Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Dreamed A Dream

Another year is ending.  It seems impossible to me that it is December 31, 2011.  Wasn't it just yesterday that I rang in the new year...a year full of hope, and now it's over.

For the last several years I've written a letter on New Year's Eve.  In my letter, I write all of my hopes and dream for the upcoming year.  Always included in the letter is a hope for good health for my family, friends, and myself.  For the most part, this was a good year.  Except for the death of my cousin, there was little sadness from losing someone special.

I always list things I'm grateful for as well, which is really good to read at the end of the year.  This year, I'm still grateful for the things I listed a year ago.

There was one bitter disappointment though - my book.  The book I spent years writing.  The book no agent would represent.  The book that for now is laid aside.  The book that was my big dream for 2011.

Tonight just before midnight I'll write another letter, which I will seal and mark to open on December 31, 2012.  I'll stick it in my special drawer where it will remain for the next year.  In it will be new a new dream.  But for today, I am saying goodbye to the dream for 2011, and what better way than to do it with a song.  Okay, the song may really be about the lost dream of true love, but a dream is a dream and sometimes as the song ends life does kill our dream.

The dream for 2011 has died, but the dream for 2012 is about to begin. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Baby Arrived

Our pastor has mentioned several times over the last few weeks about the baby born to die.  This baby is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  People want to make Christmas into just another holiday, but how can the day set aside to remember that God came to us be just another holiday?

This baby, the King of kings, came gently, born in a manger where cattle and sheep were kept.  His birth was announced to the lowliest of people, the shepherds tending their flocks.  This baby born to die came for the weak and lowly, the down-trodden and poor, for every man, woman and child, who believes He is the Son of God. 

The world may one day keep those of us who call ourselves Christians from being able to say Merry Christmas, display a Nativity, or even speak the name of Jesus aloud, but the world cannot change what happened the day the baby born to die filled the world with unquenchable light.  This baby, Jesus, was destined from birth to die a horrible, humiliating death so all who believe might live.  Nothing can change this immutable fact.

Love came gently, and it still comes today for all who trust in that little baby born to die. 

Merry Christmas and may God bless you this coming year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Light Was Coming

It was approximately 2000 years ago and "The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone was coming into the world."  No one really understood the significance of what was about to happen.  Prophecies had predicted a king was coming; a king who would save Israel.  In their small human minds, the people imagined this king was coming to deliver them from the Romans.  They were, afterall, God's chosen people; people not in need of anything but an earthly, conquering king.  But God had a different plan and something more marvelous than earthly liberation.  And the Light was coming "into the very world He created, but the world didn't recognize Him."

The Light that shines in the darkness, which can never be extinguished by the darkness was coming to His own people, but they were in darkness and liked the darkness and would reject Him.

The Light was coming to become human and make His home among us.  He would be full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  He would be born in a manger and live an ordinary life until His final three years on earth.  Ordinary, but Extraordinary, the Father's one and only Son.

The Light was coming to reveal God to us.  The Light was coming so that all of us who believe and accept Him are joint heirs to His kingdom - the kingdom of God.

The Light was coming and according to Isaiah "the people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the Light will shine on them."

The Light was coming, the bright morning star, was coming.  Can you feel the excitement?  This is what Christmas is all about - the Light about to pierce the darkness on the most holiest of nights.

John 1:1-16 and Isaiah 9:2

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Working for the Kingdom until You’re Flat Worn Out

Over the last few years and especially since beginning the Radical Experiment earlier this year, I’ve tried to do more.  I’ve tried to give more, to spend more time in bible study, and to be more involved with ministries at church.  I’ve reached a point to where if I’m not volunteering every time we have something at church I feel guilty.  For example, today was our annual Christmas store.  I think this is such a wonderful thing our church does, and in years past I’ve worked in one of the rooms where the kids wait while their parents shop.  I enjoy being with the kids.  And while I gave toys this year, I didn’t give my time.  I’ve wrestled with the decision not to work all week. It has, in fact, caused me great angst. 

When I got up this morning after sleeping in, I still was feeling like I should have volunteered, and then I read the daily devotion by Charles Stanley.  Praise the Lord for Dr. Stanley because the message he had for today eased my troubled soul.  Here’s an excerpt

“I remember lying in a hospital bed years ago and coming to the realization that I was there because Jesus wasn't the Lord of my life. If anyone happened to be observing my life back then, it probably appeared that I was serving Him with every ounce of my being. I was overloaded with projects and plans for good Kingdom work. But that was actually the problem. When God told me to stop, slow down, or do something different than I had planned, I kept right on going. Flat on my back in the hospital, I finally remained still long enough for the Lord to remind me that only He could direct my path (Jer. 10:23).”*

Saturday is the only day I get to rest.  And sometimes I really need the rest.  I sleep poorly.  It’s hard for me to go to sleep and when I finally do I’m usually awake about every two hours.  This seems to run in the family and even sleeping aids don’t work like they should.  As a result, I am physically tired most of the time simply from lack of sleep.  Through the week I have to push myself to go because I do have to work.  And most weeks I have at least one or two nights I’m at the church for a meeting or choir practice.  But, on Saturday I can sleep until I’m ready to get up and it helps to catch up on some of the sleep I’ve missed all week.

After reading Dr. Stanley’s devotion, I decided God does expect us to rest.  I think He’s pleased by what I do, and I also believe He doesn’t expect me to do everything that needs to be done. So, if you’re like me and you give it all you have to give, don’t feel guilty when you feel you really need to rest.  God knows your heart and He knows your physical limitations.

*Dr. Charles Stanley,, 2011.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Especially Fond of You

Last week I finally read The Shack.  It's a controversial book many see as blasphemous because of how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are portrayed.  God says we are made in His image, so I suppose He could look like any one of us.  I just can't imagine what He looks like, but the author of the book decided God would appear as a black "mammy" type character who is always in the kitchen cooking up some super delicious food.  There's a reason God chose this human image, but in case you haven't read the book and want to I won't give the reason away.

Jesus is a carpenter and comes across as somewhat like a lovable good ole "bubba."  Finally, the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman, who is shimmery and fades in and out like she's moving between dimensions.

One reviewer of the book thought the characters were buffoonish.  Perhaps a little, but it is a work of fiction, and who can say that God wouldn't do something just like this especially if He has a sense of humor.

The key to the book is the message - God is especially fond of His creation - us.  He tells the main character, "I'm especially fond of you."  He tells the main character he's especially fond of the man's daughter.  He sends a message by the main character for his best friend - "He's especially fond of you."

