Sunday, January 27, 2008

The First Limerick

I just raised my first contribution amount for the Huckabee campaign as a Huckabee Ranger. Therefore, I wrote the limerick I promised to write to anyone who contributes to the campaign using my specially assigned Huckabee Ranger link (here is my special donor id code for you to type in the box in case the link gives you trouble or doesn‘t put it in the donor id box for you: R10165 Please, use this code when you contribute at www.mikehuckabee.com ). Thanks for using the code and when you do, let me know and I will write you a limerick too. Oh, and if you want to be a ranger too, just sign up on Mike’s site and use my ranger id as the referral. ;) Thanks!!

So, to my loyal Huckabee friends, Steve and Renee, here is your limerick!!

I have two friends; Steve and Renee
They are special people that God sent my way.
They stand for faith and morality
That’s why they back Mike Huckabee
Thank you so much for contributing today!!

Also, here is Steve and Renee’s myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/godatwork3 Please check out their music; especially the song “A Woman’s Right to Choose? (Satan‘s Little Lie)” Here is the story behind the song, as well as the lyrics. Abortion truly is one of Satan’s little lies (actually a rather BIG lie). And, that lie brings women a lot of pain and regret. My heart breaks for the women who are hurting from Satan’s lie. I pray for their healing in Jesus name! There is no condemnation for you!! (Romans 8:1)

God bless you Steve and Renee!! Keep on loving the Lord and doing His will!! Thank you for standing with me in supporting Mike Huckabee!!

“Back in 1998, we were living and working in Charlotte, NC. It was during the year we were dating and my husband, who had a music career back in the late 60's and 70's (even played with Bruce Springsteen in his former life) was not yet a Christian. He asked me out and I told him I would go out with him if he would go to church with me. So, he began going and soon after became a Christian. One Sunday we were at church and a woman in her 60's got up to give her testimony. She was absolutely haunted by the fact that at 17, unwed and pregnant, she had an abortion. She said she listened to "Satan's little lie", and had not had a day of peace since, even though she later became a Christian. She just could not erase the horror of what she had done. Well, my husband immediately wrote down that tag line...."Satan's Little Lie". He went home that day and later shared with me the song he had written, or as he says the song God spoke....he just wrote it down on the paper and put it to music.We pray that all who hear those lyrics will be touched and know that Satan's pull can entice people to do all sorts of things in the moment that they will suffer for a lifetime.”

A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE?(Satan's Little Lie)

CHORUS:
A woman's right to choose,
Doesn't mean a child should loose,
The right to look into her Father's eye.
When a mother's overwhelmed,
By the life within her realm,
Tell her just who life is consecrated by,
Don't let her give in to Satan's little lie.

First of all, she was not a woman.
She was a child living well beyond her years.
She was trading lust for love,
Without a blessing from Above,
Left harboring the guilt...and the adolescent fears.

CHORUS

Secondly, she never had the right,
To choose between God's creation and the death,
Of a child in her womb,
That in time would very soon,
Be bathing in the Light...and taking it's first breath!

CHORUS

(You'll be told, no one cares, You're in and out, don't be scared. You feel no love, you feel no pain, It's just another two lives...down the drain.)

Last of all, she already made a choice.
When her passion overruled reality,
When she chose to consummate
It was too little and too late,
To hope the cause and the effect...would never be.

CHORUS

Our Father's Folk (c) 2005 steve large Music, BMI(c) 2008 the MusicMission Music Group

The Fruit Factory

Today, Chad went more in depth about the “bird” referenced in the parable of the sower (please see my previous blogs if you missed the first couple parts). Of course, the bird is Satan; who takes advantage of the rejected seed that lies on the path and snatches it away.

Satan first deceived humans when he told Adam and Eve that by eating of the forbidden fruit, they could be “like God.” But, that was a lie because Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). They didn’t realize all that they had. They were made in the image and likeness of God and already had that within their hearts. They knew no guilt, shame, or sin and they had fellowship with the Lord in the core of their being.

Satan schemes and masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) so that he can deceive us and separate us from the presence of God. He targets our heart (our mind, will, and emotions) in order to enslave us into bondage and keep us distanced from God. That is why we always have to be on guard (Ephesians 6:11).

Chad showed us that without God in our core, we become a prime target for Satan to snatch the good seeds away and plant the bad seeds. He uses whatever things he can (like the media, people, and even ourselves) to get us spinning like a top. He does it cleverly too. It’s just as Kent Hovind says; it’s taking a base of truth and then mixing it in with a lie. The result is a twisted concoction of deception that easily deceives and brainwashes because it does have elements of truth in it that makes it easy to believe. That’s why rat poison is so effective. A rat isn’t going to take that bait if it’s total garbage. The majority of the mixture is 99.99% “good food.“ The remaining 0.01% is the poison. But, that’s all it takes to contaminate and kill. And, that’s exactly how Satan does it (and how he uses others to do it for him). When a “spin” gets put on a basic truth, it can be twisted for evil.

Chad showed us this illustration by spinning a few tops on a table. When the lie gets in, we start spinning. In our heart, our mind starts thinking and doubting, which may lead us to choose to disbelieve God because our emotions get conflicted and it just goes around in a vicious circle. As we go round and round, we get spun around and confused by the lies. Then, we “spin out” and CRASH!! Of course, that is Satan’s goal, and he couldn’t be more pleased. He would rather us be objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) rather than God’s instrument of righteousness when His Spirit lives within us. I love how Chad called the fruit bearing Holy Spirit the “fruit factory” within. That’s exactly what Satan is trying to avoid: fruitfulness. Therefore, he tries to halt production in that “fruit factory” by injecting in the lies that gets us spinning and tries us to produce the fruits of the sinful nature instead.

I really liked the message today. Though, it’s better understood if you hear it explained the way he presented it. There are so many more good points and details and it would take forever for me to explore and explain EVERY AVENUE. ;) So, you might want to hear Chad’s messages for yourself by going to our church website: www.missionoflife.com

The final note that I will end with was when he asked us if we were allowing ourselves to be Satan’s tools to spin other people out in their relationship with God. How are we living our lives? Are we spinning people out? Are we preaching too heavily on the “hell and damnation” side of the message rather than the central message of love, forgiveness, and acceptance? We got to check our witness and what kind of ambassador we are for Christ. How are we reflecting Him and His message? Proverbs 27:19 says it well: “As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.”

So, what do our hearts look like? What are they reflecting to the world? I ponder this often because I want to do my best to show others love, understanding, and compassion. I want others to know Christ and see Him in me. Of course, I will fail sometimes because I am not perfect - none of us are. Perfection is never something I can promise to anyone. I can only do the best I can and just trust that Christ’s blood will cover my mistakes and failures and that others would be as forgiving of me as He is of me too - and that I am of them. God wants us to be peacemakers and to not hold unforgiveness in our hearts (and for good reason too!). Hate, bitterness, rage, and unforgiveness is a prison that will eat you alive and rob you of joy; which is why love and forgiveness is the best choice so that we can all have peace and healing in our lives.
So, which “fruit factory” are we operating in? What kind of fruit are we producing and reflecting? Our behavior says a lot about our relationship with Christ - or lack thereof. If we are living without God’s Spirit to guide us, that empty void will have to be filled with something and that something will be the fruit of the sinful nature which are things as described in Galatians 5:19-21:

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

But, if we are living by the Spirit of God, we will behave accordingly with spiritual maturity and exude the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-26:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

So, be “fruity.” LOL Well, in a good way that is!! Be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and not the sinful nature. Behave in a manner that beautifully reflects Christ and allows Him to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in your heart by laying down your pride, surrendering to His will, and allow him to empty you out of the bad and fill you with the good (which is always my personal prayer every day!). Allow him to develop spiritual growth in your heart so that you can produce a fruitful and abundant crop!! God bless you my sweet and fruity brothers and sisters in Christ!!

