Monday, August 29, 2011

Can God Trust You?

Then Israel believed his words [trusting in, relying on them]; they sang His praise. But thy hastily forgot His works; they did not [earnestly] wait for His plans [to develop] regarding them.
Psalm 106:12-13

Trust! What do you think of when I say the word Trust?
     Does it have to do with others trusting you? Does it have to do with you trusting others? What do you trust for? Trust is a much deeper word than we give it credit to be.
     I have been pondering lately about God trusting us! Now if you really think about it, God probably doesn’t trust us when He knows we won’t keep our word because He knows everything; which would include when He can trust us and when He can’t. However, I still want to be trustworthy for God. So many times we flippantly make commitments to God and then forget about them or change our mind. Many times we can see conflict between a person’s word and their actions. We see parents standing before the Lord committing their babies. Yet, when He takes them a direction they aren’t happy with, they get angry with God. We see spouses committing to stay together through good times and bad times. However, as soon as bad happens and it calls for endurance and forgiveness, they bail. We see men and women serving the Lord. Then one day, they stop serving because God disappointed them by not pulling them out of a bad situation. We see Christians committing to be a follower of God but in reality we only want to follow when He is leading in a direction we want to go.
     What does our word mean to God? As sad as it is, we are no better than the Israelites. They always promised to love and follow God but every time it got tough, they looked towards others things.
     Today, live being a person of your word to God. Whatever you have promised him, do it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Work it All

     Last week I went to a personal trainer.  I have been wanting to for a long time.  We worked on proper form for three or four exercises.  I left thinking I had not worked out too hard.  I thought it was easy and realized that my challenge would be with proper form, more than the endurance of the exercise.
     I have changed my mind the last couple of day.  I can hardly walk!  I am in shock!  I must have been working muscles that I do not normally use or I have let get lazy.  Often, we tend to focus on the large muscles and not those little ones that can make a huge difference to our physical health.
     We do the same thing spiritually.  We focus on some main things to our walk with Christ and we feel pretty could about our health.  However, the Holy Spirit is like a spiritual trainer.  He is consistently working out some 'little things' in our life.  The hidden things of the heart.  The things others do not see.
      I am so thankful that God does not let me coast through life with feeling good about the 'big things' but keeps me humble with focusing on all the things. Do you need a spiritual workout?  Are you focusing on the external or the big things?  Let the Holy Spirit work you out and show you what internal things or 'little things' that can give you better spiritual health.

Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it's good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:14

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

He is Listenig!

Confession time!  Not that you haven't figured it out though.  I haven't been writing as many devotions lately.  I have had my fair share of Internet issues that has been a hindrance, but in reality the issue has been me.  Several things happened.: a  new job that has been very demanding, Brittne being home, traveling a lot, and many nightly meetings for one thing or another.  Lots of things to pulling my attention.  However, the real issue has been the fact that I wasn't hearing from God.  I struggled to find something to write and then found myself only writing because you are going to read it. I got away from the original goal: to write what God is doing in my life and for me to grow in my discipline with Him. I felt empty.
I did ask God why He was being so silent with me. I knew it wasn't normal because He talks to much through the day to day situations so why had He gone silent?  The answer is He didn't.  I stopped listening.  I was too focused on all the noises of my life and was expecting God to scream at me over the noise.
He does not work that way.  He doesn't move in our relationship; I do.  He will not scream at me over the noise. I need to silence my life and listen to Him.  Are you hearing God?  If not, is there too much noise going on in your life?  He is waiting to talk to you when you are ready to hear.

When you come looking for me, you'll find me.
Jeremiah 29:13 (The Message)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lessons of Falling

     For three weeks, I have been sharing with you the falling stories of my life. I know we have all laughed together but I pray you have learned a few things to help you avoid spiritual falls. The Old Testament tells us to remember and to not forget. The New Testament tells us to not just hear spiritual lessons but to apply them. To help us remember what we have been learning, I am going to review how we can keep sin from tripping us up and causing us to take spiritual falls.
  • We need to remember that sin is costly both to you and others.
  • We reap what we sow; when we sin; we will fall.
  • We can't ride the fence. If we have one foot in sin and one foot in following God; you will fall.
  • We can't hold on to old sin. You will fall if you can’t let go.
  • We can’t out run sin, if we sin; it will catch us.
  • Remember that leaders can fall, pray for them.
  • Don't get Lackadaisical. When things are going good, sin can creep in and cause us to fall.
  • The best way to keep from falling is to not put yourself in Danger.
  • Don't let panic trip you up by reacting with sinful thoughts and actions.
  • If you have fallen, search to find what you have lost with the Lord.
  • Falling is hard for the spirit but it will pass and God will restore you if you turn to Him.
  • Do not rejoice when others fall or you can go down with them.
  • Do not overlook the small things in life that can trip us up without notice.
  • The best way to keep from falling is to know and live by God’s word.
  • When it comes to walking with the Lord, do not try and take shortcuts; you will fall.
  • If you get in the middle of a fight of others, you set yourself up to be the one that falls.
  • You have to keep yourself from falling; it is no anybody else’s responsibility. No one can keep you from falling but you!
  • Uncontrolled thinking will cause you to fall.
  • Sin can reveal our true colors.
  • It is important to watch for hurting people at church.
  • God lifts up those that fall!
     If you are doing anything that is risking a fall, I pray that you will alleviate the risk from your life before you stumble and hurt yourself. Let’s all work together at becoming more sure footed!

But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.
 Luke 6:49

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Watch for the the Little Things

     When Dwayne and I were called to start Fusion, we visited other church’s that were similar to how we envisioned Fusion to be. One of the churches we visited was in Mississippi. After the service, we spent time speaking to the pastor at the front of the sanctuary and then he kindly prayed for us and the start of our new church. Their sanctuary was an old skating rink with the chairs and stage at one end. At the other end, they had set up tables and chairs to have a dinner after church to raise money for a mission trip. They had invited us to stay and eat and we accepted. After we finished praying with the pastor, we hurriedly walked to the other end to find a seat so they could begin serving. Because we were the last ones to be seated and they had been waiting on us, I knew all eyes were on us. We had to cross in front of all the tables to get to the only empty seats. As soon as we got dead center, in full view of all onlookers . . . I fell down and ended up on all fours! Thank God I didn’t do the back fall! Yes, I was humiliated but actually my husband comforted me. Now as of today, you have heard 18 falling stories. Do you remember any of them including my husband lovingly helping me up and holding on to me until I could find a place to sit (Dwayne: I have not been around ALL the falls!)? Trust me it hasn’t happened until this specific time. He was great! He bent down, asked me if I was okay, helped me up, and walked me to my seat! I know my leg hurt because I fell hard enough to melt the knee of my polyester pants. However, I think I was in such shock that he was being such a gentlemen, I didn’t even think about the pain or the embarrassment. Now, he says that his kindness had nothing to do with the 100+ onlookers but the only way he will ever convince me of that, is to be that kind from now on each time I fall. I have been waiting now 3 years to test him but so far; I have been fall free! Maybe I finally got it out of my system. Within a few minutes of sitting down a very nice woman approached me. She had a part of a candy wrapper in her hand. It was approximately an inch square. She started explaining to me that she had found this on the floor where I fell and she was sure it was the cause of my fall. How wonderful! I might not have ice and snow to blame anymore, but I now have a piece of paper to blame! I loved this lady!
     Often during our spiritual walk, we are very cautious of the big obstacles that can trip us up.  However, many times it is the little things that cause us to stumble. A little lie, a few minutes of gossip, a small amount of hidden anger, a few lustful thoughts, a couple of weeks away from church and Christian friends, a single outburst, and several disrespectful responses are some of the little things that can sneak up on us and cause us to slip and fall. Do not disregard the little things that can creep into your day. We must stay alert and guard our hearts from the little and big attacks from Satan.  What little things in your life are waiting to trip you up?

Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it;
give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way.
Proverbs 4:14-15

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pick a Fight or Seek Peace!

     Well, I have finished all the funny falling stories and I am very thankful that I have not fallen in the last two weeks. I was really worried about having a great finale to these stories. I do want to go back in time though and share two more falls I experienced; both before first grade. However, these two stories are not funny because I was injured in both. The first one was when I was four years old. I loved the neighbor’s big furry dog and would go play with it as often as I was allowed. One day, I was out playing and walking along the sidewalk. (Boy, how times have changed!) As I got close to the neighbors house, I heard growling and barking. My dog friend was in a fight with another dog. I have no memory of who the other dog was or where he came from. All I remember is I felt I had to protect my friend. I went to break up the dogs but as I was running towards them, I fell into the middle of their fight. As they were going for each other, they got a piece of the inside of my left thigh. It was a section about the size of the top section of my pointer finger. It was my first scar and has been a reminder to me to stay away from dog fights.

    It’s not just dog fights that are dangerous. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a people fight? In the end, the ones who begin the fight are usually not the victims but the ones who jump in to help usually become the victims. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as a pastor’s wife is to not take up an offense for others. God gives me the grace to deal with the situations I find myself in. However, I do not get the grace to deal with the situations I am not supposed to deal with. The best thing we can do is to try and seek peace, help others seek peace and avoid quarrels.
      Have you ever found yourself in the middle of another's argument? Did it work out for you? Do you seek peace? Do you do all you can to avoid quarrels? It is not always easy, especially when it involves those you love, but according to Scripture, a person of good character averts quarrels.

Quick-tempered leaders are like mad dogs—cross them and they bite your head off. It’s a mark of good character to avert quarrels, but fools love to pick fights.
Proverbs 20:2-3

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Do You Do When Others Fall?

      Well, you have heard about Brittne and Dwayne’s favorite stories: that leaves Bryce and his wife Kristen who both would pick this one as their favorite. The scene changes now from Montana to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. What that means for me is that I do not have any ice and snow to blame for my falls! One summer day when Bryce and Kristen were dating they were going to one of their favorite fast food restaurants for lunch. They asked me if I wanted to go and since it was my favorite restaurant too and I never refuse time with my children, I accepted their invitation. They came to the house to pick me up. Bryce was driving my car and instead of pulling into the driveway, for some reason he pulled into the yard at the end of the sidewalk that came from the entrance of the house. I fumbled out of the house, trying to hurry for my impatient teenage son. Our dog, Shem, followed me out of the house, so with great frustration, I turned around and went back to the house to put her back in the door. Now I was hurrying even more. As I recall my impatient teenage son was enjoying using the horn on my car. There was a space of yard between where the sidewalk did a 45 degree angle to the drive and where he was parked in the center of the yard. Well, that small space of yard had a booby trap! There was a hole in the ground, covered up by grass! I understand that I have told so many of these stories, there is no suspense at this point; you know what is coming! I found the hole. However, what is different is the fact that I did not go down to the ground! I couldn’t because the car stopped me! When I found the hole, it projected me at a high speed forward. I knew that my face was fixin (for my none okie friends, that means getting ready) to smash into the front seat passenger window. I instantly put my hands up to protect my face. My hands stopped my face from going through the glass or from taking the impact. My hands took the impact and my face just touched the glass. However, the impact was hard enough to knock me backwards to my favorite position; on my back and onto the ground! Now you would think that two children, who claim to love me, would be concerned and would jump out of the car instantly to come to my aide. All they managed to do was to get the car door open. They couldn’t move due to the uncontrollable laughter that had consumed them! (Dwayne: Even I laugh when I read this one! You should hear Bryce tell this one! lol) They kept trying though. They would say, “Are . . . laughter, laughter . . . you . . . laughter, laughter . . . okay . . . laughter, laughter, laughter?” Actually, I don’t remember them ever being able to get out of the car. After I rolled around on the ground for awhile (Dwayne: Remember, something is broke!), I managed to get up, crawl into the back seat, and listen to them laugh all the way to Taco Bueno! I admit, I laughed too! We all had crazy images in our heads we just couldn’t stop laughing at. I remember seeing their hilarious expression of surprise when I hit the glass and they remember seeing me like one of those suction cup dolls with their face smashed into the glass.

     Because I love them, I did not trust their behavior, I trusted their hearts and knew they did not want to see me hurt and they weren't finding joy in the fact that I fell, yet again! Yet, many times in life we do like seeing certain people fall spiritually. We boast about how they deserved it or how we knew it was going to happen. Sometimes we even declare how we are glad that they are finally getting what they had coming. I have even caught myself happy when I see someone I was jealous of loose the thing I was jealous of. Somehow, I feel better when they are more like me! Other times we feel justified in our joy when the person who falls is someone we consider evil. Somehow we feel that God must be happy too when an evil person has consequences to pay. What we forget is that each person we find joy in watching fall, is a creation in God's image. Even if it is deserved, even if it is justified consequences, a parent never enjoys watching their creation fall.
    Have there been times you rejoiced over the fall of another? If you have a child, have you ever been angry when someone laughed or was mean to your child, even if they had done something wrong? How do you think God feels about our joy over the fall of one someone He created? Ask God to help you see them the way that He does! Oh, God . . . give me eyes to see what you see!

     Don’t laugh when your enemy falls; don’t crow over his collapse. God might see, and become very provoked, and then take pity on his flight.
Proverbs 24:17-18

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Does Panic Do To You?

     Today's falling story is Brittne’s favorite story of all the falling stories. Now this is probably because this is the only fall that she personally witnessed. So, Brittne this story is for you! The following story only happened for one reason; I panicked! It is easy to panic when you are teaching a child how to drive! Bryce was fourteen and was starting to prepare for his big driving test. In Montana, they get their license at 15 and their permit at fourteen. Teaching Bryce how to drive was a little harder than normal because I had a standard drive vehicle. Besides the normal driving rules, I had to teach him how to shift with the right timing and how to coordinate it with the clutch. One day, we were leaving a basketball game and Bryce started to plead with me to let him drive. We were going home just a few blocks away, so I agreed. The thing I had forgotten when I agreed to let him drive was that traffic was going to be bad with everyone leaving the ball game at once. As he was driving out of the parking lot, he stopped to look for oncoming traffic from both directions. It was then that my panic set in! He had stopped the car on a small incline. It is difficult to teach the skill of going forward after stopping and even harder to learn how to do that when you are on a hill. It is even harder with a large line of cars behind you waiting for you to figure it out! Bryce tried once or twice but each time he rolled too far back and now was almost kissing the car behind us. In shear panic, I declared the lesson over! Like a Chinese fire dill, I jumped out of the car and started to run around to the drivers seat to take over the control of the vehicle. As I ran around the back of the car (in front of all the cars lined up behind us) I wiped out on the gravel that was the remnants of the ice and snow I had slipped on only a few days earlier during the progressive dinner. My children were too humiliated to get out of the car; so I was lying on the ground trying to figure out how bad the road rash was on my knees. The gentlemen who had gotten a front row seat of this lovely performance, got out of his car to help me up. When I got to the driver's seat, my lovely children asked, "Oh, did you fall?" and then proceeded to crack up laughing!
     Panic has gotten the best of me many times! Not just in life but in my spiritual walk with God. Often I panic over the length of time God keeps me waiting and I decide to take action myself. This never works and I am doomed to fall on my face. Sometimes, I panic because of the situation I find myself in and instead of taking the time to think through the situation, I respond. It usually isn't pretty! These are usually the times I take a big spiritual fall in front of several observers or victims of my emotional fit-throwing behavior. The one thing I am sure of is that anytime I am controlled by panic, the odds are, I am going to take a spiritual fall.
     How do you respond to panic? Do you turn to the Lord and let him calm you and direct you, or do you react without thinking and let your emotions rule you? Any time we find our self in a state of panic it should be a warning to us that we need to grab the hand of the Lord before we slip and fall from our undisciplined thinking. The definition for panic is ‘a sudden fear which dominates or replaces thinking’. Fear is not from the Lord, it is from Satan. If we surrendered our life to the Lord then we should have surrendered our bodies. If we surrendered our body then we surrendered our mind. If our minds are surrendered, our thoughts should belong to him! They are not ours to give over to Satan and his fear tactics! Do you belong to God? Does your body belong to God? Does your mind belong to God? Lastly, do your thoughts belong to God? If your thoughts are the Lord’s, then it is time you protect them from Satan.

