Monday, December 15, 2008

God, our Redeemer


The Return of the Prodigal Son- Rembrandt

Lately I've been deeply impacted through music, not that this is anything new with me but it has been so overwhelming. I guess you could call it an awakening of sorts...but maybe that is too dramatic of a title. Anyway, I think my heart was stirred by the Christmas concert I attended a week or two ago and I continue to be challenged and moved through beautifully written songs.

All of the thoughts and emotions I've been working through came to head today at church. I'll admit I walked into church this morning in a bit of a mood. It's frustrating now to admit such glaring sin but honestly I was in no place to sing songs of worship to God. I didn't talk to many people before the service began and did a good job of isolating myself to the point that anyone would have noticed that I was in no mood to chit-chat. I'm terrible, yes I know.

My heart was hard and I was unwilling to allow the Lord any room to correct my attitude. It was when the sermon began that the Lord truly started to address the issues in my heart. It was one of those instances when you immediately feel regret as well as a good dose of humility as you realize how ungodly your actions were. Father forgive me.

After the service ended God was gracious enough to allow me to talk with some girls from my community group. Both of these conversations were such a blessing to me. I was encouraged just to hear such honesty as we talked and shared about our lives with each other. When Jon and I left church I thought to myself, "I didn't deserve any of this." God is so good and compassionate, abounding in love. This morning I was rebellious, ambivalent, and moody but by the end of church I had been humbled by my Savior, tired of my sin and encouraged by my sisters in Christ. It was a wonderful morning.

So how does this fit into all that I've been working through over the past week or two? Well I've been meditating on the fact that our God is a redeeming God who can turn any situation, or any wayward and broken life into something beautiful. This is what Christ was doing in my heart just this morning at church and it continues to happen every day I relinquish control of the dark parts of my life over to my Savior.

Redeem: to buy back, to free from captivity by payment of ransom, to release from blame or debt

I am so humbled by the fact that I am a redeemed creation; the old has gone and the new has come. There are no words to express the joy and amazement I feel when I consider what Christ has truly done for me.

Lately I've heard a lot of heartbreaking stories of people living lives controlled by sin and unwilling to accept the redemption Christ has to offer. I feel so torn hearing these stories because I know that if it were not for the grace of God I would be in that same place, completely controlled by sin and overrun with depravity. It is only through the blood of Christ that I am where I am today.

Being overwhelmed with this truth has led me to cry out to the Lord for him to make this revelation known to those living without Him. There is hope, forgiveness and ultimate redemption in the Cross of Christ. It doesn't matter where you come from or what you have done. Praise God!

This is one of the songs that I've been meditating on lately. I hope it encourages you as much as it has me.

Hosanna (Andrew Peterson)
http://www.deezer.com/track/2271766

"Our Redeemer - The Lord Almighty is His name - is the Holy One of Israel."
- Isaiah 47:4

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Evie Coates

Evie Coates
Here is a random and short post. Sorry...I've got to get the kiddos up in a half and hour. I found a new artist (new at least to me) that I absolutely love! Evie Coates is behind the artwork for the Behold the Lamb album and ever since I saw that artwork I wondered who had made such interesting and unique creations. Unfortunately I haven't found much of her work online so I guess that means I need to drive down to Nashville and see it in person.
(Here are a few of her creations)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Ridiculousness

Alien Conspiracy (The Cheese Song)- Andrew Peterson

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Behold the Lamb of God



Thursday night Jon and I went with a group of friends to see the Andrew Peterson Christmas Concert and it was just beautiful! The concert was unlike any I've ever been to. I'm not sure if it was just the atmosphere or what but it felt very intimate. I don't know if I'm alone in saying this but there have been many times during a church service or in a meeting with my community group that I've just become completely overwhelmed with the reality that this is a small glimpse of what heaven will be like. I've become so overwhelmed with the beauty of the Body of Christ, the beauty in our brokenness and the amazing work of Christ's redemption. That was the emotion I felt as I sat through this entire concert.

The concert was split into two parts. The first half was for the singer/songwriters to share a song or two of their own music. Some of the musicians involved were: Ben Shive, Jill Philips, Andrew Osenga, Bebo Norman, Andrew Gullahorn and of course Andrew Peterson. I think the thing I loved most about the concert was how real the artists were. As each of them shared a bit many touched on the theme of community. It was evident that these were not just people coming together for a tour but they were a family coming together to share a story that.

The second half of the concert was all of the artists coming together and playing the entire "Behold the Lamb of God" Christmas album. It was so moving and yes...I cried. If any of you ever have the opportunity to see this tour I wouldn't hesitate to tell you that you need to go. It is such a wonderful reminder of the birth of our Savior and how the plan of redemption is not just found in the New Testament but can be seen from Genesis to Revelation.

Here are a few of the songs. The videos don't do these songs justice but it will give you an idea of the beauty of this album. If you don't have the album...go get it. Seriously!!