Today's Rally And March For Life

Today, we attended the rally at the Scottish Rite in Fort Wayne. In the lobby, we were privileged to meet Congressman Mark Souder. I thanked him for being so dedicated and passionate in defending life and moral issues in Washington and I even prayed with him. I also told him that hopefully, he would rub off on Evan Bayh. He said, “I wouldn’t hold your breath.” How sadly true!! I told him how aggravated I was that Mr. Bayh claims he has Hoosier values, but doesn’t advocate for the values that Hoosiers really do hold dear. So, while I will not be holding my breath for Mr. Bayh, I will continue holding him up in prayer.

Oh, and before I explain more details of the day, I just happened to catch the report of the rally and march on the news tonight and wouldn’t you know, they have footage of us talking with Mark Souder!! AND, they got a close-up of our daughter Gianna (who, I might add, we named after abortion survivor Gianna Jessen). When/if I can get the video clip of that, I will be sure to share it!! I e-mailed the station and asked if they will have a link to that footage (or if I can get a copy of it and permission to upload and share it….though, I won‘t hold my breath for this either).

So, anyways, Mark Souder was one of the many speakers at the Rally. He had a lot of good things to say. He even made the point of saying that even when we get Roe Vs. Wade overturned, the fight for life will never truly be over. There will still be abortion (just like there was before the ruling) because there is sin and evil in this world. And, it will continue to be that way until the Lord returns because Satan is always trying to destroy the lives that God creates. But, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t fight with all our might!! We are making a difference and things will be better!! And, we should stand for life as it pertains to all areas; not just abortion alone. We need to stand up for the elderly, disabled, and for the babies who are experimented on and destroyed through stem-cell research.

After the rally, we marched in the frigid cold through downtown Fort Wayne. At the end of the march, we listened to a few women tell their heart-breaking stories of abortion and how it has hurt them. They described the emotional and mental scarring, as well as the physical problems that many of them had. One woman nearly bled to death after having her abortion. Another woman almost miscarried in her subsequent pregnancy. All of these painful things were never discussed or disclosed to them by their “health care“ providers providing them a “choice.” (Yeah, some “choice“ isn‘t it when you aren‘t truly informed! That‘s not “choice“ at all!). They were all grieved at how they were deceived and that they bought the lies because they have suffered dearly for it in so many ways.

All of them described the condemnation and judgment they felt. One even described how a peaceful protester outside the clinic begged her not to do it because she had a daughter who did and committed suicide a short time later. Yet, she went ahead and went through with it and afterwards, almost did the same thing. Thankfully, though, she did find healing through the women’s care center, joined the Bible study, and found redemption and healing. So did many of the other women there who described how they carried the condemnation and shame with them for years. They encouraged others that if they had been through what they had gone through to please reach out and seek healing. There is nothing that God can’t forgive you for. There is NOTHING the blood of Jesus doesn’t cover!!

There is so much more I could say about their touching speeches, but it’s impossible to remember and articulate it all. Though, I will end with one particular moment that really grabbed my heart and that was when one woman talked about how she changed her mind in the middle of her abortion. The “doctor” said that it was too late. And, she struggled with the pain as she watched kids at the mall with their Mommies or as she heard them laugh. She said it made her feel so guilty and she was unable to enjoy life because the abortion had robbed her of her joy. Her devastation continued even after she had more children. Whenever she looked into their eyes, she would wonder what kind of eyes her firstborn would have had. She would watch her children play baseball and feel the regret of not letting her firstborn have the chance to play and swing the bat. She beat herself up terribly over that until she came to Christ and allowed Him to heal her. She said because of what God had done for her, she now had the courage to be “silent no more.”

That is where these links come in. If you have had an abortion, know someone that has, or are even a man who regrets being party to the decision to abort your child, here are some help links. There is hope, help, and recovery. You do NOT have to go through this alone!! There are people who care who can help you through your pain:

Silent No More Awareness
www.silentnomoreawareness.org

National Option Line
1-800-395-HELP
www.care-net.org
www.heartbeatinternational.org
www.optionline.org

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats
1-877-HOPE-4-ME
www.rachelsvineyard.org

Abortion Recovery International Network Directory
www.abortionrecoverydirectory.com

National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing
1-800-5WE-CARE
www.noparh.org

Healing Hearts Ministry
1-888-217-8679
www.lutheransforlife.org/outreach/healing_hearts/index.htm


Healing Hearts Ministries (online e-mail emotional support)
1-888-792-8282
www.healinghearts.org

National Memorial for the Unborn
1-800-505-5565
www.memorial-unborn.org

Rapha (refers to licensed counselors)
1-800-383-4673

Victims of Choice
(630) 378-1680
www.victimsofchoice.com

Safe Haven Ministries (online message board emotional support)
www.safehavenministries.com

Elliot Institute
www.afterabortion.org

Ramah International
www.ramahinternational.org

Hope Alive, USA
(479) 855-0072
www.hopealiveusa.org

Project Rachel (Pregnancy Loss Outreach of the Catholic Church)
www.hopeafterabortion.com

SaveOne
866-329-3571
www.saveone.org

Life Issues (for men)
(513) 729-3636
www.lifeissues.org

Jennifer O’Neill book, workbook & video
www.jenniferoneill.com

Friday, January 25, 2008

Melissa Becomes A Ranger

Tomorrow, my family and I will be participating in the march for life in Fort Wayne. If you live in this area, we hope to see you there!! Keep praying everyone!! The more we pray and the more we stand up for life, the sooner we can overturn Roe Vs. Wade!!

Which brings me to my next item of business which is how we can help accomplish that goal and bring justice to the smallest of human beings. We can do that by voting for people who are passionate about defending life and will do everything they can to save lives. That‘s why I’m supporting and voting for Mike Huckabee!!

Mike Huckabee is one hundred percent pro-life!! This, among many reasons, is why I support him so strongly. In fact, I became a Huckabee Ranger on his website today. And, as a Huckabee Ranger, I can and will be making phone calls to voters on behalf of the campaign. And, they also ask us to help raise funds. The minimum goal is set to $100.00. Now, I like to think bigger, and I was going to raise my goal, but I do understand that funds can be tight (boy do I ever know that!). I also understand that many people probably don’t think too much about donating to a political campaign. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t donated to a campaign before until last year when I initially supported Sam Brownback. However, when I heard about Huckabee, I just fell in love lol. I totally *heart* Huckabee!! He won me over immediately because of his faith, character, experience, values, ideas, as well as his wisdom, wit, and humor. Mike Huckabee has the whole package!! This country desperately needs his leadership!!

After learning about Huckabee, I eagerly jumped on the bandwagon - even before most got on!! Many said that he wouldn’t get the funds or the support to be a “front runner” and that he was “the dark horse.” Well, that just goes to show you what a lot of committed supporters, bloggers, and prayer warriors can do!! (Am I right people?!! AMEN!!)

So, in order for this campaign to keep on running and keeping up with the other candidates, Mike has to have funds coming in from die-hard Americans who are committed to protecting our faith, freedom, and families. The funds go for lots of various things, such as valuable air time on television and radio. Mike is a man who makes the most of every dollar and he does things constructively (which is why he wants to get rid of the IRS so we can make more out of our own money too!) It’s all about getting the word out and informing voters of who he is and what he has to offer this great nation when he’s elected president. All the while, he maintains an unmatched level of respect and integrity by refusing to attack and slander the other candidates; despite their own efforts to tarnish Mike’s honorable reputation and spread vicious and twisted lies in order to make themselves look good. (Where I come from, we call people like that bullies). You sure have to admire a man who decides not to fight dirty and instead, turns the other cheek!! Isn’t that the kind of man we want to elect vs. the kind of men (and ahem, a certain unnamed woman) who like to tear others down and lie about others just to build themselves up and deceive their way into leadership? I don’t know about you, but I want a man of honesty and integrity in office and the only one I see that most closely resembles that description is Mike Huckabee.

