Friday, August 31, 2007

August 31, 2007

"Fringe people". That is a new term for me. It refers to people who are on the fringe of a group, those on the outside looking in, so to speak. They are like fringe on a garment, right on the edge. They are a part, but just barely.

I have been one of those fringe people. I never thought of myself that way, but it is a pretty good description. I was definitely one growing up. And I still am to a degree.

I was in the same church all my life til about 5 years ago. We came to a point where it was time for a change. We moved to another church...a much larger church where we knew almost no one. My husband works most Sundays, so I went alone most of the time. At my home church, even if I sat alone there were people around me that I knew, but here it was different. I was the outsider. It took a while to find a Sunday School class, but once I did, I was immediately made to feel welcome. From the first Sunday there, I was greeted warmly and made to feel a part, even though I came alone. I made some wonderful friends there.

However, that church went through some major upheaval and we were once again on the move to yet another church after only 3 years. Again, I was the "new kid on the block". Having to start over in a new class was hard. I am not a good "ice breaker". Now after I get to know you, I can talk your ear off, but at first it is so awkward for me. Again, I found myself struggling to fit really feel like I belonged. know....God uses all kinds of things to move us out of our comfort zones!! We did a campaign in our church shortly after I arrived called "Walk Across the Room". Its purpose was to spur people to reach out to the lost by walking across the room and starting a conversation, building a relationship and sharing Christ in a low key, non-threatening way. But, it spoke to me in quite a different way. In fact, so much so that I cannot get that phrase out of my head. God began to say to me, "If you're going to get to know people, YOU are going to have to walk across the room and meet them. They are not going to come to you!" I could either get up and make the effort myself or I could sit there and bemoan the fact that I was on the "fringe".

One of the greatest examples of this I have seen has been in our own neighborhood...not in a church setting. We had a new couple to move into our neighborhood about 2 years ago. We only have two streets in our neighborhood, joined together by a short side street. This couple lived on the corner of the main street and the side street.

They had just moved in when I walked one day. I saw the man in the yard. He was dressed in baggy pants, bright red suspenders, his shirt sleeves were rolled up and he had on a baseball cap....quite a colorful character to say the least. As I rounded the corner, he threw up his hand and shouted, "Howdy!! I'm yore new neighbor!" with as country a drawl as you have ever heard! I waved back and said "Welcome to the neighborhood!" and kept walking. Every day I walked, he was in that yard. And every day, he shouted out a greeting. One day he warned me I was going to get wet because it was supposed to rain. I told him I thought I could make it before it got to us. He told me he had an umbrella if I needed it. And doggone if he wasn't right! Before I hardly got down the next street, here came the rain. I quickly turned around and headed back home. There he was, standing in his driveway with the umbrella, waiting for me!

That man "walked across the room" to us, his new neighbors. He did not wait for us to come to him. He made friends with almost everyone in that couldn't help but like him. There were always neighbors on his front porch or out under the tree. He touched so many, that when he passed away this spring, the family was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from our neighborhood families. God used him to make a real point to me.

I was used to going into a new situation and sitting there waiting for someone to come to me, to speak to me, to reach out to me and make me feel welcome. Often I was disappointed. God is opening my eyes to SEE others who are on the fringe, who feel exactly the same way. He is moving ME to reach out to them BECAUSE I KNOW HOW THEY FEEL!

I'd like to tell you it's easy, but it's not. It's extremely hard for me. But He is moving me and as I respond, He is giving me a heart for those on the fringe and He is blessing me each time I reach out to them. Yes, I'm one of those "fringe people", but so was Jesus. He gave us the ultimate example of "walking across the room"! So I guess I'm in pretty good company.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

August 29, 2007

"Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds: Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat and ye clothe yourself with the wool, ye kill them that are fed, but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; ....and they were scattered, because there is no shepherd and they became meat to all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through the mountain and upon every high hill; yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth and none did search or seek after them." Ezekiel 34:2-6

I have been in church all my life. I have seen a lot of changes in how we do "church". Most churches used to be small, community churches...neighborhood churches where everyone knew everyone else. When someone was missing, you knew it. Today we are in the age of the "mega church", different services, no Sunday night services, etc. The larger we grow, the more disconnected we seem to become.

I can remember a time when someone was absent from Sunday School, they were sent a card to let them know that they were missed. That RARELY ever happens any more! One can be gone from Sunday School for weeks, and no one even calls to see if you are OK. Everyone is just too busy! But that is NOT how church is supposed to be.

Even in our mega churches we break into smaller groups...some still call it Sunday School, some call it Connecting Points, some call it Break Out Groups...there are a multitude of names. But within those small groups, we need to be ministering to one another, reaching out to one another. And the leader of the group has the responsibility to "shepherd" that group...his flock. That is a critical role. How many people that are now "prodigals"...those who once walked faithfully with the Lord but have now gone the way of the world, would still be in church and still be in relationship if someone....especially, their leader...had sought them out when they first went "missing"?!!

Seldom does one just STOP coming abruptly. It is a process. You miss one Sunday or two. Then you come back. Did anyone even acknowledge you had been gone? Then that was so easy, you miss a few more...then a few more...til one day, you just stop coming. Satan has lured you away to other things...convincing you that it is not that important, that it doesn't really matter, that no one missed you anyway. How many youth would be strong, godly adults today, walking with Lord, had someone pursued them when they first began to pull away?

This passage has strong words for the pastors/teachers who do not pursue those who have gone missing. But even those of us who are fellow class members bear a part in that. Maybe we need to start taking notice when someone is missing from our class and drop them a note or send them an email to let them know that we recognized their absence, to see if there is a problem and we can help. There are a lot of hurting people in our classes every Sunday...a lot of hurting people filling the pews. Some walk in off the street just hoping that someone will care..someone will reach out to them with a kind word, a smile, a hug. Is one of them sitting next to you??????

We recently had a campaign in our church called "Walk Across the Room". It was evangelistic in nature, encouraging us to "walk across the room" and start a conversation with someone with the goal of leading them to Christ. That is great and very much needed. However, if we, as believers, cannot even walk across the room to speak to a visitor in our class, how can we walk across the room to engage someone in conversation about the Lord? We need to get out of our comfort zones and be willing to reach out to people, show we care, and love them with the love of the Lord. And if one goes missing, we should notice and seek them out. Otherwise they may become "meat to the beasts of the field" !!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 28, 2007

Six years ago God answered a prayer that I had been praying since our baby girl was born...that He would lead her to the man He would have her to marry. Not just any man, mind you, but a man that loved Him and would be a good helpmeet for her....someone who would complete her and that would love her with all his heart...someone who would be a godly dad to their children and who would fit into our family as if he were one of our own. I am SO thankful to God for answering that prayer!! Today I am proud to share a devotional that this precious son-in-love has written..........ENJOY!!


Josh Steele

Read Mark 16: 1-8

As a passionate outdoorsman, I find myself glued to the television for most of the summer months, watching countless hours of hunting videos. It usually doesn’t matter what type of hunting it is…I can get into any of it!

A couple of weeks ago I was lying on the couch watching the opening ads on one of the videos when an opening line caught my attention. Now for those of you that watch these programs as much as I do, you will know where this came from!

The opening for all "Primos Truth" videos has Will making an introductory statement and right in the middle of it comes: "It’s the voice of God at sunrise!" Wow!!…. was the sudden thought running through my head.

Have you ever sat there and really dwelt on those words? I know that as I sit here and think back over the numerous sunrises I have encountered that this statement holds such truth. There we are sitting in the darkness, awaiting the first glimpse of light, when the woods seem to come alive. There are birds just awakening to provide the choir for the morning’s hunt. The squirrels are starting their day, peeking from their nest or den tree; and during the spring, the mighty gobbler is boasting his thunderous gobble to let everyone know where he is! Do you see the picture?

Is it a merely an accident that the sunrise is such a special time of the day? Is it just a fluke that the wonderful painting of nature comes to life at that certain time of day or is there another reason?

I think that God knew all along that the sunrise would some day hold an extra special meaning! You see, there was a moment in time that occurred at sunrise that forever changed human history. It was a moment like no other before it and none other since, but perhaps, the most important claim to Christianity. The Resurrection!

