Saturday, December 28, 2013

One Year Anniversary

I started this blog on 12/4/2012.  I am very blessed to be able to share God's word and what has been on my heart this past year.  This blog is not inundated with hits due to the volume of traffic that other sites have, but I believe that even if only a few people visit then I claim it as a victory.  It is not the quantity, but the quality. From the ladies I know from my church that read this blog to those of you on the other side of the world that I will never know, you all are special to God and me.  

I am very blessed that you all visit my blog.  The other day I looked at the different countries and just started crying, yes I cry often.  I have lost track of all the countries that have been here, I think it's close to 60 and counting, but I am amazed how many people visit from countries that are not considered Christian.  There are over 190 countries in the world, my goal is to have as many visit as possible.  I am thrilled that people are able to visit since I am not able to go out into the world personally, to be able to reach people on almost every continent is astounding.

I don't know where you are in the counties that I see listed.  I think about how God knows which town you are in, the street you live on, whether you are male or female, young or old, your race, your beliefs; He knows YOU.  Whether or not you know Him, He loves you.  He waits patiently for each and every one of us.  For those who do not have a relationship with Him I pray that you will invite Him in and open your heart to His love.  He saved me from my selfish and destructive life and gave me love that is nowhere else on earth.

Ever since starting this blog I have been under attack from the enemy.  My brother Bryan passed away in September, I have had several medical problems, most notably is my concussion in November.  Any time we are growing and spreading the Good News, we WILL come under attack from the enemy.  Satan does not want us to gain wisdom, nor does he want us to share God with others so they will also gain wisdom and have weapons to fight the enemy.  He wants us to feel that we are all alone, that we have no hope and that we are worthless, being in that place in my past I have no desire to go back to living that way.  If I am to continue to spread God's word then I would not trade that for having the enemy leave me alone.  The end game is far too valuable to let it slip away to an enemy who only wants destruction.

When I see all the countries that visit I pray you will know the following:
  • God and His amazing love
  • when you open the bible and start reading, it is your map for life
  • those who judge you are having any issue with pride, pray for them
  • God's peace
  • we ALL are imperfect
  • you are NEVER alone
  • you are accepted just the way you are (ignore judgmental Christians)
  • you are welcome into a wonderful large family
  • you are valued more than anything else on the planet
  • He wants a good life for you
  • He is waiting patiently for YOU
  • your history can give God praise because it's HIS story to give to others

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem since there was a census they had to go to their town to register.  Luke 2:6-7 "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first born, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

I have heard it said that there was no way Jesus could have been born in a manager.  I believe in the entire bible and thinking that the bible had it wrong is beyond dangerous.  When everyone was gathering for the census it must have been so crowded in town that there wasn't any room left.  That isn't even the point, this amazing miracle of Jesus' birth in the simplest of places is often overshadowed by the uncertainty of the location.  When you read the story, picture it as written and you will see the significance in the words written so long ago.  Jesus was not brought into this world in a palace as most people probably thought he would have been.  He was brought in to be a servant of God and how appropriate that He came in to the world in an unlikely place.

Luke 2:8-14 "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'"

Shepherds were near the bottom of the choice jobs.  Angels came to shepherds in a field, not the religious leaders of the day.  They brought them news for ALL people, not just the Jewish people.  They also brought the news to the least likely in that time period.  How appropriate that God uses the least likely for His work so that we should not boast in our own talents, that we give God the glory for the work He is doing through us.

Matthew 2:1-2 "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

Magi are considered to be wise men, a very fitting description since they saw a star and followed it out of the east.  How did these men know to follow a star?  They saw and followed.  If we choose it can be that easy for us, we see and follow Him.  These men were wealthy and had to have a position of power due to the gifts they brought.  They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, all highly valuable during that time.

I hope:
  • we will be like Mary, caring for the helpless in abounding love
  • we will be like Joseph, looking beyond the circumstances
  • we will be like the shepherds in the field, lowly yet mighty in the Kingdom
  • we will be like the wise men who came from afar to bring a precious gift to someone they did not know, for they knew to follow a star that let them to the King 
I hope that you all will have a wonderful Christmas and remember the real reason we celebrate this holiday, the precious birth of the King.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quote - Les Brown

"Act the way you want to be and soon you'll be the way you act."

~ Les Brown

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jonah 1:13-16

v. 13-16 "Instead, the men did their best to row back to land.  But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.  Then they cried to the Lord, 'O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man's life.  Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord, have done as you pleased.'  Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.  At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him."

God is in control and if there was any doubt we can plainly see it here in Jonah.  God controlled the sea and the fish, not to be harsh, but to guide Jonah to the task he had been given.  The men tried to row back to land and the storm increased.  When we are fighting God the obstacles get bigger and bigger until we finally see that it's not worth it to go up against the God who created everything.  The men thought that if Jonah was thrown overboard that he would surely die in such a violent storm, they could not conceive the thoughts of God or imagine the great thing that was about to happen. These men who believed in pagan gods where showing more compassion than Jonah could muster.  They were turning towards a God who has power in all things.  Sometimes people who don't believe show more concern and compassion than those who believe.  That is a sad situation, but a warning to us that our hearts are not in the right place. These men were concerned for Jonah's life.

I notice something missing from the ship's crew.  Instead of ganging up and getting mad at Jonah they cried out to God.  I think in most situations like this people start to take sides and their defenses go up.  I think God might have been showing Jonah compassion through these men.  They believed in the same God that Jonah was working for, yet excelled at something that Jonah found so difficult to do.

"God is able to use even our mistakes to help others come to know him."  NIV notes

"Your life is God's story being told and His character being displayed."  Priscilla Shirer

Admitting our sins can be so powerful to those that do not believe.  Some see this Christian package with our dog eared bibles, nice clothes, sweet words and these might be some of the most hurting people around you.  Most people do not advertise their heartache, unless they feel safe and hear the stories of others.  We walk around and when asked how we are doing we say fine or OK.  Do not resist God's will for your life, Jonah defended his right to protest God, but I think he must have suffered greatly for this.  We should reach out to others and share the path we have gone down without God and how God has transformed our lives since then.

Jonah was thrown overboard and the sea grew calm.  This must have been a sight to behold.  The darkness cleared away and the sea went back to normal.  When you see a miracle do not hesitate to be in awe of it or you will miss the message hidden within.

If you do not like what you see in Jonah then that is a good thing because that means there is a chance for change.  We can see ourselves as Jonah, even though his situation was completely different from ours, it shows our hearts and really tests our ability to follow God without reservation.

