Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 30, 2007

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion to the day of Jesus Christ." Phil 1:6

Os Hillman wrote in his devotional, TODAY GOD IS FIRST:

" A rocket launch is truly an amazing phenomenon to me. Tons of weight is stacked vertically to the sky with thousands of gallons of fuel exploding in a matter of moments. Soon the rocket drops its take-off boosters and uses additional boosters to move the rocket to the next stage of the mission. The first engines have a unique get the rocket to the next stage.

Joshua was known for almost 40 years as "Joshua, servant of Moses." God's preparation for him required years of selfless service, training in the desert, and tests of faith. Those preparation years were booster rockets designed to move Joshua into each new stage of his development and his ultimate calling.

God allows each of us preparation times to lay a foundation that He plans to build on. Some of those foundation times appear to be laborious and meaningless, yet these varied experiences are what God is using to frame your life for the message He plans to speak through you. Without these foundational experiences, the Jordan River can never be crossed and we cannot enter the Promised Land.

Embrace these times of seeming inactivity from God. They, too, are a rocket booster to your next stage of your walk with God. "

This got me to thinking about my own life....

As I look back over the years, I can see how each experience was a stepping stone to another step of maturity in my Christian walk. At the time you are going through a trial or a struggle or a storm, you cannot see ANY benefit to it, any reason that makes any sense. But on down the road, you can look back and begin to see the pieces of the puzzle beginning to fall into place. You realize how God has used each of those experiences for a purpose...HIS mold you and move you forward.

God moves at His own pace. Sometimes that is frustrating to me, especially when I'm praying for someone. When there is someone I love that is not where they need to be with Him, it is hard to wait on the process. Yet, I KNOW that He is working. I see baby steps and I thank Him for that. I want to see one giant leap, but rarely does God work like that. He is more about the process than He is about the end result.

I've often struggled with the fact that it took God so long to change Paul from Saul the Christian killer to Paul, the Apostle. He could have gotten his attention long before He did and a lot of innocent people would not have died. But He didn't. Then one day I read, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace to reveal His Son in me that I might preach him among the heathen..." Galatians 1: 15, 16. Did you catch that? It was "when it pleased God". God is on His own timetable, NOT OURS!

God uses the experiences of our life to bring us to maturity.

Moses spent time in the palace as a prince then herded sheep for 40 years before God called him to lead his people out of Egypt.

Joseph was thrown in a pit, then sold into slavery by his own brothers. He spent the next 17 years in and out of prison, seemingly forgotten til God raised him to power to serve Him in one of the highest positions in the land.

Jacob worked 20 years for Laban before he was released from Laban's control.

Abraham and Sarah waited almost 100 years before they were given Isaac.

God is at work in our lives every minute of every day. He does not make mistakes...there are no "Oops" with God. He is in control and He knows exactly where we are and exactly what He is seeking to accomplish in our lives. If we are obedient, if we are seeking Him rather than running from Him, the process may be shorter and less painful. But He is always working in our lives to accomplish the purpose for which we were created.

How about your life? Can you see how God has used your past experiences to bring you to where you are today? Thank Him today for all He has taught you, for all He is doing in your life, that you might become a vessel of honor fit for the Master's use.

Friday, September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007

"For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Familiar words. The Greatest Gift. Eternal Life. Our lifeline. But notice the key word. The key word is LOVE. God GAVE out of His LOVE for us. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die for you and me. He paid our sin debt so we didn't have to. Not that we deserved it. We didn't. We never could. Not that we could ever possibly earn it. We couldn't. He did it out of LOVE.

God's love is not like our love. Most of us love in one of two ways. We either love with "candy love" or "smack love". Candy love says I'll love you "IF". Smack love says "You better love me or else!"

God just loves.

Most of us say "I'll love you until...."

Until you hurt me....
Until you disappoint me....
Until you fail me....
Until you let me down....
Until you don't measure up....

God just loves.

He loves immeasureably - there are no limits to His love.
He loves unconditionally - no matter strings attached.
He loves infinitely - there is no end to His love...EVER!

Want to see a picture of God's love? Take a look:

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love does not envy
Love is not boastful nor conceited
Love does not act improperly
Love is not selfish
Love is not easily provoked
Love does not keep a record of wrongs
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
But rather rejoices in the truth
Love bears all things,
Believes all things
Hopes all things
Endures all things.
Love never fails.
(I Cor. 13: 4-7)
In Max Lucado's newest book "3:16", he writes:
"Mark it down. God loves you with an unearthly love. You can't win it by being winsome. You can't lose it by being a loser. But you can be blind enough to resist it. 'Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!' " (Eph. 3: 18, 19 MSG)
What amazing love!! Bask in that love today. Then pass it on to those around you. In all of your relationships, strive to love like that!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

September 27, 2007

I am proud and honored to share another devotional with you written by our precious son-in-love! Enjoy!!

Whittling Away at Patience
By Josh Steele

If you ask my wife, she would probably tell you that patience is not one of my greater virtues! Truth is that she would be right. For as long as I can remember, the only time I was ever patient was sitting in a deer stand or turkey blind. Even then, times were trying!

This brings me to one of my newer hobbies. Several years ago, I had been turkey hunting one morning when I found myself seated next to a green field. It was about midday and had been a long and quiet morning. To be quite honest, it was somewhat boring! Well, I found myself searching for something to keep me busy, for I knew "you can’t kill a bird on the couch!" That’s when it all started. I began whittling, and before I realized it, I had whittled my first complete project. It was a small cross that sits atop the letter "K" in a totem pole fashion. You see, my wife was at home almost 9 months pregnant with our first child…a little girl whose name would be Kyleigh! The carving still hangs in her room today.

This started something in me. Soon I found myself chipping away at sticks every time I was in the woods. This past deer season really brought on some new projects. I soon developed a love for whittling cedar. It is a beautiful wood and carves quite easily. I would sit there, concealed in my stand, slowly and cautiously whittling away at the wood. I have always loved crosses and I guess that is why they are the objects that I most often work on. Something about a cross out of the cedar…they are beautiful to say the least!

Now for those of you that have never tried whittling, let me explain. It is an art form that takes lots of practice, a somewhat steady hand, a broad imagination, and most of all patience. You see, if you get in a hurry with your knife, a project that you have been working so hard on may be gone in a matter of seconds. Impatience alone can cause drastic mistakes. The whole time I was doing this, however, there was something that never quite hit me! God had finally found a way to teach me patience, and I didn’t even see it coming. It is truly amazing how things like that happen all in His time and on His terms. As I look back now, I am really happy that God chose this method to teach me.

I often think about Job when I think about patience. Have you ever heard the statement, "He has the patience of Job"? Well, let’s review why. Job was a man of integrity. He feared God and turned away from evil. He was a very rich man with a large family and many possessions. God allowed Satan to test Job not once but twice. The first time God told Satan he could do anything to Job except harm him. So Satan basically destroyed all Job’s possessions including his children. When Satan sought to attack Job a second time, God told him he could do anything but take Job’s life.

After the first test, Job made a profound statement, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) Then he goes on to say, "Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?" (Job 2:10) Job truly was a man of integrity. If you continue to read through Job, you will see that, although he goes through the ringer, Job patiently waits as he seeks answers from the Lord.

As I said before, I am glad God chose blessing me with a hobby that I enjoy as a means of teaching me patience, instead of allowing the wrath of Satan. So just remember…… sometimes we don’t even realize that God is trying to teach us something. Keep your eyes open, your mind focused and PATIENTLY await the Lord. He might just be whittling you into His likeness.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

September 25, 2007

We are so fortunate to have God's Word! He speaks to us through that Word. I don't think we really get the impact of those words.

GOD......The Great "I AM"....

The Creator of the Universe....
The One who SPOKE the world into existence.....
The GOD who parted the Red Sea so the Children of Israel could walk thru on dry
The GOD who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrorah with fire and brimstone..
The GOD who holds the earth in orbit..................
The KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS............

