Sunday, May 28, 2006

Vintage Reminder

For some time now…I’ve wanted to purchase a Psalm 23 Bracelet. Don’t remember where I first saw one…but it stuck in my head.

Now when facing a personal crisis…I need the reminder of God’s word and His care for me more than ever. An internet search showed a couple of possibilities for this bracelet…but they didn’t seem quite right.

Instead I reached out to someone from Kindred Community Church. Gloria Bass…who among other things designs jewelry. I’ve regularly admired her jewelry…only to learn that it was something that she had designed and made herself. Sometimes…even that very same morning.

So as my need to desperately depend on God increased exponentially I reached out to Gloria and asked if she had or could create for me a “Psalm 23 Bracelet”. Shortly I received an e-mail back from Gloria saying that she’d had requests in the past…but had not yet made one up. That she would get right on it and let me know what she had come up with. A day later…Gloria e-mailed me a picture of her newly designed bracelet. It was perfect…just what I needed to help encourage and build up my faith.

Today at church…I was most excited to pick up my new bracelet. Created in love…and designed per my request. What a lovely piece it is. One of the things that makes Gloria’s work even more special is that she uses vintage beads as part of her design.

Yes…I could have purchased a bracelet on the internet…but it would have paled in comparison to the treasure that now graces my wrist.

I am most gratefully to Gloria for taking on the challenge to create this for me…and being so quick in designing it and responding to my request. It’s is positively lovely. Thank you Gloria!

Now if you would like to order a handmade Psalm 23 Bracelet…please reach out to Gloria Bass. You can do so via her website site at Vintage Glo

If you have a love for vintage jewelry…look no further. Gloria at Vintage Glo…will make you a piece that will soon become a favorite treasure.

Trial by Faith

This last week was trying one…one that tried my faith. I’d like to report back to you that I was strong and never wavered in my faith…but I’m addicted to the truth. So with that being said…I’ll give you the straight scoop.

Last week…lived up to the analogy of being a roller coaster. Up one day and down the next…or sometimes within a matter of minutes. My current employer is being bought out by another company…and my current job is going away. Not a bad thing all in all…but some stressful times have ensued as a result.

I was most fortunate to have interviewed for a new position. I’d say the two interviews went well. But now…I’m in a holding pattern…and awaiting news. So far things look promising…but I’ve not yet been given that final nod of approval. I’m waiting…as a deadline fast approaches.

The up times on the roller coaster…when my faith has been strong…I’ve written pieces about faith and trusting God and knowing that he can and will bring me through this. In my downtimes…I’m stressing and focusing on myself…and asking why is this taking so long.

In my up times…I’m encouraging others who are also waiting. In my downtimes…the tears flow and all I feel is stress and anxiety.

Thursday…was an up day…and Friday morning before work…I even wrote an article on faith. I approached the day in faith…eagerly awaiting an expected phone call. It didn’t take long for my faith…to crash and burn…with the rubble and fumes of disappointment filling my day.

Being on the receiving end of no news…or unfulfilled assurances…makes it seem like I’m being put through hell. It doesn’t make any sense from my perspective.

But I fully acknowledge that I don’t know the reason for the delay. What seems like someone being insensitive and uncaring to me…might not be that at all. It may be they are in the process of arranging for me to have a job. They may be overwhelmed with work related to the buyout. They may have a personal crisis in their life…keeping them from finishing this up. Or they could be on vacation. I don’t know…but do know…it feels like hell.

Poor Dean was rewarded with a torrent of tears…when he inquired how I was doing. I kind of felt bad for him…and having to deal with me…but he just offered words of encouragement in soothing tones.

When Jim called on Friday night to see if there were any developments…it followed a day in which I dwelt on why I haven’t yet been called…and questioned when would my phone ring. I lost it during that call. In between the tears all I could say was that I felt like I had lost my hope. Jim tried to encourage me and remind me that I am a person of great faith…and the back bone of the department. I responded, “not anymore…some body else will have to have faith for now”.

Peter C…was pretty faithful in keeping tabs on me this last week…and called to encourage me. He didn’t have the dead man walking fear of reaching out. Not too many others in our department did…except those still awaiting word.

Julie…gave me a lovely card to encourage and build up my faith and spirit. Some folks in other departments asked if there was any news yet…to which I responded, “Not yet”.

As circumstances would have it…my boss was out of town for the last couple of days. In some respects that may have been a good thing…in that I was able to be distracted from my worries with work…packing up boxes and throwing away the accumulation of stuff from over the years. In other respects…his absence made the silence…all the more deafening.

One thing that the delayed phone call and my boss’s absence did was to make me turn to God. All week long…I felt as though God impressed upon me the words of Psalm 23. When my pain was too much to bear and my prayers were incoherent I would focus on the words of Psalm 23. Or I repeated other phrases to help me focus on God and remain hopeful and positive. Phrases like, “there is no panic in heaven…only plans”, or “if God brings you to it…he will bring you through it”. Sounds kind of corny doesn’t it? But when my faith is weak…I’m doing everything I can to cling to Jesus.

Dear Ruth and the Kindred Prayer Team…continued to faithfully offer prayers on my behalf. I know that because today at church a number of prayer warriors…inquired about my job situation. Ruth always…has a word of encouragement and scripture to help build up one’s faith and help you keep your focus on God. I am most grateful and humbled at their care and faithfulness.

My sister Denise…offered words of encouragement in sharing a story from her past about waiting on God’s timing. When what seemed like unanswered prayer was instead God working out the details to answer her prayer.

Following my crash and burn week…in the faith department…I’ve spent this weekend…regenerating and focusing on God. Wishing that I could have the counsel of my former dear Pastor, Chuck Obremski…I did next best thing…and was to listen to his CD’s…to help me get my faith and trust in God back on track.

Two CD’s I felt that God was directing me to listen to were on forgiveness (A Genuine Servant Forgives and A Genuine Servant Forgives & Forgets).

While the people who have delayed contacting me may not have any ill intent…it hurt none the less. And hurts require forgiveness. In listening to these CD’s I was reminded that “Forgiveness is the oil of relationships…it reduces friction.” That I shouldn’t assess motives to someone. God’s forgiveness to me…helps make my forgiveness to others possible. Remaining in un-forgiveness is like being turned over to the torturers. Instead…I am to keep short accounts…and forgive.

So it is with a humble heart…I go to Jesus and seek his help as I forgive offenses.

It is to Jesus I turn…as I have an extra long thee day weekend…and have to continue waiting for news on my job. It is to God that I turn…knowing that he is able to do abundantly more than all I ask or imagine. It is in God that I have confidence…knowing that he is able to bring about that which seems impossible. That God who works in the heart of kings (and bosses and future employers) will bring about that which he has planned for my life.

So is my faith and trust in God unshakable? Not even going to go down that road. I am a frail human being…but I know whom I will turn to if I stumble or fall. I will turn to Jesus. He is my Good Shepherd and like the shepherd carries the lamb upon his shoulders…Jesus will carry me when I am weak.