So, if you agree with me, would you please consider even donating just a buck for Huck? All you have to do is click on the link provided in order to donate on his secure website and have it credited to my fundraising amount. I need to raise at LEAST $100.00. Though, I hope to raise more!! I have it at the minimum, but please, prove me wrong and show me that I should have thought bigger to begin with!! ;) Show me and show Mike that we are behind him one hundred percent!! And, if you too are a die-hard “Huckagirl” (or a Huck of a guy!) please join with me in spreading the word. Tell your friends; write some blogs; send some e-mails; donate some dollars; buy and wear a t-shirt; put out a yard sign; display a bumper sticker; become a Huckabee Ranger; or do whatever you can to help!! If nothing else, at least pray hard for Mike Huckabee!! That alone is a powerful thing!!

Let’s band together everyone!! PLEASE help me raise some bucks for Huck!! In fact, if it will motivate you, I’ll even write you a limerick (a cute five line poem) and post it on my blog if you do!! But, you gotta click on my link and donate AT LEAST a buck!! Then, send me a message and let me know that you supported our man Mike and I’ll write that limerick!!

Thank you so very much!! God bless you; God bless Mike; and God bless America!!!

(**NOTE** I have already received a couplel messages saying that the link doesn't come up right or that my referral id isn't there. So, if you have this problem, type in this donor code on the donation page when you make your contribution: R10165 Thanks!!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Seed Snatcher

Last week, Chad began talking about the parable of the sower and said that he would start going in depth about the different kinds of soil that the seeds fall on. So, Sunday, he began talking about the seeds that fall along the path. (Matthew 13:18-19 & Luke 8:11-12).

As Chad pointed out, when one sows seeds, it is not one’s intention for them to fall on the path. The seeds are meant for fertile ground. But, sadly, not all ground is fertile. The soil, as it pertains to people, is describing the condition of the heart and how it receives the seed: which is the Word of God. Sure, Satan gets some blame for snatching the seed away; though just like any bird wanting to eat some bird seed that falls to the ground from the birdfeeder, he’s just taking advantage of what is there. It’s been made easy for him because the seed was already rejected.

So, what makes a heart so hard hearted that it would be in “path” condition and reject the seeds? Well, if we go back to the beginning chapters of Genesis, we can see how it all started with the fall of man. Our heart (soul) is composed of our mind, emotions, and will. In the beginning, Adam had all of those elements plus the fellowship with God. He hadn’t sinned and things were wonderful!! But, when Adam ate the “forbidden fruit“, it broke that fellowship with God. Sin entered in and he had the knowledge of good and evil. Fear, guilt, and shame were ushered in - which is why he and Eve realized their nakedness and made coverings for themselves and hid.

They also didn’t realize that when God had warned them that “you will surely die” He was talking about much more than eventual physical death. When they ate of that tree, they immediately died spiritually. They were deceived by Satan into thinking that they would not “surely die” and that they would be like God; knowing good and evil if they ate of the fruit. Satan loves to trick us into thinking that sin doesn’t have immediate or long term consequences. He loves to put the spin on things and tries to twist the situation so that we think we are actually getting something good out of it for ourselves. But, as we know, Satan is the father of lies and there is no truth to anything he says. Everything he does is meant for our destruction; not benefit.

So, because of the fall of Adam, we all have that sin nature and are void of the presence of the Spirit of God until we make the choice to accept Christ as our Savior. When we do, His Spirit lives in us and we once again have fellowship with Him. Though, it doesn’t mean that we still won’t make mistakes. Because of our knowledge of good and evil, we are still prone to making bad decisions if we allow ourselves to be flesh-controlled rather than Spirit-controlled. Chad said “belief is an act of the will.” You have to CHOOSE to believe and CHOOSE to be led by the Spirit. God brings us into alignment with Him by giving us His Holy Spirit, but we STILL have to choose to follow His guidance. We aren’t God’s little robots. We always have the choice whether to love and follow Him or not.

In the coming weeks, Chad will be journeying through those different types of ground and will end with talking about the good soil. To be that good soil, we have to prepare it. There’s a lot of work that goes into making good soil for the seeds to fall on. It take surrender, commitment, and obedience. We need to “till” our hearts like a farmer tills his soil so that we can receive the seeds that God wants to plant within us. Don’t let Satan snatch those seeds from you!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Heads Up To All My Friends!!

***PLEASE READ THIS!! It’s not as long as it looks!!!***


This week is sanctity of life week. Therefore, I have put together a daily prayer guide of items to pray for - as well as some scripture verses to read and mediate on.


It has now been 35 years since abortion was legalized and over 40 million babies have died because of it. But, through prayer and activism, we have a chance to change things.


In addition to this prayer guide, I also ask you to be in prayer for a request that I just received in my inbox today. It comes from a woman in my area who told me that a girl had come to church with a very urgent prayer request. She said that her friend found out she is pregnant and her parents are trying to force her to have an abortion against her will. I pray with all my heart that she won’t be pushed into it!! I have passed along my contact information, and I can only hope and pray that the girl receives it and that I can help in any way possible. I will even house her at my own residence if I have to in order to protect her and her precious pre-born baby.


I also know that I have an abundance of loyal prayer warriors (as well as dedicated pro-life contacts) who will pray and help in any way they can. So…..PLEASE PRAY!!!!!! If I get any more updates, I will let you know!!!


Girls like this one are the reasons why we must do what we can to protect life!! It’s not just her baby’s life at stake, but hers as well. If she has an abortion, she greatly increases her risk for breast cancer as well as physical, emotional, and psychological complications. That’s something the abortion industry certainly won’t tell her. They call it “choice” but when you don’t disclose all the risks as well as the suitable alternatives, what “choice” is that?? It’s not a choice at all; it’s a death sentence!!! It makes me angry because so many women suffer because they are not given a REAL choice to choose life and then, they suffer emotional pain because of it.


Every woman I have ever talked to who has had an abortion has expressed to me their guilt, shame, and grief. They even tell me how they have had physical complications, miscarriages, inability to conceive, and subsequent pregnancy difficulties because of abortion. This has got to stop!! These precious women and children need not have to suffer!! “Choice” isn’t liberating; it’s VICTIMIZING!! How can the world not see the after affects and how we ALL SUFFER FOR IT!!! Dear God, bring us healing!!


Stand with me everyone!! And, if you live in this area, please meet me at the pro-life rally on Saturday, January 26th at 12 noon at the Scottish Rite in Fort Wayne. Then, we will march around downtown at 1:00 p.m. My husband, children, and I will be there. We hope you can make it as well!!


Here is the prayer guide; followed by some information on the monthly call for life and some helpful links (by the way, if you don’t live in my area, you can look up your own representatives using the link provided at the end). I meant to write this up and post it yesterday, but I had some other needs to take care of. So, sorry I’m a little late! Anyways, please participate and PRAY HARD!! THANK YOU!!!!


Sanctity of Life Week Prayer Guide



Today


Pray for the hearts of this nation and that God would soften every heart, open everyone’s eyes to the evil of abortion (and the lies that are used to enforce it), and stir a passion within every heart to stand together to protect and defend human life! A lot of people are just ignorant, deceived, and don’t know any better. They really don’t know what they are doing and it’s not “people” that we are wrestling with, but the evil spirits at work.


Ephesians 6:12 - For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.


Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Monday


Pray for Planned Parenthood and abortion providers everywhere! Pray for poor patients who blindly walk into their doors; and for their workers (and so-called “doctors”) who perform the abortions. Pray that God’s conviction would rain down on them and that their eyes would be opened and that they would repent. Pray that hearts would be changed through efforts like the monthly call for life, prayer vigils, etc. Pray that their funding would be stripped (sign the petition here) and that as more people realize their agenda, they would be put out of business.


