction.

How is this accomplished? It's all a matter of focus. Staying focused on God will deter the other things from pulling you around. But don't take my word for it. See what God has to say about it.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. - Philippians 4:4-9

If we're truly walking with God, we can't walk with the world, with Satan, or with our own fleshly desires. The Bible says that two can't walk together unless they be agreed. And there's certainly no agreement amongst those groups.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are You Insane?

It's been said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. No matter how many times I throw a rock into the lake, it's going to sink. My persistence won't change the laws of gravity and buoyancy, causing the rock to float. It just won't happen. That example is kind of a no-brainer, but when I think of my daily struggles, I realize that I truly am insane.

The bank account is low. Why don't I worry about it? That will fix it, right? It never has before, but I'm sure it will this time. My health isn't where I want it to be, so I'll just continue to eat foods I know are not good for me. I stay busy all day but never feel as if I've accomplished anything. Sounds like I just need to work harder and stay busier, right? Do you see what I mean? Day after day, I fuss and complain about not being where I want to be physically, spiritually, financially, etc., yet I keep tackling things in the same way I always have. Worry, scheme, plot, pinch pennies, stress, devour chocolate cake. At the time, those responses seem to be the right choice, but looking back, I can see my pattern of insanity.

The disciples had the same problem one night out on the lake. Fishermen by trade, they knew the best time and place to catch fish. Still, on this particular night, that knowledge didn't seem to be doing them much good. No matter how many times they cast their net over the side of the boat, it always came up empty. I imagine they felt as discouraged as I do when my net of desires and goals consistently comes up empty. But then, everything changed.

In accordance with the command of their Master, they cast their net on the other side. The result? A multitude of fish. In fact, there were too many fish for them to even pull the nets into the boats. All that trouble. All that disappointment. All that wasted time. The solution was so simple, and it's the same in my life.

When my net consistently comes up empty I know it's time for me to try the other side. Stop trying to do things my own way, and follow God's instructions. Instead of worrying, pray. Instead of grabbing the chocolate cake, reach for some spiritual food in the Word of God. Instead of plotting and scheming, ask God to direct my path and make His directions clear to me. I know from experience when I cast my net on the other side, the catch is more than I could have ever dreamed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Conversation with God for Women by Marcia Ford

A Conversation with God for Women allows readers a one-on-one dialogue with God, Jesus, and other important biblical characters as they respond to questions and concerns relevant to the Christian faith. The often challenging questions address issues and tensions specifically felt by women. Each answer, designed for both believers and seekers, is based on Scripture and written with the warmth and intimacy of a Heavenly Father relating to His child.

Categories and sample questions include:

*God, why don't You just reveal Yourself? *Jesus, why was a virgin birth necessary? *The Bible, what can it teach women? *Life, what about women in ministry? *Prayer, can it really make a difference? *Relationships, how can we trust after betrayal? *Good and evil, how can they coexist?

I honestly can't remember a time when it took me so long to read a book. I've had this book for months, but I just couldn't get into it. When I first began reading it, I told my husband that I felt it would be a good book for new Christians as it dealt with very basic issues and questions. Because of the simplicity of the issues, frankly, I was bored to tears. Still, I was excited to have a book to recommend to new believers. That is, until I begin finding doctrinal errors.

There weren't a lot of errors in the book, but when it comes to dealing with God's Word, one error is too many. Worse, this book is set up as if God were answering the questions, so in a sense, in this book God is contradicting His own Word. In my mind, this is not acceptable. Furthermore, I feel it is dangerous, especially for the new believer who is not grounded in the Word of God.

Throughout the book, the author uses one of my pet peeves, picking and choosing verses to defend her view while leaving out and ignoring the verses that oppose it. At times, verses are taken out of context and explained as meaning something that they don't mean. To a new Christian, not only can this be confusing, but it can also be destructive to their new walk. They must understand that the Bible is God's Word and that it does not contradict itself. If a passage seems unclear, it is due to our understanding, not the actual meaning. New believers need to be taught to compare Scripture with Scripture, not to simply pick out the verse they like and leave the rest.

As a writer myself, I don't like to offer harsh reviews, but as a Christian, it is my duty to steer others away from things that may hinder their spiritual walk. Unfortunately, A Conversation with God for Women falls into that category. If you're interested in tickle-your-ears, watered-down theology, then I feel you'll enjoy this book. Otherwise, steer clear. Don't waste your time.

