Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Can't We Just Put It All In?

My four year old granddaughter, Madi, is staying with us for a few days. She was excited to go to church today. She remembered her class and some of her little friends from last visit and could hardly wait to go to children's church. Several of the adults always have goodies, gum or hair barrettes for her and she says she likes to hear Grandpa preach. So, this morning, she was very excited.
She always sits between Ned and I and like most grandparents, we give her money for the offering. As per our routine, I reached down to get my purse and opening it up, I gave her a dollar. She asked for more, so I gave her another. Then she said, "Grandma, can't we just put it all in?" What do you say to a child who is willing to give it all? She didn't ask if she could have some to take home or some to buy candy or some for her own little purse. She asked to put it all in. I was humbled as I took the rest of the bills out of my wallet and watched as she proudly put it all in the passing collection plate.
This giving attitude is not unusual for Madi. She is always trying to give me something. She will hand me a toy and say, "here Grandma, I want you to have this". Or she makes me a picture and wants me to share it with everyone. She does the same thing with her aunt Jenny, her other grandparents, and her friends. She has such a giving spirit. Madi is not worried about running out of money or not having enough toys. She knows she will be taken care of. She does not concern herself with the worthiness of the recipients. She just wants to give. Giving makes her happy.
Oh, that we all had a "Madi-heart". Can you imagine if we just wanted to give. How great would it be if one of our greatest joys was giving, if we were not concerned about running out, or not having enough or whether others deserved our gifts? Wouldnt that attitude make us more like Jesus? Wouldn't that behavior be most pleasing to our Father? Shouldn't we all want a "Madi-heart"? As we begin a new year, perhaps we should all make concerted efforts to be more giving, with our time, with our money, with our possessions and with our love. I know the year will be better if we just put it all in.


II Corinthians 8:7 "But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work (giving) also."
II Corinthians 9:7b "God loves a cheerful giver."

Saturday, December 30, 2006

For the Cause?

Today, like many others in the world, I have heard the news of the execution of Saddam Hussein. Many applauded and rejoiced over his death, saying he only got what he deserved. Others lamented his death, saying he was a martyr who died for his cause. Much of the violence currently happening in Iraq is for this same cause. Throughout the years, millions of people of every race, color and nation have been willing to fight for and die for a cause.
That caused me to wonder, "What is our cause?" Is there anything, we as Christians, are willing to fight to the death for? Do we even have a "cause?" The dictionary uses words like conviction, creed, motive, reason, force, ideal, movement, plan, principles and purpose to define the word. And the thesaurus uses backbone and belief. And so I ask again, do we have a cause? I know we have a belief system. (Although I can't tell you how many times someone calls my husband and asks "What do WE believe about . . . ) I know we have principles and ideals. But is our cause one we are willing to fight for and perhaps even die for? We know from historians that many writers of the New Testament as well as the Apostles frequently had to give their lives for the cause of Christ. I am thankful we live in a time and place that allows us to worship. But if we didn't, would we fight? Would we die? I am not sure we would. The morals and values of our society are getting farther and farther away from the values and standards of our Father. And, while we may not agree with them, (at least I hope we don't), we have done very little to stop the decline. We haven't taken a stand. It seems we are so afraid of being called fanatics that we too often become mere observers of the faith, rather than participants. The thing is, one cannot say they have a cause if they are merely observers. They can call themselves watchers, data-gatherers, studiers of human nature, etc. But they cannot say they belong to a cause unless they participate. So, do we have a cause?
In the late sixties, early seventies, thousands of young people, (my parents called them hippies) marched on Washington for the cause of peace. Decades earlier thousands marched for the cause of equality among races. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers began as a belief driven by loss that became a fullblown cause. I could go on and on, naming causes, all based on a belief and driven by both facts and emotions.
We have a cause. We believe that God loves us, that He sent His Son to die for us, that His Son was resurrected and went to Heaven and that He will return for us, too. We also believe that the whole world is lost without Him. Our cause--the cause of Christ--seek and save the lost, share the good news, bring salvation and healing to a dead and dying world. We have a cause!!! We are not drafted into this cause, we made a decision to put on Christ and in doing so, His cause became our cause.
So what are we willing to do for the cause? We are not called to merely observe. But, we may be called on to be the voice of integrity at work. We may be called on to be examples of mercy and forgiveness in our churches. We may be called on to be patient and kind in our families. We may be called on to vote in our nations elections for god fearing men and women. We may be called on to turn off sinful music and ungodly television programs. And we may be called to stand up and tell everyone about our cause, no matter if it costs money, popularity or friends. And we may be called to die for the cause. It is Christ's cause, it is our cause, it is the only cause worth dying for ---what are we doing for the cause?


Friday, December 29, 2006

"Scooching Over"

When I was a child, my family took a trip from Colorado to Washington. Loading up the family station wagon---the old Rambler, and a favorite uncle, my parents and my brother and sister and I set off on a grand adventure. We stopped to see another aunt and uncle and with them visited Yellowstone National Park. At that time, in the late sixties, visitors could see lots of wildlife. We saw mountain goats, big horn sheep, buffalo, elk, moose and of course bear. The bears were so accustomed to humans, they would come right up to the car window, begging for food. I remember sitting in the front seat between my uncle and my dad. My uncle had rolled down the window just a bit and was feeding bread pieces to a young brown bear. I was excited and a little bit afraid. Shortly, a large, very large bear came up to the window, commanding his share of the bread morsels. As this large bear put his paws on the car and pushed against the window, my excitement fled and in its place, terrror. I was so afraid that bear would come through the window and devour us. I quickly "scooched over" closer to my dad, who smiled and put his arm around me. I knew he would not let anything happen to me. I knew he would protect me and so I scooched even closer to him. I knew I would be safe.
Today, there are no bears pushing at my window, there are no mountain lions or wolves threatening to devour me. Now, my fears are related to the spiritual dangers that seem to be everywhere. Satan pushes on the windows, trying to get in. And I know, if I let him in, I will be lost, devoured by sin. I see him trying to get into the lives of others, too. I see him trying to trick them, to seduce them, to fool them into letting him in, and I am afraid for them. I am afraid for all of us.
And so, I "scooch over" closer to my Father. I spend more time in prayer, more time in His word, more time with His people. My Father wraps His arms around me and reassures me that I am safe. I am confident He will let nothing happen to me. He will protect me. It is an amazing feeling, that feeling of protection, the feeling of safety and security. I am confident that God is on my side. He is my Father and He does not want anything bad to happen to me. As long as I draw near to Him, I am safe, safe from Satan's tricks, safe from my own self-destructive tendencies, safe from those who work for Satan and are trying to harm me. As long as God has His mighty arm around me, I am protected. That protection is there for all of us. All we have to do is "scooch over".