The bible tells us God loves us so much He sent His only son to save us.  As Christmas approaches, I'm going to try to focus on God's love.  God so loved me He sent His son to give me the greatest gift I will ever receive - eternal life.  Through Jesus He showed He is especially fond of me.  And whether you believe it or not, He's especially fond of you too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Redeeming Love

It's been months since I've posted anything.  I hope to do better in the future, if for no other reason than I made a promise, which I haven't followed through on since making it.

I recently read a novel called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  It's one of the best books I've ever read.  The novel is set in California during the gold rush years and is a beautiful love story based on the book of Hosea from the Bible.  Though it's a love story between a man and a woman, just as Hosea is, it's also the redeeming love story of God and us, again just as Hosea is.

The reason I say this is one of the best books I've read is because it's stayed with me.  The lead male character, Michael Hosea, has almost complete unwavering faith.  He's what a Christian should be, and that's what I keep going back to when I think about the book.  I've never read a book where I wanted to be like the character, but I want to be a Michael Hosea.

The lead female character is Sarah, a prostitute, who uses the name Angel.  She's a broken individual, who has never been able to see God in her life.  Because of the terrible things that have happened to her since childhood, she can't fathom what real love is - not from God and not from a man.

Just as in the book of Hosea, Michael seeks Angel because God has told him she's the woman he is to marry.  He can't believe God wants him to marry a prostitute, but he has always done what God has told him to do and he marries her.  Repeatedly, Angel betrays his love and each time he forgives her.  His brother-in-law also betrays him and Michael forgives him too.  He forgives because God tells him to be forgiving.  Michael gets what God is all about, and he gets what love is all about.

There are four key things about Michael that exemplify what a Christian should be...things all Christians should emulate.
  1. He reads God's word and lives what he reads.
  2. He prays for God's wisdom and guidance.
  3. He listens for God's guidance and follows whatever God tells him to do.  He doesn't have to understand why God is telling him to do it; he does it because God tells him to do it.
  4. He always comes back to God.  He might be angry with God.  He might stop praying and reading God's word for a short season, but he always returns with a deeper understanding of God's redeeming love.
Michael Hosea is a role model for any Christian who truly wants to be a man or woman after God's heart.  Both love stories, Michael's love for Sarah, and Michael's love for God are the purest examples of true love you will ever see in a work of fiction.   

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another Sad Goodbye

This has been the year for goodbyes.  In March, we had to say goodbye to our youth pastor and his family and now we're saying goodbye to our music minister.  To say, I will miss Dave is an understatement.  Dave has led our choir for over four years and he's just a super guy.  He has many outstanding qualities, but I'm going to just hit the top three or four.

First, he loves the Lord and he lives his faith.  There isn't any doubt in my mind he is a true Christian and people can see this through his worship, works, and willingness to share his faith with others.

Second, Dave loves his family.  We've been able to see the love he has for his wife and for his two children.  And, we've seen how they love him. 

Third, Dave loves music...all kinds of worship music and he brought a vibrancy to our church we had been lacking for a long time. 

Finally, Dave believes in people.  He gave many of us the opportunity to sing, which we hadn't had before.  He made me feel I had something to offer and most of the solos I've done have been because I felt his support for me.

Okay, I must add one more thing.  Dave loved the movie The Lonesome Dove.  I believe he can quote the entire movie.  All you have to do is name a scene and he can do all the parts.  It's amazing.  Dave is like Woodrow Call in the movie...once he gives his word he follows through.  So, as a tribute to Dave, I'm including Scene 11 from Part Four of the Lonesome Dove.  It's about being true to your word, and saying goodbye to a beloved friend. 

God bless you and your family, Dave, as you start this new and exciting venture for the Lord.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just Like Solomon

If you've read my earlier blog posts, you know I'm doing the Radical Experiment this year.  And, one of the challenges is to read the Bible daily.  Technically, I've only failed to meet that challenge twice since March 1.  Technically.

About a week ago, I was reading in 1 Kings, chapter 11 about the end of Solomon's life.  The wisest man who ever lived believed in God, but he let his multiple wives negatively influence him.  Before Solomon died, he was worshipping other gods.  As I read the passages, I thought how unwise he had been.  He was the wisest man alive - didn't he know better?

All the while I'm reading I'm trying to hurry through the passages so I can move on to something I wanted to do.  The reading that night was unusually long, and I thought about mid-way through, "I'm not getting anything out of this because I'm trying to hurry.  I don't want to be doing this."  Still, I finished it and went on to the thing I wanted to do.

The next morning as I showered it was like God thumped me on the head and said, "Is there anything in there?  You have Solomon to learn from, but have you?"

All I could say is, "You're right, Lord.  I have other gods too, and last night I chose to make time for the other gods instead of You.  I felt perturbed at the time I spent with You.  Forgive me.  I'm just like Solomon.  Not in wisdom, but in my rebellion."

And so, I've thought about the wonder of God for the last week, and I'm thankful He even bothered to set me straight.  But, that's what a loving Father does, right?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Is Dying On A Cross Funny?

A few weeks ago I was searching for a card at Wal-Mart.  I take my time and like to browse and read a variety of cards.  I always end up in the funny section and if you find me there, you'll usually hear me first, laughing out loud.
As I pulled several cards, I noticed one with two nuns on the cover.  The caption read, "The Lord died for your sins."  At this point I'm trying to determine what part of that is something to laugh at, but I decided to see what was on the inside anyway.  The inside read, "So, you may as well enjoy them.  Happy Birthday."
To say I was stunned and appalled would be an understatement.  I was both and offended to boot.  The Lord dying for my sins isn't funny and thinking I should live a sinful life and enjoy doing so is doubly unfunny.
I flipped the card over to see who produced this jewel.  The company was listed as Comic Relief - Recycled Paper Greetings.  Once home, I did a quick web search and made another startling discovery.  RPG is owned by American Greetings.  I felt such disappointment because I had such high regard for American Greetings.  I never would have expected them to produce such a blasphemous product.  A little more reseach showed AG purchased RPG in 2009, so it's not like they haven't had time to pull trashy cards.  In addition, I found other people didn't appreciate the RPG cards either, though none named any one card in particular.
Why is this card not funny?
First, it makes fun of someone who died for others.  If I'm wrong in my faith, it still doesn't change the fact that Jesus died for a cause.  A cause that didn't hurt others, just Himself.  Whether you're a Christian or not, is it really funny to ridicule someone who would willing die to save other people?  Do the RPG people bust out in a belly laugh when they read about a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save his comrades?  If someone takes a bullet for someone else, does that cause one to roar with laughter?  I don't find anything funny about anyone dying to save another human being.
Second, if I'm right in my beliefs and Jesus is the Son of God, then He and God are being mocked for having made the ultimate sacrifice.  Jesus died to save undeserving people like the knuckleheads who created and published this card.
I haven't written AG, but I'm still thinking about it.  However, I have decided I will not purchase any more AG or AG affiliate products ever again.  Some things aren't comedic, and however small my contribution to AG's bottom line has been, I don't want any more of my money going to a company that has so little respect for the God of the Universe.  Dying on a cross isn't funny.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Someone Worth Dying For

Am I someone worth dying for?  Are you?  I recently discovered the Christian group, Mikeschair, and their song Someone Worth Dying For.  I was immediately taken with the song and downloaded it from I-Tunes.  It's caused me to pause and ponder the first question I posed - Am I really someone worth dying for? 

