Friday, January 29, 2010

I'll bet that never happened to John Denver...

I hate to do back-to-back post about our church's Praise Team, but I've seen a couple of hilarious moments happen in my time on the drums...and well, humor's our subject matter this week.

There's not enough good things I can say about Jamey, our Music Leader. The story I posted last week speaks to the genuine heart this man has when it comes to God. He has been a mentor and friend, and it flows easy when he gets a man hug and 'I love you' from yours truly (not an easy thing for me either, see Tony C Today).

He's one of the most musically gifted people I know or have known. All our music and vocal arrangements are composed by him, and he is the rock of the team...the go-to guy. He can play a song on the piano, bass guitar or drums and never look at sheet music. Harmony comes natural as he listens to 8 different singers to make adjustments. Never forgets a song or score. I'm not just building this up people...he's that good.
He's also a chronic perfectionist...a point of intimidation for everyone else...well...except maybe his wife who sings on the team too.

Don't get me wrong. He doesn't try to be intimidating or heavy-handed, he's just so darn good it's hard to live up to that standard. A very humble man despite his gift. If things start to break down during a song, all eyes go to him. Personally, mine are there most of the time anyway, since we've developed a nonverbal system of communication to cue breaks, builds, patterns and other things I'm forever forgetting during a song.

One Sunday, we prepared to open the service with a particularly spirited song by none other than Chris Tomlin. Again, you ask? I'm convinced our Praise Team leader has a man-crush...but that's another post. Anyway, we're kicking the service off, and there's a pretty good crowd of 230 or so already in the sanctuary. I look at everyone to make sure they're ready, and start the count off. 1...2...3...4...nothing. Nobody starts. No drums, keyboard, guitars or vocals.

Everyone looks at Jamey (including me), he nods, and I count again. 1...2...3...4...nothing. Again.

By this time, the congregation (who had been asked to stand and join in) know something just can't be right. Every one's in place, words on wall, so why aren't we praising? The next few seconds seemed like at least an hour for me. Do I count off a third time? Is Jamey's keyboard or maybe his monitor not working? I was lost along with everyone else on the team of four musicians and eight singers.

Jamey sits with his back to the congregation off to the left side and only a few feet from me. I had never seen the look on his face at that moment before and couldn't figure out what in the world was happening...I just knew that every one in the congregation was looking at me. Finally the silence was broken.

"I've got nothing," Jamey half-whispered into his microphone. We had played this song dozens of times. It was a staple, a fallback song in a pinch....but he had brain-locked in a major way. He looked at me as I looked at him...frozen...helpless. I tried to squeak out a few notes, but my state of panic and complete lack of singing ability did nothing to kick start the process.

"I'm sorry, I've got nothing here." (cricket noises)

After an excruciating period of time and a few bars from the Team Leader, we were finally off and running. All of us in complete terror at where the train was going...but off and running none the less. Jamey's impeccable reputation as a musical genius was, of course, completely unblemished by the whole fiasco, but he took a serious ribbing none the less. I probably mess up a number of times on any given song each and every Sunday, and I'm not alone...but never Jamey. His one goof was out there for everyone to see and hear...or not hear in this particular situation.

He's still my musical hero and mentor and has taught me more about honest, open worship in my role as a musician than I could have imagined. Hey Jamey...I love you man!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Things To Do In Church Besides Fall Asleep

I gotta admit, I struggle to sit through church service.  I love the worship but I despise how the flow of Holy Spirit is interrupted by announcements and the beggars bucket, errr, tithes and offering basket. I have heard some really great teachings, sermons, messages....  There have been a few times in which the Words preached convicted me and I ended up confessing a 'forgotten' sin or dozen.  But it is still tough for me to sit still for 30+ minutes in a stiff chair looking at the back of someone's head.  But amazingly in the past, I have easily fallen asleep in the same type of uncomfortable chair.

There have been several times that I have fallen asleep at church.  And there have been several different ways I have been woken up:
  • With a hand full of drool
  • After my head jerked back
  • With ink on my face. ( I think it was one of my kids)
  • After a stranger tells me that I had been snoring.
  • After the congregation was dismissed.
In order to not repeat the embarrassment of similar situations as listed above, I have discovered a couple of things to do to keep my mind active and my eyes open.

At the beginning of service, when someone feels its all right to interrupt me when during worship, I make it a point during the sermon to interrupt their note taking and ask them their name, about their family, how they heard of this church, where they work...

During worship, particularly in a more 'stiff' church, I will do the running man, the electric slide or the hokey pokey as I dance unto the Lord.

Before He begins his sermon, most pastors tells the congregation to take time to introduce ourselves to each other, so I like to approach the pastor and worship leader up front and ask them their name, about their family, how they heard of this church, where they work...

During the sermon, I will  fill out the visitors packets with friends' information. Or count the number of times a preacher will say amen.... Spanish. OR I have asked my kids to count the number of times the preacher says amen, knowing they will let the rest us know the tally. If the sermon seems to be going in circles or I will call the cellys of the people I know that I think might be in church to see if they have their ringers off. I have used the church directories that are provided at the information booth when I have visited a church for the first time. It is particularly amusing when it is someone up front that has there celly go off. One last thing, by far the most outrageous and potentially hazardous is if my wife, Nikki puts her purse out of her reach. I will call her celly to see if she has her ringer turned off. When it's not, I then, very dramatically, act embarrassed.

And then just for my own amusement, at the end of service when we are told to step into the aisle and hold hands of the people next to us, I make it a point when the pastor prays for the person on my left, to squeeze the hand of the person on my right and vice versa. Or, if I wanna shake up the prayer team a little, I may ask for hands to be laid upon me in prayer for healing for lice, dandruff, hemorrhoids or jock itch.

Honestly, Sunday service ain't that bad and I don't view it as a time to entertain myself.  My wife will get annoyed when my mind wanders and I pull out the celly and update my fantasy team or facebook.  There are times that my short attention span will get the better of me but I would never have done anything like I have just written about.  Or have I?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This Little Light of Mine

It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor, I do. However, I am Norwegian and our humor is hard to find. Overall, we are a serious bunch. I never once remember my Norwegian pastor telling a joke from the pulpit. I had a pastor once who felt he had to have a joke to start every sermon. I really didn’t care for that – but maybe it was that I was Norwegian.

I thought about that Pastor and wondered if I could remember any of his jokes to share with you. However, most of them weren’t that good. I don’t remember any of them. I thought about trying to find one of those funny stories from Reader’s Digest. Or maybe even one of those letter to God by children, etc.

