Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'm here in Suffolk for a few days with my best friend from high school and her family. They live in a lovely house near some water and it's probably the most restful place I have been in a long time. No one is asking anything of me, no one is even sitting with me right now and it's pretty fantastic! Now, don't get me wrong, I love my home, my friends, and those God has peopled my life with, but sometimes you just need to rest. This summer is me learn how to rest and how to really let God have my time and use it how He wants to, not just how I have filled me schedule. So be prepared to read lots of posts on resting in the midst of whatever I'm doing. Next week, I'll be able to blog more about what's going on and specifically how God's been dumping buckets full of blessings and love on my undeserving head. But back to now...

I sat this morning on my friend's back porch and just sat. I smelled the scent of flowers wafting through the air, the water nearby giving off it's particular aroma, and I listened to the birds chirp their happy songs of praise to their creator. Even Christy's dog was happy. It's just beautiful. And I can sit and listen and smell and just be. I took a moment and smiled and thanked my God for this precious time of rest and reflection of His creation that I wouldn't have gotten had I stayed home. Below is the scripture I was led to read and yes, it also spoke to me and showed me how important resting on God really is. 

Psalm 30 (New International Version)

 1 I will exalt you, O LORD, 
       for you lifted me out of the depths 
       and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

 2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help 
       and you healed me.

 3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; 
       you spared me from going down into the pit.

 4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; 
       praise his holy name.

 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, 
       but his favor lasts a lifetime; 
       weeping may remain for a night, 
       but rejoicing comes in the morning.

 6 When I felt secure, I said, 
       "I will never be shaken."

 7 O LORD, when you favored me, 
       you made my mountain stand firm; 
       but when you hid your face, 
       I was dismayed.

 8 To you, O LORD, I called; 
       to the Lord I cried for mercy:

 9 "What gain is there in my destruction, 
       in my going down into the pit? 
       Will the dust praise you? 
       Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

 10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; 
       O LORD, be my help."

 11 You turned my wailing into dancing; 
       you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

 12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. 
       O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Friday, May 29, 2009

This song won't leave me

Ancient Skies

by Michael Gungor Band

You have never changed
Your love is endless and Your mercy has remained
Through all the ages, You shine so bright
Nothing can compare
You made the heavens and Your glory fills the air
Through all the ages You ride the ancient skies

And You ride the ancient skies
You’re amazing
Creation cries, so will I

Now we stand amazed
And now we sing the word they sang in ancient days
A single word that’s overflowing endless praise


Give it a rest!

Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. —Genesis 2:3 From the very beginning, rest has had a special significance for God. God rested, and He made the seventh day a day of rest for us as well (Exodus20:8-11).

So the Lord said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.” —Numbers 11:16-17

Pushing hard with many hours and demands can become counterproductive. We need to set boundaries around our time and energy to protect ourselves. God is aware of our limitations and encourages us to lighten the load by delegating responsibility to others who can help us be more productive and effective. We should consider our responsibilities and how we can delegate to others in order to get the job done.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31

Isaiah reminded God’s people of the value of waiting upon the Lord. “Waiting” does not mean inactivity; rather, it is patient service that is not over committed and overextended.

Many desire to “mount up with wings like eagles,” but they assume that the harder they run the more likely they will fly. The harder people run the more likely they will fall. Instead, “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” Such “waiting” is the antidote for spiritual burnout.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. —Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus says that He will take from our shoulders the heavy burdens that are burning us out, and replace them with an easy yoke, a light burden. Jesus is in touch with the burdens of life that we carry and how much they hurt and exhaust us. When we give our troubled hearts to Him, He gives us rest for our souls. That kind of rest will cure our burnout and renew our enthusiasm for Him.

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. —Mark 6:31-32

Even our Savior, being God, was aware of His human limitations. He never seemed to be in a hurry; He didn’t work 24-hour days. Even as more and more people crowded to Him to hear His words and be healed, He would often withdraw into the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:15-17). After an exhausting time of ministry, Jesus invited His disciples to take a break in order to refresh themselves. A hectic schedule takes a physical, emotional, and spiritual toll on us. God knows that we need to come aside and rest a while so that we don’t burn out. He will refresh us so that we can continue to serve Him.