When you read Mark 16 you will find that on the third day Jesus arose from the dead at sunrise! This meant that Jesus was who He said He was…God…the very God that had come to earth and taken human form, lived a sinless life and then died to pay our sin debt. But, He did not remain in the grave. He rose AT SUNRISE to conquer death! It was at this moment that Jesus had defeated sin and death. This miraculous resurrection is the one event that assures the believer of certain victory.

So you see, how can SUNRISE not be the "Voice of God" that we as outdoorsmen and women get to witness every time we go into the woods to start our day! The next time you find yourself seated in the sanctuary of nature, think back to Mark 16 and give thanks to Him for making the sunrise such a magical time! After all, He did have an AWESOME reason for it!

Monday, August 27, 2007

August 27, 2007

Grace Wolgemuth's 26 Bible Verses
by Robert Wolgemuth

"In chapter 2 of The Most Important Place on Earth, I told the story of my mother, Grace Wolgemuth, teaching our daughters 26 Bible verses, each beginning with a letter of the alphabet. Over the years she has taught these verses to many, many children...including most of her 20 grandchildren and many of her 18 great-grandchildren."

Here are the verses, just in case you'd like to teach them to your kids:

A All we like sheep have gone astray. Isaiah 53:6
B Be kind one to another. Ephesians 4:32
C Children obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. Ephesians 6:1
D Don't fret or worry; it only leads to harm. Psalm 37:8
E Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17
F "Follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19
G God is love. 1 John 4:16
H He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
I "I am the Bread of life." John 6:35
J Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me." Matthew 19:14
K Kind words are like honey, enjoyable and healthful. Proverbs 16:14
L Love one another. John 13:34
M "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27
N Now is the time to come to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 6:2
O Obey God because you are His children. 1 Peter 1:14
P Pray about everything. Philippians 4:6
Q Quick Lord, answer me, for I have prayed. Psalm 141:1
R Remember your Creator now, while you are young. Ecclesiastes 12:6
S Sing a new song to the Lord. Psalm 98:1
T Thank God for Jesus, His gift too wonderful for words. 2 Corinthians 9:15
U Underneath are God's everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27
V Visit the orphans and widows. James 1:27
W We love because God first loved us. 1 John 4:19
X Except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24
Y You must be born again. John 3:7
Z "Zacchaeus, you come down, for I'm going to your house today." Luke 19:15

Excerpted from The Most Important Place on Earth. Copyright © 2004 by Robert D. Wolgemuth.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

August 26, 2007

God demonstrates Himself to us in so many ways. We can see Him in a beautiful sunrise or sunset, in a rainbow after a storm, in the beauty of all creation. We can hear Him in the wind as it softly whispers through the trees or as the waves crash upon the shore. But one of my favorite places to see Him is in the face of a child...namely, my sweet granddaughter!

From the moment she was born, I have been totally awed by her. Watching her as she has discovered her world has been a joy to behold! Oh to see the world through the eyes of a child! Everything is new and exciting...and she doesn't miss a thing!! She stops to watch ants parade across the sidewalk with all the excitement of someone watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade! Hearing our wind chimes just makes her giddy. And let her see the moon and she just is beside herself. We see and hear these things every day and don't even notice....that is until she points them out to us and makes us stop and look once again with the wonder that belongs to childhood. It is the neatest thing to see her little "wheels" turn in her mind as she tries to figure out a new toy or works to put together a puzzle. We have said a million times how we wish we knew what she was thinking.

Just recently she has made a remarkable discovery and the full impact of that did not really hit me til this morning. From the time she began sitting in a high chair, we have said the blessing with her. On days that I keep her, her mom has dinner with us because her husband is at work. Our routine has been her Papaw on one side of her and her mom on the other, each with a thumb propped up on her tray so that she could grab hold as we said the blessing, as we always hold hands around our table when we pray.

At first, she was puzzled by this strange set up. Sometimes she would take a hand, oftentimes not, because she was more interested in eating. But little by little from doing it at our house and at her home, she has gotten the hang of it. She is quiet for the most part and looks with keen interest from her mom to her Papaw, as she is trying to still figure this out. (Yes, I have peeked:) )

She loves to "read" books and to be read to. She has a little book that has pictures of food on each apple on one, an orange on another, etc. The last page in the book has a picture of a little boy and a little girl sitting at a table with their eyes closed and their hands folded in prayer. All it says is "Thank you, God, for our food. Amen". I had been reading that book to her for a few days when one night after the blessing, she said "A-mennnnn!" We could not help but laugh at her enthusiasm. The next night she did it again when her Dad prayed at their house. She has continued this and sometimes with great gusto! She was with her parents and some friends at a Mexican restaurant not long ago and at the end of that meal, not only said it once, but a couple of more times and finally with her hands raised gave out a loud "A- MENNNN!!" for everyone within earshot to hear!!

For some reason I was thinking about her doing that this morning and it hit me. She saw a picture in a book and put it together by herself that when we were praying with her at the table, and she heard us thanking God for our food and family, that was the same scenario and therefore, she concluded that was the appropriate time to say AMEN!

Now I don't share that with you just to tell you a cute grandbaby story. What hit me about this was that I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is affirming what her parents and her grandparents are trying to teach and instill in her!! We have been praying for her since before she was born. She has been dedicated to the Lord and we are praying that she will come to Christ and give her heart to Him at a young age and that she will be wholeheartedly committed to Him for the rest of her life. I believe that God is honoring the commitment we, as her family, have made to "bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" and He is working through us and in her to accomplish that.

The realization of that makes me keenly aware of how such simple moments as reading a book to a 15 month old can be a teachable moment to impart His truth into her young life. I read a book once by Anne Ortlund called "Children Are Wet Cement". Yes, they are!!!!!!!! Oh that we would take seriously the imprint we make upon their lives each day.

I am awed and humbled by how the Lord is working in her young life to show Himself to her. My prayer is that she will learn to SEE Him and to hear His voice and to surrender ALL that she is to Him. Thank you, God, for allowing me to see such a miracle in the making!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August 25, 2007


FRET NOT! (Psalm 37:1) Easier said than done, yet continue and you will see HOW.

TRUST IN THE LORD AND DO GOOD (Psalm 37: 2) If we are trusting in the Lord, we have no reason to fret. Trusting in Him takes our eyes off of our circumstances and places them on Him instead.

DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD (Psalm 37: 4) Learn to ENJOY your relationship with the Lord. He loves you. He cares for you. You are His bride! Get to KNOW Him. Yearn for Him. Carve out time for just you and Him because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to.

COMMIT YOUR WAY TO HIM (Psalm 37: 5) Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, give your day to Him. Ask Him to guide your footsteps in the morning and you won't have to ask Him to forgive you at bedtime for all the wrong steps you made during the day. Ask Him to make you a blessing to those around you, to put a watch over your mouth, to guard your mind and your heart.

REST IN THE LORD (Psalm 37: 7a) If you are resting in Him, you are not striving and you are not fretting.

WAIT PATIENTLY FOR HIM (Psalm 37b) If we are resting in Him, we have committed our way to Him and we trust Him, we must wait on Him to work and move in His time and in His way....not ours.

CEASE FROM ANGER, FORSAKE WRATH (Psalm 37: 8) God is in control. Let HIM handle your situations.


"The steps of a good man (woman) are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way. " Psalm 37:23

Friday, August 24, 2007

August 24, 2007

I heard a startling news report today that Mother Theresa was not who she appeared to be. It seems that for all her good works on behalf of the poor and her sainthood among Catholics, she was a tormented soul for most of her life.

Time Magazine reports: "A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist."

This is the woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize and whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care. Yet "in more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything."

Only God truly knows Mother Theresa's heart, but I am prone to wonder if she really KNEW Jesus at all. Maybe she just knew ABOUT Him because of the teachings and strict loyalty to the Church, rather than truly KNOWING Him. Maybe what she had was "religion" and not "relationship".....which is where a LOT of people are today. Good people, kind people, church-going people, even pastors and evangelists. They have grown up in the institution of the Church, adhered to its traditions and/or to what Mom and Dad believed....mimicked the walk and even talked the talk. But inside, like Mother Theresa, they are dry and empty, wondering "is this all there is?"

