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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Bear Facts

There are many misconceptions about Chrisitianity. Folks on both sides of each and every argument disparage the other side with accusations about being close-minded, being too open minded, being ultra conservative, being ultra liberal, being a heretic, being a legalist. Most of the arguments stem from opinions and interpretations of what another said. Few are based on facts. There are some opinions rooted deeply in our upbringing and some hold to them like they are truth. There are other opinions born out of a desperate desire to "grow" the church and some hold to them like they are truth. I believe both sides are trying to wrap their minds around what pleases God and how to bring others into a saving relationship with Him. However, opinions are not facts. Opinions can change and that said, they make it difficult to know the truth, which Bible tells us does not change. Facts, on the other hand are . . . simply facts--knowable, believable facts. Christians should be easily identifiable---here are some of the bear facts.

A true Christian bears with their brother and sister. Colossians 3:13 says "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. We used to sing a song at youth camp that said "And they'll know we are Christians by our love". John 13:34-35 says love is the mark of a disciple of Christ. Ephesians 4:2 says we are to be completely humble and gentle. We are to be patient, bearing with one another in love. We are to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. The true Christian (could there be any other kind?) cares about those who are weaker in the faith. Romans 15 reminds us to bear with the weaker brother. The entire 14th and part of the 15th chapters tell us to stop thinking about ourselves, to stop striving to please us, to not force our opinions on others, to look out for their spiritual salvation, to accept one another. Beating each other up with our opinions, and even with the truth is inappropriate. We are brothers and sisters--- not opponents. Fights, struggles and heated disagreements are a part of the world, not a part of the Church. The ugly comments, character aspersions, angry, condemning rhetoric, they are mostly opinions. The bear fact is we are Christians and the world will recognize us by our LOVE.
A true Christian relies on the strength of God to bear temptations and to successfully thwart Satan. I Corinthians 10:13 says God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear. He provides a way of escape and when we take it, we are victorious. A true Christian is identifiable because they don't succumb to temptation after temptation after temptation. They are people driven by the Spirit rather than by their own desires. Ephesians tells us we were once children of darkness but now we are to live as children of light. That means we strive to be perfect, and when temptation comes, we look for an out--the one provided by God. That means when we stumble and sin, we rely on the heavenly mediator to wash those sins from us--to take them on Himself, to become sin for us so that we might become righteous. The bear fact is we are Christians and the world will recognize us by our response to sin.
A true Christian bears fruit. John 15:1-17 tells us that He chose us and appointed us to bear lasting fruit. I am sure you get weary hearing me say this but we are to be about the Lord's business--that is a soul-saving business. This requires us to be conscientious about our planting. We have to see lost souls, we have to share with lost souls, we have to help lost souls come to salvation and we have to help these newly saved souls grow and mature so that they can bear fruit. Stagnant pew warming is simply a polite way to say dead Christian. In the passage in John 15, Jesus says "If" ---if we are in Him, if we are His, if we abide in His teaching, if we live like we are His, we will bear fruit. The bear fact is we are Christians and the world recognize us by our productivity--by our fruit.
A true Christian is able to bear temptation, strives to bear with one another in love, works to bear fruit because we are aware of One who out of love for us was willing to bear our iniquities, our sins. Isaiah 53 talks about the One who was able to bear the stripes and wounds on His body so that He could be our sin offering. The bear fact is "the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed." We are Christians, not because of what we have done, but because of what was done on our behalf. We are Christians because as the recipients of love, we ----love. We are Christians and because Satan tempted our Lord, he also tempts us but we have a loving, protecting God who provides for us an escape. We are Christians and because we are not perfect, we are able to forgive those who are also less than perfect. We are Christians and because we love our brothers and sisters, we look out for them, we strive to get along with them and we make every effort to show our God through peace. We are Christians and because we are, we work all day every day to be productive in His kingdom. We are Christians simply and only because He was willing to bear it all for us.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Deal or No Deal

Everybody loves a good deal. I have a friend named Kandi who can always, and I mean always, find a good deal. She loves garage sales and Wal-Mart. She loves getting something for barely anything. And she usually makes really good money on her own yard sales. She knows what things are worth.
Yesterday morning, in Bible class, we had a discussion about the value of a soul. Looking back, I can't remember what started this discussion, but I remember the thoughts and feelings the discussion prompted in me. It seems to me that while everyone loves to get a good deal, that is not what God got with us. John 3:16 tells us that He paid the very best heaven had to offer for us! He got ripped off!!!!! His love for us must be so great for Him to have paid that kind of price. When I became a Christian, I remember feeling so unworthy, so humbled and so grateful for my salvation. I came up out of the waters of baptism, ready to take on the world, ready to tell each and every person I met about the Gift I had just received. (Hopefully that sounds familiar to many of you). I couldn't wait to share the Good News and that is exactly what I did. I told everyone, the trash man, the newspaper boy, the Avon lady, the homeless woman on the corner, the alcoholic next door neighbor. No one came into my immediate vicinity without receiving an invitation to church, a promise to pray for them and an offer to help with any need. As the years passed, I became more selective with my invites and offers. Perhaps I got burned too many times. Perhaps I grew tired of being taken advantage of. Perhaps I just became weary.
And so, I began looking at people differently. I wanted some easy "catches". I wanted to convert those who I just knew would hear the Word, believe it and make the commitment. I wanted people who were middle class, like me and who would not require much "maintenance" on my part. I wanted someone whose only need was salvation. (Other needs, physical needs made them too labor intensive). I became very adept at deciding which lost person was "worth" my time and my efforts. And as a result, my evangelistic efforts were less than fruitful.
Then, I had an epiphany---one that caused me to weep ----and pray---- and repent. It occurred to me, that God paid the exact same price for each of us and that when I decided one was unworthy, I was going around "marking them down", "discounting" them. As if, in doing this, they became less of a bargain to God.
Even now, as I write this, I am ashamed. When I begged God's forgiveness, I pleaded with Him to help me see people as souls---souls whose greatest need is Him. I prayed He would help me find ways to meet their physical needs, because that is what His Son did. I asked Him to make me better. (I did not ask to be more fruitful. I was convicted that the other changes would bear fruit and in abundance). I realized that I too, am unworthy and like the ones I had discounted, I was no deal.
I may be the only one who has forgotten the cost of redemption. I may be the only one who has been unfruitful because I only planted in my own flower pot. I may be the only one who looked at others and decided how much of my effort and consequently how much of Christ's blood they were worth. But, I don't think so. And so today, I encourage all of us to make a concerted effort to look at the souls around us the way HE looks at them---worth dying for.

