Thursday, April 28, 2011

One Small Town

Today was devastating as the sun rose. First light brought the first glimpses of the destruction left behind by violent, deadly winds. Alabamians, as well as the rest of the world, began to see the devastation that is much of the Heart of Dixie.

I spent the first few hours of the morning glued to my computer, viewing heartbreaking images of places once familiar. The more I saw, the more ridiculous I felt. I was sitting in my completely in-tact home, with power, with food, with water...with my completely unharmed children. I needed to do something. Anything.

The small town where my husband grew up, where we met and married, where my in-laws live, sustained major damage and destruction. I saw a Facebook friend's request for food, gas and water for that town. A friend and I decided to go. Other friends donated many, many items within an hour's time, and we were on our way. We delivered the items to the collection site, then we rode over to view the damage.

Sad can't even describe what we saw. We stood atop a hill, and looked down at the place that was once a town, now more similar to a war zone. We saw parked cars with piles of belongings next to them, which we assumed were the only items the owners salvaged from their destroyed homes. We watched volunteers clear debris. We saw groups of people gathered around grills and smokers. We stood in utter amazement that people were alive.

We talked with a gentleman who told of us his story of survival:

He was in his truck as the tornado arrived. He felt the truck shake violently, and as quickly as it began, it was over. When he got out, he realized his truck had first been lifted off the ground as his son's tricycle, which was previously next to the porch, was underneath his truck tire. The front porch of his home had broken off and landed on the hood of his truck. He was convinced that if not for that porch weighing down his truck, he would've been tossed in the air. Two of his three homes were completely demolished, while his third home sustained major damage. He was hungry, but clearly thankful to be alive.

This one small town, Cordova, Alabama, is just one of many that are in the preliminary stages of recovery. If you are a local reader, I encourage you to seek out ways to help. If you read from afar, prayers are much appreciated.

Some photos from Cordova

The Piggly Wiggly grocery store

The town's Methodist church

The local doctor's office

Dance costume

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prayers For Alabama

I know many of you who read this blog are from different states and countries. I am requesting that you take a few moments to pray for the state of Alabama. I'm writing on Wednesday evening at 9:30 CST. At this time, there have been 53 confirmed deaths due to today's violent tornadoes. The death toll will probably rise on Thursday with the light of day. We have major destruction from one side of the state to the other. Clean-up efforts will be long and difficult.

My immediate family and I did not have damage, but some of our extended family members did. Most importantly, all our family members are accounted for and are safe. However, there are many in Alabama who cannot say the same.

Please pray for:

Families who have lost/missing loved ones

Families who have lost homes and/or businesses

Strenth and energy for clean-up crews, power crews

Recycling An Old Poem

Inside Looking Out

Living inside these prison walls
Sunrise to sunrise, then again
My life is not my own
Sin cost me what might've been

From the inside looking out
Freedom is the cherished route

My soul ached within me
The choices I made brought me to this place
Guilt and shame were my constant companions
I longed for someone's mercy, some amazing grace

From the inside looking out
Freedom is the cherished route

I opened my heart but for a moment
A loving stranger showed me the way
His Jesus eyes spoke more than words
I found the peace that I so craved

From the inside looking out
Freedom is the cherished route

The continual torment in my mind now gone
In its place a love so great and divine
My heart found freedom even in these walls
All because Jesus the Savior became mine

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Barefoot And In Pain

My girls were down the street at a friend's house, and it was getting dark outside. I walked out on the front porch, and yelled their names a couple of times, hoping to get their attention. It was time to come home. My yelling did no good. They couldn't hear me. I was barefoot, but thought I'd just walk to the edge of the cul-de-sac and be able to get their attention. No such luck. I walked all the way down the street to the friend's house. All the while, my tender feet unhappy with the pebbles on the road beneath.

The girls hopped on their bicycles and sped past me towards home. Meanwhile, I was careful about each step. Those tiny, sharp rocks can hurt bare feet! I didn't want to look like a dufus to anyone who might see me, so instead of tiptoeing to spare my feet, I tried to walk normally, albeit slowly. By the time I made it back into our yard and walked through the grass, I felt like I may as well have been walking on broken glass.

