Tuesday, December 29, 2009

OUCH!

Something I saw on a friend's Face Book that made me wince:

How would you feel if someone discarded the Christmas gift you gave them like it was trash? Now ask yourself, How does God feel each time we discard His Gift or take it for granted?


IN GOD WE STILL TRUST




The words to this song used to be true. However, you would hardly know it these days. How tragic!

Post edited on 12/30/09

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BEYOND THE PARTY

This excerpt from one of Ron Hutchcraft's Christmas Moments says it so much better than I ever could.

They called it a Christmas miracle. A California dad drove into a Sierra forest, parked his truck and went looking for a Christmas tree with his three teenage children. Then the snowstorms came. They were lost and they were unprepared. After searchers looked for three days, two pilots finally saw the word “HELP” stamped in the snow and a man waving. For that lost family, Christmas meant rescue.

And that is really what Christmas is about for every one of us. Behind the big party called Christmas is a mission as serious as life-or-death—yours and mine. That first Christmas, God announced Jesus was coming to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). He didn’t come to start a religion or be a good example. He came here to rescue people who would die otherwise forever, because our sin carries a forever death penalty that He paid with His life on the cross.

This Christmas season, He wants to make you a Christmas miracle, if you’ll grab His outstretched hand as your Rescuer from your sin. Don’t miss what He came for. If you’re ready for His rescue, call us at 888-NEED HIM.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WHERE'S THE LINE TO SEE JESUS?



"Where's the Line to See Jesus?"

An original song performed by father and daughter, Steve Haupt and Becky Kelley
Recorded at Shock City Studios, Saint Louis, MO
Produced by Chris Loesch
Video by Robbie Haupt and Greg Haupt

The story behind the song, as told by Steve Haupt, is as follows:

"While at the mall last year, my 4 year old grandson saw kids lined up excitedly to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of God's son, with the innocence of a child, he asked his mom, 'Where's the line to see Jesus? If Christmas is Jesus' birthday, why don't we see Him more?'

As his grandpa, I was so happy that little Spencer understood the meaning of Christmas at such a tender age, and then the words for a song were jotted down in just a few minutes. The song was inspired by my grandson, and the message was inspired by my Savior.


Out of the mouths of babes come profound truths that many adults can not understand. Hopefully Spencer's observation and our song will cause people to reflect on the love of Jesus, and the certainty that one day we will all stand in line to see Jesus."


Wishing all of you a most beautiful Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

Great-Granny Grandma

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NO MORE EXCUSES

"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit."
(Psalm 34:18)

I'm just loving this e-mail I received the other day. Hope it encourages you as much as it did me.

The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember:
  • Noah was a drunk
  • Abraham was too old
  • Isaac was a daydreamer
  • Jacob was a liar
  • Leah was ugly
  • Joseph was abused
  • Moses had a stuttering problem
  • Gideon was afraid
  • Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
  • Rahab was a prostitute
  • Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
  • David had an affair and was a murderer
  • Elijah was suicidal
  • Isaiah preached naked
  • Jonah ran from God
  • Naomi was a widow
  • Job went bankrupt
  • Peter denied Christ (3 times!)
  • The Disciples fell asleep while praying
  • Martha worried about everything
  • Mary Magdalene was promiscuous
  • The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
  • Zaccheus was too small
  • Paul was too religious
  • Timothy had an ulcer
  • AND, Lazarus was dead!

Now, no more excuses! God can use you to your full potential if you are willing to turn your life over to Him.* Remember, you aren't the message. You are just the messenger.


*To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit Yours for Life or call 1-888-966-7325.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WATCH FOR THE ANSWER

A couple of weeks ago, my granddaughter and I were setting up a time when she could come over and help me get caught up on some household chores. She said Sunday would be a good day for her, and that she could come to church with me in the morning so we could spend more time together.

Well, at the beginning of the service, our pastor told us to look at the person to our left and the person to our right and pray for them. He then added, and if the seat next to you is empty, pray that the Lord will fill it through you. As he said that, a light bulb started flashing in my head.

My granddaughter was in the seat to my left. That seat had been empty the previous week when we prayed that same prayer, and yet without that trigger to remind me, I would have remained totally oblivious to it being an answer to prayer. Wow! And wasn't this birthday gift from her (to come help me with my chores) another answer to prayer? How often I have wished I could afford to pay someone to do the thorough cleaning job I never seem to get around to doing myself.

That really got me thinking. How many times have I failed to put two and two together because I forgot about the prayer I'd prayed and wasn't watching expectantly for the answer. How about you?

Monday, November 2, 2009

THE TROUBLE WITH LIFE'S GREAT CATCHES

Today I read a wonderful e-devotional by Ron Hutchcraft entitled The Trouble With Life's Great Catches. It had been sitting in my In Box for quite some time, but maybe today was the right time to open it. Hope it speaks to your heart as it did mine.


The Trouble With Life's Great Catches

In his classic, "Old Man and the Sea," Ernest Hemingway tells about a weary old fisherman who, like most of his village, has had hard times most of his life. He's barely eking out a living, and he goes out one day and decides to travel farther than usual to fish. And to his amazement, he hooks the largest fish he's ever seen in his life - so big he can't possibly bring it into his boat. So he begins to tow his prize fish behind his boat, excited about what this catch could mean and how it may be the beginning of a wonderful turn of his fortunes. It's the dream catch of his life! But as he comes into the harbor and up to the dock, his joy turns back to an even greater despair than before. All the while that he's been towing his prize; the other creatures of the sea have been feeding on it. And all that's left of his dream is bones.

Maybe one reason that story has enduring interest is that it's a mirror of many of our lives. We pursue what we think will give us what we've needed. We catch it, but our great catches all too often turn out to be just carcasses in the end. They gave us hope for a while and then they let us down. So we go back out, fishing for something else that will be our answer. And ultimately, our next catch disappoints us, too. The trail behind us from our days even as a teenager is littered with the pieces of things that were supposed to make us happy but ultimately didn't. I couldn't help but notice a comment made by Johnny Carson's biographer after that great entertainer's death. This man who was lauded as the best in his field, who made so many of us laugh so many times, who was a giant in television. Here's what his biographer said: "I can't say that Johnny was ever a truly happy man. I don't think he would ever say he was a happy man." He's not alone.

In a few, sledgehammer words, Jesus Christ exposed all our futile expeditions to find answers for our life; and the only place really worth looking for it. In Mark 8:36, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus said, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" You can catch everything this world has to offer - its acclaim, its wealth, its pleasures, its success - and lose the only thing that really matters, which is your soul. It's your soul that's always hungry for something you've never been able to find. And your soul is forever restless because you're away from the One you were made by; the One you were made for. In God's own words, "Your sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2).

