Thursday, March 31, 2011

John Adams and God

I'm fixated on this whole founding fathers thing so it seems, and have decided I want to see how many of the first presidents actually mentioned God as being in control and protecting the United States of America.  After today, I may do one more piece where I consolidate because if you're reading my blog, you may be tired of the dead presidents by now.

I find it fascinating though to look back at our history and see how there was no hesitation to mention the existence of a higher being and to admit He watched over us.  And, it is equally fascinating to me that people today can't see this in our history.  It's as if this enormous portion of our history is disregarded because it doesn't prove their point.  

So, I offer you some interesting quotes from that silly John Adams, our second president.

"Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence which had so signally protected this country from the first, the representatives of this nation..."

Well ,this may offer some explanation for the sorry state of our affairs today...this country had intelligent people back in Adam's day, who had purtiy ot intentions and integrity.  Purity and integrity - how many of our role models and leaders have these two qualities?

"...with humble reverence, I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect."

Here, Adam's seems to be indicating he respects Christianity and considers Christianity the best recommendations for the public service.  Wow!  This is amazing.  He said the "C" word twice.

 "And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence."

This last quote is perhaps the one that sends shivers down my spine because it's absolutely at a polar opposite to our country today.  America is definitely not consistent with the ends of God's providence.  His laws can't be displayed in government buildings.  His birth can't be displayed on capitol lawns.  His name can't be uttered in schools.  His Word can't be mentioned in public, and can't be used to prove certain human choices are wrong lest those who use it to prove their point are called hate mongers.

Finally, the saddest thing of all is neither George Washington nor John Adams would stand a chance at being president of our country today.  They'd just be too Christian.

You can view John Adam's inaugural address at:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

George Washington and God

Today's post is a continuation of yesterday's theme.  I decided to see what our founding fathers had to say about God and this nation, and I chose to read George Washington's first inaugural address given on April 30, 1789.  It's quite enlightening, and surely George was completely off track because he indicated in his speech God had something to do with the founding of America and the successful defeat of the British Empire.  We know he was wrong because we have so many great minds today telling us how we can't have God involved in our country if He even exists at all.

Washington in his speech had the audacity to say the "Almighty Being who rules over the universe...whose providential aide can supply every human defect...His benediction may consecrate...the Great Author of every public and private good...Invisible Hand which conducts the affiars of men...providential agency...propitious smiles of Heaven...Heaven itself has ordained...benign Parent of the human race...and finally, His divine blessing.

What were the listeners thinking?  Was Washington out of his mind?  He thought God ruled the universe and had provided providential aid to enable the United States to be formed.  God had provided divine blessings and had the power to conduct the affairs of men.  Obviously, he was suffering from some battle impairment that clouded his logic.

What amazes me is we can overlook today what was so obvious to the early Americans.  God had granted America favor.  She had the opportunity to be the shining hope for the entire world.  And for a time she was hope and light.  What is she now? 

Washington knew America could only be the hope and the light for as long as she kept God in His rightful place.  Once God wasn't needed any more, we would cease to be the great nation Washington had such high expectations for in 1789.   He knew the secret to her success, and had the guts to acknowledge it.   "… since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.

Translated loosely: God isn't smiling on America anymore because America has disregarded what He has ordained as right.  

You can read Washington's address at



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From God Protected and Lead to God Pushed Aside and Dead

For some reason, I've had the subject of my post tonight on my mind since yesterday.  I’m troubled by how far we as a nation have moved away from the principles on which this nation was founded.  We are a nation where it seems God is no longer needed or welcome.  Yet, when you look at the Declaration of Independence, you find multiple references to God.  For example, the document begins:

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands, which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them…”  What?  Did I read that right?  Was there a reference to nature’s God?  How can it be? 

Oh, but there’s more.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”  Scandalous…we’re created, but wait I thought we came from tadpoles. What were our founding fathers thinking?  Obviously, they were feeble-minded individuals because they acknowledged a Creator.  Or perhaps they just lacked the education to understand we were just a coincidence that occurred during the Big Bang.

And, still there’s more of this silly talk: “We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…”  The Supreme Judge of the world – I’m flabbergasted by this statement.  There is a supreme being that judges the world?

And, still more nonsense: “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…”  Divine Providence means God governs everything that takes place in the universe.  Well, obviously they were lunatics.

Surely, they were mistaken, misguided, complete fools to mention God of nature, God the Creator, God the Supreme Judge, God the Divine Providence.  How unfortunate, they did not have the great scholars and learned minds to tell them there is no God.  He doesn’t exist.  He isn’t needed to protect, guide, or prosper us.  How silly of them to indicate they relied on God’s help to found this nation when we know He isn’t needed in any way.

From God protected and lead to God pushed aside and dead.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel the security our founding fathers felt.  Wonder why?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hope Deferred

Greater minds than mine have covered the subject of disappointment far more eloquently than I will, but I’m dealing with disappointment today and I’m trying to approach the situation by remembering who’s in control.

