Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Never Alone

by Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths."

Friend To Friend
The Bible is filled with miracles where God intervened directly in time and space.

· Dividing the Red Sea

· Raising the dead

· Healing the blind

· Turning water to wine

God used miracles in a limited world to demonstrate His unlimited power. It is easy to see Him in the miraculous events of life but I believe God's greatest work is in our everyday lives where He takes the ordinary and uses it to create a magnificent design. We are experiencing God daily. We simply don't know how to recognize Him.

I heard about a pastor's young son who came running in the house after playing outside for hours. His mother took one look at his dirty hands and told him to go wash them carefully. When the little boy asked why he had to wash his hands, his mother told him that there were germs living in all of that dirt. The little boy refused and began to complain, "Germs and Jesus! Germs and Jesus! That's all I ever hear around this house, and I've never seen either one!"

Just because we can't see God at work doesn't mean He isn't at work. In fact, God is always at work in our lives. We just need to look for Him.

1. Look for God in circumstances.

God is constantly at work in our lives preparing us to do what He created us to do. A.B. Simpson says: "God is preparing His heroes, and when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their place in a moment. And the world will wonder where they came from." When we understand that God integrates every circumstance to accomplish His will, it is easier to trust Him. Even when we do not understand, even when we can't explain it, even when it doesn't make sense or seems wrong, we can choose to trust Him. It is easy to trust God when the seas are calm and the skies are clear, but the strength of our faith is measured in the midst of a storm.

A crisis always reveals what is really inside. Letting go means that we trust God enough to obey Him. Trust is demonstrated by obedience and what I do reveals what I believe about God, regardless of what I say. God will not waste direction on a disobedient heart. The more we obey, the more we will trust. The more we trust, the more we will obey. God reveals His plans to an obedient heart. When we trust God enough to surrender our will to Him, we will find that He is Lord of our circumstances.

2. Look for God in people.

Proverbs 27: 17 "As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other."

"Each other" literally means "companion or friend; neighbor or associate". God uses every relationship to improve us and to accomplish His will in us. People come into our lives for eternal reasons. Relationships are mirrors. In them, we see reflections of ourselves. Relationships expose the weaknesses we try so hard to bury and teach us important lessons like forgiveness, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. If we need to learn patience, He brings someone that is irritating. If we need to learn to love, He will bring the unlovable. God takes those people we call "difficult" and uses them as pruning tools, tools of molding and refining. If we fail to learn from one, He will send another. Even if we do learn from one, He will send another to teach us a different lesson.

3. Look for God in mistakes.

Romans 8:28 "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan."

Even the disasters that strike us are intended for our good. God is in control. Ivory soap is the "soap that floats" but it wasn't always that way. Years ago, this soap was just another brand among many -- until a factory foreman made a mistake. He left a batch of new soap in the cooking vat and went to lunch. He was late getting back and the soap overcooked. It seemed to clean the same. It was just lighter. He could choose to report the mistake, and get fired, or he could make the best of it and ship it out. The results of the "new" soap surprised everyone. Instead of complaints, the company was deluged with orders for this floating soap and the foreman was promoted. God often works the same way. He takes our mistakes and brings good out of them. If we let Him, God will use the pain of our sin the destruction of our mistakes as the foundation upon which He builds a new life, a better life. What we call "dis-appointment" is really "His appointment." God does not waste a single experience.

4. Look for God in a personal relationship with Him.

John 10:27-28 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never die, and no one can steal them out of my hand."

The plan of God is revealed through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We were not created just for time. We were created for eternity and if we live just for this life, we will miss the ultimate purpose of creation. When our circumstances don't add up, the people in our lives seem to be clueless and our mistakes make no sense, we can keep coming back to this relationship because we can depend on God to meet every need. When we know God, His power is credited to our life account. We could be living in spiritual wealth instead of spiritual bankruptcy.

The story is told of a business man who was selling some warehouse property. The building had been empty for months. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows and trashed the place. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, make any repairs needed and clean it up. The buyer said, "Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building. I just want the site."

God is waiting to work in your life. You don't have to repair anything or clean up anything. He just wants you and is waiting for you to come ... just as you are.

Let's Pray
Father, I want to see You and know You more. Please help me to look beyond myself and my own circumstances to see Your hand at work in my life. Help me remember that You are my source and will supply my every need. When I make a mistake, help me find a seed of victory in it. I pray that You will open my eyes and my heart to the people and circumstances around me and help me see You in every part of my life. Thank You, Lord, for all that You are doing -- now -- in my life.

In Jesus' name,

Now It's Your Turn
Read the following bible verses and think of ways each one can be applied to your life. Then memorize these verses and invite the Holy Spirit to bring them to mind when you need them.

  • Psalm 33:20 "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield" (NRV).
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, 'My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you'" (ICB).
  • Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want" (NIV).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Christian Noise

"Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say" (Isaiah 28:7 NIV).

May we never get so used to the "noise" of Christianity, that we cease to hear the actual voice of God.

Let me give you example. Come sit with me in an airplane just before take off on my recent trip to North Dakota...

