Friday, November 22, 2013

I got an A+ and didn’t have to take the test

As a veteran teacher, I see things differently than some people.

I work all day long with high school students.  As long as they can remember they have been being evaluated for their performance.  It has been ingrained into their minds to do well and get the A.  Sometimes effort and behavior play into that grade but mostly it is performance.  Did you get an A on the test?

Growing up that was extremely important to me.  I strove to get the As. 

Sometimes it is easy to forget that God doesn’t work this way.  He’s got a completely different system.  It isn’t about performance, effort, or behavior.

He’s already graded me and I got an A+.  Why? … because of what Christ did for me.  I simply had to accept what Jesus did for me and apply it to my life.  Now the pressure is off and I can relax.  Because my position in Christ is secure, I can feel the freedom. 

I am free to grow.  I am free to live.  I am free to obey.  I am free to fail, and then start all over again.  The final test has already been taken and I passed.  Jesus took it for me and because He passed, my name is written in the Book of Life .

It’s called grace


“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”  
Ephesians 2:8-9

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”  Romans 6:14

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”  Romans 11:6 

“Grace, then, is grace,–that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” ~ Alexander Whyte

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I surrender …

When I consider my Christian life, it comes to one primary goal …. living in surrender to Christ.  That isn’t easy!  In fact, sometimes it is very difficult.

Feelings are the worst.  It is sometimes very difficult to choose facts over feelings.  My flesh sends up feelings that I have a hard time suppressing.  Then they quickly take over my logic, reason, and truth.  They cause me to try to justify my actions, to consider my rights, and then they stir up within me anger and bitterness.  They are a very real threat to me.

What I need to do is focus on the facts.  Truth is found in facts.  Jesus said the truth would set me free.

The key – surrender.

My surrendering determines how sold out to Jesus I am.  It also is an indication of my love for Him.

I asked God why He made me with such deep feelings.  I guess it is so I would continually draw near to Him….so I would desperately need Him.  I need Him in control.  I need Him to direct my paths.  I need Him to guard my heart.  I need Him to guide me in truth.

My emotions require constant management.  That keeps me in need of constant surrender to Him … every minute …. every day.  It’s work, but it is worth it.

Surrender is essential.  It’s a constant practice of confessing sin and disobedience and attempting to live in obedience and truth. 

When I am fearful … Lord I surrender.

When I am angry… Lord I surrender.

When I am weak and my faith begins to waver… Lord I surrender.

When I am jealous… Lord I surrender.

When I am hurt, angry, bitter… Lord I surrender.

When I am prideful… Lord I surrender.

When I want to be in control … Lord I surrender.

When I am selfish … Lord I surrender.

When all I can see is my failure … Lord I surrender.

When I doubt your goodness … Lord I surrender.

When I doubt your love … Lord I surrender.

When I think the whole world is against me … Lord I surrender.

Surrender slows down my world.  It clears my mind.  It allows me to experience God’s presence in my spirit.  It reminds me of the facts – the truth.  It empowers me.  It gives me clarity.  It silences the needs/desires/wants of my flesh. 

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”    ~Psalm 139:23-24

“Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.” 
~Psalm 119:133

Monday, November 18, 2013

Safe Life

Did Jesus come to save us so we could live a safe life?

Respectable Christians living in respectable homes, attending respectable churches, wearing respectable clothes, raising respectable children, working respectable jobs, and wearing respectable fake smiles....

We hold tightly to our things, our possessions.

We hold loosely to our God....

It's more important for us to look good than to actually be good ....

God told us to be holy because he is holy (1 Peter 1:16) but we are more concerned with what we have, how we compare to our neighbors, and what others think about us.

We are living so contrary to the teaching of Jesus.

Our purpose in life is not safety, not happiness, not health; it is holiness.

We have too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them.  Many of them may be right, noble, and even good but they are taking our focus off our purpose – holiness.

Holiness means absolute purity of our walk before God, the words coming from our mouths, and even the very thought in our minds— placing every detail of our life under the scrutiny of God Himself.

Holy living is not safe living.  Someone will be offended.  Someone won’t speak to you.  Someone will think you are a “Jesus Freak.” 

However, holy living pleases God.

So what’s it going to be – safe living or holy living.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Prayer is an expectation

Still doing a lot of thinking on the topic of prayer.

It is believed that many Christians pray less than 7 minutes daily, even though they know that prayer is a vital Christian Discipline. Why might this be so?

Sometimes the problem is primarily a lack of discipline. Prayer is never planned; time is never allotted just for praying.

Often we do not pray because we doubt that anything will actually happen if we pray. Of course, we don’t admit this publically.

A lack of sensing the nearness of God may also discourage the prayer.

When there is little awareness of real need, there is little real prayer.

Some circumstances drive us to our knees. But there are periods when life seems quite manageable.

Although Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), this truth hits home more forcefully at some times than at others.

When our awareness of the greatness of God and the gospel is dim, our prayer lives will be small.

Another reason many Christians pray so little is because they haven’t learned about prayer.

Reasons why we don’t pray

1. Lack of knowledge

We don’t understand it

God is sovereign but He asks as to pray. Why does He need me to pray?

We see our prayers go unanswered. We pray for a long time and don’t get an answer.

2. Self-sufficiency

We think we don’t need it.

While we’d never say that, we live like that.

We think we’ve got it all together.

We think we can handle it.

We are self-sufficient. We live as if we don’t need God. We can go for a whole day (or even days) without prayer. Perhaps we bless the food but we don’t really communicate with God anything past a rote recitation. Going a whole day without prayer is like telling God that you didn’t need Him today…. that you did fine on your own.

3. Pre-occupied

We don’t have the focus for it. We are preoccupied with ourselves instead of thinking about others. We don’t even really know the needs of others.

We are preoccupied with our comfort instead of discipline.

We can’t get up a half an hour early to pray but we can for things we want to do.

We are preoccupied with all the “stuff” going on in our lives instead of our inability to live the Christian life in our own power. It can even be “good stuff” that takes our attention.

Solutions to these problems

1. Overcoming the lack of knowledge.

Recognize that our ignorance is insignificant. It doesn’t matter if we don’t understand prayer. The fact that I don’t fully understand prayer is not a reason to not pray.

Realize that you don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to be smart.

James 5:16 “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”.

You just have to be righteous. As long as you are saved, you are righteous. At the moment of new birth you were given the righteousness of Christ.