"God bluntly confronted Jonah with the reality of his disobedience, the pettiness of his demand for comfort, and the sinfulness of his blatant disregard for others.  The wonderful character of God that Jonah wanted to withhold from the Ninevites, he himself had been taking for granted.  Fortunately, God will be just as blunt with us.  He will shatter our comfort if that will place us in the best place to meet Him."  NIV notes

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I have been away due to a concussion.  I just went to the doctor to get a CT scan and I'm praying everything is OK.  My head hurts all the time and sleep is difficult due to my head hurting.  I should be back to posting before the end of the week.  Please pray for a speedy recovery.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jonah 1:7-12

v. 7-12 "Then the sailors said to each other, 'Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.'  They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  So they asked him, 'Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us?  What do you do?  Where do you come from?  What is your country?  From what people are you?'  He answered 'I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.'  This terrified them and they asked, 'What have you done?'  (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)  The sea was getting rougher and rougher.  So they asked him, 'What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?  Pick me up and throw me into the sea,' he replied, 'and it will become calm.  I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.'"

Casting lots was used to settle disagreements in the ancient world.  Proverbs 18:18 says "Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart."  The men wanted to know why this stranger had brought calamity upon this ship.  They wanted all the details so they could figure out what happened.  There was only one detail that mattered, Jonah disobeyed God.  This one thing was the reason for this fierce storm that surrounded them.  They knew Jonah was running away since he told them already.  They asked what he had done and his response was that he was Hebrew and worshiped God.  There was no admitting his part in this giant mess just yet.  

If someone asked you what should they do to calm down a violent storm at sea I doubt the phrase "throw me overboard" would come out of our mouths.  Jonah knew that his decisions had put this group of men into danger.  He had no wish to see them die on his behalf.   Only after the lot was case and it fell on him did he admit that it was his fault that this storm had come upon them.  Sometimes we are to confess out loud in front of others before it really sinks into our core.  How can we seek God's love and run away from Him at the same time?  We either have to come before Him fully or we will miss out on numerous blessing during our lifetime.  Jonah knew that he could not run from God.  For us to finally obey we must stop going down the path we were headed, pause to accept His will and be able to think clearly.  Then we can turn off the wide road of destruction and onto the narrow path.  If we want God's love and power in our life we must follow the tasks He lays out before us.  How can we say that we believe in God if we don't choose to follow Him completely?

How interesting that Jonah would choose to give up his live for this group of men who were not Jewish, yet his refused to possibly give up his life for the people in Nineveh who were also not Jewish.  We should not dare to put ourselves in God's place of judgment or we will be the one's judged harshly.  Believing we have the correct view changes when God shines His light upon it so that nothing is hidden in the darkness and only then can we truly see how twisted our view really is.  

We are Jonah when we choose to deny God's will for our lives, our Nineveh is a person, place or group that for many reasons we dislike or think unworthy of God's grace.  The storm is the mechanism that propels a final decision, being thrown into the sea is obedience at any price no matter the outcome.  God is full of mercy and grace, yet can we see it for all the judgments that we are continually putting out into the world. "Your life involves you but is not ultimately about you.  Knowing this allows you to be more willing to relinquish control over your life and yield to the divine intervention."  Priscilla Shirer

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jonah 1:4-6

v. 4-6 "Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.  All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god.  And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.  But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.  The captain went to him and said, 'How can you sleep?  Get up and call on your god!  Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.'"

I am picturing a calm sea, nothing at the time is out of the ordinary.  The men go about their business on this ship unaware of what is to come.  Then the wind set it's sights on the sea, the waves must have gotten bigger by the minute.  Once strong men will wither to their knees to seek a God who can help them out of misery.  It only takes seconds for life to change forever and then we find we are on a new course.

After Jonah ran, verse four says "Then God", He gives us chances, He is patient and will wait for us. Although, if we choose badly then He can instantly bring on any number of storms into our lives.  We are much better off if we choose to follow God in the first place, rather than wait and be hit with consequences.  If you are wondering why I am only writing about a few verses each time it's because there are so many interesting things in this small book that I don't want to overlook the valuable lessons here.  I think after the Gospels (Jesus' time on earth) & Revelation's (what is to come) Jonah is one of the most important books in the entire bible.

God has power over the weather.  He is able to get our attention with any means necessary, even when we don't want the interruption.  The men on this ship were not Jewish so they cried out to their gods.  The problem with a man made god is that they don't have eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to feel or power to act.  Many still follow such gods, that brings great sadness to my soul.  The God of Israel can hear, see, feel and has power that we can never truly understand on this side of the Kingdom.  Many who do not know God for various reason often use Him as the last resort.  He should be the first one we think of in good or bad times.  The men threw the cargo overboard to lighten the load.  Many times we do things that make sense like making the load lighter, but that may not change the storm that is all around us.  The wrong acts are completely inefficient when our hearts are not in the right place. 

After being disobedient to God, Jonah went to rest and fell into a deep sleep.  I am in awe how this man found peace in his outright defiance to God and was able to sleep.  I remember a time when I was defiant against what God was trying to do, yet I had no peace at all, I only thought that things of the earth brought me peace.  Our justifications for sin does not justify sin, it's our minds way of reasoning the unreasonable.  This mirrors when Jesus fell asleep in the boat with the disciples, yet these men were very different.  Do we think that when God asks something from us that He will not equip us with the means to achieve it?  It is amazing how in our mind we can alter reality and truth to fit our thoughts and actions.

Jonah's decision to run from God put the lives of an entire crew in jeopardy.  Our selfishness does not care if we pull down others with us.  Our sin will hurt those around us if we do not comply with God's will.  The captain of the ship told Jonah that maybe his God will take notice and save them.  We think that whatever we do is not noticed, everything we do and say goes on record in a heavenly court that will later serve as our place of judgment.

"We don't mind following Christ as long as His path eventually converges onto the one we already had chosen.  Interruptions have a way of revealing whether we really mean it when we say, 'Lord, not my will but Yours be done.'  Make sure your life writes a story worth reading.  Correctly viewing and appreciating God's awesomeness and His love compel you to realize the distinct privilege of being used by Him.  Jonah had done what we often do-take ownership of that which we've only been asked to manage."  Priscilla Shirer

Jonah was a man who followed God for a living until the task seemed too great that he could not bear it. Can you imagine if God asked us to do something so unbelievable and instead of fighting Him or making excuses we followed Him.  The world we live in would be vastly different from the current one we are in.

When the plans we make clash with God's intent for us, there will always be a storm that we have to go through.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Heros - Jake Olson

At a high school on a Friday night everything seems to be pointing to a typical football game.  But at one school there is a young man named Jake Olson, he is long snapper.  For those who don't know, the long snapper's job is to snap the ball as far back as needed depending on either a punt, field goal or extra point to the punter or holder.  This does not sound interesting until you hear that Jake is blind.  Due to cancer, he can't see at all.  His teammates help him onto the field, help him get lined up, the punter claps so he knows the distance he needs to throw the ball and the left guard taps his leg when it's time.  He did not let blindness stop him from doing something he loves.  His team helps him and protects him, because when you are on a team that is what you are suppose to do.  Christians are on the biggest team of all and we are suppose to act like it, yet many of us feel alone and left out.  We are family, to support and care for each other.  When you are on a team you feel connected to something bigger than yourself.  We have an enemy who's goal is to try to divide us from God and each other.  We are stronger than we think and when we are surrounded by our team we can thrive and win any game that is before us.