I was reminded of the painful paths we sometimes walk. Rather than letting someone else see the pain in which we walk, we put on a smile and pretend everything is fine. I think this is especially true in the Christian community. We've so often been told that the Christian life is joy-filled, and giving in to pain is a weakness. But as I mentioned in Prepared Through Pain, God sometimes uses pain to prepare us to worship and obey Him.

I believe there are many among us who are walking painful paths, but are afraid to share their pain. They walk the path alone, thinking that no one else would understand. They try to make their walk look normal: smile in place, Sunday School answers on the tips of their tongues. But keeping up appearances while walking in pain is difficult. And the feeling of aloneness mixed with the lack of authenticity can just about cause gaping, bleeding wounds.

When you take the chance of opening up to share your painful walk with another, you just might be surprised. You might find that you're not alone. You might find others who have walked the same path, and who have found healing. You might find a true friend in someone you've kept at arm's length out of fear. You might find grace instead of condemnation.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Prepared Through Pain

My Sunday School teacher pointed out something I'd never thought of. It was an aha! moment for me.

When the Israelites were in bondage as slaves to the Egyptians, they were constantly lifting and moving heavy stones. Their bodies must've been in great shape. When they left Egypt with Moses to go worship God, they probably didn't realize how all the physical labor as slaves was going to benefit them. God had them build a rather large and heavy altar for sacrifices, and the instructions included moving it on poles. They needed to be physically strong to do as He commanded. God had prepared them through the pain of slavery to be able to worship and obey Him.

In the midst of pain, it often seems that God is far away. And if that pain is a result of bondage or slavery to something, it may seem that it's unfair or too harsh. It's easy to wish the pain away, to want it to be over. But God may be using that pain to prepare you to worship and obey Him.

In my case, the pain I experienced as a result of my bondage to sin made me angry. I just wanted the hurt to go away. I didn't want to acknowledge that the pain was necessary to lead me to a place of healing.

Now on the other side of healing, I can see how God let me experience the pain to prepare me for what was ahead. I needed that pain to be able to share in the hurt of the people God puts in my path. Had I not experienced the pain, I wouldn't know how to pray for others walking the same path as I did. I can now relate to those who experience hard, painful times as a result of their sin. I can assure them that God can create beauty from ashes. I can offer them hope that healing is worth the pain.

And each time I share in another's hurt by listening to their story and by sharing mine, I worship God a little deeper.

Has God prepared you through pain and affliction to better worship and obey Him?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Sunday

The stone has been rolled away. The tomb is empty!

Why do you seek the living One among the dead?

Death has been defeated!

Prophecy has been fulfilled. Hope has been secured. Sufferings have been exchanged for glory.




Jesus is risen! Let creation celebrate!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Day Between

I wonder about the middle day. That day between Jesus' death and His resurrection.

Judas has hanged himself. Peter has denied Christ and is, no dout, wallowing in his shame. The horror of the crucifixion is complete. Jesus' body is sealed in the tomb.

It's the Sabbath. Laws are kept.

It seems all hope is lost. The world declares victory.

What a dreadful, dark day for Jesus' followers.

I wonder if their thoughts continually turned toward times spent with Jesus. I wonder if they would've given anything to have Him back in the midst of them. I wonder if they wanted things just like they were before His death.

I wonder if in the forefront of their minds they silently begged, Give me Jesus.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday: The Cross

I could attempt a theological post about the cross of Christ, but it would be severely lacking since I've only dabbled in theological reading. I could retell the events of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, but you can read that for youself. I could try to explain the significance of each detail surrounding the events, but again, I would miss too much.

So today, on this day we call Good Friday, I will tell you my experience with the cross of Christ:

I sat in my recliner, the girls outside playing with friends. I'd been reading my Bible all afternoon, mostly passages from the Psalms. But my sin was heavy, like a physical weight on my chest. The images of my gross behavior flashed repeatedly in my mind. It was as if I was glued to my seat, made to watch re-runs of the summer I sinned so abundantly. The only word I can use to explain my state of mind as I sat there is torture. I was mentally tortured. The more I read from Psalms, the more I wanted to be rid of the images.