Isaiah 46:3-4 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Tuesday


Pray for the healing of women who have had abortions (as well as the healing of the men who will never know their children, the children that will never know their siblings, and the grandparents that will never know their grandchildren). Pray that they will know God’s healing and forgiveness. Abortion takes its toll physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Pray for understanding and compassion and how you can offer it to a hurting person who has gone through the emotional turmoil of abortion.


Isaiah 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.


Wednesday


Pray for Crisis Pregnancy Centers (like The Hope Clinic) and that they would have the funds and the volunteers they need to keep them running. Pray that more women would seek them out first rather than seeking an abortion. Ask God to move their hearts towards life rather than death.


Psalm 139:13-16 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Thursday


Pray for our elected officials. Pray that God would strengthen and encourage the ones that are standing for life and values and that he would convict and change the ones who do not. Also, pray for this year’s election. Pray that God would move people to vote for solid pro-life candidates that will work hard at making abortion a tragic thing of the past.


Psalm 119:73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.


Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Friday


Pray for a spirit of adoption to move in the hearts of people. Pray that those facing the decision will choose life for their pre-born babies and also that there would be more people willing and able to adopt.


Job 10:8-12 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.


Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.


Saturday


Pray for an end to abortion. Pray this little prayer written by Lou Engle (and please check out this website for more information on “Bound for Life“ http://bound4life.com/) : “Jesus, I plead your Blood over my sins and the sins of my nation. God, end abortion and send revival to America.”


Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:


******************


The monthly call for life campaign is something I am very committed to. It is the first Friday of every month (and the next one is on February 1st). It’s an event in which you call and/or e-mail your representatives and officials and ask them to stand with you for life by encouraging them to pass pro-life legislation and put an end to abortion. It’s also an opportunity that, if you want to, you can call a local abortion clinic. (Please visit the monthly call for life website to learn more about it and to sign up for reminders and newsletters).


What I have been doing is e-mailing President Bush, Governor Daniels, Mike Pence, and Senator Lugar to thank them for their pro-life stance and I encourage them to keep up the good work. Then, I e-mail Evan Bayh and beg him to do the same (Evan Bayh is not very pro-life). Then, I call a local abortion clinic and just tell them that on behalf of the monthly call for life campaign, I just want to let them know that we are praying for them and also ask if there is anything I could pray for them personally for. Often, I get strange remarks and even get hung up on. But, I have had some surprisingly favorable responses - which is what makes these efforts worth it!! You never know what kinds of seeds you are planting!! This only takes a few minutes of your time ONCE A MONTH!! It’s a small thing that we can do to help keep the heat on the culture of death and encourage others to stand for life!!


Please utilize the links provided. And, of course, VOTE PRO-LIFE!!! This year is an especially crucial election. That is why I endorse Mike Huckabee for president. He is solidly pro-life, pro-family, and pro-faith. He’s a Baptist minister as well as the former governor of Arkansas and has a Christ-centered vision for this country. Not only does he have morality and values at his core, but he is very smart and will lead our country well - in addition to keeping us safe and ensuring our liberties. (He also wants to implement the “Fair Tax” plan and eliminate the IRS!!) PLEASE, VOTE FOR MIKE HUCKABEE AND ALL OTHERS IN THIS ELECTION THAT STAND FOR FAITH, FAMILY, FREEDOM, AND LIFE!!!


Monthly Call for Life
http://www.monthlycallforlife.com/

List of Abortion Providers
http://www.abortionclinic.org/search/searchResults.asp?state=IN


President Bush
comments@whitehouse.gov
(202)-456-1111


Governor Mitch Daniels
http://www.in.gov/gov/2310.htm
(317)-232-4567


Senator Richard Lugar
senator_lugar@lugar.senate.gov
(202) 224-4814


Senator Evan Bayh
http://bayh.senate.gov/WebMail1.htm
(202) 224-5623


Congressman Mike Pence
http://www.house.gov/formpence/IMA/contact.htm
(202) 225-3021


State Representative Jeff Espich (82nd District)
http://www.in.gov/R82/

Finding and Contacting Your Representatives
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"I Don't Think God Loves Me Anymore"

Lately, I have heard about and come across many people who are professing the lie that God doesn’t love them anymore or that they are too bad of a person to deserve His forgiveness. Therefore, I wanted to take the opportunity to shed the light of God’s TRUTH on the lies and deception of Satan.

In Romans 8:38-39, Paul writes: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

NOTHING can separate us from the love of God!! No matter what you’ve done, there is NOTHING that Jesus can’t forgive you for!! There is nothing you could do to diminish the power that the blood of Christ has to wash away all of your sins!! And, in John 1:9, God PROMISES that: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God is true to His Word. He can and will forgive you from any and all of your sins if you ask!!

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” - Psalm 103:8. God is NOT MAD AT YOU for anything you have done. He KNOWS that we are sinners in need of a Savior. That is why He sent Jesus to die for our sins so that we could be forgiven and have fellowship with Him.

As one of my friends always says: “No one is beyond redemption.” And he would know too, because he was once an atheist (and a hard core one too!!). Oh, if you could only see him now!! His life is an amazing testament of what the power of God’s love and the blood of Jesus can do!! And, I know countless others with pasts that they are ashamed of, but who have been forgiven and transformed by the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1 says: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” As a child of God, there is NO CONDEMNATION for you!! You are in Christ and you are forgiven!! God always has and always will love you. And while you can never be separated from His love, our sins do separate us from His presence when we walk after the flesh rather than the Spirit. That is, until we confess and surrender ourselves to Him; then, that fellowship can be restored. It’s important to know that difference because often times, when we have allowed sin to run rampant in our lives, we “feel” distant from God which we sometimes inaccurately equate with a lack of love. But, presence and love have nothing to do with the other. Even if there is a wall of sin between you and God, that doesn’t change His love for you. It remains no matter what. Though, in order to feel his presence again, you’ll have to start with an act of surrender and confession so that He can restore you.

I know how many of you feel. I have been in your shoes too. But, I stand here as a child of God who is NOT condemned because Christ’s blood covers all my wrongs. Any lie that Satan tries to tell me is null and void. God loves me no matter what I do. Therefore, I rebuke and reject any lie that Satan tries to attack me with, because I KNOW what God’s Word says about His love and forgiveness. And now, you know it too!! (And there’s a whole lot MORE where that came from too!! Just read His Word!).

So, if you are being brought down by Satan and are believing all these lies that He is telling you, rebuke it in the name of Jesus and claim the blood over your sins! Confess them to Jesus and ask Him to forgive and restore you - which HE WILL; just as He promises!!

If any of you who are reading this need some extra help or prayer, I am here for you. God bless all of my brothers and sisters!! YOU ARE LOVED BEYOND MEASURE!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Parables: The Original "Aesop's Fables"

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Chad began talking about the “parable of the sower”. (See Matthew 13:1-23). I foresee this as being a very enlightening and transforming new series! I can’t wait for next week!

Chad explained that a parable is an “earthly story about heavenly things”. Jesus often compared the every day things, that people could understand, to the principles of God as an effective means of getting through to them. And, in Jesus’ time, parables were particularly spoken and not written. He often told them in front of large crowds and they had an immediate impact and an intentional point. Sometimes, the message wasn’t always “obvious” - and sometimes, He even had to explain them to His disciples afterwards. Nevertheless, parables were always Jesus’ way of getting people to respond to God’s truth by discovering it for themselves in the every day things.

Maybe that is why God wired me the same way. I tend to see God in every little circumstance. Everything I experience in my life seems to have a “lesson” to it and I can find a direct analogy within everything. Being able to see things that way always brings me closer in my walk with God. I have had several friends comment on the fact that I happen to always find the pearl of wisdom within all my “adventures.” ;) It’s true. I do. I just can’t seem to avoid it. These correlations just seem to come to my mind naturally. I don‘t mind it, though, and I LOVE to be able to write it down and share it with others. It‘s my hope that in sharing the things that God speaks to me in my every day life, He‘s able to speak to others too when I share it. We’re all learning and growing together!!

