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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fire & Ice

As I sit in my kitchen at the end of my day, being warmed by a small but powerful space heater - I think about the start of my day yesterday. I woke up to go in to the office to "demolish" the Christmas set  from the stage. As I prepared to go outside, I check the weather and went back to get a thicker jacket. Walking out to my truck, I saw the familiar traces of the beginning of a Texas winter as ice formed beautiful patterns on my truck's exterior doors and windows. There was not enough to have frozen the doors shut, but definitely enough that I had to break out the ice scraper for the first time this year to clear the windows so I could create a clear space to see to drive. 


As I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed I was in desperate need of gas so off I went to fill up. I quickly discovered it was to cold to wait for the pump to decide to move fast enough to fill my tank, so I hopped back in the truck to let it finish. I sat there and saw what was left of the ice from my window rather quickly melt down the window and disappear as the sun's warm rays made themselves known.


I was struck with the thought that just as the sunlight melted away that ice that was preventing me from having a clear view of the world around me, God does that in the frozen over places in my life. I my driveway, my windows had been completely shielded from the Sun and it's warmth. They became covered and kept me from functioning, but as soon as the sun hit them, the ice began to melt and I could see again. When I hide things from the Son (or think I do), the become frozen over and can cause me to not be able to function in the way God designed my life to function. When I let the light in to expose those dark and cold spaces, His light melts away the ice and can make me whole again.


This reminds me of one of my favorites song lyrics (not a perfect analogy, but you will get the correlation):


Lord now indeed I find 
Thy power and thine alone 
Can change the lepers spots 
And melt the heart of stone 

Jesus paid it all 
All to him I owe 
Sin had left a crimson stain 
He washed it white as snow 


Lord, as I end this year of 2010, reveal the frozen/stony places in my life that keep me from being who you want me to be for your glory, honor and fame. Melt them away and make me new again.

Friday, December 24, 2010

95.3%

If you follow my blog, you know that over the last months, I have been embarking on a journey that I have never been able to complete successfully in the past. I am reading through the bible in a year. Well, with about a week left in the year - I am happy to report that I am 95.3% complete (right on track according to my reading plan in YouVersion.) 

I can tell you that the ONLY reason I have bee able to complete this task (which at times was daunting) was that I had a accountability partner. Someone who was not only on this journey with me, but got an email once a week telling her how I did. Together we are finishing this race and together we will do it again next year. So, here is my challenge - if any of you want to get in on it with us, make a comment of send me a message via Facebook or email and I will put you on a list and send out instructions. It's gonna be great!

Today, my reading took me to 2 Timothy. A letter from Paul to Timothy that was written while Paul was in prison in Asia for preaching the gospel. Timothy was a young man and Paul continually encouraged and taught him in the faith of Jesus Christ. A true "mentor-mentee" relationship. In many ways that mentor legacy still lives on, many centuries after his death, as I learn and grow from reading his words in the bible. Here is what I learned from Paul today.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21

When I read these verses I thought I knew what they meant, but just to make sure - I looked them up in some commentaries.  Here is the gist of them: In the church there are some people who are set apart to so special things, have special impact and special purposes (gold & silver). They are set apart from the crowd of people who call themselves Christians but have little to no impact for Christ in the world around them (wood & clay.) In my mind, I picture all those who look one way at church and totally different at work or at a restaurant or at home or where ever, the rest of the week. This passage says they are common.

I guess I always knew this principle, but it is the last past that really stuck out to me - "Those who cleanse themselves from the latter (being common, being like everyone else in their day to day lives) will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master (Christ) and prepared to do any good work."

I am not sure why this struck me so powerfully today. I think maybe it is because I am becoming more aware of the people around me that are quite possibly in the wood & clay category. It makes me so sad to see and yet it makes me examine myself all the more to make sure there are no places in my life that would put me into that category. I want to totally cleanse myself of those things so that when I am looked at by God, he sees me as gold & silver, set apart for a special purpose, made holy and useful to Him.

I hope that you too want to be gold & silver in the house of the Lord. I know that each and everyone of us has things in our lives that are wood & clay. Things that hold us back from being useful for Him.
My prayer is that as we close out 2010, enter 2011 and take that backward look at our lives, as we so often do this time of year - that God would show us all those things we need to "cleanse ourselves" of to be wholly useful to Him as we go forward in our faith. I pray that He would reveal to us the special purposes He has set us apart to do and that we would jump in with both feet, no matter how daunting the challenge. 

