Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking a Breath and Letting Go

This is my first blog post in a little over a week. What happened? Well, I woke up one morning a week or so ago and just felt everything. For some people this is a challenge to push ahead and do more and more. For me, it's more likely to trigger a shutdown, which is what happened. 

Now I didn't get depressed or hysterical or anything overly dramatic. But I did reach a point where I was just too tired to carry the burden and worry of the things on my to-do list. 

Sometimes things - even good things - take on a life of their own until it seems that you're spending all of your energy on secondary things, and the primary things fall by the wayside. 

In my job this is paperwork. It has to be done and there are many valid reasons for keeping up with it. Nevertheless, there are many days that I spend the entire day on paperwork and never see a patient. That makes it easy to feel like my priorities are messed up.

Writing has been the same kind of experience. You write because you love it and even feel called to do it. Then you look at publishing and find out you need to have a platform and blog and enter contests and guest post and...and...and...  the list goes on and on, and pretty soon you're doing everything BUT what you feel called to do. 

Cue the shutdown.

This is a hard place to be, but the beautiful thing about it is that when I get too tired to keep up the pace and too tired to try to keep all of the balls in the air, then I have finally come to the place where I stop trying to do it on my own, and start listening for the voice of God to lead. 

My life, my work, my writing are all in God's hand. This is the God who has a plan for me - a good plan. Jeremiah 29:11 is my life verse. How easy it is for life to get in the way of hearing the voice of God. How subtle a thing it is.

I've heard people say that nothing comes to us that doesn't pass through God's hands first. I believe that. I especially believe that he allows me to feel overwhelmed sometimes because he knows that triggers a shutdown in me. It's like rebooting a computer. It allows me to turn off all the noise and business of life and to refocus on Him. 

When my focus is fixed he restores my soul, refreshes me like a tree planted by the rivers of water. He is like a cool breeze that blows away the humidity and the gnats and the dry, parching heat, and leaves me feel cleansed and new and good again. 

I'm still regrouping this time: cutting away the dead weight, remembering who orders my life no matter what the 'professionals' say, and remembering that my mission field for today is where he placed me. I will go to work today with a new focus and a renewed spirit, asking God to use me for his glory and for the blessing of others today. I can't go wrong with that. 

How does God let you know when you need to stop and regroup, refocus on Him? Have you had times when you were so busy doing good things that you lost your focus on the Holy One? If you are there right now, what do you need to do to get back on track? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Touching History

In July 2012 Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth will host an exhibit that will include, among other things, the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

Now I don't know about you, but that's exciting to me. I have no real skill or knowledge base in the field, but archaeology has always fascinated me. There is something very compelling about finding something that no other human has seen or touched for hundreds of years. 

I'm also a huge fan of the sci-fi concept of time travel. What would it be like to step back into history at a time of your own choosing to see what life was really like, or to meet a significant historical figure? It's the stuff of great fantasies for me!

Several years ago my husband and I took a trip to England and Scotland. At our stop in York, England we came across a little stone church that was one thousand years old. They still have two services a year there. We walked around the little church listening to the guide as we sat in the family boxes that still carried the name plates of the wealthy families who paid for them. We saw the carved tiles in the floor - memorial stones of prominent members buried there. It was a beautiful little church with stained glass windows and gorgeous wood and stone work. 

I sat in one of the little pews while Jeff continued to talk to the guide, and I just tried to listen; to the voices and hearts of those who had prayed in these very pews for a thousand years, to my own heart trying to connect with God there, and to the voice of God speaking to my heart. I felt very small, a tiny part of the great story of all history. I also felt so connected, as though I could  ask God what they were like and he could tell me - because he was there. 

The same God who hears the prayers of my heart today is the same one who heard the prayers of the congregants of that little church a thousand years ago, and the same one who, a thousand years before that, divinely inspired the writing of what we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is also the same one that preserved those scrolls for two thousand years. 

Seeing those scrolls would be like seeing a picture of who God was two thousand years ago. But then we already know what he was like then, because we know what he is like now, still the same...yesterday, today and forever. If he chooses to allow the world to continue another two thousand years he will be exactly the same on that day, two thousand years from now, as he is now. 