You have all it takes to have a powerful and effective prayer life.

You need to balance the idea that you have all it takes to have an effective prayer life with realizing that your knowledge is insufficient.  God knows all things.  While your prayer life can be effective, you still need to be submissive to the will of God.

In Luke 1:1 the disciples said “teach us to pray”; they didn’t say teach us how to pray.  We need God to teach us to pray.  Then in Luke 11:2, they prayed for God’s will to be done on earth. Little children pray for what they want, not what they need.  Pray for what God wants and not what you want.

2. Overcoming self-sufficiency

Realize that prayerlessness is sin.  It is also a sin not to pray for others.

1 Samuel 12 – The people wanted a king. They asked Samuel to ask God for a king for them.  Look at verse 23 – Samuel says that it would be a “sin not to pray for you.”

Self-sufficiency is sin.  Our competency comes from God.

2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

3. Overcoming the Preoccupied Life

Your source is the Holy Spirit.

Andrew Murry - “The flesh can say prayers well enough. Calling itself religious for doing so and thus satisfy the conscious. But the flesh has no desire or strength for the prayer that strives after intimate knowledge of God, that rejoices in fellowship with Him, and that continues to lay hold of His strength.”

It is possible to pray in the flesh. We try to muster up our own desire and discipline to pray. Ultimately we will fail because it can’t be done continuously in the flesh.

Come before God and be honest. Tell Him you don’t have the desire, discipline, ability to pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to do it through you.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 4:2 - “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”


A couple of final thoughts:

E.K.Bailey said “Prayer is an awesome instrument for getting God’s will done on earth not for getting my will done in heaven.”

Peter Briscoe said “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but it is plugging into God’s will.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Praying about everything

Sometimes our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses.  One of my greatest personal strengths is that I am a strong independent woman.  One of my greatest spiritual weaknesses is that I am a strong independent woman.

I have gifts and talents in the area of leadership.  I have a graduate degree in educational leadership.  I have been a school administrator for more years than I care to admit. 

And yet, sometimes that independence can have a negative effect on my Christian life.

Here’s an example.  I was praying through a list of requests the other day and I really felt like God was prompting me to pray for myself.  I wondered why.  The people I am praying for really need my prayers right now.  They are not doing well and they need a touch from the Lord.  Yet God kept prompting me the pray for myself.  I thought I am doing fine and then it hit me….

I’ve been doing some study on the topic of prayer in preparation to teach a Sunday School lesson.  I read verses like pray without ceasing.  I know I need to pray.  After all, prayerlessness is a sin.  It’s like telling God that you don’t need him.  You can do it on your own.  You are self-sufficient instead of God-dependent.

This is exactly what God was trying to tell me when I was praying.  I need to pray for others but I also need to pray for myself.  It is an act of submission and surrender to God when we pray for ourselves.  Placing everything I am doing and needing at His feet and asking Him to walk through it with me.  Depending on Him to get me through and not on myself.

I need God every minute of every day and yet I don’t always acknowledge His presence in my life.  This is something I can pray for, not only for myself but for others. 

What about you?  Do you truly rely on the Lord for everything or are you too self-sufficient?  Do you trust Him moment by moment or just run to Him when you are in a crisis?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Train yourself to be godly

1 Timothy 4:6-8

“If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

How do we train to be godly?

1.  We train to be godly by presenting our bodies as living sacrifices.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”   Romans 12:1-2

2.  We train to be godly by serving one another.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   Galatians 5:13-14

3. We train to be godly by watching our thoughts.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”   2 Corinthians 10:4-5

4. We train to be godly by watching our tongue.

“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.”   Psalm 34:11-13

5. We train to be godly by fleeing temptations and pursuing good things/behaviors.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”   1 Timothy 6:10-11

6. We train to be godly by pursuing holiness.

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.””   
1 Peter 1:13-16

I’m sure there are more verses that could be listed but this is a good start.  Want to take the challenge?  Want to enter training to be godly?

Catching My Breath

To those of you who read my blog fairly consistently, I apologize for the unscheduled sabbatical.  I intended to write many times in the last three months.  Every time I sat down to write something interrupted me or I just didn’t feel led by God to post my thoughts.

It has been an amazing past three months. 

I’ve been extremely busy with the start of a new school year.  The completion of some big projects at work.  (We installed a brand new campus-wide wireless system including a fiber line for internet.) 

I’ve been teaching an adult Sunday School class and that has been amazing.  God teaches me so much as I prepare those lessons each week.  It has truly been a blessing.

My husband and I had an amazing harvest from our garden.  God supplied way beyond what we dreamed and we were able to give away boxes and boxes of produce to needy people in our community.  

Things are finally slowing down and I think I am catching my breath.

While I had the desire to write over the past three months, I felt God telling me it was OK to take a break….to relax… learn from Him….to soak it in from Him without feeling a need to give it back out right away….to sit at His feet and learn.  It has been a great time of refreshing my spirit.  Now I feel like the Lord wants me to write again.  So….  get ready…. I’m back.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pictures from Oklahoma Mission Trip


We worked with Operation Blessing.  They are a Christian based disaster relief organization.

We cleaned up debris from a house that had been demolished.  The house belonged to an 80 year old woman who had to have help cleaning up her lot.


debris1 debris2 debris3 debris4 debris5 debris6 debris7 debris8 debris9debris10


Some of us took turns working at the headquarters.  We cleaned. worked in a food pantry, did computer work, and helped fix meals for the volunteers.



church7 church2

church3 church4

church5 church6


This house belonged to a single Mom with 2 kids and no insurance.  She needed the rest of her house demolished and the debris carried to the street.  We did this for her.



house2 house3

house4 house5

house6 house7 house8


Here is her lot completely debris free!  It felt good to complete this for her.





The men from our team were able to assist in the construction of a new home.





con2 con3


We visited the elementary school that was destroyed in the tornado.  A very sad sight to see.  Seven children lost their lives here in May 2013.




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school4 school5


Our group consisted of 13 adults and 13 kids from our youth group.

It was an amazing life changing week.

Thank God every day for all your blessings.

Who are “we”?  CRIFC – Chestnut Ridge Independent Fellowship Church

Friday, July 12, 2013


Leaving Sunday on a mission trip to Oklahoma.  I am going with a group of about 25 from our church.  I’ll post more information and pictures as I can.

