Thursday, September 30, 2010

~ "The Doctor is IN..."

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. (Matt 14:14)

The word "cancer" strikes fear in the hearts of many - why? Maybe it's because there is no cure, maybe because it can be painful, maybe because it can be fatal. We all support the "find a cure for's". I can't imagine anyone saying "no, I don't think I want them to find a cure for it". Medical science has made great strides in the treatment of cancer. Many lives have been "cancer free" after radiation, or chemotherapy ~ but still there is no cure.

What about the individual who goes for a scan, and amazingly enough, when they are re-scanned, there is nothing there? Was it really there to begin with, was it "just a shadow", or was it a miracle? We all have one story or know someone who does! I tend to go with the latter. Jesus is the Great Physician. He healed many while he walked on this earth; he still heals!

Whatever it is that tests your faith today, be strong! Whatever physical ailments come your way, know that it's all been reviewed by your Creator before it touches you! He's in control! The Great Physician is always on call and you have a direct line to him! You can use the generic prescription (prayer). Oh, and by the way, your bill has been paid, in full!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

~ "The ball's in your court..."

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Prov 21:21)

When we repent, we are seeking righteousness. As our days on earth dwindle (and they all do, to one extent or another), we become more focused on what it is that is important. Our priorities change with age. From childhood, to teenage years, to young adults, to mature adults, to prime-time and into our twilight years - we tend to let some things go and attach ourselves to newer, more important matters. There is a "like" on Facebook - "Remember when picking which color crayon was the biggest decision you had to make". As our lives progress, our decision and responsibilities become more complex. The one thing that remains unchanged throughout our lives is the love of Christ! His love never changes.

The decisions we make today reflect the choices we made yesterday. Our lives belong to him. What we do should glorify him. Our paths are intertwined with his mercy and grace and we should walk it with our heads held high, because we are forgiven! If you've accepted Christ as your Savior, then choose to follow! Don't just sit on the side lines and watch as others participate in life! There can be a full and enjoyable life led as a player on Christ's team! Get up, get out and get going! Time is of the essence here - you cannot afford to sit this quarter out! Seek out that which is good, be truly sorry for your sin, and the gifts of both heaven and earth will be yours!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

~ "I will not go quietly into the night..."

I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (Ps42:9)

Matthew Henry writes: "The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies." If we spend all our time begging God to answer our prayer, what are we doing while we wait?

I've been praying for one very specific unspoken request for over a year now. I've shared it with some, but not many. God tells me to wait, so I keep waiting. It hurts occasionally, but my faith in God's divine providence is greater than the pain. I try to focus on the many blessings he's given me (and not the standard "roof over my head", "food on the table") - I look to the times when I didn't get what I deserved! Those times when things could have or should have ended up a lot worse than they did. Then, I look to the cross. I've been given the gift of eternal life! I am a Princess - the daughter of the King. I will spend forever in the presence of God - what could be greater than that?

Our sins are forgiven because we are washed in the blood. We have human wants and needs that can and cannot be met sometimes. God knows this; he understands the pain. When people tell lies about me to others, when they refer to me as the "nut job", when they forget to "remember when" - it's okay! God has a plan for them as well! My concern is my relationship with God. He knows me, he loves me, he cares very much for me. I could give him everything I have and it would never make a dent in the debt that Jesus paid for me! All my sins, washed away - every single one of them! How blessed we are to have such a merciful God! Let his love put a smile on your face as well as within your heart! He knows, and he has not forgotten!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Monday, September 27, 2010

~ "We the jury, in the above entitled action..."

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses'. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matt 18:15-17)

We all have conflicts that arise amongst our fellow Christians. How do we deal with them? What should we do? In a beautifully articulated sermon last night, my pastor laid a foundation for a peaceful solution to all problems (legal or otherwise) when dealing with members of the body of Christ - and yes, it does happen!

Taking a fellow Christian to court is similar to taking a bleeding man to a vampire for a bandaid. Don't get me wrong, I'm very "pro-justice" and I do believe our justice system works - most of the time! But when you have an issue that is a relatively minor infraction of the laws of the state, why would you not want to seek a solution outside of the judicial system? I'm not saying that if you see your fellow Christian brandishing a gun you should call a preacher and not the law; by all means, if life being threatened you dial 9-1-1!

When situations arise that don't fit the "eminent danger" scenario, try this: go to the person - alone (and don't stop to discuss this with 75 of your closest friends). If they don't agree, grab someone with the same spiritual beliefs or background - then go back to them. If that fails, then bring the issue to a church leader (pastor, minister, priest). As a final resort, you can bring it out in the open.

What these verses tell us, in essence, is to work it out amongst ourselves. We, as Christians, should be able to judge spiritually (after all, we will be judging the world one day - 1 Cor 6:2-3). God tells us we, as believers in Christ, should not go to the law with other believers. We should choose church leaders to decide the matters and agree to abide by their decision. Then we are told to get along and serve him!

I know that some of you are sitting there reading this and rolling your eyes. Just because when people enter a courtroom, place their hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth, doesn't mean that they believe it is truly the word of God, or even that they will tell the truth - only a true Christian can do that with the knowledge of the repercussions that will follow if they lie. We are compelled to live by the law of God and the law of man - but in a situation where the law of man is not necessary, why would you not want to solve the problem within the community of your fellow Christians? If it's justice you are looking for, you can find it this way. If your desire is for vengeance, then you will need to go to the courts - but remember "vengeance is mine" (Heb 10:30).

(taken in part by a sermon from Charles Brooks)

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

~ "...every starry night, that was HIS design!!!"

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9:7)

Why do some grumble on Sunday morning? Why is it we'd rather stay in bed than get up, get dressed and get out? The excuses are many: "I only have two days off from work, I need my sleep"; "I got home late last night;" "I have things I need to do;" or the ever popular "I just need a break this week!" The interpretation of this verse concerns money. It can be applied to all aspects of Christian life. Giving money to your church helps to support it. It pays the bills, it goes to support missions, it pays the pastor's salary (if he's a full time pastor), it helps those in need and it allows for repairs and replacement of the church property. But what about what you give that is intangible? What do you give to help support your church from the gifts God has been so gracious in giving you? Are you a talented musician who could be playing an instrument on a Praise Team? Do you have a voice that could be used to sing hymns and contemporary songs during the service? Are you a financial genius who could be helping them better use the tithes and offerings received? Are you a fluent in sign language and could perhaps translate the message to the deaf (thus drawing them into the service and helping to spread the word to them)? I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

On Sunday mornings, I get out of bed, pour a cup of coffee, and sit at the table and post the worship video for the day on my Facebook page. Usually, I have an idea of what video I'd like to use. Then I find a verse that compliments the video, write the message and post it and THEN I get to go to church! I don't HAVE to go to church, I WANT to go to church! I get excited when I begin to think about what I'm going to learn in Sunday School (yes, I am 53 years old and I still go to Sunday School). I get even more excited when I think about sitting with my friends (and sometimes family) while the preacher delivers his message about God! I look forward to worshiping God!

