Friday, December 12, 2014

A Christmas Dinner In A Chinese Restaurant

I'll start by explaining what we were doing in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day. Twenty-four years ago, I was pregnant with my fourth child, Kyle. My three oldest were gone for the first time ever on a holiday, spending the day with their Dad. Chuck and I were alone. All of our holiday celebrating had taken place on Christmas Eve. We decided to go out for dinner, quickly finding out that this was not going to be as easy as it sounded. Who knew that there wasn't one restaurant open on Christmas Day? Don't people have to eat on Christmas too?

After driving all over the proverbial half-acre, lo and behold we found a place to eat. Much to our delight we learned that there ARE establishments open on Christmas Day...Chinese restaurants! I remember feeling a little like a loser. As I looked around the room at the other patrons, I remember wondering what their stories were. How does one find them self in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day? No family? Family doesn't want anything to do with you? Or, like Chuck and I, maybe they had celebrated the day before. Whatever the story, there were a lot of folk in that restaurant, on that Christmas day, twenty-four years ago. And every Christmas Day since then.

We decided to make this a Christmas tradition. We haven't missed a Christmas Day dinner at Wong's Garden .. not once. I remember the first year we took Kyle. He was only nine months old and I'm putting it nicely when I say that his behavior was abominable. Most years it was just the three of us. There was one year when my daughter Kelly joined us because she and I had spent the afternoon in the ER with strep throat, and she didn't go to her dad's house. My brother joined us one year, our son Brian another. But Chuck and Kyle and I have faithfully taken our egg drop soup together at Wong's for twenty-four years. That night was no exception.

The scene was the same. In the far corner was a large family, adults and little ones. Many tables were full with couples and foursomes. There was a line for carry-outs. The Christmas tree was up. It's been the same tree every year. A large statue of Buddha sat in the same corner as always. Kyle remarked that he couldn't understand how anyone would worship Buddha. Good question. Christmas music was playing overhead. WNIC...100.3. Waiters and waitresses bustled about and seemed particularly busy and disorganized this year. The owner was helping out and took our order.

A couple of tables away sat an elderly women with gray hair, at a table for four, all alone. She caught Chuck's eye first, and he said that he would really like to pay for her dinner. I asked him if he was sure that she was alone. He was sure. He had checked it out. She was actually done eating and getting her traditional carry-out containers to take home. Our hearts were touched by the sight of her, alone for dinner on Christmas Day. Now I can vividly recall years when we were counting our last dimes to make sure we had some money to carry on our tradition. In those days we would be cut short until the next pay day for sure, but we weren't going to miss this dinner. And there were years we barely had enough. This day, to God be the glory, He is so faithful...we had enough to buy this women's dinner and ours. So it wasn't about sacrificial giving. But it was definitely about something.

When the owner took our order Chuck explained to her that we would like to pay for the elderly women's dinner. No problem. We watched from a couple of tables away when she explained to her that her bill was taken care of, but we couldn't see her face. Here's where it gets good. She bundled up her coat,taking her carryout containers in hand, and proceeded to go out the door. One of the waitresses started screaming for her to come back! She thought the lady was skipping out on her bill! The table next to her started yelling, "No, No, the boss lady said that someone paid her bill!" Whew! Out the door she went.

Once she was gone, "boss lady" came to our table to ask if we were a relative of the woman. Now if we were, don't you think we would've been sitting with her? Anyway, she told us that the lady had begun to cry when she found out that someone had paid her bill. It turns out that her husband passed away two weeks ago, and her son was a no-show for this very Christmas dinner. Sweet Lord Jesus! I mean that! Sweet Lord Jesus!!

Over two thousand years ago, God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, Jesus. Jesus ... Immanuel...God with us. Over two thousand years later, on a cold Christmas night in Michigan, He is still God with us. He was God with that elderly woman. And He showed her, up close and personal, how much He cares for her. What I didn't tell you is that we almost didn't go to dinner last night. We almost got carryout. But something inside of me was saying that we should go and not break the tradition. Oh, thank you for the promptings of your Holy Spirit!

Do you see how our God cares so deeply and personally for each and every one of us? He knows how many hairs are on that grieving woman's head. Her name is engraved on the palms of His hands. His voice spoke from Heaven. He chose to come to her intimately, in the middle of a Chinese restaurant filled with strangers, and tell her... "I love you daughter. You are not alone. I am with you." And I'm humbled and so intensely grateful that He chose to use our little family to bring His message.

When all was said and done, "boss lady" told us that she had told the woman that God was looking down on her. I don't know if "boss lady" is a believer, if she just said the word "God", if she's a Buddhist, or what. But she gave "God" the glory and so do I. She also told us this, "I have never before seen people like you."