I’m too serious. Everyone who knows me knows that’s true. To say that this topic is a challenge for me is an understatement. Then my good friend David knocks it out of the park yesterday. Feeling pressure over something funny really says something about me, doesn’t it!?

I have served in almost every capacity in a local church. I used to get to church early on a Sunday morning because I was in charge of the Sunday School. I’d get the supplies out and check on things. I also would check the toilet paper in both the bathrooms. It seemed they always needed a new roll of toilet paper.

Speaking of bathrooms, I’ve always had this fear that I would have the lapel microphone on and be one of those people who forget it’s on. You know, we’ve all heard those stories of someone with the mic on, they go to the bathroom and all the bathroom noises are heard all over the church. Fortunately, that’s not my funny story today.

At this church, I was also in charge of the women’s ministry. One of the most difficult programs we had was the time we decided to have fun. Now if this had been a daylong prayer program I’d have been fine. Or maybe if I were to exhort people on spiritual disciplines, I’d have done really good. But no, our pastor’s wife, this delightful woman with a real quirky sense of humor decided we needed some fun. Fun? In church – to this good serious Norwegian, church and fun in the same sentence is a bit of an oxymoron.

So what did we do? We decided to have a lampshade hat contest. Yes, we all made hats to wear on our head. We actually had to wear them in a fashion show. As you might guess, mine had to have a serious spiritual tone to it. I made a hat representing the fruit of the spirit.

Everyone else’s was less serious. It was hysterical. Here were all these women, young and older, with lampshades on their heads and no one was drunk; we weren’t even drunk in the Spirit. I know I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants as we paraded around with our hats. It was fun to be silly. We ended with a devotional on being the light of the world and sang "This Little Light of Mine."

Being serious is fine. Life is serious. Fun is scriptural too. I need some fun, how about you?

A cheerful disposition is good for your health
Proverbs 17:22a (The Message)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Did Jesus Laugh?

The Brazilian bride and groom released white doves after giving their vows, signifying there new life together. There was one small problem, that being the ceiling fan the took the life of the groom's dove en route from the cathedral. The quick thinking pastor said, "that is not what I meant by fanning the flames of love," and continued to the next portion of the service.

After the ceremony, fueled by a few cocktails, it became a unforgettable anecdote.

This week, your Kingdom Bloggers are going to relate a funny story from church - which isn't all that spiritual I guess. Please feel free to comment and relate one of your own - this crew could use a good laugh.

Here is an excerpt from my still unpublished book.

Let me begin. In the Spring of 1999 I met a Brazilian pastor who became my closest friend. He invited me to minister at a church where he was the Youth Pastor. I remember struggling in prayer for 2 or 3 hours before the Sunday evening meeting. I just seemed to be fighting with something in the spirit realm, so I continued to press in, and finally I had a vision. I pictured a balding man in his late 50's to early 60's. The picture in my spirit was rather distinctive - a face I would recognize - and I took note. After the short vision I felt the Lord impress upon me 6 things I was supposed to share with this man. Again, I took note, ended my prayer session and got dressed for the service.

That evening I drove to Igreja Baptista, not far from my house. I met my friend there, and we worshiped for a bit. As I stepped to the platform for my portion of the meeting, I saw the face of the man from my vision. What was confusing to me was that he looked younger than the face I saw; having thin, but rich black hair. I thought, I will just wait for his father to come and deliver the message.

After 30-40 minutes of ministry, no one else showed up in this man's row. I decided to take a chance and asked the man to stand up so I could share what I had seen in my prayer time. I told him about seeing his face and I began to share the 6 things that I felt impressed to tell him. I told him that I sensed that he had been in Brazil for a few weeks and just returned. He nodded in agreement. Each of the 6 topics seemed to hit home and he became tearful as God encouraged him.

As I ended, I then told him how puzzled I was about the vision, the age of the man I had seen and the lack of hair; for he had hair. It was obvious to me that the words I had for him were not far in the future - how could he age and lose his hair? As the man sat down, there were some muffled snickers.

The pastor ended the service with a short prayer.

We filed into the kitchen for refreshments, the pastor and a my friend came to me almost laughing out loud. They told me this man I had just ministered to, had in fact just returned from Brazil - where he received a hair transplant!

My friend thought this particular incident was so much fun, that he used the story to introduce me over and over again while we were in Brazil. HERE is that story.

God really does know us, and He has a sense of humor too.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The hour I first believed...can happen a number of times in your life.

Just this week, I was telling the story of how I hooked up with my first college band as a drummer. I had played guitar for years, but took an interest in drums on a suggestions by none other than the son of Don Williams (who?). Donnie Jr. and I were in school together back in the day.

One Friday evening while in college around 6:30, I cruised over to Frat Row to watch the band he played for start setting up for an 8:30 start time. About an hour later, their drummer reappears from a mysterious hiatus, and he's completely tanked. Apparently, he had been helping with making the party punch and took it upon himself to personally make sure each bottle of PGA was safe for consumption. Even the best drummer might find it difficult to play while projectile vomiting on all fours repeatedly,so I was pressed (kicking and screaming) into my first performance with about a half hour crash course through the set.

I was hooked. Not necessarily by the performing part, but rather by the satisfaction of using my marginal musical talent to lock in with other musician to make good music.

Fast forward to a few years ago when an old college-band drummer was invited to play with our church's Praise Team. I was petrified. Drummers are constantly (and rather obnoxiously) pounding out beats and rhythms with their hands and feet, which I had done through nearly every church worship service from my seat in the congregation for years, but being a part of leading worshipping service? I just didn't feel worthy.

The Praise Team was in a bind, so I agreed to sit in one Sunday morning on a few rather mellow songs. The first one was in something called 6/8 time, and I didn't have a clue as I fumbled trying to force a 4/4 time square into a 6/8 round hole. Disastrous. But thanks to a super talented band leader with quick thinking and subtle head gestures, we worked through the song despite my rough start. I didn't get the same euphoric feeling following that first set at church that I had experienced back in college. Why?

After attending several practices and playing a few more services, I moved into the drummer's spot full-time. Honestly, I still wasn't comfortable with my role and felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility, which I believe hampered my drum playing. Also, there had always been a bit of a controversy over the contemporary music played during praise and worship, which I'm sure is completely unique to our church (eye roll).

About six months after becoming the full-time drummer for the Praise Team, I witnessed something during a song that truly changed my attitude. The song was Chris Tomlin's version of Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone, and as I glanced over at the band leader like I often do for cues, I noticed he was singing and playing with such conviction as tears streamed down his face. His back was to the congregation, so I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who saw this. That's when I realized, he's singing as if no one else is here and it's just him and Jesus. Wow.