Psalm 34:7
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Hebrews 6:19 "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." The dictionary defines "hope" as confident expectation. Occasionally we find ourselves in seemingling hopeless situations. We wish for a positive outcome but with very little confidence. We desire a happy ending but there is little or no evidence to encourage us. Should our few short years on earth be the sum total of our existence, we would indeed be a very hopeless lot. But, we know there is so much more than this. We know there is home eternal for the faithful. Regardless of what happens during this life, there is more. And so we confidently, with great expectation, turn our faces toward eternity---full of hope.
My life, like yours, is not always easy. Right now, my youngest son, his wife and his children are undergoing Satan's attacks. Satan has unleashed his weapons on their marriage and their faith. He seems very determined to kill their faith in each other, to destroy their faith in God and to steal all hope from them. Our entire family hurts and as we battle the Deceiver, we ask for prayers. We struggle to hold on and pray for God's strength.
A few years ago, there was a major hurricane on the East Coast. This disaster, like others, created many heroes. I remember reading about a young reporter, out in the forceful wind and pelting rain. He stands at the banks of an overflowing river, reporting the danger to watching viewers. The story says he saw a young child being swept away in the torrent. He jumped into save her but the waves and wind and the swiftness of the current kept wrenching her out of his hands. After many attempts, the young man successfully pulls the young child to shore. Exhausted, he pulls her up the bank to a huge, deep rooted tree, standing there, seemingly untouched by the storm. The tree was very large and the trunk offered shelter. The wind had wrapped a long peice of rope around this trunk, perhaps the final remnants of a child's swing or someones futile attempt to secure their belongings. The young man tooki the rope and wrapped it around the child, then wrapped himself around her and then with the last of the rope, anchored himself. That is where they found him when the storm abated. He had died from injuries sustained by flying, wind driven debris. But, the child, the child was fine, hungry, wet and scared, but uninjured. Saved because she'd been anchored by a savior.
As my kids face this torrential downpour, as their life is being pummelled by Satan's debris, as they struggle to hold on to their faith, save their marriage, and provide for their children, my prayer is that they stay anchored---that we all do. If we hold fast to our Saviour, He will provide the anchor that will get us safely through this storm. Surely we will end up battered and bruised, scared and hungry, but we will be safe. He will save us. We have this hope (confident expectation) that He will not leave us or forsake us. After all, even storms obey our Saviour. We have a hope that anchors our souls and I am confident we will survive this storm.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Heavy Heart

"Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me." John 14:1
Jesus is talking with His disciples. He has just explained that He was leaving them and where He was going, they could not follow just yet. Their hearts are heavy--although they don't completely understand the events that are about to take place, they know they do not want to be without Him. He comforts them with a reminder that He is trustworthy. And that trust in Him can ease their troubled spirits.
I am amazed by His words. When I find my own heart heavy, I am always drawn to this passage. It reminds me that my heart does not have to be troubled. He asks me to not let it be. He is just and merciful and would not ask me to do what I cannot do. So, I wonder how do I let go? How do I put aside the worry and fear, the disappointment and hurt, the confusion and desperation? How do I do what seems so impossible? He goes on to remind me that I can trust in my Father and in Jesus. Usually my heart is heavy because trust has been broken. Someone I love has let me down, has betrayed me,or has been betrayed, has hurt me, or someone I love, has filled me with doubt. And my heart is pained. Jesus reminds me He will never let me down. I can trust Him. He says the cure for a troubled heart is simply trust.
And so, I pray. As unbidden tears flood my soul and the burden of my heart makes even breathing painful, as I ache for peace, I pray: Pray for a trusting heart. Pray for the courage and strength to NOT let my heart be troubled. Pray for the peace of knowing God will take care of this. Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the wisdom to feel God working in my life, lifting my burden, healing my wounds, and restoring my spirit. And so, I pray.
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28


Monday, December 25, 2006

God With Us

I love this time of year. While I don't believe Jesus was born on Christmas Day, I love that right now, at this moment, much of the world is thinking about Him and each other. What a nice change of pace from our normal selfish world. From the announcement of the angels to the celebration of the shepherds, God's arrival in the world of mortals brings hope and peace, comfort and joy. The idea that God would love us enough to WANT to be with us is both amazing and incredible. In the birth of the child, came the gift of salvation. The idea that He would bring us hope and peace and comfort and joy, knowing that our own selfishness would be at work, destroying hope, disturbing peace, providing no comfort and robbing ourselves of joy, shows just how much He truly loves us.
This year, my prayer is that each of you embrace the gift of God, celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Every day, allow the Spirit to live within you and enjoy a year of hope, peace, comfort and joy---for God is with us and one day to celebrate this is just not enough.
Merry Christmas, my friends. May this be the year you celebrate Christ.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Orphan

I watched a Christmas movie this week. Normally, I don't watch Lifetime television, but I am a sucker for everything Christmas . The storyline was an orphan, now grown up, set out on a quest to find out about her "real" parents. She searched out clues and followed them to obscure little towns all over the country. She met numerous people, some good and some bad, each time she wondered if they were "her" people. Over the years, she'd developed many scenarios to explain the absence of parents in her life. They could have been spies, killed in the line of duty, or they might have seen some horrible crime and be hiding out in the witness protection program somewhere. Perhaps they'd been in a terrible accident and had amnesia or were in a coma in some hospital. While the orphanage and numerous foster homes had provided for her every physical need, she longed for more. She longed for the relationship of parent and child. She longed for the sense of belonging and love one only has with family. She longed to know where she came from, hoping it would help her find where she was going. She longed to be loved with that agape, self-sacrificing kind of love.
James 1:27 "Pure religion is this, to visit the widows and orphans in their distress. . ." . While this text is talking about those orphaned physically, the same principle applies to spiritual orphans. They are without a Father. They are without a sense of where they came from and where they are going. They are without the knowledge of agape love, without the sense of belonging, without. . . and they are lost. Some of them spend their entire lives trying to discover who they are. They define their identity by finacial success, power or possessions, only to find out, they still have no idea who they really are. Their entire life has been a quest. They can make up any fantasy about finding themselves and discovering their roots, but in the end, they are nothing more than fanatasies. And they continue to search, orphaned and without . . .
The story continued as the young woman in the movie, wandered into a town on Christmas day. The locals in the town, feeling great compassion on this soul, opened their arms to her. They began weaving this grand story about her parents. They spoke about their generous benevolence, how they were charitable to everyone in town. The mailman told of her "father" rescuing him and all the town's Christmas mail from a deep snowy ravine, on Christmas Eve. The librarian spoke of her "mother" singing in the church choir, feeding the poor at the local homeless shelter and even giving of her own Christmas dinner when food ran short. The local sheriff regaled her with stories of her "parents" and their good deeds. To this town, her "parents" could do no wrong. The town concocted a story of their untimely death and the kidnapping of their only child. They described a town mourning for some of their best and brightest. The young woman decided to stay in town and try to live up to her family name. As time went on, she discovered their deceit and although angry at first, she had fallen in love with this small town and they had adopted her and over the years they had become her family, For the first time in her life, she had all she wanted.
We were also once spiritual orphans, but thanks be to God for the blood of His Son. We are now adopted. We are a part of the family. We have a sense of belonging ---we have a Father. We have that agape kind of unconditional sacrificial love. We know where we came from and where we are going. But there are so many others still looking----looking to be adopted----looking to belong---looking for a Father. On this day and every other that follows, we must remember the greatest gift we can offer is the way to the Father. The gift of knowing, of belonging, of finding, of experiencing adoption into the Heavenly Family------sharing that---that too is pure religion.


