Friday, July 29, 2011

Really, right there in the middle?

I was reading through Genesis and as I came across Genesis chapter 3 a question leaped out at me. First let me share the verse with you.

"'Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,' the woman replied. It's only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, 'You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'" Genesis 3:2-3

Now, Eve, is being tempted here and she is trying to prove her case as we all do when we are tempted. Funny we can change things around and make every excuse for why we should other than why we shouldn't. But what stands out to me is this. Why did God place that tree in the middle of the garden? I mean right smack dab in the middle? Why not place it off in the corner some place where they wouldn't see it daily and be tempted by it? I must say I have been pondering this question.

"The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. but the Lord God warned him, 'you may freely eat the fruit of the every tree in the garden-except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.'" Genesis 2:15-17

My thoughts? Well, our lives are surrounded by temptation. Where is temptation usually? It isn't in the corner of our life, it is right smack dab in the middle of everything! Was God making a point here? Have I totally been missing something?

"Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. but if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live." Romans 8:12-13

We battle temptation daily, sometimes moment by moment, but the amazing thing is, as we are faced with temptation in the middle of everyday, we can fight it! The Holy Spirit gives us all we need to move away from it, turn from it, and leave it in its tracks.

We are no different than Eve. Oh sure, we try to say we are, but we are tempted just as she was and we make excuses placing blame on others. Oh, how we love to point the finger when we fall into sin. Eve was blaming Adam and Satan and Adam was blaming Eve and Satan. Satan is not called the prince of lies for nothing. He is the great deceiver. We are deceived by the temptations that are in the middle of our day to day lives.

"Do not love the world nor the things if offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. There are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." 1 John 2:15-17

Eve was craving the fruit. Not fruit from the good tree, but fruit that would bring death. How long do you think she enjoyed that bite of fruit before she was wishing she had never taken a bite? Just like us, right? We give in, but for a second and that sin we thought just minor and mighty enjoyable for a few minutes brings much that we were not looking for. Isn't that how sin works? It isn't lasting, but the effects of it are. Sin is lasting. It doesn't just touch us, but everyone around us. Death? What kind of death was God speaking of? There is physical death and spiritual death. We can be walking dead. We can be sitting in our church pew every Sunday dead as can be. Sure, our heart might be beating, but we don't have a pulse. Sin is sin. Temptation is not sin. Only when we give into it does it become sin.

We might ask ourselves, "How in the world did I get to this place?" One sin at a time. We can awaken from our spiritual death by turning from that sin. We must acknowledge the sin. Ask forgiveness of the sin. Pray for strength to over come the sin and courage to turn from the temptation to do it again. Our flesh is weak. Satan knows each and every weakness. Why do you think he throws temptation in our face at our weakest moments?

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, 'God is tempting me.' God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters." James 1:12-16

That temptation right smack dab in the middle of our lives will do everything it can to have us give in to it, just as Eve did. We can fight temptation. It doesn't have to lead to sin. When we are tempted might we remember the promises of God and know that what He has for us is lasting! There is a fruit we are to eat of. There is a fruit we are to multiply in our lives. If we stay focused on that and place it in the middle of everything we do, it will give strength in those times of our weakness. The more we put it on and the more we share it, the more blessings there are to flow right in the middle of our lives!

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!" Galatians 5:22-23

There's love in them actions

We face the day with trepidation. We want to soar, but we are not quite sure we can make it off the the ground. We wake wanting to feel refreshed and all we feel like doing is crawling back under the blankets. No one really knows what we are facing. We have kept quiet for so long. We don't want others knowing. We don't want pity. We just need love. We need someone to care. Does anyone care?

Just think what would happen if all we did was love. I mean really unselfishly love those around us. We would see friends soar. We would witness miracles happen as people threw off their worries and grabbed a hold of the hope that is no longer out of reach.

Think you can't encourage another? Is it just not your gift? I think we just don't think we can be of much help. What would we say? We can all encourage. It's simple. Send a text of just, "Hello, I'm thinking about you." Email one across the miles. Pick up the phone and let another hear your voice of compassion. Send a card to make one smile. Ask a friend over for lunch. Hop on in your car and visit that girl friend you haven't seen in ages. Give a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant. Share a favorite book that changed your life. Just give of your time. Time shows another you love them. Reaching out shows one you care. Most importantly pray for that friend in need. You never know just what your one act of encouragement will do for another. God has perfect timing and He wants you to allow Him to move through you. He wants us to be His hands and feet. Encouragement is a gift we all could use more of. Don't you think? Encouragement brings life to a troubled soul and gives us the motivation to make it through one more day. One more hour. One more minute. Open your heart to another and see just what God can do with a little of your time.

E Elevated
N New
C Courageous
O Over-Flowing
U Unity
R Rejuvenated
A Alive
G Grateful
E Equipped
M Mighty
E Excited
N Nurtured
T Thankful

Searching for direction

If you have stopped in on a Friday you may have noticed there was not a Lets Chat spot appearing. I want to share with you that Lets Chat isn't over, it's just on hold for a bit. I love Fridays and I love interviewing people. This highlight has been a rich blessing in my life, but it is time I take a step back for a bit and look at the view. Not my view, but God's view.

I have been spending time in prayer asking God, "What direction do You want me to go?" I haven't heard a definite answer yet, so I am waiting and trying hard to be still. When you love to write, or maybe I should say, when writing is your passion, it's pretty hard to sit back and wait. He hasn't told me to put my writing on hold, but He is asking me to expand my vision. I jot down everything that seems to have meaning. I have all these notes and it's like trying to put a puzzle together. Finding where all the pieces fit is not always easy. It is a journey and I gotta say, as I sit back and try to soak it all in I find a great assurance in the fact that God is doing the leading. I just want to make sure I do the following.

See, I am not sure if I am to move into Fiction or Non-Fiction. Being part of the ACFW has opened my eyes to so much and I am learning from some pretty amazing people. I think after I attend the conference in September I will have a better understanding of just where I am to be and what I am to do. Maybe I am not to publish a book at all. Maybe I am to continue this ministry. I just am not sure. I know I have a story to tell. We all do. But I am not sure as how to tell my story. It would be amazing to do it through a Fiction series, but also opening my heart and being transparent in a Non-Fiction area would be equally amazing. Do you see my dilemma? Have you too felt this struggle before?

God has been opening door after door for me and I am so humbled by His presence in my life. His guidance is everything. In writing we can get caught up in so much. We tend to look over and see how many people are stopping in. We place our acceptance on those comments below. We judge our ministry by the emails we receive. Ah, it sounds like there are times we can just be stuck in that place of, "What do others think of my writing?" I don't want to be in that place. Sure, it is nice and humbling to hear from others. It is wonderful to hear from your readers just how they have been blessed by what they have read. I find it overwhelmingly awesome that a person can just stop by out of the blue on a night when they just happen to come across something that is what they needed to hear. When you hear their story that is just more of a confidence you are where you are suppose to be in your writing. With that being said, I want to be in a place where I am totally searching God's will and His leading. I want to be totally surrendered to His voice and not my own.

