Sunday, December 31, 2006
This past year has been filled with trials and tribulation…disappointment and hurt…even anger and bitterness. Thankfully the Lord did not leave me there in a turbulent ocean where waves of emotion threatened to swamp me. Instead He never left me, nor forsook me. He walked with me each step and each day. In doing so…He brought a healing to my hurting heart.
Yet…I so look forward to this year ending. In so many respects it feels like it’s been the worst year of my life. So many areas of my life were touched. Very little of what I had esteemed and valued last year at this time remained. But God had a purpose and a plan…to refine and purify my life, heart, mind and soul. This refining process can be very painful…thus I want this year to be gone.
I so look forward to a fresh start in the New Year. Taking with me the wisdom from the painful lessons I’ve learned. But moving on…proceeding forward nonetheless. Decisions made…on necessary changes that will enable me to grow and improve.
Perhaps my heart was made tender after listening to Charles Stanley’s message “The Power of a Personal Relationship with God”. Or perhaps I had been thinking too much about this past year…but soon Pastor Bob Kraning’s message not only challenged me but beckoned me to choose.
Choose to live like Elijah when he was weary, spent and fearful…following his great spiritual victory. Wallowing in despair and ask the Lord to take my life. Or look expectantly to the Lord, my great God and Savior, for what He will do in my life in the coming year. I choose the later.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” –
What might my Lord do in my life? That I don’t know...but I do have desires, hopes, dreams and prayers. I want to be prepared for His leading in my life.
Following his message…Pastor Kraning invited whosoever desired to come forward as he prayed for us in the coming year. It was there on the steps, in the shadow of the cross before me that my tears flowed. Grateful for the arms of friendship that stood beside me. Grateful for the pure, unified voice of our congregation as we closed our service. Thankful to God that He will continue to work in my heart…and plant a seed of hope. A seed that will come to fruition in the coming New Year…2007 and beyond.
Lord’s blessings to each you…and I pray a wonderful New Year for you and your families as you seek Him and draw close to Him in the coming year.
Below are comments that Steven's post evoked:
(On a side note...I have chosen to only post one picture of Saddam...and that's because I want to make sure that the victims of his brutal regime don't get lost in the hoopla of Saddam's execution. They, and what happened to them at Saddam's hands, are the reason why he was removed from office, tried, found guilty and executed.)
Saturday, December 30, 2006
One of the blessings of blogging is getting to know fellow bloggers and writers. It’s especially wonderful when you encounter someone who is thought provoking and who challenges you in your Christian walk. They inspire you to come up higher…or grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
It’s always made easier when that that message is given by a godly, humble servant of God. One of those people for me is Janna at her website Bread Crumbs.
In stopping by Janna’s website today I discovered her piece on Saddam Hussein, “Saddam and Sadness”. In this piece Janna was able to take this event…and use it at a tool for Christians to examine themselves and their daily walk with God. I would encourage you to bookmark Janna’s Bread Crumbs as a favorite…and visit regularly.
I found Janna’s post “Saddam and Sadness” quite thought provoking…and I rambled on in my comments. Please be sure to check out Janna’s original post.
In some respects this is a bittersweet day for those whose lives were personally impacted by Saddam’s brutality. A good day to know that this man will never harm anyone ever again…but bitter in that it brings up fresh their loved one’s torturous death or an inescapable reminder to those who are alive and bear the scars from the atrocities that he committed upon his people.
Below are the comments I left at Janna’s website in response to “Saddam and Sadness”.
Indeed it is a sad day. Saddam lived a wasted life and an life of evil...and caused much death and destruction to so many. There must be great sadness felt by those who were victims of Saddam because this man was allowed to rule with terror for so long. While it is good that a very evil person has been removed and can never perpetrate his evil sadistic ways upon people again...the first and better option would be for Saddam and all others to turn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Just trying to contemplate what the world would be like if we all had the Holy Spirit within us and cleaning us from the inside out...what a wonderful world it would be. Actually that will be our future...in heaven. And the cleansing will be complete.
But the question is...what we will be doing this side of heaven to make sure that God's Gospel message is getting out there to a lost and dying world. Our responsibility is to share the Gospel message...and we were all given that Great Commission.
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." - Mark 16:15
Not just the missionaries...or those folks who are bold and like to talk to people...or those who have been Christians for many a year and have years of Bible study under their belt. But all Christians. It doesn't have to be a formula...instead make it your own style and share the Gospel with those you encounter in your world.
We have a great treasure...the cure for a terminal illness that will determine a persons place in eternity. We are called to share that message...let God work in their heart.
Most folks aren't evil dictators in the world that commit atrocities. But instead they are everyday people, who from a human perspective are pretty good. But they either don't believe in God...or they are trusting in their own good works...or God grading on the curve. After all they are not Saddam Hussein.
