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Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Want Jesus More

I mentioned in Sunday's post, Gifts We Bring, how I'm already preparing my CHRISTmas list for 2011.  My list will have 12 special gifts for Jesus and the first gift I plan to bring Him in January is... time.

Our church always begins each new year with a 21 day fast.  Last year we specified the fast to the Daniel Fast, which means we ate no meat, sweets, bread, white rice... yeah all the good stuff we love. 

This year everyone will choose the thing or things they crave the most and offer it as a sacrifice for these three weeks.

Although food is something I crave, a lot, I have already been on a restricted eating plan since the day after Thanksgiving.  So the next best thing I crave and would be a sacrifice for me is... sleep.

So my fast, and gift to Jesus, this January will be to get out of my comfy warm bed an hour earlier each morning and spend that time in studying the Word, prayer, and maybe even some exercise.  All things that will allow me to get healthier mentally, spiritually, and physically.

It will not be as easy as it sounds.  Ten of these twenty-one days will be spent in Jordan and Israel.  So with jet lag, the time difference, and very long travel days I am going to want every minute of sleep I can get. 

But... I want Jesus more.  So I am gifting Him my time and in return I know He will give back to me way more than I will ever give up for Him. 

Give away your life; you'll find life given back- given back with bonus and blessing. Luke 6:38 (Message)

What could be better than bonus and blessings from God?  Nothing.

Yesterday my hubs wrote a great blog with some instruction and insight regarding fasting.  You can click here to read it.   

Have a great Thursday,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Journey with God

I can’t believe we are finally at the end of not only 2010, but also the final pages of our One Year Chronological Bible's readings.

One of the first things I have done each morning this year is post on Facebook the day's reading.

I will miss that.

But, I am very excited to begin a new journey January 1st.

I call it a journey because that is exactly what our relationship with God is: a daily walk with Him as we grow through the vicissitudes of life.

Today’s world thrives on the fast paced, worry laden, I-want-it-all-now kind of life style. And God is the complete opposite of all three of these.

And if God does not exist like that, then why should we?

If you want to grow, it will take time…

If you want to be worry free, it will take time...

If you want to have the best in life, it will take time... time in the Word of God, daily.

So if you too would like to join me and about 80 others on this journey beginning January 1, 2011 then click here to order your copy of Solo Remix: An Uncommon Devotional.

Or, if you don't have an e-reader, you can download the Kindle app to your mobile device and have the book sent directly to your smart phone or iPad, instantly.  (My new fav thing by the way.)

Until tomorrow...   

Happy trails to us!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Marking Time

I try to catch NBC's Nightly News each night when I'm home. (Which means I don't watch much news.)

On our last trip to New York we toured their studio and there is just something about seeing where you once stood projected on the big screen.

Although that's not the reason I watch that particular news cast, it was neat to have that experience with my hubs and daughter last year.


Any ole who, at the end of the broadcast last night they played a video pieced together this time each year, a final farewell to those we lost in 2010.

I was moved. But not to tears... to action.

These people are not remembered because of a huge inheritance they may have left behind. They are remembered because every one of those men and women accomplished great things in their life.

Although thousands of people across the United States died this year, those who history will remember are the ones who had purpose, vision and a drive to win in life no matter what the cost... forever making their mark in time.

My take-a-way...

History, or NBC's Nightly News, may not sing our praises when we pass, but if we live with purpose, vision and a will to win no matter the odds stacked against us, we will make our mark on someone's life.

And that to me is better than leaving behind any amount of monetary riches.

Marking Time,







Click here to watch NBC's farewell video for 2010.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gifts We Bring

Every Christmas I promise the same thing... "I will not wait until December to start planning and purchasing my Christmas gifts."

And you have probably said the same thing.

Well, although it really is my intention at the time to do better next year, it rarely happens... because life happens.

I love giving my hubs and kids what they ask for.  And if I will intentionally set time aside a few months prior to Christmas to work on my family's list, then my annual promise might one day come to fruition. 

But what I am doing this week, and I pray you will as well, is beginning to ask Jesus what gifts He would like me to bring Him next year.  

His life was His gift to me.  My life is all I have to give back to Him.  More importantly, the gift is what I will do with the next 365 days of my life.  

So as 2010 comes to a close I'm already making my 2011 CHRISTmas list- and checking it twice- as I sing,

My finest gifts to bring...

To lay before my king.

What do you plan to bring Jesus next year? 

Although He may not post His wish list on the fridge as our kids do, He will certainly post it on your heart if you'll just ask.

I plan to give Him 12 special gifts next year.  I will be sharing with you later this week the first gift on my list.

Until then, wrap up... cause baby it's cold outside!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Made to Crave

One of my new fav things is the Kindle app.  Although the Kindle has been around a while I am just discovering its great benefits to my already crazy cluttered life.

