Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rest on the flight to Egypt


Ponder this picture by Luc-Oliver Merson...draw from it what you will

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Easy!

Is life really that simple? If you're in trouble, pray! If you're happy, sing! Sounds just too easy. And don't I need to have some special prayer book or some special place to pray? Don't I need to have a special voice to sing?

Life can be simple when you serve God. Of course, if you pray when you're not in trouble, you'll have it down pat when you call for help; and there are other "frequent pray-er" benefits as well. Making a joyful noise unto our God is another wonderful tradition because God hears the music from our hearts, not from our mouths.

So, remember to pray every day (all day!) and always sing joyfully to the Lord, He loves to hear your voice!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Celebrate!

The most joyful news ever received by the people of this world: a Savior has been born--hope has been born! In a world that is often short on both joy and hope, it is good to remind ourselves that Christ came to bring us joy, hope and life eternal. It is the reason we celebrate His birth with such enthusiasm; we all were given the gifts of hope, joy and life. The gifts we give to one another are our way of sharing God's gifts to us--reminding one another of the goodness of our Saviour. Joy to the world!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Greeting

Politically Correct Greeting by Dave Burchett:

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice but, with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all.

Holiday Greeting by Amanda:

Merry Christmas!

Protection

Bicycle helmets, football helmets, chest protectors, chin guards--we manage to protect almost every part of our physical bodies today. Why don't we protect our spirits as well?

Just as the protective gear used in sports keeps us from harm, so also the armor of God can protect our spirits and our souls as we play the game of life. The trick is to put on the protective armor without putting on a mask as well. We need to be in control of our lives without controlling others or being phony.

Don't hide the real you behind a mask but be sure to put on the protective armor of God's love and eternal hope. How you ask? Read and study God's Word until you are so familiar, you are entirely protected.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Bible

I know I've been linking to other places and quoting several others lately...but when I run across a story or article that interests me, I want to pass it along. So today, another one! Adam Hamilton at "Seeing Gray" presents a good piece on the Bible...
http://adamhamilton.cor.org/2008/12/12/president-bush-evolution-and-the-bible/

You'll want to read the whole article but his description is this:
"The Bible is an amazing, challenging, beautiful, confusing, inspiring, upsetting and deeply true book that is not best described by simplistic statements"...as the kids would say, "True, that!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What to get...

For those still searching for the perfect gift for those you love the most...take a listen, you might be surprised to know what they really want...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3C-PO8FmoY

(it says "sons" but counts for "daughters" too)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Star

Amazing...to find Christmas in a "science fiction" short story. If you read the attached, bear in mind it was written over 50 years ago and also with this thought...Perhaps they realized their passing would light the way for others.

http://lucis.net/stuff/clarke/star_clarke.html

God's Creation

I look at these things, the stars, the ocean, all the things God has made…they are more splendid, perfect, beautiful and lasting than anything man can create or even conceive. It seems like when we were more aware of milky ways and horizons, it was easier to believe. Could Joan of Arc have led her army, could she even have thought to, could she have trusted enough, without having a sense of something greater, bigger than herself?

We have obliterated the stars with our artificial light – but perhaps we’ve blinded ourselves, too. Without the wonder, the greatness of the galaxies in our sight, we’ve lost the ability to believe in, or expect, miracles. When you cannot see the glory of God’s creation, how can you wish to glorify the Lord? No longer seeing anything greater than ourselves, we turn inward, we worship our own thoughts, our invention, our desire.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Taking it personally...

Every time you interact with someone, you have the choice to listen, acknowledge and then let the words go, or take them personally. Taking it personally means you see the persons words as some kind of slight and to do this, you have to hear their words in a negative light. Normally what others do and say doesn't have any bearing on you but is based on their own experiences, emotions and perceptions. Most times you will end up feeling hurt for no reason.

If this happens, put a little space between you and the speaker. Ask yourself if these words are reinforcing an insecurity within yourself or if you can really be sure that they intended to offend you. Also, put yourself in their shoes and remember that these are their opinions and are based on what's going on with them and may very well have nothing to do with you. You may just be an easy target for someone having a bad day.

When you realize that the words of others don't necessarily have anything to do with you, you will no longer feel it as an attack. While it's easy to take things personally and we're all guilty of doing it, you should never let anyone's perceptions affect how you see yourself. Your life is personal to you and it's up to you to influence your own sense of well being.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thomas Merton

This year I was introduced to Thomas Merton...not physically (he died 40 years ago today) but through his book "The Seven Storey Mountain". I had heard the name and knew a few details of his life, mainly that he was a prolific writer and a Trappist monk at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. But I had only seen the man as a "success" and knew nothing of his struggles with life and with his faith.

One of my favorite Merton quotes..."The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."

When you have the opportunity, spend some time with his writings...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy just because...

Sometimes you've just gotta be happy. Even when things aren't going quite like you planned and life seems a bit rougher than usual, sometimes you've just gotta be happy! On those days when there's no particular reason to rejoice, just think of our great God and you will find a reason.

Check out 1 Chronicles 16:31-32...the seas, resounding and praising God; the fields, jubilant--and you can't help but be happy. If the very planet we are on can praise God, we can surely find some reason to be happy and thankful. And even if you can't find a reason, sometimes you just gotta be happy anyway!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Family Christmas Cards...

An interesting take on the new trend to send Christmas Cards with "YOUR"
picture on it...I believe he has a point!

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97854252

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rejoice always...

Rain is pretty normal in the northwestern US. Sometimes they get tired of the gray skies and wet feet. It can be hard to rejoice when your whole world is shades of gray. Trying to think of rain as a gift from God or as a symbol of righteousness, helps a little. But for those who live in rainy climates, the sun just seems to make it easier to praise God; for desert dwellers, it's rain.

Wherever we may live and whatever may be going on in our lives, God always provides a way for us to rejoice and worship Him. For starters, we can rejoice in the knowledge that god is in control of the rain as well as the sun. Think of Him as you umbrella in the rain and your sunscreen in the desert.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Memories

I read an article recently that quoted a scene from "The Godfather"...a wannabe hit man is applying for a job. He sets out all his expertise as well as his cold blooded ability to do what is required. After listening silently, the Godfather leans forward and says (in a way that only Marlon Brando could) "But tell me, do ya spend time wit' your family?" There's something to be learned here.

Time spent together as a family is the cornerstone of strong, healthy relationships. More often than not, you don't start out to "do" anything memorable...watch a movie, go on a walk, go to the lake/beach or just simply "waste time together" but memories happen. In years to come, these times will be brought up again and again and once more you recall the laughter or the peace that comes from shared experiences.

My children are grown and gone now but give us a few minutes together and a wonderful memory will appear and we get to live it all over again! Never pass up the opportunity to spend time wit' your family!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I don't have the words...

A worker trampled by "Black" Friday shoppers:
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2008/11/28/2008-11-28_worker_dies_at_long_island_walmart_after.html

I'm sorry but if this is what it takes to give or get a present this Christmas...count me out!

It's Christmas...waiting, renewal, rejoicing...how can this happen?

Wounds

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we all have a negative side. It may be made up of anger, anxiety, complaining, criticizing, procrastinating, controlling or any number of other emotions and is usually a cry for help. Perhaps they are cries from early childhood, rising from emotional wounds that never healed. We are told to get over them, rise above them, forgive and forget, concentrate on the positive...so much so that we thrust these unhealed wounds down below our conscious level.

But wounds do not just go away. If unhealed, they cry like abandoned children in the dark, forgotten places within us. The only way they can make their presence felt is through these negative attitudes and our addictive escapes. Seen in the light of day we recognize they are all symptoms of pain.

