Friday, December 31, 2010

"And the LORD shall guide thee continually. " - Isaiah 58:11

Once again I am drawn to the words of Charles Spurgeon who penned the following deep meditations:

Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel's guidance: He Himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice the word shall - "The Lord shall guide thee."

How certain this makes it! How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious "shalls" and "wills" are better than men's oaths. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Then observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at His heels, we shall not err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for "the Lord shall guide thee continually." There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. "Jehovah" - mark the word - "Jehovah shall guide thee continually."

I don't know about anyone else but that encouragement blesses me abundantly as though being wrapped in a warm blanket or comforted by a soothing word or heartfelt embrace.  My eyes have seen and my ears have heard too much to ever doubt the Good Shepherd's guidance.

I have been placed and relocated... I have had to "change my position in life", "emigrate to distant shores" (then back again), was "cast into poverty" and dependent upon others for assistance, I was moved to an unfamiliar city (though blessed with the company of family), then returned "among foes", yet my focus is and remains on the cross.  My heart's desire is to walk with God, like Enoch... to simply disappear one day from this earth and be able to step from this world into God's Kingdom or be taken up on a chariot of fire like Elijah.  I was not/am not mistaken.  I "have infallible wisdom to direct" me, "immutable love to comfort" me, and "eternal power to defend" me!  I am honored to call my King "master" and go as He directs my heart.  I certainly don't understand and at times I fight my pride.  But truly I am blessed and thankful beyond measure.  Though pruning/refining hurts, it makes me more like Christ and therefore more beautiful.

Come fellow pilgrim, let us travel hand in hand and pray for one another.  (Those who are uncertain are invited to come along too, of course.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Sudden Death: For You are a Mist That Appears for a Little Time and Then Vanishes

"O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
(Psalm 39:4. ESV.)

When it comes to eternity, I know this life is like a vapor or mist. But, the sudden loss of a life that has touched my own makes the reality of James 4:14 stark in contrast to everything else. It stands out like a neon sign or hits me like a mallot, difficult to miss. It causes me to stop and meditate on what is important and what is just foolishness.

On the evening of Tuesday, December 22, 2010, a teen lost her life in a car accident. She was known by our family and a friend to one of the adolescents in my home. I had met her parents. My husband had taken the young adults to various places where they enjoyed to hang out. She was not just a name we heard often... she was someone who had an impact on our lives. And, in the blink of an eye, she was gone from this world, forever.

I laid awake in bed the night I found out about this death. The waves that rocked me were like those of an after shock post earthquake... ripples of uneasiness... discomfort. How easily that could have been one of the children from my own household. An unsuspecting individual, seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A divine appointment no one could have predicted. Words left unspoken. An argument unresolved. A future that would never be claimed.

But God is still on the throne.

Below are the video and lyrics to a song called, "I Think It's Going to Rain Today". I love Bette Midler's rendition of it but could not find a decent video of one of her performances.

Broken windows and empty hallways,
a pale dead moon in a sky streaked with grey.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today.

Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles,
the frozen smiles to chase love away.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today....

Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today....

Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
and I think it's gonna rain today.

Monday, December 27, 2010

There is Nothing Like the Presence of Jesus

The following is an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" devotional for December 26th p.m.:

He is as surely with us now as He was with the disciples at the lake, when they saw coals of fire, and fish laid thereon and bread. Not carnally, but still in real truth, Jesus is with us. And a blessed truth it is, for where Jesus is, love becomes inflamed . Of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus!...  If we know that Jesus is with us, every power will be developed , and every grace will be strengthened, and we shall cast ourselves into the Lord's service with heart, and soul, and strength; therefore is the  presence of Christ to be desired above all things. His presence will be most realized by those who are most like Him. If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to Him. Bring yourself, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ's desires, and motives, and plans of action, and you are likely to be favoured with His company.

Remember His presence may be had. His promise is as true as ever. He delights to be with us....  He will reveal Himself to our earnest prayers, and graciously suffer Himself to be detained by our entreaties, and by our tears, for these are the golden chains which bind Jesus to His people.

His promise certainly is as true as ever!

Spurgeon goes on to say:

The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend Him out of love to Himself are His own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my Thee, and not in the mire of this world's favour or gain.

