Thursday, December 4, 2008
...but then I think of all of those who don't know Him yet. Those who have absolutely nothing to look forward to when He comes back. Those people aren't just strangers. They are my friends. They are my family. How can I ask Him to come back so that I can at last taste the perfection of Heaven, when I know what awaits them if He comes now? I cannot be that selfish! I will wait, patiently but expectantly, for Him to come back when He knows the time is right for Him to do so.
Lord, give me strength as I wait for You, and use me in whatever way You wish in order to bring others to know you, so that when You do come back, as many as possible will go Home with us.
"I wait for the lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6
Monday, December 1, 2008
In the middle of all the craziness and fun, Emilie threw out her arms dramatically and said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" We all laughed and I, wanting to test her history knowledge, asked, "So, Emilie, who said that?" She gave me that look that says "duh" and said, "Uh, me!" I see a history major in the making! :-)
Monday, November 24, 2008
During Bible class on Sunday, Bobby had us discuss what we were thankful for. There were the usual, expected answers of, "Family" "Friends" "Our house" "Electricity" "Church family", etc. Then he held up his Bible and said, "Okay, now tell me what you're thankful for in here." The answers came slowly at first, but then they came more steadily as everyone realized how much there was in the Word for which we are thankful.
Here are a few of the verses that I'm thankful for:
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Romans 8:26
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." Romans 4:25
So, what Bible verses are YOU thankful for?
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing can be taken from it."
I don't know if this is what the verse means or not, but I know I cannot fathom what God has done from the beginning to the end of Noel's time with us. She learned simple things like her ABC's, counting, shapes, etc.; but she also learned eternal truths about our God and who He is and how much He loves her. I believe wholeheartedly that He worked in her life in mighty ways while she was with us, and I am trusting that the things He did in her while she was here will endure forever.
This promise from the Word keeps me going when this foster care thing gets tough. It is my prayer for each and every one of our foster kids:
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11
I have to believe that, and I have to make my heart choose to say, "Blessed be Your name," even as He gives and takes away.
I love you, Noel!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Now, there was a prince named Ian and he had a pet man-eating goldfish. This goldfish was kept in a tank in his chambers, but the tank had been relocated to the sink in the royal lavatory so that the prince's chambers could be painted.
The beautiful Queen Brenda was painting in the hallway when, suddenly, her shriek ripped through the air. "CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!"
"What troubles you, my love?!" the king asked anxiously.
"THE FISH!!! THERE'S A FISH IN THE HALLWAY!!! CHAD, HELP!!!"
The noble king, however, was on a grand adventure atop a towering ladder in the entryway and was unable to come to his dear wife's rescue. Helplessly, he cried out, "Is there no one to aid my dear queen?! Prince Lukus! Princess Emilie! Prince Ian! Go! Save your mother!" But, alas, the princes and princess were too far away and could not hear the desperate cries of their helpless father and distraught mother.
But a young painter, by the name of Lindsay, was painting in a room near the hysterical queen. On hearing the screams, she poked her head out of the doorway to see what the commotion was about. What she saw was the queen jumping up and down and flapping her hands crying, "SOMEBODY HELP ME!!! THERE'S A FISH!!!! CHAAAD!!! I HATE FISH!!! THERE'S A FISH IN THE HALLWAY!!! HELP ME!!! IT'S A FISH!!! I NEED HELP!!! THE FISH!!! IT'S GOING TO GET ME!!! HELP!!!" Casting her roller aside, the brave painter leaped into the hallway. She courageously stepped between the frantic queen and her attacker and, with a swift, mighty hand, scooped up the deadly fish and flung it back into the tank, saving the queen from a terrible fate.
Thus did the painter rescue the queen from the fish.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
But I know Who can. So I do the only thing that I can do: I carry them to His feet, ask Him to take care of them, and trust Him to do it in a far better way than I ever could. I want to be like the friends of the paralyzed man in Mark 2 that carried him on his mat to Jesus. That's all I can do, but I will do it. I know I'm a kid. I know I don't understand all of the trials that my friends face. But as well as I can, I will do what my God calls me to do in Galatians 6:2, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." I will carry their burdens straight to the feet of Jesus, because it is the only thing I can do. Fortunately, it is also the best thing I can do.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Thanks to all our chaperones that made this trip possible; you guys are the best!