This brings me to another important point of Chad’s message. He illustrated how the bigger picture of God’s impact looks. On one side, you have God’s Word and its intended impact. On the other side you have the actual impact and its affects on people. The channel inbetween the two is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works through people and things to bring God’s message in unique ways to the people receiving it.

God’s messages always have a solid point and an intentional impact. But, “results may vary” because everyone interprets things differently when they hear/see it presented to them. Sometimes, there is “noise” that gets in the way. There are a lot of things clamoring for our attention and we sometimes get distracted and dissuaded from what we are supposed to learn. The every day stresses and “stuff” of our lives (as well as the interference from Satan) has a lot to do with that. He does everything he can to corrupt the message and dilute its potential impact.

In the messages to come, Chad is going to dig deep into the “noise” and into the different kinds of ground that the sower’s seeds fall onto. I’m really looking forward to these in-depth messages!! I’m sure that it will be a lot of food for thought. So, until next time everyone!!

Close and Centered

Last Sunday, Chad did a little review of last week’s message; particularly about the four specific stages of spiritual growth: exploring, growing, close, and center. He briefly talked about a few key points before moving on with the new “parable of the sower” message series.

The whole goal of the spiritual growth stages is to end up at the last stage of being “Christ” centered rather than being at the opposite side of the spectrum which is “self” centered. The “self” side is empty, purposeless, and meaningless. Even if you have “everything“, you’ll still feel miserable and empty because when things are all about “you,” you really don’t have much of anything! Having no sense of purpose is a nagging void that‘s hard to live with. However, if you are purpose driven, you will work continually towards fulfilling that destiny to which Christ called you; and in that, you will find true meaning and worth in your life.

So, what does it take to get “centered”? It takes effort, energy, and commitment; and of course, sacrifice. There is hardly an instance in which something worth attaining doesn’t require those things. So, if you think you are going to achieve any goal without those elements, you’ll just stay stationary and unfruitful. Idleness and just hoping and wishing for something to happen (or putting it off as a “someday” goal) isn’t going to achieve a thing. You’ll just keep wasting time until you’re living in an endless “someday” seeing all the “yesterdays” that you wasted that could have been spent bringing you closer to goal. And, when it comes to one’s relationship with Christ, it should never be a “someday” goal because “someday” may never come! We don’t know how long we have!

What’s the first step then? Surrender!! “Die to self” each and every day as you make it all about HIM and less about YOU. It’s all about submission and servanthood; where your number one concern is to serve God and serve others and seeing to it that God’s Name is the name that is glorified - not your own.

Living a life of daily surrender takes work. It truly is a lifestyle. You have to give each day that God gives you back to Him. Galatians 2:20 describes it well: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Hard to take in? Is it “too hard” or beyond your “comfort zone”? Well, think about the alternative. Do you really think that this life is all there is and that making yourself happy by chasing worldly dreams is the key to happiness? Is that the secret to joy? If it is, I guess Hollywood is paradise isn’t it? The celebrities out there have every comfort you can imagine. Their lives are just peachy right? I’m sure Britney could tell you that!! Why do you think she is miserable despite all she has? Why do you think that even motherhood couldn’t fix the void in her heart? She has tried everything to fill it, but she has no peace. Why? Because her whole existence is about chasing after her own desires and happiness rather than God’s will for her life. And even after all her pursuits, she STILL isn’t happy!! She only spirals further out of control into misery!! Until she realizes that Jesus is the only one that can fill her void, she will continue down a path of self-destruction.

One of the best things I heard Chad say in reference to all of this was not to just “follow at a distance.” GET CLOSE AND CENTERED! Don’t sit this one out or shuffle slowly behind. Take an active role in your life and in your faith. You only have a set amount of years to be alive; the rest is spent in eternity (and WHERE in eternity depends on how you live your short lifespan NOW!). Eternity is FOREVER. Make your choice wisely now, because when you die, that’s when it REALLY begins!

Monday, January 14, 2008

You Are Hero Material!!

Yesterday, after church, Mitch and I took the kids to see “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything”. And, surprisingly, the kids sat through the whole movie and enjoyed it immensely - especially Casey.

It’s hard to review the movie and explain it - especially to those that do not understand “Veggie Tales” humor. ;) So, I think it’s better if you just read the review by PluggedIn Online and then go see it for yourself. It’s a movie that people of all ages can enjoy and truly good movies like this are worth supporting!

Regardless of whether or not you favor Veggie Tales, I’m sure everyone can appreciate the lesson of it all. Pa Grape, Mr. Lunt, and Larry are the feature characters and are cast as “cabin boys” who work at a dinner theater. All throughout the film, they long to be “heroes” and even try out to be part of the dinner theater productions. Though, they feel they lack the looks, charm, and guts to audition and be what it takes to be a “hero” like the lead actor. Even when they do try out, they fail miserably and feel like failures.

It’s not until they find a mysterious little blinking ball that they go on an adventure greater than they imagined. The little ball was sent by a princess on a ship. Her brother, prince Alexander, was kidnapped by her father’s brother in order to steal the crown and the kingdom. She sent the little “help seeker” ball that her father created to find some “heroes” to help rescue them.

The princess’s butler wonders why the help seeker would bring them such unfavorable “help” as the three guys that they got. But throughout the film, they proved to be just the kind of heroes that were inside them all along. And, like the King said in the end, just the kind of help that he intended. The three little heroes learned that you don’t have to be the most talented, best looking, strongest, or bravest of all to be a “hero.“ Being a hero is about so much more; it’s about doing the right thing!! True heroes show character and integrity.

Just like the King in this movie, our heavenly Father chooses us to do great things for Him. Many of us aren’t “hero” material (as the world would define it) but God sees our potential and wants to use us anyways. So what if the world looks down on us! God uses the weak things of this world to display his strength!! He uses the Davids to show up the Goliaths and He accomplishes much through a willing and humble servant who is submissive to His calling.

That’s all it takes to be a “hero.” You don’t have to be famous, extremely talented, or have super-powers. All you have to be is a humble servant of God who is willing to do what He asks in order to benefit mankind. And, the good news is, He wants to use all of us!! He has a plan and purpose for everyone!! All we have to do is say “yes” to Him and allow Him to bring out the best in us!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Getting Through Your "Hard Stuff"

Over the past year, I have been losing weight for a variety of reasons. So far, I’ve gone from 223 to 180 (though I had been even higher than that after I had Gianna in 2005). I’ve gone from a size 18/20 to almost a 12. I credit God for all my success and with His help, I will lose the last 30 pounds and reach my goal of 150.

I bring this up because many ask me about my weight-loss and how they can lose too. I plan on making a series of blogs about that at a later date; but right now, I just want to share something that has been on my heart for the past few days that I believe God wants to use to help a few people who are struggling right now.

In all actuality, I should already be 150. However, anyone who has ever been down this road will tell you, it’s “hard stuff!!” You have great success in the beginning; then, progress slows (or even stops!) and you hit that dreaded “p” word: PLATEAU!!! I’ve had many in the last few months; as well as a flat out halt (and backslide) on progress. It’s worth pointing out that any time one loses focus on God - whether it be weight-loss or anything else - you CANNOT have lasting success. His blessings can’t flow freely when you’re not submitted to His will. That’s why I got “stalled” and even “stuck.” I even regained a few because I stopped following God’s cues for me on my journey. However, now that the new year has begun, I have been able to re-focus and adjust once again. And, the one aspect that’s been on my heart to talk about, has been my re-inclusion of exercise. My “coach” [God] has showed me some amazing and motivating principles as I began to work out again.