O Come O Come Emmanuel





Labor of Love (Jill Philips)



If you are interested in hearing more about the story behind the album "Behold the Lamb of God" check out The Bednar's blog. It's good stuff! Thanks George. :-)

http://bednars.blogspot.com/2008/12/so-last-night-we-made-trek-down-to.html

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Music

I have added some Christmas music to my blog...I can't help myself. It plays automatically (sorry if that's annoying) Anyway the playlist is at the bottom of my blog of you want to scroll through them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Top 10 Christmas Movies

1.
White Christmas
2.
It's A Wonderful Life
3.
A Muppet Christmas Carol
(In all actuality I love all movies based on the Charles Dickens book. There are other older versions that are really good)
4.
A Charlie Brown Christmas

5.
A Christmas Story
6.
Elf
7.
Miracle on 34th Street
8.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
9.
Home Alone
10.
The Polar Express

So this is my list. There are also a few honorable mentions that come to mind: The Santa Clause and Christmas Vacation. Unfortunately most of the movies on this list have nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas (with the slight exception of a Charlie Brown Christmas). I've heard that The Nativity Story is good but I've never seen it. If anyone knows of some good Gospel related Christmas movies let me know but for now...living in this secular pop-culture America that I do, my list stands (sad as that may be). I'm curious to hear what some of your favorite Christmas movies are...Any takers?!?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back to the grind

It is 2am and snowing outside. Man, we are definitely not in Florida anymore. I think I started to miss Florida when I woke up this morning to a gray sky and rain. Ugh.

Jon and I had a wonderful trip to Naples spending time with my parents and youngest sister, Tiffany. With little to nothing on the agenda we spent most of the day just relaxing, which is just what we needed. We made a few trips out to the beach to watch the sunset, enjoyed a dip in the hot tub and of course ate some delicious Thanksgiving food! I miss my family, especially since I didn't even get the chance to see two of my sisters and my brother-in-law. Sometimes I wish time would just stop and I could soak up everything. My sisters are getting older and all of us are in different places (North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Arizona). It's bittersweet.

Now after a 6 day break I'm back to the grind. Coming to work tonight was hard. My heart aches and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it's because I miss my family, or maybe it's the reality of working nights again. It's probably a mixture of those things plus a dozen other emotions. Whatever it may be...I wish it would go away.

Work is busy tonight which helps to take my mind of all these thoughts rolling around in my head. Taking time to write this will probably put me behind but I feel like I just need to take some time to reflect. I'm already feeling stressed re-adjusting to life in Louisville. So I'm inviting you to take a minute to relax with me. As we enter the season of advent it is so important to remember what this time is all about. I'll probably continue posting portions of the birth story of Christ as the days go by so stay tuned. Here is the first passage.

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baby Fever

I had the chance to go to a baby shower for a friend today. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and such a great reminder of God's goodness. (Nikki and Stephen we love you a ton and will be praying for you as the due date approaches!) Here are a few pictures. I love these girls!!

Amanda, Dana, Jennifer and Alexis (Look at these cute onsies they made!!)


Dana, Nikki, Alexis, Amanda and Jennifer

(Unfortunately all of these pictures were taken after I had left...I was there. I promise! ;-)



So I left the shower with babies on the brain! ;-) Of course. There is nothing new with that and it didn't help that last Sunday our pastor preached on parenting. With seminary quickly coming to a close I've been thinking more about the next phase of our life and what that may look like. It's no surprise that I'm excited for the Lord to bring Jon and I to the point when we can start a family so it has often been a topic of conversation for us. Lately I've brought up the idea of adoption. Due, I think in part, to working in the social service field we both feel called to adopt, even though I'm not sure when we will begin those steps (most likely years down the road) or how it will all work out but my heart is burdened.

As I've pondered adoption and all it would entail I've been thinking a lot about where the Lord will lead us to adopt from. There is a huge need both here and outside of the United States. I'm not sure whether we will adopt domestically or internationally but at the moment my heart is leaning toward an international adoption. One night while I was at work I was overcome with the picture of what could be. The image I kept getting in my head is the picture of a beautiful little daughter from India. We would raise her up and through prayer, teaching and the grace of God she would grow into a strong Christian woman. What if she was not only a strong believer but called by God to go back to India and be a missionary? How beautiful! How exciting!

These thoughts may just be delusions from working nights or maybe they are a glimpse of things to come. Who knows, but the one thing I am certain of is that one day we will adopt. Another thing I know for sure is that I want all of our children to come to know Jesus Christ and for that relationship to radically transform their lives. If that transformation calls them overseas or into any type of full-time ministry than AMEN!! I can only imagine all of the emotions felt when you first set eyes on your child and all the dreams you have for them...but one day I'll know. I can hardly wait.
On a more random note I listened to this sermon tonight and wanted to share it. If you get a chance take some time to hear the burdened heart of this man of God. It's beautiful and moving.

A wonderful sermon by K.P. Yohannan. He is the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.
Christ's Call Follow in My Footsteps:
http://www.box.net/shared/0uxf0em8zt

Before I end this LONG post let me introduce you to a part of our family you may have not met. Her name is Aleena and she is our beautiful sponsor child through Compassion. if you think of it please keep her and her family in your prayers!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Running Out of Time

What would your answer be?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Calling

The Calling of St. Matthew- Carvaggio
I absolutely love this painting. In it we see an ordinary setting of tax collectors gathered together at a table, and Matthew seems very much wrapped up in his work. Yet in the midst of a mundane situation in steps the divine. The ordinary life is interrupted by the miraculous and in one instant a life is transformed. When I look at this picture one question sums it up, "Who him?" That phrase has echoed in my mind before. I admit and am ashamed to say that there have been times in my life when I looked at someone who seems so hopeless that for a split second I think, "Who, him? I don't think he will ever come to know God." How terrible...how foolish of me to even think such a thing because God's heart is that none would perish but that all may have eternal life.

Last Monday I went out for coffee with a friend of mine and ever since our conversation my heart has been burdened and convicted regarding the topic of evangelism. I remember back in high school and at an even younger age I took every opportunity to talk to those around me about Jesus and now sadly it rarely enters my mind. I am too wrapped up in life and the things I need to to do to check off my list. I need to get my grocery shopping done, and make sure my apartment is clean. All of these things are important in one aspect or another but they pale in comparison to the value of a person's soul.

