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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

New Fire

Do you remember when you first came out of the waters of baptism? I will never forget that day. I remember I immediately felt overwhelmed with such a sense of relief, a sense of gratitude and yes, even a sense of invincibility. I was so excited! I walked around for days with a ridiculous smile on my face, I just couldn't stop smiling. It seemed like no matter what happened around me, I still felt that inner peace and contentment that comes from knowing I belonged to God. I found myself humming and singing great spiritual songs, my mind filled with their words, my heart with their meanings. I stood a bit straighter, because I belonged to the King. I walked with a sense of purpose in my stride because I finally knew why I was here and what was in my future. I couldn't wait to be with my Christian brothers and sisters again, to get to worship with them, singing praise to God, talking to Him in prayer and listening to glorious words from His book. I longed to be with those who shared my hope and two days a week just didn't seem enough. The change in me was so obvious that my friends and co-workers questioned me. I remember how excited I was to share my God with them. I remember telling them how God saved me and my voice got louder and my words came faster as I exuberantly told them that the same God who saved me, would also love to save them. I told them I knew how they could be saved too. I knew how they could feel the same way I did. I told them it wasn't difficult that Jesus had done already done the hard part. I invited them to study with me, to go to worship with me, to hang out with me and my new family. I remember how excited I was!! I remember the peace and assurance I felt every night as I fell asleep, confident in the cleansing blood of Jesus and my place in His kingdom. The rapid heart beat, the silly smile, the zeal and exuberance, the peace, the purpose and the assurance, oh how wonderful that new fire felt in me!
Now, several years later I find the fire is still there, but now a flicker. Every so often the embers are stirred and the flames fanned and I find myself excited, empowered and on fire again. But it too, is short-lived. I long for the days when nothing caused that fire to cool. I want that back---I want us all to have that back. I think it is time we are once again ABLAZE!! We need to be a church on fire. There are so many things I could write, words that would only serve to prod our conscience and make us feel guilty. But, that is not what this post is about. There are times for those but this post, this post is a prayer, a plea for prayers that we all might once again have the new fire---hot, brilliant and bright, burning with desire to warm the lost with His love, to encourage us all with His message and to fan the flame until we burn away the physical trappings and stuff that threatens to smother our fire. Will you all today, pray with me, that we are all once again ablaze, once again on fire for God? Please?


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Prettying Up The Plank

I have a friend who is an amazing artist. She makes a living for her and her family from sales of her "art". Tourists spend lots of money in her shop. Her works have been displayed all over the country and I am sure in other countries as well. What makes her work so novel is what she calls her "ordinary canvas". She takes what someone else would call trash and sands it, paints it, decorates it and makes it beautiful and valuable. From old wheels to rusty farm implements, to weathered wood, come works of art, worthy of any mantle or living room. She is amazing. She tells me that with enough paint and decoration, she can make anything pretty, its true purpose almost unrecognizable. Very talented!
I think many of us do that every day with some of our most undesirable traits. I started thinking about this passage in Matthew 7:3-5 : "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (NIV) --It seems many of us would rather spend a lot of time and put forth much effort to pretty up the plank in our eye rather than commit to removing it.
It is a constant struggle to keep the plank removed. It requires time in the Word, discerning God's will in our lives, giving Him lordship over our lives, battling satan and his attempts to deter us. It is a twenty-four/seven endeavor. And it is not always easy. It is so much easier to "pretty up" our plank. We can often disguise our plank with a life that includes going to the church building three times a week, praying before we consume our foods, leaving our Bibles and Power for Today on the coffee table or the desk for others to see. We mask the beam by using church words and being on church committees. We hide the lumber in our eye by singing at funerals and visiting the hospital. And before long, to the rest of the world, it is no longer a big ole chunk of wood but a "work of art", its true character invisible to those around us.
Jesus says it is important that plank be removed---not covered up. He says it effects our ministry. He says we cannot see clearly enough to help others with the beam in our eye. He says we are hypocritical to even try! That is pretty powerful!
I believe we have good hearts. I believe we have evangelistic spirits and we want to help others. But I also believe some of us are lazy. We know it is easier to work on and for others than to work on us and so we sand and paint and pretty up the faults, hiding them and then going out to share God's Word with the lost. Like my friend's art though, when one gets close enough, one can see a rusty farm tool, an old wheel, someone else's trash. A closer look reveals that much effort has been taken to make this discarded item into art. When that close look is taken, the value of the art decreases. Likewise, as we begin to develop relationships with others, the plank we took such great care to hide becomes glaringly evident. And our message is seen as less valuable, less honest, less desirable. In the book of Titus, Paul says that slaves should be taught to be honest and trustworthy so that "in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive".
It is not about art or about preserving a false impression. It is about God and salvation. It is about telling others that Jesus saves!! Prettying up the plank does not change the facts. We must work on us. We must spend time in the Word, learning about God and His will. We must repent and strive to walk as children of light. We must remove the plank rather than trying to disguise it. In doing so, we will make the teaching about God our Savior more attractive. And that's a good thing!!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Radical Response