Few people know my secret.  In part because I know there’s a good chance I’ll experience total failure and for most people, me included, public failure is something to be avoided.  But, I’ve come to believe the people who read my blog are people who care about me; therefore, I feel certain they also will pray for me.  And, so I’ve decided to reveal my secret no matter what happens.  I could ask for unspoken prayer, but that to me isn’t specific enough.  Sometimes, you need people to pray specifically for something.

I’m asking you to pray I’ll be successful at this secret endeavor, but I also want you to pray I’ll be strong and courageous no matter what happens.  Pray I’ll accept the Lord’s will for my life and not my will.

Now, what is this big secret?  I’ve written a book, a romance book to be exact.  It took almost five years to complete because I’m too much of a perfectionist and I was writing in my spare time.  But, I finished it and finally said I can do no more with it.  Over the last month, I’ve submitted queries, synopses, and a few pages of the book to four different agents.  I received my first rejection e-mail today.

The agent was very kind.  This wasn’t a project she felt was right for her, but she was sure other agents would feel differently, and wished me luck.  It wasn’t as awful as I had anticipated it to be and it was expected.  All writers have experienced this disappointing byproduct of writing, so I know there are many more to come.  

What sticks in the back of my mind is how is it going to feel when it’s rejection letter 25 or 30?  I’m not sure.  What do I do if no one wants it?  What if this dream I’ve had since junior high school is just that – an illusive dream?  What if this isn’t God’s plan for me?

When I saw the e-mail and opened it, I immediately thought of one of the proverbs.  It’s Proverb 13:12, which reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  I’ve experienced hope deferred when I didn’t find the husband I had dreamed of and didn’t have the children I had longed for.  It does make the heart sick.  And, how does one deal with the last dream if it too must be deferred?

I’m trusting God totally because I can’t do anything else.  I know He says His grace is sufficient, and I believe Him.  There are a lot more agents to query so I’m not done yet.  Still, the “what ifs” are giving rise in the deepest corners of my mind.  Will this be a fulfilled longing or will this be hope deferred?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Sad Goodbye for a Joyous Reason

Yesterday, a friend of mine paid tribute to our youth minister who is leaving.  I told her she has inspired me for my posting today.  Tonight, we will honor Kylan Mann and his wife Felecia for the service they have given to our church and we’ll say a very tearful goodbye.  

There are many things I admire about Kylan, and want to take today’s blog as the opportunity to share with anyone who reads this posting the highlights.

Kylan loves life.  It’s apparent in the enthusiasm he shows in everything he does.  He’s quick-witted and seems always in a good mood.  He isn’t afraid to approach any situation in an almost child-like manner.  Note the picture.

Kylan loves people.  He knows the names of the people at church and he walks through the halls greeting everyone.  Kylan traveled with our mission team last year to the Pine Ridge Reservation, and was a hit with the kids.  Kids know people’s true character and they could see what a great guy he is.

Kylan has loved our church.  When we lost our pastor last year, he stepped up to the plate and did a fantastic job.  It was really a joy to see him mature as a pastor.  None of us knew at the time that God was preparing Kylan for greater things, but now we can look back at the events that happened and say God was working to prepare Kylan for his next assignment.

Kylan loves his family.  He has a beautiful wife, who is one of the sweetest people I know.  It’s clear he loves her and their precious son, Elias.

Finally, and most importantly, Kylan loves the Lord.  It’s apparent in his dedication to his family, his church, and to his willingness to be used wherever and in whatever capacity God wants to use him.

In closing, I’ll share my funny Kylan story because anyone who knows him has at least one.  It occurred on our trip to Pine Ridge.  If you’ve been to Pine Ridge, you know there are few options for lodging on the reservation.  There’s a hotel in Kyle and there’s a hotel connected with the Prairie Wind Casino.  As we passed the casino, someone said we could have stayed there.  I said something to the effect, “I’m sure our church would like to know we’d stayed at the casino.”  Kylan, ever ready with an answer in his most serious face piped up, “Jesus would be there.”  It cracked us up because the line just instantly popped into his mind.  And then, of course, we laughed because he was right.  Jesus would have been there.

He’s a jewel, and we’ll miss him, Felecia, and Elias. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Radical Update

I'm completing my third week in the Radical Experiment, and wanted to give an update on how things are going.

First, I want to say so far it's been a good thing for me.  I'm reading the Bible daily, first thing in the morning after my shower so I can think about what I've read all day.  Also, if I do it first thing, then I won't let other things get in the way like I'm so prone to do if I wait until the end of the day. 

I'm praying more and hopefully in a more meaningful way than before March 1.  My prayer time is designated for the morning as well so I will spend at least 30 minutes each day in prayer.  I want to do better, which means I would like to spend another 30 minutes in the evening.  I've not been consistent with the evening goal as yet, but it is a goal.  Also, I'm failing at this point in praying for the entire world.  I've managed to pray for United Arab Emirates and Bosnia, but totally missed the country for this week. 

I've been out of context at least once durng this month, but I'll exceed the Radical Experiment goal just by going to the Navajo and Pine Ridge Reservations this year.