Oh, boss lady, I have never before seen anyone like my Jesus!

 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Leave The Scars

I met her one day when she came to help out at a rotating homeless shelter I was coordinating at my church. She had volunteered to spend the night with our guests, even though she attended another church.

It wasn't five minutes before she showed me her arms.  Arms wrecked and ravaged, indented and disfigured. From injecting heroin. For years.

She told me a brief tale of her journey through her own homelessness, drug abuse and prostitution, for forty something years, all the while holding out those arms and smiling.


She wanted me to know just what Jesus did for her. She said that.

"Look what Jesus did for me!!"

I grew to know and love this woman over the next few years. We laughed together, cried together, did church and Bible study together. I have NEVER EVER met another human being who loves Jesus more, who trusts Jesus more, or who fleshes out Jesus' command to be like little children in our faith, more than this precious daughter of God.  

She will never, ever, be able to hide those scars. And you know what? She never wants to. They are a minute by minute, heck! Second by second, reminder of what Jesus did for her.

She's not ashamed of those scars or what they represent. Because, you see, they don't ever allow her to forget where she came from. They don't ever allow her to forget what Jesus brought her through. They don't ever allow her to think more highly of herself than she ought. But oh! Think highly of her Jesus! You betcha!

You and I may not have visible scars. But you and I have been somewhere. We've been through some things. We have a past. So why do we act like we never did? Why do we act like our only life is the life we've lived after Jesus. Why, oh why, do we not ever let anyone see our scars; the visible manifestations of where the Lord has delivered us from? We never tell our story. We never testify, saying, "Look what Jesus did for me?"

Yes, the past is behind us, but it doesn't mean it never happened. It's a part of who we are. It's a place we've been. Our wounds can be healed, but that doesn't mean we were never wounded in the first place. Our sins can be forgiven, but that doesn't mean we never sinned.

I've grown intolerant of the bright and shiny people lately. Those who forget they ever had a past. Those who want everyone to believe they've always been this holy. I can't even teach them anymore, if I'm being honest. They have ears but don't hear. Eyes but don't see, and hearts that receive nothing.  Hiding in their circles with those who are just like them. There's no power in that. There's only judgement.

The very minute you forget where you came from, and what Jesus has delivered you from, is the very moment that you cross over into judgement of anyone who isn't living the way you think they should. And judgement, friend, has never contributed to helping a lost sinner find their way to Jesus. 

It only pushes them away.

No wonder Jesus was the most comfortable hanging out with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. He had no tolerance for judgmental Pharisees. And the sinners flocked to Him. The self righteous made Him sick.

I want to hang out again with the broken, the smelly, the dirty, the lost sheep who desperately need a Savior. I've always been so comfortable there. Comfortable among the ones the bright and shiny run away from. I won't have one iota of effect, if I carry my bucket of judgement to them. But if I come with love and a testimony of where my Jesus has brought me from, I believe they'll listen. I believe they will get a taste and see the goodness of the Lord and be encouraged that what He did for me, He'll do for them. I'll show them my scars. I'll tell them how much I love Him because,

"She who has been forgiven much, loves much!" 

Loves Him. Loves others. Overcomes by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Oh, Jesus! Heal my wounds, but leave the scars. Let them be a testimony to your amazing grace and forgiveness and deliverance. Use every last bit of who I used to be, to bring you glory for where you've brought me from. May I never forget. Ever. Send me to the lost, the broken, the ones this world has discarded like trash, and make me bold and unashamed to share my testimony, show my scars, and lead someone straight to You.  

In Jesus mighty Name, I pray.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Lie? I Need A Beer.

He was sitting on a milk crate on the corner yesterday, just at the edge of downtown Detroit proper. I was in the lane closest to him and the light turned red. It was a semi-decent spring day, so my window was down. I turned to him and smiled as he showed me this.

I know. I know. You don't need to warn me about the dangers of chatting with strange men on milk crates holding signs in the middle of Detroit. I won't listen to you. Never have. Never will. 

He said, "Want to contribute to my beer fund?" "Absolutely not!", I said.

He pointed out his honesty to me and I commended him for it. I told him that he might want to turn his life over to Jesus and then he wouldn't need that beer. He told me he believed in God. He told me that when he looked into my eyes he didn't see black or white. He said we all bleed red.

We chatted about my Mustang. He told me I must have a need for speed! For a second I thought about the measly $1.10 I had in my change purse and almost added to his fund. Almost...

