Thursday, March 31, 2005

You just never know...

Who would ever think...? Several nights ago I was reading Maurice's blog and I clicked on comments. There was a young woman commenting and I clicked on her name to see where it would lead me. It lead me here. I read her profile and found out she is from Mississippi (yea!) and is a HUGE Mississippi State fan! My roommate in college was a HUGE Mississippi State fan! So I begin reading a couple of her blogs and their comments. Well, one guy seemed pretty funny so I clicked on him to read about his blog. As I read I saw part of an entry that talked about a NEMCC reunion. He also mentions Tupelo and Baldwin. I stared at that for a minute and thought, "Tupelo, Mississippi, Baldwin, MS." NEMCC stands for Northeast Mississippi Community College, located in Booneville, Mississippi. I went there for my first year of college, in 1972-73, when it was Northeast Mississippi Jr. College. I left a comment stating that and how my grandmother had been from Booneville. I return to his blog the next day and he mentions his aunt, Eudora Kent, who was teaching English during the time that I was there. I took English from his aunt my second semester. My first semester I had Vessie Ferrel for English and she retired at the end of the 1st semester, hence, my moving over to Mrs. Kemp's English class.

I have chuckled over how small this world is. Who would have ever thought that I would link on to a stranger's blog, then link to another and find someone related to my college English prof in a relatively small town of Booneville (which has probably grown considerably since I was last there over 30 years ago).

It was a great town! My dad was stationed at Colorado Springs, CO after leaving Germany. We came back to the US on the SS United States....a big ocean liner, in the middle of December. My dad was going to go to Stillwater, OK to finish up his BS while we (the fam) stayed with my grandmother in Booneville. I went to school in Booneville for one semester before moving to Colorado Springs.

My highschool was huge back then, over 4000 students and I was just a number. A very shy young girl who turned kind of rebellious. The summer before I graduated I went on a trip with my girlfriend, Chris, next door to visit her grandmother. Chris' mom, Chris and I drove up to Fairbanks, Minnesota and stayed a week. It was such a beautiful small town on a lake with lots of trees. I thought about how much I enjoyed the pace of a small town. So, when I was trying to decide about where to go to college, and not knowing what I wanted to do exactly, but knowing that I wanted to get f---a----r away, I thought about NEMJC.

So, I ended up there, rooming with my best friend from that last semester of 5th grade. I was able to see and visit my grandmother often. And, I made it up to visit my aunts and uncles in Memphis, TN. It was a great year! One where I came to know the Lord. Booneville holds many dear memories for me!

God Centered Living...

Think about the book of Genesis and how it is the record of God accomplishing His purposes through Abraham. It isn't the record of Abraham's walk with God. There is a difference of focus there. Now, think about how that same thing applies to sin. The essence of sin is a shift from a God-centeredness to a self-centeredness. Here are some descriptions:

  • life focused on self
  • proud of self and self's accomplishments
  • self confidence
  • depending on self and one's own abilities
  • affirming self
  • seeking to be acceptable to the world and its ways
  • looking at circumstances from a human perspective
  • selfish and ordinary living

God-centered :

  • confidence in God
  • dependence on God and His ability and provision
  • life focused on God and His activity
  • humble before God
  • denying self
  • seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
  • seeking God's perspective in every circumstance
  • holy and godly living

Oh how subtle self-centeredness is. We can be doing well one minute and fall into with the very next breath. As John 12:23-25 says God-centeredness requires a daily death of self and submission to God. What must one do to live a God-centered life? We must focus our life on God's purposes rather than our own plans. That means to seek to see every situation from God's perspective rather than from our own distorted human perspective. Think about it. When God has wanted to do something, He has always taken the initiative. Remember the flood, God came to Noah. When He was ready to demolish Sodom and Gomorrah, He came to Abraham. God came to Gideon. God came to Saul when He was ready for the gospel to be carried to the Gentiles. The perspective of us thinking up what we want to accomplish for God and then call God in and ask Him to help us accomplish it isn't scriptural. Scripture shows us a pattern in that we submit ourselves to God and 1) wait until God shows us what He is about to do or 2) we watch and see what God is doing around us and join Him.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Covenant signing...

If you are anything like us, you have signed your fair share of contracts; a loan for your home, a car loan, your marriage certificate, if you don't own a home, then a rental contract. I am still studying Nehemiah and today I have been in chapter 10. But, the 'kicker' actually comes in chapter 9, verse 38, "Now because of all this We are making an agreement in writing; And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests." After the Israelites listened to the reading and explanation of the Law, then obeying it, they signed a written covenant with God. In my mind that is a very serious commitment! As J.I. Packer noted, "Israel's overall commitment was thus something very much to admire. It was an expression of radical repentance, which meant a change of mind, heart, and life; a gesture of full consecration, which meant being separated from other people of God; and a gateway into the life of faith, in which God would be relied on for everything."

That list of signers is in Nehemiah 10:1-27. Talk about accountability! I would like to think that all churches today are strong in accountability, but I don't believe that to be the case. It is so easy for people to become lulled into complacency today. There is no accountability unless you actively seek it! Look at how many people claim to be "born again" Christians yet our society becomes increasingly more decadent each passing day. You know what is so frightening about that? The average Christian is literally indistinguishable from their non-Christian neighbor or co-worker. That can be really evident in my 'neck of the woods' because the predominant religion here is very big into good works to get into heaven.

It is so important for each of us to have accountability. Who knows you inside and out? Who will be faithful and ask you tough questions? That takes courage. Have you ever given a person the opportunity (and the permission) to get that close to you? I would highly encourage you to, if you haven't already.

