Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Autumn is One of my 4 Favourite Seasons

What are you looking forward to this fall? This week the writers at Kingdom Bloggers have invaded Joyce Lighari's website, Sounds of Hope to answer this question. Head over there and share what you're anticipating this season.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Leaf Peeping and Maine Baked Potatoes

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love Fall.  Here in the south, it comes late.  But it does come…  I look forward to the temperature dropping a bit.  I love the crinkle of crisp leaves under my feet.   If I weren’t so old I’d find a pile of leaves and dive in.

Head over to Sounds of Hope and read how Joyce was rescued from a seedy hotel room.

See more....

Monday, August 29, 2011

Before, During and After the Fall

Every year I make a trek to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and one to Cape Cod, MA. As a life-long New Englander, although fall brings and end to summer, there is something wonderful about the crisp morning air.

The week the roaming Kingdom Bloggers are writing about fall over on Sounds of Hope. As residents of the northern hemisphere, the warm days of summer are coming to a close; air conditioners switched off, fans packed in the attic, and days beckoning a walk among the hardwoods, yes, fall is nearly upon us.

Read More....

Friday, August 26, 2011

...and the Oscar for Christian concepts and sybolism cleverly hidden in a secular film goes to...

Even though I’m completely responsible for this weeks Kingdom Blogger theme, this was one of my most difficult weeks. Not because I didn’t have anything to say…the problem was picking just a single movie/television show to focus on and dissect.

Those who know me (or regularly read Tony C Today) are already rolling their eyes and waiting for the Lonesome Dove or The Godfather breakdown. Sorry, Not today. While I often spew quotes from either movie like idioms on commitment to family and friends, I want to go with another one of my favorite classics…

Head on over to Fire & Grace and read the rest...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A little more cheese please

Anyone besides me enjoy really cheesy 80s movies?

This week the faithful are posting over at Fire and Grace. So you'll have to pop over there if you want to read about one of my favorite 80s flicks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can You Find God in the Movies?

As someone with a Biblical worldview, it’s impossible for me to watch or read something without filtering it through that lens.

This week (and the following 4 weeks) Kingdom Bloggers are guest posting on each other’s personal blogs. We’re over at Fire & Grace this week, discussing a theological view from our favourite movie or TV show.

Head over there, and I’ll reveal a secret that I don’t tell many people.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If a picture is worth a 1000, how much is video worth?

When I preach or teach, I like to use video to emphasize my message.  It can be really effect!  I love doing it.  I’ve had classes on this stuff in school so I know I’m not alone.  I read a good book on preaching that talked about the use of video.  In fact, this is so popular there is a website for preachers/teachers to go to for appropriate video clips.  If you want to use video, here is a good place to start.  Or of course, there is always YouTube.

Sometimes God speaks to me first and then I find the movie.  Other times, I am watching a movie and the inspiration comes.  

A time when God spoke to me first happened just a few weeks ago.

Head over to Fire & Grace to read more

Friday, August 19, 2011

So you can't figure it out...there are far worse things in the scope of eternity.

For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 
                                               1 John 2:16 NKJV

I heard a great sermon preached this past weekend on this very passage. The title was Points of Entry, and the message discussed the three ways Satan infiltrates our spiritual lives as pointed out in 1 John. Good stuff.  As G.I. Joe so famously says...Knowing is half the battle.

While I closely relate to what Tracy posted yesterday and consider her quoted passage a cornerstone in my daily walk, I think the passage that most people who know me personally probably associate to me is Luke 1:37- For nothing is impossible with God.

I use that verse in the signature portion of my emails. I also quote it frequently in conversations. Both are mainly for my benefit though and not necessarily an effort of outreach ministry. For frequent readers of Kingdom Bloggers, I have regularly referred in my post to the 'dark period' in my life when my daily walk was well off the Glory Road path. A fact that can be directly attributed to the first passage I quoted listing the ways of the world. While all three surely applied heavily during my struggle, the pride of life draped all over me like a cheap, over sized suit.

