Friday, October 31, 2008

Oaks of Righteousness

I received the below email (in italics below) from Crosswalk.com and loved it.

I might just be a 'little acorn' right now.... but I know that God is at work. I know He will continue to use me. I used to have so much stress/anxiety about being used, doing as much as He wanted me to..... but I have continued to ask for patience and faith. Be careful what you ask for, right? I know the best way He teaches us to have patience & faith is by making us wait on Him.. a lot... and I believe He's doing that :)

When I focus on how others are being used and focus on my own 'results', I get discouraged, I get off track. And God gently pulls me back and tells me to get re-focused. That my eyes and heart are on Him and Him alone. That His plan & timing are perfect and as long as I'm with Him and abiding in Him, He will take me where He wants to, and do with me what He wants... my job is just to cling to Him. I am so thankful He is helping me make Him my idol and not anything else...

I know that I am burrowing down, growing good strong roots in the wee hours when nobody is looking.... and I know I'm tapped into the source of nourishment and strength.... and I pray to be a big strong oak some day! :)

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

FROM THE FATHER'S HEART
My child, do you sometimes feel like a tiny acorn surrounded by huge oak trees? I hear your sighs. I know how badly you want to grow, yet there are times you may see no progress at all. Trust Me. I am the planter. It takes years to grow a sturdy oak. Don't be impatient. Just because you can't see the branches doesn't mean My power is not at work in you. Your labor is not in vain. In time, you, too, will become an oak that offers shade and blessing to many.


A GRATEFUL RESPONSE
At times I've wished to be a strong, sturdy oak, or maybe a pine whose green branches grace the forest all year. Yet sometimes I feel like I'll always be a twig. You decide what I'll be, according to Your divine plan. I'll bloom, Lord, wherever I'm planted.

SIMPLE TRUTH
He is the planter; we are the seed. Stay plugged into Him. Let Him do the work.







I LOVE oak trees. a lot. :) This is the house down the road from us that Brandon and I want to buy.... what attracted me to it was that live oak tree.... but it's not a priority whatsoever and as everything else - we can do without it! We'll just wait and see what is in God's plan.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Universal 'ethics', Rome, Jesus

I wrote a huge long dissertation on politics a few weeks ago and I believe enough was said there for at least 4 years... BUT Melanie linked to a post from a new blog friend here and I just had to add to it.

She did a great job of stating her views and Obama's desire for universal ethics or "values".

I am just a bit bewildered that more people don't recognize his ideology for what it is.

Do we want 'change' soo bad that we will sacrifice Truth for it?

I'll preface this by saying that I don't think Obama is 'evil' or to be feared.... I just think he has had a lot of wrong ideology poured into him for a long time... an ideology I don't agree with. I believe he is trying to do good and unify people --- he's doing what's good based on the morality he believes in.... but I just disagree with him completely. Ultimately morality is what it is and can't be changed dependent on the people and their lifestyles. As a christian, I believe there is only One successful unifier, the one and only God our Christ who put all people on the same playing field.

Jesus' ministry was very much all inclusive.....He came to save everybody and His invitation was open to all.... but while He was here - He did teach about ethics. He very much uplifted God and His rule. He sure was an advocate for the One and Only God. He clearly believed in absolute morality that God created and didn't believe in morality created by any religious leader or political movement. Jesus knew we couldn't live up to God's standards. He knew that our failures could always be forgiven, which is why He did what He did for us... but very clearly our Jesus did not believe in basing our ethical (or moral) 'code' on whatever the majority 'felt'. There was (is) an underlying right and wrong. He called us to strive for righteousness and discerning out this right & wrong through the working of the Spirit. Doesn't Jesus make it clear that relative morality is not good?

What starts off as something that seems a way to unify a very diverse people --- turns into an anything-goes mindset. Ask Rome. Rome's strength (in it's mind) was the ability to 'tolerate' every practice and embrace every new idea in the name of freedom. But what was once it's strength became it's destruction.

Freedom without restraint little by little tears away at a people. Freedom without restraint eventually means anything goes without consequence. Freedom without our legislation being under God will turn our already individualistic society into a self-serving, pleasure-seeking, happiness-above-all mess.

As christians, we should want people in 'office' who have the same ideology as us.

Our people have turned away from God because Truth hurts. We couldn't get away with what we do if there is a God --- so we just pretend He doesn't exist and we make our own gods. They don't know The Savior and His power.

Our people have turned away from God so they are asking the government to take over where His Body was supposed to in taking care of those around us.

Our people have turned away from God - therefore there is no clear right and wrong so a new ethical code needs to be put in place and that code is based on relative morality. What is moral is what is 'best' for the majority.

With this relative morality --- Hitler eventually convinced thousands (millions?) it would be 'right' to obliterate an entire race that caused 'his people' injustice. My point is that eventually anything can be justified with relative morality. Very simply, the tolerance of evil & relative morality will bring destruction and turmoil upon any nation willing to allow it into its schools, governments and homes.

I just pray that everybody knows what a vote for Obama stands for. It's not about his policies at all really -- it's about the ideology he'll bring to the White House. Check out his speeches, radio excerpts, transcripts (that were not 'lost') from 2001 and on. Check out the ideology you're voting into office.

Please God help us turn back to you. We have been headed toward this path for a long time. Isn't there a majority in this country that still loves you God?! That wants to know The Truth you created? That understands that Jesus came so we could get to know you. For those that have accepted Jesus... God please help them continue to seek you out and allow the Holy Spirit to transform them. Help us all God want to get to know you more.... not just you in the form of Jesus in the New Testament... but all that you are and stand for. Help us desire to strive to be perfect moral agents as Jesus was... though we will always fail. Let us look to follow Jesus and do whatever we can to become more Christlike. His life and His teachings were the perfect example of your absolute morality. Please God help us learn from the mistakes of the past. I do believe God in morality that you laid down. I believe that you are the designer of right & wrong. I do believe God that there is an authority (you) above any government, any dictator and any political group of bureacrats. Your authority and morality is above all God.

If God, there comes a time soon that I will be persecuted for this 'traditional' and 'rigid' ideology --- help me stand firm in place during persecution as the Christians did in the Roman streets & arenas.

because the truth is...that the majority say they want tolerance of all ideals... but really they want to be tolerant of all ideas except those which point out their brokenness, failures and need for you.

Your morality does point out our sin and it's painful. What the people don't realize is that it's okay because the Savior came and has rescued us from our brokenness. He didn't lower morality to our level... He didn't change right & wrong... He raised us up and made it possible for us to be transformed. There is freedom after that pain of our failures for those that accept Him.

but until we see and feel our pain.... until we are heartbroken over our brokenness and need for you... we won't accept our need for a Savior. Until we recognize our need for a Savior, we won't accept Him, won't accept the One and Only God. Without accepting The Savior, we won't be free and will be slaves to whatever god ("happiness", pleasure, lust, wealth) we have created. As we avoid the pain of the Truth and cling to other gods.... we may temporarily feel 'good' but in the end we will have eternal emptiness.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life, Light, Death

*** October 12th, 2008 A new sister in Christ was born.
*** October 16th, 2008 A new niece was born into the world. My only blood sister's only little girl (she has 2 boys)
*** October 19th, 2008 A brother in Christ passed on

There was joy in all of these events!!

God seems to be laying on my heart these past days how real life & death are.... spiritual life & death moreso than physical.

He has been doing something beautifully chaotic and free-ing in me this past year. The external changes & actions that those around me are seeing are just an overflow of what He has poured into me for a long time. I am blessed to be eternally-focused. I feel like I've always been a spiritual person... being very aware of things beyond the flesh/physical.... but intentionally and faithfully seeking Him out has changed everything. I care so much to please Him, I care so much for others to love Him and to know the love He has for them. I care so much to introduce people to Him and I am going to continue to. I will step in that gap and allow God to use me however He wants to, to 'build a bridge' as Pastor Kelly talks about... to give people the choice to walk over or not. I have made the decision to naively (faithfully) believe that God will use me and use whatever small decisions I take toward Him and toward others in big ways.

There is death & suffering going on all around us.... it seems moreso than ever that there is sickness. With all that's wrong in the world, people are looking more than ever for comfort, for Truth, for love, for a refuge. I truly deep down in my core believe that God is the one and only refuge from this world. I really believe that people are looking for the light, THE Light that only He can bring. Do you believe that He is the One that is the answer to what people are looking for? I do.