Refuse to be normal and common in 2011. If we are joining the likes of Paul and Timothy, being different is not all that bad!




Saturday, December 11, 2010

Completely Unqualified

Today's topic may seem trite and something that every believer knows deep down (or maybe even on the surface). It is something that most of us are quick to spout off in situations where we serve, and yet - I find myself one more time, acutely aware of this well known Christian mantra. 

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

A verse that many of us can say is one we actually have memorized. (That and John 3:16...) A verse that comes so easy to the tongue and yet seems so hard to actually remember to live out.

Today, I find myself once again in that place of stepping back and looking at the tasks that God has set before me and being a little more than overwhelmed. Being a wife and mother. Programming services for a fairly large (comparatively speaking) suburban church who is poised on the brink of multiplication, which no doubt will effect the scope of my job. Leading the fledgling Internet Campus we have just birthed to reach people for Christ that traditional church may not reach. Growing and mentoring the people God has placed in my life for that purpose. Etc. Etc. Etc. 

Today, I step back and look at what is sure to be only a partial list and realize a fresh that what I so quickly take on as things I can do in my own strength - I actually can't do by myself at all and have it be worth anything. I am unsure why, apart from my humanity, I ever fall back in to this place of self-sufficiency, because it always ends the same way. God gently, or sometimes not so gently, reminding me that I am just not as good as I think I am and I need His help.

Today, I cry out with fresh abandon and conviction the words of Philippians 4:13 and say "God, I know I can do all things ONLY through YOU who gives me strength."

Are there things that you need to surrender today that you have been trying to do in your own power. Join me now in giving them over to the Lord to do in His power.



Friday, November 12, 2010

No Greater Love...

Today is national "To Write Love on Her Arm" day. To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. You can find out more about this organization here. Anyway, the idea is for people to actually write the word LOVE on their arm somewhere and wear it all day today, till noon tomorrow as a conversation starter about this issue and as a reminder this problem exists. For me , it is also a reminder to pray for people who struggle on a daily basis with these issues. 
Today in my bible reading, I was reminded of the truest example of writing "love" on ones arms - Jesus Christ. Still today, he bears the scars on his wrists of the ultimate love, a man who laid down his very life for all of these things we struggle with in our very sin-filled world. 
I know that God brings people into my life who have faced or are facing today issues like this. I admit, that sometimes I wonder what I can do to help? I have no personal experience with these issues, I am a busy mother of 4, etc. etc. etc. Then I remember what the Bible says in the book of John:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends John 15:13


If God sees fit to bring these hurting ones into my life, then I will lay down my time, my wants, my self to show His love to them. It's not to much to ask when Jesus endured so much to write "Love" on his arms for me. 
So today, as I look at the word Love written on my wrists, I not only pray for those who struggle to make it through each day, but I remember that Jesus is the only one who can truly heal them of their pain and I pray that they would embrace the true love that only He can give. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Procrastinate No More!

There is a bumper sticker that I see periodically that really identify with. It says: Procrastinators Unite! - Tomorrow... I chuckle to myself every time I see it because that can be so true in my life. I also must admit that I think I have passed that mutated gene to my offspring. (so sorry kids!) I have learned over the years to overcome that weakness in many areas of my life, but I tend to live by the motto "Why do today, what can be put off till tomorrow." In case you are wondering, it doesn't usually work out very well.

So it begs the question, "Why do I do this?" Fear, laziness, dread, indifference, a combination of all of those and more... So NOT a becoming characteristic! It is something about myself that I really don't like and strive to change when ever I realize I am doing it. 

This morning in my bible reading, I was challenged by this passage (the whole chapter really):

Blessed are those slaves whom their master finds alert when he returns! I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, have them take their place at the table, and will comet and wait on them!  Even if he comes in the second or third watch of the nights and finds them alert, blessed are those slaves! Luke 12: 37-39


Blessed are those He finds alert when He comes back. The scripture around this particular set of verses add to the challenge for me (you should go read it all!) It is talking about a tree that was planted and nourished in the field but year after year did not produce any fruit. The field owner eventually says to cut it down and not waste any more food and soil nutrients. OUCH!

A person who comes to Christ and receives His grace and salvation but then doesn't go on to live their lives sold out for Christ is like that tree. It was not for lack of time and energy spent helping that tree be healthy, the one given the job to tend the field worked hard to help that tree be healthy and produce fruit, but the tree did not cooperate. 

