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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Does God use Google?

I was doing some research a few months ago for a message on Hagar. Hagar is the only person in scripture that gives God a name. Every other name you will read is a name God has declared over Himself. But it is Hagar who gives God the name El Roi, The God Who Sees.

In furthering my research for my message I did a Google search on Does God Really See Me and as I was reading through the various sites that came up, I stumbled across a discussion room. Reading through the honest comments from some complete strangers I was struck by their opinions and questions. Here were some of their remarks:

Is God really watching us right now? If so He must be very bored. I know I am.

Does he watch us as life happens, or does he exist outside of time and space, and so it's more like TiVo?

Does he watch everything, or does he just pop in now and again, like your mom when you were a baby sleeping?

Does he watch us all as a whole or each one of us as a separate individual?

These may be the same questions and thoughts you yourself have pondered.

It's easy to wonder and question whether or not God really sees you and sees your current situation, especially when you are in pain and hurting so bad that you feel more dead than alive.

And that is exactly where Hagar was living.

We read her story in Genesis 16. And hers is that of a woman with no hope, no future and no freedom. Forced to be a slave, to marry her mistress Sarah's husband, Abraham, and bare his child with no say in the matter, at all.

And her desperation deepens as Sarah begins to treat her so harshly that she can't take it anymore and runs away.

Abraham no longer knew where she was...

And Sarah didn't even care to look...

But God...

He always knew right where she was.

As a slave she was worth nothing to society and was obviously worth nothing to Sarah, but she was worth everything to God. If she wasn't then the angel of the Lord would never have come to her in verse 7.

No, Hagar might not have handled all the cards she was dealt with grace but it's not our perfectness that makes us priceless to God.

God does not love you because you are valuable. You are valuable because God loves you. And that my friend is why He will forever know right where you are, at every possible moment in your life; the good days, the bad days and even the ugly days.

The angel asked Hagar in verse 8, Where have you come from and where are you going? God knew the answer, He just wanted Hagar to know it too.

This is a good question for us to ask ourselves as well. We can't change where we have come from. It's too late. What's done is done. But we can make the decision as to where we are going from here, today, right now.

And if you feel you're not strong enough to make that change, 2 Chronicles 16:9 says The eyes of the Lord are searching for someone whom He can show Himself strong through.

He's not asking us to be strong, He is strong enough right by Himself.

He cares, He knows, He loves, He sees and He will never have to do a Google search to find you!

God does not watch us from a distance as Bette Midler famously sang in the 90's. He does not poke His head in every now and again just to check on us. And He most definitely is not bored by us. As a matter of fact, we are probably the best reality show there is and heaven gets a front row seat!

So, where will I be when my show ends? I have no idea. But I know the One who will see me through to the final The End.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Telling God No

We have this little issue in the Johns house. It really is nothing major but it gets me majorly worked up sometimes.

The problem is this... with 4 fairly intelligent humans living here it seems only one of us is capable of placing a new roll of toilet paper on a toilet paper holder. And I'm sure you can guess who this one person could be.

I've asked nicely... I've demonstrated correctly... but the ability just eludes them and that amazes me.

I have great faith in the fact they CAN do this. It may require a little fasting and prayer, which more of either one of these, no matter the purpose, could definitely not hurt. But, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that it IS possible for them to accomplish this mission. I just know it! I believe it! And one day I will see it!! (Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, even if it is just faith in a family applying skills a 2 year old possesses ya'll.)

As I ponder all of this each time I enter a bathroom in our house to see a fresh new roll... strategically placed on top of the empty roll... that still has one square of paper hanging on for dear life...

God seems to prick my heart strings with the same thought towards me:

Tina, I have taught you, left my word for you and was the example for you. Why are you not doing the things I have asked you to do?

I have to say this stings, because to be honest, if I am not doing all I know God is asking me to do, it's because I have chosen to not do them.

The question really begs at this point, If I am not doing what I know God has asked me to do, is that because I don't care? Is it me being selfish not wanting to take a few moments out of my day to really ask someone, "Are you OK?"

Is it me not believing I can do all things through Christ?

Or is it an honest lack of ignorance to the facts?

Maybe it's because I don't want to fail, so therefore I never begin.

Whatever the reason we in times past made the choice to say no to God, today is a new day, full of new marching orders, and I want to be someone God can give the job to and count on to get it done.

Let's think for a moment about what would have happened if Noah told God no? You and I might not be here today.

Or if Moses said no?

Joseph could have chosen to not forgive his brothers and the whole nation of Israel could have perished from the planet.

What if Mary said no?

Or Jesus?

Who could we possibly save if we just simply said the three letter word yes? Yes Lord, to your will and to your ways.

If we ever really get Ephesians 3:20 (Now to Him that is able to do exceedingly... abundantly... above all we ask or think...) the possibilities for God would be endless.

