Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two Minutes Under The Fig Tree

**I know this looks long, but it’s worth the read!! The sermon was awesome!!**

Last Friday, Chad and several others left for a mission trip to Guatemala (all prayers for the team, and for the people of that country, are greatly appreciated!). Therefore, someone else got to preach today. That someone was Tony Chaney. Some of you may remember that he used to be one of our lead pastors (and our youth pastor) before he was called to serve elsewhere. He is also the father of Haley Chaney; whom you may remember as the one I was requesting prayers for a few months ago. Haley was in a really bad car accident and had severe injuries (especially to her brain). Though, I am proud to report that Haley is doing phenomenally well!! (PRAISE GOD!!). I even seen her for the first time when I was in the prayer room a few weeks ago. When I saw her, I just hugged her as the tears of awe and joy flowed like rivers down my cheeks. I then took a step back just so I could look at that beautiful smiling face of hers which radiated with the light of Jesus. To see her, and all God has done in her, just blew me away as I beheld the glory of God‘s goodness. I couldn’t help but feel like I had just hugged a walking miracle. If you want to read and see for yourself just how far she has come, check out her online care page (free registration is required in order to view).

Anyways, Tony began the sermon by expressing his immense gratitude for all God has done, and for all the church (and the community) has done to help support his family Thank you to everyone who has prayed for Haley. Your continued prayers are appreciated!

It was so nice to see and hear Tony preach again. He has always had a special gift for communicating God’s truth in such a loving, peaceful, and gentle manner. God’s living water just flows effortlessly from him, and I am one among the many who were just overjoyed and blessed by his sermon today!! I STRONGLY recommend hearing it for yourself when it’s uploaded on the church website!!

The text Tony used comes from John 1:43-51 which reads:

43The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."

44Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.

45Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

46"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.

47When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."

48"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."

49Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

50Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that."

51He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Tony explained this scripture the way that he often does - through his real life experiences. He talked about how he has a “fig tree” just like Nathanael; a place where he goes to get quiet and alone with God. He said that back in April, when he was sitting and praying in his favorite chair, he felt his chair move. He waited to see if it would happen again; it did! He said that the walls seemed to shake as well as everything around him. He realized that he had just experienced a mild earthquake (my fellow Hoosiers might remember this; though I didn’t experience it because I was in South Carolina at the time). He said that because he was quiet, still, and aware, he was able to experience those tremors that rose up from deep within the earth. He said since it was so early in the morning, many people probably slept right through it and didn’t even notice. He expressed his awe at being able to experience that little display of power because it reminded him of how God’s powerful tremors flow directly to us. If we are still, quiet, and open to it, we will notice and experience that power from God. But, if we don’t take the time to have those quiet moments with Him, we are going to miss it!!

That story really resonated with me. It was exactly what I needed to hear because I have always struggled with having quiet and still moments. Though, I have had a friend that has been gently urging me to take just two minutes a day to be still and quiet. No distractions or noises, just two simple minutes to think about absolutely nothing and experience peace and rest. She told me that I would learn to enjoy the quiet more and more and work my way up to longer periods of time. She’s right. I am learning to enjoy it The more I relax in the quiet stillness of God, the more wisdom, understanding, peace, etc. I receive from Him. If I learn how to hear God’s whispers in the stillness first, I will be better able to hear His “still small voice” speak to me in midst of all the noise in my every-day life.

This blessed stillness is what Nathanael had likely been experiencing while under that fig tree. The fig tree was probably his quiet place where he could get alone with God and pray. He might have even been praying about the arrival of the Messiah. During that time period, everyone was anxiously watching and waiting for the Messiah to come. So, Nathanael should have been overjoyed when Philip came to tell him that the one they had been waiting for had been found. However, this wasn’t the case. His immediate reaction was “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nazareth’s reputation wasn’t very good, and so, Nathanael had his doubts. Nazareth wasn’t the kind of place he expected the Messiah to come from. Little did he know that his perspective was about to change!

Nathanael’s doubts were put to rest when Jesus encouraged him with the fact that he knew who he was and that he walking in truth. Nathanael asked, “How do you know me?” Jesus told him that He had seen him while he was STILL under the fig tree. It was right after Jesus said those words that Nathanael openly declared Jesus as the Son of God.

That’s a pretty big change isn’t it? What was it about Jesus’ reply that instantly broke Nathanael and assured him of who Jesus was? It was the fact that Jesus KNEW him and KNEW about his stillness in that quiet place. Who else but the Son of God would know about what he was doing under the fig tree?

Because of Nathanael’s quiet moments, he was able to see God’s revelations. If he didn’t have those timeouts from his busy days, he likely would have missed the things that God was trying to show him.

Tony illustrated that concept with yet another story. It was about how his wife and Haley had gone out to eat after Haley’s rehabilitative therapy. He said that Haley had noticed an older couple praying over their meal at the restaurant. She pointed it out to her Mom who instantly had a prompting from God that she should pay for their meal. Tony said that she wrestled with it for a while, but finally decided that she would obey. She told the waiter to give her the bill, and he seemed surprised. He asked if she knew them and she said no. He seemed perplexed, but he gave her the bill and she paid it. Then, when they were going to pay for their own, he asked her what made her do what she did. Angie’s simple response: “God.” The waiter was clearly amazed. I’m sure that gave him something to ponder for a while!

Next, Tony said a waitress came over to Angie. Apparently, she had been watching them and she said she felt she should give Angie a necklace that she had made (which she was wearing). She took it off and put it around Angie’s neck. Angie asked her why she would do that and amazingly, the waitress had the same answer: “God.”

Tony said that through that experience, Angie felt like God was showing her that listening and being obedient brings God’s blessings. He showed her that He was in control and taking care of her. Isn’t that amazing?

Think about all the lives that were touched because of those simple acts of obedience. God only knows what effects those actions had on that couple or that waiter! Think about how the quiet moments in our own “fig tree” places condition us to listen to God. We learn how to be aware of the opportunities He brings our way when we are sensitive and open to His voice. When we are quiet in His stillness, we learn to hear the whisper and can then hear it even amongst all the noise in our every day lives.

Tony asked us to close our eyes and think of our own “fig tree.” Even if we don’t have a special chair or place, our fig tree can be anywhere we are because God is always there. Like the song we sang today “you never let go….through the calm and through the storms….” We never have to reach very far to be with Jesus because He is already there; already holding us because HE NEVER LETS GO! We may let go of Him, but He NEVER LETS GO OF US!!!

