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More Morning Mercies

mercies-are-new-every-morningThis picture was taken at sunrise, about 24 hours after a terrible storm.  I stood out on the balcony this Sunday morning, praising my God for His incredible, mind boggling creation!  I’m so glad I was able to capture this because I look at it and get the same feeling I got that morning.  Just hours before, that sea was raging, and the winds were strong and fearsome.  Nonetheless, the Lord of Creation was with me in the midst of the storm, and He was worthy of the praise due Him in the calm of the storm.  But is He not due praise midst of the storm, too?  He promises that His mercies are new every morning!  He can use any situatuion for His glory!  If this is picture depicts just a sampling of His glory after the storm, then “Jesus bring the rain!”  If you are facing a storm, I urge you to read Lamentations 3.  It really spoke to my heart this week . . here is a special part of that chapter (vv 17-32):

I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.

So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him.

Let him bury his face in the dust— there may yet be hope.

Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.

For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.

For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.

 

Lamentations 3:17-32 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

 

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November 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mountain Climbing

Have you ever had a “moutain week?”  It all seemed to be uphill?  I think I’ve had a moutain year.  Lots of new things going on in life, hills to climb, and struggles to conquer.  I’m still awaiting the moment when I stand on the highest peak to yell, “I made it!”  But I have a feeling there probably won’t be enough oxygen to allow me to scream way up there because my mountains seem to be getting taller and taller!  Everytime I think I’ve made it to the top, I turn and see there’s more to go than I first thought. 

One thing I’ve noticed from experienced mountain climbers is they find themselves moving on to climb taller moutains after they’ve conquered the smaller ones!  They seem to think that is fun!  But we could look at how this relates to our spiritual life.  When we think we’ve “reached the top,” God reminds us we’re too big for our hiking boots and he’ll set us on another journey to grow us up some more!  To be honest, I’m glad He does that.  Can you imagine what the church would look like if He didn’t?   A bunch of pompous people walking around boasting, puffed up, thinking they’re better than everybody else.  Wait a minute . . that IS kind of what the church looks like?  Wonder why?

Maybe it was the terrain surrounding the people in Bible times, but one thing I’ve noticed in Scripture is that lots of things took place on mountains.  In Exodus, Moses was given God’s Word on the mountain and was even able to get a glimpse of the Lord there.  In Isaiah, people were told to rejoice on the mountaintops and sing out for the glory of the Lord.  Many places in the New Testament, Jesus and the disciples preached on the mountainsides.  Most importantly, Jesus went away to the mountain to pray many times. 

I think the latter is the key.  For the church to be what He wants it to be, we first have to get away individually to pray in a quiet place and work on that one-on-one relationship; just you and God.  Imagine if everyone in the church did this?  Ernestly seeking the face of the Living, Almighty, Sovereign, Holy God!  And do it every day, not just when we’re facing the steepest incline of our mountain.  If we keep our eye on our the Guide, Jesus Christ, through the entire mountain journey, we’re going to do just fine!  He’s the one who holds the safety harness and the ropes when the terrain gets tough!  Yes, our faith will always be tested and stretched, but we will find growth and sanctification through it all, and we’ll find out we really can trust Him!  We may even get to experience the most sanctifying moment of all when He puts us into the cleft of the rock, and He allows us to get a glimpse as He moves past.  Whew!  Gives me God bumps!  He just may even decide to move the mountain we’re trying so hard to climb!  Then we may see our church explode with growth, not in numbers, but in maturity, after which comes the numbers because people will want what we got because we’re finally getting it!

Thank God for the mountain.  Shout praises to Him along the way, especially when you reach the top, but also when it’s hardest to climb.  Trust Him, lean on Him, watch Him, talk to Him, and most of all, listen to Him.  He’s the One who has all the answers and will give you sure footing on your journey.  He’s the One who will make your paths straight.  Then watch out for what He’s going to do next!  🙂

 

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Vote That Counts

Yes, another play on words.  With today being the NC 2008 Primaries, I’ve been thinking about whether or not my vote really counts. 

