Friday, December 31, 2010

Today

I’ve decided I want to approach the coming New Year with a “Today” kind of attitude.

Goodness knows 2010 has been a challenging year for me personally, for family, friends and even our nation. 

As I passed through some difficult waters one thing that helped was to take it just one day at a time.  When I was uncertain about what tomorrow would bring…I was able to say, “Thank You Lord for what I have today.”  When faced with overwhelming demands…I asked, “What do I need to accomplish today?”

When I have troubles or trials…it’s helpful to know that it’s for today.  I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  But by God’s grace I can get through today.

I can be grateful for what I have today and not be presumptuous and demanding on the goodness and grace of God for tomorrow.  I’m not guaranteed tomorrow…but I do have today.

May I be dependent upon the Lord today.

May I pray for what I need today.

May I praise and worship God today.

May I confess and repent of my sins today.

May I be ready for the Lord’s soon return today.

This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Focus, Focus, Focus

Why is it that it’s so easy to get my focus off of God?

When my focus is on me…I’m prideful.

When my focus is on others…I’m insecure.

When my focus is on things…I’m superficial.

When my focus is on self righteousness…I’m legalistic.

When my focus is on man’s praises…I’m fickle.

When my focus is on what I can see....I’m faithless.

When my focus is on Christ…everyone and everything else falls into its proper perspective.


So Cold

This fall and winter it’s been unusually cold and wet here in southern California.  Tonight the weather forecasters predict that it will be 39 degrees…now that is just plain burr chilly burr especially for this southern California weather wimp!

As soon as I arrived home I turned on the heater and went to bring the bird feeders in for the night.  As I entered our home the heat had just come on and I thanked God for our home, heat, running water and so much more.  Then I started thinking what it must be like for those who are homeless.  What do they do when it rains for 7 days straight like it did last week?  What do they do on a cold night like this; where do they go?

Then my thoughts turned to my brother Patrick Henry Bunts who has been missing for a number of years now.  He’s a troubled individual and has made some bad choices in his life and I don’t know what’s happened to him. Patrick’s actions and behavior lead me to believe that he may have substance abuse problems. 

The last time I spoke with him it was probably about five of six years ago at Christmas.  He called the assisted living place where my mother lived to wish her a Merry Christmas.  Our conversation was brief…I wasn’t too keen about speaking to him because of his dishonesty towards a family member. 

If I had known that was the last time I would speak to him what would I have said?

Our mother died a few years after that last conversation.  When she died, I tried to contact my brother to no avail.  He probably doesn’t even know she’s dead.  Each year since then I’ve paid to do a background check to see if there is any information on his whereabouts.  Thus far…the searches have come empty.  They have lots of old data…but for the last four or five years there has been no information on where he lives or works. 

I don’t know if he’s in prison or too drugged up to know night from day.  Is he working and living under someone else’s name and identification?  Is he still alive?   I don’t know…but thoughts of him are never far from my mind. 

If I made contact with him…I’m not sure what I would say.  Part of me would want to hug him, tell him I love him and share the gospel message because he desperately needs it.  There’s another part of me that would like to swat him right upside the head and yell, “What in the world were you thinking!”

When I encounter homeless people in the parking lot asking for money, I think of my brother.  I wonder…is he doing that somewhere?  If he is…what kind of people does he encounter?  What are their responses to him?  How would I respond if I didn’t know it was him?  Would I buy him a meal?  Would I talk with him or turn away?

When it’s a cold night like tonight…I think of Patrick and wonder where he is?  Perhaps one day I’ll find out.  Until then…I’ll wonder and continue to pray that God, who is not willing that any should perish, will bring someone along to share the Gospel message with my brother who is desperately lost.  Lord willing he’s still alive and there’s still a chance.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Closer Walk

While I’d love to sit down and write until midnight, the clock is reminding me I’ll be getting up far too soon and don’t have that luxury tonight. 

As we come to the end of another year…my thoughts are turning to what do I want to do different in the New Year?  How do I want to be different a year from now than I am today?

I know that I want to have a closer walk with the Lord and know Him more intimately.  I know that will necessitate regular Bible study and reading of God’s word and time in prayer.  I will need to have an open and teachable heart and be willing to bend and yield my will to God’s will. 

There were a couple of things that happened today that reinforced that desire for a closer walk with the Lord.