Experience Jesus in your own “fig tree moments” this week; whether in a special place of solitude or even in the midst of waiting in line at the grocery store, doctor‘s office, etc. If quiet is sometimes hard for you, like it is for me, do what my friend suggests and start with just two minutes. Can you spare a mere two minutes of silence per day to just be still, quiet, and put everything out of your mind? Two minutes; that’s all. Think of nothing else but the peace and tranquility of God that fills your heart as you take time to “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). Be still. Be quiet. Just “be.” Just two minutes under the fig tree. Just you wait and see how it makes a difference in your day (and in your life!). Like Nathanael was told that he would see even greater things, so will you!! Just wait and see. Wait…….and see!!!

I pray that all of us will have lots of “fig tree” moments this week (and every week)!! May we all learn, grow, and build from those two minutes!! May our time under the fig tree increase as we learn to cherish those blessed moments of stillness!! Grace and peace to all of you….today, tomorrow, and always!! God bless you all!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Do You Smell Like Grace And Peace?

Last Sunday, Chad continued the “Colossians” series by talking about these first two verses of the book: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Herein, Chad focused on two particular aspects of these verses: grace and peace.

Paul was always greeting his readers with “grace and peace.” The way Paul said “hello” was beyond that of a standard “hey, how are you?” Paul’s greetings were heartfelt and sincere. He conveyed warmth and joy to his readers with those love saturated words “grace” and “peace.“
So, how deep are the words “grace” and “peace”? Chad described grace as being joy, favor, and acceptance. He also said that peace is the presence of the goodness and fullness of God. So, when Paul was writing “grace and peace” to his readers, what he was essentially saying was something to the effect of “joy, favor, acceptance and the goodness of God’s fullness be to you……may all of these good things be yours.”

Isn’t that beautiful and heartwarming? What would the world be like if we all greeted each other in such a tenderhearted way? How would that change communication and relationships? I think it would make a HUGE difference! Personally, when someone speaks gentleness and love to me, it always softens my heart in some way. One example would be like when we visit Chick-Fil-A. (In case you have never heard of it, it’s a restaurant chain that serves some really good chicken)!! The company is faith and family based, and boy does it ever show in their attitudes!! The restaurants are always the cleanest, the people are always the friendliest, and their customer service is unmatched. Why? It’s because of their humble hearts and attitudes (and because they are Christ-centered!). It even shows in their words when they ask, “how may I serve you?” Think about how that phrase (compared to “how can I help you?”) makes you feel. “Serve” has a humble feel to it; and you know that the person really means it. “Help” is more of a general term, and doesn’t seem to go quite as far as the word “serve.” Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear “how can I serve you?” and then hear them say “it was my pleasure” when you thank them for your food, it just blesses my heart and makes me feel valued and relaxed. In fact, my husband loves hearing it so much that he will gladly go up to the counter multiple times to get a refill (or to order more food) just so he can hear them say those two phrases. (You should see the way Mitch grins from ear to ear - and I do too!! LOL). Those words are truly life-giving words that touch the heart and have the power to transform!

Words that speak from the heart of our heavenly Father always have that effect. It’s no wonder that gentleness and kindness are fruits of His Spirit. When those fruits are present in us, we have a better chance of helping people to know and understand Christ through our tender attitudes and loving hearts. Gentle and tender words really do “massage the soul” as Chad put it.

We all need grace and peace to live. Grace is what saves our souls and brings us eternal life. And, that assurance of eternal life is what brings that peace to our soul. Chad says when we “soak” in that, we just become marinated. To illustrate that point, he held up a nice raw steak (Oh that made me squirm - and he noticed when I turned away too. LOL Yeah,…sorry. I have this thing about touching raw meat). He then proceeded to put it into a special marinade. Next, he put the steak on the steaming grill he had at the back of the stage. He described that even when put to the fires, the grace and peace that we are marinated and soaked in gives off an aroma. He cited Acts 20:22-24 which reads: “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Even though Paul’s life was frequently in danger, and he often didn’t know what turmoil awaited him, it was his “grace and peace” attitude that fueled him to keep going. He knew his life wasn’t merely his but God’s. It was for God’s purpose that he persevered and kept spreading the gospel of “grace and peace” - and he gave off that “aroma” to everyone he met!!

So, like Paul (and like that steak) we are to permeate the world around us with that delicious aroma of “grace and peace” that simmers in our hearts. Everyone needs to hear (and see) “grace and peace” from us. That’s when Chad posed the question, “who most needs to hear ‘grace and peace’ from you?” I know we can all think of someone. Often times, it’s usually people within our own homes and families because oddly enough, they are sometimes the ones that get the least “grace and peace” from us. I guess it’s just all too easy to take those closest to us for granted isn‘t it? Chad said he started saying “grace and peace to you” to his kids all last week - he said his kids started getting “freaked out.” LOL So, maybe we don’t always have to say it with words, but we can show it in our actions. Actions speak louder than words anyways.

I pray that we can all soak in the marinade of God’s “grace and peace.” May we all give off that delicious “aroma” so that others will hunger for it. May God’s abundant grace and peace be with each and every one of you!! All good things to you; my brothers and sisters!! I love you!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Unchanging Speaker For The Ever-Changing Audience

What does it take to understand something? How does one understand a story; a conversation; a testimony? Well, it’s all about the speaker and listener; the author and audience. That’s the important point that Chad made when starting his new sermon series on Colossians today. (Be sure to listen to all the details when the sermon is uploaded online!).

The concept of knowing your audience is something that my English teacher always emphasized. He always told us that in order to communicate effectively, we always had to have our target audience in mind. In order to reach them, we must understand them and put ourselves in their shoes. The better we understand them, the better they will understand us and the less of a communication gap there will be.