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

Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't Forget

Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.- Hosea 13:4-6

If I were to re-write the last verse of that passage, I would say, "I took care of them and met their needs. Once everything was going right, they no longer needed me." It's a sad passage. It truly is. Unfortunately, it sounds all too familiar. How many of us are guilty of the same thing? When times are tough, we cling to God like a dryer sheet, but when things are going well, who needs God, right? What a shame!

Over time, I have learned that God is the same God in the good times and the bad; therefore, I need to treat Him as such. Yes, when things are going well, it's easy to just skip through life, not giving a second thought to the source of my good fortune. And, it's even easier to run to God when troubles hit me head on. But I never want my Father to say of me, "She forgot me." I want God to know that I'm His true friend through the good times and the bad.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul

With an invasion of her country imminent, Tipper Schope is drawn into a mission to keep three important statues from falling into the enemy’s clutches. Her friend, the artist Bealomondore, helps her execute the plan, and along the way he learns to brandish a sword rather than a paintbrush.

As odd disappearances and a rash of volatile behavior sweep Chiril, no one is safe. A terrible danger has made his vicious presence known: The Grawl, a hunter unlike any creature encountered before.

To restore their country, Tipper, Bealomondore, and their party must hide the statues in the Valley of the Dragons and find a way to defeat the invading army. When it falls to the artistic Bealomondore to wield his sword as powerfully and naturally as a paintbrush, will he answer Wulder’s call for a champion?

Dragons of the Valley is a Christian novel set in the fantasy world of Chiril, a land that desires peace but has no true knowledge of the Peacemaker, Wulder. As war invades the kingdom, it is up to a few brave souls to pull the country together and face the merciless foe. Along the way, they each learn more about Wulder, the God who has recently been reintroduced to the country in peril. Through His wisdom and strength, the heroes and heroines face the enemy and come out victorious in the end.

Dragons of the Valley is the second book in a new series by Donita K. Paul. The tagline on the book states, "A fantastic journey of discovery for all ages," and I'm inclined to agree. Whether you're 14 or 40, this is a tale to be enjoyed. The characters are so animated and detailed, from the eccentric Lady Peg to the feisty Tipper. Throughout the story, the reader can't help but fall in love with the endearing characters.

While the story can be read on its own, I highly suggest reading the first book, The Vanishing Sculptor, before reading this one. It really helps to pull things together and makes the overall plot much easier to understand.

For the most part, the story is very easy to read and follow. My only qualm is that the author throws in a lot of secondary characters and spaces them out in the story so that by the time you come back to them again, you've forgotten who they are. In addition, the names of many of the characters are complicated to read and pronounce, not to mention sounding similar to other names in the story. Until I got a ways into the story, this presented some confusion.

Nevertheless, if you love fantastical tales of dragons, wizards, and knights, you'll love Dragons of the Valley. The story is truly an enjoyable tale, woven through with strands of Biblical truth.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, May 16, 2011

So Many Priorities

Our church will be hosting a singing the first Saturday night in June. It is the twentieth anniversary of the gospel group, Family Harmony. Because of the special occasion, we will be having a number of special guests in our service. At least three of those special guests are VERY accomplished pianists. These are the people who can sit down at a piano and play just about anything (with or without music). When compared to them, I feel like a four-year-old playing Chopsticks or the one-finger melody of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

I've had about six years of musical training on the piano. The problem is that during those six years, I had four different teachers. This is good for the sake of learning a variety of methods, but since each teacher had their own style, I was constantly starting over. Naturally, I am not comfortable playing in certain keys. In fact, I flat out can't play in certain keys because I never got that far in my lessons. I know what to do, but I've never practiced and become comfortable with those keys. When someone hands me a song in five flats, I just laugh and shake my head. I can't sit down and play a piece of music if I've never heard it. I depend too much on my ear, and I'm terrible with timing. I've learned enough to get by as a pianist, but that's about all, which is where the following comes in.

Jason and I were discussing the singing, and I made the comment, "I just hope they don't want me to play the piano at any time during that singing. With all the accomplished pianists there, there's no reason for me to get up there and make a fool of myself." Please know that I'm not putting myself down or throwing myself a pity party. I just know what I can and can't do on the piano. As I told Jason that night, I want to do more. I want to practice more. I want to become comfortable with those difficult keys. I want to continue by piano training. I want to do a lot of things, but I just don't have the time. To this Jason replied, "You can only have so many priorities."