As the light turned green, again, I lifted my hand to him, at the same time noticing another man approach with a toothless smile, and I said, "Jesus loves you!", and drove away. As I started to move, I heard them both yell back, "Jesus loves you!"

Jesus loves you?!?!?!

What kind of thing was that to say? Really, Donna? "Jesus loves you?" How trite. How cliche. You couldn't do better than that?

Somewhere deep I remembered another man; one sitting at the gate called Beautiful. He sat there begging every single day. He asked Peter and John to contribute to his fund, but Peter said,

"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk". (Acts 3: 6)  

Peter gave him the name of Jesus. The power in that Name caused this man, lame from birth, to walk.

Isn't that all we really have to give that's of any worth or value or POWER?

The Name. The Name of Jesus? Not a lecture. Not an admonition to go find a job. Not disdain or disgust at his sad estate. 

The One who is called Jesus Christ is the best thing any of us can give.

We all bleed red. He was right.

But the One whose Name I gave bled the reddest of all.

For me.

And for my friend on a milk crate on the edge of the city on a spring afternoon in Detroit. 



Friday, April 18, 2014

It's All A Set Up

"But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Galatians 4: 4-5)

Because Holy Week and Easter often fall in April, one of the daily devotionals that I study each morning has dedicated this month to the last few hours of the earthly life of Christ. Taking thirty days to go over the events of a few hours time has lent itself to going slowly and deliciously in-depth in regard to the details. I'm one of those line by line, precept by precept bible studiers anyway. The more I can squeeze out of a word or single phrase of Scripture, the more excited I get.

Studying the final hours that Jesus spent on planet Earth as the Son of Man has led me to draw one conclusion. God is in the business of setting things up. Being all powerful, He could accomplish His purposes with just a word going forth from His lips. Really, He doesn't have to get up from His throne, and He doesn't even need to speak. All He has to do is think it, will it, and it will be done exactly as He wants it to be. More than now and again that's not how He works. If you don't just look at the familiar verses that we focus on every year at this time, but look deeper into the environment in which those events took place, you'll see something so remarkable, and I'm praying that "something" will bring you new hope today.

Before the foundation of the world, God knew what would take place in the Garden of Eden. He knew that the man and woman He created would be deceived by the serpent and that sin would spoil the perfection which was His original intent for mankind. He also knew that He would have to do something to bring fallen man back into right fellowship with Him. He had to do something because of His love. From that moment on, His plan of redemption could realistically have taken place at any time, but He skipped generation after generation of His people, waiting for the perfect conditions, to send His son, made of a woman to redeem mankind. When the fullness of the time was come, He would send Jesus.    

There would be a particular virgin girl named Mary. There would be a kind-hearted, righteous Joseph. There would be a designated time for a census. There would be a loving home for the boy to grow up in. When His time for ministry came, there would be men in position to become His close band of followers. The political and religious climate of the day would have to be perfect. Roman law would mix with Jewish religious law and form a unique set of circumstances that would be just what was needed to bring Jesus to a death sentence of crucifixion. Caiaphas would have to be high priest. Pilate would be governor of Judea throughout the entire length of Jesus' ministry. Herod Antipas would be tetrarch of Galilee, and both he and Pilate would find themselves in the city of Jerusalem during that particular Passover feast. I wish that I could do a more in depth study with you right here so that you could see some of the most minute details that had to be in place for God's plan to come to fruition in just the right way and at just the right time. The right stew of political, social and religious environs all mixed together, and the fullness of the time was come. God had set up the details perfectly and then, not one moment too soon or too late, He told His Son, "Now is Your time."

Why, in our present situations and circumstances, do we think we're exempt from the process? God is a God of order and plans and purposes. Jeremiah 29: 11 says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Where there's an end, there was first a beginning. To get from the start to the finish, there must be a process in between. Details must be worked out perfectly to achieve that expected end, and that's the part where God sets it all up just the way He chooses.  He pays close attention to the details. It is then, and only then, that He says to you, "Now is YOUR time."

We would be patient if it weren't for all the waiting.

It is right in the middle of the waiting dear one, where God is paying perfect attention to each and every detail that needs to be in place for your own expected end. At a wedding in Cana, Jesus told His mother, "My time has not yet come." (John 2: 4) Later, when His disciples urged Him to go to Judea for the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews were there, waiting to take His life. Jesus told His friends, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right." (John 7: 1-6) That's you and me, isn't it? We think that any time is right. We want it to happen and we want it now. "Any time now, Lord! Any time would be right!" Jesus shows us otherwise. He could have gone to Judea and let them take Him at that very moment and the whole thing would have been over. But He trusted His Father enough to know that the perfect plan would be carried out in the perfect way and at the perfect time. Can we trust Him that much?