We have tried to fill a God-sized hole with things and people that can't begin to take His place. If we live like this, we'll live without peace and without meaning. If we die like this, we'll spend eternity without God and His love. He didn't leave us separated from Him. He pursued us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to sacrifice His life for yours and mine; to take the rap for all our sin, that defiant self-rule of our lives.

So what gaining the whole world could never do, Jesus can do. He said, "He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35). That could be you, beginning today. Beginning the moment that you admit your need for His forgiveness, your readiness to turn the driver's seat over to Him, your complete trust in Jesus and Him alone as your only hope. It's quite simply the end of your search.

You've been so busy fishing for things that can't save or can't satisfy your soul. You've neglected your soul maybe, but not anymore. This is the day you can find Jesus and find what your soul has been looking for so long.

To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit: Yours for Life or call 1-888-966-7325.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

GOD'S GRACE

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no
longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
me and gave Himself for me. I do not set
aside the grace of God; for if righteousness
comes through the law, then Christ died
in vain." - (Galatians 2:20-21)

We have been studying the book of Galatians in church, and this morning our pastor preached an awesome, thought provoking sermon on the grace of God. Grace that includes anyone and everyone. God's love is all encompassing. He loves the poor, the sick, the sinful, the outcasts. He does not have cliques. He does not play favorites. No one gets picked last for His team.

It was easy for me to let my mind drift back to painful childhood memories of being the last one to be picked for a team, and then forward to more recent memories of feeling excluded by cliques in a church I attended several years ago. What was not so easy, was to acknowledge the times I turned my back on someone for fear of what others would think, the times I was judgmental and showed no grace at all, the times I've thought I was better than someone else.

It cut like a knife to hear pastor say that when we think we are better than someone else, we start acting like them and even worse. For many years, even as a Christian, I was very legalistic. I never quite grasped that being a Christian means living out God's grace to the people He puts in our path.

The purpose of the law was to show us our sinfulness and how impossible it is for any one of us to keep it in it's entirety. The law cannot love you or do anything for you. Only Jesus can do that. We all need Jesus, and when we put our trust in Him, that relationship with the law is broken. Righteousness can not be gained by following a set of rules. If it could, Jesus would have died in vain. But His death was not in vain. It had meaning and purpose, and brought me life. Because of His death, I have been set free, and you can be set free too.

If you are reading this and think it is too late for you, that is a lie from the pit of hell. No sin is too bad to be forgiven. If you were the only person on the face of this earth, Jesus would still have come and died for you. All you have to do is reach out and accept His gift of salvation.

There are no Baptists, or Methodists, or Catholics in Heaven. Only people who have put their trust in Christ!

"...by grace you have been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not of works, lest anyone should boast"
(Ephesians 2:8)

AN APPROACHABLE GOD

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot
sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in
all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of
grace, that we may obtain mercy and find
grace to help in time of need."
(Hebrews 4:15-16)

A couple of days ago I was having lunch with some friends and though they all wanted a word of prayer before the meal, nobody wanted to be the one to do it. I didn't want to be the one either, but ended up saying grace when it became evident that no one else was going to step out of their comfort zone.

Why do so many of us feel uncomfortable when we're asked to publicly pray? I have been thinking about that since the lunch incident. Why do I cringe and hold my breath while avoiding the eyes of the person requesting a volunteer to say the blessing over a meal, or to open or close out a group in prayer, in hopes that someone else will be called upon?

Could it be because I grew up in an environment where one did not speak about God in public? Or could it be because I so often have trouble knowing what to say, and then in hindsight can think of a bunch of things I should have uttered. And yet God is a personal God. He loved us so much He sent Jesus to die for our sins so we could be reconciled to Him and able to freely enter into His presence. Once we accept the gift of salvation, we are adopted into His family and He becomes our father.

Praying is talking to our Heavenly Father. We don't have to use fancy words. He knows our heart. So why the fear of what others may think?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

OLD SUPERSTITIONS DIE HARD

"The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.
"
(Proverbs 10:22)

This post is a continuation of a post entitled FEAR that I published on my other blog yesterday.

To recap, I had recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and after a stretch of blessings and answers to prayer, the Lord chose that special day to gift me with an awesome surprise. At first my joy was supreme, but soon it became tainted by feelings of foreboding. Each time I shared what the Lord had done, it was followed by a pang of fear that something really bad was about to happen. Does anyone relate to that?

I think it is a common superstition in many cultures, and I remember my mother knocking on wood to keep bad luck away, and my mother-in-law spitting three times to ward off punishment for bragging, whenever we spoke about our good luck. So steeped was I in this mindset, it eventually became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and each time I felt extraordinarily happy about something, I would immediately become fearful of the bad news to follow, and I was never disappointed. Most times it would happen the very next day.

Old superstitions do die hard, because after all these years of studying the Word of God, I still slip back into old ways of thinking. And that is exactly the way Satan would like it to be. He is always looking for our weak points, the buttons he can push, in order to gain a foothold in our lives (John 10:10). That is why we are exhorted to renew our minds with the truth of the Word, and to bring every thought into captivity to it (Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Satan is the father of all lies (John 8:44), and we are warned about how he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8-9). He may be a roaring lion, but he is also a toothless defeated one, as a result of the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross.

Despite how things may look to our natural eyes, the battlefield is in our minds. That's why we need to stand strong in the Lord and put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-13,16). The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The only way we can be defeated is if we allow Satan to deceive us.

Anyway, all this to say, bad things do happen, but they happen because we live in a fallen world. It's not the sharing of our blessings that causes them to happen. One thing has nothing to do with the other, although Satan would like us to think it does so he can steal some of our joy.

Dear God, let me never fail to share the things you have done in my life for fear of some evil to follow. You are totally awesome, and worthy of my praise!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

BACK TO THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

"Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness
shine like the dawn, the justice of
your cause like the noonday sun.
"
(Psalm 37:5-6)

Last night I stayed up really late trying to finish an interview I was transcribing, and as I fell exhausted into bed, the Lord spoke eight little words to me (not audibly, but by way of that still small voice within)--you are wound up tighter than a corkscrew. Huh? Me? I never would have thought. And yet, once the words were spoken I suddenly became aware of just how tense and knotted up my body really felt. How could I have missed that? And exhausted as I was, my mind was still in a whirl with a barrage of thoughts just tumbling all over each other.