The Bible has many things to say about pride as well as the antithesis virtue of humility. In my heart today, I'm convince pride has caused many, if not most, of the dilemmas I have faced in life. Pride was certainly the root cause of straying from my Father. As I became more and more educated, an intellectual arrogance developed in me that practically demanded there be a logical, scientific explanation for everything in life. You know...the dream chased by fools.

No matter how hard I tried, God could just not be explained within my finite knowledge. Science surely didn't have the answers. Philosophy was all over the map on the subject of God. The answers I desperately sought just weren't available, so I did what many in academia still do today...I denied the concept of God as rational thinking. Pride rearing an ugly head at its worst.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
                                                                                                        Isaiah 55:8 KJV              

My redemption testimony was my very first post on Kingdom Bloggers almost two years ago (click here). Only second to my moment of salvation, realizing that God 's infinite wisdom can and never will be understood by my own knowledge was the proverbial pop needed to be heard. Maybe a slightly inappropriate metaphor for a life-changing epiphany...but I'm seeing things much clear these days and consider the affirmation a very key to my faith.

God is God...and I am not. Amen.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maybe John Lennon actually got something right

I grew up with my older sister listening to the Beatles. Typically I enjoyed listening to them too. Lots of the time I disagreed with them, but I've got to admit that John Lennon actually got close to the truth in his song All you need is love. It's just a matter of whose love.

I've mentioned before the time when my sons' father left me. God taught me a lot during that season of my life. My work had, unknowing anything about my personal life, come to me and asked me to move to a town about an hour and a half from where we had been living. The new position they offered me would pay close to $20K more a year. We moved.

So I was in a new town, with a new job, kind of in a new life. I didn't know anyone there, and sometimes the boys would go visit their dad so I'd have time alone. I took a lot of long walks by myself on the beach during those times; and I thought. Thought about what was important to me, what life was all about.

During that season of my life the Holy Spirit brought the scripture passage from Matthew 22:34-40 back to my mind:

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

It was one of those "aha!" moments. I realized that this was what life was all about - loving. Loving God, and loving the people who He brought into my life. It's like the Holy Spirit burned a passion to love Him and others into my heart; and that fire has never totally dissipated since. There have been times that the flame has flickered down low, but it has always remained. This desire to love God and love the people in my life has been the grid that I run potential actions through on a regular basis.

What about you, has God given you any Bible verse or passage that has become a grid for you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

God is Holy

When I was growing up, my mother read books with titles such as, “Raising a Strong-Willed Child”  - probably with good reason. If I decided on a course of action, such missing curfew, I would do it despite knowing I would face punishment and consequences. I anticipated what the punishment might be (such as grounding) and reasoned with myself that my parents couldn’t ground me forever; built into the punishment was grace. If 2 or 3 weeks being grounded was a fair exchange, I would do still go on with my plan. You could say I abused the grace my parents offered.

I approached my relationship with God in the same manner. I exploited grace by treating it as freedom to do what I wanted. In my bratty, know-it-all rebellion, I challenged God to prove 2 Timothy 3:16 was true – that all Scripture was useful. I started with the book of Numbers. In my ignorance, I believed Numbers to literally be about numbers because I had not read past the first chapter.

Challenging God, I’ve learned, causes him to act. The book of Numbers is my life-saver. There are plenty of applications we can learn from Numbers – it’s not just a book of census numbers – however, it wasn’t until chapter 20 that I was arrested by God.

Numbers 20:6-13 describes the second time God provided water through a rock. Forty years before, Moses had struck a rock at the Lord’s command and water gushed from the rock (Exodus 17:1-7). The innocuous action of striking the rock, instead of speaking to the rock as the Lord commanded for the 2nd miracle caused Moses to forfeit his entrance to the Promised Land. I was struck dumb (pun intended).

God is holy. I did not become indignant that God would punish Moses – the man I considered closer to God than anybody. I was humbled and I repented of my rebellion. I could not anticipate the consequences of disobeying God and think that I could handle it; that simply showed my immaturity. I could not out-wait the mighty hand of the Lord. We cannot challenge the Holy One of Israel and not expect consequences.

Moses was his friend – they had conversations and Moses saw his glory and yet he was subject to God. He could not challenge God without him taking action. I meditated on that for a long time; I still meditate on the holiness of God and I have to repent of my rebellion towards God. Because of the work on the cross, we live by grace but God is holy and his word endures.