There was one day when I was in high school that I remember just sitting on a bench in the middle of the mall. As I sat there I just took time to watch people as they walked by. I watched there eyes and the looks on their faces and I saw emptiness and hopelessness. My heart broke and it stirred a passion in me to tell others of the grace and hope found in Christ.

This painting also makes me think of the way I often feel when I think about taking on the responsibility of sharing the gospel with those who have yet to accept Christ. I have a funny feeling that I am not the only one who thinks these same questions. "Who me? I am just a young believer who doesn't know all there is to know about evangelism. I can't possibly have all the answers to their questions. What if I look stupid? What if I am rejected?" In the end none of these questions or excuses matter because it is not at all about me. In scripture it is clear that those who have not put their faith in Christ are subject to God's judgement (John 3:16-18, Romans 6:23) . How can we with a clear conscience choose to keep this truth to ourselves? Do we truly love our friends, family, neighbors etc?

So here I am, with the knowledge of the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and now what? Well I have decided to listen to sermons, read books (especially the Bible) and memorize verses that will equip me to better share my faith. However even more importantly I've decided to pray and ask the Lord to move in my heart. Until my heart is broken and hurting so strongly for the lost I will not be compelled to go and tell others.

So I guess I'm praying a dangerous prayer that will begin to challenge me in ways I never imagined. I am so frail and too often I long for the praises and admiration of others. God will need to change my heart and rearrange my priorities. Honestly I am scared to let Him have his way because I know what that means for me. I will have to be willing to be pulled out of my comfort zone.

Despite my fear and insecurities I can't help but think back to the times in my life when I was actively sharing my faith and how different things were. My life was so vibrant and my faith was so real because I was obeying the Lord's calling on my life. I want to allow the Lord to change me and begin a new and exciting work in my life but a lot of things are holding me back. I can't possibly make this passion come alive in my heart again without the Lord's hand working in my life. So...we'll see what happens.

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" -Romans 10:14-15

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Advent Conspiracy



This little video is a challenge to all of you to think outside the usual wrappings of American Christmas festivities to remember the bigger picture. I have been convicted every time I watch this short clip. We are blessed beyond measure...so what will be choose to do about it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Venting...

I'm tired, and I feel as if I might be coming down with something...my throat hurts. All I have to say is that whatever I may be getting better run it's course by the time Jon and I fly down to Florida because I'm not about to spend my Thanksgiving feeling sick and miserable. I SO need a vacation!! I know I say this a lot but I seriously think I'm spent.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Praying for the Persecuted Church

The International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the persecuted church is this Sunday 9th November*. Please join us and hundreds of thousand of others to intercede on behalf of those who live in nations which are restricted and hostile towards the gospel.

The time that we spend in prayer has an eternal impact on the lives of people throughout the world. Through prayer, circumstances change, closed doors are opened, resistant people are made receptive and leaders are installed or removed.

Please pray:
- The Lord will give courage to His people who are enduring persecution for His Name
- The Lord will place His restraining hand on those who seek to harm His people
- Churches facing government opposition will stand firm in their ministry
- Christians will have opportunities to reach out with the Gospel without fear of intimidation or harassment
- Servants of the Lord will be able to deliver Bibles and Christian literature to places where they are most needed
- Christians who have been left without pastors and teachers may be kept strong in their faith
- Christians who have been imprisoned for their faith will be released safely
- The Lord will restrain the callousness and brutality of prison guards in their treatment of Christians in prison
- Pray against the increasing problem of young Christian girls being kidnapped, raped and forced to marry
- Those who have lost loved ones by martyrdom will be comforted and strengthened by God during their grief
- Christian pastors will be kept from danger and strengthened in their faith as they care for the people of God
- New converts may be protected and provided for should their family turn against them.
- The current laws in many restricted nations forbidding evangelism, missionary activity and religious instruction, will be repealed

"In the death camps I knew that there were people praying for me. It gave me the spiritual strength I needed to live as a Christian and to trust God. It is the same for everyone in the camps and prisons today." Underground Church pastor, Cambodia
(http://www.persecutionblog.com/)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The air is still thick with tragedy in Orissa state. Someone just told me the story of a Christian widow he chanced upon in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, who chokingly related the story of her husband's death. She said that he fled from an angry mob that came to his house in the night of August 28, but he was caught and told that he and his brothers and all their families must convert to Hinduism or he would be killed. He resisted the pressure, so they tied him to a tree, took kerosene from his brother's house, poured it over him and set him on fire. He escaped when the plastic ropes holding him melted, but had suffered serious burns. He died the next day. Traumatised, his widow left the body in the house, which began decomposing and attracted dogs. After three days, he was buried, although the body was exhumed by investigating police the next day. Their house was destroyed by one of the mobs systematically attacking Christian targets, and its contents looted. The widow and her four children now live in a relief camp, wondering what their future could possibly hold.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Life of a 3rd Shift Worker