The words are easy to understand but the concept is one that is harder to wrap our finite minds around. The same God that walked with Adam in the garden walks with us each day. The same God that called Noah to build an ark on dry land, sometimes calls us to blind obedience and trust. The same God that saved Daniel from the lions and his friends from the fiery furnace saves our lives every day in ways we will never know about. The same God who promised to go ahead of Joshua in battle goes out before us into the day, every day and through him we have victory. 

The same God who saw and forgave a common criminal while suffering and dying on the cross, sees us and saves us when we ask him. 

A piece of's an amazing thing. One day our lives will be history. What legacy will we leave behind? Will it inspire others? Will they be drawn to our stories because of the richness of our testimonies? I hope so. I hope they will be drawn to my story because it points to the story of Christ, and I pray that there is excitement there like I feel about seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Too much to hope for about my own life probably, and that's fine. It's not my story that matters; it's the story of Christ and what he has been doing since the beginning of the story. 

What story does your life tell? What will people learn about God as they watch you today? 


If you are interested in learning more about the exhibit featuring the Dead Sea Scrolls click on this site for more details:

Maybe I'll see you there! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ministry Project Update

Last week a work group met to discuss the possibility of emergency shelter for Jackson County. There are many things to accomplish but a tentative target date of six months was agreed upon and a "To-Do" list was identified.

The group will be reporting to the larger Community Liaison Group made up of several local agencies and ministries. There is such wonderful support and cooperation among this group, and God has brought together people with a heart for ministry and serving God through service to the community.

This group also has a long-term vision that will expand shelter availability for various groups: families with children, Veterans, and others.

As with any ministry that seeks to spread the news and love of God there will be obstacles and people who will stand in the way - or try to. God's plan will not be derailed. His promise is that he has gone before us to make the way for us to do what he has called us to do.

Please pray for this group as we continue to plan, present our ideas, and trust God to guide and provide. You can pray specifically for:

  • God to be first in the individual lives of each group member
  • The group members to be united in our vision and purpose
  • God to tear down every obstacle
  • the community to be receptive to the ministry
  • resources to be provided as needed
  • God to begin to identify volunteers for the ministry
  • wisdom in all things
Thank you for your prayers. We will keep you posted as God leads and the group works. If you're looking for a place of service, please pray about this opportunity and see if God leads you here. If not here, then ask him to show you where you need to be. There is a place for each of us.God bless you as you seek his will for your life and serve him obediently. 

Please share your ministry stories with us. How is God using you now and what opportunities do you see for the future? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I met a new friend in one of my writer's groups this week, and at the end of one of her emails she prayed for me. It wasn't a long prayer, just a few sentences really, but in those lines she asked for God's blessing on my life and my writing, and for God's leading in my life. It was such a wonderful gift and I truly felt blessed.

It made me think about how often I put my prayers for others in writing to send to them. I have several people for whom I'm praying right now that I don't see often, and a couple of them I've never met in person. They have asked for prayer, though, and as God leads me to scripture to pray for them, I've written my prayers and sent them to these individuals, hoping that they will find them comforting, encouraging and uplifting. The response is always positive, and God seems to lead to the perfect part of His Word to use as I pray. 

I think I'd like to do this more. I love it when someone writes me back and says, "That's the exact verse I needed today." That's such a God-thing, and such a privilege to be used by God to touch someone's life. 

So today I'd like to pray for you. 

Father thank you for the privilege and ministry of prayer. I pray for each person who reads this post today. I don't know who they are but you do. I don't know the battles they face but you not only know about them, you have already fought those battles and won. I don't know the fears they face and the burdens they carry today but you do, and you've promised that you will carry any burden we surrender to you. I pray that you will help them to stand still and see your glory today. Remind them that every battle they face is yours. The victory is yours. They are yours. Bless them today, Lord, with a deeper vision of you. Protect them as they go into the world today as your ambassadors. Give them the words to say, the courage to say them, and the wisdom to remember that you make all things work together for your good purpose in your perfect time. Mostly today I pray that they will go out into the day knowing that they are abundantly and perfectly loved by you, always in your care, and always held as a precious treasure in your hands. Help them to love someone in your name today. I claim your victory for them today, Lord, in every way. Help us all to go out in victory in your name. I pray this in the mighty, overcoming, delivering name of Jesus. Amen, Lord, let it be.

