Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Because I love them

Thomas Nelson Book Review-Sacred Meal

I just finished the book The Sacred Meal by Sara Gallagher. Awesome. I am totally loving the ancient practices series. I have had my eyes opened more than once to how important Christianity is from long ago until today. We are part of a bigger family, a greater circle, and a more important life than just our own. She says in this book "to engage in a spiritual practice is to show up and not get attached to the outcome." In other words, we don't love God because of what He does for us. We love Him because He's God and He loved us first. "Holy communion was a web, a web of people who were being stitched together."
I liked that she talked about communion being done in community. It really isn't meant to be done alone from the preparation to the taking of communion to the afterward we are called to fellowship with one another. "When we all show up and do our parts, we are the sacrament, the body of Christ. Do this to remember me. Do this to remember who you were with me. Do this to remember who you are."
I sometimes wonder why we make some parts of Christianity so hard. "Why is it that I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into paradise?" I wonder that myself sometimes. And I wonder why it's so hard to stay connected to fellow believers. This quote hit me over the head. "If you break all the covenants: if you travel too far from what is balanced and sane, you just go over the edge." Ouch.
I like that she referred to communion as opening our hands and trusting God to fill them with what He wants to.
"Christ is everywhere, especially in bread and wine, where, as Luther says, he binds himself and us to each other."
Great and important read!

Thankful Thursday

I'm not a huge holiday person. I think it's fun to get together with people, but I usually don't. I think it's fun to eat good food and laugh about years gone by but I don't usually do that either. I like to be in the midst of endless chatter and people everywhere in various stages of conversations, football, reading, and nap times, but you won't usually find me anywhere near there. One of my friends said the other day, "I like to work on the holidays. It's less lonely." I totally get that. I've been thinking about that a lot and even though my grandparents are here for Thanksgiving this year the feelings are the same.

I think holidays are for families and when you reach an age that you are too old really to be a part of the family you were born into and don't have a family really to call your own, you don't fit. It's nobody's fault. It's not my fault for not being married with children by the age of 30 like most of the people around me. It's not their fault that they have followed a more normal path to social acceptance. And as an aside the next person to tell me that getting married and having children will make things less awkward for them is going to get punched in the face. I digress.

Someone who obviously doesn't know me very well said to me the other day, "I so admire your relationship with the Lord. You depend on Him and you love Him always." I seriously looked behind me to see who she was talking to. I appreciate that she thought that and it was such a compliment, but it wasn't exactly accurate. 99.99999% of the time I feel like a revolving prodigal on the carousel of life holding on tight but fully expecting to get thrown off the ride!

But I will say this. Whatever our relationship with the Lord looks like at the moment is in part directly parallel to what we have experienced up to this point. I suppose I do depend on the Lord differently than some. I don't have anyone else! I suppose I do love Him always. He really is the constant in my life.

And we've hit some rough waters in recent months. I don't know what He's doing in this life and I'm not always so happy about it. I think having VERY unpredictable and limited Christian fellowship is way worse then it was to not have any. I'm frustrated and sad that the road in a lot of ways is seeming uphill lately. For everything there is a season............

So this Thanksgiving I'm thankful for the day. For the chance to curl up on the couch with my 2 wonderful puppies and bask in their unconditional love for me. To share dinner with my grandparents and listen to my grandfather go on and on about how he would never dream of giving up sugar when it's time for dessert. To finish some books and watch a movie and with any luck go to bed early.

And to take a few moments to be still before the Lord. To remember again that these days of my life were planned before the foundation of the world and nothing takes Him by surprise. To remember that it's okay to question Him, to doubt Him, but not to lose trust in Him for no one could love me like He does. There isn't a person on this earth that would voluntarily get on a cross and suffer and die so that today I can say, "there is now no condemnation."

I'm thankful for a relational God that did not set the world in motion and then go on a 1000 year coffee break. He's involved. He's present. And He asks the same from us. Be here. Show up for your life. He's doing great things that we are missing every moment. I'm thankful for the reminder to see the big picture and not get so wrapped up in the details that life becomes overwhelming.