I think that's the same thing God was saying when He said, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. In reference to my life, I believe God is saying, "Dana, you can't do it all. You can't focus on me and on writing and on playing the piano and on keeping house and on teaching in the college and . . . You simply can't have that many priorities. There isn't time or energy. But (I just love that word), if you'll make me your first priority, I'll see that everything else falls into place. No, you may not be the world's greatest writer, pianist, or housekeeper, but you will be what I want you to be, and that's all that matters."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tending the Garden

I love flowers. I really do. The shape, design, and color of each one is amazing to me and a true testament to the magnificence of their Creator. In fact, I often dream of having a flower garden of my own, but then I remember my deadly touch to plants and forsake the dream.

Not only that, but I'm not sure I'm truly willing to put forth the effort required to have a beautiful garden. Sure, those flower bushes look fantastic, but they don't get that way by accident. A lot of time and energy go into creating a beautiful garden. Planting, watering, weeding. Spending time doing the things that must be done. No, it just seems like a lot of work, and with my brown thumb, I fear it would all be in vain.

You know, sometimes in life we want the benefits of a mature Christian walk without doing the work required to obtain those benefits. We want that close relationship with Christ, that unwavering faith, and the patience of Job. We want to be so much more than we are now, but we're unwilling to put forth the time and effort.

So what do we have to do to get where we want to be? I'll let the Bible answer that question.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. - Romans 5:3-5 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. - James 1:3

If we want to grow into strong, faith-filled Christians, we must be willing to endure trials and tribulations. They are the seeds from which everything else will grow. No, it's not a fun process by any means. It's painful, but it is necessary unless we want to remain immature Christians. You can't have the garden without the work. You can't have the spiritual maturity without the testing. That's just how it works.

Fortunately for me, growing my spiritual life doesn't require a green thumb. That means I can endure my trials and know that it is not in vain. My effort will bring forth results, and they will be more beautiful than any flower could ever be.

Teach Us to Pray

I recently wrote an article about teaching children to pray. I used the Lord's Prayer as a model to guide young children through the process of prayer. I also included important information that every child should know about prayer including the following: nothing is too little or too big to pray about, we can pray anytime and anywhere, it is important to pray in faith, and finally, we should be specific when we pray. I couldn't help but smile when I thought about the last point because it brought to mind a memory from long ago.

It had been one of those days, weeks, and months. The bank account was low. The number of bills was high. And my stress level was through the roof. I worried and prayed how we would make ends meet. No matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't seem to get ahead. There always seemed to be more month than money. I was convinced that God had forsaken us.

It was during this low point that my pastor preached a message just for me. In a nutshell, he said, "If you aren't getting specific answers to your prayers, maybe it's because you aren't praying specific prayers." It was like a light bulb came on in my head. That's it, I thought. God knows what I need, but He wants me to ask for it, and He wants me to be specific. So I asked, and I got VERY specific.

"Dear Lord," I prayed, "You know how tight things are right now, and You know how stressed I feel about our financial situation. I know that You are the God of miracles. I've seen the works You've performed throughout the Bible, and I know that You can perform a similar work for me. God, I'm asking You to meet this need. Please send us a $300 check in the mail. I don't care who it's from or how it will find its way to us. You said we should get specific in our prayers, so I am. $300. In the mail. Today. I know you can do it, and I believe You will."

Honestly, though, I had my doubts. Yes, I believed that God could, but I didn't really believe He would. As the mailman pulled up in front of our house, I watched him load the mailbox. He pulled off, and I hurried out to see if my prayers had been answered. I couldn't have been more stunned. . . or more tickled.

On the very top of the pile was a check for $300 from a local car dealership. It was one of those deals where you bring in the check, and they deduct that amount from the sales price of the car of your choosing. I laughed out loud. I laughed back to the house. I laughed that night as I told my husband about it. I'm laughing now as I tell you about it. Don't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor.

Now, some of you may be thinking that God didn't meet my need. Actually, He did, just not with that $300 check. He met the need in other ways, but He used that $300 check to teach me a few things.

1. God always hears and answers our prayers. It may not be in the way we want or expect, but He is faithful.

2. When we pray specific prayers, we'll get specific answers. My problem was that I wasn't specific enough. I got a $300 check just like I asked for. I received it in the mail on the day I specified, only I neglected to ask that it be something I could actually take to the bank.

