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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What would David Do

Nobody welcomes trouble and hard times. But these difficult moments in our lives are more than just hardships we have to endure; they are the catalysts that propel forward, strengthen our resolves and can make us the kind of men and women other people want to follow.

Last night I had a great conversation with my teenage son. These moments are rare because, you know, I’m old and out of touch with reality, that is until some issue arises that needs a mom’s wisdom.

I am trying to help him handle a situation with grace and as I was giving my thoughts and advice last night, out of the blue, he said IT… to me! I could not believe it. I thought our relationship was different than other mother-son relationships.

I know it ALL. Doesn’t he know that? I know that.

But still he said it. And today his words are still echoing in my ears, “Mom, you just don’t understand.”

WOW! Me? I don’t understand?

I understand way better than he knows. You see, he’s never been 36, but I have been 17.

Right now he is living in the state of I’m-the-only-one-dealing-with-this.

Oh, Tyler is definitely not the first boy to go through the things he’s dealing with. But this is going to serve as another footer in the foundation of his life.

Difficult times are not fun, easy or even anticipated. But if we grow through them, they can serve us instead of master us.

I just finished reading What To Do on the Worst Day of Your Life, by Brian Zahnd, based on the tragic loss and then recovery at Ziklag. Throughout the entire book you see God’s hand in the life David and all of these moments would one day serve him well when he becomes King.

Although this story takes place 3000 years ago, the steps David took to recover all the enemy stole are the same steps we need to take today to overcome all of life’s daunting obstacles. David’s story is a timeless model for how to encounter God’s restorative power in the midst of deep tragedy.

Today I would love to encourage you to read this book and discover for yourselves what David did on the worst day of his life.

And because the Ignite Give-A-Way was so much fun, I would love to give one lucky lady, or gentleman, a copy of this book too. All you need to do is leave your name in the comment section and I will announce the winner in my next post.

Until then, to all the moms out there, I feel ya when your little darlings look at you and say, “Mom, you just don’t understand.”

Oh, and they will say IT.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

You are My Sunshine

Have you ever known someone who had a sunny disposition? I love these people. They make great friends, neighbors and dare I say church members.

Contrast that with someone who always seems to look at things with gloom and doom. You know, the person who brightens up a room just by leaving it. While we may befriend such a person, we’d rather not spend our lunch hour with them.

As you picture your heavenly Father, which disposition comes to mind? One of despair? Or of sunshine and cheer?

If we are living our lives with selfless love, obeying the Word of God perfectly, avoiding all sins, then yes, we would be confident God was smiling and shining His love upon us.

BUT, we have not done all the ‘things’ we feel required to earn that affection from God. We fail. Sometimes we fail miserably. And when we do we feel God’s smile turning to a frown.

I love the benediction of Aaron in Numbers 6. A close pastor friend actually prays this prayer over his congregation every service as he dismisses. Listen to what verse 25 says....

The Lord make his face to shine upon you.

New Living Translation says,

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

Do you know that you live in the smile of His full acceptance and love- all the time!

How can this be? We know that God can see the ‘real’ you and me. We know there are consequences for our actions. We know Romans 6:23 says, The wages of our sin is death.

Oh, but praise to our Savior, the wages of sin have already been paid on Calvary’s cross. Now we get to collect what Christ has earned for us, eternal life. Clinging to Him in faith, we live day by day in peace and in the victory of the cross that covered our sins.

And the smile of our Father shines upon us.

What a great comfort!

What a great joy!

And as Pastor Steve Thompson always prays over his people,

May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.
Numbers 6:24-26


p.s. Is that God I hear singing, You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And the Winner Is

Sorry it has taken me ALL day to get this posted. I know you are all in suspense awaiting our winner of the Ignite give-a-way.

Today started like most days; planned out. And you know things don't always, well, go as planned.

Before I post the winner, I thought I would share something that happened yesterday I thought was ironic.

As I posted on Facebook the link to yesterday's blog post, it had me do the verification thingy. You know, where they give you a very hard word to read and ask you to type it in the box. Well, seeing as I am giving away the Ignite marriage class CD’s I thought it quite humorous the word gave me to type was “unromantic”. Too funny!

Ok, ok, here we go. Drum roll please………………

And the winner is, The Joyster!!!!! (And the crowd goes wild, well maybe just The Joyster and me)

Alright guys, thanks so much for playing along. I really had a great time. As a matter of fact, stay tuned, because I am reading an awesome book that is literally hot of the press. It would not surprise me if it becomes as big as The Shack or The Purpose Driven Life, and I plan to give a copy away. You never know when, so keep checking back with me, but I promise it will be soon!