Send a prayer to someone today. Let them know God has placed them on your heart, and offer them a beautiful blessing. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Audience of One
So many people to please today: spouse, children, parents, boss, customers, stockholders, friends, self. 

Affirmation and approval. We seek it every day in some form or another, and it is astonishing to consider that we seek it from such fickle, emotional, and unstable
things as human beings. Consider this: as humans, we are tossed and turned to one degree or another by any combination of the following:
  • headaches
  • the economy
  • traffic
  • weather
  • whatever might be blooming
  • the fight we had with our spouse/child
  • our horoscope
  • our level of stress
  • the car breaking down/running out of gas
  • financial issues
  • weariness
  • shattered dreams
  • fear
  • confusion
  • jealousy
How many other things can you add? All of these things can affect how "pleased" another person is with us at any given moment. When you think about it like that, it's a wonder we ever please anyone! 

Matthew 6:24 says: "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money"

While this speaks specifically about money, I think it can be applied to other "masters" as well. Consider it in light of Galatians 1:10:  "Am I now trying to win the approval of me, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

Is it wrong to enjoy the approval of others? No, I don't think so. We are told to encourage and lift one another up, and approval is a part of that. 

We get into trouble, though, any time we work for and desire the approval of others over God's pleasure with us. When that happens, we have slipped into idolatry and might as well make an image of ourselves to place on the mantel so that everyone may exclaim over our magnificence. 

I know that sounds ridiculous, and we would never do that, right? Well never so blatantly, anyway. But God looks at our hearts, and he knows what we seek. 

Has the approval of someone else become more important to you than pleasing God? What if you had an audience of One? How would you act? How would you behave and think? How would you gauge your success at the end of the day? A hundred years from now, what will people say of the legacy you have left behind?

Each day we do have an Audience of One. That is where we should begin, and at the end of the day our only goal should be to hear him say, "Well done." That is what will matter for all eternity. 

For you: Whose approval do you seek? Does God's approval have its rightful place in your life? If not, ask him today to help you change your priorities and your focus. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Lord is in His holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.
Habakkuk 2:20

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This is going to hurt, isn't it? A teachable moment...

One thing about writing fiction is that for me, it is a totally new experience. The rules are different and sometimes need to be followed strictly, while at other times they need to be broken. 

Right now it's kind of like the old saying about art: "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like." Well I'm finding out that I'm like that about writing fiction. I know what I like, I'm just not sure how to get there. 

Through this journey of writing I am clinging to several things. First, I believe that I'm doing what God has led me to do. Second, the way he chooses to use my writing may be totally different from my own agenda. 

I am also discovering two things very specifically about gifts. 

One: God sometimes gives gifts in the form of diamonds in the rough.  

I have enjoyed writing all my life and feel that I do it well. I can't take credit for that, it is something that God has allowed me to do well, because I believe he has a purpose for it. Writing has always come fairly easily for me, until I started with fiction, that is. Fiction writing is a whole new animal, and suddenly what came so effortlessly for me is now a lot harder. I am definitely a newbie in this area with a lot of growing and learning to do.

Two: God needs to refine and polish our gifts, and we need to let him.

I have entered several writing contests for beginning, unpublished writers, and am in two critique groups so I get pretty regular feedback from people who have been writing a long time. It is a humbling experience. I get some pretty consistent feedback at this point:

  • I have good writing skills as far a grammatical issues and structure
  • I have some good sections that read well and tell a good story
  • I have some great ideas that reach out and touch people
  • I have a lot of work to do
Now it's nice to get positive strokes about something I like to do, and the truth is that I do have a talent and a desire to write. The other truth is, I do have a lot to learn. A LOT!!

I can choose to approach this in one of two ways. I can kick and scream and wonder how people don't recognize the genius behind the written word (Really?). Or...

I can choose to be teachable, and submit to the instruction of those whom God has placed before me who really do know what they are talking about. I can choose not to settle for a "first draft" offering, but choose, instead, to refine, rework, and renew my work until it is polished and the best that I can offer. I can strive for excellence. 