It is to Jesus that I will give my praise as he works out the plans of my life…and helps me each step of the way.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Weight of His World

When you look into his eyes these days,
You’ll see someone carrying the burdens of many.

Desperate phone calls from those whose future is uncertain,
Pleas to know what will happen as they face the unknown.

A reputation for always doing the right thing,
He aims to treat everyone with respect.

Only now the answers are not forthcoming,
This time, the decisions are not his to make.

For now, sleepless nights are his lot,
Dark circles bear witness, as does the pain in his eyes.

Most desperate to take care of his people,
None will ever fully know his efforts on their behalf.

He cries out to God for wisdom and strength,
As he carries the weight of his world on his shoulders.

For you...I thank you for everything you've done. I am most grateful and humbled...even though it doesn't always come through in what I say and do.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Circumstantial Faith

Trying circumstances…most certainly try my faith. During this time of trial…there have been times when my faith has been revealed as pure gold. At other times a crumbling fool's gold…much to my shame and dismay. Not to mention making my present circumstances seem much worse than they actually are. So here are a few lessons I’ve learned thus far in this time of my present affliction. My aim in writing this is that you would learn from my mistakes…and deepen and strengthen your faith.

Just a few thoughts as I start my day…and I see if God will bring some answers to my uncertain future. Uncertain…this side of heaven.

I’ve found that there are times that my perception of God and of his love, care and provision for me is based on how people treat me and by what my present circumstances are like. Nothing could make my faith shakier than doing this.

When there is only silence and no answers coming my way…when there is a deadline…and a wall is drawing closer…I feel like God is silent.

When God is silent…sometimes…I feel as though he doesn’t love me and doesn’t care. When everyone draws away…and the phone calls from friends…or an encouraging e-mail is not forthcoming…I feel alone and deserted. Deserted by God and my friends. Alone.

The truth be told…some of these folks have what I call the “dead man walking effect”. They don’t know if I’ve been called and offered a job yet. They know they’ve been called…and they think that it would only make matters worse to call me. That it might be rubbing it in that I’ve not yet received that job offer. But instead on this end…it only hurts and makes me feel alone deserted and uncared for…by both God and man.

And of course there are others…living their busy lives…doing their work…and my circumstances aren’t even on their radar screen. They have no ill intentions whatsoever.

What I’ve found is that I perceive God and his love for me, somewhat and sometimes, based on how people treat me and by what’s happening in my present circumstances.

Not a good thing to do…and not a good road to head down. My faith needs to be solely based on the Word of God and looking back over my life and the lives of others and see God’s hand and his faithfulness to me and others.

Since I’ve been in these times of silence and uncertainty…it’s made it much easier for me to be understanding and a comfort to others also facing that uncertainty. So it’s easier to listen to them…and offer words of encouragement and faith.

As I speak those words of faith to others, or demonstrate that I do care…my own faith is encouraged and bolstered. It helps build my own wobbly and at times shaky faith.

There are times in which I decide I will focus on the outcome that I desire and know that God has the ability to bring forth to move and answer those prayers. I look at what seem like signs…signs that God has given hints of what he is doing or preparing me for. But I do so with fear and trepidation…because I believe there is a fine line between faith and presuming that God will answer my prayers in the way I prayed them.

So I guess maybe the answer on this one…is to pray with confidence and know God is able. But to do so with humility and accept that which is God’s plan and will for my life. Remaining confident that no matter how God answers my prayers he is good and he is unchanging. The same yesterday, today and forever…and he still loves me…no matter what.

I’ve found that the thing that calms my mind and soul…and rightly focuses me on God, enabling me to trust him…is when I focus on God’s word. He has impressed upon me Psalm 23 during this time. So when I feel anxious and afraid…when I feel alone and deserted…I say over and over and over again…

Psalm 23

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Note...more to come on the lovely bracelet from Gloria Bass at

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

God Knows!

God already knows what’s going to happen with my job. God is not worried or stressed. He’s not loosing any sleep…or wringing his hands. God is not snapping or barking at any angels that come into his presence because he’s preoccupied with my future. He’s not scratching his head muttering to himself “I wonder what’s going to happen” or “what if this happens or that happens”. Not at all!

In fact…he’s resting peaceful and secure, knowing that everything is okay. Not only with me…but with my co-workers too. You see…God has a plan. He knows where exactly I’m at according to his plan.

Before I was even born…he knew the day I would die and how. He knows the number of hairs on my head…each day, each hour, each minute, and each second. He treasures each tear that falls…so much so that he stores them up in a bottle

He knew I would be conceived by a woman who would not keep me and already knew the family that would adopt me. He knew the struggles I would have and wrestle with even into my 30’s. He knew that it would be many a year before I would accept Jesus as my Savior. He knew that while I heard the gospel message from Christians…it would be the loving witness of a family that would finally touch my heart.

He knew I got a late start in that thing called faith…and I was like a babe young in my faith, but not in years. He knew that I would search for a church to call home. And I arrived home when I walked into Kindred’s Bible Study that fateful day in January 1999.

He knew that I needed a regular filling of his word, undiluted or watered down. He knew I needed to grow in my faith…to handle that which only he saw coming down the pike. He knew that my mother would be widowed times two. He knew of that fateful day…when our country would loose 2,752 of our fellow American’s. He knew that my mother’s worst fear would be imagined as Alzheimer’s reared its ugly head.

He knew the tears, profound sadness and loneliness I would struggle with at still being single. He knew that my brothers’ presence would be scarce when it came to decisions about and caring for my mom. He knew that I would pray for his hand of mercy for her to die peacefully in her sleep. And he knows exactly when he will call her home…according his plan, not my own.

He knew that my faith would grow exponentially as I witnessed an unshakeable faith lived out before me. He knew that dependence upon him and him alone was what I needed. He knows what he’s preparing me for.

He knows what will happen with my job. He knows when it will be revealed to me. He knows the work going on behind the scenes that I am oblivious to. Work by God himself…and humans…his chosen instruments. He knows my roller coaster of emotions. Up one day…and down the next. He knows that my faith is both weak and strong at the same time. He knows that for me to be truly caring and understanding for others that I would need to be in that place of uncertainty for a time.

He knew that last week…when I felt desperately alone and in need of God’s love…I would pick up the phone this week and hear the painful words from a fellow pilgrim. He knew that when I answered “I understand”…it would genuine and not just words tossed out at the right time.

He knew that I would have people and a place to turn to…not only with my prayer needs and requests…but also those of my co-workers. He knew that I would be able to testify to the faithful prayers from Kindred for those in need.

So you see…it seems rather odd to have both faith and doubt sewed into one. Sometimes wobbly and sometimes strong. Sometimes both faith and doubt within a matter of minutes. Sometimes it feels as if the faith is my head…but it has not worked its way down into my heart. Yet…yet I know that God is at work.

Kind of like the seed that has been planted…and is starting to take root…God is at work on my situation. I can’t see it from the surface just yet. But if I had the sight of God…I would see the tentacles of the roots starting to spread out and soon up from the ground up will sprout a new plant.