Paul (who penned the letter that became the book of Colossians) understood his audience. He always knew how to explain things and help his readers/listeners understand the spiritual concepts he was trying to convey. However, that was years ago and the audience has now changed. Therefore, there is often a very huge gap between what Paul wrote and meant then and what we understand about it in the here and now. It’s kind of like Shakespeare. We, in the present day, sometimes have a hard time understanding the things Shakespeare wrote because we no longer talk in the same form or live in the same time period. Therefore, we don’t understand and receive his message as well as his target audience did. I laugh to think of how future generations might scratch their heads at our own present-day communication. Can you imagine how a phrase like this might perplex someone a hundred years from now?: “I gtg…bbl. I’m gonna go hang with my peeps 4 a while (fo shizzle!). LOL So,…I reckon I’ll ttyl….tc!” Did you get all that? I’m assuming most of you did because these are the times we live in. That type of lingo, dialect, and communication isn’t foreign to us. But, for the members of my “audience” who do not understand, let me clarify the meaning for you: “I’ve got to go. I’ll be back later. I’m going to spend time with my friends for a while (definitely!) *laughing out loud* So,…I suppose I will talk to you later. Take care!” When there is very little burden on the audience to decipher what the author is saying, there isn’t much room for confusion, misunderstandings, or misinterpretation. However, because so much has changed between then and now, we DO have that burden to try to understand more about the communication, culture, and what things were like THEN if we want to understand it NOW!!

This is why Chad likes to “peel back the layers of history” in order to get to the core of what the authors of the Bible were trying to say. Studying intensely will help the text “come alive” and help the present day reader relate and understand. Therefore, Chad’s introduction to Colossians begins with some foundational understanding about Paul.

As most of you may already know, Paul wasn’t always the “saint” that we know him to be. Our author, Paul, or rather “the author formerly known as Saul” (See! Many in this present day “audience” will understand this referential joke and laugh!) was once a persecutor of the very faith that he professed in his letters. As Saul, he was a Jew, and he followed the laws of his Jewish faith very strictly. He and others persecuted those that “belonged to ’the way’” because “the way” (Jesus) wasn’t “their way.” However, all of that was about to change….

In Acts 9:1-22, we read of Saul’s miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus. A sudden bright light from heaven brought Saul to his knees and Jesus asked him; “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul inquired to who He was and Jesus revealed himself to him saying: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Then, He directed the now blinded Saul to get up and go into the city where he would soon be told what to do next.

After Saul’s three days of fasting and praying (oh yeah, there’s a sermon in itself right there!!), the Lord sent Ananias to Saul to lay hands on him and restore his sight. IMMEDIATELY after the scales fell from his eyes, he was BAPTIZED (as Chad pointed out, he didn‘t wait until he was “spiritually mature” but rather, got baptized at his conversion - as we all should in order to signify our rebirth and our faith in Christ! If you’ve been born again, why wouldn‘t you want to be baptized?). Then, he ate some food to regain his strength, and then began preaching about Jesus!!

Saul/Paul traveled everywhere and all were amazed that he was once a violent persecutor of the Christian faith! Even Jesus’ own disciples had a hard time believing it at first; some even had disagreements with him about different things (oh yeah, Christians do have disagreements sometimes!). Chad reminded us that Paul and Peter even had to part ways after Paul called him out on his hypocrisy (See Galatians 2:11-21). I won’t go into a whole other subject by discussing the content here, but basically, Peter was in the wrong and he and Paul had to part ways. Thankfully, Jesus worked on Peter’s heart and through CHRIST’S intervention, he was able to see the truth and have a changed heart and mind on the issue (and then some!!). Once Peter humbled himself, surrendered, and got over his pride and stubbornness, he became sensitive and open to the truth of what Jesus was trying to show him (please see Acts 10:9-48 and continuing in Acts 11:1-18). And, through his humble submission to the AUTHORITY and WILL of CHRIST, change occurred in him; and subsequently in OTHERS TOO!! (You just got to read it for yourself!! It’s awesome!!)

Chad said if there was one thing to asterisk about this message it would be this: **JESUS CHANGES PEOPLE!!** AMEN TO THAT!!! A TRUE ENCOUNTER with Jesus Christ brings surrender and repentance, just like we have seen with Saul/Paul. Jesus grabs our hearts and transforms us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our lives are changed and WOW….WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!!

When was your encounter with Jesus on your own “road to Damascus”? Or, have you not had that encounter yet? Or, maybe you have, but the “wow factor” of your conversion has fizzled out. You’ve taken a detour, gone your own way, and now, you are “lukewarm” like in Revelation 3:16. That’s not a good place to be!! If you are unsure of your salvation don’t hesitate to reach out for some help. I’m your sister in Christ and I’m here to help you and pray for you!!

Jesus really does change people!! He is the ONLY one that can change anyone; and that is a concept that every audience in every era can understand!! Even though the times and audiences change, He never does. He remains the same wonderful, loving, merciful, forgiving Savior He has always been!! He’s still in the business of creating life-changing transformations each and every day. And, each testimony resulting from those transformations carries a tremendous impact!! The world is our “audience” and each story has the power to show everyone the reality of how wonderful and REAL God is!! God really can do anything, and he can soften and change even the most hardened of hearts!! Paul said so himself in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” If the self-proclaimed chief of sinners can be saved, there is indeed hope for anyone to change!! It’s just like what my former atheist friend always likes to remind me of: “No one is beyond redemption.” He hated Christians just like Paul did, but God brought him to his knees as well on his own “road to Damascus” and changed his heart forever. If he can change; if Paul can change; then I KNOW there is hope for everyone and it motivates me to pray all the harder for those I know who are unbelievers or backslidden. I know that Jesus can open their eyes and change their hearts!!

If you haven’t already done so, please, encounter Christ and allow him to change your life from the inside out!! Then, boldly live and share your story in order to glorify and bring honor to HIS NAME!! Like Saul was renamed Paul, so are you also renamed as a son/daughter of your heavenly Father when you are adopted into His family!! You are an heir of God; a child of the King!! Bear that title well and may all the world know that you are His disciple!! The world is your “audience”….and they are watching and listening to you!! God bless you all!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lies of the Magic Mirror and The Reality of Truth

[This is part three in the blog series regarding the book I’m reading: “Trapped in the Magic Mirror.” If you missed the first two parts, or need to re-read, you can read them by clicking here and here.]

In chapter two of “Trapped in the Magic Mirror,” the author delves further into the differences between fantasy and reality. Of course, as we grow older, we all learn how to tell the difference (mostly!). ;) Sometimes, though, those lines still get blurred. It happens in our quest for that “something more.” We imagine what it will take to fill that void and we do all we can to acquire what we think we’re missing. Even if everything looks perfect from the outside, sometimes, we are still screaming on the inside and we wonder if anyone hears us. Have any of you felt that way before? I know I have!! We all tend to gaze into those “magic mirrors” in order to see and attain what we wish was reality.

