Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stepping Out in Faith

So, here it is...Sunday again.  My, the weeks seem to go by so quickly.  This has been a full week also.  We were at M-11, a Nazarene evangelism conference (which occurs every four years...not every year, like I previously mentioned in an earlier blog) from Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon.  We traveled home on Wednesday, picked up the dogs on Thursday from the kennel, and we were back to our normal routine.  Hubby had an archery training event he attended most of the day on Friday, and he attended Nazarene Team Day on Saturday...a tri-district event that occurs every spring.  ILNC had  a booth there also.  I chose to not go so I could play catch up at home.  

We truly enjoyed all of the sessions at M-11.  It was a revival to our souls, and gave us hope for the direction the church is taking.  We ended up not attending our local church this morning, but we have a "favorite" Sunday morning church to attend.  It's Thomas Road Baptist Church, with Pastor Jonathon Falwell (Jerry's son).  He preaches very challenging messages...the kind that pushes you to make changes in your lives.  He's not afraid of offending people, but is very obedient to preaching God's truth.  I wish I had a local church that had that kind of preaching!

Sometimes I wonder what Jesus would do on Sunday mornings...except I know HE would be preaching himself in some scenario...not necessarily the church building.  My I go to church because that is what Christians are supposed to part of the body of Christ...and yet not enjoy the music style nor be challenged by the "three piece suit" sermon.  Or do I listen to a message that I know will encourage me to better serve Christ, and make choices Christ will make.  After this morning, I made the suggestion to hubby that we attend the local church, which has the morning worship service first (9:30 a.m.) followed by Sunday School (11 a.m.), and then come home for our SS class...taught by Jonathon Falwell.  Well, this is a small dilemma, not that big of a deal, but I am very sensitive about doing what pleases Jesus.

I am following the budget system that I am learning in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes.  It looks real good on paper...I'll just have to see how it pans out.  I've got us on envelopes for food, gas, household items, and personal care items.  Only so much per week to spend, so I have to watch carefully that I don't overspend in those areas.  With gas prices continuing to escalate, this could be tight.  The rest of the cash flow is budgeted out and paid by check or electronic fund transfer.  I put it all down in our register the first of the month so I know what our balance is throughout the month.  The idea is to have a zero balance budget.  Every dollar is accounted for so that what you bring in for a month is what you spend out (which includes saving).  Like I said...looks good on paper.  I hope it works for us.  In the first six weeks of classes I have been able to pay $1500 on our debts and save our minimal emergency fund.  For that I feel grateful.  I believe God is helping me on this journey toward financial peace.

By the way, I think I would like to go back to Louisville to tour around some day.  It seemed to be a very friendly, clean city, with lots of things to see and do.  This trip we were on a tight schedule, with no time for site-seeing.  Maybe some day we will make it back.

I'm extremely tired today.  I cleaned house and did all the laundry and shopping yesterday while hubby was gone.  Today I feel like relaxing, reading, napping.  Therefore, let me summarize my week's worth of devotions:

"The Word for You Today"
1.  "What you learn in crisis":
  • crisis can be the friend that moves you to action
  • when you take one step in faith, God moves on your behalf
  • God's blessings must be shared with others

2.  "Live between the steps":
  • make the most of every moment, for you never know when your last moment will be

3.  "Praise in the early stages":
  • praise is an act of faith:  God's plan always prevails, and what God starts, He completes
  • praise strengthens you:  The joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh 8:10); His joy in you will make your task easier
  • praise changes your environment:  your outlook changes as you lift your heart in praise; when you praise God in the early stages, you will better complete your task

4.  "Walking on water":
  • if you are not called by God to do something, don't do it
  • learn to discern between God's voice and your own (ouch!  Need help here!)
  • you must leave your comfort zone to experience miracles
  • step out in faith to accomplish God's desires for you
  • focus on Jesus, not the storm around you
  • setbacks are part of the journey...expect them, but keep going forward in faith
  • act regardless of your fear, for that is how you grow and overcome your fear
  • staying in the safety zone diminishes God's voice until you no longer hear him
  • failing does not make you a failure, but quitting does
  • failing is just another opportunity to get it right
  • failing comes from letting your fears stop you
  • when you fail, Jesus is right there within your reach - call on him
  • stepping out in faith strengthens you to do greater things

Leviticus - Old Testament

  • The Lord also told Moses to tell the people of Israel, "You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy."  (19:1)
  • (20:26)

Mark - New Testament

  • Your souls aren't harmed by what you eat, but by what you think and say!  (7:15-16)
  • It is the thought life that pollutes.  For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts of lust, theft, murder, adultery, wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride, and all other folly.  All these wile things come from within; they are what pollute you and make you unfit for God.  (7:20-23)
  • "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely.  If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it.  Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.  (8:34-35)


