Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Color of a Lie

Everyday I ask the kids I teach a thought provoking and creative question.
I gather these questions from many places and sources, including my own unique little head. I ran across this question a few weeks ago and asked my kids their thoughts.
They were interesting to say the least.
In this time of election and political murk, I wonder what would happen if this question could come true...would we really want to know?

So here it is:

What if people turned bright purple every time they told a lie?

Okay, it is your turn. I want to know your thoughts about this question. I'll let you know some of the kids answers and my own tomorrow.

One last thought as you ponder the consequences of this question:

Proverbs 12:22 "The Lord detest lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful."

Can't wait for your answers! And I'm not lying!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rejected and Blemished...Now a Living Sacrifice!

This little lamb is a living sacrifice.

According to the Old Testament laws of sacrifice, I would have been rejected, not even considered, and in some instances killed or abandoned.

Only unblemished, perfect lambs were accepted as a sacrifice to the Lord.

Now I can tell you, growing up with a noticeable disability this has always irritated me to no end. I have never liked the fact that God even specifically said you could not use a lame animal. "I'm lame! Does that mean you reject me? Does it mean that you will never be able to use me?" I'd cry!

I knew that Jesus had changed that with the New Testament covenant, and that He had made me a new creation...whole in His sight. I also knew Jesus compassion to those with disabilities. Start in any of the gospels, you can't go two pages without Jesus showing compassion and healing someone with a disability. He even answers the disciples question about why a certain blind man was born that way, "To glorify God in Heaven." So you see the compassion and you see that it was not a punishment to have a disability. You also see that God will use the disability to Glorify Himself.

So although I was not the perfect sacrifice for sin, God did not reject me. Instead He made me whole!

This is what I hold to. This is what gives my disability meaning for me. I am here, it is allowed, and because of my faith I will be a living sacrifice to glorify God.

Edie over at http://richgifts.blogspot.com has asked in her Random Question about being a living sacrifice. Go see her and answer this question for yourself.

I know that I am put here for God's glory. I know that God did not look down the year I was born and say to himself, "Hummm, I don't have enough disabled people being born....Ah, here is a little blond haired little girl, I'll give her one." NO! I do believe that because sin entered the world, disabilities happen. I do believe God allowed it to happen to me. But I also believe that at that same time He gave me everything I needed to conquer it within my physical make-up, my emotional make-up and most importantly, If I would turn to Him I would be able to not only conquer it but He would destroy it for me come eternity.

I became a living sacrifice with my disability the moment I asked Him to save me. He has turned it to a story. A story of hope. He has turned it into a ministry. I help others with disabilities and help churches know how to open their doors to those with disabilities. I also help those of you with hidden unseen disabilities realize that we all have them. If God would have had to choose one of us as a sacrifice, we all would have been rejected.

What is your disability? Your blemish? Is it something physical, mental, emotional, or is it some hidden and unconfessed sin?

Give it to Jesus. He will take it and use it for His glory. He will turn it into a living sacrifice!

I love you my friends...blemishes and all!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rejoicing in My Chimney Sweep

One of my favorite Disney songs it the Chimney Sweep song. I love the catchy tune and I love the astounding abilities of the chimney sweeps as they lept from rooftop to rooftop during the song. I always sat starry-eyed and amazed. Alright I'll admit it I still do today.

In thinking about God changing my ashes to beauty, it occurred to me He is the ultimate chimney sweep. He not only cleans the ashes He replaces them with complete and holy beauty. Unlike Dick Van Dike and his cohorts of sweeps in the movie Mary Poppins, God leaves no soot residue. Everything is pure and beautiful.

So as you listen to my sweet Zoie sing this song this morning rejoice that He can turn your ashes to beauty...but far more importantly rejoice in the Ultimate Chimney Sweep!

As a word of explanation: I don't want Zoie's picture over the web so I filmed a picture that hangs in my den while she sang. I think you will like it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ashes, Ashes, Ashes!

Ashes, Ashes, Ashes!

That's what I have been reminding myself ladies. Why ashes?