I keep coming back to the roller coaster analogy…it’s an apt description of the emotional highs and lows of what I and others in our company are feeling at this time.

But I can see that through this God is able to use the uncertainty and at times overwhelming emotions for good. If I wasn’t for me waiting for news about my job…like so many others…I would likely not have a tender heart toward those who are anxious and scared. Instead I might have an unsympathetic or calloused heart. But God has seen to it…that has not happened. Instead…he has me right where he needs me to soften my heart. And I pray to use me right where I’m at.

I must say…that it must hurt God’s heart when I doubt him. Imagine if you have a good reputation…a good solid unshakeable character…proven over time. You promise that you will help someone…that they just need to trust you. After all you’ve never failed them. But they doubt you…doubt your word and your ability to accomplish that which you promised. How would you feel? Ouch!

So Jesus…I’m sorry if at times my faith is weak. And I thank you that even when my faith fails me…that you are strong, that your will and plan…will be accomplished.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Holy Devoted

From some time now I’ve wanted to start writing a weekly devotional based on one of the Bible studies from my dear former Pastor Chuck Obremski.

One question…is where do I begin? There a plethora of wonderful material that this dear man of God left behind. Thanks to the faithful servants of the audio ministry at
Kindred Community Church I was able to obtain these rich studies in the word of God.

Some of the studies took place prior to when I started with Kindred. So it’s a real treat to hear something new…at least new to me. It’s also made richer and deeper because we at
Kindred got to see first hand how the word of God and the spirit of God helped strengthen his humble servant…enabling him to finish strong. Chuck walked the talk…and brought praise, honor and glory to God.

So it is my privilege to launch a new website devoted to a weekly study and devotional in the book of Daniel. Please click on the link below as we get started in the Book of Daniel.

Dare I be a Daniel

May this venture be pleasing to God…as his servants grow deeper and stronger in their faith…and become men and women of great courage.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

At a Snail’s Pace

Since I live in an upstairs apartment…and have a patio far up off the ground…I find it rather amazing when I encounter snails during my weekly gardening efforts.

They seem particularly abundant as of late…but the truth be told I may have just turned a blind eye to these bothersome pests. Now I know that just saying that will offend some people who believe that all living creatures are wonderful. I have no doubt that God created these little fellers for a purpose and reason…and good comes from them…but at the moment that good purpose evades me.

Their rather irksome presence I could no longer ignore when a couple of weeks ago…the water flowing from my watering can was slowed down to a pathetic dribble. Being that I wanted to get my plants watered quickly…I thought I best to investigate the problem.

As I peeked into the watering can…I discovered not just a family of snails…but a whole congregation. Thus began my task to remove these icky creatures from my watering can. Sometimes I can be a rather tough cookie…but at heart…I’m a girly girl. Touching a snail will elicit a grimace on my face. Tentatively and with trepidation…I reached in to the blessed watering can time after time in my efforts to remove these yucky, slimy snails. Now I didn’t have gloves on. But for those of you who don’t know girly girls…we can be creative when it comes to dealing with the yucky disgusting things of life...including snails.

I’d use a paper towel…good for a couple of swipes to scoop them out of the can. Not seeing any further evidence of snails…I continued to water my plants…only to discover that the water flow was still blocked. Focusing my eagle eyes down the spout of the watering can…I found several more snails. Snails determined to remain in their new chosen home. Since I had bought the watering can…and they hadn’t paid a dime of rent…I decided to execute a quick eviction. No notice…just get out.

But they weren’t going to go easily. So I had to get creative and find small object to stick down that spout and poke them down to the main part of the container. Finally I got them where I wanted them…and was able to scoop them out and place them in the trash with their friends who earlier suffered the same fate.

Feeling quite accomplished that me…this girly girl…could touch these yucky snails…albeit via a paper towel…I felt I had triumphed.

As I started watering my plants I found that not only are the snails icky…but so was the waste they left behind. Rather stinky and slimy…just like the snails. Okay, okay…I dealt with that too. Then I was able to finish my watering duties for that week.

Believing that I had addressed this issue…I was dismayed when last week and again this week…the snails had returned. But at least now I was getting to be an expert at removing them and this time a little less squeamish and more determined to remove these pesky little pests.

But I came away from this experience wanting to know what good purpose snails serve. Logging on to my trusty internet…I didn’t find much good said about them. Oh yes there were some sites that like to introduce to children the wonders of the world…including snails. They even noted that snails make good pets. I guess if I had no other pet options than a snail…I might give that a try…but by golly why have a snail when you could have dog or cat or bird…or even a fish.

Doesn’t make a lot of sense to this girl. I’d much rather have puppy dog or kitty cat napping besides me…than a disgusting creature that makes me want to washed my hands several times.

My web search did reveal that snails in fact cause a lot of damage to plants and fruit:

” Snails and slugs are among the most bothersome pests in many garden and landscape situations.”

“Several species of slugs are frequently damaging. Snails and slugs move by gliding along on a muscular "foot." This muscle constantly secretes mucus, which later dries to form the silvery "slime trail" that signals the presence of either pest.”

“Snails and slugs are most active at night and on cloudy or foggy days. On sunny days they seek hiding places out of the heat and bright light; often the only clues to their presence are their silvery trails and plant damage.”

“Snails and slugs feed on a variety of living plants. On plants they chew irregular holes. They can also chew fruit and young plant bark. Because they prefer succulent foliage or flowers, they are primarily pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants, but they are also serious pests of ripening fruits. They will also feed on foliage and fruit of some trees; citrus are especially susceptible to damage. Look for the silvery mucous trails to confirm damage was caused by snails.”

So right about now…you are saying, “Okay Susan, thanks for the lesson on snails…do you actually have a point here?” And indeed I do. While I didn’t find much in the literature to suggest that snails were beneficial to plants and fruit…I saw a definite illustration as to the damage of metaphorical snails in the life of a Christian.

Are you finding your flow is plugged up and what’s coming out of you is down to a dribble and you aren’t able to get the job done? When you take a closer look at your Christian walk…and your lack of fruit do see some rather icky things that are destroying your growth or fruit? Do you get an occasion whiff of some pretty stinky waste left behind by these pests? Is your spiritual garden one that invites pests and destructive creatures or do you have a good defense against them? When you identify them…do you dispose of these spiritual snails quickly?

Just like taking care of your garden…means identifying and getting rid of pests that destroy fruit and kill the plants…you must also do so with spiritual pests.

What are some of those pests that you need to rid yourself of? When you look at your life…or more to the point…when others look at you what do they see?

Are you walking in love? Can it be said that you are patient? Would others describe you as kind and caring? Do you see signs of envy or jealousy? Does pride tend to get a hold of you as evidenced by boastfulness? Are you rude…and first and foremost thinking of yourself? Do you tend to keep a checklist of wrongs done to you…only to whip it out at just the right moment to remind the offending party of an incident that occurred 6 years, 2 months, 3 days and 4 hours ago…not that anyone is keeping track? How do you feel when something bad happens to someone whom you don’t like?