3. Sometimes the best way to meet our needs is to help us adjust our attitudes. A merry heart truly does good like a medicine. The worries and stresses of that time period are all but forgotten, but God's message still rings clear today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hide and Seek

A few nights ago, Jason and I were having a simple dinner of hotdogs. I usually try to fix more nutritious meals, but it was one of those days where I needed something quick and easy, and hotdogs fit the bill. Anyway, we were just about finished with our meal when Jason's boss came to the house. We set our food out of reach. Jason went out to speak with his boss, and I decided to use the time to put the rest of the food away.

I noticed right away that the hotdog buns were nowhere in sight. I looked in the pantry thinking that maybe one of us had already put them away. Nope, they weren't there. That's when I started looking for Mitch. When food disappears around our house, he usually knows something about it. Unsurprisingly, I found him outside pushing dirt over a newly dug hole.

I looked around the yard for the bag that the hotdog buns had been in, but I didn't see it. He usually leaves this kind of evidence. Not finding what I was looking for, I moved closer to his hole. He grew very protective. Now, Mitch is one to bury any kind of bone or treat, but I've never know him to bury a bag, so I dropped the matter, determined to see what revealed itself in the next little bit.

Sure enough, when I went outside a couple of hours later, the empty bag was lying on the ground, and the hole had been dug up. Mitch is a VERY smart dog, so I'm figuring I caught him in the act of snatching the buns, so he decided to bury them until I wasn't looking. That way he could ensure that I wouldn't take them away from him. Smart, but not smart enough.

I'm reminded of the times I try to be smart or sneaky with God. Doing things I know I shouldn't do, oblivious to the fact that God knows exactly what I'm doing. I think I'm being smart, hiding my sin in various holes so that God won't see my rebellion, but I'm not as smart as I think I am. Not only does God see the evidence of my sin (like the empty bun bag), but He sees the entire act.

The funny thing is that I know God is all-knowing and ever-present. I know this, yet sometimes I act as if I don't. I don't know if I simply forget or if I just get so entangled in my sin that I'm oblivious to everything else. Whatever the reason, I'm sure God is sitting on His throne, shaking His head and saying, "Smart, Dana, but not smart enough."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Following the Writing Rules

As a writer, I study my craft as much as possible. I read and read and read. What makes this book so popular? What makes this author so famous? What can I glean from the knowledge of these who have come before me? It's a constant learning process. Thankfully, I love to learn.

One of the things I've learned is that I (the author) need to make my story easy for the readers to follow. That doesn't mean I should talk down to them, but rather that I should write for the proper age range and not throw in too much extraneous or confusing material. This seems easy, but let me tell you, it's not as easy as it sounds.

One thing that often confuses me when reading a book is when several of the characters have similar sounding names. For example, a book that I'm currently reading has three characters whose names all start with a "B" and sound/look very similar. Although the book is interesting and otherwise well-written, I find myself having to stop to make sure I'm thinking of the right character. Similarly, I once listened to an audio book with my husband about a man and his two adult children. The problem was that the man and the son had the same name. I was confused all the way through that story because I could never figure out which character the author was referring to.

But neither of these books can compare to the Bible. Do you have any idea how many Marys are in the New Testament? There are so many that it sometimes simply says, "the other Mary." And what about the kings listed in Kings and Chronicles? I recently read through those books, and I had a very difficult time keeping track of the "J" names and the "A" names. Jehoahaz. Jehoash. Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin. Joram. Jehoram. Seriously, it's confusing, and the "A" names aren't much better. Ahaziah. Amaziah. Athaliah. Azariah. Who can keep all that straight?

That's one of the ways I know the Bible is truly inspired of God. It it were written by men, they would have chosen names that weren't so similar. "No, we already have two names ending in iah, let's call this one Bob." It sounds funny, but it makes sense. Another writer, whether they've studied the craft or not would not have made up names that so closely resembled one another or included so many Marys. But since the Bible is a real account of real people, there are bound to be some similar or repeated names. It's just another way God proves to us that His Word is true. (Also, it keeps us alert during our Bible reading time!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Seriously, Who Moved?

Last Saturday, Jason and I had the privilege of trying out a new trail along the Chattooga River. After hiking about four miles, we stopped by a creek for some lunch. After lunch, Tippy curled up for a short nap, Mitch went off to explore, Jason stretched out to join Tippy in her nap, and I sat and stared at a spider web.

The web was on the opposite side of the creek, but the sun was hitting it at the perfect angle for me to watch the spider busily spin the web. It was amazing. Round and round she went and then out to the edge and back. Then she repeated the process over and over again. I was fascinated. I truly was. I couldn't help but marvel at the complexities of creation.