I want to be totally transparent and there is so much to share. So, how much do you share? My son asked me last night, "Mom, if I tell my story do you know how many people will judge me?" My answer to him was, "Is it more important for one person to hear your message and be changed or is it more important to be concerned with those who might judge?" We spend so much time worrying about what others think of us. That is so sad. Really. When we reach heaven and we see Jesus face to face I want to be able to say, "Lord, I have used up everything You gave me." When I meet Jesus face to face those people who judged will not be standing there next to me. I find that comforting. I should be more concerned with how my Father in heaven sees me. Does He see a girl on fire for Him or does He see me floating somewhere between the lines of faith and this world? We cannot walk with one foot in faith and one foot in this world. We must make a decision. My decision is to totally live for Jesus and I want that to shine through my writing. After all, this is His gift and I am humbled to receive it.

What is He calling you to do? Where is He calling you to go? There are those times we must take a step back and do a heart check. My heart aches to know Him more. I want to dig into His Word even deeper and write with a new vision. So friends, please be patient with me as I travel on this journey into the unknown. I just want to make sure I don't make a left turn where I am to make a right one.




Thursday, July 28, 2011

THUNDER DOG: A Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by MICHAEL HINGSON and SUZY FLORY

Here is how Thomas Nelson describes this beautifully written book:
A blind man and his guide dog show the power of trust and courage in the midst of devastating terror.


It was 12:30 a.m. on 9/11 and Roselle whimpered at Michael’s bedside. A thunderstorm was headed east, and she could sense the distant rumbles while her owners slept. As a trained guide dog, when she was “on the clock” nothing could faze her. But that morning, without her harness, she was free to be scared, and she nudged Michael’s hand with her wet nose as it draped over the bedside toward the floor. She needed him to wake up.

With a busy day of meetings and an important presentation ahead, Michael slumped out of bed, headed to his home office, and started chipping away at his daunting workload. Roselle, shivering, took her normal spot at his feet and rode out the storm while he typed. By all indications it was going to be a normal day. A busy day, but normal nonetheless. Until they went into the office.

In Thunder Dog, follow Michael and his guide dog, Roselle, as their lives are changed forever by two explosions and 1,463 stairs. When the first plane struck Tower One, an enormous boom, frightening sounds, and muffled voices swept through Michael’s office while shards of glass and burning scraps of paper fell outside the windows.

But in this harrowing story of trust and courage, discover how blindness and a bond between dog and man saved lives and brought hope during one of America’s darkest days.

What are my thoughts?

This is by far one beautiful story. A true story that points to a mighty God and the love between a man and his dog. I often say, "God brought Daisy into my life for a reason and a purpose." That purpose was to save my life. You will love this story of faith and trust. Michael opens his heart and gives us a glimpse of what life was like for him on this tragic day of 9/11, but also a story of his life. The struggles and blessings along the way that made him the man he is today. This is a story of hope, life and love between a man and his friend, Roselle. This book is wonderfully written and told with such grace. With a thankful heart and faith we are brought to a place that Michael couldn't even see, but through his courage we are able to see clearly the impact this day made on his life and how faith brought him through leaving him with a thankful heart. Don't you just love stories like this? I do. I love when people share their story. Through this story you will find hope and a challenge to face each day with new faith knowing God is forever with us.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

When there is no end in sight turn to the One who gives light

"Discouraged not by difficulties without, or the anguish of ages within, the heart listens to a secret voice that whispers: "Be not dismayed; in the future lies the Promised Land." Helen Keller

We wake with such disappointment. What we expected has turned into the unexpected. Our smile that formed so easy on Monday has now turned to a frown on Friday. Life seems to change so very quickly. It's like driving down that country road on a brightly lit Sunday night as all is quiet and there it happens before the blink of an eye. A deer crosses your path and a life comes to an end.

Ever feel as though your seatbelt was not on tight enough? The car seems to stop so abruptly and your thrown from the comfort of your seat. Now your left with trying to understand what has happened. Nothing seems right and you have no idea how it all fell apart.

Sound like your life today? Was everything going smoothy until you woke this morning? Maybe those divorce papers arrived for signing today. Maybe the money you thought was there for the house payment hasn't been there for months and now you find yourself packing. Life seems to happen with no regard for our feelings. We can feel such inadaqacy and sorrow as we watch others smile at the blessings in front of them today. As we are dressing for the funeral we never expected another family is bringing home the precious baby that has arrived after years of praying.

We can have those days where nothing seems to go right and everything seems to come out of left field. What do you do with a daughter who will not give you a chance? What happens when you have tried to help your son who is addicted to drugs and he will not accept your help or love? We take care of our aging parents and our children who are tenderly small. We go through the day trying to move about and make sense of it all.

Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. There seems no ryhme or reason for the day we face. The day seems to go on forever and we can't wait for night. We can't wait to close our eyes and escape the pain. We run from it. We try to hide, but it's always there. Pain and sorrow are unescapable from this life. What do we except from life? Do we really expect a pain free life, when it was life that our Savior gave to us by the very giving of His own?

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5

Morning does come. The sun does shine again and we are able to feel alive once more. When life happens all we can do is call upon the Lord and trust Him. Even when a mess is dropped on us, He can create beauty in us and through us. I think when we accept Christ as our Savior we think life will be different. I should say, not different, but without sorrow and pain. We think that the evils of this world will not touch us any longer. We couldn't be more wrong. Attacks do not stop coming with Christ in our life, we are now fitted for the battle. He supplies us with a strength we didn't know possible. He sends armies of hope to surround us to bring us through the valley of dispair. He gives light to the darkness around us and fills us with a peace we have never known before. He stands in the gap and makes a way for us.

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

We mustn't find ourselves looking downcast and giving up. There is nothing but more sorrow in giving up. When we look to the Lord, He will send what we need. He will provide in our moment of weakness and strengthen us for that hour of despair. In just saying His name, JESUS, we have hope. I have been there in the darkness of destruction. You think all hope is gone and nothing will ever get better. I have wanted everything to just end and in that moment when I think I cannot hang on any longer, I hear the sweet voice of Jesus. He not only brought me through those times I didn't think I would survive, but He showed me His mighty mercy in the middle of the night.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

I can tell you things do not always turn out as I would have them. Problems are still arising. My life is not void of pain, but is filled completely with hope. I know even when I cannot see the end in sight, Jesus does. He knows what is around every corner in life for me. He will never leave me alone to fight any battle without Him. I feel His strength today like never before. In part, I know that is because I have witnessed His goodness and mercy. I have felt His hand touch me and lift me out of the water. I cannot understand the reasoning of others or the pain they want to cause. I am not able to understand when things turn south and I am left with a look of a deer caught in the headlights. But, I trust in the One who does. Nothing touches my life that He does not know about. That brings me great comfort. It doesn't make the pain easier. It is a different comfort. It's a comfort in knowing, He knows. There is purpose in pain. Our bodies scream out pain letting us know something is wrong. Many times it is a warning to something that could have brought much danger. In my discomfort, God lets me know, "It's not all about you daughter." I know He always has a higher purpose and His plan is filled with love to only bring me closer to Him.

