Friday, November 30, 2007

With All the Many Miracles

God gave the bold command
To cross the Jordan and take the land
Not to worry about the giants they would face
But when the spies returned
To tell the others what they had learned
They said, “For us to win, there’s just no way.”

Still two of them trusted God,
Caleb and Joshua
They said, “Children, don’t believe what you have heard.
We know we’re out manned by far,
They’re much bigger than we are.
But let’s not forget just Who it is we serve.”

With all the many miracles
Why don’t you think it’s possible?
With all the many things we’ve seen
Why do you think it’s just a dream?
With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles.

Like when we were about to die,
Manna fell from the sky.
Then water came from a dry old dusty rock.
And back when Pharaoh was closing in,
God closed the sea again,
But not before we all had safely crossed.

So here you are my friend,
You face a battle you cannot win
You tell yourself, “There just no need to try”
Consider how good God’s been,
He’s been faithful time and again,
You must believe and here’s the reason why.

With all the many miracles
Why don’t you think it’s possible?
With all the many things we’ve seen
Why do you think it’s just a dream?
With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles.

With all the things He’s done for us
Don’t you think it’s time we trust?
Remember what is possible
With all the many miracles.

By Rodney Griffin, Greater Vision

Anybody in need of a miracle today? Anybody being challenged to keep the faith in the midst of difficult circumstances and dark days? I for one raise my hand high and say, “Yes Jesus, I believe help me with my unbelief. Please God bless me.”

Terry and David…I’m dedicating this song to both of you. You both share a love for the music of Greater Vision. When I listen to their music…my faith is built up. It’s so Biblically based and taken straight from scripture. I pray that the Lord touches your feelings and reminds you that He loves you and is at work in your circumstances. May we be ever mindful that He is faithful. Love you two…and stay strong in the Lord!.

The above song is by the Gospel trio Greater Vision…my favorite Gospel group. I first heard them when listening to Charles Stanley’s In Touch program. Greater Vision is one of their frequent guests. Usually I’ll watch the program on Saturday evening or Sunday morning before church.

Rodney Griffin is their songwriter. He writes most of their music…and it is the best. Gerald Wolfe and Jason Waldrop join Rodney to make up this wonderful Gospel trio. It is my prayer that one day…I will get to see them sing in person.

“With All the Many Miracles” is the song that has most touched me both when I first heard and even today…when I need an infusion of faith and courage to trust God even before I see His work in my circumstances…I’ll listen to this song.

When I first heard “With All the Many Miracles”…it was around the time our Bible Study Kindred Fellowship was soon to become a church, Kindred Community Church. It was a time of uncertainty. We knew God was leading and at work…but we didn’t know how He was going to work things out.

But our God is faithful…and likes to do things in a big way. He faithfully lead our church and provided what we needed according to His prefect plan and timing. Praise Him. So when my beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski was battling cancer and eventually called home to be with his Lord, this song kept me focused on God and His ability to act and move in our situation. When we were without a Pastor for two years…this song reminded me that God was at work…and that we would one day see the outworking of His plan. Which we saw when He called Pastor Philip De Courcy to the pulpit at Kindred.

Today…when I see my life, not as I had imagined or hope, I once again listen to this song…to bring me hope and knowledge that He is faithful and will provide what is needed according to His plan and in His perfect timing.

God’s timing is usually different than mine. But it is in retrospect that I see just how right His timing and plan was. So Jesus…tonight…I put my trust and hope in You to work in my life. I’ve cried out to you so many times…at this point I’m nagging. But like the woman who came to Jesus and begged for her daughter’s deliverance…I too will persist until Jesus tells me, “Susan, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fleshly Wisdom

You know…there are times I think God must just be weary of dealing with me. Positively weary! Honestly…sometimes I’m weary of being dealt with. Goodness knows I need it. It seems like when I actually “get it” and understand what God wants…that lasts for about 20 seconds…and then I’m back to being a bonehead again.

As I look at my actions and words over the past few days…I wonder…do I live my life as if I have a relationship with the living God who loves me and sent His Son to die for me? Specifically in the area of going to God with questions and asking for help when I desire wisdom and discernment.

I’m afraid to admit it…but I find I like to get my answers from someone who has flesh on…who I can see face to face.

I acknowledge that when I’m asking a person…something that only God knows the answer to…I’m getting answers and feedback that is lacking. Sometimes woefully lacking. Also I can manipulate the situation based on what information I share. That manipulation may not even be intentional…just a predisposition or prejudice to view my situation in a certain manner.

But goodness knows I can’t do that with God.

So today…when I found myself asking a friend for advice…I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God saying to me, “Susan, why are you going to her for advice? Why aren’t you coming to Me? Asking Me for discernment and wisdom and help in your situation?”