Be not afraid of sudden terror and panic, nor of the stormy blast or the storm and ruin of the wicked when it comes (for you will be guiltless).  For the lord shall be your confidence, firm and strong and shall keep your foot from being caught (in a trap or some hidden danger).
Proverbs 3:25-26

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who Trips You Up?

First let me apologize for a week break.  My internet at home has been out and work has been too crazy to post from the office.
I am now covering my families favorite stories. Yesterday's was Brittne's favorite story and today's is Dwayne's favorite. So, let me warn you know. . . expect lots of comments from Dwayne! Let me clarify for you the timing of my last two falls. I fell during my progressive dinner and then two days later I fell running around the car. This means I had skinned up elbows and knees; both with nice deep bruises! Two days after my last fall, I was preparing to go out of town to a training conference in Chicago. I had my bags packed with clothes that would cover both my elbows and knees and was spending the morning hanging out with Dwayne before I had to dress and leave for the airport. My kids had left for school. Dwayne was sitting in the recliner right beside the doorway into the living room. I was sitting on the couch across the room. Our family dog was laying in the floor between us and Brittne's cat (which I don't even remember its name; I still am trying to figure out why I ever let her have cat!) was laying somewhere under my feet unbeknown to me (Dwayne: Her surroundings are always UNBEKNOWN to her!)! After keeping an eye on the clock, I declared to Dwayne that I needed to go get ready. I stood and started to move towards the door when I discovered that the cat was underneath my feet. I tripped and was struggling to catch my balance. Our dog, Shem, must have sensed I was in trouble and came to the rescue but she only got in the way of my balancing act and I tripped over her. The last trip did me in and I believe I flew horizontally across the room like Superwoman! Of course it was right towards Dwayne and he had a full view of this scene playing out before his eyes (Dwayne: OMG). Now, to him it looked like I was crawling as fast as I could across the room; but why would I crawl when I wanted to walk? All I know is that I flew until my face plowed into the corner of the doorway. Somehow the impact of this blow flipped me up and backwards and I ended up on my back like I had been dropped from the sky. (Dwayne: She came crawling towards me as fast as she could and just crawled right into the door jam with her head! She then rolled over on her back with "all fours" sticking straight up crying out, yes as always, 'I broke my back!' I was laughing too hard wishing I'd had a video camera.) At this point, I honestly thought I had broke my back. I was very concerned that I was going to have to cancel my trip because at this moment I could not see how I was going to be well enough to make my plane. After laying there around five minutes, the pain subsided and I determined that maybe my back wasn't broken because the pain was shifting from my neck to my face. After the normal words of logic from my husband (Dwayne: Still laughing "You're okay!"), I found the determination within me to get up and make my plane. I took a few pain relievers and went to put on my makeup when I saw my face in the mirror. My cheek was already showing a bruise and it was definitely swollen. Now, I can add my face to my injury list alongside my elbows and knees. I used these injury as blackmail with Dwayne (Dwayne: I never went to jail, people knew her too well!). I told him he had to be extra sweet to me or I could report him for wife abuse! He informed me with my record of falling and the different witnesses that had seen my falls, nobody would ever believe me! He still was extra sweet to me though!

     As I was going through my normal day and when I least expected it, a cat that I didn't care for and a dog that I loved, tripped me up good! As much as I tried I could not recover from their interaction in my walk until I had fallen flat on my back and had to experience the consequences of a few injuries. I have to admit that there have been people in my life that I have learned can trip up my walk with God. Some of them I love and some of them I do not like. Some are not Christians and sadly some are Christians. They are people that can push my buttons and before I know it I respond in a way that is not honoring to God or myself. It is not their fault that I sin, it is my fault for not being aware of their impact on me and for not being on guard against it. Some are people that tempt me and even encourage me to do things I know that I should not be a part of if I want to walk in obedience to God. These people I can care about and pray for but I do not need to socialize with. If they influence me more than I influence them, I need to have boundaries on the time I spend with them.
     Do you have people who can trip up your spiritual walk? Do you know who they are and what impact they have on you? Do you have boundaries to deal with them? Protect your walk with the Lord above everything! Remember, you will protect the things that are important to you!

So leave the corruption and compromise: leave it for good: says God, "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself."
2 Corinthians 6:17

He Always Picks Me Up

     Our church in Montana, South Hills, was a fellowshipping church.  We had many great times together.  One winter evening, we were having a progressive dinner.  That is a dinner where you go to a different house for each course. I think I was doing the first course for the dinner. When we were done with the soup, I cleaned up and we left to go to the next house for the next course.  Like most winter nights in Montana, there was snow and thick ice outside.  I was headed to our car when at the last minute we decided to ride with another couple.  I quickly changed my direction and I quickly went down on the ice.  I was laying on the ground behind the car.  My friends were patiently waiting in the car and had no idea where I had gone. Falling on gravel always takes a toll on my body and this time it was my elbows!  I ended up with cut up, bruised up, and scrapped up elbows.  Have you noticed that I always have witnesses to my falls?  Some of you have asked me how I remember all these falls and I have realized that I have probably forgotten the falls I did alone but the ones I tend to remember is the ones I have done in front of others.  I think it is God's way of keeping me humble.
     On a spiritual side, I have fallen many times.  I have let temptation get the best of me and I always end up flat on my face asking God to help me get up.  Some of those sins and falls have been private where only God and myself know about them.  Others have been done in front of or to others.  Those are the ones that I tend to remember the most.  They are the ones that involve the most humiliation. Those are the times I have to ask God to not only help me get up but to help me deal with the embarrassment of having done it in front of others.  Many times it has involved going to somebody and trying to make it right.  It is ironic, I can't remember all the times others have had to apologize to me; but I remember each time I have had to ask forgiveness from others.
     I am so thankful that God is always there to put me back on my feet.  I am thankful that he restores my spirit.  I am thankful He shows me what I must do to make things right when my falls have involved others.
Do you remember your falls?  Do you tend to remember the times you have sinned in front of or to others?  Have you turned to God to pick you up and restore your soul?  If you haven't, it is never too late!

The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
Psalms 145:14

Friday, July 8, 2011

Church A Hospital?

     There is something about me and ice that doesn't get along. This story is for my friend Sheila. Actually, I had forgotten about this fall until she reminded me of it recently and it seems to be her favorite. When we were in Montana, we started a church named South Hills. We had renovated and moved into a warehouse from a hotel meeting room. Today, we lovingly call it the warehouse church. We had outgrown the classrooms and I taught a women’s Sunday School class in an office building next door to the church. One Sunday, we had our usual study and had gone late. To keep the pastor happy with me, I sent the women on to church and stayed behind to pick up and close up the building. We had snow that week but a Chinook wind had come through and melted everything, at least to the eye. Knowing I needed to get to worship quickly, as soon as I locked the door, I took off running. As I turned the corner, there was a patch of black ice. For those of you that do not know what black ice is, it is simply ice that freezes in a way that you cannot see it. As I am sure you could guess by down, I went down; down on the gravel parking lot. I knew I was hurt but I didn’t have time to whine about it. I had seconds to get to my spot, or the pastor was going to have a little talk with me after church! My friend, Sheila loves to tell how she happened to be watching me walk into the sanctuary and down the aisle. She instantly noticed my legs. I had put holes in both legs of my panty hose and blood was running down my leg from my knee. I might have been injured but I was in my chair exactly one second before the first song began! (Dwayne: Is she trying to push this off on me?)