Rest and refreshment is not wasted time.

Focus on the Task at Hand

by Max Lucado

Life is tough enough as it is. It's even tougher when we're headed in the wrong direction.

One of the incredible abilities of Jesus was to stay on target. His life never got off track. Not once do we find him walking down the wrong side of the fairway. He had no money, no computers, no jets, no administrative assistants or staff; yet Jesus did what many of us fail to do. He kept his life on course.

As Jesus looked across the horizon of his future, he could see many targets. Many flags were flapping in the wind, each of which he could have pursued. He could have been a political revolutionary. He could have been a national leader. He could have been content to be a teacher and educate minds or to be a physician and heal bodies. But in the end he chose to be a Savior and save souls.

Anyone near Christ for any length of time heard it from Jesus himself. "The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them" (Luke 19:10). "The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people" (Mark 10:45).

The heart of Christ was relentlessly focused on one task. The day he left the carpentry shop of Nazareth he had one ultimate aim--the cross of Calvary. He was so focused that his final words were, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

How could Jesus say he was finished? There were still the hungry to feed, the sick to heal, the untaught to instruct, and the unloved to love. How could he say he was finished? Simple. He had completed his designated task. His commission was fulfilled. The painter could set aside his brush, the sculptor lay down his chisel, the writer put away his pen. The job was done.

Wouldn't you love to be able to say the same? Wouldn't you love to look back on your life and know you had done what you were called to do?

Great House of GodFrom
Let the Journey Begin:
God's Roadmap for New Beginnings

© (J Countryman 2009) Max Lucado

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Habitat for Humanity

by Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty" (Zechariah 4:6 NIV).

Friend to Friend
It was the incompetent and the inexperienced being led by the inept -- the day our Sunday School Class worked on the Habitat for Humanity house for an unsuspecting, extremely grateful Vietnamese family. Among the crew were two dentists, an investment banker, a lawyer, an engineer, two pastors, a receptionist, several homemakers and a marriage counselor. It's always good to have a marriage counselor on hand when a home improvement project is taking place.

The one-thousand square foot, vinyl siding house had already been framed by a team the week before. Today was sheetrock, or drywall day. The site supervisor's name was TA. That's all the information he gave -- just TA. TA became a Christian one Easter when he reluctantly agreed to go to church with his praying wife.

"I never went to church," he told my husband. "I was a mean man who worked seven days a week. But one Sunday I put on a suit and told my wife, 'I'm going to church with you today, but don't ask me to do it again. This is a onetime deal.' But Jesus saved my soul that day and I've been livin' for Him ever since."

That was TA. A country carpenter who had hammered more nails for Jesus than Noah and his son's put together. He grabbed his clipboard and began.

"Does anyone here know anything about dry wall?" he asked.

Jeff reluctantly raised his hand.

"OK, you'll be a team leader." TA checked the list and moved right along.

"But that was thirty years ago when I was in college," Jeff clarified.

"You'll be fine," TA said as he waved his hand. "Like riding a bike."

I could tell you many stories of the day filled with wacky work and lively laughter laced with caring community, but let me share just one.

Palmer was part of the sheetrock team. Like Rambo, he wielded his screw gun and popped those babies in the sheetrock like a hot knife through butter. Piece of cake. After several hours of neck craning, screw popping, dust in your eyes labor, Palmer took a fifteen minute break.

Re-energized, Rambo picked up his machine gun and once again attacked the ceiling. A lot of forgetting can go on in a fifteen minute break and for some reason the screws forgot how they were supposed to spin out of the gun and magically implant flush with the ceiling.

"That's strange," Palmer thought as he examined the screw protruding one inch from the ceiling.

He moved the gun over a couple of inches and tried again. "Maybe I just need to push harder" he mused. With all the force of a trained counselor, Palmer pressed the gun into the ceiling and pulled the trigger. Once again, the screw hung down one inch from the ceiling.

Like a tennis player who examines his racket after missing an easy lob, or an outfielder who stares at his glove after missing a simple fly ball, Palmer looked at the gun in frustration. "Something is definitely wrong with this gun," the mumbled. "I guess I need to push even harder." Palmer set his jaw, clinched the gun, and firmly pressed the screw gun into the ceiling. "I'm a man. I can do this. I'm going to make this work."