And because I have that light in me.... I would be selfish to not offer people what I believe they seek. I wasn't ready to do that for a long time though... I needed to get to know that Light myself. I needed to figure out who I was. I needed to lean on Him, not my own efforts. Because it's not our own efforts. It's not forcing conversations.... It's all about Him and Him working through you. It's not about in-your-face preaching.... it's not about condemning other's beleifs... it's not about arguments or debates..... it's about invitations. It's about inviting others to journey with us. It's about inviting others to seek the Truth along with us. It's about planting 'small' word seeds. It's about allowing Christ to work through us to offer hope, faith, help, encouragement, love in many forms.. to those that cross our paths.

It starts out with simply spending time with Him and getting to know Him so you can know yourself. Our life ministries start out in the quiet hours in our homes where we allow Him to fill us up.... and then when the overflow happens, it's time to reach out and engage in other's lives! Doesn't it feel like the Body has gotten away from this? That we have become passive, the live & let live type thinking.... but Jesus wasn't like that. He wasn't passive, unlike every other philosopher in His day... He was active. He was all about engaging people.

I want people to know that there will always be suffering & sickness, but there doesn't have to be death!

On Thursday morning this week, I woke up and starting reading my Bible. I was in Mark chapter 5.... where Jesus raised the little girl from death. I don't want to talk about physical healing in this post at all or raising from the dead... because I want to focus on our spiritual health, which I believe God cares a LOT more about.... but in this chapter what spoke to me was how Jesus referred to death. He referred to it as sleep. That really is what death is to us believers... a slumber. It's no more serious than slumber because we will all be together in Christ when He comes back.

Right after I read this chapter, I checked my email and received an email that Fred had passed on and that the service was to be that day. God's presence covered me as I reflected back on that passage I had JUST read.... I love how He does that. Almost every single day, He uses my readings in the morning in a very real, personal intimate way.

I learned two very important lessons that day....

a) the reminder that there is no real death for those who believe in Christ. Christ conquered even death for us. In Fred's passing there was such a peace around the entire room, knowing that we all would see him again. We all will have physical death --- but those who have accepted the gift of Christ, will live eternally in heaven with God

I get SO excited thinking of our dear new sister that will have eternal life because she accepted Jesus.

During the service in honor of Fred, there was a great reminder to me... that we are spiritual beings, experiencing this world for but a brief time... and there is so much to rejoice about for those that have Christ in us! There is SO much more to be joyful about than frustrated. So much more to have peace about than turmoil. Thank you God so much!!!!

b) The 2nd lesson was how important my daily time with God was. Spending time in the Word daily is so important. Not to be legalistic about it, not to create a ritual out of it... but to continually walk toward God in whatever small step that is, so that He will help us understand the true importance of His words. Help us value The Truth. Help us crave Him. God doesn't want to us to feel guilt when we miss times in the Word.... He doesn't want us to get discouraged... He wants us to move forward and make the decision to not be victims of circumstance... but to take control of our daily actions and just take small steps daily in faith knowing that He will give us the discipline and the faith to move toward Him!!

Just as we wouldn't expect new baby Irelyn (my niece!) to arrive into this world reading books, walking & talking ... God wouldn't expect us new believers to run right away... but to instead take baby steps & crawls toward Him. I pray people would recognize how the little steps do make all the difference. That this life is a journey, a process that takes a lifetime. It's all about holding on, clinging to Him, walking toward Him .... while others are letting go.

I truly believe God that you are the one and only Light people are seeking. I believe you are THE answer. Thank you so much for the freedom we have to speak this Truth to people around us in this country. Please God don't let them take away that freedom --- and don't let us take it for granted! Thank you God so much for the assurance that we will have eternal life with you. Thank you for my new niece, my new sister and my brother that made a difference in my life.

photo by MomMom



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wake up sleeping giant!

What would it be like if The Body, the church, fully woke up!? In general, we have been a sleeping giant too long!!! but what if the sleeping giant woke up!?

I get SO pumped up thinking about this!! because it's happening! There IS a stirring going on.... change happens from the bottom up not from the top down (no matter what politicians say)... change happens when those on a grassroots level start making their faith ACTIVE.

I'm ready to be active! I am so ready to really BE the change I want to see.

I'm going to continue to 'step out' and make my faith more active. I am going to live for Him and center my life on that goal! He has been pouring into me, He has taken the time to prepare me and the overflow is happening.

We are ALL at different stages and how our faith is 'active' will be different for each...but I just pray that we start moving! Just a little bit each day! Whether it be setting aside time for God, sharing with friends & families what God is doing in your life, helping those around you with words of faith & encouragement, or giving to those in need. Be active & intentional in your faith today all the while telling Him you're doing it for Him!
  • People are looking for the government to help them monetarily, because the church has failed.
  • People are considering cults, satanic movements, false religions to find some truth, because the church isn't teaching, sharing and speaking about the one lasting Truth, the Word of God.
  • People are looking for the schools to teach ideology & doctrines instead of reading writing and rithmetic... because parents & churches are not
  • People are looking for clubs, groups, social orgs to be a family with.... because we're not reaching, inviting, asking others to journey with us. Not being the family we were meant to be.
There is hope! a CHANGE is coming! There have been a lot in the church who have been active but it's time for us younger generation to follow and allow Jesus to work in us and through us!

Let's take advantage of the freedom of religion we have in this country before it disappears!! We have the freedom to talk about, discuss and teach from The Bible no matter what the media or others say. We DO have that freedom anywhere we are!

We have the freedom to worship our God and praise His name in any form we choose. Let's do it before those freedoms are taken away as they are in the majority of cities across this world. (http://www.persecution.com/)

It just takes a small group making 'small' decisions daily to turn toward Him to change an entire body.... oh what God can do with a small mustard seed of people that actually believe He can use them to make a difference! I truly believe it takes a small few to be active in their faith to cause big change to happen!

Open your Bible, talk to God, talk to a friend about Him, listen to a friend's hurt, concern and pain and direct him to the One who loves him and has a plan for him, praise God in song, art, something .... make at least one small decision today to be active in your faith that you didn't do yesterday!

The devil has tricked us to believe one person can't make a difference.... tricked us to believe that small decisions can't make huge differences.... tricked us with our busy-ness & distractions to not focus on God throughout our day. Don't let him fool you! Have faith that small decisions DO make a difference. Have faith God can use you exactly as you are, where you are.

There's a shift happening.... keep waking up snoozing giant before we are caught sleeping as our Jesus is betrayed and put in shackles!!!!! (Mark 14:32-41)


Update 10:35 am... Raymond and I just got back from running errands and look at what Pastor Steve Furtick posted on his blog just now.... http://www.stevenfurtick.com/ ... it's the same message God has been laying on my heart! I love how God always reinforces His teaching through other venues to sort of affirm the lesson - through blogs, books, radio, people, sermons, etc...

He is SO good! Change IS coming -- but not in a politician or political group! from God through The Body!! :) through people naive enough to believe He can use anybody, anything little by little to affect the world! :)


Monday, October 20, 2008

Foundations Class - Intro

We started a small group study yesterday entitled, "Foundations" which we are all totally fired up about. God lead 2 couples to Southside these past 2 weeks that Brandon & I met just living life. We are so so pumped for these new couples that took steps of faith to say yes to an invitation to journey with us (actually one called a week after I invited and asked if the invitation was still open!!) and then took another step of faith to say yes to try out this small group. I could go on and on about these couples but I will save their stories for them to share :)

People are looking and we're gonna keep reaching out to them. Engaging in their lives, loving on them and doing whatever we can to show them that God loves them and has a plan for them! Brandon and I have found our specific purpose and we are totally fired up about it. We are passionate and just amazed at all God is doing!

God is so awesome - it was just such perfect timing to meet these couples. Yesterday was the first week of this new class/study and it was their first week coming! How cool!! :) God is at work in this community so so much. Looking back it seems that our relationship with each couple, was just based on interactions that were just tiny little threads that could have easily not existed or been broken --- but we know that that thread was no thread at all - because it was God's plan. I sure am thankful that we listened when God said - reach out.