The author says: “The magic mirror is a metaphor for the illusions we harbor in our hearts about how life is supposed to be. The voices that speak to us from that mirror are our critical parents, our carnal friends, the media, and our own selfish wills.” Isn’t that the truth!! And, of course, the more we look to those people and things in our mirrors to fulfill our ideals, the more we ensnare ourselves into the “magical thinking” that the author refers to. “Magical thinking” is unrealistic and confusing because it blends fantasy with reality and leads us to make all sorts of bad choices.

My favorite part of this chapter is when she identified the “Five Fatal Falsehoods” as well as the “Fabulous Five” truths!! She said that any or all of the lies could be present. In fact, believing just one can very well be enough to start messing up your thinking and behavior. Indeed, one bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch!! So, here they are as stated in the book:

Five Fatal Falsehoods

1. If I strive to be beautiful, sexually attractive, and successful by the standards of the world, my husband will be entranced by me. This will make me feel good about myself and I will bask in the reflected glory of his love.

2. If my husband really loves me, he will change into the man I need him to be.

3. If my husband doesn’t treat me well, God has forgotten me.

4. If I love others more than I love myself, they will need me. Being needed will make me feel loved. I must always put the needs of others first.

5. If bad things happen to me or if I don’t have the desires of my heart, there must be something wrong with me.

Fabulous Five Truths

1. Your husband cannot make you feel good about yourself if you don’t feel good about yourself already. Only God has the power to make you feel good about yourself. A husband does not have the power to rescue you from the cinders and turn you into a princess. You must bask in God’s reflected glory. If you do not feel beautiful in God’s eyes, you will never feel beautiful in your husband’s eyes.

2. Real love means accepting people as they are, and not expecting any person to change to make you happy. You can pray they will change for their own good, but not for yours.

3. God has not abandoned you, even when your husband doesn’t treat you well. If you turn to God, he can work in the situation for your good.

4. Being needed is not to be confused with being loved. A person exhibiting true love strives to help the other person to be less needy by encouraging individual spiritual and emotional growth. But it dose not mean that you always put the other’s needs first by not treating yourself well. You must love your neighbor (husband, child, etc.) as you love yourself -- not more than you love yourself.

5. God does not give you the desires of your heart unless your heart is fixed on him. He changes your heart to line up with his will. Denying you what you want may be the most loving thing God does for you. God doesn’t reward you for being good by giving you everything you want.

Insightful isn’t it? And, I think those lies and truths apply to so many more areas than just marriage alone! I can personally say that I have identified with every single one of those falsehoods at one point or another in my life. I could give you an example for each of them!! Though, I am glad to have realized the truths that shatter those falsehoods. The truth really does set you free!!

The biggest lie that underlies them all is the lie of “you’re not worthy.” I can vouch for that one as well!! I battled that big lie for a long time until some good Christian prayer warriors prayed over me and the bondage of that lie was broken and I was set free! And, I think I’m only one of the many women in this world that struggles with this lie. We are all told that we have to be beautiful, attractive, successful, alluring, and some kind of super-woman. We think that if we can be all that, everyone will treat us well, our husbands will adore us, and the world will be at our feet and God will just smile down on us and bless us with everything we deserve. But, when all the perfect peaches and cream dreams never materialize, we are left feeling disillusioned and let-down. Then, our devastation gives way to our embracement of that big lie of unworthiness and we go through life feeling self-defeated and invaluable.

These lies are poisonous!! And, the lies end up getting passed down to the next generation as well. The cycle just keeps on repeating and the endless habit of working for everyone else’s affirmation, approval and attention becomes our focus and we become addicted to it. The author says that “measuring our worth by the world’s standards - instead of God’s - is like trying to nourish our bodies on candy. We’re never full, never satisfied, never nourished.”

For our own sakes, and the sakes of our family and loved ones, we have got to stop this cycle!! We got to learn to be content with the beautiful lives God has given each of us rather than dreaming about an ideal fake life (or someone ELSE’S LIFE!) that isn’t ours and will never be ours. It’s time to stop wanting “to be the ultimate desire of a man and the ultimate envy of other women.” It’s time to focus on Christ. He always satisfies. He offers us thirst quenching living water; not "dead water." The more you are satisfied with Him, the less you’ll want and need others to fill in the gap (which they truly can’t fulfill like Jesus can anyways!).

I embrace Jesus as my “Prince.” Like the author says, her husband is not her prince. “He is just a very good husband. Jesus is the only one worthy of the title of Prince.” Amen to that!! Let us forsake our own pursuits of vain perfection. Let us be perfected and fulfilled by Christ!

Chapter Two Questions

1. How do you typically respond when your spouse doesn’t even come close to meeting your expectations?

2. To what extent do your find yourself trying to please people rather than God? Why is this distinction important to recognize?

3. How do you measure your self-worth?

4. Many women believe that if they are just good enough, pray more, and work harder at being a perfect wife that everything will change -- especially their husbands. What is wrong with this belief? Why?

5. When we view our husbands as princes, what kind of pressure does that put on us? On them?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Last Minute

Today, a pastor we are connected with in Alaska was here to preach. He talked about keeping our eyes to the sky and waiting for the day that we are taken away to be with Jesus (which could be any time now)!! The end times are here, people. Look at the signs!! His text for the message was from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.

In the Bible, Paul talks about the coming day in which we will be gathered up to heaven. Can you imagine what that will be like? It’s a concept so amazing that I can’t even begin to comprehend!! In fact, I don’t even know how I can begin to blog about this or describe it as he can. This is definitely one I will recommend you hear for yourself when it’s uploaded on our church website.

I think the main thing that stood out to me was when he said that God is precise in his prophecies. Everything is carried out to the letter. Have you noticed that? Anything that was foretold and that has been fulfilled thus far has happened EXACTLY as God said it would!! Aren’t you glad that God is so detailed? That leaves no room for vagueness and guessing!!
Therefore, we must all be prepared!! End time prophecies are coming true more and more all the time!! So, if you are waiting until the “last minute” to get saved…..be aware that this IS the “last minute!”