II Corinthians 5:15 "And he died for all . . ."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Riding the Rumble Bars

You know those things on the side of the highway? The grated places on the shoulder? The ones that are designed to startle drivers into awareness so they correct and get back on the road? Ned says they are called "rumble bars". I love those things. One of my favorite things to do is wait until he just gets settled into the seat next to me, until his head quits bobbing side to side, and until that horrible, awful, loud sound of snoring begins to come out of his mouth. I let him sleep for awhile and then when it is close to time to stop, or time for him to drive, I just let the car ease over onto the rumble bars. He tells me it is not funny to see a 300 lb. man try to climb onto the dash of a little Ford Fusion. (I beg to differ). He tells me the sound startles him awake because it is usually the "last thing you hear before you die", hence his aversion to the sound. One time, he gave me a big long lecture, er...discussion, about the reason behind the rumble bars. He explained they were designed as both a warning and an alert. He also threw in the "Little Girl Who Cried Wolf" story.
While driving on them is cheap entertainment for me, I do realize they are a warning. And thanks to Ned, I also realize that warning should not be taken lightly. I know if I do that every time, Ned will get used to it and he will not wake up. I might have fallen asleep or be unable to correct the wheel and it could mean disaster for both of us.
I think we, as Christians, sometimes look at God's warnings the same way. He warns us to "flee the very appearance of evil". "Guard our hearts" "Test the spirits" "Watch and be ready". We know that evil is bad and dangerous. We know that our hearts are the "wellspring of life", we know that there is only one Spirit and one Word and any other is dangerous. We know Jesus could return at any time. And while, sometimes we heed the warning, sometimes, we just smile and keep on driving. The problem is that we can become so used to the sound of the warning, that it has no impact on us. If there was roadwork and one was forced to drive on the shoulder for several miles, I daresay the sound would be less annoying, less startling and less noticeable after the first mile or two. The same thing can happen when we get so used to the spiritual warnings that they become merely background noise. Perhaps it is time to wake up and pay attention, time to correct our drive and get back on the road, where it is safe and the only sound we hear is the hum of the wheels and the music from the radio.


Friday, February 23, 2007

If #3

Next question gang . . .

IF . . .you could give the pope one piece of advice, what would you tell him?

Please answer and tell why you chose that answer. I am looking forward to your comments and discussion


Who's Her Daddy?

Have you been watching, hearing or reading all the hoopla about Anna Nicole's baby? Evidently there are at least 5 possible fathers! The child is only five months old, therefore Ms. Smith apparently was intimate with several different men in the past fourteen months. I find that incredibly sad. I am also saddened that the media has found it necessary to give this story almost as much coverage as they did the death of President Ford. At five months old, this baby girl already has a history. Her story is already begun, written by society and the mistakes of her mother. And her story continues with the case of paternity. Who is this child's father? According to reports, today will be the day the entire world finds out. It will also be the day the father finds out. (Does anyone else find this disturbing?) Today the DNA tests will be read in a California courtroom and in a Florida courtroom, amidst a sea of piranha-like reporters, parasites feeding on the reputation, mistakes and heartbreak of a family wracked by grief and addiction, scandal and death. This report will detail the genetic makeup of the baby and compare it with the genetic makeup of the possible fathers. It will tell irrefutably and undeniably who this child belongs to. And then, this innocent child's life will change.
I remember when my sons were born and people said, "oh he has his daddy's eyes or his momma's smile". As they grew and matured, the familial traits were even more pronounced. "He acts just like hid Dad", or "He is so much like you." And "You can sure tell who his father is" or "Like father like son." These comments made their daddy so proud, knowing that his own resembled him.
I think there are times when we as Christians need to submit to a spiritual paternity test. There are times when it is very difficult to tell who our father is----times when our behavior says we could belong to anyone---times when one has to look pretty hard to find any resemblance at all to our Father. Don't you know how proud our God would be if when folks looked at us they said, "you can sure tell who her Father is" or "Like Father like son". Maybe today is the day we need to find out, the day we need to take the test. There is no media coverage but the world is most certainly watching and they want to know, "Who's your Father?"

I John 3:10 "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."