Will my excellence, the best I can do, be the same in a year as it is today? Oh, I certainly hope not!  Even since my first submission to a contest just weeks ago, I have learned enough that I am embarrassed for having turned in something so...not ready. I thought it was good. It was good, but it wasn't excellent. 

Scripture tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God, and that we are to do everything with excellence as if we are doing it for God, because we are. If we ever do anything for any other reason, we have failed. 

I pray that God will help me to be teachable and humble. I pray that he will help me to see that correction and instruction are good and do not in any way mean that I am failing him. I can only fail him when I fail to put him first and submit to the authorities (teachers) he has given me. I also pray that he will use whatever I write: a magazine article, a devotional, a book, or this blog post to touch someone and reach them for his glory. Isn't it truly amazing what God can do with an unrefined, imperfect gift that is totally dedicated to him?! 

In my writing and in my life I will always be continuously being refined by a Father who loves me and has called me to serve him. He loves me just as I am in this moment, and he knows how to make me what I need to be.

It's your turn: How is God refining you? Can you see his hand in your life and your work?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's this doing here?

Today I'm announcing the winners of Jody Hedlund's book, The Doctor's Lady. I'll get to that in just a minute... (that's a teaser!)

You may have wondered what a book contest for Christian fiction is doing on a blog about Christian service. I'm glad you asked. To answer that I'd like to share two scriptures with you.

First, Colossians 3:23-24
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men...It is 
the Lord Christ you are serving."

Simple enough, right? Whatever our calling, hobby,or profession we are to do it with excellence as if we are doing it directly for God, because we are. When we lose sight of that, we've lost sight of everything. Whether we are a writer, a landscape architect, a teacher, a stay-at-home Mom, a doctor, a business owner...whatever we do we are called to honor and glorify God through it. 

That brings me to my next scripture: Hebrews 3:13
"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called
Today, so that none of you may be hardened
by sin's deceitfulness."

My Sunday School teacher likes to say that while we may not all share the same passion for a particular area of service, we are still called to support and help one another where we can. (Loosely translated, David). He's right, and while this particular scripture is about encouraging one another in the faith, it is a great reminder that we all need encouragement and support in our daily calling, whatever that may be. 

So, in a nutshell, that's what this contest was all about, and why you find it here on a blog about Christian service, because sometimes our Christian service is supporting and encouraging others as they carry out their service. 

Look for an opportunity today to do that. And if someone has supported you recently, take the time to thank them today. 

The winners of a copy of The Doctor's Lady are:

Joy Libby and Caroline Flory

Congratulations, ladies!

As promised, a third winner will receive a copy of Jody's first book, The Preacher's Bride. Congratulations to Carol Wright

Thank you to everyone who posted a comment during the contest, and thank you Jody for what you do and for sharing your beautiful gift with us. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Come Meet Jody Hedlund

The great thing about finding a new author to love is that you get wonderful books to read; books that draw you in and make you a part of the story, so much so that you don't want it to end! The bad thing is, they can NEVER write fast enough and it leaves you impatiently anticipating the next book. 

That's how I feel about Jody Hedlund. She's written two beautiful historical fiction novels that I absolutely loved. I'd like to introduce you to her and her new book The Doctor's Lady. Click here to see a trailer. (Jody is visiting the blog today so if you have questions or comments, please post them today.)

What was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?

This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.
It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What message do you hope readers take away?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

  As a homeschooling mom of five children, how do you manage to find time to write?

It’s definitely not easy. I feel like I have two very full time jobs! But like any other writer trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I’ve had to look for ways to make it work. I’ve scaled-back on outside commitments and simplified home life as much as possible. I also stick to a very strict writing schedule when I’m in first draft mode. I block out writing time and don’t let myself go to bed at night unless I get in my daily word count.

If money were absolutely no object, what is one place you would love to go with only your husband? And as a family?

I’d love to take a research trip to England. I know my husband would enjoy going too and would put up with my obsessive need to read about and study all the historical details of everything I come across.
My children on the other hand don’t have as much patience for my appetite for history. So I’d love to take them hiking in the Rockies or to Yellowstone.  


