~reflections~musings~inspirations~insights~and life lessons learned by one who is
whole-heartedly, steadfastly, firmly in HIS grip~

Romans 1:6 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What a Week!

These past couple of weeks seem to have been riddled with bad news…one of my old Navy buddies died suddenly because of a blood clot in his lungs. My favorite morning anchor was found bludgeoned in her bedroom early last Monday morning and died this past Saturday evening and the perpetrator is still at large. My 401K is now a 4.01K, some of my favorite old customers are experiencing down turns in their businesses, the candidates I am supporting look like they are going to loose their elections, and my team lost the world series last night. To top it all off…I have been suffering from the “change of season” sinus crud…oh the horrible headaches, the sneezing and freezing, the feeling of drowning every time I lay down…and the medicine just makes me want to sleep…UGH!

As I’ve wondered from bed to couch to kitchen and back again clad in wrinkled pajamas, looking like I’ve been to visit Donald Trump’s hairdresser, with a box of Kleenex in hand, I have been trying to focus on things to be thankful for…reasons to praise God.

Naturally my first thought was of my husband, my son’s, and my life in Christ. Then my mind wondered to the career I so recently gave up. I loved those million dollar marketing campaigns, those co-operative marketing partnerships that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and were quite successful. I thought about the many times I had spoken to thousands of people in crowded ballrooms… the successful presentations and one-on-one conversations. I still keep in contact with some of my customers, co-workers, and tourism partners. It was a wonderful time in my life…the impact I made for my city and state…it was grand! However, not long from now…few people will even remember who I am let alone any of those campaigns I was so proud of, will they?

As I lay there trying to blow my red, sore nose one more time I was reminded how not long ago during a shopping trip I heard from a distance, “Ms. Theresa, Ms. Theresa.” I looked up and to my surprise saw one of the girls I used to teach in Sunday school. We spent a few minutes catching up. I was delighted as she talked of her college classes and future plans. As she walked away she casually looked over her shoulder and said, “Oh, one more thing…I teach Sunday school, too. Thanks!”

Just a couple of weeks ago I ran into another past student, a young man. He was one of our favorites…shhhh…I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but sometimes you just can’t help it. He towered above me! He reached down and gave me a big hug and again we spent time catching up. He talked about a lesson he remembered about jealousy. It really was a play on words…I had told the kids when you are jealous it makes you feel lousy…that’s why it’s spelled like that…and when you are jealous you are the louse… Now, that whole class, along with kids in his school say “Jea-lousy” when jealousy rears its ugly head. I couldn’t help but laugh, thankful that at least one lesson had stuck after all these years. Now that’s an impact that will last!

I realized my greatest success was not in the mother and wife I have become or in the marketing genius I thought I was; it was in those kids and all the others that had passed through our nine and ten year old Sunday school class…and it wasn’t even my success…it was God’s! For that I am eternally thankful!

I am thankful I said yes when asked to teach that class. I was so worried…I had to pray it through…I was kind of afraid to teach kids. I had taught adults. I had gone to different churches and given my testimony to hundreds of teens and young adults…but children? I am thankful that through that fear, I was able to submit and let HIM do the teaching…I was just a vessel. How great is our God?

The Martin's said it so well in a song some time ago...count your blessings when you're feeling blue...it's surprising what a little bit of counting will do...

Ahhh, I feel better already!

Deuteronomy 6:7 “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

1 Timothy 6:19 “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just Two Weeks...

Our church is hosting the local zone’s camp meeting this week. For you non-Nazarenes, a zone is a smaller group of churches that are part of the larger district and camp meeting is just another word for revival. Our church has not hosted such an event in quite some time and as you can guess, the building has been cleaned and polished and the ladies have been assigned their night for nursery and snacks.

It began yesterday morning and stuck right in the middle of the message was a story about a teen that had been wandering down the “wrong road” and finally accepted the Lord as his Savior. As the teen’s family came up to shake hands and give hugs the pastor asked one of the uncles if was ready to make the same profession of faith. The uncle replied, “Almost. Camp meeting is in two weeks, I’ll do it then.” Two weeks…

Just a couple of days after that Sunday morning conversation, the pastor received a call…he rushed to the hospital…but it was too late. The uncle had a heart attack and died before the pastor arrived. Two weeks, just two more weeks…and they never came.

As the preacher wound down his impassioned, evangelistic message of salvation for the lost, regeneration for the weary, and sanctification for the new believer, the congregation started praying, swaying and singing:

Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Our praying saint, we all know this person…the one you go to with your requests because you know without a doubt that she will intercede on your behalf, the one that prays constantly for the pastor and his wife, for the classes, for the lost….she made her way up and began praying…a few more joined…not many…

Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Another impassioned plea from the preacher… “Don’t let another minute pass…your salvation is at hand…today is the day…you may not have two weeks…”

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

You could hear the sniffles throughout the sanctuary…you could see the women, and some of the men, dabbing their eyes with Kleenex and soft embroidered hankies. And the congregation prayed, swayed, and sang.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Then it happened…a young mother, who attends quite regularly, stepped-out and made her way to the corner of the prayer bench and as our pastor and his wife joined her in prayer she reached out and touched the throne of grace. A new believer, a child of God…snatched from hell’s flames and set on the path of righteousness…and the angels in heaven danced as the congregation prayed, swayed, and sang:

Just as I am, thy love unknown hath broken every barrier down; now, to be thine, yea thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Mark 1:15 "The time has come," he said. "The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" ~NIV

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Shorts

It's so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of life...
I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Difference Love Makes

Yesterday’s was no ordinary Wednesday family dinner. It was Richard’s 30th birthday and the preparations began early. Getting the bread ready to rise, sticking the roast in the crock pot, slicing the yellow squash he loves so much when fried to a crispy, chewy golden brown, putting the last touches on the housework, and making several dozen cup cakes.