Jesus said in Matthew 7:22, 23 "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I profess unto them I never knew you, depart from ye that work iniquity."

It is imperative, therefore, that we KNOW that we KNOW that we KNOW that we have a relationship with Jesus Christ! We must not "assume" that we are believers just because our parents were. You do not receive Christ by osmosis. Nor does going to church regularly since birth make one a believer any more than going in the garage every day makes you a car. Being baptized and having your name on the church roll does not make one a believer. Teaching Sunday School, volunteering at the Rescue Mission, or being a deacon will not qualify you for entrance into Heaven.

It boils down to this. There are only 2 kinds of people....dead or alive. You are either dead in your sins or alive in Christ. There is no middle ground. You have either said YES to Jesus and surrendered your life to Him, or you have said Yes to Satan and chosen to spend eternity with him, separated from Jesus forever. If you would like to know more or if you are unsure whether you have religion or relationship, please hit the comment button at the bottom and let's talk! Don't spend the rest of your life like Mother the spotlight on the outside, dying on the inside.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 23, 2007

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." John 8: 32


Do you believe there is such a thing? Knowing what you believe is vital to the Christian life. Yet many today don't have a clue what they believe nor do they know what is TRUTH. Such was recently proven by a pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He said his congregation appeared bored...he could see them week after week, talking, text messaging, sleeping, passing notes...and this was NOT just the youth! So he decided to do something to wake them up. He began by inserting mistakes into his sermons just to see if anyone was really listening. "At first he just changed up names from O.T. passages. For instance, he would switch "Ahab" for "Ahaz" or "Abishai" for "Asahel". No one noticed." Finally, after several weeks, he really took it up a notch. "When preaching from Acts 1:8, he told [them] that when Luke wrote "the ends of the earth" he was really just referring to Texas. No one in the church even blinked." When a long time member was asked if she had heard anything "strange" from the pastor lately, she admitted that she thought the part about Texas was odd, but "he is the pastor with the Bible training, so he must be right."

Have we become so dull of hearing that we miss things like that or is it that we do not KNOW the truth, therefore, it just goes right over the top of our heads? I think it is both, but to me it is a frightening commentary on where we are today.

Our churches are full of people who fill the pews Sunday after Sunday, but they have never progressed much farther than John 3:16. A recent Barna study seems to confirm this.

"The Barna survey categorizes people based upon their convictions about life after death and creates two additional faith segments: born again and evangelical Christians. These are not based upon self-identification or denominational attendance, but based upon their personal commitment to Christ as well as their theological perspectives. The percent of Americans whose beliefs are categorized as "born again" has tapered off somewhat: currently, 40% are born again Christians compared with 45% in last year’s study and 43% in 1997. Despite the slight decline in numbers, this still represents 90 million born again believers nationwide.

David Kinnaman, who directed the study, indicated that "most Americans do not have strong and clear beliefs, largely because they do not possess a coherent biblical worldview. That is, they lack a consistent and holistic understanding of their faith. Millions of Americans say they are personally committed to Jesus Christ, but they believe he sinned while on earth. Many believers claim to trust what the Bible teaches, but they reject the notion of a real spiritual adversary or they feel that faith-sharing activities are optional. Millions feel personally committed to God, but they are renegotiating the definition of that deity.

In fact, one reason why beliefs fluctuate is that most Americans’ hold few convictions about their faith. For instance, even among those who disagree with orthodox views, many do so while hedging their bets. Most Americans have one foot in the biblical camp, and one foot outside it. They say they are committed, but to what? They are spiritually active, but to what end? The spiritual profile of American Christianity is not unlike a lukewarm church that the Bible warns about."

When really defining who the REAL evangelicals are, Barna uses a 9 point test. His 9 point evangelicals are defined this way:

"Born again Christians" are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents are not asked to describe themselves as "born again."
“Evangelicals" meet the born again criteria (described above) plus seven other conditions. Those include:

* saying their faith is very important in their life today;
* believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians;
* believing that Satan exists;
* believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works;
* believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth;
* asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches;
* and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.

Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as "evangelical."

"The most striking differences relate to the beliefs of each group. Compared to the 9-point evangelicals, those who say they are evangelicals are:

60% less likely to believe that Satan is real
53% less likely to believe that salvation is based on grace, not works
46% less likely to say they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others
42% less likely to list their faith in God as the top priority in their life
38% less likely to believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth
27% less likely to contend that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings
23% less likely to say that their life has been greatly transformed by their faith

SO WHAT??????? So this is the world and culture our children and grandchildren are growing up in!! This is the group that calls themselves "Christians", who attend church with us, who do Sunday School with us, who fill our pulpits every Sunday. George Barna himself made this very disturbing comment, " The most discouraging study we ever conducted was one in which we attempted to identify churches in the U.S. that consistently and intelligently evaluate life transformation among the people to whom they minister. We found that very few churches – emphasis on very – measure anything beyond attendance, donations, square footage, number of programs and size of staff. None of that necessarily reflects life transformation. "

Some things to ponder:

Do you know what you believe about the deity of Christ; the virgin birth; the authenticity of Scripture; security of the believer; Satan; Heaven; Hell; faith vs works?

If your pastor through in some "junk" next Sunday, would you notice? Would you call him on it?

What are you doing to learn the TRUTH?

Do you have a Biblical worldview?

What are you doing on a CONSISTENT basis to teach your children/grandchildren TRUTH?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

August 22, 2007

"I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and who trembles at My word." Is. 66:2

I certainly want God to look favorably on me, don't you? Here it is spelled out for us what God requires of us. We are to be humble. Christ was the epitome of humility. Phil. 2: 8 tells us "and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Christ was the Son of God, a member of the Godhead, yet He was humble! So what have WE got to be haughty or proud about? Yet we get to thinking how valuable we are to God, how lucky He is to have us on his team! We look around at those we see every day and compare ourselves to them, thinking that "at least we aren't as bad as so-and-so". But all we need do is put Jesus up beside us and let Him be our standard and we will quickly see how far short we fall. God wants our availability. He wants us to yield to Him and allow HIM to live His life out through us. If we will do that, HE will be the one who gets the credit for anything we do...NOT us! We must recognize that anything we do in and of ourselves is just garbage or as He puts it "filthy rags"!

Secondly, we must be submissive in spirit. Again we are challenged to YIELD. Why is that so hard for us? We are a society of controllers. We all like to be in control. We are constantly told about our "rights" and what we are entitled to. Courts are full of cases where people are asserting their rights. Yet Jesus constantly tells us to forego our rights on the behalf of others... "whosoever shall smite thee on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away they coat, let him have your cloak also..." Matt. 5: 39.40 This sort of goes against the grain, doesn't it? When we think of "submit" we usually think of the Ephesians passage where wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, but BEFORE that verse, Jesus tells us "submit yourselves one to another" Eph. 5: 21. We are to yield to each other, to seek the other's good above our own...on the job, in our marriages, with friends at church. If you think of it, submission is just an expression of humility. You cannot submit to anyone without a measure of humility.

Do we really "tremble at God's word" today? I think not. We have become so complacent about the Bible. Most of us have several copies...different translations, different styles, different colors. But, unfortunately, we don't read it as we should. We have never been in a place where we would be risking our lives to have a copy, let alone to read it. I don't think we treasure God's word like we should, so it is doubtful that we "tremble at [it]". We have taken it for granted. It's always been there, and we assume it always will be. But....just suppose for a moment that something terrible happened. Suppose that our government was overtaken, and all Bibles were confiscated. The only Bible you had was the one you could recall from memory. How much of it would you have?

Have you ever read a passage that just seemed to leap off the page at if God just inserted that yesterday and in the margin He wrote YOUR name? I have. And I confess, that has made me tremble! I have wondered how I could have missed it before. It seemed so pertinent to where I was in my walk or my circumstances. It has made me realize that God's book is truly is His God-breathed words to us. As John tells us "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."
It has the power to convict us, to comfort us, to conform us, to save us, to teach us, to correct us. No other book on earth since the beginning of time has had that effect on mankind. We should RUN to read it each day. We should hold it close to our heart and say a prayer of thanks to God each time we pick it up that it is available to us at no cost. May we never take that for granted!!!!!!!!! May we treasure it and tremble at the awesome book we hold in our hands.