Saturday, December 23, 2006


You know how you read the same passage or story in the Bible several times and all of the sudden, you see something or have some great insight that is all new? Well, I have been working on some lessons for my Wednesday night ladies class. This week, we studied the woman "caught in the act of adultery" from John 8. We had a great discussion and we touched on the teachers of the law attempting to trap Jesus, why Jesus kept coming to the temple courts, His bending down and writing in the sand, and all the other nuances, subtle or not, in this passage. It is a pretty amazing story and I have read and studied it many times.
This time, I learned something new. Remember this woman has been brought to Jesus by the teachers of the law. They want Jesus to stone her to death, in accordance with the law of Moses. Jesus stoops over to write in the sand, and very calmly says, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." (By the way, the only one present at the time who could do this was Jesus, Himself, the sinless Savior). The text says the men leave, starting with the oldest, until finally Jesus is left alone with the woman, sans accusers. Jesus asks her, "where are they? Is there no one here to condemn you?" She states "no one" to which Jesus replies, "neither do I condemn you ---go and leave your life of sin."
This incredible lesson on the sinfulness of man and the willing compassion of Christ is not lost on me. But, I found myself most interested in the last part of the story. So, I looked up the word, "condemn". I discovered it meant to be judged and sentenced, just as I thought. But there was also a secondary definition: to be unfit, or unsuitable, without usefulness, like a condemned building. Isn't that powerful? Jesus did not see this woman as unfit or unsuitable. He found her to be just the opposite. As He refuses to sentence her, He gives her a mandate--leave your life of sin. She is to be an example, an walking, talking, living testimony to the forgiving nature of Messiah. She is a live picture of the commuted sentence. She knows and He knows, in fact, everyone knows, she is guilty---she was caught in the very act. Yet, Jesus does not sentence her. Instead, He gives her a mission, a purpose, He makes her useful.
Too often in our lives, we are ready to condemn others. We see their sins and deem them unfit and without usefulness. We write them off spiritually. Sometimes we know our own sinfulness. In our guilt ridden souls, we condemn ourselves and feel unfit, unsuitable and without usefulness. And so we do nothing. But Jesus does not see us that way. He knows our sins---they were the nails holding Him to the cross. He knows our faults, but He sees our potential. He sees our hearts and rather than condemn us, He sees us as people of purpose. HE has a mission for us: Leave our sinful lives and tell everyone what He has done for us.
A house that is condemned is inhabitable. While sin and Satan's workings can damage us, Jesus repairs us with His blood and then the Spirit comes and lives within us---no longer condemned but useful, fit and purposed for Heaven's work. How cool is that?

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."


Friday, December 22, 2006

Collectively Unique

"Individuality is the spice of life." That was the opening remark of my high school state speech entry--many, many years ago. The speech highlighted the benefits of being an individual, looking out for oneself, and striving for personal success. At sixteen and seventeen years old, I remember feeling wise beyond my years and thinking my speech chock full of profound thoughts. I was a child of the times and bought into the culture of individuality.
Now I am much older, and while I believe we are each inherently unique, I also believe our lionization of individuality has done great damage to our supposedly faith based society. We are no longer a continent of believers but rather an archipelago of individuals. At one time, Americans were a collectivist society, in that individuals based their decisions on, and constructed their actions for the good of the whole society, or the whole family. In collectivist cultures, children grow up surrounded extended family. They make plans for college or military and they choose their careers by researching which path will most benefit the family. The entire family is involved in the decision and once made, they wholeheartedly offer support and encouragement, even to the point of personal sacrifice. It is not uncommon for collectivist households to contain several generations of family. Each trial and each success is shared by each and every member.
But, things have changed. We have become individualists. Today, young men and women base their career choices on what is best for them personally, what will give them the most success and what will make them the most money. Some of our catchphrases have been "look out for number one--if you don't who will?" "Embrace your individuality" and "Its all about you". And of course there are others. A noted psychologist said, "individuality is but one step away from narcissim." Unfortunately, we have become a nation of "self-made men". A man named Abe Lincoln wisely stated, "The self-made man worships his creator". The self-made man or woman selfishly makes decisions and plans that benefit self--without thought of others. They begin to believe they are self-sufficent, need noone. And as they succeed or fail, they take great pride and puff themselves up because they alone have blessed themselves. Isn't that sad?
God says we are all unique. He made us that way. He says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He says we have unique roles and that we should not compare ourselves to others for each of us is important in the kingdom. But, He never intended for us to be individualists. He has always used the words, "people", "tribe", "kingdom", "church" and "body". There is no such thing as a Christian hermit. We are part of a group. We are collectively His bride. He has blessed us with gifts and talents---to be used for the good of the group. He intends for us to be a collective society. He intends for us to make choices based on the needs of the group, (the church). He intends for us look out for the interests of the group. He intends for us to wholeheartedly offer support and encouragement for the group. He intends for us to be together for many generations and together to abide in Him.
He made us all unique. And He made us to be a part of something greater than our own individual selves. He made us to belong to one another, to belong to a collectivist society. Success for one is success for all. Spiritual health for one means spiritual health for all. Strength for one is strength for all. We are the Church and we are collectively unique.