Here we go again, I mused as the flight attendant began her routine instructions. I grabbed the latest copy of Sky Mall magazine tucked in the seat pocket in front of me and began flipping through the pages. The man to my right continued reading the headlines in the day's paper. The woman to my left was a first time flyer and paid close attention.

I glanced around the plane and noticed very few people listening to the flight attendant's life saving instructions. Then it hit me. The frequent flyers paid little attention, not because we were being rude, but because we had heard it all before. The safety procedures were routine information. The hum of the flight attendant's voice merged with the roar of the engine, so we ignored her.

But you better believe that if the pilot announced in mid-flight that a crash landing was imminent, all of us "been there, done that" passengers who did not pay attention to the emergency procedures would all be reviewing those safety instruction cards in the seat pocket in front of us quicker than you could say "buckle your seat belts."

May we never get so used to the "noise" of Christianity, that we cease to hear the actual voice of God.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


In my life, searching for truth and trying to discern what is and is not God's truth, I have noticed that people who have lived their whole lives in the same church, with the same people, with the same beliefs and have never gone outside of that environment, really don't have the strength that someone who has seen other things and experienced other places has. It's almost as if they are a child who stayed inside the house their whole childhood versus the child who went outside every day and ran and played with friends and got dirty. It's true that the child who stays inside has a less likely chance of getting hurt by circumstances and other people, but they probably won't experience the muscle growth and social skills that the child who plays outside will.

Because of my family's tendency to move around when I was a child (I was a Navy brat), I was never the one who got to stay inside. In order to survive, I had to run out and make friends. I've also been known to play in the mud and dance around in the rain. I was a curious child, always asking questions and trying to figure things out. Some things I have accepted that I'll never really understand every aspect of it. God for example, I know I will not FULLY understand every single little aspect of Him until I'm in heaven. But that doesn't mean that I don't accept Him, live for Him, and fully rely on Him for my needs.

Some things, however, I need to fully understand and I should be able to with enough research. One of those things in the Emergent Church. At this point, I've asked people I trust to give good and solid answers and I believe that they have given the best answers they could. But I'm still searching for what it REALLY means. I'm coming to an understanding of the differences, but the real and basic theology of Emergent just seems so... vague. Maybe that was their goal. If so, that feels kinda sketchy. But if not, then I need to research more. When I see something, I want to either know what it is, or know how I can find out and file it away until I can look it up (which is why I tend to always have a little notebook and pen with me, so I can write things down that I want to look up later). In this day and age, I should be able to google anything and find out what it is, where it is, why it is, and who it is. I have found a lot of info on Emergent, but I'm still not satisfied with the answers I have been given.

It's times like this that I sometimes frustrate even myself with my need to know and understand.

Power Struggles

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. ~ Isaiah 40:29, NLT

I love the multiple meanings in this verse! It is such a simple thing, yet we find it so difficult to abide by!

Meaning #1: God gives power to those who are weak. Meaning when life, circumstances, or mistakes you have made beat you mercilessly to the ground, God gives you power (should you ask for it). When a downtrodden (to use a churchy word) believer needs power, they have only to ask God for it and wait expectantly. God gives strength to the powerless. When you have nothing, there seems to be no way out and no one to help you, God gives you strength. Basically, the traditionally accepted meaning: God helps you when you're weak and powerless. This shows the person as being powerless, not by their own choice, and God helping them.

Meaning #2: God gives power to those who are weak. Meaning, God gives power to those who make themselves weak before Him because they realize that His is the ultimate power. Those who willingly make themselves weak for God's sake will be rewarded with His power. Motivations play a HUGE role here. Making yourself weak does NOT involve self-deprecation, letting people push you around and treat you badly just so you can be shown as weak to get some of God's power to pay them back later, and it does not mean that just anyone who is weak has access to God's power. This is a believer-only offer. God gives strength to the powerless. When a believer realizes and shows in their lives via their actions that they give all power in their lives to God, God will reward that with a strength that could not have come from any person. This shows the person making themselves less so that God can be made more and can be glorified through their actions and lives.

God doesn't want His people to suffer, He loves us but he knows that a certain amount of suffering is necessary. After all, how can you know what light is unless you have experienced darkness. Will you appreciate the light as much if you had no clue what it was to stand in the dark for a while? Doubtful.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

With who's voice do you speak?

Last night was our first night of prayer for Genesis and the Tacketts. There were eight people and God. It was good. And a few things were revealed that night. Some to me, some to Lewis. For Lewis, the power of prayer in his life and in the life of his future pastor came to a new light and he felt compelled to do something about it. I smiled at the man of God I saw in him last night. And while Lewis was talking about God doing something, although he did not know what, God was whispering in my ear and showing me a glimpse at what the end result will look like in both Lewis and CT's lives. I'm pretty sure I giggled.

For me, it was something different. Yes, the power of prayer, but also the voice with which we as Christians speak. We can speak with our voice and things get accomplished. But Psalm 29 talks about the voice of God and all that it can accomplish.

3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.

5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the LORD strikes
with flashes of lightning.

8 The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the LORD twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

All this is accomplished simply by His voice! What a voice it is! What could we accomplish if we spoke with the voice of God? Meaning, how would lives, our own and of those around us, change if we spoke only what God told us to speak and then speak it with the power and authority that He has given us? How would our own lives change if we listened for the voice of God before we listened for the voice of Oprah or Dr. Phil to tell us how to live? There is a truth in the voice of God that is unparalleled!