Why do I first tend to go to humans for wisdom, instead of God?

When I go to God…I need to quite my spirit…and put some thought into what I’m asking or want. As I draw close to God…I see that perhaps that which I desire is not of His will…and then I’m faced with the decision to surrender or not? Am I ready and willing to state, “Thy will be done”?

God knows the truth…He knows the situation intimately…and people involved. I can’t fool Him or spin my story in a way that is favorable to me. And I may not get an answer right away. There may be a delay…and it may appear as if God is not going to answer. That requires that I wait and trust Him and His timing and His will and His wisdom.

Thus…the human answer seems easier and more desirable in the short run. The problem is…it’s based on limited finite human knowledge. When I have my ear tuned to man’s wisdom…I usually make poor decisions. Especially when I’m listening to my own voice unchecked by the word of God.

So Jesus…I bring before you my situation…my dilemma. I confess…I don’t know what to do…I don’t know what’s going on…both in me and others? I don’t know what step to take next…or not to take? I don’t know what to say or do. I don’t know if I should shut up and let go and let God? Or if I should persevere…and demonstrate great faith? I don’t know. But Jesus…You know. You are omniscient…You know each of us intimately. You planned our lives from before the foundation of the world. You know the good plan that You have for me. You know that which is according to Your perfect will. So Jesus…I ask You to give me wisdom. Help me to have an ear to hear You. To follow Your guidance and direction. Help me to surrender and obey. Help me to trust You and be patient…to believe despite what’s in front of me. Help me to walk in love…and think of the other person’s good before I think of myself. When I’m frustrated and want to give up…help me instead to bring the situation and person before Your throne in prayer. Jesus…I’m sorry for not trusting You fully and leaning on my own understanding and seeking my will before Yours. Help me to love others more than I love myself or want to get my way. Thank You for forgiving me of all my sins…and washing me in the precious blood of the Lamb. Help me to make decisions and live my life in such a manner that I bring You glory. I come to You in Jesus name…Amen!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Only Believe

If the words had been audible…God’s message to me couldn’t have been clearer. “Susan, only believe!”

As I studied this week’s Bible Study Fellowship lesson I saw example after example of people who demonstrated great faith. From the men who brought their paralytic friend to Jesus so that he might be healed. To the woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years. Jairus had mission to have Jesus do the unthinkable…bring his dead daughter back to life. Even the blind men came to Jesus believing that He was able to restore their sight. In their joy and excitement over the miracle that Jesus had just performed…they went out and did the very thing Jesus commanded them not to do…they blabbed about what the Messiah had done to everyone they encountered.

Do I have great faith…the kind of faith that motivates God to answer my prayers? Faith to believe that He is able to do that which is impossible with man? Do I have the kind of faith…that brings Him glory because it shines forth…even before it’s answered? Do I have such joy and excitement that I can not be contained and must share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone I encounter?

The example that has always touched me the most personal…is the woman with an issue of blood. Think of it…in the Jewish society…this woman was considered unclean. She would not have been able to worship at the temple. Anyone who came into contact with her would have been considered unclean so she would have been shunned, she couldn’t even have normal relations with her husband. On top of the social aspect…this condition must have left run down to the point of exhaustion. There were no iron pills to fix anemia. She couldn’t take an Advil to help alleviate any pain…her condition only got worse and worse…and now she was broke and bleeding still.

Jesus was her last ditch effort. Perhaps she had heard the stories of ones before her…the lepers that were cleansed, the sick that were healed by His touch or by His word, the blind who were made to see. There were even whispers of a storm on the Galilean Sea that stopped in an instant as Jesus said the words, “Be still”. Surely this man must be God.

She believed…she knew that all she needed to do is reach out her hand. Even if she just touched the hem of His garment…just that alone would be enough to heal her, end her suffering and misery….restore her life as it once was. But once you’ve been touched by the Savior’s healing touch…your life will never be the same.

These people had faith. A faith that was unstoppable. A faith that would not be discouraged, pushed down or ignored. A faith that tuned out the naysayers and loud voices of doubt and unbelief. A faith where their eyes were focused on Jesus. A faith that knew the scriptures about what God had done for those whom He called His own.

Faith is one of the key areas that I struggle with. It’s never been an issue of whether God is able to do that which I’m praying about…but will He? That’s where the rubber meets the road…and where I’ve gone off track.

Something about “have faith”…just seems like you either have it or you don’t. And when you don’t…where do you get that infusion of faith and how long with it last?

But “Only Believe”…now that is something that requires me to have a living active faith. Something that I’m choosing to participate in. I’m choosing to believe God.