  • Don't be impatient for the Lord to act!  Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing and you will see the wicked destroyed. (37:34)
  • The Lord saves the godly!  He is their salvation and their refuge when trouble comes.  Because they trust in him, he helps them and delivers them from the plots of evil men.  (37:39-40)
  • Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be.  Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more. (39:4)  This verse goes very well with "Live between the steps" above.  It's also one of my guide lines for life, but I needed to be reminded of this particular one.  I don't behave well in some of my "moments".  I struggle with anger, and I take it out on the one I love the most.  Why is that?  Why can't I realize it and be done with it?  I choose to live in the flesh instead of the Spirit in those moments.  They make all of us sad and hurt.  Lord, I pray you deliver me from anger, in the name of Jesus.  Amen
  • As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God.  I thirst for God, the living God.  (42:1)
  • Yet day by day the Lord also pours out his steadfast love upon me, and through the night I sing his songs and pray to God who gives me life.  (42:8)


  • The wise man is glad to be instructed, but a self-sufficient food falls flat on his face.  A good man has firm footing, but a crook will slip and fall. (10:8-9)
  • Men with common sense are admired as counselors; those without it are beaten as servants.  A wise man holds his tongue. Only a fool blurts everything he knows, that only leads to sorrow and trouble.  (10:13-14)
  • Anyone willing to be corrected is on the pathway to life.  Anyone refusing has lost his chance." (10:17)

It saddens me that I can read God's Word, highlight it, copy it over in my journal, pray over it, and yet still blow it when I allow negative thoughts to enter my head.  I so easily believe the lies of satan, which sets me up for failure.  I don't know why God hasn't given up on me yet, but I know He hasn't.  He's going to hang in there with me until I get it right.  He keeps giving me new opportunities to get it right!  I'm almost 61...when am I going to "grow up"?  I guess I strive toward perfection, but the perfectionist in me, the idealist, trips me up.  I am truly my own worst enemy!!  

The song, "I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, Jesus Christ now lives in me" is playing right now on my computer background music.  I have preached on that.  I need to be crucified daily, so I am not in charge, but God is.  Saturate me with your Holy Spirit, Father!  I am so needy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Night Recap of M-11

We are back home now...waiting for the next winter storm, more snow tonight.  At least I won't have to travel in this one.  Hubby has some meetings to attend, but I plan to stay close to home for a while.

Tuesday morning general session was highly exalting.  Dan Bohi spoke, and he is anointed of the Spirit in an unusual way.  He reminds me of John the Baptist, for he is a "rough" kind of guy...not polished, not a spiffy dresser, not even pleasant to the eyes.  But he is gifted of God, has an intimate relationship with Him, hears Him speak, and simply obeys.  In his services people are healed, unusual things happen, but it's because he is obedient to what the Father wants to say and do, and isn't geared toward pleasing the crowds.  I had heard him before, and had the same discernment of his purpose for such a time as this.  He's calling us back to seeking God, not programs, and seeking the anointing and infilling of the Holy Spirit through prayer and obedience.  I sort of get the feeling he is as disgusted with the organized church as I have been.  Men of God trying to do God's work in their own "intelligence" or "giftedness", instead of seeking what God wants to do.  Polished sermons, good public presentation in appearance and demeanor, playing the political game of not offending...more concerned with pleasing men than God.  

Dan Bohi could state the simple truth so clearly, things I have thought, but couldn't explain...things that I have become uncomfortable with in the organized church.  Things that make me label some churches a "country club church".  Oh, give me the real, the genuine, the truth.  Give me Jesus, give me the Holy Spirit, give me the Father.  It is their approval I seek...not the big names of the church.  It's been a long time since I felt the freedom that Dan Bohi brings to the service when he just allows God to speak through him. I could have sat in that atmosphere a long time.

I did attend one of Dan's workshops in the afternoon, but I was so exhausted from not sleeping well at night, and being emotionally drained from the services, and I wasn't able to absorb his teaching as I wished I would have.  Basically he was teaching that we need both of the wings of the dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit) to fly smoothly, in the pattern to which we've been called.  We need the gifts of the Spirit as one wing, and the fruits of the Spirit as the other wing.  

We often discount the gifts as being not that important in the church today, and focus more on the fruits.  I agree with Dan that if it's in the Bible, it's of God, and we need it to be complete in be whole.  This is not a typical "Nazarene" sermon, but I think the people are hungry for something more than we have been experiencing, and that Dan has found the secret to knowing God in a very intimate relationship...a relationship that is available to anyone who is willing to be filled with the Spirit and set free in the Spirit.  That is my constant longing...has been for a long time.  I just needed a refresher course to remind me, since I don't hear it often in the church.