I was overcome with the Spirit that day, and I instantly had a complete new outlook on my role behind the drum set. I wasn't playing, good or bad, for the congregation...I was playing for Him.

Several months later, we were asked to play that same song at the funeral of a good friend's mother. The service was conducted at our church and the place was full. There were people from a number of different churches, as well as, no church at all. As we built the song up to the forceful middle section, I could feel the tears flowing...

My chains are gone. I've been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy reigns.
Unending love, Amazing grace.

There's always a danger when getting lost in a song while playing in front of other people, but I didn't care. I knew that my friend's mom...because of grace...was with Jesus. I became overcome with joy as I pounded out the beat and at the thought of one day joining her...all because of grace.

As Christians, we use words like grace, faith, joy and mercy on a regular, if not daily, basis. But the true implications behind those words are...well...completely overpowering. I know like you, I've bellowed out the staple song Amazing Grace hundreds of times in church, and I've even during a few of them recognized the wretch I truly am. A wretch that is completely worthless without that amazing grace.

Grace is the word that most makes me look so forward to drumming for Him one day for all of eternity...if He wants me to.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Ministry of Grace

Grace...a word I know well!!

My grandmothers name was Gwendolyn Ruth Kennedy...She passed away before my oldest son was born (17 years ago). Amazing Grace was the song I would sing to her (only the first verse). I had not an ounce of understanding about the song or the word "grace" for that matter. I just knew she loved it and the words spoke to me, I now know they were speaking to my soul...

Grace is a word I have not only come to know but, I have had revelation upon revelation that has opened up a deeper understanding and a freeing power.

As I have said many times in the past, my salvation experience was a radical one...a Jesus encounter!!

My husband and I were in a small office, on Cape Cod Ma., We had made plans to distract and freak out the "God Guy!" With every attempt at distracting him and saying things that, I thought would make him throw my husband and I out of his office....Well,it didn't work, it seemed that the more darkness we poured out, the more his eyes filled with tears and the gentler he became. Can you understand my frustration? The tattoos and piercings weren't working, the black makeup didn't phase him, the "gangsta" attire wasn't working either. Our intentions were to make his head spin, how in the world was he making "our" heads spin? Well I now know it was "grace!"

I don't have any deep "theology" on the subject. What I do have is revelation-A divine impartation from the Holy Spirit.
OK back to the story.....

That day my husband and I accepted Christ as our Savior our names were written in the Lambs book of Life...Thank you Jesus!!

That head spinning feeling from the God Guy was... The absence of judgement,sincerety and no fear of "our nonsense." It was a love that he too had obtained from God's grace bestowed upon him.
After leaving the office that day...My husband and I had nothing to talk about,it was a long, silent car ride back home.

This is my 10th year serving the Lord and the understanding of grace has not only become deeper for me but, has become the foundation of my ministry.

Check this out-It doesn't matter what you've done, what you were in the past, how educated you are, what gender you are. The grace of Jesus Christ says-You are loved, you are good enough! It says you were worth dying for!...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Definition of Grace

  • As defined in Websters-a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior; the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
  • As defined in Hebrew-subjective (kindness, favor) or objective beauty:-favour, graceious, pleasant, precious, well-favoured.
  • As defined in the Greek-graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.
  • As defined by Dave Tvedt-unfortunately, it is what I arrogantly withhold or limit to others but I still demand more of from God and others.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Romans 12.3

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Grace is a big fish tale!

    Have you noticed how often you hear the song Amazing Grace at places where you least expect a hymn to be heard? It has become sort of this eerie anthem at times of pain. I guess that’s appropriate on some levels, when there is pain, we want the grace of God to relieve us. 

    I never tire of the song and I certainly never tire of grace. I love every verse of this song, but when we get to the last verse about having no less days to sing God’s praise, I usually get chills. It is as my arms refuse to stay by my side and they have to go up in praise to God.

    Performers who have no connection to the church often perform it and make lots of money. Take for instance this wonderful performance by Il Divo found here.  Perhaps we cling to this song as a society because deep inside, we know we need grace and lots of it! It is amazing!

    What is so amazing about grace? As with God’s love, I don’t think there are adequate words to describe it nor do I think we fully comprehend it.  As I consider grace and it’s amazing nature, I don’t turn to a New Testament passage. A simple search will tell you that grace is mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament and as few as 3 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation. Isn’t grace just a New Testament teaching? No.

    I find one of the most powerful teachings about grace in a book of the Bible that we tend to think of in terms of the Veggie Tales or some large font colorful children’s book, the book of Jonah. I had a friend who once referred to Jonah as the Monty Python section of the Bible. He had a point. It is a series of very unlikely and hard to believe events.

    When I did children’s ministry I taught the story of Jonah several times. One time I built this 10 foot long big fish in the basement of the church. I used tarps and duct tape and a box fan to allow the fish to inflate. It was a small church and we had a mixture of various aged children. We had fresh mouthed boys and delicate little girls – we even had some fresh mouth girls and delicate boys. In we crawled together. The black tarps made it dark inside. We heard the roar of the fan. In the total darkness we imagined what it would be like to be in the belly of that fish. It was as if we were there with Jonah.

    The scripture says an amazing thing about Jonah’s time in the fish. In our view of God we often see this as God’s punishment of Jonah for disobedience. How often we think of God in this way. I use to think of God this way. Sometimes I forget about grace and still do. The scripture say that God prepared a fish for Jonah (Jonah 1:17). God prepared a fish… think about that. That is grace!

    There is more to Jonah’s story. Grace is evident throughout four chapters of this tiny book. I suggest you read it, it won’t take you long.

    God’s grace came to those sailors on that boat with Jonah. First time we see these rough and hearty men, they are crying to “their gods” (Jonah 1:5).  In ten short verses we see these same idol worshipers praying to God, the God of Jonah, our God, the Lord Almighty. Then they offered sacrifices to Him and made vows. We’d probably say today that the whole boat load of them found grace and got converted. Grace to the outsider. Grace to those with no knowledge of God. There was a revival.

    In the belly of that fish, Jonah found grace. As he cried out to God, God gave him grace by spitting him out and sending him to bring grace to Nineveh.  Jonah preaches and the whole country repents. By royal decree animals and humans fast and cry out to God! Can you imagine such a revival? Jonah reached an entire people group, a whole society. God gave His grace to the people of Nineveh. Talk about amazing grace. 

    Jonah was mad. Picture Billy Graham in the biggest stadium in a country. He preaches his heart out calling for repentance. Graham says to the crowd, I am going to ask you to get out of your seat. The ruler of the country comes forward. He takes the microphone and tells the people we need to fast and pray. Everyone fasts including Buffy the cat and Fido the dog. Then in the next scene we see Billy pouting from a hill atop of the country.  He is mad because the whole country found grace. 