So, you might be wondering and doubting, “oh really, well, how can we be sure?” The pastor even acknowledged that many just don’t believe in the validity of the Word anymore and that there is that “great falling away” that the Bible talks about. Um, yeah people…….can you see that? We are falling away more and more all the time!! Don’t be one of the fallen!! And, like the pastor said, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the passage of time deteriorates the promises of God. Just because things don’t happen as quickly or progressively as we think or wish it would doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. God’s time is not our time, and God is also patient. Would we REALLY want the day to swiftly come? Are we really ready to see the end? Why are we so anxious to have it fulfilled when there are so many left unsaved? It’s for that reason that I can wait just a little longer, because I wouldn’t want anyone to be “left behind” and neither does God!! That’s why He is giving us every opportunity to turn and repent before that “day” comes. As the saying goes, “feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.” Search it out for yourself in the Bible and see for yourself that it’s true!! Don’t wait until it’s too late and you are proven wrong and are grieved at the fact that you didn’t believe when you had the chance!

Is today your day? How long will you wait? Missing out on salvation is one regret you can’t afford to have!! 2 Corinthians 6:2 says that NOW is the day of salvation!! PLEASE, DON’T WAIT!!! Take your cues from the Holy Spirit which is tugging at your heart and making it race right now!! God is trying to tell you something! So, please, listen to that urging!! If you are unsure whether or not you are going to heaven, why don’t you make a choice RIGHT NOW for all eternity. Confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; confess it with your mouth and believe it in your heart!! (Romans 10:9-10).

If you made that choice and have just become born again, I would like to welcome you to the family of God!! Don’t hesitate to talk to me if you have made that choice. I want to help you take your next step in today’s decision. You don’t have to walk in your faith alone and be left wondering, “Ok, I‘m saved. What now?” Please, contact me and I will walk with you on your journey!! God bless you!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Planned Parenthood Loses Again!! :)

I got the latest ALL report for you........and it's some good news!! But, before you read that, I would like to remind everyone that tomorrow is the monthly call for life!! Please, take a few moments to participate!! You can find out all the details on this campaign by visiting http://www.monthlycallforlife.com/

ICYMI: Habitat for Humanity affiliate ends cooperation with Planned Parenthood

American Life League Wins Another Battle Against Planned Parenthood

Sarasota, FL,Jun 4, 2008 / 11:51 pm (CNA) - A Florida Habitat for Humanity affiliate has ceased to cooperate with Planned Parenthood’s attempt to build a new abortion facility in Sarasota, Florida.Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, wanted to open an abortion clinic in Sarasota, but due to zoning ordinances they were unable to do so. The obstacle seemed to have been overcome when Habitat for Humanity Sarasota agreed to purchase a Planned Parenthood property for $10 and to build housing on part of it.

The agreement would have bypassed city requirements preventing Planned Parenthood from obtaining an occupancy permit. City ordinances required a multifamily “liner” building to be constructed at the back of the property before a clinic could be opened at the front.
On Wednesday morning the American Life League (ALL) reportedly was informed that Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Sarasota, Inc., on Tuesday night voted to withdraw from the agreement.

Writing in a press release, ALL vice president Jim Sedlak said ALL was “extremely pleased” with the board’s decision.

“Organizations must realize that associating themselves with Planned Parenthood – operators of the nation’s largest abortion chain – will be viewed negatively by many good people in this country. Planned Parenthood is a controversial organization and that controversy will transfer to any group associated with Planned Parenthood.”

Sedlak said that ALL had worked with Sarasota-area pro-lifers to publicize the agreement. He said this resulted in a “large number” of phone calls to local and international Habitat for Humanity offices.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

World Net Daily: Habitat for Humanity Partners with Planned Parenthood (28 May 2008)
http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=65550

Citizen Link: Habitat for Humanity Partners with Planned Parenthood (27 May 2008)
http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000007517.cfm

Life Site News: Christian Ministry ‘Habitat for Humanity’ Agrees to Work with Abortion Giant Planned Parenthood (23 May 2008)
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052308.html
___________________________
Michael Hichborn
Director of Media Relations
American Life League
1179 Courthouse Road
Stafford, Virginia 22554
540.659.4171 (w)
540.226.9178 (c)
mhichborn@all.org
http://www.all.org/

The World Within The Magic Mirror

In the first chapter of “Trapped in the Magic Mirror,” the author begins by describing the days in which she used to play dress up. Now, if you are reading this (and you‘re a guy), I know that you won’t understand much of what I’ll be saying next; nor will you likely WANT to understand! When women are little girls, we like to dress up and pretend that we are princesses, brides, mommies, etc. We often dress up in play clothes, jewelry, and put on make-up etc. so that we feel beautiful and grown up. We act out our favorite princess stories, our ideal weddings, and whatever other blissful dreams we have in our heads that we hope will materialize one day. Maybe it’s somewhat similar to how little boys like to play “cops and robbers” or pretend to be a fireman or other type of superhero. I guess both genders naturally want to act out the roles we feel we’re designed to fill. Girls want to be the delicate, beautiful, feminine little princesses and damsels in distress that the bold and brave boy heroes want to rescue (when they aren’t too busy chasing down bad guys and saving the world of course). And guys want to be strong, heroic, manly men who everyone respects and looks up to. Then, eventually, they’ll come around and romance an eager lady in waiting.;)

I suppose, then, that both guys and girls have set expectations of what they’re supposed to grow up to be. Being a girl, I know that we women always feel the pressure to be beautiful, attractive, and able to capture the heart of whatever man comes our way. That’s because most girls have been sucked into believing that, just like the stories they have learned, they can have a wonderful fairy tale life if only given the right opportunity. If only they can meet the perfect guy- their prince and knight in shinning armor - then everything would be perfect and they could have heaven on earth. Forget the fact that when we become adopted into God’s family, we are already princesses and heirs to the Father’s Kingdom. We desire to have OUR kingdom come and will be done by having our ideal inheritance on earth. Just like Snow White took the bait of a poisoned apple offered by her enemy, we are often duped as well by Satan’s bad fruit (Eve isn’t the only dummy in history to fall for it is she? Her legacy still lives on!). Like her, we believe that we can have it all and get what we ultimately want if we just do things our way or the world’s way. The author says: “I learned if I was good and beautiful on the outside and loved a man with all my heart, I’d live happily ever after right here on earth.” Wow! That’s a mirror opposite of what God’s truth is; which is the true peasant to princess, “rags to riches” story. God’s Word concentrates on inner beauty and that if you love CHRIST with all your heart, HE is the prince that comes to rescue you from your “ordinary“ peasant life, gives you new and eternal life, and GUARANTEES a REAL happily ever after in heaven with the One who is the King and Ruler of all! But, in a world like ours, we are conditioned to believe in IMMEDIATE and tangible rewards. Why wait?