For our own well being, we must take time to bring our wounds to the surface, face the cause and rely on God for peace and healing. While it's easy to speak, this is not an easy or welcome task. It takes time, commitment and courage but by the simple act of laying it all at the feet of Christ we can be healed, restored and made whole. After all, He knows a little about pain Himself.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Humility...

True humility is about becoming honest with ourselves, acknowledging both our strengths and our weaknesses, accepting that we can be both saint and sinner, angel and monster. It's about seeing ourselves as we really are. Humility neither exaggerates nor plays down the truth about who we are. It simply accepts the reality that we are fragile and fallible human beings who need a power beyond ourselves if we are going to become the people God wants us to be. In short, this is what it means to be humble: being real about who we are.
Trevor Hudson

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Official...

The Christmas Season has begun...oh how I love Advent / Christmas and all it means to us as God's children! So, I begin my celebrations with one of my very favorite Christmas songs...Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmAe2T9UvLo


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving...


Thanksgiving in Greek is Euchasristia.

Eucharist = the body and blood of Christ

Thanksgiving = Communion

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hidden

The resurrection of Jesus was a hidden event. Jesus didn't rise from the grave to baffle his opponents, to make a victory statement or to prove to those who crucified Him that He was right after all. Jesus rose again as a sign to those who had loved Him and followed Him that God's divine love was stronger than death. To the women and men who had committed themselves to Him, he revealed that His mission had been fulfilled.

The world didn't take notice. Still, it was this hidden event that freed humanity from the shackles of death.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reaching out...

John 14:6 tells us "Jesus answered, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.""

This verse tells us that no one gets to the Father except through the Son. That means believing in Jesus is the ONLY way to receive eternal life---to get to heaven. Many people use this verse when they evangelize others, telling them that if they don't believe in Jesus, they'll go to hell. But God doesn't want us to frighten others into believing in Christ. We aren't Christians out of fear but out of love.

Jesus wants us to reach out and share His love so that others may come to know Him. He wants everyone to know the way to everlasting life and peace. He wants us to share the good news with others.

Society has branded this a cruel, intolerant verse, but it isn't! Jesus isn't intolerant; only people are. Reach out and share His all-inclusive love.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Letting Go...

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB. Of the Abbey of St. Walburga

We hear from St. Paul, “Do everything without grumbling or questioning that you may be blameless and innocent children of God.” (Phil 2: 14-15) What are the things that cause people to grumble or murmur? When something is taken, why do we cling to it? Why do we identify with something so much that we would be angry if it were taken from us? Sometimes the things you hang on to the tightest are the very things you should get rid of first; because they’re the very things that tie your heart down. They keep you from seeking God because you spend so much time protecting those things or identifying with them instead of identifying with the Cross.

I think one of the most precious things we have is our opinion. Sometimes we even have to give that to God and let Him dispose of it. We need to be able to give everything to God. Take notice of the things that ruffle you a little. Notice the things that your heart is entwined around. If it’s not the Cross it’s not of God. If we purify our heart we won’t be rooted in the earth, we’ll be rooted in Heaven.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What do you share...

I recently read the story of a young man in Medelin, Columbia named Louis. He lived in a world of wretched poverty and violence. His home was made from boxes and rusted scraps of metal. Yet, when a local missionary visited on occasion he would welcome him with open arms...even to the point of taking off his shirt and spreading it on the ground so his visitor wouldn't have to sit on the dirt. Sadly, Louis was killed in this world in which he lived.

Louis had nothing to offer but radical hospitality...he offered all that he had. How often have we missed the opportunity to welcome someone into our home, offer them our seat or even just a smile? It might cause some minor discomfort but no real sacrifice and yet we fiercely protect our personal space. What gifts has God given you? Do you share these freely with those who cross your path?

We must learn to be radical and share what we have to those God puts in our lives. Share freely with friend and stranger alike...we must learn to be like Louis and give everything.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A day in the life...

If you've ever worked with youth...you understand what I mean. If you haven't, well...even though we love them, some days look like this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYU-uQNKQI8

And the rest of you wonder why we (youth workers) act like we do...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

True Friendship

We usually think of friends as people with whom we have something in common, yet true friends help us grow in a positive way. Friendships can be a wonderful part of life, but they also can be dangerous if they are based on the wrong things. When a relationship is based on violence, drugs, illegal activities, gossip, cruel behavior or other harmful things, is that really a friendship--or is it just a mutually beneficial arrangement?

Herod and Pilate did not become "friends" until after Jesus' death. They actually hated each other before they discovered a common bond--a bond that stemmed from their participation in the crucifixion of Jesus. Was theirs a true friendship?

It is very easy to have a destructive relationship, especially if you see some benefit in it. But ask yourself this question: In the long run, where will it lead me? Think about it...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Freedom

There are two freedoms--the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; and the true---where a man is free to do what he ought.
Kingsley

Which freedom do you practice?
Why?
With one we can satisfy ourselves, but not God nor anyone else. The other satisfies God and ultimately ourselves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Saints

When we are baptized we become part of a much larger family. We are a people "set apart" by God to bring light to a darkened world. God calls us His saints!

Most of us tend to think of saints as holy and pious and see them with halos and upturned eyes...but true saints are much more accessible than that. They are men and women who live ordinary lives and struggle with ordinary problems. What makes them saints is a clear focus upon God and His people. Some saints lives may look quite different, but most a similar to our own. They are calling us to become like them. Be a light, be a saint!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day


Means different things to different people...for those who serve or have served and for those who love someone who served or has served...it is a time of profound appreciation...

This is the Tomb of the Unknowns...from WWI, WWII and Korea. The inscription reads "Here rests, in Honored Glory, an American soldier, known but to God". They gave their lives and no one even knows their names...

Monday, November 10, 2008

God in unlikely places

Hubby and I are a little behind times when it comes to "Must see TV"...we rarely (OK never) watch series. But...sometime last year we came across re-runs of the "X" Files. Hubby doesn't sleep well and tends to be up at odd hours, and that's when they show these. We found them interesting...just because nothing is too far fetched! For his birthday, he received a boxed set with all 9 seasons and we are watching them. Sometimes one episode a week, sometimes 5 episodes in one evening.

Last night I showed one to the youth called "Revelations"...it had all the components to launch a million questions but it was also a great example of how God speaks to us today...imagine a series dealing with aliens and the paranormal touching on God and miracles. Needless to say the youth were thrilled to watch a DVD rather than listen to me for an hour and I was thrilled to find God in the most unlikely of places. I will do a better job of keeping my eyes open from now on!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Laundry...


I've seen this before...for the first couple of years that son was in college, he'd bring laundry home 'cause no one does it like Mom. Ok, I know it was a line so I'd take care of it but just the same...he was growing up and soon would no longer live at home during the summer so it was a connection. It gave us time together (I think he felt a little guilty so he'd hang around to help me sort, fold, etc.) to talk and laugh and yes, I could get an idea how life was treating him. It was an excuse to be together.

Now he is grown and hasn't lived at home for quite some time...and yes, I'd really love to see him pull up in the driveway with a mountain of laundry.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Different Drum

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it's because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Esther

We studied Esther last night...she was a Jewish child, raised in Persia by her uncle/cousin and became the woman King Xerxes chose as his queen.

Esther was a person of faith, goodness, obedience, devotion and courage. Even though a Queen, she was not demanding. She merely asked...softly, quietly with dignity and respect. God used her to save a nation from destruction and devastation. She became His instrument "for such a time as this".