Does the above list describe you? If so…it’s kind of like the slimy trail that a snail leaves behind. While you may not readily see the snail…you can see evidence of him. Be it leaves that have been munched on or fruit that is damaged and is only worthy of the trash…or seeing a slimly silvery trail…you can follow the evidence of the snail’s destruction.

So what are you going to do to guard your heart and mind? What steps do you need to take to rid yourself of these destructive pests? What regular maintenance are you going to put in place in your life to ensure that your spiritual garden is free of snails? And what will be evidence of your success?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Lest you think I’m being holier than thou…please know that God graciously deals with me when I stumble…and fail to live up to that which brings him honor and glory. But thank you God…for your grace and mercy…and your Spirit that dwells within each believer. Enabling us to continue to grow and be conformed into the image and likeness of your Son Jesus Christ. Praise God!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mother’s Day…Are you sure?

Today was not a good day…it was a hard day. One that involved taking my mom to the doctor for a follow up visit on her broken arm. There is no other time that I feel more alone then when I’m with my mom. Not every time. But when I’m tempted to given in to despair it’s when I’m with her. Driving her home from the doctor today…I just felt numb. Physically, mentally and emotionally numb…with nothing left to give. It’s been a rough few weeks…for both of us. I found the only thing I prayed was for God to show me a sign that he loved me, that he cared. Just show me something.

Below is my take on what a day or two in my mom’s life must be like from her perspective with Alzheimer’s. It’s not pretty…but it’s kind of what it’s like. So keep reading if you dare.

The other day someone told me, “It’s Mother’s Day”.

Hummm…just seemed like an ordinary day. A girl name Susan came to see me and we watched a movie together. I’m not sure…but I think she may have been my daughter once. Or perhaps even my sister. No I distinctly remember…I went to school with her a long time ago.

A couple more girls came to see me…with bright smiling faces. I think they said their names were Denise and Alyssa. They even brought me a very pretty flower…that now brightens my room.

You see I’m 84…and I don’t remember so good anymore. Actually…I’m not even sure I could tell you what it is I don’t remember.

If you asked me how old I am…I’ll tell you I’m 65 or 28 or 70.

That Susan girl tells me that I have this thing called Alzheimer’s and that’s why I don’t think so clearly anymore. I don’t know what she’s talking about. But between you and me…sometimes I’m puzzled. Yes puzzled…but I don’t even know about what.

Sometimes Susan asks me questions…like how many children I have or what their names are. Such a silly girl she is. Of course I know…I have two children…doesn’t she know that? Two girls. And then she has the temerity to laugh and ask me what happened to the others. Sometimes I feel like there’s a joke that I’m not in on. Puzzled…just puzzled.

What do you mean it was Mother’s Day the other day? I don’t have two boys, much less four. Come on…what kind of a boy would not even send his mom a card on Mother’s Day? You must be confused!

Today that Susan girl picked me up and we went for ride. Something happened recently and now I sit in a wheel chair…and have this thing on my arm. And that girl…just doesn’t understand when I tell her “wait a minute” when I don’t want to get into the car. I’ll do it when I want to, when I feel like it. But she’s quit insistent that I get in the car without delay. We kind of do this funny dance thing to get me from the chair into the car.

I don’t think she appreciates me pointing out that she can turn left here, or here, or here. She kind of gives me a funny look…and says that we are going straight for a while and not turning left. I just don’t understand…I’m perplexed.

And here we are at the building. Susan tells me I’m here to see the doctor. I don’t know why. I’m perfectly fine…and no, I don’t want to get out of the car. She doesn’t really seem to care that I just want to stay in the car. I’m fine…perfectly fine. Dog gone it…she’s making me do that stupid dance thing again. This time from the car to the chair. I’m puzzled about this whole thing. I don’t understand.

We’re in this room with a lot of other folks now and Susan’s filling out some papers. Every once in a while she’ll reach out and touch my arm or my leg and put her finger to her lips…and tell me to be quite and not bother the others in the room. I’m confused…I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Finally we go in to the back…and to this room that’s kind of dark. Susan and this girl tell me that I need to sit real still so they can get some good pictures. How many more will they have to take? Ouch…that hurts. That man hurt my arm…I don’t like him. But the girl that took my pictures…she was real sweet and made me feel like she cares.

So where are we now…and why does Susan keep telling me that I need to be quiet and not bother the others? I’m not talking, am I? I’m confused.

That bad man came back…and now he’s hurting arm again. He tells me it’s so my arm will get better. But it doesn’t feel like that…right now it just hurts.

I don’t understand why we’re waiting again. The door is over there. Doesn’t she see it…I keep pointing it out. But she’s not listening.

Oh no…not again! I don’t want to do this car thing again. That Susan girl seems like she doesn’t care that I don’t want get in the car. She makes me do it anyway…even when I tell her no. I don’t like her very much right now.

I keep telling Susan that she can turn right there…but she doesn’t seem to be listening. She’s keeps going straight. You know…when I look at her I think she may be crying. She has a funny look on her face and is wiping her eyes. I don’t know what’s going on…I’m perplexed.

Yeah…this place looks familiar. What do you mean I have to cooperate and get out of the car. Susan’s struggling as she gets something out of the trunk. And now she’s trying to put something on the sides of it. What is she doing? Why am I waiting? I don’t understand.

We’re going inside…and I think I recognize this place. The people are smiling and asking me how I’m doing. I think it’s dinnertime now and I get to eat. That Susan girl is leaving now. She said something about going back to work.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

One Year & Counting…and What a Year It’s Been

Well tomorrow, May 15th, marks the one year anniversary since I started blogging. And what an amazing year it’s been.

It all started when conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt put the bug in my ear about blogging. He’s regularly talked about blogging and even features blogs on his website. I would try to encourage my friend Joe Conway to give blogging a try since he is a talent writer in his own right. I don’t know if my words ever registered with Joe…but the idea started to take hold with me.

You see…I’ve always loved to write. When I’d be going though difficult times…I’d write my “letters to God” to help me work through those difficult feelings and emotions that I didn’t fully understand. In college, I even remember a professor reading one of my pieces to the class and commenting that it was well written. It was a very personal paper in which I shared my emotions in a very open and transparent manner. Not something I was use to doing back then. Especially considering how shy I was at that time.

Indeed I was very shy. Self conscience about my looks…afraid that I was not very bright or smart. I would dread the thought of anyone paying attention to me. So much so…back then I would rather cross the street than to say “hi” to someone passing by. In high school…I’m afraid I may have had a reputation of being stuck-up. When in fact nothing could be further from the truth. I was just extraordinarily shy.

Well life happened…and I changed over the years. People in my life influenced me. As I grew less shy…I became more passionate about my convictions…and developed a passion for the truth. Be it the truth about God, Jesus and religion, or culture, feminism, and politics my urge to speak out grew and grew. And thus…this blog was born.