We are fortunate to live in a country where we can openly worship our God! Too many people in the world cannot. There are places on this blue marble that you can be put to death for owning a Bible. They are smuggled in and buried in the back yard. They come in a page at a time in some places. These Christian commit the verses of the Bible to memory because they have to ~ because that is the only way they can keep it with them at all times! Yet, we still complain and whine!

God loves a cheerful giver! Not just the ones who "cheerfully" place their tithes in the offering plate - the ones who give their time and their talent to rather large task of spreading his word. Give your 'life to the only one who makes the moon reflect the sun'. He's given us so much more than we deserve! Let us be cheerful givers; giving to others what he has so freely given us!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

~ "I had a dream the other night..."

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jer 29:11-12)

God promised Israel he would not abandon them! He promises us the same! Although the Old Testament is viewed by some as a "history lesson" - there is much to be learned from history! The suffering of God's chosen people show us that we are in good company when we hurt - WE have become his chosen people! We who believe and have faith will one day be in his great presence!

When we are in pain, when we hurt, when we are depressed, angry or even resentful - we have a place to go to be comforted! We have a direct line to the King of Kings; as a matter of fact we are IN the direct line of the King of Kings! Through the Holy Spirit, he sends his love and his message of hope. He has great plans for all of us! He holds our future in the palm of his hand. We need only reach out to him and give him our undying love!

God hears us when we pray! He listens to our words and feels our hearts beating. He wants us to come to him and be his completely! He loves us! He's not spiteful or inconsiderate and does not laugh at us when we fall. He has great plans for us, just as he did for the Israelites ~ our destiny lies in him! Let him comfort you in your time of need and thank him joyfully for it! He is the first line of defense we have against the enemy and the only way to him is through Jesus! Put on the full armor of God and be strong in faith ~ it's what he calls each of us to do! We are rapidly approaching the end of days ~ have you dreamed THAT dream? Will you stand your ground for God? Will you hear the trumpet when it sounds? Are you ready???

Friday, September 24, 2010

~ "Manufacturer's recall..."

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward. (Gen 15:1)

I received a beautiful card yesterday from a dear friend. Today's verse was on it, as well as this sentiment: "Always remember, when God made you He did so wth a purpose and a plan. He saw all your days before you lived one of them and placed over you the covering of His protective love. He has allowed nothing to come into your life that has not first been screened through that love. His hand has remained upon you to this very day. He calls you by name. You are His beloved child... the apple of His eye... the delight of His heart. Today you are in the exact place He wants you to be, and tomorrow He will be with you as He has always been-- in goodness, in kindness, in faithfulness." (Written by Roy Lessin)

We may not know or understand God's plan for us, but he does! We spend our lives briefly on this planet. We have a very small window of opportunity to come to know and love him and share him with others. Knowing that he already has my life all worked out for me is comforting and as well as knowing also that nothing that happens to me has not been "pre-approved". He loves me, and I him! All that he does, he does for me! He protects me from the enemy and strengthens me every day. There is nothing he can't do! The faith I have in his love and his word tell me that he does know my name and does want to be with me, and I with him!

He's laid my life out before me, all I have to do is follow the breadcrumbs and I will be home safe! It's time to lay down our "Issacs" before him and be blessed! Jesus IS coming back!!! ARE YOU READY! Spread his word NOW! In the crazy "Likes" of Facebook let me close today's thought with this: "My Father says that if I spread his word and do his work, I get to spend eternity with him - want to join me?"

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

~ "the DARK side..."

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” (Mark 7:20-23)

Did you ever try NOT to think of something? Trying to "put it out of your mind" or an "image that will stay with you" is sometimes an exercise in futility! The harder we try not to think about it or recall the image, the more present it becomes! Our sinful nature rears its ugly head yet again.

In these verses, we are told some of what I believe are the deadliest sins imaginable. These are the ones that corrupt our being to the point of fighting an uphill battle to keep them at bay! This is where the Holy Spirit comes in and helps us out!

Evil thoughts - "oh, I wish a piano would fall on their head". Sexual immorality - "it's okay, I love you". Theft - "they have plenty, they'll never miss one". Murder - self explanatory. Adultery - "my spouse doesn't love me". Greed - "I want it ALL!" Malice - "Kick Me!!!". Deceit - "call now, we only have a few left". Lewdness - "How about some fries to go with that shake". Envy - "why can't I be that important". Slander - "Well, I heard...". Arrogance - "I'm better at that than anyone". Folly - "I wanted to see what it felt like".

We all do it to some extent - it's part of being human. Some of us can add all of these to our vocabulary, while others only one of two. Some of us do these consistently, while others rarely. The point is, none of us are any better than anyone else! We are all equal in the eyes of God - the only difference is that some of us have chosen to profess our faith in him and follow Christ! And being "saved" doesn't mean you can go off and do whatever you please because you have a guaranteed ticket to enter the kingdom! We battle these demons each and every day. The thoughts that run through our heads are known to God! He sees and hears every thought we have!

God knew this! That is why he sent us a Savior - Jesus Christ! Without his death for our sins and resurrection to give us life again, we would be doomed to spend eternity in hell. We cannot ever be good enough, we can never measure up to the standard he set! We try and we constantly correct ourselves because we know that in the end, we will rest in his hands - the ones with the scars from some rather large nails! Remember to thank him today for that - without it, we'd be lost souls burning for all of eternity. Trust in him, let go of your doubts and become one with Jesus - he's real, he's alive and he loves us!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

~ "Crossing the bridge..."

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. (1 John 5:18)

Being "born again" means literally to be "born from above", to have had a change of heart, a spiritual transformation! It means we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and that we are "saved" by grace from death (yes, our physical bodies will die, but our soul belongs to God and will never die).

When we have been re-born in Christ, we will continue to sin - what we have a problem with are the "deliberate" sins. We have a hard time justifying our actions when we know it is NOT of him! Many religions have different views on certain secular activities, not to mention their interpretations of certain passages in the Bible. I won't go into them here, but God's word is sound. It's not a fairy tale, it's not a "suggested" way of life - it is a love letter from God to us! He tells us EXACTLY what he wants and expects from us, his children. Those of you who think that because of the "changing times" from the time the Bible was written until today, that you can "edit" his word and fit it to meet your way of life, need a wake up call!