"There is no one righteous, no not one." Romans 3:10
Will we have an eternal perspective...and let that guide our walk each day? Or hide our light in a very dark world? A world that is filled with people who will stumble into the eternal abyss...if they don't receive the Light of the world...Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Sorry to go on and on...but your post is very thought provoking.
Thank you so much Miss Janna. I pray that you and your readers will have good and blessed New Year.
"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” – Genesis 9:6
Are you a good, decent God fearing person…and feeling a little squeamish about Saddam Hussein and the announcement of his execution? Before you are too quick to condemn those who executed him…please check out a few facts about Saddam.
“A man tormented by the guilt of murder will be a fugitive till death; let no one support him.” – Proverb 28:17
The year is ending on a better note than what it started. The world is a better place without you Saddam. I don’t celebrate at the death of human beings. However I do rise up and applaud when evil people are given a small measure of justice. Good Riddance Saddam!
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
If it hadn’t been for a vacation day taken in early December…my halls most certainly would not have been decked for Christmas. As it is…some of those decorations remain on a table…or draped over a chair. Honest and truly I had every intention to put them up. But before I knew it…it was Christmas. It came whether I was ready or not.
Christmas cards were done in batches…and presents wrapped in the order I would see people in the countdown to Christmas.
True confession…today is the day after Christmas…and I still have gifts I’ve not yet opened. The days leading up to Christmas…were filled to the brim...not a lot of down time this year. Today…was back to work.
Even though I have presents yet to open…I must say some of the most meaningful gifts I received this year…were not wrapped in packages tied together with a pretty bow.
Instead…they were words…in a note or a Christmas card or e-mail. Word of thanks filled with gracious loving words from someone I admire. Or a Christmas card received from someone who has passed out of my life as our lives have taken divergent paths. A card sent not out of obligation or duty…but one with a message that comes from the heart.
Those words…mean more to me than all the gold in the world. You see…I can take those with me. They’ll remain in good times and bad…and encourage my heart when the road ahead is rough.
Those are the ones I have a hard time reading because my eyes are filled with tears. If I have to answer the phone when reading one of those notes…my voice may sound a little funny because of the lump in my throat.
Or it was a phone call I received as I sat on the floor in the children’s book department debating on whether to get the DVD or book. A call…just to see how things were going.
Those are the gifts I’ll treasure…those are the gifts I’ll take with me.
This has been a defining year…a clarifying year. A year in which the wheat and chaff have been thrown into the wind. I’ve found that the wheat has landed and remains. The chaff…blew away.
To those of you who have remained that constant in my life…I am eternally grateful. To those new people whom God has brought into my life…I thank God for you.
The greatest gift was one that my Father in heaven planned for me before the foundations of the world. The gift that came over 2,000 years ago. That babe, who lay in a manger, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. One who lived a perfect, sinless life. One whose righteous sacrifice on the cross was accepted by the Father as propitiation for my sin.
That same Jesus is the One who walked with me throughout this year and helped me bear burdens…too heavy for this weak, frail, sinful human.
I wonder…did the cross cast a shadow over the baby Jesus as He lay in the manger on that night over 2,000 years ago?
Monday, December 18, 2006
“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” – Bryant H. McGill
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde
“Most of us can forgive and forget; we just don't want the other person to forget that we forgave” – Ivern Ball
“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.” – Lewis B. Smedes
“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive” – Alan Paton
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain
“Forgiveness is the oil of relationships” – Josh McDowell
“Men forget but never forgive. Women forgive but never forget.” – Author Unknown
“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.” – H Jackson Brown, Jr.
To forgive or not to forgive, that is the question.
Whether it is easier to dwell upon an offense,
And grow hurt into anger and bitterness.
Or forgive the offender,
Whether repentant of their deed,
Or cold hearted and unresponsive.
To focus on the pain,
Feed a gloomy countenance,
That looms like a thundercloud overhead.
Or obey my heavenly Father’s command,
To forgive my fellow man,
That I too might be forgiven.
To believe the lies of the enemy,
Be controlled by that, which is temporary,
Fail to recognize that this too shall pass.
Or trust Jesus Christ my Savior,
Think upon that which is true, lovely and pure.
Seek that which is praiseworthy and of eternal value.
by Susan Bunts, December 18, 2006
This year has been not only a year of clarity…but one with many lessons in forgiveness.
I’m a pretty straight shooter in life…and when confronted with something that’s not right…I will likely speak my mind in a very direct manner. Not leave a lot of wiggle room. If I don’t speak my mind…then I hold onto that which bothered me and I can’t even look the person in the eye and I loose respect.
I don’t know quite what to do when I get no response. It’s hard…I’d prefer a response of “Go pound sand!” than to be ignored.
But when I’m met with silence…I have a choice. God calls me to forgive. My forgiving should not be dependant on someone acknowledging an offence, apologizing or if they choose to ignore me. If let my reaction and choice to forgive be dependant upon them…then I’m held hostage.