Last night I prayed for Genesis, Craig, Brittany, and Tyler. I prayed for the people in the room with me, I prayed for people that were not there, and I prayed for myself. I prayed that I would be able to see the truth in the people around me, that I would be able to see truth like a shining light and run from any darkness. I have recently been fighting against a disillusionment that I had with a few different pastors to whom I listen. It bothered me for a while that what they were saying was not original, that it came from some other pastor. I think it bothered me most because they seemed to own what they were saying to such an extent that I hadn't even thought for a second where they learned it. But God reminded me that there is nothing new under the sun and just because they didn't personally think up these good things, that does not devalue what they were saying. The voice with which they spoke was so powerful, I didn't even stop to think where the information came from, only that it was right. Part of that scares me and prompted me to pray to see truth. The wool has been pulled over my eyes in the past and I have no desire to reenact that scene. God has given me a lot of discernment over the years, but I know I need to be closer to Him, to be engulfed in Him.

Here's a song that's been speaking to me a lot lately:

Burn Us Up
by Shane & Shane

There were three
Before the king
There were three who wouldn’t bow to him
For when you heard
The music play
And you were standing you would burn.
They looked at him and said…

Burn us up! Burn us up! Burn us up!
Oh king won’t you burn us in the furnace of
Your desire
We give up! We give up! We give up!
Oh king won’t you burn us in the furnace of
Your desire!
Won’t you throw us in the fire!

The king enraged
At what they said
Sent the three away to find their death
The palace stopped in unbelief
When the guilty raised their hands to sing
They looked at him and said…

You are able to deliver from the fire of affliction
It’s the declaration of my Lord
You’re not an image of gold
You’re the God of old
You have made us
Come and save us
We are Yours
But even if You don’t, we will burn!

Monday, June 22, 2009

a few things I learned this weekend

  1. I'm wrong a lot.
  2. Relying on the wisdom of those wiser than you is a wise thing.
  3. Never underestimate the importance of family and spending time with them.
  4. There is nothing new under the sun, but that should not make a worthy thing any less valuable.
  5. Never put two male toddlers in the same room and expect peace.
  6. Rest can happen in the midst of chaos.
  7. Within a the next year and a half, I will probably emerge as being the only single one left in my family.
  8. When friends are incredibly happy with their lives, they sometimes forget to be sensitive to others, but that should not change the friendship.
  9. Having someone to talk to is important. Talking to God is more important. Listening to God is top priority.
  10. My fears are tiddlywinks to God's plan and God's power.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sola Scriptura: one of my favorite stories!

Acts 12:1-18

Peter's Miraculous Escape From Prison
1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

6The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists.

8Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. 9Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

11Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating."

12When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!"

15"You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel."

16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. "Tell James and the brothers about this," he said, and then he left for another place.

18In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.

Lighthouses! Are you ready?

Someone once asked me, when it comes to me and my friends, what happens when we are all pulled away from the dock (meaning God) and are all just floating around in the storms of life? Without thinking twice I answered, "I feel like it would be my responsibility to pick my head up out of the water, find the lighthouse (meaning Jesus), and point the others to it." The reply was, "And that is why you becoming are a spiritual guide!" Now, I don't know if I'm a spiritual guide or not, I think that comes with time, true testing, and wisdom born of God. But this I know:

Philippians 3:12-14 "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (NIV).

When I came to the place where I was willing to give Him everything, a wonderful process began. He trained my immature desires to line up with His perfect ones. When I began to seek His will by laying my desires and plans at His feet - yielding to Him - He shaped, and is continuing to shape, my will until it becomes His will.

The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a Spiritual Trainer of sorts. He will lead us in the right spiritual exercises of life that will make us stronger and more mature. Many of those exercises involve the submission of our will and the yielding of our desires to God. As we allow the pain and stress of daily living to "stretch" us spiritually, we will grow and mature until one day we will realize that His desires and our desires are the same. Mature desires - Godly desires - desires that are in line with His will are the desires of a believer who is growing in Christ.

Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (NIV).

"Delight" literally means to enjoy. We can come to God with an attitude of joy, knowing that He is a Father of love who wants what is best for His child. His plan is absolutely the best one we could possibly imagine or accept. We can delight in His love, trust in His goodness and enjoy a growing love relationship with Him. A heart fully and joyfully submitted to God will produce mature desires.

High in the Alps is a monument raised in honor of a faithful guide who died while ascending a peak to rescue a stranded tourist. Inscribed on that memorial stone are the words, "He died climbing!" A maturing, growing Christian should evoke the same attitude and desire. The apostle Paul tells us that it is time to "put away" childish things. As children grow older, we train them to pick up their toys, to put away things that are not needed, to obey house rules and to leave behind what is childish, straining toward what is ahead. Right now, we have the same choice to make. To "put away" indicates an understanding of what needs to be left behind but also a willingness and commitment to do so.

The question is, are you ready to grow up in Christ?Are you tired of being a "baby Christian"? Are you ready to experience all that God has for you once you give everything up for Him? Are you ready to dive into Him and let Him teach you how to swim? Are you ready???