After a while, however, my eyes tired of watching the little spider go round and round, so I pulled out my phone which has an e-reader on it and did a little reading. (Me, read? Go figure!) When Jason stirred from his nap, I looked back to see how my little spider was doing, but I could no longer see her or her web. The place was dark with shadows from the surrounding trees, and the spider and her web had disappeared within the shadows.

I told Jason about the spider but pointed out that I couldn't see her anymore because the sun had moved. "Actually," he replied, "we moved. The sun stayed in the same place it's always been." "Yes," I said, "I know that. The earth revolves around the sun. I was just copying the saying of the sun moving across the sky. Why do we say that anyway?" The conversation spun off in as many different directions as the spider's web, but one powerful thought lingered in my mind: who moved?

Yes, the old gospel song, Who Moved, came to my mind. How often in our lives do we accuse God of not being there for us, when in fact, His presence is constant? It is we who move away from Him, not the other way around. Just as the sun is fixed in place, so is the Son. He promised to never leave us or forsake us, and He always keeps His promises. So, if we find ourselves feeling forsaken and alone, who moved?

It may appear that God left us just as it appears the sun moves across the sky, but no matter how it may seem, the truth is that we are the ones prone to wander. Determined to do things our own way, we run away from Him in pursuit of our desires. Then when our dreams crumble like castles in the sand, we look around and realize we're standing all alone. Our natural instinct is to place blame. "Lord, you left me. You broke Your promise." But if we're truly honest with ourselves, we'll realize that He's been there all along but we were too wrapped up in ourselves and our own desires to notice.

Feeling alone and forsaken today? Wondering how God could leave you in such a mess? He didn't. He's still there. If you've found yourself standing alone, it should be pretty obvious who moved. (I'll give you a hint: It wasn't Him.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Processed Prayer

After reading the book, Made to Crave, I embarked on a new journey. I was tired of letting food rule my life and dictate my moods. It was time to make some serious changes, and I finally found the proper motivation to get me going. It hasn't been easy, but I've been slowly making changes to my diet and exercise regimen to help me reach my health goals.

I thought the toughest changes were going to be in cutting back on sweets and caffeine, but that part has actually been easy compared to my battle with processed food. I never realized what a powerful hold processed food had on me until I tried to cut it out. Turns out I love processed food, not for the taste but for the convenience. Admit it, don't you love to pop a cardboard pizza into the oven and have a cheap and easy meal in less than ten minutes? What's not to love?

I have so many things to do during the course of the day, I don't feel like making a big production out of meal time. Fixing a nice dinner takes enough time and energy. Do I have to fix a nice lunch too? It takes too much time. It requires too much effort. It consists of upfront planning. Is it really that big a deal?

Actually, yes, it is. An even bigger deal, however, is when I deal with a similar problem concerning prayer. There's so much to do, so many tasks to accomplish. Who has time to pray? After all, I took the time to do my Bible reading. Isn't that enough? Do I really need prayer too? It takes so much more time and effort. Is it really worth it?

If you really don't know the answer to that question, I urge you to do a little test. Examine your life on the days you don't go to God in prayer and compare them to the days you do. Do you see a difference? Just as unprocessed food is good for a bodies, prayer is good for our souls. It really does make a difference. No, it may not always be convenient, but it's always right.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to plan my meals for the day. Prayer is definitely on the menu!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Could It Be?

Recently, my pastor posed an interesting question: could it be that the apostle Paul was present at the crucifixion of Christ? To be honest, the thought had never crossed my mind, but I realize now that it is possible. Could that be why Paul called himself the chiefest of sinners? Could his foul deeds have gone beyond persecuting and murdering Christians to the point that he was one of the ones who smote or spit upon the Lord?

It's an intriguing thought, isn't it? It would explain how Paul knew it was the Lord speaking to him on the Damascus Road. It would explain many of Paul's comments about how lowly he was. Yes, it would explain a lot of things, but it also gives great hope.

Suppose Paul was there at the cross of Christ, cheering as the soldiers drove the nails through the Savior's hands and feet. Here's the miraculous part: God still chose to use him. Not only did God use him, but Paul became one of the greatest preachers the world has ever known. He penned most of the New Testament. He lived his life as a missionary, going wherever God sent him to share the news that Jesus saves. If God could use someone like that (a Christian killer, a Jesus mocker, a hard-hearted man), isn't there hope for everyone? Yes, if God could use Paul, He can surely use you and me.