After my post on "Prayers and Friends Are Welcome Here," several of you helped me to realize all the stress we are under. Sometimes in the midst of things you can't see the whole picture, especially when it seems like each new stress comes after you turn from another one. Much like a big ole house of mirrors, where they all make you look fat! (Big shiver and groan here)

As I begin to look at things from your eyes, I too saw the stress. Then ladies I started to laugh. My first thought was, "Stress? This ain't stress. I know stress!"

I was taken back to 2004. My husband was a youth minister then. I was writing for LifeWay and being a stay at home mom. We had been at this church for 4 years and had made good friends in the community. Within 4 months everything in our lives changed.

Mike had major surgery

He was asked to resign from the church (A bad situation had been brewing under the surface. The pastor resigned on his own because he did not like what the church was doing to us. More on this at another time.)

Now we were without steady income. (Mike right away started doing any kind of work he could find. This finally lead to a temp type job at Billy Graham.)

Now, Mike was driving over an hour to work when he was needed, which wasn't everyday.

We had a SUV we were paying on, that now we couldn't afford and it was eating us up in gas with Mike's commute.

I was having health problems.

My dad had just recovered from a heart attack.

My mom was also having health issues.

I had a four year old we were trying to keep out of the stress and the church stuff.

Mike's dad had a heart cath and found that he had four blockages! He was rushed to Birmingham Al. Which is the closest major heart hospital from where they live. They kept him stable for two weeks, trying to get his heart strong enough for surgery. He had a double bypass and is doing pretty good today.

Because of the commute to Charlotte, we needed to move closer. We began house hunting.

As I lay in bed one morning, praying about all these things it hit me. Worry hit hard! I could not stop. I prayed. I squalled. I tried thinking on other things. Nothing was helping. I sat up in bed and cried out loud, "Father, I know worry is a sin. I know you are taking care of us. But I'm scared and I can't stop. Please give me something to help me stop!" These are the best moments with God!
A question came and seemed to hang there in my mind. It was soft and gentle.

"Is it going to burn?"

I understood.

"Yes, Lord"

"Pamela, why are worried and drowning in ashes, when you should be up walking on water?"

Everything I was worried about, was one day going to burn. The house, the SUV, our jobs, even these bodies we now reside in, would not be with us for eternity. We will get new ones!

A song I had learned while on the mission field came to my head and I started singing it. It is taken from Isaiah 61:3.

He gives me beauty for ashes,
oil of joy for mourning
A garment of praise,
for the spirit of heaviness
I am a tree of righteousness,
planted by the Lord
that He might be glorified.

This song has been my worry song for years. Reminding me that I almost everything I worry about is really just stinking ashes, and He will turn those into beauty.

I wish I could sing it for you now. Well, let me take that back. I wish I could get Zoie to sing it for you now. I can't sing...she can!

I have an idea. I will video tape her singing it and have my husband put it on the computer tonight when he gets home from work. Then you can hear it tomorrow.

So until then, remember when you worry to ask yourself..."Is it going to burn?"

He gives me beauty for ashes......

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Help of My Countenance

Hey Friends,

It has been a stressful, trying and blessed week.

I was getting beyond stressed Tuesday. Several times during the day my husband would encourage me to read Psalm 13 and Psalm 43. I kept meaning to, but I honestly did not see the need because I had already had my quiet time, and it had helped a little, but not enough. I was at that point we all reach sometimes, when we are focused on our feelings instead of God. That point where you feel...what's the point? If reading scripture didn't help me this morning, why should it now. Well ladies, I did not tell my minister husband that...I know better. I'd have gotten a double dose sermon right there. And let's just all admit when we feel this way we honestly don't want to hear the truth...we want to sulk....complain...whine.
That night in the midst of my pout, Mike asked me for like the fourth time, had I read the psalms yet. I said, "No (big long sigh)." He handed me the Bible and said, "Do it now." As I looked up at him, he had the same look on his face that I give Zoie when I'm giving her medicine she doesn't want to take. At first my flesh kicked in and I wanted to be stubborn, but thank God I chose the other way.
Both Psalms were speaking to me as if God was sitting down with me and discussing my dilemmas. However, Psalm 43:5 grabbed my heart and burst it wide open.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

The literal translation of the word help is "salvation."

