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

    Picture a Day - Roses in Springtime

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