Friday, September 12, 2008
For our family Bible reading in the mornings, we've been reading about the life of Abraham. The other day, we were reading Genesis 22, which is where God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. When we had finished reading, Mom, Taylor and I began discussing who we would least like to be in the story: Abraham or Isaac.
Me: I would NOT like to be Abraham in that story!
Taylor: Yeah, but I think I'd rather be him than Issac.
Mom: I'd rather be Isaac and have my father do that to me than to do it to one of my kids.
Andrea: I just wouldn't want to be the goat!
She's so logical. =D
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I also have a passion for kids. Hence the reason I just got back from high school church camp yesterday and am leaving to go to junior camp as a junior counselor tomorrow. :-) This is my first year to go to junior camp, and I am really looking forward to it! It should be completely exhausting and insanely fun at the same time! ;-)
So tell me, what are you passionate about?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
(For those of you that don't know, these are two of my very favorite Texas Rangers!)
Let's start with Michael Young. He's the shortstop for the Rangers.
(If you're not interested in baseball that much, skip to the Josh Hamilton story; it has way more than just baseball!=D) Tuesday night was the Major League Baseball All-Star game. Michel Young was voted into the game as the back-up shortstop to arguably the most popular player in baseball, Derek Jeter. Jeter played the first 6 or 7 innings of the game before handing it over to Young. However, it was tied 3-3 in the 9th inning, so the game continued...and continued...and continued! All the way to the 15th inning. In the bottom of the 15th, with the bases loaded and 1 out, Michael Young hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring the winning run from 3rd base!!!
Josh Hamilton. Those who know his story all share the same sentiment: Wow!
Josh was an outstanding baseball player in high school, and he went straight into the Minor Leagues after graduating in 1999. He played 4 injury-laden seasons in single A ball from 2000-2003.
Then, on February 18, 2004, Josh Hamilton was suspended from baseball for drug abuse. He battled this addiction, as well as others, for a long time. One day, tired of fighting the battle, he showed up on his grandmother's front porch. She took him in, on the condition that he would never again do drugs. He never has. But more than his grandmother's love and guidance, Josh freely, openly and eagerly acknowledges that it was God who shed light into the darkness of his life and welcomed back His prodigal son.
In 2006, Major League Baseball granted Josh Hamilton permission to play in the Minor Leagues, which he did. Then, in 2007, Josh broke into the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. In spite of playing only half of the games that season, Josh hit 19 home runs, drove in 47 runs and hit for a .292 average. In the off season between 2007 and 2008, Josh was traded to the Texas Rangers. This year, as of the All-Star Break, Josh has hit 21 home runs, driven in 95 runs (which is two more than the number of games he has played in!) and has a batting average of .310. He has stunned Rangers' fans, as well as most of the baseball world, for this first half of the season.
But the story doesn't end there. When Josh was in the middle of his battle with addiction, he had a dream that he was hitting in a Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium. At the time, of course, the dream meant nothing to him. On Monday night, however, his dream literally came true. Not only was he voted to be the starting center fielder for the American League in the All-Star game on Tuesday night, but he was also selected to hit in the Home Run Derby on Monday...in Yankee Stadium. This is the final season that will be played in the House that Ruth Built, and the All-Star game and Home Run Derby were held there this year.
But it wasn't enough that Josh was hitting in the Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium just as his dream had predicted. When Josh was in high school, a man named Clay Council pitched batting practice to him. Josh made a crazy promise to this high school coach: he promised that when he made it to the All-Star game and hit in the Home Run Derby that he would have Clay Council pitch to him. Nearly a decade later, Josh not only remembered that promise, he kept it. Seventy-one year old Clay Council pitched to Josh Hamilton in the one and only Home Run Derby ever held in Yankee Stadium.
Want more? The former record for most home runs hit in a single round of the Derby was 24. When that happened, surpassing the former record of 15, everyone was amazed. On Monday night, Josh Hamilton smashed that record and hit a whopping 28 home runs in the first round! For those of you that have never watched the Home Run Derby, each player gets 10 outs, which (in the Derby) is any swing that isn't a home run. That means that out of 38 Josh Hamilton swings, 28 were home runs! Truly incredible! As Josh cranked out one 500+ foot home run after another, the crowd at Yankee Stadium, which usually isn't very receptive of non-Yankees, began chanting: "Ham-il-ton! Ham-il-ton! Ham-il-ton!" It was simply amazing to watch!