And I'm thankful that if we die having ONLY had a relationship with Jesus-no friends, no family, no spouse, no children-we will die blessed. The rest is just icing on the proverbial cake. He promises that no matter what He is enough for us. I'm thankful that He came here to the earth because He knew we'd need someone to relate to and that He's now in Heaven encouraging us to live for Him.

Hebrews 12:28 (New Living Translation)
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Count your blessings and hold onto hope for even more to come!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog Post 17-Daily Devotions

Day 17-Daily Devotions

I get lots of questions about material for daily devotions, how to have devotions, etc.

First of all, in my heart I really, really want to be a morning person. It's an all the time struggle for me to be productive in the mornings. I love to stay up late, I love the middle of the night, and unless I have a really exciting reason to, I don't love getting up early in the mornings. That said, I'm ALWAYS glad I do when I make it happen.

Unless you want to be super convicted do not look up the phrase "early in the morning" in scripture. A whole bunch of really important things happened early in the morning from the Old Testament to the New Testament. There's absolutely something to it. That said, I don't think you really have to be legalistic about it. I think Satan LOVES to convince us that if we're not going to do things right down to the letter then we might as well not do them at all.

I'm kind of all over the place as a character flaw anyway! HA! But right now I have a copy of Jesus Lives by Sarah Young in my purse that I read, My Bible by my bed along with Brennen Manning's latest book and various other things floating around that I may or may not pick up from time to time.

I think the Bible is the foundation of our lives and to leave it out of our time with the Lord doesn't really make sense. I also think He can speak through other tools brought to us by great people of faith that may have something to say to a particular season of our lives. I don't think God is standing over us with a baseball bat saying, "It's only been 10 minutes!" I don't honestly know how long I spend with the Lord on any given day, but it's usually not all at the same time. I certainly want the Lord to have the best of me. Some days that's in the morning and some days it's late at night and some days it's in the middle of the night. I'm sure on some level I should be more disciplined in a lot of things, but this works for me.

Here's some tools I have found useful:
How to Study your Bible by Kay Arthur
Handbook for Christian Living by Charles Stanley
Streams in the Desert
10 Minutes a Day with Jesus by Jim Reapsome
The Bible. I like the NASB/Message versions side by side but that's just me.
Conversations by Eugene Peterson

Blog Post 16-Coffee

Day 16 coffee

Again I feel like I'm being totally redundant, but I know there are new people to the blog so I will do a quick post about coffee. AGAIN, just because I drink huge amounts of it does not make me an expert on it by any means! But, here's what I have picked up along the way.

-Don't store coffee in the freezer or refrigerator. Store it in a sealed canister on the counter or in the cabinet but not in direct sunlight.

-The golden rule to coffee to water ratio is half plus one. If you are making 12 cups of coffee you'd use 7 tablespoons of coffee. Get it?

-Brewed coffee only lasts 15 minutes on the burner and the coffee beans about 2 weeks once it's ground in a canister.

Everything else is preference really. Whatever roast you like, espresso vs. brewed coffee etc. See previous posts for more detailed info!

Blog Topic 15-Prism

Day 15-Prism

I still get lots of questions about the Prism weight loss system. You can refer back to previous posts for specifics but basically it's a no sugar no white flour no fried food lifetime committment way of life. I've been on it for over a year and have no plans to stop anytime soon. I can say that it's easy but that's because I've been on it for 63 weeks! It's not easy at the beginning. Sugar especailly is in everything! I'd recommend reading the book and then deciding if you want to committ to the initial 6 weeks which is the hardest part. Then really study it, make use of the help Prism offers and work to make it a lifestyle. I don't think it's for everyone, but it has worked for me. To those of you who have asked if I would start a group in Valdosta remind me to get back to you. Prism has asked me to, but right now I don't have time to remember my own name! I'm praying about it. Whether I do one here or someone does one where you live it can be done individually. I did it without the DVD's, workbook, or group meetings. All you need is the book!