*****My friend, Brian suggested an even more applicable passage: John 8:44 Read it for yourselves---very good. Thanks, Brian

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"De-ditching" My Ox or An Inconvenient Ministry

I have been unable to post for a couple of days. Although I missed hearing from all of you, missed checking and commenting on your blogs and missed the community we have, I was busy elsewhere. I have spent the last two days about 100 miles away at a hospital, sitting with an elderly man and his family during surgery and recovery. There are not many things as boring as sitting in a hospital waiting room. And yet, I enjoyed the time I spent with this family. They were delightful. We laughed and cried and prayed together. And at the end of the day,(s) I felt good-----tired but good. It was good to be about "ministry".
Sometimes, I forget that ministry is really what Jesus lived. His ministry, not only included preaching and teaching, but also touching lives, making a difference, lifting spirits, healing wounds, and offering comfort. I have always been touched by the story of the widow of Nain. The text says Jesus saw this woman, grieving over her son and "His heart went out to her". He raised this boy back to life and gave this mother back her hope. It was about ministry. Doesn't it say He came to heal the sick and set the captives free? Doesn't it say that because of His ministry, the blind see and the lame walk? Matthew 14 tells us about Jesus trying to get away to a quiet place, presumably to pray and grieve for His murdered friend, John the Baptist. Jesus needed some space and yet when the crowds kept coming, scripture says, He felt compassion on them and healed their sick. There are numerous passages in Mark that speak of the crowds pressing on Jesus so He had no time to eat, and He desired rest, and yet He continued to minster. There was not a time that was too inconvenient for Him to minister to others.
But sometimes, ministry is inconvenient for us. Sometimes, we find we have lots of good things we need to do. Sometimes, we are tired and sometimes we are grieving and sometimes we just need some quiet time, and yet, ministry calls. It seems that being more like Christ means setting selfish thoughts aside and being about the doing the work of ministry. I don't believe we should abuse ourselves or neglect our families, but I do believe that if our ministry is filled with doing things that do not touch and change lives, then . . .my friends, we are simply busy doing "busy-work". We must be in people's lives, touching their hearts, praying for their healing, greiving with them, weeping for them, helping them grow, leading them to Christ. Sometimes this will be inconvenient. But then, matters of life and death usually are. Sometimes the ox is in the ditch and you just have to stop whatever good thing you are doing and minister to the ox.


Monday, February 19, 2007

My Own Mt. Hood

I watched the news today and like most of America said a quick "Thank you, Lord" when they found the hikers and they were all okay or at least still alive. The newscasters, at least some of them, are having a field day. They are making fun, mocking,and condemning the hikers. Disparaging remarks about the hikers' intelligence, common sense, skill and even character are being thrown around like beads at Mardi Gras. Remember it was not so very long ago, that three hikers lost their lives up on the same mountain. And for those weeks in December, just like today, the world watched and prayed and chronicled the rescue attempts. And we all hoped beyond hope only to be disappointed. Now, more have been lost. This time the ending is a happy one and yet, it could have been another heartache.
Like many others, I am asking, "what were they thinking?" I am sure they were not living in a box. Surely, they heard and watched the news last December.Surely they knew the sad outcome and knew how dangerous the mountain was. Maybe they entered into this adventure with great confidence, thinking, "we can do it, we know more than the others and we are better prepared, we are in a bigger group and we are even taking our dog". And yet, the storm still came, they still were lost and in need of rescue. The news says they are in fairly good condition and will suffer few ill effects.
I think we are a lot like these hikers. We see the mountain of sin before us. We know about the dangers. We know that sin injures marriages and maims families. We know that sin decimates congregations and causes relationships to be severed. We know that sometimes, sin causes death. And that it effects not just the sinner but also those who love them. And we know when that happens, God grieves.
And yet, we sit around and look at the sin. We get as close as we can to it, as if almost daring it to reach out and take us. We think about it, read about it, even long for it and finally we talk ourselves into it. We begin to prepare for our trek up the mountain of sin. We concoct our lies to cover our actions. We convince ourselves that the death and damage offered by the mountain, "could never happen to us". We distance ourselves from those who would provide a voice of reason. We bathe ourselves in justification and loophole theology. And then. . .we sin. Sometimes, we wise up and turn around. But sometimes, we see the decadence and the opulence of sin and convince ourselves that this is the experience of a lifetime. We keep climbing, oblivious to the ominous clouds rolling in and before we know it, we are lost. There are no landmarks in sight and the fog of sin is so thick we can barely breathe. We shout for help, only to hear the familiar echoing of our own voice. We know that our congregation has sent out brothers and sisters on a rescue mission. Our thoughts fluctuate from the shame of our predicament to the hope of rescue. We pray they find us in time, before we no longer have any feeling in our hearts or our spirits. We know that we have played with death and we are aware that sometimes death wins.
The clouds part for a brief moment, just long enough for our rescuers to see us at a distance. We begin to shout in earnest and we weep as we see them coming closer and closer. We walk down the mountain with our family, supported by friends on either side. Occasionally, they carry us as we are too weak to make it to safety on our own.
When we are home, we vow to never go up the mountain again. And as we sit outside looking at the beautiful mountain in the distance, for one brief moment we think, "I think I could make it if only. . . "

Rom. 8:13 "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die . . ."

If #2

(We got a lot of great comments on the last "If" question, so here's a new one.)

"If I could ask God one question and get an immediate answer, I would ask Him . . ."


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Where's Vinnie?