What did Josh have to say afterwards, you ask? "I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me this opportunity. It's amazing over the past few years what God's done in my life, and how quickly He's done it." He smashed records. He wowed the world. He lost the Derby. And when they stuck a camera and a microphone in his face, all he wanted to do was praise his God! Yes, there are still a few worthy role models left in baseball today!
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord...
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot
They are more than the hairs on my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased, O Lord, to save me;
O Lord, come quickly to help me...
16 May all who seek You
rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who love Your salvation always
"The Lord is exalted!"
Sunday, July 6, 2008
That might sound unremarkable to you, but it has been a very long time since they had a record as good as 46-43. They are now only 1.5 games out of second place and only 7.5 games out of first place! I'M EXCITED!!! (As if you couldn't tell that for yourself, right?=D) And...
The Rangers have 4 players going to the All-Star game! Woohoo!
Monday, June 30, 2008
First: He got our church van (that is trying desperately to fall apart) all the way to Austin, TX and back. That might seem unremarkable to you, but if you ride in it for about 10 seconds on the highway, you'll see why only God could make that happen. ;-)
Second: His Spirit was so alive and working in the 16 of us that were on that trip that we were able to spend 17 hours in an airport together without one conflict between us! If you've spent 17 straight hours with any one of us, you know how incredible that is when you put us all together in one place that we can't get out of! ;-)
Third: While all of the other passengers on our cancelled flight were angrily waiting in line at the main desk, a very kind airline worker and her supervisor took the adults of our group over to a side computer and booked us 16 tickets on the newly-rescheduled 7:00 a.m. flight the next day. They asked why we were going to Mexico, and seemed truly touched when we told them we were on a mission trip. After they got us our tickets, every one of us told them both thank you and gave them hugs. Tears streamed down their faces as we did so, and the supervisor told my mom, "You have no idea how much I needed those hugs today." Only our God could have coordinated those circumstances to bless us through them while blessing them through us.
Fourth: God gave our group the superpower of speed painting! After we arrived in Leon and rested up a bit, we went up to the Iglesia de Cristo (Church of Christ) and painted for two and a half hours on Saturday. When those two and a half hours were up, we were already halfway through with everything they had planned for us to do...and we still had two more full days of painting scheduled! By the end of the week, we had finished not only everything we had planned to do, but also most of what they had been planning to do after we left. Only God could do that through us!
Fifth: (Though in significance, this should definitely be listed first.) God enabled us to connect with the church there, regardless of the fact that we didn't speak the same language. The children were drawing pictures for us and playing games with us, the adults were hugging us and laughing with us. Connecting with them was the most challenging part of the week because it required us, as Bobby put it, "Not to be afraid to make fools of ourselves." We had to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone and step into their lives and their world. And when we did, God did amazing things! I would love to be able to put words to what He did, but I can't. It wasn't anything tangible. It transcends my understanding, but I know it was happening. It was what Bobby reminded us of all week long. 1 Corinthians 13:8, "Love never fails." It was love in action in our lives. Or to put it another way, since God is love (1 John 4:8): It was God in action in our lives. And what is more powerful than that?
Sixth: God was using us and the work we were doing in Leon to be a light to the people of the city that were still in darkness. One of the Leon AIMers told us that one day after we finished painting, two guys that he had never seen before came up to him and were asking him about us. He told us a bunch of different things that they asked about the work we were doing at the church and stuff, but the one question that stuck out to everyone was, "You guys are Christians, right?" Wow! All we were doing was painting a building, but God used that to shine His light to those two guys and perhaps to others that we don't even know about.
Seventh: God used us to show His unconditional love to children that had never experienced that before. We went to a children's home one day and spent 3 hours playing with 70 kids whose parents didn't care about them. Again, we didn't speak their language, but we loved them. We played with them, we hugged them, we made them lunch; and as we did, we prayed for them. Why did we do that? Because Christ's love compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14), and His love never fails. You could see it on their faces as they smiled and laughed at these crazy Americans that, for no reason that they could understand, had come into their world and shown them love that they had never known before.