To be blunt, most of the time I think I'm not.  In fact, it's safe for me to say Jesus definitely got the short end of the stick where I'm concerned.  I'm completely unworthy of the kind of love He has for me.  He doesn't get the same kind of love in return from me, and He should.

The gist of the song is people wonder if they are worth dying for, and Jesus is always telling us to see it and believe we are worth it.  He didn't have to do it.  We didn't deserve the grace offered to us, but He loved us so much He thought we deserved all He had to give. 

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:14-16)

As a human, I am weak.  I fail.  I sin.  And because I am a Christian, I beat myself up over and over again for not being able to do the things I should do.  And, if I really search deep within, I know if the situation were reversed I wouldn't die for me.  Sounds depressing and hopeless, but it's not.  I'm not worthy because of what I've done.  I'm worthy because of who Jesus is. 

This past Sunday, our pastor, who is brilliant, yet understandable, preached on how Christians should be the light.  He preached from John 8:12-30 in the morning service and Matthew 5:13-16.  In the morning, we saw how Jesus is the Light of the World.  In the evening, we saw how Jesus tells us to be light.  Wyman said this wonderfully simple, but profound statement, "God said let there be light in the world.  Jesus said let there be light in you!"

In the song, Mikeschair sings, "Your life has purpose."  And according to Wyman, our purpose is to be the light in the darkness.  More correctly, it is to be the conduit for Jesus' light to shine to the world.  Our lives should so affect those around us, our very culture, that things are better for us being in the world.

Is the world better for me being in it?  Can others see the Light of the World reflected through me by my behavior and by how I treat others?  I'm a work in progress.  I take two steps forward and one-and-a-half back most days, but I keep trying to move forward.  I keep striving to be worthy of Jesus having given His life for me.  In some small measure, I am finally doing things I believe show others how much Jesus loves them because of how I love them.  I'm not bragging because I could do so much more, be so much more, love so much more.  But, success for me has changed over the last year.  Yes, I still want to be successful in this world, but it's more important for me to be successful for Christ.  I want to live a life where Jesus would say, "Others saw my love for them through you.  Others knew how much I loved them because of the things you did.  They learned from you they were worth me dying for, and I'm pleased by that." 

In the end, success is hearing Jesus say, "Lisa, even when you messed up big time, even in your ugliest, darkest, most unloving moments, I always believed you were someone worth dying for."

Jesus wants you to see and believe that no matter what you've done or where you are right now, you are the most precious person to Him.  You are someone worth dying for.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nurturing New Christians

Last night I had something happen that I've not had happen before.  Someone other than a personal friend commented on one of my posts.  This person indicated he/she was a new Christian and had been reading my posts.  My reader had several questions for me, which I did my best to answer, but in reality probably didn't shed a whole lot of light on the situation.  The questions were good ones, and this experience has been humbling.

I read the Bible and attend church regularly, but Bible verses don't seem to pop to mind when I need them.  One of the questions I was asked was about salvation: Once you've accepted Jesus were you saved forever or could you lose your salvation and have to be re-saved?  My answer was there are those who believe in eternal security and those who believe it's possible to lose your salvation.  It depends on the denomination you happen to follow.

I feel secure in my salvation, but I have been a part of a church that didn't believe in eternal security and did believe people could reject Christ after having accepted Him as their Savior.  I must admit I still think God has given us free will and we could say I want no more to do with You or Jesus and if we did this we would reject Christ and be lost.  My conculsion for my reader was I couldn't imagine I would ever reject Jesus knowing what He has done for me, which would suggest I believe in eternal security.

Whatever you personally believe about salvation, there are scriptures to support both arguments and it really is up to the individual to decide what is the right interpretation.  I will say I don't believe you have to be re-saved every time you stumble, but you do have to repent.  The life of David really teaches us that forgiveness is there for us if we truly repent - no matter what we've done. 

I've made a promise to this reader to research the scriptures to find things that can help nuture their walk.  And I would also like to suggest to this person (if you're reading this post) to visit the website of Dr. Charles Stanley. 
His website is  He is THE MAN when it comes to understanding the Bible and covering the subjects that strengthen us as Christians.

Dr. Stanley offers many articles, sermons, and Bible studies that are available for anyone to read or listen to  Here's a sampling of some of the articles he's written:
  • Covered by Grace...Free to Sin?
  • The Price of Walking Away
  • The God of Second Chances
  • Developing Spiritual Discernment
  • To Believe or Not to Believe
  • Our Forgiving Father
  • When the Bible is Silent
  • What is Genuine Repentance
  • When Temptation Knocks
All of these look like they could answer questions for a new Christian. 

Over the next few weeks, I will try to post more frequently and look for scripture and other resources that might be helpful for a new Christian.  I believe God is faithful and He has promised if we seek Him, we will find Him.  He's right there waiting.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

As If There Is All The Time in The World To Say I Love You

As much as we may not want to admit it, we do have relatives we love more than others.  It's not that we don't love all our relatives, but some just have special places in our hearts.  Two of my favorite cousins (I have three by the way) always lived away.  Growing up they lived in Oregon and could only come back here every couple of years.  I remember as a child, Mom would say, "Randy and Julie are coming," and I would be so excited.  I couldn't wait until they got here.

We would meet at my grandmother's house in the sprawling metropolis of Jerusalem, Arkansas.  They were usually here in Arkansas for two or three weeks and we would have the best time.  Once we decided to explore the back roads of Jerusalem and walked for hours before we finally found a familiar landmark.  The problem was we were still hours from my grandmother's house and exhausted.  Thankfully, another cousin of ours (by marriage) came along and took us home. 

Those were great times, but then we all grew up and started pursuing our adult lives and as it happens, we drifted apart.  I can't remember the last time I saw or even heard from Julie, but I think it's close to 20 years, now.  It was 14 years ago in April since I last saw Randy when he visited me before moving back to California.  He'd been in Oklahoma and we actually communicated some that year, but then he moved away again and we lost touch until last Christmas.

Over the last five or six years, Randy has suffered from kidney failure and has been on dialysis.  At the same time, he has been having heart problems, which steadily worsened over the last two years.  I worried for him, thought of him often, and told myself I needed to write, but it wasn't until the card came that I finally did write.  It took me two months, but I answered his card telling him like he had me that I thought of him often and remembered all the good times we had as kids.  I gave him my email and said I was much better at keeping in touch by email.