Monday, June 15, 2009

Zephaniah 3:17- wrap your mind around it

“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)

My first reaction to these verses was a typical Shanna "excuse me?" *one eyebrow raised in slight disbelief*

God is with me. Got that, herad it in Sunday School, proved it in Grad School.

He is mighty to save me. Yup, my mind can handle that with very little trouble.

He takes great delight in me? Now let's hold on just a minute. The God and Holy Creator of the whole wide universe takes delight in me?! um.... *scratches head* really? I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that. But as hard as it is for me to comprehend that He delights in me, His Word says it is true. When I allow myself to agree with His Word, I cannot help but smile. To me, “taking delight in” means that Jesus likes to be around me. He wants me to be near Him. He laughs when I’m funny. He listens when I tell Him my innermost thoughts and feelings. He supports and comforts me when I’m sick or hurt, and He instructs me when I screw up so I can be free from destructive thoughts and impure motives.

He delights in me as a parent delights in His child. As His child who sometimes goes astray, He disciplines me to bring me back to Him. He protects and guards my spirit, soul and mind. If I turn to Him when I am upset or fearful, He will “quiet” me with “His love”. This love is strong and unconditional. It won’t diminish over time, and I cannot earn it, but I must open my heart and allow myself to receive it. During difficult times, if I will allow myself to concentrate on what His Word says and not on my doubts or fearful thoughts, His love comes through the Scriptures and into my heart.

He will quiet me with His love. Honestly, my first thought was, "I hope so because delighting in me is throwing me for a loop." But the last one really kicked my butt.

He rejoices over me with singing. Why would He do that? I'm SO not worthy of that kind of love. And with singing?? I don't even like my own family to sing Happy Birthday to me because I don't like that kind of attention on me. Why on earth would God choose to lavish me with that kind of attention. There are certainly more worthy people on earth, why me? Who am I?............

....................... after much pondering I asked myself, "What's the catch? God is too wonderful." I don’t deserve any of this. There must be a catch. A few years later, I’ve yet to find it. There is no risk in giving all of your heart to Jesus. He already knows you intimately. He knows your fears, your insecurities, your self-centeredness, your selfishness, your anger, your frustrations, your doubts, your regrets. Nothing about you shocks Him or causes Him to despise you. He loves you, and His love is perfect and complete. He is ever ready to help you overcome the Enemy. He is “with you”. He is your Champion and Defender. He is “mighty to save”. I need a champion who is “mighty”! How ‘bout you?

To be sure, those in Christ Jesus will live happily ever after—and that’s no fairy tale. When I spend time with Jesus in His Word, in prayer, and in quiet solitude with my heart set on Him in praise and adoration, I know that I know that I know my God is real, strong, and loving . God is wonderful. I don’t deserve all He offers me in Christ Jesus. I never will. Praise be to God that I don’t have to earn it because of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross. As soon as I confessed my sins and accepted Jesus into my heart, I became His very own and an heir to His kingdom. My Prince has come to me. And His name is Christ Jesus. It’s all about grace fueled by unconditional love. The unconditional, incomprehensible love of God.

Sola Scriptura: 1 Peter 2:4-12

Living Stones for God’s House
4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.”

7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.”

8 And,

“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
the rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

What Am I Doing in This Pit?

Today's Truth
Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, about of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord" (NIV).

Friend To Friend
It was the spring of 1995 and Spring Breakaway was just around the corner. Normally this conference was a highlight of my year. I always looked forward to teaching at this very special retreat for women in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But not this year. This year I didn't even want to go, and I certainly did not want to teach.

I felt completely empty and totally drained. My energy was gone. My heart and mind seemed paralyzed. I was exhausted in every way. But then, I had a right to feel that way. After all, it had been a nonstop year for me.

My husband, Dan, was the pastor/teacher of Flamingo Road Church, a contemporary, seeker-sensitive ministry in Fort Lauderdale that had exploded in growth that year and begun meeting in multiple services. I attended every service, going early to welcome newcomers and staying late to smooth any ruffled feathers that came my way. We were in the process of transitioning from a very traditional church to a very contemporary one. Change is always hard, but this experience had been a nightmare. I had never encountered such opposition. I had never been the target of such criticism. I had never known such rejection as people I thought were my friends attacked my husband's integrity, heart, and vision. It seemed as if there was always someone waiting in line to question and criticize what we were doing. I felt like a walking wound. I knew we were being obedient to what God had called us to do, but it seemed that many disagreed. I was hurt and angry, and I did not know what to do with those emotions.

My ministry as the church pianist had become more of a pain than a joy. Singing was no longer the overflow of a daughter's full heart, but the hollow performance of a spiritual chore. I had always loved being a mom, but, lately, even this role felt more like an unwelcome burden. I was used to being the one who gave help. I was the one others came to for strength and direction. I was the great encourager -- the caregiver. People who knew me well would describe me as a very strong woman. All of my life, I was driven to excel in everything, and if I couldn't do it perfectly, I didn't do it at all. I was a raging perfectionist...legalistically disciplined...with little sympathy for weak people. Now I, the strong one, couldn't get out of bed. The simplest decision sent me into a panic. The great wisdom-giver could not compile a grocery list. The woman who taught hundreds of women couldn't bring herself to face crowds of any size. The large tasks of life were out of the question, and even the simplest tasks seemed like huge mountains.