Eighth: God used the compassionate hearts of our group to provide for some of those in need in Leon. There were people everywhere on the streets begging for money, but one of the guys in our group felt particularly drawn to a mother and her two children that we passed on our way back to our hotel one night. We all had lots of snacks that some of the parents had given us for the trip, and we hadn't eaten all of them yet. So, we took a big bag full of those snacks down to the woman and her children. I wasn't there, but they said that the woman just kept smiling and saying thank you and the oldest little boy looked inside the bag and started smiling and jumping up and down. Only our God could use something as simple as a bag of snacks and use it to touch hearts.
Ninth: Through our presence in Leon, God encouraged and uplifted the missionary family there; and He encouraged and uplifted us through them. Shawn, Barbara, Mason (9), Madison (7) and Kayson (3) Gary have each found a special place in every one of our hearts. We connected, especially with the kids, from day one. By the time the week was over, we were greeting them the same way we would greet the children at our church here at home. They spent all the time they could with us, and they were one of the brightest spots of our week. When it was time to say goodbye to them, Kayson climbed up into each of our laps and smiled her shy little smile as she hugged us bye. Madison bounced her way around the room, grinning from ear to ear, and told us all how much fun she'd had with us. Mason gave each of us note that he had written for us, and then he cried as he hugged us goodbye and made the rest of us cry, too. Only God could create that kind of a love between friends in less than a week's time.
Tenth: God gave me, and I think everyone else as well, a new appreciation for just how big His body is. When we were stuck in the Houston airport, we had friends in Perrin, TX (which is in the middle of nowhere) who were at a rodeo and trying to reach people in Houston that we could stay with if we couldn't make it to Leon. We also had an email being sent through our church prayer chain back in Tulsa for God to work everything out according to His plan. My brothers and sisters were in Arkansas with my grandmother, and they were all praying for our trip. Then we got to Leon and we witnessed the body of Christ at work there in powerful ways. And if all that wasn't enough, one of the guys on the Leon AIM team was from Alaska! Through all of those things, God showed us that His body is not limited by borders or languages or countries. We all have one common thing that unites us, and that is Jesus Christ.
As long as this post has been and as many things as I have listed, I have not even come close to sharing all of the things that I saw God doing while we were there...and that doesn't even count the things that He did that I couldn't see! He is truly amazing, and He confirmed again and again our theme for the week: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ; and, with Him at work within us, nothing can stop us from sharing that love with others. God has really been convicting me since we got back that my mission work doesn't stop now that I'm back from our "mission trip." My whole life is a mission trip to the world. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I should be sharing His message and showing His love to all those around me.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
"The enemy is always looking for an opportunity to exploit complacency."
I think that is something that our enemy is looking for, too. If we become complacent, then we pose no threat to him. When we become content with where we are in life and in our relationship with Christ and we stop trying to learn and grow, we cease to be effective. I think that's why Jesus has such a distaste for lukewarm Christians, as He says in Revelation 3:15-16, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." I think complacency is the most dangerous trap that the church can fall into. Even when churches split, most of the time it's because someone feels that there's something wrong with the way things are and they're doing something about it. It's when we stop caring one way or the other that we are in serious trouble.
With that said, I think the comments that this soldier made surrounding the one above are of extreme importance for us as we fight complacency. Here is that comment, along with its context:
"We remain cautiously vigilant to be on watch. We recognize that the enemy is always looking for an opportunity to exploit complacency. We keep each other in check. We encourage one another."
There are a lot of things that jump out at me in that as far as it relates to us:
1) Remaining cautiously vigilant to be on watch--Jesus commands His disciples to do that very thing in Matthew 24:36-25:13, Mark 13:32-36 and Luke 12:35-48. Those passages can basically be summarized by Matthew 24:42, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."
2) Recognize--They know what their enemy is trying to do. In the same way, we must know what our enemy is trying to do. 2 Corinthians 2:11, "...in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."
3) Keep each other in check--We have to look out for one another! God gave us the church for a reason, and it's not so that we could have one more social event on our schedule for the week. Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." We're not supposed to sit around and let each other become dull, we are to sharpen one another! Ephesians 4:25, "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak plainly to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." We're all in this together, so tell it like it is! I like the way the Message translation puts Hebrews 3:13, "For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes." We can't let each other fall into the trap of complacency; we have to help each other stay alert and on our toes.