I was in the nursey so I missed the class - but I just read what they went over and I loved it. I am really really really excited for what God will do through this study.

The most important things that spoke to me were:
  • Knowledge must be balanced with discernment. (check out Phillipians 1:9-10)
  • Knowledge must be balanced with grace (see 2 Peter 3:18)
  • Knowledge must be balanced with love. (see I Corinthians 13:2 & I Corinthians 8:1)

and then warning signs:

  • warning signs of knowledge without discernment: knowledge remains theoretical; one person or group becomes a person's exclusive source of knowledge (like a certain author, certain friend, certain blog you always read.... I fall victim to this sometimes!.... the only source that is always the exclusive source of knowledge is the Word)
  • warning signs of knowledge without grace: learning more about God without growing closer to God; legalism
  • warning signs of knowledge without love: knowledge leads to intolerance of others; growth in knowledge leads to a growth in pride

I loved all of this teaching. Without knowing the exact words or thoughts -- this is what I have been praying in the past few weeks. I believe there needs to be a better balance in these areas in my life --- and everybody's life really.

There are so many who have love and tolerance.... but they have made love & tolerance their idol at the expense of Truth..... because they don't know the knowledge/doctrine. Love without True will also lead to darkness. and at the same time --- Truth without love leads to darkness as well.

God please continue to bless me in our quiet times and in my reading times. Fill me up with knowledge and fill me up with love. Help me have discernment and learn to listen to the Spirit as I listen to other's teachings.

let the Truth be heard God. Continue to build up your army. Help the church find a better balance of discipleship, evangelism & community. A better balance of knowledge, love & grace.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fort Caswell

Went to a marriage retreat @Fort Caswell today and last night. The lessons were important and godly lessons on marriage and they were worth hearing for the ___th time...

but the thing we loved most was just being together and being around some of our brothers & sisters in Christ. We always love being around PK (pastor Kelly) and his wife Audrey.... but we also very much loved hearing from each other when others had chances to speak as well. We loved meeting new couples and getting to know them - and growing relationships that had already been established. Those were my favorite parts - just being with Brandon and the people there.

I'll write more later on some specific lessons we did take away and our 'action plan' for including them in our life from now on..... but for now it's time for BED. We are both so ready to crash.

Thank you Jesus for what you did for us, for all you gave up, so that we could love. So that we could have an example (although it's an unattainable goal for us here on earth) of how to live. You are the perfect example of how we should live our lives - in our marriages & relationships with others. I want my life to be full of extravagent and radical love for others. What an awesome journey this is - learning to be more christ-like every day!

amazing love, undeserved love, extravagent love, merciful love, humble love, life-changing love

view from on top of one of the forts

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ramblings about the moon

Each night when I see the moon, I think of my MomMom & I think of God. It was such a hard decision for me to move away from MomMom. We are extremely close. Those first months away I remember looking at the moon every night and singing the 'fievel song'.... ya know, "somewhere out there.....".... She'd call me and say, are you looking at the moon!? I am! Somehow it was comforting to know that no matter the distance between us, we had the same moon to peer at and enjoy. I still find myself singing that song many nights.

I realized what the underlying lesson was. We knew that we couldn't see each other --- but there was one that could see both of us. The moon was representative to us of our unifier and the One we trusted was watching over each of us and connecting us.

Trying to picture things from the moon's perspetive is so cool. The moon can see so many people that we will never see. And God's greatness is soo way bigger than the greatness of the moon He created!! He really CAN see all of us and not only can He see us - He is intimately and personally and actively involved in our lives - all across the world! Wow

There are not too many things that unite ALL of us on earth --- but the moon & The Creator are 2 of them. The same moon that Jesus looked at while on earth is the same moon I look at now. Wow.

Often times when I look at the moon I think - God who else is looking at the moon right now? Where do they live? What struggle are they going through (we are all going through some struggle at all times)? and sometimes I just pray for all the different people peering up at the sky. I pray that they would get to know Him, the One and Only God that created this world and cares deeply about us whom He designed & created.

what an awesome thing to know that God knows exactly who is looking at the moon at any given moment. He knows what they are struggling with, and what is on their heart.

Pretty mind boggling. The moon is a reminder to me just how huge God is. It's a reminder to me that all of us on earth are unified in Him.


Photo by MomMom

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Debate Response

I am an American. I am proud of what our country was founded on. I agree with the economic system we were created from. I believe in the American dream, with no cap on that dream.


I am a christian, so I believe that as we get more, we should give a lot more. I believe *we* are the best (and most effective & efficient) way to help those around us suffering... not bueracrats in Washington.


Is there a lot of risk with giving people freedom? yes.


Freedom for people to fail or succeed.
Freedom to make bad or good decisions.
Freedom to act immoral or moral.
Freedom to become obsessed and greedy with the blessings available.


Though we make mistakes and make immoral decisions... does that make the freedom itself bad? Does that make a system based on freedom bad? Does it make the blessings themself bad?


No... it just points out our sinful human nature and our desire for idols (money) when we remove God from our # 1 priority. It shows how desperately we need to keep God and the morality He laid out, in our country and our homes throughout America!


The problem is not in our system. Money isn't evil. Freedom shouldn't be taken away.

The problem is that we as a majority are turning our backs on God and the right & wrong He has created.




photo by MomMom

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Peace, Refuge, Rest

Yesterday I spoke of how a heart at rest is a reflection of God. The One who brings rest and a peace beyond understanding.

Life here can be full of so much turmoil. Our family and friends suffer from illnesses & accidents. The media only shows negative, destructive news. People are full of hatred. We are divided in politics, in race, in socioeconomic status. Families are splitting up. There's no time for each other. Everybody is busy. More and more children than ever before are being born sick and getting diagnosed with long term illnesses. Terrorists seek to destroy freedom & christianity throughout the world.......

yet there's a peace deep down within those of us who know Christ. There's hope. There's light.

My hubby's favorite Psalm is Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever

It is becoming one of my favorites as well.

Thank you God for making us lie down in green pastures. For giving us rest in a world designed to do opposite.

I love how God designed me to be so passionate. He has created me as a very passionate & enthusiastic person.... but it can be draining as well. What's so beautiful to me is that He allows me to sprint... to be passionate and be totally on fire.....and then He makes me rest.

He knows when I need it. He's there to fall back on at all times.

Some days I just feel so overwhelmed with the hurting I see.... with the excitement I feel..... with the passion He has created in me that I just can't even sit and read for that long. So I end up just sitting (laying) and listening to Him. Just being still and I think of this Psalm.

How blessed are we to know that despite the clouds we see.... despite how the world around us looks....... there is a light, The Light of the world and He's here. His beauty & love chase after us and cover up what the world fills us with.

He is the one and only refuge in a hurting world. He is the peace & rest we all desire so badly in our core.



Picture taken by MomMom



Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beauty

I truly believe that a woman's heart was designed to be beautiful. To be a reflection of His beauty.

John & Stasi Eldredge say about it, Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty draws us to God.... the beauty of the world is almost the only way by which we can allow God to penetrate us. Beauty captivates the senses in order to obtain permission to pass straight through to the soul. The soul's inclination to love beauty is the tactic God most frequently uses in order to win it.

Beauty is so powerful. God created this earth with so much beauty. He didn't hold back. He was lavish in all Creation. I want my love for Him and His people to be so extravagent that it demands attention like nature does.

My mom sent me pictures of Lake Shawnee, where I grew up... to me today. I miss fall up there so much. These pictures took my breathe away. You just can't pass by this without noticing it...



I know that the devil hates beauty. He will do whatever he can to distort our beauty. To try to distract from it. He will do whatever he can to convince us we are not beautiful. He will try to get us to focus on external beauty and not true beauty.

He tries to convince us we are defined by our ugly sin. That our ugliness is really who we are... the devil will try to keep us down at our lowest points and 'kick us when we're down by making us feel guilt & shame when we sin....

Every time I fail by being short with my husband. By losing my patience with my son. By being selfish in my interactions with others....... the devil loves for me to wallow in my ugliness. He loves to try to convince me I'm not beautiful.....

But there's a secret I learned that the devil keeps forgetting about!!!! I learned the power of Jesus and that when I make mistakes, it's okay! I have a heart of faith, a heart that trusts God will take my mistakes, my daily sin and turn it into something beautiful when I invite Him to. Each time I make a mistake I know He will gently lead me to repentance and to turn away from my ugliness.