I pray that these blogs are a blessing to you. If you were the only person reading them, I'd still be investing my time and energy for just you.

I pray your days are blessed and filled to over flowing with the joy of the Lord!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ignite Give-A-Way

Well, yesterday I seem to strike a little cord with some of you. Although there were only a couple comments on the blog many of you emailed me and Facebooked me with your responses. Thank You.

So, here is what I want to do today. We just finished up our Ignite marriage class a few weeks ago at Christ Central Alachua and have the CD’s packaged and ready to go. They sale for $25 each and I am going to give away two of them to one lucky reader, one for you and one for you to give away.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. It’s all part of the seasons and cycles of having long and lasting relationships. Unfortunately, far too many people give up on the process before they can really discover how beautiful and fulfilling a healthy relationship can be. God knows and understands the struggles we have trying to find contentment and peace in our marriages and He has provided us a blueprint to achieve it. Whether you have a wonderful marriage or your flame is about to flicker out, these five messages will change your relationship and ignite the flames of love again.

Here are the 5 sessions:

More than a Feeling- Understanding the 3 Different words for Love used by the Hebrews and Greeks gives us a great Foundation for a Complete Marriage

Ladies Night- What Every Woman Wishes their Man Understood about Them

It’s a Man Thing- What Every Man Wishes their Woman Understood about Them

Spiritual Sexuality- Understanding God’s Design for Sex & Intimacy

Making Love Last- Nine Keys to Help you Make your Love last a Lifetime

So here is what you need to do. Click on the comment at the end of this post and leave me your name, or a pseudonym if you so choose, and I will post the winner tomorrow. If you are the winner email me at tina@ccalachua.com and I will get it in the mail to you. Even if you have already ordered and not yet received your CD's you are still eligible to win!

Good Luck!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fanning the Flame

This weekend we had the pleasure of teaching the Ignite marriage conference at the Embassy Christian Center in Tennessee. The whole weekend was great, well, other than a few, not so fun flights.

Returning home late Saturday night we boarded our connecting flight from Charlotte to Gainesville and the pilot comes on and tells us he is waiting on a part for our plane. A Part!?

I wanted to ask, “How vital is this ‘part’ we are waiting on?” But I am sure I was better off not knowing. But I am here typing, so as you can see, I mean read, we are alive and well. Amen! Thank you Jesus!

Back to the conference, I tend to get a little sidetracked sometimes, sorry. Surviving a flight where the plane is being repaired, with me on it, gets me a little excited. BACK TO THE CONFERENCE… AGAIN.

As the last session ended, Pastor Tod closed out the meeting asking for those who would like, to stand up and brag on their mates. I expected only a couple people to participate. Standing in front of a group and speaking can be very unnerving, much less sharing your heart regarding how you feel about your spouse.

It was amazing, almost everyone stood up and said something. Tod asked the ladies to go first and as wife after wife stood to share why they love their husbands so much, not one of their husbands had a dry eye. They were so moved to hear the words of appreciation and pride their wives had for them that they could not hold back the flood of emotion even if they tried.

Ladies, our words carry so much power. They are like the wind to our husbands fire; with them we can fan his flame or blow it out.

The words of love and thankfulness pierced these men in the heart in a way no cupid’s arrow ever could.

You may say, “Tina, you do not know my husband. He’s done nothing deserving of my praise, acceptance, love or appreciation.”

Hmmmm, I seem to remember a little scripture that says, I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. John 13:34

How did God love us? But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:1-11

When I was a self centered no good sinner, God showed how much he still loved me by sacrificing His one and only son so that I would have just a chance at eternal life. That’s how we are to love one another; sacrificially, whole heartedly, expecting nothing in return.

Let me say this in North Florida terms, that ain't easy. To love like that is a choice. To love like that is Christ. Oh, more than I want to be right and be justified in my actions, I WANT TO BE LIKE CHRIST.

I am thankful for a great husband, but neither of us were who we are today 18 years ago. Things changed when we both started saying thank you, please, you’re welcome, and I appreciate you. Just common courtesy toward each other goes a long way.

No matter your thoughts and feelings toward your spouse, they need your unconditional love and your acceptance, even when they do not deserve it. Remember, Jesus demonstrated His love and acceptance for us 2000 years before we ever loved and accepted Him.

I’m sure a couple of those guys this weekend were not all that their wives made it sound like they were. But after they showed them unconditional love, I just bet, today they are being the best husbands they can be.