Tuesday evening our speaker was General Superintendent (Church of the Nazarene) Dr. Stan Toler.  He spoke on how people will know  we are Christians by the love of Christ that we share.  Wednesday morning Dr. Bob Broadbooks spoke on the strategies of reaching the lost and the importance of showing we truly care, and hanging in there with people, no matter what the cost or the length of time.  People are hurting, they are starving for the love of Christ, for a different life than they are living.  We have what they are longing for, but how willing are we to share it, to walk along side of someone, to invest in the lives of others.  Or are we just wanting to stay in our little comfort zone at church with people just like us.  

All the sessions spoke to my heart.  It was certainly an ordained time to draw apart and hear from God once again...and what He wants from His people and His church.  I had been told perhaps the crowd was about 3,000 in size, but it appeared to be closer to 5,000 when we all came together.  5,000...the amount of men that Jesus fed on the hillside one day by giving thanks to His Father for two fishes and three pieces of bread.  We sat in the Louisville Convention Center and feasted on the riches of His Presence, fed by His disciples, and empowered to go forth in a new way.  

Lord, here am I...use me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Night Recap

Here we are in Louisville, Kentucky...right down on the riverfront at the historical Galt House.  It's connected by indoor halls to the Convention Center, which is where the evangelism conference, M-11, is being held.  There are probably 3,000 Nazarenes here for this event...a small crowd compared to our General Assembly, which occurs every four years.  This event happens annually, when there is no GA, I think.  It's great to see so many faces we have come to know over the years.  Being with "Family" is a huge part of the blessing of coming together.

The snow and ice storm started about 2 p.m. yesterday in Michigan, so we boarded the dogs at 4 when the kennel opened, and we headed out of town.  Drove on slushy ice until we got down into Indiana a ways.  Then it was dry the rest of the way here.  We stopped in Indianapolis to visit a friend in a hospital there, and then drove on down to L, K, checking in around midnight.  About 2 a.m. or so we got a phone call from the camp...they were without power.  The ice was so heavy it brought down branches and power lines.  In fact, about 30,000 people in the Kalamazoo area were without power, we heard.  

This morning I spent time calling four of our widow ladies on the camp grounds to make sure they were okay.  Thank goodness the power was restored by noon...not quite a 12 hour outage.  Still, when you live alone, and you have no lights or heat, it can be a cause for anxiety.  People from all over the grounds were helping one another and even ended up having a pot luck at supper time, even though the power was back on.  We have one building which has a generator and holds about 200, and some of the people without power had gathered there today.  So glad we have a community that watches out for one another, especially when we are gone!!

We have a camp booth set up in the exhibit hall here at our convention.  Looks very nice.  We spent the afternoon visiting other booths and talking with friends from around the country.  We were taken out to dinner this evening by Compassionate Ministries, which was a treat for us!!  The first plenary session was at 7 p.m. tonight, with Bishop Timothy Clarke from Church of God Anderson.  He was powerful!!  He spoke on the valley of dry bones and how God ordered Ezekiel to preach to them, and how they were filled with the very breath of God.  We need a fresh anointing of God, we need to be filled once again by His Holy Spirit, and then we need to stir up others.  What a motivating speaker he was...and what an uplifting time of praise and inspiration we had tonight.  Wow...wish I could hear that kind of preaching more often!!  It just makes me want to shout and get excited about what God is doing and can do if we step forth for Him.

Had some ice cream with friends before coming back to our room for the evening.  Tomorrow we will be in workshops and at the camp booth, plus two plenary sessions with guests speakers.  I am enjoying this time of renewal and revival!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On the Road Again

It's 7 pm Saturday night and it's time for the weekly one hour radio show from Gaither.  I love listening to Southern Gospel while blogging here in my study.  I listen to out of Oklahoma.  It's the station I keep on my computer at work and here at home.  It's mostly easy listening Christian music...not a lot of "rock" sound.  Tells my age, no doubt.  (And in comes my hubby to dance to "Love Is Like a River" by the Gaither Vocal Band and Signature Sound.)

I'm doing my weekly blog tonight just in case we head out of town tomorrow.  We weren't leaving until Monday morning, but there's another severe winter storm watch  effective Sunday-Monday.  They are saying we'll have a lot of ice and some snow.  Ice is the problem....don't care to be out on it in traffic.  So we may be leaving tomorrow, heading to Louisville, Kentucky.

We are going to M-11...a conference sponsored by the International Church of the Nazarene, "Igniting Our Passion for Making Christ-like Disciples".  We have been asked to have a booth for the Michigan District camp - Indian Lake Nazarene Camp (see our website at We will also be attending workshops that will teach and inspire us.  I'm looking forward to a get-away, and an inspirational one at that!  Just have to get out before the storm shuts us down!!