Young people - keep yourselves safe from the ways of the world - they are Satan's way (and yes, my friends, he does exist and wants you in HIS army, not God's). Again, "SPOILER REVEALED" - God wins!!! I know how hard it is to be faithful to God's law, to his word! I know all about pier pressure and I also know that even when you succumb to it, you are never fully accepted as part of that "group" - why, because you are NOT part of that group! You are a child of God and he lets you know that by the uncomfortable feeling that arises in you when you do what you know is not pleasing to him! It gnaws at you and eats away at your conscience until you accept that this is NOT what God wants for you, and now you feel damaged and hurt and realize you have been led astray! "But how do I go back - what will my friends say?" I'm here to tell you that they may leave you in the dust today, but 10, 20 or maybe 30 years from now, they will have a respect for you that will blow your doors off! They will come to you and want what YOU have because of the way you live your life, because of the joy they see that comes from knowing the Lord! I know that is no consolation to you now, but someday, when you are sitting on the other side of the bi-focals, you will understand.

Do what is right in God's eyes! If you're living with someone, sleeping with someone, using his name in vain (OMG, Holy "whatever", and the like) - make the change NOW! Be brave and have faith in him! He won't let you down, I promise! It may be rough going at first, but I haven't seen or heard of anything better than his love yet, and I doubt I ever will. You cannot pick and choose which of God's rules you follow - you know that what you are doing is wrong, but you pretend you don't know - ignorance is no excuse - remember - God does not bargain! Do what you have to do to get out of the fire! Fall to your knees and ask his forgiveness and guidance! Seek out those who have the devotion to our Lord that you want - learn from them! Give yourself to the winning team, from what I've read, the victory party is to die for! Cross the bridge to salvation and become born again in HIM! Ask him to lead and be willing to follow and all the riches of heaven will be yours one day!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

~ "Off to Neverland..."

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Gal 2:16)

Okay, so if we don't get to heaven by our works (Eph 2:9) and we don't get there by following the "law" - how do we get there? We get there because we have faith in Jesus and because he's already paid the price for our sins! Believe - and fear not! As a child of God, and having been born again through his death and resurrection, we have been saved from death ourselves. We walk around on this planet and spread his word, we have the belief that he is who he says he is and we, too, will come to be in his presence completely!

Try as we might, we cannot always follow his word to the letter of the law - we are sinners by nature and therefore it is impossible to be good and just all the time. We struggle, we suffer, we fall - but when we do - we get right back up and ask for forgiveness, ask for his mercy and the strength to continue on - until we fall again. And we will fall, over and over again. We also rebel - not wanting to give in to the will of the Almighty! Wanting the control and the power to do it "our way". We interrupt his work with our own meddling and then we have the audacity to get mad when he doesn't answer our prayers quickly enough or when he tells us to "wait". We need to be in HIS will, not our own.

Strive to be in the direct will of God! Through prayer and patience, we can ask for forgiveness and focus on staying in his will - compromise is not an option - we trust by faith, so have the faith to trust in him!

Monday, September 20, 2010

~ "Pray one for another..."

Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. (Job 42:8)

God told Eliphaz that he was angry with him and that he was to bring an offering and that JOB would pray for him. He and his friends did as they were told, and Job prayed for them and God accepted his prayer!

We all pray for ourselves far more than we pray for others! We tell people "I will pray for you", utter a short "Dear Lord, bless this person" or "Heavenly Father, guide this person" - but when we pray for ourselves, we fill it with each and every detail that we want God to hear. Job, who was blessed man and lived a righteous life, was tortured by Satan, yet found the strength to pray for others and continue to worship God! He never (almost, but not quite) accused God of being unjust and in the end, when God restores him, he lives on for another 140 years! He told God he was not worthy yet in that moment he was humbled!

I have a small binder that sits on my coffee table. In it are the names of the people I pray for every day. The obvious names (my father, my children, my ex-husband, his family, close friends and their families) are at the top of the first page, followed by church friends, childhood friends, neighbors, co-workers, Facebook friends and so on. I also have the prayer request list from my church. I know that I don't spend as much time in prayer for those names as I do for myself.

We've been told to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5:17), we've been told to "pray one for another" (James 5:16) and we've been told to "stand perfect and complete in his will" (Col 4:12).

Intercessory prayer is the greatest tool that we possess! It allows us to go before God on behalf of someone else. To ask him to bless them, to comfort them, to heal them, to guide them! We already know that we are blessed and loved! We know that our perfect King will watch over us and protect us because we are his! He knows our heart (as he knows our name) - step out of the "ME" box and fill it with prayers for others! It is a blessing to be able to pray for someone other than ourselves - put yourself between your brothers or sisters and God! Go on THEIR behalf to the Lord and, like Job, you will not only hear the voice of God, but see his face as well!

(Women's Fall Retreat - 2010)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

~ "What are your spiritual gifts???"

I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

We all have different talents. Some of us sing, some of us sew, some of us can cook, some of us are athletic, some of us are computer geniuses, some of us are math whizzes and some of us are artists. But our talents are not to be confused with our spiritual gifts! Those are the gifts that God gives us to spread his word and do his work. They are categorized as Ministry Gifts. They are listed in Romans 12. There are 12 of them. Yesterday, the group of women I went on retreat with and I inventoried our ministry gifts. We answered a series of questions which, when tallied, gave us an idea of which areas we are best suited to serve in. After spending time in prayer and honestly and accurately answering the questions, I have found (once again) that I am doing what I'm supposed to be doing (who knew???) My results came very close in three areas: "Helps" - someone who is motivated to provide assistance to someone in leadership (as opposed to completing the actual task), "Service" - someone who has the ability to perform tasks with joy that benefit other and meets practical needs (with disregard to personal health and comfort I might add), and finally, "Prophecy" - someone who has the ability to proclaim God's truth without compromise. There were others that I scored decently on, but these three were at the top.

When we read all of Romans 12, we learn that God has a plan for us and that there are duties in the ministry that he calls us to. Some are called to teach, some to lead, some to give financial support, some have compassion, some are shepherds, some are evangelists and some encourage. Like a "real" job (secular, that is), if we aren't doing what we are good at, we don't do it quite as well as if it were something our talents complimented. The same is true for our work in the ministry. God has given us certain "spiritual gifts" that he wants us to use. We can't all be leaders! We can't all have the spotlight - that's reserved for Jesus - but what we do to spread his message of salvation brings glory and honor to God, which is as it should be.