This same GOD wrote to us......He left us this book we call the HE could communicate with us. He did not leave us to flounder through life, wondering what we should do. He did not leave us with no hope. He knew we would face struggles, trials and disappointment. He knew we would lose our way. He knew that there would be hurts and pain and turmoil in our life, but He did not leave us to fend for ourselves. He gave us His divine word....His God-breathed word, penned by man, but penned EXACTLY as He directed.

We who have the privilege of living in the United States of nation UNDER GOD....have the awesome privilege of having as many Bibles as we want, in every translation, every color and every size. We can read it freely whenever and wherever we choose. No one is going to attack us, arrest us, or threaten our lives for doing so. Yet, do we bother?

As I was reading through a passage I wanted to share with a struggling friend this morning, the awesomeness of what I read just flooded by heart. I want to share just a few of those verses with you today and ask you to really THINK about what you are reading and contemplate what an AWESOME God we serve, who would pen such words of comfort and hope and encouragement to us. ( my comments in red)

Thus saith the Lord to his annointed....whose right hand I hold. [God desires to hold us by the hand so that He may guide us along the way] I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight. And I will give you treasures of darkness [Have you ever thought there were treasures in YOUR darkness....God has special things He desires to teach us that can only be learned in the dark and He calls them TREASURES!] hidden riches of secret places that [here is the object of the exercise....don't miss it!] you may KNOW that I, the Lord, who calls you by name [don't miss that...HE CALLS YOU BY NAME...He is a PERSONAL God!] I am the God of Israel....I am the Lord and there is none else, there is NO GOD BESIDE ME! From the rising of the sun and from the west, there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is NONE ELSE!! I form the light and create the darkness........I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare what is right......there is no God else beside me, a just God and a Savior, there is none beside me. Look unto me and be saved all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else....unto me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear....[I] declare the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do my pleasure....I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it and I will also do it." Isaiah 45 and 46, selected passages-KJV

May God, the one....the only true God...speak to you today through His Holy and inspired Word. He has a message for you....don't miss it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

September 24, 2007

" Now then we are ambassadors [representataives] for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. II Cor. 5:20

Have you ever had a bad experience with a store or company? Boy! I have...many times. It just can ruin your whole day, can't it?

A few months ago, I changed telephone service in response to a great deal on DSL. I encountered a problem with setting up all the equipment and called customer service. The woman on the other end did not have a clue about what I was talking to her about. She was very young and when I mentioned something about a wall phone, you could tell, it did not compute! I guess she had never seen or heard of a wall phone! I very politely told her it was not her fault that she was not familiar with a wall phone but I needed to speak with someone who was. She told me she could not transfer me to anyone else from her phone, that I would have to call back and go through all those menus again and go to a different department. I was not happy, but I did it. For the next hour I got bounced around, left on HOLD and no one had a clue about how to resolve the problem. And all of this from my cell phone with the minutes clicking away and the dollars adding up!

After getting absolutely nowhere, I got online, found the headquarters for the company and proceeded to email the CEO, the VP and the head of marketing. I figured one of them was bound to be able help.

The next morning the assistant to the CEO was calling me before 8:30 am telling me that she was SO sorry, that it was obvious that they had some training to do in customer service, but that she assured me my problem would be resolved. She had already contacted our local area company and someone would be calling me shortly to make arrangements to come to my house and fix the problem! That person did call and another call came from tech support from a young man who walked me through the entire process online to get my system set up. It took over 2 hours, but he could not have been any nicer.

Now, the first experience with all the ones who did not have a clue, left me feeling very disgusted with this company. But after the efforts were made by the CEO's office and the help of the tech support guy, I felt differently.

The first group of customer service representatives were there to "represent" their company to its customers. They were to help them resolve their problem. They were terrible at their job and what was worst, they didn't care. They didn't care they did a terrible job and they didn't care that I was not being helped. They didn't care what I thought about the company that was paying their salary, not understanding, I guess, that if the company does not do well with its customers, they would be out of a job!

Whenever you do business with the public in any capacity, you are representing your company to them. The company is judged by YOU and how YOU do your job. You do not have to be a sales rep or a customer service rep. by name. No matter what your position, you are representing your company. What you do....positively or negatively.....reflects upon the company who is paying your salary.

I worked a temp job last week in which I was the receptionist. When the elevator door opens, I am the first face anyone stepping off that elevator sees. I am the first impression they get of that company. I can influence the perception of that company either negatively or positively just by how I receive those getting off that elevator. In fact, I was told last week that the only thing they needed me to do was to "be THE FACE"! Now that was a scary thought that they would want MY face to be THE FACE!! But, I got the point! Do you?

We are THE FACE of Jesus to everyone we meet....we are a JESUS REP! At your job every day, you may be a lawyer, a sales clerk, a pilot, a nurse, a construction worker, a janitor, a teacher, a CEO....but you are first and foremost a JESUS REP, if you are a believer! How you treat people, how you respond to difficult situations, how you talk, the language you use, how you love the unlovely, how you handle the difficult people, how respectful you are.....all of those things reflect upon the ONE you represent! People will either be drawn to Him or turned off to Him by how YOU, his representative, treat them.

So today, when you head out to work or the grocery store or to a PTA meeting, remember that just beneath your name tag that reads CARL CHRISTIAN - JOHNSON & JOHNSON REP, is an invisible tag that reads "CARL CHRISTIAN-JESUS REP". Represent Him well!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

September 23, 2007

Sheep are one of the dumbest animals God ever created, so it is rather ironic, I think, that God chose to use them to teach us lessons about ourselves! Philip Keller wrote a wonderful book entitled "A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm" which sheds abundant light on sheep and shepherds, and really illuminates scripture in doing so.

But today I'd like to share just one brief scenario about sheep and shepherds from Streams in the Desert:

The oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was down in front. Any
attack upon them had to take him into account Now God is in front. He is in the
tomorrows. It is tomorrow that fills men with dread. God is there already. All
the tomorrows of our life have to pass Him before they can get to us.

God is in every tomorrow
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for each sorrow
Sunshine and joy after the rain.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

September 22, 2007

As I came to my quiet time this morning, I bowed my head and said
"Lord, fill me up" and this picture came to mind.

When I was a child, there was a place where we would go
To get our cars filled with was known as a "filling station".
I thought to myself how our quiet time should be just such a place.

In those days, we would pull up to the pump and an attendant
Would greet us with a smile and a cheery "Howdy...fill'er up?"
If we answered "yes", he'd fill up our tank with gas...
But that was not all.
He'd also check under the hood, wash the windshield and
check the tires. (Oh....for the 'good ole days'!!)

It came to me as I contemplated this scene from the past
How that is just what we need from the Lord.
When I come to my quiet time,
I need to say "Lord, fill'er up!"
And I need to wait for Him to fill me with
His Holy Spirit, His mighty power and His
unconditional love that will provide the fuel
I need to make it through the day's journey.

While there, I also need Him to check under the hood.
I need Him to see if there are any attitudes that need changing
or any place I'm "empty" or out of whack so He can
fill those needs and make the necessary adjustments.

I need Him to clean the windshield of my heart,
To wipe away the grime of sin that seems to collect
Along life's highway.

If I will also take time to look at His map,
He will show the roads He desires me to take for
that day's journey.
He can steer me clear of potholes and detours
So that I will not waste my time.
You see He's been down this road before..
I have He knows which way is best.

He has also put up signs along the way to
show me when to STOP, to YIELD and to use
CAUTION. And it is up to me to obey those signs.

Unlike the filling station attendant who sends you off on your way,
Jesus will come along on the ride. In fact, if I will let Him,
He will take the wheel and guide me all the way.
I must learn to turn down the blare of the world's "radio"
And tune in to His still small voice.

