Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2004 - We were invited to my cousins' for New Year's Eve. It wasn't a party with other guests. They had specifically invited us because we happened to be in town and they said that they wanted to meet my kids. I hadn't seen them for awhile, and we used to be close, so I agreed. My siblings decided to go along as well.
But it wasn't a good evening. There was lots of cigarette smoke, and they were all, (except for my cousins husband), drinking wine. Some of my sblings also made a choice to join them, although my siblings usually don't drink around us.
These cousins never used to drink when I'd spent time with them before, so it hadn't even occured to me that it would be an issue now. We had been members of Narcotics Anonymous together twenty years ago. We did everything together sober. Them knowing that, knowing my husband's past alcoholoism, and knowing I still don't drink, why would they specifically invite my family and then pull out wine?
My kids have never been in that type of situation before. The youngest two began to joke that they had wine in their apple cider. I didn't know how to handle it.
My cousins, who know all about alcoholism, invited us knowing that some of the kids that I have legal custody of have FAS and were born with crack in their blood. I appreciate that they wanted to see us, but I didn't understand their decision on how to host us.
Maybe I was too sensitive. I wasn't feeling well. Just a few days earlier I had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia and bronchitis. The cigarette smoke wasn't helping, but they didn't know I still wasn't well. It was my fault for accepting the invitation, I guess. I did miss them and had wanted to see them.
They were playing with the kids, though, not getting drunk, so I stuck it out and was polite. (with the intention of "debriefing" the kids when we were alone again in the motel room.)
Some of my kids also latched onto their piano and began singing worship songs. That was very, very nice. But I also made a decision not to do it again. I love my cousins, but it was very uncomfortable.
Lord Jesus, please help me to know how to handle situations like that better. I ask this in Your Holy Name. Amen
Sunday, December 28, 2008
The Holy Spirit and the Book of John
John 14:16-17, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth, The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."
John 14:26,"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
John 15:26, "When the counselor comes, whom I will send to you form the Father, the Spirit of truth, who goes out form the Father, he will testify about me."
John 16:13-15, "But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what He hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
John 20:21-22 "Again Jesus said, 'peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that, he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive then, they are not forgiven."
The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts
Acts 1:5, "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Acts 7-8, "He said to them: "it is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 2:4, "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."
Acts 2:14-21, "Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: 'Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Acts 4:29-31; "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous sings and wonders through the name of your holy Servant, Jesus. After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."
Acts 5;3-4, "Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit …you have not lied to men but to God."
Acts 5:9, "how could you agree to rest the Spirit of the Lord? Look.."
Acts 6:3-4, "Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention for prayer and ministry of the word."
Acts 6:10, "But they could not stand up against his (Steven's) wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke."
Acts 8:14-23, "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria has accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit has not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostless hands, he offerece them money and said, "give me also this ability so that everyone whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."
Acts 8:29, "The Spirit told Phillip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
Acts 8:39-40, When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Phillip away and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Phillip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea."
Acts 9:17-18, "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it., Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again."
Acts 10:19, "While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with then, for I have sent them."
Acts 11:12-18, "The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved. As I began to speak, The Holy Spirit came on them as he has come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God? When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."
Acts 11:27-30 "During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. …The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul."
Acts 13:2-4, "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus."
Acts 16:6-7, "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "come over to Macedonia and help us. After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."
Acts 19:1-6, "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we haven not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. So Paul asked, 'Then what baptism did you receive?' 'John's baptism,' they replied. Paul said, 'John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, they Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied."
Acts 20:22-23, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me."
Acts 20:28, "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers."
Acts 21:4, "Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem."
Acts 21:10-11, After we had been there (Caesarea/house of Phillip) a number of days, a prophet by the name of Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and fee with it and said, 'The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over the Gentiles."
More to Come...
Friday, December 26, 2008
Celebrating as a family didn't feel right after Roland died. So we decided not to. Instead, we drive to Juarez; to a children's home on the west side, built on a old dump, barbed wire surrounding it.
Jose had lost his market place in a fire a few months ago, and their family and the children's mission were having a very tight time because of it. I gave him the Bibles, computers, and monetary donation we had brought with, and told him we'd also be buying Christmas food. But as we visited our friends, we saw their needs were greater than we had expected.
We walked into Ines' home on Dec. 23 and saw that there was absolutely nothing in her small, cinderblock home for Christmas for her five children. We also learned that another woman, Sylvia, had only had a Christmas present once before in her life. This month, her husband was laid off of his job, and she was unable to work more than two days a week as a maid. (she used to work everyday for Jose's family, until the market burned and they couldn't afford to pay her every day).
Sylvia, with an 18 month old toddler, also had nothing for Christmas. And then, of course, there was Juventud, the children's home we were visiting. Many of the children teenagers did have relatives to visit for Christmas. But there were four still at the home, and they also had no gifts. Chuy's mother had died a few years ago and he had never known his father. Scott, (11 yrs old) had a father, but he was afraid to be with him because of drunkenness and beatings. He asked Jose if he could please stay at the home. (His dad did try to come and get him while we were there, and Scott was crying and begging to stay at Juventud. His dad finally left angrily.)
Jose also asked us if we would make it our mission (mine and my teenagers) during our stay to talk to Chuy, who is almost 18, and tell him the importance of living for Christ, because Chuy hadn't been walking with Jesus. He'd been somewhat disobedient lately, and Jose was worried that once Chuy turned 18, he'd leave and get into trouble. I was fine with what ever Jose asked us to do. I would serve any of his needs.
But then he asked for something unusual. He wanted our children to spend time with his own children just having fun. They asked our kids to stay up late one night just to play worship music together. I wasn't sure at first, thinking that this didn't sound like "mission work." Then I realized that it was. It was ministery to the mission director and his family. I had asked God to just show us what was needed and help us to fill the gaps. This is what Jose was saying was needed.
Anyway, our family enjoyed everything we had the opportunity to do while we were there.
Everyone came together at Jose's house for Christmas Eve. We had a wonderful time. My son did a "Little Drummer Boy" thing for them, and we sang Christmas carols, had tamales for dinner, and handed out the gifts we had brought them. Nothing huge, just small, nice things.
It was so wonderful. All my children were laughing - just enjoying watching the others open their gifts. None of them looked for anything for themselves under the tree. They understood. It was awesome to see them this way - happy with just being there to help.
Ines then invited the whole group for dinner at her house for Christmas the next day. She made a traditional soup and we bought a piñata and stuffed it with candy.
The final evening we were there, on the 26th, everyone met at Juventud con Vision for a chicken barbecue. Now Jose asked me to say something. Jose gathered everyone together before dinner and I read parts of Proverbs 4 to the youth. Then I told them Roland's story. I know it's not normal to tell someone else's story. But I wanted the children to know of God's presence on Roland's last day. I now had their full attention, and I reminded them that we are all going to die. I wanted them to know that we are all just sojourner's in this land, and the real life, the life that really matters, is with God's coming kingdom; the next life. It doesn't matter if we are rich or poor. All that matters is if we are serving Jesus. My son began crying quietly. When I was finished, you could feel God's presence. Jose then told me that he felt he should "do a calling", and he asked the youth how many wanted to recommit their lives to Christ. Hands shot up, including Chuy's.
It was a wonderful three days. Jose asked when we would be coming back, as did several others. I don't know! We do intend to go back, but I hadn't begun to think about when.
Once we were on the road home though, my daughter and I began talking. We had been surprised by the number of cars that needed relatively minor work to put them back on the road. No one in Jose's group does any kind of car mechanics. Jose didn't even know how to change the bulb in his tail light. She had gone to the store to help him buy the bulb to put in. We wished there had been more time so we could have changed a timing belt on an old van.
Next time, we'll go prepared to work on cars.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
May God Bless You and Be With You Today.