At the death of Moses, I’m touched by the loving-kindness of the Lord. At the age of 120, Moses climbed Mount Nebo and the Lord showed him the whole land. I feel the Lord’s heart when I read (and reread) that passage. The Lord was grieved he couldn’t bring Moses, his friend, into the Promised Land but the standard of the Lord doesn’t change. Instead, God gave him the next best thing – he showed Moses the fruit of his labour for the people in the desert. Moses saw with his own eyes, the land he had tirelessly lead the people toward. And then in a final act of sweetness, the Lord buried his friend. It was a private moment between two beings that loved each other. God didn’t love Moses any less but Moses’ sin forfeited the promise for himself.

I finished reading Numbers (and a few other references from the Torah) and I came away with two important lessons:
1.       God is holy and he cannot be mocked.
2.       All Scripture is useful, and I’ve poured the last 13 years of my life proving it through study and teaching.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's all about Grace

I had struggled for so many years with feelings that I had so totally blown it in life, that God could never use me.  I felt like God only tolerated me because of some cosmic rule that said He had to love everyone.  Sort of like the brother-in-law and family that show up in the Clark Griswold movies – you know the ones – they just aren’t like you and if you had your choice, you’d never have them around.  But they are family, and the “rules” say you have to deal with them. 

Honestly, that’s how I thought God saw me… pretty sad. 

Horrible theology-the result of years of legalism and judgment. 

The biggest sin, the near-unpardonable one was a divorce.  If you read my blog, Sounds of Hope, you know the story of that divorce – hardly something I chose.  For years, every time it came up – usually as the result of children who were blond and children who were darker, I’d sort of hang my head in shame and say “I was married before.”  I felt like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, but my letter was a D, not an A.  Although based on some people’s theology, it could have been an A too.

I finally got it though.  I am still getting it.  The thing I am most passionate about is communicating God’s grace.  You may say, oh that’s really weird that she thought that – God is love – we teach that to the youngest of children.  We teach them to sing Jesus loves me this I know… And Grace? Isn’t that from the near national anthem we sing – Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…Ahh, but the reality is so many of us carry around bad tapes in our heads that tell us that we are unlovable. 

I could go into long explanations as to how my thinking was so warped.  I believe in Godly living.  It’s a good thing – but so often we get caught up in being so righteous that we forget that Jesus ate with sinners.  His grace has no limit.  NONE… ZERO… NADA… I get that now most of the time… I still have my moments where judgmental people impose the D word or other labels upon me and I want to shrink back in my sackcloth and ashes.  But then I remember Grace.

If you’ve heard me preach, you know that Grace is a constant theme.  Grace has given me hope and hope does not disappoint …

Romans 5:1 Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.
Have you ever felt like you were sitting in sackcloth and ashes when you didn't need to?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Key to the Christian Life!

One morning I woke up after a dream. I had this feeling that I had learned the key to life, to Utopian happiness. As I searched the dream, I couldn't remember what it was. How disappointed I was that morning. I went to the kitchen and made my self a bowl of Cheerios. I searched my memory all day long - even today I wonder what was it that I dreamed that day. I really can't explain it.

This week the Kingdom Bloggers are going to write about a facet of Christianity that they are most passionate about. Each of us comes from a different background, and walks with God in a personal way; the defining moments we wrote about last week are the building blocks of our lives.

Whenever I speak with Christians, whether they are new to the game, or long-timers like myself, there are always a few things that I am passionate about. Sure there are loads of important Christian things we need to do: prayer, Bible reading/study, church attendance are all good; they are. Priorities are good: God, spouse, children, work, ministry, and hobbies/sports, they are essential for allowing God to manifest himself in our lives.

If you are a reader of Fire & Grace, you know that I am passionate about the 5-Fold ministries Paul wrote about in Ephesians 4:11. You would also know that as much as I hate labels, I am Charismatic embracing the spiritual gifts, miracle healing, prophecy, the casting out of demons and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. You would also know that I think growing up as disciples, and spreading the Good News is an awesome responsibility!