Faith is the avenue by which God chooses to answer our prayers. When Jesus is my aim and focus…trials and tribulations fade to the background. I know that He is the invincible and mighty God…who is more than able to accomplish what concerns me today.

Will I choose this day to “walk by faith”? Or will I choose to have “sight walking faith”?

God…Your word tells us that You give us the measure of faith to believe. So Jesus…I’m asking for trial and tribulation breaking faith. I’m asking for Jesus vision faith. I’m asking for faith that will bring You glory. I’m asking for faith that breaks down walls and perseveres until prayers are answered. I’m asking for unwavering faith…that never trembles or doubts when confronted with the impossible.

Jesus…I’m asking for the faith so that I may, “Only Believe”. Amen!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Spirit of Christmas

Michael was right…well mostly.

I think yesterday was my first real Thanksgiving dinner since before my step-dad Joe died in 2001. In the year or two preceding his death…Thanksgiving and Christmas were much different than early years. The large family gathering had dwindled greatly. It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas that found Joe, Gayle and me in the car looking for a restaurant to dine at. While it’s good to be with family and loved ones…there’s just something about a sandwich at a restaurant that doesn’t evoke the feelings as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home.

After Joe died…the next Thanksgiving was spent with my mom Gayle…who about seven months later would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. With the foresight of hindsight…I finally understood why she was acting so odd. What seemed unusual then…would soon become our reality over the next six years and continuing to this day.

So when the invitation came to join the Morgan family for Thanksgiving I was most grateful. I so looked forward to a regular Thanksgiving. My sister Denise and I stopped by to see Gayle in the morning before heading off our separate ways. In some respects I did feel bad that I didn’t spend the day with Gayle. In recent years…we have had a “new kind of Thanksgiving” which included me spending the afternoon with her…watching a Christmas movie and putting up her Christmas decorations. But this year…I was eager for a normal Thanksgiving Day.

This was my first time over at the Morgan’s. As I drove down the tree lined street…I knew I would fall in love with the house. A house with old wooden floors and antiques…and pictures of ancestors hanging on the walls. Let’s just say…I could spend the afternoon looking about at all the treasures. From hearing stories of the tree planted in the backyard almost 50 years when Daniel was 2 years old…to the story of great grandfather who lived during the Civil War…I was enchanted as I beheld his picture and heard the wind blowing the leaves of the tree planted so long ago.

A meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce was topped off by a slice of yummy pumpkin pie. An afternoon walk seemed just right as I looked up at the trees that lined the street and was regaled with stories of what it was like to grow up in the neighborhood.

It’s odd because just a couple of miles away…I spent my sixth grade year…sharing an apartment with my mom. She was in nursing schooling following the death of my dad. I was what would be termed a “latch key kid”. It made me wonder…did we ever pass one another at the store or meet each other all those years ago?

Just as I was thinking I was being obnoxious for staying so late…I planned to bow out at half time during the big USC vs. Arizona State ball game. But that plan was quickly laid to rest as we chatted about movies. Jerry and Louise told me about one of their favorite movies “Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines”. Half time came…and on went the movie. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The movie was made in 1965 long before ethnic humor was a no, no. I found myself quite smitten with Stuart Whitman…and looked forward to his movie scenes.

So after a wonderful day like that…how could I be downcast, tearful and feel devoid of the Christmas spirit? Let’s just say…I’m wrestling with God again. This time over His timing and trying to trust His good and perfect plan for me. I found myself…walking by sight…not faith as His word commands.

This morning I was greeted with an email from Mike Paddison as we exchanged post Thanksgiving greetings. Mike reported that he and his wife Jo had a nice Thanksgiving and were getting started on putting up Christmas decorations.

I filled him in on my Thanksgiving Day…and my struggle with God. I ended by telling him…I wasn’t even sure if I would decorate for Christmas. Mike encouraged me to put on some Christmas music...and the Christmas spirit would follow.

Well Michael wasn’t far off. Following a trip to the Main Place Mall I felt ready to get out the decorations. I ran into a snafu with my new Christmas tree…which necessitated a trip to the store to make an exchange. In the car…I put my new Josh Grogan Christmas CD in the player. As I was driving home on this clear windy night…Josh was singing The Little Drummer Boy.

That song has never impressed me to any degree…so I was surprised when I was quite moved by his rendition. My mind was flooded with thoughts…on being poor and having nothing to offer my Savior. I was reminded of one the beatitudes “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

Suddenly my “sight walking faith” seemed to bear witness to my being so poor in spirit. But thank you Lord that I have the assurance of being with You in heaven in spite of my poor spirit.