My night started off with me in a bad mood dreading coming in to work. For the normal person, day light savings time is a wonderful thing in the fall because that means an extra hour of sleep but for a 3rd shifter...it means a extra hour of work. Ugh. As the night progressed I was curious what I could find on the Internet about shift jobs and here are a few sections of an article I found. For those of you not working nights it might give you a glimpse into the life of a shift worker. On the other hand, for those of you who do work odd hours, you're not alone! ;-)
~~~~
"Night workers may feel they've turned their lives upside down to toil on a schedule that departs from social norms and works against the body's natural circadian rhythms


The main health hazards associated with working nights and rotating shifts are:

•Sleep deficiency. Getting enough quality sleep is the most serious challenge that shift workers face. Chronic sleep loss has been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. And even eight hours may not be enough. Research has shown that day sleep is lighter and less restful than night sleep. Sleep is what restores your brain and organs to keep the machine running smoothly. Without enough of it, your coordination will be thrown off; you may become irritable, anxious and depressed; your short-term memory may suffer; and your immune system may get run down, which makes you more likely to get sick. Many shift workers suffer more than the average number of menstrual problems, colds and flu.

•Digestive problems and weight gain. Some studies have found that shift workers suffer significantly more upset stomachs, ulcers, and bouts of constipation and indigestion than do day workers. "A lot of people I know gain 20 or 30 pounds when they start working nights, and when they go back to days, they lose it again," says Phillips. Why? Unusual sleep and eating habits disrupt digestive patterns, which also follow a circadian rhythm -- the physiological ups and downs in every 24-hour day. Second, as Phillips points out, shift workers are less likely than others to eat a regular nutritious diet because they no longer have the routine of preparing meals with their families -- and vending machines may be their only source of food at work when cafeterias and restaurants are closed

•Stress on relationships. Irritability caused by sleep deprivation -- combined with a schedule that makes it difficult for you to get together with friends and family -- can cause a strain on relationships, especially your connection to your partner or children. Night and rotating shift workers often find that trivial matters, such as responsibilities over loading the dishwasher, can easily erupt into full-blown arguments. Salazar-Biddle says she sometimes takes her crankiness out on her husband, and he understands -- most of the time. "I get really crabby," she admits. "And since I try to save all of my positive emotional energy for our 2-year-old son, I know my irritation tends to come out on my husband."

•Drug or alcohol abuse. Many shift workers resort to prescription and nonprescription drugs. They use sleeping pills, alcohol or barbiturates to sleep, and caffeine or stronger stimulants to stay awake. These drugs can become habit-forming, and could end up adversely affecting your sleep, your work, and your emotional well-being.

A healthy approach for workers
•Post your work schedule in your house so your family can plan around your schedule and avoid disappointments. Don't apologize for needing sleep or not being available for daytime activities. Make sure your family, friends and neighbors understand what time of day you're sleeping and agree not to disturb you.

•Figure out how much sleep you need (most of us need seven or eight hours a day). When it's time for sleep, darken your bedroom and bathroom, take a warm bath, and put on a relaxing tape or CD before going to bed. Avoid doing things that can "activate" your brain like reading a thriller or balancing your checkbook. Always sleep in your bed, not on the couch, and make your bedroom as peaceful and night-like as you can. Install drapes to block light and sound, or wear a sleep mask. Try to cool the bedroom to at least 65 degrees, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy or greasy food just before sleeping.

•Avoid being in bright daylight within two to three hours of going to sleep. Light blocks our brain's production of melatonin, a natural chemical that makes us sleepy. If you have to go out during this time, wear wrap-around sunglasses.

•For rotating shift workers coming off a night shift, O'Connor recommends getting at least two hours of morning sleep after your last duty on the night shift -- and following that with 12 to 14 hours of night sleep. Avoid the urge to switch back to a night sleep schedule on your days off; it will be that much harder for you to get back on the day schedule when you go back to work.

•Avoid loading up on sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods before and during your shift: Diet also plays a huge role in energy and mood levels. While you may think these foods are giving you an energy burst to help you stay awake and alert, your body may crash shortly afterwards. Try to avoid snacking and eat one balanced meal during your shift. Don't be afraid to alter your diet regimen from that which is considered "normal." If you want to have pancakes and eggs for your "dinner" with your family when you get home from work, go ahead. If you want to make a salad instead, have salad while your kids munch on cereal.

•Don't leave your most boring, tedious tasks until the end of the shift, usually between and 4 and 6 am. That's the time when you're feeling most tired.

•Let your friends know you want to see them and aren't avoiding them; it's just that get-togethers will have to be well-planned.
~~~~~
At first I was searching online just to see that I was not alone in my feelings of frustration working nights but as I thought more about it...there are some up-sides to working the graveyard shift. Here are a few elaborated points I found in another article.