  • Pray for safety.
  • Pray for unity for the team.
  • Pray for opportunities to minister to the people.
  • Pray for good health for all members of our team.  (about 12 adults and 13 teenagers.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

What matters ….

“I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare.  For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”   Philippians 2:20-21 

In this verse, Paul is commending Timothy for his compassion for others.  Paul states that all of the others only cared about themselves and not for what matters to Jesus.  This made me wonder, what is it that I really care about?

Am I concerned about what matters to me or what matters to Jesus?  Are they the same thing?

If I am honest, I will admit they are not the same thing.

What matters to me is having a nice home.

What matters to God is caring for those in distress.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27

What matters to me is the choir sounding good on Sunday morning.

What matters to God is my coming before him with clean hands and a pure heart.

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god”  Psalm 24:3-4

What matters to me is having enough money to pay my bills.

What matters to God is that I seek Him first.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

What matters to me is what people think about me

What matters to God is what people think about Jesus.

““But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.””  Mark 8:29

What matters to me is spending time with my family.

What matters to God is spending time with Him.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

What matters to me is not being like those other sinful people.

What matters to God is the sin in my life.

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  Luke 6:42

I am thankful that God is loving and patient and not done with me yet!


“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”   Philippians 3:12


“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How do you listen?

I recently overheard someone complaining that they aren’t getting anything out of the morning worship service. The person explained that she tried to listen but kept daydreaming. She was bored.

This got me to thinking about the position our pastors are in. They work hard all week trying to prepare the best sermon possible. They pray for guidance and insight. Then they present what they believe is a Word from the Lord to a congregation that barely looks awake.

People are used to entertainment and yet that is not what the pastor is there for. I want my pastor to tell me what God has been teaching him. I want my toes tramped on. I want to be engaged. I want to think.

I think the best sermon is only as good as the audience that is listening. The pastor is responsible to be prepared and to present his message well. BUT the audience has a responsibility to listen well.

Do you do anything to prepare to hear the message on Sunday morning?

Here are some ideas to consider:

Be prepared - Pray for yourself. Pray that the Spirit would prepare your heart to receive the Word. Pray for your pastor. Pray that the Spirit would empower him to boldly preach the Word and to do so with clarity and conviction.

Another part of being prepared is getting enough sleep the night before. You can’t listen if you are falling asleep. I am sure it is discouraging for a pastor to be preaching his heart out and to look out and see people sleeping. Respect your pastor enough to be alert and listening to what he is preaching.

That brings me right into my next point. Be an active listener. It is through the renewing of your mind that God transforms your life. (Romans 12:2) So when you listen to a sermon, your mind needs to be fully engaged. Often times this requires some self-discipline. It is easy to let your mind wander. However, listening to the sermon is part of the worship that we are offering to God.

Listen expecting God to speak to you. Some people find it helpful to listen to sermons with a pencil in hand. This is an excellent way to help stay focused and it is a valuable aid to memory. The physical act of writing something down helps to plant the information in our minds.

Sometimes people think that they know the Bible well and they don’t need to look at the passage being preached. This is not accurate. Even if you have the passage memorized, there are always new things to learn by seeing the text on the page. Therefore, we benefit the most by having our Bibles open during the sermon.

Another benefit is that we can make sure what the pastor is saying is in line with Scripture. Look at what Acts 17:11 says about the Bereans. “for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Paul was not insulted when they scrutinized his teachings. Just the opposite was true. Paul commended them for their commitment to testing every doctrine according to Scripture.

Really listening to a sermon takes more than your mind. It also takes a commitment of your heart. Listen with a heart that is receptive to the leading of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to calm our fears, convict of sin, disturb our conscience, proclaim God’s grace, and encourage us in faith. Listening to a sermon should never just be a mental exercise. We also need to listen with our hearts and allow His Word to influence every aspect of our lives.

Receiving the Word of God requires humility. Listen carefully. Listen critically. But do all of this humbly. You are not a speech teacher. You are not a college professor. (Even if you are, the pastor is not your student.)  You are a beggar in need of nourishment. Don’t resist the Spirit’s leading. Set aside your pride and submit to God. Be a humble listener.

Lastly, be ready to put into practice what God is teaching you. Paul tells the Philippians in chapter 4, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.” God is looking for a response from us when the Spirit speaks to us. James tells us to be “doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” If we don’t apply what we are learning, then we won’t grow in our relationship with God.

Preaching the Word is a gift from God. Our churches need pastors who are whole-heartedly committed to preaching what God lays on their hearts. Never take your pastor or his commitment to the Lord for granted. He needs your support and your prayers.

Take a fresh look at the service this week. Think about how you listen. Honor God and your pastor by doing your part. Listen …. really listen. Be prepared, be alert, be engaged, have your Bible open, be expectant, be humble, and then act on what you hear.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It’s by grace

How can it possibly be May 20th?  Didn’t we just have Christmas?  Where does the time go?

I’ve been really busy developing curriculum materials for a new adult Sunday school class at my church and so it has been hard to get any writing done.

I’ve been thinking lately about the idea that I am a pretty independent woman. I get things done and I rarely ask for help. Unless, I just don’t want to do it and then I pretend like I can’t and ask for help. An example would be when I go in Home Depot to pick up something for my husband, I usually just find a guy with an orange apron and play the part of the “dumb wife”. I get really good help every time! Smile

But, most of the time, I take pride in the fact that I am independent. But how does that work with God? Sometimes I let my independent spirit translate over into my Christian walk and that is never a good thing. Sometimes I act like I don’t need the Holy Spirit because I can handle this all by myself.

“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

OK – so I’ve just called myself foolish because this verse describes me sometimes. How about you? Being good, working in my own strength, and obeying all the rules doesn’t make me righteous.

“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” “ Galatians 3:10

I can’t keep the law. I’m human and I mess up. I can’t even keep it for a day. This verse says I am cursed because of my failure to keep the law ….. that’s why God sent Jesus.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”” Galatians 3:13

I need the Holy Spirit as much today as I did the day I first believed. This life journey was never meant to be done in the flesh. It’s not about human goodness or strength. It’s about God’s grace. It’s always been about grace. It’s not God plus me. It’s just God.

It‘s by grace I have been saved through faith. It’s by grace I live and breathe and walk through my journey. It’s by grace I will enter into heaven and see Jesus.