Something I pray for my husband and friends is that they will take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and choose to meditate on that which is true, noble, just and pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. 

The Lord has used frequently used those scriptures to help me reign in my thoughts and words, when in my own will I would be going down a wrong path.  Today was one of those days.  Right off the bat, I could have been offended.  I wanted to go one way and complain to the Lord about what someone did wrong.  Instead God challenged me to do as I pray. 

Once I focused my thoughts…and prayed scripture…I was able to focus and move on.  The offense didn’t even matter at that point. 

Later in the day I had an encounter with someone who is an unbeliever.  As they shared about what’s going on in their life, I found myself so grateful that as a Christian I can know right from wrong very clearly in God’s word.  By knowing it and obeying it…God protects me from so much. 

At the Bible study I attend, this Christmas they handed out little boxes that were beautifully wrapped.  The teaching director asked us to pray and see what God would have us give Him for Christmas.  As the days past by and we got closer to Christmas I was thinking more and more…what should I give God for Christmas. 

It was almost as God was saying the words out loud, “Love Me more.” 

Yes Lord…I want to love You more and know You more.  I want a closer walk with Thee Lord Jesus.  Just a closer walk with Thee. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thank You Jesus

As I awakened this cool and foggy Christmas morn, my thoughts turn to You Lord Jesus.  May I humbly come before You and give You the gift of thanksgiving.

  • Thank You Jesus for submitting Yourself unto the Father’s plan.
  • Thank You for choosing to lay aside Your Glory and take on human flesh.
  • Thank You for taking my sin upon You on the cross and enduring the Father’s wrath which I deserved. 
  • Thank You for living a sinless life and proving that You alone are worthy and able to be our sacrificial Lamb.
  • Thank You for setting Your face like flint towards the cross.
  • Thank You for not taking the enemy’s bait and choosing the easy way out.
  • Thank You that on the cross You cried out the words, “It is finished.”  My sin debt was marked “Paid in Full.”
  • Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to dwell within me, refine and grow me.
  • Thank You for being faithful when I am faithless and weak.
  • Thank You, that even though I will fail You, You will never fail me.
  • Thank You for giving me the freedom to choose You.
  • Thank You for doing the impossible, removing the blinders from my eyes, enlightening my mind which was once darkened, so that I could see and believe the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
  • Thank You for Your patience and waiting for me, at the age of 32, when I bent my knee, confessed with my mouth and believed with my heart that You are Lord.
  • Thank You for taking my sin away, sending it as far as the east is from the west and remembering it no more.
  • Thank You for giving me the inerrant Word of God so that I might know You and the Father whom You came to reveal.
  • Thank You for unbending, unchanging truth contained in the Bible.
  • Thank You for sitting at the right hand of the Father where You make intersession for me.
  • Thank You for prayer and hearing my prayers.
  • Thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who takes my prayers that I can’t even put into words and translates them.
  • Thank You for sharing Your heart’s desire that no one would perish, but all would come to eternal life.
  • Thank You for Your delay in returning because that’s another day in which people can repent and receive You as Lord.
  • Thank You for the opportunity to pray for unsaved family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even enemies.
  • Thank You that You are able to work all things together for good.
  • Thank You that You are able to weave a beautiful tapestry from my messed up life.
  • Thank You for the comfort and assurance that You will soon take Your bride, the church, home to heaven.
  • Thank You for the promise that You will one day return and rule and reign forever and ever.
  • Thank You that You will cast the enemy into the Lake of Fire and that he will be punished forever and ever without end. 
  • Thank You that in pain, sickness, sorrow, and even death, Your saints can have peace, joy and the comfort of Your presence.

Lord Jesus…may I live a life that reflects my thanks to You.  May I be so bold Lord, in the midst of giving thanks, to ask for the salvation for the many people whom You have placed on my heart?  That today would be their day of salvation.  That the angels in heaven would rejoice as many people repent from their sins and turn to You and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Twelve Words of Christmas by Louie Giglio



Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
   And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
       “ Glory to God in the highest,
      And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”