Fan your man’s flame and you will forever have a fire to keep your love warm.

Hope you have a great Monday!!!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Something Berry Sweet

I just wanted to let all know I am in Knoxville, Tn. Mark and I are teaching an Ignite marriage conference at Embassy Christian Center. We will be back late Saturday night so I will be back on here Monday! Woo Hoo! I have some really great things to share with you and can't wait.

I would like to ask you to stand in agreement for the lives we will be touching this weekend. Your marriage is the most important earthy relationship you will ever have and let me tell you, it ain't easy, no matter how great your mate is. Amen Sista!

One thing I do want to share today is the Berry Sweet Blog Award I received today from my friend Kim. Kim is an amazing writer and shares not just her words but her heart as well. I will be passing it on. Thanks Kim!

Have an awesome Friday!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What Were you Doing?

I was reading a blog yesterday posted by someone I follow on Twitter. Yes I am one of those that social network. And I will admit, I love it. It has allowed me to find some friends that I had no clue where life has taken them over the past 20 years. But thanks to Facebook, Myspace and Twitter I am now able to stay in contact with them, my extended family, my church family, my friends and everyone else in the world, literally, 24hours a day if I so choose. It's amazing how I can 'chat' with friends that live in the Philippines and Burma, and I love that it’s free!

But back to the post I read. The writer posed this question, What were you doing 10 years ago?

I know that after 10 years you should have moved on, changed some, grown in wisdom, maybe have a few things paid off but I almost laughed out loud because here was my answer to the question, What were you doing 10 years ago…..

...the same thing I am doing right now.

Yes, some things are paid off, some wisdom has been gained, I have definitely changed, but what I am doing is the same… helping plant and grow a great church.

Some things you just never imagine you would ever be doing… again.

But I sure am loving this ‘redo’ of sorts.

My thoughts of laughter soon turned to thoughts of another question, what will I be doing 10 years from today? I know what I was doing 10 years ago, but have absolutely no idea what I will be doing March 11, 2019.

I know for a fact how old I will be (forty-something if you must know, smiles). Chances are pretty good I will probably be a grandmother (scary, not me being a grandmother, my son, Tyler, being a dad). But what will this 40-something granny be doing?

I have always loved Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As long as I follow God, every hour, every minute, every second of every day, the journey in 2019 will be just as great as it is today in 2009, just as it was great in 1999, even if I am doing the same thing I am doing right now...again.

So, what were you doing 10 years ago? I'd really love to know.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Only the Strong Survive

We sang a little song in Sunday School that went, I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart... If you sang it too, I’m sure you are remembering the catchy tune.

But truth be told, we can sing that song all day but it doesn’t mean we will always have joy. The antonym of joy is discouragement. You can become discouraged when you are dissatisfied with your past, have a distaste for your present, and a distrust of your future.

David knew exactly how discouragement felt and tasted. Bitter.

He lost everything at Ziklag; his family, possessions, and even the trust of his own men.

We all from time to time can face some difficult situations, some unbearable situations, but no matter what we go through, there is usually at least one person you can turn to for encouragement and support. Someone who can speak a word of hope and life when you see no hope and your life feels more like a death.

Well, that’s right where David was living, or should I say, dying. Unfortunately, David had no one to encourage him and no one to speak life back into him. Therefore, David did the only thing he could do, he encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6).

The enemy is the great discourager, but God is the great encourager. David had a choice, wallow in self pity or rise up and stir up every ounce of joy he could find. Thankfully for him, he chose the latter.

David lost it all, would recover it all, but first it required him to regain his strength. If you are going to regain all the enemy has stolen from you, you too are going to need to do some intense strength training.

Where did David’s strength come from? Well, of course, the Lord. But your strength from God comes to you through your joy in God. I know that seems odd. Having joy in devastating times just does not compute does it?

But Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the Joy of the Lord is our strength. We must have our strength because of what 1 Peter 5:8 warns us of,

Keep your mind clear, and be alert because our opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.

When we read this we tend to focus on the analogy of the enemy as a majestic 400 pound muscular beast with a roar that will terrify the most awe-inspiring of wild animals. We compare Satan with the strength and viciousness of lions roaming the plains of Africa.

But do you know what a lion does when he is stalking his prey? He seeks out the feeble. He never engages the strong, he always exploits the weak.

That’s why we MUST regain our strength when it is hid behind the sorrow of our hearts. And sometimes that means we will have to encourage ourselves when no one else will.