How like that we as believers can be at times and to varying degrees. Some that I can see in my minds eye right now, have said they are a believer - and yet through their actions outside of the actual church building, show no real evidence of that. Some have been asked to do things with their lives to advance the kingdom and yet have chosen, for what ever reason, to not fulfill that calling placed on their lives. I am sure their are people who fall into those categories and a whole bunch in between. 

The verses above in Luke 12 talk about being hard at work and ready doing what Christ has asked you to do in your life when He returns, which could be at any time. If He returns and catches you off guard and not doing what He has given you to do in your lifetime, you will answer for it.

I am not trying to cast stones here, I look can see some of myself in there as well and I am not proud of it. I know that as passionate as I am about being an All In follower of Christ, there are areas in my life that I am slacking in. Why do I do this? Why do I hold anything back? Why do I procrastinate when I know God only has His best in mind for my life if I would only obey? Well, the answer to that is something that I am dealing with in my own heart, but I ask you to look at your own life right now, in this moment. Are there areas He is convicting you of?

  • Maybe He has called you to take the very first step in following Him and get rid of things in your life that would influence you to turn away from Him.
  • Maybe He has given you a specific task to do, place to serve or person to be a witness to but you are afraid.
  • Maybe He has given you a family to lead, and you have just not been able to step up and lead strongly because you just don't know how.
  • Maybe you are a full time, wife and mommy who just doesn't have any time.
The bible is full of stories of ordinary people, just like you and me, who struggled with the same things we struggle with, wanting to put off really serving God until they had everything in their life exactly the way they thought it should be. God is not unaccustomed to helping people overcome the obstacles you think are standing in your way. He will be faithful, like He always is, to help you become the healthy, fruit bearing tree He desires you to be if you will only let Him. 

Just say "YES" to Him today. If you are not sure what He has in mind for you, or think He can't use you - you underestimate the power of our God to show Himself to you and use you in a mighty way.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Insert "Pithy" Title Here

Sorry folks, this morning I just don't seem to have wit flowing from my finger tips. I am just flat burdened! In my Bible reading this morning I read this:

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Luke 10:2

I am reminded once again how desperately people we come in contact with every single day need Jesus! If I believe what I say I do, why I am so hesitant to share the only solution to life's issues that anyone will ever need?

The verse above says "laborers" are few - I guess that would mean it is not going to be easy. Labor is hard. 

But it also says that the harvest is plentiful! I saw this picture and think of row after row of wheat just waiting to be picked and used to feed people. What a brilliant picture Christ painted with that analogy - row and row of people waiting to be gathered into the Kingdom and used to feed others.

But I know that harvesting a field like this takes time and energy. If the worker chooses not to work in the field, the wheat will eventually die. The same goes for people, except it is eternity at stake. 

I believe that God has given us each a field to work in. He has entrusted it in to our care to care for and nurture so that the harvest can take place in the lives of those in our field. Do you know what your field is? What is it looking like? Healthy and well maintained, ready for harvest or sick and dying because you have not shared with it the nutrients it needs for eternal life.

Let me share with you a little bit about my field. A few years ago, God began to burden me with using my social media to witness to those I came in contact with. For the most part it has been done through the posting of spiritual thoughts and verses and hoping to spark some discussion or at least give people something to think about. 
More recently, he has seen fit to plant me smack in the middle of the field (more like a maze some days) to coordinate the launch of Christ Fellowship Online - an internet church. My hope and prayer is that the truth spoken will spread like wild fire to all those who are searching the internet daily for answers and finding only futility. 

I am not totally sure what I am doing at times (a tech head I am NOT), and when I step back and look at the size of this particular field I am easily overwhelmed by the work that is going to be involved - but only when I look at it through my own eyes. With Christ, all things are possible!

God has stirred the hearts of others who would come along side in this vast field and help with the labor, for which I am truly grateful, but more are needed. We need volunteers to make the internet church services "go" and we need people who are willing to share what God is doing with Christ Fellowship online with their friends who need Jesus. If you want to find out more about how you can  be part of the harvest in this field - shoot me a comment or email at jtouchberry@mcfbc.org.

Ask God where you are supposed to work today and go labor there. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Need a Little Help Here

I haven't written in a while. I guess maybe because I have not had a lot to say. Usually I write when I read something in my quiet time that stirs my heart, or I feel God impressing something on me to share. Today I had one of those moments. 