Find out what your spiritual gift is and use it! Don't sit back and watch the rest of the congregation do everything. If your spiritual gifts aren't being used, or the people in your congregation don't what you to use them, find one that will! God wants us to work for him, he didn't give us these gifts to sit in pews and become frustrated. Spread his love, spread his word! Be his, totally and completely!

["Ministry Gifts Inventory" by Michael Miller, available through LifeWay Church Resources at]

Friday, September 17, 2010

~ "I just need to get away..."

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12)

Even Jesus needed some quiet time away. We all need time to "regroup", collect our thoughts, map out our immediate future and take a break from the craziness that is in our world. We call it a retreat. It affords us the opportunity to make the world stop for a day or two and just reflect on what the Lord has given us and study his word without the interruption of the phone, the job or the family. It gives us the opportunity to get to know our fellow Christians a little better and for them to know us. We can let our hair down (so to speak).

Like anything else in life, sometimes our prayers become routine and our study time is interrupted with thoughts of cleaning, washing the car, running to the mall, picking up the kids, and other mundane tasks. Before we realize it, we have strayed from the word, can't remember what we read and have to start over again. When that starts to happen, I know it's time for a weekend away. Normally, I would head to the Jersey Shore for that, but this weekend I will be headed out to Mountain City with a group of women from my church. We will eat, sleep, laugh and get to know each other better. The most important thing we will do on this weekend getaway is spend time in God's word!

I read my Bible every day; not just to find a verse to post here, but to hear what God has to say to me. I've come to the conclusion that without constant attention to his word, I may miss something he needs for me to know. When my distractions cause me to read the same verse in a chapter three time, when I can't focus on any of the reading in my morning routine, I know it's time for a change, a recharge, a new focus. I can't afford to "go through the motions" - life is too short and eternity too long to risk missing the scripture that he has attached my name to.

Take time out of your routine to spend it with a group of GODLY men or women and re-energize your spirit. There is always time for God! It doesn't have to be a weekend away, it can be as simple as an hour or two at a table in the park. Go where there is no distraction from life. Leave the cell phone off and the laptop home. Talk about what God has done in your life, learn a new way to worship him, spend quiet time in his word, rejoice and praise him for what you have, what he's taken from you and what he's yet to give you!

With that said, there will be no post tomorrow (Saturday, September 18) as I will be away and the laptop will be at home. Remember me in your prayers tonight and tomorrow, as I remember each of you everyday! Have a blessed weekend and I will post again Sunday morning! God bless you!

(photo by Christina White)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

~ "Climb every mountain!!!"

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt 11:29)

We have all heard the stories of the rich man who dresses in rags and spends his time in the company of the homeless and the poor to see who is truly a good person, to see who will is worthy to inherit his wealth upon his death. Not too far off from the story of Christ, is it?

Here is a KING, who came to earth in human form, worked as a carpenter, associated with the lowliest of souls and promised them riches beyond their dreams! He has found in us, those people who will inherit his kingdom. We are not worthy, but we are invited! Once we've accepted his invitation to belong to a greater order of being, we cannot turn from him, for he is a part of us, in spirit, in body and in mind. We can become corrupted by false teachings and false religions and beliefs, yet God has a way to wash away all the inaccurate knowledge and the wrong practices we've been brainwashed with. He can renew is us his spirit of love and faith and devotion without our even realizing it. It takes time, sometimes it is longer than we anticipated. The end result is a brand new outlook on his plan for us: where our physical life is headed, the direction of our heart and soul and the successful accomplishment of our trials.

There is an Irish Blessing that reads like this: "May God give you...For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." We all look for that rainbow. We all have laughed through our tears. We know we are blessed by our trials (if we are patient enough). We seek out the advice of friends in almost all we do. Joy does fill our hearts when we accomplish what we think we could not. God does, in fact, answer each and every prayer ~ "yes", "no", or "wait". If we take on the burdens of Christianity, we will learn to become stronger in Christ. His gentle touch and love will be our comfort when our work here is done. Our souls will rest securely in his presence and that alone, makes the burden of being a Christian worth it. We were never told it would be easy - only that it would be worth it!

(photo by Christina White)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

~ "Okay, now what???

Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. (Ps 106:3)

We can't possibly do all that is right all the time. To do that would make us perfect - and we are not! Matthew Henry writes "None of our sins or sufferings should prevent our ascribing glory and praise to the Lord. The more unworthy we are, the more is his kindness to be admired." We are very unworthy - fortunately he is a forgiving God. He teaches us lessons we never knew we needed to learn.

My mother always told me that "honesty is the best policy"; she also told me if I told the truth, I wouldn't be in trouble! Not necessarily fact in that statement. There are always repercussions for our actions, especially the ones in which we are wrong. The excuse that we only "crossed the line a little" is of no consolation. Like anything else in this world, wrong is wrong - there is no gray. Sin is sin - doesn't matter how big or little it is - it's wrong, we know it and we do it anyway! So how do we get to right when all we do is wrong? We get there by admitting we're wrong, setting it right and asking forgiveness. There is no way to go back in time and "right" all the "wrongs" so we have to accept that God will forgive us and move forward. Turning over a new leaf only works if we leave it alone once it's done. We can't say we are sorry today and turn around and do the same thing again tomorrow - we have to make an honest, conscious effort to do right and be right!

I cannot lie - just ask my ex! I always get caught in it, so I don't do it! It's very hard to remember what you told someone and the truth always manages to spill out. Even the simplest little "white" lies have a tendency to trip us up. It takes less energy to tell the truth and you can always remember it because it is, in fact, what happened.

God knows our hearts. He knows when we are truly sorry for things we've said and done. He's waiting on us to ask him to help us NOT do it again. Even if some of the things we've done are "good" deeds, if they were against policies and laws (even man-made), it doesn't make it right if we weren't supposed to do them in the first place. Giving food to the needy is a laudable gesture, giving food to the needy that is destined for the trash (but is not "really" trash) is also a laudable gesture (and most likely the best use of it, since it's not taking anything from anyone's pockets), but if it's against "company policy" and is considered by them to be "stealing", it is wrong (and can be very costly if you were the one who was caught doing it). The rationale "it's only one candy bar; it's only a soda - it won't break the company" or "the boss said it was okay to do it or take it" is not an excuse - especially when you've been already told it's not okay! Some people tend to point fingers and throw others "under the bus" to take the focus off themselves. They allow others to take the blame for things they are also guilty of and lie to protect themselves. Pray for these people - for they do not know God!