Where's Vinnie? Evidently no one asked! Did his neighbors not notice? Did his creditors go twelve months without collecting on his debts? Did the newspaper boy wonder why there were 365 newspapers on his front stoop? Did his mailman not get curious that one year's worth of mail was in his mailbox? Did his family not show concern over his absence at Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays? Did his church family not wonder if he had fallen away? Apparently, no.
The news says 70 year old Vincenzo Ricardo, "Vinnie" was found dead in his chair with the television still on. Autopsy said he'd been dead for an entire year!! They found him because the bitter cold had caused his pipes to freeze and break. As a social worker, I was appalled at this. As a Christian, I was ashamed. How could he have fallen through the cracks? The news said he had family who lived nearby, he worshipped at a nearby church, he had a caregiver who had gotten angry with him and quit. He lived in New York where there has been bitter cold and freezing weather and no one thought to check on him?(Did I mention he was 70 years old?) And . . .he was blind and frequently wandered into the street. Are you kidding?
This story really bothers me, because I know that Vinnie was not the only "invisible" person in our world. Everyday we sit by, walk next to, stand in line near, work with, invisible people and we say nothing. We know nothing about them and nothing about their salvation. We don't know if they have a broken heart or a broken spirit. We don't know if they are physically or spiritually ill. We don't know if they are hiding from or searching for the truth We don't know and most of us make little effort to find out. I heard a statistic in a workshop that said our society has become such a society of independence and mobility that over 80% of Americans do not know the names of their neighbors. There was a time when we all depended on each other. Forty years ago, neighbors would have checked on Vinnie, his family would have called, his minister would have knocked on his door. Have we become a nation of uncaring citizens? Do we care more about saving the spotted owl or the effects of global warming than we do about our neighbors?
I am afraid we have forgotten the value of a soul. We no longer look at lost souls and see them as future saved souls, in fact, we no longer make eye contact at all. Isn't that a sad commentary on us? Perhaps it is time we wake up and pay attention. We need to devote as much intellectual, relational and emotional energy to the souls around us as we do to Superbowl scores and Nascar races and presidential campaigns. God paid such an enormous price for souls, ours and others. They were the focus of His attention, the motive for His creation, the cause of His sacrifice. They are valuable to Him and should be to us.
So, where's Vinnie? I don't know. But, I know where my neighbor is. I know where to find my boss. I know when someone is not in worship. I know when a space is vacant at the family table. And I am convinced God wants us to know them so we can bring them to know Him.

For God so loved the world . . .

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Becoming Relevant

All day yesterday, I thought about this idea of relevance. There is so much talk about changing the way we worship, changing the name of the people we worship with, changing the place we worship, changing worship itself, etc. There is talk of the emergent church, the house church and the reformed or restored church. The argument for all the change seems to be that in order to grow, we must make the Word of God and His Church relevant to the lost.
Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am all for growth and reaching lost souls. I am, however, uncertain that it our responsibility to "make" the Word or the Church relevant. I thought perhaps I was misunderstanding the word relevant and so I got out my handy dandy dictionary and looked it up. But, no, I had it right, it means "pertaining to". So how do we make worship and the Word and the Church "pertain" to lost souls?
Maybe we need to question what we did or do that keeps it from being relevant to all of us. Because obviously, scripture teaches that it is for all generations, that the Word, all scripture is profitable, that there is a pattern prescribed by God, spoken to His apostles and other writers and that none of these change. To say otherwise, contradicts the scripture itself. One of the principal rules of hermeneutics is if my discernment of a specific scripture contradicts other scriptures, my understanding is incorrect.
Some tell us that recent statistics say we are not growing as a body. We are losing more and more of our young people to the world. Conversions are down and the number of those leaving the church is up. Are they leaving because the Word of God no longer pertains to them? Are they leaving because they believe worship and the Church has no relevance to their lives? While these may be among the reasons given, I believe they are merely excuses for the truth.
Perhaps conversions are down because we have become such an worldly, entertainment-driven society that church without a remote control or a game controller is unappealing. Perhaps folks are leaving the Church because the Church, unlike the world, does not condone and whitewash over sin. Or perhaps the Church has become less than loving and forgiving, instead condemning and self-righteous. It seems to me, the problem is not making the Church and the Word relevant to sinners but showing the relevance of the Spirit in our lives.

Romans 6:23 "the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ."
Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Do you know anyone who this does not pertain to? Obviously God's love and the Blood of His Son is relevant to everyone! Relevant to lost and saved alike.


Friday, February 16, 2007


I am finding it very difficult to post these days. I have a huge list of titles and thoughts and verses to post about and I am finding that my mind is cluttered with them. There is a veritable little whirlwind in my brain. Since the birth of this blog, my intention has been to post my daily devotionals in such a manner that some might be encouraged and that growth would transpire in my life as well as theirs. Recently however, I have found so many areas of my spiritual walk that need work. I am finding that more and more of me needs renovation, some areas even need to be torn down and replaced with new construction. If any of you have done any renovating or construction, you know there is very often -----clutter.
So today, since I don't have to work, my goal is to organize and simplify my thoughts. I am planning to still my body, mind and soul. I plan to converse with my Father and listen for His answer. I plan to declutter the path so I can continue on the journey. I am convicted that being more like Him requires a singlemindedness like His. I am not mine, I am His and that means if I want to be like Him, so I can be with Him, I must be about His business. I am convinced He expects me to be about ministry and not just be busy. As the renovation continues I am confident the clutter will decrease.

Peace and prayers to you all,
Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Story

If you live in this country, I don't have to tell you that today is Valentine's Day. And if you know me, I don't have to tell you that I love Ned more than anyone on earth. I also don't have to tell you that second place in my heart belongs to my kids and grandkids. After that, I love many many people. Love is such a complex emotion. Whether on the giving or receiving end, love is wonderful!
Behavioral studies say the greatest need of all men everywhere is love. I John 4:8 says "God is love". He created us to need Him, and need Him more than anything else, more than air, more than food, more than water. We need Him! We need His love! We need Him as an outlet for our love! How amazing is that? Because He loves us, we can love Him. Because of His love, we can experience love. Because we receive His love, we can give and receive love.
Every gift, every blessing, every comfort is a manifestation of His love for us. And so we, like the psalmist can say, " . . . your love is better than life." (Psalm 63:3)

Enjoy the day, enjoy the blessings, enjoy the outpouring of His love.


A few years ago I bought a book called If Questions For The Soul. The book contians question after question beginning with the word, "if". I have used this book many times, as ice breakers for church parties, as conversation starters at dinner parties and just fun for teens. So today, I thought I would see how the realm of blogdom liked to answer an if question. Please, please respond and along with your answer, tell why you picked that answer.