Jesus…I’m sorry I keep looking with my physical eyes…and looking at my past. I haven’t been looking at my Savior who has power over sin and death. He who can bring victory over all my circumstances. Like Mary and Martha looking at dead Lazarus, I cry out “Where were you Lord? If only you had been here.”

But Jesus was about to work a miracle. Where their faith and sight walking ended…Jesus was going to perform a miracle. Oh Jesus I pray that You will work a miracle in me and my life too. I confess I am so poor in spirit. But nothing, no nothing is impossible with You!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thank You to God…who double blessed me. I am chosen, predestined by Him for salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord…and He placed me in the greatest nation on earth today. Thank You Lord!

Thank you to the men and women of our military…who fight for this nation. Preserve, protect and defend the freedoms which our founding fathers guaranteed in the Constitution. A guarantee doesn’t count for much…unless it’s honored. Thank you for your sacrifices.

Below are just a few things for which I am most grateful this day:

A = Amazing Grace…Grace that saved me from my sin, grace that sustains and strengthens me.

B = Bible…where I can learn about and know my God and His will for me, my life and our nation.

C = Chuck Obremski my beloved former Pastor…and his faithfulness to preach God’s word and provide an example on how to “Finish Strong”.

D = Day…God only has me go through one day a time…so even when my circumstances seem overwhelming and threatened to overtake me…I just have to deal with it for that one day. His mercies are new every morning.

E = Eternity…even though I may have problems here…they are for but a season. I will spend eternity in heaven…where there will be no more tears or sorrow.

F = Faith…the avenue by which God saved me.

G = God the Father…who from before the foundations of the world had each day planned.

H = Holy Spirit…who dwells within me. He intercedes on my behalf when my words fail me.

I = Immutable…my God is unchanging. He does not change His mind…He will not be moved.

J = Jesus Christ…my Lord and Savior…who took my sin upon Himself…redeemed me, paid the ransom, bought me back, gave me eternal life…and assurance that I will be with Him in heaven.

K = King of kings and Lord of Lords...Jesus Christ…He who is preeminent over all things…all power and authority have been given to Him.

L = Love…the depths of which…we will never know the end of. Love that which motivated God to save us from our sins by providing His Son…whom He loved and is well pleased…as a sacrifice for my sins.

M = Military…the men and women of this nation who serve, protect and defend us. Those who preserve our freedom as a nation.

N = No…God’s “no” is just as important as His “yes”. It sets boundaries in which I need to operate. I especially like…“No Satan…you can not do as you wish with my child.”

O = Omniscience…God knows all, sees all and has power over all things. There is nothing that escapes His attention or knowledge. There is nothing too hard for my God. That means my life, my problems, my cares and concern are safely in His hands.

P = Philip De Courcy…my beloved Pastor…who faithful preaches God’s word…which convicts, guides, corrects and encourages me in my faith walk

Q = Quiet…a place of quite and solitude…time to get away…focus on God…and His word and will for my life.

R = Rock…He is the Rock of my salvation. He will not be moved.

S = Savior…He redeemed me from my sins…pulled me out of the miry pit…and set my feet on firm ground.

T = Thanksgiving…what a wonderful thing. To set aside a day to remember and thank God for His presence in my life…and the many blessing He has given.

U = United States of America… from it’s inception…guaranteed in the Constitution the freedom of religion so that I may worship the God of the Bible, proclaim the Gospel message to those who are perishing in their sins.

V = Victory…over sin and death…victory that is found in Jesus Christ alone. He who crushed Satan’s head…now sits at the right hand of the Father.

W = Worship…as I focus on God and who He is…everything else pales in comparison. A chance to dwell on Him who is prefect, holy, righteous and good.

X = X…God crossed out my sins…put an “X” through them…marked my sin debt as paid in full…because my sins have been covered by the blood of the Lamb.

Y = Y’shua…Messiah…Savior...Son…God…Man…Holy…Righteous... Perfect…Without Sin…Beloved…The Christ…Redeemer…Lamb of God…Friend…Ruler

Z = ZionIsrael…whose existence gives evidence that the God of the Bible is faithful to keep His promises.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


“Susan…are you going to be defined by your past…or by your future?”

That was God’s challenge to me following an evening of wrestling with God. I was assailed by thoughts as I listened to Pastor Philip De Courcy’s message at Kindred’s recent Men’s Retreat. He talked about among other things priorities…with time and family…and the most importantly…God.

Upon hearing this I was reminded of my own poor choices for many years. Perhaps it was because I had worked late this evening that I was especially sensitive to God’s gentle reminder. You see there was time in my life it was not uncommon for me to work 10, 11, 12 hour days. I didn’t give it a second thought. After all I wanted to do my job with excellence.