The last few months flashed before my eyes. The frustration of trying to cram more into each day than is humanly possible, the rushing from one thing to the next as a result, the inability to achieve balance in my life and letting work take over more and more of my time. Why?

I thought I was laid back, I thought my trust was in the Lord and His provision, I thought, I thought, I thought. What a rude awakening to see that what I thought was not fact at all. If I was really laid back, why was my body all tied up in knots, and if I was trusting in the Lord to provide for all my needs, why was I so fearful that if I didn't work harder and faster, the work would go to someone else? That sounds more like trying to be in control than trusting God and being willing to step outside my comfort zone.

So back to the Cross I go to lay it all down again, and truly commit my way to the Lord. That means letting Him decide what I need to do, and allowing Him to order my steps and orchestrate my time. He sees the whole picture, and knows what is best. Plus He loves me unconditionally (and you too), and never gives up on us--no matter how many times we fall.

How fitting that I write this as Labor Day draws to a close, harboring the end of a season and the beginning of the next. I too am leaving an old way behind and embarking on a new adventure. I can't wait to see what this chapter holds in store!

Monday, August 24, 2009

DIVINE ORIGINALS

"I will praise You, for I am fearfully
and wonderfully made."
(Psalm 139:14a)

Did you know that you are a Divine, one of a kind, original, created for a special purpose no one else can fulfill? I lost sight of that for a while, and in my frustration, wrote a post on my other blog which you can read here, if you are interested.

As I wrote, I had a flash of insight. I have been trying to compare apples to oranges. This was confirmed as I sat down to schedule my week in a planner. I really was trying to cram more than what is humanly possible into the 24 hours allotted to me, but because I was comparing my 24 hours to the surgeon's 24 hours and to my daughter's 24 hours, and the 24 hours of my single mom friends who are trying to juggle family and work, I felt I wasn't accomplishing anything.

What a difference a change in perspective can make. I was putting value on what I was getting done by human standards, which are quite different from God's. He did not create me to be a surgeon, or my daughter, or my friends. He created me to be me. If I am faithful to do the things He has called me to do, that is of the greatest value in His sight. That is what will make Him smile and say those glorious words I long to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23)

Friday, August 14, 2009

LET YOUR LIFE BEGIN AGAIN

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
(1 John 1:9)

Forgiveness has been one of my greatest challenges. Not the being able to forgive others kind, but the being able to forgive myself. It has been so hard to rid myself of the guilt laden memories that keep coming back to haunt me even though I know I was forgiven the day I laid them down at the foot of the Cross.

A few days ago, I had a sudden flash of insight as I read a devotional by Kenneth Copeland, entitled Let Your Life Begin Again. It was a devotional I have read several times before, but this time the words jumped out at me and spoke to my heart in a way I had never fully grasped. The moment you make Jesus Lord and accept His free gift of salvation, you are born again into newness of life. That very instant, your past is wiped away and you become like a new born babe with a clean slate. HELLO!!! I've known this for about 18 years now, but I guess I hadn't really absorbed it the way I should have.

With great excitement, I spent several hours dredging up every memory I could possibly think of that could produce guilt or unforgiveness, made a list several pages long, ripped it up, put the pieces in a pot in my kitchen sink, and lit a match to it. As I watched it burn, I madly waved a towel back and forth for fear that the smoke would set off the smoke alarm. Then I flushed the ashes down the toilet while replaying snippets of Scripture in my head such as, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18); "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12).

I had to flush several times, because just as my memories had kept coming back to haunt me, some of the ashes kept resurfacing and floating on top of the water. But persistence paid off. The last ash finally disappeared, and with it the last residue of guilt that had plagued me for so long.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

LETTING GOD BE GOD

"'My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are
your ways My ways,' says the Lord.' For
as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

Just when I think I've already let go of everything I can possibly think of that needs to be let go of in my life, I discover something new.

In my last post I wrote about the supernatural surgery the Lord performed on my face to remove a very large and ugly cyst. This came as a huge surprise since I was so sure that the answer to prayer was the surgeon He unexpectedly led me to, the peace I felt about making an appointment for the surgery, and most of all--wimp that I am--the total lack of fear as the surgeon explained the procedure and that I would have to return a week later to have the stitches removed. Under normal circumstances, that last statement about having to have stitches removed would have thrown me into a heightened state of panic.

So to say I was excited about the unexpected turn of events would be an understatement. It was one of the most awesome supernatural things I have ever experienced, and I couldn't wait to show everybody what the Lord had done. I shared my testimony at church, at my prayer group, on my blogs, with the person who had recommended the surgeon, and of course the surgeon's office when I called to cancel the appointment for the surgery and reschedule a follow-up instead so he could see my face and document what had occurred, and the Lord would get all the glory.

Well, the incision did not heal up as quickly as I expected it to, and once the soreness wore off and I could touch the area where the cyst had been, I could feel a knot under the skin. I started to regret having been so quick to share my testimony--especially with the surgeon. What would happen when I went for my follow-up? Would the surgeon think it hadn't been the Lord's handiwork after all? Now I was frantically requesting prayer that the Lord's glory would not be stolen. That is, until a wise intercessor reminded me that God is sovereign and does not need my help to make Him look good.

God is in complete control of every circumstance. His power is absolute, and He does things His way, in His time, in order to accomplish His purpose and plan, which His Word assures us is always for our good and His glory. This truth can be hard to swallow when we forget that He sees the whole picture and knows what He is doing. There is so much I don't understand, but God's sovereign design for our lives is so far beyond our comprehension that I am not expected to understand. All He asks is that I trust in His goodness and mercy.

Recently I came across a breath prayer that I have incorporated into my day. "Lord of my life, I give you my hopes." I don't know what will happen when I go to my appointment next week. I don't know if the healing will be complete by then or not. I don't know if there will be a scar. But I do know one thing. It's not my problem to worry about. God's glory does not depend on me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

LAY DOWN YOUR HEAVY BURDEN

"Come to me, all you who are weary
and burdened, and I will give you
rest." - Matthew 11:28

It seems like I've been battling the same old battles week after week, year after year, for almost half a century now, and wondering why it's so hard to break bad habits. Seems like I'm forever setting goals and declaring new beginnings, only to fall short time and time again. I can so relate to what the great apostle Paul says in Romans 7:15--"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." That describes me to a tee, and I spent much time this week pondering why that should be so.