Joseph and Mary lived in the village of Nazareth back in the time when Rome was an Empire ruled by Caesar Augustus and Israel was under the authority of Rome and governed by King Herod. Joseph was a carpenter. Mary was a young girl who was to become his wife. Mary told Joseph of a dream in which she was visited by an angel who told her she had been chosen to bear the Son of God and his name was to be Jesus. He didn't believe her at first, but he loved her, and when she became pregnant, despite initial doubts, he was willing to stand by her side.
One day the emperor sent notice that all persons were to return to the towns of their birth to register for the census. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem. Mary, who was close to birth, rode on a donkey while Joseph walked beside her.
When they reached Bethlehem it was night. They looked for a place to rest but because of the census, there were no empty rooms in the inns. One inn keeper took pity on them though and told them where they could stay with the cows and sheep.
So Joseph and Mary went to the stable area. Mary gave birth to a son the next night. They found a manger in the stable and used it for the baby and named the baby Jesus, just as they had been instructed by the angel.
When the child was born a great star appeared over Bethlehem that could be seen for miles around. In the fields nearby shepherds were tending their flocks. An angel appeared to them surrounded by bright light. The shepherds were frightened and tried to run.
"Fear Not," said the angel, "For I bring you tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in Bethlehem - a Saviour who is Christ the Lord."
"And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
Suddenly the sky was filled with angels, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men."
After the angels departed the shepherds set out for Bethlehem. When they reached the stable they went inside and found the child there, wrapped in swaddling clothes just as the angel said.
As the star shined over Bethlehem, three eastern kings, who some say were actually astronomers, saw it. They knew it was a sign and they set off to follow the star. They traveled for many days, always following the bright star.
When they finally arrived in Bethlehem, after spending a night with King Herod, they found the child in the manger. The 3 kings bowed to their knees and offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And we shall call him Emmanuel - for he is God with Us - our Lord and Savior, the only begotten son of God the Father, given so that no man shall perish.
God Loved the world so much that he gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in me will not die but live forever. God didn’t send his Son to condemn the world, but to save it.
You see, men who have faith in Jesus aren't going to be judged. But those that DON'T have faith in him have already been judged - even now, because he has no faith in the name of the only Son of God.
Jesus didn’t come to earth to put everyone down or hate them for the things they’ve done wrong…he’s trying to SAVE everyone.
The rest of this story, the best part, we get to tell at Easter time...
Monday, December 22, 2008
If you can't speak the name of Jesus Christ out loud within your extended family, don't forget to show the face of Jesus Christ in all that you think, do and say over the next few days.
Be a reflection of Jesus Christ for them. Hold your temper. Practice patience. Help with the dishes. Give that extra gift to the sibling or cousin you really can't stand. Show them love. You might be suprised by what comes back.
Don't forget to pray before all events. Make sure your on the same page with Him. If you get your heart connected with the Lord before the big dinner, it will all go that much better.
Friday, December 19, 2008
a) Prayer - “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.” James 5:13
b) Going to elders - “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” James 5:14-15
c) Asking for help - “Confess you faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
You might also fast, or others may choose to fast for you. In the old testament, David fasted for the son he had with Uriah in hope the Lord might have mercy and allow the baby to live. (2 Sam. 12:16.) Psalm 35:13 also mentions fasting for the afflictions of others, even your enemies.
d) Persevere until victory - “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” 1Cor. 16:13, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; We are perplexed, but not in despair.” 2 Cor. 4,5
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
KEEP THE FAITH!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
At one point, Patricia, 20-years-old, got up and made her way down the stairs, clutching her cruthes. I caught a glimpse of her as she got right up next to the stage …but this was just as Benny Hinn stopped taking people up on the stage. Oooohhh.... I was so disappointed for her.
And suspicious of Benny. He hadn't had anyone up there with an obvious defect, as Patricia had. But then he began prayer for young people, and the throng pushed in. Hinn shouted, "FIRE ON YOU!" and hundreds of kids standing closest to the stage FLEW backwards. Just picking themselves up, he did it again. The kids got up again and pressed to the stage. I was hoping Patricia was okay in the crush, but I could see her head bobbing, hands raised, right next to a gray coat and tie. Big usher. BIG. I was sure he'd keep her safe. Benny started grabbing kids and pulling them up on stage, "FIRE ON YOU!" and they flew across the stage. He began stepping over bodies and grabbing the raised hands of three or four more kids a time, pulling them up on stage. "FIRE ON YOU!" and they all fell down at the same time. The throng on the floor pressed closer, screaming to be touched. I'm sure they saw this and just wanted to feel whatever it was the kids on stage had felt. "FIRE ON YOU!" and six more went flying.
Then he began the cool off. "I'm only one man, and I can't touch everyone. But I have the anointing because I've met the anointer. And you can go home and meet the anointed and get the anointing for yourself. You need daily prayer, and read your bible, and get connected with a fellowship in your town. There are several Las Vegas Pastors up here that love you and welcome you to their churches. There are Bothers and sisters in Christ surrounding you right you right now. This is not a one-time event. This is a daily, on-going process." Then he invited a local pastor to further the invitation and close in prayer, and he left the stage.
I wasn't impressed by this guy, so I was glad to hear him give that closing message. It helped a little, I think.
As people cleared out of the auditorium, we went to the floor where Patricia was still sitting next to the stage. She said she wasn't disappointed. She said it as awesome to be in the full line of fire, there by the stage. But she had already put her brace back on - after having removed it in anticipation - and if she wasn't disappointed, I was sure disappointed for her. Yes, I know this is an ongoing process. And she also said that, yes, he did shake her hand just before he left the stage. She added that there were so many desperate people there...she couldn't expect to get his attention. If she was faking contentment, she was doing a pretty good job.
That, dear Readers, is faith. It really has nothing to do with Benny Hinn. This little girl trusts God, and whatever He has for her, it's okay.
When we left at the airport, we picked up the Las Vegas paper and read their spin on the crusade. In it, the reporter had followed a young Las Vegas family that was praying for healing. The couple, 20 years old, had been in an auto accident the last October. The husband was in a vegetative state. They have a one-year-old daughter. This woman paid an ambulance to bring her husband to the crusade. The reporter followed them through it, and in the end, they left the crusade disappointed. I'm not sorry we didn't push to be in front. As Patricia said, there were so many, many needy people there.
I am impressed by Patricia's faith. When it comes to Hinn, I remain cynical. My eyes weren't just on Hinn or the crowds during the event. I was seeing other things as well. When we filed in the first day, the line of people was directed where to sit and told to fill every seat. Unless you were saving a seat for someone, there was to be no empty seats. We were filed in evenly filling seats from the lower section, and then on to the section above it, and on to the top. After the arena had stopped filling, I noticed that black curtains were being hung in front of the empty seats at the top. This way, when the cameras panned the crowd, the arena had the appearance of being full. Benny, why the need to deceive the television viewers?
I was also thinking about how the lower seats must be populated primarily with A - type personalities. People that got there early and had the gusto to get those seats. They had cellular phones (at a time when not everyone did) and kept in touch with the people they were saving seats for. "You're just getting off work now? Okay, we have a seat for you." "You're in the parking lot? Okay, come through the main entrance and were in section 118". Gusto people, filled with energy, like Patricia. The nosebleed seats were different.
Interestingly, I almost had my coat stolen. I had gone for a pop and Roland was "dozing" like he does. A woman sat on the other side of my coat, and, Roland said (he wasn't as asleep as she thought) that she put her coat on the far side. (NOT on the seat with my coat.) But when she got up, she moved her coat over mine and wrapped my coat under hers. Roland quickly called her on it. You can't con a con man. She initially denied it, and then said, "oh, I'm sorry", handed it back and scurried away. Mind you, this is NOT a special coat. This is a rummage sale special, and there was nothing in the pockets. But she wouldn't have known that. Anyway, it gave me another person to pray for that evening. This woman must have had some real problems to be stealing my ol' coat. She was in real need of healing. I hope she got it.