God calls us to be honest in all matters! He holds us accountable for everything we say and do! Fortunately we have the robe of Jesus to be laid on our shoulders when we are presented to God in our final judgement. Knowing that we've done the right thing is not always consoling, especially if in doing so we've hurt others. But knowing that God has a plan for us outside of that situation gives us the courage to continue on, asking for grace and mercy as we go. It brings us back to where we need to be, where we are supposed to be and where HE wants us to be - in his presence.

(photo: "Food Waste" - thrown away and written off as such...)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

~ "Who are you???"

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (John 3:10)

God's love is the purest of the pure! There is nothing that compares to it - it is perfect. But in our less than perfect world, we meet, and often entertain, that fallen angel - Satan. He has tempted and tormented even the greatest of prophets, not to mention the fact that he tempted our Savior in the desert! The expression "if it feels wrong, it probably is" is a good way to measure what is God's way and what is the devil's way.

How do we reach those whose "barometer" does not calculate good and bad in the same way ours does? How to do we bring those "children" to the righteousness of God? We do it by example. We hold out our hands and offer them God's love through his word, through the works of Jesus and that love that sets us free. We become the people they aspire to be. When others can see Christ at work in us, it is the greatest testimony we can offer.

When we are called to a function that undoubtedly has every eye in the place on us, we tend to put on our best behavior (not to mention, our best clothing). We want to do everything perfect and not make mistakes and we hope that any mistakes we make either go unnoticed or are dismissed without incident! If we used that same portrayal of ourselves as Christians, there would be people lining up at the altars to be be saved! People would immediately turn their lives around, not because of our witnessing, but because of the example we have become! When the unstable "nut job" becomes the stable, upright and forgiving person (all without the aid of medications), people become curious as to what brought about the change! But not everyone will embrace that change. Those who want to stay in their "high places" and refuse to come down from their "thrones" are the ones who continue to follow the way of Satan. Their unforgiving way, their continued mocking of what is God's will show you who they are. They are the ones who will call you a "Jesus Freak", "the Church lady", the "nut job" or they will simply "ignore" you! They do not want to know God the way that you do! They profess that they are children of the King, yet do not do his work. They put on their best, go to church on Sunday and call themselves Christians for an hour, then it's back to swindling their employers or employees out of money, gossiping about those no longer included in their group of friends, and looking down their noses at what they choose not to associate themselves with.

Put on your very best YOU every day! God has blessed you with the gift of salvation! He has opened a door for you, now open your heart for him! Lift up your head and walk forward, for when your head is lifted, your eyes are on the kingdom!

(photo by Christina White)

Monday, September 13, 2010

~ "Once upon a time..."

And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Tim 2:24)

When I chose this verse, my aim was towards children. God had another plan. I did not realize the date of today's message until I began to type the title. Once again, it is HIS message, not mine.

When I read the verse this morning, my thoughts went immediately to 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is patient, love is kind...). This verse is a little more instructive as to how to be all those things in 1 Corinthians 13. Matthew Henry writes: "The more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil."

Resentment, hatefulness, bickering, fighting, arguing - all Satan's tools. "How do I not fight, not argue, not be resentful?" I'm still working on that! I've been told that I have an "abrasive" personality. I don't mean to come across that way and I will chalk it up to it being a "Jersey thing". When I examine what is in my heart, I must admit that I can, in fact, be a bit stern and strict with my tongue (just ask any of my kids). I know there are better ways to get my point across without being short (not in stature). I have never been known for sugar coating anything - it is what it is! I expect people to accept me the way that I am with the declaration "that's just me", yet I am not always willing to accept others as they are. I want them to change immediately into who I want them to be and to do it my way. Not going to happen.

What difference does it make how you get from point "a" to point "b"? The goal is to get there! We all have one thing in common - we believe in God, we believe that Jesus came to free us from sin by the shedding of his blood. Some of us choose to take the "scenic" route on our journey towards God - some of us take the "freeway", some of us take "toll roads" (yes, that would be me) and some of us take the "interstate". The journey we take has heartache, destruction, construction, but it also has some joy, peace and love. When I look back at my road, I see many of these obstacles - I can point them out with perfect clarity. I can identify which ones led to the devastation of my marriage, the separation from my family and friends and the isolation I am surrounded by. But I can also identify the joys and loves I've experienced with that same intensity. I could sit and ponder the "what if's" and dream of what life would have been like had the unsettling events been smoother, but it will not change them.

We have a choice today. We have a choice to be less critical of others, to be more loving towards friends, family, co-workers and strangers. We can teach others to love Jesus by loving him in them and not feeling sorry for ourselves for what we don't have. God gives us all we need! If it's his will, it will be done, no question about it! Focus on being the teacher to those around you and at the end of the day, there will be a bright, shiny apple sitting on your desk! Be the teacher God wants you to be - teach with your heart!

(photo taken September 13, 1987)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

~ "Will the NEXT generation be prepared???"

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. (Ps 78:4)

At the Awana Conference yesterday, a question was asked: What is the one thing your can do to commit to passing your faith in Jesus Christ on to the next generation? Will you leave a living legacy to those who follow?

Jonathan Falwell, one of the speakers (and son to Jerry Falwell) encouraged us to pass on something of value; something to draw children closer to God. The single most important thing we can pass on is the word of God. We should not be afraid or ashamed to share it! We have the obligation to show them that we have a real relationship with Christ. We serve a LIVING God! We need to teach them how to live out their faith and not go through the motions. We need to be passionate about our faith!

How do we get a real relationship with Christ? It comes from absolute commitment to the word of God! There aren't any mistakes in it - it IS the word of God! The Bible is alive - it is not just a book that sits on the shelf! We need to teach them to study the word of God on their own! It needs to become a part of their daily routine, just as it should be in ours! We want them to believe that God has a plan for them and that through prayer and study, they, too, can come to know him as we do! If we fail to educate them in this, we are not doing our job! They are the future leaders of this world. They are the parents of tomorrow, the next CEO's, the next political leaders, the next preachers! Their future and the future of this world falls on us - it is our responsibility to prepare them!

Make a commitment to yourself and to God, not to mention to the children of today, that you will do something to pass on your faith in God. Give them the opportunity to know the true, living God who sent his son to shed his blood for us! Don't let them give themselves over to the enemy ~ provide them with the "armor of God" so that they can do battle against the devil! Let them be able to lift their hands in praise and share the word of God with their next generation!