For a 16 year old he seems to be wise way beyond his years, here are some quotes from this young man:

"I've learned that if you want to win forever always compete, your either competing or your not.  I've chosen to always compete."

"When I learned I was going to loose my sight, I decided it wasn't going to stop me in life.  Brokenness does not exist in the body.  It exists in the mind, heart and spirit.  My mind, heart and spirit remain whole."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Song - Wide River to Cross

The sound hits me first then I listen intently.  When the music, voice & lyrics are in perfect unison then I have heard a profound song.  I don't listen to bluegrass that often, but I do like this type of music.  My favorite lines are "But I'm just a refugee, won't you say a prayer for me? & 'Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls."  I love most types of music, but mostly I listen to Christian.  I like uplifting music, although there are many songs out there that are just bad for your soul and have no value in the Kingdom.  This song is a beautiful picture of the struggles we go through in life and yet we shouldn't veer off course.  The end game is far to valuable for us to steer away from our destiny. 

Wide River to Cross by Balsam Range

There's a sorrow in the wind
Blowing down the road I've been

I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun

But I can not look back now
I've come too far to turn around

And there's still a race ahead that I must run

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find the things I have lost
I've come a long long road still I've got miles to go
I've got a wide wide river to cross

I have stumbled, I have strayed
You can trace the tracks I made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But I'm just a refugee, won't you say a prayer for me?
'Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find the things I have lost
I've come a long long road still I've got miles to go
I've got a wide wide river to cross

I've come a long long road still I've got miles to go
I've got a wide wide river to cross

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jonah 1:3

v. 3 "But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.  He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port.  After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord."

"Jonah was the only prophet who received instructions from God and ran from what God told him to do."  Priscilla Shirer

God gave Jonah a mission and the very next thing that happened was that Jonah ran away.  He went down to Joppa (the opposite direction of Nineveh) and got on a ship that was heading to Tarshish.  Many scholars are not sure where Tarshish is, although they think is was around Spain and it is also referenced to a long journey instead of a specific city.  Jonah was heading as far away as he could get.  Why would a man of God run knowing that God can go anywhere?  I believe he was running away from God's presence in the temple in Jerusalem.

Where do you think is the worst place on earth?  Then think how you would feel if God asked you to go there to preach to the people that they were going to be destroyed.  Maybe then we would be as disobedient as Jonah was and we would run away at the very thought of such a dangerous mission.  This book shows us a God of mercy and grace, we don't earn this, but are often given it anyway.

Nineveh was thought by some scholars to have at some point attacked Israel so Jonah might have seen family & friends die at the hands of the very people he was suppose to go and preach to.  So his wanting to flee from this mission starts to make sense to us.  Many of use have a Nineveh in our lives, whether it is family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, a situation, etc. 2 Kings 14:25 "[King Jeroboam II] restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was in Gath-hepher."  The territories that were taken by Assyria had been restored and life was pretty good in Israel at the time.  "Israel's wealth exploded because it controlled important trade routes through Palestine that connected the ancient world." Priscilla Shirer

"During the 8th century, Assyria was experiencing a time of national weakness and Jonah would have wanted to have seen their decline continue.  Jonah placed no value on Nineveh or on its inhabitants."
Priscilla Shirer

Jonah was not some especially wicked sinner, he was a prophet of God.  That meant that when he heard a word from God he would share it with the people.  This man knew God and still ran away.  Don't think that we are excluded from his company for we are very much Jonah at different moments in our life.  You many ask, how can someone who hears directly from God disobey?  It happens every day in this world, God loving God fearing people turn away from the thing God asks them to do based on their fears, feelings and priorities.

"God often sends us into the hopeless place because it's in the hopeless place that we can see the hope of God."  Priscilla Shirer

I have run away from God many times so I am in a familiar place in this story.  I haven't had anything as drastic as Jonah, but even in the little things we are being disobedient and that is just as important.  We get interrupted through out the day, but a Godly intervention is different from the distractions of this world.  He has a purpose for every intervention.  Will we yield to Him or keep on the path we have created for our lives?

If you trained as a child to become a dancer and you ended up having an accident that prevented you from ever dancing again then what would you do?  Would you sulk and be angry with God and the world or would you let God show you the life you were suppose to lead from the very beginning?  Our plans for our life are many times uprooted by God so that He can work wonders through us.

Jonah held great importance in his job working for God until God asked him to do the unthinkable.

"Interruptions only become positive when we consider the person or the circumstance interrupting to be more significant than that which currently occupies our attention."  Priscilla Shirer

Does God need us to complete His mission?  No, He is fully capable of doing anything He chooses.  In that moment God is calling you to a specific task that no one else is asked to do.  Although, if we say no, He can find another to do what He is asking and we would miss out on the blessing.  It is hard to fathom that God would want to partner with us, those who sin continually.  We should see interventions as a privilege and not a burden.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

Can you imagine if the only present your entire family got for Christmas was the contents of a small shoe box sent from someone you didn't even know.  In America, Christmas has gotten away from the true meaning of the holiday.  It's all about how many presents can I get, instead of giving to others without any thought of a return gift.  The focus has been taken away from Jesus and given to the advertisers.  Operation Christmas Child is a great program that shows that even one person or family can contribute in a massive way.  My kids enjoy packing boxes for children their age that will go to a child somewhere in the world.  I hope they will learn to appreciate what they have because there are many children who have next to nothing.

I hope that you and your family choose to do this one act of kindness for a child that you probably will never meet, but I know that they will cherish a gift that goes beyond a box.  There are churches that are collecting boxes in many countries.  If your country doesn't have this program then I bet there is someone in need that you may know or could find.  Go to the local orphanage, hospital, etc and ask for their needs.  Is there an elderly neighbor who might need help, a child who would love a soccer ball or a single mother who would love it if you provided a meal for her family.  Even if you can only donate a book, toy or meal that will mean so much to the receiver.  I can assure you that there are such great needs all over the world that seem overwhelming, but there is such a beautiful thing that happens when we step past this "I'm just one person" mentality.  We can do big things if we each choose to take time to share to love of Jesus.

When we give presents to others with no thought of a present in return then we both are given the best present of all, His presence.

To find out more about Operation Christmas Child please click in the link below:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Quote - Anne Frank

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world."

~ Anne Frank

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jonah 1:1-2

Jonah was in Joppa which was northwest of Jerusalem along the sea and Nineveh is north of the word Assyria.

v. 1-2 "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."

This is not the childhood version that many learn in Sunday School with a happy man living in a whale for three days on a coloring page.  This looks at our heart attitude.  Many probably think this is a fairy tale due to the grand scale of the story, but it is not.  This short book (only 4 chapters) focuses on the prophet rather than on the message he was suppose to give.  I believe our attitude will hinder our growth if we continue to choose our feelings over God's will. 

