So Far

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Have you ever felt worthless?  Unappreciated?  Unnoticed? Uncared for? Unloved? Alone?  Welcome to my pity party!  The past six weeks have been extremely hard ones…caring for someone who has zapped all my energy, joy, self worth.  What is self worth?  I don’t have any!

Yet, I cry out to God.  The God who sees and hears and understands.  I am enveloped by His understanding, His love, His comfort…and it is somehow okay.  I regain strength for my journey…but I know that right now I am walking wounded down a path I did not choose and do not understand.

I like how the Psalmist talks to himself! “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5 

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Its About Time

Yesterday being my birthday, was a very crazy day. I have lots of family in town. Everyone thought everyone else was doing something, and I ended up doing nothing. No cake. No presents. Among other things, I became contemplative (not always in a happy way) about aging and the time we have on earth.

Time is such an amazing commodity. People are willing to pay millions to get it, but don’t make the most of it when they have it. Recently, I was driving past a very nice neighborhood, and there by the side of the road was a woman holding a sign asking for money. Was it for food for her children? Money for a house payment so her home did not go into foreclosure? No! She needed over $5,000 for surgery to keep her 15-yr-old dog alive for another year. While I am not without sympathy for someone losing a cherished pet, there seems to be no end to the lengths we will go to just to prolong something we really have no control over.

People spend inordinate amounts of money trying to look young. They Botox this and lift that to the tune of thousands, only to have to come back time after time to have it revised or done again. You can’t watch television without seeing commercials for the latest greatest miracle cream to smooth away those wrinkles that are coming whether you use that cream or not. More money is needed to cover grey. Birthdays! We are not supposed to ask how old someone is. The big joke is that, “I am 29 again!”

My big problem with that is that I serve a God who knit me together in my mother’s womb (PS 139:13). He knows the length of my days. He knows everything. He knew when and where to place me on this earth and when I am leaving. Why should I be afraid of my age? Why should I be worried about time?

So, here are some things that I personally know to be true about time…things that have been shared with me over the years, and now I am sharing them with you:

  1. Time is a very limited resource. As with every resource that God gives us, it is expanded by giving the first part back to God. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” Funny that it says possessions, because everything really belongs to God anyway. Time is certainly ours, but can we ever really possess it?
  2. When time is invested wisely, it will produce eternal results. I have had many aspirations to do great things. First, I was going to be a great singer and actress. I sang. I acted. There was no really fulfillment there. Second, I was going to be a great writer. I have been published in local and national publications, but again, not the big hurrah. I find the biggest fulfillment in serving God. That does not mean that I have to be in full-time ministry. I can sing, and act, and write and do all three. I could work anywhere and do anything. I have a friend who serves God by being an actress on stage and in film. I have another friend who serves God as a golf pro and on the LPGA tour. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”
  3. Time is fleeting. I can’t listen to the news without realizing that time is short. Years ago I had some surgery that got incredibly botched. I almost died several times that week. Other surgeries were performed. At one point I was in intensive care, supposedly in a coma, when I heard the doctor say to my Mom, “We’re going to work hard to keep her alive.” I thought that was a pretty good idea. The whole thing has made me realize that we all live on borrowed time, so we have to make the most of it. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time,because the days are evil.”
  4. Time has many robbers. It is so easy to waste time. So many things are labeled urgent that really are not at all. We don’t have time for distractions. I just need to pay attention to what I am doing and listen to what God says is precious and not worthless for me to pursue. Mark 4:24 says, “Then He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use,it will be measured and added to you.”

Okay, so now you are as smart as I pretend to be. Make the most of your time.

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The Higgs Boson and You

On July 4th scientists made an amazing discovery. They believe they have found the Higgs Boson! I know you are probably experiencing goosebumps at the joy of that statement, however, if you are like people in the real world you are probably going, “What?”