Meals, housework, and even shopping were all left undone. If I managed to get out of bed and get dressed by the time my kids got home from school, the day was a success. All I wanted to do was sleep and to be left alone. I was paralyzed. I had fallen into a deep, dark, nameless pit. I had no idea how I got there. And even more frightening was the stark reality that I had no idea how to get out.

I decided I was just tired. All I needed was some rest, so my family and I escaped the hot, humid flatlands of Florida to enjoy three weeks in the cool mountains of North Carolina, my favorite vacation spot. That vacation is a complete blur. My children knew something was terribly wrong. They had never seen their mom so quiet...so still...and so sad. Dan listened patiently as I poured out my fear and confusion night after night. There seemed to be no answers...only questions. In his eyes, I could see the growing fear that I felt in my own heart. We had never been here before. It was a foreign land. We had no idea how to navigate these unfamiliar waters. It was very simple. I was in serious trouble, and I needed help.

As each day grew darker, Dan and I both realized we had to come up with a plan -- quickly! We decided I would see a Christian counselor Dan often referred people to and in whom he had great confidence. My first appointment with Betty was uneventful as far as I could tell - and a total waste of time. I was furious! She was supposed to "fix" me in those few hours and had failed miserably. She did, however, accomplish one thing. She named my pit.

Clinical depression was a problem I knew little about. Evidently, it was an enemy that strong, committed Christians were not supposed to encounter, because I had never heard anyone in the church even talk about depression, much less admit they struggled with it. I recoiled at the thought of such blatant weakness in my life. I felt ashamed of what was obviously a great failure on my part, but I was very desperate and willing to do whatever it took to climb out of that pit. I also knew I could not make this journey alone. Over the next few months, Dan and Betty climbed down into that dark, slimy pit with me and became God with skin on. They sounded the alarm and gathered the troops.

Today, I can say with the certainty of an experienced pit dweller that there is a way out. I have good news for you, my friend. You are not alone! I believe that one reason God allowed me to experience the pit of depression is to help others find the way out. I want to say to those of you who are in that pit -- and to those of you who are peering over the edge of it wondering how to help someone you love -- you do not have to be a prisoner of the dark. You do not have to stay in your pit. You do not have to stand helplessly by while a friend or family member drowns in the darkness of depression. We were meant to dwell in the light. So lift up your head, open up your heart, and listen for the voice of the One who knows you best and loves you most. He can and will bring you out of the dark.

Let's Pray
Lord, it seems as if my world has collapsed, hurling me into a deep, dark pit. I come to you in complete surrender. I am desperate for you, helpless and afraid. Please lift me out of this pit and show me the way, Lord.

In Jesus' name,

Now It's Your Turn

  • Pour out your heart to your God, asking Him to uncover the dark places in your life. As He does, record them in your journal using simple, honest words.
  • Each day, read Psalm 40:1-3 and claim it as a certain hope from God's heart to yours.
  • Up until now, what has been your typical response to the dark times in life? Does that response line up with Psalm 40:1-3?
  • Do you really believe that if you cry out to God that He will hear your cry? What does that mean to you?
  • Are you willing to face and deal with the darkness in your life?
  • Ask a friend to be your prayer partner this week as you begin this journey to the Light!

More From The Girls
I do not like pits -- in cherries or in life. I pray that my journey out of the pit of clinical depression will encourage you or someone you love and bring hope instead of despair. It is a long, hard road, but through God's power, grace and love, you can do it! If God can deliver me, He can deliver you, friend.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sola Scritura: God is a refuge in the storm

Psalm 9:9
"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."

Isaiah 25:4
"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall."

Acts 27:13-25
The Storm
13When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. 14Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the "northeaster," swept down from the island. 15The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. 17When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. 18We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19On the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. 20When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. 21After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' 25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

paragraph to Christy

You would think that learning to rest has to do with not doing things, but I'm learning the opposite is true. God is teaching me how to rest while life continues to happen around me. I dropped my classes, so that's just one thing I don't have to worry about. I didn't drop life. I still have my friends and all their drama. And God knew that I was going to have to deal with all their drama, all the house decisions, and the new church starting up so He let me cross classes off my list of stuff to do each week. Everything on my plate right now is either spiritual or life, not scholastic, which I like about it. When classes start in August, certain areas of life will either calm down, or I will take myself away from it to work on school. I'm okay with that. I'm enjoying the moments because I know God has ordered each one and I'm seeing that more and more as I go through this summer (even though it just started). I'm seeing how God has given me the friends I have so that I can deal with the day to day stress of my job. I'm seeing how God has allowed me the mentors and teachers that He has so that I can learn from them how to deal with my day to day stress. My boss might make me cry once a day for the rest of the summer, but God has ordained someone to come into my life to love me through that. Some day it might be you, some days it might be someone else, but every day is accounted for and every day is taken care of. God is able to do all these things and more with my life. My only limit on how much God can do with my life is how much I let Him work. I can't let Him fill my cup if my hand is covering the top.