- uncrowded stores (there are some mornings when I only work a partial shift and I get off at 6am and head right to the grocery store. I get to avoid lines and people standing in the middle of the aisle)
- normally there is less supervision on night shifts which creates a little more of a relaxed atmosphere (that is always nice!)
- working on the off shifts usually allows for more comfortable and casual dress (in my job the dress is more casual because of the situations we have to deal with...still it can be a nice thing to be able to wear jeans to work)
- shift workers doing the same job together often form a unique bond (especially working in sometime difficult/dangerous/stressful situations at my job I find that I have to trust the people I work with to have my back no matter what. I tend to communicate more with them and open up because this job requires it!)
- I have to admit that there are mornings I smile seeing people drive to work as I am driving home to sleep.
~~~~~
So those are some random thoughts on the night shift. Anyone feel like converting to 3rd shift?!? Come on...you know you want to!

Friday, October 31, 2008

In the Hands of the Potter

I had the privilege of attending Asbury my sophomore year until I graduated college. It is truly an amazing school where God is powerfully at work in the lives of the faculty and students. One of the things about Asbury that I find so unique is that when a new class comes to campus they are given a class name, colors, and a class verse (later in the year they also vote on a class hymn). The unity within the student body was beautiful and made for some fun college memories. The class of 2005 was the Vessel class, and it was by far was the best class ever!! ;-) Anyway our class name has always stuck with me and I find the idea of being clay in the hands of the Potter coming to my mind quite often. It is a perfect picture of my relationship with God and it seems even more fitting lately. These past couple of days have left me feeling stretched and challenged in new ways as God has used situations and personal struggles to mold me.


Since I last posted things have continued to be difficult and I've struggled with numerous things such as discouragement, insecurity, and irritability (to name a few). However as I look back on these past couple of days I am seeing more clearly that these struggles have God's fingerprints all over them. I've had a good bit of time to think and pray tonight and as I sit here my heart cries out for the Lord to do a mighty work in my life. I know that he desires more from me and I'm certain that there is no way I can do this work on my own, it must be the Holy Spirit convicting, and providing the strength for me to move forward. I need that...and I want it so badly.


I picked up a compilation of essays about the church by A.W. Tozer and the first one I read was striking. I felt convicted and compelled just reading those few pages. He starts out by reminding the church that it cannot accomplish anything of eternal importance without the energizing work of the Holy Spirit. How true that is and sadly that mind set is not widely heard in the church. Often times we busy ourselves with "good works" and soon any efforts are hindered by our pride as we think that we can complete any task to the glory of God without his hand moving in our midst. We want the recognition of doing something great. We want the praise but "God faithfully reminds us that a ministry of the Holy Spirit is to hide the Christian worker in the work." It's not at all about us but about all the glory being given to God.


Tozer goes on to talk about three basic requirements God makes of the body of Christ if it is to do his final work - His eternal work.

1st-Christian believers and Christian congregations must be thoroughly consecrated to Christ's glory alone.

2nd- The second most important requirement of the believing church if it is to be used in God's ministry is prayer and the response God makes to our prayer uttered in true faith.

3rd- The church must be dependent upon on the Holy spirit and wiling to exercise the Spirit's gifts.

These three points are some heavy ideas to contemplate. Some of these truths speak of things almost taboo in some churches and in others...an idol. Consecrated to Christ's glory alone? My pride must be sacrificed if I am to be of any use in the kingdom of God. Prayer...what is that? We are called to be a people of prayer. Prayer through Christ is our lifeline to God. I am amazed at reading stories of George Muller, EM Bounds etc...men of prayer, who prayed by faith and saw God move in miraculous ways. Any revival that comes is always surrounded by prayer. Dependence upon the Holy Spirit? Exercise spiritual gifts? Yikes...now we are getting into dangerous territory.

I do not understand completely how these truths can and should look in the lives of the church but one thing I am certain of...this is not possible without Him. The sins in my own life and the sins of the church cannot be rooted out and destroyed without the redeeming work of God. We can't possibly see any change unless we throw ourselves with abandon on the blood stained cross of Christ. Lord...with you all things are possible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men -- men of prayer."
-E.M. Bounds

Friday, October 24, 2008

Humbled

In the Presence of Light- Kate Austin
Have you ever wondered how God could be so gracious and compassionate towards you even in the midst of your sin? I was thinking about that tonight after a particularly self-absorbed couple of hours. Over a time period of three hours my emotions went from excited and somewhat prideful, to utterly humiliated, broken and jealous. Those emotions soon led to self-pity. Nice huh?!? As I chose to wallow in that terrible place of self-absorption the Lord met me there. I heard his still small voice envelope me in my sin and speak love to me.

I am the author and perfecter of your faith. Your heart is not in the right place and I cannot allow that sin to come between us. I must weed it out even if it is painful. Allow me to use this rebellious moment to mold and refine you more into the image of my Son.

I am the giver of all good things and whatever “talents” I allot to you, great or small the only matter of importance is that you utilize them for my kingdom. Those meager offerings you feel you bring to me are a beautiful aroma of praise. Do not allow the enemy the pleasure of stealing the praise from your lips and the joy from your heart. I am a jealous God and all praise and glory belong to me alone. Do not look to others for approval and worth. I sent my Son as a ransom for you and you are cherished and loved beyond measure. Seek me.


Those are just some of the things the Lord spoke quietly to my spirit tonight. Some of those words of reproof were spoken sternly but in such a gentle and compassionate way. How can I not be romanced by that truth? I am humbled and so thankful that his love is greater than my sin and brokenness. I am so thankful that He allows me to come before Him broken and unworthy because then I see His cross in its fullness. I am ashamed that such small things can cause me to grumble. Lord, forgive my stubbornness. Let this experience humble me and bring my heart to praise you! You are faithful and loving and my lips cannot describe your goodness!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nobody's Home

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbm4G_7rGzQ

I remember watching this music video when I was in college. I dreamed of graduating college and ministering to teenage girls...and now I am. Lord give me the grace I need to love them like you do.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some Jazz