With overwhelming violence going on all over the world then and now, is there any wonder why we should be judged by God?  Do not think that sin hidden in the dark will blind God, He can see even into the darkest of places.  Even if sin seems to be thriving in our society, sin will always make it's way before God. Before digging into Jonah we have to look at the setting because it is a very important part of the story.

Under King Jeroboam II, during the time of Jonah, life was probably pretty good.  There was great economic prosperity in the land.  He was a well respected leader, a prophet.  He had a good position and was now being asked to leave his home (none of the other prophets were being asked by God to leave) to preach to people he more than likely hated with a passion.  How do you leave a good job, position of respect and comforts of home to preach to your enemy?  God, He is the only answer that could apply.

Assyria was Israel's most dreaded enemy at that time.  Nineveh was a great city in Assyria.  The prophet Nahum spoke of the great wickedness that was going on in Assyria; evil plots against God, cruelty in war and against the helpless, idolatry, prostitution and witchcraft.  This must have been the last thing Jonah would have ever thought God would ask him to do.

God spoke to Jonah, back then God did not speak to everyone.  He spoke to some of the people and those people were to go out and share what God had given them.  Now God speaks to many although few hear His voice among the yelling of this world.  The only other time in the Old Testament that Jonah is mentioned is in 2 Kings 14:25.  This gives us Jonah's stats; his name, religion, family, job & hometown.  These five things we find out about him before he gets a divine interruption.

"What we know about Jonah that will make a difference for eternity only comes after the interruption."   Priscilla Shirer

I am Jonah and so are you.  We have been interrupted in the plans for our lives and we all have disobeyed God at some point, although it may not be so obvious to us at the time or as big as what Jonah went through, but we all fall short of His expectations.  This book is a great look at our hearts and how when God calls us, we choose to act, either in disobedience or complete and utter allegiance.

Priscilla calls a life interrupted a divine intervention, what we see as an interruption, God is using for an intervention so that we can live the life we were meant to live.  To be interrupted questions our priorities and the value we place on them.  When held up to the light of God our value system is faulty.

What is your divine intervention right now?  What is God asking of you that seems too difficult to even comprehend?  Will you heed the call and follow God or run away like Jonah?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quote - hopefullness

"When you're down to nothing, God is up to something."

There is something at work right now pertaining to you.  It may be months, years or decades down the road, but if you will stop the chaos of negativity then you might just start to hear that He is near and working on good things for you.  Sometimes when we are deep in the pit and darkness is all around we never think to look up to see a glimpse of even the faintest of light because once you look up the light grows brighter and brighter until you are surrounded by acceptance, love, grace and mercy.  

Monday, October 21, 2013


I am leading a Jonah bible study at my church this fall.  I am not really a leader, just a facilitator.  I am much better at writing than leading.  The bible study is "Jonah - Navigating a Life Interrupted" by Priscilla Shirer. If you have never done this study I highly recommend it, she is powerful on the DVD videos (you can watch online for a fee or through your church if they have it) and the workbook you fill out makes you reevaluate choices in your life.  I will be using this study along with the bible for the book of Jonah, although I will not be using everything from Priscilla's book because I would love if you got the book yourself to do with a group or even by yourself and I want to be respectful to the author.

I have read Jonah many times and after really diving into this study I now know that I am Jonah, probably along with many of you.  God has told me to do many things and I like Jonah made a choice to go in the other direction.

The interruptions in our lives we see as annoying pests, they derail us from the track we were on, the track we thought was right for us.  Many times God has other plans that we could never see, never dare to hope for or something that we would never want to do.  We can never get away from the distractions of life, there will be seasons in our life that we are distracted constantly.  There are two different kinds of interruptions: the distractions from this world and Godly interruptions.  We choose which ones we will follow every day.  I hope you will see yourself in this man just like I have and when God calls us to do something that from now on we will choose Him instead of going with our thoughts or feelings.

Here are some the people in the bible who were interrupted -

Moses - was taken away from his family and adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter, God sent him to Pharaoh (not his step grandpa) to free the Israelite's

Abraham/Sarah - God told him that his wife Sarah would have a baby at the age of 90 and he was 100

Joseph - his brother's betrayed him and sold him as a slave, he was thrown into jail, he was put in charge of all of Egypt

Mary - she was planning a wedding and was told that she would give birth to Jesus

All of these people and many others had lives that were interrupted on such a large scale sometimes it is hard to see comparisons in their lives and ours, but I think that if we look back on our lives then we will start to see some massive interruptions that will line up with similar experiences with people in the bible.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A river runs through

A famous spot in France, St Etienne abandoned church…

I saw this pic on Pinterest, the note said that this is a church in France, St. Etienne.  Even though this is altered (original photo doesn't have this river & greenery) I think this is a beautiful picture of what some churches look like under the surface.  This dreary dark building abandoned by people has a serene river that we tend to not see, all we see is a dim building with no life.  Yet before our eyes there is life and motion. Churches all over the world may seem old fashion and void of life, but there is life and light all around us. There are those people who when you see them there is something different about them, we may not be able to distinguish at first what that is, but after a while their consistency will draw people in.  I am always amazed at watching people who I call super Christians.  I don't go down the jealous road, but I want to emulate them and be like them when I grow up.  Many will think that when Christians mess up that we are hypocrites, we are trying to do our best to live a life and we fail just like anyone else.

Will we be able to see the river of living water through all the rules and regulations that are placed upon us?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In memory of my brother Bryan 1964-2013

I have been away due to the death of my brother Bryan.  I got the call on Oct. 1st that he died on Sept. 30th.  My mom & I drove up to Columbus, Ohio for the funeral.  We had to be there the next morning for the funeral so it was just the two of us going to Ohio.  Bryan and I share the same mom, but not the same dad.  So we headed up Tuesday evening.  The funeral really wasn't a funeral, it was a showing for immediate family only.  If it had been a funeral for everyone to come and pay their respects I'm not sure if there would have been a funeral home that could hold everyone that would want to come and say goodbye.  Bryan was much needed in our lives and he touched everyone that he met in a profound way.

My brother had been in the hospital for over a week and we didn't know about it nor did we know about his prior stroke and health problems.  I'm not sure why no call was made to my mom to let her know or to my brother that was living in Columbus.  We were not able to say goodbye to him in the hospital.  Some would be furious, but I was not.  I don't have any control over the decisions of others and I would not want to devote my energy to anything other than remembering my brother.  After hearing the story of what happened, yes I got the details again, it would have been one of the hardest things to see.  There was pain and some seriously crappy circumstances when he got to the hospital that I would have lost any composure I had in those moments. Although, near the end he was on pain medication and at the end he was waving and blowing kisses.  This was my brother, such a happy person.  I think that in those moments he was saying goodbye to those in the room and hello to those who were coming to help him along to the next part of his journey.