I have been reading about the life of Joseph in Genesis 37. You know the story, one of only two children of the beloved Rachel, loved by his father Jacob, recipient of the multi-colored coat, a symbol of his place in his father's heart. His brothers are jealous of him, his father favors him, and God sends him dreams showing his future preeminence and authority over all of them. This boy, at seventeen, this dreamer of dreams, is sent to check up on his brothers. The text says the brothers see him coming and start making plans to kill him. It is in the next few verses that we see two different responses to temptation.
First we see the brothers, from Simeon, second to the oldest on down. They start plotting to kill him. When older brother, Reuben suggests they throw their little brother into a cistern instead, they agree. But when some travellers, Ishmaelite traders headed for Egypt pass by, they decide instead to make money off the boy and quickly sell him to these Midianites. These boys, all nine of them, were active participants in this sin. They were not tricked. They were not deceived, they were neither unknowing nor unwilling. They plotted and acted----they sold their brother into slavery willingly, and then devised a lie to tell their father. (Lies usually follow up our sins).
But then we have Reuben, the oldest, the one who should have known better. He seems to be a passive participant in this scenario. Yes, he keeps them from murdering their brother. But it doesn't appear he tries to change their minds about their brother, or tried to soften their hate for him. The text says Reuben planned to return him to his father. It was a good thing for Reuben to prevent murder. But, why not just take the boy back right then and there? Did he think his brothers would not notice he'd rescued his father's favorite child? Was he afraid of them? Perhaps he thought a bit of time in the cistern would teach the youngster a lesson. I don't know. But, it seems that Rueben's actions contributed to Joseph's new calling as slave boy. He is co-conspirator in the lie concocted to appease his father. (Even if he didn't tell his father the lie, it took all ten of them keeping silent to make it work)
Fast forward to chapter 29. Here we have Joseph. He is working in Potiphar's house taking care of Potiphar's business. He is handsom and good looking and has earned a reputation for being honest and bright and has now become powerful. Just the kind of person Potiphar's wife is attracted to. She tries to catch Joseph and seduce him to sin with her. The text says she tried day after day to tempt him. But he refused. Finally, she grabs ahold of his coat and he runs away, leaving it with her. He chooses a radical response to the sinful situation--he runs!! He chooses to be a non-participant. This costs him, he will go to prison for some time but he has faith in God and God does indeed restore him to a position of power.
It seems to me that we are faced with sinful situations everyday. We have choices when tempted. We decide how we are going to react or respond. We make the choice. Sometimes we are active participants. That really doesn't need much discussion. We know when we plot and scheme to sin and then go right ahead and act on it. Sometimes we are passive participants. Sin is all around us and we simply pretend it is not there. Or we may make some suggestions to keep it from being a "BIG" sin. Sometimes we may even make plans to go around the back door and clean up the mess. Nevertheless, just as in the story of Reuben and the brothers, the end result was the same for all of them. Being "caught up" in a sin has the same end result as deliberately plotting and scheming for it. And although Reuben was a passive participant in the first part of the sin, he was an active participant in the lie (also a sin). He had to lie in order to protect all of them including himself. He must have realized how lame it would sound to tell his father, "I kept them from killing him and had them throw him into a well instead, then I turned my back for just a little while and they sold him. No, I didn't go after him, I was really upset . . "
And so he participated in the cover up.
We need to be more like Joseph. We need to say "no" to sin. And when it threatens to get hold of us, we need to run. Sometimes it costs to have such a radical response to temptation. But our faith structure says that there is more to life than what happens here on earth. We need to be non-participants in sin--that is radical, isn't it. We have the promise of a home in heaven.
Active and passive participants also have a promise, though not of heaven. We need to accept that sin is everywhere around us, temptation ever present. We cannot choose them. We can only choose our response to them. Are we going to indulge ourselves, take part in the sin willingly and without thought of consequences? Or are we going to stand by and watch as our brothers participate, hoping to clean some of it up later, before anyone notices? Or are we going to respond radically and run away from sin? What kind of participant are you?

I Thessalonians 5:22
"Flee the very appearance of evil"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cloud Cover

I was on my way to Florida to visit grandsons and so we had to drive to Amarillo so I could catch a flight. That morning, it was cloudy and misty outside, but this time, I had a seat by the window. I settled in, excited and anxious to be with family. The flight attendant quickly explained the proper use of the seatbelt to and encouraged us to "sit back and relax". We taxied down the runway, took off and began the ear popping climb. There was some turbulence as we plowed through the clouds into welcoming sunshine. I looked out my window into the bright sky. It was so beautiful and I thanked God for this light and the special care He takes to make our world so glorious. The time passed quickly as I marvelled at God's world through that little tiny window. The sunshine made me feel warm and calm. We continued our flight, above the clouds, until the pilot's voice came on advising we were approaching our destination and reminding us to return to our seats and make sure we were securely belted into our seats. Again we experienced the bouncing and jarring turbulence as we made our way through the clouds, now obscuring our view and blocking the sun. This cloudy turbulence was our companion until we landed and began our approach to the terminal. Again I stepped out into the drizzle and overcast sky.
Sometimes, my christian walk is just like that flight. Sometimes, it is drizzly and cloudy in my world. I may be struggling with a physical illness or perhaps I've had a loss in my life and I am grieving. Maybe I have been struggling with satan, trying to overcome temptations and praying for rescue. Perhaps I am just plain old weary, weary with disagreements, weary with the tasks that never seem to end, weary with the seemingly thankless job of caregiving, weary with discussions that go on forever and never produce any truth, weary of the bouncing and jarring turbulence. Whatever the cause, sometimes I seem to be living under a cloud. Not a dark, ominous rain cloud, just the light gray clouds that just kind of hang there. Do you know what I mean? Haven't we all been there?
I wonder if we could just remember that this cloud cover is thin and that above it, my God is shining His light, and up there, there is no turbulence and the sky is peaceful and calm. If we could remember that, if perhaps we could force ourselves to look up, to focus on God and His blessings, to praise Him for the things He gives us, to allow His Word to remind us that life on earth is but a breath and then there is heaven, wouldn't that brighten our day? I wonder if that change in focus, if that little adjustment might just help us see a little clearing in the clouds, might help us notice the bright rays of light forcing their way through the clouds, the little patches of sunshine sprinkled here and there in the sky. I wonder if where once there was cloud cover, there might now be longing for the sunshine and hope. I wonder . . . what would happen if we all looked up?