I've been listening to some music by Vince Guaraldi, best known for his music associated with the animated Peanuts specials. He was truly a master at the piano and the more I've been listening to his music the more I miss the Jazz Factory (http://www.jazzfactory.us/). If you didn't ever get the chance to go to that Louisville hot spot, you missed out.

It has been a stressful night at work for me but listening to this music reminds me of sitting in the dimly lit room of the Jazz Factory, sipping coffee and taking in some smooth jazz. That's a relaxing picture. I've had so much on my mind lately that I can't even think of what I would want to write for a post so I figured that instead I would invite you to enjoy this beautiful piece of music with me. Take a deep breath, sit back and relax, if only for a moment. Enjoy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

India

India – More than 70,000 Christians displaced in Orissa
UPDATE: The Voice of the Martyrs contacts working to assist believers affected by attacks in Orissa state report that more than 70,000 Christians have been displaced and forced to live in refugee camps.

"At the Peyton Sahi relief camp which houses 35 families and 130 distraught tribals, Chabila Naik, a man who ran an orphanage for 50 children in Sarangada spent three days in the forest after their houses and churches were razed [with fire]. He has not been reunited with the children," VOM sources said.

Stories coming from persecuted believers in Orissa are heartbreaking. Christians spent days hiding in the forest following the attacks that erupted on August 24, after the murder of a prominent Hindu leader by Maoist extremists. “One family which did not want to be named said they had to leave their elderly mother in the jungles while the others walked through rain and darkness for 60 hours to get out of Kandhmal,” VOM sources added.

"We had no choice; I could either save my wife and two kids, or stay with her and ask for death for all of us. But, I am sure God has saved her, though I have no idea where she is," the man told VOM sources with tears in his eyes.

VOM is assisting displaced believers in Orissa and other areas in India where persecution has spread. Pray for believers who face these intense hardships and have in some cases lost contact with family members. Ask God to protect them and provide for their needs. Pray their testimonies will draw nonbelievers into fellowship with Him.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Prayer Request

We ask you to pray for a friend of ours, Josh Hildebrand. Josh's wife Christy passed away Saturday evening. There really isn't much else to say. If you feel led you can read more about their story on Josh's blog (http://passionatepastorsponderings.blogspot.com/). Please pray for the Lord to grant him peace and comfort during this terribly difficult time. Our hearts go out to Josh and Christy's family but we also rejoice with them that she is now home with her Savior!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A hard days night

The Dividing Wall- Carol Boomer

Whew, it has been a difficult night. I'm exhausted after a rough morning at work and an afternoon of sleeplessness. Getting cussed out gets old fast. Right now my head is pounding and my eyes are dry. I struggle to understand why the Lord has placed me at Maryhurst working the night shift for so long. It has been a hard road and I'm wondering if God is leading me elsewhere...I'm praying so we'll see. This entry will most likely be stream of consciousness so stay with me. I'm tired.

Sometimes I wish I could gain the wisdom that comes with age without struggling through the trials that would bring me to that point. But I guess that is North American thinking for you, whatever is quick and easy, hey yeah I'll take that. God grant me wisdom.
A quick snippet on this particular painting. This is a modern piece of artwork (which I am normally not particularly fond of) but I like this painting. I'm sure the fact that I like dark and heavy paintings says something about my inner psyche but that is a post for another time. It is a dark painting for a dark subject, our separation from God. If I were more awake I would attempt to post more of my thoughts on this piece but I don't know if I can muster the energy for that. So I will borrow a quote from A.W. Tozer:
“Abounding sin is the terror of the world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind.”

So jumping from the spiritual to well...not I put this together tonight to pass the time. Here are a few of my favorite things...in no particular order.
Tranquil Mint hand cream (Bath and Body Works)
Christmas music!!
Candles. Umm. Smells good (My favorites have to be Yankee candles)
Playing the piano...I miss it.
Thunderstorms
Paisley
San Francisco
My man
Classical art/art museums
Well crafted music

Okay this list could easily go on and on, which it may very well do in following posts but I better stop for now. Hmm, that made me feel a bit better. Maybe in the near future I'll be able to post some deep thoughts on faith and the like but...my brain is too tired to form sentences so this will have to do.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not ready to be back

Well I am back in the swing of things. It kind of stinks to come back to work after three days off knowing that you are in for a long six day work week. *Deep breath* One day at a time. Anyway, my three days off were different than I expected them to be but at the end of my short time off I'm longing for a real vacation. The next break I have is over the Thanksgiving holiday. Jon and I are flying down to Naples Florida to stay with my parents. November 24th can not get here fast enough!!

So since I am missing my family here are a few pictures of the Locke clan. Enjoy!

The Four Sisters
(Me, Heather, Samantha and Tiffany)

Here we are again.

Dad, Samantha and Mom

From left to right (Pap, Michael-Heather's husband, Gram, Me, Samantha, Dad, Heather, Tiffany and Jon...my mom is taking the picture)

I miss them a ton!! Anyway, I could write more but I think for now this will have to be it...maybe I will post later when I feel more awake.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Interrupted Thought

God as An Architect- William Blake

Tonight has been a peculiar night. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened but I feel as if God interrupted my night (perhaps because I was not taking time to give him room.) He interrupted my night and gave me some time to just sit and read. I've been perusing a book I read when I was in college called Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? While flipping through the pages I looked at some different passages I underlined and during that time the Lord began to quicken my heart once again for a passion to share the Gospel with those who have yet to receive it. I began to search through the Scripture on verses pertaining to the Gospel, humanity's fallen nature and God's ultimate gift of grace. I quickly wrote down verse after verse and I was struck by two of them in particular.

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God..."

Depressing and heavy huh?!? But wait...there is more...

"And that is what some of you WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (I Corinthians 6:9-11) Amen!!