In an instant, I ran upstairs to my bedroom, flung the door closed, dropped to my knees, and fell face down on the floor. Weeping, I cried out, God, I can't take this anymore. You have to make this stop. I'm laying it all down at the foot of the cross. I don't want it back. I can't handle it anymore. Please take it and make it go away!

I had no idea that God would really answer that prayer. But within minutes, I stood with the weight removed. I wondered if it was temporary. Four years later, I can tell you that what I laid down at the foot of the cross that day was taken and cast from me. I was set on the path to freedom and healing that day.

Jesus' death was not in vain. Imagine for a moment the vilest thing you've ever done. Now think about Jesus willingly being put to death so you wouldn't have to pay the penalty for that sin.

The penalty for sin is God's wrath. Jesus paid the penalty to spare us. That's how much He loves us.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Is. 53:4-5, NIV)





The cross.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Evil For Good

Last night I attended choir rehearsal for upcoming church services: the Remember services and the Resurrection Sunday services. I was intrigued by the order of rehearsal. We started out rehearsing for Sunday's service. The mood in the choir loft was jubilant and full of energy. We sang upbeat, fun songs about Christ's resurrection. There was a lot of chatter and laughing between songs.

But things changed.

Our choir director, Lisa, read the fiftieth reason from John Piper's devotional, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. As she read, the mood became somber. The devotional was about how God takes what is meant for evil and uses it for good. The crowd who crucified Jesus intended evil. Death was their goal. And they achieved it for a short time. But only because God allowed it...willed it, even. For without Jesus' death, we would not have the opportunity to commune with God, to live in relationship with Him, to live in freedom.

The sanctuary was silent, other than Lisa. When she finished, we began rehearsing for the Remember services, singing songs about the cross and the blood. The words were gripping as we sang about sin, shame, guilt, death, the cross. As I focused on the lyrics, I found something to be true. Those same lyrics would've had me in a heap of tears a few years ago. I would've been pierced with guilt, shame and sorrow. But last night, as I sang those words, I found myself thankful. So very thankful. For the cross. For the shedding of innocent blood. For One who was willing to die though He didn't deserve death. For forgiveness.

Yes, forgiveness.

Forgiveness because while I was not physically present at the cross, my sin held Him there. I made a mockery of Him, just like the spectators around the foot of the cross, yet He loved me enough to die. His life for mine.

And now I can see in my own life that what I meant for evil, He is using for good.

Over the next few days, as we look forward to Easter, don't skip over the evil caused by men which God still uses for good today. Take time to reflect. To remember.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beautiful, Terrible Cross

My thoughts can't escape the third point of my pastor's sermon this past Sunday, so I thought I'd share it:

The cross liberates and recreates.

It is a place of beauty and tragedy. 

Crucifixion is a slow, decisive death. The cross is where we die to the things of this world. It is where we have to deal with the things in which we have previously placed our trust and delight. It is where change takes place, and we have a new reliance on Christ. Our boast (obsession, glory, delight) is in the cross.

Redemption is available only through the cross.

Taken from "Grace At the Cross," Buddy Gray

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jesus Wept (More Than Once)

A passage in Luke jumped out at me, as if I've missed it every time I've read that Scripture. I've never noticed it before:

When the city came into view, he wept over it. "If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it's too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They'll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn't recognize and welcome God's personal visit." (19:41-44, The Message)

I remember reading about Jesus weeping over Lazarus's death. But this I don't remember. So it stood out to me as I read. I dug deeper. I wanted to know why Jesus was weeping over the city of Jerusalem during such a jubilant time.

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, riding upon a colt. We're told in the Gospels that people were spreading their garments and leafy branches on the road as He approached. The garments represented submission to a dignitary. The leafy branches (and palm branches) were representative of victory.

And, along the way:

Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God's name! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in highest heaven!"  (Mark 11:9-10, The Message)

I'd always thought the crowd was welcoming Jesus the Savior since they were praising God for the miracles they'd witnessed. Not so for the entirety of the crowd. Most were welcoming Jesus, the one who they expected would lead them to victory over Rome. They weren't praising the One who would defeat death and offer them salvation.