AWANA is an acronym for "Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed". It is an organization whose mission is to develop spiritually strong children and youth who faithfully follow Jesus Christ. The name "AWANA" is based in 2 Tim 3:16-17.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

~ "If we've ever needed you..."

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Ps 90:12)

Nine years ago today, I got up, sent my children to school and went to work. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and we didn't have patients until the afternoon. The doctor I worked for was at a conference that morning. I didn't turn the radio on when I got to work as I normally do, I was distracted by the constant ringing of the phone. One after another, patients cancelled their appointments. The building owner burst into the office and asked me "have you heard?" I had no idea what he was talking about. "Someone flew a plane into one of the towers".

I knew those towers all too well. They could withstand a small plane crash. My ex-husband worked in the World Trade Center Towers in NYC changing "ropes" when we were dating and first married. I went back to my work. A little while later, he came back to tell me the other tower had been hit, as well as the Pentagon. With that, my co-worker called and explained the situation. I called the doctor, cancelled the rest of the appointments, closed the office and headed home.

I knew my husband was far enough away from the towers to not be in immediate danger and I knew my brother-in-law generally worked in Jersey. I arrived home and turned on the television just as the South Tower collapsed. My sister-in-law called me to tell me that she'd heard from Chuck's partner and that he was in NYC that day, but they were both fine. I went on about my day, picked up my kids from school and instructed my oldest daughter to NOT let them watch television until after I'd returned home from picking my husband up at the train station.

As he came down the steps of the train, I began to cry. I threw my arms around him and hugged him, told him I loved him and that Chuck was okay as well. We never gave it a second thought until later that evening.

Like law enforcement, when a member of the elevator industry is killed at work, you do not get a phone call. A union official shows up on your door step and you know. That was in essence what happened that Tuesday evening. When I opened the door, I knew. I called to my husband, who also knew.

Over these past 9 years, I have gone through many changes. The one thing that remains unchanged is the love I have for my brother-in-law, his wife, and his children (and now grandchild). Although, technically, they are no longer "family", I still think of them as such. I only attended the "Reading of the Names" at Ground Zero a few times, but I always watched on television. This year, I will not be watching. This year I will be doing something a little different. I will be attending a conference and learning how to better teach children that God loves them and that all he does is for them. It is so important that we spread God's love ESPECIALLY on September 11th ~ far too many people lost faith in God on that day!

God has a new direction for me. He's tasked me with spreading his word and doing his work. As I have often said, God does not take "no" for an answer. This does not mean that I miss Chuck any less or that I have forgotten him. I will NEVER forget that day, the life he led, or the joy he brought into my life. He is forever my hero!

Chuck, I don't doubt, is with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! His faith in God is what sustained us during the aftermath of 9/11. So, today, when you hit your knees, ask God to continue to watch over Chuck's family - his wife, his daughters, his son, his grandson, his son-in-law, his brother, his sisters, his father, his nieces and nephews, his sisters- and brothers- in law, and yes, even me. Today I remember the life of one man who truly lived his life as Christ would have him live it! He died saving others and his reward is heaven! God blessed me, Chuck, because you were a part of my life - you are still missed!

Friday, September 10, 2010

~ "Okay, God, I'm listening..."

The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever--do not abandon the works of your hands. (Ps 138:8)

God loves us! He has made us perfect through salvation. Only a true believer can boast of that perfection. We are not perfect on earth, but will be perfect in heaven. No matter how hard something appears, God is right there with you! We are not alone!

We cannot sit on the fence when it comes to our belief in Jesus! We either believe it all or we are doomed to suffer the fate of the unbeliever. Much of what we see and know of the miracles of Jesus are quite unbelievable (in a human sense). How could one man feed so many, heal so many and know so many? How could he walk on water? How could he change water into wine? Why does he want me to follow him?

My heart knows the love of Christ! My spirit cries out for his comfort in times of heartache. His word tells me I will be rewarded for my undying love for him. I do what I do because God asks me to! He reaches out to each of us in different ways. Some are asked to build homes for homeless, some volunteer their time giving comfort to the elderly, some shelter animals, some spend time helping children, some preach, some write.

Whatever it is that the Lord calls you to do, do it with joy in your heart. Don't grumble and complain. Go at it with the understanding that what you are doing is for him, not the praises of those around you. Be humble in your work. Your praise will come from him in his time. God's given each of us a gift. Use it to better the world around you, not for your own reward, but for his! He needs us to be his completely - not just on Sunday mornings!

Read his word - the Bible is where we find that! Listen to what he's telling you! Do what it is he's asking you! Find a routine that suits you - morning, afternoon or evening. Give him your undivided attention (after all, he gives you his). If you don't have a Bible, you have an internet (the fact that you are reading this tells me so) - google an on-line Bible. Whether you use a reading plan or just open and read is up to you. We cannot be in the word if we are in the world. There is an answer for everything in there (trust me, I've read it cover to cover several times - it's all in there).

Don't abandon your work for him because you don't have the time - there is always time for Jesus! Let his love wash over you, just as the waves wash over the shoreline. You will not be disappointed!

(photo by Christina White)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

~ "Shouda, coulda, woulda..."

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? (Ps 130:3)

I am grateful that God does not keep a record of our sins! If only we could be the same. When we are wronged, we tend to put that iniquity in a pile and save it for another time. The next time, we add to it, and continue and continue. We tell ourselves "I'm gonna give him one more chance" and then when we are hurt again - we cut the ties.

Imagine if God cut our ties. Where would we be? We can sin (and we do, over and over again), and he will continue to forgive us. We all make many mistakes in our lives. We hurt the people we love and they hurt us. It seems to be a way of life for some. The statement we make is "they'll never change". Not true. If someone comes to know the Lord, all things are possible. Change is an event that does not happen in an instant. It takes time - a four-letter word none of us likes to hear. We want everything to happen now! We sit and we pray and we wait! God teaches us patience through others. Our growth comes by waiting on him.

In the years since my divorce, I have grown. I have become someone that is pleasing to God. Sure, I stumble and struggle, but my soul has been spoken for. I'm never far from his grace or his love. I know what it is he wants from me and I comply. It's not always the easiest thing to do, but I try.

Giving myself completely to God's work has been the single most important thing I've ever done. Allowing him to work through me gives me joy that is immeasurable. Not everyone is tasked with walking away from everything they have to follow him, but those who are, know that it may not always be sunny, but it is always worth it. What I've given up for Jesus will be returned to me a hundred times over. But with that chosen path, comes temptation, anger and guilt. Each day I ask the Lord to remove these obstacles. Fortunately, God's love is stronger than Satan's desires! God may not mark our sins, but he certainly marks his children. We are the few.