After a third attempt, a frustrated Palmer stared at a neatly placed row of three taunting stalactite screws protruding from the ceiling.

About that time, TA bounced through the room and casually commented to Rambo still holding his gun. "Hey Buddy, you might want to take that gun out of reverse."

A flush of embarrassment rose from the tip of Palmer's dusty shoes to the top of his sandy- blond head. He nonchalantly flipped the switch to forward and proceeded to shoot flush screws efficiently and effectively like nothing had ever happened.

Later, Palmer laughingly said, "Sometimes I'm not the brightest person in the world, but I wonder how many rows of protruding screws I would have shot into that ceiling before I stopped and even considered that the problem might be me?"

OK sisters, stop the cameras. Suddenly I saw myself staring up at those protruding screws with my baffled friend. "What's wrong with her," I complain about a friend who's let me down. "What's wrong with him," I complain about my husband who's not acting according to my plan. "What's wrong with them," I mumble about family members who are not living up to my expectations." In frustration, I continue repeating the same ineffective behavior, never stopping to consider the problem might be me.

Whether it's a string of jobs where you're always treated unfairly, a pileup of relationships that seem to repeatedly end poorly, or a series of marriages with spouses who've let you down...could the problem be...dare I say... you? We push harder. Press more firmly. Repeat the same ineffective behavior again and again.

May I quote TA? "Hey Buddy. It might help if you take it out of reverse."

May I translate TA the way I heard it? "Hey Buddy. You are the problem. You've got life in reverse. Turn and go in the opposite direction."

And you know what? That is the definition of repentance. To turn around and go in the opposite direction.

Palmer could have pushed that screw gun into the ceiling until its nose broke through the sheetrock. He could have forced those babies in -- even hammered them flush. Then he could have slathered a coat of sheetrock mud over the holes and applied a nice coat of paint. On the outside, it might have looked like the screws were properly installed. But the truth would come out eventually. The screw threads would have simply cut a hole in the material and the purpose for which they were created lost. There would be no grip of the screw threads into the drywall. No security in the construction. Just a nicely painted ceiling on the verge of collapse.

Oh friend, when it comes to a life that is not working, we can try harder, push harder, and even pound with emotional hammers to try and make it work. With a fresh coat of pretend-- a smiling face, spit-shined kids, and a well marked Bible, we might look OK -- even downright good. But underneath, the construction remains shaky at best.

But when trying harder is replaced with repentance, shaky is replaced by secure. If life isn't working for you, consult with the project manager -- Jesus Christ. Trying harder is not the answer. Pushing with more force won't get the job done well. Repeating the same ineffective behavior will only leave you frustrated. But relying on the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, God's love flowing through us, and Jesus Christ's redeeming grace surrounding us, well, that is the key to building God's ultimate habitat for all humanity.

Let's Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes I just don't get it. I try harder, but with the same results. I repeat the same ineffective behavior and then wonder why I don't have more victory in my life. Help me to stop trying harder in my own strength, but start depending more on Your power. Show me when I need to turn and go in the opposite direction, and give me the courage to do so.

In Jesus' Name,

Now It's Your Turn
Today's assignment is to read Romans 7 and answer the following questions:

What was Paul's struggle?

Have you ever felt like Paul?

What was Paul's answer to the struggle?

What does "walking in the Spirit" look like to you?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mountain tops versus Valleys

I've heard this saying before: Mountain tops are great, but fruit grows in the valleys. I understand what this means in relation to the Christian walk. I understand that if I never had problems, I would never understand God's power, love, mercy, grace, etc; the same way that we would never understand cold weather if there was never hot weather.

Coming back from this missions trip, I don't find myself on the mountain top like some people, nor am I in the valley like other people. I guess I'm in the foothills. What's that about? What happens in the foothills? Where's the saying for that place?

In going to North Dakota, I was looking for a rest from my ordinary and a chance to serve others and see God working in other people's lives. And in typical missions trip fashion, I learned more about myself than I did anyone else. Sure, I made friends and got to know my current friends better (or at least in a different light), but what about myself? God sent me there, now where's my lesson? Is it selfish to want a personal lesson from God everywhere? I just want to see Him! To be close to Him and to know Him better than I ever have! That's my goal this summer. I want to spend so much time with Him that everything else I could possibly do pales in comparison.