So while the crowds cheered, Jesus overlooked the city and wept. He knew of their coming devastation. He wept because the city had been blinded from the Truth. He knew that in just a few days, those same people would reject Him and call for His death. He knew that Rome would utterly destroy them. His heart grieved for the blindness of the people He loved and came to save.

In this week before we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I wonder: how many view Him as having been a good teacher, a prophet, a good man, but reject Him as Savior, Lord and Treasure? I wonder how many have heard the Gospel (salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone) and still reject Him. I wonder how many are blinded to the Truth. And I wonder why I don't grieve as Jesus did over people's rejection of Him.

I pray this week that my heart will break for those who reject Him, and that I'll remember the urgency of sharing the Gospel of Grace and Love.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Passion Week

I have half a dozen other posts half-way finished. But I can't get my brain past this week. This Passion Week. I can't move past writing anything other than the cross. Redemption. Reconciliation. Grace.

As a little girl, Easter was always exciting to me. There was always a new dress. Easter baskets full of candy and sometimes a toy or two were had. My mom liked attending sunrise services on Easter Sunday morning, so I tagged along with her several times. I can remember singing hymns like Up From The Grave He Arose while standing in a graveyard as the sun came up. There were other sunrise services and early breakfasts throughout my childhood.

I grew, married and had my own babies. As Easter approached, I would fly into a shopping frenzy: beautiful dresses; lacey socks; new, white shoes; handmade hairbows; baskets full of candy and toys. By Resurrection Sunday, I would be exhausted. Still, it was my favorite Sunday of the year. I loved seeing everybody in new clothes. Upbeat songs about Christ's resurrection thrilled me {they still do}.

Somehow, all those years, I missed something. I skipped over something.

Things started changing for me a few years ago. I became less than enthusiastic about new clothes, shoes, bows, baskets, candy and eggs. I started realizing that Easter Sunday wouldn't be if Christ had not first died. I came to an understanding that the events leading up to the Sunday of celebration were of no less importance than the day itself.

It's easy to look toward Easter Sunday. It's easy to skip over the why of Easter. It's easy to dress up and celebrate.

But I've started remembering why there's a celebration: Jesus, the only perfect, sinless human that ever lived, willingly allowed Himself to be crucified so that we {I} may be reconciled to God. He died a cruel death, while those who gathered at the foot of the cross mocked him. His love for all mankind was greater than His love for His own life.

But His death was not final. Three days after His death, there was an empty tomb. An angel proclaimed, He is not here, but He has risen (Luke 24:6, NASB). He made a way for sinners to stand in the presence of a Holy God. He bridged the gap from death to life. In Him, we find grace and mercy.

This week as my family prepares for Easter {Resurrection Sunday}, we will take time to remember the why. And as we prepare, I will share our thoughts and remembrances with you in hopes that you too will take time to remember the events that preceded the Resurrection.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Reminder

I sat on my front porch with wet eyes. I was in complete awe of God. I didn't know what to do with myself. I was so humbled, and yet so excited. And...

my friends weren't answering their phones!!!

I just couldn't even contain myself. Lost in the wonder of God showing off, I flipped my hand in the air to wave as a car passed. It turned around in the cul-de-sac, then pulled in my driveway. It took me a second to snap out of the moment I was having with God to realize it was my friend, Misty.

What are you up to?

She hopped out, opened her trunk and presented me with something I've been wanting for a while: a painted, burlap cross for my front door.

Just because.

And, once again, God showed off. In that moment, he gave me a friend in the flesh {not on the phone} to share my excitement. Through my friend, He gave me a cross as a visual reminder of what He'd done that day. When I look at it, I will always remember.

That cross. A reminder. Of what He'd done.

I remember.

And as I prepare for Easter, I think of the cross. Of that day. Of the Gospel. Of what He did. Of Him loving me enough to die for me. Of Him taking my sin upon Himself. Of grace and mercy.

That cross.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ministry...Really, God?

Nearly eight years ago, I attended a women's conference that God used to change the course of my life. I was fully aware of God's calling. I surrendered.

Ministry: something I said I'd never do. Really, God? Are you sure?