Sunday, March 25, 2007

CELEBRATE ! ! ! ! !

Several months ago, a young woman (KSL) commented and asked for more information. She and I have been corressponding via e-mail. I gave her the name of a minister in her hometown and she and her husband have been studying with him and attending worship where he preaches. With her permission, I am posting today's email.

Dear Neva,
Judd and I were baptized this morning! After our last Bible study, we had been having trouble sleeping. All we wanted to talk about was Jesus and God and how much we want to go to heaven to live with them. It has been so wonderful to finally know we were here on earth for a reason and that there is more to living here than just climbing the corporate ladder. We both knew we could not go on one more day without being baptized. We thought it would make us better parents and better people. We thought it would help our marriage and our lives. We love God. We made the decision and talked to brother Spence about it early this morning. It was so wonderful to begin a new life in Christ together. The church all came up and hugged us and gave us phone numbers and addresses. We have been invited to dinner almost every night next week. It is hard to believe they love us just because we love God. It is neat though.
Neva, Judd and I both are so grateful to you. Thank you for taking the time to email me the answers to my questions. So many times I was afraid I was bothering you with one more set of questions, I know some of them were stupid questions. But thank you for teaching us. Thank you for using the bible in your answers so we could look them over again. Thank you for getting us in touch with Spence. He is very kind and patient with us. He really knows his bible and knows how to love. Just like you do. Thank you. I hope some day we get to meet you in person. Thank you for helping us find our way to Jesus. This is the best day of our lives.
Kara and Judd Leverington

Please pray for Judd and Kara. Praise God for their open hearts and willing spirits. Praise God for the blood of His Son. Pray for them as they begin this new spiritual journey. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. God is so good!!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

How Do You Know?

There are many wise and biblically scholared folks out there in the blogosphere. I am sure that some of you have wondered this before and perhaps a few of you know the answer. If not, then hopefully between us all we can dialogue enough to discern the correct answer. So . . .

How do you know whether God is closing doors or satan is throwing up roadblocks?

I really want to know

Preserving the Perishables

When you live 100 miles from the nearest city, you only get to really shop once or twice a month. And even at that, shopping becomes a bit of an ordeal. We know we will need the better part of the day. We know we will need to take our cell phones, so we can find each other in Super WalMart. We know we will need to check the cabinets and freezer and fridge and make a list of everything we are out of or will run out of before our next foray into the big city. And we know we will need to take ice chests, ice, freezer bags, etc. in order to insure our perishables make it home safely.
It is important to us that our food be healthy and safe to eat. It is important to us that we can use what we buy. Because it is important, we are willing to take extra time, spend extra money and put out extra effort. There are many "perishables" in our lives. They also have become important to us. Their importance in our lives and their elevated place in our hearts often cause us to take extra time, spend extra money and put out extra effort. Intellectually we know these things are indeed perishable and therefore expendable. But we often live and act like these perishable things are important treasures, eternal in nature. We willingly allow them to consume our time, our energy and our money. We willingly give them a place of prominence in our hearts. Because we have such a desire for the perishables, we find ourselves accumulating more and more of them until they possess us rather than the other way around. We step into a whirlwind of accumulate, maintain, accumulate, maintain, accumulate, maintain. And with each accumulation, more maintenance time is required. And so, being only human with only 24 hours in each day, we find we have to delete something from our frenzied lives. Prayer time and quiet time with God are usually the first to go, followed shortly by quality time with family, and then worship times. What seems to happen is we get so busy keeping up with and just keeping our "stuff" that we delete God right out of our lives. We dethrone Him from His rightful place in our hearts and gradually push Him completely out of our lives. We no longer behave like the free men and women Paul spoke about in Galatians. We behave like slaves----slaves to our stuff. Instead of devoting our time, money, energy, hearts to the eternal, living God, we choose to devote our time, money, energy and hearts to preserving the perishables.
This is a daily struggle for us. This is satan working to pull us away from God. We are not the only ones who are excited about a new house and a new car and a new job and new wardrobe. Satan is throwing a party, because he knows it will take our focus away from God. He knows we will have to work more hours to maintain our new stuff. He knows if he can just slip in a little pride and a little vanity,a little envy, he gets a little more of us. He knows there is a very good chance our priorities are going to change. He not only knows it--- he likes it.
Over and over again in the New Testament, we are reminded that satan is cunning and wicked. Again and again we are told to focus on the eternal rather than the perishable. We have to let God back onto the throne of our hearts. Stuff is just stuff, it burns and rots. But God is eternal. The Holy Spirit through Matthew said it better than I ever could. Matthew 6:19 - 21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where theives break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where theives do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also."
My friends, we have to simplify our lives so we have the time, energy and heart to glorify our God.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Today, just seven hours north of us, a community begins their day. Many of them cried all night and are still crying this morning. Today, many including a family in Wyoming, one in Oklahoma and Ned and I here in Texas start the day with heavy hearts. Today, a church family wonders how much more they can take, how many more times and ways Satan will attack them. Today, a hundrend miles away, a little girl from a divorced family hears news about her favorite person in the whole world. Today, a little over a hundred miles in the other direction, the news also travels to two teenage boys. Today the community of Brady, Nebraska, will reach into their mailboxes and in unison, their minds and hearts will think of one man. Today a a wife has to decide if she wants to get out of bed alone, like she will be from now on. Today her family rallies round her, none of them strangers to death and dying, all of them hurting so much, they can barely breathe. Today they help as she makes burial arrangements for her beloved husband. Today the food will start pouring into their house. Today family and friends, in hushed voices, will talk about this great man. They will smile and they will weep. Today, we all grieve.
George Hueftle was a mail man. But, he was so much more. He was a friend to the folks on his route. He loved them all. He knew their problems and their joys and he shared in their sorrows and their celebrations. When a tornado hit a house on his route, George quickly organized church members to go help with the cleanup. When a young couple on his route told George of their marital problems, George quickly referred them to the minister for counseling. When Vonnie was diagnosed with cancer, George was an example to everyone of caring for one's wife. When George heard the preacher's wife liked tomatoes, he brought a grocery bag or a box full of tomates every Sunday and every Wednesday until she told him to stop. When visitors came to worship, none left without meeting George. When family struggles required George and Vonnie to provide care for their grandchildren on an extended basis, they did so without complaining, but with sweet and loving spirits. When you had George as friend, you had a true friend. I cannot tell you enough about this man's heart. When you cried, he cried with you. When you laughed, George laughed too. He loved God, Vonnie, his grandkids and singing, joking and being with family, church family or physical family. George loved it all!
Yesterday, George Hueftle went home to be with God. His wife, his grandkids, his community and his church family will miss him. I will miss him. Today, we all grieve. But, today God and His angels are rejoicing as they welcome George home!