A few people that come to mind that influenced that evolution of my personality and character are Peter Bartholomew, Terry Sullivan and Chuck Obremski. Peter was one of the first people to believe in me and gave me a chance. Terry…was a breath of fresh air. A no nonsense…speak the truth kind of guy. And Chuck…my dear beloved former Pastor…he spoke the truth of God and Jesus. He uncompromisingly taught God’s word.

In world in which churches are “seeker sensitive” and try to make you feel better so you’ll come back…Chuck’s concern and passion was that he preach God’s word. And if something he said stung…well perhaps you’d better examine yourself against the word of God. If necessary…make some changes. But Chuck also spoke the truth in love. No one would ever call that man a hypocrite. When in the fire of cancer, pain and suffering…he lived out what he had preached. The refiner’s fire…proved his faith as pure gold.

Lastly…conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager helped me to grow as well. He helped me to think and reason clearly and present an argument to make my case.

So with my shy nature falling by the wayside…I found myself bubbling over with feelings and ideas that needed to be expressed.

What was the catalyst that launched this blog? Well several things really. First and foremost September 11th, a defining and clarifying moment for our nation and me personally. My mother’s diagnosis and life of Alzheimer’s filled me with issues that I needed to work through. But the event that pushed me over the top and into blogging was my dear Pastor’s battle with cancer. We as a church had been standing with Chuck and Linda as he rode the “cancer coaster”. The emotional and ups and downs, and my faith waxing and waning called for a place, an avenue, to work things through. Thus…Susan’s Blog was born.

Actually I started out dealing with more personal issues…with regards to my mom and Alzheimer’s and posting my notes from Chuck’s sermons. It was becoming apparent that his precious time was limited…and I wanted to mark each step. I ended up linking a story in the Orange County Register about Chuck on my site.

A web search…lead me to the site of
David Fisher at Pilgrim’s Scribblings. David knew Chuck through baseball chapel and he followed Chuck’s battle with cancer from a distance.

David is godly man…and his website would always inspire and challenge me…and at times delight me. From David…I learned about more blogs. David has a gift for finding great websites…and takes delight in highlighting some of his finds. He’s a regular visitor…and when you start to get lazy…or life overwhelms you and you stop writing…David invites you to jump back in to your writing adventure.

From David’s website I found some wonderful sites…including
Debra at As I See It Now. And from there I found more and more websites and blogs. Blog to inspire my faith, encourage me in my walk…people just being open, transparent and vulnerable. People like Janna at Janna’s Bread Crumbs, or Carol at She Lives, and Bonnie in Florida who has since gotten out of the blogging business. But she still pays a visit now and again and keeps in touch via e-mail.

Some of my writing ventures included submissions to Hugh Hewitt’s Blog of the Week Contest. Never won…but I was a finalist a couple of times. I posted lots and lots of pieces about Chuck and faith and God’s will. Some of my favorites were poems that I can say were truly God inspired.

Some of my favorite articles include a fun article about a co-worker and his surprising dance on a table in his effort to win a contest. Also of note were a couple of articles I wrote in my effort to speak the truth about the devastating and harmful effects of feminism. My Tookie Williams article drew much fire. So much so that I had to turn off the comments section for a while. The pro Tookie folks were not too eloquent in presenting their argument in favor if his sentence being commuted to life in prison. Instead…if they were a picture of Tookie’s influence on people, then his execution should have taken place sooner. While one who normally favors freedom of expression…I ended up deleting some of the more profanity laced responses.

Of recent note were a couple of articles I wrote in response to a group of people who allege that they are Christians…yet behave in a very ungodly, un-Christian manner by protesting at the funeral of soldiers. They even go to the lengths of saying “thank God for dead soldiers”. After writing these pieces I found that many, many people in the Christian community felt as repulsed as I did and also wanted to speak out against them.

On a more personal note…I’ve been able to put in writing when I’m struggling with my faith…or God is challenging me and I’m am not living in a manner worthy of his calling.

Indeed what a year it has been…so much has happened. Friends have died…my faith has grown and at times been very low. I’ve gone from one who struggled with being single…and hopeful of romance with a certain special someone…to being able to let go and have peace.

God has used this blog in my life to help me work through issues, problems and difficulties. It’s also been an avenue in which I can give thanks, praise and thanksgiving to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And for this wonderful…and at times miraculous gift of the internet and blogging I say thank you to God. It is my prayer that I will be unwavering in my faith walk and that God may use me as an instrument for his kingdom.

Lord bless you all and thanks for paying a visit to Susan’s Blog. I look forward to another year of blogging.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My Life...No Longer an Option

This old blog of mine is better than a diary. It’s a place where I can work through issues that are weighing heavy on my mind. Sometimes that means railing against the latest political happenings…or exploring my faith…or confessing my lack thereof. Writing is my best therapy. And on this blog…you can even read my writing…but my handwriting oft gives the imitation of Sanskrit…or some mysterious ancient language.

Currently…the thing weighing heavy on my mind is my job and all that’s going on with it and the company. Currently our company is in the middle of a sale. Its being split into three companies…with the sale expected to close in about three weeks.

I’ve worked in my current job for over 10 years now…maybe longer…and with the company for almost 22 years. Actually I’m couple of years past burn out and have been looking forward to a change. I’ve love the people that I work with…and even the work because it’s interesting and changes daily. But still…10 years is long time in the same job.

So with the prospect of a new company buying us…the excitement of a new job on the horizon I was looking forward to the change. Yet…of course I was scared and nervous and excited all at once.

As it turns out the company buying us doesn’t have people that do my job in field offices. Their structure is different…so no matter what…my job is going away. My gracious boss was able to arrange for me to be interviewed for a job.

Well…Wednesday was the big day. Knowing that I had the prayer support of Kindred Community Church’s Prayer Team, Bible Study Fellowship and my sister…I was amazingly at peace. Yes…I was wee bit nervous…and anxious about the interview. But still…I had a peace.

I also had an adrenaline rush…which carried me through the interview. Now these gentlemen either thought I was enthusiastic, had too much caffeine, or was a little wacky. I don’t think I looked at my watch once during the long interview…and the time seemed to pass quickly.

Afterwards I was excited and thought that I had a good rapport with the folks that interviewed me…and was hopeful that I will be extended a job offer.

At the end of the day…the adrenaline rush was over…and I felt down in the dumps and uncertain. Uncertain how the interview went. Whether I represented myself, our department and company well. Uncertain as to how I came across. One thing that’s for sure…I was the real me. I didn’t put on an act…or try to pretend to be anything I’m not.

Feeling uncertain…I was a little scared and sad at the prospect that I might loose my job. I was focused on me and my feelings…when I got a call from person who had also recently interviewed for a job. They expressed their anxiety over what the outcome might be. I tried to be a comfort and a listening ear…and help give them a positive focus.

Later that day…when I accepted the possibility that I might loose my job...I felt “Well okay, what’s next”.