Those verses just hit me and I was so in awe of the greatness of our God. We were enemies of the cross steeped in deadly sin. Our eyes were veiled to his sacrifice but by the grace of our Lord we were brought to repentance and were washed and sanctified, not because we deserved it, no...we were filthy and full of everything contrary to God's nature. We were washed because of God's great love for us!!

Piggybacking on that idea look at this next verse:

"...He [the Lord] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but every one to come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9)

God could choose to return to earth any day but all of these years has had been patient not longing for anyone to perish but for all to find grace in the sacrifice of his Son. I was humbled by that truth when I thought of all my loved ones and friends who do not yet know Jesus...God is patient with them...he is waiting...because his heart is for all people to be restored to a right relationship with himself!! In fact that is what the Bible is all about. Passage after passage of scripture tells truth of God reaching down into the ravaged lives of his Creation, bridging the gap and redeeming them.

I think some of this week I'm going to take time to look and reflect on God's nature of redemption and restoration. My heart needs to be burdened like the Lord's heart is burdened for those who are still lost. My lips have been quiet for too long...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Resting in the Lord


Here are some more pictures of our puppy. She has grown even bigger since these were taken. The last time we visited the vet (which was last Tuesday) Paisley weighed in at 47.5 pounds! Geez!!

This coming week is Jon's fall break and I think I'm going to take a little lesson from our dog and use my three days off to rest. My mind has been processing through life and lately I feel as if I'm running on auto-pilot so...it's time for a break. There is such a huge part of me that wishes I could put life on hold for a while and just sit at the feet of Jesus...but the gospel wasn't meant to be lived in solitude, holed away from the reality and struggles of real living (although times of refreshment and rest are necessary). The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that it is meant to meet you at your work desk or at home while you are cleaning the kitchen. It is full of wisdom that impacts your every day life and that sustains you when life gets heavy. I have been in a funk lately and my eyes have been so clouded by the stress of life that I forgot that God is my Comforter, an ever present help in times of trouble and nothing can separate me from his love. So during my three days off I plan to rest...to accept the gift of rest in Christ that can restore my soul as I sit (if only for a short time) in His presence.

So for now, as I am asking Christ to give me the strength to keep my eyes steadily upon Him, my worries and questions will be laid at the foot of the cross. In order for me to live out the Gospel in my life I will need times like this week to allow God to refocus my heart.

God you know how frail I am, and how prone I am to wonder and lose sight of You. Take these meager offerings of my tired heart and renew me day by day so that I can become more like your Son. Thank you for the blessing of living life in the trenches and giving me the chance to get my hands dirty in the midst of a broken world. Revive my passion to share Your hope with others and plant my feet firmly in Your word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That Incredible Christian
Chapter #33
How to Keep from Going Stale
Taking Time to Rest

(A.W. Tozer)

Sometimes our trouble is not moral but physical. As long as we are in these mortal bodies our spiritual lives will be to some degree affected by our bodies. Here we should notice that there is a difference between our mortal bodies and the flesh of Pauline theology. When Paul speaks of the flesh he refers to our fallen human nature, not to our physical bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Through the power of the Spirit there is deliverance from the propensities of the flesh, but while we live there is no relief from the weaknesses and imperfections of the body. One often-unsuspected cause of staleness is fatigue. Shakespeare said something to the effect that no man could be a philosopher when he had a toothache, and while it is possible to be a weary saint, it is scarcely possible to be weary and feel saintly; and it is our want of feeling that we are considering here. The Christian who gets tired in the work of the Lord and stays tired without relief beyond a reasonable time will go stale. The fact that he grew weary by toiling in the Lord's vineyard will not make his weariness any less real. Our Lord knew this and occasionally took His disciples aside for a rest.

Prayer: Father, may I have the good sense to schedule time for rest. Forgive me for sometimes taking on too much and, as a consequence, failing to serve You well.

Scripture: "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'"— Mark 6:31

Thought: Jesus recognized the need of rest for His disciples. He still does! Rest is not an excuse for laziness. It is an essential for effective service.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fall is here


I absolutely love the changing of the seasons. Lately here in Louisville fall has come upon us quickly. The leaves are turning and some have already fallen off the trees. There is also a distinct chill in the air. I could actually see my breath this morning when I took Paisley outside.

This changing of the seasons has given me the urge to bake pumpkin pies and enjoy a steaming bowl of soup next to a roaring fire. Ahh, I love fall. Next week is Jon's Fall Break which means a week of no school and three days off work just to enjoy time together. I can hardly wait. Hopefully I'll have a chance to take some nice fall pictures during that time so I'll make sure to post them...I haven't done a very good job keeping up with the picture taking. Anyway here is one of Jon's favorite soups I make. We substitute bacon for ham since Jon is slightly obsessed with the tasty breakfast meat. It definitely feels like a good fall meal so enjoy!


Delicious Ham and Potato Soup
Submitted by: ELLIE11
Rated: 5 out of 5 by 1799 members
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Ready In: 45 Minutes
Yields: 8 servings
"This is a delicious recipe for ham and potato soup that a friend gave to me. It is very easy and the great thing about it is that you can add additional ingredients, more ham, potatoes, etc and it still turns out great."
INGREDIENTS:
3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper,
or to taste
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2008 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 10/2/2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You Know You Are A Great Dane Owner When...


- Your dog backs out of small rooms.
- You tell your dog to sit, and he backs up until he finds a chair (or couch in my house!)
- It takes 3 people to get your dog on the scale at the vets
- You walk your dog and everyone knows him by name, but you have no idea who these people are
- Your dog can hide an entire tennis ball (among other things) fully inside his lips and give you that innocent look that says, "What? I'm not eating anything!"
- After banishing your husband, the snoring in your bedroom still keeps you awake
- You toss your dog a ball and cringe when he almost hits his head on the top of the doorway
- You take your dog for a ride and he rests his head on your arm, causing you to make random right turns
- You have given up on water dishes and you just use the bathtub (or sink in our case)
- You have to move over when brushing your teeth because your dog wants a drink