What a comfort to know Christ is with us just as much today as when the events of the bible took place.  We have only to believe and trust.  Even (or especially) in the moments when it is easier to feel abandoned.  When it is tempting to call out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". The bible is full of times when God lead His people in a direction that required complete dependance upon Him without doubt!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bolster My Faith

The following is a lovely prayer I found over at

Lord, you know my heart; you know everything about me.  It is early morning right now and on this morning, I need you so desperately.  You know I am in knots and anxious; you know I am not the strong one, but You are.  I need you to be my hiding place today; my shelter and the place where you hide me in the cleft of the rock when you pass by and show us your glory.  For today is something I am dreading beyond anything I have had to face.

Daddy, I’m weak.  I have nothing good I can give you; no reservoir of strength within me that would spark any sort of hope to get through what could possibly happen today.

Everything is from you; in you is my breathe, my being, my movement and my reality.  I must confess that though I have wanted to be as strong as others see me as, the very real reality is that I am frail and foolish; you are the strong One.  For you are my tower, my fortress, my rock that I cling to today.  I know in my weakness, in my poorness of spirit, in my emptiness of self you shine through and fill me.  Lord, it is YOU; all you that empowers us and gives us strength.  Let THAT testimony be shouted from the rooftops.  Our GOD IS FAITHFUL.  You have gotten me through yesterday, last week, last year and thus far in my life.  You have blessed others with your Spirit, your breathe, your strength and your comfort in their lifetimes and I trust that you are the same yesterday, today and forever.  You are indeed the Alpha and Omega of my life, and you INDEED created Samuel fearfully and WONDERFULLY in the womb of Kelly.  God, THIS is your truth!

I pray this prayer as my own, always, especially when I am weak.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. Praising God for His many blessings! New post coming soon however Internet access is very limited currently. God bless us, everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Last Christmas

Letting go of a child from this world and releasing him or her back into the arms of our loving God is so, incredibly difficult. I know it would be an indescribable, emotional roller coaster of a challenge for me. Below is a video of one family's journey in giving their precious little lamb "One Last Christmas". What is important to you this Christmas?

If you cannot view the video, please click here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jesus, Light of the World

The following beautiful passage is adopted from a 1926 sermon by Dr. James Allen Francis:

He was born in an obscure village, the son of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter's shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he became a wandering preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of those things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through a mockery of a trial. He was executed by the state. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

Thank you, Carl!

(Photo can be found here.)

Dealing with Discomfort and Rain

A dear sister in Christ has emailed me some great encouragement I would like to pass along. Thanks Sarah!!!

Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (Matthew 5:11)

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:25)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Photo: Deck Chair

My hubs' (husband) favorite chair broke... so he put it outside on the deck... near the grill. I'm sure our pug and white boxer love it... when it's not raining out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

If I Cannot be in Your Presence at Least I Have Your Words

This thought strikes me, lately, on a couple of levels. First, I obviously think of God and His word which I feel was given to us so we would know His statues, expectations, etc. I have heard some people call it a "love letter" to us. Secondly, I think of individuals I adore and miss dearly whose lives I cannot be a part of physically but I can write (or call) them and they to me... so we still have the sentiments. I cannot help but wonder, though, which sense is more important, touch, sight, or hearing? Perhaps it is relative.

Not being able to hug loved ones, God, and Jesus is hard for me. I desire a heartfelt embrace. But does that mean I cannot function on printed language alone? No, it does not. I have a fondness for expressions that have been jotted down for me to review, process, and then (to which to) respond.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105. ESV.)

I delight in God leaving us His written word… penned by man, inspired by God. And I take joy in receiving letters and/or email from family and friends. Though I cannot be with them, I am thankful to read their love expressed to me on paper.

Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35. ESV.)

Also, I am still reading SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY by Wayne Grudem. I'm just moving a bit slower than prefered.

(Photo by: Vince Petaccio)

Monday, December 13, 2010

For Everything There is a Season, and a Time for Every Matter Under Heaven

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8. ESV.)