Bryan was 49 years old.  My brother was one of the most amazing and sweetest people that I have ever known.  He had Down Syndrome, but was not defined by it.  For those of you that don't know much about this it's considered a birth defect, but it is no defect at all.    God doesn't make anything that is defective, everything He makes is on purpose and for a reason.  John 9:1-3 "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'"  It is a shame that many miss what God is doing in the lives of people with special needs, they make fun of them for being different, yet they probably won't be as "perfect" in Jesus as those they make fun of.  In many countries, even America, there is an image problem with our ability is see beyond some one's disability and be able to see them as they are meant to be seen.  Someone told my mom to put Bryan in a home, thankfully she never listened to anyone, but God.  Those people saw him as a challenge.  What if God sent him to us as a challenge?  To challenge our ideas of the right kind of child, sibling, student or friend. To challenge our beliefs, our thoughts and our minds.

The difference between us & those with Down Syndrome is just one extra chromosome, they have three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two.  I'm a bit OCD and think a lot about numbers.  Seven is the number associated with Jesus, the perfect number.  7 x 3 = 21, 7 (the number of perfection) x 3 (the number of the trinity & # of chromosomes) = 21 (21st chromosome).  OK, this might be a bit out there, but it just came to me and I never would have thought of that before.  God has the longest symphony in history and He uses all instruments to create a masterpiece.

I did not see him as often as I would have liked, but he is such an important part of who I am.  He taught me to love others regardless of looks, beliefs or abilities.  To laugh often and have joy.  He made such a deep impact in the lives of those around him that he would never know the blessings that he bestowed on all of our hearts.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Time away from my blog

I had a death in the family so I have been away from my blog.  I'll be back this coming week.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Quote - Robert Frost

"Never be bullied into silence, never allow yourself to be made a victim.  Accept no one's definition of your life, define yourself." 

~Robert Frost

This is easy to say and difficult to master.  We are a product of the events we have gone through, the negative comments said to us as far back as childhood and the self inflicted damage we put on our bodies & minds.  We all have different negative experiences, but we are not alone.  There are millions of combinations, yet the result is usually the same.  Our self worth is gone and our self esteem is unrecognizable.  Do not let anyone pen your story.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


One date, two stories.

1st story:

Back in 94/95 I was in the ARMY.  I saw in my head the number 28.  I was engaged and thought that maybe that was going to be the day I got married.  This is one of only two times God has shown me a number, yet at the time I didn't know what it was.  At this point in my life I said I was a Christian, but I had no idea what that really meant and my lifestyle did not support that claim.

Fast forward a few years later I had dated a guy by the name of Mike Hastings.  It was a short lived relationship, but we remained friends.  My best friend Sabrina called me one night and I knew right away that something was wrong.  She said she was on her way over to my house.  I remember the details of this night vividly, as if it was a neon sign seared into my mind.  She told me that Mike was dead and I was in shock. The next night we went to see the group of friends we hung out with, then all the funeral stuff happened. Only later did I realize that he was buried on the 28th.  I had no idea why that number would be important to me, at the time it was just a number, just a faint idea of what could come.

Mike committed suicide.  A friend of mine knew someone on the police force so I heard the details of what happened.  Still not sure if I needed to know those details.  The only reason I am glad to know them is because there was time.  I believe in that moment maybe for the first time he did not feel alone nor was he. There was time to accept God before the end and I have to believe that he chose God because in grief and desperation to see pure love would be overwhelming, I would think that many would turn to Him.  That he believed and felt unconditional love for the first time.

You see he had a plan.  He wrote letters to his family.  Took a gun from a friend.  He was intent on killing himself.  When someone decides to commit suicide, they will follow through.  Unless there is a cry for help that is noticeable they will end their pain themselves, yet many miss the signs along the way.  They have no idea what devastation awaits everyone else that is around them, they are only thinking of themselves. Many intelligent and kind people commit suicide, they are under the impression that their demons will never go away and they have come to this final step to ease their soul.

In John 10:28 it says this "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand." So even in that moment Mike could still accept Jesus and be saved.  I believe all sins will be forgiven even in the process of ending ones life.  Romans 8:38-39 says "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."  I have heard so many that say that those committing suicide are going to hell, but if we are not in those last moments we can't say that to be true.  We are precious to the Father and even when we make bad decisions I am assured that He is near.  When we are at our most desperate there is comfort that can't been seen with our eyes or heard with our ears.

2nd story:

I thought that was the end of the 28th.  In 2007 I had my daughter and my mom came down for a visit.  She was visiting in October and when she got back to Ohio on a bus my grandparents had a rose for her.  They didn't say anything, they just took her to the hospital.  My dad was there very sick, his body was shutting down.  My dad made sure to tell his dad to get my mom a rose, which was very sweet.  By the time mom got to the room he couldn't communicate, but he could still hear.    He was in a bad situation and was unlikely to fully recover if he lived.  I spoke with mom on Friday and she said that he was doing better, but Saturday I knew he wasn't going to make it.  How I knew I didn't know, I just knew.  My mom had a dream Saturday night and she knew that he wasn't going to make it either.  So I started packing so that we could drive up from TN to OH.  I called on Sunday and mom told me he was gone, that I already knew, she just confirmed it.  He died on the 28th.

He put off going to the doctor for tests and said he would do it while my mom was visiting us, he never did. He came back to God a few years before he died, even doing bible study and going to church.  As far as I can remember he never did that while we were growing up, I never heard him even speak about God, ever. His health was declining, but he never change his lifestyle.  He kept drinking and eating foods he was suppose to avoid.  It is sad to lose someone early when it could have been delayed for many years or decades.

You may think this is a bit crazy, but when I sense something is from God I try to pay attention.  This date I thought was good ended up being sad and I don't know if this is the end of the 28th, only time will tell.  You may say that this was a coincidence, but that word is not in my vocabulary.  I do not believe in mere chance or coincidence. That would take away any glory from God and give it to fate instead of faith.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Eccl. recap

Solomon writes about life's experiences and about the true meaning of life.  With humility and repentance at the end he wanted to warn others not to follow the same path that he went down.  This was a very wise man who did not want others to repeat his mistakes.  The recap is like cliff notes on wonderful ideas God has shown me.

Throughout history there are constant circles of sameness.

The only thing we have control of in this world is how we think, speak and act and how we react to other people and situations. 

There is a price to wisdom; we will be expected to feel more, observe more, question more, act more and even hurt more.

I think that knowledge is made up of facts and ideas; and wisdom is the ability to know what to do with those facts and ideas and how to apply them to life. 

Solomon thought that he could test himself and be OK.  That is dangerous ground to be walking on. 

He was saying that he still had wisdom even though what he was doing was not wise.

Solomon did many great things, but because he did them for the wrong reasons, they were hollow inside.