As soon as I was able to accept that the worst might happen…I realized I don’t have time to spend focusing on my fears, sadness and anxiety of this uncertain outcome.

Did you ever see the movie Runaway Train? I feel like I’m on a runaway train. And it’s barreling faster and faster to a hard and fast end. In the mean time…I have a lot of work that needs to get done…no matter if I’m given a job and remain with the company or not. And I’d better get cracking.

Secondly and more importantly…if I focused on my fears and anxiety…I won’t be able to help others who are feeling likewise or even worse. If I focus on others…perhaps I can be there to listen to them when they feel overwhelmed. Or help them to have a different perspective. While things are uncertain and little scary…that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And even if things are not so peachy keen…having a negative, bitter, angry and resentful attitude about it, certainly will not help me to bring good out of it or make things better for myself or others.

Now in some respects I feel as though I have an unfair advantage on some people…because I know God and have a relationship with Jesus Christ. While I don’t know what my future holds…I know God…and know that He knows what my future holds. Jesus promised to never leave me, nor forsake me. That is true of my past…my present and a promise that He will be with me in the future as well. I don’t know what my future holds…but I know who holds my future. And that is enough for today.

Yesterday…when I bowed out of a meeting that was set up to help everyone deal with “transition” someone made the comment, “she’s in the denial stage”. I found it both irritating and ironic. Irritating…because they assumed I was in denial without even talking to me. Ironic because I had actually worked through that stage and now had a peace. Peace because I had accepted the worst and now was focused on what I needed to do.

One of the things that makes this change a little painful…it reminds me of people that had long worked for our company and have since died. When this sale is final…our stores will take on the new company’s name. In some respects it feels like we are burying and letting go of these people all over again.

But when I thought further…I realized that the people I've known and loved over the years…they are still with me. They are in my heart…and I was most fortunate to learn great work ethics from some of the best people in the retail and loss prevention industry. They helped to meld me and mold me and make me the person I am. So whether they’ve died...moved on to a new job or are retired…I will continue to carry them with me. That part won’t change. And now I will have the opportunity to meet new people, learn more…and continue to grow.

So what’s in a name? A history…but it’s a living history that continues on in the people that lived it and remember those who walked with them before. So I will carry with me Len Thielen, Neil Parker, Hugo Constantino, Peter Bartholomew and Terry Sullivan. Through this transition…I will add more people to that list of people whom I will always carry with me in my heart.

In some respects I feel as though God has prepared me for this change. This year in Bible Study Fellowship we’ve studied the book of Genesis. In it…we learned about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph…among others. Some of them were given a new name by God and some were called to leave their home and go to a far country.

If this job change had occurred a year ago…there is no way I would have even considered moving. My beloved Pastor, Chuck Obremski was still in the midst of riding the cancer coaster. And there was no way…I was getting off before we found out what God’s plan was. But God has since revealed part of his plan. I feel like God may be calling me to a new place. Where exactly…I don’t know. Some scripture verses that come to mind are “Go ye into all the world and make disciples” and that we are to be like salt and light. Salt that remains in the salt shaker does little good…and light covered up doesn’t do what it was created for.

Now if I get this job…it will likely require a move at some point. The hardest part of that prospect is leaving my church, Kindred Community Church. We have been through so much and are knit together. But even if I leave…the people of this church will remain with me…in my heart and in my mind. And I’ll be able to keep up with everyone via the prayer newsletter, e-mail, phone and hopefully the occasional visit. A visit that would feel like I was coming home.

But I would also leave well prepared…with CD’s albums in hand. I’d be able to take Chuck and his no nonsense, kick-butt teaching with me. I’d still have my feet held to the fire…by a man who walked the talk…and finished well.

So…do I have the job? I don’t know yet. It’ll be perhaps another week or so before I know for sure. I’m sure I’ll feel anxious during this time. But by golly…I’ll be able to go to God with my anxiety and concerns. What will I say?

Thank you, God. Thank you, that you have a plan in place. There is no panic in heaven, only plans. I know that you hold both me and my future in the palm of your hand. Thank you that you are able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than all I ask or imagine. Thank you that you care about me…so much so that you carry my tears in a bottle…and will one day wipe them from my eyes.

Thank you that you know me and my needs and care for me. Thank you for going before me and help to prepare the way. Please give me great wisdom on decisions I need to make and plans. Go before me and smooth out my path. Please let your favor rest upon me.

Please use me and let me be a comfort and blessing to others. Give me a sensitive ear to hear the pain, anxiety and concerns of others. Help me to be watchful for the person that needs help. And when I’m feeling overwhelmed…help me to go to you for the strength, wisdom and peace that is needed.

Thank you for the difficult times of the last few years that have helped me to grow deeper and stronger in my faith. Thank you for showing me I am not able to handle this on my own. Thank you for the people whom you have placed in my life that have touched me…whom I will greatly miss. Painful yes…but a good pain that I am most fortunate to have.

Sometimes the hardest part of being single is facing times like this alone. I don’t have a husband to rely upon or care for me. When I wake up in the middle of the night…anxious and scared and unable to sleep…I don’t have a loving arm around me, or a listening ear at my side or someone to wipe those tears that fall.

But I do have my Father in heaven that cares for me. Just like he uses people in my life to touch me, reach out and care for me when I’m hurting…now I pray that I might also do that for others.

So if you are stopping my blog on a regular visit…or if you just stumbled across it…I’d greatly appreciate your prayers over my job. What would I like to be prayed for? That I will get this new job. That God will help me to continue to learn and grow…in all areas. That He would use me in a new place. That He would help me to get rooted and grounded in a good church and BSF Bible Study. And if God has another plan…that I would trust him as he reveals that plan.

Thanks much…and I’m sure I’ll have more work transition postings to come in the near future. Your patience is appreciated.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

World of Good Wednesday…DaVinci Code - What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good.

When the DaVinci Code by Dan Brown first came out I bristled at the thought of a fiction book gaining popularity that denied the deity of Christ. I was concerned and yes even fearful that this book…would lead people astray. Keep unbelievers from come to a saving faith in Christ…and draw Christians young or weak in their faith away from Jesus Christ.

I swore to myself…that I would not read that heretical book…much less hearken the doors of a theater that would blaspheme my Savior. The scripture that came to mind was, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” –
Romans 1:25.

But I’ve since had a change of mind and heart. Now instead of being fearful about this movie…I welcome it.

Why, you ask? Has my choo, choo finally gone around the bend? Has my faith failed me following a couple of difficult years?

No! Rest assured…I am energized and excited at the prospects that God will take this work of fiction, chock of full lies and half truths…and turn it into an opportunity for his people, the church, to spread the gospel message. Reaching the world…with the Word.

Folks…think about it. People who are not Christians…who’ve never cracked a Bible in their life will be talking about Jesus. People whose faith is weak or wobbly will doubt and ask questions. And you, my friends…and me…can be God’s ambassadors to take his Word, the truth to a hungry, needy and dying world.

So what will be required of us so we can present an effective response to the questions and claims that people will have after seeing the DaVinci Code…or reading the book?

