Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are You Merry This Christmas

My church has been blessed to have Dan Garrett bringing the message for the last several weeks. This week's sermon was so encouraging that I wanted to try to put it in print. This is my version of what Dan shared based on what it said to me.

The Google definition of mer·ry is...

1. Full of high-spirited gaiety; jolly.
2. Marked by or offering fun and gaiety; festive: a merry evening.
3. Delightful; entertaining.

Difficult circumstances, disappointment, loss, financial strain or fear of an uncertain future has the potential to steal the joy from the Holiday Season. These issues are not anything new. Mary and Joseph, the wisemen and the shepherds likely had issues too.

Mary was dealing with being an unwed mother, forced to take a road trip, on a donkey, at full term. Joseph was the husband of the woman taking a road trip, on a donkey, at full term (and not the father of the baby). The wise men had to admit that they couldn't explain the unusual star and leave their comfort zone, and the shepherds had to leave their flocks unattended to go see a baby.

They most likely felt helpless, vulnerable and out of control. This is a recipe for depression. According to a leading psychologist, these hopeless feelings are at the root of most situations that cause individuals to seek professional help for depression.

BUT, Jesus chose to leave heaven and became that baby in a stinky stable. He chose to come to die so that we can be forgiven and enjoy His presence in our lives forever. This is a reason for joy!!

Joy to the world does not mean that I have to be perky all the time. Life is tough! But we can choose to focus on the gift -- Emmanuel -- God with us. When we choose to shift our focus, from the difficult circumstances of life, to the God who loves us so much that He sent His Son--We choose JOY.

Once Mary, Joseph, the wisemen and the shepherds experienced the wonder of that first Christmas it is likely that they never looked at life the same again. They saw that God's plan in the difficult circumstances had a wonderful, and amazing outcome and purpose. Likely, they trusted Him to continue to be in control and work all things together for good as Romans 8:28 claims He will.

My prayer for my friends, my family and myself is that this holiday season and in the months ahead we will be filled with joy because God is with us and He is in control.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"The Noticer" by Andy Andrews

"The Noticer" is one of those books that is so simple it is profound. The main character, Jones (not Mr. Jones, just Jones) changes the lives of everyone he meets by simply helping them to see things a little differently. Jones always appears at a choice moment and then is gone before you know leaving behind a new perspective that shines a new light on a problem and illuminates a path of greater understanding that leads to a better outcome.
The book was engaging and easy to read and left me feeling hopeful, thoughtful and encouraged. From the first paragraph I was convinced that this was a book I really needed to read. I was feeling discouraged and frustrated and realized right away that a new perspective could make a difference and it did. Jones was very mysterious and the reader is left with questions about exactly who he was supposed to be. But he was very much someone I would hope to meet and be glad to know. Perhaps I could be Jones to someone I know.
The characters that Jones meets and helps with his unique perspective were easily recognizable types the reader can identify with and thus profit from Jone's message. Many elements/lessons in the book were very familiar, but were pulled together in the book for a greater impact.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

This 366 day daily devotional challenges, encourages and teaches readers to abide in Christ. The author invites the reader to share with her the messages that Jesus has impressed on her spirit as she has developed the habit of quietly listening to His still small voice. His invitation the trust Him completely and to be thankful for His loving care becomes an overarching theme throughout. Each message is followed by recommended Scriptures that give authority to the messages.

When I first received this book, I read the first three months in one sitting and finished it the next day. Now I am looking forward to going back through it one day at a time and reading the recommended Scriptures and journaling as I go. I feel compelled to seek the closeness that the author enjoys with my Savior and am thankful that she has shared her journey with me.

This book would make an excellent gift for someone who is going through a difficult time. In fact, I will have to purchase a new copy because I gave mine away when I learned that my friend's elderly mother has quit eating and will probably be going home soon.

The Principle of The Path by Andy Stanley

WARNING-If you do not want to be challenged to re-evaluate the choices you have made and are making DO NOT READ this book. If you do read you will no longer be able to blame anyone but yourself for the consequences of you actions. You will make choices with your eyes wide open. I have made choices that I regretted and wondered, "How did I deceive myself into believing that these were good choices?" Now I know.
Andy Stanley does a masterful job of teaching individuals how to use their heads instead of being led by the deceitfulness of their hearts. He uses humor and storytelling to lead the reader to a clear understanding of the inescapable principles at work behind every decision. He includes a study guide to further enhance the readers grasp of the principles and to help apply the principles to life.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Encouraging Words from the Bible for these Troubling Economic Times

Isaiah 46 tells about the demise of the Babylonian gods, Bel and Nebo. In America our false gods are our 401k's, our jobs and careers and our stuff. In today's economy many have seen the demise of the gods they have given their lives to serve.