She could have said "No" and so can you. Do you have any idea what you will miss in your service to the Lord if you aren't willing to stand up? You are your only limitation in God's kingdom...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Prayer for the day....

Almighty God,
Who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogance and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindred and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

From the Book of Common Prayer

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tomorrow is Election Day!




I have made it a point NOT to endorse a candidate on this blog. I leave it to you to do your research and vote your conscience. I don't believe in a "bully" pulpit. But, I do say...VOTE! It is your right, your privilege and most importantly your duty! I know the youth are not old enough yet but they too can make sure the adults around them do their part...

This could be one of the most important decisions we are called to make as a people and as a nation. Don't take it lightly! And while you're at it, join in this prayer by Ken Carter:

Creator of us all,
You are the source of every blessing, the judge of every nation and the hope of earth and
heaven. We pray to you on the eve of this important and historic election. We call to mind the best that is within us:
That we live under God, that we are indivisible, that liberty and justice extend to all. We
acknowledge the sin that runs through our history as a nation: The displacement of native
peoples, racial injustice, desecration of your creation, economic inequity, regional separation.
And yet, we profess a deep and abiding gratitude for the goodness of ordinary people who have made sacrifices, who have sought opportunities, who have passionately loved and cared for the earth and its fruits, who have journeyed to this land as immigrants strengthening its promise in successive generations, who have found freedom on these shores and defended this freedom at tremendous cost.
Be with us in the days that are near. Remind us that Your ways are not our ways, that Your
power and might transcend the plans of every nation, that You are not mocked. Let those who follow Your Son Jesus Christ be a peaceable people in the midst of division. Send Your Spirit of peace, justice and freedom upon us, break down the walls of political partisanship and make us one.
Give us wisdom to walk in Your ways, courage to speak Your name and humility to trust in Your Providence.
Amen

Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Treasure

Paul says, "It is the parts of the body which we consider the least dignified, that we surround with the greatest dignity" (1 Corinthians 12:23). In the body of the church, these are not the parts that generally lead or control. The most important parts are those that are least presentable to the world.

As a people called out of oppression, we must recognize that it's the weakest among us who form the core. The elderly, the small children, the handicapped, the sick, the hungry, the mentally ill.

We can be called the people of God only when these, the least among us, are the most treasured. When the world looks at us, is this what they see?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Praise!

We all need to learn to make our praise spontaneous, like children. Praise God for the sunrise, the new day, those who prepare your food, those who teach and those who serve. Make your praise simple. Sing, shout for joy, jump up and down, clap! Show God your happiness at being called His child.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Survival Test

I found this recently...read and think about how you'd rate each item. Then check out the answers at: http://jeremyzach.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/communal-building-activity-survival-simulation/

Don't freak at some of the items listed...be sure and read the answer before you jump to conclusions. Oh, and don't be surprised if you see this during a meeting sometime in the future!

This activity encourages group decision making. On a side note, this simulation is actually used in the military to train soldiers how to think when trying to survive.

SURVIVAL SIMULATION:

You and your team have just survived the crash of a small plane. Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the crash. It is mid-January, and you are in Northern Canada. The daily temperature is 25 below zero, and the night time temperature is 40 below zero. There is snow on the ground, and the countryside is wooded with several creeks crisis-crossing the area. The nearest town is 20 miles away. You are all dressed in city clothes appropriate for a business meeting. Your group of survivors managed to salvage the following items:

A ball of steel wool
A small ax
A loaded .45-caliber pistol
Can of Crisco shortening
Newspapers (one per person)
Cigarette lighter (without fluid)
Extra shirt and pants for each survivor
20 x 20 ft. piece of heavy-duty canvas
A sectional air map made of plastic
One quart of 100-proof whiskey
A compass
Family-size chocolate bars (one per person)

Your task as a group is to list the above 12 items in order of importance for your survival. List the uses for each. You MUST come to agreement as a group.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vision, etc.

Many tell me that unless I have a "vision" for the Youth group, we're dead in the water. I'm asked "How will you know when you reach your goal if there is no goal?" I have to ask in turn, "Why would I limit these young people by forcing them to follow "my" vision?" Sorry, I just can't function that way. Other than our weekly Bible Study (started with Genesis last year and will end in Revelation sometime in the future) filling a calendar with lesson plans doesn't seem to work. How do I know this 5 minutes what my group will need 6 months from now?

While I do plan big events in advance (trips, mission projects, etc.) that's the extent of it. If you were to ask what I plan to teach for Advent, I'd have to tell you I'm looking at 2 or 3 different programs but haven't felt led to pick one yet. Who knows, Advent may end up being a combination of them. I DO know what I plan to use in Sunday School this week and since we're hosting a Halloween Party for the children on Sunday night, that program is ready too! As far as concrete plans, that's as far as it goes.

I do read and keep up to date on the latest offerings from many youth oriented publications and will make notes and file for future reference (sticky notes are my best friend!) but I cannot bring myself to "set in stone" when (or if) we will study a particular program.

Youth are a work in progress and so am I. After several years I must tell you God has always pointed us in the right direction. I've been amazed at the number of times He has spoken to us...just the right words at just the right time. And then there are the times that the sermon during morning Worship lines right up with or fleshes out what we discussed just a few minutes earlier.

I'm oh so happy to know that God is more than willing to let me fly by the seat of my pants...and serve as the parachute when we need it.

Prayer for the day...

Shepherd of our souls, who calls His own by name, help us this hour to hear and heed your voice. We know no other voice and no other voice will we follow...
Amen

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Us vs. Them

Jesus calls us to look out for one another...teaching and sharing our loads.

Imagine how we look to the outside world when we fight amongst ourselves about doctrine, baptism and even our interpretation of the Bible. It's easy to understand why those who do not know Christ see no reason to follow in our footsteps given our selfishness. What have we done for our brothers to show Christs' love?

Do we show the joy that is ours as sons and daughters of God? Do we freely share our inheritance with those who don't know or understand? There's an old saying that YOU may be the only Christ some people ever see...be His representative...we're not perfect, we're forgiven.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Human Voice

Whether listening to the low muted murmur of a confidential whisper or the proud boom coming from a mic on the podium, there are few sounds more expressive than the human voice. Each persons voice has a unique tone that is all its own, carrying their own signature traits and characteristics. No two voices are alike.

The tenderness of a lover's voice can feel like a warm caress; words spoken in anger can seem like physical blows; and a voice tinged with laughter can't help but fill us with good feelings. And then there are the voices of other people we encounter...the radio announcer's soothing baritone on a long car ride or the cheerful chatter of children playing on the street are just a few of the voices we may be blessed to hear on any given day.

Every time we use our voices, we make an impression on the people around us. Like the words we use when we speak, our voices can communicate what we are feeling, what we desire and what we really mean. Timidity, desire, pain and love can all be expressed and felt through the human voice. Our voices also have the power to heal, to hurt, to love and to transform others. When we are aware of the impact our voices can have, we can choose what we are expressing. Remember that what you communicate when you speak goes beyond words. Take responsibility for the power your voice has to impact the people around you and let your voice be a sound that creates harmony and compassion in your world.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hugs and such...

Mark 10:13 deals with noisy children. In this scene, a crowd interrupts Jesus' preaching. I'm sure the children were boisterous, energetic and loud! They instinctively ran towards someone who enjoyed them. The apostles were stern in trying to turn them as well as their parents away...Imagine them saying "These kids are not serious! We are here trying to listen and all we can hear is noise and commotion!" But then the One the children loved and the One that loved them intervened and instead of sending them away He asked them to come closer. He held them in His arms and laid His hands upon them in blessing. He gave them two gifts that cost nothing; His time and His affection.