     In this case, my injury was physical and you could visually see it. However, every Sunday people walk into church spiritually injured. It is not visible to you, but if you pray and ask God to give you spiritual eyes to see and you take time to talk to people, actually having a caring conversation with them; you may see their hurting heart. People everywhere are hurting from the world’s critical blows. Some of these people are walking into our churches looking for something or someone to give them hope and help. We need to see our churches as a hospital for hurting people. However, all hospitals have to have staff that care for their patients. We have the great physician but does He have the nurses and caregivers to minister to His patients? Are you ready to report to duty?

Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.
Luke 5:31-32

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who Do You Depend On

     I have been waiting to include somebody else in my falling stories. You know what they say; misery loves company! I can’t think of anyone I would rather include than the person who has added so many cute little sayings to my stories! Are you ready Dwayne? When we lived in Montana one of the traditions we adopted was buying a tree tag every Christmas Season. Our $3.00 tag allowed us to go into the forest and cut down an evergreen to be our Christmas tree. We would go as a family, with other family friends and walk through several feet of snow to find the perfect tree. We had to learn the hard way that trees look really little in the forest but when you get what your thought was the perfect size tree home; you find out you can’t get it in the house or get the trunk to fit into a tree holder! One Christmas we were walking up and down many hills. For some strange reason, Dwayne reached over and grabbed my arm and we interlocked our arms. This is something I never do; it takes all I have to keep from falling on the ice and snow let alone be hooked to someone else and have to rely on their sure footedness. However, Dwayne had only fallen once the whole time I have known him and I felt more secure with me on his arm than left to myself. I wish I would have remembered that the only time he has ever fallen was on ice and snow because within minutes of taking my arm, Dwayne slipped and started a doomed balancing act. Since I am an expert at recognizing the signs right before a fall, I started fighting passionately to release my arm from his grip. I could not get myself free from him! He went down and I went down with him! I was shocked! My steadfast pillar in life just took me down with him. He could have let go of me and saved me from this fall but he didn’t (Dwayne: Take all this with a grain of salt!). The moral of this story is that if you choose to depend on someone to keep you upright, you'd better be willing to fall with them as well!

     That lesson applies to our spiritual walk as well as our physical one. We are to be light to the world, to love the lost, to reach out to the lost; but we are not to live like the world. So, many times I see Christians spend time with their lost friends 24/7. Soon they act just like their friends and they lose their impact to witness to the very ones they care about. Do not mishear me. We need to become caring friends with the lost to earn the right to witness to them, but the majority of our time needs to be fellowshipping, learning, praying, and worshipping with our Christian family. I remember when Dwayne and I realized that we needed to develop some Christian friends. Those friends have been faithful and those friendships have lasted through many years. Many of our lost friends have now become Christians. We would have never grown spiritually without that change in our lives.
     Who are you holding on too? Are you sure they won’t cause you to fall? Do you need to develop some new friends? Are you influencing your friends or are your friends influencing you?

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-17

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No Shortcuts

     All personality types have quirks. I hate to admit but my personality type is no different. One aspect of mine is that I focus on the end results more than the details that can just slow up the process. One day I started a process of hanging border in a small bathroom. It wasn't your normal border because I had cut it out of wallpaper and it had a scallop edge. The good thing was it wasn't 15' long so it was much easier to hang. I figured I could get this process done in less than 30 minutes. I only saw one potential flaw; my friend and neighbor offered to help. Now I loved her and she was very talented, but her personality cares about the details. It takes her at least twice as long to do something than I take. I am not saying my way is best; I need detail people in my life to help me remember the important details to a project. However, I believe that I can help detail people remember that it is important to finish in a timely manner. That is why it is important for us all to work together to help each other. That is why God doesn't make us all the same! Anyway, I agreed that my friend could help me by pasting the wallpaper and handing it to me. It was working and we were on a roll. I would get up on a chair (Dwayne: Did you catch the 'buzz' phrase? GET UP . .), she would hand me a piece of wallpaper, I would put it up, she would hand me my rag and brush, I would get down and move the chair, and we would do it all over again. Then we hit the corner! I put up the piece of wallpaper but could not reach the end that went around the corner because there was a shelf in the corner. I had a choice to make and I have to admit my personality quirk kicked in! I could have done it the hard way and taken down the piece of wallpaper, got off my chair, moved the shelf, moved my chair to the corner, got back on the chair and put the wallpaper up! Did I choose this option? Of course not! I decided to take the easy and quick way. All I needed to do was to put my foot on the shelf and lean over to push the end down and around the corner. It should have worked. It could have worked! However, the shelf was not hard wood; it was particle board. It could not take my weight (you can take that any way you want) and the shelf broke into pieces and I went down with it. On my way to the floor the toilet took its shots at my ribs. The plant that was on top of the shelves went down with me and I was laying on the floor, wondering if I had broken my ribs, with dirt everywhere! As I was laying there wanting to cry with dirt all over my face and body, my friend walked into the room to find out what caused the loud sound. She took one look at me and said, "You just couldn't move the shelf, could you?" These are the times in life I want to scream, "retake" but life does not give us retakes!

     Often we want to take shortcuts with our spiritual life. The bad news is, we can't. Our spiritual life is not just waiting until we reach our destination, it is a process of learning about the God we'll spend eternity worshipping. For example, we want to have great, deep faith, but we want to skip walking through the valleys that grow that faith! When we look for shortcuts we will eventually fall!
      Are you willing to live the journey? Are you ready to quit looking for the shortcuts? God cares about the details in our character and He will do what it takes to help us develop and grow our character. Do you have things you know you need to do but refuse to give up the time? Do you just hope it will happen without any effort on your part? Are you willing to do what God tells you even if it is not easy or convenient? If you answer yes; then your actions will prove it!

 . .we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3-4

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Follow The Instructions

     After a few years of substituting at the schools in Helena, Montana, I started working for the State of Montana and became a Training Administrator. The department was going through some major internal restructuring and the majority of employees were not at all happy. I had to conduct Team Building training for all employees throughout the state. One particular week I had to travel all week long. Every day I faced an angry classroom of employees and by the end of the day, we were all friends. Finally, Friday arrived. I had to face the angriest of the groups and I had not been looking forward to it. At least, I got to wear jeans and tennis shoes instead of my normal skirt and heels (Dwayne: This was a God send!). We started the introductions and within seconds I knew I had not underestimated their anger. After standing on my heels all week, my feet and legs were killing me and I started looking around the room for something to sit on. I discovered a step ladder in the corner and opened it up to have something to sit on when my feet was screaming for relief (Dwayne: Everyone looks for a step ladder to sit on, right?). Before the end of the introduction I had sat myself on the step ladder with by feet planted firmly in front of me. As the angry people were telling me their opinion of having to be in this class, I pushed by weight back on the ladder with my feet. In a split second, my worse fear was happening. I had always known somewhere deep inside that I was not going to be able to hide my klutziness from my classes forever. I knew that the day would come that I would take a big fall right in front of a classroom of people and that day was here. When I shifted my weight, that ladder and me went straight backwards. I was on my back, with the ladder under my legs and my feet straight up in the air. I have never been so thankful for casual Friday! The only thing worse at this moment was if I had been in my normal skirt! All I could do was to stand up, make a joke about it, laugh with the class, and move on. Oh, and listen to one of the guys in the class about making sure I lock the ladder into the open position! No, I did not know that before this day. I had never been on a ladder in my life! Now it is the first thing I do, but not on that day! At the end of class, the people told me that it was a great ice breaker when I fell. In fact, several of them thought I did it on purpose to help lighten the atmosphere. The others said I should do it in every class I teach! I don't think so!!!