As I travel along, I must stay alert, for He may need
me to stop to help a weary traveler who has lost his/her way.
They may need a helping hand or someone to point the way Home.

Sometimes I come to rough patches that are difficult to navigate.
Sometimes I run into storms that seem they will blow me off the road.
Yet I can rest assured that I will make it through
Cause Jesus is at the wheel and I am not alone.

So remember, before you start YOUR day,
Stop in the "filling station",
Ask God to "fill'er up", check under your hood,
Clean your windshield and then
Come along for the day's journey.
It will be a ride you will never forget!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

September 21, 2007

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in me and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit.....If you abide in me and MY WORD abides in you....herein is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit." John 15: 3, 7, 8


There is never enough of least for me. If I had $1 for every time in my life that I have said "I wish I had more time" or "There is just never enough time", I could take my entire family to Texas de Brazil several times over!!

Yet the amazing thing is, I have the same amount of time as every one else...24 hours a day. I have no less time than Bill Gates. I have no less time than President Bush. I have no less time than Martha Stewart for Pete's sake!! But I never get all of my TO DO list done...never! It seems I mark 6 things off and add 12 more. It's maddening to me.

But, you know what? I pretty much do what I want to do. I MAKE time for what is important.

We all do. I find a way to do the things I REALLY want or need to do. And we REALLY, REALLY make time for the things we REALLY, REALLY love. For instance....if you have a favorite TV show, you will work your entire evening around getting to the TV set by 8:00 (or whenever it comes on). You will finish dinner, get the kids in bed, quit working in the yard, or leave a friend's house in time to get home so you will not miss it. will TiVo it or record it so you don't miss an episode. But the point is YOU MAKE TIME.

If you are an avid deer hunter, you make time not only to hunt, you make time to keep up with the latest techniques and latest products on the market to bag the monster buck. You watch hours of hunting videos, you subscribe to all the best hunting magazines, you frequent the hunting stores for all the latest and greatest products to make you a better hunter. You get online and chat with other hunters to learn what they are doing. YOU MAKE TIME for what you love! (I'm not picking on hunters...I just have them in my family so I KNOW how they are:) )

So, where am I going with this?

I was reading in Ezekiel this morning (on my S-L-O-W trek through the Bible) and I was struck by one phrase that the Lord kept repeating over and over to Ezekiel. God had come to Ezekiel in a vision with a message to take to his people who were in exile for their rebellion against Him. (Remember Lamentations?) The phrase he kept repeating was "rebellious house". In Ezekiel 2: 4,5 God says "The children are obstinate and hard-headed...for they are a rebellious house." Again and again, He uses the same phrase "rebellious house". And all I can think of is how much He is talking about us!

The more I read His word, the more I see that we are far from where He wants us to be...not just as a country...but as HIS people! His Word is our plumbline. It shows us where we are off base. It shows us how we are SUPPOSED to live, how we are SUPPOSED to love, how we are SUPPOSED to forgive.

I am reminded of a story in II Chronicles 34 about King Josiah who took the throne when he was only eight years old! Yet, "he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord" (vs 2).

He tore down the idols and places of idol worship and he burnt the bones of the priests who had led the people astray. He sent men to repair the temple and while they were doing so, Hilkiah, the priest, found a book....the law of the Lord given by Moses! And Shapan (the scribe) took it to King Josiah. "Hilkiah, the priest, has given me a book" he told the king and he read it to him. "And it came to pass, when the kind heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes" and said "for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord to do after all that is written in this book".

Dear friends...we need to be IN THE BOOK. Not just dust it off on Sunday mornings so we can follow along with the preacher as he reads or so that we will look "spiritual". We need to open its pages and allow its words to penetrate our hearts like it did King Josiah's. We need to SATURATE ourselves with God's word. Think about that phrase a minute. SATURATE YOURSELF WITH GOD'S WORD. If you are saturated, there is no room for anything else. If our minds and our hearts are saturated with God's word, there won't be any room for what the world says is how we should act. We won't be influenced by how Hollywood thinks. Our language won't be that of an R-rated movie. Our lives will be overflowing with the love of God. We will love like I Corinthians 13. We will forgive "70 x7" as Jesus commanded. We will carry our brother's burdens. We will lift up the fallen and we will share the GOOD NEWS!

What are you filling your mind with today? What are you saturated with? Maybe we need to empty out our "cup", wash it out, and ask God to fill it up. Then we need to turn off the TV, shut down our computers, lay down our magazines and open up the Word and allow Him to fill us.

Fill my cup Lord

I lift it up Lord

Come and quench this thirsting

of my soul.

Bread of Heaven

Feed me til I want no more...

Fill my cup, fill it up

And make me whole.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19, 2007

In approximately 605 BC, God pronounced judgment on Jerusalem and Judah by allowing Jerusalem to be destroyed and Israel to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians. The prophet, Jeremiah, had been warning the people for some 23 years to repent and turn from their sin. They refused. They ignored his warnings. God sent other prophets who also warned the people to turn from their evil ways and turn back to him. Again, they refused. By the time Babylon was finished the whole region would become a wasteland.
Lamentations is a chilling book to read. Listen to just a portion of it:
Judah has gone into exile
following affliction and harsh slavery;
she lives among the nations
but finds no place to rest.
The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the appointed festivals.
All her gates are deserted;
her priests groan,
her young women grieve
and she herself is bitter.
Her adversaries have become
her masters;
her enemies are at ease
for the Lord has made her suffer
because of her many transgressions.
Her children have gone away
as captives before the adversary.
All her splendor has vanished
from Daughter Zion
Her leaders are like stags
that find no pasture.
During the days of her affliction
and homelessness
Jerusalem remembers all her
precious belongings
that were hers in days of old.
When her people fell
into the adversary's hands
she had no one to help.
The adversaries looked at her,
laughing at her downfall.
Jerusalem had sinned grievously;
therefore, she has become an object of scorn
All who honored her now despise her.

The Lord has rejected all the
mighty men within me [Jerusalem]
He has summoned an army against me
to crush my young warriors,
The Lord has trampled
Virgin Daughter Judah
like grapes in a winepress.
How the Lord has overshadowed
Daughter Zion with His anger!
He has thrown down Israel's glory
from heaven to earth.
He has abandoned his footstool
in the day of His anger.
Those slain by the sword are
better off than those slain by hunger
who waste away, pierced [with pain]
because the fields lack produce.
The hands of compassionate women
have cooked their own children;
they became their food
during the destruction of my dear people.
The kings of the earth
and all the world's inhabitants
did not believe
that an enemy or adversary
could enter Jerusalem's gates.
[Yet it happened] because of the sins
of her prophets
and the guilt of her priests,
who shed the blood of the
righteous within her.
Jerusalem and Judah, God's chosen people-Israel, had repeatedly rebelled against His laws and refused to obey Him. They had taken up pagan practices. They had defiled the Temple. They had become wicked and immoral, refusing to follow Him. They had become idol worshippers. God warned and He warned and He warned. He pled with them to repent, to turn away from these evil practices, to follow Him and to obey. They refused. So judgment came to Jerusalem and Judah. 70 years of captivity! Jerusalem destroyed.
So.............what will happen to America? Reading these passages in Lamentations, one cannot help but wonder "How long, Lord? How long before you will judge America for her sinfulness?"
Sodom and Gomorrah were "exceedingly wicked". God wiped them off the face of the earth.
Other nations as well have suffered destruction down through history. I once heard it said that Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham, commented that if God did not judge America, He would have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!
I have lived long enough to see a HUGE moral decline in our culture. One only has to look at one sit-com on television and compare it to an "oldie but goodie" like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER or I LOVE LUCY to see the difference in a nutshell! Some may laugh and call those old shows "old fashioned". But many also call God's Word out of date and out of sync with today's society. Yet God says His Word never changes. It is the same yesterday, today and forever more. His laws have not changed.
Will America fall like Jerusalem? Will she be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 18, 2007

"To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven." Eccl. 3:1

We have a farm about 45 minutes from our home where the deer hunters in our family hunt. Now I am not a hunter, but I love going there just the same. It is so quiet and peaceful, so removed from all the hustle and bustle and stressful demands of everyday life.