Well, a few days ago I took one of my neighbors to an Alpha course. This week's session was all about the Holy Spirit. Nothing new that I haven't heard or read about before. My mind started to wander a bit, but all of a sudden I was sitting bolt upright in my chair. It was one of those moments when you see something you've seen a gazillion times before, but this time it jumps off the page and knocks you right between the eyes.

The Lord brought something to my attention that was so obvious, I couldn't believe it hadn't impacted me sooner. All along, without realizing it, I have been trying to do what the "Law" proved it was impossible for any of us to do. I have been trying to transform myself, when the Holy Spirit is the only one who can set me free from my various bondages. Hello!!!

The whole purpose of the law was to show us our need for grace. Nobody was able to keep all the commandments, ever. The old covenant was constantly being broken. However, God promised that one day He would make a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:33) and the law would become something inside of us instead of an external thing. Instead of all those rules weighing us down from the outside like a heavy sack of potatoes, we would be energized by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

According to Isaiah 59:1-2, we have all done wrong and gone astray, and the things we do wrong cause a separation between us and God. No one can bridge that gap by their own efforts. Jesus is the only way. On the Cross He took all our wrongdoing upon Himself (Isiah 53:6) and paid the price for our sins.

The moment we come to the foot of the Cross and receive the gift Christ offers us, we receive complete forgiveness of our sins. The barrier between us and God is removed, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, and He begins to transform us from the inside out. This takes time. Only rarely, if ever, does it happen overnight.

Victory comes when we stop trying to gain it in our own strength. It comes when we lay our heavy burden at the foot of the Cross, turn our lives over to the Lord, and are willing to let the Holy Spirit take the lead. Only then can the process of transformation begin, for it is God "who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). All good things we have or become, whatever the world's explanation may be, are a result of His grace, and His grace alone.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

AND THEN SUDDENLY...

Only yesterday I posted about how calm I was feeling, calm that surprised me, given my financial circumstances. And then suddenly--I just love those suddenlies--the unimaginable happened. Unimaginable in a truly awesome way.

For several months now I have been dreaming of some day owning a Wii. However, given my downward spiraling financial situation, that hardly seemed realistic. So imagine my surprise when a certified letter was delivered to my door, and inside the letter was an unexpected check for unpaid royalties, long written off, that not only enabled me to catch up on the bills and pay off my overdraft protection loan, but it enabled me to purchase a Wii and a Wii Fit too. Is that awesome, or what?

I have had many incredible experiences of the Lord coming through for me at the 11th hour to meet a pressing need, and I've always been very, very grateful, but what melts my heart and humbles me the most, is when He chooses to indulge me with a totally unnecessary want.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

TRUSTING IN THE FATHER'S LOVE

"When you pass through the waters, I
will be with you, And through the rivers,
they shall not overflow you. When you
walk through the fire, you shall not be
burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you."
(Isaiah 43:2)

Lately we seem to have been bombarded with an awful lot of bad news. And yes, like so many others, I too have been impacted by the economy, as well as by a couple of large, unexpected expenses that threw me completely off course. If I were to be moved by what my eyes see, what my ears hear, what my intellect tells me, and what my circumstances are looking like right now, I would be feeling stressed, overwhelmed, even panicked. And yet I'm not. I'm feeling unbelievably calm.

Surely this must be the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding," that is mentioned in Philippians 4:7, and that comes when we put our trust in the Lord. I can do that now because of all the times in the past when I have experienced His faithfulness. There has never been a need that was not met, and more often than not, met in some awesome way that could only have been orchestrated by Him.

A few days ago I attended a memorial service for a friend of mine who put all his trust in the Lord, despite the cancer that ravaged his body. After the eulogy, his widow read the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage, which so beautifully illustrates the love of a father who never leaves or forsakes his child, no matter what things may be looking like in the natural. It goes like this:

When the youth becomes of age, his father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him, and then leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night through without removing the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help, even though he is naturally terrified by all the noises he hears, and he cannot tell the other boys of his experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

Wild beasts must surely be all around him, and maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blows the grass and shakes the stump, but the boy remains stoically on his perch, never removing his blindfold, because he knows this is what he must do in order to become a man.

Finally, after a horrific night the sun appears and he removes his blindfold. It is then that he discovers his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone. Just because we can't see God doesn't mean He isn't there. No matter how bad things may seem, He is right next to us, watching over us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Friday, April 24, 2009

COME ON HOME



Just wanted to share this video clip I found on Tammy's blog (Omah's Helping Hands). Don't think I need to add any words of my own. It seems to say it all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

IT'S SO NOT ABOUT ME

"He who has no sense of self-importance
cannot be ofended or deflated."
(W. Phillip Keller)

This is the lesson the Lord seems to be trying to impart to me these days. The universe does not revolve around me.

I actually started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, and was happy when some rush work came my way that caused me to lay it aside. Truth be told, I was embarrassed to write it. The thought of people I know reading it and getting a glimpse of the real me, made me burn with shame. But isn't that yet another aspect of the same issue? Aren't those thoughts still all about me, rather than any reflection of true Godly sorrow?

The Lord already knows the end from the beginning. He knows our hearts and all the things we are going to do before we even do them. The tests come, not for Him to see how we will react, but so that we can get a glimpse into whether we have learned our lessons yet, or whether we need to take another walk around the mountain. My three-part test started several weeks ago.

PART I: The person sitting next to me at a prayer meeting one morning, told me about an accountability group she belonged to. I asked if it was something I could attend too, and was really excited when she said I could. A few days later, however, I received an e-mail from a friend of mine, also in the group, telling me she was surprised that I had been invited without it first being discussed with the other members. She had had brought it up to them, and the consensus was that they didn't want me to come.

Now even though I could understand their having already bonded and not wanting to expand their numbers, and even though I realized I wouldn't have been able to go anyway because the hour conflicted with my work schedule, it did sting. In fact, for a moment, I felt as though I had been punched so hard it winded me.

PART II: That first sting was soon forgotten, but the test was not yet over. Our prayer group was going to have a special meeting, and the leader asked me if I would read a particular devotional I had shared with him and, in my own words, explain how it applied to the group. That was a moment of excitement mixed with trepidation. Excitement because I felt the Lord was finally taking me off the shelf, and trepidation because it had been a long, long time since anyone had asked me to do something like this.

So I prayed about it, and even asked a couple of other folks to pray for me too. Went to church and had copies made of the devotional to pass out. Stayed up really late because there was work I needed to finish, and after that there were some Scriptures I wanted to look up. Before I knew it, my guard was down, and thoughts started flitting through my mind such as how this would be the start of a new thing the Lord was about to do in my life, the beginning of a new ministry, how maybe there would be such annointing the next morning that I would get asked to do the devotional at the meeting planned for the day after as well, and on and on and on.