To be honest, I’m terrified of some of these presidential candidates.  I can’t find anyone who is still running that completely fits into my belief system.  The first thing I want to know is where they stand on abortion.  Usually if they haven’t got that one right, then I can’t trust anything else they have to say (I’m prolife, by the way).  Another thing that is important to me is their position on the homosexual lifestyle (which seems to be pushed in my face everywhere I turn).  Morals and godly values matter.

Of course, with my son on his way home from deployment in the Persian Gulf as I write this, I want to be able to trust a candidate to protect our country, our military, and serve our best interests (yes, that’s my 20yo Machinest Mate!).  Pulling out of Iraq isn’t the answer, and we’re asking for trouble if we do.  I don’t like our military being over there at all, but I don’t like people flying their planes into our buildings either.  It won’t end.  I believe this war on terror will continue until Christ comes.  The enemy, the devil, is the one dealing those cards.  We have no choice but to play.  We better play with integrity, might, and with our Spiritual Armor on!

Back to my original question . . . does my vote REALLY count?  Should I even bother?  Yes.  I think God expects us to honor Him in the voting booth.  Also, people died for our right to be free and vote.  We would do them an injustice by sitting back and letting the process go on without us. 

Next, what if God allows a moron to be in office?  Look at what Scripture says:

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”  Rom 13:1-7 (NIV)

Ouchie!  Surely he doesn’t mean if Billary Clinton or Barak Obama Yo Mama gets in office, I have to submit!?!  Not what I want to hear.  Do I sense “self” intervening?  I know, I know . . . I must accept that God is Sovereign and is working His plan as He sees fit.  His ways are not mine, and His thoughts are not mine . . but they are both better than mine!  Okay, Lord.  I will honor You with my vote, and trust You with the results.

Which brings me to another vote.  When the last election is run and the last ballot is cast on this earth, and it is time for the Lord’s return . . will you be “voted” into His kingdom?  That is really when only one vote counts . . His vote.  Will He tell you to move away from Him because He never knew you?  Or will He say (pardon the paraphrase), “Well done good and faithful servant!  Come on, you’re home is with Me … the vote was unanimous!”  Jesus loved you enough to “cast his ballot” for you on Calvary when He gave it all up for you.  Have you given it all up for Him and made Him Lord?  If He is not Lord over all, He is not Lord at all.  Thank God there are no politics in Heaven, because there will be no question who is King!  I hope you will join me there to worship Him face to face!  Leave me a post if you want to know more about how to make Him Lord of your life!  It was certainly the best decision I ever made.

May 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized, Voting | Leave a comment

Divide and Conquer

 

It’s funny how God puts things in front of you multiple times within a short time frame, as if to hang bright, flashing neon signs with arrows saying, “Pay Attention Here!”  I observed different situations lately that started to make me think about segregation within the church.  What segragation do I mean?  I’m talking about the segregation of the parents and the children, and sometimes even the segragation of the spouses.  We try so hard to be integrated, but find ourselves segregated at every turn.

Why do we split the family up at church?  The kids go one place, the parents go another?  Where did it start?  Is it biblical?  Does it have an effect on families today?  I am beginning to wonder.  In some churches on Sunday morning, the children go to their own programs, and the parents go to “big church.”  What is really coming of it?  Do we now have a generation of kids that are no longer taught how to sit still in church and respect the worship of an Almighty God?  Are they pushed into another class or group setting, being taught that it’s all about them by giving them games and fun instead of reverence and adoration of a Holy God?  Does it cater to the current TV/video game mindset and reiterate that entertaining them while Mom and Dad do their thing is the norm?  Don’t they get that already when Mom and Dad go to work and they go to school?  Who is raising our kids anyway?  Government, video games, MTV, day cares, schools?  I can’t help but wonder what mindset segragation gives them.  What will they expect when they are suddenly emersed into “big church?”  How will it affect their ability to worship the way God designed it?  Will they easily be able to take in God’s Word seriously without the lights and motion, bells and whistles, and entertainment they’ve grown accustomed to?