Blog Topic 14-Quotes

Day 14 - quotes

I suppose you don't have to know me very well to know I love quotes. My friend Katie gave me a quote book in college to record all the neat little sayings I found in books along the way and the rest is history. I've given my friends quote books for Christmas ever since and as far as I know they love them too! I have quotes on my walls and quotes on my coffee mugs and revolving quotes on my shower walls and bathroom mirrors. I can't help it-I like them!

Most of my favorite quotes come from C.S. Lewis who I hope lives close to me in Heaven. I'd love to hop down there in the mornings and listen to him tell his stories. He's fascinating and the way he can wrap the English Language around a Biblical principle is incredible if you ask me. I could read The Chronicals of Narnia from start to finish over and over and over again and be perfectly happy to never own another book. Here's one of my favorites.

"I shall feel rather nervous meeting a lion," said Susan."That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there is anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they're either braver than most or just silly.""Then He isn't safe?" said Lucy."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "Who said anything about safe?! Of Course He isn't safe. But He is good. He is the King I tell you."(The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Friday, November 20, 2009

more posts on the way

Oh my word I'm the worst blogger in history lately. Do not tell me. I already know. Good news for those of you who wait with bated breath for the next installment of my so-called life (?). There's a bunch of posts on the way in the next week! The rest of the 30 days of topics are set to post. I'll review Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, I'll review Amish Christmas for Thomas Nelson, and I'll give you an update on the sit on the edge of your seat excitement that is my life....ahem. In the meantime, tell me what's going on with you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blog topic 13-death

Day 13-Death

Revelation 21:4 There shall be no more death.

Death is inevitable unless the Lord returns to sweep us off our feet into eternal glory. The thing that bugs me about death is you really can't ask anyone about it. Apart from strange people that have spent 90 minutes or 23 minutes or ate bad pizza before they went to bed-no one has been there. No one prepared you for your birth and the only people who can help to prepare you for death-are people who are still alive!

Frustrating, huh? Now I know a whole bunch of hospice workers and nursing people and doctors who have seen enough death to be relative experts on the topic. There are common themes and reactions in death for sure. In any stressful situation there are obvious scriptures and human comfort that can ease the transition for most people without the knowledge of what exactly is on the "other side."

I don't think a lot about death. I think it's kind of a waste of living, but it crosses my mind from time to time. I guess anything can happen anywhere, but as the population increases in mental illness AND violence as a combination it is concerning. Just this week it has come up in meetings at work that there is no metal detector at the hospital where I work. Any given weekend I'm the first person people see coming in right off the street. I assume they do not have a weapon, but I don't know that. And from there they are escorted to my office which is the only one open on the weekends on an isolated hallway. When I think about it like that (which I've had reason to the past few weekends) it makes me nervous sometimes.

Which makes me glad that my days have been appointed long before I had thought about them. My days have been numbered since I've had a day to number. I can rest in the promises that my future is secure in the one who made me from the very beginning. And the promise that the One who has overcome the grave will welcome me when this life is done.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog post 12-Heaven

Day 12-Heaven

I know all the verses in Revelation that talk about the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven. People going up to heaven. I know. I just don't like it.

Somewhere in my head I just don't like it that God the Father, Jesus, the Spirit are SOOOOO far away. In college one of our professors offered a theory that we are 3 dimensional and Heaven is in the 4th dimension which puts them right next to us but on a different plane. I can't explain it all mathematically! But I really loved that. It makes them seem so close.

And they are close. Somewhere in the great plan of things God can be fully in heaven and fully in the hearts of millions of people. I don't know how all that works and I don't really have to I suppose. I just like them HERE please!

It might be a little sci-fi movie ish but I like to think when we hold our hands out Jesus takes them in another dimension. We can't see Him, but we know He's there. Where 2 or more are gathered and He is there? He's not physically here, but He is absolutely here.