Okay so this all has to do with Particle Physics where there is a theory of electromagnetic and nuclear interactions called the Standard Model which pretty much describes a universe of matter (fermions) and force (bosons.) According to this model, all matter consists of two types of particle, quarks and leptons which are held together by bosons which are associated with force. There are three elementary bosons that relate to electromagnetic force, weak force and strong force. Then there are two elusive bosons that are suspected but unobserved: the Graviton and the Higgs boson.

The Higgs Boson has been legend for 48 years. It is also known as the “God Particle.” Scottish physicist Peter Briggs theorized that a field, now known as the Higgs field, exists that is sort of like a combination of electromagnetic field and a solid which affects the particles that move through it, lending mass to the particle. The truth is that physicists look to particles to explain the universe and in their theories, electromagnetic and nuclear forces don’t need particles with mass to work. But the particles do have mass, so apparently we needed an explanation for why.

With no concern for the feelings of the subatomic particles, two teams at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research, a lab near Geneva) collected data in separate experiments that smashed together millions of subatomic particles to see what pieces emerged. The particle fell to pieces in ways predicted by Higgs and other physicists. Scientists say that there is only a .000057% statistical chance of the particle detection being wrong.

Scientists are so excited about this. One of the reasons is that they think the Higgs Boson could explain how fundamental particles that make up the universe got mass at the time that the Big Bang created a fiery ball. It’s kind of the missing link for these scientists who want to find an explanation for how the universe exploded into existence without God, but it doesn’t. Being able to create something in a hyper expensive lab does not prove what happened naturally in the past or that it ever produced a universe. Just because these scientists have helped us understand more clearly the nature of matter and energy it does not rule out that an Almighty God created that matter and energy.

“Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.” (1 Corinthians 1:20, 21 HCSB)

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Obedience

My uncle lives in a sleepy little WV town…just a few stoplights, and it boasts a Sheetz and a McDonalds. It actually is a sweet place to visit. Culturally there is a lot going on in that area. The town has interesting history, too. During the US Civil War this town changed hands 51 times. Every couple of weeks the residents were claimed by either the north or south. It got so confusing that townsfolk had to sometimes look outside to see what flag was flying to see what side they were on…to see who was winning. The fighting was terrible.

Recently I have tried to work on an area of my life that sorely needed attention. I would love to tell you it has been an exciting time of victorious growth…but I can’t. I am more like that town in WV where God’s flag flies high, then mine goes up…and it seems like I am toggling to the point where I am looking out the window of my heart at times to see who is winning. On my side is the almighty power of God-the same power that flowed from the resurrection. I am in good hands. The problem is not with God, but my yielding to Him.

Phillippians 2:8 says this about Jesus, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even to death on a cross. (HCSB). A lot of times it comes down to what am I obedient to the point of? My convenience? My comfort? My mood? My willingness? I need to die to all of these things. Let go of what is holding me back. Obey God.

“You and I must be willing to do what God tells us, as God tells us, when God tells us, because God tells us, but only strong faith will be equal to such complete obedience. ” C.H. Spurgeon

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things

I am constantly amazed by how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Recently on the news there have been reports of grandmothers getting in their cars and driving through some of the toughest neighborhoods in the city of Richmond. They are of the same ethnicity as those in these neighborhoods. So, why are they putting themselves at risk? Because they believe God has called them to pray for these neighborhoods, so they drive through asking God to bring salvation to the people there. Praying for the individual’s they see…the houses they pass, the businesses…as God leads, they drive and pray. When they encounter really tough-looking guys, they just roll down the window and tell them that they are praying for them and that they are loved to a very mixed, but curious response. God is moving there.

Recently a group of young mothers became committed to one of these neighborhoods. Once a week a team goes into a neighborhood to spend time with mothers. That’s all it is…just young mothers with young mothers. God is moving there. I will be doing music classes with them occasionally. Pray for Gilpin Court.

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Kitty

Most of the greatest ministry lessons have not been learned in a classroom setting. I have gleaned some great information that way, but I have absorbed more from working side by side with saints who have been on the road making progress for some time.