Tomorrow begins a new season for me. So, today is my last opportunity to sort, ship, pack, store, and give away things. One year is so relative. As my cherished loved one said to me on Saturday, “The good thing about time is it goes fast. The bad thing about time is it goes fast.” And, I have to agree. When I am apart from those dear to my heart I am glad time passes swiftly so I may see them again in a “timely” manner…a blink of an eye. 2010 with all its challenges has seemed more like six months, to me, rather than a full year. I suppose that is, in part, God’s mercy.

Now, it is time to relocate, reestablish, reconnect, reunite, restore, revise, reengage, revisit, resume, reflect, and renew.

(Photo by: Marek Wojtal)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The History of the "X" in Christmas

Fellow blogger, Erin, over at "My Alabaster Jar" addresses the "X" in the abbreviation for Christmas. She states:

Let's rewind about 2000 years when parts of the New Testament were being written and recorded. From 50 AD to 100 AD, the scholarly language of the time was Greek and so most of this portion of The Bible was written in Greek. The earliest Greek symbols for Christ was cristoV where the first two letters were chi (c or C) and rho (r or R).

So the symbol for Christ in the Greek became XP and was later shortened to just X.

In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Because the words were set by hand, the cost of printing was extremely expensive. The church, in an effort to reduce production costs, used the abbreviations X for Christ and Xmas for Christmas.

Click here to read more.

One Million Moms [dot] Com

Before today, I had never heard of this site. But it sounds as though it is one worth looking into. Their purpose includes the following statement: was begun to give moms an impact with the decision-makers and let them know we are upset with the messages they are sending our children and the values (or lack of them) they are pushing.

Our goal is to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.). Mom, is the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children. It is time to fight back!

Sound interesting? Click here to continue reading.

What Is the Mission of the Church?

What Is the Mission of the Church?
(Sovereign Grace Ministries: C.J. Mahaney)

The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.

Click here to continue reading this post.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Satan Dreads Nothing But Prayer

Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray. —Samuel Chadwick

Satanás teme nada más que la oración. Su única preocupación es mantener a los santos de la oración. Él no teme nada de los estudios sin oración, el trabajo sin oración, la religión sin oración. Se ríe de nuestro trabajo, que se burla de nuestra sabiduría, pero tiembla cuando oramos.
-Chadwick Samuel

Satan ne craint rien, mais la prière. Sa seule préoccupation est de garder les saints de prier. Il ne craint rien des études sans prière, le travail sans prière, la religion sans prière. Il rit de nos labeurs, il se moque de notre sagesse, mais il tremble quand nous prions. Samuel Chadwick-

Satana teme nulla, ma la preghiera. La sua unica preoccupazione è quella di mantenere i santi di pregare. Egli teme nulla da studi senza preghiera, il lavoro senza preghiera, la religione senza preghiera. Lui ride presso la nostra fatica, egli prende in giro la nostra saggezza, ma trema quando preghiamo. -Samuel Chadwick

Satanás teme nada, mas a oração. Sua única preocupação é manter os santos da oração. Ele nada teme dos estudos sem oração, trabalho sem oração, a religião sem oração. Ele ri de nossa labuta, zomba de nossa sabedoria, mas treme quando oramos. -Samuel Chadwick

Сатана боится ничего, кроме молитвы. Его одной заботой является сохранение святых молиться. Он ничего не боится из prayerless исследований, prayerless работы, prayerless религии. Он смеется над нашим трудом, он издевается над нашей мудрости, но он дрожит, когда мы молимся. -Самюэля Чадвик

サタンは何も祈りを恐れる。彼の1つの懸念が祈りをささげてから聖人を維持することです。彼はprayerless研究、prayerless仕事prayerless宗教から何を恐れている。私達の労苦で彼は我々の知恵をあざけり、笑うが、彼はときに我々が祈る震えます。 -サムエルチャドウィック

撒旦害怕只是祈禱。他有一個關心的是保持聖徒從祈禱。他擔心沒有從禱告的學習,禱告的工作,禱告的宗教。他嘲笑我們的辛勞,他嘲笑我們的智慧,但他心有餘悸,我們祈禱。 -塞繆爾查德威克

Monday, December 06, 2010

He Will Not Let You be Tempted Beyond Your Ability

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13. ESV.)