Do you ever reach a point where you can read through a manuscript and NOT find something to correct and/or change?

No. I can always find something (usually LOTS of things) to change! Because of that, I’ve decided I won’t ever re-read my books once they’re in print. I’m afraid if I do read one of my books, I might see a mistake (or something I’d like to change), and I’ll get frustrated that I can’t go back and make the correction.

When you’re tired and running out of steam but need to keep writing, what recharges and re-energizes you the best?

Most of the time, putting in my earbuds and listening to music keeps me writing. The steady rhythm helps me block out distractions, inspires me, and often evokes strong emotions deep inside me.

What’s coming next?

In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

 The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

Where can readers find you?

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website:

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady released in September 2011.

I hope you enjoyed the interview with Jody and have found a new author to love. To help you with that, I'm giving away two copies of The Doctor's Lady. All you have to do is post a comment and you'll be entered to win. It's easy. Winners will be selected at random, and posted tomorrow. 

Thank you, Jody, for visiting with us today, and for writing such wonderful books. (Could you just write them a little faster, please??)  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cleaning Day Again?

My mother is a meticulous housekeeper. Always has been. Always will be. When my sister and I were growing up, Saturdays were ALWAYS housecleaning days. The amount of free time we had was directly correlated to the speed and efficiency with which we cleaned house. 

It was maddening, mostly because we were cleaning a house that to us, never got dirty. My mother was never one to leave dirty dishes in the sink, or dirty clothes in the hamper. The garbage cans were emptied regularly and the refrigerator was scheduled for regular purging. Everything was in its place, almost all the time. 

What my mother knew, and I have learned - of course, the hard way - is that when little chores are done all along during the week, the task of cleaning house is not such an overwhelming one. If things are not allowed to pile up, get out of control and take on a life of their own it doesn't take a sandblaster and a rented construction-sized dumpster to get it back in order again. 

It's a discipline. If you use something and finish with it, put it back where it belongs. If you use the last of something, throw away the box, jar or bottle and write it down on the shopping list. If it's clean hang it up or fold it neatly and place it in a drawer. If it's dirty, put it in the hamper. 

I was thinking this morning that our relationship with God is like that. Because it is a relationship it needs regular tending. Daily attention. When little things creep in, we need to deal with them immediately. Don't wait for Sunday or for your next scheduled quiet time. Do it right then. When you sin, as soon as you are convicted (become aware) of it, confess it, repent, ask for forgiveness and God's help to turn from that and make amends where necessary, and move on. 

Our relationship with God is a vibrant, alive, flowing thing that is always in process. The Holy Spirit is always at work in us teaching us, convicting us, leading us. We need to learn to respond as he leads. 

Think of the amazing lives we would lead if we were so in tune to the Holy Spirit that the moment he led we followed and obeyed. That kind of thing doesn't just happen because we read a verse or two every once in a while, and maybe pray at church. To much stuff can build up between times, getting in the way of our hearing the Spirit speak to us. Once that happens it's hard to hear anything.

This spiritual discipline of moment to moment interaction with God is like my mother insisting on cleaning house every Saturday. It's the regular attention to things that keeps the home - or heart - clean and beautiful and a lovely dwelling place for those who reside there - my family or my Lord.  

I'm still not the housekeeper that my mother is, but I'm learning. I'm also learning to listen to the Holy Spirit more closely than ever - and more often. I'm learning to pray without ceasing and pray that it continues to become my first response rather than a last resort. 

Find a way to remind yourself to tend to the little things right away, at home and in your heart. You can and should pray anywhere and everywhere. Ask God to help you to be sensitive to his presence and leading. That is a prayer he will most definitely honor. 

For a Christian, every day - every moment - should be cleaning day. Stay prayed up, confessed up, and praised up. Enjoy your time with Him and let it transform you into the person he wants you to be. 


Don't forget to stop by
tomorrow for an interview 
with fiction author 
Jody Hedlund, and a 
chance to win a copy 
of her new book, 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Win a copy of Jody Hedlund's new book, The Doctor's Lady.