Romans 12:3-5 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance sith the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, WE WHO ARE MANY FORM ONE BODY AND EACH MEMBER BELONGS TO ALL THE OTHERS"
(emphasis mine)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Even Without

What do you think will be the best part of heaven? Perhaps you can't wait to see the pearly gates, each made out of one giant pearl. Or maybe you want to skip and hop down the streets of gold. Are you anxious to see Abraham and Elijah? Do you have questions for Moses about the ten plagues and the burning bush? Do you want to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear tales of their church planting adventures? Maybe you have some "why" questions you want to ask God. Or perhaps you are looking forward to a struggle, grief free eternity. All of those sound truly wonderful. But even without them, heaven is still heaven----because God is there.
Being in the presence of God, the one who spoke into being all that we are and all that we see, would be incredible! Being able to be near the One who made us, who loved us, who redeemed us, and who worked out all history for us, that would be amazing! To be in close proximity to Messiah who willingly surrendered Himself to die for us, who made the lame walk and the blind see, who brought dead sons back to life so their mothers would not be alone, who made leperous outcasts welcome in society again, who cast out demons, and forgave sins-----to be with Him, that would be awesome!!!
I am excited to live in Heaven!!! I know it will truly be something magnificent and my little brain cannot begin to fathom how incredibly beautiful it is. It will be wonderful to be in the presence of great biblical heroes. But even without all that, heaven is heaven because it is where God is. That's all we need!!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Communication is one of the most underestimated abilities in the human race. There are seminars, books and lectures about effective and ineffective communication. The experts tell us that when communicating, we should not only watch the words we say, but how we say them, how loudly we speak, what inflection we add, how closely we stand, what we do with our hands and our eyes and that we should keep a close rein on our emotions. If we want to be good communicators, we must carefully monitor all these things. I have often wondered how we can remember what we want to say when we have all of this on our minds. While,I believe that these tips can better help us get our point across, I know that few of us can put them into consistent practice. We might do well occasionally but in the heat of the moment, the tone of our voice changes, our hands begin flailing, the rate of our speech speeds up. We find ourselves struggling with our words and we end up hurting those we care about.
I may be naive but I believe that is not our intent. I think we love those around us and our frustration comes out of our deep emotions and our inability to express them. Then we have all the other "stuff" that cloud the issue--like how we feel physically, what other stresses we are feeling, etc. Plus we also have to be concerned with what has been going on with our receptor. How do they feel today, what kind of stress are they under?
There are so many times when I want desperately to explain my feelings to Ned. I don't want him to fix them, I don't want him to give advice, I don't want him to analyze them, I just want to share them with him. Something inside me compels me to express them so that somehow they do not weigh so heavily on my heart. In my feeble attempts to explain my emotional thoughts, (which are uniquely mine and not so easily understood by others), I end up frustrating him or hurting him. The same scenario has played out several times, often with different characters, Nathan and Chad, Larissa and Traci, my mother, my friends and others. And the thought that I am so unable to express myself and in attempting to do so, causes those I love pain, causes me more emotional angst. It seems to be a vicious cycle.
We all know it is unhealthy to hold our emotions inside. Studies have shown it to cause stress, heart problems, emotional problems and a myriad of psychological as well as spiritual struggles. And yet, when we vent them or share them, because of our own inadequacies, because of our inabilities to separate our emotion from the communication, we hurt others and cause more stress. It doesn't make sense.
But there is a solution. God, in His infinite wisdom, has given us much advice on dealing with others. He says, if you bring your gift to the altar and know that your brother has something against you, leave your gift and go make it right, first. (Matthew 5:23) He says, do not consider yourself better than others, don't be motivated by selfishness and conceit, and look out for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3ff) Many other passages tell us how to interact with those around us. It seems to me that when we miscommunicate, when our words come out hurtful and sharp, when our verbal inadequacies harm those around us, God says our communication is not finished. He says keep talking, but first check your attitude, then go make it right. That means saying you're sorry. Those two words seem to be the basis of effective communication.
Because we are loving, feeling beings, we will have strong emotional reactions. Because we are loving, feeling beings, we are relational and those relationships are important to us. While feelings are real, they are not always facts. Relationships are both. It is a fact I love my husband and my children. It is a fact I could not imagine my life without them. The love I have for them is very real. That love means I would never deliberately hurt them. I communicate my feelings with them, and when something is lost in translation, I communicate, "I'm sorry". Thank God for the emotional attachments we have and for giving us the ability to apologize---that makes for effective communication.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Imminent Danger

Like many Americans, I have been watching with interest the attempts to rescue the lost climbers on Mt. Hood. They have been missing for quite a few days now. Yesterday, they brought back the body of one of them and now continue to search for the other two. I have been so amazed at the vast resources put in place to assist in the rescue. I am touched by the brave men and women who are willingly risking their own lives to save these men. There are four rescue organizations on site, including US military. There are four command posts. There are several helicopters, blackhawks and chinooks. There are air crews and ground crews. There are groups of searchers that start at the bottome of the mountain and some that start at the summit. They have climbers on foot and some on snowmobiles and some arriving from the air. This is big news and there are hundreds of news crews waiting and watching both the rescuers and the weather.
There are many family members at the site, hoping beyond hope for some news of their loved ones. And most of the country is praying for a positive outcome. These men are in imminent danger. Should they still be alive, they cannot survive much longer. The weather is worsening and the odds of finding them alive are shrinking. As the sense of danger and despair mount so does the sense of hopelessness. The sheriff in charge says "we will exhaust all efforts and all resources so long is there is hope. "
I believe this mindset is the one Christians should have about those in imminent spiritual danger. We should be cognizant there is a spiritual life and death battle going on. We should be using every resource available to bring the lost home, to bring them to safety. We do not know how long each of them have to live. We should exhaust all efforts to save them. It should be one of the foci of the Church. It should be big news that folks are lost and bigger news when they are found. Imminent danger------always there. Spiritual rescue----ever available. Someone to bring the rescue-----our mission. It is time for us to gear up and go to the mountain, or wherever the lost are. It is time for us to prayerfully WORK at bringing rescue to those who are lost and dying. Without someone to bring salvation, they have no hope and they will die. Danger is imminent and so we will keep searching, so long as there is hope.


(Remember it says, GO, it says PREACH, it says BELIEVE or be condemned---that means they will be sentenced to die over and over and over for all eternity)
Mark 16:16