These days, parents are often so busy that the children suffer from too little attention. There are concerns about their safety which means that they receive no physical contact from others...society tells us that we must be careful. These apprehensions are understandable and shouldn't be down-played but it's truly a shame when a child runs to you with arms wide open, only to be turned away. Their needs remain the same and the monetary cost is still nothing. They need our attention and a place to be children loved by the Father and loved by us. In as much as you can open your arms but more importantly, open your hearts.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A view...

In today's world where each side thinks they're right and the other is wrong...a video by Jay Voorhees (Pastor Antioch United Methodist Church)...check it out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH8GnXdZKg8

Your Place in God's Band

By Max Lucado

Two of my teenage years were spent carrying a tuba in my high school marching band. My mother wanted me to learn to read music, and the choir was full while the band was a tuba-tooter short, so I signed up. Not necessarily what you would describe as a call from God, but it wasn't a wasted experience either.
I had a date with a twirler.
I learned to paint white shoe polish on school buses.
And I learned some facts about harmony that I'll pass on to you.

I marched next to the bass-drum player. What a great sound. Boom. Boom. Boom. Deep, cavernous, thundering. And at the end of my flank marched the flute section. Oh, how their music soared. Whispering, lifting, rising into the clouds. Ahead of me, at the front of my line, was our first-chair trumpet. He could raise the spirit. He could raise the flag. He could have raised the roof on the stadium if we'd had one.

The soft flute
needs
the brash trumpet
needs
the steady drum
needs
the soft flute
needs the brash trumpet.

Get the idea? The operative word is need. They need each other. By themselves they make music. Together they make magic.

Now what I saw two decades ago in the band, I see today in the church. We need each other. Not all of us play the same instrument. Some believers are lofty, and others are solid. Some keep the pace while others lead the band. Not all of us make the same sound. Some are soft, and others are loud. And not all of us have the same ability. Buts each of us has a place.
Some play the drums (like Martha).
Some play the flute (like Mary).
And others sound the trumpet (like Lazarus).

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were like family to Jesus. After the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, the decided to give a dinner for Jesus. They decided to honor Him by having a party on His behalf (John 12:2). They didn't argue over the best seat. They didn't try to outdo each other. All three worked together with one purpose. But each one fulfilled that purpose in his or her own unique manner. Martha served, Mary worshiped, and Lazarus had a story to tell and he was ready to tell it. Three people, each with a different skill, a different ability. But each of equal value.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty

In the Bible Jesus says "The poor are with you always..." Could He have eradicated poverty? Absolutely! So why didn't He?

Choices...God is all about allowing us to make decisions on our own. By doing so, when we turn to Him it is because we want to be with Him...not because He forces us. What does this have to do with poverty? Wouldn't the millions who suffer live a different lifestyle if they could? Again, absolutely! But our lives are impacted not just by our own choices but by those who surround us, govern us, have come before us.

The problem can seem overwhelming, do we then just throw up our hands? Absolutely not! Impacting the life of others (even if it's just one) is our calling on earth. We are charged with being our brother's keeper. We must make a conscious decision to reach out and share our time, our talents and our money. Touching just one life, one day at a time.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A beautiful day...

Does the color of the sky affect your mood? When the day is sunny and clear with a bright, blue sky behind it...do you have an extra bounce in your step? When you wake to rain or fog, do you feel more sombre?

Life itself can be compared to the sky. Although I would wish you a lifetime of beautiful skies, we need the rainy and foggy ones too. Although I would wish you a lifetime of carefree happiness, we learn the most when we pause to reflect. We need balance to live a life of fulfillment...gray skies and blue, sunshine and rain.

The weather can and does affect our mood...studies show several days (or weeks) of gloomy weather tend to make us more depressed. The key is to remember that the gray days will pass and the beautiful blue sky is always just behind the clouds.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Old Habits

"Old habits are hard to break, and no one is easily weaned from his own opinions; but if you rely on your own reasoning and ability rather than on the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will but seldom and slowly attain wisdom. For God wills that we become perfectly obedient to himself and that we transcend mere reason on the wings of burning love for Him."
Thomas a' Kempis

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Anger

All of us have experienced situations where we've found ourselves lashing out at someone without meaning to...usually someone we care about. Later we will feel bad about what we've done and for treating them badly. While it is human nature that our feelings and emotions sometimes get the better of us, we don't have to give in.

Often, when we lash out, it's because we're having a difficult time. We may be feeling overwhelmed, afraid, frustrated, stressed out or just plain angry. Having these feelings boiling up inside can be very uncomfortable and our first reaction is do something to get rid them. When we direct this outburst toward someone else, we may feel better for the moment but in the end there will be feelings of guilt (on our part) and hurt (on their part).

Whenever you have these seemingly uncontrollable feelings, it's time to go to your knees, take a walk or do something else physical...in most cases, an activity will help you take control without hurting someone or something else. It's also time to talk with God...He know and understands and fortunately for us, He's big enough to take it and continue to love us.

It will pass, but we must learn to control our emotions before they get the better of us.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Palm of Your hand...

I needed to see and hear this today...the pictures could have been made where we live...
Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBX6Hxk1pl0

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Silence

I read an article yesterday by John Harvey and realized I was a White Noise Junkie. White noise is not anything specific but it's the need to constantly "hear" something. Apparently I've become addicted without even realizing it. I do know I am rarely anywhere without some type of sound in the background. Yes, even when I sleep, I usually leave the TV on.

By spending my life surrounded by sound, what am I missing? Peace? Serenity? The voice of God? Even though scripture tells us of God's "still, small voice", I know that He has other ways of communicating and I am getting the messages! However, He shouldn't have to compete for my attention, especially when it's something I can control.

Although it will probably be harder than I realize, I plan to work on spending at least part of every day in silence and then I'll just listen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Prayer for the day...

A wonderful prayer to start the day from Father Mychal Judge:

Lord,
Take me where you want me to go. Let me meet whom you want me to meet. Tell me to say what you want me to say. And keep me out of Your way!
Amen

If only we could follow this every day, think of the impact we would make in our own little world and worlds of those around us.

Monday, October 6, 2008

'Tis better to give

When we're young "Tis better to give than to receive" perhaps doesn't seem quite right. It is fun to give but really, what could be better than receiving a gift? God has a way of proving these things to us. There is really nothing better than to be able to give a gift that you know someone will love...it IS as exciting as getting it yourself. To anticipate their reaction when they see it or you tell them...even if it's long distance, the joy cannot be disguised.

Today I got to purchase tickets for my daughter (my eldest) for her dream concert! Because of the price of the tickets, they will be her birthday/Christmas present this year but she is thrilled. And the concert is actually ON her birthday...what fun! So, for all you Sarah Brightman fans, have hope, someday someone you love may find a way to send you too! Love you Baby Girl! For those who don't know Sarah Brightman, take a listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp0ccQVy1og


Friday, October 3, 2008

Walks vs. Adventures

Grandson (4 year old) and I have begun taking walks every afternoon when I get home from work. I made the mistake of calling it a walk the first day and was told in no uncertain terms that it was an adventure! Yeah, sure, we're walking the neighborhood that I've lived in for 30+ years...sure there are a few more houses now than used to be here and a little less farm land but basically it's the same neighborhood.

