Monday, December 24, 2012

On Christmas Eve

Ponder these words today from "Jesus Calling", a devotional by Sarah Young:

"As you celebrate the wonder of My birth in Bethlehem, celebrate also your rebirth into eternal life. This everlasting gift was the sole purpose of My entering your sin-stained world. Receive My gift with awe and humility. Take time to explore the vast dimensions of My love. Allow thankfulness to flow freely from your heart in response to My glorious gift. Let My peace rule in your heart, and be thankful."
Wishing a blessed, peaceful, thank-filled Christmas to you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Mayans, You got the date wrong, but there will be an apocolypse

Well, it's in the evening of December 21, 2012--the day many thought the world was doomed to end. And I'm still here. Not that I ever doubted it. I believe the Bible when in Mark 13:32 it says, "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come."

Folks all over the world have been talking about it, and making TV specials about it. (This is a blog I saw about it today.) I'm not jumping into the hype. I just want to say this:

We know the end is coming someday. And if it occurs in this lifetime...

Do you know where you will be after it happens?
"For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
"For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:12-13
If you aren't completely sure if you will go to heaven when the end does finally come, go here for a great resource to get you thinking.

Book Review: Living Life in the Zone

I have been with BookSneeze for a while, doing book reviews in exchange for a complimentary copy of the book. I just realized that I never posted the review for the last book I requested, which I actually got for my husband.

It's called "Living Life in the Zone." I had requested many books through this program, and one day my husband commented on the fact that I never got one for him. So, my next opportunity, I found this one. He is a HUGE sports fan, so I thought this would be perfect for him. It's a sports-themed devotional for men.

This 40-day devotional includes inspirational stories and devotionals from coaches and athletes Tony Dungy, Allan Houston, Kurt Warner, and John Wooden.

I asked my husband many times over a few weeks how it was, and he'd just say, "It's good." After badgering him for what seems an eternity, I give up. I wish I could give a glowing review with lots of examples, but I can't say what I don't know. So, in the words of my husband, "It's good."

Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through BookSneeze®.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cost of Comfort

Comfort. It’s a cozy word that makes me think of cuddly blankets and fuzzy socks. Warmth, happiness.

Many people have a misconception that being a Christian means being comfortable. They think that Christians are always happy, and live on Easy Street. But really, being a Christian pretty much guarantees the opposite.

When I am truly living for Christ, I am uncomfortable watching television shows and movies that the rest of the world adores. I am uncomfortable telling certain jokes, or even hearing them. Being in the presence of gossips makes me squirm. So does knowing about the willful sins of others, who have no desire to stop.

Whoever said that “Christian” was synonymous with “comfort?” They were wrong.

I like comfort. So do you. It feels good, and right. I can come home at night, and rest my weary self by plopping on the couch, surfing, or watching TV, or something else mindless. But that makes me uncomfortable.


Because I know that I could be using that time to do other, better things. I could be writing a letter to the child I sponsor in Mexico. I could be composing a blog post or magazine article, touting the mission organization I saw at work in Kenya with my own eyes. I could be making a toy for a sick kid, or a blanket for a needy family. I could be serving dinner at the soup kitchen, or volunteering at the homeless shelter downtown.

But that isn’t comfortable, because that isn’t what everyone else is doing. They’re all watching prime time TV, updating their Facebook status or tweeting what they just ate for dinner.

That’s the problem.

We’ve become a society that seeks comfort above all else, at any cost. And believe me, there is a cost. Look around. Over half of the kids at my children’s elementary school qualify for free or reduced lunch because poverty is prevalent in our county. Tween and teenage girls in Africa are selling their bodies just to survive, because there are no jobs, and no families to support them because they’ve all died of AIDS. People in poverty-stricken areas are dying of infections that are easily cured here at home.

The cost of our society staying in its comfort zone means that children will go to bed hungry tonight. That a veteran will wander the streets, looking for somewhere he can sleep. That a teenager in desperate need of a role model will instead turn to drugs or a gang to feel accepted.

All the while, we’re clicking “like” on a ridiculous photo of a cat or texting our BFF the latest dirt on the new girl at work.

No, being a Christian isn’t comfortable. But sometimes being uncomfortable is the best place to be.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Greater Blog Hop--Week 3: Remembering Daddy

This is a slightly modified repost from a few years ago. My little daddy passed on yesterday, going on to the heavenly mansion that's waiting for him. I think all the shooting stars I saw last night were fireworks from daddy's heavenly homecoming!

This doesn't fit one of the selected topics for this week's Greater Blog Hop, but as I posted last week, my daddy left one heck of a legacy. The kind of legacy that challenges me to be greater. Daddy let the Lord work through him every day--there was no question that people could see Jesus in him.

I can only hope that when my time on earth is over, people can say the same about me. If I can do half the good my daddy did, I will have lived a full life--a greater life.

Join me today as I honor my daddy.

Those of you who know me may be a bit confused by the title of this post, because my dad is still here.

Well, mostly.

Part of the reason for the huge funk I have been in recently is that dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease a few months ago.  It is very hard news for a daddy's girl to take.