Instead my Father in heaven…has made it abundantly clear that I need to walk in present, everyday forgiveness. It is only by His strength and wisdom I can do that which goes against my nature…forgive.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18:21-22
Saturday, December 16, 2006
It’s not unusual to run into folks with a little less Christmas cheer than one would expect during the Christmas season. After all it can be a busy time and the stress and demands run high. But this encounter took place at a Christian bookstore. One would expect a smiling face and cheerful, joy filled attitude to be filling the air in such a place where the employees know Jesus Christ and that His birth 2,000 years ago heralded God in human flesh coming to redeem humanity from their sin.
That no matter what was happens in her life she has security of peace with God. The certainty that when she dies…she will have eternal life in heaven with her Redeemer and Lord. The assurance that she is loved by God…who chose to bear her sins on the cross in order to that her sins would be forgiven and washed clean so she might spend eternity in heaven with Him. The comfort to know that the Holy Spirit dwells within her…guiding and directing her…and interceding in prayer on her behalf.
But none of that was visible on her face...instead her countenance reflected one carrying many burdens. Each customer representing someone who needed something…somebody else who was going to take away and not give back…with nary a thanks. Someone who may not care about the person behind the counter who was hurting and in need of love and assurance. Each person that she helped…seemed to take away a little bit more.
Her self involvement and pain that made her oblivious to those she was supposed to be helping. That surely wasn’t what I needed that day. Instead I needed a smiling face and a warm heart to greet me. I too was carrying a burden that day…rejection and cold heart from one I had respected…and my heart was hurting.
While tears had been shed the night before...that morning I was intent to do my level best to spread Christmas cheer. Dressed in Christmas attire…made complete with a jingle bell and my red velvet Santa’s hat…I was hoping to brighten people’s day. The words Merry Christmas could safely be said to one who obviously celebrates the blessed day.
Perhaps I was a wee bit on the quiet side that day…and rather wearing a big silly grin…a Mona Lisa smile graced my lips as I contemplated why I was rejection. But I was intent on making the best of that day. After all…it is the Christmas season…a time to celebrate Jesus Christ and God’s great gift of love…not only for me, but all of humanity.
While I needed an encounter with a bright and smiling face…I understood the pain and burden visible on the face of another human being. As I left the store…I wasn’t surprised to find God nudging me to get some CDs out of my car and give them to the downcast clerk. Recently…I’ve been handing out some Christmas CDs from my beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski. But I knew that this girl…needed a dose of “Desperation to Dependence”.
I felt a little awkward as I walked back in the store and hoped that she was still behind the counter. I waited until she looked up…and then handed her the CDs. I don’t know the weight and burdens that girl is carrying…but I do know that God wanted me to reach out to her. Thanks to the faithful Audio Ministry at Kindred Community Church…I’m always able to have CDs available to place in the hands of someone in need.
I don’t know her burdens…but God does…and God provides. It is my prayer that God will use His word to comfort her and help her as she carries a heavy load during what’s supposed to be a happy and joyful season.
To the girl behind the counter…I wish you a very Merry Christmas…may you find the joy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this Christmas season.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." – Deuteronomy 31:8.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Lately…I’ve experienced…in full living color the truth of a Dennis “Pragerism”.
“A bad mood or negative attitude is equivalent to bad breath or body odor.”
A negative, critical spirit can be just as offensive and lingering as bad body odor. An odor can be all pervasive and fill a room within seconds. Just think of popcorn in the microwave. Within a matter of seconds the smell drifts throughout the house and soon you’ll have company coming downstairs to help you polish off that bowl of warm buttered popcorn.
Or what about when you’re driving down the highway and that all too familiar smell of a skunk’s recent encounter with a foe comes drifting into your car. You can’t roll up the car windows fast enough and it does little good even if you try because you can’t shut that smell out. That not so lovely smell is already in the vehicle and permeates the air. You can’t escape it.
So too it is with a bad mood or critical, negative attitude. This is an offence of choice and something that can be controlled if we choose to do so. Or something that we choose to wallow in and inflict on others.
I’m not talking about that occasional bad day that we’ve all had. The one that starts out from the moment you get out of bed and stub your toe on the nightstand and follow it with a cold shower…because for some blessed reason the hot water heater decided to go out that day of all days!. Later heading out the door and you are short on time…that burnt toast will just have to do. But the last straw comes when you spill the hot coffee down that new white blouse. You are tempted to turn that car around and go home…pull the covers over your head and take the rest of the day off. Since you don’t have that luxury…you head into the office anyway. A quick stop in the bathroom helps you to repair your outfit…but that stop doesn’t do much to repair the stinky attitude you have that morning.