Boy was I wrong! Is it any wonder that Jesus says "Unless you become like little children..." (Matt. 18:3)? We speak to all the dogs (and now know some of their names), pet any horses that will let us, count the birds and listen to their songs, see images in the clouds and the list goes on and on. I know the neighborhood, but he sees it and revels in any changes since the day before. Needless to say, by the time we get back to the house to start supper, I'm in a completely new frame of mind. The little nagging problems of the day are gone and replaced with joy...joy in living another day, being able to take a walk, spending time with my one and only grandchild, feeling the changes in the weather (I LOVE fall!) and gratitude...who but our Father God could have created such a place and given me such a "buddy" to share it with?


Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Kings

In our Wednesday Bible Study we have been reading 1st and 2nd Kings...wow...Not an easy subject to teach much less wrap teenage brains around. So many kings, so many failures, so much death. And to try to help them continue to see God's hand in it all. Now I know there are some spectacular miracles in these books but in between it sounds like chaos! Inevitably the questions arise..."All they had to do was follow God's law and He would bless them, why do they keep turning away?" It's difficult to make them understand that it's for the same reason we do. Temptation...they don't realize that we behave the same way. In their minds it would be easy to set aside this "idol"...just throw it away! Once they come to see that there are idols in their lives, not the "stone carved" kind but each and every thing that comes between them and God you can see the light bulbs go on...and they begin to see what the Israelites were facing.

We are blessed to have this instruction especially when society seems so far out of balance. We can look back to the death, destruction and captivity, all of man's own making, and know that when we turn our hearts away from our idols,we will see God's deliverance once again.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To Forgive

The ability to forgive is within each of us, but few if any, can really forgive without Divine help. You know how hard it can be to let go of feelings of resentment and anger. It is natural for humans to cry out for punishment or restitution. Thankfully God knows of our weakness and requires only that we ask for His help. God asks that we name our hurt (out loud) and recognize the power these feelings can have over us.

By speaking the words to God we show Him our commitment to forgiveness and He is ever ready to see it done. When we choose this path, not only are we accepting God's grace but we may even find that we feel understanding and compassion towards whom ever or what ever hurt us. I know I could never go from resentment to compassion without God's help!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sin

When you think of sin, do you see them all the same? Are some of them little sins and some big? After all, gossip is not nearly as bad as murder, is it? A little white lie to Mom and Dad doesn't really count, does it? You see, not only do we have a scale for sin, we have one for lying too! After all, a little lie is okay in order to keep from hurting someones feelings is actually good, isn't it? In God's eyes, sin is sin! A lie is a lie! Ruining someones reputation with gossip is as bad as killing the body and withholding the truth when it could be spoken in love opens the door for more hurt when someone else tells it.

Satan counts on us to rationalize sin this way, otherwise he wouldn't have such an easy time getting us to commit them. Little sins are the most dangerous because they don't stay little, they grow and grow. Soon we may find our lives and our relationships built on lies and sin. Spend time with God and ask Him to point out your "little" sin and then read His word...Psalm 26:2-3, Psalm 139:23-24 and 1 John 1:9.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fare for the Soul

God be in your head, and in your understanding.
God be in your eyes, and in your looking.
God be in your mouth, and in speaking.
God be in your heart, and in your thinking.
God be at your end, and at your departing.
Sarum Liturgy, England 13th century

Saturday, September 27, 2008

God and Sports

If you have the ability to play sports, it is a gift from God. If He gives you a gift, He does expect you to use it, but not if the gift takes God's place in your life.

In today's culture it's obvious that sports have become far too important. With the busyness of training, practice and games it's easy to loose your focus. Many coaches put extra pressure on their players by making them feel that if they miss even one event, they won't play. If that's the situation you're in, perhaps you need to step back and evaluate which is more important in your life. If you are missing all (or most) church and youth events because of sports you're going to find yourself empty...maybe not physically but most definitely spiritually.

There are 168 hours in a week, you should be able to find a couple for God. Most athletes will spend 20 hours or more working for their sport...a little imbalanced, wouldn't you say? God wants to be first in our lives. He will bless us when we make Him a priority. There will always be conflicts but you must choose to make God your first choice. He will bless you for it. Always remember, God gave you your athletic ability to Honor Him, not to ignore Him.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mom

Last Sunday morning I was standing in the buffet line for breakfast at "Hands and Feet" (a conference mission event)...one of my youth walked up and said, "Ms. Amanda would you get me a biscuit please, I forgot." Of course I said yes...but I was surprised by the adult standing behind me in line...she said, "Ms. Amanda / Mom guess it's the same thing isn't it?"

Well, no, I'm obviously not their Mom but what a compliment to be "interchangeable"! How often in life do we have the opportunity to be that close to and have the confidence of young people? Especially at my age, most young people would look upon me as an "old woman" (I'd like to say middle age but they don't get that technical...you're either young or old). And most of them come to meetings because they want to, not because they have to...I may never know what I've done to deserve their love and their trust, but I thank God every day that He's allowed it to happen.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Class Tells

Class never runs scared.

It is sure-footed and confident.
It can handle anything that comes along.
Class has a sense of humor.
It knows a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations.
Class never makes excuses.
It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.
Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small, inconsequential sacrifices.
Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money.
Some wealthy “blue bloods” have no class, while individuals who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it.
Class is real.
It can’t be faked.
Class never tried to build itself by tearing others down.
Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.
Class can “walk with kings and keep it’s virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch.” Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because that person is comfortable with himself.
If you have class, you’ve got it made.
If you don’t have class, no matter what else you have, it doesn’t make any difference.
— Ann Landers

Class Tells

Class never runs scared.

It is sure-footed and confident.
It can handle anything that comes along.
Class has a sense of humor.
It knows a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations.
Class never makes excuses.
It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.
Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small, inconsequential sacrifices.
Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money.
Some wealthy “blue bloods” have no class, while individuals who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it.
Class is real.
It can’t be faked.
Class never tried to build itself by tearing others down.
Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.
Class can “walk with kings and keep it’s virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch.” Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because that person is comfortable with himself.
If you have class, you’ve got it made.
If you don’t have class, no matter what else you have, it doesn’t make any difference.
— Ann Landers

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Listening / Answers

This week in our Bible Study, we're in 1st Kings...the part where Elijah is facing down Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. He has just stood on the mountain and called down the fire of God in front of 450 prophets, Ahab and most of the Israelites! Wouldn't that have been something to witness! So where does he end up afterwards? Hiding in a cave...but he is doing something constructive besides just giving in to his fear, he's listening for the voice of God. As we're told, God was not in the the earthquake, the mighty wind or the fire...there was a still, small voice.

Many times we don't take the time or get into a place that allows us to sit uninterrupted and listen for Gods voice. Our excuses range from the busyness of our own lives to the "God is busy, He doesn't have time to talk to me" lie. He does have time and He does want to speak directly to you. In order to hear we have to prepare ourselves to listen...quiet place (no other people, no cell phones, IPods, games, TV, etc.) and then we have to quieten our own minds...capture the stray thoughts and focus solely on God. Just get comfortable, breathe and listen!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Where is God?

Sometimes it's hard to find God in everyday life. When life is stressful, He can feel very far away. When life is tough and doubt creeps in, it can feel as if He is on the other side of the universe. These times often leave us feeling lonely, even though we may be surrounded by people.

Loneliness does not discriminate. We all feel it at some time in our lives, perhaps many different times but it does not mean that you are bad or wrong. We must remember that we are never alone.

When loneliness surrounds you remind yourself of these things: 1. God is God of all creation, 2) you are part of God and His kingdom, 3) Christ would have died on the cross even if you were the only one He could save. You were created to be with God, if you're feeling all alone seek His face, He's waiting for you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Beauty...