Psalms 115:16 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tired of Trolls

No more trolls! I am adamant about this! I am tired of them! I am not talking about the cute little troll dolls with wrinkled faces and brightly colored hair that were so popular in the 1960's. I am talking about the wicked troll who lies in wait, up to no good, trying to deter people on their journey to a better place. Wikipedia describes trolls as large,dimwitted, nocturnal creatures who enjoy cruelty. Many of us remember the story of Billy Goats Gruff. They were trying to get over the bridge to greener pastures. But, under the bridge lived a wicked, ugly and mean troll, remember? His job, as he saw it, was to keep people (billy goats) from crossing over his bridge. And so he sat under the bridge until he heard them coming, jumped out, yelled at and threatened to eat them. Some fables have the wicked trolls eating the travelers, others tell that the trolls force the travelers to earn the right to cross the bridge, and so he sends them on unrealistic tasks, quests for treasures too dangerous or utterly impossible to acquire.
I know that some of us in the church are trolls. We smile as we worship and we season our conversations with words about love and forgiveness and grace and mercy. We are happy when new people come to the Lord, thrilled when they express a desire to live a Christian life. Like the travelers of old fables, they are looking for a better place. They are headed for spiritually greener pastures, longing to be in a field where the Good Shepherd provides food, safety and guidance. We should be rejoicing and doing everything in our power to help them. But, some of us are trolls. We look at them and decide they do not quite measure up to what we think a church member should be. Granted, they are working on some sinful areas of their lives, but there are so many more, some of them really obvious. We trolls, we are not sure they really deserve to feed in the green pastures. We decide perhaps they could prove themselves. So, we give them some seemingly impossible tasks. We tell them they must accomplish these tasks if they expect to cross our bridge. Some of them try their hardest. Some really make it and we grudgingly allow them passage. Some give up, deciding there are green pastures elsewhere, places without trolls, places where they will be welcome. Some decide to take us on, and after lengthy debates and heated discussions, we eat them alive and they die in their sins. We crawl back under our bridges, satisfied and reassuring ourselves that obviously they didn't have what it takes anyway. We can be such bad trolls!
I heard of a minister who once told a young christian that it was not his job to make her spiritual journey easier. It was between her and God and she would have to just put more effort into it. I was so ashamed that my brother in Christ could be such a troll! Folks, we are our brother's keeper. We are responsible for him! That is why God made this a journey a group project. None of us walks to Heaven alone. We are a part of a community. We live together, we love together, we laugh together, we walk together. And when one of us weeps, we all weep. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. When one of us dies, a part of all of us dies. It is our job to make the journey easier for our brothers and sisters. We are called to bear one another's burdens. That makes the journey easier, doesn't it? We are told to forgive one another, that makes the company bearable. We are told to comfort one another, that makes our path easier to see through the tears. We are told to pray for one another, confess to one another, love one another. All of those help all of us on our spiritual walk.
We all make our own decisions. We all are to have a personal and intimate relationship with God and ultimately it truly is ours and ours alone. Yet, I can't help but notice all the one another verses, all the analogies to a body. All of those tell me we are a part of something much bigger than just a bunch of seperate individuals. We are all together on a journey. Our journey will have many ups and downs, many stumbles and some falls. It is my prayer that every one of us is walking and working beside Christian brothers and sisters who are supportive, encouraging and uplifting and that none of us walks beside a troll. I pray for those in our number who when told of a dear sister's growth say, "yes, but . . . " , who when witnessing a soul who is tired of sinning and comes forward again asking for prayers says, "they always come forward when . . . ", who when a soul falls to his knees, begging for forgiveness, asking for prayers and help says, "they will need to prove themselves before I forgive them." I pray for these people. But, I must tell you, I am tired of them. I am weary of praying for and working with those who are truly seeking in home Bible studies and then being afraid to introduce them to some of my brothers and sisters. (Coming to worship should not have to include a warning label) I am just really tired of trolls. And everyday, seriously, everyday, I pray that God will make me less and less troll-like and more and more Christlike. Because I think He too, is tired of trolls.