Luke 2:8-14

The Gospel

Desiring God 2010 National Conference

Speaker Panel with Piper, Anyabwile, Chan, and Mohler

The following are notes taken during the panel discussion.
1) Thabiti, could you walk us through the gospel?
Thabiti Anyabwile: The gospel is literally good news. It is an announcement, a joyful, happy message sent from the courts of heaven to us subjects below. It can be explained by four categories: God, man, Christ, response.
  1. There is a God. The only God. There is none like Him. He is holy, righteous, all-wise, and Creator. 
  2. We are created and therefore we are owned. As creatures we owe Him worship, adoration, honor, and praise. He has made us in His image for fellowship with Him. He is angry with us because we all, man, are sinners. We have turned away from Him and disobeyed Him (Romans 1). We are hostile towards Him as sinners.
  3. God is holy and righteous, but He is also a God of love. So He sent his only Son to take on flesh and live a perfect life before God to satisfy His requirements. He suffered on the cross in our place to satisfy the wrath of God. He was buried and resurrected. His righteousness satisfies the demands of God against sinners.
  4. Everyone who repents of sin and trusts in Christ has Jesus’ righteousness credited to his account. A miracle happens: you are made a new creature and all of the benefits of Christ become yours. Everlasting fellowship with Him is yours.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

To see the video of this session or read the full text of this panel discussion, please click on the link below.

Speaker Panel with Piper, Anyabwile, Chan, and Mohler



  

    Mary Did You Know? - by Mark Lowrey

    What's Christmas All About?

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Now That Takes Some Nerve

    My absence from blogging hasn’t been as a result of writer’s block as much as pain demanding my attention and consuming my energy.  

    If any of you have experienced Sciatica you’ll know the pain I’ve been experiencing recently. 

    About seven weeks ago I tweaked by back, causing a reappearance of Sciatica.  Talk about painful!!!  The pain starts in my right hip and radiates down to my right ankle.  While my hip is painful…it’s the pain in my ankle that I can hardly stand.

    I’ve had bouts of Sciatica a couple of times before, but I don’t recall the pain being so all consuming.  Perhaps the Lord was merciful and caused those memories to fade. 

    I’ve opted for traditional treatment through my doctor first in hopes that before the nerve will be released and the pain will go away on its own.  I’m trying to keep the pain at a tolerable level without taking strong medicine that will leave me unable to function each day, like going to work, driving etc. 

    I have another doctor’s appointment coming up and I’m hoping that she will order a test to determine if my nerve is just pinched or if there’s a problem with a disc.  Being raised by my mother, a nurse who believed in old school medicine, I’m reluctant to seek alternative treatments until I know exactly what’s going on. 

    Sitting, lying down and even standing can be painful.  Thankfully, I experience relief from the pain when I’m walking. 

    In the mean time and in between time, I am praying that the Lord will touch my back and relieve this pain and release my Sciatic nerve.  I know that God is well able to heal me and trusting Him to carry me through until I experience lasting relief from pain.


    Pain

    All consuming
    Unrelenting
    Demanding my attention

    Held captive
    Powerful
    Sapping my energy

    Oh how I long to be set free
    Released
    Restored and pain free

    Susan Bunts Wachtel
    December 17, 2010

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Outlive Your Life – Profound Yet Simple

    Do you ever wonder why our lives bear so little resemblance to the lives of people portrayed in the New Testament? 

    When I read the book of Acts, I see men who were cowardly and fled when Christ was arrested and crucified, now transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In boldness they went forth and proclaiming the Gospel message of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone.  We see God working through them and performing miracles.  We see people comprehend and live out the truth, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

    I was excited to select Max Lucado’s book “Outlive Your Life” and read his perspective on God at work in and through the church, a work that continues today.  Max has a way of taking profound truths and simplifying them.  He takes God at His word and believes that God still transforms lives and that He wants to work in your life and mine.  That the Lord has a greater purpose and plan for our lives if we will dare to yield to Him and die to self daily.

    I recommend “Outlive Your Life” to Christian readers who want to be challenged to grow in their faith walk and also for unbelievers who want to see the heart of God at work in His church. 

    It took a few chapters for me to embrace “Outlive Your Life” because I was concerned that the author, Max Lucado had left out the most important element, the Gospel message that salvation is found in Jesus Christ.  But in chapter four, “Don’t Forget the Bread”, Max shares the Gospel through the words of the Apostle Peter. 