There are many thought provoking statements and commitments throughout this chapter. Verse 28 states, "...who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God..." Think about that happening today...that is not a politically correct move in this day and age! I don't think that means you think that you are 'too good' for certain people. Not at all. I believe it is talking more about not spending time with those people who would literally lead you into sin. Like AA, for example. I have a friend who is an alcoholic and they told her, "Do not spend time with active alcoholics. In fact, don't even hang with your old buddies, even if they have given up drinking." It is just too risky.

Another thing, the Israelites pledged to carefully "obey all the commands, regulations and decrees of God our Lord" (vs. 29). Now there is another unpopular concept today, obedience! Besides being a requirement of our Holy God, it is the secret to spiritual power.

They were very serious about their commitment. In verse 32 they assume responsibility to give to God's house and to keep up the maintenance. They gave their firstfruits before they even knew if their second fruits would come in.

Then, in verse 39 they "will not neglect the house of our God." If you are a believer, then we (you and I) are the house of God. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. I had to ask myself when was the last time the temple had a thorough cleaning? A spiritual cleansing. That means I need to keep my soul and spirit clean. First John 1:9 comes to mind, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (ESV).

So what does it all mean? Renewed dedication comes back to confession and repentance. The purpose and outcome of accountability is cleansed, purified lives that glorify God!


Even though the calendar says it is spring, and I have seen evidence of new buds bursting forth, yellow forsythia in a burst of color, willows with green limbs, and even warm, sunny days. But today is winter. We are having a significant snow storm and I have a fire in the fireplace as I work on my Bible study. I am settled in and cozy, the elements may do as they wish outside! Since I can see spring and I can definitely see winter today the operative word must be a combination of the two---Spri-nter. The nice thing about this time of year is the storms can come but they will melt really fast!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Being a Servant...

Matthew 20:26-28 "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Philippians 2:5-8 "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of eat, even death on a cross."

What is your definition of a servant? Better yet, what would the world's definition of a servant be? Would it be something like a person asking his master what he wanted done? Then the master would tell him what he wanted accomplished and the servant would go off by himself and do it.

But look with me at Jeremiah 18:3-6 "Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. The the word of the LORD came to me saying, 'Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?' declares the LORD. 'Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel."'

Could there be a definition of a servant tucked away in these verses? I see the clay having to do two things. One it has to be molded, thereby making the clay responsive to the potter. This allows the potter to fashion any instrument he so chooses. Two, it needs to remain in the Potter's hand. Think about a bowl or a cup that has been made. Once it is made and set aside, it has no ability to do anything whatsoever by itself. It will just sit there unless the potter uses the bowl or cup. So it needs to remain in the potter's hands, so the potter can use that vessel in any way he chooses.

When you or I come to God as His servant He is desirous for us to allow Him to mold and shape us into the instrument of His choosing. Then He can take our lives and put them where He wills and work through them to accomplish His purposes. Just like that piece of pottery, you and I have no ability to do the command of the Lord except to be where He wants us to be.

When God is working through His servants, we can do anything God can do. Think about the potential there...unlimited! We need to be obedient and, at the same time, remember who is accomplishing the work---God. In other words, we don't necessarily get our orders from God, like in the worldly concept, and then go out and do them. We relate to God, respond to Him, and adjust our lives to Him so that He can do whatever He wants to do through us.

Our relationship with God must come first, then, find out where the Master is. That is where you and I need to be. There definitely will be a difference between the quality of service and the quantity of lasting results when God is working than when it is just us working!

Monday, March 28, 2005

What Happens When You Pray?

If you begin asking God for one thing and something different happens, how do you respond? Do you immediately respond to what begins to happen? I was looking at Ephesians 3:20-21 the other day which says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations." Look at the little phrase "who is able to do immeasurably more." That is what jumped out at me. I cannot even begin to think a prayer that comes close to what God wants to give me. Think about that for a minute. Only the Spirit of God knows what God is doing or purposing in my life or your life.

Sometimes I think I pray and then never relate anything that happens to my praying. After we pray it is vitally important to turn on our "spiritual concentration." If I have prayed in a certain direction then I should anticipate the activity of God in answer to my prayer. Think through the Scriptures and remember the times when God's people prayed, He responded.

Sometimes, after I have prayed, things start to happen during the course of my day that may not be 'normal' for me. Often times, I see them as distractions and might try to get rid of them. I fail to connect them with what I've just prayed. I've learned though, to immediately begin to watch for what happens next, and I try to be prepared to make adjustments in my life, if needed.

There are times when I feel like God is silent. When that happens, I go back to God and His Word. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned in His silence. Think about when Lazarus died and Mary and Martha were upset because Christ waited to come. But, if He had not waited then the opportunity for Christ to disclose more of Himself to Mary and Martha would not have been known. So sometimes the silence of God means that He is ready to bring into my life more revelation of Himself than I have ever known.

My response should be to have an eagerness to see what God is revealing to me. It could be as simple as a deeper understanding of His faithfulness or something much more complex. I just know that He will answer.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Lamb Slain...

This came to me today from a dear friend and I thought I would share it with you all. It's a powerful reminder to us for what He has done. I pray your Easter is a blessed one!