In learning about the Sioux Indians and their traditions and how they currently live their lives, I found that the things they hold sacred are purely for the sake of tradition, there's hardly any heart behind it anymore. The tribal leaders are gone, the Powwows are now just dance competitions, and the children run around with no shoes and no one to care where they are or what they are doing. It was as if all their traditions that were once so important to them and filled with meaning are now empty and only there for the sake of tradition. The meaning behind their traditions has gone. What are my "traditions" and is there still meaning behind them or am I just walking this path because it's the one I know best?

We built a small playground, cleaned the church, mowed grass, planted flowers and a garden full of veggies. We played with the children and we cooked them food. The seeds were planted, and we left Pastor Boots to water and cultivate them.

Before we left, we prayed over Boots. Each person, one by one, came up and put their hands on Boots and prayed over him. He said later that he felt like he had been ordained a second time. There were tears in everyone's eyes. Looking back on it, it feels like we did so very little to actually help. The work of our hands and sweat of our brows can only do so much. Those people are in God's hands. May they accept His mercy before it's too late and they only see His wrath. We gave Boots an offering, I'm not sure how much, but I heard it was close to $500. I know Boots will put it where it is needed most.

1 Tim. 4:13-16 (Message)
"Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed- keep that dusted off and in use. Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don't be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation."

Set Your Compass in the Right Direction

by Max Lucado

The problem is not that God hasn't spoken but that we haven't listened.

Imagine your reaction if I were to take a telephone book, open it up, and proclaim, I have found a list of everyone who's on welfare!Or what if I said, Here is a list of college graduates! Or, This book will tell us who has a red car. You'd probably say, "Now wait a minute--that's not the purpose of that book. You're holding a telephone book. Its purpose is simply to reveal the name and number of residents of a city during a certain time frame."

Only by understanding its purpose can I accurately use the telephone book. Only by understanding its purpose can I accurately use the Bible...

The purpose of the Bible is simply to proclaim God's plan to save his children. It asserts that man is lost and needs to be saved. And it communicates the message that Jesus is the God in the flesh sent to save his children.

Though the Bible was written over sixteen centuries by at least forty authors, it has one central theme--salvation through faith in Christ. Begun by Moses in the lonely desert of Arabia and finished by John on the lonely Isle of Patmos, it is held together by a strong thread: God's passion and God's plan to save his children.Great House of God

What a vital truth! Understanding the purpose of the Bible is like setting the compass in the right direction. Calibrate it correctly and you'll journey safely. But fail to set it, and who knows where you'll end up.

Let the Journey Begin:
God's Roadmap for New Beginnings

© (J Countryman 2009) Max Lucado

Blog on the missions trip is coming soon....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sola Scriptura

Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your instructions are my delight. ~ Psalm 119:77, NLT

The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. ~ Proverbs 10:22, NLT

I will walk among you. I will be your God, and you will be my people. ~ Leviticus 26:12, NLT

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. ~ 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT

But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. ~ Romans 6:22, NLT

And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. ~ 1 John 2:28, NLT

Tip Number Twelve

When/if you ask God to let you see the truth in all people and situations you find yourself in (which is not for everyone), also ask for an extra measure of love for those people and those situations. Case in point, tonight, during CT's message, God pointed a few things out to me. Here is our conversation (for the most part anyway)... and if you think I'm weird for having these kind of conversations with God, than you don't really know me that well. haha:

God: see what I did for you there on the cross? See the love I just showed you?
Me: yes. 
God: Now, why can't you show that love to them?
Me: they're so fake, God! They say one thing and think something else. They are fake with me and fake with you!
God: I don't love them any less for that, neither should you.
Me: but they don't treat me very nice. and the lip service they pay you is ridiculous!
God: that's not for you to judge.
Me: but I can see it plain as day!
God: I still love them. I still love you and you aren't exactly perfect, ya know. 
Me: I know I'm not, but at least I try to be real with you and with other people.
God: I don't rank sin. Sin is sin. Love them like I love them. That's your job. 
Me: How do I do that? It's not exactly in my nature. 
God: Let me love them through you. 