    Jonah was mad, very mad. Jonah knew God was compassionate, after all God gave him grace when he disobeyed. He only wanted that grace for himself. He wanted to sit up there and watch God’s judgment. Some times we think it would be fun to watch God "get 'em" and give them what they deserve.

    Now this is my favorite part of the book of Jonah. If you’ve never read it you should! (Jonah 4) We like it when God gives us grace. We like it when He gives grace to those we like or those who are like us. We don't want what we deserve."

    We don’t like it when God gives grace to someone who did us dirty, or we don’t like, or who doesn’t do things the way we think they should be done. We don’t like it when God’s grace is extended to someone who seems totally evil and depraved. We want God to pour out His wrath and their just punishment, while we want grace for ourselves.

    Grace is not just for you and me - it is for EVERYONE.
    God’s grace is amazing.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    It's Over!

    Slam! The sound of twisting metal as a distracted driver crashes into the rear of my car. Stunned by the shooting pain in my back, I slowly unfasten my seat belt and wait for help. The driver of the car in the rear motions for me to open the window saying, "Forgive me, it was my fault - I was wrong."

    This week your Kingdom Bloggers are going to write about grace. Be sure to comment, it is a great encouragement for the effort they put into sharing their heart in this sometimes lonely blogosphere. And if you wouldn't mind, share your favorite posts on Facebook, Tweet it or send it around in an email. We'd appreciate it. Thanks for reading along.

    Isn't it amazing, I get rear-ended, dislocating a vertebrae in my back, and the other driver admits to his guilt in the heat of the moment. Of course the insurance company's official statement was that the driver of the car in which I was the passenger, was at fault. I suppose that's why he hit us at 40 mph while we were stopped at a red light - with a cop watching!

    Don't you find it interesting that in an unscripted moment, the driver is remorseful, later changing His mind? I think that I can be like that too. Somehow I seem to conveniently forget the details of my own wrongs once they seem far enough in the past.

    I once attended Cursillo (Tres Dias) and they often told us that Grace was God's-Riches-At-Christs-Expense. Grace, it was vehicle of the free gift that we needed receive by faith - one to open up and use by an act of our will. Evangelicals often call this salvation, but the giving of a valuable gift without merit, is truly a grace.

    I don't know about you, but I wasn't willing to receive grace until two things happened. One, I was at the bottom of the barrel; desperate for some pain relief, and two, I was loved by strangers. You may read about my entrance into the Kingdom HERE, and the struggles that got me there, HERE.

    I, like the man who smashed into me some 30 years ago, would unwillingly admit my guilt when caught in my transgressions, or when I was in so much pain over the choices that I made, there was no where else to turn. That is where I met grace. But guilt is not grace. Folks are sometimes made to feel guilty at altar calls. Making a decision for Christ under pressure rarely bares fruit.

    Back to the accident. I ended up in the emergency room from my injury and it took 15 weeks for me to recover. I was unable to work, consequently having no income, I ended up in a welfare motel for a few weeks followed a couch surfing tour.

    One night I lay there awake, no phone, no car, and nothing on TV. How could life be more difficult? It was one of the most painful days of my life. Where was grace now? I knelt down in the brown shag carpet next to the bed with an ugly green bedspread which smelled like cigarette smoke, and I asked God to forgive me of my sins. I had been saved for 10 years, but in my heart I knew I needed to get back on track. The car accident was no longer "someones fault," but one more incident that gently deepened my need to renew my relationship with Jesus.

    Perspective is everything.

    If we are honest with ourselves, many of us have had a period in life where skated on being obedient to the commands of God - and the pursuit of holiness. We wrapped that grace up in a garbage bag and left it for the last day. After all, we were saved, isn't that enough?

    The grace of God covers us when we fail - truly one of the greatest benefits of being a Kingdom member. The grace of God is greater than anything we can do to mess it up. Why? Because nothing can separate us from the love of God! (Romans 8) And that means our sin too.

    We can rationalize our thoughts, our behavior and convince ourselves that our motives are right. We can medicate our conscience with bus-y-ness or addictions, but we cannot escape Heaven.

    When we discover that we deserve to be smote for even the smallest (in our eyes) offense, we will be well on our way to receiving grace. Grace transcends the notion of being good, for we can't be good enough for God. His holiness is absolute and what the word of God says is sin, IS.


    Jesus suffered the penalty for all of our sins, even if it was just one. He got in line, taking our place on death-row and went to the cross. Many Christians just think that He died for us - and He did. But He also died in PLACE of us. That is the revelation of grace.

    Receiving this grace is a ticket to heaven - and that is just the beginning. We do not want to abuse our grace by sinning, no, we want to live for Christ.

    Jesus loves us so much, and under grace we are only bound by the law of love. However; grace is essential for covering us as we move towards passion for Jesus, then onto holiness - which opens the door for the abiding love of our Father in Heaven. Without grace we can't get in, without mercy we can't stay in, and without holiness we can't enter in to God's eternal presence.

    After many years of trying, working at it, failing to "fix" myself, get "good" and act like a Christian, I discovered that I can't do it. Many times I read the following verse:

    2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJ) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

    What I thought was that we are new, but need to fix ourselves too. However; what it really means is that inside, because of grace, we have become new. And that is the person that we need to let out. That can only be done if the old man dies.

    It is truly God's grace that He kills the old us with love, so that the new man can escape like a fragrant perfume. That process begins with saying. "Forgive me, it was my fault - I was wrong."

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    He is always matter how much I try to mess that up.

    Wow! Another week of inspiring post lifting praise to an awesome God!

    I've been blessed this week reading each post and the comments that follow. I was conflicted a bit on exactly which of several possible stories I wanted to share, but David helped me decide with his great post on Monday. We should worship God at work...and also during the journey going to and from each day.

    I've written about my commute a few times over on Tony C Today. It seems to always be a source of fodder for a good story...and a serious test of a few different virtues to boot. The commute has also been a blessing on many occasions for me as I use the time to talk with my Father about things on my heart, listen to podcast of sermons from local pastors of churches I don't attend but still love, gear up or decompress for/from work, and of course jam a little.

    About two years ago, I was transitioning to a new position at work. At the very same time, my boss had ask if I would copy edit a book he had finished writing and was about to submit to a publisher. The subject covered the book of Genesis but was written from a different theological perspective than my own. He wasn't deterred that I would be approaching the task as a Christian, and he assured me there was no pressure to agree with his work...he just wanted me to copy edit for mechanics, grammar and check scripture references.