Saturday, March 17, 2007


I was reading in the book of John this morning, chapter 14, one of my favorites, when I noticed, or rather happened to pay attention to, verse 8. In case you don't recall right off the top of your head, Jesus has just comforted the disciples with a promise to be with them again in the mansion He would prepare. He tells them He is going away and for now, they cannot come. But He promises He will return. Of course they, being human, have questions. So, our Lord continues with "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Philip's response is so typical of us: "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."
I can almost hear the frustration as Messiah says, "Don't you know me?" After being with these men for almost three years, after all the teaching about His Lordship, after seeing the lame walk, the leper cleansed, the blind see and the demons cast out, not to mention the dead raised, do you still not know Him? The disciples had been privy to much knowledge. Though according to John 20:9, they still did not understand the resurrection, it is obvious they believed Jesus was indeed the Messiah. They believed He was God's Son. They believed He called them for a purpose. They had been both called and commissioned. They had been given gifts of healing. Twelve of them helped pick up many baskets of food, remnants from five small fish and two loaves. Three of them witnessed Him conversing with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. One of them walked on the water with Him. Yet, it was not enough.
Aren't we the same way? Do we not witness His power and majesty in everyday's sun rising and sun setting? Do we not feel His love for us when the blessings are showered down upon us day in and day out? Do we not experience His blessings when in the midst of others who are His, we worship in song and prayer and hear His Word proclaimed? Do we not count on His promise of forgiveness, as we go through our daily lives fraught with stumbles and mistakes? Do we not rest our hope and get our ability to persevere from the promise of heaven eternal? Have we not felt His comforting hand, calming our tortured spirit when life seems dark and bleak?
Isn't this enough? Are we like Philip, still asking for more? Have we too, been oblivious to God living around us, being with us, dwelling in us? Have we been less than thankful for all He does for us? Have we walked through our daily lives, holding our heads high as if all we have, we are responsible for attaining? Have we sat comfortably in our pews, participating in worship and left the message at the church building?
We have a Father who loves us--enough to die for us. We have a family, a community of believers who are all journeying along with us. We have a message, a ministry of reconciliation to be shared with our entire world. We have the promise of life eternal with our Creator. Don't you think that should be more than ---- enough?


Friday, March 16, 2007

Posting from the Pinnacle

I feel like I am on the top of the world and today is going to be a great day! Last night, I received two emails from old friends, friends I love dearly but had lost contact with. This past week, a grade school friend happened to find my blog and we have been corresponding. After two weeks, multiple medications, and allergic reactions with more medications, my illness finally seems to be rounding the bend. Last night,I had a great conversation with my mom who is preparing to go to Croatia next month. I also was blessed to speak with two of my grandchildren, and then I had a long conversation with my daughter in law. But I am most excited because a couple of months ago, a young woman logged on to my blog and commented under "KSL". She stated she did not know much about the Bible and had some questions. After many, many emails, she asked for my help in finding a church in her community. I gave her a contact name and yesterday, she and her husband had their first Bible study with the minister there. She emailed to thank me and ask for continued prayers. They are studying again tonight. (If my throat didn't still hurt a bit, I would shout and sing----my heart will have to do it for me)
Have you ever been mountain climbing? I have!! There are few things more exciting than making that long, arduous trek and finally reaching the top. There, the struggles of the journey are forgotten amidst the grandeur and thrill of the view. From the pinnacle, you can see such beauty all around you. You see things you did not see before. You notice that the world is much smaller and much less overwhelming than it seems from the bottom. From the pinnacle, the majesty of God is so tangible you can almost feel it. Although exhausted, the adrenalin still courses through your body, and you tremble as you pause for a moment of solitary gratitude.
At the pinnacle, with renewed conviction and courage, you feel invincible!! This is a great place to be.
You caution yourself that the air is thinner up here, and that sometimes at the pinnacle, one's thinking tends to become larger than life. You remind yourself that God is not done with you yet and as you look off in the distance, you can see other peaks, higher and more difficult than the one you have just ascended. You suck in your breath, steeling yourself for the next part of the journey, knowing the the view from that pinnacle will be even more breathtaking, more inspiring. You decide to sit for just awhile, savoring the moment, praying to the Father, and readying for the next leg.
The pinnacle is a wonderful place to be. It is a place of reflection, a place of contentment, a place of overwhelming oneness with the Father. From here, the path will have ups and downs, there will be steep places, there will be danger, there will be weariness, but there will also be another pinnacle. While everything is not perfect, there are other challenges and other struggles, today I feel like I am standing on the pinnacle and I have to tell you, the view from here, my friends, is amazing!!!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rock Dropping

I have been ill for the past week, confined to home and rest by doctor's orders and while it sounds fun, I am bored. So . . . I have resorted to watching television. Let me just tell you what a negative activity this is. First of all, there is very little fit to watch. Secondly, the things on television, even if they are news shows and talk shows, portray people in such a vile and evil light that I found myself becoming sarcastic, cynical and downright condemning. I can't tell you how many times in the last three days I have said, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" (With that same tone of voice :) ) It occurred to me yesterday afternoon that not only was I physically ill, but I was also on the path to contracting a spiritual illness, of sorts.
Yesterday, I watched a talk show where a woman spoke of being married three times, always to guys in prison, telling the host, she just really liked "bad boys". She is currently married to a man, serving a life sentence for murder. She is concerned that when he is paroled (in 2010), he will no longer be attractive to her and she will divorce him. She takes her small children, I think they were like 18 months and 4 years old, to visit him in prison. As I watched this story, I thought, "Are you kidding me?" I found myself making judgements about this woman's character, about her parenting skills, about her marriage, and about her willingness to come on national television and expose them to the world. I allowed myself to think really ugly thoughts about this woman.
But then, praise God, the Holy Spirit pricked my conscience and reminded me that if Jesus were there with her, He would love her. He would most likely smile at her, take her hand, and offer her hope. He would look sadly at those of us in the audience, shaking our heads and rolling our eyes. And He would tell us it was okay to stone this woman. He would tell us the one without sin should start this process. And then He would turn His attention back to the woman, smiling encouragement, His kindness accompanied only by the silence . . . and the sound of dropping rocks.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

If # 5

Hi guys---Trey gave me an idea on one of his comments a few days ago. So here is the new, questions--hopefully it will be thought provoking and generate some discussion.

If . . . you were told by God that the end of the world was exactly one week from this moment, what would you spend the next week doing?