It's hard at times to see a purpose in such pain, isn't it? We think a loving God would not cause us to go through so much. He doesn't cause it, but He does allow it. But do we ever wonder how much pain He keeps from touching us? How much is going on around us that He has taken care of before it has ever reached our doorstep? We rejoice in everything good that happens. Maybe we too should learn to rejoice in the struggle that touches our lives. I know, without it I would not be where I am with Christ today. I am that girl who has to be reminded to humble myself and stretch myself beyond all measure for the greater cause. That greater cause is Jesus Christ.

Friend, whatever is touching you today, there is hope. Don't give up and don't give in. Reach out ask for help. Don't try to go it alone and think you can handle it all. You are loved. You have purpose. Your life was created to bring glory and honor to God, the God who saved us so that we could find life everlasting. Although what is today seems to be lasting, it isn't. One day we will reach heaven and I believe be able to look back and see just how full our lives were at the moment we began trusting in our Savior.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ENEMIES OF THE HEART (Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You) by ANDY STANLEY

Andy Stanley is AWESOME!! I opened this book and did not put it down until I was finished! I love how the Lord sends a book my way just when I need it. Perfection only by God! Do you have a heart problem? Lets put it this way, you may have a heart problem and not even know it. I did, or should say, I do. I have been holding in such anger and had no idea why. The very things I thought I was angry at wasn't even the problem. I had to dig deeper.

Andy takes us through our heart conditions that effect every facet of our lives. Anger, guilt, jealousy and greed. If we do not carry these in our heart we know someone who is. They effect everyone at some point in our lives. The point is, how do we rid ourselves of them?

Andy takes us through each one and not only shows us what the symptoms are, but the cure. Yes, he points us to healing. Change doesn't happen overnight, but we must make a choice within to begin change. Once we can identify our heart condition God can begin His work in us.

I grabbed my pen and just began underlining statement after statement. Such poignant and powerful words for a bleeding heart.

The very first verse, Andy Stanley, uses is, "The Heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9  This verse brought such clarity to me. I try so hard to understand what is going on in my own life and I just can't. I often sit back and say, "Where in the world did that come from?" We can't understand sin. We cannot understand why others treat us badly. We can't understand attack with any kind of reason, until we look deep into the heart! If something is not right, I can almost promise you there is a heart condition that hasn't been diagnosed yet.

Here are some of my favorites from the book!

"If you're a Christian you aren't expected to treat others the way you've been treated by others; you've been called to treat people the way you've been treated by your Father in heaven. You don't forgive because the other person deserves it; you forgive because you've been forgiven."

"As we've seen, each of the enemies of the heart we're discussing is energized by the idea that somebody owes something. Guilt says, "I owe you." Anger is fueled by the notion that you owe me. Greed is kept alive by the assumption that I owe me. This fourth heart issue is no different. Jealousy. Jealousy says, "God owes me."

"God's forgiveness doesn't exempt you from the responsibility for confession and restitution. On the contrary, his forgiveness is the very reason to confess. God paid a high price to reconcile you back to him, and now he's calling on you to pay the price to reconcile yourself to debts that have been neglected, apologies never made-these are things God will eventually lead us to own and resolve. How does He do this? Through nagging, undeniable, irritating sense of guilt that follows you around like a bad cold. you won't be able to confess it away or pray it away."

This book is filled with great wisdom and it is wisdom that this girl needed. I feel like I have every tool I need to overcome my heart condition. Since I shared my heart condition is anger, I too must share with you the four phases I must go through to healing. 1. Identify who your angry with 2. Determine what they owe you 3. Cancel the debt 4. Dismiss the case. This is one of those books I would encourage you to pick up. I am so glad I did. To Andy I say, Thank you with all my heart!!

This book was a gift from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for it's review.

Andy Stanley is a pastor, communicator, author, and the founder of North Point Ministries, Inc. (NPM). Since its inception in 1995, North Point Ministries has grown from one campus to five in the Atlanta area and has helped plant more than thirty strategic partner churches globally. Each Sunday, more than twenty-five thousand people attend worship services at one of North Point Ministries’ five campuses. Andy’s books include Communicating for a Change, The Next Generation Leader, Visioneering, and How Good is Good Enough? Andy lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, with his wife, Sandra, and their children.


Monday, July 25, 2011

STRIKING A MATCH (The Complete Series) by TRACIE PETERSON

Tracie Peterson has taken me to Alaska, Montana and now Texas. What an experience it is to travel along with Tracie. In her newest series, Striking A Match, we meet Deborah Vandermark. What a life this young girl leads. In the beginning of the series with book 1, Embers Of Love, we meet her best friend, Lizzie Decker. They have gone to school together, something many girls of this time didn't have the chance to do.

Lizzie isn't so sure she wants to wed a man she doesn't love so she travels to Texas with Deborah. Life is totally different for Lizzie in Texas. She is use to the comfort of having everything done for her and now she will learn how to do those things for herself. She is shocked at how things are so different in the south.

Deborah lost her father to a logging accident and her brother was badly injured. Guilt has become part of G.W's life. Deborah already has her sights set for playing match maker. We follow the love that is kindling between G.W and Lizzie, but we too get to see Deborah and the new doctor in town, Christopher Clayton, begin a friendship.

Deborah wants to continue in her schooling, but carrying a bit of guilt herself. She doesn't want to leave her family again. Christopher begins teaching her as she stands side by side him as he cares for the people of this beautiful land.

Book 2, Hearts A Glow, continues with the story line of Deborah's life. This logging town suffers much. We see the challenges come and they overcome trial after trial. Some trials leave a scar as we witness in this wonderful story. Deborah fights the battles of her own heart. I love how Tracie Peterson brings the reader into the heart of the character. These are the same battles we fight among ourselves daily and we see that God has a plan and through Him we can prevail and see blessings through each and every trial we face.

The series ends with book 3, Hope Rekindled. I do not want to spoil the story for you. That seems to happen as we read reviews that tell the entire story line. I will tell you, Deborah and Christopher do marry, but of course not without facing more uncertainty. Life holds such choice and decision for us. Sometimes we beat ourselves up for making the wrong decision, only to see God do a work in us and we witness an outcome totally unexpected and filled with God's blessings.

I absolutely loved this series. Deborah is one of those women you admire and as you begin to learn her character you see a bit of yourself in her. That is what I love about Tracie Peterson. She knows how to captivate the reader and bring something meaningful to the heart of the reader. In every book I have read of Tracie's I have walked away with a rich blessing and a greater desire to be the woman God has created me to be.

This series was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie's Web site at www.traciepeterson.com and her blog at www.writespassage.blogspot.com.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Empty yourself of all that clutter

We all have one. Most of the time it's in the kitchen hidden by the look of the smooth cabinet drawer. Yes, that junk drawer. Why? We all seem to have that one drawer in which we throw every unwanted item. Why do we not throw it away? Wouldn't that be easier? No, we want to hang on to it. You never know if your going to need it, right? But then, we never use it. Most of the time we don't even really know what it is used for, so what happens? One Saturday we pull that drawer open and say to our bored selves, "Ya know, I think I am going to clean this thing out."
We begin the task and we even make piles. Those gadgets to throw away, those gadgets to maybe keep and those gadgets that we must ask someone else if they belong to them. Okay, most of the time I have no idea who these gadgets belong to and for some reason they have ended up in my drawer. Every once in a while we will pick something up and say, "Well, there that is. I have been looking all over for this." Well, gosh, why didn't I just look in the drawer that contains everything?