If you are not familiar with the Kindle, or E-Readers in general, it is a electronic device that allows you to purchase and download hundreds of books onto just one little piece of machinery.

No more lugging books around every where I go...

No more books I have to find space for on a book shelf...

And the greatest of all to me... No more traveling to a book store or waiting for a book to ship!!

So, when the book I've been waiting all year for released a few weeks early, I bought it, downloaded it, and in a matter of seconds was reading it.

If you are someone like me who has the not-so-great eating habits Made to Crave is for you.


God designed us to crave Him.  Unfortunately we too often fill that craving with food.  We were made to consume food, but food was not made to consume us.

This is not a book about losing weight, although as you read it you may find yourself doing just that.

This is not a book about eating this and not that so you can wear your skinny jeans in just six weeks.

This is a book about how each and everyone of us craves something and how to direct those cravings to what is honest, pure, and true so you can be whole.

I can't think of a better way to begin 2011. 

If you would like to find out more about Made to Crave click here.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Books in 2010

I wanted to share with you the books I have read this year.

As a child I hated to read.  

As a child of God I LOVE to read...  Although we do not have God to stand in front of us to teach us and train us, we do have His Word that transforms us.

And that is where my year began, reading the One Year Chronological Bible.  For those reading along with me you know we have only 35 out of 1668 pages left!!  So proud of everyone who stayed the course.

I also read Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity, You've Been a Bad Friend to Us. I will also be reading it again with our CCA ladies as we study the one thing that plagues us women and challenges our identity to the core... Insecurity.   You are invited to join in as we meet each Monday night in January at the Epicenter on Main Street in Alachua, Fl.

Get your tissues out for this one.  And if you ever considered adoption, beware, you may be filling out your paperwork before you put this next book down...

In Choosing to See; A Journey of Struggle and Hope Mary Beth Chapman shares her life's story that includes her childhood, teenage mistakes, marriage to a famous singer, and the accidental death of her 5 year old daughter when she ran in front of a car her brother was driving.  Great story of healing, restoration, and God turning for good the events that try to destroy.

The Mailbox was a great summer read!  It is the first novel written by Marybeth Whalen and was a sweet Christian summer romance story based on an actual location that I was very intrigued to learn about.  

Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan was definitely one I could not put down!  When you read this make sure you go online and watch the short videos as it instructs you to.  If you miss this part then you will only get half the experience of the read.

Sun Stand Still, What Happens when you Dare to ask God for the Impossible by Steven Furtick is a great book for anyone who wants to dream and do the impossible for God.  And if you never had that desire to see the impossible, this book will stir you to that end!

The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren (need I say more) is a short read that will keep you focused on this season's real meaning.  And you will learn how the three greatest purposes of Christmas will solve your three greatest needs.

Tomorrow I want to share with you the book I have been waiting all year for.  It was not scheduled for release until January but is now available and as soon as I learned that... I bought it!  And have already read half of it in a few days time.

I love to hear what others are reading.  It helps me decide the books I want to invest my time in next.  So I hope if you choose to read one of these books that they will bless you as they have blessed me.

By the way, only three more sleeps till Christmas!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Journey with Us

I can't tell you how many times our daily readings this year have been exactly what I have needed at the exact time I needed it. (click here to see the book we have been reading)

Like one of today's verses... Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:13

Yep, I needed that today.  And after posting it on my Facebook page,  I saw that many others needed it as well.

That's how great our God is.  A book that was complied over hundreds and thousands of years, then broken down into a 365 daily reading by mere humans, has been used by Him to speak to me on the days I needed it most.

This year has been one of the biggest growth spirts in my spiritual life and I know a massive reason is diving into the Word... everyday.

I shared with you a few weeks ago that we are beginning another journey on January 1, 2011.  This one is a little different than just reading straight through the Bible.

In 2010 we read the Word but in 2011 we will seal the Word in our hearts with a one year devotional that is designed to help you think, pray and live the Word you read for each day.

I would like to invite you to take the journey with me and about 70 others who have already received their books.

You can click here to order and read all about The Message Remix Solo.  I promise it will be the best $10 gift you will give yourself or someone you love this Christmas.

Please click comments below and let me now you are joining us.  Then at the end of 2011 you will be able to say with me and many others, What an amazing spiritual growth spirt I've had this year!!

Take the journey with us.

You'll be so glad you did.

If you LOVE to read as I do, tomorrow I plan to post most of the books I've read this year.  I would also LOVE to hear some of your fav books of 2010.

Until then, stay warm!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Comfort and Joy

As we were leaving a restaurant in New York City a few years ago the hubs and I actually rode the elevator down 47 flights with a very famous movie and sitcom star. As soon as we were out on the street we were calling those closest to us and telling them, “You’ll never believe who I just saw!”