    Let me state that I love this man and his entire family. I have the best job and working environment a person could ever ask to be placed...peas and carrots. I was determined to do the best job possible for him. As I got deeper into the book, it became obvious to me that our belief systems were vastly different. I started experiencing anxieties, not as a result of anything he said directly to me or required, but rather from my own conscience. Was it justifiable or grounded in dogma? The conflict became a spiritual struggle for me that lasted for several weeks and became a serious drag on my daily attitude.

    I pressed on with editing the 700+ page book. There were times I know I avoided talking with my boss because I was becoming somewhat disconnected. My focus started breaking down as I struggled with what I should do or say based on my Christian faith. I had several conversation with my pastor who really helped me put things into a proper perspective. But still, the anxiety lingered and even haunted me at times.

    While driving home from work one evening, I started praying for God to guide me, lead me. Should I stop editing because the book conflicted with my own faith? Why it took me so long to go to Him is beyond me, but I prayed, I waited and then I flipped on the radio...

    The song King of Glory by Third Day was playing. I cranked it up. As I listened and began to sing along, I became overcome with Joy. I popped in a CD with the long version of the same song and started again. His name is Jesus, precious Jesus. The Lord Almighty, the King of my heart, the King of glory.

    I pulled off I-26 at the top of Bays Mountain, put everything else on my mind and in my heart aside, and sang to my Jesus...the King of glory! When the song ended, I played it again...and then a third time. Alone...tears flowing...filled with Joy...I worshipped and sang praises to Him.

    When I started driving again, my anxiety was just gone. I had become so wrapped up and worried that I had surrendered my source of Joy in life...the Joy that only comes when my focus is on Him. After that day, I had a number of great discussions with my boss about his book, his beliefs and also about my faith. He's a great guy who listens and doesn't judge, and that's the example I should have been exhibiting.

    Although sometimes I fail, now I try not to be hampered by earthly issues when I worship or even prepare to worship. God deserves my undivided attention, and even though I'm never worthy of His blessing...sometimes He pours it on extra heavy just because He loves me.

    I might be a little late getting home tonight...

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Close Your Eyes and Worship

    The subject of worship or a profound Worship experience? When I saw this was the blog subject for the week, I got EXCITED!! My mind immediately went to the first Sunday my husband and I stepped into a church.

    We walked into an elementary school with what seemed liked 100's of exuberant smiling faces. I was so overtaken by the feeling of the atmosphere, that it took me a minute or two to realize there was a band playing music, people had hands raised eyes closed...Some people had their eyes open, some swayed from side to side, some even jumped. There was one woman in particular I remember vividly...she had her hands raised with a smile but tears were streaming down her face.

    That entire service she had my attention, I watched as she smiled and wept, blotted her tears and cried some more.

    I remember asking my husband Pablo-What is going on in here?

    My mind was racing....OK??....When you walk in..everyone talks to you, then hugs you. Some people are laughing when others are crying. It's a miracle we even went back....Every Sunday that we went back it was the same experience. We got use to it (sort of) I even began singing the songs, some even from memory.

    The songs became familiar, they were no longer strange....They were beautiful...the more I sang them the more beautiful they became. I began to anticipate the "song" part of church. I loved the message, I was learning and being challenged all at the same time. My salvation from day one has been a challenge and a constant learning experience. (That's a different blog)

    After watching others worship and participating in worship myself. I became intrigued by those who raised their hands.

    So what did I do ? What I always do!...JUMP in with both feet...In this case "both hands"...The song playing was "This is the Air I Breath."

    I did it! I closed my eyes and with all my strength fought against the feelings of insecurity and thrust my arms into heaven.

    The emotion I felt surged through my hands, through my entire body. I began to sing louder as tears began streaming down my face. That day in church...I understood "Worship."....That day I surrendered my will for His.

    Jesus touched me that day. He spoke to me, I heard His voice. In that crowded church with eyes closed. It was just me and my Father. He told me that He loved me, and what I had done in my past didn't matter to Him. He called me daughter. That day...I became daddy's little girl....From that Sunday til the present time there is not a church service that I don't stand in surrender, there is not a song that is sung that I don't raise my arms in honor and praise to my King....Worship changed my life!! It gave me a way to come into intimate union with Jesus my Savior. It is my secret place where I can express to Him my inner most thoughts and desires. It's where I feel a sense of unconditional love into the very depths on my soul....

    For 10 years now...I have had the honor of being a part and leading christian dance teams. I have seen miracles take place in many men, women and childrens lives I have watched deliverance and freedom explode from the presence of intimate worship.

    So I guess it would be safe to say...Every worship experience has been profound. Every experience is unique. There is always something new He's speaking to us or maybe it's just the gentle touch of His hand as he wipes away your tears...My Jesus, My Savior, My Redeemer and King!!

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Penguin Worship

    "My heavenly Father likes to hear me sing as well as those who can sing better than I can. My Father likes to hear the crow as well as the nightingale- Billy Bray

    If only I sang as beautiful as a crow cawed.

    Not only do I sing like a wounded penguin, I also dance like one.  I can only hit two notes: painful and annoying. Not only do I get people peeking over their shoulders at me, trying to figure out the source for their headache, I have had little kids hear my singing and cover their ears. When the worship leader encourages the body to 'shout to the Lord', I shout as loud as I can, "I love you, Jeeeeesssssssssssssssuuuuusssssss!" If I can shout, clap and celebrate a touchdown or a knockout loudly, then I figure I better be twice as loud in my expression for the Great Lord Jesus.
     I also aint got no rythm, hey, I cant even spell rtythm without using spell check or  There was one time I was asked stop clapping during worship because I threw off the rhythm of those around me. I also have missed my hands while clapping and hit the kid sitting beside me in the head.
    Early in my Faith, I prayed to God that I wanted to 'dance like David'.  And I did.  Needless to say that day was pretty memorable for me and for the 200 or so people that witnessed me create a one man mosh pit. Out of curiosity, I looked up the definition of danced (raqad) and learned that it meant to stamp, to spring about wildly. I learned early on in my walk that God is Faithful to answer Biblical prayers.

    Each one of these incidents, stick with me (and others I am sure) because I can recall how Holy Spirit had stirred me up, how He had challenged me to step out of my idea of cool and to be a fool for Him.  The back and forth in my mind about if I was trying to please my God or do things for show.  I also recall how flushed I felt after some of the incidents when people I didn't know glared their disapproval at me.

    But the most memorable time of worship for me was with my family.  It was a day in which Naomi came back from a weekend at her dad's and she was tired, whiny and snotty to everyone.  It was particularly frustrating for Nikki, as her excitement to see her daughter was stolen by the words of the bio-parents being hissed at her by her 5 year old daughter.