Some might say that Patricia was just naive and hopeful. After all, with a birth defect such as hers, there is no other hope for healing outside of a miracle from God. Well, I imagine that she is naive and hopeful. But she's not stupid. She does also have fatih in God. And it is God who holds her faith, not in Benny Hinn, because if it were Hinn, she'd have given up in disappointment a long time ago.
More to Come...
Monday, December 15, 2008
They can't touch her - no matter how hard they try.
Governor Sarah Palin's home church in Wasilla, Alaska suffered about 1$ million in damage from a fire about 10 pm Friday night. The fire chief has reported that the fire was "definitely suspicious." Fortunately, none of the ten people inside, including two children, were injured.
Wow. The anger directed at Sarah Palin during the campaign was totally out of control - and it seems that many still haven't gotten over it.
What's amazing was all the accusations made by those on the left about how horrid the right was going to be toward Obama. Everyone on the left warned how the right was going to hurt him. But it was Sarah that was the recipient of the greater vicious attacks - and it was due to her Christian world view. Apparently, a lot more people hate Christians than hate people of a different heritage.
But Sarah is said to have faith in "the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good."
Her Pastor, Larry Kroon, also told KTUU TV that he's "had a lot worst calls at night. When one of your parishioners dies or loses a child, it's a whole different thing than the building's on fire."
They can't touch her and they can't touch her church. The Palins and the Wasilla Bible Church are above what ever those that hate them try to do. That's because they have Jesus in their hearts. They are doing their best to walk with the Holy Spirit
Give thanks to God for everything - including hard times. Every hard time is an opportunity. Praise God for His goodness.
Please pray protection for Sarah, her family and her church. Please pray that God come against those that would try to hurt them.
But please also pray for those that set the fire. They must have a lot of anger and pain in their hearts to have done something like this. They really need Jesus Christ.
So many people in our country are lost without Jesus Christ. It's the only explanation for the amount of anger they have when confronted with the Holy Spirit indwelling in a person such as Sarah. She's someone they can't touch - at least not that they can see. She doesn't react to their barbs. So they just get angrier and angrier.
Dear God; please continue to Bless Sarah, and give her - our Esther - as well as her husband - her protector - all the strength and wisdom necessary for the job you have set before them.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We played hookie during Benny Hinn's morning session.
Friday Noon, we went to one of those cheap buffet lunches on the Las Vegas strip. Coming back, I admit we tarried. Roland took me on the “New York, New York” roller coaster. (Therese tells me I should have kept my eyes open.) And we pulled on some of the "free pulls". And it's hard to get out of those places. They're huge and they turn you around and you don't know where the door is. And walking past the desert vegetation, smelling the desert air, we were reminded of and missed Aunt Charlotte.
Anyway, when Roland told me it was almost 4pm, well, we had to hustle. Our motel shuttle picked up at the Tropicana every hour on the hour, and we didn't have much time. The doors at the Center were already open for the Benny Hinn crusade. So we hustled. Only stopped for a moment at another free pull. But when we arrived at the Tropicana, people standing there told us that we had missed the Howard Johnson shuttle by just a couple minutes. Ohhh. We should have been better with our time. Having tried to get a cab the day before, we knew it could take some waiting. And there would be no chance of calling the surly shuttle driver and asking if he could come back sooner than the hour. He'd made that clear when he dropped us off. And I didn't want to walk the couple miles. I was tired from all the walking we'd already done. But before Roland and I even had a chance to look at each other and admit we messed up, around the corner came the Howard Johnson shuttle. Wow! The driver got out and opened the sliding door. As we climbed into the van, I asked, "what ever possessed you to come back?" But as the words left my mouth, I had to smile. I knew what had possessed him.
One of the other riders said, "I don't know why he turned around. He just went and turned around. You mean you didn't call? I thought maybe you had called."
"No, we didn't call. We'd only been standing there a minute or so." Then, after another thought, that rider (a stranger to us) held up a Bible. "Maybe it had something to do with this then."
We laughed. We were sure it had. It was funny how many people we met there were in Las Vegas for the Crusade. It's kind of neat walking through a lobby and hearing a small huddled group discussing the book of Mark, or walk in the Deli and hear another group discussing miracle healings they'd witnessed. At the airport, there were people in wheelchair's, Bibles clutched on their laps. (Must have been a slow time for the casinos though...oh, whoops, if they were anything like us, the pull tabs were used.)
At any rate. it seems that God has consistently "been there" for us, even when we've stopped and pulled on that "free Pull."
I think of all the different things he's done, and I' feel so awe struck and humbled. And yet, I know how disappointed we get with our own children, and I know how disappointed they get with us. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel...but we keep pushing on and keep hoping they’ll learn soon. Well, I thank that the Lord, at times, is very disappointed in us also, but he keeps plugging away with us anyway; hoping we'll maybe catch on tomorrow.
That second evening at Benny Hinn, as things got going in that crowd of 20,000, I remembered how struck I was by this the night before. I know I've said some pretty negative things so far, but there seemed to be some good, too. Both evenings when he made an altar call I couldn't help but cry. It was awesome to see thousands of people swarming down to the floor with their hands raised high, (when they weren't punching each other) hungry for the Lord. It's so awesome to see all these people rush down the stairs, tears in their eyes, crying for help. I just couldn't help but cry with them, but so happy that they were going to get the help - if not from Benny Hinn, I was sure they would get it from the Lord. They were finally going to be able to rest in the arms of Jesus. This was truly the highlight of both evenings for me. We sat even higher in the nosebleed section on the second night. And it was just fine. We were much more rested when we arrived, because we came three hours later than the day before. We could still hear the message and actually, could see the people swarm to the floor much better from up there.
We had gone to check on a friend, Patricia, before we found our seats, just to tell her we were there. Patricia had a birth defect that made her unable to use her legs, and she got around on cruthces. We expected she would be in the same place and we were right. Go-getter that she is, she was in the best seats again. Not on the floor, because that was reserved for Benny's prayer support, wheelchairs, ...and probably hired actors..., but in the first row above, to the right of the stage, next to the stair well to get down on the floor next to the stage. Full good view of the speakers. So from our seat above - actually, where we could watch the stage from straight on - we could see Patricia and her friends. Patricia had been to these five times before. I asked her if she leaves the events disappointed when her legs aren't healed, and she said, "not at all." She's there for the anointing, for the pleasure of feeling the power of the event.
Having told me that... when the healing prayer began, I was surprised to see Patricia struggle to stand on her crutches and go to the stairwell to get to the floor. I tried to keep my eye on her. It was hard once she got to the floor because of the crush of people that were gathering down there as he took people up on stage one by one...
More to Come...
Friday, December 12, 2008
It was February 2001. The arena staff at the Benny Hinn event had asked that people stay at the bottom of the stairs to wait and not climb up to the pavilion doors to wait, as the crowd could injure each other up there. This seemed right, because when you were at the bottom of the stairs looking up, you couldn't see who is on the pavilion. You would mount the stairs, not being able to assess the crowd, and then would have to push to find a place to stand once you got up there. Others behind you would also be pushing. The result could very well cause injury to those closest to the glass doors.
But people were defiant with the staff. Even angry. They mouthed off to the staff, refused to budge. Some said they had God on their side and therefore a right to be there.
(One man joked, “Christians are like tea bags. When the water gets hot, you can see what’s really in them.”)
Then, when the staff decided not to press the issue with the most rebellious people, these people contently sat by the doors singing praise songs. Give me a break.
And...as much as I enjoy singing, I couldn't enter in. Not with that crowd.
I had to really struggle to get rid of ill feelings and judgement. Get myself back out of that hole. I had to remember that growth is an on-going process and I need to be patient with brothers and sisters in the same way that I want people to be patient with me. The way so many have been patient with us already through the years. So many have given Roland and I Grace, put up with our bad behavior. In fact, I'd decided to try to be a submissive person only five months or so earlier, when we moved up to the Bible college. Now, I looked at these things and realized that God is not likely to Bless me if I'm acting in rebellion and disobedience. But it took awhile for me to realize that. The best I could do for these other people would be to simply pray for them. Pray God's mercy for them that wisdom will come.