     My problem this day was I did not take time to learn how to use something I flippantly decided to use. I could have spent some time reading the directions to step ladders and if the directions were not available to me, I could have asked if anybody knew how to use the ladder. However, it seemed so simple. I didn't need instruction for this, I was totally capable of figuring it out for myself! This kind of thinking got me flat on my back in a very humiliating and embarrassing position.
    Many times in life we go through situations that we think we are totally capable of figuring out or handling. We don't study our instruction manual: the Bible. We don't ask others for help or advice. We just do it all on our own. Then we find our self in a embarrassing position, flat on our back spiritually.
     We have instructions to life in the Bible. Do you spend time reading your manual? How much do you ask others for help? Have you ever wound up in a bad position because you didn't know how to handle something when the answers you were looking for were spelled out in Scripture if you just took the time to read it! What issues do you have going on today? Are you going to ask for advice? Are you going to read your instructions? If you don’t, you will end up falling flat on your back! It is up to you!

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.
James 1:5 (TMSG)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Say No To Sin

     When I was managing the temporary service in Fort Worth, I decided one day to clean up a testing room that had gotten pretty messy. I found a huge wall map and decided it would look great on the bare wall that hit you in the face when you walked into the room. In my singleness of mind to get the job done as fast as possible, I decided to use the closest chair to climb up on to nail the map to the wall. I was very responsible to ask one of the employees to come and hold the chair for me because not only was it on wheels but it twirled around as well. I can see all of you shaking your heads already; I would be offended but I know I deserve it because I am shaking my head as I am typing it. I am so glad I am so much smarter today than to do something like that! (I mean it Dwayne; there better not be a comment here! haha. Dwayne: Well, I did have a thought!) Anyway, Cindy was holding the chair for me while I was leaning out hammering a corner and as I was hammering, the other end started falling down. I hollered at Cindy to grab the map. Dumb, dumb mistake! She did as I ordered and when she grabbed the map, she let go of the chair. All of a sudden I was running the chair like a barrel on a pond. I had watched that feat enough on TV to know that eventually you fall into the water. When I had ran all I could, I figured my time of falling was close, so I jumped off; with a hammer in one hand and nails in my mouth! I would have made it with no problem but the back of the chair had rotated to the front of me. So, when I jumped off my foot hooked under the back cushion and I flew across the room. Remember, not only am I in charge of worker's comp, I am the office manger! I must admit, I was not a very good example.

      Have you ever ran a barrel? If ‘no’ physically; how about spiritually? Have you out of ease and laziness chosen to allow a certain sin in your life? You knew that it wasn't the smartest thing to do, so you paid extra attention to make sure it didn't get out of control. You might have even asked someone to help you keep it in order. But then something happened. You lost focus and life started twirling out of control. You ran harder trying to not let it win; but in the end it sent you flying!
       When you welcome sin into your life it will end up costing you. You will never control sin unless you flee from it. The best way to keep from falling is to not welcome it in your life with open arms! We must be wise and follow what the Bible says, say no to sin and the Devil! Are you willing to start telling him no? If you don’t you will fall and the only way up on your feet will be to repent, say ‘no’ to sin and ‘yes’ to God!
So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knee before the mater; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
James 4:7-10

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leaders Can Fall

     When I worked as a manager of a temporary service in Fort Worth, I had to attend many meetings in Dallas. The company I worked for was a large corporation that had offices all over the country. We had eight in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area. We were also self insured with our worker's comp. That meant that all the managers in the district had bi-yearly meetings in Dallas to review our worker's comp claims. We met in a large, old, majestic building in downtown Dallas. After attending a four hour meeting discussing all the crazy falls, injuries, and bogus claims, we concluded the meeting. We were all walking to our cars to begin our 2 hour drive home in Dallas rush hour traffic. As we were walking down the majestic exterior stairwell, you guessed it; I fell! Down the stairs I went with my purse, binders, and of course shoes flying in all directions (Dwayne: Of course I was waiting eagerly at home to hear about yet another fall!). Can you imagine? The person in charge of worker's comp for the Ft. Worth office, leaving a worker's comp meeting with all the other managers in charge of worker's comp: FALLS! It only happens to me! I wish I could end the story there, really I do; but I can't. With help of my co-workers, I gathered up my stuff, put my shoes back on, walked down the rest of the stairs, turned towards the parking lot, and fell again! Can you believe it! I wondered if they had spiked my drink at the meeting. I don't know why I fell once and I sure don't know why I would fall twice! My mind tells me that if I am over worker's compensation then I should have a bubble around me that protects me from injuries! If any of you know where that bubble is, please tell me!
     Our minds make the same assumptions with other people who serve in roles of responsibilities. Our pastor's is one example. We often think that since they are our spiritual mentor, leader, and shepherd to a flock of people, they should have it all together. Some of the greatest men I have known are pastors and I respect and admire them tremendously. However, I promise you they are not perfect and each of them has their areas of challenge just like us. Because of my respect for them, it saddens me to see a minister fall! Today, it is a public affair and a flag that the world waves as reasons why religion is worthless. I hate watching the ripple effect of a fallen spiritual leader. I also believe that Satan attacks them more because of this negative impact against God and religion. We need to pray harder than ever for those that serve as pastors. Pray for their personal walk; pray for their openness to hear God's direction; pray for their courage to follow God's direction; pray for their ability to love those that make it hard on them; pray for their discernment; pray for their stress levels and their health; pray for their families; pray for their time crunches; and pray for their personal walk with the Lord.
     If your spiritual leader's ability to lead depended on your support and your prayers, what kind of leader would they be?

Be responsible to your pastoral leaders.  Listen to their counsel.  They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery.  Why would you want to make things harder for them?  Pray for us.  We have no doubts about what we're doing or why, but it's hard going and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God.
Hebrews 13: 17-18
(Some believe Paul authored Hebrews. Most Theologians believe its simply not known who wrote Hebrews.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What is Holding on To You?

     When we were in Fort Worth while Dwayne went to seminary, I worked as a manager of a temporary service. I worked in a twenty story building, in the TCU area. Trying to fit in to the Texas culture, I wore a wrap denim skirt to work one day. It was actually a cold day for Texas and I was bundled up in a coat. I parked in the parking lot, got out of my car, felt the cold instantly to my bones, and took off running for the building. I might have made it three steps before I was flat on my back on the pavement of the parking lot. I was instantly ticked off! I had done nothing to end up in this familiar spot but once again it was where I was. Like always, my shoes flew off my feet: pumps are not good to fall in! Oh yea, my wrap skirt was no longer wrapped around me! It was wide open for everyone to see! My mind was telling me that the whole 20 floors of people were looking out their windows at me having a good laugh. I finally swallowed my humiliation and stood up to go get my shoes when I felt a tug from behind me. I had discovered what was to blame for my fall. When I closed my door my coat tail had gotten caught in the door! When I took off running, it was if I had been roped like a calf! Thank God nobody was there to tie up my feet and hands! Why can’t I ever get these falls on tape? Ten thousand dollars from America's Funniest Home Video would sure help my humility!
     Often in life we make a new commitment to improve our spiritual walk with the Lord. We take off running only to fall! We often do not understand what is happening. In reality, we are usually holding on to old things; or we allow old things to hold on to us! Things from our days when we were out of fellowship with the Lord. They can be actions, or thoughts, hurts, or behaviors that we should have cut out of our life a of a long time ago; but we didn’t because secretly. . . we really like them! We know they do not have a part of the life we want to live; a life honoring to God but we haven’t wanted God more than we want them!
     What do you have in your life that you need to let go of? What do you have in your life that needs to let go of its hold on you? Isn't it time to move forward with God in your life? You can't move forward with something holding you back each time you try to run! How do you want to live? Tied down? Or free to run? What do you want more; the thing you are holding onto or God?