We are to be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. Having good, firm, well grounded Biblical knowledge is paramount. However in this case it will not be sufficient. Instead…you are going to need to get educated on church history.

My friends…there is a wealth of information out there by apologetics teachers and Biblical scholars to help you get educated and knowledgeable. Knowledgeable about church history and the cannon of scripture, when the Bible gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written. You will be able to learn…just who the Gnostics were and what they believed. You will be able to see for yourself the difference between God’s Word…and some gospels that were written a couple hundred years after Christ. You’ll be able to better understand why these alleged gospels were not included in the Bible.

So in others words…you’ll be getting a boat load of knowledge…that you can share with unbelieving friends of family members. When you have that friend…who is young in their faith and not well rooted and grounded in Bible knowledge…come to you with questions…and you will be prepared to answer.

But it is going to require some additional effort on your part. You’ll need to partake of the resources that are available to help you get to know church history. You’ll also need to read through the gospels and pay particular attention to passages that clearly show Jesus did claim to be the Son of God...yet fully human. Get out a pen…write it in the margins of your Bible…or have note pad handy.

Don’t forget that we…have the truth of God on our side. God tells us that his Word will not return void.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. –
Isaiah 55:11

So here are some of the resources you can start with…to help bring you up to speed.

Stand to Reason…both their
radio and the monthly newsletter, and other online resources.

Focus on the Family recently broadcast two programs about the Da Vinci Code on May 1st and 2nd. They also have other resources and links online.

Da Vinci Deception by Edwin Lutzer

Lee Stroble and Garry Poole’s book
Exploring the Da Vinci Code

There many, many other resources to help you get educated…so that you can put up an effective defense of the faith. Just do a quick search on Goggle…or your favorite search engine.

You can be a part of God’s plan…to take what Satan intended for evil…and bring good from it. Satan wants to see people following a false Jesus. Satan wants to deny the divinity of Christ. Satan wants people to believe that the Bible is strictly man’s invention…and not divine revelation from God. Satan wants people to remain in their sin…to not receive forgiveness of their sins from Jesus Christ.

Tell me…how you feel when someone tells you that the Bible is full of lies and contradictions? That is was written by man and not God? And then you inquire if they’ve read the Bible…and they respond, “No”. How do you feel? Do you respect their argument? I’d be willing to bet that you don’t respect that position.

Don’t you owe to others to answer with honesty that indeed you did read the book the DaVinci Code or see the movie. And while perhaps interesting…you found it nothing more than an interesting book…and totally devoid of truth and fact. Then you can present a well reasoned argument, based on fact, history and the truth of God’s Word.

Satan would like to see this make movie make in-roads into people’s faith…and he can only succeed if we back down and give him the territory. Remember…it’s all about the YAC yards. You need to make the YAC yards…not Satan.

Remember God’s admonition?

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” –
1 Peter 3:15

Are you prepared? What’s stopping you?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Out of the Mouth of Alzheimer’s

This last week and a half was a wee bit on the stressful side.

A little over a week ago…my 84 year old mother Gayle fell while walking down the hallway at her assisted living facility. It started some days of pain, stress and uncertainty for both Gayle and me.

Even in the midst of this winding road called Alzheimer’s it had its odd and funny moments.

Starting out with Gayle in the Emergency Room at Placentia Linda Hospital…while the nurses were caring for her…my sister Denise and I mentioned that she had at one time been a nurse. Their reaction was very sweet and they asked where she worked and what she did. She had been a Utilization Review nurse at Brea Community Hospital…which has since closed.

Gayle inquired as to where she was at and we told her she was at Placentia Linda Hospital. To which she responded, “Oh that explains things.” Thankfully the nurses got a chuckle out of that.

Gayle was released from the hospital on Monday…and I was able to take her back to her assisted living facility. It was nice…because shortly after being back there…you could see the difference. Yes…she was in a lot of pain…and felt wretched…but she was Gayle again…and not “the broken arm in 224”.

Now don’t get me wrong…some of the nurses were very nice….but nonetheless…I hate hospitals. I was so glad to get Gayle sprung from that joint. I think I was surprised at how unfamiliar the hospital personnel seemed to be in working with Alzheimer’s patients. Especially when compared to the nurses at the assisted living place.

On Thursday…I got a call from my mom’s assisted living place…telling me that she needed to be taken to the emergency room again. There seemed to be a problem with the cast and her arm was swelling. Which is a whole other story altogether.

While waiting with Gayle in ER…for testing, doctors to examine her and get test results back…I was chatting with her. Since I was trying to multi-task and complete my BSF lesson…I was talking with her about God. I asked her, “What was the greatest blessing that God had given her in her life?” She looked me right in the eye and said, “I suppose it’s you.”

Today I had another one of those Alzheimer’s speaks moments…when my Gayle was laying on her bed and said to me, “You are a very lucky girl because you have me to spend your time with.”

So with Alzheimer’s….you just never know what’s going to come out.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Open Letter to Fellow Christians about Hatred Veiled in Christianity AKA…Shirley Phelps-Roper

One of the joys in blogging and when writing my earlier article “Confronting an Ugly Face of Christianity – Shirley Phelps-Ropers” is the feedback I’ve received from fellow Christians. Christians who felt as outraged and disgusted by the hatred and venom spread by this whacky and scary group purporting themselves to be Christians.

So this response is for Stephanie and Jacquelynn and all the others who took the time to comment and share that in no way does Ms. Phelps-Roper represent Christ and fellow Christians. That she is twisted at best…and evil at worst.

So I’d like to share a few more thoughts. Many people commented that when the heard Shirley talking or saw pictures of the Westborough Baptist Church members holding ugly, hate filled signs at funerals…they wanted to smack this girl. And some of the language they used or wanted to use…was not what you would expect to hear coming from a Christian’s mouth.

And what do I say to that? I fully understand. In fact…if I had been able to lay my hands upon that video or audio clip or a transcript sooner…I would have written a very different article. Instead of something in which I tried to incorporate scripture to combat lies and hatred…I would have used my own words. And they would have been pretty darn ugly words.

But God…in his wisdom and timing worked on my heart. Instead it was a few days afterwards that I transcribed the audio…so that could form an effective response to hatred. During that time…the Holy Spirit was at work on my heart and mind. He reminded me that Jesus used scripture combat the lies of the devil. Remember when
Jesus was in the desert and fasting for 40 days and nights? Satan came to him…and twisted scripture and tempted Jesus. How did he respond? With the Word of God.

If Jesus, the very Son of God, didn’t respond to Satan on his own…but instead combated Satan’s lies with scriptures…ought I do anything less? We need to be ever mindful that the
Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

So when turning to scripture to fight this battle…it made it easier to not respond in the flesh. Because quite honestly…my fleshly response would not have been so gracious.

After writing that article…other scriptures came to mind that I should have included in an already too long article.

One phrase that kept coming to my mind, “And such were some of you.”