We were star struck.

And we couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it.

If you have been following our staff’s posts or listening to CCA’s sermons on iTunes this month you know that we are talking all season long about being StarStruck by Christ.

If you know Him, you too have been struck by Him.

But most people don't know Him because they are actually afraid of Him. But Christ does not want us to be afraid of Him, he wants us to run to Him.

The angel of the Lord told the shepherds in the field, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”

Here’s some joyful news…

We don’t ever have to worry about God rubbing our sins in our face… He sent His son to rub them out. John 3:17

Jesus came to save us… not scare us. John 3:16

God is not mad at you… He is actually mad about you. Psalms 139:17-18

God does not withhold His love… He wants to lavish you with it. 1 John 3:1

God is not playing hide and seek with you… If you seek Him, you will find Him. Deuteronomy 4:29

You may not know everything about God… but He knows everything about you. Psalms 139:1

If you never had a father… God has always been your father and will forever be. Ephesians 3:14-15

If everyone in your life is against you… God who is greater will always be for you. Romans 8:31

And lastly...

Jesus came the first time as a baby. Luke 2

AND this is how He is coming back the second time...

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1Thessalonians 4: 16-18

We take comfort in the promise of the King yet to come.

And this Christmas season, we take joy in the baby that already came, Immanuel, Christ WITH us.

After seeing Jesus, the shepherds told everyone what had happened. Luke 2:17

If they had access to cell phones back then, they would have been calling those closest to them as well saying, "You'll never believe who I just saw!"

They were star struck. 

Are you?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Months and Years

So what's the big deal about Christmas anyway?

There has to be something that makes it stand out more than the other holidays on a calendar year.  

While they only get one day of celebration...

Christmas on the other hand gets an entire month where songs are sang, movies are watched, lights are hung, halls are decked, parties are planned, and bank accounts are depleted.

Why?

Although we may be a little off track when it comes to our focus for the season, the reason for the season has never changed. 

Over 2000 years ago God wanted to communicate His love toward us.  He could have chosen hundreds of different ways to do this.  But He knew the best way to communicate with us was to become one of us.

Therefore...

Unto US a child was given.  Unto US a son was born. Isaiah 9:6

When my daughter Chrissy was younger we had this saying.  She would tell me, "I love you days and weeks."  And I would follow up by saying, "I love you months and years."  Yeah, I know it doesn't make much sense but it was our way of communicating how much we loved each other.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son.

That was God's way of communicating His love toward us.

He gave us His best gift.

It's a gift that is not just for you to receive, but for you to share.

So when you write out your list of gifts to give this year, don't forget to add the most extravagant, life changing gift there is... Jesus.

He is the reason for the season.

And although this was the most costly gift ever given... It won't cost you a penny.

I like that. 

And I love Him... months and years.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pastor Jay on StarStruck

I have a special post from our Student Life Pastor Jay Porter.  As many of you know we are in the first week of our Holiday Series called StarStruck.  (Click here to read about it.)

Jay did an excellent job blogging about being StarStruck and I wanted to share it with you.  Also, at the end of the post I added the video we played during our service Sunday.  Trust me, you don't want to skip it.  Just make sure you have a tissue on hand.

Now, here's Pastor Jay...

Everyone at one point or another in their life has been Starstruck. We have all found ourselves going through life as usual, when all of a sudden someone famous or someone who has impacted our life, finds themselves right in front of us and life stops....

In that moment we’ll stop everything we are doing to experience every second of a Starstruck encounter...

Those moments we will remember forever...

Those moments are easy to hold onto throughout our life journey...

But what about the Starstruck moments we miss?

Many times we are Starstruck by things that have no eternal benefit...

Even though we live in a world of indescribable creation we get caught up in selfish paths and prideful encounters...

Many times we are Starstruck by the people of the world rather than the Creator of the world. Causing us to miss out on the spiritual moments that would leave us speechless...

From something as simple as the changing of the leaves, to renewed relationships, or quite moments with God, all are interactions with our Savior that should leave us Starstruck.

Humanity was no different when Jesus was born. The gospel narratives describe a “star” that declared Jesus’ birth to the world. The “star” itself has been a topic of debate among astronomers since its arrival. Whether it was a comet, an asteroid, or super nova.....It was there... allowing the world the opportunity to be Starstruck.

The moment the star appeared declaring to the world His arrival, life on earth would never be the same...the Son of God had been born. But many missed out...

We can be so stuck in the “stardom” that is our own prideful arrogance that we call “life” that we miss out on a moment that could forever change our life. During Jesus’ birth and the months surrounding it not many showed up to celebrate the arrival of the King. Many stayed home...many were too focused on their own life to notice the star. The sad reality of the situation is that it was no surprise Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. The prophecies foretold it clearly...