Both the owners and the gods are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people
and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together. v 2 (NLT)

Many are wringing their hands in desperation, imprisoned by hopelessness and fear. Some have even taken their own life to escape from a future without the financial stability they had relied on for their security.

Even the children of the One True God have served these gods in varying degrees. I spent six years in the Financial Services Industry encouraging people to "protect their future" with investments and insurance. While these instruments can be useful it is imperative that they do not become the source of our security. We have been caught up in the culture and have been led astray from our dependence on our True Source.

Listen to me descendants of Jacob, all of you who remain in Israel. I have cared
for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be
your God throughout your lifetime -- until your hair is white with age. I made
you and I will care for you. v 4 (NLT)

Believers in Jesus Christ have been grafted into the one true vine. We can receive the inheritance promised to the descendants of Jacob.

We will have hardships and trials, but we can depend on our God to carry us through, until the day He calls us home. We have a great hope and nothing to fear.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What does it mean to be subject to a king?

Having grown up in America and governed by a democracy, the idea of being ruled by a king is a foreign concept. Americans are very focused on our rights, which are protected by our constitution and law. Life in a kingdom is very different. The subjects of a king have no rights. The king is the authority and what he says is the law.

Kings are often ruthless, greedy and violent. Taking what the wanted with little regard for the needs and wishes of their subjects. This was the context of the nation of Israel when Jesus came into the world. The Jewish people longed for a king from God who would rule with justice and righteousness. The expected that this king would come with power and might and take his people by violent force from the oppressive rule of the Roman Kingdom and restore the God-centered nation they were called out to be.

But, Jesus came with love and humility and created a kingdom that is not of this world. Without military might or violence He has overcome His enemies and brought the benefits of His kingdom to those who submit to His authority. In the Bible we are introduced to a King who is present, at work, calling His people to Himself and who promises never to leave or forsake His loyal subjects.

His enemies are not sinful people or sinful nations. The enemies of our King are spiritual forces that ally with our human nature and cause us to live contrary to God's will.
These enemies have been overcome, but Satan continues to try to build strongholds. Our king has give us POWER AND PERMISSION to remove these from our life. It is up to us to use that POWER. The King has spoken and His Word is law.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12
The victory is claimed when we submit to His authority and remove those spiritual forces of evil from our lives. We are blessed to have a King who loves us unconditionally and who always has our best interest at heart. Choosing to please Him is always the best choice, but is contrary to our human nature. It is our duty as subjects of the King to know Him and obey Him.

This message is taken from a sermon Wesley Bolden preached at First Christian Church in Milledgeville, Ga

Saturday, April 30, 2011

His Will or Mine?

Yesterday was one of those days that changes everything.

For three and a half years I have put my heart, soul, strength and mind into trying to make The Savior's Touch Christian Bookstore a successful business. Suddenly, it is over. I am relieved of my duties and suddenly have nothing but time on my hands. Now what?

I feel betrayed, angry, sad and relieved, hopeful and expectant all at the same time. I recognize that the store has taken time and energy that should belong to my husband and my children. I have managed to overlook that small detail for some time. But the truth remains. I now realize that once again I have been guilty of choosing my will over God's. I have been settling for good instead of holding out for best.

This is not the first time I have been down this detour. My six year stint in a MLM was the same story. I convinced myself that it was God's provision even though it took time and energy that should belong to my husband and children. I believed I was helping people and that I would eventually become wealthy.

My goal at the store was not so much wealth as it was significance. I believed that I was impacting people's lives by listening and sharing. I never expected to make much money so I didn't recognize the fact that I was on the wrong path again.

Today I am grieving the loss of another dream and am praying that the Holy Spirit will enable me to recognize the next detour and avoid it.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Is God actively and intimately involved in the lives of humans?
  • I say, YES! 
  • More importantly The Bible says, YES!
      And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28 New Living Translation

Yesterday I was privileged to witness His amazing provision; 
God acting in His role as

JEHOVAH-JIREH: hs344 Jehovah Jirehhs340 Jehovah Jirehhs370 Jehovah Jirehhs351 Jehovah Jireh  hs344 Jehovah Jirehhs345 Jehovah Jirehhs344 Jehovah Jirehhs351 Jehovah Jireh “The Lord will Provide.” Gen. 22:14. From “jireh” (“to see” or “to provide,” or to “foresee” as a prophet.) God always provides.
I had agreed to meet Rick Cox in Athens, GA to exchange vehicles with him.  His church had loaned us their van when ours had broken down while on a youth trip in his “neighborhood
”.  He had an errand to run in Athens, and meeting him there would save me two hours driving time.  Our meeting had been rescheduled three times before we were able to decide on something that worked for both of us.
As I was leaving the house my daughter called with a desperate need! She was returning home from a visit with her sister and realized that she had no cash and not enough gas to get home!
Was it a coincidence that our routes met within five minutes of her reaching the bottom of her gas tank without either of us having to go out of our way?!!
I don’t think so.  My mom used to say, “God looks out for fools and little children.”  Since I often make foolish mistakes, it is comforting to know that my loving heavenly Father is looking out for me.
Some may say this was just a coincidence or luck, but I know that it was all just to perfect to have just happened the way it did.  I see a Divine Hand working all things together for good because my daughter and I both love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Choosing Joy

Life happens all around us and we really have very little control. However, we can control what we think about it and our choices make all the difference in the world.