The author also goes on to say that “before I ever met my husband, I was in love with a prince who existed only in my imagination.” Once again, we find the power of influence at work. The stories that we absorb into our minds become the material that shapes our thinking and behavior. And, like the author, we end up forming expectations of how things should be based on the messages in the stories we‘re fed. Though, unlike all the basic “love at first sight” stories, REAL love takes time to develop. Most “romances” are based on carnal love fueled by hormones and emotions. It’s only when the blindfolds of “love” come off and you learn to TRULY love the PERSON (and not just how the person makes YOU feel) that REAL LOVE is uncovered. The author describes her experience of that by explaining her own marriage. She said that they had a great marriage and everything looked ideal if you were on the outside looking in. They really did have it all. However, hard times hit, and things started falling apart. It got to the point where she was about ready to leave him. Then, true tragedy struck. She said that “God has a way of using one crisis to divert another” and that’s exactly what happened in her life when her husband suffered a medical crisis. Through that, she got back in touch with the love that she had for him and it was through CHOOSING to love that those feelings returned. It reminds me of what a friend of mine told me, “Love is a choice…..feelings follow obedience.“

As the author began reflecting on her marriage issues, she said she realized that “many of our problems stemmed from my own addiction to romantic thinking and trying to live up to the idealized vision of the perfect life I imagine in my head. That vision drove me to expect way too much of my very human husband.” That really struck a chord with me, because I know I am one of the many women who has always wondered “why can’t my husband be like this…..?” Ladies, how often do we talk to each other and complain about the lack of effort our husbands put forth in the romance department? Do we really have valid complaints, or are we only upset because they are failing to measure up perfectly to an impossible standard we have set in our minds?

I guess there comes a time where we all have to face facts and realize that we have to come to a compromise with the life that we dreamed of and the life that we have. Discontentment isn’t a good state to live in, but that will be our sad reality if we continue clinging to the illusions of our fantasies. I remember a lady from church telling me about how she always imagined being with a certain celebrity, but that God had showed her that she needed to live the life that she was given and not a life that didn‘t (and wouldn‘t) ever exist. Her rich wisdom has always stuck with me, though I remember being surprised that she shared that with me because I guess I just never imagined that she would struggle with something like that. I think that’s probably a big reason a lot of Christians never get the help they need because we all have to “pretend” that we don’t have problems (so we don‘t tarnish our perfect image in the church). After all, if we show others our faults, our righteous friends will judge and shun us because they have no problems of their own (unless, of course, they are hiding and pretending too). Why are we all so afraid to talk to each and come out from behind our masks? Where’s the trust and honesty? Or, rather, WHY can’t we have trust and honesty? Is it because we have so many “Christians” who AREN’T trustworthy and honest and act just like the world? Sure, that may be part of it. There are indeed a lot of “Christians” who wound other Christians and contribute to their problems rather than helping to fix them (I can definitely think of a few from my old neighborhood and school who were known for being like that. Though, it‘s not like I was always the innocent one either!!). But, I think the bigger reason we don’t confide in true Christian friends is because we feel that having a problem means that we haven’t prayed enough or done enough to be the good person we ought. Consequently, we feel guilty and horribly flawed. We feel like a monstrous screw up and, therefore, an easy target for our friends to criticize. So, we opt out of seeking the counsel of good Christian brothers and sisters for fear of judgment and condemnation. And, consequently, we end up isolating ourselves, and stuffing our pain and problems.

So, we suffer in silence and our discontentment cycle continues. We even medicate our pain with some of the same things that inflict it in the first place. We continue watching, listening to, and reading things that feed into the romantic fantasies as well as continuing to buy clothes, make-up, or whatever else we think we need to beautify ourselves and feel special to capture the heart of our “prince” once again. Or, worse yet, we make the mistake of thinking that the prince is the one that always has to change and we start forcing him to change to accommodate our ideals. (Yeah, I have definitely done this at times!! Sorry, Mitchell!!).

Well, what finally happens when we feel like we have bottomed out and there’s nothing left to do? Well, the author says: “Without any real understanding of how to deal with our confusion and unfulfilled longings, we try to turn to God. But usually, it is to beg God to give us what we think we need. We may ask God to give us the kind of marriage that leads us closer to him and the ‘abundant life,’ but we don’t realize that our idea of abundance is more material than spiritual. Our understanding of the abundant life has a lot to do with our romanticized, idealized visions and unrealistic expectations.” Yeah, I hear that one!!

Subsequently, the phase that comes next is often the “magical thinking” phase that leads us to believe that if we just try harder, get more spiritual, do more to fix things and please our “prince,” (or even force the “prince” to change) things will get better. (Yep, this is totally speaking to me!! LOL). Though, this reasoning just isn‘t the answer. Just because one’s “prince” isn’t exactly “prince charming” doesn’t mean that we weren’t good enough to snag the right man, or that we married the wrong one, or that HE’S the one that needs to do all the changing. Whether it’s the guy or girl in question, there are no quick fixes for either person.

What is a person to do then? Well, that’s subject matter for the next blog!! ;) So, until then, feel free to ponder these study guide questions that the author provides in her book. I welcome your comments and personal stories. Let’s bear each other’s burdens and be true brothers and sisters to each other; by showing love, understanding, and no judgment or condemnation as we share and help each other. Though, if you don’t wish to post comments publicly, you can message me privately if you want/need to talk. We’re all in this together! God bless all of you!

Chapter One Questions

1. When you were young, what did you believe about marriage and family? What expectations did you develop as a result? In what way(s) were your views similar to or different from the author’s views?

2. How has your life differed from a life full of adventure and romance? Why does our culture often emphasize false pictures of what the future will be like?

3. What, as you were growing up, did people teach you was your real purpose in life?

4. In what way(s) have you struggled to reconcile your real life with the life you’ve always dreamed of having? How has this struggle affected you?

5. What do women you know do to make up for the deep voids they have inside? (Eating junk food? Reading romance novels?) What tools do you use to try to cope? (Be honest!)

6. What ingredients do you think will create a magical and happy life?

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Truth (And My Testimony) About "The Pill"

Anyone who is a frequent reader of my blogs knows how pro-life I am. They also know that I post the American Life League reports. However, the report I'm posting today is one that I was unsure of how to post because it personally affected me. This report has to do with the suppressed truth of "the pill" and their promoted "protest the pill day" which is this Saturday. I can't possibly explain it as well as they can, so I suggest watching the video for yourself by clicking on the link provided: http://blip.tv/file/956836/.