Sadly, Mom and Dad are absent in many cases.  Sadly, when the parents actually do care and are trying to instill values and morals in their children are met by opposition from those who think they know better.  First of all, these kids will turn to their friends for things, not their parents, because they have learned to depend on friends for opinions and advice.  They believe it is ridiculous or dorky to ask the advice of parents.  I know that was the case for me.

Secondly, the Goverment believes it knows better than parents.  It has the power to go over the parents’ heads and they do so on a daily.  For instance, recently in a school in a surrounding county, a 15-year-old girl was caught missing school for several days, and bringing in forged notes to be excused.  One of the school staff talked to her and asked her on a hunch if she was pregnant.  She said she was (by her 19-year-old boyfriend), but she just had an abortion a few days before.  The staff person asked if her mother knew, and she said, “No, my mom can’t know.  She doesn’t like my boyfriend.”  The staff person asked her how she was able to get an abortion, because in NC we have the parental consent law.  The girl said that Planned Parenthood gave her a form and a number to call, and she went before a judge and was able to easily get the paper signed that waived the parent’s rights.  The parents to this day probably have no idea that their baby took the life of her own baby and their grandchild, and that a court of law disregarded them as her parents and took matters into their own hands, not to mention disregarded the statutory rape law. 

Thanks to today’s culture, parents are put in a tough position when both parents must work.  But we are still in control of Sunday!  We are in control of taking our kids to church.  We are in control of whether they learn to worship.  We are in control of what they learn about Jesus.  Will it make a difference?  I believe so wholeheartedly!  Yes, I think we should get on kids’ levels and teach them, and there are great programs that do just that, and I applaud them.  I’m just not sure the Sunday morning worship hour is the time for it (look at excerpt below).  It’s a fine line, I know.

Interestingly, I heard a Christian talk show today (Truth Talk Live) discussing this very issue with Scott Brown, Director of The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches”.  He will be one of the speakers at a conference in Wake Forest, NC on May 9-10 called “Puritan Family Restoration.”  I wish I could go.  Check out his info! www.scottbrownonline.com  Here is an excerpt:

Philip Goodwin, an English Puritan writing in 1655 urged parents to bring their children in to hear the preaching of the Word of God… It was an age that did not know youth groups. 

 “We should bring our children with us to the publick teaching, so may our private teaching prove profitable.  Oftentimes divine truths are as nails, one teaching sets them in, and the other teaching fastens them; one plants and the other waters, and so of both God gives increase.

 We should bring the word publickly taught home to our children, by repeating it to them, and requiring it of them. It is not enough that we with others teach them,  but we must see what they learn, enlivening things upon their hearts at home, by holy counsel. At our houses we should harrow in that good seed which hath been publickly sown, that so it may be covered the closer and root the better in the hearts of the children and servants.” 

Goodwin was the first to coin the term, “Family Religion” which became the watchword for christian familes for the next 150 years.  The term first appeared in his book quoted below,

From Philip Goodwin in his book, “Family Religion Revived, or a Treatise as to discover the good old way of serving God in private Houses; so to Recover the Pious Practice of those Precious, Duties unto their Primitive platform.” P 401-402, published in 1655.

May 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Zero, My Hero

 

I was recently trying to find new ways to help my 10-year-old daughter memorize her multiplication tables better.  A fellow homeschooling friend of mine suggested that maybe if we put it to music, she could remember better (thank you Carmen!).  We found the old “Schoolhouse Rock” songs online!  You might remember those little 3-minute Saturday morning math lessons.  Anyway, there is a song for each number.  The song for the number “0” is “My Hero, Zero”.   They sing, “How can zero be a hero?” 