Just let that steep in your teacup for a minute.

The salvation of my countenance! Why am I anxious? Why am I worried? Why am I pouting and moping around like someone with no hope?

No matter what I face, or what emotion my face may display from my soul's depth, my hope is in God! The salvation of my countenance! That's my attitude! He is the salvation of my attitude!

And ladies, as women we all need some salvation of our attitudes once in a while...OK a lot!

Oh, how I often need some salvation in my attitude! How I needed it the other night! I'm sure I will need it again and again and again!

What about you? Does your attitude need some salvation?

Look to the only one who can truly save us from anything....The One, The Only, The Help of my Salvation...JESUS CHRIST!

Let Him give your countenance/attitude a dose of salvation and a little adjustment!

Thank you all for praying for Zoie and Mike during the celebration yesterday. God moved through them and it was amazing!

Love ya bunches more!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Black Haired Beauty Now Dancing With Jesus

Hey Friends,

My Aunt Lily went to be with the Lord yesterday morning.

The Celebration will be Wednesday at 2:00. Keep the family in your prayers. I again ask for more prayers for Zoie and Mike as they prepare to sing. The momma bear in me wants to shield Zoie and protect her from this experience. But the momma who trust God, knows in her heart that this is an experience that Zoie must face.

Zoie has experienced the deaths of loved ones and been a part of our ministry to those in our churches who have lost loved ones. In fact when she was a toddler, she often went with us, "to love on people" who were sad because someone they loved had gone on to the "party" with Jesus.

Her first experience with one of her own loved ones dying, came when she was two years old. My Uncle Tommy died. We told her that he had went to the "party" to be with Jesus. This however, would be the first time she would be exposed to the whole family gathering all day for 2 days, type of mourning. As we were driving to My aunt Doris' house, I wanted her to know what to expect. I told her there would be a lot of family there. Some would be laughing and telling stories about Uncle Tommy. Some would be crying because they are missing Uncle Tommy, even though they know he is with Jesus, they miss him.

We had not been there long when my Uncle Mern, from yesterday's story came in the house. He was crying. Zoie watched him. He sat down on the couch and Zoie immediately got up and walked over to him, laid her hand on his knee and asked, "Uncle Mern, are you sad that Uncle Tommy died?" Now, I have to be honest right now, I held my breath and maybe even called her name for her to come back over to me. I just didn't know what she was going to do. In fact the whole room got quiet as they turned to watch.
He answered her, "Yes, baby I am." She looked up at him and asked, "Can I pray for You?" He smiled at her and said, "Yes." Then she did! Out loud. I remember it word for word the way only a momma can. "Dear Lord, We want to thank you for taking Uncle Tommy to be at the Party. But Lord we are sad because we miss him. Can you help us not be sad, because he is with you and one day we will be too. In Jesus name, Amen."
My mouth flew open. I was in awe. God had spoken clearly through my two year old what many in that room needed to hear. Most of us adults, though we believed it, would not have said it. I ashamed to say, I would not have back then. Some in that room was not believers and I would have kept quiet. (It is hard when your family redicules you for your strong faith.) Not after that.
It shook everyone in the room.

Pray that this time too God will use a child to lead them. Us adults, who have a little fear sharing our faith and that those who do not yet understand or want to believe the truth about Jesus will now believe!

That's what Aunt Lily would want. That's what God wants. It is not what the enemy wants. But the enemy doesn't win!