If you think that makes it all too simple and too easy, know that Jesus paid for you with His life. His blood was shed so you and I could experience this grace. Though I receive salvation as a free gift from God, it is a priceless gift. It should bring upon me such a feeling of gratitude that I give my life as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing for God’s pleasure and service.

So get out there and trust God.  Live your life in grace.  Allow the Holy Spirit to live in and through you in order to serve a world out there that desperately needs to know the grace in which you now stand.


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship.” Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Why did I name this blog Christian Journey?

I accepted Christ as my Savior the summer between my junior and senior year in high school.  At that moment I was saved, born again, justified, whatever term you want to use. 

That day I started on a journey to heaven.  Thinking of my Christian life here on earth as a journey helps me visualize my life of faith.  It reminds me that I have a destination and that I haven’t arrived there yet. 

It encourages me to think ahead, plan ahead, and look forward with great anticipation the day that I will arrive at my final destination.  The day I will finally see Jesus face to face!

The journey is a process in itself.  It enables me to grow as I press on toward my goal.  Traveling on this journey is about reaching the destination, but it is also about experiencing personal and spiritual growth along the way.  The journey is a process that helps me become more like Christ.

How?  In one sense, I will be the same person when I complete my journey that I was when I began it.  Yet in other ways, I will be completely different.  I will have been changed by the things I have experienced along the way.  The journey offers me the chance, the opportunities, and the time to deepen my commitment to Christ and to anticipate my arrival to my destination.  That anticipation of the joy at the end sustains me through the hard times.

I am wanderer, a sojourner, an alien.  I am merely passing through this world.  I do not expect to remain here.  I do not want to “settle down” and be comfortable. 

There are days that I feel exhausted.  Continuing the journey seems hard.  In these times, I need to remember that God will continue HIs good work in my life and will help me finish the race.  I need to let the Holy Spirit do His work in my life and enable me to become more like Christ every day.  Paul wrote:

“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:8-9.

Paul guaranteed the believers that God would consider them “blameless” when Christ returns.  This guarantee was not because of their gifts, service, or performance, but was because of what Jesus accomplished in them through his death and resurrection.  It was God's work, not theirs.  If you have faith in Christ, even if it is weak, you are and will be saved.  All believers are justified by God’s grace and stand before Him “blameless”.

“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13

“so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  Hebrews 9:28

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”    Philippians 1:6

And so, I continue on my journey.  I trust Christ every day to work in me and use me.  I know that there will be hard times but I know that Jesus will go through those with me.  A journey is usually a winding pathway.  Sometimes you can’t see around the next corner, but I press on toward goal. Sometimes I have to step out in faith and trust that God is going with me and before me.

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”   2 Timothy 1:12b

Death remains a part of the journey but it is not to be feared.  It is really just the last barrier to conquer before I reach my destination. 

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”  1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Saul gets new life and new name

Here are my lesson notes from my Junior Church Lesson for April 21. 

Why do I post these …. so I don’t lose them.  Smile

Acts 8:1-4

8 And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.

3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.


The stoning of Stephen stunned the thousands of believers in Jerusalem, and now word spread throughout the city that the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish leaders, was planning to stamp out belief in Jesus before it could get any stronger. A great wave of new persecution began sweeping the city, and nearly all the believers, except the apostles, left Jerusalem and moved out into Judea and Samaria. Whole families left as quickly as they could. Some went north toward Syria, others south toward Egypt and other faraway places.

Why did God allow this terrible persecution and suffering to come upon the believers? Couldn't He have stopped it?

Of course, He could. But sometimes God permits hard and difficult experiences to come to His people in order to get them to carry out His plan and purposes.

Jesus had said, "You will be mv witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and unto Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Up to this time, the gospel had only gone to the city of Jerusalem; the apostles and other believers had been very slow to carry the gospel beyond Jerusalem. God had been patient with His servants.

Many Jews had been brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, but so far no one had carried the message further.

Therefore God allowed the persecution to force His people to get on with His great commission—to get this good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

God often shakes us out of our comfort, laziness, and selfishness in order to get us to give His message to the mam- people who have never heard how to be saved. God doesn't want all of us to settle down here where people can easily hear the gospel.

The believers who fled Jerusalem and were scattered abroad "went everywhere preaching the Word." Thus people in other countries were beginning to hear the gospel.

So they were really the first missionaries.

Those who sought to crush the work that Jesus had begun in the hearts and lives of men saw it growing and spreading everywhere. The more they tried to kill faith in Christ, the bigger and stronger it became.

Our lesson today is about Saul. We first hear about him at the scene of Stephen's death.

Saul was a proud Jewish leader and he would have been happy to see all the Christians destroyed. He was sure they were wrong. He hated the name of Jesus and he approved of the stoning of Stephen. He grew up in Tarsus and had been taught to strictly follow the traditions of the Pharisees.

Saul had watched the dying Stephen as his face shined as the face of an angel, and he was shocked to hear Stephen pray for God to bless his murderers.

Of all the enemies of Christianity, Saul was the worst. Everywhere he went, he sought to destroy the church.

He would even go into people’s homes and drag out the men and women who believed in Christ.

Saul left Jerusalem and he was on his way to track down some of the believers who had left the city for other parts of the country,

Saul went to the High Priest in Jerusalem and asked for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found anyone in Damascus who belonged to the Way (a name given to the early group of believers), whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners and bring them back to Jerusalem and to their death.

With his mind full of plans for wiping out the believers, Saul started on his long journey to Damascus, leading a small group of men that would assist him in his project.

The journey was long and lonely. Saul had plenty of time to think all the things he had done the past couple of months. All the people he had put into jail for believing in Jesus. He remembered the day he watched Stephen die.

It was about high noon that day as they traveled. Everybody was hot, tired, and thirsty, yet they pressed on.


Acts 9:3-5

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.


What do you think Saul was thinking?

Why did he call him Lord?

Do you think he knew at once who this was?

After all how could Jesus be here on the road to Damascus?

Could this be the very person whom Stephen and the other believers declared had risen from the dead?

Is He indeed the King of Glory as they claimed?

Then and there, at that moment, the truth broke upon his heart, and Saul came to understand the great truth that Jesus is the Christ.

Saul knew at once that this was no dream. He had seen the risen, glorified Christ, Who had spoken to him and had called him by name.