When God knows that the time is right, it will happen; even more so, if He has promised it to you in His Word. I read somewhere that the time preceding the event is like a glass of water slowly filling up as the time rolls on until when the glass is full it has reached the time for the designated event to occur.

Matthew Henry said, "Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honour our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him."
Your Heavenly Father knows what you're going through today. He has a plan to bring you to your expected end. A plan that is good and perfect because He has taken the time to pay attention to the details. Don't fight the process. Embrace it. Let not one moment of it be wasted. Let it draw you nearer to Him in trust and expectancy. When the fullness of your time has come, you will see that you wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Jesus knew that. Learn from Him for He is gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your weary soul.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Seventh Inning Stretch

The other day, one of the elders at our church referred to those of us fifty and over, as being in the fourth quarter of life. This is not a new or shocking revelation for me. I've told my man not a few times that I've lived more years than I likely have years ahead. He doesn't like it when I say that, but truth is truth. I just turned fifty-seven.

I've been struggling lately with a whole lot of regret. "If only I had" has been a recurring thought. This thought doesn't involve anything major, like marrying my husband. I'd do it again in a hot second. My kids? Absolutely never a regret! I wouldn't have missed them for the world! 

Some of it is rather personal; not sharable here. But can I just say that I have left a trail of quite a few years behind me, and there are indisputably things that I would've done differently?

I wish I was in my thirties again. My whole life ahead of me. Wisdom like I have today. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, right?

The truth is, I'm no longer thirty. I'm fifty-seven, and maybe these regrets aren't just something I've dreamed up. Not to give any credit to the enemy at all, but I think some of it is just a mental battle he wages to make me depressed, discouraged, and ineffective.

I've done too many things wrong.
I've wasted too many years.
I'm too old now.
It's too late.

I could have...
I should have...
If I would have...

He only lets me host my unattended pity party for so long. Gently, on a spring morning, He knocks on the door of my heart and enters to sit awhile and reason with me.

He says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43: 18-19)


He shakes His head and says, "Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which I called you heavenward in my Son." (Philippians 3:13-14)

O. Kay. But...

With a smile on His face, His words perfectly echoing my thoughts, as if He can read my mind, "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (Isaiah 46:4)

"I will sustain you, like I did Paul, and Peter, and David. Look what they became in spite of the things that lay in their pasts. They made mistakes. Big ones! Paul murdered my followers! Peter denied me! David!! He slept with Bathsheba and murdered her husband! For goodness sake, child! Go back and read about what I did with their lives and see what I can do with yours! It's not over until I say it's over!"

You know what? I'm not a big football fan, so I'm not relating so much to that fourth quarter thing. I do love me some baseball though. 

I would prefer to look at this period of my life as a seventh inning stretch.

I'm going to stand up. 
I'm going to shake it all off.
I'm going to 
I'm going to get back in the game! 

And if I'm really blessed maybe I'll get to play some extra innings!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Is God A Good Father?

I think that the Word of Faith people get a bad rap. Don't get me wrong. Many have gone way out of line over the years. Just hear me out on this one issue, and see if you don't agree. Believe me, I've been round and round about this thing in my head many times and I always come back to the same answer for the question, "Is God a good Father, or not?"

For some reason, it's easier for us to believe that God wants us to be poor, like it's some badge of honor or something. For some reason, it's easier to believe that God has made us sick to teach us a lesson. We cringe when we hear preachers talk about how God wants us to prosper and be in good health; that He wants to heal us and see us have good success.

Is God a good Father, or not?

A good earthly parent would NEVER wish sickness and disease on the child that they love, would they?

A good earthly parent takes great delight in their children being successful, fulfilling their dreams and prospering in all that they do, right?

We who are imperfect, fumbling, mistake-making parents, only want the absolute best for our children. How much more do you think God, the perfect Father, wants the absolute best for us? He even says so in His Word.

"Yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant." 
(Psalm 35:27 KJV)

That's pretty clear, isn't it?

Just as I am so over the moon when my children are succeeding, healthy and happy in their lives, when God sees us prospering and being in good health, He is over the universe over it!

Now, be sure that there IS one who DOES want you to be sick and poor and suffering. He is the enemy that Jesus told us about. The one who has made it his mission to come into our lives and steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus said that He came so that we could have life, in abundance, to the full, until it overflows!  

The next time you're tempted to say, "Weelll, God must just be trying to teach me a lesson. This sickness must be God's will for this season in my life." The next time you're tempted to think that lack is a noble thing in the eyes of God, ask yourself this question: "Is God a good Father, or not?"