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Love of a Child

Last Friday, Ned and I said goodby to our dear friend. Occasionally we attend a funeral and feel blessed or inspired by the message or the music. We left this place both inspired and moved, not because of the message nor the music. But because of a lesson learned at the feet of a child.
Our friend, Ted had two grandchildren. The oldest son, a four year old named Zeik came into their lives just a couple of years ago. Ted loved this boy and accepted his role as grandfather with relish. Zeik is a thoughtful, smart and insightful child. He often told his grandpa and grandma how glad he was to finally have a family. He frequently came with them to church and it was evident to all that he and his grandpa shared a mutual admiration. I taught Zeik in my Sunday School class and he hungrily absorbed information, learning anything and everything we put before him. He was such a pleasure to teach. Last Friday, our roles were reversed. Without knowledge or intent, this tiny little "man" touched my heart and taught me a lesson about love.
Zeik is a very cute little boy, with the blonde hair and big eyes and that little bit of impishness that endears him to young and old alike. The elderly love him as do the teens. On Friday, after the service, Zeik walked by me as I chatted with some of the young people. One of them tried to speak with him and normally, this child would have stopped to play, but not that day. With all seriousness and focus, a determined look on his face, he replied, "not now, I have to go say goodbye to my grandpa one more time." And on he walked and with purpose in his little stride, he marched up to the front of the auditorium where just a few minutes earlier, the casket cradling his grandfather had been. Noticing it missing, he asked Ned where his grandpa was. Ned told him they had already taken it to the car. Zeik looked sad for a moment and then said, "Okay then I will just look at his flowers." For quite awhile, this little four year old walked around the many flowers, looking at each one, touching some, as if trying to be closer to his grandpa.
After a few minutes passed, he walked to the front door. Looking out and seeing the hearse had already pulled away, he picked up a funeral program. He looked at it for quite some time, carried it over by the table where numerous pictures of his grandpa were displayed. He asked a man nearby to read the program to him. I watched as this man knelt down on one knee, Zeik put a hand on his shoulder and listened intently as the man read the details of his grandpa's life.
I am crying as I share this story with you. Little Zeik, in his grief, taught me so much. His unswerving devotion to his grandpa, his resolute focus and his ability to shut out all the goings on around him are examples to all of us. I was and still am amazed. At only four years old, we wonder how much of the situation he grasped. Another four year old would be confused, clinging to his parents or grandma, worried at all the weeping. Another four year old might run and play with the other kids, childishly unaware of the somber situation. Another four year old might have acted out trying to refocuse the attention of all the adults. Another four year old might have asked questions and not understanding the answers continued on with the work of a four year old. But not Zeik. This little man didnt seem to care who was there and who wasn't. He didnt seem to notice that anyone else was there. He wanted more than anything to say good by to his grandpa. His love for his grandpa and his behaviors on such a sad and confusing day are a true tribute.
How wonderful it would be if we as adults could be so unswervingly devoted, if we could so resolutely shut out all the chaos around us and truly, truly show our love. How wonderful it would be if there were a little Zeik in each of us.


Matthew 19:13-14
"Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Every Need

I have often heard discussions regarding the difference between "needs" and "wants". And I know there is a difference between the two. Usually the discussion is centered around the physical--we need food, we need water, we need clothing. We may want but don't need gourmet food, bottled water and designer clothing. But, there are other needs, needs not physical in nature, but emotional. We know our God, our loving Father, promises to meet all our needs. I believe that means all of them, not just the physical.
We just returned from the funeral of our dear friend in Nebraska. As I watched the auditorium fill up with those whose lives he'd touched and saw the clearly visible emotion on their faces and felt my own heart hurting, I knew we all needed to grieve. It was not something we "wanted" to do. We would have selfishly rather had our loved one here. Grieving for the loss of his presence in our lives was something we needed. And we needed to be with each other. There is something very healing about being with others as you all share both the love and the loss together. Grief and loneliness can be devastating and overwhelming when experienced as an individual. But there is something comforting, almost sweet about those emotions as a group experience.
I am ever grateful God made us communal people. He made us to be a part of some human experience bigger than ourselves---that is the community. For Christians, that community is the Church. As a part of the Church, of this Body, we never have to experience such intense and overwhelming emotions alone. We have each other. God knew we needed that.

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The dictionary defines "surrender" as --to yield to the power of another, to give oneself up, to abandon, to give up completely. That word is thrown around so flippantly, and the song,
"I Surrender All" is frequently used as an invitation. But I wonder if we truly understand the word and what it means to surrender.
The best example we have is Jesus. Philippians 2 tells us that He surrendered life in Heaven, the power of Heaven, the security of Heaven to come to earth and save us. He abandoned His rightful place, He yielded His rights and gave himself up completely. That is so powerful!! Surrender, both by example and definition is total----Jesus saved nothing back. When we become Christians, we are called to surrender who we are, what we have, all our past and all our future to Christ. I am certain I don't always do so. I am also certain there is no such thing as partial surrender. As I think about that which I have saved back, that which I held on to so tightly and stubbornly refused to give over to Him, I am truly saddened.
Ned is a war freak. He loves to watch documentaries and movies about any and every war. He knows which guns were used in World War I and which in Vietnam, and on and on. He tells me when a nation surrenders to another, the victor is then responsible for the one who surrenders. He says the welfare of the surrendering nation becomes the responsibility of the conqueror. I believe that is exactly what God wants and expects to do for us. When we surrender all to Him, He then takes over. He gives us a sense of mission and purpose. He provides for our needs. He protects us. He does this because we are His and as such, we are allowed to share in His victory. We become so much more than spoils of war. His power is much greater than any we know or imagine and He is willing to take responsibility for us as righteousness has conquered sin. He does not do so for those who have not surrendered.
And yet, we hold back, refusing to surrender fully. We rely on our power to and our wits to care for us. We rob ourselves of God's power and care. Surrender---its an all or nothing. Surrendering all brings with it assurance, security and peace. Who wouldn't want that? I think its time to wave the white flag. Don't you?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Having worked as a hospital social worker for several years, I have frequently been called to the emergency room when trauma patients arrived. Usually they arrived in critical condition, at death's door and/or in need of some life saving procedure. I carried communication regarding the patient's status to family members and offered comfort and compassion to the family. Occasionally, I was in the trauma room watching doctors utilize every piece of equipment available. I saw them send staff running for other, more specialized equipment. I overheard them make frantic phone calls, relying on the expertise of specialists at other hospitals. I watched as they injected medication, administered CPR, and intubated patients. They did all these things to elicit a positive response from the patient. They did these things to save that patient's life. When the patient remained unresponsive in spite of all their efforts, in spite of the cutting edge equipment, advanced medical procedures and the wisdom of experts, the physicians, sadly, with regret and resignation, pronounced the patient dead. With no response evidenced, the doctors had no choice but to let the patient go and refocus their efforts on saving the life of another patient.
We also have a great Physician. He was sent to earth to save our lives. Sin had placed us at death's door. God made us part of His body and as such, gave us access to His Word and therein, all the knowledge needed to save our lives. We have moving sermons, uplifting songs, and heartfelt prayers. We have the combined efforts of our elders, deacons, teachers and preachers, as well as those of our church family. We have the wisdom of the mature Christians and the prayers of those concerned for our salvation. And we have the Holy Spirit, living within us, guiding and comforting us. All are a part of this life saving mission. All are using full efforts to elicit a response from us---the response that says, I don't want to die.
I have often wondered how long God continues to work on unresponsive people before He pronounces us dead and the attention is refocused on saving the life of another dying Christian.
Just a thought!!!!