I am a "beach" person by nature....I LOVE THE OCEAN!!! I do not have to get IN it to enjoy it as long as I can SEE it, SMELL it and most of all, HEAR it! So when we first bought the farm in 1999, my husband didn't anticipate my really going up there much. "It's not the beach" he kept apologizing. No, it's not, BUT....I love it all the same. It has its own beauty and appeal and it has grown more special as time has gone by.

Our land is covered mostly by woods, but interspersed with plots of open land. When we first began spending time there, I would walk along the roads just taking it all in. My husband and son had hunted this land for years before we bought it and I had been up there with them occasionally, just to "drive through". So although it was their "old stomping ground", it was new to me. So I enjoyed exploring and just being in the quiet of outdoors. One of the roads I often took would go into the woods. I would walk up to the edge of the woods, and sometimes even venture a little ways into it. But then it would seem so eery and I was not sure where that road would lead, so I would find myself turning around and heading back.

Since then we have had timber cut and the skidders made trails through the woods. The guys now ride their ATVs through the woods along those trails and those have made perfect walking trails! There are varied trails that branch off different directions deep into the woods. Oh how I now LOVE walking through the woods!!

Each season presents a new panorama of beauty. Last fall was one of the most beautiful autumns we had ever had. The leaves were spectacular! God, the Master Designer, had outdone Himself with the splendor He had painted in those woods! I could not get enough of its beauty....the kaleidoscope of colors was amazing! In the spring, the dogwoods were just breathtaking they were SO beautiful! As I walked and marvelled at God's handiwork, I literally began to sing and praise Him, lifting my hands in adoration and praise to Him. Then I suddenly thought about the deer cameras that are set up throughout the woods to capture photos of the deer! Not wanting to be the subject of "candid camera", I decided I better keep moving..HA!

We were there recently in late August. Having suffered record breaking temperatures in the triple digits and a drought, the likes of which we have not experienced in 40 years, the woods presented a new landscape. Weeds had overgrown the paths. (Isn't it amazing that heat and drought will kill your flowers in a heartbeat, but the weeds thrive? ) Dead limbs littered the path where they had fallen from the trees. It was difficult to walk and sometimes I was not sure where the path was any more. The dogwood leaves were scorched and brown. The earth was dry and literally cracked open. Our small watering hole was not much more than a mud hole.

In winter, the leaves are mostly gone. Only the evergreens of cedars and pines remain with any color. The woods are much more open. You can see farther and see more of the blue skies above. The wind whistles through the trees with an eeriness and you can hear the sound of every animal that moves, as they crunch along the dry leaves scattered on the ground. Ice and winds of winter will leave fallen trees in its path as well as more limbs that will once again fall and litter the pathways.

Each season brings its own beauty, its own problems and its own changes. Life is the same way. We go through many different seasons in our life here on earth. We begin in the spring of our lives as children, when everything is new and pure and innocent. As our lives unfold like the buds on the trees in spring, we experience so many exciting, wonderful new things! Life holds so much promise as we look to the future and all its possibilities.

As we mature, life gets a little more complicated. We have decisions to make....what career path will we take...who will we marry...will we have children...where will we live, etc. We stop being children and take on adult responsibilities....mortgages, car payments, providing for our families, being the spiritual leaders of our families, raising children. The heat of stress and worry invades our life and can begin to parch our souls and dry up our faith. What once seemed a walk in the park can become an uphill struggle, littered with broken dreams, broken promises and unmet expectations.

Then we find ourselves in the fall of our life and there is unexpected beauty that refreshes us and gives us renewed hope. The fulfillment of seeing children become responsible, caring adults is a blessing. And grandchildren.....well, grandchildren are the compensation God gives us for all we lose as we age!!! Without them it would be easy to get depressed as our bodies age and things don't work the way they used to nor do we look the way we used to. Everything changes!
But....hope and joy live on in our grandchildren! Through their eyes we get a fresh perspective on everything, for they are still in the spring and all is beautiful.

But around the corner, winter looms and much is stripped away. Grown children find themselves parenting their parents....a place they never anticipated being. Now they must be the caregiver to the one who once nurtured and cared for them. A time to give back for all the years they gave to you and poured themselves into caring for you. Although not a fun place to be for either, it is an honor and a privilege.

Seasons....each one is different. We are all in one season or another. There is beauty to behold in each one as well as obstacles to overcome and lessons to be learned. As Solomon so wisely put it..."there is a time for every purpose under Heaven". May we learn to approach each season on our knees, seeking to learn all that God has for us in that season, holding on to His hand as He walks us through it. We have never been down that path before, but He has and He knows the way. If we hold onto Him, walk with Him and let Him be our Guide, it will be an exciting matter where the road may lead.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

September 16, 2007

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." I Peter 5:8

SIN. It is subtle. Our enemy uses it to trip us up every single day. We must be alert to his devices lest we fall prey to it. His goal is to "steal, to kill and to destroy." He will use every method possible to accomplish his goal.

Sin often follows a pattern of degrees. It is kind of like cooking a frog. You put a live frog into a pot of boiling water and slowly increase the temperature. He doesn't realize he's cooked until it's too late.

Psalm 1:1 describes this progression beautifully:

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scornful."

Whenever I read this verse I think of Bourbon Street, in New Orleans. I've only been there once, but it left a lasting impression on me. We had only been married a year or so when we visited our good friends from college who were living in New Orleans at the time. We went to see it during the day first. Then we noticed the beautiful French architecture and tasted wonderful baklava at a nearby bakery. But, that night we went back to see the REAL Bourbon Street we had always heard about. It was like walking into a totally different world. This small town girl had never seen anything like it...and that was in the 70's!

The music was loud. Doors to the bars and other "establishments" were open and there were people at the door who would entice you to come in. Some would just walk on by, others would stop and peek inside, and others would accept the invitation and enter in.

And that is just the scene Psalm 1:1 describes...the progression of sin. First you are just walking along, minding your own business. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a sin is there, waving to you, calling out to you, enticing you with all of its allures. Subtly at first. As an old country song says "I never knew the Devil would have blue eyes and blue jeans". If you are unaware, you will stop and contemplate what is before you. Maybe you will just "sample" what is presented or take a peek, like the folks stopping on Bourbon Street out of curiosity. But, often if you linger, soon, you will find yourself right smack dab in the middle of it, pulled up at the table and making yourself comfortable in something you should have never indulged in. It can happen to any of us, even godly Christians. It did to Lot.

Lot was Abraham's nephew. When God called Abram (as he was first known) out of Ur, he took Lot with him. They were both very wealthy and had many flocks and herds. At one point, Abram told Lot that they needed to part to keep peace in the family. Their herdsmen had a great conflict between them, and lest it cause a rift in the family, Abram decided it was better if he went one way and Lot went another. Abram gave Lot first choice of where he wanted to go. "Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan....and journeyed east." (Gen. 13:12)

But the very next sentence sets the scene of Psalm 1:1:

"and [Lot] pitched his tent toward Sodom" (Genesis 13: 12) So what's the big deal you wonder? Read on to verse 13, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly."

Do you get the picture? Lot CHOSE to pitch his tent just outside of Bourbon Street...uh....Sodom. Now read on....a few years later, there is a war with neighboring tribes and in the midst of this, Sodom and Gomorrah were attacked. "And they [the attackers] took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom.." Genesis 14:12. Did you notice Lot's change of address? First he was just on the he has moved in. But that is not the end of the story. Some years later, God appears to Abram and tells him he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great wickedness. Abram pleads for them, asking the Lord to spare them if there are even 10 righteous people there....but there weren't even 10. So we pick up the story in Genesis 19:1 "And there came two angels to Sodom at evening; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom..." Those who "sat in the gate" of a city were its leaders.