I find that often, I grieve his loss already, even though he is still here.  I grieve the fact that I never know from day to day if I can have a decent conversation with him.  I grieve the things he's always done - the things that make Daddy who he is - that he can't do anymore.

But today, I choose to remember daddy like I've always known him, before the disease starting chipping away at him.

I remember the daddy who called me "Doodle" and "Pistol" when I was a little girl, and the way he introduced me to other people as "The Boss."

I remember the daddy who replaced one recliner after another because I squeezed in beside him in them so often that I worked the arms loose.

I remember the daddy who walked to Ingle's every night for a cup of coffee, and let me get a creme horn from the bakery.

I remember the daddy who took me to McDonald's for an ice cream cone, and waited while I played on the playground.

I remember the daddy who worked rotating shifts at the mill, and I never heard him complain.

I remember the daddy who always made fried potatoes and fireplace cornbread when he had to cook dinner.

I remember the daddy that couldn't stand to see anyone cry.

I remember that daddy that bought whatever food and toys he could find at the only store open on Christmas morning (gas station), and took it to a destitute single mother before he came home and celebrated Christmas with his own family.

I remember the daddy that stopped smoking when I asked him to.

I remember the daddy that started fires with gasoline.

I remember the daddy who always had his shaving brush and a bottle of Old Spice on top of his medicine cabinet.

I remember the daddy that got me my first car from a junkyard :-)

I remember the way my daddy whistled when he was coming in from the garage for dinner.

I remember the daddy who constantly cut wood and gave it away (with delivery!) for free to anyone who needed it.

I remember the daddy who helped liberate my Barbie's from their plastic ties when ever I got a new one, which was often because I was spoiled rotten.  (just ask my sister)

I remember the daddy who doesn't like to pray out loud, but occasionally will and, when he does, it is the same every time.

I remember the daddy who scared my boyfriends.

I remember the daddy that many of my girlfriends wished was their dad.

I remember the daddy who told me that Randy Travis singing sounded like pig squealing.

I remember the daddy that adores his grandchildren.

I remember the daddy that means "Do you need money?" when he asks, "Do you need anything?"

I remember the daddy that made us listen to a Marty Robbins eight-track nonstop while we drove around the country for three weeks on vacation.

I have been blessed with an amazing earthly father, and I am thankful that my Heavenly Father put him in my life.  I could go on for days with the wonderful memories I have of him.  I've shared a few here, but the rest of my memories I'll tuck quietly in my heart to remember on the days I miss him most.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Greater Blog Hop: Week 2

This week, we have read through Chapter 4 in the book "Greater" by Pastor Steven Furtick. One of our topics this week is this:

Is this thing on? Elisha had it easy. He knew God had called him to leave the dull behind when the great prophet Elijah showed up at his plow. What about you? Share a time when God spoke clearly into your life. Big or small, how did you discern His calling in your life?
One of my most recent experiences with God speaking into my life came about 15 months ago, during the annual missions celebration at my church. During one of the services of this series, a video played of teenage prostitutes in Kenya, selling their bodies just to survive. These were children--one of the girls who had been rescued was 14. She had stopped being a prostitute by the age of 14. Can you imagine?

As the video kept playing, I saw faces of these sweet girls, learning to sew. An African pastor has made it his mission to try to save as many of these girls from this lifestyle as he can, by showing them the love of Christ, and teaching them new life skills so they never have to return to that way of life.

I had never been on a mission trip in my life, or even traveled outside of the country. My closest thing to a missions experience was serving at the soup kitchen. But just as clearly as if He had spoken right to my face from the next seat over, God told me to go to Kenya.

That in itself isn't amazing. God calls people every day to missions, to serve, to preach...but me? Never even close. I like comfort. I like indoor plumbing, and staying clean, and sticking with my normal life.

The amazing part was that I didn't doubt, didn't question, didn't waver. As I sat there in my seat with God telling me to go, I simply said, "OK." And I did.

If only it were always that simple. If whenever I sensed direction from God, I just said, "OK." But I don't always. Actually, I usually don't. And as a result, I'm in a place where I need a book like "Greater" and a Bible study like this one to give me a wake-up call and be different this time.

Coming back from that trip, as evidenced on this blog, just wrecked me. I know that I am called to greater things as a result, but I just don't know what those greater things are yet. And then came Chapter Four...

I am facing one of the most difficult times in my life, as hospice has just told us that my 84 year old father likely has only a few weeks to live. As I think about his life and his legacy, it makes it even more apparent that I need to be greater. My dad has the ultimate testimony, as an alcoholic that was saved in his forties and never looked back. The second part of his life was spent redeeming the mistakes he made in the first part, by doing good whenever he had the chance.

But it isn't just about doing the right thing, or trying to gain the approval of man, or out of guilt or shame. My dad's life was changed because of Jesus. And he lived every day as an example to others of what that redeeming grace can do. Dad's motivation was simple--he was doing his best to live a godly life because God had given him a second chance. The Lord blessed both daddy and countless others through him. All because of Jesus.

And that brings me to another calling of God. When I first picked up this book, I thought it sounded interesting, maybe to get me motivated. But the more I read, I know that God is calling me again--to be greater.


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