Thanks so much.
I love you

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Living Love Story

Last week my mom and dad celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary!
Between trips to see my aunt and having surgery on her wrist for carpel tunnel, I'm not sure how much they really celebrated.
One thing I do know is how much they love each other!
Would you indulge me a minute while I tell you their love story.
Both came from share-cropping families from the foothills of the Blueridge mountains. Both families were poor...very poor.
My Aunt Ruby met a young man and wanted to date him. However, the rule was that she had to go out on double dates only. She begged my mom to go on a blind date with the young man';s brother. After giving my mom his description, my mom said, "NO way!" (My mom had promised herself to never date a redhead) She did however after some more persuasion agree to go out with a cousin.
The night of the date they came into a little coffee/sandwich shop. (Here is my favorite part of the story.) My dad was there sitting at the counter (very redheaded) when they came in the door. He looked up and saw my mom. He swears, that at that moment, he decided he was going to marry that woman, because she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The couples went to a booth. Dad walked over and scooted everyone over until he was right in front of my mother. Soon he had everyone laughing and not even minding that he had joined them.
The next day mom and a friend were hanging out after church. There wasn't much to do on Sunday afternoons, so my aunt was wanting to go riding with the young man she had went out with the night before. My mom and her friend agreed to come along so she could go. As the car pulled up they noticed someone else was there too. My redheaded dad. They drove around having a good time. But this was the day my dad would have to report back to base...he was in the army. So they all decided to drive him to the base. My mom said her heart was almost breaking when my aunt's young man said goodbye to my dad. They were close brothers and since this was Korean war time, they did not know if this would be the last time they saw each other. Both boys were in the service and not sure where they would end up. The drive home was not as joyous and mom could not get that redheaded boy off of her mind. Two days later a letter arrived for her in the mail. It was from my dad. He told her that he wanted to see her. He told her that he had another leave coming up and that he was going to pick her up for a date. He liked her and he was going to come see her whether she liked it or not! She liked it! They dated mostly by letters (One a day everyday from the very first one) and were married in 1954.
Oh, as a side note my mom's sister (my Aunt Ruby) also married my dad's brother (My Uncle Mern) a year later.
My dad still looks at my mom the same way he did that night in the coffee shop. And she still laughs at all his jokes even if he is now bald instead of redheaded.

Both love God with all their heart and raised me and my sister to do the same.

Celebrate with me as I lift my family up for a moment in honor to their love, but also the love of the God they both serve that brought them together. To His name may the glory and praise ever be!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Prayers and Friends are Welcome Here

Hi Ladies,
I have been reading a lot of you who are doing the "Behind The Eyes" study by Lisa Whittle. I read the book this summer and it was the first and only non-fiction book of that type I have ever read word for word.

I am Mrs. Confidence.

I wear a mask all the time. I will get brave and take one off only to find like evil villains in old Saturday Morning Shows as a kid that another one is there.

But God is now removing them. I am being more real with people than I ever have in my life. I am amazed at how real I have been with you here in bloggyland. I once thought it was because I'm not really facing you. I may never meet you face to face. And if I did then well, you would already know me and have made your decision to like me or not. But the more I have searched my heart and what God is doing I don't think that is the real reason. I believe that God is teaching me through you to be vulnerable and to trust.

So here's the deal, I will continue and promise (Ask Zoie I never promise) to be real with you. I will trust you. I will pray for you and be a friend you can come visit with here. I only ask one thing in return. Pray for me.

All that being said, please continue praying for my Aunt Lily and her family. She is still hanging on right at death's door for almost a week now. It is hard on her family. Thank you for your encouraging comments and prayers for Zoie as she prepares to sing at the funeral. Mike too. His style of music is more on the contemporary side, while he is being requested to sing an old Southern Gospel song. He is doing a great job. I told him to reach down inside of himself and find that inner country singer. He is 6'3 and I think he had to reach all the way down to his little toe, but he sounds great! Want to know a secret....I think he kind of likes it too...shhhh don't tell him I said that!

Continue to pray for my health. I am going back to the doctor on Monday regarding some female issues I am having. I am still having some back pain and it looks like I might have to give in and have that third shot after all....yuck! Also I have been having headaches. Powerful headaches on one side of my head. They only last for a few seconds but then come back again. So any of you out there with medical knowledge know what that might be let me know.