Look forward to your comments,


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stained Glass People

The church building here in Spearman was wiped out by a tornado a few years ago. The entire community rallied around the congregation and assisted in the rebuild. It was a great example of folks coming together in a crisis and helping put the pieces back together. Our new auditorium has an absolutely beautiful stained glass window behind the pulpit. It is made up of brilliant little pieces of glass, blues, pinks, reds, oranges and blues. In the afternoon, the sun shines through those mini panes and casts the most beautiful light over the carpet and pews, dull by comparison. This kaleidoscope of color is brilliant and beautiful and very peaceful. I am awed by this window, amazed that someone could take little, odd shaped, shards of broken glass, none of them matching, all of them broken, and could make this beautiful, glorious window.
I think that is exactly what God does with us. Everyone of us is broken in some way or another. Everyone of us is odd and none of us are identical. Alone, we are simply odd, broken little people. But the blood of Christ is able to take each of us, broken as we are and put us together with love and His redemptive blood until we become a beautiful, glorious reflection of His Son.
I think about Sarah, believing her body broken, unable to bear children. She took matters into her own hands and created a huge problem, yet a promise keeping God, still used her in her brokenness to bear the son, the son of promise. I think of the shepherd king, David, who with broken heart over his own sin and its consequences, was used by God to rule a great nation and to be great great grandfather of our Messiah. I thought of Mary, the mother, the virgin, who with broken reputation gave birth to the redemption of the world. Used by God, a reflection of His Son. I thought of Paul, on fire for God but misguided in his zeal. When his faith, his course, his belief system was broken, God was able to rebuild it and use it to show His love to the entire world. God has always used broken people. He has a special place in His heart for us. And like, Sarah, if we insist He will let us put things together. But, like the stained glass window, it takes a real artisan to taken broken, wounded people and create a masterpiece. One piece alone, one broken person alone cannot do it. God takes all of us and puts us together, creating a beautiful and magnificent window, through which His Son can shine through. Thank God for His love of the stained glass people!


Monday, March 12, 2007

Junk Food Junkie

Ned and I love junk food--really love it. If you looked in our cabinets right this moment, you would find several kinds of chips, Dr Pepper and Coke and moon pies (I am after all married to a Southern boy). You would also find three gallons of Blue Bell Ice Cream in our freezer. You will not find snickers bars, or pistachios, or nacho cheese dip or candy corn, because we already ate them! Our friend once told us that we should keep a food diary, writing down everything we ate, good food or junk food. I did it for a couple of days but it hurt my feelings and so I stopped. :) We are junk food junkies!
Funny thing about eating junkfood. It causes weight gain. Our clothes no longer fit us well. We have less stamina and energy than we should. There are so many things we should be doing, but we are just plain too tired, so they go undone, at least by us. The junk food also causes an increase in our appetites. And with junk food, the more you eat---the more you want. The small amount of junk food that used to satisfy us, no longer does. We eat more and more all the time.
It also decreases our desire for good foods. Our stomachs are so full of junk that we have no room for veggies and proteins. We have also found ourselves becoming masters at justifying our consumption. We convince ourselves we are being sociable. We don't want to offend the lovely Christian sisters at potluck so we must eat some of every dessert offered. We convince ourselves we need to eat it so we can start our diets without the temptation of junk food in the house. Like I said, masters of justification. We get sick more frequently, we don't sleep as well, we don't think as well, and we don't handle stress as well. Junk food is destroying our lives.
I think it is the same with psychological and spiritual junkfood. We know that we are to fill our hearts and minds with the Word, the Living Water, the Bread of Life, and with "whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are pure. . ." We know this, and yet we read People magazine, we watch gossip television and violent movies and we listen to music that is less than good and pure and wholesome. I wonder what a Psychological Food Diary would look like? How many lines would we fill up with mental junk food? Would the good food lines pale in comparison? Do you wonder what would happen if we fed our minds and our souls better? Would we have more energy? Would we be able to do more things for God that we leave up to others now? Would our Christian Armor fit us better--would it be able to cover and protect all the vulnerable spots? Would it still be an ordeal to put it on? Would a decrease in junk food cause an increase in appetite for the Word? Would we recover more easily from injury and hurt? Would we be more resistant to spiritual illness? Would we be more able to handle and manage stress? Perhaps we all need to break our addiction to junk food. Perhaps we need to guard our heart, knowing it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23) Perhaps the Lord's church would thrive if its members were all healthy and well---or at least doing their part to become healthy and well. I know we cannot attain perfection but we can attempt spiritual healthiness. Perhaps we truly are what we eat, read, see, hear, listen to, watch, do . . .