I have learned at the ripe old age of 54 that -The way I see things is not necessarily the way they are!! My perspective is skewed by my experiences and mind set. The person standing next to me sees and hears the same set of images and sounds yet gets a completely different view of what is going on.

Last month, I had to make a choice about how I was going to view and respond to loosing my job.

I decided to act like I believe that "God works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose." Ro 8:28 And that God "has a plan to give me a hope and a future, to prosper me and not to harm me." Jeremiah 29:11

Trusting Him made all the difference in the world as I looked for and found reasons to be thankful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When my daughter asked this question in silence and solitude, the Lord brought to mind the words to the song "Beloved" by Tenth Avenue North.

If you have been wondering the same thing, I hope these lyrics help!!

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
Give me your life
Lust and the lies
The past you're afraid I might see
You've been running away from me

You're my beloved
Lover I'm yours
Death shall not part us
It's you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we'll be
Our Love it unites us
It binds you to me
It's a mystery

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
I'm the giver of life
I'll clothe you in white
My immaculate bride you will be
Oh come running home to me yeah *now*

You're my beloved
Lover I'm yours
and Death shall not part us
It's you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we'll be
Our Love it unites us
 and it binds you to me yea now now

Well you've been a mistress, my wife
Chasing lovers it won't satisfy
Won't you let me make you my bride
You will drink of my lips
And**taste new life

You're my beloved
Lover I'm yours
Death shall not part us
It's you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we'll be
Our Love it unites us
it binds you to me

You're my beloved
Forever we'll be
Our love it unites us
And it binds you to me
It's a mystery


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No comment Necessary

This music video from Misty Edwards is very powerful.  I will let it speak for itself without any commentary from me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

When It Rains

"Until you know, how it feels in the dark, until you face the hurt in your heart
The sun can shine, but you won’t see the light-I bless the day when it rains"--Katina
These simple words to a simple song written in response to the Nashville, TN flood remind us that the trials of life are a necessary part of our growing relationship with God.  It is the difficulties of life that forge our dependence on Him and cause us to learn to lean on Him instead of falsely believing that we are in control.
Ultimately, He is always in control and we never are in control. We may have the illusion that we are in complete control, but suffering and hardships force us to accept the reality that we are like ships tossed by the waves and buffetted by the wind.
There is an old addage that say's "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  It is helpful in times of struggle to be reminded that God has a purpose and a plan in everthing that happens, and ultimately we will be strengthened by it if we will trust God to do what He will with us.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 New International Version


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Write Your Own Book of Psalms

Recently, I have really enjoyed listening to worship music at BREATHEcastFM.  Today, instead or reading my Bible, journaling, or studying during my early morning visit with God I just tuned in and prayerfully listened to the music.  As I did, it occured to me that although I am not blessed with the talent to sing or make music that anyone else would care to listen to, I am writing psalms as I pour out my heart to God in my journal and on this blog.
I am reminded of the command to record for future generations the mighty acts of God.  Often, my journal entries serve to remind me of what God has said to and done.  Without the written reminder I tend to forget the things that He has made clear to me.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Dt 4:9
I will sing of the LORD's great love forever;with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
Ps 89:1 
I would love to see your psalms recording the mighty acts that God has shown you.  Please comment below with your story.  Why not play worship songs in the background while you type your response!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

God Has a Plan

God is purpose driven!  Rick Warren wasn't the first to come up with this!! He has a purpose and plan for everything He does, and He will accomplish His plan.
 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 10 As the rain and the snow
       come down from heaven,
       and do not return to it
       without watering the earth
       and making it bud and flourish,
       so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
       It will not return to me empty,
       but will accomplish what I desire
       and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:9-11
As we live by faith, trusting that His way is completely good and perfect He guides, guards and gives us an abundant life full of love, joy and peace.
This does not mean that we will always like His plan or our part in it.  In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet demanded that God do something about the evil in the land.  God's response was not what Habakkuk expected.  Things were about to get REALLY NASTY for Habakukk and Judah!  The Babylonians were coming to punish and destroy.
Yet, Habakukk was at peace and ends this book with praise.  We too, can remain in perfect peace through every difficulty when our mind and our life are centered on Christ and we trust his promise that
All things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28
Leave it all in His capable and loving hands and be at peace.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on Humility