Suddenly all the hatred within Saul's heart ended. Saul was converted to Jesus Christ right then and there on the road to Damascus; he accepted Christ as his Savior, and Saul tremblingly called Jesus "Lord."


Acts 9:6 - 8

6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.


Think about what the other men must have thought. They didn’t see anything. They heard sound and then Saul fell to the ground and then he was blind.

The others would have been frightened. Do you think any of them thought I wonder why God did this to Saul? Do you think they were thankful that they were not blinded?


Acts 9:9 - 16

9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.

12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.

14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.

16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”


Put yourself in Ananias’s shoes for a moment. Saul had a reputation of killing Christians. The last person on the earth he wanted to meet, let alone help, was Saul.

How would you respond if God asked you to help someone who wanted to arrest you and kill you?

How did God describe Saul to Ananias? Chosen instrument to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

Who are the Gentiles?


Acts 9:17 - 25

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,

19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.

20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”

22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him,

24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.

25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.


Ananias’s fear vanishes and he does what God tells him to do.

He finds Saul and heals him. Scales fall from his eyes and he could see again.

What does Saul do next? Gets baptized

This is a symbol of his new birth in Christ and his desire to be obedient to God. His baptism shows the world that he is now a follower of Christ.

After meeting Jesus, Saul was a new man. His old ways and habits were gone. He would spend the rest of his life preaching about Jesus.

After his baptism, he spent some time with the disciples.

Why did he want/need to spend time with them?

Do you think they immediately accepted him into their group? Why or why not?

Why did the Jews want to kill Saul? He was proof that Jesus was alive and could change people’s hearts and lives. Many Jews were listening to Saul and believing him.

Paul writes this verse to the church at Corinth:


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”    2 Corinthians 5:17


How does this describe what happened on the road to Damascus?

God uses Saul’s experiences to help him spread the gospel. His witness is more effective because his life was so drastically changed. If God can save Saul, he can save anyone.


1 Timothy 1:12-16

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.

13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

So when did Saul become Paul?

For a long time I thought that happened at his conversion.  However, I don’t believe this to be true.

It was customary for people to have more than one name. He used his Hebrew name “Saul” in Jewish settings and his Roman name Paul in his Roman environment. His father was a Roman citizen and so that was also Paul’s heritage.

Paul is a fully Romanized name with no Jewish tradition attached to it. He may have changed his name to embrace his new mission as an apostle to the Gentiles. This would allow the Gentiles to more readily accept him.

A new name is also linked to a new life. Abram became Abraham. Jacob became Israel. Simon became Peter. Sarai became Sarah. The Bible is full of examples of people whose lives have been transformed then changing their names.

The name change did not happen immediately. But after Acts 13:9, he is exclusively called Paul.

Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day. Earth day is an annual holiday, celebrated on April 22nd. It is set aside each year to increase awareness and demonstrate support for environmental issues. It was first celebrated in 1970 and it brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.

Sounds kind of good, or does it?

There is more behind what has been designated as Earth Day than planting trees, reducing pollution, and conserving natural resources. Of course, a lot of what is promoted on this day certainly sounds admirable. Furthermore, Christians are to be good stewards in caring for the earth (Genesis 1:28). But there is a lot more to Earth Day than meets the eye.

For example, material can be found on how to worship “Mother Earth.” For many people, this day is really a religious service for the New Age movement. While we may be responsible for caring for the earth, we are not to worship it. We are to use it for man’s good—and to God’s glory.

Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, stated, “The fate of the living planet is the most important issue facing mankind.”

In reality, the most important issue facing mankind is what will happen to them if they die without accepting Christ as their Savior.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Many are worried about the fate of the planet. While we are responsible to care for the earth, its fate is not really in our hands. It belongs to the Creator (Psalm 24:1), and we are His stewards. We care for the creation, which was once “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but now suffers from the curse of sin (Genesis 3).

We live in a cursed world. The once perfect creation is affected by sin. (Romans 8:22). Things you hear about global warming and climate changes, those are all a part of this curse. Yes, there has been some evidence for slight global warming at times. This is a natural occurrence in today’s fallen world. However, it will not lead to the doomsday events that people are predicting. How do I know? 2 Peter 3:7-10 tells us that it is God who will end this present world when He determines it is the right time and He will create a new heavens and earth.

Should Christians care about the earth? Of course! We have a duty given to us by God to be good stewards of the Lord’s resources. (Psalm 24:1, Colossians 3:23) Also, we are commanded in Genesis to care for God’s creation. We are to use it for man’s good and God’s glory. (Genesis 1:26-28)

However, we are also cautioned not to put the creation over the Creator. Romans 1 warns against worshipping the creation, and yet many Earth Day celebrations are founded in evolutionary ideas. We must remember that nature is not perfect. God cursed the ground in Genesis 3:17. Thorns and thistles came into existence because of the curse.

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25

Earth Day and its founders and proponents are at war with the gospel because they promote false worship. The Christian response should be this simple thought: Jesus Christ is the Creator, and He alone is to be worshipped. He created man as the pinnacle of creation and determined that humans would be the only part of creation to be made in the very image of God, and that man as the image-bearer of God would rule over the earth.

The Bible has a great deal to say about our use of the resources of the world and our relationship to the earth. Of all people, Christians who honor the Creator should have a passion for creation. It is the duty of man to cultivate, wisely manage, and carefully steward the earth because God made it and assigned man to care for it.

Saving the planet will not save man or ensure him a future on this planet. You cannot save the earth. But man can be saved. Salvation is found in Jesus Christ — the Creator! It is this Creator through whom we live and breathe and have our being. (Acts 17:28) It is the very power of His Word that holds the worlds together.



Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 10:13 "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Romans 10:9-10 "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."


Some ideas in this post come from Ken Ham and

Monday, April 15, 2013

I lost my best friend

pup21Last week was a particularly hard week for my family. Our wonderful family dog got sick and we ended up having to put him to sleep.

We had Lucky for 12 years. He was a member of our family. When Randy moved last April and Beth and I were left in Georgia for 2 more months, Lucky slept beside my bed. He kept me company and would listen to all my problems. He never judged me. He loved me unconditionally.

When I came home from work on Thursday, April 4th, I noticed that something was wrong. He staggered a little bit and actually fell down a couple times. I was concerned but thought perhaps he was tired. There had been men working outside our house that day and perhaps he hadn’t gotten any sleep.

lucky3The next morning he didn’t look any better. We “penned” him in our kitchen and we left for work. When I got home that Friday night, he was worse. My daughter came home from college that night and witnessed him “collapsing” in our kitchen. We immediately called the vet and got an appointment for Saturday morning.