Reaching our goal is as simple as waking up after a long, healthy sleep. We are rested and refreshed in the Lord every day we walk with him. And that is our goal - to walk with him, to be his, without complaint, without hesitation. Give him the chance to make the changes in your life that need to be made and you will see the changes in those around you!

(photo by Christina White)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

~ "Happy, happy, joy, joy..."

Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding. (Prov 3:13)

Wisdom is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as "the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting". It's not something we are born with. It comes from learning. How do we learn? We learn by experience, studying and doing. There are many levels of wisdom - from being smart enough to know not to touch a hot stove to the most well-known example of wisdom, cutting the child in half. We all fall into different categories. Some of us even refer to it as "common sense". I have friends who are super smart, but don't have enough sense to get out of their own way! Sometimes we all lack common sense when it comes to our spiritual life.

To be truly wise in God's word, we have to read it and study it. How can we expect to understand what it is God wants for us if we aren't? Our lives are complex and complicated right from the start. We have needs that must be met in order to maintain life. We need to eat, we need to sleep, we need to be kept warm and have shelter. The same is true of our spiritual lives. We need to be fed.

I have not always been as faithful to attending "church" as I am now. I still get my feathers ruffled from time to time and want to say "nope - doing it my way". I even play hooky occasionally and then the Lord reminds me, quite boldly, where it is I am supposed to be and why I am supposed to be there. I cannot grow if I am not fed. God enlightens preachers and speakers to share his word. What I miss when I'm not in attendance could be the sermon that changes my life, answers a prayer or opens a door. When I whine and say "but I have a right to a life, a right to be happy", I am forgetting one very important statement that follows that sentence: "but not before God's right to be happy". He doesn't owe us anything. He's already given us far more than we deserve. He's given us the gift of eternal life, through Jesus.

We need to get to a point in our lives where God truly is all we need. Until then, nothing we do will be as rewarding or fulfilling as knowing that we are pleasing to him. When I realized that I was exactly where he wanted me, a peace came over me. I don't understand the reasons why I am where I am, I don't need to. All I need to know is that I am loved and protected by the Father. My life is in God's hands. When I have a life firmly planted in faith and love, his blessings will pour down upon me in ways more perfect than I could have ever imagined. So, today, I walk a path that is narrow, but blessed. I try to do what is right in God's eyes, not society's. It's not always easy, and many of my friends just don't understand it. God has changed me; his love has changed my outlook and expectations. I am no longer the sinner I once was, although I am still a sinner. Today I choose not to be the rebel defying God's everlasting law for me and going at life with a vengeance of "he'll just have to forgive me for this" - I cannot knowingly defy God anymore.

Don't allow your grief, your hurt, or your pain to cause you to step aside from God's path. God keeps his promises! Keep yours!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

~ "Listening for God..."

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. (Ps 46:4)

In reading over the notes I take on Sunday mornings, I came across a sermon on Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9). There are three places a Christian is: In the valley, on the mountain or at the river. Our strength lies at the river. That is where Jesus is! It is at the river we decide what is important to us. Do we want to be all that we can be for God, or do we want to be busy in the world? Are we willing to tell Satan that we will "fight the good fight" of faith?

Doing what is "Godly" is probably one of the hardest things we will ever do in this life. Changing who we once were into who we are now took time and patience - only we don't see it as we go. It's not until something from our past reminds us of the lies we lived before we were HIS, do we see our own growth in the spirit. Summoning the courage and strength each day to do what is right and what is good - especially when Satan sets out to torment you and reclaim your heart. Don't be deceived by him. He is a liar and has been from the beginning. He wants only to separate you from God. He will use any and everything available to attack you - your family, your children, your loneliness, your mounting expenses and your insecurities. He wants all that we can have (in human terms, that is). His successes come from our failures. He has built an army and his weapons are greed, immorality and hatred. Do not let yourselves be taken prisoner to his lies. Even though life on this planet is hard, and cold sometimes, there is joy when you follow Christ. There is a peace that flows through you at the most difficult time and Jesus never leaves your side. I was reminded recently that although "I talk...God listens" - if I don't read his word, I can't hear his voice!

Today, all the "matters" of life surround me, but all THAT matters is that my King is with me! He expects me to go with him - no excuses!

(taken in part from a Sermon given by Pastor Charles Brooks 8/1/10)

(photo by Susan Beaver)

Monday, September 6, 2010

~ "Whistle while you work..."

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)

Working for the Lord is probably the only job that has benefits that are out of this world! When God wants you, there is nothing you can do to change his mind. He will keep at you until you give in. If you tell him "no", he'll send someone to remind you that you committed your life to him and he expects a full day's work from you. There are no days off, no holidays and IF you get paid (monetory, that is), it's not that great. You are always on call.

Being a Christian means working for Christ - spreading his word, doing his work, and doing it with a smile on your face. It's not just feeding the hungry, building shelter for the homeless, or even preaching a sermon on Sunday morning. It's living a life that exemplifies everything that IS Christ. It's going that extra mile when someone is hurting, reaching out and offering help to someone less fortunate, and remembering that everyone you meet is looking to you for guidance whether they realize it or not.

Labor Day in the United States has become a day where we celebrate with cookouts, parades, and beer. We sit around and chow down until we can't fit anything else in our stomaches and increase the revenue of the breweries by about ten percent. It's a day when we applaud ourselves for doing what we have to do day after day - work! Not all of us have that day off from our "paid" jobs; someone has to man the convenience stores, gas stations and the grocery stores for those of you who forgot to pick up the charcoal or the hamburger buns. Most of us are not complaining ~ we get time and a half for today! Some of us are grateful to actually have a job!

Today, while you're enjoying the last day of summer (technically speaking), remember to thank God for giving you the blessings of your life - your family and your friends, your home, your job! Many have none of these and yet still find something to be thankful for! Everything that comes past me is a blessing in one way or another. It may not seem like that at the time, but there is always something to be learned about what God wants from me through the people I meet and the path I walk. I'm learning that God is all I need! I never understood that until just recently. Jesus fills my life when I allow him to and until HE tells me differently, I will continue to walk in his word, work where he sees fit to use me and accept whatever it is he gives me (or doesn't give me). I am blessed!

(photo by Tracey James)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

~ "Lead me..."