The weather the past few days spoiled us...made us think spring was on it's way.  It was up in the 40'-50's and the sun shown every day.  Most of our snow is melted...the snow that was two feet high last weekend!!  The dogs and I have been out walking more...walking back and forth to work.  I enjoy being able to do that.  So do the dogs!!  Need to rebuild those walking muscles after a cold and icy winter of not walking much.  

We finished watching our Great American Rail Journeys video series.  The last two were train trips through Alaska.  What beautiful scenery that is!  Would love to cruise to Alaska, and take the Alaskan Railroad excursions!  So much to see, so little time (not to mention money??)  So the video series is the best substitute we have.  Very enjoyable.  

I attended my Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace" class this week.  It's quite interesting...Dave is absolutely a gifted speaker who keeps one's attention...even on DVD!!  He's funny, he's easy to understand, he relates to where we are at.  (Pause...hubby wants to get beat at back after a couple of games!)  (I'm back, and I'm good for my word...played three games, as usual, and he won the first, as usual, and I won the next usual.  We always play the best two out of three, and rarely does a person win it in the first two games...seems like there is always a "play-off" game.)

Anyway, back to my Ramsey class.  I think the guy makes a lot of sense, and I wish young people would take his class and take it seriously.  If so, they could retire millionaires.  For me, it's too late.  I can only hope to get out of debt and have a few months' emergency funds if the program works for me as I hope it will.  Please check out his web site and learn all you can change your financial picture.

Had a wonderful meal out at our neighbors'/co-workers this week.  She knows how to make fried chicken!!  And homemade noodles... mm mm good!!  Had to go to a Sunday School board meeting afterwards, knowing I had eaten too much.  Even the candy on the table at the meeting did not tempt me!!

It won't be long and out will come the golf carts...and that's what I enjoy about living on a campground!!  I can pretty much park the car, except for trips into town, and either walk or drive the golf cart.  The dogs love to go for golf cart rides.  They think they own the grounds...they act like sheriff deputies as we cruise the streets.  I have a rain guard on my cart, so even in cold or wet weather I can get around.  I just don't drive it in the snow.  

Here's a recap of my devotional reading for this week:

The devotional magazine "The Word for You Today" focused on "building men and women of God" this week.  For those of you still raising children, here are the highlights:

  • you must practice scriptural principles as an example to your children
  • live by what you preach
  • be genuine
  • talk about your principles/standards to your children
  • walk the talk
  • act on teachable moments
  • teach your children to stand up for what's right
  • teach them we become like the company we keep
  • teach them true friends seek the best for each other
  • teach them whatever you sow, you will reap/pay the consequences
  • teach children to choose the right heroes
  • God's correction is not rejection
  • discipline should be fair, not excessive...but be consistent and follow a person of your word
  • respect governing authorities so that your children can learn from your example how to respect authorities (parents, teachers, police, pastors)
  • share your own personal growth experiences with your children
  • teach your children how to handle temptation
  • sexual sin is made so prevalent by television and the internet...teach your children when to turn it off, and how to say NO to such exposure/suggestions
  • teach your children that addictions lead to a life of no fun
  • teach children if they honor God financially, He will honor them...teach them how to handle money appropriately (earning, giving, saving, that order!)
  • teach children to delay gratification until they can afford what they want...don't use loans and credit cards (lead by example!)
  • teach children the value of hard work
  • "Honest work is God's provision for human happiness, as well as for personal, social, and spiritual growth." (The Word for You Today)

From Exodus and Leviticus:
  • come the rules.  I have a tough time reading Leviticus with all the gory descriptions of how to cut up animals for sacrifice.  I tend to skim through most of that.  
  • details were given regarding the priestly garments to be worn by Aaron and his sons, and how the tabernacle was built, the utensils in the tabernacle, and the Ark of the covenant.  If you like details and rules, Leviticus is the book for you!  (it is NOT the book for me, even though I do like details...just not those details.)
  • laws are given for every kind of sacrificial it animals, grain, breaking commandments, guilt...oh my...I am so glad we live on this side of the cross!!
  • there is one verse I the end of Lev. ch 7 it basically states to not eat fat or blood.  I like my steaks well done, and now I know it's biblical!!  And even the doctors agree about eating fat is not healthy.  I guess God knew what He was doing!!
  • When you have followed the Lord's instructions, his glory will appear to you.  (Lev 9:6)