In my early 20’s I was part of a small mission team going into inner city Pittsburgh to follow-up on an earlier VBS. I got partnered with Mrs. Kitty H., a refined wife of an optometrist in her late 50’s. She dressed, talked and appeared pure southern belle, but underneath her “earth clothes” was a fierce warrior. Kitty prayed…not flowery prayers that would impress others..but prayers that meant business…directly asking and expecting God to act.

The two of us were assigned an apartment complex. That first day was rough. No one wanted to talk to us. We weren’t the right color for the neighborhood…and Kitty’s thick accent set us apart. Finally, Kitty sat down on a dirty sidewalk and prayed. She meant business, too. When we finished a child came running up to say her mother wanted to talk to us, and when we got there we found a broken-hearted woman who needed the forgiveness of an Almighty God. This mom prayed and asked Jesus into her heart.

The next morning we were dropped off, and as we walked down the hill we heard the children saying, “The white ladies are back.” Before we even got the follow-up cards out to see where we were going next, another child came and brought us to her mother. We pretty much threw those cards out he window because just when we were finished in one house we would be led to another. People were asking Jesus into their hearts and we were just there to facilitate. It was amazing.

Not only did Kitty pray like she meant it, but she loved like she meant it, too. We were going into these poor government housing projects. They were not clean. It was depressing really, but Kitty sat like she was in her fine southern home, she reached out and held hands with strangers until they became friends, then family.

My experience tells me now that evangelism is not always that easy. This was apparently an overripe field badly in need of harvesting.

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This will explain a lot…

I was not raised in a Christian home.  My Mom’s job was to make us proper people…my Dad’s job was to have fun with us.  Here are some examples:

  • He told us that he had to pay per person at toll booths and every time we came to one we would dive into the floor of the car.  Imagine my grandfather’s confusion when we rode with him through a toll booth.
  • We made frequent trips through the mountains of WV where there were quite a few signs warning of Fallen Rock, who according to my Dad, was a rogue Native American stealing picnic baskets, so we had to keep our eyes glued whenever we saw one of those signs just in case we saw Fallen Rock so we could call the police.
  • The night my Mom made the big mistake of going to a PTA meeting alone, he tried to teach the four of us how to throw peas in the air and catch them in our mouths, which we not particularly good at, so he made more.
  • He frequently read us stories out of his special storybook.  They were outlandish tales that usually ended with someone experiencing flatulence causing the monster or other bad guy to run away.  The book, we came to find out, was a finance textbook from his college days.

I could go on and on and on because there are lots of stories just like these.  At home my Dad was nothing but fun.  Maybe he needed that.  He was an engineer and part of a pioneer team that fired up this nation’s first commercial full-scale nuclear power plant. We would never know the pressure he might have been under.  We were too busy playing in his ping pong tournaments at home.  He made us laugh constantly.  Mom did not always get the jokes.

My Dad is an extremely intelligent man.  One thing that my Dad was certain of…and remains certain about to this day…is that God/Jesus/the church is for the weak.  He felt that if we were smart, we didn’t need those things. I remember telling him that I had asked Jesus into my heart at the age of 16, and he told me how disappointed he was in me.  I have said that he is intelligent…but he is not wise.  He has brought on himself so much hardship and heartache because he followed what he thought was the right thing to do.

I rebelled against my father and followed Jesus.  I am still praying for his salvation.

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How can a gate prevail?

I moved to Manhattan for a few years in the late 80’s to be a part of a church plant…the founding of Times Square Church by David Wilkerson.  I had been living in Virginia Beach, working for CBN, and enjoying the sand and ocean and tons of Christian fellowship.  It was incredible.  Then, one day, I learned of the church plant and I heard God’s voice say, “GO!”  Believe me, I saw and experienced things I never had before.  Besides singing on the worship team at church, I worked with children at church, in welfare hotels and on the street.  It broke my heart to see kids who had completely lost their innocence at a very young age.  We used to go down to the McDonalds near Macy’s at night where there was always a cluster of kids.  We would buy them food and talk to them.  The youngest was four as I recall.  His twelve-year-old brother would watch him on the street because his mother was a prostitute and they could not come back in until she was done for the evening.  We would go into welfare hotels.  You could not believe the filth.  You would give kids candy and they would immediately stick it between their legs claiming they never got any.   They showed up, though.  They were not only interested in what we had to say, but they seemed to long for attention and love.  Along with the down and outs there were those called the down and ups.  People who had money, possessions and outwardly  great lives, but were empty and  needed Jesus.  Models, actors, stock brokers…they wanted attention and love, too.