Well, pride does come before a fall, and to my great shame, all I got to do at the meeting was to pass out the copies of the devotional. I never got called on to read it, or to share my thoughts. There was a momentary pang of true remorse for what I had done to bring on this admonishment, but stronger than the remorse was the embarrassment I felt at having made such a big thing out of this invitation in my mind, even to the point of asked other folks for prayer. And so the Lord reminded me that had I taken to heart the quote at the top of this post, there would now be no cause for shame. After all, He did share the message via the handouts, even if He didn't choose to use me as His mouthpiece at this time.

PART III: At a time when I was bogged down with work, a rush project with a firm deadline that I had said I could meet, my computer got infected with a Trojan virus. What to do. I didn't have money to pay someone to fix the problem, so I swallowed my pride and called a friend I haven't been in touch with for almost a year, to see if her husband (a computer pro who had helped me in the past) might be willing to come to my aid once again. He tried to help me over the phone, but nothing worked, so he said he would stop by the next day with a program he had that would clean my computer, but he didn't.

Now did I stop to consider how things might be looking from his perspective--husband, father, son-in-law, juggling a myriad of responsibilities, commuting a huge distance to work and back every day, coaching a couple of his children's teams, active in church, and then here comes someone out of the past trying to add one more thing to an already overloaded plate? No, not at all. To the contrary.

My thoughts were all about me. How was I going to get my job done? I really needed the money. There were bills to be paid. This was my livelihood. Why couldn't he see how important this was and drop everything else? Wow! I can't believe the nerve of me intruding on their lives and then actually feeling wronged when he had other obligations that were a priority. What was I thinking.

So I guess it's one more trip around the mountain for me, but the Lord did show me some mercy and grace in the form of a perfect stranger, our church's IT person, who showed up in person, to help me with my computer. Hopefully the lesson has been learned!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

MY TESTIMONY: PART IV
The Best is Yet to Come

"So I will restore to you the years that
the swarming locust has eaten ... You
shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you.

(Joel 2:25-26)

Life was bittersweet. The Lord was revealing Himself to me in awesome ways, and yet I felt isolated. There were parking issues in my development that made it difficult to invite people over. Neighbors were very transient and pretty much kept to themselves. On top of that, I was in a cold, cold church where I never felt I belonged. I stayed for eight years because the teaching was sound and it was close to home.

I felt as though the Lord had put me on the shelf, and would wonder if He was ever going to take me down, but after a while those thoughts grew less and less, and I settled in to a resigned sort of contentment--well, most of the time. Other times I would think of the friends I went to school with who had lived successful lives and were now enjoying retirement or semiretirement, whereas due to the poor choices I had made, there was no retirement in my future.

I didn't really mind the fact that I would have to keep on working, because I enjoy what I do, but I did have regrets about wasting my talents and opportunities, and not having been a better parent. I would get this overwhelming feeling of remorse at having squandered my life and not having anything to show for it. Even worse, there was no turning back the clock (something I wrote about here, on my other blog).

But God wasn't done with me yet. He still had a "suddenly" up His sleeve, and just as I was getting ready to sign my 12th lease, a chain of unexpected events took place (literally from one day to the next) that led to my moving to an even smaller town. It all happened so suddenly and out of the blue, there was no time for planning. And of course Satan did his best to steal my joy by creating obstacles that made the process of getting from there to here stressful and suspenseful, but the Lord came through in His usual awesome way, only confirming that it was He who had set the whole thing in motion.

It's been almost a year-and-a-half now since I was transported to yet another unfamiliar neck of the woods, but what a blessing it has been. It is a quiet complex, surrounded by beautiful trees, and parking is no issue. The neighbors are really friendly, and my new church home is so, so warm. It's like I've been placed in the middle of a huge, caring family. People actually want to include me and hear what I have to say. And the Lord has given me a new ministry, one I would never have chosen on my own since it is way below my level of comfortability, but one that I know is a privileged responsibility. He has finally taken me off the shelf and is training me to be an intercessor.

My professional friends may be retired now, but I am just getting started. And as for the tragedy of a wasted life, has it really been so? Had I pursued my talents and education to their fullest, would I ever have felt a need for the Lord or for His saving grace? Would I have spent my life chasing after the things the world has to offer, instead of the things that have eternal value? Would I have missed God's gift of salvation instead of my vocation, a greater tragedy by far?

Life has become exciting. I can't wait to see what the Lord is about to do next!

Read all about it in Part V.
PART V Sincerely Wrong

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MY TESTIMONY: PART III
Taste and See that the Lord is Good

"For I know the thoughts that I
think toward you, says the Lord,
thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope
."
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Life was comfortable and fulfilling. Good friends, church family, music ministry, work I enjoyed, people who appreciated me. I had become quite content with the way things were, when suddenly and unexpectedly, I met a "Christian" man through work. And I have purposefully put that word in quotes, because one of the first lessons I learned during my stint with the organization I met him through, is that some folks claiming to be Christians just use the title to try and take advantage of their unsuspecting sisters and brothers in Christ. I have been more burned by them than by anybody else I've known. But I digress.

This person was my boss, and not only did he want to marry me, but he also offered me what looked like the job of my dreams. I wasn't sure what to make of all this because at this point in life I no longer considered the possibility of remarrying. I enjoyed my independence, and being able to come and go as I pleased. However, I also reveled in the attention he showered upon me. It felt kind of nice to have someone think I was so special and be genuinely concerned about my wellbeing. What to do.

I did a lot of praying, begging the Lord to step in and close all the doors if this wasn't of Him, but at the same time, I tuned out all the little warnings that the still small voice within was trying to bring to my attention. I saw only what I wanted to see, which was that this man was mature, responsible, and trustworthy. I believed him when he told me his word was something I could bank on. And when both his pastor and mine gave us their blessing, I reasoned that it was a sign of the Lord's blessing too, and this romantic fantasy started playing in my mind of what an awesome testimony this would turn out to be. I even tried to help the Lord speed things along instead of waiting on His perfect timing.

The owner of my apartment complex, which had turned co-op, had offered to pay me to move out so he could sell my apartment. At first I turned the offer down, but now I told him I'd reconsidered, and would like to take him up on it. My daughter had said I could stay with her until I got married, which was supposed to happen shortly after the move, and so the wheels were set in motion. I gave up my business, gave most of my furniture and money to a friend who had been staying with me so she and her girls would be able to find another place to live, and set out with only what I could squeeze into my little two-door Ford Escort. A home and a job awaited me, so I wasn't worried about myself at all.