Then there were some who dropped everything to be StarStruck...Those who searched didn’t follow the crowds but the star. It didn't matter the journey ahead, a star led their way...

Today...His star still leads the way....His Son still directs our path...

This Christmas season is a time for us as Christ followers to focus in not only on the true meaning of Christmas but also the true meaning of life. We should lead the way with our own personal story of how we were Starstruck by God, and how life was never the same.

This Christmas, discover the stories found throughout the Bible of people who were one way one day, and another the next because they were Starstruck....discover the stories of those around you...share and show the world His star...

This Christmas:

Don’t miss His moments....

Don’t miss His Story...

Don’t miss the star...

Be Starstruck....




Monday, November 29, 2010

Out of the Ordinary... Again

One of the points in my hubs message yesterday was Serve Others Spontaneously.  In other words, be open to the Holy Spirit at all times and when you sense His prompting, move. 

I later read a mass text message sent to me by a friend and this was its last line... Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps, if you are not willing to move your feet.  Did that hit you like it did me?

Every one of us has experienced that nudging to pray for someone in the store or just ask a coworker if everything is OK.  But instead, we just walked on by.  

When God gives you that gentle push to move it's because He wants to use YOU to be His voice in someone's life.  Here is a post I wrote last year about a God moment in my ordinary day. Hope you enjoy it, again. (Smile)

Last Tuesday was just an ordinary day. Or was it?

I did nothing different than usual. Came to the office. Started working. Did some research. Ate lunch.

Same ole, same ole.

But somewhere in the midst of all this, God had ordained a moment. A moment out of the ordinary.

You see, that morning I was looking at the design of a blog I frequent because I am in process of redesigning mine. Ahem, I mean having someone redesign mine. I design as well as I sing. And if you've never heard me sing, then you're one of the lucky ones because it isn't pretty. Trust me on that one.

Anyway, back to the blog I was looking at. I happened to read the post for that day. It was good. But I really didn't think that much about it. And I moved on to look at some designs on other blogs.

After lunch a dear friend came in the office on her lunch break. I knew she was having a tough week and I could tell she just desired a friendly face.

The conversation was light until she starting sharing more of her heart concerning the situation she is currently moving through. My mind went to the blog post I read just a couple hours earlier entitled I Wasn't Planning to Write this Post.

And I'm sure she wasn't, but God was. It was just what my friend needed to read on that day, at that moment. So I forwarded it to her.

God used my ordinary day to minister to a friend in need through an extraordinary way.

To be used by God does not mean you have to have a Masters in Theology, 'Pastor' in front of your name, or be the President of a large ministry.

You just have to be willing and inviting.

Willing- to be God's hands extended.

Inviting- allowing Him to use your ordinary day in extraordinary ways.

Now, if you are like me your curiosity is about to get the best of you. Click here and you too can read the post I sent my friend.

Thanks for reading again.  Praying you have a StarStruck week!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Place Like Home

What a service we had today!!!

If you live in the area of Alachua and do not have a church home I would like to personally invite you to come out and be a part of an awesome family known as Christ Central Alachua.

Today was the first Sunday of our month long series called StarStruck.  



MANY hours of hard work have gone into making this the most exciting, inspirational, and life changing season in the history of CCA.  

Here's a little preview.



So if you are looking for a place to call home this Holiday Season, look no further.  There is no place like home... and there's no place like CCA for the Holidays!!




p.s. Today's message is already up on iTunes.  To find us just type Christ Central Alachua in your search window and click on the sermon We Shine.  I promise it is well worth the listen... and it's FREE!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Moved to Action

There are only two months left in 2010 which means the Holidaze, I mean, Holidays are here.  

Today I chatted with Caley about Crave's Thanksgiving meal.  Emailed Kim, our Ladies Ministries leader, about our P31 shopping trip this Saturday.  And discussed with my mom what Christmas gifts my kids may want.

I am well aware how fast these next 61 days will go by.  Way too fast for me.  

In our chronological reading we have come to the arrest of Jesus. I know He was well aware of how fast his 3 year ministry would go by.  What did that kind of knowledge do to Him?  

I'm sure it caused Him to wake up each day with a sense of extreme urgency and purpose.

And now His whole purpose for coming is about to be fulfilled. 

In December we will celebrate His birth, but this week we will read about His death.  He truly is the reason for the season but WE are the reason He came in the first place.

To forgive us.

To love us.

To serve us.

So let's purpose in these next 8 weeks to do the same.  What better way to close out 2010 and welcome 2011 then by making a difference in the lives of others? 

Let's not allow Christ's story to just move us to tears, let's be moved to action.

I am so excited for all who are joining in on our journey next year (click here to read all about it.)  The winners of the The Message Remix Solo: An Uncommon Devotional are... drum roll please... 