From Matthew and Mark:
  • and be sure of this - that I am with you always, even to the end of the world. (Matt 28:19)
  • Mark starts out his gospel with John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness and baptizing.  He was the forerunner of Christ
  • Jesus himself was baptized by his cousin John before being led into the wilderness to be tempted by satan for 40 days.  I mean, Jesus was put to the test!!   You can read about it and how he called his disciples and began his preaching ministry all in the first chapter of Mark. 
  • Mark's gospel is one that reads quickly, and everything tends to happen "immediately".  Mark liked to move along in his story telling...he was a fast paced guy.
  • early in Mark's gospel the Jewish religious leaders are continually judging Jesus for His words and actions...and are already plotting to kill Him in chapters 2 and 3...and I believe it is because of their jealousy and fear of losing their we perhaps experience that or see that in our churches today?  You can assassinate a person's character and be just as guilty as if you had murdered him.
  • A kingdom divided against itself will collapse.  A home filled with strife and division destroys itself.  (Mark 3:24-25)  I can tell you that it is my constant prayer that God will help me keep our home a place without strife...a place we can retreat to and feel safe and accepted.  Hubby does great with that...I am the one who struggles with fault-finding, nit-picking, insecurities.  Definitely an area I am working on, and hubby is helping me.
  • Jesus' style of teaching was to use parables (read Mark 3:31-4:25)

From Psalms:
  • Do you want a long, good life?  Then watch your tongue!  Keep your lips from lying.  Turn from all known sin and spend your time in doing good.  Try to live in peace with everyone, work hard at it.
  • For the eyes of the Lord are intently watching all who live good lives, and he gives attention when they cry to him...  Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to him for help, and saves him out of all his troubles.
  • The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking; he rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins.  The good man does not escape all troubles - he has them too.  But the Lord helps him in each and every one...
  • But as for those who serve the Lord, he will redeem them, everyone who takes refuge in him will be freely pardoned.
  • the above scriptures are from Ps 29:12-22)
  • Pour out your unfailing love on those who know you!  Never stop giving your blessings to those who long to do your will.  (Ps 36:10 - the Psalmist talking to God)
  • Be delighted with the Lord.  Then he will give you all your heart's desires.  Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him to help you do it and he will.  (Ps 37:4-5)  Okay, the key here is to delight in the Lord.  When we do that, our desires match His desires for us.  
  • Stop your anger!  (Yes, God, I hear you...I am working on it!!)  Turn off your wrath.  Don't fret and only leads to harm.  (Ps 37:8)
  • But all who humble themselves before the Lord shall be given every blessing and shall have wonderful peace.  (Ps 37:11)
  • It is better to have little and be godly than to own an evil man's wealth; for the strength of evil men shall be broken, but the Lord takes care of those he has forgiven.  (Ps 37:16)
  • For the Lord loves justice and fairness; he will never abandon his people.  They will be kept safe forever; but all who love wickedness shall perish.  (Ps 37:28)

From Proverbs:
  • Teach a wise man, and he will be the wiser; teach a good man, and he will learn more.  For the reverence and fear of God are basic to all wisdom.  Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding.  (9:9-10)

Personal note:  I am enjoying reading through the Bible this year in this manner...something each day from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.  The Living Bible is also a very readable version.  So easy to comprehend and visualize and apply!  Hope you are reading God's Word daily in your favorite version, and asking Him to speak to you through His Word.  It's one of the best ways to deepen your relationship with Him.  I tend to say prayer first, and then end my prayer by asking Him to highlight what He wants me to learn in His Word as I read it.  What I write in my journal (and ends up in this blog) are the verses I feel He wants me to pay attention to.  I want Him to keep working on me, making me the best I can be for Him.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Gifts and Friends (friends are year round gifts!)

Well, I just finished off my Valentine box of candy...a box of chocolate covered cherries.  It was a dollar at the dollar store, so I splurged on myself as a celebration of Valentine's Day.  I bought my hubby his favorite candy bar - a large size Hershey's bar with almonds.  I also gave him the scrapbook I made for him a couple of weeks ago at the weekend scrap-booking event here at the camp.  He really liked it, as I knew he would.  It's filled with pictures of his passions:  family/trips, grandchildren, dogs, and ILNC camp.

I was able to purchase a table and four chairs on Craig's List this week.  I've been shopping for a table for quite a while, and decided for the price ($100) it was a good deal.  It will make a great craft table eventually when I am able to find the table I really want, and able to afford it!  I want a counter height table with a butterfly leaf.  I'm really picky about the style and the color and wood.  I found what I like at a local furniture store, but not ready to spend $600 on it.  Our previous table seated two of us...a little round one.  Now I have a table that seats six of us, which means now I can get back into entertaining once again.  

I consider the table and chairs another Valentine gift to me.  Therefore I needed to get something for my husband, and yesterday found the perfect gift.  He was with me, and he agreed it was what he wanted.  After all, it's Valentine's.  He wanted to be warm and cozy in bed, so he now has a dual controlled electric mattress pad.  He's happy.  Also bought him a couple of Henley style shirts that are warm and cozy.  It had been so long since we were out shopping at a mall together, it was almost nostalgia to do so.  Of course, we only went to Penney's, but still....  We don't eat out often either, so it was a treat to share some chicken fajita nachos at a local Mexican restaurant.  