I've made the commitment to support my church, Lakota Baptist Church, and make quarterly contributions to the Kingdom Missions Fund.  I can't say I've reached the giving until it hurts point yet, but I remain willing to do this and I'm trusting God to guide me where I need to give my money.  I've been doing some smaller stuff that requires a monetary investment, which if I added it up would actually have been a great contribution toward my 46" flat panel TV I so desire; nevertheless, I'm committed to place the TV on hold so I can do other things, and I'm good with this decision.

The final thing is to multiply the community.  I have no idea yet what that means for me.  I'm open to whatever God might direct me to do, but I haven't gotten any real sense of what that is yet.

Something that could be a coincidence, but I don't really believe in coincidences so I'm saying it's a Satan thing.  I've had more repair bills to deal with since the first of the year than I've had in a long time.  It all began about the time I started thinking about doing this experiment, so I think it's connected.  I've had approximately $4,000 in bills and at least $2,300 of that was totally unexpected.  I've been told I need at least a $1,000 repair on my car, but I'm getting another opinion before I have that work done.  I'm pretty sure this doesn't fit into the category "Give until it hurts," but it's affecting my giving until it hurts, so I think it's worth mentioning...Satan is always ready to put up obstacles to the commitments you make to God, and I'm looking at this as one place he's targeting.

Finally, for many of you who read my blog, you know our pastor challenged us to give up something for Lent.  And, you know I couldn't think of anything to give up.  Well, as it turns out, I have actually given up something, which will continue after Lent.  I'm getting up at 4:30 each morning so I have my Bible and prayer time.  If you who know me well, you know this is a sacrifice for me because I hate to get up early.  Nevertheless, I've been consistent and if I've done it for three weeks, I can continure to do it.

So there's the update. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

When Christians Lack Compassion

I’m never really sure most of the time where my inspiration will come from for my daily postings.  And, today’s post may be an example of how strangely my mind works at times; nevertheless, it is what it is.  The inspiration for today comes from the recent passing of Elizabeth Taylor.

Elizabeth was a public figure and we knew a great deal about her because she was a celebrity and a celebrity’s life is fodder for all the news outlets.  We know she was married eight times; we know one of her husbands was married to someone else and left his wife for her; we know she had an affair with Richard Burton while filming Cleopatra, and we know she had substance abuse problems.  Something I didn’t know was she had converted to Judaism when she married Eddie Fischer.  And, for a Christian this says so much about the state of her soul when she left this world.  

The Bible I read tells me Jesus is the truth and the way and no one will see the Father unless they accept the Son.  It is through Jesus we have eternal life.  This would then lead me to believe she will not have eternal life and she has enjoyed all the glory she will receive on this earth.  Her eternity will not be pleasant.  And, this is a dreadful thought to me.  This is what saddens me about her passing.  

Now, to the real point of my posting today.  I read that the church whose members go around protesting at people’s funerals planned to be at hers.  I don’t know if they were there, but she would have been a person they would have targeted.  I am troubled by this group, who claim to be Christians.  I don’t want to say they aren’t because only God knows their hearts, but it seems to me they lack compassion for the lost.  Jesus says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, which leads me to the question – Do these self-righteous people ever think what it would do to their families when they die if a group decides to hold up signs pointing out their sins at their funerals?  We know all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, so it's pretty safe to assume, these people have done some things that weren't pleasing to God.  

I know, as a Christian, I must follow what God says is right and wrong even if it means I am hated by the world.  And, if anyone asks me what my beliefs are about particular lifestyles and life choices, I will tell them what I really believe based upon what God has said.  However, I cannot in my wildest imagination see Jesus standing on the street holding up a sign which announces that the “gay soldier is in Hell now.”  He was a man of compassion.  He hates sin just as His Father does, but he loved people so much He died for their sins.  He died for my sins, for Elizabeth Taylor’s sins, and for these uncompassionate people who seem almost gleeful another soul may be in Hell.

I can think of nothing more awful than to think a person will be tormented for all eternity in the pit of Hell.  It causes my heart to feel grief and my soul to be burdened for all the lost people out there whose only exposure to Christianity may be a group of people who have no compassion for the lost or for the families who are grieving for their dead loved ones.  And, does it ever cross these people’s minds there may be family members who are grief stricken because they fear the worst for their loved one’s soul.  And, then they must be bombarded by hate as they lay this person to rest.

I can’t believe God is really pleased with behavior like that from His people.  And, I don’t believe they represent what real Christian people are.  They do, however, get plenty of attention, which I think tarnishes what real Christianity is, and unfortunately there will be many lost people who see them and say, “I would never do that.  If that’s what Christianity is, then I want no part of it.” 

In the end instead of turning people to God, they turn people away.  And, someday even they will stand before God Almighty and be required to give an accounting of what they have done.  I’m just wondering if He will ask them if they think He was pleased because their behavior caused people to turn from Him instead of run to Him.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Showing Out For God

Today’s posting is in response to a question form a dear friend of mine who is following my blog.  She had never heard the expression “frozen chosen” and asked me what it meant.  Here’s my interpretation and why I want to be known for showing out for the Lord and not for being frozen.

Frozen chosen really means the people who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior, but never show any outward expression of their excitement for what the Lord has done.  They are the people who sit stoically without clapping and certainly never raise their hands no matter what is happening around them.  Quite literally, they look frozen because they are so stiff.  One wonders if Jesus showed up, would they express any outward excitement at all.