I had dropped the last of the kids off at school for the day and I was on my way to work. This drive is not long, only about 5 minutes. I am a creature of habit (so I've been told) and I usually go the same route. Today was no different. On my drive I pass though mostly residential neighborhoods but don't usually come across many people - I guess because of the time of the morning, but today God wanted my attention.

On my way to work there is a section of road that has a hill, not a huge one in a car but for the little girl riding her bike to school, it was obvious it was a bit of a struggle. She was, in my estimation, probably about 7 or 8 and she was laden with a rather large back pack full of her school supplies which I am sure added to her struggle. Her father was riding his bicycle along side her to ensure her safety on their short journey. When he sensed her struggling, he came along side her on his bike and put his strong hand on the center of her backpack and just gave an extra bit of "umph" so that she could make it up the hill.

God had started the wheels turning. But if that one picture was not enough, I continued on a few more blocks and came across another little girl even smaller than the first one, also sporting a rather large backpack relative to her size. This one was trying desperately to get into her families SUV with little success. Once again, along came her father making ready her seat, and helped her achieve her goal.

Not one but two examples of the same thing within 2 minutes of each other. OK God, I get it.

What a beautiful reminder that when I struggle appears to be a steep hill in my life or come across what seems to be an impossible task, my Father in heaven is there right long side me to give me that extra push needed or to lift me up when I don't have the strength on my own.

Why do you say, Israel, 
“The Lord is not aware of what is happening to me,
My God is not concerned with my vindication”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is an eternal God,
the creator of the whole earth.
He does not get tired or weary;
there is no limit to his wisdom.
He gives strength to those who are tired;
to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.
Even youths get tired and weary;
even strong young men clumsily stumble.
 
But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings,
they run without growing weary,
they walk without getting tired.

Isaiah 40:27-31

So are you like the little girls I saw today, needing a bit of extra help fro your Father to make it through? I know I am! The great thing is that He is faithful to give us the help if we will only ask. He is there right beside us, just waiting... 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dry Bones Come to Life!

In my daily reading I came across, once again, a passage of scripture in Ezekiel that struck my heart today. Rarely do I copy large sections of scripture for you to read, but this one paints a picture you should not miss. Read on:

A Valley of Dry Bones - Ezekiel 37

1 The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones.2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.3 Then he asked me, "Son of man, can these bones become living people again?"
  "O Sovereign Lord ," I replied, "you alone know the answer to that."
  4 Then he said to me, "Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, `Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord !5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord .'"  7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons.8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.  9 Then he said to me, "Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, `This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.'"  10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

Do you ever feel like you are lying in a valley and are nothing more than a heap of dry bones? No life breath left in you? Stripped of all that made you worth anything to anyone?

Well I do!

But this passage of scripture gives me hope! 

As I close my eyes and picture this vision that God gave to Ezekiel, the sheer power of the Lord and His words wash over me again. These dry bones heard the words of the Lord and came back to life. His words put flesh back on the bones and caused life giving breath to be in their bodies once again. But it doesn't stop there. 

The last line of verse 10 doesn't say that they went about their mundane, everyday lives - it says they became a great army! An ARMY!

When I really dig in to God's word and breath in the life that they afford to me, I feel strong and able to conquer the world. I certainly don't feel that way on my own, especially when I am not hearing His life giving words.

God's word helps you conquer _____________ (you fill in the blank). He WILL take your dry bones and give them life once again, but you have to be in His word to hear them, to absorb them, to breathe them in and to let them permeate your being. 

Breathe them in today. 

If you need some accountability, start a reading plan on Youversion. It's free and you can list someone to get emails of your reading progress. If you don't have anyone to be accountable to - feel free to put my name in there (jtouchberry@mcfbc.org). Do what ever it takes to fill yourself with His words of life once again!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Taking for Granted

In my bible reading right now, I am in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet during the time when the Israelites were taken captive by the Babylonians. Most of the book is God telling Ezekiel to tell the people how angry He was with them for turning away from Him and seeking other gods, etc.

It struck me today that we, as new covenant believers, really take for granted what the blood of Jesus has done for us. So many times we forget what the wrath of God looks like because we choose to "camp out" reading the books of the Bible that make us feel comfortable with their portrayal of God. He is our "friend" and "God is love". Yes and yes - but good grief, spend a little time reading the prophets in the old testament and you will see the holy wrath side of God that makes me shudder to my core. God is the same today as He was then, our sins have just been covered by the blood of Christ so God's wrath is appeased. If not, I know I would have been  removed from this earth by God's wrath a long time ago. 