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Facilitators of Forgiveness

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9. I have been hearing more and more about conflict lately. Even those of our number seem to be struggling to get along. We fight over "big" issues as well as lesser ones. Just Wednesday night, in ladies class, we prayed for one who had decided that hurt feelings would keep them from both fellowship and worship, vowing it would be forever. We hear of churches splitting, feuding, name calling, etc. And I know that God's heart must be breaking. We hear of folks doing unspeakable, sinful things to our church family and we know that satan is alive and well and waging war on our church.
While it is true that God has called us to minister to others, to evangelize, to baptize, to teach and make disciples, it is also true that He called us to be peacemakers. This is a very large task because we live in a very unforgiving world. If you listen to political newscasts, you hear about old votes, old affairs and old decisions. If you watch television, you hear about past behaviors, past indiscretions, and past bad habits. If you sit at the local coffee shop, you are apt to hear some of the same. Isn't there a verse that says, "love keeps no record of wrong"? That is forgiveness. Making peace has to do with forgiveness.
We must be the kind of people who facilitate forgiveness. This requires us to live like we are forgiven. We can't keep revisiting our sins, they are put away, wiped away and forgiven. We cannot go through our lives, walking our daily walk and talking our daily talk with an attitude of guilt. Why would we continue to keep a record of it, when God does not? We have been saved, not because of what we did or do, but because of His mercy and grace. Praise God, for His saving love!
Not only must we live like we are forgiven, we must also be forgiving people. I want to be the kind of person who forgives like Jesus does, immediately. I don't want to stew about the wrong done to me. I don't want to keep adding fuel to my fire of anger and hurt. I want to forgive immediately and completely. Jesus did that. His forgiveness was immediate and complete, even on the cross. I want to be more like Him. I am way too busy to take the time to wallow in my own hurt feelings. I pray we will continue learning that immediate and complete forgiveness. If we are to be peacemakers, we must learn to be forgivers.
We must also work to create an atmosphere or attitude of forgiveness. When our friends or fellow christians are venting to us, we need to be brave enough to encourage immediate forgiveness. We need to not add to their anger, not add to their hurt but rather work with them to diffuse it, work to salve their wounded feelings and help them to move into a prayerful forgiveness for their offender.
I know there are congregations who are wounded and bleeding. They have been injured by one of their own. They have been betrayed and lied to. They have been abused and misused. They will need our help to forgive. They will need forgiving people to help guide them into the healing and forgiveness they need. Once their wounds are no longer bleeding and their hearts are no longer breaking, they can move forward, working for the Lord, they themselves, facilitating forgiveness in others.
I know that some things are more difficult to forgive, but I also believe forgiveness is absolutely possible in absolutely every situation. If it were not, God would not ask us to forgive. He could not do so and remain a just and loving God. There have been so many times we have been hurt. Hurt with words, hurt by actions, hurt by events, but I have never been deserted by my friends and then lied about and then beaten and then hanged on a cross to die. For those would seem almost impossible to forgive. And yet . . . He forgave. He reminds us to forgive as we have been forgiven. He tells us that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. Measure to measure---forgiveness of our sins has a direct correlation to the way we forgive others. And we are to encourage others to also forgive. We are to be facilitators of forgiveness, peacemakers because we are sons of God.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Still Shakin'

Ever felt totally overwhelmed? Ever looked around you and wondered if, or knew for sure, you had to be dreaming? Ever knew beyond a shadow of a doubt this could not be your reality? I'm there!!! Truly--I know that I must be living someone else's life. I have been praying that God would help me use His Word as a mirror for my life. That I would look into the Holy Scriptures and be able to discern both my strengths and my weaknesses. That I would have the courage to yield my will to His and become more like Him every day. That I would put away selfishness and vanity and see, I mean really see, those around me and put forth that extra effort to encourage and edify them. That I would focus, truly focus on the eternal things and allow God to take care of the temporal things. Like I said, this has been my prayer. Only, I haven't liked what the Word has shown me. I haven't liked what I saw in the mirror. And so, on a daily basis, I am striving to change that, to work on the flaws, to let God's grace cover the imperfections. I really want to see Him when I look in that mirror, but as of yet, I don't. That is my reality!!!
The part that has me confused is the enormous and abundant blessings bestowed on one so flawed. As I sit and look around me, I am overwhelmed by how much God loves me. I cannot believe He would see me, (and I know He sees me as I truly am) and love me enough to die. I am amazed He could see my meager offerings to Him in time, money, effort, talents, etc and still give me more and more. I cannot comprehend how He hears the words from my mouth that are less than patient, less than encouraging, less than godly and yet He gives me more and more opportunities. Isn't He afraid I will mess up again? He doesn't seem to be.
I am not always a good wife. Sometimes, I take my husband for granted. Sometimes, I put my needs before his. Sometimes, I am less than supportive. And yet, God gave me, not one, but two husbands. Husbands who truly loved me.
I am not always a good mother. Sometimes, I am sarcastic with my children. Sometimes, I set my expectations too high. Sometimes, I get angry and say unkind things to and about my children. And yet, God continues to give me a good relationship with them.
I am not always a good daughter. Sometimes, I am rude to my parents. Sometimes, I roll my eyes when they talk to me, like I did when I was thirteen. And yet, God gave me godly parents who love me and love Him, parents who are loving and supportive.
I am not always a good christian. Sometimes, I get frustrated with my brothers and sister. Sometimes I get angry with excuses and want to vent on them. Sometimes, I think hateful thoughts about them because they have not done what I wanted. And yet, God places me in congregations filled with loving, godly christians, good friends, friends we can laugh and cry with, friends who really care about us.
I know my flaws and I know God does, too. I truly am trying to be better. I am trying to give it my all. I think that is what God did and does for me---He gives me His all. All of the best He has, He gives me. It has nothing to do with what I deserve. It only has to do with loving me. That is overwhelming---that is the part of my reality that is so very difficult to grasp. Praise God that I do not have to understand it to accept it. I am very grateful that He takes all I have to give and blesses me with all He has. He says, "Give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. will be poured into your lap." When I give my all, He gives His.---He presses it down and continues to shake it together---still shakin', still shakin' , still shakin' . . .