On top of all that Valentine celebration/shopping...we also attended the ILNC annual Candle Lake Dinner on Friday night.  We had about 60 in attendance for the dinner and a concert afterwards by an Olivet Nazarene University brass trio.  So I think we did more than enough to share our hearts this Valentine time!!!

We were invited to a white chicken chili supper with our camp director friends from Georgia at their son's house the other night.  The chili was delicious, but it was nice to be with our friends again.  We don't see them very often since they live in Georgia, but when they do show up to visit their son and his family (and see their grandson!!), it's nice to be included in one of their family meals.  We usually hang out with this couple when we attend the annual Nazarene Camp Assn. conferences.  

We had a friend in for dinner today after church.  Afterwards she and I went to visit her brother at Alpha and Omega, a church organized housing complex for homeless men.  It is an interesting set-up, and I commend the church for having such a ministry.  They have a waiting list of men wanting to get in, but they are limited in how many they can house.  The men must meet certain qualifications, and keep certain rules.  Each day they must attend Bible study in the morning and in the evening (unless they are working), and they are given chores each day they must do.  So it's not a free ride, but it does provide ministry to each person, and assistance in so many ways.  I had never heard about it before my friend's brother was able to get in.  

I'm very sheltered from the world, it seems.  I worry about cats keeping fed and staying warm, when there are humans out there night after night freezing and starving to death.  That's why I get excited when I hear about ministries that are helping the less fortunate in life, giving them food and a bed and a new life by helping them find their way in this world again.

And that leads me to this week's devotional notes...a reminder of what God is teaching me through my daily readings from "The Word for You Today" and The Living Bible translation.

Continuing last week's theme:  "Become God's Friend":
I have called you friends  (John 15:15)

1.  Prayer

  • pray simple conversational prayers throughout the day rather than long complex prayers
  • when you discipline yourself to speak with God throughout the day, it will change your attitude and actions
  • it is not a feeling of God's presence that prompts you to pray, but rather an awareness that He is always with you
  • friendship with God brings answered prayers and abundant living
2.  Meditation
  • meditation strengthens your relationship with God, as it is focused thinking 
  • worry is being focused on a problem, mediation is being focused on the solution/God
3.  Honesty
  • be honest with God - share your true feelings with Him
  • God uses everything for good in our lives, so releasing resentment to Him is a step to wholeness
  • just as we want our friends to be open and honest with us and not mask their feelings, God wants a deeper intimacy with us
4.  Obedience
  • choose to obey God
  • What pleases the Lord more...sacrifices or is better to obey.  (I Sam. 15:22)
5.  Passion
  • you are as close to God as you desire and discipline yourself to be
  • friendship with God must become your passion
  • If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.  (Jer. 29:13-14)

From Proverbs:

  • For the value of wisdom is far above rubies, nothing can be compared with it.
  • Wisdom and good judgment live together, for wisdom knows where to discover knowledge and understanding.  If anyone respects and fears God, he will hate evil, for wisdom hates pride, arrogance, corruption, and deceit of every kind.  (Prov. 8:12-13)
  • I, Wisdom, give good advice and common sense...  I love all who love me.   Those who search for me shall surely find me...  My paths are those of justice and right.  those who love and follow me are indeed wealthy.  I fill their treasures.  (Prov. 8:14-22)
  • For whoever finds me (wisdom) finds life and wins approval from the Lord. (Prov. 8:33-36)

From Matthew:

  • For I was hungry, and you fed me; I was thirsty, and you gave me water; I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home; naked, and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me...when you did it to these my brothers, you were doing it to me!  (Matt. 25:35-36, 40)
  • Keep alert and pray.  Otherwise temptation will overpower you.  For the spirit indeed is willing, but how weak the body is! (Matt. 26:41)

From Psalms:

  • You alone are my God; my times are in your hands.  (Ps. 31:15)
  • Blessed is the Lord, for he has shown me that his never failing love protects me like the walls of a fort!  (Ps. 31:21)
  • Oh, love the Lord, all of you who are his people, for the Lord protects those who are loyal to him, but harshly punishes all who haughtily reject him.  So, cheer up!  Take courage if you are depending on the Lord.  (Ps. 31:23-24)
  • You are my hiding place from every storm of life; you even keep me from getting into trouble!  You surround me with songs of victory.  I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.  (Ps. 32:7-8)
  • ...abiding love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.  So rejoice in him, all those who are his, and shout for joy, all those who try to obey Him.  (Ps. 32:10-11)
  • But the eyes of the Lord are watching over those who fear him, who rely upon his steady love.  (Ps. 33:18)
  • We depend upon the Lord alone to save us.  Only he can help us; he protects us like a shield.  No wonder we are happy in the Lord!  For we are trusting him.  We trust his holy name.  Yes, Lord, let your constant love surround us.  For our hopes are in your alone.  (Ps. 33:20-22)
  • If you belong to the Lord, reverence him; for everyone who does this has everything he needs.  Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those of us who reverence the Lord will never lack any good thing.  (Ps. 34:9-10)