Over the last month or so, Randy's health has deteriorated even more and within the last few weeks, I've had that nagging feeling I needed to write him again and tell him how much he means to me.  Of course, I would be somewhere or doing something that didn't lend itself to writing and so I'd tell myself I'd do it soon.  If I hear he's still declining, I'll do it.  I told myself again Sunday, I need to write him...I'll do it.  And Sunday, I had all the time in the world to tell him I loved him.

Randy died this morning.  And suddenly as I heard mom telling me over the phone right after lunch today, I realized even on Sunday, there was no more time left to write Randy and tell him what he had meant to me.  I cried in my office all afternoon because I loved my cousin even if we had barely communicated in the last 14 years, and I cried because of regret for not staying in touch when I knew he was really sick. 

And, I'm writing this post today to remind anyone who reads it to not act as if you have all the time in the world to let the people you love know how you feel about them.  You have right now, so don't put it off.  Time may be up for you or the person you long to tell one last time, "You were so special to me.  I love you, cousin."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Arrogance and the Defeat of Custer

Today, is the anniversary of the Greasy Grass Fight or as you may have heard it called the Battle of Little Bighorn.  On this day in 1876, the 7th Cavalry led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was utterly defeated. 

Three forces led by Crook, Gibbon, and Custer were dispatched to bring about the defeat of the Lakota.  The US Army thought it could trap the Indians and end the Indian problem.  However, Custer made a series of errors, which turned the table.

First, he advanced more quickly than he was ordered to do.  Gibbon was leading the infantry brigade and was advancing very slowly.  Crook had been turned back by Crazy Horse and his band at Rosebud Creek.  So, by moving too quickly, Custer had placed himself in an isolated position. 

Second, he had grossly underestimated the number of Indians in the village he was attacking.  The Lakota had been joined by the Cheyenne and Arapaho and there were thousands of Indians gathered there.

Third, he had no respect for the fighting ability of the Indian military.  Once he neared what he thought was just a village, he ordered an immediate attack and split his troops into three groups.  This was to ensure few Indians would be able to escape.  What it ensured was Custer's troops were weakened and at the end of the day Custer and 210 men were dead.

According to Lakota writer Joseph Marshall, III in his book The Day The World Ended at Little Bighorn, the Lakota claimed victory, but "uneasiness settled in the minds of many of the old ones."  They had seen the whites go from annoying interlopers to land-hungry enemies.  Marshall says, "That knowledge was the basis for a nagging question that some asked one another, or simply wrestled with alone.  What would this victory bring?"

This incredible victory would bring terror, sorrow, and death.  Crazy Horse would be killed in 1877 after surrendering.  Sitting Bull would surrender and be killed on a reservation in 1890.  From June 25, 1876 until December 29, 1890, the Lakota would be hunted down, put on reservations, and finally over 200 Lakota would be massacred at Wounded Knee bringing about the end of the "Indian conflicts."

The bright spot in all of this is the Lakota were not utterly destroyed.  Their way of life was forever changed, but the army couldn't destroy their spirit.  Marshall says, "The forces that sent armies to herd our ancestors onto reservations could not destroy the essence of our culture."

The Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho are still among us.  Most are on reservations today, but they have preserved their culture, traditions, and language for the most part.  And, within the last few years, both sides of the story has been told.  What was once called Custer's Last Stand, is now called the Battle of Little Bighorn.  And, thankfully, reasonable people realize the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were defending their way of life - just as all of us would do if we were suddenly invaded by hostile forces today.

Little Bighorn is now a National Monument where both the 7th Cavalry and the Indian tribes are remembered and honored for both sides fought bravely that day in 1876, and as with any war only one side could be victorious. 

Perhaps the lesson we can learn from this is arrogance can make us think we are invincible when in fact all it really does is cloud our ability to see how vulnerable we are until it's too late.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whoever Exalts Himself

This post for today has been rolling around in my head for some time now.  It's one of those things that just won't go away, and I don't know if writing about it will make it go away or not, but I've decided to go with it.

I get a lot of praise and, for lack of a better term, adoration because of the work I do with the Lakota kids.  Being human, I feel good about what I'm doing and that people notice; however, I also feel enormous discomfort when receiving the praise and adoration because I don't think I'm doing anything special. 

I love going to Pine Ridge each year, and honestly start anticipating my return the minute we drive away from the reservation.  I can't hardly wait until September rolls around each year.  Many times I question if this ministry is a God thing or a Lisa thing.  I usually begin to question it when I'm trying to get the funds needed to make the mission happen, but we always get just what we need, and I know it's absolutely a God thing.  So, in the end, I conclude if God didn't want this to happen, we wouldn't get what we need.  The struggle while overwhelming at the time is always that much sweeter when I see God come through.

So, I think I'm supposed to go.  I think God was preparing me for this long before I had even the slightest inkling I would be doing this every year.  I have always been fascinated by Indian culture and tradition.  And, as I started to study the history of the American Indians, He placed a burden on my heart for the people that never goes away.  I can't explain how my heart aches for these people across our country, who have faced such injustices so often at the hand of people claiming to be Christians.  I think God and Jesus must have felt such sorrow at how the American Indians have suffered. 

My greatest fear in the work I do is that one of these days, I will start believing I'm something special for going  Therefore, I remain ever vigilant to stay grounded in the one truth, which is the only one who deserves praise is Jesus, the Son, and God, the Father. 

I constantly remind myself what Jesus had to say about the Pharisees, who did everything for show, who wanted the praise of men, who wanted to be noticed for their great works.  "Everything they do is done for men to see.  They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long, they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplace and to have men call them Rabbi...for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  (Matthew 23: 5,12)

When people thank me for going, I'm at a loss at exactly how to respond because in my eyes I'm doing nothing extraordinary.  God tells us to go, to do, to pray, to give.  He expects me to follow through and while I fall short in so many ways, this one thing I do joyfully and with no desire for praise.  In reality, the greatest thanks anyone could show me is to give to the cause.  Embrace the purpose of the mission, which is to show Jesus' love to kids, many who have no concept of what love is all about from any perspective, human or divine.  If you embrace the mission, you've shown me you appreciate what those of us who go to Pine Ridge are doing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Completely His - Part 3

Shannon Ehtridge in her book Completely His introduced me to a new perspective on ministry.  It's actually based on a concept given to her by David Ravenhill.  It's the concept of the Ishmael or Isaac ministry.

Using the story of Abraham and Sarah, Ethridge illustrates how we humans can try to accomplish our purpose or we can take the time to pursue God and learn what His purpose is for us.  We can try to do things ourselves or we can trust God to use us to make His purpose happen.