    I remember it very clearly, Logan, Naomi and Nikki were sitting on the couch and I saw the negativity jump from Naomi to Nikki to Logan and eventually to me.  I got hot at the thought of how each one of us was giving away the Joy we should be having with the family altogether.  I threw up my arms in disgust and prayed angrily in the Spirit as I walked outta the room.  And then Holy Spirit touched me and led me to sing the chorus of  Blessed Be Your Name.  By time I got back into the room Nikki was singing and a smile had appeared on her face.  Naomi and Logan joined in shortly after and before we were done, each one of us was smiling and singing praise to God.  It was amazingly beautiful, for our hearts and Spirits to be in unison as we as a family, shook off the slop of the enemy and put on the Joy of the Lord. Individually and collectively, we overcame our attitudes and chose to worship the God who is deserving of all praise no matter what circumstance.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    I Got Satisfaction!

    Worship?! As a born and bred Pentecostal, I should know all about worship. On top of that, I just finished a seminary course in worship leadership. I got a perfect 100% in everything. Does that make me a budding expert on worship?

    I’ve analyzed and critiqued two worship services of different "genre." I crafted my own Biblical foundation for worship and a theology of worship. I led a worship service and made a DVD of the experience for a grade. I commented on all different aspects of worship. Two very complete orders of worship were submitted-not to mention the project on dance in worship. You can see that one here. I read four books.  All this after being a lifelong Pentecostal, a wacky Charismatic and having taught worship classes in churches. Wow, that was a lot of work on worship.

    What about experiences? Well, there are plenty of them. I’ve shouted and done Jericho marches to the tune of I’ll Fly Away. I’ve literally rolled on the floor (I guess that makes me a genuine "Holy Roller"). I’ve knelt, been slain, danced, waved my hands, waved flags, own a glory hoop, a Tallit, a shofar and had some very, very deep, quiet intimate times with Jesus.  Let me tell you, these were all great times.  And for those of you who know me as a bit more nerdy and quiet, yes, I was sane the whole time. In fact, I recommend all those experiences!

    Yesterday, David reminded us that our work is a part of our worship. I want to take that a bit further. The Westminster Catechism asks, What is the chief end of man (humanity)?  The answer is: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I think this begs the question, if worship is about God and His glory, then how does God feel about what I offer for worship. Is the worship about me? How I feel? How I “perform?” or is it about Him?

    I don’t know how God feels when we do a Jericho march around the church. Or when I wave my banners and dance?  I like to think He enjoys it. God cares about me. Jesus died for my freedom. We know those ancient Hebrews got pretty expressive as they worshiped. When the glory of the Lord fills a house, we must react. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, he was only allowed to see his goodness. To see more would mean Moses’ death. You can read about it here.  

    So this business of worship and God’s glory is pretty serious business.  I read a book last summer that said some things about how to please God in worship. After all that is our goal, not to feel good or have those Holy Ghost Goosebumps but to glorify God.  John Piper says in Let the Nations Be Glad:

    God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with Him. (Piper 20)

    I pondered this phrase for weeks last summer. When I think of worship, I think it is not only about actions, liturgy, manifestations and the like. It is about being satisfied with God. Some of the meanings of the verb, to satisfy are:
    ·         to fulfill the desires, expectations, needs, or demands of (a person, the mind, etc.); give full contentment to
    ·         to put an end to (a desire, want, need, etc.) by sufficient or ample provision
    ·         to give assurance to; convince
    ·         to answer sufficiently
    Yes, satisfying sure sounds like something only God can do?
    Are you satisfied with God? The more satisfied you are with Him, the more you have worshipped and glorified God.

    Hallelujah I have found Him
    Whom my soul, so long has craved
    Jesus satisfies my longings
    By His blood I know am saved.

    For all the lyrics to this wonderful hymn, see here.
    Top of Form
    Piper, John. Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1993. Bottom of Form

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    For What it's Worth - Our God is an Awesome God

    Worship - the word comes from the Old English word, "worthship." It simply means to honor God by giving Him worth or value. Christians have come to know worship as primarily singing praises to God. That is tragic, as true worth-ship is everything that we mindfully do to honor God with our actions. This week your faithful Kingdom Bloggers are going to talk about a time when their worship had a profound affect on them.

    As I thought about worship, I started to recall some of the most moving worship services that I have been to. I suppose I get a little confused with worship that I do, and God's amazing presence, which is what He does. In my own mind I connect the two.

    I thought about the time that I went to a conference and the worship team was playing "Our God is an Awesome God." The fear (reverence) I felt for God that night was so intense that my knees literally shook as if I were before a high court judge. It was powerful (and positive). That same night I was healed of two physical aliments and delivered from a 20 year bondage to cigarettes. More on that HERE.

    At another service I got about 10 feet into the sanctuary and the conviction of God was so great that I almost ran to a seat so could get on my knees and repent. I remember that I felt that God meant business. After a few minutes of "getting right" with God, I stood up and looked around. Just about the entire sanctuary was on their knees and only the worship team was playing.

    Worship is just the way in which we acknowledge God's value. One time I was quietly able to write a large check to further a ministry, and it felt terrific. Other times I am able to sing His praises so easily that I don't need words, nor am I conscious of time.

    I just love those moments when I can slip away, put on a CD, pray or read the Bible and be filled with God's Spirit - as my actions give Him value. Many times over the years, I have been giving thanks, or praying my way through some disaster, or just enjoying His presence when I simply overflow with the living water.

    It seems that the more I make time to worship God, the more profound my experiences with Him have become.

    I guess what I really wanted to talk about was my work, a form of worship to my Lord. In 1994 I went to a Career Counselor - a Christian one. He did all the testing, the interviewing, the data crunching and pulled together a preliminary report. After he went through the results, he asked if we could pray about it. "Sure." I said.

    As we opened our eyes at the end of a pretty Plain-Jane prayer, he looked at me and said, "You know, I feel that the Lord wants you to learn computers - especially Photoshop. You were a photographer (at the time I had just been laid off from that position), and I think God wants you to build on that experience. Be sure, that computers is an ever changing field, and it should keep your interest."

    Here we are 16 years later and let me tell you how that turned out. I went home, looked for Photoshop jobs in the newspaper and found only one. I was trying to see what sort of market there would be for my new skills. I had some retraining money from unemployment, and they funded a computer school for Photoshop, a few other graphics packages, as well as some business software for the Macintosh such as Quicken, databases, word processing, spreadsheets and the like. I called my mother, and before could tell her what was going on, she said, "you know I have been talking to your step-father and he thought that a career in computers might be a good change for you. We'd like to buy you a computer."