This book is a warning that we should not put God out of the way because if that is the case then we will not prosper.  What are the reasons behind your goals?

We may not be happy with Him all the time, but we do not know what His plans are for us so we do not have all the details to make a correct observation.

Every little thought, our actions, how we treated family and strangers, how we spent our time and money will be on trial before God. 

You can not grasp what is untouchable. 

God is looking for quality in us, not quantity.

 It is not the destination, but the journey where we learn our lessons and determine who we are in this life.

God gives us cycles, which are natural to go through.  Our problem is that we get stuck in some of these places and it is difficult to get out. 

Pride will drive a country to war and when it is finally destroyed only then will the pride be defeated into desperation.

At times a faulty foundation must be torn down so that a correct one can be put in it's place for the stability of our life. 

There is joy in the end if we will only believe. 

Space apart is much needed when betrayed.

Some things found will eventually be lost. 

Remember if we do not speak out against injustice then it is as if we are in agreement with the injustice we so oppose. 

Only when they have sight and strength can they start to fly.

Our hearts are bound to something that we can't see.

Although when we try to keep track of our "good deeds" then we start to lose sight of the path we are on.

I know that unless we are in someone else's shoes we will not know everything that happened so our judgment is just that, judgment.

There is a balance to all things.

The result is that you find you are not alone like you once thought. 

We were not meant to do life in this world alone.

Check your heart when you are near God because He will surely see your motives behind your prayers.

Guard your words, think carefully before you make a vow to God. 

When you give and help others you will get a payment that no check in the world could duplicate. 

Throughout history oppressing the weak has been consistent.

If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror you will miss where you are going and all the people along the way.

Adversity is a refining fire that eliminates unnecessary elements in our lives.

We are sad when someone dies and leaves us, but in heaven there is rejoicing for those coming home.

I would rather go through heartache with God than be blissfully unaware of Him for my entire life.

In bad times we should take time to contemplate everything God has does for us and that He knows infinitely more than we ever could. 

We should take the advice of others who have come before us and have learned valuable lessons at a high cost.  So that we will avoid the same price paid.

Those throwing stones at you from their glass houses will inevitability get cut from falling glass. 

Any words can be spoken and sound kind, but there could be deceit just under the surface. 

Thinking you have a vast amount of wisdom is a good sign that you don't.

I think he was showing that no one can stand before God and be considered upright on their own merit.

We may not agree with everything that a leader does, but we should still pray for them.

We are a passionate people, but the actions of others do not justify our actions for revenge. 

We do not see people's hearts and even if we did, we could not judge them accordingly.

We all have a common destiny, but not all will lead a common life.

We are not to go through life as if we were covered in fifthly rags, utterly destitute in spirit.

 Do not depend on your spouse to make you happy

We could make such an impact if we quit letting our personal problems get in our way or worrying about what others think.

We also disregard wisdom if we don't think the person appears to be valuable in God's kingdom.

Do not let the outer appearance of someone get in your way of receiving God's wisdom.

There are many who try to cover up their deeds with sweet words or actions, but in the end the stench will seep through.

Wisdom can not always bring about change if the wise ones have no power.

It is better to be poor in bank account than spiritually bankrupt.

When we decide to be a Christian, it is a 24 hour/7 days a week position, we need to be extra careful when we are on "break" so that our hearts do not get corrupted with the world's view.

We should give freely the things God has put in our care.

 If 10% was to be given under the law then how much more generous should we be?

I know there are tons of excuses why not to give.  Which one will you give God when He asks why you did not have compassion on those less fortunate?

He deserves our time above everything else.

It makes it harder to want to continue to sin when we see what is at stake.

Life centered on selfish pursuits is void of life itself.

Our spirit will return to the one who gave it freely.

Like a goad, wisdom may be unpleasant to hear at first, but it will keep you moving in the direction you need to go.

I am talking about different religions using parts of the bible and their own ideas to make up a new "bible".  That is dangerous ground that will not stand up before God.

You can't just pick to love or fear Him, they were intertwined from the start and are inseparable.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Quote - Katherine Graham

"The longer I live, the more I observe that carrying around anger is the most debilitating to the person who bears it."
~Katherine Graham

A very true statement.  We carry these things around as if it were a badge of honor.  Often the other person doesn't even have a clue as to why we are mad in the first place.  So this anger that is for someone else never reaches it's target, it stays with us ruining our lives.  Letting go of the pain and anger is the best thing that we can do for ourselves, only after that can we heal and move on.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eccl. 12:1-14

Eccl. 12:1-14
"Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
'I find no pleasure in them'-
before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when men rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
when men are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags himself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then man goes to his eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.

Remember him-before the silver cord is served,
or the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
or the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher.
'Everything is meaningless!'

Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people.  He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs.  The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails-given by one Shepherd.  Be warned, my son, of anything in additional to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil."

It is easy to forget about God in one's youth, this I know very well.  Life centered on selfish pursuits is void of life itself.  We need to have a strong foundation, roots that grow deep so that when trouble comes we will not be swept away.  When we are near the end of life in old age our bodies will betray us and the strong will become weak and frail.  Although this does not have to affect our minds, some weak in body are a strong force for God's kingdom.  Since almond trees can bloom as late as February, some think they resemble men in their old age.  The thing I find fascinating about almond trees is that the flowers appear before the leaves show up.  Then when the old blossoms fall to the ground they look like snowflakes.  Only when we let go of the things of the earth and die to self will we then be clean as fallen snow. 

Life is not certain.  The silver cord, bowl, pitcher and wheel symbolize how fragile life really is.  How much more should we set our sights on being thankful for today and seeing that we should live wisely and not squander our lives away.  Our spirit will return to the one who gave it freely.  Our bodies are a vessel for our spirit and when we are gone the vessel remains. 

There are many elderly people who try to give wisdom to younger generations, yet they often go unnoticed in our youth driven world.  The words of the wise are like goads.  A goad was a sharp metal tip attached to a handle used to keep oxen or cattle moving.  Like a goad, wisdom may be unpleasant to hear at first, but it will keep you moving in the direction you need to go.  Wisdom is like nails that are deeply embedded by the one true Shepherd.  Jesus was the recipient of nails used for destruction and He turns that around to use them for our good so we can grow in our relationship with God. 

Anytime there is a warning in Scripture I read it several times.  This is warning us that there is much out there that is not good for us, that will lead us down the wrong path.  There are many different versions of the bible out there that are not truth.   I'm not talking about the different biblical versions like NIV, KJV, Amplified, etc.  I am talking about different religions using parts of the bible and their own ideas to make up a new "bible".  That is dangerous ground that will not stand up before God.  If a book claims to be biblical yet contradicts God's word then it's not His word.  Simple?  No, because there is an enemy out there who is ALWAYS trying to get us away from Him.  When a rock is thrown the slightest bump will throw it off it's course, the same is true for the enemy, he wants to ever so slightly get us off course so that we still think we are on the right trajectory.  In only a few feet a rock doesn't seem to have changed course much, but give the rock hundreds or thousands of feet and the landing will be nowhere near the target.  Some may think this thinking to be archaic, but I follow God's word.  So all complaints should be directed to Him. 