Segway from there right into the second lesson I was soon to learn, which is that only God's word can be banked on. Only His word can be trusted 100% of the time. Everyone else's word is subject to change. People make commitments they don't or can't keep. Sometimes it's because they make them in haste before considering all the ramifications. Other times it's because circumstances get in the way. Even the most honorable and best intentioned folks are subject to sickness, accidents, unavoidable delays, and death.

To make a long story short, not only did the job fall through, but I soon found out there was not going to be a marriage either, and I ended the relationship. So here I was, stripped of everything familiar; a bag lady living out of boxes and inhabiting the top bunk of my granddaughters' bunk bed.

It was in this top bunk that the Lord finally got my undivided attention. Many tears were shed when no one was around, and after I found a job, I would even find myself crying while I was driving back and forth from work. One of the major miracles of that time was that I never had an accident, even when my eyes were so filled I could hardly see where I was going. I just kept weeping and asking over and over again, why Lord did you let this happen to me when I not only prayed, but even begged you to close all the doors if this move was not of you.

Finally, one day when there were no tears left to cry, a sudden calm come over me, and I felt as though the Lord had put His arms around me and was holding me close and quieting me. A picture flashed through my mind of a very rebellious horse finally being broken in, and in that moment, I was able to release what was in my tightly clenched fist, and open it up to receive something better.

On that road towards something better, there were many lessons to learn, and one of the first things to get chipped away at was my pride. For the first time in my life, I was on the receiving end instead of the giving one. I was beginning to walk in the other person's shoes, and experience the shame of needing a handout, and the humiliation when certain people think it's your fault and you're just too lazy to go get a second or a third job.

Another first was that nobody seemed to need anything I had to offer. In the big city I came from, I had never had problems making friends. People were often in and out of my apartment, and there was plenty for me to do at church as well, but here I was in this small town I had never even heard about before, and my overtures were rejected. My ego was diminishing by leaps and bounds. It was a very painful and puzzling experience.

More than once I asked the Lord why I couldn't make friends, and why I couldn't be part of a music ministry. His response was that if He wanted me to keep doing the things I did before, he would have kept me there. He had uprooted and transplanted me into unfamiliar territory so He could start doing something new. I began to understand that just because things didn't turn out the way I expected they would have if I had really heard from the Lord didn't mean that I hadn't. All it meant was that He had a different purpose in mind.

During my 12 years in this small town the Lord provided in miraculous ways--not only for my needs, but for some of my wants as well. I learned to trust Him more than ever as I experienced first hand the manifestations of His faithfulness and love. It is too much to put into one post, but you can read about some of the most awesome things He did, here and here (two posts I wrote on my other blog).

It doesn't end there though, so stay tuned for Part IV, the conclusion of my testimony, which I hope to be able to get written soon.

PART IV  The Best is Yet to Come

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

THE FATHER'S LOVE LETTER

Dear (insert your name):

You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1). I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2). I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3). Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31). You were made in my image (Genesis 1:27). In me you live and move and have your being (Acts 17:28). You are my offspring (Acts 17:28). I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5). You were not a mistake; all your days are written in my book (Psalm 139: 15-16).

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I knit you together in your mother's womb (Psalm 139:13) and brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).

Those who don’t know me have misrepresented me (John 8:41-45). I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16) and it is my desire to lavish my love on you simply because you are my child and I am your father (1 John 3:1).

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11) for I am the perfect father (Matthew 5:48). Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17). I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33). My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11) because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18) and I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40) for you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5). I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32: 41) and I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3).

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29). Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4) for it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13). I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20) for I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). I am also the father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18).

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11). One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and will take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4). I am your father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus (John 17:23) for in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26). He is the exact representation of my being (Hebrews 1:3). He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31) and to tell you that I am not counting your sins against you (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10). I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32). If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23) and nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39).

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7). I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15). My question is--will you be my child? (John 1:12-13). I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MY TESTIMONY: PART II
Exploring the Word

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope
without wavering, for He who promised is
faithful." - (Hebrews 10:23)

So at the end of Part I, the day came when I felt ready to turn my life over to Jesus, and as the invitation was given on the program I was watching, I put my hand on the TV screen, repeated the sinner’s prayer, and asked Him to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. I accepted the gift of salvation with the unwavering faith of a little child, and as I continued to spend time in the Word, I accepted every other promise just as unwaveringly. It was like God said it, so I believe it!

Slowly, slowly, the Bible was becoming my authority, and when I saw what it said about the importance of fellowship with other believers, and of being part of a body, I decided to look for a church to attend. What an eye opener that was. Up to that point I had thought that all believers believed the same thing, but that's not the way it was at all. Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived how much division I was about to encounter.

There were believers, for example, who praised the Lord loudly and joyfully, singing and dancing before Him like David in the Old Testament must have done(2 Samuel 6:14), whereas other believers said that was a no-no, and frowned upon the practice of raising hands or clapping during worship. Some believers believed in miracles, and healing, and the gifts of the spirit, whereas others claimed those things were no longer for today. So who was right, and who was wrong?

My heart's desire was to do what was right, and so I began wavering. I became kind of like Peter who started walking on the water when Jesus bid him "come," but then took his eyes off of Him, started looking at the wind and the raging sea instead, and began to sink (Matthew 14:24-31). I began putting more faith in some of the sermons I heard than in what I saw in the Word, and was letting the words of others color my thinking.

James 1:6b-8 issues a warning against being double minded and wavering in our faith, but that's just what I began doing. If I heard something that confirmed what I believed, it strengthened my faith for the moment, but then if I heard something else spoken against it, I would start wavering again. It was a constant dilemma.

However, one thing could not be denied. The Lord had done some amazing things in my life that I kept track of on bits and pieces of paper. Several years ago, I copied all these incidents into a notebook, which I continue to add to today, and whenever I feel discouraged or depressed, or am facing a seemingly hopeless situation, I leaf through its pages and am reminded of the Lord's goodness and grace. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it here on my Great-Granny blog.

Shortly after that, I started another notebook, a little fat one entitled, "It Is Written..." I divided it into tabbed sections, each one dealing with an issue I struggle with in my own personal life--Anger, Fear, Health, Discouragement, Spiritual Warfare, Who I am in the Lord, and so on--and every time I find a verse that speaks to my heart, I write it down in the appropriate section.