So today, I am once again struck by the power of the blood of Christ and it's ability to cleanse a sinner like me and turn me in to someone that can boldly approach the throne of God. 
Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see.

Lord, today I thank you for the merciful sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf. Once again, all I can do is give my life back to You. Do with me as you will. I am Yours!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I love you! (now be condemned to hell)

Thought that title might get your attention. God has really been messing with me the last 36 hours about this topic. Here's the short back story...

I have a good friend, whom I love dearly, who invited me to take a look at a conversation that had been taking place via Facebook feed arguing religion. This friend takes more of a Universalist approach to god and spirituality - kind of "as long as a person is sincerely searching for some form of Deity, a loving god would let them spend eternity together" type thinking. 

After several posts back and forth, I felt like I was not getting anywhere, so I wrote, "I think you are in a place where you have your heals dug in and no matter what is said, you will just argue your point. You know what I believe and I think I get what you believe and the two are not the same. At some point, we will know we were either right or wrong. I do hope that you know that just because someone doesn't believe the same as I do, doesn't mean I don't love them. I love you!" End of discussion, right?

Well God woke me up at about 2:30 the next morning and really convicted me that really what I was saying with that statement is "I love you - but I am not willing to keep arguing the truth with you until you are no longer destined for hell." Harsh,  right?  No - SPOT ON!

I do not want my friend to spend eternity outside the presence of God. How many other people that I love fall in to this category. We agree to disagree and just don't discuss it. How selfish of me! Do I really LOVE these people or just give it lip service, because I am pretty sure that a love that would allow a friend to spend eternity in hell because it is to hard to keep talking about differences in  belief is not the kind of love I am called to have as a follower of Jesus Christ. 

In my Bible reading I just began the book of Lamentations. The children of Israel had been exiled to Babylon and after so many years hearing the voice of God through the prophets (and taking that for granted), He fell silent. It broke my heart this morning to read the pleas to hear God again. They felt abandoned and lost and alone. They cried out in anguish and got no response. 

I can't even imagine that in my worst night mares. Being separated from God - well my mind can't wrap around that. But that is what people are destined for in hell. The absence of God. Totally gone. No evidence of Him at all. Does anyone deserve that?

The Bible calls me to lay down my life for my friends, that's a pretty tall order, but if it means that my friends won't have to spend eternity in a vacuum of Godlessness - that I am willing to fight for! Lord give me the courage and the words...

Who do you need to start (or finish) a conversation with today?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Habakkuk & God - A Conversation

In my Uversion reading plan of reading the Bible through in a year, I am officially 63.3% complete. YAY! It seems however, that as I read books are being added to the old testament. Even though it is August and I have been at this since January 1, alas - I am still in the old testament. I do enjoy the old testament. In fact if someone had asked me a year ago, I would have said that I preferred it. But as I have dug in to it this year I am finding myself longing to get through it and in to the new testament. I long to get past the stories of the wrath of God (which is all deserved - don't get me wrong) and be refreshed by the stories of the way God provided to escape that wrath, my Jesus!

A bit if a tangent to start, sorry! Anyway - today I read the book of Habakkuk. A short 3 chapters about a prophet of the Lord crying out to Him while the Israelites were in exile in Babylon asking how much longer they would be there.

Three things struck me as I read this morning:
1 - Habakkuk the Prophet was a singer. at the beginning of Chapter 3 it says "This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk" At the end of chapter 3 it has this note "(For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)" I LOVE THAT!!!

2- Habakkuk remembered that even though he and his people were exiled and in misery, God is sovereign and deserved to be praised. 
 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord ! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! 3:17-18

3 - Habakkuk was totally plugged in to God. This book is written as a call and answer, a conversation if you will. Habakkuk asks a question and God literally answers him. Even tells him to write it all down so nothing gets confused as the message is spread to others. I love the picture of Habakkuk sitting by his table with a lamp burning, quill in hand just waiting for the Lord to respond to his cries. Waiting because he knows the response will come.

Daily I need to remember that if I cry out to my father, he is faithful to answer. I just have to be in tune with Him enough to hear it instead of going about my busy day wondering why I haven't heard anything yet. It reminds me of times I am expecting an important phone call and at the end of the day am a little ticked that the person hasn't called, yet when I look at my phone - I realize I was so busy with my "stuff" I didn't hear it ring and I missed it. UGH! I do that. Sorry God!