But God brought me to an end of my misplaced priorities. After doing what I thought was a job well…at the end of the day…it counted for precious little. While I was fast at work…my bosses and co-workers were home with families…living a balanced life.

I on other hand exchanged a spreadsheet for relationships. I exchanged preparing a report to studying God’s word and growing deep in my relationship with the Lord. I exchanged the eternal for temporary praise from people.

Hindsight is always 20/20. If only I knew then…what I know now…I might have avoided some of those pitfalls.

I then stared down the rabbit trail of why. Why I was so foolish and why did I make such bad choices. I got to thinking about my past. What had shaped me….what drove me. That’s much more than what I want to get in to here and now. But let it suffice…that life can be very painful.

Not only did feel the weight of my own sin…but also from those who had sinned against me. Feeling quite desperate and overwhelmed about the prospect of my life changing…I cried out to God. “I can do something about the present…I can do something about the future…through Your power, guidance, wisdom and strength. But I can’t do a blessed thing about the past. I feel so scared and broken.

Then God said, “Susan…yes you can do something about your past. You can let it go. Let go of those wrongs done to you. Let them go. I’ve got them securely in my hands...and I’ll handle it. Just as you received my forgiveness in my Son Jesus Christ…so too…you can give Me this. You gave me your sins…and I washed you white as snow. Give me your hurts and wrongs done to you. Give me your loneliness and pain and sorrow…I’ve got you covered. You see I do have good plan for you…a perfect plan I’m working out in you. My timeframe is a little different than yours…but you can trust me on this.”

God went on to bring it full circle…and showed me that in the past…I was focused on my past…and let it define my present. I had no vision of my future. And then I was born again…and behold all things were new.

Only now am I beginning to grasp a vision of His future plans for me. My victory…is not solely in heaven…but in here an now.

“Behold I have made all things new. You are a new creation in Christ. The old things have passed away. I have given you a future and hope. Susan…will you take hold that hope that is in Christ Jesus your Lord?”

Yes Lord I me please.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pass You By

I never rightly know where God will touch me when I’m doing my Bible Study Fellowship lesson each week. Sometimes I’m encouraged or challenged…but more often than not…I’m convicted. Usually it’s not over some overt sin in my life…but instead God is dealing with a heart issue.

This week we’ve been studying Matthew chapter 8 and the question that really stuck me asked “what points were particularly meaningful”. I answered the question for the passage it pertained to…but it stuck with me.

In reflecting about Jesus…I was struck with the thought that Jesus never passes people by.

He always stops and reaches out to them. He touches them…He heals them…He even restores life to the dead. In this chapter…we find a leper cleansed, a servant paralyzed and a mother lying ill with fever are both healed, a raging storm stilled with just His word, and two men freed from bondage of demon possession.

Jesus was filled with compassion…and reached out to those who came to Him in need. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t say He was too busy. He didn’t say… you’re not important enough, wait in line…or that impossible.

Instead Jesus’ compassion moved Him…to do that which only God could do. From a mere touch…or words spoken these peoples lives were changed, made whole, restored.

Today…while Jesus sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father…He still reaches out and touches people. He still cares…and is moved with compassion. Do I like the leper or demon possessed men cry out to Jesus to heal me? When the storms of life threaten to overtake me…do I cry out to Jesus…trusting and knowing His is able to cause the wind and waves to cease?

When I encounter hurting people…people in need…do I pass them by? Do I make time to listen to them? If I’m able to meet that need…do I? Or do I find an excuse and reason why I can’t? Do I pray for them? Do I encourage them? Do I point them to the wise counsel found in the word of God? When I see a soul lost in their sin…do I remain silent or do I share the life giving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Or dear Lord…may I be mindful of what it’s like to be passed by, ignored…and the pain of being invisible. May I instead reach out to those whom You bring in my path.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tis the Season...For His Glory

Last evening I attended an open house at Enderle Center in Tustin…getting the Christmas season off to a good start. The main draw for me was to hear Sylvia Cotton and the Orange County Gospel Ensemble.

The above clip is a snippet of this evening’s music. When you listen…I’m sure you’ll understand why I like them so very much.

Sylvia Cotton was at one time the worship leader and choir director at Kindred Community Church, during in our early years. In her role as worship leader…her aim was always to keep our worship God centered and to glorify Him.

It was my privilege to participate in Kindred’s choir for a season. Now I can’t honestly say it was anyone else’s privilege to stand next to me and hear me sing. While God gave me a love and passion for music…He passed the singing talent on to others. But Sylvia was most gracious…and always encouraged her choir members to strive for excellence in the service to the Lord.