Lot went from parking just outside the gate, to dwelling in the city to becoming a leader of one of the most wicked cities ever mentioned in the wicked that God totally destroyed it off the face of the earth! That is the progression of sin. Walking by...stopping to look [standing] and then sitting down in the midst of it.

God knows this. He understands we are but flesh and that we are weak. So he provides a way of escape. I Corinthians 10:13 tell us "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able [to withstand], but, with the temptation, will also make a way to escape that you may be able to bear it." God always provide an the sin Satan puts before us. It is our choice to yield to Satan or to yield to God. Each day we are faced with temptations throughout our day...some big and some small, but temptations nonetheless. We must be as alert as the lion, so that we will not be overcome.

Staying in the Word is how we do that. It shows us where we should walk, how we should talk, how to handle the situations that arise in our life. It strengthens us, gives us courage to endure, makes us wise and teaches us about our adversary. No soldier goes into battle without knowing his opponent and being knowledgeable of his weapons and tactics. The Word of God is your battle manual. It's a jungle out there! Read it, be equipped and don't fall prey to the lion!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

September 15, 2007

So....What's YOUR Excuse???!!


My name is Nick Vujicic and I give God the Glory for how He has used my testimony to touch thousands of hearts around the world! I was born without limbs and doctors have no medical explanation for this birth "defect". As you can imagine, I was faced with many challenges and obstacles.
"Consider it pure joy, my Brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."

....To count our hurt, pain and struggle as nothing but pure joy? As my parents were Christians, and my Dad even a Pastor of our church, they knew that verse very well. However, on the morning of the 4th of December 1982 in Melbourne (Australia), the last two words on the minds of my parents was "Praise God!". Their firstborn son had been born without limbs! There were no warnings or time to prepare themselves for it. The doctors we shocked and had no answers at all! There is still no medical reason why this had happened and Nick now has a Brother and Sister who were born just like any other baby.

The whole church mourned over my birth and my parents were absolutely devastated. Everyone asked, "If God is a God of Love, then why would God let something this bad happen to not just anyone, but dedicated Christians?" My Dad thought I wouldn't survive for very long, but tests proved that I was a healthy baby boy just with a few limbs missing.

"And we know that in all things God works for the best for those who love Him." That verse spoke to my heart and convicted me to the point where that I know that there is no such thing as luck, chance or coincidence that these "bad" things happen in our life.
I had complete peace knowing that God won't let anything happen to us in our life unless He has a good purpose for it all. I completely gave my life to Christ at the age of fifteen after reading John 9. Jesus said that the reason the man was born blind was "so that the works of God may be revealed through Him." I truly believed that God would heal me so I could be a great testimony of His Awesome Power. Later on I was given the wisdom to understand that if we pray for something, if it's God's will, it'll happen in His time. If it's not God's will for it to happen, then I know that He has something better.

I now see that Glory revealed as He is using me just the way I am and in ways others can't be used. I am now twenty-three years old and have completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Financial Planning and Accounting. I am also a motivational speaker and love to go out and share my story and testimony wherever opportunities become available. I have developed talks to relate to and encourage students through topics that challenge today's teenagers. I am also a speaker in the corporate sector.

I have a passion for reaching out to youth and keep myself available for whatever God wants me to do, and wherever He leads, I follow. I have many dreams and goals that I have set to achieve in my life. I want to become the best witness I can be of God's Love and Hope, to become an international inspirational speaker and be used as a vessel in both Christian and non-Christian venues. I want to become financially independent by the age of 25, through real estate investments, to modify a car for me to drive and to be interviewed and share my story on the "Oprah Winfrey Show "! Writing several best-selling books has been one of my dreams and I hope to finish writing my first by the end of the year. It will be called "No Arms, No Legs, No Worries!"

I believe that if you have the desire and passion to do something, and if it's God's will, you will achieve it in good time. As humans, we continually put limits on ourselves for no reason at all! What's worse is putting limits on God who can do all things. We put God in a "box". The awesome thing about the Power of God is that if we want to do something for God, instead of focusing on our capability, concentrate on our availability for we know that it is God through us and we can't do anything without Him. Once we make ourselves available for God's work, guess whose capabilities we rely on? God's!

May the Lord Bless you
In Christ,
Nick Vujicic
(For more about this amazing young man and how God is using him, check out:

Friday, September 14, 2007

September 14, 2007

Today's devotional was sent to me by God via Proverbs 31 Daily Devotional. Do YOU ever get emails from God? I do. It is quite an amazing thing. When I read this, I was so convicted, as I've been at this computer for almost 2 hours, checking email, sending photos, etc. But I have not yet opened my Bible nor bowed my head. So I really related to this devotional and if I did, then more than likely some of you will as well. I pray that God will speak as loudly to you as He did to me!!!

Hard Habit to Start
By Marybeth Whalen

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:2 (NIV)

At the beginning of this year, I made myself a promise—to read the Bible every single day. In order to be faithful to this commitment, I had to make this a priority above all the other things I used to enjoy doing in the morning. This meant that I would not check emails or read blogs, or start my daily household chores, or sleep a few precious extra minutes. I had to make this the first thing I did every day—and I had to keep doing it to make it a habit.

The first few days were hard. I didn’t want to get up earlier. I didn’t want to be held accountable if I didn’t “feel” like doing it. I found myself looking back at the days when I could just get up and jump online without feeling guilty. I found myself thinking, “Why did I get myself into this?”

And then I remembered a horrifying moment when I realized that, in all the busyness of life, I had let go of my connection to my Savior. I had stopped abiding in Him. I had broken off my daily fellowship in His Word. All of the demands on me had caused me to tell God I would just have to get to Him “later.” I had allowed my lifestyle to dictate my spirituality. I decided to become more intentional about reconnecting with my Savior and His Father. This was not a moment about guilt and obligation—far from it—this was a brokenhearted time of grieving over what I was missing.

From that moment on, I began to do the things I knew from experience would help me stay connected. I purchased a Bible written in a translation I could read with ease and that was divided into easily readable increments. I read Christian books that inspired me. I turned on praise music in my house and cranked up the volume. I spent time praying every day—shutting out all the noise and demands in my life so that I could focus on God. I learned anew what it means to listen for God’s voice, and then to take that important second step by actively responding to His voice.

This was a process I submitted myself to willingly, through no provocation save the urging of the Holy Spirit. I offered all I had—including my limitations—up to God, knowing that He sees my heart as the very basis of it all. Some days I have been more committed to it than others as I have established this habit in my life. And I know that He loves me, even on the days I fall short. Especially on the days I fall short.

This morning I woke up on my own just as dawn’s light was streaking the sky. I sat up and reached for my Bible, anticipating what God would say to me, savoring the precious moments I have with Him before life unfolds. What was once so difficult for me to make happen is now a joy and a delight in my life. I no longer have to force myself to spend time with God—it has become a habit that is as much a part of my day as breathing. I hunger and thirst for His Word. I need it like I need air. I am so grateful He waited for me to figure that out, and was right there waiting patiently when I came running back to Him.

Author’s Note: I wrote this to hopefully encourage another woman out there who feels too busy and overwhelmed to have a quiet time. Quite simply, I know that if I can make this happen, anyone can! Persevere and keep on making it a priority and it will become a habit. I have been amazed at how much I now enjoy getting up a bit earlier to spend time with God—something I used to say was physically impossible!

Dear Lord, help me to seek you earnestly. Help me to live like You are a priority in my life. I love you Lord and I want to spend time in Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 13, 2007

It is said that friends come into our lives for a "reason, a season, or a lifetime". In a Bible study I am currently involved in, Dee Brestin, author of the Friendships of Women, says that our friends are either "annuals" or "perennials".