Monday, December 11, 2006

The Insignificant Ones

Sometimes we feel insignificant. We look at the tasks ahead of us and feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we think about how much it cost our Father to redeem us and we feel undeserving. Sometimes we wonder what in the world was God thinking when He created us and how can we ever fulfill our role in His plan? We all feel this way, sometimes. But, these struggles with human inadequacy are not ours alone. Remember when God called Moses, in Exodus 3? Moses made all kinds of excuses. Moses was not magnificent and powerful. He like the other Hebrew babies was a child of captivity. He was saved only by a basket of reeds and the sharp eye of an Egyptian princess. Although he grew up as her son, he'd already turned his back on wealth and position and had run off in fear to another land. God finds him, not in Pharoah's palace as royalty but in Midian, lamenting his predicament. God took this insignificant man and made from him the rescuer of a nation.
What about Rahab in Joshua 2? This woman, a prostitute the text calls her, insignificant in this mighty city, was used by God. Although unimportant to her society, her ability to recognize God and her willingness to work for Him, made her invaluable. Because of her, the lives of Israel's spies were spared. Because of her, her entire family was spared. Because of her and her Descendant, we are spared eternal damnation. Her seeming insignificance, visible to the world, was lost on the Lord of Lords.
When God chose David, the shepherd boy, to be king over His people, He again demonstrated His love for the insignificant. In I Samuel 16, we see the prophet Samuel, looking over the sons of Jesse to see whom God would choose. The text says that humans thought the oldest, the biggest, the strongest, the most handsome, should be king. Imagine their surprise when God instructed Samuel to anoint the youngest, most insignificant, keeper of the sheep. David, but a teen, was to be used mightily by God, in spite of his insignificance.
Fast forward several hundred years. We see a baby, born out of wedlock, parented by a teenage girl and a lowly carpenter. This babe, would grow up as a laborer, working with wood. He would not be beautiful, charming, popular or charismatic. (Isaiah 53:2-3) Yet, the crowds would follow Him wherever He went. They would talk about His seeming insignificance and wonder how such marvelous things could happen by such a One. Because, through this One, the entire world could know salvation. Through this One, the hungry could eat, the thirsty could drink and the naked could be clothed. Through this One, the weary could find rest, the sinful find forgiveness and the lost find their way. Through this One, the wounded could be healed, the lame could walk, and the dead could live.
No matter how little and insignificant we feel, no matter how afraid and insecure we are, we are a part of Redemption's plan. Our Father, the One who created us, made us useful and valueable and His greatest desire is to live with us for all eternity. That is anything but insignificant.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cross or Crutch?

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
How many times have we heard someone say, "that's just the cross I have to bear"? Many of us toss around that phrase to describe daily burdens, dealing with difficult people or overcoming difficult situations. In context, Jesus is talking about denying self. It is about saying "no" to my wants and wishes and saying yes to Jesus and that which promotes kingdom growth. It is about taking "me" out of the picture and focusing on the Lord and His work. And sometimes that does indeed require bearing a burden or dealing with difficult people and difficult situations.
However, I think the phrase is often used as a crutch. It is an excuse to have a bad attitude. I may not like the place I live, the job I have or the place I worship. I may not like the folks I have daily contact with. And so, I sigh (a great big sigh) and say, "Oh well, this is just the cross I have to bear". I make sure everyone I come into contact with, knows I am an unwilling participant in my life. I make sure they all know how difficult it is to be me. I insist that my "sacrifice" be noticed. And I milk it for all its worth.
The idea that obeying Christ's mandate to take up my cross gives me an excuse to behave so ungodly is ludicrous. Remember that the next part of the text, right after the taking up your cross, says follow Jesus. And the part right before it says deny yourself. The cross bearing is an action sandwiched between an attitude and a purpose. When we use cross bearing as a crutch for a bad attitude, we are not denying ourselves and our purpose changes. Our new purpose is evoking sympathy and flattery from those around us.
Sure, we all have a cross to bear. But we must remember that Jesus went willingly to the cross. In the garden He asked if there was any other way. When there was none, He willingly, resolutely, without complaint, went to His death. He did it on His own, without a crutch, without an attitude and He did it to save us. Following Him requires more than doing what He did, it requires becoming like Him--having the same attitude. It means denying "me" and taking up my cross everyday, as I journey toward Heaven, singing all the way.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Me and My Blankie

My granddaughter has a favorite blue blanket. It was a given to her at her birth. It is not frilly and lacey and girlie looking. In fact, now that she is four years old, it has a few stains and a few tatters. But it is beautiful to her and one rarely sees Madi without her "blue blankie." In order to launder the blankie, we must negotiate with her. She will need to know how many minutes until it is returned. She has carried it with her since she could walk. She sleeps with it. She relies on it when she is frightened or upset. She will tell you she feels safe when she has her blue blankie and when she has it, she can go anywhere and do anything. She is afraid of nothing. In Charlie Brown stories, the character, Linus, also had a blue blanket. He called it his "security blanket", and he devised ways to keep it with him at all times.
Security is something we all desire. We want and need to feel safe. Proverbs 18:10 says "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." Our own security is rooted in our association with the Creator of the universe. In His name, we have protection from our enemies, protection from the forces about us and the security that comes from belonging to the Lord of all.
John 10:28 says we are His sheep and as His sheep, eternal life is given us. The text continues with, we will never perish. He holds us in His hand and nothing can snatch us out. Isn't that awesome? We have security as long as we stay in His hand. There is nothing that can take us away---except our own free will. We can step out of His hand, out where there is death and distruction, out where safety is not to be found, out where we must always fear being devoured by the evil one. Or we can choose to stay beneath the shadow of His wings (Psalm 17:8) where we are the apple of His eye. In His care, in His name, we can feel as safe and secure as a small child with their favorite blankie---ready to face any foe, ready to take on any challenge, secure in the warmth of His love at it is wrapped all around us.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Bearing the Unbearable

There are times when we find ourselves faced with inexplicable pain and suffering. We are caught up in situations beyond our control and our ability to extricate ourselves is limited. We are faced with pain so intense we cannot see beyond the moment. We are overcome by loneliness so heavy and stifling we can barely breathe. We feel the waves of despair sweeping our feet out from under us and we struggle to keep from drowning. We beg for reprieve but none finds us. In desperation we beg to die only to discover that broken hearts can still sustain life. We find ourselves feebly attempting to bear the unbearable.
Most of us have been there. Most of us have come face to face with the pain and are able to look back in relief, able to breathe again, thankful that the sun shines once more, banishing the dark thoughts. Some of us are in the midst of the battle, our hearts ravaged and our souls wounded, desperately crying out for healing. Some of us are one step away from the lifestorm. We see the clouds on the horizon and we hope against hope that the wind blows them in another direction as a sense of foreboding fills our being.
Regardless of where we are, there are certain biblical truths relevant to each of us. In Matthew 11, Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest unto your souls." How powerful is that?
When we have lost our way, He tells us He is the way. (John 14:6) When we are down, He says He will lift us up, (James 4:10). When we feel we have no hope, He says because of His sacrifice, we have our hope--an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19). When we feel we are all alone, He says He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) When we think noone understands what we are going through, we know He was made like us in everyway according to Hebrews 2 and that there is no suffering we face that He cannot empathize with (I Corinthians 10:13).
Our faith structure says there is more to life that this moment and remaining faithful will give us suffering free eternity. These truths, if we believe them, can instill in us the courage we need to go on. They can give us the strength we need to hang on and the faith we need to keep on.
Ram Dass puts it like this: "For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. And it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees and love as God loves."
In the midst of our lifestorm, when all seems bleak, we can hold fast to the promises of God. We can know suffering as He knows suffering and we can learn to know love like He knows love. Believing makes the unbearable-----bearable. Sigh with relief!!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Defining Moments