PS--How cool is that? :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Accidental Christian

There was a young single man, working in the secular world, the only one of his immediate family who was not a member of the church. His brother was a gospel preacher. His sister, a teacher at a local christian pre-school. His father, a deacon in the Lord's church. His entire family lived for the Lord and offered many prayers on behalf of this man. Yet, he continued to live the life of the world. There were not many worldly pleasures he did not pursue or partake of. He worked in a factory for many years, working much overtime, the money coming in handy for the purchase of drugs and alcohol and guns. He purchased a house and a truck, took vacations and spent his money enjoying himself.
For Mother's Day, this man asked his mom what he could get her that would make her happy. She asked for only one thing, that he come to worship with her on Mother's Day. (He would have preferred to buy her something.) But, wanting to please his mother, he got up early that Sunday in May. He showered and combed his long, curly hair, securing it in a ponytail. He put a earring in, (a miniature handcuff), put on his only suit and went to church. Out of his comfort zone, he walked into the building and sat in the pew with his family, his mother's happiness evident on her face. The service seemed to go on forever but the man convinced himself this was for his mother. The invitation was finally offered, the final prayer finally said, and the family made their way to leave, anticipating the nice lunch that would follow. As they made their way to the back doors, an older gentleman approached the family. As introductions were made and hands shook, he took notice of the young man with the earring and ponytail, and taking the young man's hand, he snarled, "Why don't you get a haircut". The young man felt the anger rage inside him. In another place, at another time, that old man would have found himself picking himself up from the floor, and he would have needed help. The young man thought about this incident all during lunch. The more he thought about it, the angrier he got. He wanted revenge, but he didn't want to go to jail. He finally decided the best way to get even was to go to church everytime the doors were opened, just to annoy that older gentleman. He told himself it wouldn't be long until his constant presence would give that old man a heart attack. And he smiled. And so, Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday this young man came to church---coming just to aggravate this old man. He made sure he did his drinking on Friday night instead of Saturday so he would be able to come to church. He didn't take extra shifts on Wednesday night so he could come to church.
I know you can guess what happened? This young man began to change. He discovered several things that caused him concern. He discovered there were several Christians, even an elder, who worked with him at the factory, and he wondered why he'd never known they were Christians. He noticed many of the lessons were negative, lessons about how sinful denominational practices were and he didn't understand why folks needed to hear so much of that. But, then there was a gospel meeting. He decided to attend, a decision that would change his life forever. For the first time, he heard about grace. He decided he had to have it. He became a Christian that very night. He took a leave of absence from the factory and attended preaching school. He came back to work in his home town at a small, struggling congregation. He kept his factory job, determined to make sure others knew he was a Christian. It wasn't easy for him to change all the bad habits and some of his old wild friends were uncomfortable with this new man and the life he lived.
This is a true story. I share it with you as a follow up to yesterday's question regarding eternal significance. There were so many events in this man's life that were indeed eternally significant. They were not accidental. Those events were used by God to bring salvation. Those events were used by God to bring this man to a life of service in the Kingdom. Those events are already leading others to salvation. And those events were used by God to bring me the most amazing, godly, Christian husband. Praise God for each of those eternally significant events!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Eternal Significance?

The concept of eternal significance has been floating around in my mind for several days. I am sure there are somethings that are indeed eternally significant. I am however, unsure whether everything is or can be. So I am asking for some discussion on these points:

Is everything eternally significant?
Are somethings more eternally significant than others?
How do we know or can we know the difference?
Or is this just a cold medicine induced delirium?

Looking forward to the e-discussion.

Friday, March 02, 2007

If #4

Here's the new one:

IF you could dispel one spiritual "myth" and the entire world would believe you, what "myth" would you prove to in fact be truth rather than myth?

Can hardly wait for your responses.


PS. Thank you all for the prayers, my oldest son, Chad leaves for Iraq in about six weeks. Please continue to pray for his wife Traci and their three sons, ages 1, 3, and 5

Thursday, March 01, 2007

God In A Box

Have you been following the "Lost Tomb of Christ" storyline? Evidently, James Cameron, (of Titanic fame) claims that 1982 Jerusalem was the sight of one of the most amazing archaeological finds of all time. Apparently, a family purchased a home and in the renovation/moving in process, stumbled across a tomb, home to ten small, stone caskets. Mr. Cameron is convinced that one of these contain the skeletal remains of our Savior, the others containing family members including His wife, His mother and His son. Obviously, this claim has caused much outrage and debate from both the Christian community and those in the biblical anthropological and archaeological communities. And, rightly so. Noted Biblical Anthropologist, Joe Zias says, "What they've done here is they've simply tried in a very, very dishonest way to try to con the public into believing this is the tomb of Jesus--it has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus." There are so many scientific arguments to refute Mr. Cameron's claim, a claim which is a direct and abject contradiction of Holy Scripture. If you want read more about this attack on our faith, you will not have any problem finding the information. The "documentary" is airing Sunday evening amid much controversy.
This topic has been under discussion in our household for several days. It is no shock that Mr. Cameron and his cronies are attacking the Christian faith, they have tried before. The idea that science (which is created by God) refutes the Bible story (written by God) about Jesus (sacrificed by God) is preposterous. Satan, tried for hundreds of years to contain God and His message. It is obvious that he has not given up. The very idea that the Creator of the universe could be contained in a "small, limestone box" is inconceivable.
As I have watched this story unfold, I am reminded of a book I read a while back. The book, Your God is Too Small, by J.B. Phillips addresses our limited ideas of God. For years, many Christians have failed to acknowledge the majesty, power and presence of God in their lives. They have pigeon-holed Him and allowed Him (if one can allow God anything) to be Lord over only certain parts, specific areas. All too often, they have made Him nothing more than a "Sunday morning God", bookended by stained glass and heralded by many words and voices lifted in song, only to be set aside when the lights are dimmed, the heat lowered and the door locked until the next "meeting time". Like Mr. Cameron, they try to contain God. Only, the box they keep God in has a sign out front and an ad in the "church section" of the local newspaper. To which the world could comment, these people "have nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus".
Hence the problem, if Jesus is in that stone box, then He is not resurrected. If He can be contained in such a vessel, He cannot be God. If God is there, on television, amidst a pile of two thousand year old dust, then He is not in us. If there was no resurrection for Christ, then there will be no resurrection for me or you. That leaves us without hope and . . . and we are . . . to be pitied more than all men. (I Corinthians 15:19)