Before I knew it the school bus was rolling up to the driveway. The boys were so excited when they saw the sign propped up on the fence. Hunter was fantastic! He asked Gage, “Do you know what it says? Let me read it to you. It says, Oh No, Rick is the big 30!” They knew it was going to be a special day for sure.

Walking up the drive way I laid out the plans and emphasized the need to get everything done as quickly as possible because it was just a few short hours before we had to go to church. I told them that while Daddy was eating Justin was going to write on the back glass of his car, HONK I’M 30! I cautioned them not to say anything, it was a surprise. That’s when the celebration went from being a birthday dinner to a surprise party.

The cupcakes were waiting for the boys to decorate when they came in. We had white frosting and those cans of red and blue frosting and lots of sprinkles. We arranged them into a nice big three and a zero. They were sure proud of “their birthday cake.”

As the boys were working on a poster for Daddy, Cheri came in and the three of them finished the project. Hunter had pulled a tooth during class that morning and scrawled across the bottom of the poster in second-grade handwriting was ‘happy birthday, Daddy, I lost my tooth!’ Gage drew several people (more like happy faces with short stick arms and legs) and some of the letters he knew. He printed as neatly as he could his name and the newest word he learned to write… ‘goody!’

It wasn’t long before Rick pulled in the driveway. Hunter jumped into the stair well and up a few steps yelling, “He’s here, hide, he’s here!” Gage ran into the kitchen wide-eyed, hands extended and excitedly asked, “Where can I hide, Granna, where can I hide?” “Right here with me.” We all jumped out and shouted “Surprise!” Then collapsed in hugs and laughter.

Mom and Dad came in next bearing gifts and food, Justin and Amy and their children were right behind them, and when Jimmy came in we were ready to dig in. The house was full and noisy with general conversation, laughter, and the sound of the kids playing. It was a perfect evening and to make it even better, Jacob called!

A couple of days ago I wrote about a little five-year old boy who twenty-five years ago hid in the closet in fear for his life…and yesterday…I looked at a Godly man, husband, and father; active in his community and church. Safety Training Specialist, volunteer fire-fighter, coach, youth teacher, drummer, singer, former quorum court member, confident in who he is and in the God he serves. That’s the difference love makes; the difference of one man, the difference God makes. I am so thankful, my heart so full, I can’t even express it adequately except by that old Christian adage… God is good, He is sooooo goooood!

1 Corinthians 12:31(b) “And now I will show you the most excellent way,”
1 Corinthians 13 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom ally mysteries and all knowledge, and I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~NIV