We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now!
Titus 2:12

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When Private Becomes Public

     Between the last two falls, which happened in the same church within two weeks, I have now revealed to everyone what a klutz I am. Many people enjoyed that revelation and used it as a great target for their teasing and bantering. One of these times, was when a friend and Dwayne picked me up and carried me from the sanctuary, across the street, and up the stairs to Sunday school. They wanted to make sure I could get there safely without falling. What great gentlemen they were! lol I’d like to see them try that today! (Not because of my extra pounds but because of their extra pounds and age!) The next story I am sharing with you is not about me falling but about something of mine falling. It brings the same level of embarrassment though! The church we were attending (same one) had two church services and two Sunday schools. We attended the first church service and the second Sunday school hour. When Sunday school was over, we walked with many of our friends back over to the main building to pick up our children from their classes. This particular Sunday, church had already concluded. This made for crazy congestion. Cars pulling out of parking spots, lines of cars on the street, and people trying to cross the street made for interesting dodging. Our group of friends were crossing the street together, which means there are cars stopped going both directions waiting on us. I do not mean to take anything away from God's greatness and power, but there are times in my life, I think I bring some comic relief to God. I am not for sure if that has not been my purpose in life! lol In my mind God has pulled up a chair in the window of Heaven and had others in Heaven do the same. I can hear Him say, "Okay, watch this . . . it’s coming!" Back to my story. I believe there was an invisible "X" right in the middle of the street that day because as soon as my foot touched that "X", the elastic in my slip broke and my slip went clear to my ankles! (Dwayne: I kept walking and never looked back once I saw what happened!) In reality, a slip is just a piece of fabric but once it is called a slip, it is a private undergarment. At this point there isn't anything private about my undergarment! As the laughter began, I SHUFFLED over to a parked car and stepped out of my slip. I stuck it in my purse until I saw my first trash can. It was on this day, that I swore I would never wear another slip and I haven't! I am sure I have given some shows in the spotlight of the sun, but so be it. At least, I don't have a slip around my ankles!

     In our lives we have things we consider private. Things we do not share with the world. Some of us have more than others, but we all have them. It can be very devastating when our private things are seen by others. These private things can be actions, thoughts, behaviors, or mistakes. Different things can reveal them: an uncontrolled tongue of a friend, unintentional words of an acquaintance, a breaking point, stressful trials and tests, or a relaxed frame of mind. Whatever the reason, in a split of a second, what we considered private is now public. It might not be that big of a deal to anyone but us, but it feels invasive.
     What do you do at that time? Get angry? Try and cover it up? Shuffle around and pretend your slip isn’t at your ankles? Or do you take a deep breath, shrug it off, and step out of it! The bigger deal you make it, the bigger deal it is to others. Learning to say, “Oh, well! I guess you just saw a little of my true colors!” will get you through the situation quickly and you will come out of it a better person.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
James 1:2

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sin Cost Others

     A few weeks after my fall in the choir loft, I fell again in our Sunday School class. We had a large young married class of around 30 couples. In our class, donuts were a Sunday tradition. We were in class early to make sure we had time to fellowship. I had poured myself a cup of coffee and I am sure I had a donut in my hand. I was visiting with a few people and as I was talking I started playing on the stiletto heel of my shoe. I had just put my weight on it and was rotating my ankle around on the heel. Don’t ask why! I have no idea! As we go through these stories, there will be many times I will not be able to explain why, you will just have to go with it. Anyway, it wasn’t long until I knew I was going to fall. It wasn’t like the fall in the choir loft that happened so fast my mind had no time to prepare. This time it was as if I was seeing things in slow motion. When I knew it was certain I was going down, I immediately thought of the safety of others. Aren’t I a nice person? I didn’t want to throw my hot coffee on to anyone, so I threw it on the wall. I was so relieved that I did not go all the way down to the floor. I actually fell onto the table. However, I could only enjoy my relief for a few seconds because the realization of what I was actually sitting on was shooting from my behind to my head. I knew the evidence of my fall was going to stay with my backside, but I was more horrified of how this stupid fall was going to affect others. Imagine a crazy, hurried morning of getting the kids out the door. You grabbed a banana and a pop tart for the kids to eat on the way to church but you didn’t grab anything for yourself, though you are starving, because you know there will be donuts in your Sunday school class waiting for you. However, when you finally get to the class; you notice the donuts are not normal. They are all smashed; flat as a pancake! You can’t figure out what has happened to the donuts until you see Tonya’s backside and you now have your answer. It doesn’t help your stomach growls but at least you know the donuts have been smashed because Tonya sat on them; every last one of them!

     I would love for my falls, my sin, to be private and only affect me. But it doesn’t! Our sin affects us and it affects others. We live in a sinful world and the sins of the world affect you and me! If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have to be concerned with crime, godless beliefs, sexual perversions, drunk drivers, or drug dealers, etc. Very seldom does my sin only affect me, most of the time it affects my family, my friends, my church family, and my acquaintances.
     Never think sin is no big deal. Even the so called ‘little sins’ can devastate a person in the right situation. Maybe someone who feels so worthless is contemplating suicide and you being rude to them or chewing them out for something was the last straw! We must continually remind ourselves that sin is costly! Your sin costs you the consequences of disobedience and it costs others hurt and anguish. Don’t take sin lightly! It cost Jesus His life!

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explore.
Numbers 13:31-32

(This was when the spies came back from exploring the land. Ten of the twelve were disobedient to what God had told them to do. The result of their sin affected an entire nation.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Watch Your Step

     The next incident of falling I can remember is when I around 27 years old. We were attending a large church and I was working on our first women’s retreat. I agreed to be in a skit at the end of service to encourage attendance. The plan was for me to sneak out of the choir during invitational prayer and then come back in for the skit. So, during prayer all was going as planned until I took my second step out of the choir loft and in a split second, my foot slipped off the step, my body went crashing to the ground taking a few chairs down with me! This did not happen quietly; it was a loud bang that echoed through the sanctuary. It was such a shocking and unexpected loud noise during a quiet prayer time that every head popped up like puppets on one string, and every pair of eyes opened to find the source of the distraction. As soon as I fell, I pulled myself up and sat on the step, bowed my head, and actively started praying that God would make me invisible. As soon as I felt the heads go back to their praying positions, I gathered my books which had flown through the air about two step above me and found my shoes which leaped off my feet and bounced two steps below me. I finally made it out of the sanctuary, swallowed my pride and performed the skit as planned. Dwayne sang in the choir too and knew something had happened but could not see me since I was directly to his left (Dwayne: I never raised my head). So, when people told him that I had fallen asleep and fell out of my choir chair, he believed them! (Dwayne again: I sure did!) (What is the editor freedom here! You’re probably going to see that several times while I write about my falling adventures! lol)
     Have you ever been going along feeling pretty good about your Christian walk and out of nowhere you take a fall and wonder where that came from? Was it in front of others? I know I have been feeling pretty good after a great church service or a quiet time and then out of nowhere I jump down someone's throat! Of course when I do something stupid like this, it is usually in front of others which only creates a situation where I have to eat some public crow! The core issue is we can get lackadaisical when things are going well. We let down our guard and we think our flesh is sitting nicely in the corner. As we are not paying attention, our flesh can leap out of the corner and start ranting and raving before we can figure out what is happening.
     Have you let down your guard down against sin in your life? Have you fallen? Have you crashed in front of others? Pick yourself up, gather your senses, swallow your pride, and continue your work. Most importantly, stay on guard!

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute,
and love without stopping.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stay Away From Mud Puddles, Round 2

     A year ago I wrote I confessed that I am a verbal and physical klutz! Many people have wanted me to share them again so here you go. It should give us a chuckle a day for a while. So, enjoy the reruns!