    The chapter that won me over was “Open Your Door; Open Your Heart”.  In this chapter Max shows examples of how we can reach out to people around us.  Simple actions that we can all do.  My favorite chapter by far was “Pray First; Pray Most”.  There are times I struggle to be faithful in prayer.  What an encouragement this chapter was on how powerful prayer is.  Max sites examples from scripture and from Christians today who are mighty prayer warriors. 

    Do you need a reminder on just how powerful God is and the work that He wants to do in and through you?  Pick up a copy of “Outlive Your Life” by Max Lucado and then reread the book of Acts.  Where does God want you to serve today and to reach the people for whom Christ died?
     
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Thursday, December 09, 2010

    Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride – by Francis Chan


    One of the great benefits of the internet is the ability to download and listen to some powerful sermons and Christian teachers.  I’m so grateful to the ministries like Grace Community Church and Desiring God that make a plethora of resources available for free.  They are available for the building up of the body of Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel to those not yet saved.

    Each year John Piper has a National Conference whereby he invites Christian pastors and teachers to participate.  I recently downloaded the messages from the 2010 conference and started listening to Francis Chan’s message on the peril of pride.  Oh my…it’s powerful, convicting, challenging and motivating.  This is a message I will need to listen to again and again. 

    Go to the link below to download or listen on-line to Francis Chan:

    Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride – Francis Chan

    1 Corinthians 8:1-13
    Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.  And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.   But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

    Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.  For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.


    However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.  But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

    But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.  For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?  And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?  But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.




    2010 Desiring God National Conference

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Thoughts & Reflections…As the Day Begins

    John 1:1-5
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

    For those who say that Jesus Christ was only a man, a prophet, a teacher, or another way to salvation you have to bypass what the Bible says about who Jesus is. 

    In the first verse of the Gospel of John, Jesus is declared as the Word of God, He was with God and is God.  In the original Greek, the word God refers to the Godhead, trinity:  God the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit. 

    What difference does that make to me in my daily life, in my everyday world?  Shouldn’t I know what the Bible says for myself, and not merely listen to other people’s thoughts and opinions?  After all, I’m the one who will have to give an account before God when I die. 

    I wonder if sometimes I fail to read God’s word because I know that God will confront me in my sin.  When I’m confronted, then I have a choice.  A choice to obey, repent and turn and do what God commands or choose to go my own way and suffer the consequence of sin and disobedience.  In my foolishness I may think that I can plead ignorance.

    It’s so easy to see the “big sins” like murder and adultery as wrong.  Even unbelievers know those things are wrong.  But unless I know God’s word, unless I am washed by the word daily…I will get lazy or willfully choose to sin and walk my own way and sin will creep in.

    Exodus 20:1-20
     1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
           2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
           3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
           4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
           7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
           8 “ Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
           12 “ Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
           13 “You shall not murder.
           14 “You shall not commit adultery.
           15 “You shall not steal.
           16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
           17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    May I let the Light of God’s Word shine in the dark corners of my life and expose sin.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit may I comprehend what God says in the Bible.  May I choose to live in light of eternity and the certainty that one day I will have to give an account before Holy God.  May my sins, though as scarlet, be cleansed white as snow by the precious blood of the Lamb. 

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Lavish Thanksgiving


    O Lord
    For abundant blessings
    I give You thanks and praise

    For the comfort of Your Presence
    The gift of Your Son
    Your Holy Spirit within

    For the Bible where truth resides
    The gifts of prayer and praise
    Freedom to worship with Your saints

    For the gift of salvation
    Amazing grace which You lavished on me
    Through Jesus Christ my Lord

    Susan Bunts Wachtel
    November 19, 2010

    I am grateful for so many things this Thanksgiving Day 2010.  First and foremost I am thankful for my God and Savior Jesus Christ, the gift of salvation and God’s grace lavished on me through His marvelous incomprehensible plan.  I’m grateful that God has sealed me with the Holy Spirit of promise. 

    I am grateful to live in a country where I am able to exercise my freedom to read the Bible, worship with the saints, share the Gospel message and pray.

    I’m thankful to God for His provisions to my husband Chris and me…for family and friends, good health, a home, jobs, our beloved pets and so much more. 

    This year it seems more imperative that I give thanks to God for His abundant blessings.  I’m mindful that it’s not because I deserve anything.  Rather than focusing on the gifts, may I focus on the Giver.  While everything else may fade away or be taken…my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can never be taken.  I am firmly held in the grasp of His hand. 