Today's question:
If you could witness a miracle, what would you choose to see?

I am looking forward to your responses.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

WormFest '08

Are you already tired of the presidential campaign stuff? Each presidential hopeful has a massive staff, whose duties include making the news circuit lauding their candidate. Each presidential hopeful spends millions of dollars to put their name, their face and their accomplishments in every American home, car, ipod, et. When they are not bashing their opponents or the current President, they are expounding on their candidate. They spin, distort and flat out lie so that the American public will believe that their candidate is more than an man/woman looking to move up the corporate ladder. It is disturbing to say the least.
Sunday, Ned spoke about reverence for God and of course he talked about King Herod in Acts 12. The king is in front of large crowd. The crowd is chanting and yelling that he is more than a man, even a god. The text says, "Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died."
I find this interesting because Herod doesn't appear to say anything!! He is not the one claiming to be a god. He doesn't say anything. He doesn't refute the comments, he doesn't blush and say, "aw shucks" or anything like that. He stands there, soaking in the praise, as if he really, truly deserved it. Quite the contrast to the reactions of Paul and Barnabas in Lystra. (Acts 14:8-19)
Remember, the crowd is so impressed with the healing of the lame man, they begin to worship the healers, calling them gods. The text says that when Paul and Barnabas heard this they were distraught. They tore their clthes and shouted down the crowd, speaking to them, attempting to refocus them on God and His message rather than the messengers. It says that even after a lengthy encouragement to praise God, the crowd still wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas.
That is incredible! Incredible because it is so unlike us humans to refuse credit, to be upset by adoration of others, to grieve at being the object of worship. This humble, God-centered, selfless attitude is rare in our society, in our churches, in our families and yes, in our elected officials. God is God and we are not. He is all powerful and we are not. He is all knowing and . . . you get the picture. The 2008 election will continue to be in our faces with increasing intensity. We cannot change the nature of the media driven beast. We can however, become the kind of people who are uncomfortable around praise and instead of saying nothing, give God the glory. So as we strive to become more like Christ, we must remember the example of Paul and Barnabas and even . . . of King Herod.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Wave Tripping

In the past two weeks, I have heard several people make reference to the impulsive nature of the apostle Peter. They have discussed his "act first--think later" approach to life. When we look at the recorded snippets of Peter's life, we learn to know him as one of the inner three, one of the trusted followers, one who was closer to Messiah than many others. But we also remember him as the one who denied Christ, not once, not twice, but three times, just shortly after avowing to follow Jesus anywhere, even to the grave. And. . .we remember him as the one who boldly walked out on the water only to be overtaken by fear and rescued by Jesus.
Matthew 14 tells us this story. You know the story, Jesus has sent the disciples on ahead of Him. They get into the boat to cross the lake, leaving Jesus to dismiss the crowd and spend some quiet time alone with His Father. When it is time to rejoin His disciples, they are already out in the middle of the lake and the waves are pounding the boat. But our Messiah is undaunted by the waves. He begins walking across the waves. You know the rest--the disciples are afraid, believing they see a ghost. Jesus reassures them and Peter says, "If it is you, tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus says "come" and Peter musters his courage and steps out onto the waves. We know that he takes a few steps and becomes afraid, causing him to sink.Jesus reaches out His hand, pulls him to safety and asks "why the doubt"?
Peter has gotten a bad rap for this incident for many years. Although the text does say he doubted, we have overlooked the fact that he was the only one who got out of the boat in the first place. We know these apostles struggled with being the best and being first. Wouldn't it seem that one of the others would have also stepped out? That they would have either tried to get out before Peter or tried to follow right after him? Yet apparently, they merely sat and watched.
I have often wondered which disciple I am most like. Am I a Simon Peter, who bravely steps into the water when the Lord says "Come"? Do I take a few steps and then become afraid, only to call for Jesus to rescue me, taking His hand and following on? Or am I sitting in the boat, still a disciple, but mostly an observer, watching others answer the call---watching others trip on the waves and begin to sink, watching others be rescued by Messiah, while I thankfully cling to the safety of my boat? I think I would rather be Peter. I want to be the kind of disciple that first of all questions--"Is that you?" After all, I want to be sure that the one I am fixin to follow is indeed the Savior of the World. I want to be the kind of disciple that comes when Jesus calls, regardless of the waves and the darkness around me. I want to be the kind of disciple that does something that has never been done before---simply because Jesus asks me to do so. And when the waves of doubt or fear trip me up, when I begin to sink, I want to be the kind of disciple that calls on His saving grace and reaches out to take the hand of the Lord, rather than paddle like mad back to the boat in an attempt to save myself. I want to be like Peter.
Peter is more than a sermon illustration about impulsivity and denying Christ. He is an example of visible, audible, undeniable faith. His faith is not subdued. Yes, he denied Christ, but we all do that by our actions everyday. When Peter was convicted of his sin, the text says he wept bitterly. So similar to the shepherd king David--evidence of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Like David, Peter's stumbles served to make him a stronger force in the faith. That is powerful. The waves may have tripped him once, but he called out to God and accepted rescue. What a faith! What a man! What an example!


Sunday, February 11, 2007


I know this is my second post today but, I just discovered that Shirley McLaine has written a book entitled "Dancing In The Light". I am sure she chose the title for a much different reason than I. (If you can't quite figure out why I chose the title, please read the very first blog under the October archives)
Anyway, since I do not want to change my title and since my husband says Ms. McLaine will not likely change hers, my prayer is that those who go looking for hers find mine and those looking for mine find mine!!!


Meanwhile. . . arrrrrrgh!

Go Deep !