Yet, I spent the next two and a half years seeking which direction He wanted me to go. I talked to many people. I received a lot of advice, much of it bad. Many people promised me help, but never followed through. It wasn't long before I became frustrated with trying to be obedient, gave up hope, and tangled myself in a web of sin.

I realize now that while I'd surrendered to God's calling, I wanted people to help make it happen. And when people failed me, I turned my back on them and God.

Here I sit, all these years later, still knowing that God called me to ministry. And He is pushing me forward again, albeit slowly.

I first believed God was calling me into a ministry to lead women's worship through music. I have a passion and love for that, but have removed myself from the women's ministry loop. It's an arena that I can only step back into with the assurance that God is placing me there.

I now believe He is calling me in a different direction. I don't feel the freedom to publicly say where just yet. And while I've tossed out ideas to friends for feedback, I'm waiting on God alone to open doors.

This is just me saying, I know God has called me into ministry, and I'm pretty sure I'm wading into unfamiliar territory. The area He's calling me to is unfamiliar to the church. The research I've done shows that there is very little information or availability to the church in this type of ministry. But there is a desperate need.

Please pray with me that I will only walk through doors that God opens.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Someone asked me a few days ago, What does healing look like?

Honestly, I don't have an answer. I only know what it was for me. I haven't researched enough to know what healing looks like for other people. But, I'll try to explain my experience:

For two years, I lived in self-induced shame. I cried often. I begged God to make it all go away. If I could have had things my way, I would've changed the past, or at least, had my memory erased. I lived in my own personal hell. There were days when I would think that maybe healing had finally occurred, and I could move on with my life, only to plunge into the depths of self-pity again. I wanted things back to normal.

What I didn't realize was that God was creating a new sort of normal for me.

On January 4, 2009, my pastor preached a sermon titled Hope After Failure. It was another Sunday morning when I dreaded church, when I wept the entire sermon. But I clung to every word God spoke through my pastor that morning. The one sentence that permanently placed itself in my brain was, God often uses broken people to accomplish great things. Until that moment, I thought my life was useless. I thought I'd messed up so badly that not even God wanted me anymore. I didn't see a point in my living, other than being a mother to three little girls. And, most days, I wasn't doing that well. But with that one sentence, God changed my life.

I walked out of that service a different person. I had renewed purpose. I didn't know what that purpose was except that God was going to use me again.

I listened to that sermon again tonight for the second time. I remember the exact points and illustrations that pierced my heart. This time, though, I listened with a smile. I know what the other side of healing, the new normal, looks like for me:

God allows me to sing to Him, about Him...

He uses the story of His grace in my life to bring restoration and healing to others...

He has again given me friends who are like family...

He has given me glimpses of grace I wouldn't have otherwise known...

Healing was a slow and painful process. But there was purpose in the length of time and the pain it took. Had God allowed my healing to be swift and painless, I might not have grapsed the beauty He made of my mess. I might have missed His grace. And I might not be so afraid to go back there again. When you've been through a painfully, slow process and have reached the other side, you don't want to go back through it again. Once is enough.

Healing is beautiful, but it's hard to see until you've reached the other side.

Click here to watch the sermon, Hope After Failure.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Single Mom

She caught my eye before she even walked in the door. In jeans and a t-shirt, she was naturally beautiful...her face void of make-up, and her hair pulled into a tight ponytail. I knew I hadn't seen her the last time I was there. I wondered if she was there to work or to receive assistance. It only took seconds from the time she walked through the door for me to know she was at the ministry house for help. I watched her sign in, then sit and fill out forms. She was quiet and unassuming, but exuded confidence. I needed to know more about her. When she finished her paperwork, I walked over and sat down next to her.

Is this your first time here?


Do you have children?

Yes. Two.

What are their ages?

She answered.

Are you a single mom?


I pursued the conversation and found out that sitting next to me was an amazing woman. This single mom had formerly served in the military. She's served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. She's moved every year for the past ten years. Most recently, she moved here from another state after finding a job online. She mentioned that one of her children is having a hard time adjusting to this latest move.