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
1 Cor 6:9-11

Ms. Phelps-Roper and her group focus on, single out and target homosexuals for condemnation. They are focusing on one sin. Perhaps a sin that is not their own…not something that they are not tempted by. But in doing so…they are conveniently overlooking their own sin. They are forgetting that “There is no one righteous, no not one.” They forget that they too are sinners saved by grace. Not by works, lest anyone boast.

Today on the National Day of Prayer…I was reminded how true it is that as you drawer closer to God…and his righteousness and holiness…that you are ever mindful of your own sin and unworthiness. When I hear Shirley talking…I hear nothing from her lips that indicates she is mindful that she too is a sinner.

One of the things that really bugs they heck out of me about these hate mongers is the fact that their distorted, ugly, hate filled view of God makes other Christians back peddle in response. They don’t want to be perceived as being bigoted and hateful too. So instead they may remain silent about sin and what God says about sin.

Make no mistake…our God is Holy and Righteous. In Him there is no sin. God does hate sin…how much so? So much that he deemed sinners worthy of physical death and eternal separation from God. But God is also love…and he knowing we were sinners, unable to save ourselves, he provided a way out. He did that through the death of his precious Son Jesus Christ. How much does God hate sin? So much so…that the death penalty was extracted and imposed upon Jesus Christ. How much does God love us…He paid the penalty for our sins so that we might be forgiven.

God is indeed a God of forgiveness. Remember
Jesus talking with the woman at the well. He took time to talk to this woman, whom others shunned. But he also confronted her sin. He didn’t just let it lie. Instead he confronted her in a gentle and loving manner. How about you? How do you deal with persons involved in sin? Do you shun them and not talk to them? Or do you shy away from the topic of sin in an effort to not offend them? Or do you try to walk that delicate balance like Jesus did?

Jesus takes us as we are…but he doesn’t just leave us that way. He doesn’t leave us in our sins. The Holy Spirit within us starts to work…and cleanses our heart, mind and soul. Jesus tells us to “
Go and sin no more.”

But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Matthew 9:13

Tell me…when you hear someone shouting and pouring forth nothing but hatred and condemnation…does that in any way bid you to come? No, it repeals you. Not only do those people look bad…but the God that they represent looks bad too.

Shirley Phelps-Roper and her fellow Westborough Baptist Church members are effective instruments in the hands of Satan. Their ugliness, hatred and condemnation will be used to drive a wedge between sinners and God. The sinners whom God loves and wants to save…so much so that he gave his own Son so that they might be saved.

They are also effective instruments in the hands Satan to get Christians to shut up and distance themselves from these people who are ugly, hate filled whackos. I mean really…who wants to be identified with someone who is intentionally hurtful and hateful? So instead…you keep quiet. You are a Christian…you have your faith…but you don’t share your faith with others. You are fearful that someone at work will say “Gee wiz, did you see that group of Christians of Fox News?” And as the water cooler topic heats up…you quietly slip away.

So are Shirley and her fellow church members really Christians and really saved? I don’t know…that is something that only God knows the answer to. I know I don’t see fruits in their lives being demonstrated that bears witness that they are saved.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
John 13:34

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:35

A couple of closing thoughts. Jacquelynn, who is a Christian, made a comment that everyday she sees hypocritical Christians. Can I say the same? Absolutely. But I’d like to make the observation that only when you have an objective set standard by which you judge yourself and others…and you fail to live up to that standard are you a hypocrite. If you don’t have that objective standard…you aren’t going to have something to live up to. There is no chance you will fail.

I think God would rather that we try and aim to live godly, righteous lives as he gave us in the Word of God. Try and sometimes fail…than to not try at all. Of course we know that trying…and even succeeding in living rightly will not save us. But instead may it be reflective of a heart towards God.

Someone who lives as their own heart dictates…really won’t be called a hypocrite. After all I’m sure what’s in their heart changes day by day.

I don’t want to live according to my own conscious. I want to live according to an objective set standard. The standard given in the Word of God.

Lastly…of all the comments and e-mails I received I was most saddened by the ones I got from non-Christians. Brandon thought that I was belittling Ms. Phelps-Roper and her church…and that it was well deserved. Both non-Christians who responded knew that what they were seeing in the actions of Shirley and Westborough Baptist Church members was un-Christian.

Vanessa said: “I too saw the news clip, and although I am not a Christian, I have read the Bible and from what I gather you aren’t supposed to hate or discriminate anyone. Aside from religious views, it’s simply evil to protest a funeral. Especially if these people that died, died for the ones saying thank god they are dead.”

Thank you to each one of you who left a comment or e-mailed me. It was a pleasure to hear from you. I encourage you to speak out when you hear outrageous, distorted examples of Christianity. Be a voice of reason…and love to a sinful, hurting world in need.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Double Blessed by God

Not sure when I began my tradition to commemorate the National Day of Prayer. But for a few years now…on that first Thursday in May…I do a prayer walk.

Each morning I walk…and I always say it’s my favorite time of day…the best part of my day. And indeed it is. It helps me to focus, awaken, relax, de-stress, and think through things that are weighing heavy on my mind. Usually I’ll listen to Dennis Prager or a Podcast of Focus on the Family or In Touch Ministries.

But this day is special…the National Day of Prayer. Instead of distractions…I will focus. Focus on God, our nation and the need for God’s people to come humbly before Him to intercede on behalf of this great nation that He has raised up.

I am most grateful to be a Christian…and most thankful to be an American. Double blessed by God.

In Bible Study Fellowship…I learned a wonderful way to pray. I start by saying the different names of God and move into thanking God for the different blessings, grace and mercy He has poured out upon me, my family, my friends and our nation. I confess my sins before a Holy, Righteous God and then come humbly before my Lord…and present my requests.

The needs of our nation are great and at all levels. We are a nation in need of God and as Christians and people of faith…it imperative we pray for our country and our fellow citizens. So let’s take a day…and lay aside our differences and come before God in prayer for the greatest nation on God’s green earth…that we are most blessed to abide in.

How will you be praying for our nation…on this National Day of Prayer?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Hope…a Chance…United 93

A hope…but not a guarantee,
A chance…but not a certainty,
Had the passengers on United 93.

A picture…
A realization…
Of the evil set before them.

Subdued initially by lies,
Communication with loved ones,
Their true mission revealed.

Awful truth sets in,
Oppressed, overwhelmed, just want to cry,
After all…what can we do?

A flicker of hope,
A strength surges through,
Hearts and minds steeled for the mission ahead.

Not a choice,
But a must,
We dare not allow them success.

A plan is formed,
Last goodbyes are said,
Ours the first step, in the war on terror.

Will they ever know the truth?
Will they know that we tried?
Will they remember…and never forget?

They must be strengthened,
And never loose sight,
Find courage, fight strong, finish the battle.

A hope…but not a guarantee,
A chance…but not a certainty,
Let’s roll…let’s fight, our battles’ begun.

Dedicated to the Passengers & Crew of United 93
Susan Bunts

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn – Interesting plot and characters, but had a convoluted ending

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