I attended a Ladies Day in Hooker, OK, yesterday. The speaker was Lori Veazey from Clinton. I am sure I would not do her lessons justice, however I want to share one thing she said. It touched me and I hope it will you, also.
The text is Luke 5. Jesus has been preaching to the crowd gathered around the Sea of Galilee. As the crowd begins to press on Him, Jesus gets into Simon's boat and asks to push out into the water. Verse 4 says, "When He had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch." Just a few verses later, Jesus tells them to follow Him and begin fishing for men. It is here that Lori makes a comment about fishing in the deep water rather than the shallow. I was struck by that comment, as it echoes my own thoughts on evangelism.
I have often wondered why our ministries do not attract the same sorts of people who followed Jesus in throngs. Each year, we have fewer and fewer conversions, fewer and fewer restorations and more and more programs. Those who do come tend to be folks pretty much like us, clones in financial wealth, education, similar values and with similar interests. And we all like people who are like us. We work with them, play with them and find them easy to associate with. Therefore, fishing for them is pretty effortless. Perhaps this is the problem. Perhaps we are not catching fish because we are only fishing from the bank. The shore is where we are comfortable. We have our folding chairs, our picnic hampers, our radios and our vehicle is just up the hill in case we need to leave. And so we sit and enjoy ourselves, waiting for the "catch" to come to us, calling ourselves "evangelists".
Perhaps, just perhaps, there are more lost souls out in the deep water. Perhaps, we need to paddle out where the lost are different, less or more educated, less or more wealthy, with differing values and differing interests. Maybe the "fishing" is better out there. It would mean giving up the convenience and comfort of the shore. It would require more effort-- paddling out to the deep water to fish. We would need to give up the security of a "controlled" environment and perhaps even put ourselves in some almost dangerous situations. And it would definitely take more time.
Could it be that is what "real fishing" is all about. Maybe the deep is where the lost souls are. And perhaps, the catch would be so great that our nets would begin to break. We would need more help, more evangelists. We can't forget the souls on the bank, but neither can we neglect those out in the deep. Maybe its time we decided to step out of our comfort zones, go where the lost are and share with them this amazing life-changing redemptive message, even if it means we have to go deep.

Thanks Lori! You made me think!!


Saturday, February 10, 2007

In a Fog

Have you ever felt like you were in a spiritual fog? Your vision was a little cloudy and the visibility was very limited? Ever felt a little anxiety because the road ahead was not as clear as it once was? I have. There have been times in my life when I am so unsure about the path ahead. Although I still know my destination, I am not quite sure how the Lord plans to get me there. During those times, I feel myself questioning everything around me, for the old familiar landmarks, those securities, are hidden from my sight. I feel my confidence leave me and anxiety take its place. I force myself to slow way down and make sure my lights are on and pay closer attention and . . .pray.
Sometimes, I think God allows, or perhaps even sends a little bit of fog our way. He knows what is best for us. I, unlike some, believe that questioning is a good thing. I believe questions are truly the birthplace of convictions. They are how I make my faith my own. They are how I know what I believe. Sometimes, I am in such a hurry in my life, accepting the road simply as it is, going round the turns without really paying attention, and feeling so secure and safe, that I become a little cocky. God knows I need a fog to slow me down. I need to pay attention and check my light. I need to be confident of my path and . . .I need to pray.
Usually, it is not too long before the fog lifts, leaving in its place a sense of conviction and gratitude. Thankful for a Father who disciplines, teaches and enlightens. Thankful for the road ahead, those who's paths I might cross and even for a little patchy fog.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Our Provider

In I Timothy 6:17 Paul, speaking to Timothy, says, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

I like that verse. That verse, along with others reminds me how much God truly provides for me. This verse says He gives us "everything for our enjoyment." Isn't that amazing? Think about the satisfaction that comes from a good meal, the pure bliss of snuggling with the one you love, the thrill of a grandchild's kiss, the pleasure we get from playing with our pets, the happiness in being with church family and worshipping together. All of those things are blessings we enjoy. It seems that God provides for us because He means for us to enjoy belonging to Him. So today, as I sat and meditated and prayed about the enormous blessings He has provided for me, a thought crossed my mind. One of the provisions that is rarely on my list is in I Corinthians 10:13. That verse says that when I am tempted, my Provider provides a way of escape. This blessing had not been on my list before. Perhaps it came readily this time, because I have been thinking a lot about sin and the subtle way it lures us to it. Perhaps it was because I recently read a quote by Rob Bell talking about sinning. Perhaps it crossed my mind because God wants me to acknowlede this provision, also.
I know there are sins in my life that are, as the shepherd king says, ever before me. Sometimes I am able, with God's help to resist and other times, I succumb, as if blinded to the open door of escape. Sin is not a kind master and the impact on my life and the lives of those I love can be devastating. I know that sin leads to death and that the death is eternal. I cannot bear the thought of disappointing my God and ultimately being separated from Him. And yet, I sin.
I have no problem accepting every other heavenly provision, so why do I resist this one? Why is it so difficult to take this gift from my Father, when I know He provides for me because He loves me and desires to protect me? How it must pain Him when I refuse His gift!!!
After some soul searching, I have become convicted that I choose to sin. And involved in this choice is the choice to blind myself to the way of escape He provides. The door to safety does not get smaller and is not hidden in the shadows. There is no secret panel or a supersecret password. There is no special knock and no hidden clues. There is simply a choice!!! I must choose to see the way of escape. I must choose to take it. I must choose to put sinful desires aside and accept this ----one of many gifts from God.
My attitude of gratitude needs to extend to my everyday provisions, love, food, clothing, friends, church family, salvation and escape. I am grateful for a loving Father who loves me enough to provide for me and I pray He will help me open my eyes and accept all of His gifts. Thank you Lord.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Squandered Grace