Pat Johns and Vicki Calvert!!!  And the crowd goes wild... or at least the winners do. (smile)

Again, CCA you can give me $10 by the 14th and I will get your book ordered.

Blessings,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Preparing for 2011

I am VERY excited to share with you today the great opportunity I mentioned at the close of yesterday's post.  But yesterday I also shared with you about The Bash where last night Mark and I were the judges of our youth's costumes and, ahem, food.

So I thought I would give you a little glimpse into last night's events...

Here we are along with our Verge Student Ministries Pastors, Jay and Caley.


Our Verge Staff, aka, characters from Alice in Wonderland.


As I stated, we had to judge the food.  The criteria for winning was it had to be the best tasting AND the most repulsive and this one definitely qualified.  Diaper Dip, and yep we had to eat it.

It was an awesome night!!  You can go to my facebook page to view all the pictures, which includes the Dirty Mop Water Punch that was served, you guessed it, in a mop bucket.

Now on to what I pray you will join me in next year.

This time last year I announced and invited everyone who was interested to join me on a journey; a 365 day journey through the Word of God. 

Over 80 people from all over the country, along with myself, have been reading The One Year Chronological Bible and it has been one of the most amazing adventures through the Word I have ever been on.

I really wanted to continue on after December 31, 2010, but I also wanted us to dig a little deeper.  In 2010 we have read the Word, but in 2011 I want us to seal the Word in our hearts.


The Message//Remix: Solo is designed to not teach you to study the Bible, but rather develop a conversation between you and God.  This is more about Bible basking than Bible study.  Through this uncommon devotional you will read, think, pray and live the scriptures every day of 2011.

You can purchase this book at Christian bookstores, ChristianBook.com , or Amazon.com for around $10.00.  These also make great Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers.

If you attend CCA and would like to purchase one you can turn in your $10 and we send in an order November 15th.  

Oh I hope and pray you will jump in with me on this as we quiet ourselves for just a few moments each day to hear the voice of God as He speaks to us, challenges us, and moves us into a deeper understanding of His life-giving Word.

I am going to give away TWO of these books.  One will go to a current reader who is going through the Chronological Bible, but you must leave a comment on this post expressing what reading through the Bible this year has meant to you.  I will randomly choose from those comments.

The next person to win will be someone who will be new to our journey.  So if you plan to jump on board next year leave me a comment as well and I will randomly choose one of you also to win your very own devotional.

I will announce the winners on Monday.

Have a blessed day,



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unmasking

Halloween is this Sunday.  Many of us will be dressing up, heading out the door with our kids, and coming back home with more surgery treats than one person should ever consume in a single lifetime.

Although my kids are too old to Trick-or-Treat I am excited because Pastor Mark and I still get to join in the fun this week.  We have been asked to participate in The Bash tonight. 

The Bash is Verge Student Ministry's night of fun, really gross food, and some really great costumes.  Mark and I will be judging the costumes and said food, which means we have to consume it (I appreciate your prayers on that one).

Of course we can't arrive as just Mark and Tina so this means we get to dress up and for a few hours pretend we are someone else.

There is nothing wrong with changing our identity for this night of fun, but sadly most of us mask our true identity every day.

John 10:10 says Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy,...

When he steals the truth of who and whose we are we become insecure.   This insecurity leads us to put more effort into masking ourselves than being ourselves.

The Lone Ranger was one of the most famous masked men on TV.  But do you realize The Lone Ranger was never really alone?  Tonto, his Native American companion, was always at his side. 

Lone Ranger would always call Tonto his Ke-mo Sah-bee which means faithful friend.

Bible says that we have our very own faithful friend; one that sticks closer even than a brother.  His name is Jesus.  Jesus is your Ke-mo Sah-bee, your faithful friend until the end.

And just like Tonto knew The Lone Ranger's true identity was John Reid, Jesus knows your true identity as well.

He knows the good, the bad and even the ugly about us, and yet He loves us and accepts us anyway.  How do I know this?  Because Ephesians 1:6 tells us we are accepted in the beloved.

So if Jesus knows exactly who we really are, and He accepts us anyway, why should we feel we have to mask our true selves any longer?

1 Peter 2:9-10 says, But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

How can we ever project the night and day difference God has made in us if we are always hiding behind our masks?  When we mask our struggles, we are actually denying God of the glory when He brings us out.

So, after you remove your costumes this week and look into the mirror, be open and honest with God and others about who you really are.

Then and only then can you show forth the glorious excellencies of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God's people.
Once you received no mercy; now you have received God's mercy.
1 Peter 2:10

Check back tomorrow for an exciting opportunity I would like to present to you for 2011. 

Can you believe we are already on the brink of another new year?  

Let's make the most of the 65 days we have left in 2010 by hiding behind our masks no more. 