  In this story you will find:

  •  a hero to fall in love with 
  • a heroine that will make you proud to be a woman
  • personal struggles of faith and finding God's calling
  •  bad guys
  • hardships
  • a flea attack (ugh!) 
  • humor
  • gut-wrenching moments of fear and loss
  • sweet (and sexy) moments
  • a beautiful courtship
  • a happy ending (my favorite kind!)

How to win?  It's simple:

1) Visit my blog between August 29 - October 11
2) Leave a comment
3) Mention the blog/contest on Facebook and/or Twitter and let me know you've done this

For each comment on the blog and each post on FB/Twitter you will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Jody's second book, The Doctor's Lady. 

**BONUS**  A third winner will be chosen to receive a copy of Jody's first book,  The Preacher's Bride, from Bethany House, winner of The Award of Excellence, Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, andFinalist in the Carol Awards. 

Visit on October 11 for an interview with Jody.

Contest winners will be announced on October 12. 

While you wait...check out Jody's website and blog:  Jody Hedlund


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Laying Down Your Life in Intercession

Scripture has much to say about Christians judging each other, and even more to say about praying for one another and lifting each other up. Read this quote from Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God,  by Francine Frangipane and let God speak to your heart through it.

"Anyone can pass judgment - but can they lay down their lives in love, intercession and faith for the
one judged? Can they target an area of need and rather than criticize, fast and pray,
asking God to supply the very virtue they feel lacking? And then persevere in that 
love-motivated prayer until that fallen area blooms in godliness? 
Such is the life Christ commands we follow!"

Anybody say "ouch"? Me too. I'm trying to remember the last time I persevered in love-motivated prayer. I have a prayer list, and I have tried to stay with it. Sometimes I get tired of waiting though, for God to answer. What do I know of laying down my life in prayer? Not enough. 

And still, when I see something that isn't right my first thought isn't to take them to the throne of God and ask for mercy and grace and healing. It is to criticize. It's so automatic. God must just shake his head sometimes, wondering how many more chances it will take to get it right. Well He already knows that I will never always get it right, and he is gracious and merciful to me every day because I need it so much. 

Is there someone who needs you to persevere in love-motivated prayer right now? Renew your commitment to them and to God and begin today to lift them once again to the lap of God where they, like we, find grace, peace, forgiveness, healing and security.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All He ever wants...

Today I just want to offer two quotes that I keep posted on my office wall to remind me of my place and my purpose. Take a moment to read them. They are simple yet so powerful. Let God speak to your heart as you meditate on these thoughts today.

"...the power of God belongs to those who know that they have nothing to offer Jesus except their hearts."

"I...think about all the times I've told God what I would do for him. But all he has ever wanted from me is to acknowledge my own powerlessness and look to the Cross for my aid." 

from Breakfast for the Heart,  by Diane M. Komp, M.D.  (page 83)

Take some time to think about this. When you really get it it's just so freeing! Have you been trying so hard to do something for God when what you need to do is seek him and let him work through you? Remember Matthew 6:33:  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Seek ye 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ministry Update - God is Working!

Today I want to share with you a praise and a prayer request...

Very soon a small group of people will be meeting to discuss shelter needs in Jackson County. The need is great, from emergency shelter for a night or two for people passing through, to longer housing options for those who have lost their homes for whatever reason. 

Along with sheltering, people who need this help will also need other kinds as well: job training, transportation, food, encouragement, forgiveness, Jesus.

God has placed so many talented and skilled people in Jackson County that I feel sure he has something amazing planned. 

Richard Stearns, president of World Vision has paraphrased several familiar verses in Matthew 25 to illustrate the response of the world - even Christians - to a lost and hurting world:

"For I was hungry while you had all you needed.
I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water.
I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported.
I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes.
I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness.
I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."

Do you see yourself anywhere in there? I do. It's not very comfortable is it?

Now contrast that with the words of Jesus (Matthew 25:35-36,40)

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me, 
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me...
I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these
brothers of mine, YOU DID FOR ME."

Mother Teresa saw God in every person she served. Here is what she said about that:

"He wanted me to love Him in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor." 

What if we saw God and loved God in every person we met? Every single one?