I have a friend, I'll call her "Justine". Justine had been a christian for many years. She and her husband attended preaching school, did some mission work, taught all four of their children the Bible and were working with a local congregation. Justine succumbed to temptation and abandoned her family, leaving town and moving in with her "boyfriend", also a married man with children. She was disfellowshipped by the congregation and both she and her boyfriend, withdrew from their children as well as the rest of their families. They refused to come and visit and would not answer their phone when family called. They lived their new life, struggling to shroud their shame with a thick coat of infatuation and lust. They lived this way for several years, until Justine's mother died. Returning for the funeral caused her to begin to think. She saw the pain in the eyes of her family and knew the tears were not only for the loss of her mother. Her heart began to ache, her soul began to long once again, for relationship with God, and she began to feel her shame. She made the needed decisions, she broke up with her boyfriend, she asked her family, including her husband for forgiveness. She came back to the local congregation and went forward begging and pleading to be restored to the body, coveting their forgiveness. She was welcomed with open arms. Her husband and her children, relieved to know she was okay, forgave her and loved her. Her church family, relieved that she had at last come home, wrapped their arms around her, wept with her and offered her their love and help. They all prayed together, thanking God for her return, for His forgiveness and His mercy. She was enveloped in grace.
Justine left that place and returned home, now quiet and lonely. She felt wrung out and unworthy. She could not believe they had all loved her so much and she knew she didn' t deserve it, so Justine moved into a very small rundown trailer house. She now lives a life of self-denial, denying even the very pleasure of family and relationships. She still isolates herself from all those who love her so much. She attends the local church in her new town but never speaks to anyone. She has no friends at work, at church or in her neighborhood. Justine prays and she reads her Bible, but she has squandered the grace given her.
I looked up the word "squander" and discovered it means to "fail to take advantage of". That is exactly what Justine was doing-- continually failing to take advantage of the grace given her. She has been forgiven by everyone, but has not forgiven herself. Because she carries her shame and guilt around with her, she is unable to be effective in God's kingdom and her family still weeps.
I know that it is most difficult to forgive ourselves. We tend to be harder on us that others are. We know us and we know our hearts. And yet, I can't help but feel that when we don't allow the blood of Christ and its cleansing to change our lives, to renew and restore us, we are squandering the grace God bestows upon us. He does not cleanse us so we can still feel dirty. He cleanses us, sanctifies us for good works, to be useful and purposeful in His kingdom, to be a part of His mission and His purpose.
How I wish Justine would forgive herself. The knowledge and wisdom she has gained from her experience could be great teaching tools. Her children, her husband, her church family and her friends miss her. We long for the day when she again loves herself and recognizes her value as the bride of Christ, the child of the King, the redeemed. We long for the day when she accepts the forgiveness and no longer squanders the grace.

Eph. 2:8-10 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God--not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Psalm 25:29-30 "Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me because my hope is in you."
Let's face it, sin in any and all forms is dangerous. Sin has the ability to taint our relationships and our perspectives. It shapes our ideals and causes us to compromise our values and sacrifice our morals. It places us in danger: danger from the destruction at the end of sin's path, danger from the unbridled chaos, danger from the inevitable wounding, scarring, torturing consequences, all products of our concession to Satan's attacks against us.
Praise God that there is another option. He provides for us a place of refuge, a place where He, the Mighty Creator of All, acts as a shield around us. He guards us and keeps us from stumbling. He is our fortress, our deliverer. His is total protection, total restoration, total security. He is our God and in Him, we have no fear.
The Bible teaches us that we are soldiers and the battle we are engaged in is one of spiritual warfare. Satan, always on the offense, uses every weapon in his arsenal to get to us. But, as children of God, we are on the winning side. The battle is already won and we, we my friends, are protected, safe, whole and well. We have taken cover in the refuge of our God. He is all powerful and He is victorious. Praise God for the refuge He affords to His own!!

Psalm 27:1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?"

Monday, February 05, 2007

Undignified Faith

Sunday afternoon we studied about the sinful woman in Luke 7. You remember the story, Jesus is dining with the Pharisee, Simon. I imagine Simon had pulled out all the stops to entertain this young rabbi who was causing such a religious tir in the region. I imagine Simon and any other guests were on their very best behavior, wanting to impress this teacher with so many disciples. I imagine there was much pomp and formality, everyone wearing their best clothes and carrying on intelligent conversations full of many flowery words. (Isn't this just like the Pharisees?)
Suddenly this woman, a local, with a reputation for sinful behavior, crashes the dinner party. In an undignified show of faith, this uninvited guest begins to make a scene. She falls at Jesus' feet weeping so much that she is washing His feet with her tears. As if noticing the dampness, she begins drying His feet with her hair. It would have been so much easier to leave or to still her weeping, but she does not. Perhaps she is unable to stop crying and the thought of leaving didn't cross her mind. Perhaps she cannot tear herself away from the feet of the Teacher. She continues with her disruptive show of faith, a show so different from what Simon and his Pharisee friends are used to. Simon is ready, almost eager for Jesus to rebuke this woman. But, Jesus does not, rather in a parable, He praises her undignified, unstructured worship and forgives her sins.
After hearing Ned speak on this parable, I began to think about this woman and I began to think about us. I know the text says we are to worship in an orderly manner. I know our God is not a God of chaos. But I also know how stiff we have become in our worship. I know that too often we are like Simon, judging those who show their faith in a less than dignified way, a way contrary to ours. We have a way we worship and we have become so good at it that we can even do it without thinking. The zeal we felt when we came out of the waters of baptism has been replaced by a concern for the dignified. I wonder if this sinful woman ever stifled her faith, did she ever swallow an "amen" or choke down a "praise God"? Did she ever force herself to stand very still willing herself to not respond to the invitation? Did she worry that others might think her a fanatic? I don't think so.
I hear and see all the comments about changes in worship. I too, want to worship in a way that pleases my Father. And so, I have been studying Jesus' words to those who came to worship Him. This account is representative of others. From them we learn, Jesus did not care about dignity, He lowered Himself and became sin for us so that we might be righteous. Jesus cared about heart worship. He wants to feel our hearts in the movings of our hands, He wants to hear our hearts in the words of our mouth, He wants to see our hearts in the tears of our eyes. And so, while I want to be orderly, I wonder if we have stifled, swallowed and choked down our faith too much?