When it appeared Sarah couldn't have children, she decided to take matters into her own hands and convinced Abraham that he should take her handmaid, Hagar, and have a child with her.  Abraham didn't seem to have a problem with this plan, which just shows us that even God's true believers can make poor decisions when they don't check with God first.  Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, but Ishmael wasn't the fulfillment of God's plan.

In God's time, Sarah did have a child and he was named Isaac.  Isaac was God's plan and the tribes of Israel would come from Isaac. 

Ethridge says, "Instead of asking God 'what dreams do You want to bring to life through me?' we often ask, 'Lord will You bless the dreams I have for my life?'"  I know I have at least 99.9% of the time asked the latter and not the former.

According to Ethridge, our dreams will bear human-sized fruits (Ishmael ministries) not God-sized harvests (Isaac ministries).  As Ravenhill shared with Ethridge, "Our dreams are either self-appointed or God-anointed."

How do we find out what our Isaac ministry is?  Know Christ initmately, and be willing to submit to God's dream for our lives.  If we get to know God, we will discover what we are born to do for His kingdom, and He will let us know when it's time to make the dream happen.

There are two questions Ethridge says we have to answer if we want to have Isaac ministries:
  1. Are you willing to give God permission to enlarge your dreams if they are too small?
  2. Do you trust in His infinitely good and loving nature enough to surrender your own plans and embrace His?
For me, I will say the submission and surrendering are hard.  I want to stay in control.  Stubborn will keeps me in the Ishmael category even though I long to have an Isaac ministry.  And, my soul wrestles within me to say my dreams are not important - forget my dreams, please Lord use me for Your dreams.

© Lisa Kelley 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Completely His - Part 2

Yesterday, I began a short series based on Shannon Ethridge's book Completely His.  The book uses the analogy of Jesus as our bridegroom and has had a profound effect on me.  I simply haven't been able to stop thinking about Jesus as my heavenly bridegroom, and what that should mean to me.

Ethridge tells the story of Hosea, who at God's urging took a prostitute for a wife.  And this wife didn't immediately change her ways.  Eventually, she did, but the reason God wanted Hosea to marry such a woman was so He could visually demonstrate how the children of Israel were playing the harlot with Him.  Ethridge quotes Hoses 2:20, in which God tells Israel, "I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.  I will be faithful to you and make you Mine, and you will finally know me as Lord."

Jewish custom required a bride price be paid by the groom.  And this bride price was nothing to sneeze about.  The bride came at a great cost.  Jesus, my bridegroom, paid the ultimate price for me.  He gave His life to have me as His bride, even though He knew I would not be faithful and I would search in all the wrong places and ways to find love and fulfillment.  I am certain, He also knew when I would finally come running to Him and say, "You are my Lord."

Ethridge says, "God wants us to love Him with a reckless abandon kind of love.  A love that says, 'I'm going to love You, no matter what it takes, no matter where it takes me, even if the going gets tough or times get hard.  I'm going to love You. Period. And that will never change'...We simply can't find our heart's true delight anywhere else except in the presence of Jesus."

How does the faithful bride of Christ act?  The way a faithful bride of mortal man would act.  She longs to be with Him.  She makes time to be with Him.  She expresses her love for Him.  She thinks about Him.  She asks Him to stay with her.  Ethridge says, "The true bride of Christ longs to adore Him."

Tenth Avenue North has a lovely song called Beloved.  In it, Jesus tells us how we are His beloved.

You're my beloved, lover I'm yours.
Death shall not part us, it's you I died for.
For better or worse forever we'll be.
My love it unites us and it binds you to me.
It's a mystery.

For better or worse - Jesus has gotten the worst from me that is absolutely for sure.  And, as undeserving as I am for the better, He gave it to me anyway.

© Lisa Kelley 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Completely His - Part I

Over the past two weeks, I've been reading a book by Shannon Ethridge called Completely His.  I'm not sure how many posts I have in me about how this book has affected me, but there are at least two or three.

In this book, Ethridge really focuses on how Jesus has said He is our bridegroom and we, the saved, are His bride.  Naturally, I have heard this analogy all my life, but it wasn't until I read this book I really started to think about what it means if Jesus is my bridegroom. 

With regards to earthly marriage, I've always believed in the sanctity of marriage.  I've never married, but I knew if I ever did, I would enter marriage with the idea I would be married to the person for life.  At least twice in my life, I've had a married man come on to me with one even going so far as to say, he had never had an affair, but he would with me.  I wasn't flattered.  I was absolutely appalled and took a long hard look at how I'd sent any type of signal that would indicate I was romantically interested in these men.  To my knowledge, I hadn't.  I'd just been myself and while I considered both friends, I'd never even thought about a relationship with them because they were married.  The only thing I knew to do when it became obvious their feelings were inappropriate was to distance myself from them because I knew I wasn't going there - ever.

Before you think how good I am, let me stop you.  I may have believed in the sanctity of an earthly marriage, but my life hasn't reflected the sanctity of my marriage to Christ.  And, for this I feel such regret.  All these years, I could have been giving myself to Jesus in a way that showed how very much a relationship with Him meant to me.  I've pursued other lovers - career, entertainment, empty earthly relationships, which in the end have not satisfied me.  Etheridge says, "The essence of idolatry is looking to something or someone else to fill us up and satisfy us in a way that only our Creator God can."

Shamefully, it's only been within the last year I've truly made an all out effort to know God more intimately.  And even now I still only give a part of myself to Him.  I read His word, but I don't spend an adequate amount of time trying to hear what He is saying to me.  I pray, but it's still totally one-sided and sporadic at best. 

Ethridge quotes Basilea Schlink from her book My All for Him, which for me sums up what Jesus wants from us.  And, it really isn't anything more than what an earthly husband would want, which I would willing fulfill if I were married.

Schlink says, "From Jesus words 'Whoever loves Me...' and 'Do you love Me?' we sense how much He yearns for us to love Him.  But it is a special kind of love He seeks.  It is the love that is reflected in the relationship between an earthly bride and her bridegroom.  An exclusive love.  A love that tolerates no rivals.  A love that gives the beloved, the bridegroom, the first place.  As the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus lays claim to such first love.  Because He loves us so dearly, He longs to have the whole of us.  Jesus gave Himself unreservedly for us.  Now, He yearns for us to give ourselves completely to Him, with all that we are and have, so that He can truly be our first love."