Knowing the joy of the Lord is your strength, the enemy seeks to steal your joy (John10:10), thereby reducing you to a weakened state. But if you can retain your joy, you will be destined to triumph. This is a powerful principle.

If the devil cannot steal your joy, he cannot defeat you!

At the moment David encouraged himself, he recovered his joy and placed himself on a course to change his devastating situation around. You need to know that joy is not simply a preferred emotional state we need to live in; it is a necessary component to attaining full recovery of ALL the enemy has taken from you.

What the devil meant to destroy David with, GOD turned it for his good. And God will do the same for you! But you must regain your strength by encouraging yourself in the Lord, even if it means becoming that 5yr old child once again and singing, I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!

Hope you have a great Monday!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

God really does Love Me

Sometimes I wonder if my son really knows how much I love him. With my daughter it’s different. She’s like me, a person of the female kind. You know, those of us who instinctively knew how to rock a baby doll at age 2. Some things are just in us women that are not in those men. God love ‘em.

My daughter, although she is 15 (the age where most girls can’t stand their moms), really does know how much I love her because she feels it in a way that her brother doesn’t. She can identify it because that same power to love is placed in her too.

But that 17 year old son of mine makes me wonder sometimes if he gets that I love him, care about him and desire good things for him more then anyone on this planet could possibly love, desire and want for him. So I find myself sometimes telling him, “Son, I really do love you more than you will ever know.”

I believe God feels the same way toward us. I can hear Him saying to Himself, “Do they really get how much I love them?”

Strange thing, I feel God’s love the strongest not when He moves major obstacles in my life but when He does the little things for me.

Last week I needed to find a particular King James Bible my husband preferred to use years ago when he preached. He needed it for a special event where he was speaking. I thought I had an idea where it was but wasn’t quite sure. So I prayed a brief prayer and if God had not prompted me to look where I did, I would have never found it. Seriously!

Yesterday I was researching to find a specialist in the Gainesville area. I have a little medical issue, nothing major, but something I wanted the right doctor to check out for me. So I prayed a short prayer, again, for God to lead me to the right person. I made a phone call to a doctor I researched and made an appointment. Afterwards, I emailed a friend with a similar situation and asked her what doctor she went to, would you believe it was the same doctor I already made the appointment with, and she highly recommended him?

Yes, these really are small prayers that God answered, but I feel God’s loving hand on my life just as much, if not more, then if these were life and death issues. Why? Because the fact that God would answer a small, seemingly insignificant prayer for me, shows He loves me, cares for me, wants the best for me more that I will ever know.

We are always looking for God in the BIG; sometimes He’s just as BIG in the small everyday concerns of life!

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:19


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Son Tanning

This past weekend was so beautiful and I was excited to get out in my yard and do some work which included pulling a few, make that a lot, of weeds that have sprung up and multiplied over the past few months. I also cleaned up our gazebo so when the time changes this next week we will be able to enjoy many late afternoon dinners watching the sun set in the field adjacent to our house.

Speaking of the sun, when I was finished with all my yard work for that day, I sat in one of our Adirondack chairs surrounding our fire pit. The sun was just peaking through one of our grand oaks to where I was sitting. Having a few minutes before I had to start dinner, I rested my head, closed my eyes, and soaked in every last ray of vitamin D shooting my way.

After a few minutes of bliss, our cat, Stan (which is a girl cat with a boy name, I’m sure she, no he, no she probably has a complex). Anyway, Stan decided he, I mean she, wanted a little attention and interrupted my 'sun' time, jumped in my lap begging me to scratch and pet him, I mean her.

Immediately my mind thought of how many times we are in need of some quality 'Son' time. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve seen the Son and you finally get that alone time, that quite time, that perfect time to bask in the Son, and low and behold something jumps in your lap taking your attention and mind off God; a phone call, a husband needing you to iron a shirt, an oven timer going off, all good things but good things can be bad things when they keep you from the best things. We could actually call these things our weeds. They are little things that can multiply and drain your spirit man keeping him weak and emaciated.

So today I want to encourage you to schedule your 'Son' time when there is the possibility for the least amount of distractions. Figure out what works best for you and commit to do it. The nutrition you receive will be better than any vitamin ever sold.

Jesus told the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty. The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside that person, giving eternal life." John 4:13-14

So even when winter rolls around again and sitting outside in 80 degree weather, basking in the sun, is no longer possible, I can still be sustained with the sustenance of the rays of God’s word forever shining off the pages of my Bible into my life.

Getting a 'Son' tan,