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


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


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


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...


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...


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


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


"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


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.

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


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


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


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