"In his conclusion, Solomon presents his antidotes for the two main ailments presented in this book.  Those who lack purpose and direction in life should fear God and keep his commandments.  Those who think life is unfair should remember that God will review every person's life to determine how he or she has responded to him, and he will bring every deed into judgment."                       NIV notes

We are to fear God, I believe that when the bible says to fear God it doesn't necessarily mean to be scared of Him.  Although He has the ability to be an angry parent and inflict punishment when we do things wrong.  God is love and He wants the best for us.  To have a healthy fear of God is to be in reverential awe, some synonyms are: respect (esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of someone) and reverence (a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe).  This helps keep me humble because without God I know that I can't do much of anything.  We are to keep His laws.  Many love God, yet do not fear Him and they keep sinning and thinking that it's OK.  You can't just pick to love or fear Him, they were intertwined from the start and are inseparable.  To live your best live you must have both.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Out for a walk

Our family went out for a walk today with the dog.  A neighbor down the street was watering some flowers down by his mail box.  My husband said hi and the man's reply was less than friendly.  He told us that he had to change out his flowers and that we better not have our dog pee on his flowers.  We told him that we didn't allow our dog to do that.  This man then implied that maybe he would shoot our dog if we did let him.  We have never talked with this man before and I can see why.  He saw a family with a dog and decided we were one of those families who let their dog do that.  He was in all ways defensive and bitter.  At first I was irritated, but then I started to feel sorry for him.  I always do when someone lashes out on others who did nothing wrong.  There was no need for him to even talk to us let alone threaten our dog.  He made an assumption, he didn't care that we also don't like when people let their dogs pee on our flowers. 

When we got home I used it as a teaching lesson for my son.  This man might have been having a bad day and was frustrated about his flowers, but that doesn't excuse bad behavior.  Nor does that excuse blaming others who didn't do anything wrong.  We can't pick our neighbors and we can't always be friends with them.  When you assume something and are dead set on your beliefs then you may find out that you are the one who looks like the fool in the end.  Thankfully my kids did not hear what he said about our dog or the tears would have started to flow. 

I can see that the enemy was out to ruin our walk.  Just a simple thing, a walk around the block, but some much needed family time.  Later on our walk the kids were being difficult so we decided to come home early.  When you have a Kingdom perspective you can start to see the enemy take shape, the invisible becomes visible.  Obviously I did not see a demon, but I could easily see the result from their handy work.  Surprise attacks are a common move, but just as dangerous are the slowly inching attacks that don't really seem like anything at all.  The enemy will use an means necessary to separate a family.  He knows that if we are so busy fighting and angry at each other we will not let God in.  This will destroy any family that doesn't see that they are being separated.  Then it might only take one big thing to dissolve the union the God put together. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Eccl. 11:1-10

v. 1- 10
"Cast your bread upon the waters,
for after many days you will find it again.
Give portions to seven, yes to eight,
for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.

If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain upon the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, 
in the place where it falls, there will it lie,
Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.

Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let not your hands be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.

Light is sweet,
and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years a man may live,
let him enjoy them all.
But let him remember the days of darkness,
for they will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.

Be happy, young man, while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you to judgment.
So then banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,
for youth and vigor are meaningless."

Today is one of those days I don't really feel like blogging, but I know that those are the days I really need to write.  Allergies are making my head feel heavy, but my heart is happy and content.  So hopefully there will be something that you think is useful for your life today. 

We are to be generous to others, there is no need to be selfish.  We should give freely the things God has put in our care.  There are so many in this world with an unlimited amount of cash that is used just on them.  The bible talks about giving 10% of our income back to God.  Does He need our money?  No, He has no need for it personally.  We are to give back so that we will obey Him and our hearts will not grow in greed.  If 10% was to be given under the law then how much more generous should we be?  If you have never given money then I hope you will start.  You can give locally or globally, the choice is yours.  Why talk about this?  This is the ONE THING in the bible that I can recall that God says to test Him on so this is a big deal.  This really shows how dedicated you are to the Kingdom, going that extra step to obey God.  I can tell you that many people stop right here and do not go any further.  There are many people without much of an income and yet they still give their money, talent or time to help others.  The dollar amount is not the important thing, its your ability to freely give, this shows your heart and soul.  Cooking a meal for a friend who lost a loved one, paying for some one's meal behind you in the drive-thru or spending time with a child who has no one to love them.  There are many ways to give in addition to cash.  I know there are tons of excuses why not to give.  Which one will you give God when He asks why you did not have compassion on those less fortunate?  Ouch, I know, but true all the same.  Giving money to someone in need or a worthy cause is a beautiful expression of God's love.

The verse about planting and reaping not only apply to farming, but also our spiritual life.  Are you waiting for the perfect time to sit down and read the bible?  You may be among chaos and can still find the time.  I know having little ones at home makes it difficult, but you can pray doing the dishes, driving in the car, or during a child's nap.  There will be interruptions when we try and take the time to sit with God.  I know many women who use checklists.  If they do not have certain things done around the house then they will not make the time to read the bible or pray.  God does not care if your house is spotless, He cares about your heart.  He deserves our time above everything else.  If spending time with God is at the top of your list then other things will fall into place or you will find that they don't matter as much as you thought they did. 

If we think we will go to church when we feel accepted or when we find that perfect church then no one would ever go.  Church is full of sinners, that is where we belong, we are to be with other imperfect people.  I know there are many churches that are like high school, cliché's everywhere, judging others and excluding them for their lives.  It's ok to church shop, going to different ones until you get a good feel for the sermons.  If you are getting fed from Scripture at church then maybe some of those "cardboard Christians" (you know the kind that look put together, but from the side are just held up with a small piece of cardboard, hollow inside) will start to want to be like you.  Instead of trying to fit into their groups they will see there is something different about you and want to be around you.  If they hate you then they may be jealous and critical.  Who wants friends like that anyway?

God is beyond us!  For how far we have come we only know a little of Him.  We are to enjoy our life, but not forget dark days.  If we do this, then we will be prepared for things down the road.  Also, remembering dark days helps us to be thankful that God has seen us through.  Solomon is giving a warning that if we choose sin then there will be judgment.  It makes it harder to want to continue to sin when we see what is at stake.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quote - Abraham Lincoln

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

Abraham Lincoln

One of America's greatest presidents knew that even with the large responsibility of running this country, he needed help.  In his time there was the unknown, a seismic shift was shaking the foundations in this country, a horrific battle that was self inflicted was tearing America apart.  At no other time in history have we been so divided that we were propelled to an all out inward war on a grand scale.  Any great leader will know that they have been given a gift of nearly unlimited power that they have to decide how to limit it, so that the people and the country will prosper.  This war divided families, towns, cities and by an obvious line-states. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eccl. 10:11-20

v. 11-20
"If a snake bites before it is charmed,
there is no profit for the charmer.

Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious,
but a fool is consumed by his own lips.
At the beginning his words are folly;
at the end they are wicked madness-
and the fool multiplies words.

No on knows what is coming-
who can tell him what will happen after him?

A fool's work wearies him;
he does not know the way to town.

Woe to you, O land whose king was a servant
and whose princes feast in the morning.
Blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth
and whose princes eat at a proper time-
for strength and not for drunkenness.

If a man is lazy, the rafters sag;
if his hands are idle, the house leaks.

A feast is made for laughter,
and wine makes life merry,
but money is the answer for everything.

Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird of the air may carry your words,
and a bird on the wing may report what you say."

When the Jewish people had incompetent or lazy leaders the result was that the nation often fell into disrepair or was captured by an enemy.  I think that Solomon is saying that when people are in positions of power they should be wary of things that may trip them up.  Solomon being in a position of leadership could see how easy it is for a kingdom to go under.  Money alone will not be able to meet all of our needs.  Money itself is not sinful, it is the love of money that will push out God from our lives.  It is better to be poor in bank account than spiritually bankrupt.

We are not to revile (speak with contemptuous or opprobrious language; address or speak of abusively) about our leaders.  So even in our homes we are not to put down leaders or the wealthy.  I believe this is running rampant all over the world.  Remember that little ears will hear what we say about those in authority, they may have a grudge against those people when they grow up and are out of our home.  I know that this is hard to fight against because in many cases we don't agree with their policy or they are abusing their power.  Our culture is one that encourages the putting down of any leader we think is not worthy of the position they hold.  We should show respect for the office held by everyone from small town aldermen to presidents, kings, or other leaders around the world.  They many be very wrong about what they are doing, but shouldn't we leave it to God to deal with?  Many times our words will come back to bite us.  If we are trying to teach integrity to our children then this should be an area that we are very careful in.  In the end we will not be held accountable for others actions, only for our response to those actions.  I love how it says that "a bird of the air will carry your words."  This could mean many things these days, the birds could be: our children, spouse, other family, friends or even technology.

When we decide to be a Christian, it is a 24 hour/7 days a week position, we need to be extra careful when we are on "break" so that our hearts do not get corrupted with the world's view.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Eccl. 10:1-10

v. 1-10
"As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.
Even as he walks along the road,
the fool lacks sense
and shows everyone how stupid he is.
If a ruler's anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great errors to rest.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
Fools are put in many high positions,
while the rich occupy the low ones.
I have seen slaves on horseback,
while princes go on foot like slaves.

Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;
whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.

If the ax is dull
and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed
but skill will bring success."

There are many who try to cover up their deeds with sweet words or actions, but in the end the stench will seep through.  Fools will trip themselves up at some point and show their reckless decisions.  I use to be in the U.S. Army as an MP (Military Police) and when we were at our post we were not to leave or we would be subject to consequences.  Employers are to be civil and fair with employees, employees should in turn be reliable and trustworthy.  Solomon is again showing injustice in the world.  Wisdom can not always bring about change if the wise ones have no power. 

Those choosing to set traps may very well fall into them.  The people who are up to no good waste months and years of their lives in things that are meaningless.   If you have ever cut with a dull knife you know that it makes it harder to cut and the dull blade can also be very dangerous, it becomes unreliable.  We are to stay sharp so that we can be ready for anything in our path.  If we are unequipped for the task at hand then we may miss out on opportunities in life.  If we lack skills, then we should spend time working on them through training and practice. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Eccl. 9:7-18

v. 7-18 "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.  Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.  Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun-all your meaningless days.  For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

I have seen something else under the sun:

The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so men are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.

I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it.  And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it.  Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom.  But nobody remembered that poor man.  So I said, 'Wisdom is better than strength.'  But the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good."

When you are clothed in white, you are set apart, holy.  We are not to go through life as if we were covered in fifthly rags, utterly destitute in spirit.  During the grieving process the Jewish people would tear their clothes and put ash on their forehead.  After a time of mourning they cleaned themselves up.  Putting oil on was a sign that mourning has ended.  When we become born again we are clothed in His beauty and we are new creatures.  Wearing white and having oil on your head are signs of being joyful and being able to celebrate life. 

Since the divorce rate is so high it would be fair to say many people are not heeding this advice to enjoy their spouse.  Do not depend on your spouse to make you happy.  Their job is to be a partner in life, not to be put in God's place.  God comes first, then family.  The time we have here on earth is short so we should focus on the gifts and tasks God has given us.  We could make such an impact if we quit letting our personal problems get in our way or worrying about what others think. 

If we are caught by evil times then we have a choice to get out of them.  There are too many temptations all around.  We should listen to the wise people around us.  Many elderly people are forgotten about, yet they have valuable wisdom that could help us on our journey.  We also disregard wisdom if we don't think the person appears to be valuable in God's kingdom.  Do not let the outer appearance of someone get in your way of receiving God's wisdom.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eccl. 9:1-6

v. 1-6 "So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him.  All share a common destiny-the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. 

As it is with the good man,
so with the sinner;
as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them. 

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all.  The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.  Anyone who is among the living has hope-even a live dog is better than a dead lion!

For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even the memory of them is forgotten.
Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun."

This is Solomon's final conclusion.  The part where it says "no man knows whether love or hate awaits him" I had to look up other versions to see what I thought that meant.  At first I thought that was odd, don't we know if love or hate awaits us?  Then I start to think of the many who have used God's name to do terrible things, they must think they are immune from judgment.  We can not determine whether someone will be in the Book of Life or not.  We do not see people's hearts and even if we did, we could not judge them accordingly.   I like what the Complete Jewish Bible has to say, "I applied myself to all of this, sifted through it and concluded that the righteous and the wise, along with their deeds, are in God’s hands — a person cannot know whether these people and deeds will be rewarded with love or with hatred; all options are open."  This version seems to look at this situation as if looking on humanity as a whole and as an individual. 

It almost seems that there is no difference in good and evil people, the end result is the same.  This can be a dangerous gamble to think it's ok to do what we want here on earth.  All will be met by death, not all will be given eternal life.  I believe this only talks about death, not our eternal home.  Death is just an end, then it will be decided where we will call home.  We have multiple chances to redirect our lives, but once we are gone it will be over.  You can probably guess that I am not a big fan of being frozen to come alive again at a later date or anything of that sort.  It's entertaining to watch in the movies, but that is not a feasible option.  Why would I want to come back here instead of going to heaven? 

"Though, on this side death, the righteous and the wicked seem alike, on the other side death there will be a vast difference between them."  Matthew Henry

We all have a common destiny, but not all will lead a common life.