Now we’ve all had those “bad day”…and as humans…we need to allow others some leeway and understanding on a day like that.
The problem comes in when it’s not just a bad day…but a bad week, month, year, decade or lifetime. That person is miserable…and they are committed consciously or unconsciously…to making sure that everyone that comes in their path knows about it.
When something good happens to them…they find fault. They pick it apart…somehow, someway, something was wrong…or it’s just not good enough. Goodness knows…if a good thing happens to someone else…but not them…they will be sure to let you know. They don’t know the meaning of “rejoice with those who are rejoicing”. Instead they are indulging in their own not so private pity party.
It comes out in the snide remarks…examining under the microscope every little thing that comes out of another’s mouth and looking intently to find fault. It comes out in jealousy that is well disguised in the wrapping of criticism. It comes in the inability to be thankful or express gratitude for the good things. It comes in the form of thinking everyone is better off or has it easier than you do. It comes in the form of a willful blindness or myopic vision that chooses not to look at or focus on the blessings that God has provided.
That glum, negative, critical view is like a cloud that hangs overhead…keeping the rays of sunshine from breaking through. Not only for that person…but also those with whom they keep company. They are sharing the wealth. Gee wiz…thanks for sharing!
It’s very wearing, draining and tiring. You’re almost afraid to say anything good because you know that it will be followed by some put down or negative remark. So instead you choose to remain quite because there is nothing you can say that will make a difference…nothing you can do to make it better. Because for these folks…it’s not just a bad day…but instead the way they view the world and their life.
Make no mistake…it can be controlled. Think of the husband and wife having an argument that’s getting a little heated. The phone rings…and all of a sudden…someone is talking sweet as pie to the person calling on the phone. If you didn’t hear the quarrel before…you’d never know there was a problem.
So too the person with emotional BO can turn it off when they choose too and instead turn on the charm.
What they don’t realize is that person sitting across from them…has things pretty rough in their own life. But they have no idea…because that person chooses not to continually dwell on it or make sure that everyone in their path is aware of their misery. Instead they put on a smile and choose to be thankful for what they do have, focus on others and have a sense of humor about life.
Always being critical and negative takes no effort. It’s easy…the path of least resistance. Sometimes you need to be creative and willing to laugh at yourself and the world. That can take some work…to see the humor or find the good in a bad situation. But oh the rewards that await you.
You won’t be overwhelmed and pulled down by the difficulties inherent in living when you keep that sense of humor, look for the good in a situation and praise God for that which He has done for you.
So whether you live with the person who emits emotional BO…or have the challenge of working with them…or encounter them during your daily commute…it’s imperative that you don’t let they pity party and negative world view cast a shadow over you.
Instead shine the light upon them. Shine the light of gratitude and thanksgiving. Focus the light of humor on a situation…or turn on the high beams of always looking on the bright side. If nothing else…it may annoy them. I must say it is rather rewarding when you can deprive someone of the satisfaction they derive by bring everyone else down. To quote Martha Stewart…“It’s a good thing!”
When they want to rain on your parade…raise your umbrella and keep your eyes focused on that rainbow just across the way. Perhaps they could even use a prayer two uttered on their behalf.
Life is too bloody short to be continually focused on the negative. All you end up doing is multiplying your sorrows and making things worse. Now why would you want to do that?
P.S…you see even something good can come out of interacting with a person with emotional BO. It helped me to write an article…and also see clearly what I don’t want to be like.
He was my steady Rock.
When friends were scarce,
He never left me, nor forsook me.
When my faith failed me,
He remained ever faithful.
When anxiety was my lot,
He invited me to cast my cares upon Him.
When my soul was inconsolable,
He comforted me.
When joy eluded me,
He arranged an appointment with joy.
When the phone did not ring,
He remained a friend…who sticks much closer than a brother.
When the road ahead was dark,
He was the light unto my path.
When understanding was absent,
He provided clarity and insight through His word.
When disappointment swamped my soul,
He was my bright and shinning hope.
When tears were shed in solitude,
His nail pierced hands wiped my eyes.
When fear gripped my heart,
He was my courage to forge ahead.
When my prayers failed me,
He interceded for me at the right hand of the Father.
When this little lamb strayed into the thicket of doubt and unbelief,
The Good Shepherd rescued me from the ravenous wolf.
When ready to live a settled for life,
He challenged me to come up higher.
When I stood firm and waited,
I saw the deliverance of my Lord…Emmanuel.
by Susan Bunts - 12/7/06
Many folks compose a letter each year to be enclosed with their Christmas cards. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with this tumultuous, roller coaster of a year. Even if I attempted to put pen to paper…goodness only knows the words…would soon be a novel, not a mere letter.
That being said…when all else failed me…Jesus Christ my Emmanuel remained with me each day, each step of the way. May this poem be my praise and thanksgiving to my faithful, loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I also want to say thank you to those of you who prayed for me during this difficult and challenging year. Lord bless!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
Why the Politically Correct Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a "
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit.