Now, I must admit I have room to improve, but I try to look like I’m happy to be in the house of the Lord.  I definitely sing and clap.  I move to the music at least in a slight sway much of the time because I love the music and the subject we’re singing about.

I believe there is ample evidence in the Bible that we're to act joyous for the Lord. 
In fact, one of the most famous role models is David.  He greatly offended the proprieties of his wife by dancing through the streets for the Lord.  When Michal rebuked him for acting in a manner unbecoming for a king, David said:  “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel.  I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes…”  (2 Samuel 6:21-22)  He then chose never go to her again.

I want to be more like King David and look foolish to some because I’m so excited about praising the Lord.  We're going to live forever because of what Jesus has done for us if we accept him as our Lord and Savior.  That makes me want to shout.  And, there’s plenty of biblical evidence it’s okay to shout and dance.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)

“Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.” (Psalm 98:4)

“They raise their voices; they shout for joy from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty.”  (Isaiah 24:14)

The bottom line is we don’t need to worry what other people think about us when we're truly praising the Lord.  If we shout, sway, raise hands, sing, dance, or amen at the top of our lungs and it's because we want to show God how much we love and adore Him, I think He’s going to be pleased.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Out of Context

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be out of context.  A co-worker invited me to attend an 8:00 a.m. service at his church as part of the "bring a co-worker to church" day.  My co-worker is black and as you might guess, his church is 99% black.

When he introduced his guests, five in all with three of us being white, he pointed out how happy he was we were there because it wasn't just a geographical line some of us had crossed, but a racial line too in order to worship with him.

It occurred to me how little progress we've made with regards to racial differences.  Even in the 21st Century, whites still tend to worship with whites and blacks worship with blacks.  When it comes to worship, we stick with those most like us, and as a result we miss out on great opportunities to praise and worship God. 

I sensed a great enthusiasm and joy at being in God's house at his church.  The people were more vocal and demonstrative of what they were experiencing.  Baptist have in many cases earned the nickname of "the frozen chosen."   I'm not sure the typical white Baptist church ever gets close to the total abandonment I experienced.  But, I wish we could.  I left feeling excited and think I may have been slightly more joyous to be worshipping God when I headed on to my church. 

In defense of my church, we are more enthusiastic than most Baptist churches I've attended or visited.  We clap and some raise their hands, but we're still pretty quiet compared to my friend's church.  I think we're a work in progess.

Being out of context can be a little intimidating, but it can also be very fulfilling. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When Those We Love Die

Four years ago today, a dear, sweet friend of mine passed from this world into the heavenly realm.  Her name was Breanne and she was ten years old. 

I first met Breanne when she was three, and I count it a blessing to have known her and watch her go from a shy, quiet three-year-old to a vivacious, super smart ten-year-old. 

Breanne was special in many ways, but her affection and love for me was something I still marvel at today.  Can there be anything on this side of heaven more beautiful than being loved by a child?  I can’t think of anything.

Breanne called me Miss Lisa most of the time, and she thought I looked like Pocahontas because of my long dark hair.  Words really aren’t adequate to express my love for her.

Breanne fought a long battle with cancer, and to say she experienced more than any child should experience is a gross understatement.  Those of us who knew her were awed by her total unwavering belief in God and her total trust in Jesus.  We could see God through her eyes, and we saw how wonderful He was.

About a year after her death, I dreamed she was alive and healthy.  I was perplexed in the dream because I knew she had died; still, she was alive and I felt joy at her return.  We were walking together, hand-in-hand, and it was such a happy moment.  Then, I woke up and sadness gripped my heart as I realized it was all just a dream.

I still find it hard to believe she’s gone.  My head knows it, but my heart still misses her.  Her house seems so silent because her incredible life force is gone.  There are times I remember things she said and did and laugh aloud.  And, there are times I remember things she said and did and cry.

Breanne’s life was short on this earth, but she made a lasting impact on many.   And, I feel certain she is entertaining Jesus as I write this blog.   Like King David, I know where she is.  At the death of his son, he said: “But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:23)

I think Breanne would like for me to close by saying, if you haven’t trusted Jesus as your savior, you should.  Once you do, you can rest assured you’ll live forever in a place where sickness and death will be no more.  Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” (1Corinthians 15:55)   It’s been conquered and we have all of eternity to praise God for sending our redeemer, Jesus, to give us life everlasting.  I love you Breanne, and I’ll see you later.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Answer Is Grace

I took a walk today at lunch, and while I enjoyed the fresh air and pleasant breeze, I tried to focus on God.  I began by praising him for such a wonderful day and then my thoughts seemed to settle on something that had happened several years ago.  Something that has troubled me off and on since it occurred.  

Almost six years ago, I went into business for myself as a management and leadership consultant.  I had gotten a contract with the University of Arkansas and things were going really well.  I loved being self-employed.  It was something I had dreamed about for years and finally it looked like I was going to live the dream.

About a year-and-a-half after I got the contract, the focus shifted at UA and I found myself without a contract.  I limped along for over a year, trying to make it and contacted several people I had known for years.  I asked if they might consider using me for some of the training they were doing.  No one would take the chance on me, and after an extremely hard year, I went back to work for someone else.