So these three things...humility, submissiveness and reverence for God's word can give us favor with Him. Once again we see that IT IS NOT ABOUT US!! May we learn to take our eyes off of our selves, submit to Him, and seek Him with all our hearts, souls and minds as we immerse ourselves in His word so that we may KNOW Him and serve Him and reflect Him and honor Him in all that we do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

August 21, 2007

"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true." I John 5:20

Knowing God..............that is something most of us would say that we aspire to. But have you ever really stopped to think about that? To KNOW G-O-D!!!! The God who created this entire universe by speaking it into existence! The God who holds it all in place! The God who has always been and always will be...who has no beginning and no end. The God who calms the storm by just saying " still!" The God who is all seeing, all knowing who is everywhere at once and knows not only every word that is spoken around the world but every thought as well! Is there any way that we can KNOW this God?!

I was thinking about this yesterday and how awesome the thought of that is. If I decided that I wanted to get to know George Bush, what would I do? Well, first I might try to read everything I could about him. I could get on the internet and read more about him, view videos of him and even listen to many of his speeches. But that would really just be knowing ABOUT him, not knowing him up close and personal. So then I could decide I would need to meet him in person. I would go about finding out when he was going to be speaking somewhere and make arrangements to be there. However, if I wanted to really MEET him, I would need to get a ticket to an event where he would be. With security as tight as it is around him, I could not hope to just show up and be invited into his presence. In fact, to even get a ticket, I might have to go through some sort of security clearance. Then I would have to purchase that ticket it would more than likely cost at least $1,000 or more. That would just get me in the door. If there was a receiving line, I MIGHT get a chance to shake his hand or if I was really, really lucky I might even get a chance to have my picture taken with him. But would I KNOW him? No, not at all. In order to get to KNOW him, I would have to spend time with him. We would have to have some in depth conversations. I would have to know his heart, know what makes him tick and have a repoire with him to really say that I knew him. And you and I know, that barring a miracle, that will never happen!!!!!!!!

But God....I KNOW! I know Him because He and I have been on a journey together for over 40 years. He created me. He has heard my prayers since I was able to utter them. I have read lots about Him. Could tell you lots of stories about Him. But I KNOW Him because He lives IN me. He has taken up residence within me and by his Holy Spirit, HE lives in me! That is a mind boggling concept, but it is true. And, not only that, but I can talk to Him any time, in any place. I do not need to call ahead and schedule an appointment. I do not have to buy a ticket to enter His presence. I do not have to pass a security clearance. I am not limited to the amount of time I can spend with him. I will never have his secretary say "I'm've already spoken with Him once today. He has others He must talk to now. Call back another day." He will never get tired of my calling and just leave a message on his answering machine. I can speak directly to Him as often as I want. He encourages me to "pray without ceasing"! He is always available. In fact, He knows me so well, that sometimes when I don't know what to say or how to express what I'm saying, He interprets for me. He just knows.

He knows more about me than I know about myself. He hears not only my spoken prayers, but the very thoughts and intents of my heart. He knows things I would never share with another living soul and He's not telling! I KNOW Him by experience. He has helped me more times than I can count, and I KNOW that He is faithful. I KNOW that He will never let me down, because He never has and He never will. He does not lie. I KNOW that I am never alone because He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He never has and He never will. I KNOW that He is working all things for my good. I can't always SEE it or understand it, but I KNOW because He always ha and He always will. I guess you could say we have a history together!

Yet as much as I do KNOW Him, there is still much to learn. So I will continue to pursue knowing Him more and more. I am learning more day by day about His awesome character. I am continually amazed by His power and greatness. My heart is full to overflowing for His goodness to me. I am eternally grateful for His care for me and for those I love. And I am forever awed and grateful that He would want a relationship with ME!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!!!!!!!

In her book "More Than Just Enough", Anne Graham Lotz writes:

I want to know what He has to say to those who are desperate for more of Him. As I have poured over the Scriptures, my heart has cried out for more than just enough.....

to escape a fiery hell
to be saved from God's wrath
to call myself a Christian
to manage my guilt
to get a ticket to Heaven
to squeak through Heaven's gate.

I long for more than just the bare minimum God has to offer.
I long for more than what the average Christian seems to settle for.
I long for everything God wants to give me.
I long for more than enough to
bend my will
to awaken my conscience
to break my heart
to transform my mind
to overcome my prejudices
to soar in my Spirit
to conform me into His glorious image
to give me an abundant entrance into Heaven!
I long to be satured with Jesus. So please, dear God, just give me MORE..........of Jesus!!"

Monday, August 20, 2007

August 20, 2007

Sharing Your Life Message

by Rick Warren

Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10a GW)

Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word .... The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore – you’re the message!” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 MSG)

When you became a believer, you also became God’s messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Paul said, “We speak the truth before God, as messengers of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17b NCV)

Your Life Message includes your life lessons. These are insights you’ve learned about God, relationships, problems, temptations, and other aspects of life. David prayed, “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.” (Psalm 119:33 MSG)
Sadly, we never learn from a lot that happens to us. Of the Israelites, the Bible says, “Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned – until finally their sins destroyed them.” (P 106:43 MSG) You’ve probably met people like that.

While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others. There isn’t enough time to learn everything in life by trial and error. We must learn from the life lessons of one another. The Bible says, “A warning given by an experienced person to someone willing to listen is more valuable than … jewelry made of the finest gold.” (Proverbs 25:12 TEV)
Write down the major life lessons you’ve learned so you can share them with others. We should be grateful Solomon did this, because it gave us the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which are filled with practical lessons on living. Imagine how much needless frustration could be avoided if we learned from each other’s life lessons.

Mature people develop the habit of extracting lessons from everyday experiences. I urge you to make a list of your life lessons. You haven’t really thought about them thoroughly unless you’ve written them down. Below are a few questions to jog your memory and get your started:

What has God taught me from failure?
What has God taught me from a lack of money?
What has God taught me from pain or sorrow or depression?
What has God taught me through waiting?
What has God taught me through illness?
What has God taught me from disappointment?

What have I learned from my family, my church, my relationships, my small group, and my critics?

We all have a story to share and we need to be busy sharing it! One of the best things about being in a Sunday School class or small group in a church is that you get to share your stories with others. WHY? Because in that small group setting, people will open up and it is a great place to share. As Rick said, we learn from others. We are encouraged by what God is doing in THEIR lives. It gives us HOPE that He will do the same in OUR problems! It also gives us tools to deal with similar problems in our lives. As we listen to how they handled a situation and how God moved, we think "Aha! I have not tried that" or maybe it will just encourage you that others are going through tough times's not just YOU! You are not a lone ranger.

Let me illustrate with just a few examples from my own SS class over the past couple of weeks:

1. Susan shared about her battle with cancer. Not a diagnosis that she wanted to hear, BUT God is using this situation to mend relationships with her mother and her son AND it has caused her son to draw closer to God!

2. Molly has been diagnosed with MS. Her attitude has been "turn it over to God". She is not whining or being anxious. She is quietly trusting in the Lord to work it all out. Quiet strength would describe her.

3. Jerry and Karen took our missionary couple to the airport after a time of R&R here in the states. As they approached the airport, they began to search for their passports. They were no where to be found! Panic began to set it, but Jerry suggested they pull into a parking spot, pray and look again. Immediately after they prayed, the passports fell out of a pocket of the backpack almost as if they fell straight from Heaven!! There was shouting and praising the Lord!

Those are just three examples of daily events in the lives of ordinary people who took the time to share their "life stories". By their willingness to share with us, we each took something away with us for the week: encouragement, increased faith, hope, a renewed belief in the power of prayer and the knowledge that God truly does work ALL things for our good!

I hope you will take the time to look over this list and begin to think of the ways that God has impacted your life and begin to formulate your "story or life message" from those. Rehearse it to yourself or a closer friend until you feel comfortable sharing it. Then pray, and ask God to give you opportunities to share His story!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

August 19, 2007

Your testimony...spoken or declared every day to those around you. Yesterday we looked at how our unspoken testimony is "read" by all those around us who are watching us day in and day out....our co-workers, our neighbors, our lost family members, our children and grandchildren, and even those we just come in contact with clerks, people we talk to on the telephone, bus drivers, fast food workers, etc. Today I'd like for you to see how you can share your testimony "verbally".