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Testimony in Rhyme

He promised to love, honor and cherish me; but oh how he lied!
Broken, bruised, battered, scarred; I crawled into a bottle to hide.
Speed to motivate, weed to dull, vodka so I wouldn’t care,
I was living in a nightmare.
It began after a party; I said something wrong or laughed too much.
Pinned to the wall, yelling; my memory is fuzzy on details and such.
With an apology and breakfast he blamed it on too much to drink.
I should have run, but stayed;I was only 18,what was I to think?
He promised to love, honor and cherish; but oh how he lied.
That night a little piece of me died.
Another pill, a hit on a pipe, a bottle of wine so I would not care,
I was living in a nightmare.
For years as day faded into night,
I prayed, dear God, don’t let there be a fight…
I knew the signs; I’d read the books.
Be careful of words, actions, and looks,
Things that would set the course and tone,
My friends no longer came around…I was all alone.
Black eyes, broken bones, a stab wound, the cutting of my hair…
My God, I had to get out of this nightmare!
By now my son was five and in the closet he would hide and cry,
If I was killed, surely he would be the next to die.
“What will you look back on?” The words of a dieing sister…
Startled, reality dawning…I’d get out…just watch me mister!
She was my strength, my confidant, my hope.
Without her how would I cope?
One hot July afternoon, the cancer won and we laid her to rest,
A spark of resistance glowed within my chest.
She talked of God and getting her heart right.
I wanted to believe; but God never helped me in any fight.
I drank my last drink, took my last pill, and a plan began to form.
I had to get out, to protect my child; this life was not the norm!
Sober and clean with a heart full of care…
I was leaving this hellish nightmare!
It took a year, I think he knew…
Burn my clothes,sell my car; there was nothing he could do.
I called Mom and Dad, rented a truck, took some stuff
I had little cash…but with this kind of life…I’d had enough!
Protection and a fresh start was all I needed.
I won’t go back this time, I pledged, I pleaded.
And so my son and I moved back home,
Free at last and no longer alone.
I joined the Navy Reserves for the education benefit.
I gained weight, confidence, and a body that was fit.
I worked two jobs, went to college and made straight A’s
What? I was smart…wait a minute…hay…
My folks were right, I could do anything if I put my mind to it?
A new me was on the horizon…OK let’s do it!
Years passed, I didn’t have time for dating or men…
At the mere thought fear welled up; what if it turned out like then?
As healing slowly began: I’d double date here, I’d go out there…
But I wouldn’t get close enough for real feelings…I didn’t dare.
Then there was this guy, who really was my little sister’s friend.
He wasn’t my type…I didn’t want to set a trend.
The three of us would go out laugh, dance and have a great time…
“He’s a good man; it’s not like you’re gonna’ marry him!” She’d whine.
I’d stood him up, not once but twice, till my son answered the phone:
“Are you going to the rodeo? Can we go too?” How could I stay home?
It’s been over twenty years since that first date.
It ended with a kiss and sealed my fate.
He had a spirit that came straight from the Father above.
This man taught us of Heavenly love.
He took us to church, answered our questions, and must have prayed.
‘Cause Richard and I gave our hearts to the Lord…and never swayed.
I didn’t think it was possible – God forgave me of so many sins.
He changed my heart and truly healed me from within.
That nightmare that once was my life…
A wisp of a memory; God led me to be a good mother and wife,
That beastly man, alcoholic, druggie, and brute: I forgave him too.
The Bible says forgive as you've been forgiven: it was the least I could do.
Anyone can love a friend, but enemies, that love only God can send.
So as my testimony draws to an end,
I have but one question to ask…which path have you taken?
Are you falling apart, your world torn, heart broken and forsaken?
I know it’s true…Christ died on the cross my sins and yours to forgive.
Seek Him; accept Him and His gift of love, and a new life you will live.
The Holy Spirit will guide you, walk with Him, and never turn back.
He will change your heart; in Him there is nothing you will lack.
If He can change me; the worst sinner, with anger, envy, and such;
Lousy, selfish mother; how much will He change you? How much?
This is the day…your salvation is at hand.
Read these scriptures, give God your heart; with Him forever stand.

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We all have sin in our hearts. We were born under the control of sin. How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? You can find them in Exodus 20:3-17 How many have you broken? Realizing that we can not keep these commandments on our own- Admit that you are a sinner.

Romans 6:23 a. "...The wages of sin is death..." Sin has an ending. It results in death. We all face physical death, which is a result of sin. But a worse death is spiritual death that alienates us from God, and will last for all eternity. The Bible teaches that there is a place called the Lake of Fire where lost people will be in torment forever. It is the place where people who are spiritually dead will remain. - Understand that you deserve death for your sin.

Romans 6:23 b. "...But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Salvation is a free gift from God to you! You can't earn this gift, but you must reach out and receive it. - Ask God to forgive you and save you.

Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!" When Jesus died on the cross He paid the price for all sin, and when He took all the sins of the world on Himself on the cross, He bought us out of slavery to sin and death! The only condition is that we believe in Him and what He has done for us, He did all this because He loved us and gave Himself for us! - Give your life to God... His love poured out in Jesus on the cross is your only hope to have forgiveness and change. His love bought you out of being a slave to sin. His love is what saves you…not religion, or church membership. God loves you!

Romans 10:13 "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved!" - Call out to God in the name of Jesus! Romans 10:9,10 "...If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." - If you know that God is calling you, ask Him to come into your heart.

Jesus said, Revelation 3:20a "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him..." - Is Jesus knocking on your heart's door? Believe in Him. Ask Him to come in to your heart by faith, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Open the Bible to the Gospel of John and read what God says about Jesus, about you, and about being born again.

God will help you. He loves you. You need to look for a local church where God's word is preached. The Bible says that we are to desire God's Word like a newborn baby desires mother's milk. Aren't you hungry to know the Truth?

Water baptism is one of the ways you first show that you have been joined to Jesus. This is an action, and actions will not save you. However, it is an act of obedience and a symbol of commitment. The symbolism is this: When you go down in the water you show that you have been crucified and buried with Him. And when you come up out of the water you show that you have been raised to walk with Him in newness of life. (See Romans chapter 6)

You have been born again. (See John chapter 3) Your body has become God's temple. Your heart is where He lives. Forgiveness is yours in Jesus. And you belong to Him. You were sin's slave. But now...you are a child of GOD!

John 1:12"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beyond Sunday

Typical of rural America, especially in the south, as I was growing up all activities revolved around school sports programs, mainly football. During my high school years we had one year where our team were the champions and one year when they didn’t win one single game. Yet we still attended and supported the “Rabs.” The games were where we met up with friends and afterward cruised through town, circled the dairy bar, back down to the swimming pool, and back up to the dairy bar where money would be pooled and the eating of French fries and the sipping of cokes commenced. Hearts were won and heartaches drowned in root beer floats in that parking lot.