I apologize for the late post today. Early this morning we recieved a phone call notifying us of the unexpected death of a good friend, a good christian and an elder in North Platte. All day my heart has been heavy as I remembered this man. I could almost feel the aching of his widow's heart and I could almost hear the weeping of his children. I could hear the "oh no's" whispered--almost gasped in disbelief as each member of the church heard the news. I am so sad . . .
Because his death was unexpected, everyone seems to want to know "what happened". I guess it is a part of our natural curiousity. But, for some odd reason, I have a burning desire to make sure everyone knows the kind of man he was, the way he led the congregation and the impact he made on the community, instead. I want to be able to put into words how much he will be missed.
I heard someone say that we are not defined by how we die but rather how we lived. My good friend Mark Bailey, tells the story of his father taking him to the cemetary to leave flowers one day. Mark says his dad read a headstone to him and asked him of all that was carved into the stone, what was the most important. His dad told him it was the dash between the date of birth and the date of death. That dash and what happened during that time is what defines us. We are so much more than just dates, so much more than just titles, so much more than platitudes, more than our military service. We are defined by how we lived.
Psalms 116:15 says that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord. Precious to the Lord because one of His own has come home. Our Father defines our lives by the value He placed on them----worth the death of His Son. He defines our lives by our love and obedience to Him. He defines us by what happened during the dash. That dash is filled with defining moments.
Early this morning, the Lord welcomed home another saint. Ted Florea, today you got to go Home. So many of us were touched by your "defining moments" and we will miss you.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Big Brother

Having grown up in the church, I heard countless sermons from Luke 15---the story of the prodigal son. I am sure you have too. We know the youngest son asked for his inheritance and went to a far away country and squandered it. We know when his money ran out so did his friends. He became desperate and returned home, ashamed and penitent. We know his Father was watching for him and upon his return, ran to greet him and threw a great party in his honor. While most of the focus was on the prodigal, some of the sermons focused on the anger of the big brother. He was angry that his brother had disrespected the family, when he had, all his life, been exemplary. He was angry that his brother was the guest of honor at this extravagant party when he had been obediently working, and had in his mind, received no recognition or praise for his diligence. The story ends when he is gently rebuked by his father and reminded that his brother was lost and now is found.
We know we are the prodigal. We know we have lived sinfully and have squandered our relationship with God. But we have come home---and the Father sees that as cause for celebration. We, too have a big brother---Jesus. Can you imagine if He'd been angry at our return. Can you imagine if He'd said--"Father, I have always done what you wanted. I have not disrespected your name. I have not lived a life that would cause you shame. I have not degraded myself. I have not been disobedient. I have worked hard for you. And here is this brother/sister of mine. They have turned their back on you. They have dragged our name through the mud and have wallowed with the pigs. They have acted disgracefully. How can you welcome them home? How can you just forget what they have done? How can they ever make up for this?" Can you even imagine? I am so grateful our Big Brother shares the mindset of our Father. I am so glad He rejoices when we come home. I am thankful He loves us too. That kind of love makes coming Home so much easier. We were lost and now we are found. We have been welcomed home by a Father and a Big Brother who both love us!!!!!!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What's That Smell?

II Corinthians 2:14-16 In the commentary, The Message, Eugene Perterson says it like this----"In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, He brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation---an aroma redolent with life." Is that not beautiful? Those who belong to Christ are different--so much so, they even smell different.
In the Old Testament, God demanded animal sacrifices. As the sacrifice burned, the fat or oil in the meat made the aroma waft up to Him. This sacrificial system is a physical representation of a spiritual event and when we offer ourselves to God ---presenting ourselves as as a living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1-2), we become a fragrant and pleasing aroma to Him. This aroma, according to the II Corinthians text does not go unnoticed by others. Paul says that when we know Christ, others can smell that pleasing fragrance. They can sense something is different. When we belong to Him, it is evident to all. Those who are looking for salvation only have to follow that beautiful scent.
Can you get the visual picture? As the saved are marching through town on their victory parade, the scent of salvation wafts over them, drifting around them, begging for followers. As if they were carrying a tray of homebaked bread fresh from the oven. That smell inciting in them a craving, an almost overwhelming desire, encouraging them to follow---follow----follow. Wow!!!
Don't you just want to be the kind of Christian, that every interaction is fragranced with the scent of salvation? Don't you want those around you to notice how good you "smell" and want to "smell" that way too? Don't you want to walk through the room and have every person in the room ask "What's that smell?" "It smells good".


Monday, December 04, 2006

Predicament or Promise?

Yesterday in class, we discussed faith and how much faith it takes to be joyful in the midst of trials. We were studying the first chapter of Philippians where Paul is imprisoned and says his incarceration had turned out to be a good thing because the gospel was being spread. We decided it was very difficult to find joy in struggles.
If you have read my blog or heard me speak, you know that I am deeply concerned with our focus on the earthly rather than the spiritual. I truly believe a heavenly focus is what allowed Paul to be joyful in all circumstances. He was very aware that there is so much more than this life. He remembered the promises God made; that He would never forsake him, that God would not allow him to be tempted more than he could bear, that God would given him strength, courage and comfort. Paul remembered and focused on those promises. Oh, he was indeed in a predicament, and had he focused on the predicament, he could not have remained so positive.
His focus on the promises could not help but bring him joy.
When we think about promises, most of us think about Abraham and Sarah. We remember that God promised them a son from who would come a great nation and global blessings. But if we remember, we also know that there were some struggles along the way. In chapter 15 of Genesis, the promise is made. In chapter 16, we are told that Sarah takes matters into her own hands. She comes up with an idea how to "help the Lord out" and gives her handmaiden to Abraham so that he might have a son. Sarah's intervention would bear more than a child, it would also bear great conflict. We know the rest of the story. We know of the birth of son, a son outside the promise, a son whose descendents would forever war against the descendents of the promised seed.
What was Sarah thinking? I believe she was focused on the predicament and forgot to focus on the promise. She could only see that she was old and she had not borne a child. She could see that her husband was getting older also. She knew there were physical considerations. But she did not look at the promise. Had she stayed focused on the promise rather than the predicament, she would have been able to wait faithfully and patiently. She was unable to see beyond the immediate.
We struggle with the same shortsightedness. We may have struggles in our lives, death, sickness, unemployment, financial struggles, spiritual trials. These crisis in our lives are only temporary and yet they become overwhelming. We are easily overwhelmed when we are unable to see beyond the immediate. When "right now" is my whole world, it is difficult for me to find joy. When "right now" is as far as I can see, I have trouble hoping. When "right now" seems to be all there is, the fight is futile and joy and hope are nowhere in sight. We are in a predicament and there is no reason to go on, no reason to keep fighting, no reason to keep trying. We can only see the predicament.
But, there is the promise!!! Our God is a promise keeping God and the same promises He made the apostle Paul, He makes to us. We are not alone. He WILL never ever leave or forsake us. He WILL give us the strength we need and the help we need to overcome. He WILL love and protect us and give us a home in Heaven for an struggle-less eternity. We only have to stay focused on the promise. The predicament is short lived but the promise is eternal.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Age Expectancy