       One of the first falls I can remember was in sixth grade. I was hanging out with my friends before school and a boy that we tormented came up to talk to me. I was a typical kid and was nice to this boy when nobody was looking but I had to keep up my image in front of my friends and not respond well to him. It still shames me that I did not show continual kindness to this boy. He came up to me and told me that he had prayed for me to win the spelling bee that day. I continued to tell him that I wasn’t in the spelling bee. When he didn’t stop, I threaten to hit him if he did not shut up. I was so tough! Like anybody would be scared of my punch! Well, he did not stop and I took out after him. I was wearing my favorite outfit. Purple corduroy pants and a lavender sweater. In my pursuit to be a big shot, I tripped. The big, deep, mud puddle cushioned my fall. When I stood up, I looked like I had been in a wrestling match from my front side. I still remember to this day having a mouth full of mud and having mud drip off my eyelashes. Worst of all, I had put a huge hole in the knee of my pants. Today, they would be in style but in those days it would have been a fashion faux pau. My teacher did not feel any compassion for me and made me sit in class with mud on my face: literally. He would not let me go anywhere until my mother brought me new clothes. This was the beginning of 38 years of falls. The good thing is I have never eaten mud again: it wasn’t too tasty!
      God has a law of order. That law says there are consequences to sin. Do not judge this story with adult eyes. Do not try and say that it was a little sin. In the life of a sixth grader, it was sin. That sin had a life effect on the boy we were mean to. Having humiliated him, return humiliation was the consequences I deserved. It was consequences I learned from and knew that God lovingly let it happen. If I had not learned from them, they would have grown in severity, until my Abba Father got his little girl to behave.
       What is God trying to teach you? What sin does He want you to stop doing? Are you experiencing any consequences for your sin? If we do not acknowledge and learn from our consequences, they will continue to come into our life until we do. If you keep inching your way to the mud puddle, you will end up in the middle of it!

Those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it!
Job 4:6

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

      Happy Father’s Day! I have been blessed to have many men in my life who fulfilled a father role and touched and changed my life. However, I want to tell you about the father I have lived with the longest. He isn’t my father, but he is the father of my children. He is amazing as a father in many ways. He was hard when I couldn’t be and he was soft when I was too mad to be! He used every opportunity to teach them about God. He always maintained a perfect balance of discipline and grace and taught the kids how God does both. As partners in parenting, we have laughed together, cried together, hoped together, beamed together, questioned together, stood together, and have loved together. I would not want anyone else to share this part of life with than the man God gave me. However, I am not the child. So, I wanted to know what our children would say is the most important quality as a parent they believe their dad has. Bryce without hesitation said it was the fact that he leads by example! He could see how to live by watching his father. Brittne, being my daughter, elaborated on her answer a little more. Here it is: “Okay I would say the best quality about Dad is his willingness to always serve and show love for others no matter the circumstances. Example of his demonstration of love - Growing up, I always remember him making hospital runs non-stop. He rarely even knew the person in the hospital. It was usually a family member of someone he knew. But he never hesitated to stop what he was doing and go and show love and support to the person who needed it. And it doesn’t stop at hospital visits, the list goes on and on....sporting events, counseling sessions, funerals, etc. However he could show love and support to someone, he found a way. It didn’t matter that he was tired or he was busy or the distance he had to travel. Example of service – Dad has never ceased to serve the Lord in the years I have known him. I have seen him stay up late working on sermons, work late hours constructing church buildings, deliver food boxes to the poor etc. He is one of the hardest workers I know. And to know it is all for the Lord is a very admirable quality”. His newest child; his daughter-in-law thinks it is his dedication that is one of his greatest qualities. She says he is always there to encourage her, to remind her of what’s really important, and to be a great source of knowledge and wisdom.

      Four people all seeing the same thing; a great father and a great Godly example. Yesterday, I heard a great illustration of how parenthood begins. The day your child is born their mind is a blank slate, just waiting to have their parents write on it what they want them to know, and to help them find God’s plan for their life. Dwayne you have written wonderfully in the minds of your family! Happy Father’s Day from your family who loves and respects you very much!
      Though I have always known how great Dwayne is as a father, this year I get to see his influence in a new way.  I get to observe how wonderful my son is as a father.  He is loving his wife, caring for his family, growing in the Lord, and being an amazing father to his baby girl.  I am so proud of him.  However, I know that the example Dwayne was for Bryce helped God mold Bryce into the father he needs to be for his family!
      Take today to do some pondering. Ponder what the father roles in your life has taught you; both good and bad. Then evaluate yourself as a parent. Are you doing the thing you want to do? If you’re not a parent yet, you are in training to be one; prepare well. If you are not going to be a parent; there are so many people who need a strong parent role in their life; look and pray for someone to love and encourage! Lastly, celebrate the perfect father today; your Heavenly Father! Praise Him for all He is and for all He does! Happy Father’s Day ABBA (Papa)!!

You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!"
Galatians 4:6

Monday, June 13, 2011

Silence Is Not Golden

     Often in life a marriage becomes unbalanced. You usually do not see it coming. It comes in the form of busyness. Busyness brings with it a lack of focus. New jobs, growing families, ministry, tiredness, stress, family commitments, etc. can all bring busyness and a lack of focus. Then before you realize it, you seem removed and separated in spirit from your spouse.
     It can happen in other relationships as well. It can happen with friends and family; and it can also happen with our relationship with Jesus. When our relationship is out of balance with Jesus, the rest of life will take a hit. Our relationship with Jesus is the core of everything else in life. When we are busy and out of focus, our communication with Christ suffers. We stop spending time in scripture and we stop praying. Then we will not be able to handle the hits of life and life spirals down.
     When it comes to relationships and communication, silence is not golden; it is deadly. If you feel that things are not what they should be with Jesus, if you think you aren’t hearing Him, if you feel a little distant from Him; then take an evaluation of your communication. Have you been too busy? Have you been focused on other things? Have you been silent? This is one problem that is easy to fix! All you got to do is start communicating and start spiraling up!

Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.
Jeremiah 33:3

Monday, June 6, 2011

Do You Have Enough Resources?

     What do you think of when you hear the word ‘stress’? Stress is an epidemic in the world in which we live. It is destroying people’s spiritual, physical, and emotional health. Anti-depressants are one of the most prescribe prescriptions today. Many of our health issues are related to the effects stress has on our bodies.
      I once attended a health conference on stress. The doctor who was leading the conference made a statement that continues to echo in my head. She gave the definition for stress as "a response the body does when we believe that we lack the resources needed for the situation".
     Wow, from a Christian perspective, how can we ever believe that we do not have the resources needed when we have Jesus? We have every resource we need in Jesus for all situations. We need nothing else. So, why do we as a follower of Jesus ever stress out?
     How is your stress level? Do you feel you have all the resources you need for every situation having Jesus? If so, then why do you stress? You can learn to trust what you have in Jesus or you can continue to let stress reek havoc in your life! What is it going to be?

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus.
 1Corinthians 1:7-8

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Do You Have An Open Hand?

A few months ago I shared with you how a young couple in our church had a three month old baby that went home to be with Jesus.  They have been very strong in their witness and their faith through this long valley in their lives.  They donated their son's heart and shared on Facebook today the letter they wrote to the receiving family. It was so touching, I wanted to share it with you.

      The following is the letter that we wrote to the family that received Gideon's heart. I have been meaning to do this since we received the update letter on where his heart went but I was always unable to just sit and give it the thought that it deserved. Finally, I prayed and found that strength. This is a bit redundant for those who read our posts and my notes but I felt like God was telling me to just sit and write our story--so I listened and followed through.