My oldest son, Richard, turns thirty this week, my how time flies! He and his wife recently moved to town and not much has really changed except there is a Wal-Mart (not even the super store variety) and a McDonalds at the end of the “main drag.” Life still revolves around the sports programs at school and church activities. They love that small town charm and both are very involved in the community. Richard coaches little league baseball and football. It no longer surprises me to attend a game on Saturday where the stands are packed with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and people from town at large - all decked out in their purple and white, kids with faces painted, waving pom-poms and shaking noise makers.

Lined up in neat little rows in front of the bleachers are about 30 or 40 first and second grade cheerleaders in all shapes, sizes, and colors cheering the Fighting Jackrabbits to victory. They clap their hands and chant “We’ve got spirit – yes we do! We’ve got spirit – how ‘bout you?” then point to the crowd who responds in kind. Spectators jump to their feet shouting and clapping when a good play is made and groan when a tackle happens. After the game people mingle and congratulate the boys whether they win or loose. Pats on the back continue as all head to that same dairy bar for cokes and lunch where the game is rehashed and talk of the next game begins.

What if we took that fan mentality to church? The service begins as the associate pastor leads with 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 the Lord our God is really Great…2 – 4 – 6 – 8 the Lord our God is really GREAT, 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 THE LORD OUR GOD IS REALLY GREAT! YEEEAAAAAA GOD! Hands clap…break…let’s praise the Lord and the worship team takes over.

Might not be too reverent, but follow me just a minute…the pastor lays out the scripture, the story unfolds… “David winds up his slingshot and the one pebble hits Goliath right in the middle of his forehead and down he topples. Not his might but the power of the Lord slew that giant.” The entire congregation is now on its feet shouting and clapping.

Imagine the person who attends your church that you have been praying for finally goes to the altar and accepts Jesus as their savior…a praise wave breaks out as row by row, people spontaneously stand, raise their hands, shout hallelujah and sit down again.

I guess what I am getting at is that so many times our Christianity seems just a bit passive. We serve; teach classes, pray for others, support each other quietly. Why not go big? I am not talking about bragging about being a Christian or bragging about what you do to serve…I’m talking about getting excited about being a Christian, getting excited about serving, getting excited when we see Him working, groaning when someone on our team makes a fumble or gets tackled. I am talking about cheering that person on…when victory is on the way.

After the football game people go off and head back to their lives as accountants, lawyers, doctors, the cashier at the local store or gas station, mechanics, secretaries, politicians just the same as after church service. The difference is co-workers might never know they are a Jackrabbit fan and attended a game bedecked in purple and white, with face painted, etc.

It should not be the same with being a Christian. We are who we are outside the doors of our churches…not inside. Are you as excited about being a Christian as you are about your favorite sports team? If not, then why? I agree your relationship with God is personal but you should be so excited about it that others know without a doubt whose team is your favorite. YEEEAAAAAAAAA GOD!

Galations 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. ~NKJV

Friday, October 17, 2008

for such a time as this...

Whoever says the Bible is boring has certainly not read the thing very much. It's better than the novels on the New York Times Best Seller’s List. I mean…the stories are filled with intrigue, deception, and adventure; stories of illicit affairs, murder, conspiracy, back-stabbing, drama, and love. There are spies, thieves, murderers, villains, heroes, warriors, champions, and stories where the underdog comes out on top. Seriously, if you have not spent much time between the pages of this great book, grab a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea and settle in by the fire and take a journey that will change your life forever.

Not too long ago I watched (again) “One Night with the King” by FoxFaith movies. It had been a while since I read the book of Esther and decided to see exactly what kind of liberties had been taken for the sake of political correctness. However, it was not long before I was sucked into the pages and totally forgot about the movie!

It is a story of profound interplay of God’s sovereignty and human will. God prepared the place and the opportunity…Esther and Mordecai chose to act. Because of Queen Esther’s courageous act, a whole nation was saved.

The scene opens with a huge lavish feast lasting many days when the king calls for the queen, she doesn’t come, and his advisers are worried that because of her example all the other women will do what they want instead of obeying their husbands so he “sets her aside.” Sometime after that he “remembers Queen Vashti” so his advisers tell him to gather up all the young, beautiful virgins and pick a new queen.

Hadassah, a young Jewish girl, being raised by her elder cousin, Mordecai happens to be picked. He had urged her that should she be chosen to use another name and she becomes known simply as Esther. After a year of beauty treatments with oils and perfumes, the king “sets the crown upon her head.” Mordecai was always hanging around the "gates" so he could communicate with Esther because he loved her as his own.

Enter the wicked Hamen…(imagine evil music here) he has worked his way up the ranks through intrigue and malicious maneuvers however, when Mordecai would not bow down to him he was furious and devised a plot to not only kill Mordecai but to exterminate all the Jews.

But God had other plans! Mordecai sent word to Esther that she had to go to the king to save her people. She was worried because it was unlawful to do so with out the king first summoning a person and he had not called for her in a long time. If she approached him and he did not lower his scepter toward her she would be killed. What to do, what to do? When Mordecai heard of this he sent word back to her:

“And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai ‘Go gather all the Jews present in Shusan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” Esther 4:13-16 ~NIV

So…walking by faith….she puts on her royal robes and goes before the king who inclines his scepter toward her and tells her she can have anything she wants up to one half the kingdom. What a relief! She simply invites the king and Hamen to a banquet that day but at the “banquet of wine” she asks them to come back the next night for another banquet and she will tell the king what's on her mind then.