This little reference book has come to my rescue on more than one occasion when I wasn't thinking clearly, or when I've been having trouble remembering where to find a certain verse. It's been such a blessing that I've even added it to my hard drive so I can share it with whoever else might like a copy of it. If that 'whoever else' happens to be you, please send me your e-mail and I'll be more than happy to send you one. It is completely free, and there are no strings attached.

Finally, I've taken to marking up my Bibles. I underline verses that jump out at me, sometimes put little hearts next to them, and whenever one of the promises is actually manifested in my life, I put a little TP next to it (Tested and Proven). That way I no longer have to waver or be influenced by someone else's thoughts.

Now when I hear someone say these promises are not for today, I can tell them they've arrived too late with their message, because I've already seen those miracles manifest in my life. That is evidence that cannot be disputed.

PART III Taste and See that the Lord is Good

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MY TESTIMONY: PART I
Journey to the Foot of the Cross

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock."
(Revelation 3:20a)

As early as I can remember, I felt drawn to the supernatural—God, religion, the occult. However, it took a little over half a century before I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Along the way I explored several paths—each time convinced that I had found the right one. But I thank God for His persistence in pursuing me and nudging me along until I landed right into the outstretched arms of Jesus.

How grateful I am that His ways are not our ways and that He has infinite mercy and patience. No matter how wayward I must have seemed, He never gave up on me or turned His back on me--even when I vented all my pent up anger and frustration on Him. Instead, He continued to hover over me, to protect me, and to take care of me.

As I think back on my childhood and the years before I was saved, I can remember some very distinct occasions when He actually delivered me from potential danger and harm, either by planting a warning thought in my mind, or through His divine intervention.

I was an only child and because of my father’s involvement with his work and my mother’s involvement with him, I spent a lot of time with nannies, maids and in boarding schools. I wanted so much to feel special and to “belong,” but I never seemed to fit in. I really envied friends who came from large, close-knit families, while I myself, felt as though I had no roots. My parents did love me, but they treated me more as a belonging or an extension of themselves than as a separate entity with emotional needs who needed nurturing and support.

My mother was so motivated by fear that she overprotected me and kept me sheltered from many things that I should not have been sheltered from. Even major family events that should have been shared were not, which increased my feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. For instance, when my grandmother died, and later my father, I was away at school and was not told about their deaths until after their funerals. In the case of my father, it wasn’t even my mother who broke the news to me, but rather, one of her friends who she sent to visit me at school and tell me what had happened.

I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, condemnation, rejection--never seeming to be able to live up to anyone’s expectations—especially my mother's. And I found myself constantly deferring to the wishes of other people in an attempt to be accepted and loved. Even after I got married, I never knew what it was like to be loved unconditionally or to have someone stand up for me. I made many compromises I didn’t want to make, because of my lack of self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and fear of what other people might think.

Because I was so needy, I settled for very much less than God’s best for me and did many things for the wrong reasons, driven by a constant and overwhelming need to prove myself. As a result, there was a lot of anger and resentment brewing beneath the surface that I wasn’t even aware of.

After my husband’s death, I became involved in the occult. Visiting psychics became a regular activity and I also immersed myself in the study of astrology, numerology, metaphysics and other new age practices. For the first time in my life I felt at peace as I learned that my personality, the way I interacted with people, and the events that happened in my life were all predetermined by the numbers in my given name at birth and by the position of the stars when I was born. Knowing that these things were out of my control made them easier to accept. I wasn’t looking for roots any more—or feeling dissatisfied with my circumstances. I felt that all my questions had been answered in a very rational, clear-cut way that I could deal with.

It was quite a natural progression from here to the Eastern path I later became initiated into. Whereas the occult had offered me plausible explanations, Sant Mat (also known as “The Path of the Masters”) offered me the promise of a savior who would take me out of the cycle of reincarnation and lead me back to God. The teachings of this path were substantiated by numerous Scriptures—especially those found in the Gospel of John (although I later discovered that some had been slightly misquoted—like John 14:6 which they quoted as “ the way, the truth, and the light” rather than “the way, the truth, and the life).

They believed in Jesus and taught that no one could come to God except through a savior, but they claimed that the flock Jesus came to save was the flock that lived 2,000 years ago. They used John 10:3-4 (“…he calleth his own sheep by name… and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice”) to substantiate that fact. They taught that God has never left the world without a savior. He sends one to every generation to gather the sheep living at that time. They quoted the last phrase of 1 John 4:20 (“…how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”) to substantiate the fact that people can only be saved by a living Master who they can see—and not by Jesus or by any of the previous Masters who are no longer inhabiting a physical body.

All this, to say that without divine intervention of the most miraculous kind, I would never have gotten saved. I was perfectly happy with my life and believed in my salvation. I felt reconciled with God and certain that I would be spending eternity with Him. No one could have convinced me otherwise. In fact, I clearly remember a conversation I once had with a Christian acquaintance of mine who was telling me about my need for Jesus. It puzzled me that she couldn’t understand that I already had a savior and considered myself saved. She kept telling me it wasn’t the same thing and I kept insisting that it was.

At about this time, I started experiencing some financial setbacks that led me deeper and deeper into debt. Bills were piling up as I tried to juggle Peter so I could pay Paul, and my judgment must have really been clouded, because the more effort I put into trying to redeem my situation, the worse things got. Instead of making more money (which is what I was attempting to do), I was just losing it and creating more debt. It got to the point where I didn’t even know how (short of a miracle) I would be able to come up with my next month’s rent. That was when, I got a call from my married daughter who was living in another state. She wanted to know if she, hubby, and the two little ones could come up for Thanksgiving.

Now how does a mother tell her child no, you can’t come because right now I don’t even have money to pay the rent, let alone buy food to feed all of you--especially when there is a pride issue involved. So I told her that of course they could come. And that’s how the real God, Jehovah Jireh, got His foot in the door, came to my rescue, and got my full attention. I hadn’t been planning on having Thanksgiving that year, but now I was going to need to come up with a way. What a pickle I found myself in!

As I was pondering what to do, a friend of mine told me about a program she had watched on TV. This televangelist had talked about planting seeds for your needs and she had tried it and it really worked. She was so excited that I decided to see what it was all about for myself.

Under normal circumstances I would have immediately switched channels or turned off the TV at the sight of this loud and hyper man. However, because of the urgency of my situation I forced myself to watch and keep an open mind. He was talking about planting seeds of faith and about tithing and, in the process, he quoted a whole bunch of scripture verses which I later looked up. It seemed kind of hokey, but I figured I had nothing to lose at this point.