And then of course came the thoughts...is it really necessary to come the earliest and then struggle with these feelings that accompany line-ups. The nose bleed section should be close enough to hear Benny in, and then I won't have to hear the stuff immediately prior, which is not only distracting but down right ugly.
So we contently sat in the nose bleed section and prayed together for Roland's healing. We were convinced healing had begun sometime in the last month anyway, and this was simply a reinforcement of work God had already begun in addition to teaching us on the how and why.
Then - when they called for people to come down to the arena floor if they felt they were healing, Roland decided to go. (Well, it was like, if we sit here...are we saying the negative?) So we started moving slowly with the crowd toward the stairs. But when we reached the steps to try to get on the floor, the shoving was so intense that Roland and I were getting separated in the crowd. He reached his hand back, grabbed mine and pulled. In doing that, I pushed past other people. Nice people. I kept looking back to see that my rudeness hadn't discouraged them, and I couldn't see them. I felt bad about that. I didn't want to do that again.
In fact, Roland didn't want to either. Seeing how difficult it would be to get much further, he turned us around and we went back to our seats.
Roland ended up being too tired to attend the next morning’s session. He remained sleeping until 10am. That was understandable, because being in line early the day before had wiped him out. He'd had little chance to rest.
More to Come....
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Back in the spring of 2001, kind friends gave my husband and I a gift of a trip to the Benny Hinn Crusade in Las Vegas. I didn't really want to go. As I said in a previous post, I tend to be cynical and don't trust faith healers. I believe that the Lord can and will answer our prayers just as assuredly, and maybe even more so, if we're praying by ourselves in our bedroom.
But my husband wanted to go. Well, he was the one that was ill, and if he felt that this was something he wanted to try, I wasn't going to stop him.
Christians respond to difficulties in many ways.
When we arrived at the arena where it was being held, there were thousands of people alreayd in line, waiting for the doors to open. It was humbling to see the different people there, all desperate for healing. He wasn't the only one sick. I guess it suprised me how many people with cancer and/or in wheelchairs where there. For some reason, I had it in my head that my husband would be the most sick.
People were so desperate that they pushed their way in line. Staff asked people to stay at the bottom of the stairs and not climb up to the pavilion doors because the crowd could hurt each other up there. But people mouthed off and refused to leave the pavilion doors. Some said they were there on God’s mission, and that they had a right to be wherever they wanted. One woman prayed curses against the "rules of men."
I was embarrased, to be honest.
I understand wanting to be first, but who are they putting their trust in? Benny Hinn or Jesus? Does being first in line ensure healing? Does pushing a sister or brother in the Lord out of the way ensure healing?
At the bottom of the stairs, one man joked, “Christians are like tea bags. When the water gets hot, you can see what’s in them.”
I liked him.
But in watching the desperation of so many, my husband and I also realized something we hadn't realized before. We weren't desperate. The initial diagnosis and a couple other times were rough, but we weren’t desperate. We KNEW the Lord had the situation well in hand, and we were grateful to God for that.
The next day we decided not to rush to be in line and went to lunch. Coming back, we were slow. When I saw it was almost 4 PM, we started to hurry. Our motel shuttle picked up at the Tropicana every hour on the hour. But when we arrived at the Tropicana, people told us we had missed the shuttle by just a couple minutes.
We knew we should have been better with our time. The shuttle driver made it clear when he dropped us off that he would only be back once an hour. But before we had a chance to admit it was our fault for being slow, around the corner came the shuttle.
The driver got out and opened the sliding door. As we climbed in, we wondered why he had come back.
One of the other riders said, "I don't know why he turned around. He just went and turned around. You mean you didn't call? I thought maybe you’d called."
Then, after another thought, that rider (a stranger to us) held up a Bible. "Maybe it had something to do with this then." We laughed. We were sure it had.
What this incident reminded us of was that God always seems to "be there" for us. Nothing flashy. He's just always "there." Even when we aren't perfect. Apparently, he was still there for us even though we well...oh well, swe topped in that casino we had wandered through and pulled on that "free pull." And he still turned the van around for us. That's pretty amazing, considering how little we deserved it.
We think of all the times he's just been there, caring for us, and we are awe struck and humbled.
More to come....
Sunday, December 7, 2008
He was diagnosed with incurable, terminal cancer in April of 2000. The doctor had said he had 6 months to two years to live, but more likely 6 months.
Some people tell you to start praying. but most people who go ahead and do that die anyway. Does that mean the prayer didn't work?
How much faith do we need to have answers to prayer?
Mathew 17:20 states, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
A grain of a mustard seed - one of the smallest seeds on earth. We need only a very small amount to bring God's response because He loves us and knows that as humans, faith doesn't come to us easily. But that small amount is necessary. But that still doesn't tell me how much faith - in me - is equal or greater than (or less than) a mustard seed.
Mathew 9:28-30, says; “When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.’
Then he touched their eyes and said, “according to your faith will it be done to you’, and their sight was restored.”
So....why doesn't that happen for everyone? Ummm...let's look at it....
#1) Faith is needed in the midst of difficult circumstances.
James 1 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
Wow - is that a good word for me today, as I try to make decisions concerning the purchase of a restaurant. I have felt so much like a wave tossed in the ocean lately. I miss greatly having my husband with me, a partner in big decisions. If we were going to make a big mistake, at least we were doing it together.
My husband was diagnosed with incurable, terminal cancer in April of 2000. The doctor had said he had 6 months to two years to live, but more likely 6 months.
When he first heard that, his heart felt like it broke into a million pieces. What to do; where to go; how to handle it…or could he handle it? First he had to tell his kids, then his relatives, then his personal friends. How do you DO that? Life Stopped.
Then he stopped. There was nothing to do other then ....put it in to the Lord’s hands. If it was God's will for him to be healed, so be it. If not...so be it.
He enrolled in a Bible college. His relatives thought that was crazy. If he only had a short time, why go to school? But he figured, if his days were to be few, this is how he wanted to spend them.
Wow, that was a huge decision we made together. But I wasn't afraid. As long as we were together in it, I wasn't afraid. My husband moved his entire family to the Bible college campus. Didn't he have at least the faith of a mustard seed?
For a time, he grew stronger in body and stronger in the Lord. He lived that year and the next and the next. We were able to do many things during that time and our kids had a chance to get older before he left. Things began to get more difficult for my husband in the fall of 2003, and he finally went to be with the Lord in June of 2004.
During his last four years, while we were associated with the Bible college, he was prayed over by many, many people. One man, lacking the usual tiny vial of oil for anointing, decided to do something he'd always wanted to do and poured a full bottle of Wesson oil over my husband's head. Whatever. Another man who had never actually met my husband personally wrote an email to say that he'd been so moved to prayer that he sat in proxy for my husband as his own elders prayed over him, and that it was tremendously heavy and anointed time.
These were strong people; pastors, preachers, evangelists. Didn't they have the faith of a mustard seed?
Not only did they all have faith, but they had enough faith and, saddened by the thought that this man might be leaving several young children behind, they used their faith in calling on the Lord in these difficult circumstances.
The prayer did work. He lived four years instead of 6 months.
But I guess the bottom line...No one lives for ever; we all have death waiting for us. Even the people Jesus healed while on earth eventually died.
As they say, there are no living apostles, right?
He lived the number of years God purposed for him. His children all had a chance to get 4 years older. I had the blessing of his companionship for a little while longer. Although being a single parent is stressful, I have complete faith that there is a purpose in all of God's timing.
And maybe part of that timing is this: One of the important things that is happening within me is that I am having to switch the dependence and security I felt in my husband over to the Lord. I have faith, but I also have to have trust that the Lord is my partner and He isn't going to let me down. Just as when I was with my husband, I am not alone in the decisions I make. This is a huge area for me to learn and grow in.