    What about you?  What are you giving thanks for this Thanksgiving Day and to Whom?

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Cutting Pain

    Each day she put on the mask of a smile
    To hide the pain she bears

    But if you look deeper
    Her dark eyes reflect a bruised soul

    Her pain is well disguised
    Hope has all but disappeared

    As she picks up the razor blade she reasons
    Perhaps an outward cut will relieve the inner pain

    Somehow a visible scar generates more compassion
    Than the emotional wounds within

    With each cut her inward pain is given a voice
    If only someone will listen to her cry

    Susan Bunts Wachtel
    November 17, 2010

    Dedicated to those who are hurting, whose cries for help have gone unheeded. 

    He heals the brokenhearted
    And binds up their wounds.

    Psalm 147:3

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Random Acts of Praise by the Opera Company of Philadelphia




    Thank you David from Pilgrim Scribblings for sharing this wonderful worship by the Opera Company of Philadelphia performing the Hallelujah Chorus at Macy's.  My goodness...it is spectacular and brought tears to my eyes.  Praise His Holy Name!

    After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!  For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.”  Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!”  And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!”  Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”  And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!  Revelation 19:1-6



     

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Without Christ

    Without Christ
    No peace
    No hope
    No truth
    No future
    No meaning
    No purpose
    No direction
    No strength
    No assurance
    No foundation
    No absolutes
    No justice
    No restraint
    No shelter
    No protection
    No fortress
    No salvation

    When I see the brokenness of people’s lives all around me…I marvel how they do it.  Life is hard enough though I know God.  Yet, I have strength, peace and assurance that comes through having Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

    How do people without Christ get through life?  How did I do it for 32 years?

    I thank you Lord that I don’t have to get through life without You.  Keep me close Lord Jesus…right by Your side. 

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Michael W. Smith - Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

    Slave

    I am a slave of Christ
    Once on the slave market of sin

    I was ransomed
    By my Master’s own blood


    Formerly held captive by sin
    I’ve been set free to obedience

    Chosen and purchased by the Master
    I am not my own

    He is the Sovereign Lord
    My will conformed to His

    I am a slave of Christ
    Doulos now considered His friend


    By Susan Bunts Wachtel
    November 6, 2010

    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    Feedback on Voting

    One of my Facebook friends, Gary Hannasch took the time to comment on my post about voting.  Thank you Gary for your thoughtful response.

    From Gary Hannach:  Those who don't vote are a major part of the problem too!  It's just as bad as if they had voted for the opposition party!

    Amen Gary...I agree 100%.  It's hard to understand why people don't exercise this amazing freedom we've been granted in our society.  People around the world...would love to come to our country and know the value of freedom and participating in elections because they don't have that freedom.

    Yet so many of our fellow countrymen and women neglect that responsibility.  When we end up with government officials they don't like...they should have no complaints because by not voting they defacto voted in the people they don't like.

    Living in a pocket of conservatism in Orange County...I feel like my voice doesn't amount to much in a very liberal state.  But I give an account to God for all that He's given me...including participating in government and making my voice heard in elections.  I don't understand why Christians don't vote their values.

    In some cases it amounts to laziness and not making the time to do so.  But since we have the option of voting via absentee ballot...that's not a valid excuse.  There are plenty of resources to help people better understand the bills they are voting on and to know more about the various candidates that are running.  

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Giving Thanks…Voting

    In light of the recent elections I was reminded at how grateful I am to live in a free country and that I am able to exercise my freedom to vote.

    In the United States the right to vote is a privilege and responsibility that is taken all too lightly. 

    Lord, let me always be mindful of the sacrifice of our founding fathers and the men and women who have served this country, fought and even laid down their lives so that we might be free. 

    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Giving Thanks…Faithful Preachers

    To those who know me…it’s no surprise that my top list of things I’m thankful for relate to God and His word.  Continuing on in that same vein I thank God for pastors, teachers and churches that are committed and faithful to preach and teach the full counsel of God’s word.

    I have been abundantly blessed by God to sit under pastors who have been gifted by God.  Pastors who diligently study God’s word so they can feed and care for the flock.  They strive to present the bride of Christ, the church, as holy and blameless, sanctified and set apart, holy and dedicated unto Him. 

    Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. – Acts 20:26-27

    Pastor Philip De Courcy

    Pastor Chuck Obremski

    Pastor John MacArthur

    Pastor John Piper

    Oneplace.com


    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Giving Thanks…Word of God

    As I reflect on the many blessings from God…one of the most important is the Word of God. 

    The Bible is God’s revelation given to man…it is God breathed.  Through reading God’s word I can know the mind and heart of God.  Because God is so far beyond our comprehension…I can study the Bible for a lifetime and never fully know God…barely scratching the surface.  In the scriptures God has revealed Himself, His will and His good and perfect plan for our lives.  In the Bible God has given us truth…He has given us light to drive out the darkness. 

    Through the word of God, I learned of the Father’s plan of salvation offered to me through His Son Jesus Christ.  Through the reading of God’s word, the Holy Spirit corrects, convicts and encourages me.  I am washed and renewed through the study of God’s word. 

    I can hold a Bible in my hand without fear of persecution and I praise God that I have been educated and am able to read God’s word for myself.  Through the Holy Spirit I can understand the Bible.

    For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-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

    Giving Thanks…Salvation

    With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to take some time each day and give thanks to God for the many blessings that He has lavished on me. 

    First and foremost I am thankful to God for my salvation that He freely gave me through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Jesus paid the penalty for my sin.  He bought me off slave market of sin…He ransomed me paying the bill in full with His own blood.

    It’s amazing to contemplate that before the foundations of the world were laid that God the Father chose me…the wretched, sinful, unworthy person that I am.  He set me free.  Free from the penalty of sin, free from the power of sin and one day I will be freed from the presence of sin.   Hallelujah…what a Savior!

    How about you…what are you most thankful for?

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    The Winds of Change


    This week the infamous Santa Ana winds were blowing on Wednesday.  Whenever the winds blow hard the phrase “the winds of change” comes to mind and probably even more so this week because we anticipated that there might be changes coming down the pike at work.

    With the economy continuing to tank and folks losing their jobs and remaining out of work for extended periods of time…I always have in the back of my mind the possibility that a work layoff could be in my future.  Each day, it makes me so grateful to have a job…and not take it for granted.  It reminds me that every good and perfect gift, employment and the ability to perform the work, is a gift from my heavenly Father above.  I’m also mindful to be thankful for today what God has given me and try to be faithful through His power and strength. 

    While we anticipated the strong possibility of changes coming at work…we didn’t know exactly when, who or how many folks might be effected.  I was praying in the weeks and days leading up to this time and I’m so grateful that God gave me such a sense of peace regarding my work situation.  I had peace with the thought that I might be let go and I gratitude if I was permitted to keep my job.

    Thankfully work has been very busy, so there wasn’t any time to waste being preoccupied with thoughts of “what if”.  Instead all of us were working hard to keep up.   

    When praying about work, I found that my will was fully submitted to God’s will for the situation.  This time around I wasn’t dictating to God what I thought was the best outcome.  I had been through similar circumstances four years ago and handled it much differently.  But this time…I was absolutely at peace with whatever happened.  God had indeed given me the peace that passes all understanding.  My husband Chris was praying that by God’s mercy my job might be spared so that we would continue to be able to meet our financial obligations without undue stress.  However, I continued to pray for God’s will to be done.  It almost felt like if I prayed that my job would be spared, I was in essence praying for my co-workers to lose their jobs.  So instead, I prayed for God’s will to be done. 

    I praise God for the peace that He gave me…absolutely trusting in His will and plan.  I was confident that God knows my future and my friends and co-workers future…and He has a good and perfect plan for each our lives that He is working out.  I may not always understand why God permits certain circumstances...but in heaven it will all be made clear.

    While I anticipated changes…I didn’t know the exact day they would hit.  Just in case I would be let go, I ordered my prescriptions while I still had a job and insurance coverage. 

    This week that fateful day came…a little earlier than I expected.  It was a hard day as people whom I consider friends were laid off.  It didn’t seem to make any sense who was laid off because I knew the great work they did and the positive attitude they brought to work every day.  It was a hard and sad day. 

    When the dust started to settle, I went to lunch and called Chris. I told him that it had been a very hard and ugly day, but that his prayers had been answered.  At the end of the day…I still had a job.

    A number of folks talked about having “survivor’s guilt” and not understanding why good people were let go when others still had jobs.  I guess to some degree I felt that way.