Oh how I long for a relationship with God that is close enough I can hear his words clearly and write them down. To have a two-way conversation. I know I can have that, in fact, God is waiting for me to just ask Him for it. I just have to be willing to do what it takes. Stop rushing through my day to the next thing. Stop checking off  my Bible reading, proud that I am one day closer to my "goal".  (now that I am typing that - how disgusting it sounds. Having the "goal" of reading the words of God instead of counting it a privilege that He would even want to speak to me in that way!) Stop filling my life with so much noise that I can't even hear Him when He tries to speak. 

Some days I do better than others on that front, but I am wanting needing it more. I'm going for it! How about you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just to Busy!

Just to busy! I say those words all to often. But in actually living them, how much do I miss? As a busy mom of 4 and wife and full time ministry gal - the word busy fits my life. I like my life busy. I find comfort in that busy place. In fact, I would go as far as to say, I don't know what to do with myself when I am not busy. Down time is not usually my friend. 

I am not saying that much will change in the near future. To many kids to taxi and functions to attend and things to create to reach people for Jesus. But I read a blog post from the amazing Los Whit that made me wonder how many small gifts from God I miss because I am not looking for them amid the busyness.

While washing the dishes, do I pay attention to the sweet interaction my children are having with each other? While driving yet again from here to there, do I see the amazing cloud formation or the sliver of a moon that God put in the sky to help me remember He is all around me? While planning yet another worship service, do I see the hand of God moving my fingers to type a particular name or moving my heart to a particular song? 

Repeat after me - "Today I will pay attention to the little gifts God gives me throughout the day that always lead me back to Him." (and then tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next...) 

Notice, Marvel, Thank, Repeat. Notice, Marvel, Thank, Repeat. Notice, Marvel, Thank, Repeat. This is one OCD tendency I would like to nurture in myself.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Jesus Really All That Great?


Shocking title I know. That is kind of the point. The shock value of that statement made by someone who claims to love Jesus with all their heart is high. It was hard to even type it.  But as I read my Bible in the comfort of my home this morning, as I pour over my music that I will bring as an offering to the God I love so desperately this coming Sunday, this is the question that came to my mind.

Is Jesus really all that great? Because most of the time, we sure don't act like it. 

I was at a conference last week and heard the story of a woman (Christine Caine) who has been called to start a ministry to rescue other women from the sex trade. (more about A21 here) She told the horrific story of a girl who had been held captive and taken to another country for the purpose of working in a red light district. This girl was one of the few who even survived the journey. She was eventually rescued from the sex trade and brought to a safe house where she encountered Christine who told her about Jesus. 

Wonderful you might say! Well, yes it is wonderful. But the girls response? "If your Jesus is so great, why did it take you so long to get here?"

I heard another story from someone just getting back from a mission trip to the jungles of Africa (literally.) They went to tell people who had probably never of heard of Him, about Jesus. When speaking to one woman about Christ and His plan of salvation, they ask her if she would like to accept Him into her life and her Lord and Savior. Her response? "Yes! I have just been waiting for someone to come and tell me how."

For me, both of those stories bring deep sorrow and conviction because more often than not, I am the one who is taking to long or waiting to tell someone about my Jesus that they so desperately need. 

It seems such an obvious thing - share the one who saved your life with anyone around you who will listen. And yet we keep silent out of fear or embarrassment, or a host of other reason we have on a long list of bad ones. 

I don't know about you, but I am always eager to hear a great story. We are transfixed by the story on the news of the man who risked his life for a total stranger by pulling them out of a burning house. We stop what we are doing to listen to the story of the hero who foiled the armed robbery with a selfless act of bravery. If you were the one in those stories who was rescued - you would be more than willing to sing the praises of your hero to anyone who would listen out of gratitude. Right?

I had the privilege of being a part of the filming of  of some awesome stories last week. Stories that made me laugh and made me cry (always the sign of a good story - right?) Stories of people whose lives have been saved. Stories of people who had no hope and now do. I am so very grateful that they decided to share their stories with me. 

Each of us has a story. I look at my story compared to some and tend to minimize the value of it because in my eyes, it is not as dramatic as some. I am coming to find that thinking that thought is toxic to me and those that God has put in my life. Just because I was not rescued from the sex trade or some other tragic situation does not minimize my story of redemption. I am a sinner, saved from a future that I surely deserved, given the gift eternal life with my Jesus forever.