From Exodus:
  • Rest on the Sabbath, for it is holy.  (Ex 31:14)
  • For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and rested on the seventh day, and was refreshed.  (Ex 31:17)
  • say you are my friend, and that I have found favor before you; please, if this is really so, guide me clearly along the way you want me to travel so that I will understand you and walk acceptably before you.  (Ex. 33:12-13)
I would take time to make comments on my readings, but most verses speak for themselves, and they ministered to me as I read them.  My husband, my Valentine, is waiting to play Sequence.  He wants to get beat again!!  

Make time for your spouse this week in many special ways.  And if you don't have a spouse, make time for yourself.  Indulge yourself...get some flowers, some candy, have lunch with a friend, take a walk in the fresh air, do something special for someone else, and most of all, know that Jesus loves you and wants to spend time with you!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Week of the Groundhog Day Blizzard

I don't care where you are from (even though I am curious as to who my St. Louis visitor is), you probably got hit with the Groundhog Day blizzard.  You may have gotten hit before or after February 2nd, but I know the blizzard we had plowing through Michigan was not unique to us alone.  In fact, I think we got off a lot easier than the states that have I-70 running through them.  We had about 18" of snow or so, and it was blustery as it was coming down, but we didn't have all the ice and sleet that the states below us had.  

We had a very nice time in Indianapolis last weekend.  We stayed at the downtown historical Canterbury Hotel, which had it's own private entrance into Circle Center Mall...a three story mall in the center of town.   While hubby was in his meeting on Monday, I was able to browse the mall.  I'm not a shopper, per say, but it was nice to leisurely stroll through the mall, and take advantage of some of those final clearance markdowns...up to 80% off.  

We went down a little early on Sunday so we had time to drive through one of our sister camps just southwest of Indy...Camp Camby.  We enjoy visiting other campgrounds for inspiration and ideas.  Sunday night we were treated by friends to a wonderful meal at the Turner House Restaurant, connected to the Canterbury.  Very classy, very delicious!  We sat and chatted for about three hours...a relaxing conversation that flowed from one subject to another, with much for me to learn as I listened.  

We left in the early afternoon Monday and were back in time before the storm came in.  Our friends who had met us in Indy had to travel back home to St. Louis, and I'm sure they drove straight into the ice and sleet.  We got back home in time on Monday to pick up our two dogs from "doggie camp".  They love going there, and we appreciate their good care.  But, of course, they are always happy to come back home and be with us in their familiar environment.  

Tuesday I took a couple of hours to run to Portage to get supplies before the storm hit.  I was glad I did, for we didn't go anywhere on Wednesday.  It was a good day to just sit back and look out the windows.  I did go for a nice walk with a friend that afternoon.  The storm had receded, and the sun was shining.  I even shoveled out a neighbor's and Jesus.  He kept me from having a heart attack by making the snow load light.  I had also shoveled out a path in the back yard for our doggies, since the snow was deeper than they were high (lots of drifted snow, sometimes up over my knees).  And I shoveled off the front porch and a path down our sidewalk to the road.  The cats didn't show up for a couple of days, and I worried about them, but they are all back again.  I guess they must have a place to hunker down in that they can get in and out of, despite the snow piling up.

Church services were cancelled Wednesday night due to the snow storm, so I didn't get to my second Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace" class.  I had my homework done and I was ready for it.  I had read my four chapters, planned my budget, and I started an emergency fund. I feel like I am on my way.  I am determined to make the necessary changes to give us financial freedom.  We are too near retirement to not get our affairs in order!!  I highly recommend these classes to anyone struggling to make ends meet.  Classes are occurring all over the US.  Check out his web site for more information...for lots more information!

Thursday and Friday were busy days at the office.  We had a group of 40+ men in for a spiritual retreat this weekend.  We joined them for meals all day Saturday and dinner today.  Tonight, of course, is the Super Bowl.  Hubby is planted in his chair, and I am providing the snacks.  We started out with a bowl of fruit.  Then we had chicken wing dings from GFS...very good.  More like nuggets...white chicken meat with very little breading.  Juicy.  Mouth popping.  Precooked, so I just had to warm them up in the oven.  We are on our third course now...not that healthy, but still good:  tortilla chips and velveeta cheese dip made with salsa and browned ground beef.  Final course for me will be a root beer float.  