We are all ordinary people serving an extraordinary God who believes in us way more than we believe in Him. But if we can muster up just enough faith, like that of a mustard seed, hold on because we will be in for the ride of our lives!!

That's the life I want to live!!

Here I am today God, use me!!

p.s. If you would like to sign up your spouse and kids, I will be conducting a six week class on How to Keep Momma Happy By Properly Changing a Roll of Toilet Paper and maybe ladies, just maybe, we'll have one less issue to deal with. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Almost sixteen years ago I gave birth to a beautiful 7lb 7oz baby girl. I was already the proud mother of a sweet toddling little boy who was so perfect and so handsome (and no I'm not prejudice at all).

But my selfish side now so longed to have that little girl. A little girl I could put those really big bows in her hair, hold her hand on the first day of school, take to cheerleading practices, and eventually teach her how to properly apply make-up, and drive (not at the same time, of course).

And after she has become a young woman, stand there as she tries on the most perfect wedding gown and proclaims, "This is the one!"

Oh Yes, my secret prayer was answered and my second bundle of joy arrived August 9, 1993 at 7:15am, Eastern Standard Time. We immediately named her Jordan Renee. The only name we ever discussed if we were having a girl.

The hospital was all a buzz that day. Ladies were coming in left and right yelling, "Epidural!" And I thank God for that glorious medicine; God's gift to women in labor.

Needless to say they had to move me out of our room to another wing of the hospital so more babies could be born.

It was quite a while before everything settled down and my room was quiet, visitors gone, doctors and nurses gone, and left was just me, Mark and our little Jordan Renee.

For the past nine months I would rub my belly and wonder. Wonder what this baby was going to be. Wonder what this baby would look like. And now, finally, I was able to, in the silence of my room, hold her, unwrap her and tell her I loved her for the first time.

And that's just what I did. With Mark at my side I proceeded to unwrap this gift that lay in my lap. As soon as I was able to get her arms and hands unearthed, my tears started flowing. Mark, not knowing what to think, so sweetly asked me, "Tina, what's wrong?"

You see, I have always, even as a very small child been keenly aware that my hands look just like my mothers and as I looked down at these little hands I replied back to Mark through my tears, "Her hands look just like mine."

After looking at my child and seeing myself, I said, "We have to change her name." He said, "Anything you want to do". (You don't argue with a woman who has just given birth.)

Although I go by Tina, my first and middle names are Christina Rae. I told him I wanted to change Jordan Renee to Christina Marie, the name my aunt called me all my life.

And just as my aunt had that special name she called me, Mark too has a nick name he calls me, Bina. It has a special and intimate meaning that only he and I know.

Listen to Revelations 2:17 ...To him who overcomes... I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him that receives it.

I wonder, at that moment when I am standing before God, is He going to look at me and say, "I am giving you a new name Tina. A name that only you and I know because you are so special... because our relationship is so intimate... because when I look at you my child, I see Myself."?

Oh I hope when my Father looks at me that He catches a glimpse of Himself. That He proudly proclaims to all the hosts in heaven, "She looks just like her Daddy."

And to my daughter, Christina Marie Johns, a.k.a. Chrissy, Happy Sweet Sixteen. May you always resemble your Heavenly Father!!

All my heart,


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

All I can say is... WOW

I knew I was going to She Speaks before I wrote the last post on walking by faith and not by sight or feeling. I also knew I would be seeing Jennifer Rothschild on Saturday night. Why is this a big deal? Because you see, Jennifer cannot see.

Jennifer literally walks by faith and not sight.

Her husband was able to attend this conference with her and after Lysa Terkeurst introduced Jennifer, Phil lovingly escorted his bride to her position where she would speak to 600 ladies for 45 minutes... with no notes... no pulpit to hold on to... and no cane to guide her steps.

It was the most amazing 45 minutes of my whole weekend. Not because of what my eyes were witnessing, but because of the words that were penetrating my flesh all the way down to my sometimes hiding heart.

But what was truly awe-inspiring was what happened after Jennifer concluded her message and prayer. You see, how she is able to walk back and forth on the stage with out falling off or getting confused as to which direction she is facing is the area rug which she stands on. Once she feels the edge of the rug she then knows not to take another step. She uses the edges of the rug to guide her steps.

So after she said, "Amen," she simply walked to the edge of the rug left of the stage, stood still, and sweetly held out her right hand. A few seconds later Phil was again at her side and escorted her off the stage and through a host of women who were at this point on their feet clapping... and crying.

To see her stand there so vulnerable and yet so confident was a true picture of how we are to walk in our times of darkness. She could not see her savior, her groom, her knight in shining armor, but she knew beyond any shadow of doubt that he was there... on his way... to rescue his bride.


Lord, In my most scary times of vulnerability, let me be confident that my Savior, my Bride Groom, my Knight in Shining Armor is on His way to rescue me.