Jump forward about a year.  One of the people I had hoped would give me a chance found himself without a job and he formed a consulting firm.  Shortly after forming his company, he called on me to see if I would use his company for training.  Suddenly the tables were turned.  I will confess a part of me wanted desperately to say, “Why should I help you?  When I needed your help, you wouldn’t give me even a crumb.  You were in a position you could have helped me, but you didn’t.  Now, you want my help and even more you think I should help you.”

I thought it, but I didn’t say it.  Begrudging, I did what I could to help him, but it was hard and I held the deep feeling of being a total sucker.  I helped, but not with a generous spirit.

As I walked, I asked the Lord again as I have so many times, “Why couldn’t this person have helped me?  It might have made all the difference for me.”   Today, after almost three years, I think I got an answer.  I heard the still small voice inside say, “Because you needed to show him grace.”

Wow!  I’d love to tell you I felt such relief and all the disappointment instantly vanished, but it didn’t.  I’m not that good of a person.  However, it is reassuring to have an answer even if I don’t particularly like it.  I mean couldn’t someone else have been the person to show grace.  Wait a minute – there was a person who showed me grace when He bore all my sins and sorrows and allowed Himself to be beaten, mocked, and crucified on a tree.  Reality check: the grace shown me is far more than any grace I have ever extended.  

Jesus is the example, and I can never measure up to His example.  All I can do is follow what He has asked me to do.  “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful.”  (Luke 6:36)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Who Is It About?

Today, I have attended two different churches.  The first was as a guest of a co-worker because his church was having “bring a co-worker to church day.”  The second was my home church.  What was amazing about today is the message at both churches was essentially the same:  It’s not about me – it’s about God.

In the first service, we read from the book of Ruth.  This is one of my favorite books in the Bible because it is a love story about the love of family and the romantic love of a man and woman. Pastor Kelly pointed out how Naomi and Ruth had experienced great tragedy, but God had brought them through it by working out all the details so Boaz would marry Ruth and be her kinsmen-redeemer.

As Pastor Kelley spoke, he pointed out several very important things I, as a Christian, should remember.  We act as if everything that happens to us and for us is about us.  But it’s not.  It’s about God.  It’s so God’s name can be made famous.  If I’ve been through something and someone else thinks the only way I could have gotten through was because of a higher power, then I’ve been used by God.  If something good happens to me, do I give God the credit or do I act as if I made it happen.  We must recognize people are watching us to see if we think it’s all about us.  

The pastor pointed out God might be using me now.  He uses His people to provoke interest about Him in other people and his example was how even the unbelieving enemies of Israel would say, “God must be on their side.”  Friend and foe alike are always watching to see if I'm living the way a Christian should live.

In my home church, we read John 3:22-36 which is about John the Baptist.  The message was about becoming less so God could increase.  Our wonderful pastor pointed out “It’s not about us.”  Okay Lord, you have my attention now.

In John 3:30, John the Baptist says, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.”  In the words of Pastor Wyman, “It’s a countercultural message.”  Our society makes us think it’s about us, but it’s not.  It’s always been about God and it always will be. 

What’s my take away from the multiple messages on making it about God and not about me?  I need to work in this area.  I’m much better than I used to be, but I’m sure I live at least 60 percent of my time thinking it’s about me.  Why is this happening to me?  Why isn’t this happening to me?  Why can’t I have the things I desire?  Me…me…me, when it should be you…you…you, Lord.  

Wyman said we have to love God more than we love ourselves.  Then we have to love family more than we love ourselves.  And, finally we have to love others more than we love ourselves. We have to be less so God can be more, and people are watching us to see if this God we profess to love and adore really is most important in our lives.  It's an awesome responsibility, but an incredible privilege too. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Encouraging One Another

Since I started my blog, I’ve been so amazed at the encouraging words I’ve received.  It’s a very unexpected and pleasant surprise because I wasn’t sure anyone would read it, much less find it interesting.  Encouraging people isn’t one of my strongest abilities.  It’s something I’ve worked on, but I fall short so often.  It doesn’t come naturally.  People, who always seem to know what to say to lift up others no matter the situation, amaze me.   If something horrible has happened, they know just the right words to comfort people and encourage them.  If something fabulous has happened, they know exactly what to say to make the person feel even better.  Because it is so natural to them, I believe they have the gift of encouragement.

If you’re like me, it’s possible to learn how to be more encouraging, but it may never feel natural. Still, we’re told we should encourage one another.  “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1Thessalonians 5:11)

In the business world, we’d call encouragement giving positive feedback.  I believe the principles for feedback in the world of work can be applied in any area of life.  So, if you’re like me, and don’t have the gift of encouragement, see if this will work for you.  For feedback to be meaningful it needs to:
  • Be given immediately
  • Be sincere
  • Be specific in nature
  • Express how it’s affected you
For example, to everyone who has commented positively about my blog I want to say: Over the last week, your kind words about my blog have really encouraged me.  Thank you for letting me know you like it.  I really appreciate it.