I understand that the very mention of the word “exercise” makes people moan and groan; that was my attitude for a long time too. However, God’s helpful illustrations truly made it enjoyable again. When I was sitting there on my exercise ball sweating, rolling my eyes, and just hoping to “get through it” and endure the pain of struggling to lift my dumbbells, He nudged me to just “keep it up…..you can do it!” Sometimes, I think to myself, “What’s the point!! It’s too hard!! I hate this!! I just want it to be over with! Why do I even bother! I‘ll never make it!” But, that’s not the kind of attitude I should have. If I think like that, I am only sabotaging myself and gearing up for eventual failure. Therefore, I allow God to press me onward and I reject Satan’s attacks on my mind as I remember the good old Nike saying: “JUST DO IT!”

With the right mindset, I’m then able to focus on the end result. All the “hard stuff” is going to be beneficial in so many ways if I just don’t give up!! After a work out, I always feel accomplished, strong, and one step closer to my objective. I also continue to experience more endurance and strength (not to mention noticeable changes in my body and how my clothes start “getting bigger” as I shrink!). All that is worth feeling the heat and facing the fire for because when you do, you WILL find and attain that gold!!

That’s the mentality we need to have in any difficult situation. Sure, it’s hard and you wish that you didn’t have to go through it or that it was over with. But, think about the end result!! How else are you going to learn, grow, and become a better person if you don‘t go through all the “hard stuff“ to get there? A mother doesn’t get the “prize” of a baby without going through hard labor. A gymnast doesn’t win a gold medal without going through grueling conditioning and practice. So, how are we going to lose weight, conquer an addiction, or anything else unless we are willing to surrender to God and let Him “coach” us through all of our “hard stuff”?

We have to have the spiritual muscles to get through the “hard stuff” in our lives. The only way to build them is to challenge and train them to function stronger. The good news is, the tolerance and endurance builds up! It DOES get easier!! Case and point being that I am now lifting ten pound weights. Before, I was only lifting half of that! But, I had to go through the pain and test of the fives to get to the tens! Progress is gradual, and God doesn’t give you too much too fast.

Hang in there everyone!! All of you who have told me that you think you can’t do it or that life is too hard, just cling to the “coach”!! Heed his advice and you CANNOT FAIL!!! Jesus has never failed me - ONLY I DO when I’m not listening to Him!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

This Will Make You Laugh!! LOL

Just a short and sweet blog to tell everyone that the new Veggie Tales movie is out in theaters TODAY!! Yeah, I know some of you are like “who cares?!” but…….I CARE!! LOL So there!! He he. Anyways, I love Veggie Tales and of course the kids do too….we have all the videos. Good, wholesome, (and CHRISTIAN) stuff!! Well worth seeing and supporting!! So, that’s what we are going to do. We are going to take the kids to see it on Sunday. Truth be told, I’m just as excited as they will be when they realize what we‘re treating them to! LOL I can’t even remember the last time we took them to a movie either…..probably when they were crying screaming infants and they had no clue what was going on. Now, they are a little older, and they can handle sitting there and watching it. It’s just nice that there is finally a suitable movie to take them to because even Disney can’t keep it clean of bathroom humor and innuendos!! Soooo,….. THANK YOU “Big Idea” for making a good movie that’s truly suitable for all ages!! Nice to have a true G rated clean, moral, and funny movie to take our kids to see!! I hope it’s a real blockbuster and that Hollywood will take the hint!!

And, speaking of good humor, you got to check out this video!! It’s Huckabee on “The Colbert Report.” Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard!! LOL Have a nice weekend everyone!!

They're At It Again...

Here is the latest American Life League report that I got from Michael Hichborn. If you want to see the video, click here.

Planned Parenthood promotes “Mile High Club,” recreational sexWASHINGTON, D.C.— American Life League slammed the latest ad campaign of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, describing their new “safe sex” ad as a promotion tool for new abortions, and took strong exception to the fact that the campaign was paid for with taxpayer dollars.

“Planned Parenthood says it promotes sexual health, but in reality, it’s just promoting recreational sex,” said American Life League vice president Jim Sedlak. Planned Parenthood Golden Gate recently released an ad campaign to be aired on MTV, VH-1, and Comedy Central that associates Planned Parenthood with the so-called Mile High Club.

Sedlak explained, “Planned Parenthood makes one third of its income by providing contraceptives and abortions. It promotes recreational sex to keep demand for their business high.

”The Mile High Club is a slang term used to describe people who have engaged in sexual activity aboard an airplane at least one mile above the earth’s surface.

“By linking itself to the Mile High Club, Planned Parenthood’s message is loud and clear,” said Sedlak. “It is telling kids in the 18-24 age bracket to ‘Have sex! It’s fun.’ In reality, Planned Parenthood is just farming for more business.”

“What most people probably do not know is that ads such as these are paid for with taxpayer money,” said Sedlak. “The Federal Government gives at least $305 million annually to Planned Parenthood. This must end! American Life League is continuing its call to American taxpayers to sign the online petition at www.StopPlannedParenthoodTaxFunding.com and contact state and federal elected officials to cut Planned Parenthood off from our wallets!”

For more information on how to stop Planned Parenthood, go to www.all.org/stopp/planopen.htm

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Releasing The Bird...Not "Flipping" It.

It’s incredibly comforting to relate to people who have the same gifts as you do. Sometimes, they are the ones that can help you the best when you are going through tough times because they communicate in the same way.

That’s how I felt as I read my friend Melanie’s blog tonight. Her giftedness in writing and expression did wonders for this like-hearted soul!! In it, she talked about her husband’s grandmother who just passed away. She had been suffering with Alzheimer’s and in a way, it was a blessing for her to be able to pass on and be in heaven; though she will be greatly missed. However, Melanie isn’t looking forward to the stress of being around the family members at the funeral because she says they and her husband are not on good terms. Still, through it all, she remains optimistic and prayerful because her faith carries her through everything in her life; the kind of faith that hopes for and expects miracles!!

So, where’s the link between her situation and mine? Well, let’s just say that I have been going through a “loss” as well. I didn’t lose a person to the grave; though it feels that way. Any kind of loss of a cherished loved one, be they friend or family (or a friend that you felt was family), is always a hard thing to go through. It’s especially hard when the loss comes suddenly and without just cause. Melanie and her family had time to prepare for their loss…..I didn’t. Though, this loss is much different that the kind of loss that Melanie and her family are going through; but grief is still grief and it all hurts the same. There are still tears and all sorts of emotions that you have to deal with. It’s hard not to let the stress take its toll and depress you. However, there is always hope, and Melanie described it well:

“This afternoon, as I was updating my status and mood as I often do during the day; I put worried for a brief second. Then, I realized what message I was communicating. Just this week my Pastor mentioned a quote by Adrian Rodgers that I wrote down. "Worry won't take the sorrow from tomorrow, but it will take the joy from today." I heard this quote come from my conscience or from somewhere inside of me today. Why should I be worried? My heart is in the right place. I have a clear conscience, my job is to pray and trust God and this is what I will do. Do I have faith? I think so. If so, why was I worried? Why do we needlessly worry? It will be fine, things will work out, in time I will see God's will revealed.”

Reading that was a great comfort to me. It brings tears to my eyes. I too had the same thoughts; though they were thoughts of expressing my sorrow and pain rather than worry. Yet, there is a certain element of worry because there are still a lot of unknowns with my situation. I mean, there is always hope for restoration…..though it’s not up to me. It’s just like the little forward that I got from Marie today that said:

“God determines who walks into your life....it's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.”

As true as that may be, you can’t always make the person stay no matter how much you love them. You can pursue them and chase them and refuse to let go, but even then, love has to know when to release a bird that wants to fly away. You can do all you can to apologize and make amends, but if they don’t want to accept it, you can’t make them - no matter how much you want things to be better.