She works fifty hours per work and is attending school full-time to earn a degree. She has only one family member close by to help her with childcare. Most Saturday nights, she doesn't get home from work until 3 a.m. Then on Sunday mornings, she gets up to carry her children to church. She said, "The kids love (church). They drag me out of bed to go. They love Sunday School."

She's not sure what the near future holds. Her family member who helps with her children will be leaving after the summer. She stated, matter-of-factly, that if she couldn't find affordable night care, she'd have to quit her job.

Just as quickly as we'd begun our conversation, it ended when I was called to help in another room. I realized later that I'd forgotten to ask her name. But I won't soon forget her:

This single mom.

This woman who risked her to life to protect her fellow Americans.

This woman who is now sacrificing to make a better life for her children.

This woman who must be exhausted from trying to figure out ways to make ends meet.

This mom who must be weary of trying to find creative ways to spend what limited free time she has with her children.

I admire her. And I told her so.

She smiled.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Walking Broken

I'd just finished reading a timely post by Lindsey over at lifelivedfully. I looked up from my reading and watched her take an evening stroll. I'd never met her, but I'd heard about her recent tragedy. Admittedly, I'd been too scared to go over and introduce myself before this point. I was afraid of rejection...afraid to get out of my comfort zone.

But I took one step after another right out of that comfortable place. And I interrupted her stroll. I quickly passed through the necessary introductions and got to the heart of the matter. I told her I'd heard of her tragedy, and that I'd been praying for her. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she told me of her hurt. Straight from God out of my mouth came a verse I can't remember reading anytime recently: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3) She didn't respond, but she didn't reject either. And now a door has been cracked to share in her hurt, to offer her grief to God on her behalf.

Broken people walk among us...painted smiles hiding hurting hearts. As Christians we know we're this time, in this place, among these people...for a reason. We have the opportunity to offer Hope to a broken and hurting world. But we must be willing to put one foot in front of another and walk right out of our comfort zones. When we do, something us.

Friday, April 8, 2011


You can argue that grace is letting someone off easy. You can argue that grace is excusing sin. You can argue that grace is weak and too lenient. You can argue that grace is out of balance, and punishment is more effective.

All I can say to that is...

Grace saved my life. If not for Grace (God Himself) and the grace of people who loved me in spite of my sin, I cannot say where or how I would be living today.

All I know is grace.

All I have is Christ.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Walking and Falling

My girls have been walking for quite some time. It's natural for them. They don't have to think about how to walk. They just do it. However, there are times when they're walking along, and for one reason or another, trip and fall. If they fall at home, it's usually not a big deal. They jump back and up, and scamper along. But if one of them falls in public, it can become a dramatic scene. The level of drama that follows is usually in direct proportion to the age of the one who falls. For instance, if my oldest child falls in public, it's going to be a much bigger deal than if my youngest falls. There will be tears, embarrassment, and an all-around big scene.

If we're in public and one of my children falls, I rush to her side. I know she's more than likely fine...not so much as a scratch. But I also know my girls get embarrassed when other people are around. So I hover, making sure to be extra comforting to let her know that Mom is right there, and to encourage her to get up and keep going.

As Christians, we're called to do the same. Whether our brothers or sisters are long-time Christians who know how to walk the walk, or new Christians who are still learning to walk, they're all going to occasionally trip and fall. Some falls may be more dramatic than others. Either way, we have a responsibility to restore them in gentleness. We are to show compassion and love. We are to encourage them. Sometimes we're to walk alongside them until they've been restored.

Imagine if one of my children fell, and I stood around with everyone else and watched without lending a hand. What if told them how clumsy they were, or that they should be such good walkers that they shouldn't fall? What if I just walked away?

You'd be appalled at my behavior, wouldn't you?

Yet we do that to our Christian family members so often. When one falls, we join the crowd of condemnation. We even turn our backs and walk away. We no longer want to be associated with that one. We even gossip about how long they've been a Christian...they should've known better. And they more than likely did know better. But knowing and doing are different. And unless we encourage them to get up and try again, knowing and doing may never meet.

Will you make the decision to stop, hover over, comfort, and encourage one who has fallen?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

For The Fallen

There came a point when I knew I was capable of anything. It hit me square in the face that given the right combination of temptation, circumstances, and weakness, I was capable of absolutely anything. It was then that I realized that people living in a lifestyle of sin almost never planned to wind up where they are. It was the point that I realized most people sitting in prisons never intended to end up there, never intended to do what took them there.