So I decided to call up his prayer line and plant a seed of faith, believing God to provide the money I needed for the rent and other bills, and also for Thanksgiving. I also decided to start tithing (though not into his ministry), and donated a tenth of whatever money came in, no matter how puny the amount, to some local charitable organizations that were reaching out to the poor and needy.

Well, my harvest started coming in and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around my bills were paid and I was even able to cater the meal from a kosher deli to accommodate my sister-in-law and brother-in-law who are Jewish and who I had invited to join us.

It would all have ended there, if the path I was on had any bans on its members investigating other belief systems or religions, but they didn’t. In fact we were taught that following the teachings of the path would just make us better Christians or Jews or Catholics or whatever it was we had been before we came to the master. In their eyes it was all compatible. So I started studying my Bible and testing the Scriptures. I figured that if some promises were true, then the others were probably true also.

Up until then I had always thought of the Bible as a historical book, but now I was beginning to see it as a very detailed roadmap God had provided me with to show me the path to follow, as well as the pitfalls to avoid, if I wanted to experience the very best He had for me.

Those were the days when I couldn't get enough of reading my Bible. I also found some other Christian programs with more substance to them, and started watching them on a regular basis. Finally the day came when I felt ready to turn my life over to Jesus, and as the invitation was given on the program I was listening to, I put my hand on the TV screen, repeated the sinner’s prayer, and asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. But that was just the very beginning. There's a whole lot more to follow.

Stay tuned for Part II.
PART II Exploring the Word

Saturday, February 28, 2009

ON CALL 24/7

"Call unto Me, and I will answer you,
and show you great and mighty things,
which you do not know."
(Jeremiah 33:3)



Isn't it comforting to know that in this world of voice mails, and beepers, and intercepting operators, there is one place we can call where we will never get a busy signal or be put on hold? It's the direct line to the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, CEO of CEO's. How awesome is that? And not only is it a free call, but He answers it right away, Himself, 24/7. But I digress.

When I was a baby Christian, it did not comfort me to be told that I was never alone, because God was always with me. To me, a flesh and blood partner was more to be desired, and I kept pointing out to God that He needed people to work through. Like when I was having a problem figuring out something on my computer, or I needed help carrying my groceries up the stairs, or I was feeling lonely and needed a great big bear hug. I would even throw Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 up to Him, and argue that He himself had said "Two are better than one . . . For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up."

Well, for the first 12 years of my Virginia odyssey, I was alone, and during that time the Lord showed me many examples of how wrong my thinking was. I'm not going to cover much of that in this post because I'm saving it for my testimony, but I do want to share one incident where He let me see that even though He is invisible, He could still teach me how to do anything I thought I needed a human person for, and do it even better.

That incident took place almost ten years ago. I was attending a group where they were talking about the special personal blessings God gifts us with, and likening them to jewels. Right away I started thinking of writing mine out on little slips of paper and getting a box to put them in that I could decorate with magic markers or stickers to make it look pretty.

The next morning, as I drove to Ben Franklin to look for a box, I started thinking how nice it would be to get boxes for the rest of the ladies in the group too. However, I couldn't find anything like what I had in mind, and the saleslady led me over to some unfinished wooden boxes in different shapes and sizes, suggesting I could use these instead.

I asked her what I could do with them, and she gave me some suggestions such as paint them with acrylic paint, use Modge Podge to glue things on, and at that point I think the Lord must have taken over, because all I remember from then on is walking up and down the aisles, impulsively picking up this and that, and leaving the store with a bunch of stuff I had no experience working with at all.

When I got home, I set everything up on a card table and looked at it for a while, wondering what had possessed me to so mindlessly spend all this money that I didn't really have to spend, and on something that might well wind up trashed if I messed up. But not to worry. I had a couple of creative artsy crafty friends I could call on who would surely help me out.

I picked up the phone and dialed one, and then the other. Both times the phone rang and rang, but no one answered. And so now it was just the Lord and me. Time for some serious prayer. And as I prayed, two verses popped into mind with a thought that one would look nice around the edge of the lid, and the other one could be pasted inside the lid. So to my computer I went to type them up and print them out.

Then I had another thought. It might be nice to make the verse for the inside of the lid look like a scroll. But how to do that? And what should I do about names for the outside of the boxes? How I did the scroll thing, I'm really not sure. You can believe me or not, but to this day I have never again figured out how to recreate it.

As for the rainbow colored names I wound up gluing to the tops of the boxes, that was something I accidentally stumbled upon. Again, I cannot tell you how. All I can say is that it happened while I was trying to do something else. Suddenly, by some divinely engineered fluke, there was Word Art on my screen, a feature of my computer software I had no idea even existed until that moment in time.

And so step by step the Lord guided me through the process (by way of that still small voice within, as well as the above mentioned "accidents"), and the finished product was more than I had dared to hope for. Never would I have imagined that I could have put something like this together without a real live person to show me how.

Now I'm not comparing my boxes to the wonderful works of art I saw while visiting the blogs of OHOW participants several weeks ago, but I'm still amazed at the way it all turned out. In fact, I'm posting a picture of the outside of the box, as well as the inside of the lid, so you can see for yourself. Was the Lord an awesome instructor, or what?


These are the things I don't ever want to forget, and so I keep a record of them in a special notebook of remembrances I've posted about on my other blog, and that I take out and leaf through every once in a while.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

WHY THIS BLOG

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
(Psalm 34:8)

Good news is for sharing, not for keeping to one's self, and my heart is full of things I would like to share about God's goodness, how He has worked in my life, and most of all, his great love for you and me.

At first I wanted to call this blog Streams of Living Water, and even had a great graphic picked out. I wanted to jump right in and share some things I've been learning that have brought the Scriptures alive in a way I'd never experienced before, but it seems the Lord had different plans, and if I've learned anything on this journey through life, it's been that even when His way is not my way, it always turns out to be the best way.

The streams of living water may be where the action takes place, but before we can jump in, we need to be transformed, and that all starts at the foot of the cross when you lay your burdens down.

At the foot of the cross there is mercy and grace. There is forgiveness, healing, and deliverance. This is the place where the slate gets wiped clean and you can have a fresh start. All you have to do is believe it, and receive it.

Thank you so much for stopping by. May you be richly blessed, encouraged, and filled with hope as you stay and visit for a while.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Setting up this blog has not been as easy as I thought it would be, so please bear with me as I try to figure it all out. Looks like I may need to learn some HTML.