One of the changes I've made this year is to listen to more Christian music.  Music has always spoken to me, and I've found there are more songs than I can even begin to name that have spoken to me about how much Jesus loves me.  One of my favorites, which is now my ringtone on my phone, is By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North.  Literally, every where I go, I hear this song, even in church this morning as the choir entered, so I'm thinking there is a message for me in it.  When I hear it, I don't think about Tenth Avenue North.  I imagine Jesus singing to me, and He is really telling me that even though I've strayed...even though I've acted like His love wasn't enough...even though I've tried to find love in all the wrong places...He has been faithfully waiting for me, ready to hold me whenever I would turn to Him and let Him love me as only He can. No one else has ever said, "I love you...I'll never let you go."  But Jesus said it when I first came to Him, and He is still saying it after all these years of my unfaithfulness.  And, all I know is I've never known anyone else who could and would love me in such a way. 

© Lisa Kelley 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

When Love Is Not Enough

I've spent the last two days driving to and from Hot Springs in order to attend a conference.  The trip to Hot Springs is always a sad trip for me because it's a drive down memory lane where I'm reminded of a day that was just about perfect.  I shared the day with the person I consider the love of my life.  His name was Tony.  We went with his family and stopped at a restaurant in Benton for breakfast before driving on to Hot Springs for a day at the lake. 

I watched him ski and had a great time with his dad, stepmom, step-sister and step-brother.  It was warm and sunny...the perfect day for a heart to love.  We talked about love and Tony said love wasn't really real.  People could have feelings for each other, but love was just a term people used.

My heart belonged to him, and for the next six years, we would have an off and on again relationship until it would finally end because he didn't want to make a commitment to anything truly serious.  He said he didn't believe in love and marriage.

Does this sound like a scene from a movie?  If you've ever seen When Harry Met Sally, you've seen the glimpse of my life when Sally tells Harry that her former boyfriend, Joe, is getting married.  She says, she told herself he didn't want to marry; but the truth is he didn't want to marry her.  I cry every time I see this scene because I know just how she felt.

The truth was Tony didn't believe in love and marriage with me, but he did believe in marrying someone else.  And even though more years have passed than I want to admit, my heart still aches when I think how I loved him. 

I learned the life lesson many people learn - sometimes loving someone completely with all your heart isn't enough to make them love you too.  And, while I have gone on and really don't think of him often, I can't make the trip to Hot Springs without remembering a perfect day when I was young and hopeful that love could happen for me.

© Lisa Kelley 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Navajo Land

Last week was one of those weeks where I felt most alive.  Why?  First, I was in a part of the country I love, the desert southwest.  Except for the unfortunate smoke situation in New Mexico, the weather was perfect with upper 80s and less than ten percent humidity.  Second, I was doing what I love - working with kids who have the odds stacked against them because they are American Indian and live on a reservation.  Finally, and most importantly, I was trying to share God.

As wonderful as last week was, I still feel a lingering sadness.  Statistically speaking, many of the beautiful kids I met last week will accomplish little if we measure them from a strictly materialistic, achievement point of view.  Some will not finish school or barely do it.  Some will succumb to peer pressure and join gangs or start drinking and end up living in addiction.  Some will experience physical and mental abuse and become abusers themselves.  Right now, they have such potential and all I can pray is for God to help them dodge all the darkness they will encounter. 

And despite the bleak statistics, there is hope.  I have hope what we did last week might have a lasting impression on some of the kids.  That, they might have hope not necessarily in this world, but in an eternal life where they are free from pain, hunger, and discrimination.  A life filled with God and his graciousness.

There are many things I could write about this experience.  Not all would be positive with regard to how the kids are treated, but I find at least for now the feelings are too raw to share.

All I know is I wish with all my being I could make a positive difference for the kids in Thoreau and the kids in Pine Ridge.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Line in the Sand

I've just returned from the Navajo Nation and I'll be writing about the experience in a future post.  Today, though, I'm concentrating on an experience from the Zuni Pueblo.  My travel mate, Audra, and I stayed in the city of Gallup, New Mexico, while the group we worked with stayed in a house outside of Thoreau.  Audra and I are high maintenance women, I guess, but the thought of staying in a house with 14 other people and sharing two bathrooms wasn't appealing to us.  Because we stayed in Gallup, we were very close to the Zuni Pueblo and on Monday during the day, we headed to Zuni to check it out.

Zuni Pueblo is a very traditional place.  No photographs are allowed unless you purchase a permit and you can't visit the actual Pueblo without a guide.  We didn't buy the photo permit, but we did pay for the guide to take us to the Pueblo.  Our guide, Sherry, was very pleasant and informative and I enjoyed meeting her and hearing about the Zuni culture and traditions.

We actually visited the Spanish Mission in the middle of the Pueblo.  A mission, which is no longer used and in fact was de-consecrated many years ago.  What has stuck with me about our visit to the Pueblo is the things the Catholic missionaries did to try to convert the Zuni to Christianity.  I want to be very clear - I'm not bashing the Catholics because it could have been the Methodist, Baptist, or any other Christian denomination that would have tried to impose their beliefs and ideas on the Zuni in an effort to win them to Christ.  In this case, it just happened to be the Catholics.

The Zuni have different beliefs, especially when it comes to entering graveyards.  They don't go into areas where the dead are buried.  For most of us this is something we don't understand.  It may seem silly or superstitious, and that's fine for us.  However, for the Zuni, it is important.  They actually have a non-Zuni person who somewhat maintains the graveyard, at least this person decorates the graveyard on Memorial Day.

When the Catholic missionaries came into Zuni land and built the mission, they made the entrance to the mission in such a way that the Zuni had to march through the graveyard in order to enter the church.  And this is the thing I'm so troubled by.  If you're goal is to win people to Christ, why must you trample all over people's beliefs? 

I don't believe like the Zuni.  I don't think it matters if you walk through a graveyard.  But, I'm not Zuni.  I can't begin to know how God feels about these things because I'm not God.  I know He isn't happy with false gods and the worshipping of false gods, but in the grand scheme of things is God displeased with the Zuni because they don't go through graveyards?  And if, this is something that displeases God, don't you think He would press upon a Zuni convert's heart to move away from the superstitions that displease Him?

I think He would.  I believe the Holy Spirit would inform any person of things they should and shouldn't do once they accept Christ.  We, Christians, don't have to impose our rules of right and wrong on other people.  If you look at the history of our nation and the way Christians have dealt with the American Indians, it's a sad and disturbing story.  I, for one, feel such an enormous burden for the many lost American Indians, who may never know Christ because of the terrible things Christians have done to them.  Things that had no Biblical basis whatsoever.  Nowhere in the Bible will anyone find that in order to be a Christian, you must talk, dress, and live like white people.  It's not there. 

I realize each person is responsible for himself or herself, but white people drew a line in the sand when it came to converting the American Indians - a line that said you can't be who God made you to be and be a Christian.  You must be assimilated and act like we do or you can't be truly saved.  And, this unloving spirit so grossly shown to our native peoples keeps thousands and thousands of people from being able to open their hearts to the only One who can save them so they can have an eternal life where they are accepted as the beautiful people God created them to be.