Not unlike our junk drawers our lives can be filled with clutter. It seems we are hanging on to things we didn't even know were there until something happens causing the dam to burst and the flood gates open. Other times we are holding on to other people's stuff. We seem to take on burdens of others and even after they have let them go, for some reason we find we are still there holding on to them. Why? Why do we hold on to so much stuff? And to make it worse, it's old stuff. Stuff that doesn't matter any more. Stuff that can't be used and it's stuff that is only taking up space. Think of all the things we could use that drawer for.

We wait to declutter our lives until they are so jam packed we don't know where to begin. So, we begin making piles. This hurt was from years ago, but I am still holding on to it. This pain is from today. I am not sure how this is going to turn out yet, so I might need to hold on to this. Yes, there is that tomorrow pile too. Things that haven't even happened yet. We are just worried they will so we are already hanging on to them for insurance purposes.

A few days ago while looking through a drawer I found a few bullets for my husband's pistol. I put them back in the box, but it made me think. How much stuff do we hang on to for ammunition? Even though a hurt is in the past we hang on to it for future reference. We like to say, "Hey, remember last Feb 19 at 3:00 when you _______?"  It's not just hurts of the past we hang to. It's gossip, secrets, lies, anything that we think might be helpful in the future, but none of that stuff is salvageable. We can't put that stuff in the recycling bin. That is stuff we need to pitch. There is no reason to hold on to such things.

Once that drawer is cleaned out look how light it is? But if we take a closer look that drawer is dirty now. There is caked in dirt in the corners and marks left over from old pens without lids. Our drawer doesn't look new anymore. Just think, if we hadn't of placed all that junk in there, it wouldn't look like it does now. So, what do we do? Is there a solution? Cleaning the drawer out is just the beginning. One might think it's the most time consuming, but it really isn't. It's the cleaning of all the scuff marks and gooey stuff in the corners and all that little bitty stuff in the cracks that is so hard to get out. All that junk sure has left it's mark hasn't it? Unless we clean that drawer out whatever else we decide to place in there for safe keeping is just going to get dirty. So piece by piece we remove all the little stuff that we didn't think much mattered. We get that scouring pad and scrub hard as we remove those marks left by all the tale tell junk. The wonderful gift of grace. God removes our sin forever. He never again reminds us of it, so why do we need reminded of our past? We too must forgive all those hurts made by others. Even if we never hear the words, "I'm sorry", we must find forgiveness so that we can have peace and move forward.

Once we take the time to go through each piece we can let it go. We can drop each item into the trash or we can simply find it's right place. It seems even when we organize the smallest of things it makes life smoother. Not necessarily easier, but at least we have a hint of where it should go. It really is a time saver to just put everything where it should go. And where should it go, you ask? We need to lay everything at the feet of Jesus. We don't need to hold to worry and stress. It's like we save up anger and bitterness to use for fuel on those days where we are low on patience. It's like one bad day comes and here all that stuff that was tucked in that drawer comes falling out. We sit there in the floor with all this "stuff" gathered around our feet and all we can see is the mess we have created. Yes, we created it. We did so when we decided to hang on to everything. For me, it was almost as if I was afraid to let go. I thought in letting go of everything some how I was going to lose myself, but that couldn't be more from the truth. It is when we let go that we truly find ourselves. We find a peace we didn't know possible. In letting go we are saying hello to new blessings. Trinkets from heaven. I used up so much space holding on to pain and anger that I didn't have room for anything else but that.

There was a time I held on to everything. My drawer has been really full over the years. I may have even kept more than one junk drawer. When I was raped and when my dad died were probably the two most difficult times in my life. I can tell you I hated God. I wanted nothing to do with Him. I wanted to blame someone. Anyone really and He was as good of a target as anyone else. I carried such anger. Anger I didn't know what to do with. So, I stored it. There is so much that has happened in my life. During those dark times I was not a Christian. I believe that made those times even darker. I can't imagine not having Christ in my life now. He has made all the difference.

I have had to open up that drawer of mine and go through piece by piece, no matter how hard it was. I had to begin throwing junk away that I had held on to from my childhood. I needed to throw it away so I could make room for blessings. Why don't we have a drawer that holds treasures instead of always having a junk drawer around? Why not create a treasure drawer or a blessing box? A place where we have little things that remind us of God's goodness when all seems to fall apart. A place of peace we can go and lift the lid of that box seeing inspiration and comfort? Just think if we had a sharing box. If a friend comes over for coffee and begins to tell you she needs prayer, pray with her and bring out your box, showing her how God has brought you through and give her a treasure of hope to hold on to.

I guess it all comes down to how we do things. We can hang on to everything or we can let it go and find a life filled with forgiveness, joy and laughter. When we hold on to junk all we get out of the drawer is anger and bitterness. Who wants that? That isn't a drawer you want to share. But what about that treasure drawer? That is something we can share with others. We can share the treasures of how God brought us through. Share reminders of when He brought His peace and when He filled us with smiles when that bill was paid out of no where. We have enough bad days, we don't need a drawer to remind us of all those in the past, present and future.

If you have walked by that drawer one too many times why not tackle that junk drawer instead of continuing to open it and close it right back up? It will be a day that will bring you a brighter and lighter tomorrow.

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8

"Set your minds on things above, not on things of the earth." Colossians 3:2

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

Friday, July 22, 2011

THE DEAD SAINT by MARILYN BROWN ODEN

What a read! The latest book I have pulled off my shelf is, "The Dead Saint", by Marilyn Brown Oden. The cover of this book says it all. You throw in a New Orleans Saint, cross hairs, and the White House and you have yourself a story that keeps you captivated all the way to the last page.

Here is how Abingdon Press describes, "The Dead Saint."

It begins with a single gunshot, and Bishop Lynn Peterson watches in horror as a good friend, who is a member of the New Orleans Saints, collapses on the street.



When a medal the player wore—a medal Lynn had promised to return to the man's family—disappears, Lynn is thrust into a suspenseful and fast-moving journey through four assassinations, an attempt on her life, conflicts with a mysterious and ancient society, and a behind-the-scenes conspiracy that reaches all the way to the White House.


The turbulent, unstoppable intrigue challenges Lynn mentally, physically, and spiritually as she engages in a desperate battle with an opponent who is just as determined to kill as Lynn is to stop him even though she has no idea where—or who—he will strike next.


What are my thoughts? I enjoyed this book. You begin to wonder, "How much can one person take?" Well, we see that the Lord not only will carry you through, but will give you the strength to stand against the evils of this world. The main character, Bishop Lynn Peterson, is a world traveler. It seems her life is filled with adventure. She is one of those women willing to take risks and step out of her comfort zone. I admire that. She now has a mission to carry out, but someone is trying to stop her. The truth always prevails. This book is a combination of many things. Suspense, intrigue, and conspiracy all wound up in this thriller that keeps you captivated until the last page.