Now by this point in the story, Hamen thinks he is all that… he is in a position of high authority and living a lavish lifestyle, has convinced the king to get rid of the Jews, and now is attending “banquet” with the queen in which he is the only other guest of honor besides the king. But as he walks out of the gate who does he see? Mordecai standing tall and Hamen is madder than ever before. He complains to his wife and friends that all he has accomplished is for nothing as long as Mordecai sits at the gate and disrespects him in front of everyone. Hamen’s wife tells him…build a gallows, hang Mordecai and get it over with so that he can go to the banquet and enjoy himself.

But again, God had other plans! The king could not sleep that night and like us, he wanted something to read. As he was reading the book of records he came across the entry where Mordecai had sent word and an assassination attempt on the king was thwarted. When the King asked what had been done to reward this guy, his servants informed him nothing. Talk about God’s timing!

Since Hamen was the only advisor lurking around the palace at the time, the king asks him what should be done…thinking it could only be Hamen, himself, the king wanted to reward (Man he is so full of himself!) he comes up with a lavish reward.

Not only did Mordecai get rewarded…Hamen was further humiliated by being the one to parade Mordecai, his nemesis, through the streets as he sat upon one of the kings horses, wearing a robe that the king had worn. After all, in Hamen's opinion it should be him on that horse and in those clothes. I can see his face as he shouts to all who can hear, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” over and over again.

That evening Hamen attended Queen Esther’s banquet with the King. When the King asked her this time what was her petition and again promising her what ever she wanted up to half the kingdom, she asked that her life be spared and that of her people. I can see the kings face now…what? Who has done this to you? When she told him it was Hamen he was livid and Hamen, rightly so, was terrified.

And so the story ends with Hamen being hung on the gallows built for Mordecai and Esther receives the house of Hamen as compensation. The king sends out a decree to all the land that the Jews were to rise up in resistance to any who attempted to kill, steal, and destroy their people upon the date that had been allotted.

During these battles Hamen’s sons and wife were also killed. Some Jews died but all-in-all the Jewish people were successful. Mordecai petitioned the king (for he had grown in prominence) that “these days should become a time of feasting, gift giving, and giving gifts to the poor: for their sorrow was turned to joy, their days of mourning into a holiday and that they be remembered for all time." We know it today as the Jewish holiday Purim.

Esther's life made a difference. Seeing her God-given opportunity, she seized it! I encourage you to get out your Bible and as you read the book Esther, watch for God at work in your life…has He prepared you to act in such a time is this?

Spell Checked

I was working on a story the other day and had a typo in the word "crucifixion." When I spell checked the document these three words were listed as possibilities…

  • ramification
  • reunification
  • gratification

How amazing is that?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I've been tagged!

Which means you get tagged! (Thanks Lind Family)

No really, this is a fun one.

You find your 4th picture in the 4th folder and post it!

This is a picture of the children of Jacksonville First Church of the Nazarene at church camp this summer along with some of our great church workers. They had a wonderful time and came back on fire for the Lord.

I tag...MuseSwings, Renewed Each Morning, Nannas Living the Dream, and So What Can He Eat?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Livin' on the Hallelujah Side

Like a lot of churches ours has gone contemporary. Where once the robed choir stood now a praise and worship team leads the congregation in upbeat, rhythmic songs that rev the spirit into a frenzy of soul-burning worship then slowing down during the offering and communion to make hearts ready to receive the sermon.

Don’t get me wrong, I love contemporary Christian music, it is the mainstay of the Kyzer compound’s listening pleasure. However those old favorites etched into my heart when I was a new believer still call to me time and again. Songs like; Victory in Jesus, He Set Me Free, In the Garden, Amazing Grace, and others set my spirit to flight and fill me with joy, assurance, and the peace that passes all understanding.

Sometimes the worship pastor sprinkles in a few of the old stand bys just for good measure. One of my favorites is Hallelujah Side. I don’t know who wrote it and I’ve not heard it sung in several years except by my croaking voice when no one else is around. I particularly like verse 4 which goes like this:

Here the sun is always shining
here the sky is always bright
'Tis no place for gloomy Christians to abide
For my soul is filled with music and my heart with great delight
And I'm living on the hallelujah side

As a nation we are in troubled times…the bottom has fallen out of the economy, prices for even the basics have gone up significantly, we are in the midst of an election where one thing is certain, ‘change’ is afoot. It is enough for anyone to have a gloomy outlook on the future and life in general.

On a personal level we all experience times of trouble, times of struggle, times of simple melancholy, times when things are not going the way we think they should. As a mother, I am tempted to worry about our oldest son, his wife and family, with their big mortgage and active lives. I am tempted to worry about our youngest serving in the Army.