Below are some pictures from this evening concert. Hopefully one day soon Sylvia Cotton and the Sylvia Cotton Singers will be releasing a CD…I’ll be among the first to purchase it. Whenever Sylvia would sing on Sunday…I would usually be downloading a new song on I-Tunes later that day. She was always introducing the congregation to new songs…and classic hymns. Once you heard it…you’d want to hear it again. It will be a great day to have a CD with Sylvia, Allan, Paige and Pamela playing in my car.

Thanks Sylvia for a great concert!

This Side of Heaven

This side of heaven is the only place where we will be able to preach the Gospel message and where it will have the power of God through His word to save souls from hell.

In heaven…we’ll be able to rejoice and tell each other how God saved us…and praise Him for the glorious plan of salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. But in heaven…our testimony won’t be a tool that God will use to bring people…draw them to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Our last breath here on earth…will be the last breath where we can share the Gospel with unbelievers.

Once we are in heaven…we won’t encounter unbelievers. This is our only chance to reach out to them. Sometimes that prospect may seem good…especially if we encounter people living ungodly lives…in a prideful, flaunting manner. But here and now is our only chance that we will have the opportunity to love the unlovely…do good to those who despitefully use us. To turn the other cheek…out of love and obedience for our Savior.

This side of heaven is the only place where we can and are called to forgive. In heaven…I won’t be able to obey God’s command because there will be no need to forgive others. Do I remember when I forgive…I am imitating Christ and acting in the same manner that my Savior did? When I forgive the inexcusable…am I aware that I can do this only through the power of Jesus Christ living within me? Am I mindful that when I forgive I am defeating Satan and his plans to harm me…and allowing God to work all things together for good, for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes?

Here and now…is the only time we will be able to demonstrate that our hearts break for that which breaks God’s heart. Do I weep when I see someone lost in their sin…living an ungodly lifestyle? Or do I just choose to “be offended” by their ungodly choices and have nothing to do with them? Do I remember that those who live descent lives and are good people, but have not yet received Christ Jesus as their Lord, are just as lost as the vilest offender and need the Gospel message just as much?

Jesus was so broken hearted at seeing the destructive force of sin…and its inescapable consequence…that He chose to come down and bear our sin debt. Holy righteous God can not even look upon sin. But Jesus…chose to set His glory aside so that He might dwell with sinful man. So that He might show us the way…on His way to bearing out sin debt in full. He chose rejection and scorn…as part of the path for Him to redeem us from our sins. He willing received beatings that left Him so marred He was beyond recognition as a human being.

Do I choose to risk rejection and scorn by others so I can share the Gospel message with those lost in their sins and bound for hell? Or do I prize and more highly value the praise and acceptance or men?

Do I really believe that person sitting across from me is bound for hell because they have not accepted God’s only plan of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord? Or do I think…gee wiz they are a nice person…and surly God must “grade on the curve”? Do I withhold sharing the knowledge of the only cure for their terminal and most certain fate…all because I’d rather receive their acceptance and love this side of eternity?

Will I remember clearly the faces of those whom God brought into my life so I could share the message that salvation is found no other name in heaven and earth…than Jesus Christ? Will I be rejoicing because I obeyed God in sharing the life saving power of His word and through it He brought many to salvation? Or will I be weeping because I know I remained silent? I had the cure…I knew it and didn’t share it with those who are perishing. Lame excuses like “I’d didn’t have time” or “I didn’t know what to say”…won’t fly in heaven.

What will I be feeling when the books are laid open...and truth is made known? Will I want to shrink away knowing full well how much I failed in obeying God, loving people and sharing the truth? Or will I be most grateful to hear my Savior say, “Well done good and faithful servant”?

Are the unsaved saved more than just “Gospel fodder”? Do I truly love them…desire to get to know them and care for them…weep with them when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice? Do I want to build a relationship…invest time…so that I can share the best treasure I have with someone I love? Or do I tolerate them as a necessary evil, present the Gospel message so I can say I obeyed…and then flee?

Am I mindful that nothing good dwells in me? That the pain and suffering that Jesus bore was a result of my sin? That God turned His back and rejected His Son on the cross because Jesus bore my sin? Sinless, perfect, holy, righteous Jesus Christ was rejected by God the Father…because of me? Do I think that in and of myself I have something to offer God? Or do I remember that I am a sinner, saved by grace, through faith, least I boast?

This article is dedicated to Gary Peterson who heads Kindred Community Church’s Prison Ministry. Gary has a love for the lost that he walks out in his life daily. May we be a shining light of God’s love to those who are not yet saved.

What do I still need to do this side of heaven?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

At the End of the Day...Weary!

When finishing a letter or email…are ever you tempted to close it with something other than the typical phases? After all “sincerely yours” is so common place and most certainly overused. If someone signs their letter “sincerely”…are they genuinely sincere?