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod,
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
But as Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!
The above poem was forwarded to me by my friend Laurie McVey…thank you Laurie! When I first read it…I knew I wanted to share it.
Thankfully this year…we have a few retailers that finally get it and realize the reason that their cash registers are ringing and the company is finally in the black for the year is that people who celebrate and recognize Christmas are out shopping for loved ones.
So don't be surprised if you actually hear the words "Merry Christmas"...or hear the name of Jesus sung in adoration as real Christmas hymns play over a store's intercom.
Is Santa Real? Click on the link and click play to hear the straight scoop...if Santa is the real deal!
There are two big questions at Christmas time. The first is "Is Santa Real?" and second "Who is Jesus?".
Now that you've got the straight scoop on the Santa question...make sure that you get the answer to the second and more important question..."Who Is Jesus?".
The "Is Santa Real" audio clip was taken from a sermon by Pastor Chuck Obremski that he did at Christmas time a couple of years ago. If you would like to request a couple of great sermons to answer you own questions, or a that of a loved one, about Jesus or why God became man I would encourage you to go to Kindred Community Church's website, click on the Online Sermons Link and request a CD by completing the online form.
There are several CD's that are perfect for Christmas. "Why God Became a Man", "Who is Jesus" and "Three Responses to Christmas".
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas...and pray that you will have the peace of God and peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Hours…spend on the phone with my ISP. Multiple phone calls for over a week. Failure to resolve the problem.
Seemingly lack of concern or care for taking care of the customer.
Fed-up! Move on...phone call to Time Warner Cable to go from DSL to cable.
My wings have been somewhat clipped this week…thus only a few postings squeezed in during the intermittent coverage. The pictures will have to come later.
It’s too bad really because I’ve liked DSL Extreme…until this last episode…they’ve always handled problems quickly and efficiently. Oh well…onward and upward.
Hope to be back in action soon.
Last night while fishing around for a pad of paper to starting recording a daily list of things I’m grateful for I discovered a partially used notebook. In thumbing through the pages I found prayer requests that I had recorded a few years ago. Passionate heartfelt prayers uttered to God as I keenly felt the desperation and loneliness of being single all my life…at least thus far.
With the perspective of a few years, the wisdom of hindsight and seeing character that time has revealed to be less than stellar…I am most grateful that God did not answer that prayer. In many respects…from a human perspective this guy is a pretty good guy. But as a Christian “pretty good” in not my measuring stick anymore.
First and foremost God tells me that I am to marry a believer, a fellow Christian. That I am not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.
When I look closer, in all honesty I believe I deceived myself. While of the Christian persuasion there are little fruits to bear witness of a life committed to Jesus Christ, one who has died to self and is alive in Christ.
So tonight in my little notebook, I record prayer of thanksgiving to God for unanswered prayer. And yes…I did shred those earlier papers. In part because they were so personal and gave evidence of an immature faith, unwilling to wait upon the Lord and follow His direction and instruction for my life.
While mingling at the Audio Ministry table at Kindred Community Church this past weekend Merilynne asked me, in somewhat of a joking fashion, “Do you want us to pray about a husband for you Susan?” I heartedly and enthusiastically said “Yes! By all means, please do.” Merilynne then reminded me that any prospective suitor would be subject to examination and approval, to which I’m entirely comfortable with. Sometimes my discernment has been pretty stinky…or just plain goes out the door when it comes to men and love and my life long desire to be married.
I keep reminding God that He tells us that it is not good for man to be alone…and that there will be no marriage in heaven. So this is my one and only shot down here on earth.
Recently on Dennis Prager’s show a guy called in to talk about the risk in getting married when it might end in divorce verses staying single. Dennis responded why would anyone be content to live a life where you never fully bond with another person in the deepest, fullest possible way?
Why indeed? I’m not…but I am willing to wait upon God, His plan and leading.
This year I’ve become more aware of how our actions can impact others…both for good and bad. So much of what we do or say is unintentional…with nary a thought of how it will impact another person. But does that excuse it or make it better when we hurt someone accidentally?
Knowing how much my actions can impact someone…I need to choose to live my life more intentionally. To be more deliberate in my words and actions as I encounter and interact with people each day…friends, family and strangers too.
That may mean instead of getting in huff as the rattled cashier struggles with that register that just won’t cooperate…I now offer her a smile and a word of encouragement as she looks at the line that is growing exponentially. Or what about taking the time to listen to a frustrated friend…even when I think I don’t have the time or have no solution to offer? Instead I can offer a caring, listening ear and a prayer whispered in love. Or what about offering a warm smile to the person passing by who is carrying burdens that only God knows about. Not let them pass by as if they are invisible and don’t matter to another living soul. After all…they are a soul for whom Christ died.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times…God has brought someone in my path, if only a brief moment….to offer a smile or words encouragement at some very low times in my life. That encounter at just the right time can make an impact far beyond that moment in time.