Lastly I want to to pray for me as I seek God about where we are going to be serving Him as a family. We have finished the intensive application for church planting and are now waiting/hoping to have an interview soon. Pray that God will make our way clear. I am so impatiant. I am a planner when it comes to my future. But I fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to the day to day.

Please pray for us. I will keep trying to be real and share with you what I feel about God each week. I do love you.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Two Church Tales and A View

Today I'm going to tell you two stories. I'm going to let God speak to your heart about each story.

Please let me know your views.

Many years ago I worked and lived in Louisville, Ky while attending seminary there. I worked in two very different churches helping out with their Special Needs ministries.

Church #1 was a large church, a mega-church. While there, we were fortunate enough to be one of two churches chosen to be visited by President Bush #1 (Current one's father). He was campaigning in our city and wanted to attend church. Because of the way security is around Presidents no one knew for sure which one he would attend. I lived in one of the church owned houses on the property and was amazed at how everything catered to the safety of the President's arrival including traffic on the roads close to the church.
Because, no church alive has ever been able to keep secrets it was known all over town the morning before, that President Bush may attend our church. Even though only the Pastor knew for sure the next morning, the church was packed out with people wanting a glimpse of the President. Secret Service men were at every door. A section of the sanctuary was reserved and marked off for the President and his party. Everyone was a little on edge and excitement sizzled through the air. I sat on the other side of the sanctuary from where President Bush sat. Partly because that is where us singles always sat, and partly because I was disturbed a little by all the pomp and circumstance. But I too couldn't help but sneak a glance over in that direction, just to see if I could see him too. Our pastor did a fine job and the choir sang extra good too. Everything went really well. The service was the talk of the staff meeting the next day. We all grinned when our pastor handed out copies of the visitor's slip he had signed for the church. I immediately stuck mine in my Bible. It is still in that same Bible today. But a question kept nagging at me and even as I relate this story today it still haunts me. Why all the fuss for the President of the United States, when we have the King of Kings here every Sunday?

The other church I was only at a short while, helping them get their ministry started. This church was what some would classify as a high church. It is formal and ritualistic in its worship style. In this church women did not wear pants. The hymns were old and extremely traditional.
No Southern Gospel or Contemporary music was sung here. In fact I don't ever remember any music that wasn't provided by an organ or piano.
Worship there was very quiet and serene.

It was Palm Sunday. I sat in the row behind my group of Special Adults who were from a nearby institution. Another lady in the church had begun bringing them and a ministry had been born. I have to admit I was daydreaming as the preacher was getting to the death of Jesus on the cross. I grew up in a little more lively a service.
That's when it happened. One of the special needs ladies in front of me stood up grabbed her head and screamed, "OH NO! They've killed my Jesus!" The realization of the cross had hit her for the first time. Quickly I and the lady who brought her sat her down and began consoling her. If we had thought it was quiet before...I don't think anybody but us was even breathing! The pastor after a few shocked minutes gathered himself and added (Probably for one of the only times in his life) an adlib to his message. "Well, we know that next Sunday we will celebrate Jesus coming back to life." The lady calmed down and everything resumed, but not as normal. I was trying not to giggle. Oh how I wanted to laugh out loud! I wanted to ask everyone that morning a question. I didn't. It wouldn't have been proper at the time. And to tell you the truth I'm not sure I would have liked their answers. So I'll ask you:

Who preached the message that morning?

Let me know what you think about my two churches and a view!

Oh, one more thing. My great Aunt Lily is on her death bed. It is just a matter of moments now. Zoie has been asked to sing at her funeral. So has my husband. Please pray for them neither has ever sung at funerals before. Zoie loves Aunt Lily and wants to do it. Pray God will give her His strength. Please don't tell me you think I'm doing the wrong thing(even if you think I am) for letting her do it. We have prayed a lot about this and I believe it is what the Lord wants. We are acting on faith.

Thank you!
I love you all deeply!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Holy Fear or Comforting Friend?

Hi again friends,

I have a question for you? Do you see God through the eyes of Holy fear or as a comforting Friend?