The answer is a resounding YES! 

 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. 
(Matthew 7: 9-11 NLT)


Friday, March 07, 2014

Just Wait A Minute

"As many times as you've prayed before, today may be the day when God sends the answer so swiftly--so divinely--that you're windburned." ~ Beth Moore

Do you believe that, beloved? 

I may just be the only one, but if we're honest I think most of us have prayed about some things for so long that we figure "what's the use?" God's answer must simply be no. But what if we started to look at it in a different way? 

Let's allow Joseph to teach us a little lesson on expectancy, lest we're tempted to just give up.

Remember Joseph? 
Thrown in a pit and left to die by his brothers? 
Falsely accused by his master's wife and thrown in prison?
Forgotten by his fellow inmates and left alone?
(Read his story in Genesis 37-50)

One minute he was in a stinky water well, listening to his brothers laughing over dinner above his head, and the next moment, they were pulling him out and putting him on a caravan to Egypt.  

One minute Joseph was going on over two years of being in prison, and the very next moment an official was telling him to get dressed and shaved for an audience with Pharaoh. 

One minute he was interpreting a king's dream, and the very next minute he was in charge of the entire land that had held him prisoner for so long. 

He went from the pit to the prison to the palace, in a series of one minutes. 

You see, you just never know when your "the next minute" is going to be.  

If Joseph had given up hope at any time from the pit to the prison, he may have missed the exact moments of his multiple deliverance's. 

You see, God had a plan and His plan was bigger than anything Joseph could ever imagine.  

He has a plan for my life. He has a plan for your life. 

The very next minute in time, could be the very moment of your deliverance from whatever pit or prison you find yourself in today. 

Hold on to your hat, dear one!

Just Wait A Minute!

"LORD, in the morning you will hear me; 
in the morning I will present my case to you
 and then wait expectantly for an answer."
Psalm 5: 3 NET 



Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Does God Really Love Me?

Do you know that God loves you?

No, no, no. Do you REALLY know that God loves you?

Yes, it's something we say, almost a platitude of Christian-speak, and something we know in our intellect. But in our hearts?

Do you really know that God loves you?

If we're totally honest, maybe not. The world's gone mad. Our lives are in chaos at times. Prayers seem to hit the ceiling and go unanswered, right? Satan uses those very things to plant in our minds that God doesn't hear, see, or most importantly CARE about us and our concerns.

Just because that may seem to be the case, it doesn't change the TRUTH!

God loves you. God loves me.

Here's a little exercise that may help you in your questioning today. Let's look at these three little words by emphasizing each one, one at a time, letting the truth of what they say soak in like balm to our aching hearts. Say them out loud. 

GOD loves me.
God. The Creator of the universe. The One Who placed the sun, and the moon, and the stars in the heavens and knows each star by name. The One Who created the earth and the sea and everything in them with just a word. The all-knowing, all-powerful, all-everything God, loves me!

God loves me.
He esteems me. He delights in me. He dances over me. He tenderly cares for me. He loved me before I ever thought about loving Him. He loved me when I was still steeped in my sin. He loved me SO MUCH that He gave His one and only Son for me, to suffer and die on a cross, so He could be with me forever! (John 3:16) That is love that my human mind cannot even comprehend!   

God loves me!
Me. The one who messed up so badly. The one who is ashamed. The one who they abused. The one who is hopeless and helpless to ever do anything right. Me. The one who they call ugly, stupid, never going to amount to anything. Me. With all my blemishes, faults, mistakes, foolishness, pride, selfishness, sin and rebellion! God loves me!

Confess those three little words.

Say, "God loves me. God loves me. God loves me!"

"I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8: 38-39 NLT


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Something About That Name

I spoke briefly with a friend after church this week. Her husband is very, very ill and continues to have set back after set back. Literally, this has been going on for months.

She said something that was more full of truth than I think even she realized.

She said, "Sometimes the only prayer I can pray is, "Jesus!"

Is there any better prayer to pray?

Did you know that the Hebrew name for Jesus, "Yeshua", literally means The Lord's Salvation, or 

Salvation from the LORD?

In the midst of our trials, isn't that what we need? Salvation from the Lord? For the Lord to save us?

When our problem has become so out of control and the solution is humanly impossible, we can cry "Jesus!"

When we are weary and tired and just don't think we can keep on for one more day, we can pray, "Jesus!"

When the only thing our body can produce is tears, we can cry with our hearts, "Jesus!"