It has been said that truth, goodness and beauty are the 3 fundamental values. Anything worth anything can be judged by these 3 standards. Everything is either true or false, good or evil, beautiful or ugly. But do we see the beauty in our world?

Have you ever heard "Stop and smell the roses"? Not only does this statement encourage us to slow down but also to observe the world around us.

Not long ago Gene Weingarten staged an experiment during morning rush hour in Washington DC. A normal looking, youngish white man in jeans, long sleeve t-shirt and a baseball cap went into the subway station, removed a violin from its case and began to play. He left the case open and put a few dollars in it to encourage people to give but the main focus was to see how many people would stop and listen to the beautiful music. You see, the young man playing was Joshua Bell who is one of the finest classical musicians in the world and he was playing on a Stradivarius violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

During the next 43 minutes he performed 6 classical pieces and 1,097 people passed by...did they recognize the beauty in their midst? No. He was almost entirely ignored...out of all the people who passed (1,097) only six or seven people even noticed.

Some might say that it was because of the type of music as many are not classical music lovers; but this goes deeper than that. We have become so wrapped up in our own lives that we cannot (or do not) take the time to observe what is all around us. God is beauty and true beauty, wherever it resides, is a glimpse of God Himself. Take some time to see Him in your world.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Control

My sister-in-law sent me the following refreshing reminder:

Top 10 Predictions, No Matter Who Wins the Election:
1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still guide His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out His blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

In this time of political upheaval and negative campaigning, it's great to be reminded who is really in control. Thanks, Sally!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Talking to each other

How do you talk to your parents? Or if you're a parent, how do you talk to your child? Sometimes it can be hard to carry on conversations when you find yourself constantly on opposite sides of issues. After a while, you may even stop speaking to one another all together...or perhaps only when you need something. Have you ever heard these comments:

"You can go out but be in by 11pm."
"Can I have $20 for the movies?"
"Get in there and clean up that room!"
"Can I borrow the car?"

Our conversations can turn into simply "asking" or "demanding". Youth only ask for something, parents only demand something. It's a bad situation, but we all fall into that trap. It takes a conscious effort on the part of everyone to try and find topics you can genuinely discuss.

Let's take it one step further...do you talk this way to God? When we pray, is it only to ask or demand something from Him? He's the parent and we're the child. It's really easy to become self centered and try use Him as a year round Christmas wish list. We forget that perhaps all He wants is for us to tell Him how we're feeling or just acknowledge Him by talking friend to friend.

Next time you talk to your parents, or children or your God, do just that...talk!

Rapping St. Augustine

Gavin always has something relevant to say...check out this video...


http://www.gavoweb.com/hit_the_back_button_to_mo/2008/09/heard-it-all-sa.html

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bad Words...

What do you consider a "bad word"? Is it just the major four letter ones that used to never be allowed on TV or radio? Notice I said "used to"...The language broadcast over the airwaves today never ceases to amaze me. Words that have become commonplace and acceptable just a few years ago were never uttered in company much less in front of a microphone! Wasn't all that long ago that if you said one of these words in front of your parents (Mom's especially!), you'd spend time getting up close and personal with a bar of soap...in your mouth!

We all know that this is an issue but let's take it just a little further. Do you find yourself using made up words (yes, I'm guilty) to take the place of the really "bad" ones? Does that make it okay? Even though you don't say the offending word and may use something silly in it's place, the intent is still the same. There is anger or pain in your heart and you are lashing out...everyone knows what you mean. So if using one of these words is considered unacceptable, does using a made up word make it acceptable?

My grandmother once told me that people who use "vulgar" words had not worked to develop their vocabulary enough to able to express themselves without them. The older I get, the more I realize, she was probably right. If you try hard enough, you can express the same thoughts and feelings using only words from the dictionary...and people will listen when they realize what you've managed to say without resorting to using "bad" words.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Office Work...

For those youth who wonder what people do when they work in an office all day...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1rZqw5bXb4



I love you...

How often do you tell family and/or friends that you love them? Daily? Weekly? Never? Because of the loss of some very important people in my life, I try never to leave home or end a conversation with family and friends without those 3 words. As I'm sure you've heard countless times before, "You never know when might be the last time..."

To a certain extent, it's not necessary to say I love you because it's merely an expression...you know when you are loved or when you love someone. So why say it? Because the expression of love, not just in deed, is important! By the simple act of being brave enough to open your heart to someone you are giving a gift that is yours alone to give. No one else can say it for you.

What about God? Do you ever tell Him that you love Him? I mean actually say, I love you? Many think that God is above all this, that He simply KNOWS we love Him, but that's not true. I mean, He does know it without our saying it but I cannot imagine that comes anywhere near giving Him the joy that He receives when He hears us say it.

God is the ultimate example of love...we love, because He first loved us...He invented it and taught it to us, why wouldn't He want us to affirm that love in words? The Bible teaches us that we are His greatest and most beloved creation...imagine then the joy it gives Him to hear these 3 little words from our lips...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Deadlines...

Have you ever had to meet a deadline? Have you ever thought about THE deadline? You know, when your time on earth is finished?

What if you knew the date, would you live life differently? I was always a procrastinator...why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? It wasn't laziness really, I could always find something I'd rather be doing at that particular moment. But one day it dawned on me...I'm not a kid (or even young) anymore...exactly when am I going to start doing the work that God has set out for me?

I truly believe that if we all knew the exact date of our death, we'd probably live better. We would actually start accomplishing all the tasks that need to be done before the end. Knowing the exact date would reinforce the knowledge of how little time we actually have on this earth, compared to eternity. Someday I will stand before Him and answer for the time He gave me, I really don't want to tell Him I wasted it.

This is not meant to sound like..."you could die tomorrow so you'd better get busy", it's more like "we've been put here for a purpose, probably much bigger than we ever imagined, we cannot let the days just go on by"...Someday we will all stand and be asked to give an accounting of our lives, I hope all our days were full!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Atheism

"The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians. Who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out of the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. This is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable." DC Talk

Tears

Have you ever thought about how God feels when something makes you sad, lonely, disappointed or depressed? Your pain is deep enough to bring tears to your eyes, does God know? Does He see?

Psalm 56:8 tells us "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

Think of it, the God of the universe not only sees but "collects" your tears! He feels your pain and will wrap His love around your broken heart. If you don't feel it, it's because you haven't let Him in...open yourself to His healing touch. After all, who else would collect your tears?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

God / god

History is crowded with men who would be gods; but only one God who would be man.
Unknown

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Trust and Obey

As in the old hymn...trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

When humans attempt to follow this path, on our own, we find that we are endlessly trying and failing. We get caught in the trap of willpower and determination. The reality for many is that no matter how hard we try we never quite get it right.

As children our behavior is rewarded or punished. In our wee little minds we equate reward with being loved more or better when we are good, when we please others. Unfortunately as we grow, this pattern manifests not only in our relationships with friends and family but we may also believe it of God. He will love me more if I am good. It's a vicious cycle that has a tendency to work on our self confidence...how we feel about ourselves...never good enough. We get the "obey" part but we drop "trust" from the equation.

We must remind ourselves, daily, hourly that if we can trust God with the bad stuff that happens in our lives, we can also trust Him to love us in spite of it. That's what He does...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Clutter


This was posted on the Naked Pastor blog...a few talented strokes of pen and ink says more than hundreds of words...how many of these things are coming between you and God?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Spiritual Types

I recently took the "Spiritual Types" test on the MethodX website. I am a Sage! At first I had to giggle a little...Sage to me means "wise"...somehow that generally doesn't get mentioned when I describe myself. But then I read the definition...