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:4 NIV
In an effort to understand and internalize Jesus teaching, imagine with me what it would feel like to be the little child that Jesus used for this object lesson. What are some words that come to mind as you picture yourself as a little child called to stand among a group of adults?
  • unassuming
  • shy
  • quiet
  • unpretentious
  • genuine
  • submissive
  • obedient
  • subdued
  • inconsequential
  • respectful
  • compliant
  • timid
The child would be looking to Jesus for instructions.  Not knowing what was expected of him in the situation he would be focused on Jesus and looking for clues.
I imagine him comforted by Jesus touch, but uncomfortable under the scrutiy of the disciples.He didn't attempt to teach the disciples a lesson, but allowed The Master to use him to teach them by simply responding to His call.
In the same way we can develop the humility that Christ is teaching here by
  1. Focusing on Christ and allowing Him to give us clues for our behavior.
  2. Responding to His instruction.
  3. Feeling the comfort of His presence as we are scrutinized by others.
Humility does not come naturally, but requires a decision and effort.  So, why would we want to choose humility?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Love Really Means

This week I have been struggling with the question, "When is it OK to bar someone from your life because they just keep making wrong choices?"  There are two young men in my life right now that are challenging my desire to love them.  The easy route would be to turn my back on them, but I don't feel that it is what Jesus would do, or what He wants me to do.
I don't think it is a coincidence that I just finished re-reading "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers, just as I am faced with this challenge. "Redeeming Love" is a story based on the Book of Hosea and is a powerful picture of God's unconditional love and acceptance for us.  I am reminded that I am called to love others as God has loved me.
Love is a very strong force with the ability to change lives for eternity.  While it is difficult to love certain people, the Holy Spirit is able to equip us for the challenges that loving presents.  Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can find ways of sharing God's love.  One of these guys felt loved just because I accepted his collect phone call when he contacted me from jail, and then brought him some stamps.
 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
A word of caution - don't be manipulated, be led by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus has sent us out as lambs among wolves to minister in His name.  If the person you are called to love is open and receptive to Words of Life you can make a difference.  If they are not, then shake the dust off of your sandals.
I hope you enjoy this Christian Praise Song
-Scott Smith, K-LOVE Asst. Program Director/Music Director said, "Listening to JJ Heller's 'What Love Really Means' brings me to tears! What a beautiful reminder that no matter where you find yourself in life.  God loves you.  Really loves you, no matter what you have done or failed to do, He is always there.  What an amazing mesage to share with everyone who listens."

Please comment!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hope for a Blessed Marriage

Last Friday I was asked to testify at a friend’s custody hearing. As we waited for our turn to go before the judge, we witnessed several other cases that were called before my friend’s case. I came away with an enormous feeling of sorrow. I realized that without the grace of God I could very well be waiting in the same line.

I want to share some of the resources that I feel have contributed to the fact that my husband and I are celebrating our 31st Anniversary today and our seven children are secure in knowing that their parents love and honor each other.

Our marriage did not start out on a firm foundation, but we were both determined that divorce was not an option. Therefore, we could either be miserable for the rest of our lives or learn to make it work.

First and foremost in God’s plan for guiding us along the right path was the Family Life Conference “A Weekend to Remember”. We have attended four times. At the conference I learned that God created and ordained marriage and has a plan for how it should work. The world’s plan for marriage that I had known was very different and very flawed. The conference laid out God’s plan and provided direction.

A book that made a big impact in teaching me to be a better wife was, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George. Many books I read about making marriage better left me feeling discouraged because they required a mutual effort. He wasn’t always as receptive as I would have liked. I felt that if he would - then I would - and then we could be happy, but he won’t - so I can’t - so there is no hope. This book taught me that I should treat my husband with love and respect whether I felt like he deserved it or not out of obedience to Christ. Christ is always deserving of my obedience and the Word does command wives to honor their husbands. This mindset helped me to be more loving even when I didn’t feel like it. Lo and behold my relationship with my husband improved dramatically!

Finally, I will mention one other book that has taken our relationship to new levels of joy and satisfaction. “Reviving Your Romance” by Terry and Barbie Franklin is a 40-day devotional that helped us to talk about deep issues that are rarely discussed. Talking about these things made us feel closer than ever before.

Please be encouraged. God loves you and has an amazing plan for your marriage. He wants it to be a source of joy and delight. If you will trust Him and seek His will, He will take you from wherever you are right now to a place of abundance. He did it for Danny and I and He will do it for you too!