I don't remember when I started praying to see the truth in things, but I think it was in college when I felt like people were lying to me and I didn't like it. I prayed time and time again for God to let me see the truth in people and situations. As I grew in Him and in my own knowledge and life experience, I began to see those things. Part of it is reading people, but also it's God letting me see things about them that are not obvious. Things more abstract than even Mr. Sherlock Holmes would notice, matters of the mind, spirit, and heart. More often than not, I can look at a person and know things about them just from watching them, even the people who try to hide how they really feel behind humor, good looks, or anger. 

I don't say this to brag or to warn, but to remind you (and myself also) that just because you see something in someone, that doesn't mean that you get to treat them any differently than if you hadn't seen it. It's easy to say that because you saw someone being fake, they are a fake person all the time. Or that because you see this certain characteristic about a person, that that characteristic defines them. God defines people, not us. God judges people, not us (only in very specific situations are we to judge a fellow Christian). And even God waits until they die to judge them, why shouldn't we? 

Just a thought.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Rab-Koach, "mighty power", is the name of God I learned today.

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 (New Living Translation)

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

Everything I think and do is so self-centered! I even praise God selfishly. I sing His glories, but I think how they relate back to ME and how I glory in them, and the many ways He shows His glory to ME. It's about God, but it's also about me. How can be totally self-less in my praise? How can I praise God without thinking of myself in any way? Can humans even do that? Is it even possible? Can I praise God without having an "I", "me", "us", and even a "them"?

God's power is mighty, yet we pay it no heed. We say with our words that God has all the power, but then we go out and try to control our lives and the lives of those around us. To be a true Christ-follower and a true leader of man takes a balance that many cannot achieve.

Father, help me understand Your power in a new way today. Help me see You in a new light, help me hear You speak to me clearly. Help me submit to Your leadership, to Your ultimate power.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Incompatible, it don't matter though
'cos someone's bound to hear my cry
Speak out if you do
You're not easy to find

Is it possible Mr. Loveable
Is already in my life?
Right in front of me
Or maybe you're in disguise

Who doesn't long for someone to hold
Who knows how to love you without being told
Somebody tell me why I'm on my own
If there's a soulmate for everyone

Here we are again, circles never end
How do I find the perfect fit
There's enough for everyone
But I'm still waiting in line

Who doesn't long for someone to hold
Who knows how to love you without being told
Somebody tell me why I'm on my own
If there's a soulmate for everyone
If there's a soulmate for everyone

Most relationships seem so transitory
They're all good but not the permanent one

Who doesn't long for someone to hold
Who knows how to love you without being told
Somebody tell me why I'm on my own
If there's a soulmate for everyone

Who doesn't long for someone to hold
Who knows how to love you without being told
Somebody tell me why I'm on my own
If there's a soulmate for everyone
If there's a soulmate for everyone

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sometimes the things you learn aren't really new concepts, but since we are stupid humans, we need to be reminded of things. God is working in huge HUGE ways in SO many people's lives right now and mine is no exception. 

Here's what God taught me this morning:

The Lord's faithfulness is established (Ps. 89:2), incomparable (Ps. 89:8), unfailing (Ps. 36:5), and everlasting (Ps. 146:6). And even when we mess up and are unfaithful to Him, His faithfulness to us will endure (2 Tim. 2:13). 

Rev. 3:14 "This is the message from the one who is the Amen- the faithful and true witness, the beginning." I never thought of Jesus as my Amen before. I was only taught that the word "amen" meant something like "may it be so", as the end of a prayer. And we typically do put the word "amen" at the end, as if we are signing off, hanging up the phone. But we start our prayers addressing God. So if we start by addressing God, like the opening of a letter, and end with "amen", who is Jesus, then our prayers begin and end with God. Our lives began in God's hands and there we will also end.  There's a wonderful symmetry to life with God that begins and ends in His hands.

"for such a time as this"... that phrase has been in my mind for a few days now. It's from Esther, where her uncle says "Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (4:13-14). I don't know what this has to do with anything that's happening right now, but there it is and it won't leave.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Not my will, but thine

Below you will find an excerpt from the play, Man of La Mancha (Don Quixote). It's not scripture, it's only some lines and a song, but still... it says something. Something of strength, selflessness, and devotion. If we only had this kind of devotion when it comes to the will of God, we would all be knights (and not the ones who say Ni!)