Practicing helps, and it has been my experience people appreciate the attempts you make to be encouraging even if you don't always say the right thing at the right time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do Not Attempt Unprepared

In my prayer time, I’ve been asking the Lord to point out areas that are displeasing to Him.  WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME UNLESS you’re ready to receive.  Last night I was convicted when out of nowhere I heard in my mind, “Lisa, you’re arrogant.”  And, I knew it was true.

I’m going to qualify this statement.  I don’t think I’m a superior human being over another.  The homeless guy, drug user, gang member, etc. are just as important to God as I am.  They aren't lesser human beings and I don’t regard them as such.  My arrogance is rooted in my professional abilities.  I know with this next statement I run the risk of sounding arrogant, but I’m good at what I do.  I know training inside and out.  I'm a strategic thinker.  I can see the big picture, and I’m not afraid to try new things.  When I take behavioral or personality assessments, I score very high as a strategic, go-getter type person.  I like to learn; I do learn, and I work hard.  Most assessments indicate I have a low tolerance for people who don’t know what they’re doing and an even lower tolerance if the people who don’t know what they’re doing are my bosses.  

In the past, I’ve had several bosses who really didn’t know what they were doing.  It’s a fact, and I’m not being harsh or arrogant in saying it.  I know I knew more, and even though I was respectful to them to their faces, I wasn’t always respectful of them when I spoke about them to other people.  My words would be harsh and unkind in many instances.  Always, in the back of my mind I’d be thinking, “I could do so much better if I were given the chance.”

It’s important for me to point out; I've never been given the chance.  And, as I persevere to cultivate a relationship with the Lord, I feel fairly certain it’s because I haven’t learned how to be respectful to those I work for if they don’t meet my standards of knowledge and abilities.  It’s an important lesson to learn.  “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence.  You hate all who do wrong.” (Psalm 5:5)  Sobering words for a person who has suddenly accepted she’s one of the arrogant.

Right now, I have a reprieve because I have a knowledgeable boss. This is my opportunity to cultivate respectful habits.  If the past is any indicator of the future, I am certain somewhere in the future there will be someone else I will report to who didn’t get the job by his or her abilities, but because of whom he or she knew.  And I’ll be tempted again.

This Radical Experiment is painful at times.  So, it’s important for me to remember the old phrase: “No pain, no gain.”   I want to get it right because the Lord hates pride and arrogance and if I am his child I should too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The god of Our Own Understanding

In an effort to show religious tolerance the phrase, “the god of your own understanding’ has become a frequent introduction for prayer.  It makes me cringe each time I hear it.  Why?  Because it reduces God to man’s level, which frankly screams with arrogance.

“The god,” to me, implies there’s more than one God.  If I think God is a rooster, then hey He’s a rooster.  If I think He’s a tree, then He’s a tree.  If I think He doesn’t exist, then He doesn’t exist.  The Word of God says there is one God…the creator of everything…the beginning and the end.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1)  It doesn’t say a god, some god, but THE GOD, singular, one, the only.  And just in case your understanding pushes Jesus out of the picture, please note, He was there too.  “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3)

“Of your own understanding.”  Really?  What arrogance indeed to presume I can ever understand God.  “Who can understand the thunder of His power?” (Job 26:14)  “Who can understand how He spreads out the clouds, how He thunders from His pavilion?” (Job 36:29)  “Who gives ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding?” (Job 38:36)

Here’s a big Ah hah for mankind – our understanding doesn’t define God.  God defines God.  “And God said to him, ‘I Am God Almighty.’” (Genesis 35:11)  God also said to Moses, “I Am the Lord.”  (Exodus 6:2).  “Who by His (God’s) understanding made the heavens.  His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:5)

God defines Himself and as much as we may want to mold Him into our own understanding we cannot.  He created us, not the other way around.  Charles Stanley in his devotional today entitled Expressions of Praise said, “People are created for the purpose of bringing glory to honor His name.”

We can understand what God expects of us and we can know His character, power, love, and grace.  “Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them.  I Am the Lord.”  (Leviticus 18:5)  But we (little humans) will never understand Him.  We aren’t smart enough or pure enough. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9) 

Watering down the awesomeness of God by suggesting He is the god of our understanding is nothing short of laughable and shows how very little we understand Him.  “I am the Alpha and Omega, says the Lord God! Who is and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty.”  (Revelation 1:8)

Note:  All verses quoted are form the New International Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When Jesus Kung Fu's Satan

Sometimes something totally silly crosses your mind and you just have to run with it.  My blog today is one of those times.

Last night I was thinking how much I’ve enjoyed the last two weeks.  I’m still excited about taking part in the Radical Experiment and really must admit I feel a certain inner happiness, which is a little strange and nothing like I’ve felt before.  I’m attributing it to my spending more time seeking God.

I’m praying more than ever and trying to make it more meaningful.  The sitting still and listening part remains the challenge.  I haven’t made it to an hour a day, but I am averaging 40 to 50 minutes, which is about 35 to 40 minutes more than I was spending prior to March 1.  I’m only beginning to see what I’ve been missing out on all these years by not making God time.