He is faithful to renew me and remind me whose I am and that I am beautiful and not defined at all by my ugliness.

I am not beautiful by any effort or striving on my part at all...... but instead in His peace. The beauty I exude comes from Him who is in me, that tells me I'm enough. A heart at rest is beautiful. A heart at rest allows others around it to be at rest. It's an example of the refuge God is. The comforting, merciful and tender refuge He is in a world of turmoil and ugliness.

When a woman knows she is beautiful....knows she's valuable and is in love with Beauty Himself.... she glows from the inside out.

God.... may the beauty and peace you give me shine so others can feel that love & peace & rest you alone give. Please continue to daily change my ugliness to beauty. I hate my ugliness but even in my ugliness, I know there is beauty because you're there. Continue to cover the ugliness up please God. THANK YOU so much for Jesus and what He did when He became sin so that I could be with you. So that I could have beauty.

Thanks for always reminding me that I am beautiful and valuable.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's true. I was an addict.

I am asked a lot how I keep myself away from the computer when I'm home with Raymond all day.... and it's sort of a complicated answer haha. A lot of it has to do with making schedules, spending a lot of time outside, having goals in my day, etc. etc..... BUT it is a challenge to make sure I'm keeping in balance!

I have loved writing my blogs, reading blogs, checking email, uploading pictures, etc. I have gotten so much out of it that it IS a temptation to come on the computer a lot..... I believe anybody can become easily addicted to it. and really it's a great thing to be addicted to. Addiction to being challenged & inspired by others who are hungry for the Lord. Addicted to feedback / conversations with friends on email. Addiction to spending time with God through writing. I really believe most of my blogs are great devotional times with the Lord. When I wrote so many times I feel like I'm writing to Him and spending time with Him.

BUT.... even though those are all great things...... addictions are never good!!

SO I found a wonderful website to help me make sure that the computer is never a priority. It's, http://www.online-stopwatch.com/ any time I sit down at the computer, I hit start (or pause if it's not the first hit of the day) and I only allow myself 2 hours a day on the computer. Usually it's :30 in morning. 1:00 at nap and :30 at night.

So there you go - I was an addict. Look at how far I need to go now to make sure it doesn't happen again.

I believe a lot of good has come out of my internet use. It just shows that anything can be good or bad depending on how it's used ya know? Compare using the internet to look at porn vs. what I use the internet for. What a completely opposite use and opposite results. One tears down, distorts, pulls one away from God..... the other encourages, builds up, helps clarify lessons of Truth & draws one closer to God.

I want to make sure what I do in each day reflects my priorities. Listening to God, reading His word are first.... my incredible husband comes next... then my most precious son.... my family & friends. I want to make sure that those around me feel loved, cared for and that they are a priority.

The first place to live out the Word and the Truths I am learning is in my home. I have been praying a lot for my actions & everyday life to reflect my words and the teachings He has been giving me.

My point is....the internet has been such an awesome thing in my life........ but very clearly it doesn't come above my boys. I always want to examine my days and see where I'm getting out of balance. I wonder if this addiction is a problem for anybody else. What other decisions to people have to make daily to handle their minutes better?

Remember Randi: you control your minutes - and your years will take care of themselves! :) It's true. Life is all about making small decisions every day, in the right direction. All about having faith that baby steps actually do make a difference. All about believing that God can use our daily tiny efforts to move toward Him (in our mundane every day preparation time).... and out of those efforts create a beautiful and wonderful ministry to glorify Him and lead others to Him. He is so awesome.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reminder: Differences Are Okay

Today I just want to link back to a post from a few weeks ago.

Differences are okay.... and what makes the Body of Christ truly so awesome to me is that we can show mercy & love during conflict. We can be accepting & compassionate while having differences at the same time. What an awesome testimony for His work in us - that is how people recognize us isn't it? By how we love each other. Or that's how it's supposed to be at least. We are restored to each other through Christ.

I love the body of Christ... I love each person I come across that's part of it.....because of the One that is the common denominator between us.

http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com/2008/08/differences-are-okay.html

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Politics

Picture by MomMom

This post is not my post back from June (my dissertation that I never published) but it is going to be a post all about politics..... so reader beware. I have a feeling it will turn into a dissertation. But as always - I recognize this is mostly for me and even if nobody reads it - it will feel so good to get out all that's on my heart. Clearly, I don't know the answers and I have very little knowledge on economics or politics in general... but I do have my opinions.

I do believe we are are called to 'judge' our candidates and discern what is True/right about them. I have no idea really how to organize all these thoughts so this will again be a hodge podge of thoughts / convictions. Here I go....

Christians, Politics, Theology

So many times we as christians just totally avoid talking about politics at all. I don't think that's our role at all. I believe that discussions of politics are sometimes the best place to witness and allow the Truth to be heard. It's one of the best times/places to show how to love while disagreeing. To show compassion & mercy during conflict.

I am above all else a christian... but I am also a proud American. My country is not my idol - but I sure am thankful every day to be an American. I don't believe our government is in itself christian...... nor do I believe that our country should be a theocracy. Theocracy being the state being the head of the church - which is what our founding fathers ran from. There is separation there and that is a great thing for many reasons --- mostly because of corruption & because the integrity of Truth is risked when government is paying religious leaders.

BUT saying all that..... I do believe there is very clearly a role of faith in politics. AND I DO believe that America is a superior country because it is based on freedom. Freedom is a principle we all know is God's principle. We know freedom is good. God himself decided to give us freedom above all else.... freedom to choose Him or not. Freedom to strive to be moral. In our freedom --- bad can come - yes there is lots of risk with freedom.... but freedom itself is great. I believe it is right, no matter how we humans mess it up and what bad decisions we make with our freedom. That's the risk God took in creating freedom. Freedom to follow the plan He desired...or not.

Politics is very much a place for christians. Politics in its very nature is one's theology applied to legislation. Our churches might not be sanctioned by the government.... but our law IS based on theology. Our theology should not come out of our law. It's opposite. For christians especially it is very important for us to understand this. Non christians get their theology from the culture/law/politics/politicians/media/hollywood..... but that is not what we are called to do. Our theology as christians doesn't change. The foundation is just that - a concrete solid foundation. Not moving. Not changing with culture, politics or relative popularity of ideals. Do you truly believe that? Do you believe the Word of God is something to fight for? Or do you believe that since some don't believe in The Word of God --- that we shouldn't base our politics on it..... or should I say that we shouldn't base our vote for our political leaders on it. Do you believe leaders you elect should have a theology based on what they believe to be 'good' for the majority. Look at how 'good' has changed in our country as we have moved away from God. Putting our lives in the hands of people who do not have the same theology as us is a very bad decision.

We are at a huge turning point in our country right now. We have a candidate who is very clear that he will base legislation based on the theology of the relative morality. He will use legislation to create theology & reinforce it. His morality is not based on The Word of God. As a christian -- we should desire christian leaders in our government right? Our forefathers put God in even our founding documents as a nation. They intended for God to be in our legislation. The rule of law to be under His authority like the Bible tells us it should be.

It IS time to do some 'arguing'.... of course we must allow the Spirit to help us control our emotions. Of course we present our case mercifully & never with personal attacks on who we are discussing with....but I believe this is a time for us stand up for what we believe in. Will we deny our beliefs? Will we deny the very foundation of our life.... will we deny the very core of who we are... will we deny what our life is based on? Deny our theology that helps us decide all decisions & views including political? The Word of God is our guide. Our one and only God and His son and our Savior Jesus Christ are our leaders. We should desire earthly leaders who follow Him, right? When asked, we should give our views, opinions and what they are based on, right?

There is MUCH video tape of one of our candidates explaining why he will *never* use his theology (which he claims is The Word) to legislate or lead in his political office.

Well.... I say theology that doesn't effect every one of your decisions is no theology at all.

But I've heard some concern that neither of our candidates seem strong in their theology/morality... so who do we choose?

Role of government, Role of the church
I say I will always vote for the candidate that gives MORE power to the people (freedom) and LESS to the government. I do not trust the government to take better care of my family then I myself can. I think government has proven time and time again they should not be trusted with 'taking care' of so much of what we entrust them with.