I'm not a Biblical scholar, and these are just my thoughts and feelings.  All I know is God created American Indians and He loves them as much as He loves any other persons He created. 

The link below will take you to a website with photos of the Zuni Pueblo.

Zuni Pueblo pictures from the Zuni people

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Born for a Miracle Mission Part 4

So far, I've outlined the Master and People Keys in the quest to be a delivery agent for God.  The third key is the Spirit Key.  Bruce Wilkinson in his book You Were Born For This says we can partner with God's Spirit.  He says we precommit to cooperate with the Spirit at every opportunity to accomplish God's work.

Jesus says in John that it's better for Him to go away so the Spirit can come to us and live within us.  And with God in us, He can work through us.

Wilkinson outlines how this partnering with the Spirit works so we can deliver God's miracles.
  • The Spirit knows the other person.
  • The Spirit know us.
  • The Spirit speaks of the Father and Son.
  • The Spirit empowers us.
  • The Spirit does the miracle.
  • We do the work.

 Here's what we can know about the Spirit:
  • The Holy Spirit is real and we can understand who He is and how He works.
  • The primary purpose of the Spirit is to help us accomplish God's agenda on earth.
  • We can accomplish all God wants us to accomplish only by partnering with the Spirit.
  • The Spirit is available to all who believe in Christ and God.

The final key is the Risk Key and Wilkinson says, we can't respond to the Risk Key if we aren't walking with the Spirit.  As long as we're walking in the Spirit, we'll be prepared to do God's work because God doesn't set us up to fail. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Born for a Miracle Mission Part 3

If you're a Christian, you believe humans are born to worship God and to show God's love to other people.  In his book, You Were Born for This, Bruce Wilkinson is describing how we can become miracle agents for God.  In my two previous postings, I've talked about one of the keys to becoming a miracle delivery agent, the Master Key.  In a nutshell, this key is really about asking God to be His agent.

The second key is the People Key.  According to Wilkinson, we're here to serve people because Jesus was sent from Heaven to serve.  When we share God's heart for people and accept the delivery agent assignment, we agree to the following:
  • Our personal agenda must surrender to His.
  • Our heart in any miracle must be His heart.
  • Our role in any miracle must be to serve people - anyone, anytime, anywhere He directs.
Wilkinson cautions that our opportunity will most likely come at a time or in a manner we least prefer.  In other words, it isn't going to be convenient necessarily, or even be for people we may deem worthy of a miracle.

He illustrates with the story of Jonah and how Jonah tried to follow his own agenda instead of God's agenda.  What it got Jonah was an unexpected close encounter in the belly of a whale.  Ick!  Jonah thought the people of Nineveh should be destroyed, but God saw potential.  In the end, Jonah did what God asked, but he wasn't happy about it.  Acting as God's conduit, Jonah brought the message and Nineveh was spared destruction because they listened and repented, but because he didn't have the heart for the people he missed it was a miracle.

Wilkinson says we have to yield to Heaven's Right of Way.
  1. We can miss miracle assignments because we are doing other good things; therefore, we need to stay alert for God's direction.
  2. We can miss miracle assignments because we judge people as being undeserving of a miracle.  Or we determine they are ungrateful and unworthy.  This is irrelevant because we're showing God's heart for people by doing what He asks us to do.  This particular point strikes a cord with me.  If you're reading this blog, you probably know I've been going to Pine Ridge Reservation for many years to bring Christmas presents and coats to a group of children who attend Lakota Baptist Church.  A few years ago, the pastor left the church and his replacement missed this point totally.  He saw ingratitude in the adults for what we were doing, and he decided we couldn't do it anymore.  Forget that we felt God had called us to do these things for the kids.  It was his will that mattered, not God's.  Thankfully, he left within the year, and the previous pastor returned, and he has a heart for what God wants done. 
  3. We can only last as a miracle delivery agent, if we put God's plan ahead of our own.  We have to be doing what we're doing for God and not for people because sometimes the people designated for the miracle aren't going to see it at the time and they aren't going to respond the way we think they should.
In the end, Wilkinson says we have to decide in advance to surrender our rights to choose the miracle, the way it's delivered, and the people who will receive it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Born for Miracle Missions Part 2

"BAAAWK!!!!"  That's the closest I can come to spelling the sound a chicken makes.  Can you hear me squawking as you read this.  Yes, it's true.  I'm a chicken.  I'm still not ready to ask God to make me a delivery agent.

If you read last night's post, you know I'm reading Bruce Wilkinson's book You Were Born for This.  It'a all about how we can become miracle delivery agents for God.  All we have to do is ask to be sent.

Wilkinson outlines the way to ask:
  1. Consciously enter the throne room of Heaven.  He says picture God on His throne and Jesus sitting to His right, and there you are front-and-center.
  2. Next, volunteer with words like Isaiah used.  "Here am I.  Send me."  Or if you want to get more contemporary in your speech: "Here I am.  Please send me on a miracle mission."  Of course you need to picture it happening.
  3. Then, you pre-commit to act when you are nudged.  Pledge - "As You lead, I will respond."
  4. Next, you need to actively put your faith in God to deliver His miracle through you.  "I trust You to deliver the miracle through me.  Thank you that I can fully depend upon You."
So, those are the steps to follow and each day, you just get up and say, "Today, I'm a delivery person for God.  Please Lord, send me!"

It's not really complicated.  And, you're not asking for some big parting of the Red Sea miracle. All you're saying is:  If someone needs something and You're going to answer, You can use me to do whatever needs to be done."

That's what I could say, but instead  I'm sounding a lot like this

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Born for Miracle Missions Part 1

I'm not sure where this is going to go.  I've labeled it Part 1, which may be all there is, but I'm not sure, so I'm giving myself wiggle room. 

I've just started reading a book called You Were Born for This.  It's by Bruce Wilkinson.  Perhaps you've heard of this book, but you're probably very familiar with Wilkinson's book The Prayer of Jabez.  I liked The Prayer of Jabez and had a copy, but loaned it to a friend, who moved to another church and sadly didn't return my book.  But, I'm digressing.  I'm only on page 59, but it's already started to make me uncomfortable.

When I say uncomfortable, I don't mean it in a bad way.  This book appears to be based on sound Biblical principles.  I'm uncomfortable because I'm aware I may not be ready to surrender to what this book is saying.

You Were Born for This is about people, God's people, being willing to be His delivery agents.  God has much work to do and He needs His people to do His work - His miracle work.