I’m reading the Bible every morning as soon as I get my shower.  I don’t miss the extra 30 minutes of sleep either.  In addition, I try to ponder what I’ve read throughout the day.  It’s amazing, but if you read the Bible first thing in the morning, you can ponder all day.

I’m looking for the way to share the Word, and I think my blog is one way, but I’ve asked a few of my Christian sisters to think about forming our own little group to share and teach the Word to the world, or at least to central Arkansas. 

I’m trying to give until it hurts.  I really want the 46” flat panel television, but I’ve decided it can wait.  There are more important things to invest in with eternal possibilities.

Finally, I’m preparing for my out of context experiences in June and September.

All in all, I’m feeling good about my progress so far.  It’s early though.  I still have 50 more weeks to go, and I’m working really hard not to get too confident.  In fact, I’m expecting Satan to hit me with something at any moment, and I’m trying to prepare.  “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Ephesians 6:11-12)

I want to be ready and to be able to resist.  I want to be able to kung fu Satan.  Then, I think, who am I kidding…I’m no match for Satan.  No, what I really want is for Jesus to kung fu Satan.  In my mind, I try to picture it so I’ll know just how to let Jesus handle it.  In my mind, I can hear Jesus saying to me, “Watch, little grasshopper, and learn.”  It’s so wonderful to know He can kung fu the devil.  I just have to trust that when the tempter shows up Jesus is right there to step in if I turn to Him.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Etu' Brute' - Betrayed"

Today is the Ides of March.  The historical significance of this date centers around betrayal.  In this case, betrayal by a trusted colleague and friend.  On this date in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Roman Senate.  One of the ringleaders was his friend Marcus Brutus.  And thanks to Shakespeare we have the famous line, “Etu’ Brute’?”  Caesar’s supposed dying words:  “And you, Brutus?”  Whether Caesar actually uttered these words, we cannot be sure, but it’s safe to say he felt betrayed.

Betrayal is devastating.  Perhaps because it occurs at the hand of someone we trust implicitly.  Betrayers know us intimately and we have believed we were loved and safe in their care.  One of my favorite movies is Braveheart.  And my favorite scene is when William Wallace discovers it's Robert the Bruce who has betrayed him.  No words are spoken in the scene, but the look on Mel Gibson’s face says it all.  Words would only have diminished the utter devastation he portrays with just that look.  I know exactly how he feels. 

The awfulness of being betrayed isn’t so much because we are duped, but because we lose a part of ourselves in the process.  Once betrayed, we generally can never approach anyone else with the same amount of trust we had before the betrayal.  And, we’re forced to deal with unpleasant emotions like grief, anger, and loss as well as a new struggle – the struggle to forgive.  If you’re like me, the struggle is fierce.  Satan, the ultimate betrayer of mankind, knows I struggle with forgiveness, and he's always waiting in the wings to bring to life the hurt and shock I’ve felt making it all seem new and raw.

The good news is I don’t have to give in to him.  I have the best role model to follow in the art of forgiveness: Jesus.  Jesus, who was betrayed by all mankind.  He knew what it was like to be betrayed by those closest to him.  Judas turned Him over to the Roman guards with a kiss no less.  Peter denied even knowing Him.  And, at His death, only one disciple is reported to have been there.  Finally, lest we forget, we have betrayed Him too.  Each time we do something we shouldn’t; each time we laugh at an off-color joke; each time we turn our backs on those less fortunate; each time we choose what we want to do over what He's telling us to do.  Despite all of this, Jesus in His dying moment said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Imagine, struggling to breathe your last, labored breath and you're forgiving those who have killed you.  Now, that’s a role model.  I’m not there yet.  I know I must forgive because God says I must.  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)  And God requires more.  I must forget too because God forgets.  “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)  Forgetting is the hardest part for me.  I have to trust enough in God to handle it so I can avoid the destructiveness of bitterness and anger.  If I let bitterness and anger consume me, the only one who wins is the betrayer.  So, I struggle with forgiving and forgetting, but as long as I keep trying, God can be in control.  “Do not say, I’ll pay you back for this wrong.  Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.” (Provers 20:22)

And what of Brutus?  In 42.B.C., Brutus committed suicide after his legions were defeated by Marc Antony.  Rather than be captured and most likely brutally tortured before being put to death, he ended it all.  I’m guessing those last two years were filled with constant worry and fear.  What a way to spend your last days.  Deliverance or Condemnation?  I think I like deliverance better.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crushed Spirits

Have you ever felt crushed in spirit?  If you are like me, your answer is yes.  There are many things in this world that crush our spirits.  One manifestation of a crushed spirit is loneliness.  Of late, I’ve felt loneliness.  And, each time I reach this state, I feel guilty for feeling as I do.  After all, I have so much to be thankful for.  I have parents who love me, a house, a car, a job, plenty to eat, heat in winter – cool in summer.  I can walk, talk, hear, see, think, smell, and feel.  What right do I have to complain about anything?  Stop wallowing.  End the pity party.  Snap out of it.  The Lord has said, “I am with you always.”  I know He is; still, life for a single woman can be very lonely at times.  The world seems not to be designed for single people in general, and single women in particular.