I say that I believe that Jesus is "all that great" but when I hide his redemptive work in my life by not telling my story, I have to ask myself if I really believe that. 

Someone needs to hear my story because it will speak to them and maybe, just maybe show them that what they need in their life is Jesus. So I will speak my story boldly and ask God to use it for His glory. 

What is your story? It is the most important story that someone will hear for the one who needs YOU to tell it to them. 

Tell your story to someone today, they might have been waiting for you!





Thursday, July 15, 2010

Idol Worshiper? Who? Me?

I like nice things. Who doesn't, right? In the society that we live in today, "things" abound. Cars, homes, things that fill the homes, clothes from Buckle (it's my fav.) 

So the question today is this... when does having nice things become serving nice things and count as worshiping idols instead of God? This questions plagued me after my bible reading today in Kings.  Quick back story:

The Children of Israel just can't seem to consistently get it right. They see the power of the Lord, they have a good king who serves the Lord and tears down all their foreign idols and they get back on the right track, then they get a bad king and they let other idols creep in again and down the path of God's anger they go. It really was a vicious cycle with these people. Kind makes me sick to read it. 

2 Kings 17:41 says: So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children's children--as their fathers did, so they do to this day.

It's that first line that got to me - "so they feared the Lord and ALSO served their carved images."
Do I do that? Serve the Lord and also serve the other "things" I hold important in my life.

I fear my answer is yes if I am honest. It is not purposeful, but I know it happens. 

Thinking hard on it makes my stomach turn. I have no desire to serve anything or anyone but the Lord, and yet our world creeps in and "things" take over the number one spot in my mind for a time. I can come up with excuses to make it seem not so bad, but in God's eyes - if something has taken His place in my life even for a moment, He is jealous and grieved. 

I am bought with a price. The precious price of God's only son and that makes me worth something to Him. Certainly worth more than any "thing" I have bought with a price. (TV, clothes, house, car, whatever...)

So I pose the question to you again: when does having nice things become serving nice things and count as worshiping idols instead of God?

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves in the comment section,  hopefully after you have done a little self examination.

No Other Gods

©1993 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing
Words and Music by Brian Doerksen

Lord, break the power of idols 
Come and rule as king
Break the chains that bind us 
Come and rule as king

We will have no other gods
We will serve no other master but you
We will have no other gods
For it is written, worship the Lord, your God
and serve him only

 
 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Solitude and Fresh Eyes

Going on a "working vacation" with your husband who works 50 hours during the  week and without your kids leaves a bit of alone time. I must admit that after 20 years of having children, I had forgotten what alone time was like. And I was not crazy thinking about having 7 days of it. But now that the time is drawing to an end, I have appreciated being thrust into it kicking and screaming. I believe God has spoken to me during this time and for that I am deeply grateful. 

Today, as I am working on the creative stuff for our fall series at church, I came across an email from Bob, who suggested a song for that series. I was familiar with the song but had not heard it in 20 years or so. As I looked it up on Youtube and began to listen - tears welled up in my eyes as the words sunk in deeply to my heart. 

I tend to go through my day, week, month year with not near enough thought to the enormity of the God I serve. The Jesus I am so in love with. The Holy Spirit that moves me.  I believe that the trinity of God, 3 in 1, become so familiar that I just get way to comfortable and begin to take Him for granted. 

While I believe like Abraham that we can be called the friend of God (James 2:23), God is also to be treated with awe and a holy fear. (Psalm 25:14)
While Jesus called the little children to his knee (Matthew 19:13), he also threw the money changers from the temple with a righteous anger. (John 2:13-15)
While the Holy Spirit is in us (1 Cor. 6:19), we are not to grieve Him, which I am sure I do without thinking on a daily basis. (Eph. 4:30)

So today, I listened to this songs with open ears and a tender heart and asked that God would reveal Himself to me in a new and amazing way. I hope He will do the same for you. What a MIGHTY GOD I serve. If you don't know Him, send me a message - i would be more than happy to introduce you!!