However, we have to trust and know that God is always in control. He is the same God that set the Israelites free from bondage in Egypt, the same God that was with them when they crossed the Red Sea on dry land, the same God that was in the fiery furnace, in the lions den, the same God that was with David as he stood firm with slingshot in hand and took aim with one stone, the same God in other situations described the Bible over. He never changes. In the face of that reality…how can we NOT be living on the hallelujah side?

Oh, glory be to Jesus, let the hallelujahs roll
Help me ring the Savior's praises far and wide
For I've opened up tow'rd heaven all the windows of my soul
And I'm living on the hallelujah side

Let us lift up our hearts and open up the windows of our souls and begin living on the hallelujah side!

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~NIV

Hallelujah Side
Once a sinner far from Jesus I was perishing with cold
But the blessed Savior heard me when I cried
Then He threw His robe around me and He led me to His fold
And I'm living on the hallelujah side

Oh, glory be to Jesus, let the hallelujahs roll
Help me ring the Savior's praises far and wide
For I've opened up tow'rd heaven all the windows of my soul
And I'm living on the hallelujah side

Tho' the world may sweep around me with her dazzle and her dreams
Yet I envy not her vanities and pride
For my soul looks up to heaven where the golden sunlight gleams
And I'm living on the hallelujah side

Not for all earth's golden millions would I leave this precious place
Tho' the tempter to persuade me oft has tried
For I'm safe in God's pavilion happy in His love and grace
And I'm living on the hallelujah side

Here the sun is always shining here the sky is always bright
'Tis no place for gloomy Christians to abide
For my soul is filled with music and my heart with great delight
And I'm living on the hallelujah side

And upon the streets of glory when we reach the other shore
And have safely crossed the Jordan's rolling tide
You will find me shouting "Glory" just outside my mansion door
Where I'm living on the hallelujah side

Monday, October 13, 2008

2 Sisters Produce C U Next May!

Whew! The farmer’s market season in the city of Cabot has come to an end. Good bye getting up at 4:30 in the morning! Good bye schlepping all the tables, canopy, produce, plants and flowers, scales, baskets, and all!

Culminating with Cabot Fest; the first year for the farmer’s market was a relative success. Vendor participation waned a bit as the season moved from mid-summer to fall and customer participation dropped as the economy tanked and prices for everything skyrocketed. All-in-all, it was definitely worth the hard work of getting it organized, recruiting vendors and marketing it to the public. We will definitely be back next year.

I am truly going to miss the people I met over the summer. Visiting with families out enjoying time together in the fresh air; getting to know sisters, mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren. The mother’s and babies shopping for fresh vegetables to make baby food for the week. Swapping recipes with everyone and sharing stories of faith and memories of gardening, cooking, and more. Not to mention, spending every Saturday morning with my own big sister, Deb, and sometimes with my little sister, Barbie. Yes, participating in the community has made my life richer and fuller.

Have a great fall/winter and we will see you again the first Saturday in May 2009!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We can still praise Him even when hanging upside down and holding on for dear life!

Psalm 100

1) Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands,
2) Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.
3) Know ye that the Lord, He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves: we are the sheep of His pasture.
4) Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
5) For the Lord is good: His mercy is everlasting: and His truth endureth to all generations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Honey, The Cows Won't Let Me Sleep!

The other afternoon I was taking the dogs out for a little break and I noticed a big truck and trailer drive into the pasture. Later the same truck drove out with a load of cows. I didn’t give it much thought until that night when I couldn’t sleep for the bellowing. What I thought was a load of cows for the sale barn turned out to be a load of calves being taken to another pasture for weaning.

If you’ve ever lived on a cattle ranch/farm you might know the sound I’m talking about. It is a sorrowful groan that begins in the belly intensifying as it travels up through the cow and out the mouth splitting the stillness of the night, echoing through the pasture, bouncing off barns, fence posts, and trees. It is the deep mournful calling of a mother for her missing baby.

Not able to sleep, I grabbed my Bible and a cup of coffee. I love the writings of Paul and have been reading a bit in Ephesians as our Wednesday night Bible study is about the armor of God from chapter 6. However, this is what I happened to read.

Ephesians 4:21-32 “If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22) that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23) and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24) and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25) Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. 26) ‘Be angry, and do not sin.’ Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27)nor give place to the devil 28)Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good that he may have something to give him who has need. 29) Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice 32) and be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. ~NKJ

Did you see it? Verse 30? “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Right in the middle of the how to live section….do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Now if you read just this partial list you know that it is humanly impossible to live the way Paul describes in the book of Ephesians. But here he warns us…do it and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

When we are sincere in our love for and devotion to the Lord, when we are renewed in Spirit each day, through prayer, through reading and meditating upon His Word…seeking His will, His way…the Holy Spirit aides us in right living…it is our second nature for our first nature is truly the sin-nature of man brought upon us by Adam and Eve. It is what we wrestle with. Eph. 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” ~NKJ

If we do not gird ourselves for the day, each and every day, we leave ourselves susceptible and the sin nature, our carnal man, will take control before we even know it. If left unchecked…we will be right back to where we began, not walking with Him, not talking to Him, not telling others of Him, and we grieve the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” ~NIV

When we move away from Him, He calls to us much like those cows calling for their babies. Unlike the calves we are no more than a step away, one tear, one groan, one whisper, one bended-knee away; one step is all it takes.