I once heard someone say "I have come to realize we are not bodies with souls but rather souls with bodies." I have thought about that statement for quite some time. Isn't it so true? And isn't it the mindset we are supposed to have? We often forget that we are spiritual beings. We are eternal beings. As eternal beings, we are immune to the "laws of nature". Our souls do not age. They do not die. They are forever!!
I recently took an age expectancy test. I answered questions based on diet, health. height, weight, family history, medication and surgery history and activity level. The computer then measured all the data and caluculated how long I am expected to live. (Barring an accident or some other catastrophe) The advertisement for the test said hundreds of thousands of Americans are taking this test. Many, many people all curious what their future holds. The second part of this test is a set of recommendations. They tell you what exercises and how many you should do. They tell you which supplements you should take. They tell you what social changes you should make to increase your longevity. All of the changes are focused on how to make our bodies last longer. It seems we all want to live to a ripe old age.
While our bodies are made by God and I believe He wants us to take care of them so we can be productive in His kingdom, I know that He is in control. He numbers our days (Psalm 39:5) I know that our life is but a breath. (James 4:14). I also know that He knows there is much more to us than these bodies. His relationship with us is spiritual. The part of us that He longs for, the part He worked out all eternity for, the part He has prepared a place for, is our souls.
We spend so much time working on our physical bodies we often forget that our spiritual bodies need care also. They need food, nurturing, protection and care. We cannot live like we are bodies with souls, as if the soul is an afterthought. We are SOULS!!!!!! Proverbs 11:19 says "The truly righteous attains life. . ." and in chapter 12 we are told, "In the way of righteousness there is life..." We must start living like we have life---spiritual life. We must focus on being souls!!


Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Push

Wednesday night, one of the young men did a devotional at church. The young man read a story about a guy who had a great big rock outside his house. God told him to push against the rock, so everyday the man pushed and pushed but the rock didn't move. Satan came to discourage telling him that he was making absolutely no progress and all he had to show for his efforts was pain and wasted time. The man felt Satan was right but decided to talk to God about it. He voiced his frustrations to the Lord. The Lord said something to the effect of "I know the rock has not moved, I did not ask you to move it, only to push against it. You have done what I asked and the muscles in your back and legs have become stronger, your arms and shoulders are more powerful." I have not done this story justice but you get the imagery.
I know that all too often I have been discouraged at the seeming futility of my tasks. I have often wondered, "What am I doing here?" I have felt like I was beating my head against a wall and making absolutely no progress at all. I have asked God what He had in mind for me and why the path He'd led me down seemed to go around and around in circles. That devotional made me realize that I am only to obey. I must keep pushing on the rock. God will move the rock when He is ready for it to move.
So many times I have measured my success by the outcomes rather than the effort. God measures differently. He is concerned with the effort. For God, it is all about the push--the push is the manifestation of our love and obedience. God tells us to work for Him, to glorify Him in all we do, to live so that others might believe, so their hearts might be touched. When we do this, He is the one who softens their hearts. We are accountable for only what He asks of us. There are times when success is late in coming.
I remember my parents trying to teach my grandmother the gospel. They set examples, invited her to church, offered Bible studies and prayed for her for around 30 years. She became a christian when she was 80 years old. God moved the rock, my parents were called to push on it.
I do not know what God has in store for me. I often feel useless and unfruitful. I realize I have been measuring my success by the movement of the rock. I have not been called to move the rock but just to push and so I am determined to patiently continue to push until I am stronger and leaner and until God moves the rock.


Friday, December 01, 2006


During the holiday season, we are inundated with commercials attempting to manipulate our list of needs and wants. We hear about "record sales" and "higher than average spending". And I have to wonder, are we really that gullible? Do we really believe our infants can only get smarter if they have baby computers? Do we really believe the way a man shows a woman he loves her is with expensive jewelry? Do we really believe our kids creativity is best exercised by interactive video games? Do we really believe the way to a man's heart is through the tool aisle at Sears or in a new car lot? Come on!!!!! Surely we are smarter than that.
Every year we hear of folks being injured fighting over the latest and greatest toy. Newscasts are peppered with stories of those "camping out" in the cold, overnight, outside malls and department stores just to be first in line. First in line for toys that cost more than a month's rent. Each year the media "tells" us what our children, our wives or husbands "need" for Christmas. After the holidays the stories change and revolve around paying for purchases--purchases we didn't need, purchases we couldn't afford and purchases we were coerced into making by smart marketers.
I believe we are or at least should be smart enough to see through these advertising lies. Yet, businesses aren't stupid and they pay big bucks to marketers to decide the best way to get our money. This year, they are smartly convincing us to buy with the promise that a "portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity". And we believe. Being a marketing/advertising whiz is a very lucrative business, which tells me that while we may have brains and common sense, they are silenced by our greed and desire for things. And so we seek out the gimmicks. We go from mall to mall to mall, from store to store to store, peruse catalog after catalog after catalog. We fight frigid weather, bad roads, huge crowds, traffic jams, and lots and lots of frustration because we are that gullible.
God has something to say about this---Matthew 6:33--"But, seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you". We don't need to wait in line. We don't need to get a raincheck. We don't need to make payments. We don't need to compete for limited quantities. We don't need to fight the crowds, or freeze our feet and toes or look for the ever elusive parking spot. We just have to seek---and if we do, He promises we will find---it is guaranteed!!! A wise person knows a sure thing when they see it. This is THE sure thing.
The money we have, the cars we drive, the houses where we live, the jobs we have, the clothes we wear and even the time we have ---all gifts from God. These gifts are given out of a Father's love for His children. In return, He expects us to be wise stewards--to use our gifts for a grander purpose than filling the coffers of department store CEOs. While the happiness on the faces when presents are opened is wonderful, it is short lived. That temporary joy can in no way compare with the joy of eternal life with God.
I am not a humbug---I love Christmas. I love giving and receiving gifts. I love that millions are at least thinking about Jesus. I love the weather, the beauty of the snow and all the beautiful lights. I don't like looking back in shame that once again my gullibility was used against me and I was taken advantage of again. So, this year ---I will be smarter, I will use common sense and I will seek that which is important and in return------everlasting blessings are mine!! Thank you, Lord!!!!