More to come....
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It was the summer of 1999 when our family attended a mountain Bible camp just west of Glacier Park, Montana. An evangelical "faith healer," wild and full of himself, made an altar call. I went up. I am usually cynical. But I had a pinched nerve and no medical insurance, so decided I'd give it a try. I told myself that it wasn't 'him' I was trying though. I determined to open my mind to the Lord and give HIM a chance.
An elderly woman stood in front of me in the line, someone I had known for years as a kind, prayerful woman. The woman had trouble with her hips and needed a walker. When it was her turn to be prayed for, I was close enough to watch and hear everything that was said.
After the healer prayed for the woman, he had two men take hold of her arms and attempt to run her back and forth in front of the stage. They ran her in the direction away from us and appeared to have much of her weight in their arms. She wasn't able to support herself well at all. On their return, the pain in her face was obvious and her need for their support appeared even more so. After a few minutes of this torture, the men brought her back to the healer and she grasped for her walker. The healer then told her, “something inside you is blocking it. You just didn’t have enough faith.”
She was devastated and left the building in tears.
I was shocked. Wouldn’t the fact that this elderly woman went up to the altar for prayer been an indication she had the faith of at least a mustard seed?
Later, I found her and sat down to talk to her. I tried to encourage her, but she was still crying and said, "No, he was right. It was my fault." I felt terrible for her.
Was the healer right? Was the Lord unwilling or unable to heal her because she didn’t have enough faith? I don't believe it. I think he was just a jerk who wants people to believe in and praise him. If he was really about the Lord's business, that woman wouldn't have been crying by herself in the back of the church.
Some of these so called preachers make believe that it's always God's will to heal when they, the preacher, demand it. People that have obvious physical issues and don't get healed are just an embarrassment to them.
What is faith in the real God?
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
How do we get faith?
Galatians 5:22 tells us Faith is a fruit of the spirit. According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is the author and finisher of our Faith and Romans 10 states, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Faith begins with a decision to believe the Word, and to begin a walk of obedience. Once making the decision, the Holy Spirit is able to work in our hearts, and make faith grow. We can't "make" ourselves have faith. It's a gift, born and nurtured through the Lord. And boy, that woman sure did have it. Can you imagine making the decision to go up to the altar and allow them to take away your walker? She only did that because she had faith and hope in the Lord. Her only error was in allowing that jerk to place his hands on her and later, when his commands to the Lord for his - not the Lord's - glory weren't met, he abused her by putting doubt in her mind about her own faith.
Is Faith necessary?
Romans 4 says that believing God brings us righteousness and believing on God brings us justification. Galatians 16 also states that by believing in Christ, we are justified by His faith. Belief is necessary for justification.
Mark 16:16 says “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Faith is necessary for salvation
Eph. 6, The Shield of Faith is part of the armor of God. Faith is necessary for our battle with the enemy.
I never returned to that Bible camp because I honestly don't believe our time together in fellowship, prayer and worship is supposed to end with a preacher shaming members of the congregation and causing them to doubt their faith. (That wasn't the only disconcerting event I witnessed at that camp.) But I have attended other, more mature camps in the last ten years and have been very blessed by the ministries.
Oh, by the way, that nerve in my leg is still pinched to this day. However, it doesn't matter. The number and depth of things the Lord has done for and with me and my family over these last years has been unbelievable. My leg is of little importance compared to the amazing things the Lord has done. I do have complete faith in Him to know us, the purposes He has for us, and the best way to accomplish those purposes. I have no faith in faith healers.
More to come...
Monday, December 1, 2008
· Treating people as objects to be manipulated.
· Resenting and dwelling on circumstances that are painful, unpleasant, or humiliating.
· Becoming angry and resentful when you lose control of a situation.
· Giving up or reacting with anger when shown to be wrong.
· Becoming paralyzed - unwilling to move forward when afraid
· Dreading problems instead of accepting them as challenges.
· Avoid dwelling on the negative - that is, thinking critical thoughts or making negative, argumentative comments. These alienate others, arouse hostility in you, and undermine your own self-esteem.
· Give frequent encouragement to every person in the house. Compliment and respect others. Respecting people whom God has created helps us to respect ourselves.
· Meditate regularly on God's Word. He loves us and communicates with us through the Bible. This book can help individuals keep a realistic perspective when there is a tendency instead to slip into thoughts of one's own inferiorities and incompetence.
These are all points that I pray the Lord helps me to remember and practice every day of my life, but especially this time of year - when I want so badly to be a blessing to my family, rather than a pain in the rear. Lord Jesus, please help me to be courageous over my fears and positive with my family. Help me to remember to read your Word daily and take time to be alone with you. I ask this in your Holy Name, Amen,
Saturday, November 29, 2008
There once was a woman named Mary. Well, I say a woman, but she was actually only a teenage girl. Many assumed she was older because she was engaged to be married when she became pregnant. The truth is she might have been as young as fourteen. So here she is, young, pregnant, and to make matters worse, the baby was not fathered by her husband to be.
In the society she was raised in, the promise of marriage as sacred as the marriage contract, and they took a very, very dim view of adultery, let alone unwed pregnancy.
What was her response when she found out? At first she was confused, but then, calling herself the Lord's servant, accepted the pregnancy as the will of God and said she was willing to do what ever God asked of her. She didn't seem to think of it in terms of "God is asking me to, so I have a choice to say yes or no." She seemed to have thought of it only in terms of "This is what God wants me to do, so I will do it."
What was the response of her husband to be? When he learned of the pregnancy, he first thought it would be best to quietly back out of the engagement and sign papers for what would essentially be a "divorce" from the engagement contract. He thought to do it quietly so that no one else in the community would hear about it and hurt her. But being the good, prayerful man that he was, he didn't make an angry or snap decision. Instead, he took time to be sure. After thinking it over, maybe just one night, maybe a little longer, he felt God telling him - not asking but telling him - to go ahead and take Mary as his wife and raise the child as his own. So he did. He took her home, but didn't lay with her until after her son was born. Then he loved, cared for and protected the little boy as he felt God wanted him to.*
World Net Daily reports that Planned Parenthood is again offering a gift card, which in the past several years they have called a "Choice on Earth" card. The term "Choice on Earth is a play on the passage from Luke 2:14, which refers to "peace on Earth," a statement made by a heavenly angel celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ to Mary. Having thoroughly offended the Christian community, Planned Parenthood is now calling them "Gift of Life" cards. As if this fixes things.
Reportedly the certificates come in $25 increments and can be used for any most anything at their clinics, from birth control to breast exams and pap tests. "Woman's health is Planned Parenthood's promotional feature. They don't sell them as just abortion gifts. But Planned Parenthood does accept these cards for use in abortions."
One person on a forum at online Lone Star Times has referred to the cards as a legal way to put a hit out on someone.
WND columnist Jill Stanek, who also documented the cards on her blog, stated, "Planned Parenthood, this generation's King Herod, you know, the guy who ordered the mass slaughter of babies when Jesus was born." That would be the same King Herod that Mary's husband protected baby Jesus from.
The Lone Star Times forums page included other analogies. One commenter said the card was "A gift for those who only want to kill the very innocent."
Others quipped that the card could read, "Good for one dead baby," or "What a marvelous way for the donor as well as the recipient-user to have blood on their hands, "and "Redeem this at Planned Parenthood. No other redemption possible. Ever." (The last isn't Scriptural but gets the point of seriousness across. Everyone, no matter the sin, can be redeemed if only they humble themselves, grieve their sins, ask forgiveness, and accept that Jesus Christ is their Lord.)
Jim Sedlak, executive director of American Life League's STOPP International, once slammed the Planned Parenthood gift card campaigns by saying, "In its continual attempt to 'normalize' abortion, Planned Parenthood has once again chosen to offend the Christian community by releasing the latest edition of its 'Choice on Earth' holiday cards. Contrary to the open-minded image the abortion organization aims to present for itself, Planned Parenthood has zero tolerance for anyone – or any religious group – that recognizes abortion as an evil act that kills a pre-born baby."