Is he calling you to come back to Him?

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
Softly and Tenderly lyrics by Will L. Thompson

*photo credit - taken from Flicker

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Are My Strong Tower (Kutless)

A Soldier's Mother's Plea

Sleep evades.
Tumultuous thoughts invade.
A young son prepares for war.
And the rain begins to pour.
A mother’s heart wrestles in unrest.
Will God listen to her behest?
To keep him safe in heart, body, and soul,
Has always been her prayerful goal.

He serves our country with pride.
Oh, God, please be his guide.
Keep him close and make him aware,
You are always there.
In times of struggle and distress,
Put your hand upon him, relieve the stress.
Keep his mind sharp and give Your direction.
Surround him, Father, with Divine protection.

His adoption was a gift from above,
A testimony of Your love.
Yet Eighteen years flew by so fast.
Dear God, please don’t let this hug be our last.
The tour of duty is only a year.
Still, Lord, I can’t help but shed a tear.
No longer a boy; not quite a man.
How far away is Iraq and Afghanistan?

Send him, Father, if You must.
In You I place all my trust.
In my weakness I see Your strength.
For Your love goes beyond any length.
As peace replaces fret,
Assurance that You will not forget,
Your child in a faraway land.
He is safe and secure in the palm of your hand.

From bed to knees and knees to bed,
Thank You, Lord, for calming the chaos in my head.
As night turns into dawn,
I stretch and yawn.
Emotions drain.
Still the rain…
Tumultuous thoughts evade.
Sleep invades.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

Wednesday’s mid-week family time and dinner was very entertaining. This week after reading “I Am Granna” the boys decided they wanted to try to write something themselves. Hunter settled down at the computer to peck out all seven years of his life’s story…we had a bit of contention as there is only one computer down stairs and two boys.

The recently-turned-five Gage, quickly gave up as he exclaimed, “Oh well, I’ll draw a story because I can’t write words, heck, I can’t even read words!” As most pre-kindergarten drawings are difficult to interpret I asked him to tell me the story and I would write it down. Here is what Gage had to say…

One day, God was on an adventure with His friends. Then His friends decided to pack up their things and go pick some apples. Later a mean man came by and said, “There’s no such thing as God.” The mean man thought he was talking to Joseph but he was talking to the REAL GOD!

Then Joseph came around and the mean man said, “You are not Joseph. I just talked to Joseph.” “Oh, yes I am!” said Joseph, “You were talking to God.” The mean man got mad and left.

Then God had another adventure with his two friends Joseph and Golden Size. But soon Golden Size had to go so he packed up his football to go to school but the mean man told him, “There is no such thing as football…or cars!”

Golden Size told the mean man there was and that he should not be mean any more and he should tell Jesus he was sorry. And so he did…but he wasn’t talking to the REAL JESUS he was talking to the fake Jesus!

And then…the mean man went and got another friend named, Socki. And they were very mean all the time.

At this point in the story, Richard walked through the door and the boy’s focused their attention on Daddy, but I could not get the story out of my mind.

How amazing to me that God is so real in Gage’s mind and heart that just like him and his buddies Gage could see God on an adventure with his friends. It did strike me a bit odd that in this story, as in Genesis, God’s friends left to go pick some “apples” and then the mean man showed up.

Throughout the three minute story the mean man was always there right along with God and the friends. It reminded me of the fact that while we strive to hang out with God, to go on an adventure with God, the carnal man is always there trying to detour us – or derail us.

The first thing out of the mean man’s mouth was, “There is no God.” Now, tell me, who does that remind you of? Our culture will try and tell us that God is some abstract idea, that the Bible is just a bunch of stories told to show people how to be good to each other. The talking heads of our society can tell us all they want…they can in fact believe there is no God, but it doesn’t make it so…the proof is in the Word and the WORD is ALIVE and GOD is REAL! John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It is in the pages of this all-time best seller that our relationship with the REAL GOD begins, and flourishes.

In the story when Joseph told the mean man that he was in fact, Joseph, and that the mean man had been talking to God…he got mad and left. There are many things I could say here the least of which is how often people become mad, or hostile even, when they come face to face with God. Jobs have been lost, friends and families torn, all for the sake of following the Lord. Have you ever witnessed to someone and they got mad and walked away? Have you ever had someone tell you they didn’t want to hear “preaching” when in fact you were just trying to relate how God had helped you over the humps and bumps of life?

In God’s second adventure in the story, He and His friends, Joseph and Golden Size are doing something as every-day-normal as playing football and going to school and the mean man tries to tell them even that is not real. How often have you been in this place in your life? Everything is going good, you are serving, growing, making a difference… you know God is there with you in the every-day, day-to-day things. Then something comes along and tells you it’s not real; perhaps a tragedy or a minor storm that seems a typhoon when looking at it so close. We are duped by the “it’s not real” syndrome and we begin to pull away. We make decisions with our own judgment and before long…we begin to question the entire relationship or we think God has gone on an adventure with someone else.