Saturday, February 03, 2007

When Its Mine

You know, I am more apt to care about problems when they belong to me. I take more interest in current events when they affect my life. I don't mind staying up all night with sick children when they are my own. I don't seem to be bothered by gossip and biting sarcasm when it comes out of my mouth. And I am not really offended by off key singing when I am the one who can't find the note. I never get tired of talking about trials and triumphs when I was the one victorious. And I even like looking at vacation pictures when it was my vacation. I am okay with opinions when I know I am right and I am okay with passing the buck when I know I am wrong. I don't mind hearing negative things about my family, (church or physical) as long as I am the one saying them. I am willing to fight when feelings have been hurt when they were my feelings. I will work to see that needs are met when I am the one in want. I gladly spend my time and energy on projects and programs that were my idea. But all that may change when I truly start believing that the sins He died for are MINE!!

Just a thought,

Friday, February 02, 2007

The "Enhanced" Scale

If you have tuned into the news this morning, you have no doubt heard about the tornadoes that ravaged Florida overnight. I am watching because my son, daughter-in-law and three grandsons live between Tampa and Orlando, just 25 miles south of where the tornadoes struck. An early morning phonecall verifies they are safe and I am grateful. Yet, I continue to watch, knowing there are other mothers and fathers still waiting for news of their loved ones, and they are in my prayers.
The news anchors are talking about the sheer force of these tornadoes. Tornadoes are rated on the Fujida scale. In 1970 a tornado hit Lubbock, TX, levelling much of the city. Because of this event, a japanese researcher named Ted Fujida developed a scale to rate the severity of tornados. (The 1970 Lubbock tornado was the first F-5). The scale is based on wind speed, and has given birth to early detection warning systems and many other safeguards regarding this sort of storm. This morning, the news reports that the scale has changed, enhanced, if you will. What used to be an F3 is now and F4. The entire scale has been upgraded.
Isn't it amazing that the standards set by the world can be and are, changed at the seeming drop of a hat? The movie rating scale is a good example. What used to be considered "R" rated is now "PG" or "PG-13". You know what I mean, it happens all the time and it makes it very difficult for consumers to know what they are getting. The Enhanced Fujida Scale may increase the expectations of some while others may say, "Oh, it won't be that bad, it is really only a . . . "
I am ever thankful that we live by a standard, we follow a scale, that does not change. God created us and He set a standard of behavior for us. We live in a society, at war with Satan, who is pulling out all stops in an attempt to "dumb down" the standard. The fact is, we did not design the standard and we have no authority to change it. God is God and we are not. He gets to decide what behaviors please Him. He gets to set the standards for His creation whom He made, redeemed and loved. It is His job. He already measures us by the Enhanced Scale. Hebrews 10:1b "For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship." It was enhanced by the blood of His Son, which washes away our sins and allows us to be presented to Him, holy and blameless. Hebrews 10:10 "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all." Pretty cool, huh?

Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."

Thursday, February 01, 2007


The weatherman has been telling us snow was coming. It was supposed to come Tuesday night, snow all day Wednesday and today. So far, all we have seen is a few flurries. I stood at my kitchen sink doing dishes and wishing it would either really snow or stop and let the sun shine. Flurries are pretty, all white and fluttery, but they are not very productive. They provide very little moisture for our spring crops. They don't add to the enjoyment of downhill skiers or line the coffers of the resort owners. They don't provide snowman or snowangel making fun for children. You can't go sledding or have a snowball fight with flurries. They are by definition light and brief. They truly have very little impact on us.
I think sometimes we practice "flurry evangelism". We go about our daily lives, working with lost folks, standing by them in the line at K-Mart, dining next to them in restaurants, sharing a row with them in theaters, flying alongside them in airplanes and every once in awhile, we make a "light and brief" attempt to evangelize them. We ask the supermarket manager if we can put up a flyer for our upcoming gospel meeting. We invite our neighbor to ladies day as we are fastening the car seats in our mini-vans. In restaurants, we pray ever so quietly so we don't "disturb" other diners and ever so quickly so we can fulfill our obligation before the waitress brings our food. We invite our neighbor kids to a three day VBS, once a year. We subtly let our co-workers know we have an upcoming marriage seminar at church and so we will be leaving early on Friday. We practice flurry evangelism and wonder why no one ever comes to know Jesus.
I believe it is important that we live lives that say everyday that we are different, that we belong to God, that we are Christians. But, evangelism is part of living. You've heard the old adage "Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk." Notice it doesn't say don't talk the talk. The Great Commission is about "Going, TEACHING, and making disciples." If we look at Jesus, the apostles and the disciples, their ministry is about telling. When Jesus healed the demoniac, He instructed him to "go tell what the Lord has done for you." Do you think he ever stopped talking about it? Do you think he ever forgot his time in the graveyard? Maybe we practice flurry evangelism because we have forgotten we were once dead and now we are alive. Because we are saved, our very lives, our words, our evangelistic efforts have to be more than light and brief and light and fluttery. While we don't need to be a blizzard that only cripples others and makes them miserable, we can be that snowstorm that brings with it moisture and beauty and new life in the Spring.

Revelation 3:15 "I know your deeds that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other."