The reason it affected me so much is because I once took the pill. I also had an IUD (Intrauterine device) for a short time after my son was born. So, I didn't know how to go about talking about how the pill kills when I am so guilty of taking it. However, I think now is the time for me to take the risk and share my story....

When I was on the pill prior to the conception of our first child, I had thought that the pill simply prevented you from getting pregnant. I was under the impression that fertilization (or even ovulation) wasn't possible when you were on the pill. I had no idea that one could have an abortion without even knowing it! How? Well, the pill thins the lining of the uterus which makes it impossible for a fertilized egg to implant (if fertilization has occurred). Therefore, my husband and I very well might have suffered the loss of a child without even realizing it.

And, the situation with the IUD, is also very similar. It does everything the pill does and then some. I had it implanted after I had my first child and had it for year or so. However, it started causing major problems for me; problems my doctor knew FULL WELL could have happened but neglected to tell me about!! Prior to having the IUD I was prone to ovarian cysts (which are harmless but painful). So, after an intense episode of suffering agonizing and crippling pain from the IUD (I could barely walk or stand - it got THAT BAD!!), I had it promptly removed. It was only then that my doctor mentioned that IUDs can aggravate cysts and make them even more painful. (GEE, THANKS DOC!! I could have been spared a lot of pain had you told me BEFORE!).

Anyways, that right there should be enough to tell you what the real motivation behind birth control is (which ALL clearly elaborates on in the video I referenced). Birth control has nothing to do with "women's health" and it can and will damage a woman’s health (as evidenced by my testimony)!! If you go to www.thepillkills.com you will learn about the side effects and health risks of the pill - things I didn't find out until after the fact. You know, I just don't understand why the medical community (who is supposed to CARE ABOUT and PREVENT health problems) are HIDING information and dangers about things like this and deceiving women everywhere - myself included. But, what can you expect. The drug companies and doctors are just filling each others' pockets and as God's Word says: "For the love of money is the root of all evil...." - 1 Timothy 6:10. Oh what people will do for MONEY.......and they don't care who they hurt or who could possibly even die from their lies (remember the birth control patch that they pulled from the market? How about RU-486 which they are trying to make readily available? Pay attention people!!).

I regret my decisions. I have wrestled with guilt over taking the pill and having that IUD. I have also beat myself up over the fact that I had my tubes tied after having my second c-section. Though, all these things are mistakes that I can't change; only learn from and tell others about so they don't have the same regrets. So, while I have never had a voluntary and willful abortion, I might have had one without even knowing it while I was on birth control. And, sadder still, I am not able to have any more children. Both children had to be delivered by c-section, and I didn't think my body could keep getting cut open time after time. So, I don't know for sure whether tying my tubes was a horrible sin, but I have had my qualms and regrets about it. At least I have the assurance of knowing that Jesus does forgive me for my mistakes.......now, I just have to forgive myself.

So, there you have it. You can judge me if you want to, but I can assure you that I already feel bad enough. I am forgiven and it's all under the blood; just as it is with anyone who has ever made a mistake. Now, you all know why I am all the more passionate about pro-life issues....it's because in some small way, I am like all the other victimized women who have been deceived and robbed of their children through abortion, contraception, etc. and that's why I fight hard to make sure no one else has to suffer and no more lives have to be lost If you want to judge and condemn me for my mistakes or position on these issues, that's alright - just do it silently. Please show some compassion and courtesy and spare me the harsh words, and don't downplay the impact because I, and other women, really are hurt by this regardless of if you believe the truth of what contraception/abortion really is/does. I appreciate your understanding. Thank you, and God bless you!!

"Trapped in the Magic Mirror"

Stories are powerful things. Even Jesus knew that the power of a parable could provoke deep thoughts, change hearts, and transform lives. Likewise, the every day stories we hear have a great impact on our thoughts and behaviors. The things that we read, watch, and listen to make an impact, whether positive or negative (and whether we know it or not!).

So, imagine the possibility that “harmless stories” (such as fairy tales), have contributed to a destructive mental process in your mind. This is something that I have been thinking about as I have begun reading the book “Trapped in the Magic Mirror” by Deborah B. Dunn. In the introduction, she says “fairy tales have an uncanny ability to illustrate values and beliefs and to mold how we think.”

With that being said, shouldn’t we be aware of the messages that they are sending? If you really think about it, they aren’t illustrating very positive concepts. The romantic fantasies and pretty painted pictures of “happily ever after” make for a big disappointment when every little princess eventually finds out that “prince charming” isn’t always what he’s “supposed” to be.
All the hyped up romantic stories, movies, music, etc. all encourage these ideal fantasies of what blissful relationships are supposed to be like. We’re all programmed into thinking that we really can have a fairy tale life. Just like the stories and movies, we are convinced that when we find true love, we’ll be swept off our feet and carried off to paradise forever with our perfect mate. We’ll sing, smile, and share a beautiful passionate kiss before the book closes and reads: “and they lived happily ever after.” Though, in all actuality, it should read something like: “and they lived normally ever after…..through the good AND bad times and through times where the prince got yelled at by the princess for forgetting their anniversary, spending too much time with his royal buddies…etc. and through the times the prince nearly went bankrupt after the princess ran up royal credit card debt, gained 50 pounds from bearing royal heirs….etc..” In other words, life has no perfect endings and the media lies to us.

Of course, these perfect stories, movies, etc. don’t make money off of the honest truth of reality. That’s why they alter our perceptions and expectations by appealing to our emotions and creating these ideal feelings. Therefore, people everywhere (particularly females) get sucked into believing all the unrealistic fantasies. Then, suffer intense heartbreak and disillusionment when they finally have to come to grips with reality. After the honeymoon is over, and real life begins, they realize that relationships are more than just “sweep you off your feet” moments and feelings.

Even when confronted with the reality that life is no fairy tale, some of us still cling to the impossible ideas of trouble-free fairy tale marriages and happy endings. I know that I am guilty of this. I was raised on way too much fantasy. I was a fairy tale fanatic!! And, as a result, my poor husband has often had to deal with my impossible dreams of unrealistic romantic fantasies that never end up being like the stories and ideas my mind was programmed with from childhood on up. I’ve always had a big imagination, and so, I often spend too much time in my head thinking/wishing for things that aren’t there. Then, I end up getting disappointed and let down when my dreams don’t become realities.