- While stopped at a stop light, everyone stares as your car rocks back and forth because the dog is panting out the window
- You avoid the dogs on your way out the door, so they won't smear your makeup
- You've learned to force a smile when asked "do you have a saddle for that thing?"
- You have had to train your dog not to lick dishes, and the dishes are in the sink
- The donuts you put on top of the refrigerator are gone when you get home and your dog has powdered sugar on his nose (nothing is safe on the fridge at our house!)
- Your dog can see what you're cooking, and he tries to assist you in the preparation
- The pizza delivery people tell you to meet them at the end of the sidewalk (hehe...they do!)
- You purchase a large screen TV and you still can't see the program when he stands in front of the television
- After surgery, your bored pup decides to get up and cruise around the vet's office-- pulling the rolling IV stand behind him
- Your dog goes from 12 pounds to 102 pounds in 8 months
- In one play session your 5 month old dog gives you a punctured tongue, a punctured lip, a blood shot eye, and an aching foot.
- Guests tell your dog to "sit" and she immediately sits - on them.
- You have not been able to navigate through your house in a straight line for years.
- Your 110 pound puppy just doesn't understand it when other dogs bark at him and run away.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pray for Iran

IRAN: ‘APOSTASY’ BILL APPEARS LIKELY TO BECOME LAW
International pressure sought against mandatory death penalty for ‘apostates.’

LOS ANGELES, September 23 (Compass Direct News) – Without international pressure there is little to stop the Iranian government from ratifying a bill that will make “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, a capital crime, say human rights groups and experts.

On Sept. 9 the Iranian parliament approved a new penal code by a vote of 196-7 calling for a mandatory death sentence for apostates, or those who leave Islam. The Christian and Baha’i communities of Iran are most likely to be affected by this decision.

“Unless there is a coordinated and very strong effort from the international community to place pressure on Iran for this, I don’t think there will be anything stopping the Iranian government from passing this legislation,” Joseph Grieboski, founder of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, told Compass.

The bill still has to make its way through Iran’s policy-making process before it becomes law. Parliament is reviewing it article by article, after which it will be sent to Iran’s most influential body, the Guardian Council, which will rule on it.

The council is made up of six conservative theologians appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader and six jurists nominated by the judiciary and approved by parliament. This body has the power to veto any bill it deems inconsistent with the constitution and Islamic law.

In the case of the new penal code, however, which appears to be a return to a strict adherence of sharia (Islamic law), sources said they do not expect the Guardian Council to reject the penal code.

The timing of the debate on the penal code is not coincidental, said Grieboski. While the international community is focused on Iran’s nuclear activities, he said, the Iranian government appears to be taunting the West with deliberate human rights violations.

“Because of the nuclear issues, ones like these get put on the backburner, which means that the regime can move with great liberty to install legislation like this with impunity, because the nuclear issue gives them cover,” said Grieboski.

Iran has been criticized for its treatment of Baha’is, Zoroastrians and Christians, who have all suffered under the current regime.

“The Baha’is and the Christians are the ones being used as pawns by the regime in its dance with the West,” said Grieboski. “Iran is a human rights black hole in the middle of the world.”
A source told Compass that when he discussed the apostasy article in the penal code with some of the reformists in Iran’s parliament, they responded by saying they were not aware of the apostasy bill. The source argued that the Iranian government was trying to bury the apostasy article in the 113-page penal code.

“I am not sure there is an adequate means of underscoring how serious this law is in terms of violation of international law and a violation of the fundamental freedom of religion or belief,” said Kit Bigelow of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States.
She urged people to write their representatives in their respective governments.

International pressure is crucial if the apostasy bill is to be countered, agreed a Christian source. He recalled how in 2005 Christian convert Hamid Pourmand was acquitted of apostasy as a direct result of international pressure.

“I don’t know who you are, but apparently the rest of the world does,” the presiding judge had told Pourmand, according to media sources. “You must be an important person, because many people from government have called me, saying to cancel your case.”

The news of parliament approving the bill comes on the heels of two Christians being officially charged with apostasy this summer. Mahmood Matin Azad, 52, and Arash Basirat, 44, have been in prison since May 15 and now await their court date.

Although their future and that of other non-Muslims looks grim, some believe this bill is the act of a government desperately trying to hang onto power.

“I have to say the Iranian regime is tightening severely its control over as many aspects of the lives of Iranian people as they possibly can,” said Grieboski. “And that, I think, is the sign of a weakening regime.”

The original penal code was passed into law in 1991 and last amended in 1996.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Humbled

It has been a pretty good day. Church this morning was wonderful, because it was a baptism service. We heard the beautiful stories of people who had been lost yet by the grace of God have seen that Christ is the only way. I get tears in my eyes every time I hear testimonies of lives that have been transformed, changed and are now so full of hope in Jesus.

Tonight at work, I came across this quote which hit me hard...I was and am still convicted.

"If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men."
--Oswald Chambers

Lately I have been so burnt out at work. I'm sure part of it is working nights here for over two years but another part of me has just been so fed up with the ungrateful kids. So as you can see, this quote met me right where I am. If the Lord has placed me here working with drug and alcohol addicted, completely broken teenage girls than I am ultimately working for him. Every encouraging word I speak, every moment of service, and any compassion my heart expresses will come out because my life is rooted in love for my Savior and Lord. These times of service are loving acts of worship to God as I attempt to live out the Gospel through word and deed. May these young women see something that will draw them closer to God and may they realize their need for Him. They are broken and desperate and there is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ who can save them from their sins, give them dignity and self respect, and ultimately give their lives purpose and hope.

Father forgive me for letting my own selfish thoughts get in the way of serving those who are lost without you. May these children see you in my brokenness and may they come to the saving knowledge of your sacrifice on their behalf.