Love ya and I'll see ya back here tomorrow!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ordering Your Heart

I love order. 

Nothing makes me more happy then when the house is all clean and well organized, all our personal important papers are in their proper file folders, bills paid, my husband and kids are well taken care of, our meals are all planned out and groceries purchased, everything in my office is in order, and the church is running smoothly.

Today we are continuing our topic of rest, and it is very hard for me to rest, to be at peace, when these areas listed above in my life are not in order.

I know you can relate. 

What I have learned over the past few years is that time management is very necessary.  It helps us order our lives.

But I have also learned that although time management is good, it is not transformational.

Managing our lives carries the notion that we are trying to make life more manageable, more convenient, and it is easy to assume that if we could just get everything under control and in order then life would be peaceful.

But I have also learned that life can throw you a curve ball.  How do you manage life when a husband leaves, a child gets sick, or a job is lost?

You can't tell this newly alone wife to just reorder her life and all will be peaceful.

I love what Lamentations 3:40 says in the Message Bible...

Let’s take a good look at the way we are living and reorder our lives under God.
 
You see, God did not intend for us to live from the outside in- for us to get everything in order then peace would come.  No, God's intention is for us to live from the inside out- to live from a well ordered heart.
 
And when are hearts are well ordered, it will not matter what is going on around us, we can be at peace and rest even in the midst of the chaos and uncertainties of life.
 
Living a life solely on time management is based on your determination.  But living a life of true peace will always be based on your surrender.
 
And surrender is not about having everything in your life in order and in it's proper place, its about having Jesus in His place.
 
Two of our verses in today's reading fit so well here.
 
Then Jesus said, "Come unto me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  Matthew 11:28-29
 
If you will surrender your life and reorder it under God, then He will teach you how to live from a well ordered heart.  Then you can say, it is well with my soul, even when it is not well with my circumstance.
 
So if you love order like me, order your heart first.   Then... Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Happy Monday!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Your Promised Land of Rest

I have been doing a lot of research lately on the Sabbath and have uncovered some pretty interesting things.  Things I have never seen before.

In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John today we read were Jesus was questioned, criticized, and judged for 'working' on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest. (You can go to my Facebook page to see today's readings)

For way too long I think we have been over thinking this day of rest thing.  We have made it more about a list of what we can or cannot do on this one particular day of the week than we have true rest.

Today we saw that was exactly what the Pharisees were doing as well.  They even went so far as to start plotting how to kill Jesus because He 'worked' on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:14).

Side note: I do believe we would all be dead if the Pharisees were to follow us around on the 'Day of Rest' too. 

Now, back to today's posting... (grin)

So, if it is suppose to be a sin on the Sabbath to not rest, then what exactly does it mean to rest?

And here are some of the amazing things I unearthed...

I went back to the original day of rest, the seventh day of creation, recorded for us in Genesis 2:1-3.  The first thing my eyes were opened to was that on days one through six there is a recorded beginning and an ending (morning and evening) to the day, but not on day seven prompting us to conclude that the day has yet to end.

Hebrews 3:16 through 4:16 steers us to that conclusion as well. 

Hebrews 3:18 says the children of Israel, whom God delivered out of Egypt, would not enter His rest (the Promised Land).  Why?  Because verse 19 says they did not believe.  They never came to the place of total dependence on God; therefore, they never entered into the place of total rest in God.

When we rest, it's true we are not 'working'.  But a place of rest is so much more than ceasing from physical labor. 

To be at rest is believing and trusting that God is in control of every area of our lives.  And we are not.  

It is ceasing from laboring to make things happen as God ceased on the seventh day of creation.

Chapter 4 of Hebrews begins with the promise of rest to come and ends with these words.  As you read them, read them in light of the fact that the Son of Man had to come to a place of rest as well while here on earth.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

The promise of God's rest is fully realized through Christ. Therefore, let us strive to obtain it through Him, our sympathizing High Priest.  He knows exactly how we feel when we want to hold onto our cares instead of casting them... when we want to be dependent on ourselves instead of God... when we want to fret instead of rest.

We know that without faith it is impossible to please God, but without obedience to His word, it is impossible to rest in God.

So let us do our best to enter that rest [total dependence on God]. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.  Hebrews 4:11

We all want to enter our promised land of rest. 

And if you will just come to that place of total dependence on God, you will!

I plan to continue this discussion of rest on Monday.  Until then, leave me a comment and share your struggles with being fully dependent on God, the God of our promised rest, and I will address some next week.

Praying you have a great, restFALL weekend,

 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Love My Church

Last Sunday I posted, I Love My Church, on my Facebook status.

What is very comical is the fact that the way we have to 'do' church can be very stressful, hard and extremely time consuming.