So, why would I frustrate myself that way? Well, it’s for the simple fact (as the author affirms) that fantasy is more fun that reality. With fantasy, we are in control and the sky’s the limit. In the real world, we are met with endless roadblocks and disappointments. Therefore, we avoid it at all costs by living in our ideal world of what the author calls “romantic thinking.“ She defines it as “thought processes that allow us to see what we want to see instead of what is really true.“ Sure, that may be fun for a while, but where does it get you? The author says: “an obsession with romance becomes a weapon that breaks our hearts, ruins our marriage, and ultimately destroys our spirits.” Boy is that ever true!! Relying on unrealistic and excessively high expectations is always a prescription for a broken heart. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have suffered in the past because of my “romantic thinking.” I always picked the wrong boyfriends, got horribly disappointed, and then wondered where I went wrong. Even now, I have struggled because marriage is a LOT harder than just a teen romance. Satan works extra hard to cause problems in a marriage, and man has he ever reeked havoc on ours over the years! No fairy tale every told me that communication break-downs are a certainty or that having kids makes things tougher or that the financial strains and the responsibilities of life can complicate things. The list just goes on and on….

Well, now that I know and recognize the truth, that should make forsaking the lies easier right? Wrong!! Putting down that lying magic mirror that shows you what you want to see is a struggle no matter who you are!! EVERYONE has times where they wish that something/someone was different and that things could be the way they see it in their minds. Think about it. You KNOW it’s true!! How many times have any of us thought, “if only he/she would do this….” or “if only this were different….”? I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have thought things like that!! But, as we all know, you can’t change anyone or anything; you can only change yourself.

In order to change, we need to quit picking up that magic mirror. In fact, we need to SMASH IT!! The key to doing that is to unlearn the crap that we have learned and learn the stuff we are supposed to learn! In other words, de-junking our minds and re-programming. The best de-junker and re-programmer is God. Through prayer, surrender, and repentance, God cleans us out. Then, He fills us with the good things of His Word. He renews our minds and retrains our brains to think with the mind of Christ. Through Him, we are taught that the ultimate goal in life is to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). True fulfillment and bliss is found in nothing or no one other than Christ. If you aren’t satisfied with Him, you will be satisfied with nothing else and will always crave more of whatever your heart is fixed upon. You’ll always want what you can’t have and what you think that you’re missing. You’ll always be searching for whatever you think will fill the void.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book and sharing its contents with others. If any of this has spoken to you as it has to me thus far, I encourage you to buy your own copy so that you can read along and take it all in. There’s so much wisdom and insight packed in here, and I can’t possibly articulate it all without going on and on or quoting it word for word. So please, consider reading it for yourself so you don’t miss anything that might particularly speak to you!! I pray that your heart will be as blessed as mine is!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yeast

As always, I’m blogging about today’s sermon. Though, I don’t know how well I’ll be able to cover anything because I missed some of it when Mitch and I had to go get Casey from his kids’ class (minor incident, but aggravating nonetheless). Anyways, I won’t go into that. LOL I’ll just try to blog about what stuff I did get to hear.

Kent has just returned from a mission trip in Cuba. He was talking about the places he went and the people he met. He talked about Cuba and how it operates. The government is really something!! Kent expressed that he truly realized just how blessed and free we are here in America after being down there where the government controls everything. Even the churches are controlled. It’s so risky to assemble in large masses because I guess the government finds that threatening. So, they put their lives in danger just to be able to meet together.

Kent brought up some great principles about “church.” Jesus talked a lot about Kingdom; about going and making disciples of all nations and about sharing the good news with others. So often, as Kent pointed out, we want people to just “come to church” rather than the church coming to them. Not that we shouldn’t invite people or have church, but church is so much more than just a building or place to gather and hear a sermon.

Kent also talked about how we aren’t just simply a church in a city, but that we are an expression of the church as a whole. He said that in the Bible, churches weren’t really mentioned by city, but by region. We are but one of many that make up the “church” body; both locally and globally. He mentioned a quote (that I didn’t think to write down at the moment). It had something to do with how it’s not the church has a mission, but how the God with the mission has a church. We are God’s people carrying out HIS will. We got to be a church on the move! The church isn’t a building, it’s people. People aren’t supposed to be sedentary, people are supposed to move in action!! We need to impact this world for Christ!!

Kent told us all to read Matthew 13 this week. It has a lot of good parables in that chapter, including the parable of the sower (which Chad did a series on earlier this year). Matthew 13 also mentions how yeast gets worked all through the dough when it is kneaded. Kent described how our “yeast” is a chain reaction. Everyone makes and impact. I don’t know where he got this statistic, but he said that everyone impacts a minimum of 10,000 people. WOW!! And that’s only the MININUM!! With that many lives at stake, our words and actions are crucially important!! Since we influence so many, we ought to work pretty hard at what kind of influence we’ll be and whether we are a positive or negative one. I don’t know about you, but I want to be (and hope to be) a positive one!!

How can we be those positive influences? Kent made reference to Romans 12. The first two verses say: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Kent explained that in order to be a good witness, we have a lot of personal work to do on ourselves. We got to renew our minds and “beat our bodies into submission”, he said, so that we have the self-control we need and are not controlled or mastered by anything. When we grow in self-discipline, we are more apt to have better discernment, wisdom, and knowledge when it comes to God and what His perfect will is. I know that when I was listening to this, it particularly spoke to me about food. That’s one thing that I’m still trying not to be mastered by because I know that if I am, I am setting a bad example and my witness won’t be very effective. So, every day, I got to keep bringing my struggle before God; surrendering it to Him and having Him renew my mind, heart, and strength. Without Him, I am powerless to fight against the “master” that tries to control me. I know that this issue in particular will always be a lifelong struggle and a daily thing to submit to God because food isn’t something that we can just cut out of our lives and stay away from. It’s not like alcohol, or drugs, or something else that you can just totally avoid for the rest of your life and be rid of. EVERY DAY, food is constantly going to be something I’m faced with because everyone has to eat! That’s what makes this “master” so hard to deal with!! I need a LOT of prayer people!! ;)

Well, I think that’s all the thoughts I have for today. As always, you can listen to the sermons online at our church website if you are interested. God bless all of you!!