When His Name leaves our lips, the atmosphere is charged with the words: "Salvation from the Lord", and the power of that Name is not without effect.

Problems are solved. Healing is applied. Provision is made. Protection is given. Demons take their hands off of you and flee for cover.  

Remember, dear one, it may not be immediate, while absolutely, it can be! But in the midst of the waiting, if He doesn't choose to remove the thorn from your side, He will give abundant measures of His grace, that will be sufficient to endure.The very fact that you are still walking around with your sanity, testifies to that!

Weary and weak one. Tired of being tired one. Sweet child of the Living God. Take the Name of Jesus and speak it over your situation. Speak it over yourself and your loved ones. There is power in His Name.

"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There's just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away
But there's something about that name."

(Bill Gaither / Gloria Gaither)


Monday, March 03, 2014

Remember Me

If you search your Bible, you will find that every time God "remembered" someone, great things happened.

When God "remembered" Noah, he and his family were saved from the flood.

When God "remembered" Rachel and Hannah, their barren wombs were opened, and they conceived.

When God "remembered" His people, He conquered their enemies in battle.

For thousands of years, God has "remembered" His covenant with Israel, and to this very day they remain as the apple of His eye, and they always will.

To remember means "to have or keep an image or idea in your mind of someone."

As you pray and pour your heart out to God this day, ask Him to remember you.

Great things are bound to happen!

"Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands."
Isaiah 49: 15-16 NLT

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

 Congratulations to Laura Connell! 
Thanks to everyone else for entering the giveaway! 
Be sure to see Grace Unplugged when it comes to your area
 and pass the word along!

Having just turned 18, Grace Trey aspires to more than just singing at her church, where the worship leader is her father—a former pop star. So, with the help of Mossy, her dad's former manager, Grace records a cover version of her dad's old Top-10 hit, runs off to Los Angeles, and begins to taste the kind of stardom she's always dreamed about. Yet with each rung of the ladder she climbs, Grace feels more and more pressure to compromise her values, further straining her relationship with her parents. Will everything she experiences lead her to reject her friends, faith, and family … or rediscover them? 

Grace Unplugged Website

If you'd like to win a copy of this DVD, comment below and I will choose one random person as the winner. 
Chance to win ends Thursday, February 13th.
If you win, you'll be contacted on Valentine's Day for mailing info. Be sure that your comment links
to an email, FB or Twitter so that I can contact you.  

Good luck! I hope YOU win!

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Modern Day Moses

"And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." (Exodus 3: 9-10)

This week we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While doing my daily Bible reading, beginning the book of Exodus, I began to draw a parallel between Moses and Dr. King. I thought that surely I'm not the only one who ever entertained this idea, so I went on a search. Sure enough, I wasn't the only one."Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the Moses of the 20th century", said Charles E. Mock of the National Baptist Convention. At a Martin Luther King Jr. annual awards dinner, Charlton Heston said, "A great many people think of me as Moses parting the Red Sea but if the 20th century ever had a real Moses who led his people to the promised land that man, of course, would be Dr. King." (2004 Jewish Post of New York) These are only two examples among many that I found.

Dr. King himself must have felt this kinship with Moses as well. At a rally in Memphis, he said, "I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up the mountain. And I've looked over. And I have seen the promised land. And I may not get there with you, but I want you to know, tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land!" Compare this to Deuteronomy 34: 1-4. "Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land - from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it." Both men saw the promised land .... both men never got there.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., graduated from Morehouse College (B.A., 1948), Crozer Theological Seminary (B.D., 1951), and Boston University (Ph.D., 1955). The son of the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King was ordained in 1947 and became (1954) minister of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. He may have had expectations of leading a middle class, quiet lifestyle, but God had a different plan. He grew up mostly protected from segregation but he had a different calling on his life. Not that he didn't know what was right and wrong. His father was an example to him. His dad refused to patronize a shoe store that made blacks be served only in the back of the store. He also corrected a white police officer who called him "boy", declaring that he was a man. (Detroit News, Jan. 16, 2006) His son Dexter Scott King said, "Greatness was thrust upon him, and for some internal reason or external destiny he did not turn away."

Just like Dr. King, Moses saw the oppression of his people in Egypt. Fleeing for his life after killing an Egyptian, Moses was living a quiet life, married, having children and tending the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro, when God interrupted his life and called him to service. And he did not turn away. Not that both men didn't have some fears, insecurities and self-doubt to overcome. Dr. King had to surrender his expectations of the way he thought life was going to be, to heed the call to become a leader in a movement bigger than himself. He had to muster up boldness, willingness and surrender to his God to go forward.