      LifeShare gives some instructions on how to begin and close the letter and gives tips on what to include and what not to include. The last sentence under general information states: If you are including religious comments, please consider that the religious beliefs of the transplant recipients or donors are unknown. I contemplated for a brief moment over this statement but of course decided to tell of our true journey that involved God every step of the way. This was our testimony and without Jesus we would be lost. So at this time, more than ever, I was going to proclaim His name.
     It has been very difficult to sit down and write a letter but it has been on my “to do” list for the past two months. On March 10th our Gideon went to play with Jesus and we were faced with the most tragic of events and decisions to make. We were forced to face life without him.
      My husband and I had planned for this baby. We sought Jesus and His approval for when to begin trying, to where to live, what car to buy, and who to send him to for daycare. God directed our every step. We even searched Him for the name we were to give him. Gideon, “mighty warrior of God” was given to my husband even months before we knew that we were having a boy. We entrusted our lives to God and His plan. We knew that Gideon was not ours and that we were only borrowing him for the time because all good gifts come from God alone.
      We prayed over him as soon as he was born. We asked God to continue to guide us and give us direction. We thanked him for the responsibility. We immediately dedicated him back to God. We promised to raise him for the glory of God. During his short three months, we read the Bible to him, sang Christian songs and spoke of Jesus often. Looking at him was a constant reminder of all that God had graciously given and we could not help but give thanks and speak and teach of our creator.
     We knew that he would do great things in Christ but we had no idea what that would entail. On mother’s day we were reminded of 1 Samuel 1:27-28, “May we give the Lord all He ask with an open hand.” This doesn’t mean that we didn’t pray for a miracle those three days in the hospital. This doesn’t mean that we do not still cry. It simply means that we do not hold a grudge. We do not blame. We continue to praise Jesus through the blessings and through the sorrows. Our pastor said it best, “We prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted us what we asked of Him. So now we give Him to the Lord.”
     That morning when the final test came back, we were hit with one of our biggest decisions—do we donate or not. I had never thought about it, not even once. Sure, I was a donor but not my baby. I wanted to hold him as he took his last breaths. I wanted his leaving to be with his mommy. I didn’t want his last hours to be spent hooked to machines with his mother nowhere in sight. So when we were approached with the question of us donating his organs, my knee jerk reaction was no. My husband stood firm with me, although he admitted later that he was feeling drawn to donate but did not want to make it any harder on me and force this on me. Almost immediately after saying no, I began to feel God tugging at me. I fought it for a little while and then agreed to hear the speech and consider the options. I had one request—that I be able to hold him at the funeral home one last time without any machines or tubes. They agreed and I felt more at rest about the decision.
      Through Gideon’s short three months, he touched a tremendous amount of lives. There has been salvation through Jesus by the way sweet Gideon moved people. We will never know until Heaven the numbers he has affected. When hearing that his heart went to your 3 month old baby girl and that the heart had good function, we were elated. It was one more life that our little warrior had touched through the grace of God.

The family of a Mighty Warrior of God

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Great Soldier

     Today is Memorial Day. It makes me humble to think of all of those who have sacrificed to protect the land that God has given us. It also makes me proud of those men in my family who has served and sacrificed. My father was in the air force. My father-in-law was in the navy. My uncle was in the army and served in the Vietnam War and today suffers from the aspects of Agent Orange. My step father was a Marine and served in the Korean War. The most amazing story is my Uncle Von. He was a happy and loving man. I never knew as a child what a war hero he was. In fact, I have only learned about it in the last few years. He is a recipient of a Silver Star. A Silver Star is right under the Medal of Honor. He was in the Korean War and he was in battles that have been declared as some of the worse battles in history. One battle, he literally came close to freezing to death. Most of his fellow soldiers died or experienced severe cases of frost bite. The other battle was against the Chinese. Thousands were killed during that battle and he was one of the 25 men who survived. They hid out in a bunker that had been covered over until Americans stumbled across them. Nobody was looking for them because they were assumed to be dead with the rest of the troops. It amazes me that he was such a happy man when he had endured these terrible experiences.

     Though I honor my Uncle for his amazing service to our country and for what he endured to give us the freedoms we have; I honor him even more for the part he played in giving me my spiritual freedom. I was not raised going to church. I did not learn about God from my parents though they did nothing to hinder my knowledge. However, it was my uncle who picked me up for church three times a week for over 10 years. Now that I am adult, I realize what an inconvenience that must have been at times. He drove the church bus that picked up kids for church and he would always pick me up first. Because of his faithfulness to love me and his willingness to take on the role of seeing to my spiritual needs, I heard, understood, and accepted the gospel of Christ when I was ten years old.
     He is one of the people I owe for my freedom as an American and he is one of the people I owe for my freedom from the bonds of Satan. I thank God for him and I am blessed to have had him in my life. He was a great soldier for America and he was a great soldier for the Lord.

     Are you a good and faithful soldier in God’s army? Are you making a difference to someone’s spiritual freedoms?

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
2Timothy 2: 1-4

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Digging For That Which is Lost

     Living in Montana gave new challenges to my motor skill dysfunction. To add ice and snow to my daily obstacle course proved to be very challenging for me. One very snowy day, Bryce and I had gone to WalMart. Usually the plows go through the parking lots and pile up snow banks over five feet tall. However, this day the plows had not made it and the snow was far above my ankles and it was still snowing. With keys in hand, Bryce and I started running (Dwayne: RUNNING in snow!  Here it comes!) to my car. I know you know what is coming; I did not make it to my car without wiping out in the middle of the parking lot. I think this is the only fall I have had that I was not hurt, thanks to the layer of snow. I did have a problem though. When I fell, the keys in my hand went flying. (Have you noticed that I always have things flying?) Now we found ourselves cold, covered with snow, and with no keys to return home. We had no choice but to go on a hunt for the keys. We dug through the snow with our feet and our hands looking for where the keys flew having no idea how far they traveled or in which direction. It seems Bryce was too busy watching his mother wipe out in the middle of traveling cars through the parking lot than to see where the keys went. We were persistent to find the keys and after awhile I found them a little further from the scene than I had expected.
     Many times when we take emotional and spiritual falls in life we end up tossing some things in the wind. We realize that before we can get back to life before the fall, we have to recover what was lost after the fall. It could be many things like compassion, trust, respect, self worth, forgiveness, acceptance, strength, or a tender heart towards God. These are things we can’t afford to live without. We must find them in order to recover completely from our fall. Do not underestimate the need to search for the things lost. They are worth all effort to find.
     What has your fall or falls cost you? Have you lost something through the hurt or humiliation? Search for it! Ask God to restore your heart back to where it needs to be? Keep seeking. . .you will find it.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Remember the Rainbow

     If you are like me, you have caught yourself complaining about the rain lately. It seems like it is never going to stop. I was driving home from work the other day and hit rain again. I thought to myself, “I am so sick of driving in the rain, when is it going to stop?” Then I saw a beautiful double rainbow. It changed everything. Now, I was wondering how I was seeing a rainbow during the rain. Then I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I love rainbows for several reasons. One, I lived in Montana for seven years and saw what I think are the most amazing rainbows I have ever seen. Secondly, when I was a teenage girl, I belonged to a group called Rainbow girls. (Don’t let you mind take you down the world’s version of rainbows! haha) One of the things I did each night was to open my Bible to the 9th chapter of Genesis that talks about the promise of God’s rainbows and lay it beside by bed as a reminder to remember God’s promises.

     When I see a rainbow, I think of the awesomeness of God. We would never have a rainbow without a little rain! No matter what your storm, he can appear in the midst with beauty. The rainbow is a symbol and reminder to us to stand on the promises of God both in and after the storm. He will never let us down. He will show His magnificence in a big way.
     Now when I looked at the rainbow while driving home, I swore I could see it touch the ground. I looked close for the pot of gold glowing in the sunlight but it was not there. However, in reality, there is always a pot of gold with a rainbow, it is Jesus.
     So remember, when the storm hits, you can stand on the promises of God, they will add comfort and hope to you in the midst of your hard times, and you will receive great reward; something of far more worth than gold . . . more Jesus!

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me an dyou and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
Genesis 9:12-15