I don't particularly like change. When I make a friend, I want to keep her for a lifetime. Yet that is not really how it works most of the time. I have been blessed in my life to have quite a bouquet of friends. Most of us have lived in this same town for all or most of our lives. I have a couple of friends that I met and became friends with in elementary school and though our relationship has changed over the years, we remain friends. We have quite a history together and that history is what unites us now more than current happenings in our lives. Yet I know that if I needed either of these women, they would be there for me.

There are other women in my life that God has brought into my life at other times. We, too, have been friends for 30+ years. We went to church together when we were young married couples. Our children grew up together. Our husbands played softball together. We were all young and broke together. Yet we have remained friends through the years. We all still get together once a month to go out to dinner. We have been there for graduations, weddings, births and deaths. We have walked through valleys with each other, prayed for each other and loved each other through joys and sorrows. These are my "forever" perennials.... because I know that they will be there forever!

I have a college friend who I dearly loved when we were in college together. We hit it off from the beginning and have remained friends through the years. We kept in touch a lot when we first got married, then as the children came along, it was usually only by the occasional Christmas card. But.... praise the Lord for email.... we re-connected on a more regular basis several years ago and it has been such a blessing to have re-kindled that relationship. We saw each other two years ago after 20 years when my husband and I got to visit her and her husband while on vacation! It was a sweet reunion. She and I have a lot in common and have also shared joys and prayed each other through some difficult times. I thank God that distance cannot separate friendship.

Another friendship was resurrected through email a few years ago. Oh what a dear and precious friend this one is! She is my cheerleader (and everyone needs a cheerleader!!). She is always there, always ready to listen and pray. We have met a mutual need in each other's lives, being there for each other more times than I can count. Although we do not get to see each other but twice a year, those times are so very, very precious. But if we never saw each other again, I know that we would still stay in touch. She has a quiet strength that blesses my life and encourages me and lifts me up.

God blessed my "bouquet" 20 + years ago with another "perennial" when he planted me next door to her and her family. Words cannot describe what a blessing she has been to me. Her friendship has been an anchor to me, no matter what storms blew through she has always been there. But as much as I love her for being there in the storms, I think the thing most precious to me about our relationship has been just being there for the everyday "stuff" of life. Someone to share the big and small things with. We were there for each other when our children were planning weddings. We were together for football games and cheerleading competitions. We celebrated over pounds lost, perfect gifts found, rooms re-decorated and children's victories. We laughed over sewing fiascos, private jokes and blonde moments. We helped clean each other's yards of debris when the literal storms blew through our neighborhood. We wept over children's hurts, ailing parents, and our children leaving the nest. We truly know the meaning of "a joy shared is a joy doubled; a sorrow shared, is sorrow halved." And, although we no longer live next door to each other, we are still close and are still prayer partners.

Others in my bouquet have come for a season and now I rarely cross paths with them any more. Yet they remain in a treasured part of my heart. They blessed my life for all they brought to it at the time, for the lessons learned from them, from fun times shared, from support given. They were bright spots of color in my life and their fragrance still lingers.

Having a friend requires that we BE a friend. It means giving of of our time and our love and our forgiveness. Friends, no matter how wonderful they are, will disappoint us at times, let us down and sometimes even betray us and we will do the same. Not that we want to or plan to or meant to. We are human. We have feet of clay and none of us are exempt from blundering into that painful realm.

We must also realize that our friends, no matter how special or wonderful they are, should never, ever take first priority in our lives. God should be #1. When we allow our friends to be everything to us, we set ourselves up for a terrible fall. God blesses our lives with friends to teach us things, to be "Jesus" to us, to walk through valleys with us and to spice up our lives. But we must always remember that HE is to be our source of joy and peace and strength. He is to be EVERYTHING to us. If we keep Him in the proper place in our lives, we can hold our "bouquet" of friends with an open hand, not clinging too tightly to them, and help keep them pointed to Heaven too! After all, He alone deserves to be our VERY BEST FRIEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007

I encountered an angel yesterday. No...not one with wings and a halo, but an angel nonetheless.
The Bible gives us lots of information about angels:
  • There are divine angels and fallen angels.
  • They are created, heavenly beings.
  • Angels are NOT men or women who were good on earth and therefore, BECOME angels. So no matter many good deeds you do here on earth, you will never become an angel and "get your wings". (Sorry Clarence)
  • Every believer has a guardian angel.
  • God uses angels in many ways.

Now...having said all that, the "angel" I encountered yesterday was NOT one of those. She was a "people angel". Let me explain.

I first learned about "people angels" back in the 1970's when I read an article written by Yvonne Nance. Yvonne worked for a publishing company and was at her wit's end with too much work, too much pressure and not enough time. She was ready to throw in the towel and yet, not being a quitter, she had cried out to God "Lord, Help me!" She had hardly gotten the words out of her mouth when her secretary announced she had a visitor...a good friend who she could not refuse to see...but an unwanted interruption and certainly not what she needed at that moment....or so she thought. Dr. Jim stopped by to ask a small favor and then began to tell her "about his brother-in-law who had been gloriously saved just the week before. My inner being began listening. Then he said "And to think this started when you introduced me to the Lord about three years ago!"

Yvonne did not even know that she had played a part in his salvation. She had just invested several hours helping him on a brochure and "planting a few seeds" and also gave him a small tract. In her words, "the thrill of the Holy Spirit just washed over me"! She told him that she had been ready to turn in her resignation just before he walked through the door. What he said next, just blew her away.

"I know", he said quietly, "I didn't come by to ask a favor. That was just an excuse. Really I was just a few blocks away from here when the Lord spoke to my heart saying "stop by Yvonne's office and tell her to keep up the good keep on keeping on." Then he added, "Your work in this ministry is a blessing. Just keep up the good work." He prayed for her and left. But Yvonne's day and her perspective were totally changed.

"Suddenly, it hit me. God had sent an angel to meet me at the point of my greatest need that day! God cares about my cares. He loves me! Since that experience, I've come to believe that God uses "people-angels" give a word of encouragement, lend a helping hand, or just listen."

That message really impacted me and I've never forgotten it. I have been visited by people angels many times since then. Probably before, too, but just didn't recognize them. I can remember one of the first people angels I knowingly was my mother! I had had a disagreement with my husband the night before and it was still lingering between us the next morning when I went to work. My mother and I worked for the same business, but she always arrived much earlier than I did. Just as I entered that morning, she met me in the hallway carrying the most beautiful bouquet of roses! She handed them to me and smiled and said "I brought these to you". I had been crying out to the Lord all the way to work that morning and although those words were coming out of her mouth, I knew in my heart, it was the Lord's way of saying to me, " I heard's going to be ok". She had no idea that she had been a divine instrument that day, but she was....she was a people angel. Shortly after that, my husband called and asked me to meet him for lunch. All was well.

A few years later, I was a young stay-at-home mom. Money was tight in those days. I had looked forward so much to the time when I would be home and be able to attend the women's Bible studies that all of my friends talked about so much. However, the new study they were doing required you to buy the materials and I knew that we just didn't have the extra money. So I did not sign up. I never even mentioned it to my husband, because I did not want to make him feel bad that we could not afford it. But then there was a knock at the door, and there stood a lady from our church....the leader of the Bible study and a woman who had been one of my dearest teachers when I was a teenager. She had such a quiet demeanor about her. She didn't say a word...just handed me the curriculum. I looked at her questioningly and she said "Someone wanted you to have this." When I asked who, she just smiled and said "Someone who wants to remain anonymous." I don't KNOW for sure who that someone was, but I believe with all my heart, it was her. God knew the desire of my heart and he sent a "people angel" to respond. I was so blessed and so touched.