4) Encourage one another--That kind of goes with #3. In the NIV, Hebrews 3:13 says, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (after speaking about the coming of the Lord), "Therefore encourage one another with these words." Hebrews 10:23-25, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we my spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
So just as the soldiers of the U.S. Army are doing, let us (as soldiers in the army of Christ) not become complacent, but continue to encourage one another as we strive for a closer walk with our God!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
There's the colon, dash, close parentheses.
Or there's the colon, close parentheses with no dash.
There's what I think of as the "winking" smiley face: the semicolon, dash, close parentheses.
Or there's the semicolon, close parentheses with no dash.
There's the equals sign, capital D.
Or there's the equals sign, close parentheses.
There's the semicolon, lowercase O, close parentheses.
Or, if you want to put a shocked/surprised type spin on it, there's always the colon, dash, lowercase O.
And for an even more surprised, bigger mouth, there's the colon, dash, uppercase O.
And if you want to make it a frowny face, you can change any of those close parentheses to open parentheses and, viola!, your happy face is sad.
And anyway, who decided that smiley faces should be left to right, eyes-nose-mouth? Why couldn't they be mouth-nose-eyes? Like so (-: And how in the world is it possible for that smiley face (which happens to be just as sideways as its counterpart that is typed the other direction) to look upside down?!?
Okay, enough of my random ramblings. What's your favorite way to type a smiley face?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You're my God
I've always been able to live that as I stood in church and sang that song. It's easy to worship and bow down and say that He's my God when I'm surrounded by others who are doing the same. Those are not hard things to do when "here" is "church." But in the car that day, it was like God knocked on the door of my heart and said, "'Here' is 'earth'." Whoa!
Now, you may be saying, "duh!", and I kind of was too, because I already knew that and tried to live it as much as I could. But having that in front of me as a concrete, conscious thought was a strong and convicting realization. "Here" isn't just church. I'm not just here to worship and bow down and say that He is God when I'm in church. "Here" is earth. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I am supposed to worship and bow down and say that He is God.
When I'm at home with my family, when I'm in the grocery store, when I'm doing school, when I'm dealing with someone that I really struggle to like, when I'm in the midst of a trial or when life is perfect-
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You're my God
No matter what, as long as I am drawing breath on this earth, that is what I am supposed to be doing. Worshipping, bowing down and saying that He is my God. If every Christian lived that kind of a life, what kind of a world would this be?
Saturday, May 10, 2008
When all I can do is frown
My mom is a warm embrace
When I’m feeling lonely and down
My mom is a comforting presence
When trials come my way
My mom is love, at its essence
When life is gloomy and grey
My mom is a wonderful teacher
She’s taught me all that I know
My mom is sometimes a preacher
But I know that helps me to grow
My mom is devoted to Jesus
And I want to be like her someday
My mom is faithful to teach us
To love God in every way
My mom will be there at the end
Still just as gentle and kind
My mom is my very best friend
And I’m glad God made her mine
Friday, May 9, 2008
Background: Jonathan, Stephen and Andrea just got home from our grandparents' house this morning, and they were all watching Sleeping Beauty. I was not in a bad mood, but I wasn't in a good mood either. Consequently, I was not really wanting to do anything that might possibly be called fun. Andrea came up the stairs looking quite sweet and innocent...
Andrea: Do you want to color with me?
Me: Don't you want to watch your movie?
Me: (in my most animated and excited voice) It's at the best part! Prince Phillip is about to fight the dragon! You don't want to miss that!
Andrea: Well, we can color and watch the movie at the same time.
Me: Are you sure?
Andrea: (with that all-knowing 5-year-old look) Yes. Because, you know, anything is possible with God!
We colored...and watched the movie...and I was in a much better mood when we finished. I love that kid!
Friday, April 11, 2008
"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth."
An amazing conversation ensued. One of the guys told us about someone at his school that had died in a car wreck the night before, and what a wake-up call it was to him to realize that that young man was never going to have another chance to do anything, be it homework or a test or eating a meal or spending time with his family, etc. Bobby really started to stress to us that "All we have is right now!" There may not be a tomorrow. There may not be an "in a minute." "Later" may never get here.