The Lion and the Lamb (you can listen here)

Who is He...The mightiest of all
Who is He...Creation trembles at His call
Who is He...The lowly sacrifice, who paid a victims price
His name is Jesus

Jesus...From the Father's own right hand
Jesus...Son of God and son of man
Jesus...Who died and rose again
Jesus...He's the Lion and the Lamb

Who is He...With the power none can tame
Who is He...That every foe would fear his name
Who is he...Who was humbly led away, to suffer that dark day
His name is Jesus

He's the lion and the lamb

He's the Lamb that was slain
He's the Lion that reigns
My Savior and King both the same

Who is He...With the eyes that burn like fire
Who is He...Oh the wonder He inspires
Who is He...Who bore the guilt and shame
For those who've gone astray
His name is Jesus

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Feasting in Arizona

I have a love/hate relationship with food. I love to eat it but hate to see the scale go up after I have consumed what I probably should not have. Vacations especially seem to exacerbate this issue. Not having to cook is a huge plus, but being in a hotel room where there is not refrigerator to store the "dogie bag" with the lefts overs kind of makes me want to clean my plate. (I am a bit scared to get on the scale when I return.)

Today alone I have been overtaken by the goodness of In-N-Out burger, which in my humble opinion is one of the greatest burgers known to man, AND my new found dessert love - a chocolate chocolate chip cake from a bakery called Nothing Bundt Cakes. You should totally look it up!!! Feast your eyes on the yumminess!

So it started my mind thinking about how many times I get wrapped up with the things of this earth that I think can not be topped and forget how much better the things God has waiting for me in heaven are. While I hope and pray there is an In-N-Out as well as a Nothing Bundt Cakes right down the golden street from my mansion in heaven, I know that the food at the wedding feast of the lamb will be so much more than my mind can even grasp. Why do I keep fixating on what can never satisfy me? How we should all long for the day that everything on earth will be eclipsed by His glory and nothing else will matter. Not even a burger and cake!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new. Also he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. Revelation 21:3-5

Monday, July 5, 2010

Music - The Language of the Soul

Yesterday I had the pleasure of touring the Music Instrument Museum in Scottsdale AZ. Going in I was not sure quite what to expect. You know "museums", they tend to either be done really well or really badly. This one was a pleasant surprise. The building itself is a work of art and the contents are truly amazing. (Sorry I couldn't get a real photo)



Needless to say, for a musician, I was in a little bit of heaven for 2 hours. The experience included personalized headphones so that you could not only see but hear many of the instruments from literally around the world. They have rooms representing all of the continents and then broken down by county. I am not sure how many different instruments are contained in this building, but it is a true treasure.

My son has been talking about creating his own see-through guitar since he was about 8. Well, guess what I found? Sorry to burst his bubble about not being the first one to think of is - but it was really cool! I think one of the things that struck me most is that people truly make music on what ever is available. I saw some of the strangest instruments, things that most of us would not even put in the classification of an instrument and yet, here they were in a museum with a collection of some of the "finest" instruments in the world. Old gas cans, pop bottle tops, gourds, bent pieces of metal, wood, nylon, horse hair, skins, I could go on... One of the coolest things I saw was an electric guitar made in Africa from old gas cans with what we would term a "modern guitar neck." Sorry I don't have a picture (camera battery died), but not only did it look cool - it sounded AMAZING!! Whoda thunk? 



I will also include pics of two of the most "unusual" (for lack of a better word) instruments I saw. One made from a human tibia bone - you blew into that one - GROSS! and one made from a bull scrotum and bone. NICE! And I am not sure exactly how you play that one  kinda don't want to know. People across the world truly make music with what ever they have available to them. It kind of solidified my thinking that whether you consider yourself musical or not - music is in everyone of us. God put it there.

Music is a powerful thing. When listening to all the music from around the world, I was struck by the passion that was in it all. Without a spoken word, it had the power to convey joy, anger, sadness, hope and so many more emotions. I found myself laughing with the people in Africa as the celebrated, tense with the people of Samoa as they reenacted the Haka war dance and cry as I was moved by one of the most beautiful symphonic pieces I have ever heard. It made me really think about how narrowed my musical taste has become and long to branch out to give my spirit room to soar. 

I was also reminded about how the spoken word added to instruments can add power and move people. Many cultures that I had the privilege of catching a glimpse of used the spoken word added to music to pass stories down from generation to generation to instill values and keep the culture alive. Once again it reinforced that as a worshiper, I must KNOW the one I am singing and believe the words I am singing with my whole heart for it to hold the power that it should. 

With the power that music has been given by it's ultimate Creator, it is not wonder that it is to music I so often look for comfort, for healing, for joy and for inspiration. May your day be full of music that fuels your soul and allows it to sing to the glory of the one who gave you the song. I know mine will be!