Sooooooooo, back to yesterday's encounter. My precious 92 year old mother-in-law has been experiencing some episodes of acting out dreams. The first came several months ago when she left home one night, drove around town, thinking she was looking for a church, and then "came to" and didn't realize where she was or how to get back to her house. For the most part, she is lucid and makes perfect sense. She is a go-getter who is still baking and canning and as spunky as ever. She has seen numerous doctors and been tested for Alzheimer's, scoring better than I probably would have. (I was with her and heard the questions, and I was not sure about some of the answers myself ..HA!) But the episodes had seemed to have lessened and we were hoping it was just medicine related. However, yesterday morning, she left home around 6:00 am in the dark and in the rain, thinking she was walking to a cemetary to carry flowers. She was looking for the group of friends who had been with her earlier (in her dream) and could no longer find. She walked almost 2 blocks from home before she realized something was wrong. Not having a fearful bone in her body, she chose the first house that had on a light. Her "people angel" came to the door and found a little 92 year old lady,dripping wet in a house dress with a hair net plastered to her head. Now many would not have opened the door, but this young woman did. She tried her best to get her to come inside, but she would not, afraid she would get her floor wet. So the young woman brought her a heavy bath towel and carefully wrapped it around her while allowing her to use the phone to call her daughter. Then she stood with her on the porch until I arrived to take her home. She was kind and compassionate and God used her to protect someone so dear and precious to us.

Yvonne Nance concluded with these words "I know I don't look like an angel; I don't act like one. But the Lord knows I'm available. I just blunder on to victory. And what a blessing! For I'm learning this: Troubled hearts are all around you, longing for a visit from a "people angel". And when the Lord impresses you to go to someone [or even when one appears on your doorstep!], He is preparing their heart to receive you."

Keep your eyes open. You may encounter a "people angel" today...or God may want YOU to be one yourself! Are you available???

Monday, September 10, 2007

September 10, 2007

"As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for you, O God." Psalm 42:1

I came out of Sunday School yesterday morning and I was so thirsty! I tried to recall if I had ever seen a water fountain in our church and could not remember there being one. I thought to myself "Wonder if there is a coke machine around?" Then about the time that thought crossed my mind, another intersected it. "Oh yeah...I didn't bring my purse in with me. money". It was raining (Thank you Lord!) as we came into church that morning and I was trying to maneuver my way inside carrying a 16 month old, a diaper bag, my Bible and an umbrella!!! There was no room for a purse!! I was thirsty and no money and no water fountain. I walked past the refreshment zone where bottles of icy frappucino were nestled in beds of ice. There were also nice cold bottles of water....but, alas....all for a price. So I just kept walking, my mouth growing drier with ever step I took. Then I spotted it....just up ahead...could it be? Yes! It was...a WATER FOUNTAIN!!!

Now I don't particularly like water fountains. They are usually a pain...the water just barely clears the spout and half the time it is lukewarm. But I had to try. I made my way to the fountain and pressed the button. The clear water streamed up in a nice arc that I could easily reach. As my lips felt the water, I was delighted to find that it was icy cold!! Aaaahhhh...what refreshment!

I am not often thirsty. Hungry, always. Thirsty, rarely. But, when I am, it is as if nothing else occupies my mind except getting that need fulfilled.

The psalmist wrote that his soul longed for God as the deer longs for water. Now being the wife of a deer hunter, I must tell you that in all my years of observing deer, of all the photos we have of deer, I have never seen one "pant" for water as dogs do. But I know that they do require a lot of water. So I guess they do "thirst" and I believe that is what the psalmist was alluding to...that the deer longs for water.

Do we long for God like that? Do we ever get really thirsty for Him? I think we do when our lives become dry and parched. I think that much like I do with water, we just sort of take for granted that He is always there. We go about our lives taking a "sip" of Him every now and then, but never really taking in as much as we need.

We are supposed to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day....64 oz. I confess, I rarely do. Yet I am told that water is essential for our bodies to function properly. It hydrates our skin and our hair. It flushes out our system, ridding it of harmful toxins and fats that we do not need. It keeps things in our body running more smoothly. It fills us up so we are less likely to overeat. Even though I KNOW all of that, I still fail to do it like I should. But, let it be a hot day and I am working in the yard, and my thirst will begin to get my attention. Pretty soon, I am searching for something icy cold to drink. Usually it will be a Coke....not water. But the funny thing is, as good as it tastes going down, it does not really quench my thirst. Nothing, in fact, will quench that thirst like water. And the more I drink, the more I want. Even long after I've come inside and cooled off, had dinner and gotten in the bed, I'm still craving water! Why? A need has been created.... a need that only water can satisfy.

You've heard the old saying "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink"? Well, I had a Bible study leader who used to say "Sure you can...IF you salt his oats!" I think sometimes God "salts our oats"by putting us into situations that causes us to thirst for Him. We try all sorts of things to quench that thirst, but nothing but God Himself will do it. When we begin to thirst for Him, He will give us "living water" that will quench that longing like nothing else can do.

If we would only learn to drink from His fountain daily, we would not find ourselves becoming parched and dry in our lives. Today may our prayer be "Fill my cup, Lord. I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of Heaven, feed me til I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

September 8, 2007

GOD'S LOVING PURSUIT - - -by Max Lucado

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."Psalm 23:6

Dare we envision a God who follows us? Who pursues us? Who chases us? Who tracks us down and wins us over? Who follows us with "goodness and mercy" all the days of our lives? Isn't this the kind of God described in the Bible? A God who follows us?

Moses can tell you about it. He was forty years in the desert when he looked over his shoulder and saw a bush blazing. God had followed him into the wilderness.

Jonah can tell you about it. He was a fugitive on a boat when he looked over his shoulder and saw clouds brewing. God had followed him onto the ocean.

The disciples of Jesus knew the feeling of being followed by God. They were rain soaked and shivering when they looked over their shoulders and saw Jesus walking toward them. God had followed them into the storm.

John the Apostle was banished on Patmos when he looked over his shoulder and saw the skies begin to open. God had followed him into his exile.

Lazarus was three days dead in a sealed tomb when he heard a voice, lifted his head, and looked over his shoulder and saw Jesus standing. God had followed him into death.

Peter had denied his Lord and gone back to fishing when he heard his name and looked over his shoulder and saw Jesus cooking breakfast. God had followed him in spite of his failure.

God is the God who follows. I wonder....have you sensed him following you? We often miss him. Through the kindness of a stranger. The majesty of a sunset. The mystery of romance. Through the question of a child or the commitment of a spouse. Through a word well spoken or a touch well timed, have you sensed his presence? His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives

From Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear.Copyright 2001, Max Lucado

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

September 5, 2007

"Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up." Eccl. 4:9, 10

Six years ago this Friday a very miraculous thing happened. It was a real GOD thing! As I think back to that day, I have often wondered "what if?" What if my daughter had left school that day just a little earlier or a little later? What if he had not forgotten important papers and had to turn around and go back home? What if she had not gotten sleepy at the wheel and stopped way before she normally did? What if he had not persisted in calling her cell phone to the point he got out of one car and into another just so he could change phones and catch her off guard with a strange number? What if she had hung up on him?? What if.....indeed!

On that monumental day that started out as normally as any other day, two lives and two families were forever changed. All in God's PERFECT timing! You see THAT day, He brought together in a set of bizarre circumstances that only He, the author of the perfect love story, could boy and one girl. And now, six years later they are celebrating their FIFTH wedding anniversary!!!! GOD IS SO GOOD!!!

God wrote a love story that would put Hollywood in the dust! But then, why not? HE is the author of love! He wrote the book on love!

One instrument He used in this love story was a book by Eric and Leslie Ludy, entitled "When God Writes Your Love Story". This book challenged our daughter to give God the pen and allow Him to write her love story. She chose to do that and what a love story He wrote!

We had prayed since she was born for the man she would one day marry. I had a lot of different requests that I prayed for this "Mr. Right". I also prayed for our son the same way and the woman who would one day become "Mrs. Right". I believe God has honored those prayers because we have been blessed with both a precious son-in-love and a wonderful daughter-in-love. I do not take these blessings for granted. I treasure these two young people God has brought into our family and I thank Him for each of them!!!