The question is…today will I choose to live intentionally? Will I choose to obey God? Will I choose to measure my words, actions and deeds according to God’s Word? “A new command I give unto you, love one another.”
The tough thing about being a Christian is not so much studying and knowing God’s word…as it is actually putting it into practice. Especially when it doesn’t feel so good to do so.
To quote Mark Twain, “It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
For me…the thing that doesn’t always feel so good is forgiving. Make no mistake…I am most grateful to be on the receiving end of forgiveness. But forgiving others…well that may not feel so good…at least initially.
The most challenging time to forgive is when my feelings have been hurt or when I’m angry at someone for a wrong done. Instead of being quick to forgive…my natural tendency is to nurture my hurt feelings…or justify my anger. But as a Christian…the Holy Spirit doesn’t let me get away with that for too long before He’s calling me on the carpet and holding up the mirror of God’s word. Right about then…my reflection doesn’t look too pretty.
More often than not…I find that hurts and slights by people are done unintentionally. There is no overall plan or purpose to do me wrong. They’re not taking aim at me…but instead just living their life. But those hurts exist nonetheless. The question is…what am I suppose to do with those feelings? Will I choose to take those hurts to the Great Healer?
As I go through life…and get cuts, bumps and bruises along the way…I have the opportunity to learn what it feels like to be hurt. The question is…will I then apply that lesson in my relationships with others? Will I choose not to hurt others in the way I’ve been hurt?
Forgiveness will likely continue to be a challenge…this side of heaven. As such…forgiveness is something that I must choose to do, choose to obey as an act of my will. Just do it…and let my feelings catch up with my will as I seek to obey God.
God’s word is non negotiable…it’s unchanging and unwavering…and each and every person is held to the same standard. God doesn’t grade on the curve…and He doesn’t lower the bar so I can pass. Yet He already knows that I’ve failed…he already knows my sinful ways. But He’s credited Jesus righteousness to my account…and has given me His Holy Spirit…to guide, direct and coach me along the way.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The following quote is from an African Pastor who was overwhelmed by rebels that demanded that he renounce his faith, and he refused. The night before they took his life he wrote the following lines on a scrap of paper.
“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The dye has been cast and I've stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His and I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotion, plotting, or popularity. I don't have to be first, right, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.
I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear.
I can not be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up or burn up, till I have preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus and I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know and work till he stops. And when he comes to get his own, he'll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear.”
As I voraciously consume the great Bible studies on CD from my beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski…I came across this piece once again. This is found on the last CD in the study of the book of James. I remember when first hearing it in Bible Study…it captured my attention…as I hoped and prayed that I would one day have a strong, unwavering faith. Time has revealed…more wobbles than standing strong…but I find this once again stirs my soul.
When I read this…I think of the wonderful Christians I know at Kindred Community Church, in BSF, Christian friends…both near and far…and my Christian blogger buddies David, Debra and Terry.
So I ask...are your colors clear?
Remember…if you would like to receive some of these awesome Bible studies on CD…please click on the link for Kindred Community Church and let the audio ministry know what you would like to receive.
Monday, November 06, 2006
As I put my fingers to the keys this evening…I do so in a very warm southern California. It’s unseasonably warm…even for California…as it’s in the 90’s today the first week in November. I’m ever so envious of my blogger friends back east and even way up north in Canada. I see their beautiful fall scenery and find myself longing for crisp cool evenings and lovely autumn days as we near the holidays.
Okay…okay…okay already so it’s been a while since I’ve posted. You’d think after attending the GodBlogCon I’d be raring to go…and blogging like there’s no tomorrow.
The truth be told…I’m not going through a dry spell so much as I’m on idea overload. Good golly…just think of all the great news stories in the last couple of weeks. And here my blog sits with nary a post for over a week.
Some of those ideas swirling around my head that have yet to make it to the blogasphere include a response to Andrew Sullivan and his outrageous, comical and pathetic interview with Hugh Hewitt (still working on that piece). I want to take a closer look at Andrew’s beliefs that he alleges to be Christian…but in actuality contrast starkly with the Bible.
Of course…who can resist commenting on John Kerry’s assessment of our military…and his accompanying albeit tardy, non apology, apology? In looking up the operational definition in Webster’s online dictionary…I find Kerry’s pathetic attempt at an apology fitting to definition #1…a formal justification. It’s also a perfect illustration of definition #3…a poor substitute.
Apology…as defined by Webster’s:
1 a : a formal justification : DEFENSE : EXCUSE
2 : an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret a public apology
3 : a poor substitute
John…that was no apology…and because of your lack of sincerity or real contrition you should have just zipped the lip. I would like to be much ruder in my response…but I am mindful that I am a Christian and need to be careful in my response. But I would like to tell you to go pound sand…take long walk off a short pier. Just go sail away into the sunset buckaroo.