Which means dying really doesn't put us on a huge elevator to the sky but rather a turning around into a new reality only to find that we've known it was there all along.

which works for me!

blog post 11-Hell

Day 11-Hell

*Disclaimer-my blog my opinion get over it :)

I'm a huge fan of Dante which I feel certain has framed my view of Hell. I think it's interesting to think about although I have ZERO intentions of ever finding out :)

I don't think Hell is hot. I think Hell is cold. There is no light in Hell and in order to have heat you have to have light. I'm sure Hell can go against natural law if it wants to, but it makes more sense to me that it's cold. Freezing Cold. And dark like the frozen tundra in the middle of winter in the middle of night with no clothes on. Where you can't see one inch in front of you and you're totally lost. And miserable. I don't know exactly what to do about the verses that suggest that things are thrown into the lake of fire except that extremely cold temperatures produce vapors. Maybe. Maybe not.

I also don't think Heaven is in the air somewhere-but that's tomorrow's post :)

Blog post 10-non issues

Day 10-Non-issues

I honestly think sometimes Jesus must look down here at His followers and feel like He's running a daycare. As believers we argue over the most insignificant things and demand our righteousness whether we're right, they're right or no one is right. It's ridiculous if you think about it. I have a list of non-issues. Unless it's someone I know that we can disagree and still maintain a quality relationship, I do not discuss the following things with people. It works out really well for me.

Alcohol-I don't drink. Ever. I don't think alcohol has much to offer the quality of a life myself and I spend much of my time on the weekend dealing with it's negative effects. That said, I could not care less if you drink. I think the Bible is pretty clear about not getting drunk. Otherwise, it seriously makes no difference to me. I'm around people who drink frequently. I don't care that they drink and they don't care that I don't. Besides-alcohol has way too many calories :) Non-issue.

Media-I think God would have us protect our minds, ears, etc. in so much as we are able. I also don't think you can see someone doing drugs on TV-start a cocaine addiction and blame Hollywood. Grow up. We live in a world where ungodly images are flashed before us so frequently we don't even notice anymore which is unfortunate. I know people who don't own a TV and I wish often that I didn't. I also know people that watch things I would never watch and they're on their way to Heaven just as much as I am. I fall somewhere in the middle I'm sure. We need to stand guard absolutely. I don't judge people for their choices though.

A bunch of random spiritual issues-I LOVE to debate the Bible, to discuss the Lord, to be involved in a really good conversation about what's going on-LOVE IT! I can't think of many things I enjoy more. There are people in my life with whom we can discuss different sides of the same issue for 2 hours, agree to disagree and leave as friends. Love them. There are other people in my life that if you disagree with them on a single point they have a total hissy fit and question your salvation. SPARE ME. I only get into debates about spiritual things with group A. I'll discuss the weather with group B :)

I'm not afraid to talk to anybody about anything. I've always been one of those people that people feel like they can tell anything to-and trust me-they do! I don't get embarrassed easily-at all-and I love a really good conversation. It's just that sometimes it's not worth it! SO, those are my non-issues. Anything else is obviously on the table!! :)

Blog post 9-fair

Day 9-fair

Matthew 5:45b for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

I'm the first to complain sometimes that life is not fair. And let's face it-it isn't. But it's not only unfair in the positive, it's unfair in the negative as well. We may not all be millionaires, but we're also not all dying of cancer and AIDS.

I don't think it's fair that someone I went to high school with had 4 abortions and now has a wonderful husband and 4 beautiful children while several people I know who did everything right cannot get pregnant. Not fair.

I don't think it's fair that really good wonderful Godly people are suffering miserably for their faith while pagan heathen morons are running around the planet free as a bird. Blech.

The bottom line is nowhere in scripture are we promised absolute fairness and we wouldn't want it that way anyway. If cause and effect were absolute then every time we had a sinful thought, lied, or held hatred in our heart we'd get hit by a bus. And we wouldn't be around very long to make that mistake again!