Hmmm . . . I sense a theological lesson coming on!  I bet people thought Jesus was a “zero.”  Not worth a thing in that day.  Poor.  No possessions.  A carpenter’s kid.  He certainly wasn’t the King they were expecting to come and rescue them.  Not the majesty they were looking for.  No adorned robe or jeweled, golden crown.  But as it turned out, that “zero” became a HERO!  He took a crown of thorns instead of the crown of jewels He deserved.  He took stripes on His back instead of colorful stripes on a majestic robe.  He bore every sin of every human being (past, present, and future) by hanging on that cruel cross with nails piercing his hands and feet.  He victored over the grave when He rose again 3 days later!  He paid my debt and made a way for me to be with Him forever and ever.  He may have been the world’s “zero,” but he is my #1!

I’ve been thinking about numbers a lot lately.  Not just in the multiplication tables with my daughter, but in the turnout for our revival at church this week.  Amazingly we had very well over 100 in attendance on Sunday morning, but only 20 to 30 have been showing up for revival.  Pretty sad, and it breaks my heart.  But God is still moving, and the faithful have been blessed with the truth that Chris Griggs has boldly brought to us.  Thank you, Chris, for loving our sweet Savior and us enough to share some hard truths!  He has been preaching his heart out!  I know for sure that more fuel has been added to my “passion fire”  . . I guess you call it REVIVAL!! 

Wednesday is the last night.  Hope you can join us . . . trust me . . you won’t regret this meeting with ” #1 “!

www.farmingtonbc.org

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Where is Everybody Going?


I am excited about what God is doing at our church! We had a special business meeting yesterday where we voted in a very godly man as our pastor . . and perfect timing for our revival that started last night with a great message from Galatians.  We were told how we should pray for our new pastor.  #1 Pray for his courage to shepherd this flock, even when the tough situations arise; #2 pray for his insight and wisdom as he prepares to step into the pulpit each week to brings us God’s message; #3 pray for him to always preach Christ and Him crucified; and # 4 pray for his freedom to rattle our cages when we need it!

But you know, some people must have brought a change of shoes to church yesterday morning . . running shoes . . . because after the last chorus was sung, people shot outta there like the starting pistol had been fired! Where is everybody going?

You know, people run for all kinds of reasons.  Some people run track.  Some people run for office. Some people (who are lacking some brain cells) run with the bulls.  Some people actually run for leisure and fun!  Some wait for the doors to open at Wal-Mart so they can run for the early-bird specials at Christmas.  Some people run FROM things, too.  Some run from change.  Ok, most of us run from change.  We run from danger.  Some people run from the police (at least almost everybody on “Cops” does).  What about running from God?  Unfortunately, I’m not talking just about the nonbelievers.  You can’t blame them . . they’re just acting like they’re supposed to.  But what about the “Christians?”  The ones who proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord?  Where are they going?  Forgive me for being blunt, but why would only half of the congregation stay to take part in one of the most important decisions made in our church?  Why do only a handful return on Revival night to hear God’s Word and make spiritual health and growth paramount in their lives (but showing up for the potluck dinner beforehand fits right into the schedule)? 

I don’t know about you, but I WANT to gather in His house and worship Him.  Considering what He did for me on the cross, I want to offer myself as a sacrifice and take up that cross and follow Him because I flat out LOVE Him.  How can we follow Him if we never give Him the time to lead us?  I love to feel God’s breath as He whispers in my ear to tell me what needs to be addressed in my life, so He can mold me more into the image of His Son (Lord knows I have a long way to go).  I recognize His chastening as His great love for me, even when it’s hard to hear sometimes.  It seems to me that the running shoes we should be reaching for are the ones needed to “run the race” . . . not to run away.  Please don’t miss out on what God’s doing! 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”   Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

Don’t forget to read the book to find out what the “therefore” is there for in the above verse 🙂

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Scratch That Tickle!

After watching the evening news, do you feel like your ears have been tickled? Our liberal media is quite good at promoting ear tickling. Of course, the political candidates have it down to a science. They are so talented they can dance and tickle at the same time! Now that takes coordination!