But no one had a better response than some members of our military. You go boys!
Lastly…tomorrow is Election Day…2006. The question is…will the House and Senate remain in Republican control? Or will the tide turn towards the destructive influence and actions of the Democratic Party? Just a few months ago…I would have bet that the Republicans would be soundly defeated...and deservedly so. After all the Republicans have had some not so pretty scandals which would seem to lend themselves to the term “hypocrite”.
President Bush…while well intentioned and initially entering into Iraq under the premises that Saddam and company were going down the “yellow cake road” the President has not been willing to step back and reevaluate the next best step in our war on terror. Removal of Saddam a good thing! Democracy in a Muslim country that would prefer Sharia law to liberty is not necessarily the winning ticket.
While I concur with President Bush’s view that the mainstream press is contemptible…I also believe that he owes the American public an explanation. To which he’s been repetitive at best…and silent at worst. I surely hope our President never has to depend upon good salesmanship…because he just doesn’t have the touch. Instead of combating the biased, skewed reporting in the main stream press…with stories of success he just remains silent. What about some of the success stories that resulted out of our surveillance on terrorists? Or how about showing the good things that are happening in Iraq? Why in the world have we not fully exposed the Hussein regime and what he did to his own people?
I’m fully convinced that President Bush figures that he doesn’t need to speak out about all these charges dogging his presidency. That in the end…he believes he will be proved right...and then we will all see. Of course you can bet that the media will continue to jump on everything that he does or says is wrong. But the American people deserve an answer…even when it’s carried through a tainted press. Besides that…you’ve got conservative talk radio to drive that message home.
Even with the above factors…I do believe that they Republicans will stay in power. Hopefully in both the House and Senate. I pray that the base turns out and the undecided or even the Democrats that are security minded will do that which is best for America and not give the Republicans the thrashing they deserve. Why? Because the American public will be the ones that pay the price.
They will pay the price by having a party in place that views terrorism as a crime…and not war. That think the optimal way to deal with the likes of a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in the courtroom, not the battlefield. The party that thinks that the “wealthy” should pay more money so that the poor can be taken care of. Only they fail to define what wealthy is. The people who think its right to shove homosexual marriage down the throats of American’s via the judicial system…rather than putting it up for a vote. The Dem’s are smart enough to know they’d loose if they went that route. People that think they know better how to handle your money than to let you handle your own money and be personally responsible.
I think John Kerry is a gift to the Republican Party…one that just keeps on giving. The terrorists that issue statements and commit acts of terrorism right before and election…underestimate and don’t understand the American spirit.
So a message to you my fellow conservatives…and American’s who understand that terrorists are evil and must be destroyed…get out and vote. Hold your nose if you have to. But vote for the people who have a grip and understanding on what true evil is…and aren’t afraid to call evil what it is. Vote for the people who don’t want to see judges legislating from the bench. For those who think if you want to make law…then you need to run for office. Not shove your opinion from the bench…as educated as it is…down the throats of the your fellow countrymen. Let the people decide.
Get out and vote…vote smart…not naive.
Watering down or dumbing down the gospel message and the Word of God. Preaching and teaching banquet style…picking and choosing that which the congregation finds appealing. Messages and worship songs that are man centered, not God centered. Churches that are unwilling and unable to call sin, sin…but instead call it a mistake.
Preachers that are worried about how someone is going to feel when they are called a sinner, dead in their sin, in need of forgiveness through Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross. Those who are worried how intolerant Jesus sounded when he clearly stated “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” Churches that don’t want to risk telling people the bad news that they are dead in their sins and unable to save themselves. How in the world can you tell someone the good news of the gospel message, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God…when they don’t even know why they need a Savior?
I know first hand the destructive influence that results from NOT preaching and teaching the full council of the Word of God. It impacts the human heart. The heart…which God declares as deceitful above all things. I guess when it comes down to it…am I going to believe what God says in his Word about me? Or am I going to choose to believe what man has to say?
One rule of thumb…if you drive up to a church…and the folks are walking in and not carrying their Bible for Sunday morning service…turn around and leave.
This subject is a passion of mine. But even so…I’m not sure how much God wants me to write on this subject? How specific does he want me to be. Obviously there is only one standard and that is the Word of God. What I say is irrelevant if it doesn’t line up with scripture. The Bible is the gold standard.
Monday, October 30, 2006
So the question is...if today were the day that Jesus Christ came to call His church home...would you be ready?
"For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Matthew 24:27
Click on the above link...and make sure that you are ready.