In Psalms 13:1 the writer asks, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”

But Proverbs 3:5 -7 reminds us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (6) in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (7) Don not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”

Golden Size could not be fooled…he knew exactly what needed to happen. The mean man needed to say he was sorry to Jesus for being so mean…just like we need to confess our sins and receive the gift of salvation and the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:9, 10 “That if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, ‘repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Now, here’s the sticky part…the part that really caught my attention…the mean man confesses to the fake Jesus? The fake Jesus! Is there such a thing? How many times do we have the wrong idea of who Jesus is, of who God is?

Isaiah 55:8, 9 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.’ declares the Lord. (9) ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

How often do we “put God in a box?” Taking Him out only when we want to read off our laundry list of things we want Him to do for us, our friends, and our family? How often do we actually meditate on His Word, on just exactly what He has already done for us? How often do we just sit in amazement and awe, with a thankful heart…just to magnify His name…without the list?

I don’t know about you but I sometimes, honestly, most times, have a hard time wrapping my mind around just who God is and ALL God is. I think we are blessed to have glimpses of Him in our every day life.

1Cor. 13:12 “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

What about unbelievers, the unsaved? How many of them are putting their trust in the fake Jesus? Trusting in careers, money, friends, false religions, etc. and they go about their lives thinking all is good.

What about the pious religiosity that runs rampant in churches the world over?

Just as the mean man in Gage’s story; when we pretend to confess, when we pretend to be a Christian…the regeneration in our soul is never begun…the relationship is not real. Before you know it…more mean friends move in to the place where the REAL JESUS, the REAL Holy Spirit, should be and you just get meaner and meaner as unconfessed sin upon unconfessed sin builds a residue that cakes the heart and steals life... for all eternity. You might not be mean on the outside. You might not be mean to others…but the damage and the destination is still the same.

Consider right here and now…do you have a REAL relationship with the REAL GOD, the REAL JESUS, the REAL HOLY SPIRIT or are you just going through the motions?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Am Granna - They Call Me Granna

When I was younger I used to make fun of those people who had ask me about my grandchildren bumper stickers on their cars and people who wore pictures of their grandchildren on t-shirts. Oh, and let’s not forget the world’s greatest grandma or grandpa t-shirts…then I became one.

Oh the joy I felt when Richard and Cheri told me they were expecting. I was on the road in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the call came around 10:30. I had just returned to the room exhausted from a grueling day of being on my feet at a trade show all day and entertaining prospective clients all evening. I was used to them calling me regularly and after the ‘how did the day go and were you able to get some shopping in?’ pleasantries they simply asked if I could look around to find a unique baby crib or cradle. People in the adjoining rooms must have thought I won the lottery or was crazy. I was on my feet, jumping up and down, clapping my hands and laughing hysterically. Funny how all that fatigue left immediately in the face of overwhelming happiness.

My daughter-in-law deserves more kudos than I can ever give her. She has always been conscientious of making sure that I don’t feel left out beginning with the wedding preparations and with the baby - she went above and beyond. One afternoon I received a call asking if I had lunch plans and if I wanted to meet her at the doctor’s office to hear the baby’s heart beat. Not only did I hear the baby’s heart beat, I saw my grandson for the first time…and I saw the look on my son’s face as he ran his fingers through his hair and said with awe and amazement, “I’m having a son, I’m having a son.”

The delivery was semi-scheduled and held yet another surprise… I was honored to be in the room with the two of them and Cheri’s mother as Hunter made his debut. It was the most remarkable, astounding, miraculous event I have ever witnessed. I’m not sure what the best part of the experience was; seeing him as he was born or seeing the look on their faces as they became parents for the first time. It mattered not it was the wee hours of the morning and we were running on caffeine and excitement or that no one had had any sleep except the grandfathers in the waiting room.

Two years later, Gage was born and that experience was just for the two of them…they had shared Hunter’s birth with all and they wanted this for themselves. Who could blame them? And so we waited. Two little boys – active, compassionate, witty, charming, intelligent – the perfect addition to any family.

I was lucky, until the first part of this year their house was next door in a pasture converted into a yard for scampering little boys and a dog named Spot. I could see them anytime I wanted, anytime I was not on the road that is. I loved getting out of my car and hearing them call, “Granna, come ‘ere, look at this…I wanna show you sump’n.”

However, they purchased a home in town and moved in February. It is only eight miles away but it was one of the reasons I decided to ‘retire’ early. I would have to schedule time to be with them. Both of the boys are involved in sports and church activities, of course there is school. Time is at a premium and I don’t want to miss a thing!

Today is Wednesday and we are a couple of months into a new family tradition, the boys ride the school bus (which their great-aunt drives) to my house. I help with homework, we play, they watch videos on my MySpace page or Hunter reads the most recent blog and we have a large family dinner before we head out to our respective churches for mid-week services. Ahhh…a grandsons fix…four o’clock can’t come fast enough!

I have been Granna for seven years, and while I have never been the babysitting, taking field trips, kind of grandmother, I am learning. I still do not have bumper stickers on my car or wear the grandparent t-shirts but I can understand those who do. There is no better feeling than that unconditional love, no sweeter sounding word… “Granna” I can almost hear them now…

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Phil. 1:3~NIV