Wilkinson says:
  • God is constantly at work in supernatural ways in our world, and He has much he wants to get done.
  • God is actively looking for loyal partners - people who consistently care about what He cares about.
  • God is regularly nudging people to respond, but most people miss His intentions or simply say no.
Wilkinson isn't saying these miracles are big in nature.  Although, I suppose they could be.  It's more like being directed to people who are in need of help.  To the willing delivery agent, it may not seem like a miracle at all - just one person helping another - but to the person needing the help, it's a miracle.

As I make my way through the book, I will be discovering the four keys to a life of miracles.  They are:
  1. The Master Key - The urgent prayer to God to be sent on a mission.
  2. The People Key - You put yourself and Heaven on notice you have decided to make God's heart for people your own.  You're prepared to deliver miracles to whomever He asks whenever He asks.
  3. The Spirit Key - You're prepared to cooperate with God's Spirit, especially in regard to His supernatural power.
  4. The Risk Key - You intentionally live in such a way that you take risks of faith, relying on God to accomplish what He wants done.
I must admit the Master Key scares me.  I want to tell God, " I'm reporting for duty.  Send me to do your work, today. "  I want to tell Him, but there's this part of me that doesn't want to tell Him too.  What if He wants me to do something I don't want to do?  What if He tells me to go somewhere I don't want to go? 

So, the point of this post is to say, I'm thinking I need to report to duty. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

Last night I saw the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast.  This was my second time to see it.  I love the story because it is such a beautify love story.  The main characters are Belle and the Beast. 

The Beast's outward appearance reflects what was once his inner self - a selfish man full of pride and arrogance, who lacked compassion for those less fortunate than himself.  One careless decision trapped him in his tortured beastly state.  There is only one thing that can save him from complete condemnation -- true love.

Belle is the lovely heroine, who sees beyond the outward appearance of the Beast.  Belle breaks through the hard outer shell the Beast has constructed and opens his heart.  She is his savior, and her love breaks the curse restoring the Beast to the prince he once was.

It's a fairy tale of course.  But, if you think about it long enough, you can see maybe it isn't.  For all of us are in some way the Beast.  Within us is vanity and pride, careless thoughts and actions, and at times a lack of love and compassion for our fellow man.  Our hearts are as hard and empty as the Beast.  We are condemned by our sin, and eternal torture awaits except we have a true love who has come to save us.  Jesus, our Belle, sees beyond the ugliness of sin and loves us anyway.  All we have to do is open our hearts to Him so He can transform us into something new and forgiven.  This story of Beauty and the Beast is no fairy tale.  It's the love story of my life. 

My beautiful Jesus, thank you for loving me.

Enjoy my favorite song from Beauty and The Beast.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blinded by Brilliance And Unafraid of the Dark

Last week physicist Stephen Hawking said heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.  This isn't the first time Hawking has created controversy.  In 2010, he indicated he could explain the creation of the universe and there was no need for a divine force.  Hawking believes it is quantum fluctuations in the early universe that sowed the seeds of human life.  My question, of course, is who caused the quantum fluctuations? 

Hawking is brilliant.  No one can argue this based upon his work in quantum physics.  But his brilliance has blinded him to the ability to consider the possibility science can't explain everything.

Many people have said they believe Hawking is simply bitter because he has suffered so greatly in this life.  Diagnosed at 21 with a degenerative motor neuron disease, Hawking, who is now 69, has been confined to a wheelchair for years and is almost completely paralyzed.  His brilliant mind trapped in a useless body.  Surely this could cause someone to feel bitterness, and perhaps question the existence of God. Still, the fact he has survived 49 years with a disease that usually kills within a few years, points to a higher power in my thoughts. 

Hawking says he isn't afraid of death.  He doesn't believe in heaven, so one must assume he doesn't believe in hell either.  He believes we die and there is darkness, nothing after this life.

For me the saddest thing is not that this brilliant man has experienced a tortured physical existence, though it does cause me saddness.  No, the saddest thing is the thought he will die without knowing the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and instead of the darkness he believes awaits, he will face an eternity of excruciating pain and misery.

Instead of no more pain, pain is what he will endure forever.  Instead of running free, he will be bound by the forces of Satan.  There will be no rest.  There will not be peace.  There may be darkness because God's light will not shine in hell.

My prayer would be for Hawking to free his mind to consider God does exist and by believing in Him and His Son, he will live forever healthy and whole in the light.

I'm not as smart as Hawking, but if I'm wrong then it won't matter.  I'm not going to know it.  If I'm right, Hawking will miss the most amazing discovery ever - waking up in glory with a new body.

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Nation Without Sense

Over the last few days, I've been reading the warnings God gave to the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land.  The warnings clearly outlined the destruction to come if they didn't obey Him (Derutronomy 28 -29).

Today's Bible reading was Deuteronomy 31-34.  I was struck by Chapter 32 verses 28 and 29:  "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.  If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!"  Does this sound like a nation you're familiar with? 

In the last chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses describes what is going to happen to the Jewish nation if they turn from God.  It isn't pretty.  If God's chosen people weren't immune from His wrath, why should America think she is?

On the radio today, one of the announcers mentioned how the destruction from weather related events is more extensive than ever before and has already cost billions of dollars.  And the damage is not over yet.  Parts of Louisiana are about to be flooded if water is released into the spillways in order to minimize the damage to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  This may be crazy thinking on my part, but it seems to me it has only been a few years since New Orleans was devastated by a hurricane.  Now, flood waters threaten to do more damage to it.  Is it just possible God might be trying to send a message to people that this city is evil in His eyes?

And, what about the casinos in Mississippi.  I must admit I haven't kept up with all the news, but I do know that many of the casinos are flooded.  Do you think this might be a sign God isn't happy about the casinos?

What else might be a sign God isn't really happy with America?  Could the high unemployment be a sign?  Could an economy that is tanking be a sign? Could higher gasoline prices be a sign?  Could higher food prices be a sign?  Could the disdain of other nations for America be a sign?  Could the hate of terrorist be a sign?

Could floods, unbelievable snow storms, devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, along with famine, wars, disease, and violence be signs God has turned His back on all nations?

God cannot and will not look upon evil.  He will turn His back from it.  And when He turns away, who is left to protect a nation?  Without God, we will suffer - the good and evil alike.  And really we're all responsible for what is happening.  For too long Christians have remained silent to the minority who have said God has no place in our lives.  And maybe, God has decided the same thing.

"I will heap calamities upon them and spend my arrows against them.  I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust.  In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign.  Young men and young women will perish, infants and gray-haired men." (Deuteronomy 32: 23 - 25)

There is good news despite all that is happening around us.  We can still choose life.  If we return to God, He will still hear us.  He will still save us.  "Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  For the Lord is your life..." (Deuteronomy 30: 19b-20a)