The vet took x-rays and did blood work and told us all his tests came back normal. We put him on a special diet and gave him some medicine. He continued to get worse.

IMG_5614Tuesday night, April 9th, our daughter called to check on him and we told her he was not doing well and we didn’t think he would make it through the week. That night my husband had to carry him out to use the bathroom. He placed him on his bed and I hand fed him some shredded chicken. I had to hold the water dish up to his mouth for him to drink.

Wednesday night, April 10th, our daughter drove home from college (an hour away) to see Lucky. She saw that her Dad had to carry him out to the bathroom. Lucky stood long enough to “go” and then took one step forward and collapsed. He lay there unable to get up. We carried him back in and he refused to eat anything. He refused to drink. We were able to hand dip some water and get him to lick our hands. We then decided that it was time to call the vet. The vet was unsure exactly what happened to our “buddy” but he thinks it must have been a brain tumor. Lucky went peacefully to sleep that night. We cried our eyes out. We missed him terribly.lucky

Some Christians believe that pets don’t go to heaven because they don’t have souls. They were not created in the image of God. The Bible doesn’t tell us whether heaven includes animals or not. It does say that not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without God knowing about it.

It can be argued that while people must come to faith in Christ in order to enter into heaven, and that the same rules do not apply to animals when they die. Our furry friends don’t struggle with being obedient to God.

I cannot say for sure what happens to animals when they pass away. I can look at what I know about God and go from there.

IMG_0469The first thing we see in the bible is that as the Creator, God loves and enjoys all he created. It was good (Genesis 1:31) and He cares and provides for it (Psalm 104).

The Bible also tells us that God is good and that he always does what’s right.

“You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:68)

This theme runs throughout the Bible.

Finally, we see that the God’s main purpose in the work is to save people from their sin. He has a special plan for humanity that is different than the rest of creation.IMG_0464

So, God’s focus is on having a relationship with people but he does love and care for all His creation. I can’t say for sure that Lucky is in heaven but I can trust God and know that He always does what is right and good.

Lucky loved us unconditionally. He didn’t care what we looked like. He didn’t care how much money we made. He didn’t care what jobs we had. All he wanted was our love and attention. So I will grieve for him because I miss him greatly but I know that God loves me and He loves Lucky, too.


"O Lord, You preserve both man and beast." Psalm 36:6

"A righteous man regards the life of his animal." Proverbs 12:10

In God’s future kingdom, all pain will be gone. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I create all things new.’ And He said to me, “Write this down, for these words are true and faithful.’” Revelation 21:4,5.

“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Psalms 46:1

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I missed Easter – Part 2

So why is Easter a big deal. For some people Easter is strictly about the Easter bunny, chocolate, dyed eggs, and family dinners. For me, it is much more than that.

Easter is important because it proved that Jesus was who He claimed to be. He was God in the flesh, and He came to earth to save us.

There were three events on that first Easter morning that I’d like to look at: Jesus’ trial, His death, and His resurrection.

The Trial

Jesus actually went through six trials. In that one night, he was brought before Annas, Caiphas (the high priest), the Sanhedrin (the religious Supreme Court), Pilate (the governor of Jerusalem), Herod (the governor of Galilee), and then back to Pilate. At the end of those six trials, what did they find to accuse him of?

Nothing. He had done nothing wrong.

They brought in people to make up phony charges, but those didn’t stick. Finally they convicted him on one count: claiming to be the Son of God. That’s the sole reason Jesus went to the cross. They didn’t like that claim.

How did they make that claim stick? Jesus admitted to it. He testified against himself. So when the liars didn’t give enough evidence, He willingly handed them the evidence they needed for a death sentence.

Jesus claimed to be the Savior of the world.

John 12:47, Jesus says: “I didn’t come to judge the world. I came to save it.” He allowed himself to be put on trial so there would be no doubt about who He was. He could have stopped the trial at any moment. He knew He would be proven guilty and put on the cross -- but he allowed it to happen. It was all part of the plan.

The Death

After enduring a night of beatings and mocking, and after having a crown of thorns thrust upon his head, Jesus was crucified. Crucifixion was torture. His hands were stretched out wide against the cross and nailed through the two bones in each wrist.

If you hung this way for any period of time, the muscles around your chest cavity began to be paralyzed. You’d be able to breathe in but you couldn’t breathe out.

Death on a cross would have been a simple matter of suffocation.  However, the Romans took his knees and bent them a little bit and nailed his feet to the cross.

So he hung there in absolute agony until the pain in his chest was about to explode -- and then he would lift himself up on his nailed feet to grab a breath.

When the pain in his feet grew unbearable, he’d let himself back down again -- until the pain in his lungs became unbearable. It was an incredibly torturous event.

Eventually, the soldiers would break the legs of the criminal to hasten death by suffocation. In the case of Jesus, they didn’t have to break his legs, because he had already died.

Just to make sure, they stuck a spear in his side. Water and blood came out of the chest cavity.

Why did Jesus have to die? Because He alone was able to pay for our sins. We deserved punishment, but Jesus paid the penalty for us.

The Resurrection

After Jesus died, they took his body down and put him in the tomb, and a giant stone was set in front of the cave. The religious leaders -- worried that Jesus’ body might be stolen and so they asked for Roman guards to be posted in front of the tomb. 

The stone didn’t stop Him.  The guards didn’t stop Him.  Jesus rose from the dead and walked out.

“... by being raised from the dead he was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God himself.” (Romans 1:4, LB)

Historical records say he showed himself to 500 people at one gathering. Can you imagine witnessing his death and then seeing him walking around Jerusalem three days later!

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the skeptics mocked him and said, “If you’re the Son of God, why don’t you just pull yourself down from that cross?  Why don’t you just come down and show that you’re really God?”  Jesus had something more spectacular planned.  He said, “I’m going to let you bury me for three days, then I’ll come back to life to prove that I am what I am.”

What does this mean to us today?

Jesus died to pay the penalty of death that I deserve for my sin. He was buried and rose with a glorified body, gaining victory over death and the grave. When I put my faith in Him, I have the promise of one day having a body like our Lord’s and reigning with Him in heaven.

What’s your verdict?