And fair doesn't exactly put the sinless Son of Heaven on a cross for the sinners who would come after and before him now does it? Justice doesn't blame the One without fault for the shortcomings of many.

Love does.

So when the Godly among us are blessed far more than we could ever hope or imagine and it doesn't seem fair when we are struggling-let's purposefully rejoice with them. And when the ungodly are blessed in ways that seem downright maddening-let's purposefully rejoice with them too. Whatever blessings and happiness they find on this earth may be all the joy they'll ever know.

And when we're tempted to shake our fists to the heavens and demand justice -let's really remember that the one we're upset with knows far better than we ever will that sometimes One has to make an unfair sacrifice for many.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thomas Nelson Book Review

I'm not a huge sports fan, but I actually enjoyed this book! Great to see how sports have gone across time and generations to find a common denominator. I definitely recommend it! Great Christmas gift!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


there's some weird glitch in the blogger auto post so I know you're missing the last few days posts. I'm sending it back to my friends who designed it to see what the problem is and they assure me at that point it will be back on track. Also at that point you'll get all the posts you're missing. See? It'll be okay :) Thanks for letting me know!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Post 8-books!

Day 8-BOOKS!

I honestly never ever in a million years thought I would blog so much about books! But, I continue to get LOTS of comments and questions about what to read, my favorite authors, etc. And I totally get that. There's nothing I love more than when my friends who read a lot say, "You have to read this!"

I would encourage you to see my list of my favorite books and books worth reading. In general I love well thought out fiction, humorous fiction, really solid theological books and the occasional biography.

People always think I don't do anything else except read because I talk about books so much on here! Ha! I read super fast but I can't speed read. I can finish an average book in several hours. And I try to make time to read when I can because I really enjoy it. Some weeks I don't read a word honestly. It just depends on how tired I am by the time the day is done. I also really don't love TV and consider several times a year throwing it in the trash can. I only watch TV when I'm super tired or doing something else to have noise in my house. I don't have some great opinion on TV so don't send me e-mails about it! I just think for me it's kind of a waste of time. Plus, I love to read and I certainly understand that some people don't.

I'm going to do a separate post on daily devotions since that seems to come up with the book questions for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blog post 7-transparency

Day 7-Transparency

We seem to have a bunch of comments about being ourselves with the Lord, being honest with Him and telling Him how we really feel. Trust me, I have the same concerns and questions but it still cracks me up! Who better to be real with?

I really try to remind myself that He already knows. He is not falling off His throne every time I mess up. He knows at my best I'm still human. He's not surprised when I make promises I can't keep, but sees straight through to the heart of that promise and acknowledges my desire to be like Him. He certainly knows what I have done, what I'll do today that will be totally ridiculous, and what I'll do in the future. He knows.

And still......

He offers us his hand when we stumble, his heart when we're hurting, his ear when we're lonely, his plan when we're lost, his purpose when we're hopeless and his grace when we trip all over ourselves.

God has whispered to me in so many different ways lately, "I am with you. Always." It's made a huge difference. I've appreciated in a new way His invitation to be real with Him. To share my fears, to voice my frustrations and the accept His help which is always offered.

Jesus, we'll never take you by surprise. You know it all. We are humbly part of your bigger plan. Remind us that what we do today may very well change all of eternity. Let us not miss a moment. Amen

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The Blog has been updated through Saturday. More to come! Brenda

Blog Topic 5-The Holy Spirit

Day 5-The Holy Spirit

John 14:25-27"I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught.

I really love nothing more than to get in some deep theological debate about just about anything, but especially about the Holy Spirit. Christians are super opinionated about who He is, what He does, and how He presents Himself.

Many of you have asked me to talk more about the years I spent in a charismatic church and I promise I will later this month. I'm so glad I ended up there for that time in my life. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, but it also made me appreciate the way other people worship.