This book was a gift from Abingdon Press for it's review.

Marilyn Brown Oden is the award-winning author of ten previous books, including Crested Butte: A Novel. She enjoys good times with family and friends, walks to the Santa Fe Plaza, and cross-country skiing in the moonlight. Her life is enriched through experiences on five continents with diverse people—refugees, Gypsies, the physically challenged, women in prison, prime ministers, royalty, and presidents. Two encounters reshaped her worldview: visiting refugee centers in the war zones of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the NATO bombing and participating in an ecumenical fact-finding delegation to Israel/Palestine. Writing continues to bring her meaning and a sense of wholeness. She is a United Methodist and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SHROUDED IN SILENCE by ROBERT L. WISE

The latest book I have read is, Shrouded In Silence, by Robert L. Wise. The amazing thing about reading is there is something for everyone. Here is the description Abingdon Press has about Shrouded In Silence.

Determined to find an answer, Jack and Michelle Townsend set out on a quest to find the original ending to the Gospel of Mark.


Following ancient clues, they head for Rome, but what starts out as a scholarly search turns violent as two separate groups strive to stop the Townsends, plunging their quiet research into chaos.

After a bomb destroys their office, the Townsends are pushed to the limits of their determination and commitment to God’s will. Can faith in God’s purposes endure in a swirl of conspiracy and espionage that brings the couple to the brink of death?


"This is a story of well-hidden biblical secrets that have endured throughout the ages and of a couple's devotion to finding the truth. It's a story fraught with death, danger, and deception--of never knowing who to trust, and with a twist of an ending I didn't see coming. Great read!" --Sharon Sala, author of The Searcher's Trilogy: Blood Stains, Blood Ties, Blood Trails

Something I have learned in doing book reviews is you don't want me to tell you the complete story line. You also don't want to know all the secrets and how the book ends. That simply spoils the book for you. A book report is not what I am to do. I am to give you my thoughts and share with you if I enjoyed the book or if it is one I wouldn't recommend.

So, what are my thoughts? I wanted to love this book so very much. The story line is awesome. It would be great on the big screen. Most of the time I would rather read the book instead of watch the movie. This wasn't the case here. I never got connected to the characters. You might say I wanted more. I needed more conversation between the characters to draw me in. I felt almost as if in certain parts I was reading another language. It was just one of those books that didn't do it for me. You may read it and have a totally different opinion. I pray you love it. Every author puts blood, sweat and tears into their work. The finished product becomes a part of them. I never want to disrespect an author or their work. This just wasn't a great read for me. If you have a different opinion about this book  I would love for you to share it with me.

This book was a gift from Abingdon Press for it's review.
Father Robert (Robert L. Wise, PhD) is both a priest and an archbishop in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. He is the author of thirty-two published books and the ghost author of six published novels, including The Death of Innocence, the parents’ story of the death of JonBenĂ©t Ramsey. Father Robert’s books have been translated into Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, and German. He has made numerous television appearances discussing his adventures in researching his stories.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sometimes where your standing makes all the difference

I have been spending time reading, "Crazy Love", by Francis Chan, and last night I came across something he shared. "Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers." Isn't that wonderful? It was just what I needed to hear at the moment. I sat and pondered over these words.

We always try to figure the world and it's actions out. We simply cannot. If we are living in our Christian faith and seeking God on every level, we will not understand why the world does what it does. Just as if we are living our Christian faith, the world is not going to understand us. There are going to be times when we look simply crazy. Our lives and the world are not to match up. If our lives are making sense to the world/unbelievers, then something is wrong. That was profound for me.

This is where we seem to butt heads with others and have disagreements that make us cringe. If someone doesn't believe in God there is no amount of talking that is going to make them see your point of view or the stand you are taking. Doesn't that bring a peace to your heart? It does mine.

I spend so much time trying to figure things out. I have said of late, "This is just crazy, nothing is making any sense." The world isn't going to make sense to me if I am looking through faith in Christ. There are times when we must just back away from a situation and pray.

My heart was so overwhelmed when I went to bed last night. I was trying to understand the troubles that were taking place and understand the actions of others and as I read I came across this and it was like the Lord just blanketed me with comfort. I could feel His love wash over me. Have you ever done that with something you have read? I love how God is at work always. He knows exactly what we need and brings His blessings at the perfect moment.

When it seems that we are at war with our family or friends you rack your brain trying to make sense of what just happened. We spend more time trying to figure it out than we do in prayer over it. We can now give it to Jesus. Simply give Him everything we don't understand and trust Him to bring about peace. Sometimes no matter how hard we try we just can't make something right. God knows our heart. He knows every situation that surrounds us. He knows of those attacks that will come today or tomorrow. May we remember, prayer=peace. It might not be a peaceful situation, but our hearts can be filled with a peace that allows us to completely trust Christ. He sees what I cannot. He too knows the blessings that can come from prayer and tears shed for those we love. Although we may not understand, we have hope and through that hope we will see God work all things out for His good and mighty purposes.

It can feel as though we are on an island all alone. No one gets us and we sure aren't getting those around us. Jesus too, knows the pain of being misunderstood. He knows the pain of standing alone and what it's like when circumstance and anger surround you. He trusted His Father and we too must do the same. The same God who came before us knows our pain and is working to bring peace to our broken hearts.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-8

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 1 John 3:1




Leave the light on a little longer

One of my most cherished times of the past is when my children would get so excited for bedtime. You ask, "What? Excited for bed?" Well, they knew after bath time, everyone crawled in mommy's bed for a good read. We would spend hours at the library picking out books. They would get a few they could read and pick out those that they wanted me to read to them. I remember that sweet sound of, "Momma, peeez read it again." With a smile and a joy in my heart I would read again and again.

Now, I find myself wishing we could go back to such a simple time. Such a sweet time. We turned each page and the kids would take time looking at each picture. You could just see their little minds churning. For the most part, they knew how the story ended. We had picked out books and read the same ones over and over again, but they didn't care. It was a time they loved. It was a win-win for all of us. I was filled with a joy over the moon as I read and they opened their hearts and minds to a sweet time I hope they forever remember.

As I crawled into bed last night those memories came swimming through my mind. I covered up with a smile over my face as I grabbed the book next to me and removed the book mark. It was one of those "aha" moments. I realized that this memory of mine is a very real emotion with my Savior. I just envisioned as I open my bible and turn the pages of His Word, He is overjoyed at the time we are sharing. That is a time when we grow closer. A daughter sitting on the lap of her Father as He speaks His Word to my heart. I imagine all the time I am reading, He is praying, "Please let her always remember."

I imagine my Savior has the same thoughts as me. I know He misses me when am absent from His lap. As much as we love spending time with our children, can you imagine how much more, He loves spending time with us? It's as though He is calling to me, "Rob, it's almost time for bed. You have had your whole day to yourself. Please come spend some time with Me." Can you hear Him too? We know He is calling, but yet we continue to put Him off. We place thing after thing before Him and then try to squeeze in time with Him before we close our eyes to sleep. We will open our bible and read just a bit while the yawn tears our eyes. So, instead of making more time what do we do? We shut our bible and say, "I will read in the morning", only to have the alarm go off and we shoot out of bed to start our day.