He also said, "By replacing 'peace' with 'choice,' or more accurately, 'killing the innocent on earth,' Planned Parenthood is essentially saying 'abortion on earth. This blatant mockery of Christian values – and of Christ Himself – truly demonstrates the bigoted, anti-religion, anti-God nature of Planned Parenthood."
* adapted from Matthew Chapter 2 and Luke Chapter 2
Friday, November 28, 2008
But we're here to grab the deals, and boy is that exciting. It's kind of like a hunt I guess. There's a rush of adreniline as you make your dash through the door, bee-lining the department with that neat item priced %75 off, hoping to get there before they are all gone.
Yes. Jesus is the reason for the season. Yes, yes, I want to make him most important. No, no, the gifts and all, they mean nothing. Really. We do it for the kids.
I tell you what, though. Through our years as Christians, we've listened to all sides and tried all things. We had friends that used to do theit gift giving on Thanksgiving in order to focus their family totally on Christ for Christmas. Guess what. They're kids are all grown now and like to spend Christmas just like the rest of America does.
We've also had friends that figured trying to spend Christmas in a Christian way was not only impossible, but wrong. Christ was actually born in the spring, when the shepherds were watching their sheep at night (for newborn lambs) and December 25th was only chosen as a date in order to distract the pagans from their traditional holiday, which was on December 25th. So this family figured it was actually wicked to celebrate Christ's birth on that day.
Anyway, we did try making Christmas a day to focus on Christ instead of gifts. And I was miserable. Not for myself, but for the kids. I guess the tradition is just engrained in me. I can't enjoy it anyother way. The next year, we tried to do it again. I held out all the way till Christmas Eve. Then I couldn't stand it. We rushed out and spent hundreds of dollars all in one night. And hey, we didn't get the sales prices I love so dearly.
So yes. I am going to be out there the day after Thanksgiving with the rest of them. Getting my sale prices, and enjoying my holiday. Just as I know that my Lord and God would love me to.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
16. Be joyful always; 17. pray continually;
18. give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
19. Do not put out the Spirit's fire;
20. do not treat prophecies with contempt.
21. Test everything. Hold on to the good.
22. Avoid every kind of evil.
23. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
25. Brothers, pray for us. 26. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Monday, November 24, 2008
While it is true, as they say, that there appears to be a media war on Christmas with many businesses and government entities feeling they can't even mention the Holiday by name, Christmas is still the one time of the year when it is acceptable to the name Jesus to most of your non-Christian friends, family and co-workers.
It is still okay to send Christian themed Christmas cards with pictures of the baby Jesus adorning the front and perhaps a Scripture verse inside. That's the simplest way one can express Jesus Christ to one's non-believing loved ones.
But your newsletter is an even better place to express Christ. It doesn't have to be an in-your-face declaration of belief or a long drawn out theology essay. But it could be if that's what you feel drawn to do.
One of the best ways to express Jesus Christ in your Christmas newsletter is to simply tell the wonderful stories of the various events throughout this last year that really spoke to you about God's love. Tell the story. Tell how He's been there for you, how He's taken care of you. How He has taken care of others. How He has directed you to care for others. Tell them the story. I've told the story of the tree that came within inches of hitting one of my sons. The timing on that was a miracle, as he'd just gotten in the door when the tree trunk fell smack across the stoop. That was only one of many great stories we've had to tell. I've been amazed by the responses I get year after year. Now, when I have a crisis, my non-Christian sister has more faith than I do. She says quite sincerely, "oh, it will be resolved in a couple of days. It always is with you."
I always put somewhere on my newsletter every year that Jesus didn't stay in the cradle. He grew up, suffered, died on the cross, and rose again for our sin. (not those exact words, but to that effect.) I don't put much more than that, but I could if I felt it would have an impact. If you feel lead, tell what ever part of the story you wish, or devote your entire newsletter to God's glory and Gospel. After all, it really is the "Good News."
The important thing is to not to miss the opportunity to use the newsletter to speak to your beloved family members - especially the ones you rarely have a chance to sit down and have a one-on-one with. Christmas newsletters go out to everyone on your list. It's time to use them for God Glory.
The other thing that is fun to do at Christmas (and Easter for that matter) is to get Christian themed gifts for your non-believing Grandchildren or the children of your non-believing sibling's.
I was very surprised at a woman's Bible study several years ago when a few of the elderly women were saying that they have no idea what to get their young, non-Christian grandchildren. The answer is so simple. Veggie tales movies are a great gifts. They never say the name of Jesus Christ out-right, which might cause non-Christian parents to toss the gift, but focus on the attributes of Christ through fun, creative Bible story oriented cartoon and song.
There are also fun children's Bible CD's and colorful books. Christian book stores are full of great gift ideas. They have ideas for the teenagers as well, including CD's, books, jewelry, clothing, and nick-nacks. Some of these items could be an open door to further discussion. Few things are more important than a Grandparent taking the time to share Jesus Christ with the grand kids.
Most times of the year it's very difficult to find ways to reach out to non-believing family members. It's sad to miss the opportunity Christmas gives us to be a witness for Jesus Christ.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
See, this Rabbi named Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. He came at night because he was a very important man and didn’t want anyone to see him talking to Jesus. It would have been embarrassing to be seen with Jesus.
You can understand why he would be embarrassed. Christianity is mocked so much today, many are hesitant to “be seen with Jesus.” Would it be an embarrassing thing for you to admit to non-Christians? It was no different back then.
Nicodemus didn’t want anyone to see him talking to Jesus, but at the same time, he admitted that deep down, he knew Jesus must be God or he wouldn’t be able to do those miracles.
But Jesus basically told him - to heck with what you know deep down. You can know something “deep down” all you want, but it means nothing if you can’t admit it with your mouth to others. The only people that will go to heaven are the people that trust God enough to admit it out loud. These people are “born again" - people that have come to the bottom and realized that there is no way up but through Him. You could say that they've broken down , or fully given in, or finally submitted. But they bottom line is that they know that if they are too ashamed or afraid to let others know about it, they probably don't fully believe He is Lord yet. After all, if you believe he is truly Lord, what else matters?
No, the only ones that He will call “his” and bring into the kingdom of heaven are those that have decided He is more important than anything anyone else may think, or anything else they are doing in their lives, and are willing to follow him in entirety. These people start to live with the Spirit and are willing to admit it openly. They are born again, as new people.
But Nicodemus didn’t understand that, and asked, “How can a man be “born again? How can he come out of his mother again?”
Jesus tried to explain to him the difference between being born in flesh, and being born in Spirit.
Then Jesus said, “Don’t be surprised when I tell you that you have to be born again. It’s kind of like being the wind. You don’t know where the wind comes from or where it goes, but it’s real, and you can feel and hear it. That’s the same as having the Spirit born in you.”
But Nicodemus still didn’t understand.
So Jesus got upset with him and said, “Here you are, a teacher of Israel, and you don’t know what I’m talking about!! We tell you everything we know and see, and still you don’t listen. You don’t even believe me when I tell you earthly things. So how are you going to believe if I tell you heavenly things?”
“I am going to rise up to heaven, because I came down from heaven. And just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, you have to lift me up. Because unless you believe in me, you will die.”
What happened when Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness? Anyone that looked on the serpent became healed of an illness that had spread through the camp and was killing people.
So what Jesus is saying? He's saying that people need to hold Him up just like that serpent, and anyone that looks to him will be “healed” of their sins and not die in hell.
Jesus was emphatic;
God Loved the world so much that he gave (ME) His only begotten son, so that whoever believes in me will not die but live forever. Please understand, God didn’t send me here to condemn the world, but to save it!”
Jesus didn’t come to earth to put everyone down or hate them for the things they’ve done wrong…he’s trying to SAVE everyone.