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the kind, where it feels like an uphill battle, perhaps a tad overwhelming, and all you want is a moment to catch your breath. Today was of that nature for me… especially in the morning. I was caring for two loved ones with (temporary) special needs due to orthopedic reasons, plus packing for a relocation move, on top of the usual daily duties of preparing meals, teaching school studies, laundry, etc. Not to mention managing phone calls and a couple (medical related) visitors. Phew.

But God’s word reminds me that His grace is more than enough!

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9. ESV.)

Oh boy am I weak…so puny. It is ONLY because of Christ that I have the strength to face difficulties.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:29-31. ESV.)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13. ESV.)

I often think of the John Bunyan work THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS and at the end of Christian’s pilgrimage there’s a scene where Christian crosses the River of Death. This illustration springs to mind when I read Isaiah 43:2 which states,
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2. ESV.)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Give Them Jesus: Guest Post

There are times in my life I hope I will never, EVER forget! Being a member of the church youth group when I was in high school is one of those seasons I hold very dear to my heart! It is probably the first time I grew leaps and bounds in truly getting to know God and His precious Son, Jesus. Not to mention, I was learning with (and from) an amazing, once in a lifetime, group of people who wholeheartedly rejoiced and wept with one another (Romans 12:15). When I think of the "body of Christ", they set the standard for me... and the bar is (super) high!!!

Today when I visited the blog of my former youth pastor, I really liked what he had to say. Truth be known I am fond of a lot of what he publishes over at his site "I'd Laugh...But All This Happened To Me!" but his "Give Them Jesus" struck me deeply and I asked him if I could share it with you here as a "guest post". I am delighted to say, he approved. So without any further ado, I present:

Give Them Jesus
by Carl Jones

I heard Tony Campolo say many years ago that "too often people come to us looking for Jesus and we give them church. If the church doesn't give them Jesus, then do we really have anything to offer?" After a few months at the Union Church of Hinsdale, it was apparent to me that far too often people were coming for "church." The radical, life-changing Jesus was too often missing from the things we did. In fact, the church seemed quite afraid of Jesus, choosing to study his words without ever seeking to follow Him. The more I prayed about what my role should be at UC, the clearer the answer was. I was there to push the limits. I was there to raise the bar. I was there to make sure this large church began to give people Jesus.

So how did I do it? Let me first say that I was not a prophet or some sort of Christian superhero, and I didn't accomplish anything miraculous. I just made a conscious decision to remind the staff, the committees I worked with, and most importantly the youth of the church as to why we were there. In staff meetings I was constantly questioning the way we did things, wanting to know how we were helping our congregation experience worship and experience Jesus. I questioned how the community around us saw our church- it seemed to me most of them hardly noticed us. We lived next door to a guy named Paul Allen, a pastor in another church in town. He told me once that after 5 years of living there he still knew nothing about what UC stood for. I decided it was time to step out in faith and show our church and the community what it looked like to live boldly for Jesus. And as always, there were no better ambassadors than the youth.

Hinsdale Middle School was located directly across the street from the church. One of the guys who had been attending our middle school group (TNT) was in a band made up of his peers from HMS, and I began talking to him abut doing an outdoor concert after school on church grounds. We put it together and put out tons of publicity. In addition to the live band I got Domino's to give us 50 large pizzas. Several hundred students came to hear the music- but they also heard a short message about the love of God whose name is Jesus. It was a great afternoon that created quite a stir in the community. And it got the church talking about what we could do next...

A month or so later I brought my old friends Spooky Tuesday to UC, where they played for out students and a few others in the overflow of the worship room. It was without a doubt the most radical, rocking event ever to be held inside that church. I kept pushing for more contemporary music in worship. I challenged the staff to keep finding ways to remind our members of how radical the teachings of Jesus were, and that we were called to follow his example. I don't know that I was making much of difference- but I was living out one of the basics of ministry I had learned from J. David Stone way back in 1978- "we are called to be faithful, not successful." And that was what mattered most to me. I still was battling with why God had sent me to Illinois. But if people were going to come to UC while I was there, I was going to make sure I gave them Jesus!

A few other things were going on in the student ministry that were giving me hope as well. I'll get on to those stories next week. Have a blessed weekend!

Jesus- the only hope for me is you...and You alone!

Photo by: Derek Boggs

Friday, December 03, 2010

Here I am, Lord

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.


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