Each week we spend hours in setting up just to have one service.  Then we have the tear everything down following service. Every mic, every speaker, every wire, every chair, every playpen, every table, every projector, every screen, every banner, and every road sign has to be set up and taken down each week.

And... I Love My Church?

YES!!! I DO.

Not necessarily because of all the hard work involved (and let me just say, CCA has the best volunteers in the WORLD!). 

I love it because sinners feel comfortable here.

Why?  Because they feel the love of Jesus here.

In our Chronological reading today, Matthew (the tax collector and new found disciple of Jesus) held a banquet with all of his sinner friends and invited Jesus as the guest of honor  (Matthew 9:10). 

Mark's account in chapter 2 says, "Later, Levi [Matthew] invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)"

Did you get that last part?  Jesus had disreputable people that followed Him and spent time with Him.

In other words, they felt comfortable around Him!!

Oh but if you read on, the Pharisees (aka, the 'church leaders' of the day) condemned Jesus for this.

Jesus said Himself that He did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:17).

That is our goal at CCA.  We will not condemn, we will love.  We will not exclude, we will include.  We will not withhold Christ, we will freely give Him. 

We are called to lift Jesus up, and when we do our part then He will draw all men unto Himself.  He will heal the hurts.  He will forgive the sins.  And he will change the lives.

CCA is not a perfect church because it is full of imperfect people... including me. 

But together we serve a perfect Savior.

And when we do our part, Love God, Love People and Serve Others, then He will take all us sinners and heal, forgive and change us into the disciples He has called us to be.

Yep, I Love My Church...

The perfect place, for imperfect people.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Found People Find People

If you are new to this blog, please know that some of the postings are regarding the daily reading from the One Year Chronological Bible.  Collectively there are about 80 people reading through the Bible this year.  If you would like to join in we just started the New Testament.  You can get the daily readings on my Facebook page where they are posted each morning.  Would love for you to jump in with us!!

I am so excited we have moved into the New Testament and even though the scriptures we read over the weekend were ones we have read countless times, it still never gets old to read about the foretelling and birth of Jesus. 

Today our reading started off with Jesus' 40 days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness followed by the gathering of His first disciples.

Can you imagine with me for a moment?  Their whole lives these guys knew one day a man was coming, a Messiah, that would take away the sins of the world... take away their sins.

It was a story that had been told for many generations before them, but could they have ever believed that the one day would have ever been in their day?

AND, this Savior... is now standing before them... choosing them... to come and follow Him?

What a moment!  A moment that changed the rest of their lives... forever. 

He enlisted Andrew then Simon, whom He changed his name to Peter, and in verse 43 of John chapter 1 it said, The next day... He [Jesus] found Philip...

Two verses later, Philip went and found Nathanael.

Found People Find People!

Philip knew Nathanael needed to come and see Jesus for himself (verse 46).

Who do you know that needs to see Him?

Who do you know that desperately needs a relationship with Jesus Christ?

We too once were lost, but now we are... found.

If we care about Jesus Christ then we will care about the people who are far from Jesus Christ and the only problem with those that don't know Christ is that they don't know Christ.

How will they know the answer... to EVERYTHING... is Jesus unless we (the found) find them, and then tell them?

Jesus found Philip.  Philip found Nathanael.  Someone found you. 

Now, who will you go and find?

It may be the moment that changes the rest of their lives... forever!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moments in Time

God never ceases to amaze me!

Never.

Yesterday there was something weighing on my heart, nothing too major, but still something that was a concern.  When I got home late yesterday afternoon the first thing I did was make a pot of coffee (gotta have your priorities), grabbed a great book, and went to spend some quiet time with God.

As God had preordained, the chapter I was on spoke directly to my concern... spoke directly to me.

I love how He does that.  Before time began, God knew on September 21, 2010 Tina Johns would need a little encouragement so He preplanned this moment just for me

I'm so glad I did not miss it.  I pray I don't miss the next moment He has planned out for me long before time began.

I'm sure I would be sad if I knew just how many of those moments I have missed in the past because I did not take time to stop, rest and listen to the voice of the One who made time. 

These moments are important because it is the time where God wants to help us, calm us, and heal us.  But too often we can get so busy doing life instead of spending time with the One who gave us life.

So today I pray that God will allow us to desire these moments in time with Him.  Moments where He changes us from the inside out so we can live from a well ordered heart.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Well Balanced

I usually don't blog on the weekend but my spirit is so FULL this Saturday morning because I am so excited about CCA's P31 Ladies Meeting this upcoming Monday night.

I have been spending time with the Lord and in His Word studying how we can Live a Well Balanced Life- the topic of our meeting.  I am soooo tempted to share with you today my findings but I don't want to give it all away too prematurely.

The answer to the delima of balancing our often out of balance lives is profound, yet so simple. 

I'm someone who is learning how to do simple because my tendency is to do hard.  Anyone relate? 