We as the church have failed in many areas....but it is not the government's job to take over where we have failed. I heard one time that if everybody who claimed to be a christian, tithed - all poverty in the US would be eliminated with a lot left over. I believe my money would be a lot better in The Body than in government programs.

The only verses in the Bible that I know talk of the government's role is in Romans.... and it says:

1) to govern with authority from God (v1-2)
2) to praise the good in society (v4)
3) to punish the evildoer in society (v4)
4) to bear the sword and execute wrath against wrongdoers (v4) .

I don't see anywhere in there about distributing wealth... regulating or providing healthcare....trying to make all equal in stature & economic situation.....eliminating poverty..... controlling the education of our children.

I do see God mentioned.

I really really believe in capitalism and really do not like socialism. Ronald Reagan says, "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."

The problem is that we have slowly moved away from freedom. We are no longer a capitalistic nation. We have socialist programs all throughout our law and we have given the government WAY more power than was ever intended by our forefathers.

So what do we do? Do we give up hope on capitalism and turn our back on freedom? I am not going to. My grandfather fought and bled and almost died for me to be free and I will always choose freedom because of it. I have to believe we can have a moral revolution in this country so that capitalism can function again. I believe in the good in people. I believe we will bring God back into this country.

See there are much deeper issues here than anybody thinks. When you give up your freedom to the government - you realize that freedom will never come back? Our founding fathers were the last people that could leave their system and create their own capitalistic nation - there is no more land to start a country in.

I believe that our greatest presidents were godly men. Ronald Reagan being one of them. He realized the link between freedom and God.

He also says, Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.

Is there no turning back? Are we a people without God? Are we a people without moral courage? I absolutely in my heart believe that the majority of this country loves God. Just because the media makes it seem otherwise means nothing. That is why during election years candidates always move to traditional values. That is why during election years they talk about their faith a LOT.

Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives. Reagan again.

So we have a decision to make. Do you believe the government should control or do you think the people should have the freedom to choose morality or not? Choose to take care of those around them. Choose to let religious flourish and keep God in our law.

Have we already made that choose? Is capitalism gone? Is our freedom gone?

Economics
I just have so many thoughts on poverty and welfare. I can see how it would be a great thing for government to take care of those who really can NOT work/ take care of themselves. I also believe that we have too many abusing the welfare system so the people who really need help aren't getting it. I think I would agree with the government 'taking care' of those who really can not provide for themselves through work. In my ideal - the government wouldn't even do that.... but okay let's compromise and let the government take care of those who neeed. (If the church and faith-based programs did, the government wouldn't have to).

The only groups that come to the forefront of my mind are the elderly & children. So many in the group (all) can not have jobs... but those aren't the ones being helped.

and those groups/people that are able or will be able --- shouldn't we worry much more about teaching them to fish than giving them fish?

Either way - I don't think taking away incentives or rewards from those who have worked extremely hard to get those rewards is any answer at all. I believe competition & free enterprise with reward for excellence is an AWESOME thing in an economy.

I don't agree with for a second, nor do I plan on ever following, any eutopia ideology that any politician presents. The only true eutopia is in the Word of God and my true Kingdom Home I will be in some day. The reality is that life on earth is going to be tough. There is suffering and will always be.

The reality is that sometimes the best a leader can do for people is to believe in them and give them freedom to help those around them (freedom by not interferring with their resources or ability to help). Show people we have faith in them. Show them that there is One and only One who will be with them through any situation and will turn around ANY situation for the good. (Romans 8:28).

But if you don't believe in people or in God being ruler in our law --- then socialism and strict control over all our decisions, is the way to go.

I believe we should give people the freedom to help others around them. And even reward them when they take care of others. The Bible says that. Praise the good in society.

I think looking at a politician's tax statements is a wonderful way to see what they believe about helping others. By the way, I don't see taxes as my form of tithing or even a form of charity in any way shape or form. Some actually believe that. The government has become the church to many people.

after note while watching the debate: no doubt the war has caused our economy to have a turn for the worse --- but make no doubt about it - the problem we face today is not a republican or democratic problem. During the Clinton years - a lot of bad decisions were made, just as bad if not worse than the Bush administration. I found an article today from September 1999 predicting this economic bail out (rescue) we are seeing would be necessary if Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac succombed to the pressure by the administration at the time (and community organizations such as ACORN - and we know who they are associated with) to give credit to undesserving people. There's a lot of problems in our economy right now --- but ultimately the point I believe to be most true is that blame isn't necessary. The finger pointing even in the most recent debate is ridiculous. What's the solution. I don't believe giving government more power and more money is the answer. Greed got us here. Greed in government, greed in big business, I don't want the government to have any more of my money. I want to take away control from the government give it back to the people and let them choose to be moral or not. I believe in people and that they will allow God back as the head of our country as it was written to be at its foundation.... more than I do our government and the media that loves it so much and feeds so much propaganda to us.

Fruits of the work

I say if we can't figure out clearly which candidate is a christian and if we can't figure out which stands for biblical principles --- then look at the fruit of their work. For example, what sort of change has been brought about in the city of Chicago where one of our candidates was leader. A position that one candidate is most pride of. He is not the primary leader of this city obviously.... but he was clearly a 'leader' and is proud of his work there:






  • In the last 6 months, 292 murders in Chicago --- 221 killed in Iraq


  • Cook County (Chicago) sales tax highest in country (more on taxes later)


  • Chicago school system one of the worst in the country
These are just a few statistics I found... but my point is, where did all the "community organizing" get the community? What is community organizing anyway? Well basically, the objective the organizers have of trying to draw attention to poverty and some social issues in the city was reached. Maybe. Some attention was drawn. Enemies of local officials were made. Blame was cast...but no tangible good has come out at all. No good at all has come from the 'organizing' except fueling careers of some organizers.......poverty has not been alleviated in any form.

In reality, casting poverty as a political condition is debilitating for those in poverty. In other words telling people its not their fault for their situation & so they don't need to take responsibility for themselves - doesn't do anybody any good. Said another way - telling them they can't do anything themselves and so they need leaders that will 'save' them does no good for them long term. Does nothing for our economy long term. Trying to give quick solutions is no answer.

Political activism cannot stop poverty. This has been shown time and time again. When it comes down to it, people who are not employed will never stabilize or thrive. Community action in this form of "agitation" organizing (more on this later) has always failed. The link between political power & individual economic status is very clearly not as strong as we have been made to believe.

At the basis of the economic plan of any thriving country... is the reality that people don't need fish for the long term. Unless you just want the government to be the provider of fish forever. They need to learn how to fish. They need a position that will allow them to fish. So basically more than anything we need jobs. And if there are jobs available and people aren't taking them -- them we must must must give them the freedom to fail and not take care of them if they make that decision.

There are deep rooted issues here with no easy solutions..... but let's start calling it like it is and start telling people it's time to choose. Do you want capitalism or do you want socialism? Make the choice. Look back at history at these 2 forms and figure out where the most good has come from and figure out which you want.

I believe we need to also start talking about literacy (more in following posts), education and stop blaming problems on politics or a certain group of politicians.

Very clearly it did not take a 'community organizer' to get many of our politicians and successful business men, writers, doctors, leaders where they are today from where they came from. Why don't they teach what they did instead of how they can now help and rescue others?

Ultimately, I do not believe communities should rely on un-elected 'officials' (that have all but forced themselves to be the leader --- which is no 'leader' at all) to channel money to organized groups of people / communities based on race/economic status and then direct these programs they create. While we tell people we are empowering them... we never really empower THEM individually --- and so we actually are doing opposite. We empower only the leaders. More on this later...

Taxes
Clearly taxes high or low are not a christian issue...except that we are called to pay taxes no matter how high they become... but the following is just my opinion as all of this blog entry is.

If the government insists on taking MORE money away from businesses & people - they are saying that they themselves can take care of our (my) money better than we (I) can. I think it is very clear that we should be given freedom to do with money as we please. I would much rather the people be left with freedom as it the theme throughout this. I would much rather truly empower people than government.

I really do not believe that the role of government is to be the church... not to be a social 'program'. I believe in a very limited government. A very small, limited government. I believe in people. I believe in them because I know their creator. I am sick to death of politicians trying to give us a victim mentality. I want a leader who says.... you are intelligent, God-created creations, you are powerful beyond your wildest imagination and you don't need anybody to micromanage your money, your family, your children's education, your health.... buck up! We the government will get out of your way - we trust you to go do your thing! Pursue happiness. You have the liberty to live and make your own choices.