Following a spiritual high…for days I wanted to sign my correspondence “floating on air”…and indeed that was an apt description of my state of mind and spirit.

Tonight…I would sign off as “weary and puzzled”.

Weary of trying to understand…and weary of trying to “read between the lines” and weary of waiting. Puzzled at tying to make sense of that which I don’t understand or that which is not clear.

Yep…that’s the appropriate sign-off tonight. Susan…the weary and puzzled one.

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

I need to go to the Lord tonight…and receive His rest. This is going to have to be a God thing…and not a work of my own efforts. When it’s His work…He takes on the responsibility for the entire thing. Am I weary enough to hand over the reins of control to Him?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Litany of Humility

While I come from a different theological direction that Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, I found his Litany of Humility quite moving and challenging. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas quotes this in his new book. I'm trying to imagine living life by this credo.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being loved... From the desire of being extolled ... From the desire of being honored ... From the desire of being praised ... From the desire of being preferred to others... From the desire of being consulted ... From the desire of being approved ... From the fear of being humiliated ... From the fear of being despised... From the fear of suffering rebukes ... From the fear of being calumniated ... From the fear of being forgotten ... From the fear of being ridiculed ... From the fear of being wronged ... From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ... That, in the opinion of the world, others may, increase and I may decrease ... That others may be chosen and I set aside ... That others may be praised and I unnoticed ... That others may be preferred to me in everything... That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X.

Remember No More

To some it might sound like a pretentious protest…when I say “I like Paul can say I am chief among sinners”…and threaten to overtake him in holding that title.
But I know me…and my heart and I know where I came from. While I regret some choices…I can’t take them back or make them go away.

Oh I know that God has forgiven me. Receiving His forgiveness has never been an issue for me. I know I am so hopelessly lost without Him…I had no choice but look up and receive. That’s a good place to be.

But I guess I can’t quite comprehend that He has chosen to not only forgive, but remember my sins no more. Wow!

That truth was pointed out to me by Mike Paddison as we got side tracked on our ongoing debate of the Calvinist verses Armenian view of salvation. Mike threw a few scripture verse my way…and dared me to step over them. Of course I couldn’t. To do so would be to claim that the Bible was in error.

No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more." – Jeremiah 31:34

For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more. – Hebrews 8:12

Then he adds:
"Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more." – Hebrew 10:17

I tried to comprehend how an all knowing God can choose to “Remember no more”.

How can He who knows all things…not remember that which I am so keenly aware of? An awareness that not so much condemns me as it keeps me humble. If my remembering keeps me humble…that a good thing.

When someone sins against me…do I choose to forgive and remember their sin no more? While I have so very far to go…thankfully the Lord continues to grow me and shape me.

Just think…in heaven…there will be no need for us to be forgiving one another. People will no longer intentionally cause offense or hurt. We will no longer sin…against God or man. We have been cleansed and made whiter than snow. In heaven we will truly be able to walk in His forgiveness and purifying transforming power.

Do I grab hold of that today…so much so that I experience freedom in Christ? Am I an attractive witness to that freedom in Christ to an unbelieving world?

Think about it…He who knows all things…chooses to remember my sin no more. Chooses…ongoing…present…active.

He whom I offended…whom I sinned against…He remembers no more. By an act of His will. He who received punishment upon His body all because of my sin. He who let them drive nails through His hands and feet and stayed upon that cross…so that my sins would be forgiven. That same Jesus…is the one whose blood was shed, like the sacrificial lamb…and not only covered….but took my sins away.

How many times when I suffer because of another do I instead choose to complain?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ode to Robert Goulet

Never would I have guessed,
That I would be so saddened,
To hear of your passing.

It’s been many a year,
Since I’ve heard your voice of gold,
But when I hear it…I am simply transported.

To think of you,
Brings a smile to my face,
Only good memories of laughter and song.

When I hear “If Ever I Would Leave You”,
My heart swells and I once again believe,
In love and happily ever after.

Who among us doesn’t face,
“The Impossible Dream”.
When I hear you…I’m infused with courage to fight the unbeatable foe.

You were most gifted by God,
I pray that your rest is now peaceful and calm,
That in eternity I will hear you sing glorious praise to my Savior.

By Susan Bunts
November 10, 2007

I penned the above poem upon hearing of Robert Goulet’s passing. Of course with the news they played Robert’s music. What a wonderful voice God gifted this man with. Upon hearing…I was reminded of only good memories…laughter and song. I’m saddened to know that another voice has been stilled, but I’m most thankful to still be able to partake of Robert Goulet’s music.

Can We Talk?

Hey there my Abba Father…my Daddy. Do you have a minute? Can we talk?