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139: 23-24)

We all want to be led. As children, we asked our parents to lead us - to care for us, to provide for our needs, to love us and show us the right path to take. As wives, we ask our husbands to lead us, to provide care and comfort, to be our strength when we cannot be strong. Husbands, you also ask your wives to be care givers, and to comfort you, support you emotionally. When God is not the center of the family, it dissolves. It crumbles into a heap that cannot survive. God wants families to succeed. He wants husbands and wives to love each other, to care for each other and stand up for each other. He wants parents to prepare their children to be the future leaders of this world, to be the future teachers and preachers! He wants marriages to last, love to heal and families to be strong.

God knows your heart...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

~ "I must go down to the sea again..."

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. (Ps 107:20)

If you have ever had a storm brewing within, you will understand the calm that comes before and after. There is always pain involved but is usually emotional pain. We become twisted and aggravated, nervous and agitated and nothing stops the pounding of our hearts against our chests. We pray. We ask for patience and comfort. It comes. We manage to get through the storm and realize it was not as bad as we thought it was. But there is always the "after storm". Just as we begin to settle back in our comfort, it rises up and hits us from behind on its way out. That is the one we didn't see coming! Then we forget to pray again! We put our two cents in and..."wham"... smacked down!

Continuing to have faith that God will bring us through any and everything, no matter what, is not easy to master! I'm not sure if I'll ever truly master it! I am human, thus, I doubt. Wanting immediate relief does not help the situation either. My mother used to tell me that anything worth having was worth waiting for. But even 50 some odd years later, I still want it now, I don't want to wait! Knowing what we want and what God wants are usually two different things. He wants us to be faithful and wait on his timing for us, he wants us to be consistent, he wants us to be whole!

He will calm the storm within us, just as he calms the seas. He will answer our prayers in his own time, and yes, sometimes the answer is "no". But for what is truly his, is truly blessed by him and never will he let go, not even for a second. Have faith that he will send you a life boat and let you drift safely into his loving care.

(photo by Tracey James)

Friday, September 3, 2010

~ "the unsinkable..."

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. (Acts 27:20)

We all face storms. They are what test our faith.

While sailing to Crete, a storm arose - a "nor'easter". Any of you who live near the ocean know exactly what this is! Nor'easters cause coastal flooding, coastal erosion and hurricane force winds. While the ship was being tossed around on the sea, they continued to throw everything overboard in order to stay afloat.

They had not listened to Paul and set sail anyway (sound familiar?) But once again, God assured them, through Paul, that they would not be lost!

Our lives hold many storms - some are rain showers and others are "Category 5" hurricanes. It's how we handle the storms within that make the difference! Sometimes we have to do what does not come natural to us to avoid the failure of our faith. When I say "failure of our faith" - I'm not talking about God failing us - it's us failing! When we want so desperately to walk away and choose what is NOT of God, when we tell ourselves that "God is NOT listening", we become like that ship, tossed upon the waves, with nothing to illuminate our way and we fear we will surely perish. We float around in search of an island to run aground on, so that we can get ourselves back together again and set sail on the right course, at the right time, with the right purpose and intention.

Listen to the sound of the Lord telling you what is right and good and what you should do! He's not going to let you drown. And when the storms pass, there is usually a rainbow somewhere to remind you of that!

(A small boat on the Atlantic Ocean (broke free of it's mooring as "Earl" approaches) (photo by Celia Darrigo)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

~ "that was the sound of my integrity walking out the door..."

May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. (Ps 25:21)

"Keep me safe from myself, Lord" is the prayer of the day. Sometimes our biggest obstacle is ourselves. We have that want and that need to be part of something bigger and better, and we head out in search of it without consulting God first. He may have something else for us, but we are so caught up in what we want and think we need that we don't even bother to pray about it. Our world revolves around our own happiness (whether we want to admit it or not). There's a saying that "if mom's not happy, no one is" that hangs in a friend's kitchen. We could all apply that to our immediate needs. When we want something and don't get it, we tell others we are just "disappointed". I'm continually disappointed - in myself! I strive to be a good woman, a good mother, a good friend but mostly a good Christian. Some days are harder than other. Somedays I can't see beyond the end of my kitchen table.

But God gives us the opportunity to be his in all we do. He tells us that we belong and that all our suffering is not in vain. He will reward us in his time. If we let go of our integrity and give in to what is of the world, we will fail, and fall and become bruised and battered, not to mention, we'll be miserable. Summoning the courage to be strong in his word is not always easy. Sometimes it takes every ounce of our emotional stability to get through it. But in the end, when we have successfully completed our task, we can breathe a sigh of relief and know that we are still walking in his will.

Until that time comes, continue to pray, continue to be his in all you do! He knows how hard it is, Jesus reminds him! The trappings of the earthly world will eventually fall away and all that will be left is you and God. Better to be disappointed now, for a short while, then miserable for all eternity.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

~ "another fine mess you've gotten us into!!!"

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him. (Ps 37:39-40)

Right now I'm waiting on the Lord to deliver me from myself. We all do things that we probably shouldn't and get ourselves into a fix. But what about what we've yet to do? What about when we know the train is coming and can't get off the tracks?

I received a visit last night from my pastor. I haven't been in church for a few weeks and he was concerned. I shared with him what's been going on in my life over the past month and he reassured me that God would not abandon me. He reminded me that what I've given up to follow him will be replaced ten-fold in heaven. I am not alone!

When we get into situations and we feel the Lord has failed us, we become targets for Satan (not that we aren't targets when we're still walking the right path). Our hearts are hurting and we need comfort and it's not coming from where we need it to come. Satan sends his angels and in some instances, makes a personal appearance, in an attempt to destroy all that you have become. He twists and he turns us in such a way that we don't even realize he's doing it! Eventually we see exactly what's going on and have absolutely no idea how to undo what's been done! Now what?

Again, God knows our weaknesses too! He knows our strengths! Our faith is what will see us through (that, and perhaps a good dose of honesty and self-awareness). And what if we can't find the strength ~ I know that God will find it! He's moved in my life too many times for me to just walk away and doubt him. He's given me gifts I'd never have had if I'd stayed just an "acquaintance". So, in silence I sit and wait on his answer. Waiting up until the very last moment to be rescued is hard on the heart, but he did not send his son to die for me so that I could be left at the curb with the trash. His love will prevail!

Whatever personal battle you are fighting right now, know that God will be there, like the cavalry, to protect you, and just in the nick of time! He tends to protect his possessions better than some of us do. Ask him to remove the temptation of the flesh and replace it with the joy of the spirit! The heart knows and understands true joy! It's what comes when you know a prayer has been answered!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)