You are a Sage, characterized by a thinking or head spirituality. You value responsibility, logic, and order. Maybe that's why you were voted "Most Dependable" by your high school classmates. Structure and organization are important to you. What would the world be like without you? Chaos, that's what! Your favorite words include should, ought, and be prepared. What makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof it's tradition! tradition! tradition!

Because you love words, written or spoken, you enjoy a good lecture, serious discussions, and theological reflection. Prayer for you usually is verbal. You thrive on activity and gatherings of people, such as study groups. Sages on retreat likely would fill every day with planned activities, leaving little time for silence or solitude.

We need Sages for your clear thinking and orderly ways. You pay attention to details that others overlook. Sages make contributions to education, publishing, and theology. You often are the ones who feel a duty to serve, give, care, and share with the rest of us.

On the other hand, sometimes you seem unfeeling, too intellectual, or dry. Can you say "dogmatic"? You may need to experience the freedom of breaking a rule or two every now and then. God's grace covers Sages too, you know!

Suddenly I realized it did fit...and your response is, "So what?" or "Big deal!" But it is a big deal. Not because I can suddenly pass my self off as "wise"...but it does give me some insight into why and how I think and learn.

Take the test yourself, you may be a sage too! Or a prophet or a mystic or....


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Politics

As we are now up to our eyes in the political process and everyone is trying to convince you where you should cast your vote I ask only two things...

1. Once you have chosen where you will stand, make your voice heard!
2. Once you determine which candidate best fits your ideals, VOTE! No one will ever fit the bill perfectly but you have two to choose from, pick one!

There is no reason or excuse not to vote. It is a privilege and a right but most of all it is your duty.

Truth is not determined by majority vote.
D. Gwyn


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More on Prayer

One of the obstacles to prayer is confusion about what it is and what it is not. Almost anything can and has been said in the name of God in prayer. Abuses in prayer abound, both outside and inside the church. It's little wonder that many people are confused or just generally don't think it's worth the effort.

Centuries ago, Martin Luther made a couple of interesting observations about prayer that are still helpful today. Both take the form of what prayer is not:
* First, prayer is not telling God something that God otherwise would not know. When we
pray, we are not bringing God up to date on what is going on in the world. As Jesus
commented to His disciples, God knows our needs before we even speak (Matthew 6:8).
Prayer does not tell God anything.
* Second, prayer is not a means of forcing God to do something that God would not
otherwise do. Prayer is not leverage on God or a way to manipulate Him. What He does,
He does because of who He is, because of His gracious nature. Prayer does not make God
do anything.

These comments raise an interesting question. If prayer is not telling God anything that He would not otherwise know or talking Him into something that He would not otherwise do, then what is it?

Martin Luther's point was that prayer is not for God...prayer is for us. We don't pray because of it's effect on God, we pray because of the effect it has on us. It is a tool that God has given us for our own benefit. Prayer does not change God, it changes us.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chosen

God says to each of us, "You are my chosen one. I love you. I'm proud of you. Know that I have forgiven you. I call you by name. You are mine. I have entered into covenant with you and will stand by you in all times and places."

"Dare to live fully the life to which I have called you."

S. Gregg-Schroeder

Friday, August 29, 2008

Flowers...

Hand Delivered Bouquets
by Max Lucado

Through Christ, God has accepted you. Think about what this means. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you.

Rejections are like speed bumps on the road. They come with the journey. You're going to get cut, dished, dropped, and kicked around. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you. How? By letting his acceptance compensate for their rejection.

Think of it this way. Suppose you dwell in a high-rise apartment. On the window sill of your room is a solitary daisy. This morning you picked the daisy and pinned it on your lapel. Since you have only one plant, this is a big event and a special daisy.

But as soon as you're out the door, people start picking petals off your daisy. Someone snags your subway seat. Petal picked. You're blamed for the bad report of a coworker. Three petals. The promotion is given to someone with less experience but USC water polo looks. More petals. By the end of the day, you're down to one. Woe be to the soul who dares to draw near it. You're only one petal-snatching away from a blowup.

What if the scenario was altered slightly? Let's add one character. The kind man in the apartment next door runs a flower shop on the corner. Every night on the way home he stops at your place with a fresh, undeserved, yet irresistible bouquet. These are not leftover flowers. They are top-of-the-line arrangements. You don't know why he thinks so highly of you, but you aren't complaining. Because of him, your apartment has a sweet fragrance, and your step has a happy bounce. Let someone mess with your flower, and you've got a basketful to replace it!

The difference is huge. And the interpretation is obvious.

God will load your world with flowers. He hand-delivers a bouquet to your door every day. Open it! Take them! Then, when rejections come, you won't be left short-petaled.

God can help you get rid of your anger. He made galaxies no one has ever seen and dug canyons we have yet to find. "The LORD ... heals all your diseases" (Ps. 103:2--3 NIV). Do you think among those diseases might be the affliction of anger?

Do you think God could heal your angry heart?

Do you want him to? This is not a trick question. He asks the same question of you that he asked of the invalid: "Do you want to be well?" (John 5:6). Not everyone does. You may be addicted to anger. You may be a rage junkie. Anger may be part of your identity. But if you want him to, he can change your identity. Do you want him to do so?

Do you have a better option? Like moving to a rejection-free zone? If so, enjoy your life on your desert island.

Take the flowers. Receive from him so you can love or at least put up with others.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prayer

I daresay none of us (myself especially) spend enough time in prayer. Throughout the course of the day I will send up short little "breath" prayers. To find an answer for a problem, for strength to face a particular challenge, or any other trial I happen to be facing at the moment. While these type of prayers are valid and get us through our day, they should never replace time spent "in prayer", time spent with God alone.

Most of my waking hours at my "real job" sitting at the desk...on the telephone, in meetings or on the computer. Generally none of these activities makes one think of prayer...but things have a way of changing! The computer has become a place of prayer! Take some time to explore the following websites and see if they can add another dimension to your prayer life.

http://www.rejesus.co.uk/spirituality/post_prayer/index.html

www.sacredspace.ie

You may be surprised where you can find God in our world of technology!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Singing

Have you ever wondered why when we come before God in worship, we sing rather than merely think or talk with one another? Singing is a language that God has given us to express our deepest longings, greatest joys and most profound trust in the One who created us and loves us unconditionally.

Singing can lift our hearts to adore God, awaken us to confess the disorder in our lives and inspire us to good work that speaks God's transforming love into the hurting world. The very act of singing teaches us who we are and the words remind us whose we are. The variety of voices--high pitched or low pitched, on-key or off-key, some soaring to the rafters and other barely above a whisper--reminds us of the wonderful diversity of the Church.

Music is a gift from God. When, in our singing, we embrace this gift of love to all and offer it to one another in the Spirit it was given, then singing can unite us in worship and help us to grow as the children of God.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Focus

I read an article recently about Michael Phelps and his accomplishments at the Olympics.
The author made the point that he had tremendous focus and mentioned another former Olympian that I admired as a child. I knew nothing of her struggles growing up,
I only knew that when I watched her run she seemed as if she could fly. Being
extraordinarily slow myself, she was thrilling to watch. Her story is also an inspiration:

Picture a small girl hobbling across the yard with leg braces attached to her crooked leg, her left foot twisted inward. Neighborhood kids laughed and pointed.