Moses questioned his own abilities. Low self esteem said, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3: 11) Doubt asked, "What if they don't believe me?" (Exodus 4: 1) Lack of any confidence in himself said, "I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (Exodus 4:10) Fear screamed, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it. " (Exodus 4: 13) Both men trusted in their God, heeded the call on their life, and obeyed.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August of 1963, Dr. King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. In the shadow of Mount Sinai, Moses read the commands that were written by the very finger of God to the people.

Both men presented the way to a better life. The way to peace and prosperity. Both men's words are still being ignored.

So what does this mean to us, on January 20, 2014....thousands of years after Moses and years after Dr. King? Have we reached the promised land? I believe we have come a long way but I also believe that we have a long way to go. Racial prejudice lay behind more than half of the 7649 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2004. I personally see racial profiling in action in my community when motor vehicles are pulled over for traffic stops. There is still a huge disparity between blacks and whites in America.

Closer to home, many of us grew up in families steeped in racial prejudice and hatred. And appalling and ugly as it may sound, it grows like a festering sore in many of our churches. Sunday morning is the most segregated morning of the week. Despite my attempts at educating those that don't know any better, I have heard white Christians say that black people like being on welfare and are just too lazy to work.

So back to...what can I do? I must become intentional about improving relationships that I have with those brothers and sisters not like me. I am blessed to be in a fellowship that is very diverse and is quite intentional about being so. I must understand that the church that Jesus regards as after His own heart is diverse and very colorful. Look at what Heaven will be like: "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb." (Revelation 7: 9)

I must teach my children and model for them that racial prejudice is wrong. I must believe that every person has worth as an individual and that they are entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of race or color. I must strive daily to eliminate racial prejudice from my thoughts and actions. I must speak up when I see racial prejudice by others. Like Moses and Dr. King, I must trust in my God, obey His word and never turn away from what I know is right because of fear or rejection. I would like to be a part of that "beautiful symphony of brotherhood" that Dr. King spoke of in his speech. The one where "we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."

And as I hold your hand, my white brother or sister, and with my other hand, hold yours, my black brother or sister, may we all give the world a little glimpse of what Heaven will really look like.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Different Kind of List

An expert in the law came to Jesus and asked Him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus simply told him to obey the commandments. "Which ones?" the man asked.

He was looking for a list.

The holidays have come and gone. It's a new year.  The stress of the hustle and bustle is over. We breathe a big sigh of relief. Anxiety has turned to peace. Worry gives way to excitement for a new and fresh start.

Why can't we just leave it at that?

Instead. This.

We've made a list. We've checked it twice. If we do it we won't be naughty. We'll be nice.

We'll be spiritual. We'll be approved. We'll be holy.

We'll be ((((((((((((((((((((fill in the blank)))))))))))))))))))))).

I'm choosing to live another way this year. Some women are making me tired just reading about all the things they're committing to do in 2014. Not to mention, husbands to love, children to nurture, jobs to go to, service at church. Woman! I need a nap!

You see, I don't think that Jesus would want us wearing ourselves ragged to please Him. This is the Son of God who says, "My yoke is easy. My burden is light." 

Back to the beginning of the post. Jesus answered this teacher by affirming these words:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"   
I believe there's a pathway to peace in this coming new year. I am purposing to live differently. It was for freedom that Christ has set me free and darn it! I'm going to start living free.

Here are a few things I'm going to do, sooner, rather than later. I'm not telling you that you need to jump on my bandwagon, because I will never lay a yoke on you that's not yours. Read them over and if one or two resonate with you, join me. If not, eat the hay and spit out the sticks.