Rick Warren, author of the best seller, The Purpose Driven Life, tells us how we can share our "life message":

Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10a GW)

Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word .... The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore — you’re the message!” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 MSG)

God has given you a Life Message to share.

When you became a believer, you also became God’s messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Paul said, “We speak the truth before God, as messengers of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
You may feel you don’t have anything to share, but that’s the Devil trying to keep you silent. You have a storehouse of experiences that God wants to use to bring others into his family. The Bible says, “Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10)

Your Life Message has four parts to it:

Your testimony: the story of how you began a relationship with Jesus;
Your life lessons: the most important lessons God has taught you;
Your godly passions: the issues God shaped you to care about most;
The Good News: the message of salvation.

Your Life Message includes your testimony. Your testimony is the story of how Christ made a difference in your life. Peter tells us that we were chosen by God “to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you.” (1 Peter 2:9)
This is the essence of witnessing — simply sharing your personal experiences regarding the Lord. In a courtroom, a witness isn’t expected to argue the case, prove the truth, or press for a verdict; that is the job of attorneys. Witnesses simply report what happened to them or what they saw.

Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8) – not “You will be my attorney.” He wants you to share your story with others. Sharing your testimony is an essential part of your mission on earth because it is unique. There is no other story just like yours, so only you can share it. If you don’t share it, it will be lost forever.

You may not be a Bible scholar, but you are the authority on your life, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience. Actually, your personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors as professional salesmen, but they see you as a “satisfied customer,” so they give you more credibility.

Personal stories also are easier to relate to than principles, and people love to hear them. They capture our attention, and we remember them longer. Unbelievers would probably lose interest if you started quoting theologians, but they have a natural curiosity about experiences they’ve never had. Shared stories build a relational bridge from your heart to theirs – a bridge Jesus can walk across.

Another value of your testimony is that it by-passes intellectual defenses. Many people who won’t accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble personal story. That is why on six different occasions Paul used his testimony to share the Gospel instead of quoting Scripture.
The Bible says, “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15-16) The best way to “be ready” is to write out your testimony and then memorize the main points.

So what?
· Testimony – Divide your testimony into four parts:
o 1 – What my life was like before I met Jesus.
o 2 – How I realized I needed Jesus.
o 3 – How I committed my life to Jesus.
o 4 – The difference Jesus has made in my life.

· Variations on your testimony – You have a story for every experience in which God has helped you. Once you are comfortable with your basic testimony, make a list of all the problems, circumstances, and crises God has brought you through. Then use one of those situations when it seems relevant. Different situations call for different testimonies.

Think about YOUR testimony today. Sit down and write out your testimony in your own, conversational style. Tomorrow we will take a look at more from Rick Warren regarding incorporating "life lessons" into your testimony. We were made for a purpose and it's not about US! We've spent too much time just waltzing through our days with no thought whatsoever about how we are and could be impacting others for the Kingdom. We give more thought to what we are going to have for lunch and what make up to buy than we do to our testimony. If we won the lottery, we'd be telling everyone we saw! If we discovered a cure for cancer, we'd be shouting it from the rooftops! We LOVE to tell good news to everyone and anyone who will listen. Well here is the BEST news ever: Jesus paid a debt I did not owe because I owed a debt I could not pay and because HE died for me to accomplish that He has redeemed me from the marketplace of sin, set me free and is preparing a place for me with Him for all eternity in Heaven so that I would NOT have to spend eternity in Hell!!!!!!!!!! Let's tell somebody about it TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

August 18, 2007

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven " Matt. 5: 10

What testimony did you share with your co-workers yesterday? Oh........... you say you didn't share your testimony yesterday? Well, yes, I'm afraid you did. You may not have realized it, but you most definitely did.

Ponder this thought for a moment: If your co-workers or neighbors were asked if you were a Christian, what do you think their response would be? What would their answers be based on?

You see, we are sharing our testimony every day. We are either giving testimony for the Lord or for the enemy....Satan. But one way or the other, we are giving a testimony. Our lives are daily reflecting WHO is in control...GOD or SATAN!

I heard a story recently of a pastor who boarded a bus. When he purchased his tokens, he was give a dime too much. He didn't realize it til he sat down. As he traveled to his destination, he considered returning the coin to the driver. Then thought to himself, "It's just a dime...I'm sure he didn't even notice. A dime is nothing to make a big deal out of." As he went to disembark, however, he decided to return it to the driver. The driver replied, "I gave that to you on purpose to see what you would do. I understand you are the pastor of the church down the street and I just wanted to see what kind of pastor you really were. What time does your service begin Sunday? I need a church home."

Yes, someone is always watching us....our co-workers, our neighbors, even people in the grocery store. Your family members are watching you. And everywhere we go, we are sharing our testimony by the way we live and by the way we treat others and by the words that come out of our mouths. There is an old saying that goes "What you do speaks so loudly I can't hear what you are saying". There is a lot of truth to that. We can quote scripture and talk about church all day long; but if our words and our actions speak contrary to that, we are "a clanging gong or a tinkling cymbal" (I Cor. 13:1)

Your testimony as a believer actually comes in two forms....spoken and unspoken. Most of us prefer to dwell on the unspoken part, rather than the spoken. Yet God really requires both of us. We are to live our lives so that people can SEE a difference in us. We are to be "ambassadors FOR Christ", not against Him! We are to be a LIGHT in a dark place. We are to be the FRAGRANCE of Christ to those we come in contact with, not such a stinker that people avoid us. People ought to be drawn to us like a moth to a flame because of our love for Jesus. Sadly, that is not always the case.

The spoken part of our testimony is important as well. It is our way of sharing verbally with others what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives. I will share more about that tomorrow.

But today, I challenge you to really take a hard look at your "unspoken" testimony. Think about yesterday. Think about how you talked to people at work, how you treated the ornery co-worker or the nosey neighbor. Think about how you treated your spouse or your mother-in-law. What about the lost people in your family? Do you reflect Christ to them? Do they hear Him in your words? Do they see Him reflected in your attitude? How did your children see you act yesterday? What words did they hear come out of your mouth? What TV shows did they see you watch? Children are wet cement. And they are watching you 24/7!! You are sharing your testimony with them every day.

Yes, SOMEONE is watching you today. DO THEY SEE CHRIST IN YOU?!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

August 17, 2007


Effective immediately, please be aware that there are changes you need to make in your life. These changes need to be completed in order that I may fulfill my promises to you to grant you peace, joy and happiness in this life. I apologize for any inconvenience, but after all that I am doing, this seems very little to ask of you. I know, I already gave you the 10 Commandments. Keep them. But follow these guidelines, also.


Life has dealt you a blow and all you do is sit and worry. Have you forgotten that I am here to take all your burdens and carry them for you? Or do you just enjoy fretting over every little thing that comes your way?


Something needs done or taken care of. Put it on the list. No, not YOUR list. Put it on MY to-do-list. Let ME be the one to take care of the problem. I can't help you until you turn it over to me. And although my to-do-list is long, I am after all, God. I can take care of anything you put into my hands. In fact, if the truth were ever really known, I take care of a lot of things for you that you never even realize.


Once you've given your burdens to me, quit trying to take them back. Trust in me. Have the faith that I will take care of all your needs, your problems and your trials. Problems with the kids? Put them on my list. Problem with finances? Put it on my list. Problems with your
emotional roller coaster? For my sake, put it on my list. I want to help you. All you have to do is ask.


Don't wake up one morning and say, "Well, I'm feeling much stronger now, I think I can handle it from here." Why do you think you are feeling stronger now? It's simple. You gave me your burdens and I'm taking care of them. I also renew your strength and cover you in
my peace. Don't you know that if I give you these problems back, you will be right back where you started? Leave them with me and forget about them. Just let me do my job.


I want you to forget a lot of things. Forget what was making you crazy. Forget the worry and the fretting because you know I'm in control. But there's one thing I pray you never forget. Please don't forget to talk to me - OFTEN! I love you. I want to hear your voice. I want you to include me in on the things going on in your life. I want to hear you talk about your friends and family. Prayer is simply you having a conversation with me. I want to be your dearest friend.