This girl was Wilma Rudolph. Wilma was born prematurely, weighing only 4½ pounds at birth. She was sick most of her childhood, suffering from double pneumonia, scarlet fever, and polio. After losing the use of her left leg at six, she was fitted with metal leg braces.

But Wilma wasn't one to let her disability hold her back.

Wilma was one of 22 children from her father's two marriages. She got her brothers and sisters to serve as lookouts while she removed her braces, forcing herself to learn to walk without them.

Wilma's disability affected her family. Her brothers and sisters took turns massaging her crippled leg every day. For years Wilma underwent weekly therapy, requiring her mother to drive 90 miles round trip to a Nashville hospital. She was determined not to allow her disability to get in the way of her vision.

By the time Wilma reached her 11th birthday, 5 years of work - she had shed those braces and was playing basketball with her brothers in the yard.

A few years later, Wilma made the high school basketball team, and before long- Wilma became an all-state player, setting a Tennessee state record of 49 points in one game.

When basketball season ended, she decided to try out for the track team. That decision turned out to be one of the most significant of Wilma's life. It started when Wilma beat her girlfriend in a race. Then she beat every girl in her high school. Soon, she beat every girl in the state of Tennessee.

Wilma was only 14 years old, but she'd come a long way since her leg braces.

Two years later she was invited to try out for the Olympics. At 16, Wilma qualified and ran in the 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia. She won a bronze medal - her team placed third in the 400-meter relay.

The victory was bittersweet. Yes, she'd made the Olympics and won a medal, but in her own eyes Wilma had only won the bronze. She wanted the gold. The prize wasn't the Olympics - the prize was the gold medal - so she decided to try again in four years.

Wilma knew that if she wanted to win the gold, she'd have to dedicate an enormous amount of time, commitment, and discipline. Wilma started daily training runs at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. She'd often sneak down the dormitory fire escape from 8 to 10 p.m. to get in some running on the track before bed. For more than three years - a total of more than 1,200 days - Wilma maintained this punishing schedule.

Finally 1960 Olympics in Rome arrived, and Wilma became the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. She won the 100-meter and 200-meter races and anchored the U.S. team to victory in the 4x100 - meter relay, breaking records along the way.

We all have disabilities...not braces on our legs but perhaps on our hearts and in our lives. They hold us back from all the experiences that we should have in this life. Whether they be habits, addictions, struggling home life, fear of failure, disappointments, pride, peer pressure, they hold us back from being everything that God calls us to be. For Wilma her focus was not on the bronze medal she had already won, it was on the gold, bronze wasn't good enough.

In order to be successful, we must take our eyes off ourselves and our problems and focus not on a gold medal but on Jesus Christ. When we focus on Christ and put His honor in first place, everything else falls into place. Set your eyes on a relationship that is pure gold...


Friday, August 22, 2008

Sleep!

It's amazing but it seems "sleep" gets a bad name. Not sleep by itself but those who feel the need to get more sleep than the average. Why is that? Does it somehow make them weaker? If you sleep in on a day you don't have to work, does that mean you're lazy? I don't think so! Matter of fact, my husbands family has taking an afternoon nap down to an art form!

There are several reasons for getting a good nights sleep (7 - 8 hours)...

Sleep gives you a chance to clear your head which helps in making important decisions. You'll most likely wake up energized!

Sleep gives you a chance to cool off... in today's world with all the hectic schedules, the term "sleep on it" gets a whole new meaning.

Sleep encourages balance in your life. Try as you may, a lack of sleep will eventually catch up with you. Focus on balance in your schedule with adequate time for tasks, relationships and rest.

I'm sure there's lots of other good reasons to get a good nights sleep but one of the best is...you deserve it! Sleep Well!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our struggle...

Most of us live with an internal struggle every day. Although we worship a God so powerful that He spoke the world into existence and so loving that He sent His Son to die for our redemption, we struggle. There are feelings of inadequacy, doubt, shame and frustration as we try to be "good enough".

The Bible repeatedly tells us of His love and forgiveness but we cannot help but try to earn it. The world we live in teaches reward/punishment, success/failure every day. We know that WE are not capable of loving and forgiving all who hurt us and if we cannot, how can God? Such doubt denies the divinity of God. We seem unable to accept that He is so much more than we could ever know or understand. Humans are incapable of comprehending all aspects of our physical world. How arrogant of us to imagine we could wrap our minds around it's Creator.

We are fortunate that He is not like us. Daily, hourly, minute by minute He nurtures us, growing us in His own image. Despite our shortcomings, He never tires of the work or gives up on us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Baby Steps

Although we make changes throughout our lives and throughout the year, the start of a new school year and New Years day seem to be two of the biggest "change" times of the year.

When we decide that it's time for changes in our lives, it is wise to ease into them by starting small. Small changes allow us to grow into a new habit and make it a permanent part of our lives. Sudden, big changes may overwhelm and invite frustration and failure. It's important not to "bite off more than you can chew" at one time.

By embarking on the path slowly, we have the chance to look around and consider other options as we learn and grow. Taking baby steps forward gives us time to adjust and find secure footing on our path. They make it less likely that we will revert to our old ways.

Life doesn't always give us the opportunity to anticipate or prepare for big changes. But by breaking it down into smaller pieces and by choosing to work on one thing at a time we can focus our attention on something manageable and eventually look up to see that we've accomplished quite a bit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Complaints

We all know someone who has elevated complaining to an art form. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is exhausting. These people have the ability to find a problem just about anywhere! At it's best, complaining is simply the ability to see what's not working, in one's own life or the world and it can be useful if it's used to find a solution to a problem. However, many of us don't get that far.

Complaining can be a person's way of acknowledging that they are not happy with how things are and can be a catalyst for change. When we complain or criticize, we are tearing down something undesirable to make way for something new. But, if all we do is tear down and never create something new, we are merely a destructive force in our own lives or in the lives of the people we love. Some tend to focus only on what they see wrong in the lives of others and use it as a way to get the spotlight off their own faults.

When you find yourself complaining, don't use it as a way to get down on yourself. Look at the issues at hand and recognize what you'd like to change about yourself. Make it a creative process and change the world around you in a positive way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How do they see us?

The Apostle Paul worked most of his life trying to tear down the walls that divide us...racial, social, gender. He worked to bring all people, whether Jew or Gentile, to Jesus. He taught that no one is superior or inferior at the foot of the cross.

Our human condition works to divide us. The society created by man teaches us to look out only for number one!

Imagine how we must look to the outside world when we fight amongst ourselves over the most trivial issues and neglect those in our care. Can you understand why those who do not follow Christ see no reason to accept Him in light of our selfishness? What have we done for our brother to show Christ's love? Do we feel joy at being called the sons and daughters of God? Do we freely share our inheritance with those who don't know or don't understand?

God calls us to empty ourselves and give freely, with open heart and open hands, all that He has given us. Can you share?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fame

Imagine how you'd feel if thousands of people knew your name and followed your every move. Fame can be like a drug, it's addictive if we start believing we are worth all this admiration. Fame is also hard to let go of...how many "has beens" have you seen on reality TV? They just cannot seem to get enough.

Now think of John the Baptist. He was one of the most famous men in the region with many disciples. He was, until Jesus came to him (John 1:29). Not only did he know that Jesus' fame would eclipse his, he accepted and welcomed it. In John 3:30 we see him begin to release his fame "This is how my own happiness is made complete. He must increase and I must decrease." No hint of anger or jealousy. No "what about me". He had fulfilled his purpose and prepared the way for the Savior, the Lamb of God. That was enough for him.