So if you are a Jesus girl like me who can get easily overwhelmed with the pressure that comes from life issues, life responsibilities and life conflicts then I want to encourage you to come.

We are meeting this Monday night at the Epicenter (14906 Main Street, Alachua) at 6:30.  Bring your favorite finger food and your Bible. 

Any and every lady is welcome to attend!!   I just would like to ask that you please email Kim Chewning and let her know you will be there so we can be well prepared for you 4given@unreasonablegrace.net.

I love you ladies so much and pray you are having a blessed weekend!!

See ya Monday night,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finally, It's Almost Here

The Johns house is in full swing.  This weekend is THE most anticipated weekend of all the year.  It even beats out Christmas. 

Company is coming in.  Groceries are bought.  Pole barn cleaned out.  And bows have been fine tuned.

Yep it's the most wonderful time of the year when hunting season rolls around.  And my man and man cub are R-E-A-D-Y.

My menus are all planned out just as if it was Thanksgiving week. And I thought I would share with you tonight's meal as we are snuggling in like it was the night before Christmas Eve.

Crispy Ranch Chicken

2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
2 egg whites, beaten
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I am using chicken breast)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine cereal, cheese and ranch salad dressing mix in a large bowl.

Place beaten egg whites in a medium bowl.  Dip each chicken piece in the egg whites and then in the cereal mixture to coat evenly.

Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden and juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife, 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot.

I am serving this with sauteed okra, cream corn, and corn bread. 

I love to give great recipes to help you on those nights when no one has any idea what to cook. You know, the nights when you just stand staring into your pantry and fridge... wondering... hoping... something will jump out and say Cook Me!  Yeah, we have those nights too.

So if you too have a great and easy recipe you would like to share please leave it in the comment section and I will post one in the next couple days. 

I can't wait to try them!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Giving and Trusting

Let's pick back up on last Thursday's post.  I wanted to dive into the giving and trusting thing on Friday but time did not permit so instead I shared with you a great book I just finished.

So now that my company is gone and the house is clean (well, was clean) I want to continue our thoughts on this matter.

I shared Thursday that our giving really comes down to our trusting.  Trusting God.  

Trusting that when I give, God will give back.

This is one thing I have never had a hard time doing in my life.  I have always found it easy to trust God and take Him at His Word.

I contribute a lot of this to the fact that I have an earthly father I trusted completely growing up.  And how you view your earthly father is usually the way you view your heavenly father.  And my earthly father is someone that I never doubted, always trusted, never worried that I would go without or felt I would be left unprotected.

But I do know not everyone had the same experience I did.  If your father left your family, was not the provider he should have been or worse took advantage of you in the most detestable way, then I am sure you have a hard time with trust.

But your heavenly Father, the one who created you and gave life to you, will never leave you nor take advantage of you. 

Because of that I trust... Trust that when I give it will come back to me (Luke 6:38).

And I know... That if I trust in the Lord with all my heart, He will show me which path to take (Proverbs 3:5 & 6).

And I have seen... When I am concerned with God's kingdom and righteousness first, then everything else is added to my life (Matthew 6:33).

CCA is not in the middle of a fund raising campaign, but a faith raising campaign.  Hebrews says that without faith it is impossible to please God. 

I want to please my God.  And I please Him when I trust Him. When I trust Him I am having complete faith in His ability to meet my needs when I first give away that which I have.

If you want to trust God with all your heart as Proverbs instructs but find it very challenging, let me give you this mental picture.

The complete verse says to trust in the Lord with all your heart and to lean not on your own understanding.  Our own understanding is like a broken reed, that when leaned upon will fail (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary).  

God is the only one, who when leaned upon, will never fail.  But it will require us to trust Him.

Mark and I could write a book on our giving.  Since the day we rededicated our lives back to Christ we have always put God first when it came to our finances.  We pay our tithe as well as give offerings, and sometimes they have been very sacrificial offerings because one thing we strongly believe in is sowing and reaping. 

Ten years ago we gave a financial seed to a Christian school's building program.  We had been looking for two years for the right house to purchase for our family and could find nothing.  We designated that seed to the school for the harvest of a home and today we live in the fruit that seed produced.

If you have read my blogs for long you know we are back in the same place needing to build on 5 acres we purchased to get closer to our church.  And again, we have planted some seeds toward CCA's first building.  And I trust God that even in this economy our current home will sell and we will be able to move closer to our new family.

But first we are giving to God's building. 

We are giving and trusting.  And when we put God's kingdom first, He will add all these other things to our life.

I dare you to give, for when you do you will see that God will give back to you, good measure, shaken together and running over (Luke 6:38).

Test me in this and see if I don't open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams (Malachi 3:10 MSG).

He is the Lord of the Harvest!!

Happy Monday,