I see a lot of things from up here that you can't see from where you are. Have faith in me that I know what I'm doing. Trust me, you wouldn't want the view from my eyes. I will continue to care for you, watch over you, and meet your needs. You only have to trust me.
Although I have a much bigger task than you, it seems as if you have so much trouble just doing your simple part. How hard can trust be?


You were taught to share when you were only two years old. When did you forget? That rule still applies. Share with those who are less fortunate than you. Share your joy with those who need encouragement. Share your laughter with those who haven't heard any in such a long time. Share your tears with those who have forgotten how to cry. Share your faith with those who have none.


I managed to fix it so in just one lifetime you could have so many diverse experiences. You grow from a child to an adult, have children, change jobs many times, learn many trades, travel to so many places, meet thousands of people, and experience so much. How can you be so impatient then when it takes me a little longer than you expect to handle something on my to-do-list? Trust in my timing, for my timing is perfect. Just because I created the entire universe in only six days, everyone thinks I should always rush, rush, rush.


Be kind to others, for I love them just as much as I love you. They may not dress like you, or talk like you, or live the same way you do, but I still love you all. Please try to get along, for my sake. I created each of you different in some way. It would be too boring if you were all identical. Please know I love each of your differences.


As much as I love you, how can you not love yourself? You were created by me for one reason only - to be loved, and to love in return. I am a God of Love. Love me. Love your neighbors. But also love yourself. It makes my heart ache when I see you so angry with yourself when things go wrong. You are very precious to me. Don't ever forget that!

With all my heart, I love you,

(author unknown)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

August 16, 2007

I can remember the scene so well. It is as if it is captured on video in my mind. It was a small, modestly furnished living room with a wood burning stove. He sat in a blue rocking chair that had a pattern in the velvet like fabric. We spent many hours together in that chair, watching Amos n' Andy and Queen for a Day. I was his baby and he was my uncle, though I often called him "my savior", because he was often "saving" me from my aunt. Now don't misunderstand, she was precious, too. But if I did something wrong, or got in her way, she would get aggravated with me and come after me with the broom, all the while pretending to be mad, and I would jump into his arms. He would wrap me up tightly in his arms and as she would swat at me with the broom, his hands would move in whatever direction he neeeded to protect me. I knew I was always SAFE with him and I knew I was loved.

When I am hurt or anxious or afraid, in my mind I run to Jesus, my "Abba", and he scoops me up in His arms of love and protects me from whatever is threatening me. Sometimes I just need to cry on his shoulder and pour out my heart to Him. He always listens. He always cares. He is never too busy. He is never preoccupied with someone else's problems. He knows me like no one knows me. When I can't talk to anyone else, I can always talk to Him. So I crawl up in His lap and like my loving and kind uncle, He holds me and comforts me. In His arms I know I am safe. I am His child. He knows me by name. There is a song that has a chorus that says:

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call....

WHO do you run to when you are hurting or alone or in need of a Friend? Our earthly friends are wonderful and I treasure mine as precious gifts. But they can't always be there. Sometimes they let us down and sometimes the hurt is too great to share with anyone else but Jesus. Sometimes, no one but Jesus would really understand. Run to Him today. Crawl up in His lap and pour out your heart to Him. He is always there. His arms are open wide. Cry out to Him as David did :

"I poured out my complaint to Him
I showed Him my trouble
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me
Then thou knewest my path.

I looked on my right hand and behold,
but there was no man that would know me
Refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
I cried unto Thee, O Lord
I said, "Thou art my refuge and my portion
in the land of the Living
Attend unto my cry
for I am brought very low

Hear my prayer O Lord
give ear to my supplications
In thy faithfulness, answer me
and in Thy righteousness.

My spirit is overwhelmed within me
My heart within me is desolate,
Hear me speedily, O Lord
my spirit fails
Hide not they face from me
Lest I be ilke them that go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning

Blessed be the Lord, my strength...
My goodness, my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer
My shield and He in whom I trust.

---Psalm 142, 143 selected

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

August 15, 2007

"Indeed, the Lord's hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen." Isaiah 59: 1,2

Have you ever watched a brick wall being constructed? It begins with plumb line to get the bottom row straight. Then they begin laying one brick after another in a row. Then comes the second row, brick by brick, carefully lining up with the one beneath it and along the plumb line. It takes time and precision, but brick by brick it goes up, row after row til it is the desired height.

Sin does much the same thing. It comes into our life, one sin at a time; but day after day after day, it builds up and pretty soon there is a wall between us and the Lord. It starts so subtly. One little seemingly innocent thing: an unkind comment uttered behind someone's back; you are overcharged at the grocery and you say nothing, justifying yourself by saying "it was their mistake"; you tell a half truth; you get angry at work and mutter a few four letter words; you skip reading your Bible one day because you are too busy and find it becomes easier the next day to skip it just have SO much to do....pretty soon, you are only reading it now and then; brick upon brick and the wall goes up.

I remember a story once about a family that lived near the desert. The mother had a small child...maybe 15 or 18 months old. One day she was going about her housework, when she suddenly realized that she had not heard her little one, jabbering as she usually did. She began to call out to answer. She went from room to room but could not find her. She began to panic. She ran to the door and found it ajar. She tore around the yard, calling and calling the child's name. No sign of her. With terror gripping her heart, she called 9-1-1. Police came, friends and neighbors came and all joined in the search. The desert was nearby and they feared the worst. She was only dressed in a t-shirt and diaper. For 2 days they searched day and night. The mother and father were grief-stricken at the thought that something had happened to their precious baby. Then, miracle of miracles, they found her! She was asleep under a small bush in the desert nearly a mile from their house! How in the world had such a little one gotten so far? One baby step at a time.

I'm sure she had no intention or plan to walk a mile when she went out the back door. She was probably watching a butterfly or a bird, and just kept toddling away. But pretty soon, if she had looked back, she would have seen her house was almost out of sight. Maybe it got dark and she lost her way, not knowing how to navigate her way back.

And that is exactly what we do. We go blindly down life's pathway, not thinking about what we're doing and how far away from the Lord we are wandering. Then suddenly one day we wake up and look back and marvel at how far from Him we have drifted! We wonder how in the world did that happen? He seems so far away. We seem so out of touch with Him. Our prayers seem unanswered. God has not moved. The only one who has is us! And not only have we moved, but we've built up a wall in the process.

But there is hope. There is a wrecking ball that can crumble that wall! It is I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness". Confession breaks down the wall and points us back in the right direction. Like the rescuers who came to the toddler, He will sweep us up in His arms, hug us tight and say "Welcome Home...I've missed you!"

Don't allow the bricks to accumulate in your life. Be sure that you dismantle them every day. Keep your eyes on the Light of your life and when you start to stray, make a bee-line back. That way the lines of communication will remain open. There will be no barriers in your life and you will know the peace that comes from being in fellowship with your Lord.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August 14, 2007


I love the taste of T-bone steak, delicious every bite.
But there's nothing like the Word of God, for my spiritual appetite.
The Word of God has milk and meat, and even ice cream and cake.
Take a slice of the Bread of Life, and coffee to keep us awake.
Open your Bible and turn to Psalms for David's famous buffet.
You can drink all the wine of the Word you want, and still feel fine
The next day.
There's enough of the Word for everyone and no one has to cheat.
The Word of God is a smorgasbord, so take all you are able to eat.
Let's have a little long suffering, Job gives the recipe.
Patience is the main ingredient, self-denial is the fee.
Wrap that up in temperance; it may not make much sense;
cover that with contentment, then add some joy for strength!
Let's have love for dessert, Jesus made this dish.
Cream of joy and peace together, sift out all selfishness.
Add some deeds of righteousness, enough to make it sweet.
Humility is the frosting........... that makes the dish complete.
Or, are you on a diet cause the race seems hard to run.
For a weight losing menu, Try Hebrews 12 and 1.
Are you suffering from malnutrition, and don't know what to do?
Your spiritual growth seems hindered, Try 1 Peter, 2 and 2.
If when every time you battle, the enemy always wins, try some Holy
Protein........ and spiritual vitamins.
God's Word can feed millions and still have plenty left.