It seems like the last couple of weeks I have been so busy…I’ve been racing around doing a lot of stuff…even good things but haven’t made enough time for You.

I feel like You are doing a work in my life. I’ve had some extreme highs and lows these last two weeks. On those mountain top highs…I feel like floating on cloud and will never come down and my faith has never been higher.

Before I know it the next day or next hour…doubt creeps in and my faith fails me. That which I believed You were doing is now in doubt. Lord…if the work You are doing in my life and if answering my one and only prayer is based on my faith…I might as well pack it up. But if it’s based on Your goodness and mercy towards…albeit so very undeserved…then my prayer will be answered.

You know Father…when I go to Bible Study Fellowship each week I never know if I’m going to be convicted or encouraged in my spirit. The last couple of weeks…I must confess were conviction. Both times…I barely made it to class on time…and both weeks…completing my lesson had been put off until the very last day…and I was writing down my last answers before I got into the car to go to class. I start out good by reading the notes the first day...then I’ve been getting off track after that.

Last week…I wasn’t sitting in our group for more than a few minutes when You dealt with me. The new girl shared how hard the first few lessons were so hard for her to complete. That she only was able to do so by praying and relying upon Your Holy Spirit to guide her. If You would have hit me upside the head…I don’t think I would have felt it more. I realized that I take for granted completing the lessons. I’ve been in BSF now for a number of years. Even when don’t take the time to genuinely see what You are saying in your word…I can come up with the “right answer”. But in doing so…in studying the Bible based on my own wisdom and knowledge, by failing to come to You in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit guide me…I’m missing it. I’m missing You Jesus.

It’s kind of like going so see a friend, to talk and catch up…but instead I’m looking out the window, not paying attention and not listening to a word they say.

I’m sure it was my guilty conscience that caused me to feel like you were punishing me by making me sit in the back row. You know how much I love to sit in the front row…no distractions…I can focus. I felt like You were saying, “Susan…you put Me in the back row this week. Now tell Me, how does it feel?” You know what…it doesn’t feel good God.

To top it off…I was distracted. Focused on the girl that offended me when I walked in. I know she didn’t mean it that way. I do know that…but You had me working on issues of forgiveness while I listened to the lecture. You know how they say hindsight is 20/20…well ain’t that the truth? If had been quick to forgive the offence, and quickly come to You and asked for forgiveness for putting You in the back row…I would have been able to concentrate and hear what Your word had to say to me that night.

On Monday night…You had another lesson waiting for me. They always seem to take me by surprise or are from the most unexpected sources. Sometimes during the lecture…sometimes in class when sharing our answers.

I guess I could analyze why I didn’t answer the question right…but bottom line…it never even crossed my mind. I’m the one that missed out because I didn’t seek You, I didn’t make the time to study diligently Your word so that I could know You better.

Jesus…how could I have missed it? How? The question…what are your treasures stored up in heaven? Obviously I knew that my salvation is secured in heaven because of Your sacrifice on the cross. I thought I was being humble when I dared not presume to state what treasures I have stored up in heaven. How dare I…I don’t even deserve to be there.

But I missed it….You Jesus are my treasure in heaven. How could I have missed that? As soon as I heard it…I knew it!

Jesus…now for the hard question…did I not know it because I have failed to make You my treasure here on earth?

Jesus…I don’t want to do that ever again. I don’t care if I get every answer wrong on my lesson…as long as I find You that is all that I want.

Jesus…this week You revealed Yourself to me in the most marvelous way. Words can not describe it. I have never in my life felt Your presence like I did Sunday night. I bathed in Your glory and I never wanted to leave.

I’m tired of letting the distractions of this world bid me to set You aside for them. Now I’m not saying I want to go live on some mountaintop and live a life with no demands competing for my time and attention. But I want to make time for You each day…in prayer…in the study of Your word. I don’t want to rush through a lesson in order answer all the questions…only to miss The Answer.

But I can’t do this on my own. The demands of life will keep nipping at my heals demanding attention. Now Jesus…You dealt with this when You walked this earthy…so I know You know the pressures and can help me.

God…why did You choose me before the foundations of this world? One who is so weak and such a failure? I feel like such a hypocrite just like the Pharisees. I put on a good act on the outside…but there are times when there is little going on within me.

Jesus…I don’t want to miss You. Will You hold on to me and promise to never let go? Because I can’t promise I’ll do the same. I am so weak. I want to bring You glory…I want to do good…but I can’t do it on my own God. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit…and never, ever let me go. In Jesus holy name I pray…Amen!

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard – Too Many Twists and Turns, Not Believable

Deadly Target is Elizabeth Goddard’s second book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series .   I looked forward to reading it because I’ve enjo...