Then we got ready to sing and Bobby encouraged us to worship God like it was our last chance to do so. Not to worship Him like we did last Wednesday. Not to think about how we might could worship next Wednesday when we're feeling "more spiritual." But to worship Him as if all we have is right now, because right now is all we have. After a couple of moments of no one leading songs or saying anything, Bobby continued to urge us that all we have is right now, "What are you going to sing to God? What are you going to say to encourage each other?" After that, it was like everyone caught on to what he was saying, and there wasn't another moment of silence. When we finished one song, someone immediately began leading another. The praise was genuine and amazing.
I've been thinking about that a lot since Wednesday, and it has really changed the way I think and act. If this is the only moment I have, I'm not going to waste it on anger or selfishness or pride or jealousy or fear or...you get the idea. If I die one minute from now, I don't want to die doing something that I'd wish I hadn't wasted my time doing. If Jesus comes back in the next second, I don't want Him to come back and find me doing something that doesn't bring Him honor.
Procrastination is a struggle for me (I think it's probably a struggle for most of us in some way, because there's no way for us to get everything done.), but I think I'm going to start changing what I procrastinate on. If I don't have enough time in the day to do everything, then I'm going to start by doing the things that will last beyond this earth. If I don't get to the rest of it...well then, it wasn't really that important anyway, was it? I'm making it my goal to stop looking at my Bible and saying, "I'll do it tomorrow," to stop looking at opportunities to improve my relationships with my family and saying, "I'll do it tomorrow," to stop looking at chances to be a blessing to those that need it and saying, "I'll do it tomorrow," to stop looking at opportunities to encourage my dear friends and saying, "I'll do it tomorrow." The Bible is very clear: THERE MAY NOT BE A TOMORROW. James 4:14 says, "You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Then in verse 17 he says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." I find it interesting that James puts that sentence here. I have known that verse for years, but never thought of it in this context. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow (or even if there will be one), so we can't put off the good that we know we should do today. If we do that, we are sinning. I had never thought of that before: by putting off until tomorrow the good things that I know I should do right now, I am sinning. "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night," says 1 Thessalonians 5:2, and I don't want to wait until right now is all I have to live like right now is all I have.
RIGHT NOW I'm going to start living my life to glorify my Father.
RIGHT NOW I'm going to start praying more faithfully.
RIGHT NOW I'm going to start considering others better than myself.
RIGHT NOW I'm going to start working to build better relationships with my family.
RIGHT NOW I'm going to start being more encouraging to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
RIGHT NOW I'm going to quit caring what other people think about me.
RIGHT NOW I'm going to quit worrying about my future, because tomorrow may not even come, and if it does, my Jesus says in Matthew 6:34 that it will worry about itself.
Now, I know I'm going to fail at doing most of the above things, probably all before lunch tomorrow, but that's what the blood of Jesus is for. Praise Him for that!
So here is my challenge to you, my friends:
RIGHT NOW IS ALL YOU HAVE, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH IT?
I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, "as long as it is called Today" not to be "hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13) when it comes to doing good right now. Go say a prayer; just talk to your God. Then go play with your kids, kiss your wife or tell you husband how much you love him. Honestly now, how many of you just had the conscious thought, "I'll do that later?" There may not be a later! And don't tell me you don't have time; if you have time to read my blog, you have time to do that. Think about it: it takes less than three seconds to say "I love you," we should all have time for that! So go do it RIGHT NOW! (All of you that do that win major brownie points with me; whatever that's worth! =D)
Right now is all we have; let's live it for Him!