Why do you do these things?

What things?

These ridiculous... the things you do!

I hope to add some measure of grace to the world.

The world's a dung heap and we are maggots that crawl on it!

My Lady knows better in her heart.

What's in my heart will get me halfway to hell.
And you, SeƱor Don Quixote-you're going to take
such a beating!

Whether I win or lose does not matter.

What does?

Only that I follow the quest.

That for your Quest!
(turns, marches away; stops, turns bock
and asks, awkwardly)
What does that mean... quest?

It is the mission of each true knight...
His duty... nay, his privilege!
To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go;
To right the unrightable wrong.

To love, pure and chaste, from afar,
To try, when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star!

This is my Quest to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far,
To fight for the right
Without question or pause,
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause!

And I know, if I'll only be true
To this glorious Quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest.

And the world will be better for this,
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable stars!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great Oneliners from Christy!

Don't let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews.

Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.

It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.

The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.

When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there.

People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of the church.

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.

If the church wants a better preacher, it only needs to pray for the one it has.

God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?

Some minds are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

Peace starts with a smile.

I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

A lot of church members who are singing 'Standing on the Promises' are just sitting on the premises.

We were called to be witnesses,
not lawyers or judges.

Be ye fishers of men. You catch them - He'll clean them.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

God grades on the cross, not the curve.

God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruit of the spirit' over a 'religious nut!'

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

He who angers you, controls you!

If God is your co-pilot - swap seats!

Prayer: Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.

We don't change the message; the message changes us.

You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.

The best mathematical equation I have ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

The Trumpet Game

by Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)

Friend to Friend
My friend Brad has a little girl named Elizabeth. When Elizabeth was one year old, Brad and his wife taught her sign language. For the word please, they chose to have her rub her chest. So, as Brad and Jamie taught Elizabeth to say please, they rubbed their own chests and said "please." Simple enough.

Elizabeth had a favorite toy. It's a plastic knobby toy that holds colorful rings. You know the one with the yellow pole and white base that, without the rings, loosely resembles a trumpet. (C'mon, use your imagination!) So, being the fun, creative parents that Brad and Jamie are, they would dump off the rings and playfully hold up Elizabeth's toy and make a trumpet sound. Elizabeth loved her parent's silliness. She laughed and clapped with delight. It became a favorite game in their household.

One day, when Brad and Elizabeth were playing the trumpet game, Elizabeth excitedly grabbed the toy and handed it back to him to do it again. Brad encouraged her to say "please" and reinforced the instruction by rubbing his chest. To his surprise, Elizabeth made her way over to him and started to rub his chest instead of her own.

Did this please her daddy? You bet it did!

Even though Elizabeth mixed up the signals, she communicated with her daddy. Brad was filled with love and joy by her effort. He was pleased that she came to him. Not because she did or didn't do something right, but just because she is his daughter and he loves her. He adores her.

God adores you too. Just because you are His child. His sweet daughter. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1a).

Have you considered that perhaps God isn't longing for you to come to Him with perfect, polished prayers that have fifty-cent words and flowery language? Have you thought about the pleasure God experiences when you simply approach him just as you are, warts and all, because He loves you? He delights in your attention. He takes pleasure when you go to Him simply because you are His.

I love how the psalmist responded to God's love:

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits--

who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
(Psalm 103:1-5)

Let's Pray
Heavenly Father, Thanks for this reminder of Your love for me. Thanks for seeing me as precious and special. I'm amazed by Your love. I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness that You made a way for me to know You through Jesus Christ. Help me to come to You as I am each day...without pretenses, pride, or perfection, but simply with Your permission to just be me...because You love me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

  • Read Zephaniah 3:17 again silently
  • Now read it again aloud
  • Now read it aloud three more times and insert your name after each 'you' --

"The LORD your God is with you (insert name here), He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you (name), He will quiet you (name) with His love, He will rejoice over you (name) with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

102 post!

I feel like I've accomplished something with this being my 102nd post! I feel like I've actually continued with something I've started instead of starting it all gun ho and then just letting it fall by the wayside along with all the other forgotten half-started projects.