Tactics
Do you realize that the community organizing tactic that one candidate (or I should say his political machine) has used throughout his entire career and is still using today is sometimes referred to as 'agitation'. It's a radical tactic from Hitler's day and before. No I don't believe they are outright evil like Hitler --- but this community organizing technique filled with hatred & victim mentality is very clearly the same used by many socialist & communist leaders throughout history. Agitation is all about getting under people's skins and filling them with a lot of negative, woe is me until they take on a victim mentality. In pretending to empower the people --- this only empowers the agitator.

The tactic is: Pinpointing pain in our lives and making us feel angry about this pain. Then using this anger or pain to fuel us into thinking whatever ideology they are promoting. It's about making people focus on this anger/pain/void that the leaders continually talk about and then start blaming that void on injustice to fill the people with hatred and the desire to rise up against whichever group the leader wants us to. It's about projecting a people's void and problems onto others. It's about focusing on differences and using it to divide and cause anger in one group vs. another. Playing the blame game & advocating injustice at all times. Keeping people separated by color, socioeconomic status, etc. That's the tactic. That's what has worked time and time again. Go back to Hitler's speeches from the 1930's and 40's. You will see this same 'organizing' tactic. More on this later.....

but for now, my response and opinion to this tactic is: People are not cattle that can be agitated to a stampede of whatever view you're trying to promote. Let the people be free. If you really are "for" them - then believe in them! Believe they can do anything they set their mind to. I am standing up and telling you that I am a child of God. I don't need the government to tell me where to spend my money or what to believe or who to help and how. I refuse to have a victim mentality. I choose to be thankful for all the blessings I have been given.

I believe I am completely blessed to be an American. I won't give into the sky is falling we are doomed mentality.

Maybe I'm an idealist.... but too many have bled for us to easily give up our freedom from way too powerful governments & dictators.

I am not defined by the color of my skin or by my bank account and I refuse to define others by those things. I refuse to allow 'leaders' to continue to divide me from my brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe in the Word of God. I believe that restoration and abundance is available to ALL.

I believe the church should really start meeting needs & offering at the same time The Good News.... so that the government doesn't have to. Socialism is always the result of a country/people with no religion. Socialism is the choice when the majority do not have God. I'm not willing to say I want that.

I know that Jesus is my Savior and I believe that freedom is His gift to us. I will always vote for freedom. Freedom at all levels. I believe that the church should be the church again - taking care of people and the government should protect us from others (NOT from ourselves) & build roads.

If this country really does not appreciate the free enterprise system that we are founded upon..... then we should vote for the candiate that will change this system. I just wish in our schools - we really taught what this free enterprise system is all about. I learned more about socialism & communism than our system of freedom.

If our people believe more in government than each other... then they should vote for the candidate that agrees with those beliefs.

If our people don't care about our leader's theology & basis for morality - then vote for whoever talks good and spins the best vision.

If we aren't proud of America and all the good it's done... then vote for the candidate who has more associations with people that hate America than people that love it.

I will vote for a man that I am convinced, believes in people. I will vote for a man that fought and almost died so that radical extremists could have a voice in our media & universities and even run for offices. I will vote for the man that I believe wants to give power back to the people not take it for the government he will lead.

I will always vote for freedom.

Jesus
Finally.... some more thoughts on my Jesus. Jesus is the great equalizer. He sees us not by our skin or bank accounts but by our souls. He doesn't want us to have a victim mentality nor preach it. I know that I love freedom so much because I wasn't always free. I was a slave to sin, slave to others, slave to myself. I know what His power does. I know how priceless freedom is. I believe in Him, I believe in the people He created. I also believe in the Church and that we will continue to get better at really fulfilling the role we were designed for. I believe we can and will start reaching & being His Hands & Feet on a greater level. I believe a moral revolution can happen.

Will electing any one politician change the world? No. There are SO many changes that need to be made. But this is the ideal I believe in and the ideal I want to move toward.

I don't believe that any christian leader should ever make people feel victim to any circumstance in their life. Jesus has conquered the world - and we have His power in us, the Bible says so. We don't have to embrace the chains that the world puts on us any longer. Jesus calls us to stand up! To have God redefine us and not to be defined by the world's standards (race, age, background, etc.)...... the christian leader one of our candidates followed did not preach victory at all. I don't believe that preacher & I follow the same Jesus at all.

And as far as wanting to be equal - Jesus DID make us equal. It's done and it goes both ways ya know --- to be equal means that nobody gets condemned or judged because of external factors....but it also means that nobody gets special treatment because of external factors. I believe that many leaders in many communities are they themselves the reason that there isn't complete equality.

We are called to build each other up, to remove all chains to help others see what is possible because of who is in them.

Hitler
Hitler on the other hand believed and taught opposite of the teachings I read in the Bible. Much like some preachers in America today that many follow, including some of our candidates. Hitler was intent on inspiring hatred and bitterness in the Germans against the Jews. He even used his christianity (however distorted his "christianity" really was)....to backup his "fight against injustice".

Hitler quotes in one of his speeches,
I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them (them being "his people" the Germans) , if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those (Hitler is referring to turning against the Jews) by whom today this poor people is plundered and exploited ....

and I disagree with him obviously as does everybody, right? See this anger & victim mentality he is preaching? The same is being done today - from all sides.

I feel no pity for others - because I know Jesus saves, He heals He comforts He brings victory! Yes the church needs to help others tangibly - food, shelter, etc.... but not out of pity. To offer them tangibles.. yes like Jesus did! but more importantly the intangible. To tell them of the REAL good news. The government can only offer tangible --- and does a horrible job at that! because really, it's not their job in my opinion. It's only their job when the country turns away from Morality & God.

Again God would want money and blessings and tangibles to flow through us rather than government right?!

Hitler goes on to say... and now I would ask those who today call us 'agitators': what they have you to give to the people as a faith, to which it might cling...... he even knows he's called an agitator --- just like so many community organizers from our own country claim to be. (Many of which are one of our candidate's mentors) The message to the people is that, they have nothing, nothing to cling to. There is no more faith. They are a lost cause. The message is that they are owed something more than what they have. They exclaim to their people, you are persecuted, you are exploited... the ____ (Jews in Hitler's case) do whatever they can to persecute and take advantage of you. This world was designed against you specifically. You "deserve" better...Jesus isn't watching out for you - you need to take matters into our own hands and go against those who are exploiting you. Did Jesus teach that ever?

What this does.... preaching victim mentality all while claiming you are trying to empower the people... is empower only the organizer.

What's their next step after getting the people to understand their deep plight and have pity on themselves for it? Well after making sure to bring to light your greatest needs & pain..... they will make sure you know, there is a solution. Is it the Savior that they offer? No. Is it the ultimate good news? No. Their good news to the people is they themselves. It's how organizations have always gained power.

These leaders have the solution for these "hopeless people". Follow me, they say. Together we will change things. I will help you. You are hurting & need help and here I come. I have the solution. We will set ourselves free.

So you see --- there is a theology/religion being taught whether it's formal, organized, or recognized.

and NO NO NO NO NO NO people this is not the truth. If you would just look at how much 'better' the people are now after the community organizers have left. Look at the Germans after Hitler, Cuba after Castro, different cities after the community organizers have left. Look at the fruit of these organizers' works.

Do I believe that any candidate has studied Hitler and other radical leaders? No. I do believe one is mixed up in a LOT of bad ideology and bad associations. I believe one has been subject to a lot of hate speech and negative wrong preaching even in his church. I believe he has been around extreme radical thinking for a long time and it's clearly not based on a morality or theology I associate with. I also believe he is a long way off from what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr tried tod o and did and the dream he had. In my book he shouldn't even be compared to Dr. MLK Jr.

I also believe that we make a mistake in looking at one man and thinking we are electing one man. We are not electing one man, he is just the spokesperson. The nominee is always just the face. We are electing an entire machine and team of people behind our candidates. Who is in their pockets? Who are their mentors? Who do they give money to? Who have they worked for? There is an entire ideology up for election each time we vote.