I think the danger with the Holy Spirit is many denominations want to make it all about Him and others don't want anything to do with Him. Both are equally troubling to me. I grew up without much mention of The Holy Spirit, spent time in college worshipping with people who never stopped talking about the Holy Spirit and now have come to a good place of balance I think. He's important, but so are God the Father and Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is God's way of literally being with us always. He deserves our respect and our attention with a healthy balance.

Blog Post 6-Friendship

Day 6-Friendship

Friendship is tricky business if you're asking me. I love my friends most of whom do not live anywhere near me. I used to love having a million friends everywhere, but lately I'm starting to see great value in having a few solid friendships worth investing in. I've taken stock recently in a lot of relationships and found many of them not to be what God would have. There's nothing wrong with the people, the relationships just have no eternal value.

I certainly don't think you have to be so high and mighty that you cannot have anything to do with people who are not on a similar spiritual path. I think we're called to be among a lot of different people and that will always change as the seasons and times of our lives are adjusted. And our every day acquaintances are not that concerning to me. It's the people we choose to be around the most, those that you just know have a drop of eternity mixed in, divine appointments that are unmistakably from the Lord, and people we're on a similar mission with that need our attention, our prayers and our focus. And I think the Lord does intend for us to take our friendships seriously. What are you offering and what is being offered in return that betters your life?

My longest friendship/relationship is probably my sweet friend Kathy who I met at a very divine appointment 16 years ago. It doesn't seem that long, but it has been! I can't think of another soul on the planet that knows more about me than she does. We honestly don't get the opportunity to connect that frequently, but we never miss a beat. It brings tears to my eyes to think of the number of times God has laid each of us on the other's heart to pray for and encourage each other. It may be one of only a handful of relationships that I have seen and felt God orchestrate from the very beginning. It's amazing when He's in the middle of anything.

And it makes me long for more divine appointments in life. To not be so busy that I miss the opportunities God presents to connect with another person on a God level. To trust God to bring those into my path that He has for me and to trust that those He takes away will go for a reason.

Blog Post 4-Eternal Security

Day 4-Eternal Security

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. -2 Corinthians 1:21-22

I don't feel exactly qualified to tackle this topic, but since I agreed to discuss the 30 most talked about topics this month I will. Eternal security is a hard one for me and I feel like it shouldn't be.

At the very core of who I am I believe the only way to get to Heaven is through Jesus Christ and the acceptance of His death on the cross to bring salvation to you if you receive it. I don't believe there's another way. I think all other roads lead straight to Hell. Period. So, I'm pretty confident that's a good foundation.

I just have trouble when the feelings and the facts gets swirled around in daily life to the point that uncertainty reigns over all! About a million cliche's come to mind and I can't stand cliche's so I'm not going to use any of them. I think once we've accepted Jesus the angels rejoice, our names appear in the book of life and the blueprints for our mansions go to the printer. Okay, maybe there aren't blueprints :)

I think we have to find our confidence in Christ for our salvation and for everything else. I also think it's not entirely bad to question our salvation once in awhile. We need to go back to the basics of our faith. I am on a mad dash back to the beginning in my time with the Lord lately and it has been amazing. Salvation, prayer, etc. Loving it. I make things way too hard and way too complicated. It always has been and it always will be about our relationship with Him.

I think we can question lots of things to death and totally miss the point. For sure spend time letting the Spirit speak assurance to your heart. For sure go back to the beginning and remember the establishment of your faith and where the Lord has brought you from there. For sure take notice of the fruit you are bearing and the signs of a true believer that you should be displaying.

But then, when you know that you've accepted Him. When you know that you are living for Him the best you know how. When you know that you know there's no other way to the Father except through Jesus His son-then let it go. Live for Him, anticipate Heaven, and be sure that you are being earthly good to the Kingdom.

And trust that you are sealed by the Father, loved by the Son, and led by the Spirit.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blog Topic 3-Depression

Day 3 - Depression

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -Romans 2:12

I still get lots of questions about depression. Causes, symptoms, treatment options, my views on medication, etc. And I have discussed depression on the blog over and over again. My views are not changed, but I will post a summary today of what I've already talked about.