What can I's Super Bowl.  Special night of treats.  Of course I am blogging, not watching the game.  Suits me just fine!!  I know it's party night for a lot of people, but we aren't really party people.  We live a more quiet life.  My evening entertainment, besides blogging and reading, is to watch the cats and kittens come to eat and play on our front porch.  I rearranged their cat camp yesterday, washing all the blankets and towels and rugs.  It was getting a little smelly.  

I had made a pledge with Subaru that I would walk my dogs on Super Bowl Sunday.  We did take an afternoon walk.  It wasn't too cold (20's), but when I took a second walk later to go visit a shut-in it was slightly sleeting.  It was still nice to be out.  

I think that completes my "diary" update of what I've been up to this week.  Can't believe anyone really cares, but when I blog, it's like I'm talking to a friend.  I also like to share what God is saying to me through my daily devotions.  So here goes:

Lessons from Noah:

  • honor God, no matter what others do or say
  • obey God...understanding can wait, obedience must be instant
  • partial obedience is disobedience
  • if we love God, we are going to obey His commandments
  • use your energies and talents for God's pleasure

Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.  (Mt 20:28)   I can tell you that my attitude is often NOT like Jesus, and it's the one area I must conquer if I want to represent Him well.  I'm an idealist, and when things are not ideal (like most of the time??), I can easily adopt an air of "you are wrong, I am right".  Well, that boils down to pride...and guess what.  God HATES pride!!!  So...still working in this department!

Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him.  With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.  (Ps 25:14)  Assign me Godliness and Integrity as my bodyguards...  (Ps 25:21)  Whoa, now there's a pair of body guards!!  Godliness (purity, wisdom) and Integrity (a person of honor who keeps his word)...would that I would be possessed by those two character traits!!

I have called you friends.  (Jn 15:15)
  • you become a friend of God's through constant conversation
  • make Him part of every activity by talking with Him about what you are doing
  • cultivate the presence of God in all things, in all places
  • delight in God as He delights in you
  • Brother Lawrence says, "The key to friendship with God is not changing what you do, but changing your attitude toward what you do.  What you normally do for yourself, you now are doing for God, whether it is eating, bathing, relaxing, or taking out trash."

Sometimes what seems to be the worst thing ever, turns out to be a blessing in disguise...check out Joseph's story in Genesis.    I love his attitude in everything he went through...and God honored him.  What an amazing story he has!  Check out my Reflections on Genesis Blog to read more about Joseph.  (I am amazed at all the visitors to that blog, since it's been a few years since I wrote it.  It gets the most hits, and they are from all over the world!  I don't know how they find the blog, but my guess is they put in a passage from Genesis, and my blog comes up as a reference to read.)  

The Importance of Loving Others:

  • Everyone who loves is born of God.  (I John 4:7)
  • it's easier to label people than love them
  • if you don't love people, you don't love God
  • the greatest gift I have to give others is love and acceptance...just as Jesus would temporary residents on earth.  (I Peter 1:17)
  • God allows us to feel a certain amount of discontent in this life because this is not our final destination
  • at death you don't leave home, you go home

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second most important is similar:  Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.  All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them.  Keep only these and you will find you are obeying all the others.  (Mt 22:37-40)  My basic problem stems from not loving myself as I should.  I'm insecure at times, and tend to keep in the background to avoid rejection.  I do like to reach out to others who seem to be left out or struggle with the same insignificance that I battle.  But I tend to avoid popular people, people who crave all the attention (because they themselves are insecure!), and those who are just too busy.  This is one of those issues that comes and goes for me.  Sometimes I'm on top of my world, and all is well.  At other times I would like to escape the world and go on home to be with Mom and Dad (heaven).  But for now, I am here.  I make it a matter of morning prayer daily that I would treat others as Christ would and learn to accept myself as He does.  I am so far from perfect, yet I am complete in Christ. 

Are you feeling like a victim?
  • forgive the past so it no longer controls you
  • cry out to God to heal your heart and clear your perceptions
  • face the pain/crisis
  • find God in it
  • follow Him
  • He will give you a better tomorrow lightening flashes across the sky from east to west, so shall my coming be, when I, the Messiah, return.  (Mt 24:28) 
But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be---not even the angels.  No, nor even God's Son.  Only the Father knows.  (Mt 24:36)  So be prepared, for you don't know what day your Lord is coming.  (Mt 24:42)

Every time someone says they know when Jesus is coming back, they predict the date, the day, even the hour, I think of this verse.  How can a person miss these words of Jesus when they are studying to determine such a time frame?  So...when the prediction is made, I can pretty well be sure when Jesus is NOT coming back!  I just need to live as though Jesus is coming back momentarily...and be ready for whenever He surprises me!!

Walk with God this week, trusting Him in all situations!  I'll be back again next week!