Of course, I am most passionate about my Savior, Jesus!

There is, however; one more thing that I want every believer to know about. It is the very revelation that changed my Christian walk. In fact, it changed my life more than my own salvation experience. One day I was wrapping up worship rehearsal, and I asked the leader why we couldn't play a certain song? He replied, "because I don't feel that God wants us to." Before I could continue in my confusion - I mean I didn't ask to play a Black Sabbath tune - he continued: "David, we walk by faith. We can't just do things that sound Christian, but only those things that God is actually leading us to do."

I was actually stunned, because it was the difference between logically applying a Scripture, and hearing God, and being obedient to that.

Certainly there are a million Scriptures we could act upon at any given moment. For example, we meet a co-worker with a need for salvation at the coffee machine. We know they are lost, and they don't. The question is do we dump Romans Road on them, or is God up to something else?

I once met a guy that felt strongly about preaching the gospel to his new next door neighbor. He said, "I heard God ask me to do it." He would regularly engage the neighbor doing lawn work, or picking up the mail at the curbside box. The neighbor was often heading out for a run about the same time he was getting the newspaper from the sidewalk. "Why don't you come running." his neighbor joked seeing him in his bathrobe and headed down the sidewalk.

This man finally started running at a gym in private to build up his strength. One morning instead of getting the newspaper, he showed up in his running shorts, and surprised his neighbor. They ran together for two years just about every morning. Finally, the neighbors were over for a backyard BBQ and the couple came to the Lord.

About 6 months later his neighbor's home was invaded; his running mate was murdered, and his wife sexually assaulted. I know, I can't even imagine all the dynamics. I just remember this man saying, "I am just so grateful that God led me to love my neighbor in a way that he recognized was God. If I had been too busy to hear God, or had some sort of religious agenda, I doubt this would have turned out the way it did."

I still think abut that testimony when I need to know what to do about work, home, or even what to say to folks I meet in my day-to-day. If I can hear God, and walk by faith, I will always know what to do next in my walk. Sure, hearing God is not easy, but I believe that he wants to speak to us. Of course He does that in many different ways, but my favorite is hearing His still small voice. Over the years, I have learned to trust it (and yes, I have been wrong). However; I expect to hear from him now, and as I look back over my life since that day I was packing up my guitar after worship practice, I know that God spoke to me through the worship leader.

How about you, how does God speak to you?

Friday, August 12, 2011

"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you've got something to say." F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'd love the opportunity to describe a Saul/Paul-like moment if my life's journey that lead me to blogging...but unfortunately...there just isn't one.

Blogging is my form of stress relief. I love to write, and since I love the Lord, the two just fell hand-in-hand for me. But, I've been told I have a talent when it comes to communicating in the verbal and written word. IF that is indeed true, I accept that premise only as a spiritual gift from God to be used for His glory.

Talents are a result of genetics and/or training. Anyone can have talent. Spiritual gifts come only to the Believer and only through the Holy Spirit...with a humble responsibility:

 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 (NIV)

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  Romans 12:6 (NIV)

I guess I've used my supposed talent in communications to cruise through academic and professional task with a certain degree of ease. But I chose to look at the skill, right or wrong, as a gift from God, and that compels me to use that gift for His benefit. Not just my own.

Maybe writing is a talent, maybe a gift. I'm not leaving the decision to chance, so I blog for Him. I share what He has done and is doing in my life for His glory. I never take the ability for granted and fellowship with others who also share His blessings through their written words. I write for the Kingdom.

None of those statements negate in any manner that blogging is still a pressure release for me. Serving God doesn't have to be's a privilege...and an honor. Sure. The Kingdom is always under attack, but Christians have a distinct advantage over every and all adversaries that help us deal with that seemingly never ending battle.

 We know how the story ends...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Captivated by Words

I've always adored reading. Words captivate my imagination and thoughts. Words delight me.

Frequently through the years I've journal-ed. Writing helps me process my thoughts, feelings, and reactions; helps me put things into perspective and set goals. So the cross over from journal to blog came naturally. Typing on a key pad is way easier for me than using a pen.