Easter really boils down to only two issues.

  • One, is Jesus who he says he is?  Is he God?
  • And two, if he is who he says he is, are you going to place your faith in Him?  Will you accept his payment on the cross for your sin?

Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus.  Just as Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?”  What’s your verdict?


1 John 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

2 Timothy 2:11-12 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I missed Easter – Part 1

I awoke in a sweat around midnight on Saturday. I sat up and the room was spinning viciously. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was like being on a Tilt-a-Whirl that wouldn’t quit. I tried again to open my eyes. I tried to force them to focus on the window across the room. I couldn’t do it. I started to feel nauseous. I called for my husband.

I had been experiencing short dizzy spells all week but nothing quite like this. We decided that I should go to the ER. I was able to hold off vomiting until we arrived at the hospital but then out it came all over the parking lot.

I staggered into the ER with help from my husband and daughter. I must have looked bad because they took me in and immediately got me a bed.

We spent most of the early morning hours there. I was given numerous medications, an EKG, and a CAT Scan. The dizziness started to clear up. It had lasted almost three hours. They determined that I had a severe case of vertigo and it was most likely caused by a virus in my inner ear.

It is now Wednesday and I am some better. The medications from the ER made me sleep all day Sunday and most of the day Monday. I am still experiencing dizziness from time to time. I made an appointment, as recommended by the ER doctor, with a specialist but he can’t see me until May.

I feel defenseless. I feel out of control because I have no warning when these spells will strike and I can’t do anything to stop them. I am afraid – afraid I will fall, afraid to drive a car, afraid to go down a set of stairs ….

I had to drive to work today. On the hour drive to work, I sang praise songs and prayed. I asked God to keep me safe. I arrived at work and breathed a big sigh of relief.

I am trusting God moment by moment to get me through right now. I trust that He knows what is best for me. I trust that He will take care of me. I know that all things work together for good for those who love God. I am waiting on the Lord for strength and I trust Him to work all things out.

I am frustrated that I missed Easter. Easter is my favorite Christian holiday. It is because of Easter that I am saved and look forward to heaven. I’ll comment more on that tomorrow …


“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

Monday, April 1, 2013

Our wilderness lessons

Many people have been asking me how I like my new house.  I love my new house.  We went through quite a lot to get where we are. 

If you’ve been following me on my blog, you know that we lived with my parents for 9.5 months while we were selling our properties in Georgia and getting our new house built in Pennsylvania. There were a lot of stressful times with permits and contactors and things. 

There were times we got very frustrated with the process but we knew we were where God wanted us to be. We felt led by God throughout our journey of relocating.

Looking back, I can see how God used that time in our lives to draw us to Him,

I was thinking about the story in the Bible about how the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  God impressed on my heart that He had us on this journey to teach us some things..

God had us in our “wilderness”  to humble us.  To teach us that all good things come from Him.  To teach us to appreciate all the things He provides for us.  God wanted us to completely trust Him for everything.  There were times when we didn’t know what else to do besides pray. 

God breaks us so that He can then work through our brokenness. We need to serve Him with a humble and broken spirit.  This is so we are dependent on Him and not dependent on our own talents to get us through.

God had us in our “wilderness” to show us what was in our hearts.  It is easy for us to give Him our head but not so easy to give Him our hearts.  God wants our hearts.

God had us in our “wilderness” to teach us that man doesn’t live by bread alone.  We need to be in His Word daily.  God made me hungry for His Word.  He made me see that I needed to spend more time thinking and meditating on His Word.  I was “putting in my time” with the Lord out of a sense of obligation but I wasn’t diving into the Word with a hunger for truth and growth. 

God gave me perspective as I thought about the facts that the Israelites never needed anything that God didn’t provide. Sure they had wants but they did not have needs.  In our wilderness, God provided everything we could possibly need. 

As God takes His people into the promised land, He reminds them that He provided everything they had.  It was God that provided their herds and their houses.  They were not to think that they had accomplished all of those things for themselves.  It is God who blesses and lead us.  God deserves the praise and the glory for everything that I have and everything that I am.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Garden of Gethsemane

Sorry about my absence.  I don’t have internet service at my new house yet.  For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, we are now officially moved into our new house.  God is good and He provides exactly what we need and when we need it.  We would not have chosen the timeline that we experienced but we are convinced that He chose that timeline for a reason.

Here are my notes from my Junior Church Lesson on the Garden of Gethsemane.

Timeline of events

  • Passover
  • Gethsemane
  • Jesus is arrested
  • Jesus goes before the high priest
  • Peter denies Christ

Each of the gospel writers tell details about these events that the others don’t. By putting them all together we get a more complete picture of what happened.

Review - Passover

The Passover marked the Jewish New Year. It was the time of beginnings for the nation of Israel. The annual feast marked the historic event from when they were in captivity in Egypt. Great plagues had ruined the land of Egypt in Moses’ day. But these failed to get the Pharaoh to release the Israelites. God instructed the Hebrew people to select a lamb. The lamb was to be kept in their home for four days. On the 4th day the lamb was to be killed and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts of each Jewish home. The lamb itself was to be roasted and eaten. The night this happened, God’s death angel swept through the land of Egypt. Each home unprotected by the blood of the lamb suffered the loss of its firstborn son. But the homes marked with blood were safe as the angel of death “passed over” their home. This event caused Pharaoh to release the Jews. God then commanded them to remember this event and celebrate it each year. Each generation was to be taught that freedom only comes through the shedding of the blood of the lamb.

This specific Passover that Jesus and the disciples were celebrating not only looked back to the Exodus out of Egypt but also looked forward to the cross. (Remember John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. - John 1:29)

Read Matthew 26:31 - 35

On the way out of Jerusalem, Jesus told the disciples that they would all flee and leave him to face his fate alone.

How did Peter react?

Peter said no way. He said he’d die with him before he would desert Jesus. All the disciples agreed with Peter.

Read Matthew 26: 36 – 46

What was the name of the garden?

Arrived at a garden called Gethsemane

What did Jesus ask His disciples to do?

Jesus asked His disciples to wait as He went aside to pray

He took three disciples with him a little farther – who were they?

He took Peter, James, and John part way with him.

What did he tell these three disciples?

He told them that he was overwhelmed and sad and asked them to keep watch with him.

Then what happened?

Jesus walked a bit further by himself

What did Jesus pray for?