In John 4:35 Jesus said, “Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.”  Wherever you are, whatever you do there are people who need to hear about God’s love and gracious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 16:18, speaking to Peter, Jesus said, “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (NKJV)  In place of prevail, other versions use the words overpower or overcome. My question for you today is, how does a gate prevail or overpower or overcome? A gate is not a weapon. It cannot fight. A gate is an inanimate object. It is simply a gate. Its purpose it to keep things out, but Jesus told us it has no power to do that.  The only way a gate can prevail is if we do not storm it.  2 Corinthians 10:4 says, …”the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds.”

Don’t let a gate get in your way.  Storm it.  Pray, cry out to God, then go and tell.  What gate are you facing today? A neighborhood that won’t respond to the Gospel? An individual who has fallen into a bad place? A lack of ministry workers? A stubborn, hidden sin? A bad habit? You have the authority.  Storm the gate with prayer. Take action.  Today, for time is short.

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Packing

I am packing for an over night trip. My cousin is getting married. I am so excited. The invitation stressed dressing casual….but what does that really mean? A dress? Slacks? What jewelry? What shoes? My tendency is to pack everything and anything I might possibly need. I can not edit my suitcase. As I look at the bulging suitcase, I wonder when this all started.

I was a Brownie, then a Girl Scout. One thing that was drilled into us was that we were always to “Be Prepared.” I suppose that is why I always have a lot of stuff with me.

My purse is a marvel! My niece says I have to use shopping carts just to carry my purse! I have my wallet and change purse in there. I also have beauty items…like make-up and a brush….although this is like fighting a losing battle, still I carry it all in hope. I have receipts, pens, paper, coupons (that I clip then forget). The other day I found a packet of pickle relish in my purse and I have no idea where it came from! There are lots of other things not the least of which are a small magic wand, a kazoo and a whistle…cough medicine and a surgical mask…can’t explain it.

My KIDS Church bag has everything….tapes, glues, tacks, dry erase markers, color markers, Sharpies, scissors, a ruler, a stapler. You got a need? I can fill it!

Now I am sure you are impressed with my preparedness. Believe me, it does not have good origins. My parents, for different reasons, abandoned my sisters brother and me when I was in high school. I had just become a Christian which is probably why I am still alive…but the scars left behind caused me to come to the false conclusion that I had to be self-sufficient. Trust no one. Depend on no one. My first expectation is that you will hurt me or leave me or disappoint me…so I will keep you at arm’s length. I will not let my guard down.

The real truth is…and I have spent my life learning this…that no matter how much stuff I have with me…no matter how independent I am…it is all a farce. In and of myself I am nothing. These past couple of weeks have been a constant reminder of that fact. I have been running into walls at every corner. I have been constantly reminded of my insufficiency…but that’s okay. All of this serves to drive me to a Mighty God who can meet all my needs…who is my sufficiency. It is in His arms that I find a power to overcome and a healing for my brokenness…the One I can always trust…the One who will never leave me…the One who will never disappoint. I am nothing without Jesus.

So, back to the suitcase…the blue dress or the flowered one?

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Crazy Week

 

Have you ever had one of those weeks that seemed totally out of control?  Welcome to my week!  I came into this week with high expectations.  A lot of strategic planning done to prepare just seemed to dissolve.  People I thought I could count on flaked.  Instead of soaring I am sort of limping along.  I don’t like this place I find myself.  I find myself running to God…not to ask the proverbial “WHY?”  I find myself questioning, “What do I need to know?” “Did I miss something” “What do I need to learn?” “What am I doing?”

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