Personally I'm tired of mental illness in general being classified as some nonspiritual illness. Particularly people who are clinically depressed can no more get themselves out of depression than diabetics can pray their sugar down while consuming entire cakes. It's ridiculous and it needs to stop in the Christian circle especially.

I will say that mental illness gets over diagnosed-a lot. Other disorders do too. Everyone who eats chili fries for lunch goes to their Dr. for an acid reflux medication prescription which is why those of us who actually have it have to fight with the insurance companies for months. A bad day here and there; several bad days here and there; tears of frustration or anger or sadness, situations that happen to and around us that make us less than happy does not equal a mental illness.

Emotions are what make us human! We wouldn't know joy if we never knew sorrow. We wouldn't recognize peace if we never felt uneasy. A disorder is classified as something that perpetually interrupts the normal functioning of a life. If you cannot function because of being depressed. If you can't get out of bed, if you have no motivation, if you have unexplained episodes of crying at least 5 times a week, if your sleep and or appetite are off-it might be time to get checked out for depression. That said, it could just as easily be an imbalance of hormones.

I've said before and I'll talk about it more later this month, I spent 3 years in a semi charismatic church in college. I didn't mind it at all. But I found the lines of people expecting immediate healing to be a little bizarre. I'm not saying God can't miraculously do whatever He wants to do, but I have seen that as more the exception than the rule. We grow in our faith by learning to depend on Him for the answers that we need. He has a purpose for anything we go through.

My take on medication? If you need it - get it. If at some point you don't need it anymore-get off of it.

My take on therapy? If you need it - get it. You might find paying to have a conversation where you can say whatever you want is the best thing that's ever happened to you :)

My take on depression? It certainly isn't a sin. It's a symptom. God intends for us to live free in Him and however He leads you to make that possible is a gift from His heart.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blog topic 2-Holiness/Sanctification

Day 2-Holiness

"In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days." -Luke 1:75

I am thankful for Asbury College in my life for many reasons, but first and foremost will always be for their continual attention to personal holiness. In Hughes chapel etched across the archway is "holiness unto the Lord" which was so much more than a catch phrase. I sat under hours of teachings in chapel and classroom lectures on holiness. And I'll forever be thankful that they instilled in me a desire to live above average as a Christian, to remember that God's word is still the gold standard no matter what the world may say, and that although total sanctification is not possible this side of Heaven, it should be our goal to continually seek it.

To me, holiness displays itself in various opportunities every single day. One of my friends always says, "Just go do the next right thing," which is a form of holiness. Doing what we know to do when the Lord brings opportunities to do just that. And in our personal lives allowing God to send the strong currents of His spirit to cleanse us literally from all unrighteousness. We're not going to get it 100% right ever, but at least in my own life I could get it right a little more often!

I could go on a literal tangent about the lack of holiness I've encountered just in the past weeks. I think as the world gets handed over to darkness and we approach the last days more and more things that God calls an abomination become common place. Going along with them makes you socially acceptable I'm sure, but it will never make you holy. When God's heart and His best is what drives us on a daily basis to be like Him, the things of this world that clearly go against His standards will never fulfill us. Never. If you're living in sin and sacrificing your relationship with Him for the things of this world then make today the day you draw the line in the sand and refuse, with His help, not to cross it again. It really makes no difference what the world does. If we profess to be Christians and lovers of His law then we are held to that standard and will be judged accordingly.

When we remember that God is holy; when we remember that we are on our best days unworthy; when on the rare occasion we feel touched by the divine who has broken the barriers of Earth and met us where we are, we have found just a glimpse of holiness. And if it is received in the proper spirit it will compel us to let His sweet spirit whisper, "choose holiness."

1 Peter 13-16 (The Message) So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blog Topic 1-Does prayer make a difference?

Day 1-Does prayer make a difference?