He prayed for God’s will to be done.

It says He fell with his face to the ground. This is interesting because the typical Jewish prayer was said from a standing position. Here Jesus kneels perhaps to reflect his urgency and humility. Most pictures of Jesus show him with his hands folded or fingers entwined. This is probably not accurate. There was no such Jewish tradition.

Jesus was under a lot of pressure at this point. He knew what was about to happen.

What did Jesus ask His Father for?

Jesus is asking if the Father can create a way for Jesus to avoid the cross. Jesus’ desire was for the Father’s will to be done. He was saying only if my prayer can be answered within the scope of your plan do I want it answered. Only if the Father desires to do it. Jesus takes time to listen for an answer. He prays the same prayer three times. It was a long night in Gethsemane.

When we pray, we tend to toss God out our ideas of what should happen and ask Him to just approve our plans. Just tell me yes, God, and I won’t bother you anymore. We often times don’t seek God’s will.

Our prayers should not be for what God will permit to happen but for what God desires to happen.

The greatest temptation Jesus faced was to turn his back on the cross. As the cross drew nearer, the prospect of the spiritual death that he would suffer filled Jesus with terror. Luke talks about His sweating great drops of blood and His need for angelic assistance. (Luke 22:43-44)

There were two times that the Scripture talks about the Father dispatching angels to attend to Jesus’ needs.

What was the other time?

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.

What does he mean when He says “take this cup from me”

The word cup in often associated with the infliction of punishment associated with the wrath of God.

He ends His prayer with not my will but yours.

Jesus is telling God that His will comes first. Jesus is voluntarily surrendering to God. Jesus stated what he wanted – the cup to be taken away . He was honest before God but then he surrendered to what God’s will would be.

It is important when we pray to state what our own will is and then surrender that will to God. Then choose to be OK with whatever outcome God chooses.

When he finished praying he returned to the disciples. What were they doing?

They were sleeping

How did Jesus feel?

alone, sad, frustrated

Then Jesus spoke to one specific disciple? Who was that and what did Jesus say?

He told Peter to watch and pray that he wouldn’t fall into temptation. Notice that he doesn’t say to pray that they won’t be tempted but to pray that they won’t give into temptation. Temptation is part of life and you can’t escape it. You resist temptation through prayer.

Jesus was warning them of what was to come. They are about to undergo a crisis and they don’t even know it. They are about to see Jesus arrested. They are about to see him spat upon, tried, convicted, sentenced, crucified, dead, and buried. And most of them do not avoid the temptation that awaited them.

Then Jesus went away a second time to pray and when He came back what did He find?

The disciples were sleeping again.

Then Jesus left them a third time and went and prayed some more. What did He find when he returned the last time?

Are you still sleeping again?

Why did Jesus keep coming back to the disciples?

Perhaps he was seeking their companionship and encouragement. He was fully human and he could have just been seeking comfort. He didn’t even find that in his closest friends.

I’m about to get betrayed. Look here comes the man who is going to do it.

Read Matthew 26:47-56

Judas finally arrives with the arresting force. Using a signal, he identifies Jesus.

What was the signal?


How would you have felt if you knew one of your closest friends was betraying you? Judas had been one of the 12 disciples. Those disciples were with Jesus round the clock for the past three years. Judas had seen the miracles and heard all the teachings. Think about how Jesus must have felt. He knew all along that Judas was going to do this.

Then the Bible says that one of Jesus’ companions draws his sword to fight. (John identifies him as Peter.)

What does Peter do?

Cuts off the ear of the high priest.

How does Jesus react to Peter’s actions?

Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him to put his sword away. Luke 22:51 says that Jesus then healed the man’s ear.

Would you have done the same? I think I would have cheered Peter on. I know what the people are there for. Not Jesus, he willingly surrendered.

Jesus had preached that we were to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He was now living out what he had said.

He tells them that if he wanted to be saved from this, he could call on the angels to save him. But Jesus knows that he must surrender in order for the Scriptures to be fulfilled.

What did the disciples do next?

They fled. They were afraid they would be arrested, too. So, Jesus was left alone with the men who had come to get him.

Peter was the only one who stuck around at all. He followed at a distance because he was afraid. He wanted to see what would happen to Jesus. (Luke 22: 54)

Read Matthew 26: 57 – 68

They took Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest. The high priest was in charge of making a lot of decisions. They tried him at night which was an illegal act according to Jewish law. False witnesses were brought forward to accuse him but not even all their lies were enough for a death sentence.

Finally the high priest asked Jesus a question. What did he ask him? (verse 63)

“Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

How did Jesus answer?

“Yes, it is as you say.”

The high priest then recognized that Jesus had just equated himself with God.

He tore his clothes as a sign that he didn’t believe what Jesus was saying and said Jesus had spoken blasphemy. Blasphemy is a crime in the Old Testament and the punishment was death. Jesus knew that when he admitted to being God’s son. So, when the liars couldn’t get him, Jesus willingly gave the testimony that sealed his fate. They immediately started treating him like a convicted criminal. They slapped him, spit on him, and mocked him.

Read Matthew 26:69-75

So Peter took off after he heard what happened.

What happens with Peter next?

Three times people ask him if he was with Jesus and all three times he denies knowing Jesus.

Then the rooster crows and Peter remembers that Jesus had prophesied that this would happen. Peter starts to cry. How could he have done this to Jesus?

Principles from this lesson for us to consider:

  • Jesus was strengthened by prayer.
  • The way to the cross was far more costly for Jesus than we can possibly imagine.
  • We are to do things God’s way and not our own way. We need to ask what God wants us to do and then do it.
  • When betrayed by a friend, we need to love them and pray for them. We are not to strike back.
  • We must learn to watch and pray so that we may resist temptation.
  • We must stand for Jesus and not deny knowing him. That is harder to do than it is to say. Peter never planned on denying Christ but when the tough situation arose, he didn’t have the strength to tell the truth.

Choose your friends wisely.

  • Do your friends have a relationship with God so that when you are in need of prayer, they can and will pray for you? Would they stay up all night praying for you if you needed it?
  • Have you chosen good friends? Can you count on them when you are in a crisis? Do they help you grow in your relationship with Jesus?

Are you a dependable friend?

  • Would you have fallen asleep when Jesus was counting on you?
  • Do you spend time praying for the needs of others?
  • Can you be counted on when your friends are having a difficult time?