Just imagine what our day would be like if we made time for Him in the mornings. Just imagine our time sleeping if we made time for Him before the lights go out. Of course the heart of our Father breaks when we put off time spent with Him, but we too miss out. Can you here Him saying, "Don't you remember how special our time is?"

"So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ." Romans 10:17

Monday, July 18, 2011

CRAZY LOVE by FRANCIS CHAN with DANAE YANKOSKI

Before I begin my review I want to share some things about David C. Cook publishing. In reviewing, I have the opportunity to work with many publishers and authors. This has been a great blessing to me. I teach Junior High Awana or Trek on Wednesday nights at church. A group of kids searching for answers. A group of kids that tugged at my heart. I wanted to bless this youth group with something special, but it just was not in our budget.

I contacted David C. Cook through email and shared this with them. I am not sure what I expected, but I believe God was at work beforehand. David C. Cook Publishing not only gave me a book for review, but they blessed me with twenty books for my students to read throughout the summer. Can you believe it? This is a group that is reaching out to the world and sharing the gospel of Christ. Through this one act of love and kindness only God knows the blessings that are to follow. To them, I want to say, Thank you.

Here is what David C. Cook has to say about Crazy Love:

Have you ever wondered if we're missing it?


It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss.
Whether you've verbalized it yet or not.we all know something's wrong.

Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts-it's falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same.

Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

Check out Francis Chan's video blog at francischanblog.blogspot.com.


What are my thoughts about Crazy Love? It seemed everyone around me has been reading this book. I was curious and then the leaders of our college age ministry at church began teaching it. I wanted to see what this book was all about. Of all the books I have read, this is in the top three. This book is life changing! Francis Chan has been blessed by God to share the love of Christ in such a way that you not only hear the gospel message, but you are able to see it. He is so passionate and creative in his words. He brings us to look deep within ourselves. This book is challenging and motivating. Each chapter brings something unique. I can tell you I cried as I read the words in this book. It brought me to a place I didn't want to go. I had to realize I was this lukewarm Christian he is speaking of. I am this Christian living for Christ, but placing myself first in many situations. This book is not only powerful, but poignant.

There is also a video that you can purchase to go along with the book. It is a ten week study. Although I didn't do the study, I can only imagine how powerful it is if the book is this awesome. This would be great for young adults, college groups and yes, adults. This is one of those books that everyone should read. As I held this book in my hands I read over and over different paragraphs that just stood out to me. It was as if Christ was reaching into my soul and saying, "I love you. We can have so much more."

If you are looking to have an intimate relationship with Christ this book is for you. It will change your life and bring you to open God's Word and read it over as if it was your first time.



This Book was a gift from David C. Cook Publishing for it's review.



Francis Chan is the best-selling author of Crazy Love and Forgotten God and the host of theBASIC.series. He has also written the children's books Halfway Herbert, The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village and Ronnie Wilson's Gift. Francis is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, and is the founder of Eternity Bible College. He also sits on the board of directors of Children's Hunger Fund and World Impact. Francis lives in California with his wife, Lisa, and their four children.


Email: mailto:talk@francischan.org

Website: http://www.francischan.org

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Where's your sign?

We love to point out sin don't we? Well, just not ours or the ones we are willing to accept. We seem to place a price tag on sin. You have bad sin and you have not so bad sin. We try to say, "Oh, murder is a big sin." While on the other hand we say, "Oh, gossip isn't that big of a deal." Friends, sin is sin. Sin is ugly and none of us want to admit we have it. We like to point to others. We even like to pretend as Christians our sin isn't as bad as say, someone who isn't saved. Ever wonder why people don'tlike the church? Oh, it's not the pastor or even what is being preached. It's the people who seem to hold themselves above all others.

We have all done it at one time or another. Shame on us. Shame on me. I know I have looked upon others and said to myself, "I would never do such a thing." What is it they say, "Never say never?" A few days ago I had simply made a post on face book about sin. I had no idea it would receive such a response. Why is it that we some how find ourselves standing up for sin that we know is wrong? There are those sins that this world tells us we must accept. If we do not we are considered to be judging. Any time we stand up for something that is biblically wrong we seem to get opposition.

Now, we shouldn't live by just our opinion. Our opinion can get us into lots of trouble. We must live by God's Word and His Word alone. He doesn't need our man made rules thrown in there. I think we have trouble enough living out the ten commandments.

Now, what if we all wore signs? Yes, signs with our sin around our neck. Do you think we would feel comfortable as others read our sign? If I were in say, Walmart and there was a man standing in the toy aisle with child molester around his neck do you think people might grab onto their children and pull them to safety? If our sins were made known to the public we might think twice about committing them or would we? Maybe your sin would be acceptable to the world. Even if it is it doesn't mean that it is not a sin. Sin is sin. Just because we may accept one into our lives doesn't make it any less sinful. It's funny, we are accepting of a sin as long as it isn't in our front yard. We seem to make excuses for our sin, but for another's sin we condemn them for the very act.

We seem to have our pet sin. You know, it's that sin you are aware of, but it has become such a part of your life you just over look it as you look upon another's sin. Anything that goes against God's Word is a sin. Simple as that. Many of our sins are witnessed outwardly, but most are carried inside nice and tight. The world does not know of them, but we do as we close the blinds.

Sin keeps us from having a relationship with Christ. Think of each sin as a brick. Not only do they build walls, but they are heavy. Each sin is laid next to the other and pretty soon we have ourselves a wall. A wall that God is trying to break down, but with all our might we are holding it up. We don't want to admit all those sins. But as we hold on to them our load gets heavier and heavier. Conviction breaks our heart. Conviction is realizing we are sinners. Conviction leads to grace. As we recognize our sin, we can lay it down at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to forgive us. In that forgiveness we find grace. Isn't it sweet?

That same grace we ask of God we too should be giving to others. Now, with that being said, it doesn't mean we accept sin of any kind. We accept and love the sinner. I don't think we have to point out another's sin. God will do that all on His own. But what if you were asked by one, "Hey what do you think about_____? That is your open door to share your faith in love. We never want to be on the attack, but we must guard ourselves against the sins of the world that surround us. It is a little different when that sin is at your front door and you are having to face it. It is a little different when that sin meets your child as they go to school. For every sin there is a consequence. We may not face those consequences right then. It may be years down the road, but if we cause another to stumble because or our behavior or actions we will be held accountable for causing that person to fall.

We are to live in such a way that we sharpen each other. We should be willing to wound a friend in love to move him or her toward the Lord. The plain simple truth is, we are all sinners. No one is exempt from that. Jesus knew no sin yet He was willing to take our punishment for sin. He freely gave His life upon the cross so that we might find life. In that life we can find forgiveness. Grace is reachable when we surrender ourselves to Christ.