    "Well isn't that interesting." I replied as I relayed the rest of the details of my career counseling.

    I went out and bought my first PC the next week. I started school a week or so later, and was at the top of my class. My instructor was a digital artist with a computer science degree from Cornell, and a designer for Disney. The owner of the training company and I became good friends. So good in fact, that he hired me to teach classes for him, as well as recommending me for a teaching job at another school in the area.

    I ended up being a consultant because there wasn't any work at the time. I dedicated my business to the Lord and gave thanks every day. Like most computer folks, I would get in a jam that I didn't have an answer for. I would simply ask God, and He would show me a dialog box, a hidden menu, or provide some other piece of wisdom that would get things going again. Over and over again, these little prayers worked. I would ask God, and just "know" what to do.

    I loved the work, the freedom and the money!

    You see our work is worship. We don't have a job just to make money, although that is a byproduct of the work of our hands. We are to do everything unto the Lord. I believe one of the most overlooked blessing of being a Christian is offering our work to him. What better place to worship Him, than at work? It is chance for us to show Him excellence, witness to others and find joy in the day-to-day.

    My little business grew from one neophyte computer user; out of work photographer, to 16 employees at our peak. Some were Christians and some were not. One of our guys prayed for a woman with skin cancer. When she arrived at home a few hours later, the growth had fallen off and she was completely healed!

    The Lord showed me and those that worked for me many things. Our season came to a close when we were purchased from another Christian company. It was then that I went off to Brazil.

    Today I work for someone else, but I strive for the best possible results - I believe in excellence, I enjoy the same passion for my work, and I am constantly reminded that it is the Lord who provides the expertise, the know how and the keys to unlocking solutions in my job. For me, a successful day of programming is as refreshing as some church services that I have attended - especially the ones where God shows me something that I didn't know a few minutes before.

    Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

    If you are interested in the world's view of my business, HERE is an old story from about 10 years ago.

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Hauoli Makahiki Hou...God is Aloha.

    Anybody who has known me through my forty-five years in this world probably would say one of two things: 1. He's the luckiest person I've ever met, or 2. God must have a dedicated squad of angels watching over that guy.

    Depending where on the timeline of my spiritual walk I happened to be determined my own view of the matter at that given point. You might say I've really pushed the envelope most of my life. Physically I've slowed down quite a bit in recent years, but boy how do I pay for all those earlier stunts from younger days.

    I was always the one to dive in and do or try absolutely anything...and still am to some degree. With no regards for safety or sanity, it's no wonder I chose the Marine Corps as a means to serve my country (and pay for my education I might add). Because when it comes to adrenaline rushes and taking things to the extreme, Marines lead the way.

    I was stationed at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station on New Years Eve in 1987/88 when a devastating floor ravaged the island of Oahu. It's hard to imagine an island flooding, but keep in mind all the Hawaiian islands follow the same template with high mountains in the center sloping rapidly to ocean level. After several days of steady rain, a torrential downpour sent many metric tons of water rushing through valleys and literally taking everything in the path with it to the ocean.

    Neighborhoods that were ill-equipped to handle the excessive amount of water became flooded and littered with debris that included dead livestock washed from higher elevations. It was a natural disaster that the windward side of the island didn't have a plan to address...and the state government knew it.

    As luck would have it, yours truly was the Officer of the Day on duty at the time a plea for help came from the state, so it became my job to rally the troops. I don't think it would surprise you to hear that finding a sober Marine on New Years eve is a fairly daunting task, but after an hour or so, I managed to put together about 50 fit Marines and a couple of dozen heavy hauling trucks and tracked vehicles to venture out and help.

    After working through most of the night and next morning, we had literally moved dozens of households to safer accommodations. The water had continued to rise through the entire process and was getting close to roof line levels. There was one house in particular that would end up causing me added problems. Water was at 5 feet and rising when one Marine swam in to check out for people inside. He came back out of the house to inform me there was a man inside who was refusing to leave. Without thinking, I dove into the water from the truck and entered the house.

    Now God has blessed me in a number of ways in my life, but the blessing of height is not one of those blessings. So in 5 feet of rushing water, I'm swimming instead of walking. When I reached the door going into the house, I noted the water was coming up rather steadily and would soon cover the top of the doorway. I paddled through to find a man on top of his refrigerator clinging desperately to a box. Inside the box was a collection of 8 or so bottles of liquor...I'm not talking high-end, top shelf stuff liquor.

    He emphatically insisted he was not leaving without the box. After back and forth banter for a minute or so, I went back through the doorway to recruit help with his extraction. Unfortunately, the house right next door was sliding from its foundation while a couple were on the rooftop with the house breaking apart beneath them, so all my potential reinforcements had shifted to conduct yet another hasty rescue. I was on my own. Before going back through the doorway, I stopped to collect myself and asked God to help me do what I needed to do. My spiritual walk was seriously lacking during this time in my life, but not so much that I didn't know I was going to need God's help.

    Back in I went. I firmly told the local man that if he didn't swim to me...he was going to drowned in his house. The water had come up another half foot or so. He started crying and clinging to the box more firmly and declared in a panicked voice that he couldn't swim. I know... you are thinking the same thing I did at the do you live in Hawaii and not know how to swim? I made my way over to him and told him to relax and let me drag him through the water and out of the house. As he continued to become more and more distraught, I knew drastic measures were needed...without another thought, I knocked him out.

    By this time, I had to literally dive under the top of the doorway with 'box man' in tow. It would have been near impossible to bring him out while fighting him at the same time. I acted in the most natural way for me without regards to the numerous potential consequences. It could have turned out a number of different ways...several of which would have resulted in both of us dying that day.

    Several months later, I was recognized by the State of Hawaii for leading the rescue effort which resulted in a face-to-face meeting with the Governor at the time, John Waihee. There were so many acts of bravery during the flood by so many different people. But for some peculiar reason, the one I just shared with you took on a life of its own. As I was shaking Govenor Waihee's hand at an awards ceremony, he said in his thick Hawaiian accent, 'God favors you young man. He was watching over you during those days.' He had heard about the incident himself. Standing very close by was the very man that I had assaulted and nearly drowned trying to rescue. He was crying and holding the hand of his grandson that I got the privilege to later meet. I've never accepted compliments well in my's one of my many shortcomings. But I remember distinctly at that moment instead of pride, I felt a sense of embarrassment. Today I understand why...