I did all I could do to make things right and had hoped that love would conquer all. However, I was greatly shocked and grieved that no amount of love and apologies was enough to cover a simple unfortunate circumstance. And so, I was given no choice except to let go because the choice was made for me. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t stop that bird from flying away and not even looking back - even after all we have been through. Of course, there is always the hope of the bird flying back, but I can’t spend all my time waiting in the nest for it to happen. I will have to go on in the meantime; though it’s difficult to ignore the pain of the deep wounds as I go from one spontaneous crying spell to the next. Many times, between sobs, all I could say was: “Why God? All I ever did was love them.” And all I keep hearing is: “All I ever did was love you.” Wow!! How profoundly and sadly true!! The perfect faithful God of the universe who does EVERYTHING out of love for us STILL takes abuse from His own creation. All He ever does is love us and show kindness to us; yet, we still don’t always accept or reciprocate that attitude. But even so, He loves us anyways. And even after all our ungratefulness and stupidity, He still loves us enough to forgive us and take us in His arms when we come running to Him with our surrendered heart. WHAT AMAZING LOVE!! It’s that example that enables me to do the same. No matter what, I still have that same love for the bird that has flown away; even if that bird hates me and doesn’t return my love. The hate will never make me stop loving, and I would still welcome that bird back if it ever returned.

Contemplating that helped me to feel better and to understand a bit, but even then, I had a hard time. I just kept thinking about how could I ever let myself love and care about anyone or anything ever again. Is anyone worth loving and caring about….especially when they don’t appreciate it and throw it all away? It was then that I was reminded of the verse that always comes to mind when I start feeling this way: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9). I also remembered something I had said very recently when ironically, I was describing my reasoning for continuing to forge new relationships even after losing people (one way or another) that I become extremely close and attached to. Sometimes, you wonder what the use is of ever getting close, or making friends, or loving anyone. But, it all comes down to this: “Love is worth the risk.” And so, I say that and the verse from Galatians to myself to remind me that no matter what, loving makes life worth living.

Pain and loss will not bring me down; it will build me up. Also, I will not cease to love and care about people just because they abuse me or don’t return my friendship, love, and loyalty. In fact, I am used to that and it is unavoidably going to happen throughout the course of my life because people are human. I have had plenty of people in my life that have used and abused me, and I have hurt people too, regrettably….we all have! We ALL make mistakes and we should be quick to forgive and make amends; not just give up on each other and expect nothing less than perfection. It’s impossible!! Even the best of people screw up and disappoint you every now and then. Mistakes happen. What would our lives look like if we just got rid of every person that made us mad or hurt us? It would be terribly empty and lonely because no one would ever be able to live up to the standard because everyone screws up - whether intentionally or not. Humans aren’t 100% reliable and foolproof - God is the only being that is.

Regardless of what conflicts come our way, we mustn’t allow the hurt and pain to harden us and make us angry and bitter, otherwise, what will we become? Why let it change who we are for the worse instead of the better? We must forgive others, forgive ourselves, and pray that others would forgive us too. Life is too short to worry and to hold grudges over nothing. It’s just like Charles Ingalls said in the episode of “Little House on the Prairie” that I was watching tonight (the one where Mary goes blind). He was upset about what was happening to her and when Jonathan was talking about all the strife of the town going belly-up without work, Charles told him that ordinarily, he would be upset. However, it’s amazing how unimportant it all seems when you are caring about something that really matters. He knew that they would “make do” through the hard economic times as they had before. The more important thing to focus on and care about was Mary. We shouldn’t waste time worrying or being angry about things that don’t matter much or that we have no control over.

Watching that episode was also a great comfort to me because it was yet another illustration of how there is a “silver lining” to every cloud. Just like one of my favorite songs that I heard today by Casting Crowns (“Praise You In This Storm”) in which the chorus says:

“I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands. For You are who You are no matter where I am. Every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand. You never left my side. And though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm.”

Even though the pain is great and things look dark and dreary, God is still God no matter where we are in life. He sees our tears. He’s right there with us and hurting for us. He never leaves us. He will help us get through it and find the joy in it all as He reveals His plan for us. Just like with Mary when she learned that she could still have a good quality life; even though she was now blind. She wallowed in self-pity and grief for a while, but she came through it and found the joy and decided to help others learn to cope with their struggles, just as she had, by becoming a teacher for the blind.

It’s just like Kent always says, “Feel the heat. Face the fire. Find the gold.” I’m almost to the point of finding the gold. There is good in this. At least I had the joy of the company of that “bird” while it lasted. So, like so many things, I’ll try not to cry because it’s over but be happy because it happened. I’ll cherish the good times and forget the bad. I’ll try not to get my hopes up that the “bird” will return. I’ll be content in my life no matter what happens. I don’t want sorrow and worry to take away the joys of today or any day. Though, I think it would be a mistake not to be sad. It’s good to let your feelings out, and sometimes, you just can’t help it. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to love so much that it hurts. It’s also ok to move on when you realize that whoever or whatever you are holding onto isn’t going to come back. Though, if someday it does, you will receive it with open arms because you were able to overlook the past and forgive because the love and hope of Christ enabled you to do so. That’s the kind of hope that I have for myself and for Melanie’s family too. But, we both know that even if things don‘t happen the way we would like, God is always faithful and trustworthy and our faith will sustain us. With or without certain people or things in our lives that we long for, we will still continue to go on and fulfill our purposes for Him.

And so, if the “bird” happens to read this, all I can do is apologize. I have poured out my heart and shown my love for you and can count on one hand the number of times anything negative has transpired. I never though that it would be worth throwing away all the countless positives because them. I feel terrible that the love in my heart wasn’t enough. I guess it never was or things wouldn’t be the way they are. I’m sorry for being human. I’m sorry for failing you and making mistakes. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be perfect. I’m sorry that no amount of words from my heart could attain your forgiveness. Though, I will never close the book on you - even if you have done so on me. I will always love you - and all your baby birds too - as will my whole bird family as well. I know I can’t change your mind because you say no one can once you have made up your mind….which is why I didn’t cling to you or fly after you because I knew you wanted to fly solo. But, if you should ever want a flying buddy again, you know where I’ll be. I love you……..always……unconditionally and with no judgments.

Monday, January 7, 2008

What Stage Are You In?

Here are my notes and thoughts on yesterday’s message at church. I’m sorry that I didn’t get around to writing and posting them until now…..

Yesterday was all about evaluating the hearts and spiritual growth of the people in the church. Chad said that there was a church that did a whole big survey on it. (The website where you can learn more about that is: http://www.revealnow.com/ ). It was really interesting stuff!! But, of course, spiritual growth is a hard thing to measure. I mean, you don’t have an x-ray machine for that! So, the only way to tell is by seeing the spiritual fruit that one produces as evidence by their continual transformation in the love of Christ.

That brings us to the burning question of the message yesterday: “Did you grow spiritually in 2007?” In other words, did you grow in your love towards God and your love towards others? For me personally, I have experienced a LOT of growth last year, and it will continue into this year (and every year after that!). I want to grow in Christ for the rest of my life and continue to love Him, and others, more and more.

At church, we took our own little survey of questions. Chad said that when the reveal survey was done, they had found out that all the activities, programs, and such that a church does doesn’t solely drive spiritual growth. A person’s personal relationship with Christ is what defines that, and the role of the church in helping to nurture spiritual growth helps in different ways. Activities and programs are good for some in facilitating growth, but for others, they need more. There has to be diverse opportunities and things provided for them to grow in the way they need to go. Everyone is in a different stage and taking a different step.

The survey found out that there were four different relationship stages: Exploring, Growing, Close, and Center. In the “exploring” stage, you are just getting to know God and for people in that stage, church is the most important thing to help with spiritual growth. Church and the Sunday morning services are critical for them in understanding God and taking their next step toward the “growing” stage. In that stage, people start growing through things like small groups (Bible studies/fellowship). It’s important for people to have other believers helping them to take their next step by walking through the journey with them.

