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.