As wonderful as it was to see our daughter fall in love with this handsome young man; as grateful as I am for the prayers God has answered in him, I am not foolish enough to think that a great love story automatically has a happy ending. Marriage statistics are dismal at best. No marriage, no matter how godly, no matter how happy at the outset, is exempt from the fiery darts that Satan hurls at them daily. He seeks to "steal, to kill and to destroy" and he will use every weapon in his arsenal to accomplish that feat!

When the wedding bells have silenced, the honeymoon glow has faded, the make-up comes off and the pounds come on, when the bills begin piling up, the tires go flat on the car, the washer over flows and the baby cries all night, you forget all about the "love story". That's when the COMMITMENT comes in and the real nitty gritty of LIFE must be faced with all the determination of a general at war! Good marriages don't JUST HAPPEN. They are birthed on the bended knees of prayer. Prayers of the couple themselves and the prayers of the ones who love them and want to see them succeed at this wonderful adventure called MARRIAGE!

To our precious daughter and son-in-love....I say to you both HAPPY ANNIVERSARY (early) !! We love you and we are praying for you....always!!!!! God bless your special day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

September 4, 2007

Today's devotional is a favorite of mine from Beth Moore, well known author and Bible Study leader. We serve a very PERSONAL God, who loves us and cares for every detail of our lives.

Beth Moore April 20, 2005 Knoxville Airport -

Waiting to board the plane: I had the Bible on my lap and was very intent upon what I was doing. I'd had a marvelous morning with the Lord. I say that because I want to tell you it is a scary thing to have the Spirit of God really working in you. You could end up doing some things you never would have done otherwise. Life in the Spirit can be dangerous for a thousand reasons not the least of which is your ego...

I tried to keep from staring but he was such a strange sight. Humped over in a wheelchair, he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes that obviously fit when he was at least twenty pounds heavier. His knees protruded from his trousers, and his shoulders looked like the coat hanger was still in his shirt. His hands looked like tangled masses of veins and bones. The strangest part of him was his hair and nails. Stringy grey hair hung well over his shoulders and down part of his back. His fingernails were long. Clean, but strangely out of place on an old man.

I looked down at my Bible as fast as I could, discomfort burning my face. As I tried to imagine what his story might have been, I found myself wondering if I'd just had a Howard Hughes sighting. Then, I remembered reading somewhere that he was dead. So this man in the airport... an impersonator ….maybe?

Was a camera on us somewhere?....

There I sat trying to concentrate on the Word to keep from being concerned about a thin slice of
humanity served on a wheelchair only a few seats from me. All the while my heart was growing more and more overwhelmed with a feeling for him. Let's admit it. Curiosity is a heap more comfortable than true concern, and suddenly I was awash with aching emotion for this bizarre-looking old man.

I had walked with God long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. I've learned that when I begin to feel what God feels, something so contrary to my natural feelings, something dramatic is bound to happen. And it may be embarrassing. I immediately began to resist because I could feel God working on my spirit and I started arguing with God in my mind.

"Oh no, God please no." I looked up at the ceiling as if I could stare straight through it into heaven and said, "Don't make me witness to this man. Not right here and now. Please. I'll do anything. Put me on the same plane, but don't make me get up here and witness to this man in front of this gawking audience. Please, Lord!"...

There I sat in the blue vinyl chair begging His Highness, "Please don't make me witness to this man. Not now. I'll do it on the plane."

Then I heard it..."I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to brush his hair."

The words were so clear, my heart leapt into my throat, and my thoughts spun like a top. Do I witness to the man or brush his hair? No brainer. I looked straight back up at the ceiling and said, "God, as I live and breathe, I want you to know I am ready to witness to this man. I'm on this Lord. I'm you're girl! You've never seen a woman witness to a man faster in your life. What difference does it make if his hair is a mess if he is not redeemed? I am on him. I am going to witness to this man."

Again as clearly as I've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write this statement across the wall of my mind. "That is not what I said, Beth. I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to go brush his hair."

I looked up at God and quipped, "I don't have a hairbrush. It's in my suitcase on the plane, How am I suppose to brush his hair without a hairbrush?"...

God was so insistent that I almost involuntarily began to walk toward him as these thoughts came to me from God's word: "I will thoroughly furnish you unto all good works." (2 Tim 3:17) I stumbled over to the wheelchair thinking I could use one myself. Even as I retell this story my pulse quickens and I feel those same butterflies.

I knelt down in front of the man, and asked as demurely as possible, "Sir, may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?"

He looked back at me and said, "What did you say?"

"May I have the pleasure of brushing your hair? To which he responded in volume ten, "Little lady, if you expect me to hear you, you're going to have to talk louder than that. At this point, I took a deep breath and blurted out, "SIR, MAY I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF BRUSHING YOUR HAIR?"

At which point every eye in the place darted right at me. I was the only thing in the room looking more peculiar than old Mr. Longlocks. Face crimson and forehead breaking out in a sweat, I watched him look up at me with absolute shock on his face, and say, "If you really want to."

Are you kidding? Of course I didn't want to. But God didn't seem interested in my personal preference right about then. He pressed on my heart until I could utter the words, "Yes, sir, I would be pleased. But I have one little problem. I don't have a hairbrush."

"I have one in my bag," he responded. I went around to the back of that wheelchair, and I got on my hands and knees and unzipped the stranger's old carry-on hardly believing what I was doing. I stood up and started brushing the old man's hair. It was perfectly clean, but it was tangled and matted. I don't do many things well, but I must admit I've had notable experience untangling knotted hair mothering two little girls.

Like I'd done with either Amanda or Melissa in such a condition, I began brushing at the very bottom of the strands, remembering to take my time not to pull. A miraculous thing happened to me as I started brushing that old man's hair. Everybody else in the room disappeared. There was no one alive for those moments except that old man and me. I brushed and I brushed and I brushed until every tangle was out of that hair.

I know this sounds so strange but I've never felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with all my heart, I - for that few minutes - felt a portion of the very love of God. That He had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a room and making Himself at home for a short while. The emotions were so strong and so pure that I knew they had to be God's.

His hair was finally as soft and smooth as an infant's. I slipped the brush back in the bag, went around the chair to face him. I got back down on my knees, put my hands on his knees, and said, "Sir, do you know my Jesus?"

He said, "Yes, I do." Well, that figures. He explained, "I've known Him since I married my bride."

"She wouldn't marry me until I got to know the Savior." He said, "You see, the problem is, I haven't seen my bride in months. I've had open-heart surgery, and she's been too ill to come see me. I was sitting here thinking to myself. What a mess I must be for my bride."

Only God knows how often He allows us to be part of a divine moment when we're completely unaware of the significance. This, on the other hand, was one of those rare encounters when I knew God had intervened in details only He could have known. It was a God moment, and I'll never forget it. Our time came to board, and we were not on the same plane. I was deeply ashamed of how I'd acted earlier and would have been so proud to have accompanied him on that aircraft.

I still had a few minutes, and as I gathered my things to board, the airline hostess returned from the corridor, tears streaming down her cheeks. She said, "That old man's sitting on the plane, sobbing. Why did you do that? What made you do that?"

I said, "Do you know Jesus? He can be the bossiest thing!" And we got to share. I learned something about God that day. He knows if you're exhausted because you're hungry, you're serving in the wrong place or it is time to move on but you feel too responsible to budge. He knows if you're hurting or feeling rejected. He knows if you're sick or drowning under a wave of temptation. Or He knows if you just need your hair brushed. He sees you as an individual. Tell Him your need!

I got on my own flight, sobs choking my throat, wondering how many opportunities just like that one had I missed along the way... all because I didn't want people to think I was strange. God didn't send me to that old man. He sent that old man to me.

John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."