Make sense?

Sola Scriptura: God is ABLE

Daniel 3:17 (NIV)
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king."

Matthew 9:28 (NIV)
"When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' 'Yes, Lord,' they replied."

Romans 16:25 (NLT)
"Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says."

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)
"And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others."

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

2 Timothy 1:12 (NLT)
"This is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return."

Hebrews 7:25 (Young's)
"whence also he is able to save to the very end, those coming through him unto God- ever living to make intercession for them."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Dan, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

'And why's everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'

Thoughts On Tuesday Night

"Love, Hate, Cling" This was how our Tuesday night C&C Bible study began. Love. Hate. Cling.

Here a just a few highlights:

Romans 12:9 (NIV) "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

When we ask "how are you?", do we really care or are we fulfilling a social expectation?

Romans 12:9 (NLT) "Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them."

"We are all like the moon, we all have a dark side we don't want anyone to see."

Where does sincere love come from?

1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)" The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith"

Sincere love comes from a pure heart, clear conscience, and a genuine or sincere faith. How do we come into posession of a pure heart?

Acts 15:8 (NIV) "God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us."

Only when we give our heart to God can He make it pure and put it back in us. But what is sincere love? What is our example to follow (here's a real kick in the pants!)

1 John 4:7-11 (NIV) 7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Read it again. God's love is how ought to love! Do we? Do we really? Not even a little. Jesus is our standard for how to love others and His love was always outwardly focused.

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV) 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

No where in there does Jesus say, "but make sure you take some time to love yourself". He didn't need to, we've got that down pat! We can love ourselves like no other creature on this planet! No, Jesus says that love should be always pointed outward. First to God and then to others.

Outwardly focused love and outwardly focused manifestations of that love, without hypocrisy.

Think on it, it'll blow your mind!!

Set-Apart Living

Today's Truth
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)

Friend to Friend
Yesterday we began to talk about living a set-apart life. We looked at our e-lives, the time we spend on computers, and were challenged to establish healthy boundaries to protect and strengthen our faiths. It was noted that God is the source of all holiness. In order to live a set-apart life, we must spend time with Him and then be fueled by His Holy Spirit. Today, we are going to consider how we can be set-apart (holy) with our words.

My ten year old son, Hunter, recently came to me with a humble confession. He said that, "because he hasn't been spending much time with God lately, he has been grumpier and grumpier." He quietly admitted that he has been mean to his siblings and has said some unkind things. With amazing insight, he connected the amount of time that he spent with God and in God's Word with his behaviors ... recognizing that there was a direct correlation in his life.

Boy, could I relate to that! Tears welled up in my eyes as we spoke about this. I told Hunter that I experience the exact same thing in my life. That when I don't carve out time in my day to spend with the Lord, I often say things I shouldn't. For that matter, even when I do read my Bible and pray, I still say and do sinful things.

There was a time in my life when I really struggled with profanity. My tongue was a loose cannon. My church friends would never have known, but when I was angry, profanity was often present ... even if only under my breath. God has delivered me from that ugly habit, but it took over ten years of prayer. In those ten years, I failed repeatedly and struggled to believe that God could change my ways. It was a long-term process for me to be purified in my language, and I can assure you that it is only by the grace and strength of God that I can stub my toe now without needing to wash my mouth out with soap.

The Bible has so much to say on this topic! Here are just a few examples:

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18, NIV)

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:19-20, NIV)

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness." (Proverbs 31:26, NLT)

"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." (Proverbs 13:3, NIV)

This is hard stuff. Living set-apart with our words is simply beyond us, but be encouraged, because all things are possible with God. We need to constantly fall before the Lord and ask Him to filter our words through the Holy Spirit. It's important that we keep short accounts with God. When we do, He equips us to disarm the loose cannon of our tongues.

At the end my conversation with Hunter, I told my son that one of the most amazing things about our Heavenly Father is the mercy that He greets us with when we come before Him to confess our behavior. I said to him, and I say to you, God loves us so perfectly, that every time we turn to Him with a repentant heart, He offers us His grace. Go in His grace and live a set-apart life in the power of His Spirit today.

Let's Pray
Holy Father, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14, NLT)

I ask this in Jesus' Name,

Now It's Your Turn

· Meditate on Hebrews 4:14,16:

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

· Now, grab your journal and throw yourself into this devotion. What are your greatest areas of temptation and weakness regarding your words? Confess those to God and ask Him to grant you the mercy and strength to help you live a set-apart life.

· Read Ephesians 4.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Set-Apart Living

Part 1 
by Gwen Smith

Today's Truth 
"Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."(Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV)

Friend to Friend 
As Christian believers, we're called to live set-apart lives. To be holy as God is holy. To be in the world, but not of the world. God is the source of all holiness, and in order to live a set-apart life, we must spend time with Him so we can be fueled by His Holy Spirit.

I don't know what your days look like, but mine are pretty full. They start early and end late. Once the sun rises, it seems that coffee isn't the only thing brewing in my house. An invisible competition brews daily that vies for my time and attention. The competitors are often "good things" that end up to be "time-robbing things" that keep me from God's best and God's presence.