My blog is basically just my on line journal. Hopefully some people read it and can relate to what I'm writing about. Perhaps that helps them to not feel alone, or maybe they can be encouraged or inspired, or just find a kindred spirit (or even someone with whom to vent out some complaints).

I've enjoyed the insights and thoughts of others that I've received via comments. I'm grateful for the friends I've made. Sometimes in my daily life I find myself thinking about things people have said to me in the comments. I enjoy getting to read what others say on their blogs.

Proverbs 27:17 is one of my favorite Proverbs, and it reminds me of something that often takes place for me in the blogging world:

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

I've found that process of thinking and corresponding about a topic with others really does sharpen me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Write Down the Revelation

I want to be a writer, preferably a paid writer.  

It’s either irony or it has to be God. It could be both, but mostly I think it’s God. I hated writing papers in school. I've never journalled and yet, I feel as if I have a lot to say and teach.  

I write about my introduction to blogging in my post, The Appointed Time, and I skirt around the issue on my About page.  I started by writing a Christmas newsletter – no wait, before you roll your eyes, hear me out. My Boy had just been born and I wanted to have to tell the story only once. I laid it out like a magazine, and called it the New Yorker – you know, because my Boy was the new York (Andrea York, get it?) I included a section called, Listen for God’s Laughter (I still love the heading) and wrote a short testimony because I knew it was going out to a large number of unbelievers. Since it was Christmastime, I figured people are a little more open to hearing about Jesus.

I continued to write the New Yorker each year, not because I wanted to brag about my family and our latest holiday but because it was an open forum to bring the Gospel to people who don’t hear it otherwise. And a funny thing started to happen; I received positive feedback about my writing. I knew it was a God-thing because I wasn’t good at writing.

The first time I came across Habakkuk 2:2, my heart leapt and I knew God was speaking to me. He was giving me new revelation about Himself and the Word, which needed to be shared with others.

Over the years, I tried different ways to communicate. I’m creative by nature, so I experimented through scrapbooking and through other visual concepts but it didn’t feel the same as when I was simply writing – tapping the keyboard of my computer.

Fast forward to 2011 - in less than 5 days I received two prophetic words about writing books, and I knew it was time for me to write. A book seems too daunting right now, so I’m practicing with a blog. I also don’t have a real idea for a book concept, so I’m waiting on God for that too. Blogging is my way to stay obedient to the call, be consistent and to practice and hone my writing voice and style.

I’ve only been blogging for 9 weeks and I’m still in the honeymoon phase. I love it and it doesn’t feel like obedience, but rather a gift. I’m encouraged by the response I’ve received, right from the first week but I know that unless the Lord builds the house, the workers labour in vain. I’m confident God gave me the desire and the revelations to write about so I’ll be faithful and watch what He does with it.

I write posts at my own blog, Write Down the Revelation on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. If you’ve never stopped by, I’d love to see you there.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


As much as I love to write, and I do, there are days I am either too busy or I procrastinate over inspiration.  This is one of those times.  Why do I blog?  The answer is simple and yet very complex.  The simple answer is I do love to write and it gives me pleasure.  There are days I look at the blank whiteness of a word processing screen and almost squeal with delight.  It nears the experience of a beautiful piece of Godiva chocolate about to touch my lips and my tongue.  Yes, I love to write.

I have had many “words” from prophetic people about writing books.  I get lots of comments about these books I am going to write from friends and strangers as well.  The other day I was on a plane.  My flight had been cancelled and I found myself on my way to the nation’s capital to make connections.  Spying the young man I would sit next to, I thought well, he won’t be a talker.  I never get talkers next to me on planes.  I rather like it when someone talks.  It makes the time go faster unless of course they are a wacko.  He told me after an hour and half of conversation that he wasn’t a talker.  He wasn’t a wacko either.  

During this time we shared our lives in that odd way that people do at times with strangers.  As the plane was descending into D.C.,  I shared the two sentence version of last week’s blog.  He said, “You’re Oprah!”  I laughed and said I wished I had her money.  He said “YOU should write a book.”  I told him I blogged.  I didn’t tell him I was afraid of writing a book that wouldn’t get enough exposure to be read.  Blogging is the warm up for a book.