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Shane, our worship leader at Memorial, and his wife Alice had a pretty rough week. Shane had a strange pain in his hand and arm that spread to his other arm, his legs, his neck and basically throughout his entire body. Alice took off work for three days to take care of him. There had been emails sent out to our prayer chain at church, so everyone was praying for them, but I don't think many of us had a grasp of how truly awful Shane was feeling until we saw him Wednesday night. Now, Shane isn't the kind of guy that will complain, no matter how bad he feels; but he was moving pretty gingerly, so we could all tell that he wasn't doing well. He kind of hobbled through the church building, doing everything he had to do to make the Workshop kick-off go well. Prayers continued to go up, because we all knew that in a little while, Shane was going to have to get on stage and lead our worship. I was beginning to wonder if he would even be able to stand, but he went on stage (using a mic stand part of the time because it hurt to hold the microphone) and worshipped our God from his heart, as we have seen him do on so many Sunday mornings. He was so focused on God that you could hardly tell he was in pain at all. As we came to the chorus of the final song of the night, Shane said, "Let's raise the roof!" And did we ever! I'm pretty sure that if you had been standing on the sidewalk outside the building you would have been able to hear the praises lifted up, "Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is Your Name!" Tears sprung into my eyes as Shane, in spite of all of his pain, stood tall on the stage and lifted both of his hands heavenward in humble praise and adoration of his awesome God. After that, Shane pretty much collapsed into his front pew. The elders, the majority of the praise team and some others surrounded him, laid their hands on him and lifted him up in prayers to God. There wasn't a dry eye in the bunch when they finished. Everyone was feeling his pain, as much as we could, anyway. Then we just stood around and kind of stared at him and Alice. After a while, Shane said it was too weird with us all looking at him and he wanted to go home. I felt kind of bad, but then I realized why we were staring at him: we didn't know what else to do. We had no words to make it better, and we couldn't hug him, because it would hurt; so we just stared.
We all continued to pray, and Thursday night Shane felt much better than the night before. Even so, we were still a bit apprehensive about Friday night, when our praise team was going to lead worship.
Friday night, Shane got up on stage and, before we sang, he talked about God's goodness. He told us how much better he was feeling since Wednesday night, and he gave all the glory to God. What amazed me the most, though, was what he said next. After he said how good God was for making him strong enough to get up there that night, he said, "But I would still say 'God is good' even if I was laying in a hospital bed for the second time this week." What faith! And I know Shane well enough to know that he wasn't just saying that; he really would have said "God is good."
On Saturday night, Shane was on stage again, joking with Terry as they made announcements. This morning, he (Shane, not Terry =D) sang bass with the Zoe group at church. Afterwards, he smiled as he told me that he was completely pain-free today. God is so good! His grace was sufficient for Shane and His power was perfected in Shane's weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
God has truly blessed our church family and me, personally, with Shane and Alice both. Their faith and trust in God, even when things aren't going the way they might like, is a wonderful example and testimony to all of us. Thanks, Shane and Alice! Shane, it is my prayer that Jesus has said to you what He said to the woman in Matthew 9, "Your faith has healed you." Thanks for your faith, brother! God is good...all the time!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Later that night, I started thinking about how often I do that with God. So many times I ask Him to lead me (or push me, in some cases) in the direction He wants me to go. But when I think it's going well enough that I can handle it, I say (whether consciously or subconsciously), "Okay, You don't have to push me anymore. I have this under control." Then, even though He knows I can't really handle it, just as I knew Andrea couldn't really keep herself swinging, He lets me do it on my own. For a while I may relish my new-found "control" over my own life. Soon, however, I find my self swinging on my stomach completely out of control and nearly falling out on my head. Still, I'm too proud to admit that I can't do it alone, so I desperately try to convince myself that "It's more fun this way." Though I have no doubt that it really was more fun for Andrea swinging that way, when I get to that place, it isn't fun at all, but rather it is my last ditch effort to try to stay in the driver's seat of my own life.
Why? Why do I, clueless and incapable as I am, try so desperately over and over to control my own life when I know good and well that I can't? I don't really know; I guess it's just human nature to want to be in control. I think one of the most difficult parts of following Christ is to obey the command of James 4:7, "Submit yourselves, then, to God." As hard as it is to do that, though, I think that if/when we finally do get there we will find that swinging when He's pushing us is much, much more pleasant than swinging every which-a-way on our bellies trying to keep ourselves going. Though we will still be swinging back and forth between trials and easy times, joy and pain, spiritual mountaintops and spiritual valleys, there will still be that strong, steady Hand at our back, pushing us gently on through it all. How much better is that than going through all those same things, only swinging out of control with no comforting Hand at all?
I pray that this week we may all give the control of our lives back to our Father; then, though our circumstances may not change, may we rest in the fact that He is there, He is in control, He loves us and He has a plan for us. I love having a God that won't push us so hard that we can't hang on, or at least if He does, He'll be there on the other side to catch us.