    I’m certain with the new responsibilities that I will have due to the recent layoffs, it will cause me to depend upon God even more.  There is no way that I could manage it on my own strength and might.

    When I pray each day…there has been an ongoing list of people whom I’ve been praying for regarding their employment situation.  Now my prayer list has greatly expanded.  But I know my God is faithful.  He is merciful and pours out His loving kindness on each of us.  I pray that the God of all comfort will draw each of these people near and reveal Himself as Jehovah Jira the God who provides for all our needs.

    Things won’t be the same at work and I’m already missing the people I worked with each day.  Oh Lord…cause me to depend upon You more, be filled with gratitude and faithful in prayer. 

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Voting? Need Information?

    It's election time again and time to make your voice heard.  If you would like some information to help you determine who to vote for and who best represents your values try Nancy's Picks.  



    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    One

    Though near or far
    Present or absent
    We are one
    Knitted together in the body of Christ
     
    United in our worship of God
    Hungering to know Him through His word
    Desirous to love Him more
    Eager to obey Him quickly and completely

    Susan Bunts Wachtel
    October 7, 2010

    Listening for the Lord

    Do you ever experience those times…when God seems to be silent? 
     
    That’s what I’ve been experiencing.  Recently, my husband Chris and I were on vacation and departed from our normal routines.  As much as we need vacations…there’s something that I like about ordinary life.  It’s easier for me to be disciplined in prayer and the study of God’s word when I’m at home.  I find that when I’m living out of a suitcase and traveling from place to place it’s harder for me to be focused in my prayers or to read the Bible without distraction.  So while part of me would like some more time off from work…I appreciate getting back into a disciplined schedule. 
     
    While on vacation…I didn’t listen to my I-Pod which is chock full of sermons and Biblically based programs.  I missed it greatly.  During the long drive home…I had the time to put on my head phones and listen to God’s word again....and it felt like a welcomed friend.
     
    Since then I’ve been working on my Bible study, reading God’s word and coming before the throne of grace in prayer.  Despite that…my spiritual tanks seem low.  I feel like God has been silent.  I’ve prayed that if there was an area of sin or something that is displeasing to the Lord, that God would help me to see it so that I can repent. 
     
    I praise God that daily I can ask for Him to forgive my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.  But I didn’t feel as though God was bringing to mind an area of disobedience that I needed to address.  Yet…the silence continue and I found myself focusing more and more on me and continuing to ask, “Lord what have I done wrong?”.

    When I read my morning email devotional from Elizabeth Elliot a quote leap off the page at me, “There is another reason, I think, for the cause of the feeling (a spirit of discontent) within us.  It comes from the flesh and self-introspection.  It is good for us to look at self and know how loathsome it is, but with one look at self we must take ten looks at Christ.”

    When I read that quote, I realized that in the time of silence from God, I had turned my focus inward.  In my attempt to examine myself for sin or a barrier between God and me…I had taken my eyes off the Lord. 

    I need to keep my eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, stay in the word of God and preserver in prayer.  God calls us to walk by faith, not by sight.   I must not allow myself to be drawn off course by my feelings.  When I’ve sinned, I can trust the Holy Spirit to bring it to mind so that I can confess and repent. 

    No matter if it’s a fruitful and intimate time with the Lord or a time of silence…I need to keep my eyes on Jesus Christ.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Thinking Prayerfully

    The other day after hearing about a prayer request, I started thinking about what a privilege it is to be able to pray for people.  To be able to bring them before the throne of grace and see God and His faithfulness do much more than we can ask or imagine.

    Then I started thinking about my Dad who died 41 years ago when I was 10 years old.  Unless he accepted Christ in the hospital on his deathbed, my Dad never knew Christ and is spending eternity in hell.  We weren’t plugged into a local church and weren’t surrounded by Christian family and friends.  We weren’t believers.

    Was there anybody there at the hospital that prayed for my Dad?  Was there any body that shared the truth of the Gospel message with this dying man?  Will I see him in heaven?

    I consider it a privilege to be in prayer for people…family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, government officials and even fellow drivers on the road.  I don’t know who is in their life and praying for them…but where our paths intersect…may the Lord enable me to be faithful in prayer.