As a Christian I am to stand against all evil. All sin. I am not to accept or be part of any kind of sin. I am to turn away from all sin. God is Light. Through His illumination all darkness is made known. Isn't it wonderful to find the light in the dark as your trying to make your way through the kitchen on a stormy night? Light gives comfort and makes a way for us to see the path we should take.

When our children are small we teach them of all the things that will hurt them. We teach them to stay away from the fire. It will burn. We teach them not to go into the water alone. Not to cross the street without taking mommy's hand. We do so because we love them. We point out the dangers so they will stay clear of them. We are protecting them from harm. Our Father in heaven is doing the same thing for us. Sure, that sin might be fun for a short while, but what harm will we endure that is lasting?

Sin is also selfish. Our sin not only effects us, but those around us. God gave us free will. We are free to choose our path. He never forces Himself on anyone, so why as Christians are we attacked for standing in His Word? Why are we attacked for speaking out against a sin that not only effects one, but the world as a whole? It seems that a group can speak out against Christianity and that seems to be acceptable to the world. The world doesn't want us to force our beliefs on them. As Christians we don't force our faith on anyone, but why do we have to be accepting of everyone else's beliefs? That just isn't right. We should be able to agree to disagree and speak out in love. A Christian doesn't stand on the right or on the left of a subject. They stand in the Truth. There are no gray areas in sin.

We can't say, "Well, this sin is okay for them. Hey, they aren't hurting me." But shouldn't we be concerned with the world? We are to reach out to the lost. Loving someone doesn't mean accepting their sin or way of life. Sometimes we have to love someone enough to pull them out from that oncoming car. We don't just stand back and say, "Well, would you look at the girl in the road. She is going to get run over." We try to bring her to safety.

Whether your sign says, "Over eater, big spender, gambling man, I like a little drink, homosexual, murderer, thief, I enjoy gossip or Yep, I had an affair", they are all sin. My mom like to get scratch offs. To me, well it's gambling. I know it is a sin, my mom does too, but she doesn't care. She knows I will never purchase a ticket for her, and you know what? She respects me for standing up for God's Word. Even though she isn't willing to accept it is a sin and remove herself from it, she knows my stand. I don't love my mom any less. That day may come where she finally says, "Ya know Rob, your right. Those scratch offs have only caused me to lose money and it's just not worth it." If we are going to stand for something we must be able to back up what we are sharing. We can't just make up our own rules along the way. God's Word is not a buffet. We can't pick and choose. It's all or nothing.

So, what sign are you holding? Is it the same as your neighbors? Is it the same as the sinner's sign you are taking a stand against? Therefore but by the grace of God there go I. We can fall into sin as quickly as our neighbor. When we surrender to God, He takes that sin and removes it. Sure, we might still battle it, but He will give us what we need to stand strong in the battle. He will give us what we need to over come if we just trust Him. If we open our heart God will show us our sin. He will show us what we need to remove and what needs to stay. The wonderful thing about God is, He accepts us right where we are. We don't have to clean up before we meet Him. He will do all that along the way as we grow closer to Him. Our mission is to mimic Christ's actions. We are to love one another and love them enough to share the gospel to a lost world in need of a Savior.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinner, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Romans 5:8-9

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propititation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Romans 3:23-26

"There is none righteous, no , not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." Romans 3:10-12

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." Ephesians 5:11-14

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Proverbs 27:6

Salvation seedlings

My husband loves to grow a garden. He grew up on a farm, so gardening comes natural to him. When we were first married I took it upon myself to surprise him by putting out the garden. He was off at work and I just thought, "It will make his day when he sees this." I had no idea of gardening. I purchased all the plants I knew he wanted to put out. I got the soil ready to go and started planting. Now, may I remind you, I have no idea what I am doing. You know, as you make the rows they are suppose to all be one way and well, there is just a way to plant and a way to place everything perfectly.

As my husband came home he took one look at the garden and didn't say a word. There was just this huge grin covering his face. He was excited to see that I tried. I put a lot of work into that garden. Lots of sweat and this girl hates to sweat more than anything. I planted everything the way I thought it should look. I didn't make straight rows and I didn't plant every same plant in each row. I made that garden pretty! Yes, that's right, you heard me. I put peppers next to tomatoes and flowers next to pickles. I looked like a garden maze. lol

Needless to say, my husband moved things around and placed them in order. As I watched him, he showed me how to plant a garden. Now, even though I like things to look a certain way, I know there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

A garden takes time. You dig up that soil. You get the fertilizer in the dirt. You plant the seed. You water those little seeds and you sit back and pray. Sometimes you have a great garden that year. Everything seems to come in at once and you can begin to can all of your work, saving it for the fall and winter to place upon your table.

A garden needs the right sun light, the right amount of water and it will not grow without oxygen. It's just that simple. Without those things your garden will surely die. You too must hoe your garden removing all those weeds. If the weeds begin to grow they can choke a plant and it will not survive. Now, if you are a farmer and have a big field, well you know each year you rotate your crops. One year you plant one thing and you switch it up the next year. That makes the soil more fertile and ready for that next year.

If you were to speak to my father-in-law he would very wisely share with you that there is a perfect day and time to plant everything. He plants by the Almanac. There is a time to plant in the summer and in the fall. In the spring everything is being rejuvenated and in the winter all is at rest. Of course we too know that in the fall there is time for harvesting. A season for all.

Just what if we looked at life the same way? We work so hard at planting seeds. We are an impatient people. We want those seeds to flower and sprout new growth right then. Some plants take longer to grow. Each and every one go through their own process. We can't hurry them along. I am known to kill a plant with love very quickly. I love them to death. Yes, I pass by and think, "I better water that plant." Not long after, that poor plant has died of root rot.

We must plant and pray. We need to allow God to do the weed eating and tilling. That hoe belongs in His hand not ours. We must trust Him with the watering too. He knows just what that little seed needs to become mature. What are we to do? We are to ready the harvest. We are to plant the seeds and trust God with the crop. He too knows which weeds need removed and which plants need pruned in order to grow more and produce more fruit/vegetables.

I have heard farmers say they put their blood and sweat into the fields and hope for the best. We too must hope for the best. Everything doesn't turn a profit that year. Sometimes it takes many years for that crop to produce. You have dry years and years where the rains come and seem to flood out all hope. We are surrounded by farmers. The farms around us are grown by families who have pastured their land down through many generations. I'm sure if you ask them they would tell you they are now reaping the benefits of those who have come before them and worked so hard to care for the land.

So, like my first garden, I learned it's okay if it's not perfect. It's okay that it needed extra attention. The point is, I tried. I planted those seeds with a smile on my face in hopes of a great harvest. We get so caught up in fear of turning one away or offending another if we witness to them. When we feel the Spirit move that is the time to plant those seeds. God will take care of the rest. All we must do is plant, plant and plant. Just think of the hope that each seed carries. We might see some seeds that lay dormant for a while. Just because we are not witnessing anything happening doesn't mean that they are not going through the process of growth.