Now, if I can just remember all of this when I wake up in the morning. :-)
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday night, not long after we got there, God decided to reveal to me what He wanted to work on in me over the weekend. Jason (our stand-in youth minister for the weekend) spoke powerful, Spirit-filled words about walking by faith and not by sight. That phrase is so commonplace in the church today that, though I "knew" what it meant, I didn't really have an appreciation for how to do it. Walking by sight, as Jason described it, is going into a situation, assessing your resources (i.e., knowledge of the Scriptures, ability to communicate, general likeableness (that's my Terry Rush word), etc.) and through that lens determining what impact you can make in that situation. Walking by faith is going into a situation, knowing that you're God's child, believing that He will work through you in that situation and acting accordingly. In that light, I realized why walking by faith is so hard for me: I have a huge struggle with fear. I'm constantly worrying about what people will think about me and what I do/say/think. It is a daily battle to focus, not on what others think, but on what God thinks. This is what God wanted to address with me last weekend. As I let God work on my heart in this way, I was amazed at the feeling of freedom that came with it. I was able to be myself around complete strangers without worrying at all what they thought of me. Saturday night, I was sitting eating dinner, talking and laughing with five or six people, only one of whom I had known before that weekend. I was having an awesome time, and it was all because I let God, not fear, control my actions. Just in this past week I have seen an amazing difference in myself and the way I interact with other people. Not that it isn't still a struggle, but God is doing awesome things and I am learning to let Him.
Saturday afternoon, we had a prayer walk. That was incredible, because it was only supposed to last an hour, but most of us took an hour and a half before they finally called us in for the next event. I think everyone was simply enjoying being in the presence of our God. My guess is that none of us ever spend that much time just us and God, and we were all realizing how awesome it can be to just be in His presence. I know that's the feeling He wants us all to have all the time. That's why He's always there waiting for us to just come talk to Him and be with Him. He longs for a deep relationship with us, and we can only imagine how wonderful and beautiful a relationship like that can be.
In short, God did amazing things last weekend, and I know that is due, in large part, to all of the people who were praying for all of us. I know some of you reading this are some of those people, so thank you. God answered your prayers in more ways than you could ask or imagine.
"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'" Isaiah 41:13
Thursday, January 31, 2008
The Rules: Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
Share 5 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog, OR
Share the 5 top places on your “want to see or want to see again” list, OR
Share 5 things you never pictured being in your future when you were 25 years old.
Tag a minimum of 5, maximum of 10 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. The tagees have a choice of which they want to do.
Since I have already shared random facts about myself on here and am not yet 25 years old, here are the top 5 places on my "want to see or want to see again" list:
1. Heaven!!! I can't wait to see it. I have tried for as long as I can remember to picture what it will be like, but I know that it will be so much better than anything I can imagine.
2. Niagra Falls. The power that all of that water must carry with it would be a truly incredible sight to behold. A waterfall of that magnitude is unlike anything I have ever seen.
3. The Grand Canyon. I saw it with my family when we went on our vacation a couple of weeks ago, but it was so overwhelming that it was impossible to take it all in. I would love to have a chance to see it again.
4. Sequoia National Park. We made two trips to this park on the above mentioned vacation, but neither time were we able to see the massive trees as well as we would have liked. The first time, we didn't make it to the biggest trees because the road had too much snow and ice on it and our snow chains didn't fit. The second time, it was dark before we got there, so we were only able to see the trees by moonlight. As incredible as it was at night, I can only imagine what it would be like in daylight.
5. Death Valley National Park. Though a nightmare to the settlers of years past (hence its name Death Valley), in the present day it is lots of fun and quite amazing. We traveled through Death Valley on the same vacation as the Grand Canyon and Sequoia National Park, and we had an awesome time. The salt flats, the sand dunes, the lowest point of elevation in the Northern Hemisphere, the mountains, it was all incredible.
Since I have taken so long to do this, I don't have anywhere near 5 people to tag. I will, however, tag Jeanne and Danna, who have both been longer in updating their blogs than I have.
Thanks, Shane and Heather, for getting me back to blogging! Maybe I'll be more faithful to continue this time.