Please pray with us about the needs of Jackson County. Pray for the group that is meeting to have the vision of God and courage to act. Pray that God will tear down walls and remove obstacles, that he will provide resources and people to serve. Pray for unity in this vision, and that everything will be done in love and in order, and according to his will. 

Pray also about your part. People served by this ministry will need friends, tutors, transportation, teachers, mentors, prayer warriors. If you are looking for a place to serve ask God about this opportunity. If he wants you here, we do too. 

Thank you for keeping up with this ministry as we update you. We ask for your prayers for us and pray that God will make his calling on your life clear. If it's not service with us, you can know that he has another place for you somewhere. 

We'll keep you posted. Please check back with us. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Trust and Obey

I had an interesting experience this weekend. I was leaving Wal-Mart on Saturday morning after finishing my shopping, and sitting in front of the stop sign by the gas station was a older man with a sign that said "Need Help Please".

It stresses me every time I see that for a couple of reasons. First, I keep hearing stories of how people panhandle like that and make more money in a year than I do. They're not really poor or homeless, they just don't want to work. I hate being taken by someone like that, so I'm always a little suspicious even when they really look homeless. (I personally have moments when I look rather rough, so that in and of itself doesn't warrant an intervention.)

Second, I am uncertain about what to do because I don't know what that person needs. What if he needs a meal? I can handle that. But what if he needs a place to stay and a way to get there? The closest shelter is an hour away, and while I want to be obedient and offer help to someone who really needs it, I don't want to be careless and unsafe. Let's face it, these days you just never know. 

I drove by and went on my way home, but kept feeling, very strongly that I needed to turn around and go back. I knew that feeling was from God so I really didn't want to ignore it. I prayed. I told God I didn't know what that man needed, and that the only thing that would make me feel worse than not stopping at all would be finding out what he needed and then having to drive off again without helping him. 

God just kept saying "I know what he needs, just trust me." 

I'm asking him to help me be brave and bold, but when he gives me chances to do that I want to run the other way. I don't mind being brave as long as it doesn't come with any fear. In other words, I'm just a big wimp. 

Well, not wanting to miss an opportunity to be used by God, I turned my car around and went back to Wal-Mart. As I went I called a man from a local ministry that I had met only two weeks ago at a meeting. He said they would help the man get to a shelter if he wanted to go and asked me to call when I knew more. I felt better and pulled into the gas station parking lot to go meet the man. 

As I pulled up I saw the older man getting into some kind of SUV, but before I could feel relieved that someone else had helped him, a younger but equally scruffy-looking man got out of the same SUV and took his place at the stop-sign. Yep. Tag-team hustling! That's what that was. 

I sat there for a moment, totally stunned. Then I was a little mad. As I started to drive off, I thought about that whole situation. God knew what was going on and he sent me back there anyway to do...nothing. 

Nothing but obey. 

Was it a test? Maybe, although God already knew what I would do. I think it was a chance to exercise my spiritual muscles, to see if I really mean what I've been praying, and to take me a step closer to where I need to be. 

Could I have done something more? Yes. That man at the stop sign needed Jesus. Even knowing what was going on, I could have stopped to talk to him about Jesus. I didn't. I didn't even think about it until I was already down the road again. I hope to do better next time. I hope that I am less focused on my own fear and more on the opportunity in front of me. The only way to do that is to obey God when he tells me to act, and to trust that he already has it worked out. It really is not up to me.

I feel God calling me to ministry to just such people. I have to remember that I am not responsible for the outcome or their responses, only for my responses to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I'm grateful for the experience and that I didn't totally fail the test. I'm also grateful that God is gracious and patient and forgives our weaknesses. 

It's your turn: have you missed an opportunity to serve or obey God because of fear or doubt? You're not alone. What have you found that helps you to be obedient in times like this? 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Beautiful Worship Song

The American Christian Fiction Writers group met in St. Louis for their annual meeting and awards gala this month. A choir composed of members from all over the country sings worship music for the group. Here is one of their songs recorded (not professionally) by someone in the audience. It is so beautiful - I keep listening over and over again. Thought you might enjoying listening on this day of worship.

Enjoy and be blessed.