  • I will spend the first part of my day in quiet time with the Lord with my Bible and ONE study/devotional book.
  • I will be an active leader in the Scripture Memory Community I started on Facebook a few years ago. Nothing is more important than hiding God's Word in my heart. I am powerless against a very real enemy of my soul without the Sword of the Spirit overflowing from my heart and out of my mouth. A real community of friends has been forming there over the years. We pray for each other, praise together, and connect in a real way while renewing our minds around God's Word. I wouldn't miss these women for the world.
  • I will once again review my Facebook friends and those I follow on Twitter. I will not friend to be friended, or follow to be followed. To say nothing about the overload of information to be taken in every minute of every hour of every day. Do I really need to know? Do I really want to know? Is what I'm reading building me up or tearing me down? The Bible says to guard your heart, because out of it flow the issues of life. What am I letting into my heart? Does it consistently make me angry and prone to argue or does it build me up?
  • I will never commit to a schedule of posting on my blog. I will only write and post when God has given me words that He has anointed to go forth. Anything else is a struggle to perform. 
  • I will follow, friend, and read only a few blog posts that really speak to my heart in a godly manner. There are thousands, millions, of wonderful bloggers out there. I love you girls, but I can't read you all. I can't comment on every post that I read. The writing is great. The ideas are good, but I will not let cyberspace and the blogosphere be my full time job. If I don't gain any followers or even lose some because of this, so be it.
  • I won't be a news junkie. I won't let the news make me anxious about the world around me. The Lord is my Shepherd and my Provider and my Protector. There is no lack in His economy. No recession or depression. I have His great and precious promises. I live in this world, but I am not of it. I live as a Kingdom of God citizen and by golly, things are different in God's Kingdom!
  • I will not be a false Christ to anyone. This means that I won't allow myself to be the answer to everyone's problems. Only Christ can do that. This one is particularly difficult for me. I genuinely want to make everything okay for everybody, even if it is to my detriment. If I allow myself, I will worry over you endlessly, try to come up with a solution to your problem, even try to BE the solution to your problem. Six times out of seven, on any given day of the week, someone close to me has a problem. On the last day of last year, I promised myself, and Jesus, that I would now let Him be Christ. I am not. I will help if it's within my power to help. I will give counsel as the Holy Spirit leads. I will listen, and I will pray for you with all of my heart. I will then point you straight to Jesus Himself. Anything more than that has found me anxious, feeling like I can't take a breath. No more!
  • I will serve and give in the places that God lays on my heart. Not out of compulsion, not because someone thinks I should, and not ever out of duty. 
  • I will live fully, laugh out loud often, and love deeply. 
  • I will let it be okay to spend afternoons reading good books and taking naps.  
  • I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind; and I will love my neighbor as myself.
Because the One Whose yolk is easy and Whose burden is light, said that the entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.


Thursday, January 02, 2014

Here's The Thing

This morning was like any other except that it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. Routine, I bundled up in my coat and gloves, pj's underneath, to take out the trash. The snow service had been here at midnight last night, so I thought that at least I wouldn't be ankle deep in snow. That was true, but as I made my way out of the garage, the wind kicked up fierce. Snow was blowing everywhere and it was like 8 degrees with a windchill below zero. Let me tell you how fast I high-tailed it back into the house!

Right there, shaking off the cold and being grateful to lock my door against the harsh outdoors, is where I began to weep, because here's the thing.

Right at that very moment, somewhere, someone didn't have that luxury.

If you've known me for any length of time, you know that I've worked with the homeless for a good many years. Just like so many who serve God in this way, after a while you get tired. Sometimes it seems hopeless. Sometimes they don't listen. Sometimes there's just no way to make things better. You burn out. That's exactly what happened to me. I moved on to other areas of serving.

God has a way of bringing things full circle. A short time ago, someone very close to me found themselves in a homeless situation. So that I do not ever dishonor anyone, no details. The point is that you just never know.

Someone that I love deeply could call no place home. Sometimes they were cold. Often they were hungry. They couldn't just run outside and run back in to a place with heat pouring out of vents and hot coffee in the pot. Like I did this morning.

As I thought about all those people who may have been out there today, with no place to go on this horrifically cold January morning, my heart broke again. Just as He has been doing over the last few months, God continues the surgery to remove the stiff adhesion from my heart. He had to break me in a personal way, so that my heart could break with compassion for others.

Because now I know. I know that every last one out there in the cold is somebody. Not only are they a person dearly loved by God, but they are, each one, somebody's son or daughter. They are somebody's brother or sister. They are someone's mother, aunty, uncle or dear friend. They're not nameless. They have a name and a face and a heart and a family somewhere. And you know what? It doesn't matter why they're there. This isn't a social science experiment. These are people.

Just like I prayed that someone out there would see my loved one and help them, some one is praying that you would see their least of these, out in the cold, and do something to help.

God, please! Don't let us continue to walk by.  Help us to see! MAKE us see!

Oh, that someone would put a warm cup of coffee in their hands to warm them up. Oh, that someone would offer a McMuffin to go along with that coffee and make the hunger pains go away. Oh, that someone would point the way to a shelter with heat and a cup and a bowl and a listening ear or just a touch on a shoulder. Just a touch. As I prayed that for my loved one, I know that there is a momma or daddy or sister or brother praying that someone would help theirs. That YOU would help theirs.  

Let's stop looking for someone else to be the someone. I know it now. It breaks me now. The adhesion is gone. The raw is there. And isn't that just what Jesus wanted done in me? In you?

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Picture Credit: Unknown