My closing thoughts

My opinion is that..... Jesus you ARE enough. I KNOW you are the only Savior. I know you are the only one who can meet ALL our needs. I believe that you will work through the church again to reach hurting people everywhere. I believe in the people you created and that we can have a moral revolution here. I am not willing to give up my freedoms yet. I believe the church will again rise and offer the tangibles but more importantly offer the good news. I believe that we are not victims. We are not slaves to this world. I don't want to be a slave to a bunch of intellectuals who don't agree with my theology.

We are victorious because of you. I believe that anybody can change and no situation is hopeless. I really believe that. I believe God that you are no respector of persons and if ONE person overcomes a battle --- anybody can overcome it. I believe these leaders should be a testimony and example to people as to what freedom allows us to do. Rags to riches stories. I don't believe they should instill in them a victim mentality. So many overcame the same challenges faced today - or even much worse - and they did it without social programs & community organizers.

God, I put my hope in YOU alone. I know that life on earth isn't always fair - but I know that God is just. We ALL will struggle, we all will be persecuted but those who turn toward Jesus during those times of struggle become RESILIENT. They become more powerful and more faithful to God. Their lowest points and then their victory and overcoming of their disadvantages - become a glorious example of the power of Christ. In our realities is your glory God! I know above all else you wouldn't want us to be filled with hate.

How can christians preach messages of hate, victim mentality, and no faith in others?...... Jesus' central message was one of love, of vicTOR mentality and mercy and grace to all, right?

The amount of good that comes out of America is so far superior to any other country because of our FREEdom, and what God has done through us as a people. I believe our freedom is from Him and since we believe it's from Him, His light shines through us. That is why we are the only country will miles and miles long of people trying to get into our country legally -- and many coming every day illegally.

I wanted to talk here about some of my brothers and sisters. Patience on the left came from Ghana with nothing. She worked her tail off for years (eventually leading her to the job of taking care of my grandma with dementia). She is part of our family. This is part of my family. We have a huge family now. Patience worked endlessly and would do anything to bring her family over. How many nights we prayed for her family to be able to come over. They made it! They are here! Only in America is this possible. Only in a capitalist system is this story possible. This is why people want in to our country so bad. THIS is the type of story I want to see on the news. She loves our freedom, loves our system that allows hard work to be rewarded.
Through her suffering she became resilient. I am not sure she would change anything about her story and the challenges she faced.



Freedom is the central message of Jesus' victorious and triumphant crucifixion and resurrection. God please help us protect our freedom, on all levels. The free will to do what we want with our lives. I am so sorry we haven't made good decisions with our freedom. I am ready for the people to have another chance. I don't want our freedom taken away yet.

I will never put my country above God --- God is my priority, then my family, then my country. But I believe this country is a blessing to others and I feel blessed to be born here. YES there is so much wrong with this country, with us individually, with our government.... but God there is hope!

I believe that change can come --- but I don't want it to be in the form of big government or any economic system other than free enterprise! This country gives everybody the right to leave if they don't like it here, but I am staying. and I am voting!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Comfort, Direction, Love

Since I started writing down my thoughts / questions / praise reports to God --- it's amazing to me how much more I recognize His teachings now. The topic I've been writing about the most recently is parenting. Just this morning I presented this topic and some specifics on it to God and asked for peace, guidance, some direction & comfort.... and as always He gave it.

Does the fact that He answers your concerns & questions so quickly ever just make you cry? He literally makes my heart melt. I will never understand why He cares so much to care about the details in my life. He continues to show me He REALLY cares. It just overwhelms me. The only way I can describe it is that it just melts my heart. Makes me goo-ey inside.

I love how God continues to use my Bible reading, my bloggie friends and whatever book I'm reading.... all to teach me. He aligns all of the teaching so well. The rhythm of my life and the lessons in each part of my day are just awesome right now. Every where I turn... there He is!!! I'm hungry for Him - you're right Melanie and He is satisfying me!

I'm reading, A Woman After God's Own Heart. I started reading it for some inspiration in my role as wife & mom. I was feeling well....... I was just feeling basically like a failure. Like I just wasn't doing good enough at all.

Last night.... this jumped out at me:

Give to your children expecting nothing in return. We don't give motherly love in order to receive praise, thanks, recognition or good behavior. We give our love in a myriad of practical forms simply because that's [the calling]. Life at home is the first place to live out the Word and first place to learn to be christlike. We love with no options, no conditions, no exceptions and no fine print. It's God's clear command - for us to love each other.

okay God I hear you. I've been discouraged because I've been evaluating my worth as a mom and wife by validation from others. When I don't get some validation/affirmation/confirmation even of what I'm doing then I take that as a judge of my impact or 'success' in this role. I am looking for praise, looking to please others not you. I hear you. I should be dependent on YOU for my feedback and guidance and affirmation of direction. My calling is to love.

Then I woke up and read this blog from Pastor Pete. http://withoutwax.tv/2008/10/06/desiring-to-be-loved-or-seeking-to-love/#comments uhh woah. Is that just TOTALLY crazy!? It's exactly the same thing He's been teaching me! It's like Pastor Pete knew what I was going through - but I know He has no clue. God is just SOO awesome like that. He uses anybody/anything to teach us!

These posts / topics are directly relate to Pastor Kellky's series on idols:
http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com/2008/09/american-idols-series-week-1.html

and what I commented on pastor pete's blog entry on envy:
http://withoutwax.tv/2008/09/29/the-green-monster/

and my little 'series' on value:
http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com/2008/09/value-success-growth.html


WOW

I was just giddy with how much He was pouring into me and talking to me. Maybe I'm the only one who seeds how perfectly all these lessons flow....... BUT next I was just beyond myself when I clicked on Kathy Escobar's blog from TODAY and found this:

http://kathyescobar.com/2008/10/06/goodly-parenting-yep-thats-two-os/

WOAH!!! hahaha no way God. You are SOO cool! THANK YOU. This entry was all about parenting and helping me realize that it's going to be okay. It really is.

In the past few days He has shown me my areas of weakness. (looking for validation from others not Him....making idols out of my loved ones - by putting their praise or lack of praise higher on my priority list than God's opinion of me)......

He has reminded me for the UMPteenth time to focus on Him, to care what He thinks, to find my value in Him and Him alone.....

and He has given me specific answers to my questions on direction.

You are my priority God. I will love "just" to love not for any reason but just because of you. because you fill me with so much it's overflowing... it pours out on those around me with so much left over for me. I will not judge my value on what others do or do not say or appreciate.

Thanks so much for speaking through so many different voices to comfort me. To encourage me. To challenge me. To direct me.

I am loved by the King - and it makes my heart want to sing!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Emerging Church

I found this quote somewhere (sorry I don't know where or else I'd give credit to where it was I saw it!)

[Emerging churches] do not believe in evangelistic strategies, other than the pursuit to be like Jesus in his interactions with others. They do not target people or have an agenda but rather seek to love all those whom God brings to them. They do not hope for a belief change for their conversation partners as much as a life change. Because of their high level of engagement with other cultures, the sacred/secular split is overcome as they practice the kingdom in their midst, in community.

E Gibbs & R Bolger

It makes me think. I am pretty sure that's the type of body I want to be a part of. Teaching & encouraging each other how to become like Jesus in our everyday interactions with those around us daily. Not only on Sunday mornings & Wednesday nights but throughout our days, every day. With all different kinds of people in all different kinds of situations.

I wonder what others feel about the 'emerging churches' and what wrong they see in them? Can't we somehow stop focusing on the bad in each other and just encourage the good? All the divisions / criticism of others in our own body need to stop (hey I'm talking to myself too).

That's all my thoughts for today. We're going out of town for the weekend. I hate that we're gonna miss the 2nd series in American Idols that pastor is doing - but I'll listen to it online later!

Friday, October 3, 2008

"As A Man Thinketh"

I really believe in the power of 'small' decisions. I know it's a recurring theme on all my blogs.

My grandma's quote on this topic was always, "take care of your pennies & the dollars will take care of themselves". She was literally talking about money - but it is true in every area of our lives! The way to make huge, long term improvements is with small, consistent improvements in our daily lives! You take care of your minutes, and you are taking care of your future.