A Lamb Slain
Ralph Wood, professor of theology and literature at Baylor University, once asked a group of seminary students to compare two scenes: an astute collegian who tells you insistently that sin and the fall of man are fallacies invented by the superstitious, and a young pagan in a remote village whom you find in the woods sacrificing a chicken on a makeshift altar. "Which man is farther from the truth?" he asked. The students hemmed and hawed but hesitantly agreed that the pagan boy, however primitively, understood something the other did not. There is a need in our lives for atonement. There is a need for blood. The depravity of man is at once the most unpopular of the Christian doctrines and the most empirically verifiable. We have within us a basic sense of our desperate condition. We are aware, or often reminded, that we not quite what we were intended to be. Something went wrong, something we yearn to see made right, but somehow find ourselves incapable of restoring. For generations, the Israelites labored to follow laws that were meant to atone for their sin and restore them to the presence of God. "And you shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the LORD daily; morning by morning you shall provide it" (Ezekiel 46:13). The language of sacrifice and offering was found throughout Near Eastern culture. But the blood of Israel's sacrifices was not like the blood shed by those attempting to appease and approach the gods they feared and followed. The prophets sent throughout Israel's history were forever insisting that God wanted more than the empty performance of sacrifice. He desired the offerings to exemplify the heart of a worshiper, one yearning to be in the presence of Him who created us, drawing nearer through the blood of a spotless lamb. When Scriptures speak of Christ as the Lamb of God, it is easy to think of it as something like symbolic code. Each time we read of the lamb or the lion in Scripture, it is easy to move through the text with an instantaneous recognition: The lamb is Christ. The lion is Christ. But Oxford scholar John Lennox reminds us that these passages tell us not only who it is, but what it is. It's Christ as the lamb, the spotless lamb whose blood my life requires. The description moves well beyond symbolism. He is the Lamb whose blood atones my depravity, the Lamb who moves me forever into the presence of God. When John describes his vision of heaven in the book of Revelation, the Lamb is found in the center of a singing multitude. "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders" (Rev. 5:6). Asks Lennox, "But how can a slain lamb stand?" On this Good Friday, it is an image that poses much for our hearts and minds. The Lamb who bore my sins, forever bears the scars of my atonement, even as he stands. As the Lamb, Christ has reached a need we could not. He has become the sacrifice we could not give. He is the Lamb who was slain so that we could bow and sing in the presence of God. The hymnist declares the glory of Christ, the only one who is worthy: Behold the Lamb of God! Into the sacred flood of Thy most precious blood my soul I cast: Wash me and make me clean within, And keep me pure from every sin, Till this life be past. Behold the Lamb of God! The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Cornerstone, the Shepherd, our Advocate has bowed to death and overcome. The Slain Lamb stands.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Your Bible...

Are you one to write in your Bible? Some people would never choose to do so, which is fine for them. But me, I write! For instance where there are verses that have been made into music or choruses I put a couple of musical notes by the verse. For instance, Isaiah 55:12 "For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Right in my margin are my little musical notes to remind me that this has been made into a chorus.

Then in my margins I also have notes of things that have struck me, or impressed me during a sermon etc. Often times I do different color ink for different years. And, on many of them, I have significant dates written down. For instance, besides Psalm 139: 14-16 I have my brother's name written (he was born with Downs), along with his date of birth and his death. In that same section, just a little earlier, beside the verses 11-12 I have his coma noted. What a comfort that was to my sister and me. I have thought of this verse often regarding Terri Shiavio. Psalm 139:11-12 says, "If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." So, even though my brother was in a coma, God Himself, ministered to him in those farthest, innermost areas of his soul.

There is one verse that seems to have numerous dates written over the years by it. That is because whenever I encounter a physical problem I go to this verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 which says, ""And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." In my margin there, I have the dates 1/92: melanoma; 8/93: glaucoma; 10/98: asthma; 5/99: diabetes; 7/02/02: 1st stroke; 7/31/02: 2nd stroke. I haven't decided completely but I think I will use the verse in James 1:17 about "every good and perfect gift is from above..." for when my glaucoma was healed. So, I will be adding a new date beside that verse if it ends up the final verse chosen.

There are many prayers in the Bible that I have made notes beside as I pray these prayers for my family. For instance, Ephesians 3:16-19 is one I have prayed over and over again for our son, James, since he was about 5 (and I haven't let up yet). So as I read through, I substitute James' name and some notes. Like this: "That he would grant you, James, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (then I lay out items for character development). That Christ may dwell in James' heart by faith; that you, James, would be rooted and grounded in love, (I throw in nourishment, stability, experientially comprehensive understanding of the love of Christ). James, may you be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled (that your goal, James would be spiritual maturity) with all the fulness of God."

In the front of my Bible I have written this: Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my time, my all, utterly to You to be Yours forever. Fill me and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. Use me as You would, send me where you will, work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever. 3/98. I am glad that I have this written down because I can refer to it over and over again when my resolve weakens or I stumble. Devotion to Jesus Christ should be the grand preoccupation of my life!!! Amen? Amen!!!

Neat wording...

My AMCF Newsletter (Association of Military Christian Felloships) came today. As I read through it I came across this short little blurb:

Leading in Times of Change
"These are truly challenging times. A time of change, not only in the world, in our country, but also in the SAF [Singapore Armed Forces]," writes LTC Ngien Hoon Ping in the MCF of Singapore's magazine, "Onward Soldiers."

"As leaders, we will in one way or another be involved in leading, or supporting changes. [Leaders should] hold dear to the second commandent of the Lord: that is, to love Him and honour Him with all our hearts and to love others as we love ourselves. This must include a genuine desire to love and serve the soldiers under our charge, to do our very best for them, with their interest uppermost in our minds and hearts...Soldiers [should] pray for our leaders to have the peace and wisdom of God, whether they are believers or pre-believers. This is because God has placed all authority above us and it is our duty to pray for our leaders."

Now, what struck me is his use of the little word "pre-believers." That really jumped out at me when I read that. I kind of rolled it around in my head and then even said it out loud. Weren't we all 'pre-believers' at some point in our lives? I just really liked his outlook I guess, and had never heard it put quite this way. Altering my perception just a little can allow me to have a fresh perspective on the people the Lord brings across my path.

The Proverbs 31 Man...

Back in the late summer my brother-in-law sent a site to my husband to check out. Actually, he sent it to numerous men that he thought would be interested in it. My two guys were on the list. They found it very interesting and thought provoking. We have always heard of the Proverbs 31 Woman but we had never thought of approaching it from the man's perspective. My husband thought this was a very good devotional. It is a bit long for a quick glance so I suggest you go to the web site and print the page. Pass it on to your husband and let him read it as he has time. My understanding is that there is a book called the Proverb 31 Man and this site is a summary of the book. Go here to read the article. We would be interested in any feedback you might want to give. Maybe some of your husbands have heard and/or read this already but it was new to us.

In-N-Out response...

Most likely my response from the In-N-Out people was pretty much like yours, Dan. Now I guess we just wait and see how long it takes them, if ever, to open one up in either of our places! Here is part of my response from them:

In-N-Out Burger® is a privately held, family operated business which first opened in Baldwin Park, California, in 1948. As we continue to expand, we are always careful not to open a new location until we can guarantee the same quality food and service as we provide in our existing locations. Although we are unable to confirm a site in Salt Lake City at this time, In-N-Out Burger® plans on expanding as far as we can, and particularly into areas in which our customers have expressed interest. As such, we are happy to let our Real Estate Department know that you would like us to open an In-N-Out Burger® location in Salt Lake City.

There you have it...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Worldwide Church of God...

I have always understood the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) to be a cult. Living in Utah makes one very suspicious of people 'claiming' to be Christians. When Ravi Zacharias came to speak in Salt Lake City at the Mormon tabernacle, November 14, it was for a gathering of Christian evangelicals and Mormons. A gathering where a dialogue could begin, a sharing of one another's beliefs in a civilized manner. We are sitting in the pews through the announcements etc., when Pastor Greg Johnson of Standing Together announced that Mr. Tkach ( I believe that was the man's name) from the WCG would lead us in the opening prayer. I have to admit, I was very uncomfortable and wondered if this whole thing was just a huge mistake. I looked at my husband and my friend, Lana, as they looked back at me. We bowed our heads in prayer. I listened very intently to his prayer. There was nothing wrong, doctrinally, with his prayer.

However, my alarms were going off in my head. Having lived around and dealt with a false religion for over 24 years I decided to do some checking. My first query began with Standing Together and it was there that I first heard that the Worldwide Church of God had renounced their past teachings and come full circle to believe as evangelical Christians. I got a little excited, for this would be the first known cult group, that I was aware of, coming to Jesus Christ and rejecting their past doctrinal stances. I was cautiously excited.

It always intrigues me to see the Lord work. A few months ago, a couple with several children moved to our area and began attending our church. He had attended seminary for a couple of years before deciding that the Lord was leading them in a different direction, whereas, he left seminary and finished getting his degree in mechanical engineering. My husband and I met with them and began to get to know them. Imagine my surprise when he said he "had come out of a cult" and that cult was WCG (before he became a Christian). In fact, he had been born on their college campus in the infirmary. He was very open about how the church leadership had begun to see doctrinal errors and how they had decided to meet it 'face on', so to speak. They were not going to hide or cover up their past doctrinal errors but would move forward, instructing and explaining why the 'old' had to be discarded (because it did not line up with biblical teaching) and the Truth embraced. This man went on to explain that there were a number of people who did not see 'the Light' and chose to break off from the Worldwide Church of God. If you are interested in reading about their history and their transformation to an evangelical church read this.

There are days, I have to admit, when I get discouraged in my witnessing with mormons. So many times I feel like I am hitting my head on a brick wall. I have to stop and remind myself of people like Michelle and Phyllis (my November archives have their stories). As I have pondered the changes that have taken place in WCG I am again encouraged that there is not anything that is too big for God! His power is limitLESS!!! There is nothing He can't accomplish! So, fortified anew, I press on, always looking for opportunities to share the Good News with whomever the Lord pleases to put in my path.


Okay, Dan, I have entered the fray!! I, too, submitted my plea for the In-N-Out franchise coming to Salt Lake City on their website. I will keep you updated on their response to my email. Wouldn't it be wonderful to get a specific target date of when they plan to open in SLC? Maybe I could put in a word with them to have you and Melinda come up for the GRAND OPENING and you could wear your very own name tag. I think it would behoove them to have you say a few words since you are probably their MOST loyal customer! Good PR and all that stuff....

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks my sister and her husband's 38th year of marriage! I pray that their day will be extra blessed even though they are in the throes of getting a house ready to put on the market!

They have been such an encouragement to Jim and myself over the years. Their love, faithfulness and devotion to one another is truly inspiring. I watched them as they became Christians and then Jim and I have watched (and learned) as they stepped out in obedience to their Lord through childrearing, teenage years, Claire and Dan's college years, the marriages of their children to godly mates, the handling of their empty nest and finally, their grandparenting stage (four, as of now, and I am sure, still counting).

Through it all they have faithfully served our Lord during a military career and then, stepping out in faith, when God called them to serve full time with the international military community.

My sister has nurtured our relationship (she being older by 8 1/2 years). She has made me feel so loved. I can remember her teaching me to outline in coloring when I was four years old. We were sitting at the dining room table one afternoon coloring, and I distinctly remember looking at her picture and how much neater it was than mine! I commented about that and she, with patience, showed me how to outline. When we moved from NY to VA we rented a home with 3 bedrooms. One of the bedrooms was a big attic room with a window looking down over the side of the house. The other was a much smaller room where my brother was going to sleep. To this day, I do not know how she did it, but she gave me the choice of rooms (like she was ever going to share a room with my brother, who was only 4 years younger than I) and I chose to share the room with my brother! And, I felt great about it!! LOL! One of the bargaining chips she used was that she would invite me up to spend the night in her room. What a treat that was for me! She had so many nice things that she would let me play with! I can truly say that my sister and I have never had a fight or disagreement. There was one time when I pestered her and she chased me around the dining room table while we were living in Germany. We look back on that and laugh. She was obviously the more 'mature' of us! :) The sun rose and set in my sister and so you can imagine when Vic came on the scene! But, I couldn't have picked a better husband for my sister if I had tried! Vic was the perfect match!

They met in Germany one summer. I can't remember if it was the summer before she left for Vasser or a summer between her college years. Vic was fabulous! He was in school at the Air Force Academy and would go on to graduate and become a navigator. Theirs was a long distance romance through letters. Not only did they communicate with each other by letters but Vic wrote letters (plural) to ME (all of which I still have)! He shared of his love for her and how they looked forward to being married and how he would love it when I could come visit them in their new home.... He told me about his old Model T (?-it's an old car) that he had restored and the events that were going on in his life, all this while at the Academy and then early in his career. I look back on that now, as a parent with a son in flight school, who has NO time, and I just marvel how Vic saw a little girl, who adored her sister, and took the time to cultivate a relationship with her! They weren't long letters (but I didn't realize that until much later--LOL) but they were long enough to show me that he cared about me.

Both of them have been instrumental in developing and cultivating Jim's and my Christian walk. The Lord has used them over and over again for prayer support, for wisdom, and encouragement as we stepped out in marriage, childrearing, college and then releasing our son into the military. In fact, Vic was the person who James chose to swear him into the Air Force when he was commissioned last year.

So, I hope as they go about their day, they know how much we love them! Here's to many, many more wonderful years together!

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 "Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it; If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised."

Love is:

Friday, March 18, 2005


I don't know anyone who has an easy time confessing their sins. I know I don't. When I get right down to it, I think it's hard to admit that I am proud and self-sufficient. Neither one of which I am happy about. I don't want to be that way but it seems to come so very easy!

I am constantly encouraged as I read in the Bible, time after time, when Israel sinned then sought repentance, God forgave. Thankfully He is faithful to do that with me, also. Along with confession there needs to be repentance. Repent...taking responsibility for my sin and its consequences. Ouch!

Back in the early 1800's Charles Finney, who many regard as the greatest revival preacher in church history, led more than half a million people to Christ! What is significant about this is that the people were actually converted. His preaching turned entire communities upside down. It was not uncommon for bar gatherings to be transformed into prayer meetings and for courthouses to be left without any cases to put on trial. How would that be today? Often today, there may be a revival in a city but that city is left largely unchanged. *sigh*

Finney explained exactly what he meant by confession and repentance:
Look back over your past history. Take up your individual sins one by one,
and look at them. I do not mean that you should just cast a glance at your
past life, and see that it has been full of sins, and then go to God and
make a sort of general confession, and ask for pardon. That is not the way.
You must take them up one by one. It will be a good thing to take a pen and
paper, as you go over them, and write them down as they occur to you. Go
over them as carefully as a merchant goes over his books; and as often as a
sin comes before your memory, add it to the list. General confessions of sin
will never do. Your sins were committed one by one; and as far as you can
come at them, they ought to be reviewed and repented of one by one.
Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion: How to Promote a Revival.

We are so rich yet, rather than being grateful for God's provisions, so often I find us discontented and constantly clamoring for more. Finney goes on to list common sins with the first being ingratitude. He mentioned neglecting the Bible, prayer, and such other "means of grace" as public worship; lack of compassion in general and unconcern for the lost, specifically; and last but not least, selfishness and a complete disregard for Christ's command and example of self-denial. From the sins of omission Finney turned his attention to the sins of commission: pride, envy, slander (gossip), lying, cheating, robbing God by withholding your tithe, squandering your time in vain pursuits, and temper. You know what is amazing? He doesn't even mention the sins that we would think of as "biggies". Finney focused on nice, polite church sins...the sins of the heart. *Ouch!*

Remember though, God's objective isn't to make us cry. Look at 2 Corinthians 7:9-11, "...Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done."

Oh we may begin with tears but soon that turns to great joy. "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5-6).

Most definitely a picture of 'bad parenting'! Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Posted by Hello

Breaking free....

Yesterday was a big day for me. Oh, most people would probably just say, "So what's the big deal? Get over it." But it was a healing moment for me. What was this "big" thing, you ask? Well, I cooked a recipe that I haven't made since my Dad be more exact, since our family (all 13 of us) was together at Christmas 2000. I better give you some background...

It was time for my parents to get closer to either my sister in Ohio or myself here in UT. We gave them the option, leaving it totally up to them on where they would like to settle in. Dad and Mom decided to come live with Jim and me. They made the move in the fall of 1999.

My Dad loved to help me in the kitchen. He was so fun to make plans with. If I was having a Super Bowl party, a Progressive dinner, a dinner party, a get together, a holiday meal, or all of the family for two plus full weeks, he helped me plan the menu, do the shopping and even, bless his heart, would chop onion and celery and anything else that needed chopping! Our menu planning would require lots of discussions and then there would be some changes perhaps, until we felt like we had arrived at just the right things. He became such an integral part of my kitchen! It's a wonder I ever managed to put on a decent meal before they moved in with me! LOL!!

We have a very special memory of my niece's son, Nathan, and Papa, helping in the kitchen. I was making Swiss steak to cook in my crock pot. Papa was sitting at the table, pounding the meat with the tenderizer while Nathan (who was on a stool helping Aunt Claire) and I would drag the pounded slices through flour. Nathan decided he didn't want his hands all messed up with the flour so he thought his job should be to take the meat back and forth between Papa and myself. As he stood on the stool at the counter, he looked across the counter to the table where Papa sat pounding and offered encouragement saying, "What a mighty fine job you are doing, Papa! What a good helper you are!! Yes, indeed, a very good job you are doing, Papa!!" My dad and I are burst out laughing and, in turn, told Nathan what an excellent job he was doing, too!

The kitchen was always such a happy place to be and so much living took place in and around that area. My kitchen and upstairs family room are all combined and so my Dad's recliner was right there, too. After he died, it was so very hard for me begin cooking again. My heart sure wasn't in it. In fact, so many of my recipes are written by him (and by my sister). So, when I would pull out a was just plain hard. Well, eventually, I managed to get 'back in the kitchen' but it hasn't held the joy that it once did. But, it is easier now. There have been several recipes that I haven't even touched just because it brought back too many memories. However, yesterday I stepped forth and made my Cranberry Pork Chops in my crockpot. Not a big thing to other people, but for me, a huge step!

I thank the Lord for being faithful to heal the sore spots in our heart. Thank goodness the loss of someone dear doesn't mean that our abundant, joyful life as a Christian comes to an end. Joy and effectiveness may seem to pause for awhile as grief runs its course. But, for those of us in Christ, we will experience the joy and goodness again. As Beth Moore says, "Perhaps the most profound miracle of all is living through something we thought would kill us. And not just living, but living abundantly and effectively."

She goes on to share how "...the life of a Christian is never about sameness. It's always about change. That's why we must learn to survive and once again thrive when change involves heartbreaking loss. We're being conformed to the image of Christ. When our hearts are hemorrhaging with grief and loss, never forget that Christ binds and compresses it with a nail-scarred hand. Life will not ever be the same, but I have the invitation from Christ to rise to a new life--a more compassionate life, a wiser life, a more productive life. And, yes, even a better life. Sound impossible? It is without Christ." (from Breaking Free by Beth Moore)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Today was a dear friend's birthday! He turned 71. His wife threw him the grandest was a Square Dance party! What fun! They had a caller who gave lessons to all of us who have two left feet! I don't know which there was more of, laughter or dancing! Not everyone danced but most people gave it a shot for a couple of the dances, even if they didn't dance them all. I think I counted about 30 people or so there.

Jim and Pauline are the neatest couple. It is so evident they love their Lord and each other. But, that love spills over to all whom they come in contact. My Jim and I always glean new insight or understanding when we are blessed to sit under Jim's teaching. It is always a joy to be around them, they are so young in spirit! Their children are all grown. One son, and his wife, is a missionary doctor in Nigeria, another son was a youth pastor in a church for many years but now teaches at a Christian school in Texas and the other son is a CPA and very active in his church. The couple in Nigeria have one son in college here in Utah, with the next oldest coming this summer to begin school in the fall.

I thank the Lord for godly examples that He has surrounded us with. They are such an encouragement to Jim and me as the Lord blesses us with more years (age wise and marriage wise!). Happy 71st Birthday Jim! May the Lord bless you with many more!

And, a mighty Happy Birthday to Magvou today, too! I hope your day has been extra special!

Monday, March 14, 2005


Here it is Monday and I feel like we haven't even experienced the weekend. I've wanted to sit down to blog but never seemed to have enough time.

Saturday we went to a wedding! Our pastor's oldest son got married! Pastor and his wife have 6 children and over the last year and a half 5 of the 6 will be married. The fifth wedding will take place in May. Their children have waited to find the right one and have married later in life. The wedding on Saturday was beautiful and a wonderful time of worship. There were three pastors involved with different aspects of the wedding ceremony. Jim and I came away joyful. We worshiped along with the happy couple. They included congregational singing and corporate prayer as a body praying for the new husband and wife. She is just perfect for him as he is for her!

Sunday is always extremely busy for us. Besides our Sunday school and worship time, my husband heads up Evangelism Explosion for our church which meets on Sunday afternoons for training. Right now, he is training two teams. That finishes up just in time for us to head out the door for our Sunday evening Bible study group. On the way home we try to stop and pick up a hot fudge chocolate milkshake for my Mom. :) We arrive home about 9 p.m.

Today, I took Mom up to Hill AFB to pick up her meds and for her to pick up a few items at the BX. I totally spaced her wheelchair so she sat in the car while I went into the BX for her. We filled up her car with gas and then went and picked up her meds. Now, the highlight for her (and for me) was stopping at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants called Garcias. They have great food and because it is so far away from us, the only time we eat there is when we have made a trip to Hill AFB. It was a beautiful day to make the trip. Not as warm as it has been but the sun was shining, the sky was so blue and the snow covered mountains were just breathtaking!

Tomorrow I meet with my book group. That is always so fun! Our next book is going to be Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I've already been reading it. One word of warning...don't read it if you are not willing to be convicted!

We haven't had a looooong detailed call from James since he arrived home from his cross country flight but we do know, because of bad weather, he had to change his flight plans. One of the bases he flew into, and spent Saturday night, was Maxwell AFB right outside of Montgomery, AL. So he called up his cousins from Auburn, Jack and Margaret, and they were able to meet him and see the plane and, I think, go out for dinner together. James said that it was a lot of hard work but a great time. Tomorrow is his check ride which is a 'biggy.' Pray for him tomorrow, please! Hopefully, once that is over and done with, he will have some time to call and talk with us. His dad will want to know all the 'facts', while I will want to know all about the 'experience.' LOL! Hopefully, he will read this before he calls so he will have a 'heads up' on what is expected! :)

Jim and I are reading through the Bible in a year together. Right now we are in Joshua. One of the things that mormons do not believe in is 'original sin.' They cannot grasp that even if we were never to sin after being born (which is impossible) we are still guilty of sin because of Adam's sin. And thus, they don't believe that God would hold us accountable. Their babies are not born into sin...they do not begin to sin until they are older. In our discussions with friends we have shared how we did not have to teach our child to want his own way, to say 'no', to throw tantrums, to disobey us... just like we know they did not have to teach their children those very same things. However, we had to work diligently to train them up to be obedient, to say 'thank you', to share their things with others, etc. Whenever we have that conversation it always leaves them with food for thought. I know that the Bible is very clear about our sin nature and the guilt that we have. As I read the other day about Achan's sin in Joshua 7 I was reminded once again how God held the nation of Israel guilty for one man's sin.

As I was reading some of my favorite blogs today I came across The Science and Christianity Showcase at Allthings2all. I haven't had time to peruse the different articles but look forward to taking some time this evening to do some more reading. Check it out!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Check it out...

I was over visiting Kim at the Upward Call today and ran across this blog recommendation from her: 3:17. Check it out. It's a great one!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Today I was studying in Nehemiah 8. It's all about how the people had finished rebuilding the wall and they all gathered at the square in front of the Water Gate and asked Ezra to read the book of the law of Moses. It struck me that just as the people had rebuilt the wall, now they were trying to 'rebuild' their spiritual lives.

It is inspiring to me when I read that they all stood as Ezra read the entire law...from "early morning until midday" and they were attentive to it. They listened. As Ezra read they answered, "Amen, Amen!" and raised their hands and bowed before the Lord in worship. It goes on to describe how they were weeping and mourning when they heard the words of the law. Just think how long it had been since they had heard God's Word. I imagine there were young children and even young people who had not ever heard the law. In their mind, I imagine they were thinking that everything was fine in their lives...look, they had just finished rebuilding the wall. But as they listened to God's Word being read and translated so they could understand it...the Lord moved within their hearts. I think their eyes were opened to what they had been doing and how it was not pleasing to the Lord. Conviction set in. They began crying because of their failure to keep the law, crying for their sin. The focus was on themselves. But, Nehemiah and Ezra and the Levites said to the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep....for this day is holy to our Lord, Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Their focus then needed to move from themselves to the Lord. It is in the Lord's strength that their joy, and our joy comes from. When I read the above verse in Nehemiah it brought to mind the verse in 1 Peter 1:8, "...and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." (Emphasis mine.)

The people were experiencing a revival! A heart revival! Many in our country have prayed for revival. So often, I believe, people think we need more controls, more laws etc to 'legislate morality', so to speak. But, you know what? First of all, one cannot expect Christian behavior from non-Christian people. A revival has absolutely nothing to do with lost sinners. Dead people can't be revived; only dying people can be. Revival is for believers. We, as Christians, should look inwardly and assess how we are living for the Lord. Are we walking with Him in close fellowship, desiring to be obedient? He desires our obedience more than sacrifices.

Weeping is a necessary starting point for revival but it shouldn't remain there. But, thanks be to God for His grace and mercy that He pours out on us. That should make our tears turn to shouts of joy!! As Donna Partow says, "A faith comprised solely on tears and guilt trips is misguided; true faith is characterized by celebration." I say a hearty "Amen" to that!

Every doctrine that makes man the center of God's attention
rather than God the center of man's devotion hinders
Revival....Revival can come...but it will only start
when we reject the "me" centered gospel preached so
prevalently and realize that the call of God is to serve rather than
to be served, to give rather than to get, to lay down our lives rather
than to save them. It will come when we begin to pour our hearts
out to God in earnest, desiring only His will rather than our will
disguised as some "blessing" from above!" - Jonathan Duttweiler

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Husbands are so funny. Well, maybe it's men in general. Tonight my sweetie came and said he wanted to talk with me about something. And I told him, "Sure." It seems he wanted me to wear my good perfume for just when we are going out and buy something else that I love just as much, to wear everyday. Kind of like he does with his aftershave lotion. So, I rephrased his comments back to him so I would know for sure I was understanding exactly what he was asking of me.

"You are wanting me to only wear my good perfume when I am out with you and buy something else to wear for everyday?" I asked.

"Yes, exactly!" he replied.

"Some days I don't wear perfume at all," I said.

"Well, what did you wear before Poem came into being?"

"Estee," I replied. "Are you wanting me to cut down my use to save money? Because I am already doing that. But, I don't want to wear two different scents, UNLESS you are wanting my good stuff to be JUST for you. If that is the case, I just won't wear any perfume."

"Well, I think and women must think a little differently about this," he said after a pause.

"You know, I think we should just forget we even had this discussion because I didn't realize that women had a 'particular' scent that was just 'her'," he laughingly said.

Again, I reiterated that I would not wear it as often, in essence, just when we went out together. To which he wanted to know how I would smell nice if I didn't wear any perfume. I looked at him and said, "Soap."

"Soap?" he asked kind of incredulously.

"Yes, soap," I replied.

"No, like I said before, let's forget I even mentioned it."

Now, tell me, ladies. Do you all have a 'scent' associated with you? I know my sister does. I have other friends who do...but maybe that isn't very representative of the majority of women out there. Tell me what you think....

Monday, March 07, 2005

Whew...what a day!

I feel like I have accomplished a lot but when I actually put it down in writing, it will look like nothing.

As I blogged earlier, I am back in contact lenses. Yea!! However, they made one, teensy weenie tiny mistake. They gave me both lenses for distance which means I couldn't see diddly right in front of me. I couldn't see the computer, my dinner plate and read a book? Not on your life!!! So I called them last week and they were quite surprised that it had happened but then the gal said to me, "Well, you could just use reading glasses." I just wanted to strangle her right through the phone, right then and there! Grrr.... I politely told her that the whole point of going back into contacts was NOT to wear ANY type of glasses. So they ordered a new lens so I now have one for distance and one for up close and it works perfectly! I can read! :) They called me on Friday to tell me the single lens was in which meant that I had to go today to pick it up.

I did go today but I had made other plans for today, so in the midst of everything else, I had to stop and go pick up the lens. My plans were to wash all my curtains and windows in my kitchen and dining area. All three windows have double valances. Even without having had 2 strokes I would not have been able to do these by myself. No way. How grateful I am that my dear sweet hubby, who still needed to finish his BSF for Bible study tomorrow night, helped me. I could not have gotten the rods off, nor put back up with out his help. It has taken all day, but they are washed, dried, ironed and hung back up. The big window still needs to be 'stuffed' so it is puffy. The two smaller windows just need to be adjusted in their puffiness. But, I decided I needed to rest my arms and shoulders before finishing the stuffing.

Hubby grumbled a little about what a pain this all was, to which I replied I will gladly wait and schedule it much farther out next time. How does 5 years sound? :) Seriously, when he gets to a point where he can't do the 2 windows in the corner at the sink then, I'll either have to hire someone to come in and do it, or buy new curtains that are easier to put up and take down.

The only reason I chose to do them now, was because we have had 2 weeks of sunny warm days and I just get in that spring cleaning mode. And, if I need Jim's help, I have to schedule him on a Monday because of his schedule. Anyway, one major chore done, another one to be started on Wednesday. Perseverance is the key!

Friday, March 04, 2005

How to weigh yourself correctly... Posted by Hello

Bearing our Cross...

A long time ago I read a story in a Christian magazine about a man who was 'bearing a cross.' Oh, it was so heavy and he was so tired as he went about his business. Eventually he came to a small town and as he was groaning under the weight of his cross he sees a shop where he can exchange his cross. "That's what I need," he thinks. So he pushes on toward the little shop.

He enters the shop and he is standing in an empty room but within just a minute there was a quiet gentleman who came in and asked how he could be of service. Well, the man shared how burdened he was because of his cross and how he had begun thinking, once he saw the sign for this shop, how he might be able to exchange his cross for another one that wouldn't be quite so large and heavy.

"Oh, yes, by all means!" exclaimed the gentleman. "I do believe that we can help you in that area. Here let me help you with that cross. Please wait right here and I will return." In just a few minutes the shop owner returned saying, "Come this way with me, and I'll show you what I have."

The man was almost giddy with excitement at the thought of having a lesser cross to bear. One that wouldn't be so heavy and troublesome. He followed the shop owner into another room. Oh my!! What an array of crosses there were! All sizes were before his eyes. He had never seen so many crosses in one place before! Many of the crosses were huge! He had never seen any so big before. His eyes searched all around and way back, in the farthest corner, stood this very tiny cross.

"That's the one!" he thought. That's the cross I'll choose. The shopowner, looking at him, asked, "Have you made your decision?" "Oh, yes!" said the man. "I want that small cross, way over in that corner."

"Excellent choice, sir!" replied the shopowner. "That's the one you brought in to exchange."

Now, of course, this isn't biblical but it should cause us to pull up short and re-evaluate whatever 'cross' the Lord is allowing us to carry. We are to give all our burdens over to the Lord for Him to carry. That way, when things are just unbearable, what do others see? They see Christ because it is He that is enabling us to move forward with the proper attitude and joy regardless of our situation.

May I be faithful to lay all my burdens at the foot of His Cross!

Time management...

Some days I shake my head because I honestly don't know where the time goes. I have good intentions on accomplishing so much and then I look back over my day and I ask myself, why didn't I get those things accomplished? It bothers me when I have days like that.

You know, the Lord talks a lot about being good stewards. And, for many of us I think we tend to associate being a good steward with managing our finances well. But, there is also the aspect of being a good steward of our time. That can really bite me when I least expect it! How can I settle for anything less than the best in the matter of how I utilize those precious minutes of time which God has entrusted to my care? When I change my focus to view my time in this manner, then I am amazed at what all I can accomplish.

I think there needs to be a healthy balance where every minute is not scheduled with something. For me, I need to allow time for flexibility to be available for God to use in ministry. And, often as not, ministry never seems to be 'convenient.' However, I want to be available to be used of God if He so chooses.

Time is a precious commodity. One that is to be valued. I love having an organized fact, I find that I am much more mellow when my home is 'in order.' However, I find that I value the time I can spend in relationships. Spending time with one another, encouraging one another, lifting up one another's burdens, laughing and crying together are important. May I wisely use the time the Lord has given me in pursuing things with an eternal value. That vertical perspective is so important but often times it is easy to fall into the horizontal perspective. May I be alert for when that occurs!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mmmm...Banana Bread

First thing this morning I baked some banana bread. I've had bananas that have just been yelling at me that it was 'time.' My whole house smells wonderful! My recipe is from my Mom and is very old. As James would say, "It's ancient." The reasoning he is basing that on is my recipe is older than I am, and I am 51 years old. This recipe is the first dessert that I made as a young girl while we were living in Germany. So I think I was about 8 years old. My sister grew up making this same recipe and since she is older than I maybe she could tell me if the recipe was already 'in the family' when she became old enough to begin baking.

After eating pumpkin bread with mini chocolate chips given to me by a friend many years ago, I thought that I could do that with my banana bread recipe. It was an instant success! Since I am diabetic I don't make banana bread as often as everyone would like. It is too hard for me to resist.

As I have been smelling the aroma of the baking bread I have thought about how we, as Christians, are "the sweet aroma of Christ." Second Corinthians 2:15-16 states, "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." As I share the Good News with people, some will be drawn to it, hungry to share in it, while others will be repulsed by it. The ones being called by God recognize the life-giving fragrance while to the others, it smells foul, like death. And it is death for them, their own.