"When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." -Revelation 5:8

I have great admiration for people with a consistent, focused prayer life. In my mind, in my heart, in my new year's resolutions I make plans to be excellent at praying. I set apart the time, I set apart the space, I make a list sometimes and I'll be honest-the only prayer I pray consistently is HELP ME! Usually after some roller coaster I agreed to get on myself which has turned out to be especially stressful!

I've had really wonderful seasons of prayer in my walk with the Lord. In college I spent lots of time as a peer advocate praying with people which I loved. I've met weekly with people in different seasons that have kept me on my spiritual toes and greatly increased my prayer life. And I suppose to be fair I probably pray more than I think I do particularly lately for several people in my life. In the shower, in the car, running out the door, late at night, etc. Sometimes I'm sure my prayers have been signed, sealed, delivered to the heart of the Father and other times I'm certain they went nowhere. Which I think begs the question-does prayer make a difference?

If God is sovereign (and He is) then he already knows the outcome of our lives and thus the outcome of our prayers. So are we wasting our time sending pleas to the Heavens when the verdict has already been rendered? Should we just pray that God's will be done all the time and leave it at that?

I love the above verse in Revelation. If we could see in those golden bowls! Can you imagine the heartache, tears, praise, petitions, joy, sorrow, and love swirled around in a beautiful offering before the Lord? It's my thought that if they're important enough to keep them, they're important enough to offer them.

I'm not a theologian. I don't know specifically how concrete the will of the Lord is. My greatest fear in all the world is missing His will for my life which I do feel is possible. In the Old Testament particularly saints seemed to have changed his mind about destroying his creation a few times! But just in my own life, in my own relationship with the Lord, in my own thoughts I tend to think prayer is of great value to me and pleasing to the Lord.

How many times have you just had enough? How many times have you sat before the Lord just furious that things have not worked out as you'd hoped and the answers did not come as you believed and you are angry-only a few moments later to find yourself telling the Lord you're sorry for your lack of faith and you don't ever want to do anything to hurt him? Prayer changes us on the inside.

How many times have you prayed specifically for healing for someone believing it would happen on Earth only to realize in Heaven they are healed forever? Prayer changes our perspective.

How many times have you begged the Lord on behalf of the prodigals in your life to bring them gently back to His heart only to watch them be dragged literally through Hell? Some return to Him and some do not often without the predictability we desire. Prayer increases our trust in a loving Father.

How many times have you offered your day to the Lord at it's onset and found that you have sufficient time, a pleasing disposition, accomplishments and peace with the wind at your back? Prayer increases the desire to offer our lives as a living offering.

How many times have you approached the throne of grace feeling so unworthy, so undeserving of one more chance, so heartbroken by your own choices or those of another to the point that there are no words to speak? And as the tears fall into a heavenly bottle and His Spirit gently whispers "I am with you always," we realize prayer strengthens our relationship with a God who cares.

I don't know that the plan God laid out before the foundation of the world is in any way altered by the prayers my heart entrusts to the Father, but I do know without a shadow of a doubt that I am changed. When the answer is yes I rejoice with Him. When the answer is no I mourn with Him and am reminded that He has my best interest at heart. And when the answer is wait I have an all out hissy fit! I mean, I'm so happy He's postponed my knowing for the greater good of His will in my life-ahem. No matter the answer though, my trust is restored in Him. I am changed into his likeness with every confession. I am connected to his body with every prayer offered up on their behalf. My faith is strengthened with every answered prayer. And my relationship with the Lord grows stronger every time we share a piece of this puzzle together.

Jesus is not physically here so the only means we have to communicate with the trinity is through prayer. I have to say the best prayer times in my life have been when I've felt particularly burdened to pray specifically for something. It's like you can see the trinity in full circle. The Holy Spirit lays something on your heart, in obedience you offer it to Jesus who whispers it into the ear of the Father who answers our pleas. Love. It. And I think those situations would happen more often if we would stay in tune with the heart of the Father for our own lives, for the lives of those around us, for His body, and for the world at large.

So does prayer make a difference? yes.