As a kid, at Sunday night services we’d have a “testimony service.”   The saints would rise to declare what God had done.  Some were simple and oft repeated.  “I thank the Lord for His full salvation, full and free.”  Or “God has been so good, I just want to praise Him.”  Others would involve a long detailed story of a miraculous event – sometimes simple like the right item being in the store when they got there or complex like a healing or a last minute miraculous provision of just the right amount money, down to the penny, for a bill.  My blogging is a virtual testimony service.  I share the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Mostly I share about God’s grace. 

The scripture talks about “overcoming by the word of their testimony.”  I have a rather long complex testimony of grace.  I am compelled to share it.  The compulsion comes from a sense that there are other people dealing with the depths and sorrows of life that can find hope in the truth of God’s love, mercy, and grace in my testimony.

I oft complain about a lack of ministry.  When I do someone will try to console me by saying,” but Joyce, your blog is touching so many people, it is your pulpit.”  To that, I shrug in disbelief and skepticism.  The numbers say it is read, not with overwhelming numbers, but it is read.  Given to realism, I’ll reply:  “Yes, but they don’t stay and read, they are just googled one of the tag lines.” 

As I was looking for the inspiration to write this blog this morning, I received two comments on Sounds of Hope.  They were for blogs written over a year ago.  It was from a woman who had “stumbled on my blog by accident.”  She was looking for images of Columbia Missouri.  You can read her comment at the bottom of this blog entry.  She said she’d read lots of the blog.  She said she had a daughter with the same name as the one whose birth and near death chronicled on that blog entry.  As she read, she found herself thanking God for my testimony.  Wow… I guess it is read and touches people after all?!

My blog is how I overcome?  How about you? How do you overcome?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why Do I Do What I Do?

One day I sat down at my computer; it was a fall day in 1998. To my surprise my friend Holy Spirit came powerfully upon me. For a few minutes I was completely engulfed by the presence of God. At the end I felt inspired to write about the Wedding in Cana. I began to type an email, and when I was done I sent it to about a dozen friends from church.

This week the Kingdom Bloggers are going to talk about why they blog, their motivations and the need that it fills. As Christians, God speaks to each one of us differently, and he also gives us gifts for expressing the voice within.

The story behind my blogging is far more than a good idea that popped into my mind one day. Even though God creates a destiny for us before we are knit together in our mothers womb, I wasn't aware of his plan for me to write until a Saturday morning back in January of 1998. I was attending a conference in Connecticut with some pretty well known speakers, neither of which I had ever heard of at the time.

I sat a table during a leadership breakfast, and listened to Denny Cramer minister prophetic words over leaders from the church where this conference was being held. First, I don't know how I got in the meeting, but I was invited. Second, I was here only on the recommendation of a friend; I didin't have a clue. Third, I was not a leader anywhere, nor was I participating in any ministries at my own church. And finally, I sat there and wondered what God would say to me through this man, if I even was chosen to receive a word.

Then, as I was finishing a fork full of scrambled eggs, I felt his hand on my shoulder. He began "Son there was a time"...

There was a number of important things in the word he gave me about leadership, missions and prophetic ministry. What was most intriguing was this line: "and God says you will write, write, write!"

I was skeptical, but those words burned in my spirit. I listened to the recording over and over... there was just something about it that I can't explain. I also wondered if God knew that I had failed English and reading 9 out of 12 grades? Didn't He know that I had a form of dyslexia? I thought maybe he had the wrong guy... but the words burned in my heart.

Not too many months later I began to write THAT email. A friend liked it so much that he sent me about 100 email addresses for my list. As a web designer I set up a site entitled Time After Time and people from around world signed up for my daily messages - that's right, daily. I wrote 500 eamils in less than two years time.  My list was 30,000 readers from 81 countries. Some of my emails were pretty rough, but one of my readers was a journalist and taught me some basic grammar skills. My mother, an English teacher and grammarian at Yale, bought me a copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. I tried to learn.

I am still not much of a writer, but God doesn't really care about my vocabulary and grammar... He just don't!