    What happened that day had nothing to do with me. God knew the type of person that needed to be at that very spot at that very moment. He used me just being me for His own purpose. Let me go another step. The words Gov. Waihee spoke to me that day had a reaching and profound effect on me. Most Hawaiians are not known for following a Christian faith, but I later learned in a personal letter that Gov. Waihee was a committed Christian man. What he said to me that day...he truly believed. I realized in my heart then that God had answered my prayer that day, and He was with me... as He had been through numerous other stunts, incidents or accidents in my life. A conflict within me started that would go on for 10 more years but ultimately result in a rededication of my life to Him.

    My major regret today is that my own ignorance and stubbornness prevented me from giving God all the glory and credit while I had that stage in 1988. All I can do is make up for that today by sharing a story from my life where I know God was with me, and I could do it with so many other examples throughout my past forty-five years too. Each and every one an example of God watching over a pitiful wretch like me. I praise Him...I love Him...I worship Him...and I thank Him for being God.

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Divine Revelation...Outside of the BOX

    Remember as a child getting a book and thinking it was a really dumb gift. Only until you realized it was a “pop up” book?! As a little girl I would think those were the greatest gifts to receive. You would open the cover AND THERE IT WAS the whole story in 3D….The town, the street signs, the whole story larger than life! The greatest one I had ever received came in a fancy box that clasped together with a long ribbon that could be tied into a fancy bow….Oh yeah, this book even had the little tabs that you pulled and it would open cardboard windows and doors and pots that were without flowers suddenly had them…Cool, cool, cool!!!...A whole different world in a box……..

    As an adult I still walk directly toward the “pop up’ book section in the book store they have made great gifts for both of my daughters, and now my grand daughter…I even bought my 11 year old son one this Christmas that contained pirate ships…Imagination in a box…..

    Is that what ministry has come too?? Is that what we have done with God??...Believers, have we turned our relationship with Jesus into a “pop up” book in a fancy box. Leaders are we planting churches and establishing ministries on a system of programs that have been already established…Church in a box ….There was a negative about those pop up books, it took away any opportunity for creative imagination….Do you think that keeping God in a box or automatically choosing programs to build “better” ministries takes away the opportunity for Divine revelation??....Don’t hear what I’m not saying ...There are some great books and very anointed studies out there…However, the best book is The Bible and anointed teachings are on its pages.. Pop up programs, commercial Christianity, God in a box……There isn’t a box big enough to fit our God!!! There isn’t a program out there that will work without the anointing of the Holy Spirit…

    Living in the South now for 4 years (native Yankee)..One thing there is not a shortage of is churches…There is at least 2 within ½ a mile radius of each other. All different denominations, some structures are free standing, some are store fronts, one is a refurbished bank (drive thru window still intact)…At Christmas they all have Christmas cantatas/pageants, there is a church barbecue almost every weekend in the spring /summer months, spaghetti dinners, etc.. etc…How much spaghetti can a non believer eat??...Do you get the “pop up” picture??...

    Divine revelation people….Our times have changed and are continuing to change….Let God out of the box… We need holy spirit conviction, NOT man’s condemnation, we need His guidance, we need His wisdom…The programs aren’t working, they have lost their effectiveness….Jesus set before us a life giving message, that never loses its effectiveness…The same scripture read by different people, or even at different stages in life can open up lessons, programs and revelation that is divinely inspired….A divinely inspired “pop up” that changes from reader to reader. Now that’s cool!!!..

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    God Knocks on the Door of Blue Trailer

    God has done some amazing things for me. When I was an adolescent I happened to be in the middle of a prayer meeting. People were giving words to each other and doing the “sit in the chair so we can pray for you.”  After telling everyone else that they were going to do amazing things for God,  they realized that I was there. As sort of an afterthought, they decided to let me sit in the chair. I was thirteen. I wanted to hear like a friend who was a bit older than I was, that I was going to marry a godly man and be a missionary.  This friend did tell me afterwards to never repeat that to anyone. I don’t know who she married but I don’t think she was ever a long-term missionary.

    So as I waited expectantly for powerful words of my future, I just knew it would be amazing.  Maybe they were tired, maybe they thought I was young and insignificant but finally, someone, my youth pastor, said “Thus saith the Lord: I will never leave you nor forsake you.” WHAT? That’s a Bible verse. I knew that… what kind of “word” was that!? I took it as a rejection at the time. I was devastated. I said a few thank you Jesus’ – I was well trained in how to behave spiritually. I wanted to know I was going to be some great for God.

    However, over the years I’ve learned that the fact that the great, all-powerful, all-knowing, omniscient God would never leave me to be the most wonderful way God shows how big he is. As I have pondered the bigness of God I have realized He is most big in my life when He is the most person and intimate. Times of worship, times of repentance, times of fellowship with God are when He is biggest in my life.

    There are many times I’ve realized He had never left me. Oh sometimes I think He has, and then He shows up. As a young mother, living alone in a rather trashy trailer court. Having been abandoned by my husband, their father I lived on welfare, food stamps, commodity foods, WIC and anything I could find to get by.  I couldn’t get a job so I was in college. I had a long-range goal to be able to always provide for those children.  I knew an education would be my ticket out of the trailer court.

    I always went to church. I had three small children and we would sit in the back of the church, barely known to those around me. But I was faithful, and people knew my name.

    The blue trailer I lived in, a 12x65 single wide had an empty middle kitchen. Like Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboards were bare. I lived out in the country on RR#2. One day, a white-haired woman came to my door. Her name was Bea. We may have spoke briefly or shook hands at church. I didn’t know her, or she me.

    I was shocked to see her in front of me. How did she know where I lived? Why was she here? With embarrassment, I invited her into the trailer. We sat on my orange couch and she told me the most incredible story. Like every day, she started it with a time of prayer. During that time, she said God told her to come to my house, that I had a need. 

    She called the church office; it was closed. Determined to find me, she did the most unusual thing. She asked God to show her where I lived. This was before Google map, this was before MapQuest, and I didn’t even have a phone so my address wasn’t in the white pages. With an address like RR#2 you are pretty hard to find.

    I still have no logical explanation for her visit. I’ve tried and tried to figure out how she got to my house. Her answer, “I prayed and God told me which way to turn and then when I got to the area, He told me exactly what trailer you lived in.” She only knocked on one door, and it was mine. She spent her afternoon at the grocery store buying food that filled my empty cupboards and my children’s empty stomachs for days to come.

    A God, my God, the God of the universe, the Creator, decided to show a poor single mother in poverty, the person everyone over looked, just how big He is by using a virtual stranger to fill my cupboards in run down blue trailer. God was big enough to come to a trailer court, just like He was big enough to come to a stable in Bethlehem and grow up in Nazareth. 

    He has never left me nor forsaken me. Since that promise is the Bible, you don’t need a prophetic word to believe it. He’ll never leave you nor forsake you either.