You have to understand - because of all of our sin, EVERYONE is already condemned. This was a done deal. The point is, God can’t be around sin. He just can’t. So He had no choice but to move away from us.
Further, because we’re human, there’s not one of us that can go through life without sinning. We just can’t. We’re too weak. (I'll get further into the origin of our sin nature in a later blog. It's a story in itself.) Our sin is not only an inherent part of our nature, as evidenced throughout history, it is also huge. There's no way we could settle it and be justified.
God knows that and has mercy on us because of it. Although He hates sin and can’t be around it, He really does love us and doesn’t want us to die.
...But what to do about the sin. God is a just God. As any good judge knows, all crime has to be punished one way or another. That's the law. Other ways to say it are that all crime must be atoned for, or accounted for. Justice must be served. Something had to be done to account for the sin. Someone had to take the punishment for all of our sins, so we could be clean and atoned for.
So God sent someone down that could handle the atonement for us. He sacrificed His son for us so that sin would be paid for; so we can have relationship with Him again.
Jesus accepted that He had to die on the cross for our sins, because He also loved us. It says in Scripture that the night the soldiers took him, He really didn’t want to go. He knew what was going to happen and how much it was going to hurt. After all, at that point, he still had all the flesh.
But he knew there was no other way to save us, and that dying like this was the primary reason he came, so he told God, “Your will, not mine.” And He went.
We, as sinners, are already condemned to die. Every one of us. He came to try to save as many of us as he could. It's a gift of Love.
Okay, but if you give someone a gift, they have to actually receive it for it to have happened, right? They have to pick it up and open it. Or if you give someone a gift in the form of a check, they still have to cash it on order for it to be used. Another way to look at it - if you knock on a locked door, you aren't going to get in unless someone opens it.
And another analogy - what good would it do for you to cover for your friends petty theft if your friend doesn't care and is just going to go out and do it again. In the AA world it's called "enabling." God is interested in justice, not enabling.
All we are asked to do is look at ourselves, recognize the depth of our personal sin, and honestly and with deep humility - repent and ask His forgiveness.
We need to accept the gift of His atonement and ask Him for help to keep us from sinning again. Remember, sin is inherent in us. So we need Him to walk with us every day to help us stay out of trouble. Please Lord; help me to obey you. Please come live in me, and talk to me all the time, and tell me how to do things right. Please Lord, give me the strength to do it. Help me Jesus.”
We must believe who He is, what He did, and why He did it - and honestly say thank you!
If a person can do that and admit it, he will be born again, and he will be saved.
This is important for everyone has to know, because we don’t want to see the people we love go to hell. Think of the people you love, and how it will feel in the end when they die. At least if they have given their hearts to Jesus, you’ll know they are going to heaven. The real pain is when they haven’t, and you don’t know where they went.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The caller paused, and then said, "I saw in the paper that your getting a beer and wine license. If you serve beer and wine at your restaurant, we won't go there. And neither will Sue." She went on to say that as a Christian, I can't possibly sell beer. It's against Scripture. I told her to show me the Scripture, and I will follow it. She then said it had to do with causing a brother to stumble. Cause a brother to stumble? Does she not realize at all the torment that I'm now going through concerning this subject? If I make a bad business decision, will the business fail? What will happen to me and my family?
Up to that point, I had been at peace with the decision. This was business, right? And just like everyone else in the world, I have to support my family. But as much as I wanted to tell the caller to go ahead and just stay home, I knew I had to pray, examine the issue, and make sure that my decision was in line with God's purposes.
So I have been praying. I have also gone to my current pastor, and my old pastor, and a youth pastor, and an elder, and another youth pastor, ...and got as many thoughts on the subject as I could.
My Pastor agreed that it's not a legal issue as far as Scripture goes, but, he said all things that are legal aren't necessarily good and beneficial. He reminded me of the alcohol problem in this area.Then he asked me what my conscience says, because if it hurts my own personal conscience to stock alcohol and serve it, then it is a sin.
"The passage I was thinking about on Sunday is found in Romans 14:23, but you should read the whole context starting in verse 13. It doesn't specifically mention the word 'conscience' but the idea conveyed is very similar. I Corinthians 10:23-33 is a passage in a similar vein of thought that does mention conscience, but not the idea of anything done without faith is sin. The Corinthian passage also mentions the fact that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial or constructive."
Youth Pastor -
Briefly...Vickie and I talked about this together.
First off, I agree with the Pastor. There isn't necessarily a sin in serving a beer or glass of wine. Vickie has had to deal with this question too and has to do this at Pizza Hut all of the time. I also agree with the Pastor on the issue of your own conscience. Should you feel this is wrong but want to do a service for the community, you do wrong.
The threat of the woman who called isn't the real reason not to serve alcohol but she is the "weaker member" that Paul speaks of in Romans. Could your freedom in the Spirit end up being her stumbling block and ultimate fall into sin? If so, you sin when you cause her to sin. Her weak conscience makes her one that needs your aid in protecting her faith, at least that the way Paul seems to say it. Take a look at Romans 14.
When it comes to one of two older couples that like wine with a pasta special, well, given the limited choices of restaurants in your area, I will guess that you are more likely to keep their business than not. Let them buy wine at the grocery.
Now let me move on to what I think may be the bigger issue for you and your family.
Your lives have been substantially affected by the disease of alcohol. It has been a blight on Native peoples and still affects your younger ones that have struggled with FAS.
What your proposing is to order, store and distribute alcohol. Your children will be around the place day and night and sometimes when you aren't there. The lure of the spirits in those bottle is too strong and too powerful to leave around for those you care for....
"Thanks for your message and the candid way you portrayed your present situation. I truly sympathise with your dilemma and sense your struggle. I prayed that God would give you the insight you need and desire. But to make this short let me tell you that I basically agree with your Pastor friends and especially where this matter concerns the well being of your kids. This, I believe should be the deciding factor for your action your. May the Lord give you the wisdom you need do do the thing that is right"
My older Pastor and dear Mentor:
Greetings in the powerful and unchanging Name of Jesus! I had just mentioned yesterday that we had not heard from you for awhile - and there was your email. In praying and thinking about the restaurant concerns you mention, we sense that the advice given by Andy and his wife are the basics of what you need to consider in making a Godly assessment of the whole matter before you. Conscience, children, community, church - do that which fits with Scripture and being a true testimony for our Lord Jesus Christ. He will look after your business and the outreach in the area. Walk and talk humbly before the Lord and with the people, ...love the people, love your family, serve good meals (we wish we were closer so that we could have some), and rest in God's Promise to be your 'Jehovah Jireh'.
Remember: "God's Grace keeps Pace with the Problems we Face!" Give all your confusion and messed-up feelings to Him - He's able to carry you through every one of them, and give you wholeness in spirit, soul and body! Pray with your family in a positive way, thanking God for His Miracle working power in your lives EVERY DAY!! We are continuing to stand with you in love and prayer!
We're busy here in Mexico, and enjoying it. They have problems too, because we are people, "a work in progress"! ...God's Promise is that "underneath are His Everlasting Arms". He's strong enough to lift us, carry us, bless us, .... Hallelujah!!
and finally, the second youth pastor:
I'm not sure why I feel I need to get involved in this but I it aggravates me when Christians stick their noses where they don’t belong. Tell those who are against serving a glass of wine with a meal to go fight with Jesus about giving the already drunken people at a wedding more wine, which coincidentally he MADE out of water miraculously. Alcohol is not the enemy. The ENEMY is the enemy! I can not think of a restaurant that serves alcohol with meals, that is not a bar, where people go for the express purpose of getting drunk. They will go to a bar to do that. Besides that fact, you as owner of the store have the right to deny a customer service of alcohol. So where is the problem? Scripture speaks about drunkenness not drinking, and if your weaker brother or sister is so pious as to not eat somewhere because they have alcohol in the building, I hope she is ok with heaven being filled with wine, because I am pretty sure Jesus will be serving it at the feast. For pete’s sake, it was a part of the last supper!!! Grr. I hate it when Christians get so hot button oriented that they become completely useless for the gospel. If God wants you to run a restaurant, and provides for that, then you will have people coming to you, and that is your chance to reach them. So what if they have a glass of wine in their hand when you do it. Bah. I get so mad at hypocrites. Tell those Christians you aren’t allowed to talk to sinners, and walk away. You are called to the lost, not the spoiled brats who won’t get off their pew and fulfill their callings. Finally in closing, if I hadn’t said it enough…Grr.