As an only child, I learned early how to entertain myself.  You learn how to be alone when you are alone most of the time, and even today I desire a certain amount of solitude.  Still, I’ve always loved people, so while I like solitude, I also desire to interact with others.  More specifically, I desire to interact with a few close friends.  And, right now, I find myself without any really close friends.  And, if I analyze my feelings, this is why I'm feeling loneliness.  I actually believe I'm mourning the loss of a friend.  Moreover, I believe I'm also feeling the sting of being cast aside.  It doesn’t matter if you are 12 or slightly past 29 (I still have a sense of humor), being tossed out hurts at any age.

Now, I’m not the most sensitive person in the world when it comes to reading people.  So, I generally have to ask what many people know intuitively.  And, I have asked my friend if I did something to hurt her, anger her, offend her.  She assures me I have not.  I’ve also tried to express how I miss her, but it doesn’t seem to matter.  I’ve come to realize over the last year my friendship isn’t important.  I’m at a loss because once it seemed I mattered and now it’s clear I don’t.

Which brings me to another question: Why do we (humans) tend to cast people aside if we don’t need them anymore?  If we’re experiencing a crisis, we want to be comforted.  And if we’re blessed, there is someone there to comfort.  Albeit, not always someone capable of comforting since some hurts are too deep for others to understand; nevertheless, someone cares enough to be there when called, to email to say, “I’m thinking of you.”  And if we have someone like that in our lives, why don’t we hold on to them and show them we care once the crisis has passed?  For me, I have no answer.  It takes a lot for me to say, “I’m through with you.” So, I’ve never been able to comprehend the people who could toss me aside because “they didn’t need me anymore.”

And, so I have come to the final question.  Does God ever feel lonely because of us?  We’re desperately seeking Him, when we need Him, but when the crisis is over, we’re off on our merry little way.  Our need has been met and we really don’t feel any obligation to maintain a relationship, at least, not until we need Him to help us in another situation.

Because God is who He is…the Creator of everything, I tend to think He doesn’t feel loneliness.  But, I can’t help but think He does feel sadness when we put Him aside.  He, best of all, understands how we feel when it seems all have abandoned us.  He understands because He felt it in the Garden.  He felt it in Pilate’s Hall.  He felt it most profoundly on Calvary’s cross.  I know He understands.  Therefore, though I feel a deep loss and sadness, and though loneliness is all about me, I can confidently say Jesus cares and so does God.  He cares when no one else does.  And, even though I may toss Him aside to pursue other things, He still cares and He is always there when all others have put me on the curb.

Will this loneliness pass?  Yes, but until it does, I must ask God to: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16).  And, the really beautiful thing is He will.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Suffer the Children

It’s funny how certain Bible verses stay with you all of your life.  I can’t remember a time, I haven’t known about “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”  The King James Version is so poetic, but for many American English speakers it’s hard to understand.  Thankfully, there are modern translations, which help less scholarly types like me to grasp what it means.

For example, suffer means let.  So, if you look at the NIV version, you’ll see Mark 10:14 as “When Jesus saw this (his disciples trying to keep the children from being brought to Him), he was indignant.  He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

The kingdom of God belongs to children such as these.  What does that mean?  It means children haven’t become jaded.  Believing in the unseen, having faith in things which are many times unfathomable, that’s what children are able to do – see God for who He is without having to have a logical explanation for all He’s done.

Today, I want to highlight a beautiful couple, who are friends of mine.  They were my neighbors until they decided to move away.  A few years ago they had a second child.  A beautiful girl named Alayna.  Alayna was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome shortly after birth.  For many people, this would have been such a devastation, but not for Jason and Rochelle.  They saw past the diagnosis to the fabulous little girl.  What is sad to me is not everyone can see past a diagnosis.  Many in the medical profession would have urged Jason and Rochelle to consider terminating because they were having a child with Down’s Syndrome.  As a society, we have forgotten what it means to “let the children come.”  If you were to ask Jason and Rochelle, they would tell you Alayna is precious, a gift from God, not a burden placed upon them.  How do I know this?  Because of how they write about her and their other son.  Because of how tirelessly they work to make people aware of how precious children with Down’s Syndrome are.  Because they have decided to adopt a child from Eastern Europe who is about Alayna’s age and who has Down’s Syndrome. 

In Eastern Europe and other places, children with disabilities are warehoused.  Placed in institutions where they don’t get love, physical contact, and the proper health care and nutrition all children should get.  No one “suffers the children” there.  Thankfully, there are special people like Jason and Rochelle, who want to help the “little children,” who have been abandoned and forgotten because God chose to make them different.

Jason and Rochelle need to raise $25,000 to bring Dariya home.  They have approximately $9,000.  If you would like to help, please consider making a donation to:

Reece's Rainbow
PO Box 4024
Gaithersburg, MD 20885

Make sure you put
"Jason & Rochelle Cannon - Dariya" in the memo section so it gets to their account. (The memo is only for people paying by check; if you use the link on their blog, it automatically goes into our account!)  You can access their blog at:

Children had a special place in the heart of Jesus, and if we are to be brothers and sisters of Christ, we need to treat them as tenderly and lovingly as Jesus did.