This is something I have been pondering a lot the last few weeks. It started as I was working on the Special needs Bible Study curriculum. I was trying to locate a verse, but was not at home where my computer or our mounds of reference books are located. All I had was a little pocket style Bible with a small concordance at the end. Of Course, I could not locate the verse I wanted easily so I had to thumb through the book. I knew it was in Joshua. As I skimmed through, reading a little bit of each passage, I became intrigued with one of the stories. Two words leaped off the page and attached themselves to both my brain and my spirit.

"Consecrate yourselves."

In context the children of Israel were about to cross the Jordan into the promised land. God told them to "Consecrate themselves" for He was going to do a mighty work among them.

These words so grabbed me, that I thought about them almost nonstop the whole next two days.

What did it mean to consecrate yourself?
Why did they need to consecrate themselves?
Do I need to consecrate myself?
Am I not consecrated through the blood of Jesus?

As I have meditated, prayed, searched other scriptures and listened closely to what is going on in the world today, I have come to believe that I often do not see God as Holy.
I know in my head that He is holy, but often I do not treat Him or think of Him as Holy. I think of Him as my friend, as my Daddy. Now, please don't hear I think that's wrong. Jesus told us that God was our Daddy. But I do believe that most of us have it too one sided. We see God as our cuddly daddy not the High Mighty King that He is.

He is Holy! White Hot Holy! So Holy that we can not even today look at His face. So pure and Holy that the sun looks dim compared to the whiteness of the glow that surrounds Him.
So holy that sin sizzles and can not even be looked upon by Him.

Do you or I recognize this in our daily lives? I am not talking about sitting around in sack cloths and ashes, or fasting. I'm talking about our complacency. Maybe, I sometimes think of God as too much of my buddy instead of my God.

You may not have this problem or even believe that we need to see God as Holy today. I do believe that I am made righteous before God through the blood of Jesus. It is nothing I can do on my own. However, If my body is truly the temple of God....?

Should I not examine more closely what I see? (TV, movies) What I hear? (music choices, course talk, gossip) What I do? Where I go? I mean, if I am taking God or His Spirit every where I am and making Him do everything I do....well shouldn't I be more selective?

1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." NIV

There are many times when I need to crawl up into My Father's lap and cuddle there. There are times when I need to sit beside Him and laugh together at the world. There are times when I need to run to Him and dance with Him. There are times when I need His pat on the back or a spiritual hug.

But there are also times...when I need to understand WHO HE IS and bow before Him as my God...The Holy One.

Pray for me as I learn what it means to consecrate myself.

I love you all so much!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What Do You Really Believe About Jesus?

What do you really believe about Jesus?

I was reading this morning in Luke 9 where Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do the crowds say I am?" After giving several answers all to Him being a prophet of God, Jesus then asks them, "Who do you think I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God."

As I pondered this passage, I noticed something. Before Jesus asked this question He had been alone praying. (vs 18a) Jesus knew He was going to ask this question even before the disciples joined Him.

This made me ponder the importance of the question further than I have previously. I have read this question several times and have even put myself in the disciples place. After all they had seen up to that point, how could they not all believe He was the Christ!

Again I asked, why was this question so important that it came after an alone time of prayer with God? Because we should be asking it today!

I had to ask myself, "What do I really believe about Jesus?"

I believe He is God's Son. So why am I not telling more people?

I believe He is my Savior. Do I act like He has saved me from sin or do I still hang on and roll around in it?

I believe that one day He is coming back for His people. If I really believe that then why am I so focused on the worries of this world?

I believe that through faith in Jesus I am His Bride. So why do I act like an old sitcom housewife and not spend time with Him or complain about my life?

Ladies, this world does not believe that Jesus is who Peter said He was, or even what the crowds believed about Him. Most of the world does not even believe He was a prophet. Some do not believe that He is real. And some, having no fear, even call Him imaginary and mock Him. Doesn't this either break your heart or make you angry?

It is time for this question again.

What do you really believe about Jesus?
Then lets live like we do!

Love Pamela