We live in a fallen world, with falling people all around us. You may be one of those. Maybe you're frantically scrambling around on your knees trying to gather the pieces of the life you've shattered. You have moments when you believe that one day you'll be up and walking again with the rest of plastic humanity. But, mostly, the wounds from your shattered life knock you off your knees, flat on your face. You have quickly become familiar with the guilt, shame and regret of some sin you never before would've believed you were capable of committing.

You may feel there's no hope. You may only see the faces of plastic people whose eyes condemn you for what you've done. But be assured...

You're not alone.

We're all around you. The fallen...The redeemed...The restored. We have stories similar to yours. We're searching for you. We want to share the hope of Jesus with you. Call out for help, and when those around you ignore or condemn, call a little louder. We'll rush in to tell you With God, nothing is impossible. Your sin is not too great. You are loved.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sin...One Step At A Time

I had an eerily realistic dream last night in which I was faced with the choice to step back into a lifestyle of sin. In the dream, the temptation came in the form of a coincidence. I had to choose whether to run away, or stay and talk over my options. I ran quickly. However, the same temptation, no longer coincidental but now pursuant, kept coming at me...faster and more direct. I began to discuss the reasons why I wouldn't give in to the temptations, only to find myself being more tempted.

I awoke with sweat on my forehead and a thick fog in my brain, but ever so thankful that it was just a dream!

It made me think about how we deal with temptation. The first form of temptation is usually very subtle, but out of nowhere. Our minds are often not prepared to deal with it. We often don't even realize we're weak in the area in which we're being tempted. So, instead of running, we toy with the idea in our minds until it becomes something we can live with, something that no longer seems as bad as it first appeared. Then each subsequent temptation becomes a little stronger, a little more overt. And with each caving, we find ourselves in circumstances we'd never have imagined. We find ourselves justifying each action.

In my dream, the first instinct to run was correct. But each time after, I thought I could reason with sin. Isn't that what we do? As Christians, we know to put a stop to temptation, and run from it. Sadly, we often think we can play with fire. We think we can reason with Satan. And the longer we stick around to discuss the reasons why we shouldn't give in to temptation, the longer we think about how appealing the temptation is. Before we even realize what's happened, we are in a world of shame and guilt.

We often don't decide to leap into a lifestyle of sin. It happens one small step at a time; one justification at a time; one caving at a time. But once we're on the path to sin, it becomes a slippery slope that we no longer know how to exit. Choose in the opposite direction.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Waiting In Silence

Me: I'm just so frustrated. I'm tired of dealing with this...

Other person: But God is doing something. It may take some time...

I'm not a patient person. I've never claimed to be. Patience seems to be the fruit of the spirit that eludes me. Hurry up and Now are standards in my daily rhetoric. If there's something to be learned, I want to learn it, apply it and move on.

Unfortunately, God doesn't work on my timetable. In fact, to Him a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. My mind can't comprehend that.

So what's a girl to do when God doesn't work as quickly as she wants? How do I deal with the matter at hand when moving on doesn't seem to be an option? I know the answer. It's one that comes to mind frequently. But knowing it and doing it are worlds apart:

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. (Psalm 62:5)

And there in that verse are the two things that cut me to the core: wait, silence. I don't like waiting, and I don't like silence. I think of David, the author of this Psalm. Was he like me? Was it difficult for David to pen those words, to live them? Obviously, he liked to use words because he wrote so many. Obviously, he acted impulsively, and patience was not his greatest asset. Yet in this verse, we see his submission to God's timetable. Not only that, but we also see his willingness to wait in silence for God alone.

I won't deny that lessons including waiting and silence are difficult for me. Those lessons usually keep me frustrated because I want to see the end result. But, like David, I will remind myself, my soul, to wait...and to wait in silence...knowing that my hope is in God alone. I must trust that He is at work, that His ways are higher than mine, that He is working for my good and His glory.

Waiting and trusting in silence for God alone...difficult words for a Monday morning, don't you think?