The next two stages move beyond by getting into the “close” and “center” relationship with Christ. When you’re “close” you are in a stage or really wanting to get involved and be active in your faith. It’s a time of discovering your gifts and talents and how you can best use them to go back to those in the first two stages so that they can move up into the next few stages too. Chad also pointed out that in this stage, a person can get “stalled.” That’s totally normal. It’s a “seeking” stage and it requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Getting to know who you are in Christ and what you are meant to do takes time, and there are a lot of ups and down in that stage.

The last stage is when Jesus is the “center” of your life and the driving force behind all you do. That’s the stage in which you are always looking for opportunities to serve with the gifts that you have so that you can help others reach their next stage and give back to others what God has given to you on your journey. The objective is to “impart what you possess.” That’s why I love our church mission statement so much: “Reach up; Reach Out; Reach Around.”
Knowing where you are helps you get to where you are going. If you want to grow in Christ, identify what stage you most fit into and then go after the things that are most going to help and nurture you as you take your next steps.

So, if you need help in your stage, let me know!! That’s what I am here for because blogging is my the many ways I try to “impart what I possess” so I can help others take their next steps in their walk with Christ as I continue walking the path myself. If you need a church home, come to mine! Or, if you don’t live around here, I will help you find one where you live. If you need help dealing with “stalled” moments, I’m here to walk through it with you too. I have had plenty of those moments myself. We all do!! We can all learn from each other and help each other out!!

Here is one man who is walking across America to impart what he possesses!! This is the guy who created the t-shirts for the walk for life that my children and I wore that my friend Saundra gave me. His website is now up and she gave me the address to share with you: http://bravegeneration.com/

I pray that all of you will grow in your relationship with Christ this year. And, if you have yet to start that relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and ask how you can get started!! God bless you all!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Will You "Get In"?

Last night, one of my friends and I went to see a movie. It’s funny, because I almost missed out on seeing it with her because I lost my ticket!! We had bought the tickets and then had some time to kill before the movie started. So, we went shopping and came back. I had the ticket in my hand (or so I thought) as I was fiddling with some stuff in the van before we got out to walk up to the theater. So, somehow in that time frame, I misplaced it. We looked and looked and we couldn’t find it.

We decided to go on in and see if they would let me in anyways. The guy taking tickets told me that if the gal at the ticket booth remembered me, then he would let me in. I went and told her that I couldn’t find my ticket, and she said ok and told the guy that it was alright. So, he let us through.

When I thought about the situation later, it was so much more meaningful to me because I thought of how it might be in heaven when we are standing at the gate waiting to get in. God will ask for our “ticket” but what will we have to give him? Our own righteousness and works don’t get us in. We can’t “buy” or earn our own admission into heaven. So, if we think than any kind of money, riches, or even fame on Earth is going to get us in, we are going to be embarrassed, stunned, and dismayed when we end up standing there before God devoid of any real ticket to get us into eternity. Oh, how awful it would be to be turned away!!

So, what then? What’s the “ticket taker” [God] going to say? “If my Son remembers you, I will let you in.”

JESUS is our ticket into heaven!! HE paid the price of our admission!! So, if we knew Him well on Earth, He will remember us and let us into heaven when our life on Earth is over. But, if we didn’t, we’re out of luck and will be turned away. We MUST know Him NOW if we want to spend eternity with Him LATER!

So, do you have your ticket? I DO!! There’s an endless supply of tickets available to anyone and everyone who wants one; and they are FREE…..paid in full by Jesus Christ!! All we have to do is request it and accept it!!

And what of those who try to come in another “way” or “sneak in” to heaven? How tragic and frightening it’s going to be for them when they hear Jesus say the dreaded words “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

Jesus is the ONLY WAY; the truth and the life!! (John 14:6). There is NO ONE ELSE that can remember you and say, “He’s ok. Let him in!” Buddha can’t do that for you; Muhammed can’t do that for you; YOU can’t even do it! Jesus is the ONLY one who can tell the Father to let you in since He is the one and only Son of God; by whom you would be recognized as a child of God by the blood of His sacrifice!

There is no “back door” or sneaking past the “ticket taker.“ There’s no way to squeak by or “bargain” once your life is over!! Jesus is the one and only way to get a one way pass to eternity. If He doesn’t remember you, you’re not going to get through to see the “feature presentation” of eternity. Get your ticket NOW, because once your life is over the box office is CLOSED and you‘ll be forever stuck in a horror movie instead of having a “happily ever after“!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

I Have Returned! :)

Ok…..I’m back!! Miss me? LOL

Praise God for answered prayer!! It has been a nice break and much was accomplished!! Namely the fact that the media is absolutely flabbergasted that Mike Huckabee has won in Iowa (and that Hillary Clinton finished THIRD!! LOL). They just don’t understand that money has nothing to do with it (didn‘t they learn their lesson with John Kerry? All the money in the world can‘t buy you a president!). Sure, money helps fund and promote the campaign, but prayer goes farther than a dollar ever can! We know it, Huckabee has always known it, and God knows it!!

And, aside from that aspect (whether you are a believer or not) people identify and like Mike!! Just like Huckabee said in the first part of the Jay Leno interview,“People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.” That’s for sure!! People are going to vote for someone who stands up for what’s right, looks out for and genuinely cares for their welfare and the well-being of America, as well as a man who operates with integrity and character. THAT is something you can NEVER “buy.” Take notes Romney and Hillary (and all the rest of you candidates who don’t know what character and honesty are!!). ;)

It’s also worth it to see/hear more of the comments he made, like this one, in the second part of the Jay Leno interview: “I think there's a fundamental difference between us in terms of whether we think taxes ought to go up or down, whether government ought to be more or less involved.” Right you are Mike!! There is a BIG difference; and people need to realize that before they vote so we don’t end up living with a mountain of regret!! That being stated, Mike Huckabee is the way to go and after hearing him explain how to get rid of the IRS in the second half of the Jay Leno interview, I am more convinced than ever!! That and the fact that he totally mopped the floor with Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” a few days ago (I especially loved this segment!!). Way to go MIKE!!

Well, that’s all I have to say. I experienced a lot of good moments of personal growth and reflection over the last few days - but I’m keeping that to myself. Although, it was a great compliment to me when I had a brother in Christ tell me the other night that he really saw me grow in my faith this past year and since he has known me. He and his lovely wife are always so nice to me whenever I see them at church and they always make my day. He even said I had a “glow” about me - which is the highest compliment anyone can ever receive; that is, for someone to tell you that you radiate the love of Christ and that the beauty of that inspires and attracts others to Him. I told him that that is something you can’t buy in the cosmetic aisle; only Christ can make your eyes sparkle and your persona radiate and glow with His love. It’s sobering and humbling that there are those that notice that about me as I try my hardest to be a good ambassador for Christ. If anyone thinks I am beautiful, THAT is the reason why. My beauty would be nothing if I didn’t have Jesus!! Jesus perfectly embodies the definition of “true beauty” and because I have Him, I AM BEAUTIFUL!!

I have two more things to share before I close. The first thing being that today is once again the monthly call for life. So, if you haven’t already done so, PLEASE participate!! Now, more than ever, it’s important to be a voice for the voiceless. During sanctity of life week (January 20-27) we will be marking the tragic 35th anniversary of the legalization of abortion. I pray that this election year, we will elect even more people that can help put this senseless slaughter of innocent human beings to an end. LET THE HIDDEN HOLOCAUST COME TO AN END!! NO MORE GENOCIDE!!

Also, I am proud to announce that my best friend, Susan Stafford, now has her book “Soulless” ready for purchase through the publisher’s website. It will soon be available to order on other sites, but the publisher is making it available first. And, if anyone knows the process of supply and demand, her book will be more readily available on shelves the more that people take interest in it and demand it!! This is a definite must read for anyone!! You will be awed by the miraculous and amazing transformation that God did in her heart as He took an empty and unfulfilling life full of abuse and emptiness and made it into something redemptive and beautiful!! I encourage all to read this book!! It will wow and touch your heart!!

God bless you everyone!! Have a great day!!