And now for something completely different:

A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City , where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 - These men Have Jobs

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

‘That’s nice,’ she thinks, ‘but I want more.’

So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.

‘Wow,’ she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth f loor and the sign reads:

Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

‘Oh, mercy me!’ she exclaims, ‘I can hardly stand it!’

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.


To avoid gender bias charges, the store’s owner opened a New Wives store just across the street.

The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money and like beer.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited.

HAH! That's funny!

Friday, May 1, 2009

what kind of disciple am I really?

Last night was Rhythm (just in case some of you actually missed my facebook/twitter status proclaiming it) and Craig talked about the last supper. He showed images that are forever burned in our memory. Pictures of the Twin Towers, Pearl Harbor, Iwa Jima, and the Veteran's Memorial Wall. As a Navy brat with every branch of the military represented in my family, these pictures mean something special to me and most make my eyes well up with tears when I think about them. Craig's point was this: These pictures bring certain thoughts to our minds, we remember them. Do we remember the cross in the same way? Do we see the white sheet covering the cup and the bread in the front of the church and remember the sacrifice of our Lord? Or do we smile because we know the sermon today will be a little shorter than normal?

He also said this and it pinged my spirit: At the crucifixion, one disciple died, nine ran away in sheer terror, one made it halfway to the cross and then had to stop, and only one out of twelve made it all the way to the cross and stood by Mom's side as her Son was crucified. One out of twelve! Only John made it all the way. When the cards were down, only John was able to go all the way. One out of the twelve men who had walked by His side and saw His tears, His laughter, and His love first hand for three whole years! One out of twelve.

God asked me: what kind of disciple will you be? Will you let yourself take the easy way out and die? Will you run away? Will you not have the strength to make it all the way? Or will you follow me, even to the cross? With tears in my eyes, I answered, I want to be the one who makes it. I want to be at Your feet, regardless of whether they are bloody, dirty, or white as snow. I asked what I had to do to make it. And He said, clear as day, "stay at your post. read scripture. love my children. talk to me. use your gifts." (which by the way is straight out of 1 Timothy 4:13-16).

It was a great night, regardless of any peripheral things happening (and they did happen), God came, God spoke, and God changed my heart even more towards Him.

The podcast will be up here at some point.

Jesus Heals a Blind Man

by Max Lucado

"As [Jesus] passed by, He saw a man blind from birth"
(John 9:1).

This man has never seen a sunrise. Can't tell purple from pink. The disciples fault the family tree. "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" (v. 2).

Neither, the God-man replies. Trace this condition back to heaven. The reason the man was born sightless? So "the works of God might be displayed in him" (v. 3).

Talk about a thankless role. Selected to suffer. Some sing to God's glory. Others teach to God's glory. Who wants to be blind for God's glory? Which is tougher--the condition or discovering it was God's idea?

The cure proves to be as surprising as the cause. "[Jesus] spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes" (v. 6).

The world abounds with paintings of the God-man: in the arms of Mary, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the Upper Room, in the darkened tomb. Jesus touching. Jesus weeping, laughing, teaching ... but I've never seen a painting of Jesus spitting.

Christ smacking his lips a time or two, gathering a mouth of saliva, working up a blob of drool, and letting it go. Down in the dirt. (Kids, next time your mother tells you not to spit, show her this passage.) Then he squats, stirs up a puddle of ... I don't know, what would you call it?

Holy putty? Spit therapy? Saliva solution? Whatever the name, he places a fingerful in his palm, and then, as calmly as a painter spackles a hole in the wall, Jesus streaks mud-miracle on the blind man's eyes. "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (v. 7).

The beggar feels his way to the pool, splashes water on his mud-streaked face, and rubs away the clay. The result is the first chapter of Genesis, just for him. Light where there was darkness. Virgin eyes focus, fuzzy figures become human beings, and John receives the Understatement of the Bible Award when he writes: "He ... came back seeing" (v. 7).

Come on, John! Running short of verbs? How about "he raced back seeing"? "He danced back seeing"? "He roared back whoopingand hollering."

His Name is Jesus
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009) Max Lucado
Great House of God