With politics in the forefront now due to this big voting year, it should serve as a reminder to pray for our political leaders. Pray for the ear-ticklers, too! God can change anybody you know? He changed me, so He can certainly change anybody.
I’m afraid tough days are ahead and we are seeing “signs of the times.” As North Carolina is getting ready for primaries, seek His face and know who you’re voting for and what they stand for. Honor God in the voting booth. Be responsible and know the candidates. Are they saying things that sound good, but tend to lack integrity and morals on some key foundational issues (i.e., abortion, homosexuality, defending our country militarily, etc.)? That is ear tickling. Are they all about being “green” and “loving God’s creation,” but at the same time are standing for a woman’s “right” to destroy His creation? That is ear tickling. Do they want to be “politically correct” by accepting all lifestyle choices . . you’re okay, i’m okay? That is ear tickling. Do they want to sit down and reason with the terrorists who want to kill us? I don’t think they can tickle the terrorists’ ears well enough for that to be successful!

Now for ear tickling in the church! I just listened to an incredible sermon by youth pastor Paul Washer, and even though his message is hard to hear, I believe it is absolutely true (http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=52906154239). If you get a chance, listen to it!

We have become a people who like to be tickled with feel-good sermons. We have been lulled into a spiritual sleep! But at the same time, we can only be kept awake if the sermon is entertaining enough to keep our attention. We allow ourselves to be motivated by emotion, not by truth. By doing this, we readily open ourselves up for false prophets to invade our flock because we don’t pick up a Bible and study it enough to be able to spot the wolf in sheep’s clothing. We have only been interested in self-serving sermons. Do you know the most dangerous false teacher is the one who tells so much truth that you can’t tell when he slips in the false teaching?

Look at what Paul Washer said about false teachers:
“One of the greatest distinguishing marks of a false prophet is that he will always tell you what you want to hear. He will never rain on your parade. He will get you clapping. He will get you jumping. He will make you dizzy. He will keep you entertained, and he will present a Christianity to you that will make your church look like a Six Flags over Jesus and keep you so entertained you are never addressed with great issues such as these. Is God working in my life? Am I growing in holiness? Have I truly been born again?”

As an aside, Washer talked about how to know if we are born again. Is it because we have a date written down in the back of our Bibles? Is it because we were baptized? Is it because we prayed a prayer and said some words? What about our fruit? Are we producing, or are we a bunch of weeds and thorn bushes? Have we changed from the inside out, or do we still walk around looking like the world day in and day out? Do we compare ourselves to other so-called Christians and use them as our measure instead of Jesus Christ? How do we dress? Provocatively? Conservatively? What music do we entertain ourselves with? Movies, TV Shows, internet, friendships? Do we hate the things God hates, or invite those very things into our lives? Tough questions, but they are life-changing ones and are worth asking.

Back to the tickling . . .why is there a huge stadium with the word “church” stamped on it that’s filled with thousands of people gathering to listen to self-improvement messages instead of the Gospel? Ear tickling. Why do we find preachers not telling the truth because they don’t want to “offend” anybody? Ear tickling. Why do we find preachers that will step on toes, but just not the ones in present company. Ear tickling. Or worse, why do we find preachers who will preach against the “worst sins” (i.e., drinking, drugs, adultery, homosexuality, etc.) and you find the congregation nodding their heads in agreement and saying “Amen,” but they leave the place of worship patting themselves on their backs, all puffed up, and giving themselves high-fives because they are not guilty of such things. Ear tickling? Hmmmm . . . do we tickle our own ears?

I know the scriptural “Armor of God” does not include ear muffs, but i think it’s time for the church to scratch those ears and put on some big ear muffs (or some other protective gear) when you see somebody pull out that tickling feather . . . seek and know the TRUTH and stand for it in every aspect of your life . . the home, the workplace, the church, the school, and the voting booth!

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NASB)

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!  Do I really have time to blog?  No.  But I have so much to say, this seems to be the best avenue to take to say it.  I will try to behave myself!  Thanks for taking time to visit my blog.  Hope you come back!

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment