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Friday, October 31, 2008

Safe and Secure

Today, October 31st, is viewed as one of the “darkest” days; a day for ghosts, goblins, and zombies. A day that many will dress up as the evilest of characters to spook those unaware. A day for haunted houses and trick-or-treaters.

But for some people this dark day is just another in the continuation of days seemingly lived in midnight.

We always talk about the goodness of God when things are going our way; when bills are paid, churches are growing, health is good, parking spaces open up in front of a store.

But God is also good when things are not so “peachy.” Listen to the words of Corrie Ten Boom.

Often I have heard people say, “How good God is! We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic and look at the lovely weather!” Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp. I remember one occasion when I was very discouraged there. Everything around us was dark, and there was darkness in my heart. I remember telling Betsie that I thought God had forgotten us. “No, Corrie,” said Betsie, “He has not forgotten us. Remember His Word “For as the heavens are high above the hearth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.” Corrie concludes, “There is an ocean of God’s love available-there is plenty for everyone. May God grant you never doubt that victorious love-no matter the circumstances.”

God is love in our good times and in our bad times.

Today there are two people reading this and you are one of them; those in the middle of a crisis and those who are not. If you are the former I want to share a little story with you I read a few days ago.

Once there was a train traveling through the night in an extremely violent rainstorm. The lightning flashes were almost blinding, the rain hitting the windows was deafening and the strong gusts of wind rocked the train from side to side. As the lightening flashed, they saw outside the windows the rising water along the tracks. This created terror in the minds of the passengers. Several noted that through all the noise, lightening and wind, one of the passengers, a little girl, seemed to be at perfect peace. The adults couldn't figure out why the little girl was so calm during this terrifying ordeal. Finally, one passenger asked her, “How is that you can be so calm when all the rest of us are so worried about what might or could happen?”

The little passenger smiled and said, “My father is the engineer.”

Galatians 3:26 tells me we are all the children of God. There is no need to panic or be dismayed today, or any day, because our father is the engineer of our lives. He’s in control and at the wheel. He’s not going to let you go under. You are safely secure in the palm if His hand. THAT'S LOVE!

I know you may not feel safe and secure right now. But that is why it is a faith walk and not a feel walk.

And faith is more than believing. Faith requires trust.

A couple weeks ago I tensely watched on TV as a man walked on a tightrope, between two buildings with no net, to break a world record. Trusting God is not you walking across the tightrope. Trusting God means you are willing to let Him carry you across the tightrope.

Two of my favorite verses is Psalm 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

And don’t worry... if you can’t walk it alone... He'll be there to carry you across!

Reflection:
Though the darkness may surround you today, it does not have to consume you. What do you need to trust God with at this moment?

Trust God, rest in His peace and allow Him to guide your steps. He will never lead you astray!

Happy Friday!
Tina

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who is that Masked Woman

For entertainment in ancient Greece, the Grecians would have great theatrical events and plays in large amphitheaters. Obviously they didn’t have microphones to make their voices heard and they didn’t have cameras to magnify their images onto screens, so they had to get creative and invent their own system. Their solution was to develop large masks that made them look like the characters they were portraying. Built into the masks would be megaphones to amplify their voices. The actors would get on stage, and behind their masks they became somebody else, someone different than who they really were.

The actors were called "hypocrites."

In the French language, a hypocrite is one who hides his/her intentions and true personality. The entire world is a stage and for many of us we are that Grecian actor, hypocritically hiding our true selves.

The world maybe our stage, but this is no play, it’s for real. Therefore we need to be real.

If you have been watching the news this week you may have seen some of the most popular costumes for Halloween. Not the typical witches and action heroes this year. Women want to be Sarah Palin and the guys are donning jumpsuits, plunger in hand to be Joe the Plumber.

Oh, we like to dress up and pretend. But that’s all it is, a pretend. It is time to take off our masks and be the women of God we were designed to be.

I can no longer wear my Lone Ranger mask convincing others I do not need them.

And I am defiantly not Wonder Woman. (Although I do wonder how I still have my sanity sometimes)

But even though I do not have Wonder Woman’s superpowers, that’s ok, I know the One who has all power (Matthew 28:18).

So… who are you going to be this year? Why not try and be…you.

You can pull it off like no one else.

Reflection:

Do you find it hard to be real with others? Ask the Lord to help you take off your mask today and heal every area of your life you may be trying to hide.

God made you to be you. Rejoice in the fact you are an original, no imitation needed!

Until next time,
Tina

Monday, October 27, 2008

Satan's Bag of Tricks

Not too long ago I read about two mischievous kids who broke in a local five-and-dime store and changed the price tags on many of the items they sold. Afterwards they sat back and imagined what it would be like the next morning when people came into the store and discovered that radios were selling for a quarter and bobby pins were priced at five dollars each. With diabolical glee, they laughed at the thought of the store clerks trying to figure out what the prices of the merchandise really should be.

Oh, but you can rest assured these two little darlings were not the first to devise such devilish schemes. Deception has been well played out since before the beginning of time starting with the Deceiver himself deceiving a third of all the angels.

We also read in Genesis where he tricked Eve in the garden.

Sadly, the Deceiver is not the only one to get in on the game...

Jacob tricked his father into giving him Esau’s birthright.

Laban tricked Jacob making him work seven extra years to get what was promised.

Delilah tricked Samson into sharing his most precious secret.

And I am sure we all can add our names to the list of those tricked and deceived whether by another person or Satan himself.

I can testify to you when Satan comes to deceive you he will not come with flashing red lights making his intentions known. No, he’s more cleaver than that… more subtle. And unfortunately, I'm right there with Eve, Jacob and Samson on this one.

Many years ago I let a seed of bitterness get planted in my heart. And oh did Satan water and fertilize that thing. I was oblivious to what was growing inside me until it was full grown and bearing some very rotten fruit. I could not believe I had been so deceived. Not by the person I had the issue with, but by the Enemy himself who snuck in a cracked door in my heart. 

And to be honest, it scared me to death.

What terrified me so was the realization of just how easily I was tricked and if I was so blind to that trapping, what else might I fall for?


For me, Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” and 1Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:” became more alive than ever before!

It was a great lesson for me. As I am sure Eve’s, Jacob’s and Samson’s was for them.

Hebrews 3:12-14 says, “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters…You must warn each other every day, while it is still today, so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.”

When we live life alert, guarding our hearts and being faithful to the end… we will share in all that belongs to Christ. 

In other words, we get the Treat!

And Satan? Well, he will be left holding his own bag of tricks!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eight Simple Words

I hope I am not the only one who seems to start a book and never finish. I have….hang on a second let me go count…8 books on my night stand: 6 Christian Inspirational books, 1 fiction and 1 Bible Study. All of which I have started and only one completed.

Starting a new endeavor is easy; it’s the finishing that is so hard.

I think we all really do know our reasons for, shall I be honest and say, quitting.

It is sometimes easier to discontinue a task than to continue it.

I picked up a new book at a local grocery store about 8 years ago. When I got home and put away our next week’s meals safely in their designated areas, I took my new book and relocated to the swing in my back yard where I intended to learn how to be A Women after God’s Own Heart.

After a few pages into this new pilgrimage of becoming this woman I so desired to be, I was afraid the book was not going to deliver on all the expectations I placed on it. Do know what I mean? When a book just does not grab you?

So, I closed it… thought about what I just did… and said to myself, I am going to finish what I started. I immediately opened back up the book and re-launched on my journey only to discover what became one of the most life altering books I have ever read.

I am so glad I did not quit. Elizabeth George taught me so many life lessons regarding myself, my marriage, my children and my relationship with God that has been invaluable and served me well. It is one book that I recommend every young woman to read.

It has help mold me into the woman I am today. I do not even what to think about how my life would be different had I not said those 8 words to myself that day in my back yard.

Today what task is requiring you to speak those same words to yourself? I challenge you, do the thing you need and desire to do. You may never know how your life will be forever changed.

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." Galatians 6:9 (Message)

Striving to not quit,
Tina

p.s. Thank you for all the kind and thoughtful words and comments regarding my blog 'I Remember' being chosen by Lysa TerKeurst for her national radio program. It is truly an honor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Truth or Lie

In 1999, Bill Gates wrote his book Business @ The Speed of Thought in which he discusses how business and technology are integrated. He also shares with the reader 11 rules that students do not learn in high school or college, but should. He argues that our feel-good, politically correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality who are set up for failure in the real world. Here are rules one and two.

RULE 1 - Life is not fair; get used to it.

RULE 2 - The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

We all know and for the most part have accepted rule no. 1. I am sure if you have kids those precise words have passed through your lips into their darling little ears more than once. But it is rule no. 2 that is so true and concerns me.

The truth- the world values accomplishments, educational degrees, prosperity, and pedigree and if you have all this and more you’re highly valued and at that point you deserve to feel good and have superior self-esteem.

But that truth … is also the lie.

For one thing, you can have all the before mentioned and still deal with low self-esteem because there is no destination of success in your life that will ever be enough. Success apart from Christ leaves you empty and leads to the vain reasoning if you had just a little more money, a newer car, bigger house then you would feel good.

God's truth is… good self-esteem doesn't come from having the “perfect” life or being perfect. It comes from knowing and accepting all your imperfections.

No, we are not perfect by the world’s definition. And yes, we still make mistakes but we always will as long as you are in this life.

And, no, this world may not care about your self-esteem as Rule no. 2 so poignantly states, but the Creator of this world does!

So it's not about what you have done, are doing, or will do as a human.

It's about you acknowledging yourself as a born-again child of the Most High God!

It's not about any "works" you can do, because you already did the one thing that matters most, you took Jesus up on His offer!

So you see, there is nothing else you need to DO in order to BE worthy. You simply ARE worthy now because God says so!

John the Baptist said he was not worthy to even carry Jesus’ shoes (Matthew 3:11) and yet he baptized Jesus.

The Centurion said he was not worthy to have Jesus in his home (Matthew 8:8) and yet Jesus healed his daughter.

The prodigal son said he was no longer worthy to be called his father’s son (Luke 15:19) and yet his father not only called him son, but threw him a grand homecoming party, gifts included.

Paul said he was not worthy to be called an apostle (1 Cor. 15:9) and yet God used him to give us our fundamental instructions for the Christian life.

What will come after your YET? Because of Christ, you are automatically worthy of all the good things the Lord wants to bring into your life!

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 "Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Remember

My kids will attest that I am borderline OCD when it comes to taking pictures. Whenever you see me, you can almost bet I have my camera with me, which has allowed me to capture some really great moments that would otherwise only be a memory. And I don’t know about you, but my camera works much better than my memory.

I was looking at all the pictures I have stored on my computer last night and remembering some really great times I have been blessed to have: pictures with my family on vacations, my kids sporting events, Christmas, birthdays and so much more.

Have you ever thought about the fact our pictures for us are like the altars in the Old Testament? Me neither. It is true though. Pictures are memorials of important times in our lives.

If you look through the Old Testament you will see where God’s people built altars to mark their own moments in time. Times when God delivered, or provided, or spoke peace to troubled lives. They serve as touch stones of remembrance.

Sometimes I wish we still built altars. I am very sentimental and objects like pictures or altars help us remember. All too often we have the tendency to get caught up in the routine of everyday life and forget all the times God has been faithful to His people not just thousands of years ago, but today as well.

I wonder… Did Peter ever row out to the spot where he walked on the water and relive that day?

Did Zacchaeus ever take his grandkids and climb the tree and say, “This is the exact spot I saw the Master for the first time!”?

Did Abraham and Isaac ever go back to Mount Moriah and rejoice once more for the ram caught in the thicket?

Did Moses ever go back to the desert where he saw the burning bush, take off his sandals and say, “Thank you God for still using messed up me?”

Oh, it is so good to remember. We need to remember. It is like breathing in the moment all over again.

We do not have altars we walk by every day serving as reminders. So just for today… for this very moment… let’s build an altar in our hearts and minds and remember God’s faithfulness and simply say one more time… “Thank you, God. I remember.”


Lord,
Today I stop and remember and say thank you again for my salvation. Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of fear. Thank you for protecting my marriage, for always guiding my steps. Thank you for healing my son of a paralyzing disease. Thank you for giving me courage to do the things I thought I never could. Where would I be today without you, only you know. Father, I just simply and purely want to stop, remember and say thanks.
Your daughter, Tina

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why Worry, II

Let’s continue our thought from the last posting titled Why Worry. (If you did not read it yet you can scroll down to it.)

Remember I said to be like Chrissy and “Don’t you worry about a thing.”

Some of us may remember Innervisions, an album by Stevie Wonder, released on August 3, 1973. I say some of us because I was only 6 months old at the time.

Stevie recorded a song on that album entitled Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing and if you watch much TV you may have seen the recent UPS Store commercials using this song as it’s jingle. The reason they use it is obvious, they want you to have total confidence in their business for all your mailing and shipping needs. When you hand off your package, they want you to be free from worry.

And how many of us really do, worry that is? When I send a package I do not sit around and fret about where it is or whose possession it is in at that moment. Yes, I get their point, but the package isn't a matter of life and death. If it were I would not be shipping it.

But, there are some things that are a matter of life and death I am concerned about. For one thing, I have two teenage kids driving (I would appreciate your prayers!), there also is a community with souls who do not know Christ we are trying to reach, another concern of mine is the fact that on November 4th we will elect the man who will be the next Commander and Chief of our country. And this is just a very small, very valid list of my concerns.

And all of us have concerns but there is a difference between concern and worry, and when our concern turns to worry, doubt walks in and faith walks out.

Let’s see what Jesus has to say in Matthew 6:25. “Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life….” (Amplified)

OK, it’s easy to say stop worrying or being anxious, but how do you really do that?

In Why Worry I shared why we should trust God, now let’s look at how to trust God.

If you read through to verse 33 of Mathew chapter 6 you will come to the answer. “But seek first the kingdom of God (God’s ways of doing things) and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

I like what Rick Warren says regarding this issue, "Worry is the warning light that God is really not first in my life at this particular moment.” Ouch, that hurt.

But if we will seek God and His ways first, this verse says all our needs and issues will be met and taken care of.

Here is the last verse in chapter 6 (verse 34), "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Message)

So, yes, we can choose to adopt Stevie Wonder's song Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing as our theme song too, BUT in order to live truly worry free it will require us to seek God first.

Sounds easy doesn't it? That's because it really is!

Try it. Put God first and see. He can handle any situation, any worry, any problem, any relationship, any job, any need. He can do more in one moment then we can ever do in a life time.

If you have a testimony of God taken care of a worry for you when you chose to put Him first, please leave it in the comment section. (Feel free to leave your comment anonymously) You may be the encouragement someone needs who is dealing with the same issue. God does not help and comfort us in life just for our own sakes, He makes us comfortable so we can be comfort-able for someone else.

Also, if you want me and all those reading to stand in agreement for you and your needs, please leave your prayer request in the comment section as well. Again you can leave it anonymously if you need to.

With all my heart,
Tina

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why Worry

I love to laugh. But there does not seem to be a lot to laugh about these days. Staying positive or even somewhat happy in today’s world almost seems impossible.


As I am writing my daughter, Chrissy, just leaned over my shoulder and read my first line and said, “I love to laugh too!” and then she did what she does so often, kissed me on my nose and went on her merry way.


She isn't worried about a thing.


Stock markets, foreclosures, job loss, presidential election, none of this weighs on her mind. Why? She knows she has a mom and a dad that loves her with every fabric of their being and would move heaven and earth to protect and provide for her. She is old enough to understand the dire situation this country is in but she trust in us with all her heart.


Proverbs 3:5 tells all of us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."

It is probably easier for Chrissy to trust us then it is for us to trust God. She can physically see us, touch us and hear us. But we are asked to trust someone whom we cannot physically do any of these things.

Trusting God is all to often not the most desirable thing for us to do. So I want to give you four reasons why we should trust a God who does not tuck us in at night or wrap His arms around us when we are hurt or even kiss us on our noses.


#1 He’s Conscious- This means He’s aware. The word of God says in Matt 6:8 that our Heavenly Father knows what things we have need of even before we ask Him. You can’t tell Him anything He does not already know.

#2 He’s Concerned- 1 Peter 5:7 says cast, which means to throw, your cares, anxieties and worries on Him because He cares about you. Yes, He cares about you! Whatever concerns you concerns Him. So whenever you’re faced with problems, situations and obstacles that seem insurmountable just throw them on Him, He can handle them.

#3 He’s Consistent- This means He’s faithful. You can count on Him and trust Him to do exactly what He says He will do, every single time. Others in your life may have let you down or been found to be unreliable, but God will never let you down, you can always rely on Him. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says that God is faithful. That means even we when are unfaithful to God, God remains faithful to us.

#4 He’s Capable- Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we could ask or think according to the power that He works in us. This would suggest to us that nothing is too hard for God. Even if He chooses not to grant our request, He’s still capable of supplying our every need.


So if you’ve been relying on yourself, your family, your job, or your retirement plan and not depending totally on the Lord to meet your needs, I admonish you today to trust Him completely. And do like Chrissy.... Don’t you worry about a thing.

God is conscious! God is concerned! God is consistent! God is capable!

He may not tuck you in at night but I promise He is watching over you.

Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep! Psalm 121:4
Chrissy and her merry little self.
Love ya!
Tina

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Great Exchange

If I know human nature at all, then I am sure some, if not all of you, reading this today have dealt with or are currently dealing with some form of hurt, betrayal or rejection that you may have never spoken to another human being.

Good chances are the pain is from someone very close to you. It is true that the ones we love the most can hurt us the worst.

Most every young sibling adores, admires, respects and looks up to their older brothers and sisters. They want to be like them. They want to fit in with them and their friends. But how crushing it is when they push them side, ignore them or call them names, not just in private, but in public as well. How it has to hurt and crush their little spirits.

But imagine, if you will, your older brothers hating you so much that they actually sell you into slavery, tell your father you are dead, not even caring what would become of you. Your future becomes worse then you could even think possible enduring humiliating ordeals and many years of false imprisonment and hardships all because of the actions of the ones you love the most.

Wow, I am sure we cannot completely comprehend how we would truly feel or respond to pain that deep.

We read in Genesis that Joseph had the perfect opportunity to “get back” at his brothers for these very actions. To cause them pain just as they had caused him pain. And who would blame him?

Genesis 45:4-5 (NKJV) And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Joseph, who amazingly still loved his brothers deeply, allowed God to exchange all his moments of pain and difficulty for moments filled with a greater purpose then his own trials. Again, wow!

When we study the life of Joseph it will allow us to see our own situations and hardships very differently. In every area of your life where the enemy is wreaking havoc, God wants to use it for His purpose and turn it for your good just like He did for Joseph. (Genesis 50:20)

Think of your very own pain today and know that God can accomplish great miracles in the midst of your worst trials. I do not know about you but that gives me peace and hope to know that my pain, my hurt and my every tear is not in vain.

God will take everything Satan is using to destroy our lives and turn it for our good. That’s why I love Him so.

Give it all to Him today and let Him exchange today’s hurts for tomorrow’s miracles. He is more than able! As a matter of fact, He is the only one who is able!

I am so glad I know Him, aren’t you?

Exchanging my pain for His purpose,
Tina

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Being Still

Technology is a wonderful thing, that is until it does not work properly. As I am writing I am having an issue with the Internet connection on my computer. So, as any good non-technological savvy person would do, I called Geek Squad. To my dismay, they want me leave my laptop with them for a couple of days to work on it. Whatever shall I do without my HP Pavilion that I am soooo dependent upon? It is my connection to the world and the world’s connection to me. On second thought, this actually may be a good thing.

I told my teenage daughter, who thinks texting is considered a hobby, when I was growing up (yes one of those speeches) we did not have texting, Internet or personal cell phones. The shock on her face made me feel like I grew up roaming the earth with the dinosaurs. After she got her composure together enough to speak she said, “How did you survive?”

Survive I did. How? I did not know any different. I had no base of knowledge concerning what life was like when you had the ability to take your work home with you, work till midnight or get cell phone calls in the middle of every lunch, and dinner, and shopping trip, and doctor’s appointment and even on the beach relaxing and “getting away from it all”. (Yes Rascal Flatts, I miss Mayberry too.)

Don’t get me wrong, technology is a good thing. I am a huge fan of it. But I know if I am not careful I will get so busy doing that I forget I am not the HP Pavilion with the ability to run 24/7.
I have to remind myself I am not called a Human Doing but a Human Being.

Psalm 46:10 does not say, “Be busy and know that I am God”. It says, “BE STILL and know that I am God."

The Hebrew word for “be still” is raphah which means to sink, relax, to let drop, withdraw, idle, to refrain, to let go, be quiet. Do those words sound like Greek to you as they do to me?

In the time before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. Each winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses and covered with sawdust and often the ice would last well into the summer.

One day while working in his ice house the owner lost his very expensive watch. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but was unable to find it. His employees also looked, but their efforts also proved futile. A small farm boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. "I closed the door," the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still and soon I heard the watch ticking."

Let’s stop and think for a moment and ask ourselves a very serious question. When was the last time we were so still and quiet we actually heard a watch tick? Can we even remember?

It is in the quite moments that we will hear God, feel God, know God and find God.

God is near and He is speaking in the ice house of our lives, but whether we are still and quiet enough to hear Him is up to us.

I promise, if you purpose to live Psalm 46:10 you will find in those moments is where God's grace resides for all 24/7 of your life!

Trying to Be Still,
Tina

p.s. I'm back on line!