---Author Unknown

Monday, August 13, 2007

August 13, 2007

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

If you have been in church any length of time, you have heard that verse and probably heard numerous sermons on it. you believe it? Do you REALLY believe it? How is it possible for horrible circumstances in our life to be good?

It is really difficult to SEE that when we are in the midst of the circumstances. Our vision is usually much better down the road....weeks or months or sometimes even years later. Then we can see that God truly WAS in the midst and that He did orchestrate all the details to bring good about in the end.

A perfect example is Job. Job experienced something NONE of us would ever want to go through. It is so horrible that I cannot even fathom it! He was a strong man just to survive the pain of such devastating loss. I don't think I would have. He lost everything in the matter of just a few days. He lost all of his children, all of his livestock, all of his servants. He even lost his health. He lost everything but his wife (and after the way she nagged at him afterwards, he probably wondered why God didn't allow her to be taken, too!) Yet, Job 42 tells us that "the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had 14,000 sheep, 6000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 asses. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters. The Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before."

I saw a story on Oprah last week about a woman who had 4 children. She got up one morning and went to run with her friend as she did each morning. While she was gone and her children were still in bed asleep, her estranged husband came and murdered each of them and crawled into bed with the youngest and killed himself. I cannot imagine the horror that woman experienced when she returned. She had to have felt like Job. That was 3 or 4 years ago. She has since remarried and has recently had twins. God is rebuilding her life.

In our Sunday School class, there is a young woman who recently discovered she has cancer...a devastating diagnosis that none of us want to hear. She has already been through surgery and will begin chemo tomorrow. Yet, yesterday she shared with eyes shining brightly and a huge smile on her face, that God was already bringing good out of this experience. Her relationship with her mother, which had not been very close, has been strengthened through this. Her son, who was living with his Dad and had turned completely away from God saying he was not sure there even was a God. He had also cut himself off from her for over a year and her heart has been so grieved over him. Now since her diagnosis, he has done a 180 and come back to the Lord and their relationship is being rebuilt! Now I don't think she would say she is glad she has cancer, BUT I think she would say that she is excited to see what God is doing in the midst of this! It has increased her faith, strengthened her walk and given her a greater assurance that He truly IS working all things for her good! She even said "I could die right now, and I'd die happy!"

Today if you find yourself in difficult circumstances, remember that you are not alone. God is in the midst of those circumstances WITH you. Remember too, that no matter how dark the skies are today, God will break through and the sun will shine again. He WILL work ALL of your circumstances for His good in HIS time. "For weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30: 5 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has annointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they may be called trees of righteouness, the planting of the Lord, that HE may be glorified [the object of the exercise!]. Isaiah 61: 1-3

Sunday, August 12, 2007

August 11, 2007

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither and whatsoever he does shall prosper." Psalm 1: 3

We are experiencing a terrible drought that has been caused by several years of below-normal rainfall amounts. Add to that we are in the midst of a mammoth heat wave....temperatures in the 100s and more of the same predicted for the next 5 days. Everything is cooking in this heat. It doesn't matter how much you water with a hose, it is never enough. We need God's water!! My flowers look pitiful. The leaves are falling off of our hollies, a normally heat and drought tolerant shrub. My lilies are turning yellow and the roses that are blooming cook before the end of the day. I read yesterday that a local municipality close to us is working overtime putting out soaker bags and soaker hoses around the trees in their local parks because they are losing them one by one. Sprinklers run day and night in our neighborhood as our neighbors try to save their grass from burning in the heat. Lots of work and money have gone into our yards and it is sad and costly to see it burning up right before our eyes.

How sad God must be when He sees his children drying up and withering in their Christian lives. Lives that could be flourishing and counting for the Kingdom, are parched and dry. God has been pushed to the background like a water hose curled up in the flowerbed. The source of refreshment is there ready and waiting, but they are too busy to notice.

God tells us if we will plant ourselves in His word; if we will spend time each day soaking up His truth; if we will walk in the well watered path He has laid out before us, we will flourish like trees and flowers do when the spring rains come. We will blossom and grow. We will have abundant fruit. We will have a sweet fragrance to all who come in contact with us. We will brighten up our corner of the world with beauty that comes from being with Him.

May we then have upturned faces, seeking for God to rain down on us, filling us with His love, His mercy, His grace and His truth so that we may have deep roots and bear much fruit for Him.
May we realize that without Him, we become like a desert. May we seek Him as one who searches for water when he is lost in the desert. May we not be fooled by the mirages of things the world has to offer and pass up the Living Water that will quench our thirsty souls so that we will never thirst again!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

August 11, 2007

This has been one of those weeks when every phone call has brought sad many all around us are hurting from the pain of losing loved ones, divorce, illness, and heartache. I pray that this will be an encouragement to you.


I refuse to be discouraged
To be sad or to cry,
I refuse to be downhearted,
And here’s the reason why.
I have a God who’s mighty
Who’s sovereign and supreme.
I have a God who loves me
And I am on His team.
He is all wise and powerful...
Jesus is His name.
Though everything is changeable,
My God remains the same.
My God knows all that’s happening,
Beginning to the end.
His presence is my comfort.
He is my dearest friend.
When sickness comes to weaken me,
To bring my head down low,
I call upon my mighty God..
Into His arms I go.
When circumstances threaten
To rob me of my peace,
He draws me close unto His breast,
Where all my strivings cease.
And when my heart melts within me,
And weakness takes control,
He gathers me into His arms..
He soothes my heart and soul.
The great "I AM" is with me.
My life is in His hand.
The "Son of God" is my hope
It’s in His strength I stand.
I refuse to be defeated,
My eyes are on my God.
He has promised to be with me,
As through this life I trod.
I’m looking past all my circumstances
To Heaven’s bright throne above;
My prayers have reached
The heart of God,
I’m resting in His love.
I give God thanks in everything,
My eyes are on His face.
The battle’s His, the victory is mine;
He’ll help me win the race.

----Author Unknown

Friday, August 10, 2007

August 10, 2007

Shakespeare once wrote "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
Yet our name carries a great deal of weight. It identifies us, it says a lot about us. Think about it, I can mention a name and you immediately will have a picture of this person in your mind and an opinion about them:

Billy Graham
Osama Bin Laden
President George Bush
Mickey Mouse
Abraham Lincoln
Ted Kazinsky
Scarlett O'Hara
When our children were growing up, one of the last things we would tell them each time they left home was "Remember WHO you are and WHOSE you are!" We tried to instill in them that they had a family name, their father's name, to uphold and not to tarnish. He is a fine, godly man...a man of integrity...and a man whose name is held in high regard by all who know him. They bear that name and should never do anything to bring dishonor or shame to it. When our son was a teenager, I ran across this poem. I felt it further exemplified that and since he would be carrying on the family name, I gave it to him:

You got it from your father
It was all he had to give
So it's yours to use and cherish
For as long as you may live
If you lost the watch he gave you
It can always be replaced;
But a black mark on your name
Can never be erased
It was clean the day you took it
And a worthy name to bear
When he got it from his father
There was no dishonor there
So make sure you guard it wisely
After all is said and done
You'll be glad the name is spotless
When you give it to your son.

Yes, guarding and honoring the family name was important, but even more was the fact that our children are believers and therefore, they also bear the name of Christ. They are children of the King! We wanted them to bear that name just as proudly and do nothing to bring dishonor to Christ.
We are too prone to get caught up in labels. We must have the right label on our clothing or the most sought after designer bag. I remember so well what a big deal that was to our son when he was in high school. He wanted the most expensive shirts out there and got very upset when I could not afford to buy them for him. He was horrified if you suggested buying ANYTHING from Walmart. He called it "Walmart Fall-aparts"! Now it is his # 1 store next to Bass Pro and the only label he cares about is Carhart or RealTree! Teens are constantly put down and criticized for not wearing the right label. They can be ostracized and become the object of ridicule for just such a thing. It makes it very hard for working parents, yet it is important that they teach their children that the most important name is not Gucci or is JESUS!!
If their identity is IN HIM, He will help them to realize that no matter what the label in your shirt says, you are royalty! You are heir to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You have a home waiting for you that rivals the grandest palace on earth! At HIS name, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that JESUS CHRIST is Lord! His name is all powerful! And as a believer we carry that name. We are Christians....which means "little Christ". And we need to teach that to our children and our grandchildren. We need to remind OURSELVES of it every day. A song we often sing says it well:
"Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nations sing it louder'
Cause nothing has the power to save
But Your Name
Jesus, in Your Name we pray
Come and fill our hearts today
Lord, give us strength to live for You
and glorify Your Name."
--Paul Baloche & Glenn Packiam
©2006 Integrity's Hosanna! Music Vertical Worship Songs

Thursday, August 9, 2007

August 9, 2007

Today's blog is a devotional from TODAY GOD IS FIRST by Os Hillman. I urge you to check them out and subscribe at He has some awesome devotionals. I pray you will be blessed by this one!