    Somethings Coming



    Friday, October 08, 2010

    The Least Among You...Disappointing

    Who doesn’t like a movie where good triumphs over evil?  I love a movie where the hero stands strong in his convictions despite great opposition.   That’s why I selected “The Least Among You” from Book Sneeze.  Based on the movie’s description…I thought the movie would be inspirational. 

    After the movie ended my husband Chris turned to me and said, “I’m glad that I don’t have to review that movie.”  I wasn’t eager to write my review on “The Least Among You” because overall the movie was disappointing.

    The movie is based on a true story of Richard Kelly (Cedric Sanders) who was arrested following the Watt’s riots in 1965.  Richard was accused of assaulting a police officer and decided to serve probation instead of fighting the charges.  His probation was to be served out at an all-white seminary near Los Angeles.  As the only black student, Richard encounters prejudice from both students and professors.  The seminary’s president Alan Beckett (William Devane) encourages Richard to break through the racial barriers until his actions threaten the schools financial backing for a media center.  Samuel Benton (Louis Gosset, Jr.), a gardener at the seminary, befriends Richard and encourages him through many trials.

    Some of the performances in the movie were good, in particular Cedric Sanders and Louis Gosset.  The most interesting characters were the gardener Samuel Benton (Louis Gossett, Jr.) and his wife Bessie Benton (Starletta DuPois).   They demonstrated the most Christ-like characteristics and seemed to have a living faith that had transformed their lives. 

    However, I find fault and take issue with the movie’s screenplay.  Most of the Christians in this movie were portrayed as corrupt, or bigoted, or lying thieves, or greedy and lacking in faith.  They seem like a caricatures, rather than real people. 

    The seminary’s president was greedy and corrupt and many of the professors were ignorant and prejudice.  A former missionary Kate Allison (Lauren Holly) seemed like a caricature of liberated women in the 60’s and throughout the movie she was smoking and drinking.  Worse yet most of the characters at this seminary, professors and students alike, seemed to be devoid of anything resembling true faith in Jesus Christ.  Why any of them were at the seminary is a mystery. 

    The movie was provided to me free through Book Sneeze as part of their selection for Christian bloggers.  After watching this movie, I’m not sure what would qualify it as a “Christian” based movie.  Not only was the movie disappointing, but it was also offensive to me as a Christian. 

    In my opinion the alternate theme of the movie can best be described as the “dangers of going to a liberal theological seminary”.  In the movie, the miracles in the Bible are called into question and attributed to being nothing more than allegories, and truth is said to be relative.  Rather than sharing the Gospel message that salvation and forgiveness of sin is found in Jesus Christ, the movie’s message is centered around a social gospel which promotes change. 
     
    The movie never fully explains what happened to the former missionary to cause her crisis of faith.  Also it left me wondering what happened to the seminary president's wife who appeared to have suffered some type of mental breakdown.  I wanted to know what led to the president’s downfall and corruption.  Was he ever a “man of faith” or was he just running a business?

    Because this movie is “based on a true story” it’s hard to know what’s true and where writer/director Mark Young took literary license.  Based on the screenplay I wanted to ask Mark Young if he personally knows any Christians? 

    I would not recommend this movie.  Spend your time and money elsewhere on something that is in keeping with your Christian faith and values and gives a faithful presentation of the Gospel. 

    Thursday, October 07, 2010

    Give me Jesus



    Was visiting my precious friend Rachel's blog Hope Journey and saw this video. Thanks Rachel!

    After a hard day...filled with emotions, it was just the message and reminder I needed to hear.  Fernando Ortega's music is wonderful to listen to...especially when you need the comfort of the Lord.

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Gossip

    The words of a gossip should never be trusted
    Today they are tearing someone else down
    Tomorrow in front of a different audience
    You will be the topic of conversation
     
    Words spoken in a whisper
    Are seldom shared face to face
    The person held in judgment
    Is never there to offer a defense
     
    In the heart of the one listening
    There is a nudge
    A twinge of their conscience
    The knowledge that gossiping is wrong
     
    However any objection
    Or the courage to speak up is stilled
    As the listening audience
    Is invited to join in the sin
     

    By Susan Bunts Wachtel
    September 16, 2010

    Little Bunny’s Own Storybook by Margaret Welwood & Illustrated by Nataly Vits – Will Spark Young Readers Creative Imagination

    I was contacted by author Margaret Welwood inquiring if I would read her book for children, Little Bunny’s Own Storybook .  I read a lo...