Wow. Now here's the thing. I love my pastors and fully understand every point they are making. But my heart really and truly felt the same way as the second youth pastor in the very last letter. (he wasn't angry at the other pastor's. He hadn't seen their letters.) He clearly voiced the reaction I and my family are having.
But...does that mean I am right? This is why I am so torn up inside. I feel one way, but I respect my pastors and elders very much, and it could be that they, who all agree, are right and I am very wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.
Again, the last thing I want to do, in this economy, is make a mistake that will cost our family everything we have. Not serving alcohol could be a huge financial and business mistake. But serving alcohol, if it's not God's wish, could be a bigger mistake. The business could still fail, and worse, as Pastor pointed out, selling alcohol could send the wrong message to my kids, some of whom already struggle with alcohol. And not just my kids - are the pastors correct that it would a wrong witness to the community?
I'm struggling, double-minded on the issue. I hadn't been a week ago, prior to the phone call. Lord, in the name of Jesus, please show me clearly the steps that I am to take.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Nothing much is going to change with the new administration - other than a backlash against conservatives and Christians.
The economy will still be bad, if not worse.
The soldiers in Iraq, the president-elect admits, will have to stay there awhile longer.
Conservatives will still fight abortion, alternative marriage, increased taxes, universal "Canadian style" health, increased entitlement programs, and attacks on the first and second amendments.
Conservatives will be the voices that will refuse to "unite" and make "One America" and accept all the policies that the new president wants to enact.
Conservatives, therefore, will be the "bad" people, and will become increasingly vilified in an Obama America. Wasn't the treatment Governor Palin recieved evidence of that?
Some conservatives, who were conservatives in name only because it was convenient for the circle they were in, or because that was the way they were raised and hadn't given it a lot of thought on their own, won't be able to take the heat and will get out of the kitchen.
Those of us that feel conviction about our beliefs and really mean what we say, will stand ground. We won't be able to "unify" with others that wish to see wrong policies put into place.
The real change that will happen must happen within Christians. They must become strong in their hearts and convictions. They need to wake up and take their stand. (Eph. 6:10-18)
Let us Pray:
- "Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
- Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
- Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
- Stand therefore, having gird your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
- above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
- And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; - praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--"
My Lord Jesus and Heavenly Father - please give us the wisdom and strength to follow Your Ways and Your Word no matter what. Please help us to pursue Your purpose for our lives and bravely step forward and stand wherever you would have us. Please show us which hills we are to climb and which ones aren't important. Help us to step forward, brave and strong, but at the same time, always with Your Love. Help us to know what to speak and when to speak and when anger is righteous and necessary - and when it is not. Please protect Your children and come against everything that is evil and not of You. Above all, change our hearts. Make us more like You. - In the Holy Name of Jesus, Thy Will be done. Amen.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
A Conservative, Christian, home school mom. A praying, believing Mom. Just like the women I know and love in my church community - you reminded me of Kathy, Ann, and dozens of others.
I trusted you right away.
I listened to your pastor do interviews. I saw the prayer for you on the internet. (Interesting that the media now reports that Obama was prayed for in Kenya, in a "traditional Pentecostal" way, but apparently, it was okay for him)
I liked your pastors. I also liked that you were on the same page with us as far as the issues were concerned.
I could also relate to - and was hurt by - attacks on your oldest daughter. My daughter had her baby almost two years ago. I want to tell you, it was hard to learn she was pregnant, but that little guy, he's the joy of our household. He makes us all so happy, especially with everything being so stressful lately. He brightens my day by just walking in to the room.
You've done a great job with your kids. You've been a great Mayor and Governor. You did an awesome job standing up to all the pummeling these last two months. We look forward to working with you more.
We met your husband in Moorhead. He's so easy going; we loved him. My daughter told him she felt for your daughter, and showed him her baby. On the drive home, one of my adult daughters said that while listening to Obama speak earlier this year, she found it hard to pay attention. She said Obama had good inflection, but his content was too smooth. As she put it, too “politician.” But she really enjoyed listening to Todd. He wasn’t a polished speaker, but she said that’s what she liked. He was real, and you knew that what he was saying was coming from his heart.
I also told him that I'd like to talk to you about the Indian Child Welfare Act and how it is hurting families. Hope you got the message.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Despite Bush’s unpopularity, fatigue with Iraq, Obama's charisma, McCain's age, the fact that this was a Democratic year, the $600 million that Obama received, the blanketing of Obama ads, the media bias for Obama, and the economy, John McCain got 46% of the popular vote.
Stop and think - that means despite all those things against him, almost half of America still preferred McCain over Obama.
If McCain had run a good campaign and brought home the fact that he had been fighting for years to stop Fannie and Freddie from doing what they were doing, and just a couple of those above factors didn't exist - what would have been the result?
I think that all things considered, Senator McCain did very well. This election in no way means that Conservative views were rejected.
Sarah Palin still represents the conservative half of America - which still has a right to exist and is not going away.
God Bless the Palins and McCains. I pray the Lord now leads them in the direction they are to go in order to serve His - The Lord's - Holy purposes. And I pray the Lord leads us as well. Lord, please give us all the wisdom and courage to do whatever you ask of us. I ask this in the Holy Name of Jesus.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Let me say first - when I refer to civil unrest, I am NOT trying to incite violence. I have never been involved in violence and don't have intention to be.
That said, I can’t listen to what Senator Obama preaches about without wondering how intends to carry it off.
What exactly does he mean by “Change?” What is he leading half the country to “Hope” for? He hasn’t been specific, other than to say that he would like to spread the wealth around.
He talks about how we “divide one another”, and how we can’t afford to do that. He talks about how we are “all together,” and we have to “believe in each other.” What does he mean by "believing in one another? And what does he mean by saying, “We will change the country and we’ll change the world”?
How is he going to bring about change, (whatever change he is referring to) if half of the country doesn’t believe in him or the direction he intends to go?
But People must understand America. Half of us do not believe Obama. We don’t believe what he says, what he stands for, and who he is.
So unless he can sweet talk the conservative half of America into accepting his vision for our country - which would include universal health, increased funding of entitlement programs, cuts in defense at a time when the world is most dangerous, increased availability of abortion, same-sex marriage, and maybe even relaxed drug laws - how will we ever become One America? It doesn’t seem likely that even he, "The One," can sweet talk half of America into accepting these types of changes.
So how will he bring about this "United" America that he keeps telling crowds we will be? Unless he plans on creating forced “re-education camps,” everything he claims he can change in America will meet strong opposition from the right. His only option will be to simply force it on us - and I don't see how that will give us a united America.
With the Senate and House at his command, it is very possible that many of his bills will be passed. Yet, with half the country not behind the extreme changes he intends to make, some say the likelihood of civil unrest exists.
I guess the point is - despite what he is telling people at his rallies, no matter what he claims, he can’t control half of us. He can’t make us into who he wants us to be.
I don't understand what they are really expecting at these chanting rallies.
Personally, I don't see a united America as a possible reality - outside of God.
Which brings me to another point. I was singing a worship song this morning. It went - 'You are my Hope! Your promise never fails me. And my desire, is to follow you forever. For you are good...for you are good...for you are good to me..."
Well, this song reminded me again of where our only "Hope" comes from. Not from Man.
I can accept a man as our government leader, but as far as who I will follow forever, it will never be a man. My Lord alone is my rock.