Thank you Jay! Sure makes you think.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
2005 was the first year for the GodBlogCon…but I was still a newbie at this thing called blogging. Now I’ve had about a year and a half experience under my belt…and was able to gain and take away some challenges, good information and tips to employ as I continue to use this forum and gift that God has granted me.
The conference was three days…and hindsight being 20/20 I wish I had also gone on the first night…but I am grateful to have gone the following two days. My head is swimming with thoughts, ideas and inspiration that I came away with after spending a couple of days with fellow Christian bloggers. While like minded in many respects…we each had our own vision and sphere of influence that God has given us.
If we are but willing…He will use each of us to reach out to a lost and dying world to win souls with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to build up the church body. That in itself is a daunting, overwhelming and humbling task, privilege and responsibility. The question is…will I take it seriously and invest myself and time wisely?
It’s kind of hard to narrow down and express what I liked best about this experience. But one thing that struck me from the beginning and throughout is that I don’t meet fellow bloggers out there in everyday life. Of if I do…they are awfully silent and don’t talk shop much. After spending time with my new blogger buds…I find that a little hard to believe. If for no other reason…than the fact that bloggers are a pretty excited group of people. Excited about their latest project…or some comments and feedback they’ve received. Or they want to bounce a few ideas off of you and learn the latest technology to improve their blogs and making posting more interesting, easy and fun.
As I first arrived on the Biola campus…I looked expectantly and nervously for the God Bloggers. After all…I was going to be spending the next couple of days with these folks…complete strangers…but at least we shared a common interest. Would that commonality be enough to break through the barriers inherent when meeting complete strangers?
It didn’t take long for my fear or concerns to be laid to rest as I walked into the courtyard where a pre-conference breakfast was being served. I met Andy Rau and Donald McConnell who were very friendly and approachable. As it turns out Andy was out here from Michigan to attend the conference. Andy is part of a group blogging experience at Think Christian. He also lends his talents to Gospel Com and Bible Gateway…of which the later has become an invaluable resource to me and many, many Christians. Andy appears to be a quiet and thoughtful young man. Donald is the dean at Trinity Law School here in southern California. He blogs at Trinitarian Don and brings a rather unique perspective to blogging that of law and Christianity…a law background not something that your average blogger brings to the table. Thank you Don and Andy for making me feel welcome from the get go!
Soon the days conference was off and running with the first Plenary Panel discussing “Bridging the Christian Divide”. Panelists included: Joe Carter Director of Communications for the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (Evangelical Outpost & FRC Blog); James Kushiner publisher of Touchstone Magazine a Journal of Mere Christianity and editor of his new venture Salvo magazine. James blogs at Mere Comments; Mark D. Roberts Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church (blogging at Mark Roberts); and Jimmy Akin bringing up the rear with a Catholic Evangelical perspective. Jimmy’s counsel and wisdom can be found at (Jimmy Akin). Moderating this group discussion was John Schroeder. John brought an unusual mix of a degree in chemistry and a Masters in Divinity to the table. John blogs at his site Blogotional.
The panel discussion that ensued was thought provoking and time went entirely too quickly and soon it was time for our first breakout session. While I didn’t take a lot of notes during this discussion…the one thought that struck me, remained with me throughout these last two days…and what I’m taking away is a challenge posed by Joe Carter.
When asked the question…what will help make you a better blogger? Joe replied…that “To be a better blogger…I need to be a better Christian. Be humble.” Simple, yet profound…and something that will challenge each Christian till the day he dies. Certainly not achievable on our own power. Something we can strive for when our focus is on Christ and not ourselves. When we seek to glorify God. By spending time in the Word of God…being washed in the Word.
As Mark D. Roberts would share on the last day…it wasn’t until late in the game he brought prayer into his blogging posts. Sounds obvious now doesn’t it? A Christian blogger…blogging about Christian issues. Why wouldn’t you pray about what you are writing about? I know personally…on some of my more controversial or delicate posts I’ve sought wisdom from God…and when responding (or not) to some ugly comments…I may pray. But honestly until Mark stated that…I didn’t think about it. Perhaps I need to plant the words from “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” firmly in my mind.
Before we knew it…we were off and running and going our separate ways into the Breakout Sessions. I chose to attend “Blogging as a Winsome Witness” taught by Melinda Penner from Stand to Reason. Not only something Melinda teaches about…but something that she and Greg Koukl and the folks at Stand to Reason live out daily. Long time listener to their radio show…but I’ve also followed Stand to Reason as they’ve continued to grow and use cutting edge technology to help equip the body of Christ.
It was informative and challenging to learn from Melinda as she shared tips on Christian blogging. I also found myself listening carefully to classmates as they shared their experiences. Skye Puppy was very excited as she shared about some of the connections that she’s been able to make…and bridges developed with unlikely people through the world of blogging. All made possible through the net.
Before we knew it…it was lunch time. With that being said…I think I’ll continue on in a separate post as not to make this too daunting to read.