Embracing the Mess
by Os Hillman, August 9, 2007

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest. - Proverbs 14:4

My wife and I run together through a new home subdivision. Often we see the street filled with red clay from the land as bulldozers clear it to lay a foundation. The job site is littered with lumber, all sorts of trash from workers, and is generally a mess. The house looks ugly; it has all its insides exposed as it is being pieced together, yet this process is necessary to get to the finished product. When completed, the home is beautiful. The landscaping looks like it came out of a home-design magazine. Everything is clean and perfect in order for the new homeowner to move in.

Our walk with God is much the same process. Often we must go through a messy period of our lives in which all aspects of it are in disarray. It is in these times that God builds a new structure. He might remove some structural timbers in our lives and replace them with new ones. He might even add on another room. And unless this process takes place, we will never see the end product. The goal is more Christlikeness. In order to achieve this in us, He requires a period of removing all that is not of Him. It can be a painful process.It would be impossible to keep oxen in a barn without having to clean up the mess from time to time. It just comes with the territory, but the result of the oxen is an abundant harvest. God may be allowing a mess in order to ensure a fruitful harvest in your life. Learn from Him so that you might experience the fulfillment of His purposes for you in these times.

PS...If you have not logged on to the link to Sam Shaw's blog, be sure to do so and check out the one for August 5th. It is truly AWESOME!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

August 8, 2007

"He awakens [me] each morning; He awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I did not turn back." Is 50: 4,5

This is my goal, my desire, my objective for each begin the day with the Lord. It doesn't always work out that way, but it is what I strive for. My whole day goes better when I get to do it that way. He longs to meet with me, to fellowship with me, to give me instruction for the day. It is my job to show up, shut up and listen up! I'm better at the first one than the last two, I'm afraid.

I usually find myself pouring out my complaints, my needs, my hurts, my fears, my worries, and then pouring out those for everyone else....and these days the list gets longer and longer. Sometimes my time runs out before my list does and I find that I have no time left to LISTEN. Yet this verse tells me that is exactly what I need to do if I want to receive His instructions for the day.

If I will just show up and then allow Him to open up my ears to hear his voice, this verse tells me that HE will speak. If I will not be rebellious and make my quiet time all about me and mine, He WILL speak. "Be still and know that I am God." He beckons to each of us every day.

I have been reading through the book of Isaiah. I have been astounded at the number of times He says "Wake up!".... "Listen to me"...."Pay attention"!! The God of the Universe desires an audience with us. He wants to guide us in the way we should go. He wants to give us manna from Heaven that will sustain us all day long. He wants to teach us how to get through the difficult moments of our day. He wants to tell us how we can minister to those He puts in our path today. He wants to strengthen us, help us, comfort us and fortify our minds and hearts against the enemy. But to do that, we MUST....

SHOW UP.....


LISTEN UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've got a lot to work on. How about you?

Monday, August 6, 2007

August 6, 2007

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God with thanksgiving." Phil. 4:6

Os Hillman, author of the daily devotion TODAY GOD IS FIRST, recently relayed this story:

I walked into the office. The secretary seemed physically struggling with her breathing and her countenance was different than normal.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Allergies," she replied. "Sometimes it gets so bad I can hardly breathe."

"May I pray for you?" I asked.

"Oh, I don't want to take up His time with something as menial as me. I'd rather not waste it on me. You should pray for someone much less fortunate than me. My mother always taught us to pray at the dinner table for those less fortunate than us," she replied.

The woman was touched that I would offer to pray for her.The next day I told her my prayer group was praying for her. She could not believe that I would do such a thing for her.

I remember another story I read of Os's that told of him asking permission to pray for another woman in his office. She was stunned. The next day she told him that no one had ever prayed for her before. That blew me away!!!!!!! I had never thought that there was anyone that had not had SOMEONE praying for them...ever!!

I have been so blessed to be part of the family of God who prays for each other. I am so blessed that I was taught from an early age that prayer is important and that God does hear. And, more importantly than anything, I guess, is that I have learned that there is NOTHING too big or too small to take to God.

But when I thought about that woman who said NO ONE had ever prayed for her, I began to wonder how many people I come in contact with every day have never had anyone to pray for them. What a channel of blessing we can be to another person to offer to pray for them. Maybe it is a co-worker, maybe a neighbor, maybe even the girl in the check out at the grocery.

A sweet friend of mine and precious prayer warrior writes out her prayers for others. Her prayers for me have been such a blessing. They have meant so much to me that I also began writing out my prayers and sending them to those in need. I have had nothing but positive responses. It is one thing to tell someone you will pray for them, but it is quite another for them to read the prayer you are praying for them.

A pastor friend of ours always asks the waiter or waitress who is serving his table if he/she has any needs he can pray for. After they recover from the shock, most end up sharing something that is weighing heavily upon them and he lets them know that he will be praying for them. I feel sure that some of those have never had anyone to pray for them before. What a blessing!

I can' t imagine what my life would be like if no one had ever prayed for me. I have been blessed with so many in my life who pray for me....friends, family, fellow Sunday school class members...even neighbors. I am thankful to God for this blessing in MY life and count it a privilege to also pray for others.

I have witnessed the power of prayer as I have sought prayer for others who are in dire need. Often those praying have never met the person in need, but still pray faithfully for them, week in and week out, month in and month out as God brings that person to mind. And we have had the joy of seeing God move in response to those prayers. So even when we pray for strangers, it is blessing both to the one who is being prayed for and the one who is praying.

Who can you pray for today? Be sensitive to God's leading and allow Him to make you a channel of blessing to someone. You may be the ONLY one who has ever lifted their name to the Father!

Friday, August 3, 2007

August 3, 2007

August 3, 2007

"Where were you when I established the earth?
Tell [Me] if you have understanding.
Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
What supports its foundations?
Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning
stars of God shouted for joy?
Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its blanket, when I determined
its boundaries and put its bars and doors in place,
when I declared: 'You may come this far, but no farther; your
proud waves stop here.?'

Have you ever in your life commanded the morning
or assigned the dawn its place,
so it may seize the edges of the earth
and shake the wicked out of it?
Have you traveled to the sources of the sea
or walked in the depths of the oceans?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you?

Where is the road to the home of light?
Do you know where darkness lives,
so you can lead it back to its border?
Have you entered the place where the snow is stored?
Or have you seen the storehouses of hail, which I hold in reserve for times of trouble?
What road leads to the place where light is dispersed?
Where is the source of the east wind that spreads across the earth?

Does the rain have a father?
Who fathered the drops of dew?
Whose womb did the ice come from?
Who gave birth to the frost of heaven
Can you command the clouds so that the flood of waters covers you?
Can you send out lightening bolts and they go?
Do they report to you 'Here we are!'?
Who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the dust hardens like cast metal
and the clods of dirt stick together? "(Job 38 selected)

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand?
Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure?
Or wieghed the mountains in a balance and the hills in scales?
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord
or who gave Him His counsel?
Who did He consult with?
Who gave Him understanding
and taught him the paths of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

Who will you compare God with?
What likeness will you compare HIm to?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you
from the beginning?
Have you not considered
the foundations of the earth?
God is enthroned above the circle of the earth;
its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

Look up and see who created these?
He brings out the starry hosts by number;
He calls all of them by name.
Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing."
(Isaiah 40 selected)

"Then Job replied to the Lord:

I know that You can do anything
and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
[You asked] 'Who is this who conceals [My] counsel with
Surely I spoke about things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know." (Job 42: 1-3)

What an awesome God we serve!!!!!!!!!!!!!