We must take care in that we don't over water a seed. Everything in moderation. Timing is everything. God's timing is perfect. As He is moving us to plant, He is willing and readying that seed for growth. Friends, don't lose heart when you share Christ with friends and family and you see nothing happening. God is still at work. It is our job to continue praying. A garden is not easy. It is hard work and it is continual work. God breathes life into those seeds we plant. All He needs is us to be willing to put in the hours in the garden. I have seen my husband in the garden on his knees as he plants those seeds. As we plant the seed of Salvation into the hearts of friends, neighbors, and family, we too should be spending time on our knees. It's amazing what just a little Son light will do.

"And He said, 'The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: First the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.'" Mark 4:26-29

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why can't the road be smooth?

As I pull out of the drive on our country road I look both ways and say a prayer of protection. As my husband cares for our car he always tells me, "Now, try to stay clear of those pot holes." Pot holes can do damage to your car. One of the most damaging things is to be off balance. Your car just doesn't move right. It doesn't flow any longer. The wheel pulls to one side and you are fighting it all the way to town and back.

It's funny, my husband, can get in our car and pull down the road a bit and ask, "Have you hit a pot hole lately?" Now, why is it that he thinks it's me? lol I gotta tell ya, sometimes I see them up ahead and no matter how much I try to miss them I still end up falling in.

Life carries many kinds of pot holes. Those we are able to see up ahead and those we are blinded by. You know them. Your husband loses his job. Wham, pot hole. Your mother becomes ill and has to have a hospital stay. Wham, pot hole. It's time for your car payment, but your car is sitting in the drive way not moving. Wham, pot hole. The fridge goes out. Wham, there's another one. Your kitchen sink springs a link. They just about break you. You get to the point you don't know what else to do, but just give up.  They sneak up on you and you feel the bump in the road and turn around to see what it was that made that clutter. They seem to start small and then before you know it there is a hole the size of Texas in front of you.

We too have ruts. You have seen them also. You can be driving down the road and your car gets in these ruts and seems to stay there. Well at least until you are bumped out and off the road. They seem to pull your car one way as you find yourself fighting that pull the whole way to town.

The adult store is on the left. The girl walking to work in on the right. Starbucks in down the road, that cute guy might be there. Oh, JC Pennys is having a sale today, maybe I will just break out that credit card that is already about to burst from over due funds. It seems Satan is out to catch our eyes with every trap possible.

Life can carry many kinds of ruts too. Those we get stuck in and those we continually fight against. No matter if it's a pot hole or a rut all we want to do is keep our car on the road and drive safely. We like a smooth ride don't we? It seems today as we drive down any highway we are not only on the offense but the defense. Goodness, as you are trying to get to grandma's house for Sunday dinner you find yourself weaving in and out of traffic, distracted by all that is around you, and blinded by the car now in front of you. The cell phone is ringing and your really tempted to text your son to tell him your almost there. The kids are crying in the back seat as your daughter in front says, "Are we almost there?"

Have you ever found yourself driving home and you pull into the drive after that long ride and you really can't remember how you got home? Meaning, you are so use to the same drive it's almost as though your car knows the way home.

Life can be repetitive too. We can move to the beat and go through the motions never making any change. Ever find yourself on Sunday morning just going through the motions? It's Sunday so you know you are to go to church? You leave without really feeling anything or learning anything new and blame it on the pastor or the one sitting next to you with the crying baby. But in fact, it was you the whole time. You are stuck in a rut. Maybe you have hit one of those hard pot holes and it has thrown you for a loop. So, now you just go through the motions even though you have lost your way and your passion.

We are late and we want to blame the driver in front of us. Well, maybe we should have left a little earlier in preparation of something might happen so I want to make sure I am on time. We always expect God to be on time don't we? But we tend to walk in late every where we go without thought.

We sit in traffic and honk our horn thinking the person in front of us is going to move faster if we flip them the bird or scream a few words out the window. Do we ever think that maybe there is a reason we have been slowed down? We look at it as aggravation, but what if we looked at it as a opportunity? If we only slow down long enough we will see sights that we have missed along the way. We are just always in a big hurry. Always thinking our time is more important than the guy behind us. We complain about the other cars on the road, but yet here we are also.

We are just trying to move forward. We are all trying to go some place. On our journey there just seems to be things that slow us down. We break down along the road. We run out of gas just a few miles from home. What is it that we hope? We hope that someone will stop. Someone will come to our rescue. Maybe pull us out the ditch we have found ourselves in or fill up our tank.

There is One who can and will pull us out and fill us up if we will only allow Him to. He is standing ready. He is like that AAA. He is All Mighty. He is All Seeing. He is All knowing. He is ready for action. He knows what we have passed by and He too know what is up ahead. Who better to trust for the ride?

We see the county workers lined up along the high way. There is always one with a sign telling us to stop ahead. He might be holding a sign that says, "Slow". What are they doing? Many times they are filling in those pot holes and smoothing the road for us. Sure we become agitated at the wait, but once the road is smooth again we are driving with ease.

I am learning those bumps along the road keep me alert. I must keep my eyes open at all times on guard. You never know when a deer will run out in front of you, smashing into your hood. When that happens there are always repairs to be made. It seems that whether it is the road or the car there are always repairs to be made. Even the driver needs refreshed. There is a reason for those rest areas.

Paul knows of that pot hole filled road. He was once walking on it. Everything grabbed his attention and he was pulled one way and then the other. He was so used to the road he thought it was the only way. But there was One ahead of him and knew of a better way home. For some reason or another Paul was stopped on that road. It was in the middle of the road that he was caused to slow down, come to a stop and take a good look at himself. It wasn't everything and everyone around him. It was him. As soon as he was able to take his eyes off of himself, he was able to see with new vision. What was passed him didn't matter any longer. He was on a new road now. One with a pathway that was straight. Once he found the right route he never looked back.

Friends, it might be time for a change. Maybe a new road is in order. Maybe you just need to hand the wheel over to the One who knows the road a little better and has a vision to see past the curve ahead.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding it's shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin." Hebrews 12:1-4

Friday, July 15, 2011

LOOK TO THE EAST (The Great War Series) by MAUREEN LANG

WWI is beginning to rage. Young men are lining up as they go off to battle a war they are yet to understand. In a small quaint town in France we find Juliette Toussaint, a young woman, with a strong grounded faith. Although she is adopted into the Toussaint family, she is not quite accepted. People see her as beautiful, yet strange. They know she prays and her prayers are answered. Those around her are not quite understanding her strong faith, but the gifts and works that come from it.

The Toussaints and de Colvilles have had a feud for years. No one really knows the reasons or beginnings of this feud, but these families are ready to come together as the war ignites and moves through their little village unknown to the world.

Juliette falls in love with one that she is forbidden to love. We see this young girl grow in faith and show a village what faith is all about. This was a lovely read. Maureen Lang brings her best and her books are page turners and leave you with a feeling of joy as you have moved to the last page. You feel as though you have completed a journey and have been part of what you have just read.

Look To The East was originally released in 2009 and is now repackaged. It is book 1 of this series, followed by book 2, Whisper On The Wind and book 3, Springtime Of The Spirit. If you enjoy Historical Romance you will enjoy this series as it takes you back to another time and place.

This book was a gift from Tyndale for it's review.

http://maureenlang.com/index.php/home-mainmenu-1

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