Today I'd like to put our computer lives under a spiritual microscope. I'm an e-girl. I love my MacBook Pro computer, my iPhone, email, instant messaging, and the World Wide Web. Though I'm admittedly fully immersed in the e-life, I'm also cognizant of the fact that the e-world has become a dangerous addiction and spiritual deterrent to many. I struggle with this personally! These electronic forums host a new and efficient opportunity for us to connect with other people 24/7. While much of the social networking, online surfing, and emailing is innocent, encouraging, and fun, they clearly present us with opportunities to sin and be distracted from set-apart living.

Over the past several years, Facebook, MySpace, blogs, instant messaging, and chat rooms have replaced many face-to-face conversations and, for some, devotion time. They have become a new source of temptation for us, an opportunity to live a fantasy or a momentary escape from the daily grind.

A friend of mine recently said, "My computer whispers to me." Yikes! Mine does, too! Though it's embarrassing to admit, I sometimes don't manage my time efficiently because I've given in to the lure of e-life by responding to the audio alert that indicates "I've got mail" or the notification that someone has left me a message on a social networking page of mine. As a result, I've robbed myself of productive time. Time I have wasted and spent unwisely.

We are warned against this in Scripture. "Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).

Now, hear me clearly on this. I'm not saying that electronic forums or computers are bad or evil in and of themselves. (For goodness sakes, you're reading this devotion because of the amazing electronic world!) I'm simply suggesting that it would be wise for each of us to pray about the amount of time and energy we devote to these things.

How can we be set apart in our e-life? How can we establish healthy e-boundaries that will protect our purity and our time with God? Perhaps we could start by taking an honest look at the amount of time we commit to our social e-lives versus the amount of time we commit to spending in God's Word and in His presence each day. (Did that sting? Rest assured, it stings me too.) 

The good news is that we can turn to God for direction and wisdom in all of this. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5, NIV). Our gracious Lord longs for each of us to choose His best and live each day in His strength.

"God, make a fresh start in me. 
Shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. 
Don't throw me out with the trash, 
or fail to breathe holiness in me. 
Bring me back from gray exile, 
put a fresh wind in my sails!" 
Psalm 51:10-12, MSG

Let's Pray 
Today I thought it would be fitting to pray directly from Scripture."And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light" (Colossians 1:10-12, NIV).

Father, we ask this in Jesus' Name, 

Now It's Your Turn 
Let's get practical today: 

  • Spend some time in thought and prayer about this subject. 
  • Ask God to reveal to you any e-habits that are sinful, indulgent, or inappropriate.  
  • Check your on-line notification settings and consider eliminating unnecessary email alerts. 
  • Remember that God longs for your time and attention. Be certain that you don't choose mundane activities instead of spending time with Him. 
  • Read Ephesians 5:1-20.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Would Moses Do?

I’m doing this thing where I’m reading through the Bible in 90 days, so basically this summer I’m reading through it. I’ve been reading for a week, and now I’m in Exodus 3. God is talking to Moses from the burning bush and tells him to go back to Pharaoh. Moses being Moses “said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘I will be with you.’”

Moses clearly had some insecurity. He didn’t speak that well, he had a history with that Pharaoh, and the people of Israel had no good, logical reason to follow him out of Egypt. There were multiple reasons why Moses should not have gone back to Egypt. But one HUGE reason why he should: God told him to go. God said “do this, I’m going with you.” What more could we want? We can’t expect God to live our lives for us and just sit on the couch at home, hoping that God will bring everyone we need or want to talk to right up to our front door. We have to be willing to walk the path He sets out for us, willing to accept the call.

As I sit here with a root beer and some Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate, I can only wonder, would I be as willing to obey? Or would I come up with excuses like Moses did? We read the Bible and we see these Biblical figures as great people, people of accomplishment, and some of them are. But most of them are just like us: scared and insecure. The only difference between them and us (besides the obvious physical and space/time differences) is that they obeyed. They questioned and they struggled, but they obeyed.

How have we obeyed today? Have we, all of us, answered that call? Regardless of what the call turns out to be, missionary, secretary, pastor, have we answered it with a willing servant heart? Or have we given excuses and tried to tell God that we aren’t good enough to do the job He has for us. God does not make mistakes! He’s going to call you for something you are not made for. Some of us are made to be missionaries, some of us are made to be pastors, some of us are made to be youth workers, and some of us are made to be secretaries. The call does not matter, as long we answer it!

Have you answered it? God is with you. What other promises do you need?

Overwhelmed and painting

So much has happened in the last 4 days! I'm still overwhelmed by it all!

First, Saturday, I learned how to paint and painted my first picture ever in my entire life (See left). In case you need help figuring out what the heck that is, it's me. I'm a dead tree. Or I was at least. But by the blood shed on the cross, I came back to life. I haven't painted a live tree yet, still working on that. But you can see a few blades of green grass beginning to grow where the blood from the cross, carried by the river, has begun new growth, new healing in the tree.

This painting is literally my first time ever picking up a paint brush in my life. I think I might take up painting, it's quite therapeutic and sometimes the therapist needs therapy.