The ability to make small decisions to get us on the right track always starts with what goes in. What we put into your mind. Are we allowing in words of faith, hope, and Truth or words that discourage, distort and are full of negative? The Bible says, be careful what you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Proverbs 4:23. It also says, faith cometh by hearing. Hearing the Truth.

In the Purpose Driven daily email from today, it talked about ways to change our behavior and I wanted to share some excerpts:

  • My interpretation influences my situation. It’s not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it. The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter..... I've also heard it put this way....
  • Life is a grindstone, whether it grinds you down or polishes you up, depends on what you are made of... so the question is, what are we made up? We are made of what we allow in/put in.
  • My self-talk influences my self-esteem. You are constantly talking to yourself unconsciously. When you walk into a room full of strangers, what do you tend to think about yourself? To develop more confidence you’re going to have to stop running yourself down! “As he thinks in his heart, so is he”(Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). I completely believe this to be true. Our perceptions can distort the truth so much. I just assume the best until I see otherwise. Its amazing how when we start assuming the best, we start experiencing, seeing feeling the best. I have a quote on myspace that I think about a lot. It's, I am what I perceive you believe me to be. Assume the best about yourself & others. Never assume other's motives or what others are thinking or feeling - you know what happens when we assume :)

We are headed away for a wedding. I am SO excited about spending time with my hubby alone. We are excited about sleeping in for the first time in literally years. My man is so wise and so full of peace. "Still waters run deep" is my man to a tee. He is the one who taught me most of these lessons. Not with words always but mostly just how he lives out what he reads. He always assumes the best in everybody and every situation and is a joy to be around because of it. He's at peace and that makes others around him feel at peace as well. Anyway, I could go on and on about 'Mr B'. I am so blessed. :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sovereignty & Free Will

More thoughts after yesterday's post. The post yesterday really had a lot to do with God's sovereignty & our free will.

Struggle is hard. It's hard to go through, it's hard to talk about and for some reason we feel the need to know why it happens or who caused it that we can blame. Ultimately though, the why & who doesn't take away the pain and reality of the harshness of tough times. We should care a lot less about the why & who and more about figuring out the how. How to get through this, who to turn to, what to learn from it, what to focus on.

There are so many different 'doctrines' / 'teachings' to describe why things happen, how to prevent them from happening, and how to get them to go away if they do happen.... and I don't think any of these teachings/ philosophies are completely correct. I believe that most popular teachers out there are way more extreme than the Truth is. Yet at the same time I believe the Truth is way more extreme than most of us think it is. Weird.

I believe there's some Truth in the majority of christian doctrines out there. I believe there's good in each of them. That's why people follow them - because they recognize SOME truth --- but whenever humans get ahold of things, we distort it. Especially when the doctrine and power it gives us (because of a following) becomes our idol. People are attracted to extremes. We like the bold statements and don't like grey areas. This need for extremity causes us to distort the Truth.

I am sure the only Truth is the Word and I know that so many times it is watered down and taken out of context. Which makes finding the Truth even harder.... I do what I can to look at different resources to find out the Truth....but ultimately, I just don't have a lot of the answers.

I write down questions every morning during my quiet time - just whatever is swirling around in my head. It's AMAZING to me how quickly God sends me information for me to look at, digest, take to Him in prayer to His word to get some answers. Literally it's usually the same day I write down the questions that He gives me the first information. WOW! but many times it's longer as well....

Instead of writing down all the questions daily I think about... today I just want to write down things I am thinking and things I DO believe to be the Truth. Sorry for all the hodge podge of thoughts. Sort of all over the place but that's my brain some days:
  • God is sovereign. The Bible is clear about that. Nothing is out of His control. He can always intervene & always change things.
  • But many times He won't. He's a just God and because of our free will, we sin and those sins have consequences. Not that He is "punishing" us but our sins take away from the abundant free life we could have with Him. Our sins do keep us from blessings.
  • We'll always sin. but I know that because of Jesus dying for my sins - I will not be judged for my sin. I will not be eternally condemned, separated from God like I deserve..... because of Jesus. But I do believe the sin I commit DOES have consequences.
  • I do believe however that God will even use those consequences / situations for my good though. To teach me, to grow my faith, to strengthen me, to have compassion for other's suffering, to be empathetic when others struggle. It's not that He GAVE me these things to help build me --- it's that these things happened to me (for numerous reasons) so He will use them for good. He would have grown my faith in other ways if this bad didn't happen - but since it DID happen, He's making the best of it for me.
  • Everything from God is good. He is so good. God can't cause bad to happen - but He does allow it.
  • The devil is where bad originates, comes from. But the devil can only 'do' what God permits. He has power here - but only because God allows it because again He's a just God. He is not SO sovereign though that He MAKES us do things a certain way. We are not robots. That's how much He loves us. He wants us to choose Him. He wants us to desire Him. He wants us to desire to be obedient, to live a godly life. He will bless us obedience. but He doesn't want to force us to love Him. Forced love is no love at all.
  • Not everything that is bad in our life is because of something we've done. The book of Job and his story is a perfect example of this. Babies born sick & dying young are an example.
  • Bad things/ struggles DO sometimes happen as a direct consequence of our sins..... but sometimes they are the result of a bigger picture fallen world that we have to be a part of. We just sort of get picked up in the tornado of the fallen world and the bad in it.

Phew!! So those are my thoughts for today.

This sovereignty/ free will leads into the doctrines of healing and our ability to use God's power to get rid of struggle / bad in our life. But that is an animal I have no desire to even try to confront today or anytime soon.

The most important thing I have learned from these past months on this topic in my heart is just.... that no matter who you believe caused the events in your life. No matter why it's caused or who is to blame.... that is secondary to the most important thing which is our hope in God and His love for us. We can have faith that He loves us. We can have faith that He can turn anything around for the good. Romans 8:28. We can have faith that His ultimate will, will in fact ultimately be done. Our sin will make us detour - but He'll always be able to bring us back to the path. Our sin detours might keep us from living as blessed a life as we could have ---- but our detours in no way limit God. We can't ever drift off so far that we are lost causes. The shepherd will always protect and work things out for his sheep to be gathered back to him. He will give us the free will to decide how to get where He wants us and when.... but He can perfectly orchestrate anything. We don't have to get this all. I clearly don't get it all (some days I feel like I don't get ANYTHING)... but we don't have to worry and try to figure it all out.

We won't ever fully understand the balance and workings of His sovereignty & our free will at the same time. BUT I know that God loves me. I choose to believe that. I know that God will eventually turn mourning into gladness and sadness into joy. I know that there is a place I'm going to that has no sickness, no pain, no death and no sorrow. I know this earth is only temporary. And forever is a lot longer than now :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hope for our Country

To add onto yesterday's post.....

There have been so many emails sent out 'warning' us of God's wrath if we make idols of other things besides God. A lot of threats from our christian leaders as to what will happen if we "kick God out" of our country and hearts. They warn us that God will be angry and turn His back on us.

I disagree.

I agree that a nation that doesn't put God first is in trouble... but not because God will me 'mad' at them and His wrath will pour out like the Old Testament stories. I really believe Jesus changed that. I really do not believe that God punishes us like that.

BUT I do believe that these warnings are correct. That sins DO have consequences and any nation that doesn't put God first.... that is full of idols.... IS in trouble. This goes back to PK's American Idols series so much!

Very clearly as a nation, we are headed down the same path every other nation that turned from God, did. We are looking for anything to fill that spot that is designed in us that only God, our Creator can fill. We are looking for significance & value that only He can give. We turn to pleasure, power, money, the list goes on and on. What has happened on Wall Street is a prime example. Greed got us here. The love & abuse of money. Money in itself is neither bad nor good --- but when it is put above God in our lives.... it becomes destructive. Money takes on the morality of whoever has it. It can be used for a lot of bad or a lot of good.

My point in all this gibberish is to say that God loves us. He wants good for us, but He's a just God and a jealous God. He won't 'punish' us. Jesus changed that for us.... but our sins do have consequences. Our idols do give satan a foothold in our lives. Satan destroys, distorts and ruins everything he touches. People & countries alike.

Pray for our leaders. Pray for our government. Pray for our own hearts - that we won't be afraid of God or His wrath --- but that we will be afraid of sin and its consequences!!!

Keep God first! "Seek first His kingdom and righteousness...."Him first!! (Matthew 6:33)

More on this tomorrow!!!.............