Second, Thursday night I met this guy named Scott (who deserves a whole post himself- but I'm not going to dwell on him). He told me about the house next to him that was for sale. Keri and I will be looking for a place to live in a few months and we thinking about a house, although I wasn't really thinking about buying a house. We drove by Friday night and Keri fell in love with it. She saw the balcony and loved it. My parents and I drove by again on Saturday afternoon and took a look around the outside, my dad found a few problems but reserved his opinion until he saw the inside.

Sunday morning, a bunch of us went to Bethel to hear Craig preach. It was during this service, hearing him preach (although I hear him preach weekly), that I fully realized that this man was going to be my pastor. He said later to me that apparently I smiled at him the whole time and the look on my face said "pastor" to him. I knew that I was smiling becuase God was talking to me the whole time and just hugging me with His love. I knew before I went to Bethel that morning that it was important for me to be there, to hear Craig preach even though I had heard him many times before. And it was that morning that God pointed at Craig and said "this is your pastor" to me.

We then went to The Homeplace for lunch and we had a lovely lunch and a very nice waitress. She recognized me from when I worked at Mill Mountain in Salem and we talked. I talked with her longer than I have talked with my waitress in a long time. Not because I'm rude or anything, just because they tend to have other tables besides mine and not many actually strike up an actual conversation. I, for some reason, told her that we were going to look at houses that day and I was nervous about actually buying a house. She chatted some and then went away. When she dropped off our check, she wrote down her name, number, and weekday job. Her name is Linda and she does Morgages! Gee, does God want me to buy a house? I still don't know. But now I'm willing to look with a more open mind and perhaps get some estimates and numbers and see how to proceed.

Sunday afternoon, we finally saw the inside of the house. Sean Turk took us over. For a single guy, this kind of "fixer-upper" house would be fine. However, it is not, at this point, actually livable. This house needs all new windows, all kinds of work done in the basement, and attic (insulation and such) and it needs re-wiring, and that's just a start. Basically, it would need to be "flipped" as Scott says, which means about $30,000 worth of renovations before we could even move in. Other than that, it's an okay looking 2 story, 3 tiny bedroom, 2 bath (only 1 working though) house.

As Keri was standing on the porch with Scott, he mentions that the house across the street is also for sale. We look over and see this horribly ugly Pepto pink house. I mean, this puppy is hideous! We sucked it up and look inside. It's a nice little 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom (although one is in the basement) house. It needs to some work. For example, it has white carpet that needs to come up, a kitchen that needs help as far as the cabinets and such. It's a nice first house, built in 1948, 1,043 square feet, nice front porch, carport (although that is currently pink), 70 x 133 Corner Lot, and a nice back yard, with nice garden space.

I'm praying very hard. I'm still not sure what to do, but I'll call and get some info on what to do and how to proceed. I'm not ill at ease, neither to I have perfect peace about it yet. But I think that's mostly coming from me. I'm afraid. I've made some bad financial decisions in that past that I have no desire to relive. I'm just getting my credit score back up to something semi-normal. My brother got a loan and tried to build a house, but then couldn't pay for it. I don't want to end up down that path either. I'm praying hard, I'm seeking wise counsel, and seeking God's face about it. I'm keeping a level head, trying not to get too excited or too stressed out by this whole thing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Learned From You

Sometimes I couldn't hear what you're trying to tell me
I thought that I knew all I need to know
I didn't understand that the doors you would open
Could take me somewhere I wanted to go

I can be strong for you now
You taught me how

I learned from you that I do not crumble
I learned that strength is somethin' you choose
All of the reasons to keep on believin'
There's no question, that's a lesson, I learned from you

You know where to find all of my hiding places
And there are no secrets from you I can keep
You let me know how you feel, pulling no punches
And I never knew that kind of honesty

I'm grateful for all of the times
You opened my eyes

I learned from you that I do not crumble
I learned that strength is somethin' you choose
All of the reasons to keep on believin'
There's no question, that's a lesson, I learned from you

You helped me to stand on my own
And I thank you for that
It saved me, it made me
And now that I'm looking back I can say

I learned from you that I do not crumble
I learned that strength is somethin' you choose
All of the reasons to keep on believin'
There's no question, that's a lesson, I learned from you

I do not crumble
I learned that strength is somethin' you choose
All of the reasons to keep on believin'
There's no question, that's a lesson, I learned from you

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Windows 7 goes on sale October 22nd

Just thought you might like to know....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

something new for me

Genesis 18:1-15

The Three Visitors

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

3 He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant."
"Very well," they answered, "do as you say."

6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."

7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

9 "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him.
"There, in the tent," he said.

10 Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son."
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD ? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh."
But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."

Some things I never realized about this passage until today: there were three men standing there, yet it says that the LORD came to see Abraham. Abraham bowed before all three and addressed them as one, yet he knew there were three men standing before him because he prepared three loaves of bread. Could this be the second appearance of our three-in-one God? (the first being in the first few verses of Chap. 1). Also, Abraham seemed to understand that all three men were God, all three were his LORD. How did he know this? Did God sit him down and explain triune theology and it just didn't get recorded? We're only in chapter 18 of the Bible and yet Abraham seems to know things he really shouldn't know. How is this possible? Am I reading it wrong? Please, someone smarter than me give some insight.