After my divorce in 2000 I stopped writing the daily emails, and other than some teachings for our church newsletter, I didn't really write again until I started blogging in 2006. I decided to mess around with some political rants, and then one day I decided that I wanted to write a book about me and Jesus. I thought the blog would give me a way to tell some of my stories of faith. I thought that eventually I would have enough material for a book. It worked. I penned a book entitled From Darkness to Light - The life of a bumbling Christian and his God. It is out for a second round of proof reading as I type these words. I have found a great editor, and when I can come up with the $800 to pay him, I also think I have a publisher that will take me on - I think - I pray - I feel like it's in my destiny.

My blogging was a chance to write about my frustration in the church, my love of family, some funny adventures I have had, moments in life that were meaningful to me, as well as a chance to have an opinion about politics and other subjects that interest me. At this point I have written about 1000 blogs in 5 years time. I used to be pretty religious about asking God what to write about, now I just go with whatever is happening. However; far more importantly, I get to write about my life with Jesus, my testimony and honestly, when I write those blogs, I could care less if anyone reads them, they build my faith.

Since my heart trauma in April I have had a hard time feeling ambitious about much of anything... in fact I am taking on guest bloggers over at Fire & Grace to keep a steady flow of blogs. If you are interested, just let me know, and maybe you can have a slot!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eternity can be found in a single moment...

A certain peaceful easiness fell over me as I keenly took note to how clear the sky directly above seemed. There were only a few clouds off to one horizon, and even they seemed so crisply defined against the contrasting background of blue. Still, something just wasn't quite right. There appeared to be a casted tint to everything I was viewing with great appreciation. My mind struggled and searched for some reasonable explanation to the slightly darkened look of such a beautiful sight. Was it real? Were my eyes deceiving me? Then, I finally grasped that I was taking it all in through the closed visor...of my motorcycle helmet.

There's a standing conception that time seems to slow down during an accident. I'm here to confirm that to be true. A leisurely ride on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon suddenly found me flying solo through air down a ditch line doing my best Luke Skywalker on his legendary Death Star run.

 I was just cruising along a country back road with no place to be and no place to go.  As I started up a very gentle incline that slowly curved to my left, a rather portly groundhog started making his way across the road up ahead of me starting on my side. The rodent stopped dead center in my lane when he saw a pickup truck coming in his direction from the opposing side. Could I have ran him over? Probably. But I didn't want to risk losing control of my bike and slamming head on into the truck, so I adjusted course to go around him on the shoulder side. I would quickly learn...a soft shoulder at that.

As soon as the weight on the back tire of my Shadow 1100 left the payment, I might as well have been riding a train on tracks. My direction was now being predetermined. Fighting the weight of the bike in a vain attempt to correct my path and stay out of the ditch was futile, so I decided to control where and when I would lay down my ride. I wasn't going fast, but still the thick woods directly ahead was very troubling. Simple physics dictates-  25mph+hickory tree=rapid deceleration=eating through a straw...if I was lucky.

So I steered into the ever deepening and narrowing ditch on my side and started slowing down. Just a few feet into the new course, my motorcycle suddenly came to an abrupt stop as the weight bogged down in soupy quagmire of recent rains and mud. Perfect. There won't be much damage to my ride. Then physics once again came to play because while my motorcycle came to a sudden stop...I, on the other hand, did not. So now I'm airborne...

Trees, large rocks and stumps were all in my vision ahead. My flight literally carried my over 20 feet down the trench before an Evel Knievel/Wide World of Sports type finale. I ended up feet-first on my back in another section of soft goop. Dazed and looking straight up at the beautiful sky. I'm not sure if I ever lost consciousness or not, but I do know I felt absolutely no pain...but that would soon end too.

There are so many things that could have gone different in those seconds that seemed like minutes to me.  But, I had survived only the second motorcycle wreck in my life with no broken bones or permanent damage. Note I didn't say injury-free. Slamming into the ground even into a soft landing spot still hurts like the devil. Add the fact I was north of 35 years in age and the situation grows increasingly more complicated. The 20 minute ambulance ride to the emergency room was nothing short of self-induced torture as my back and joints revolted in searing, punishing pain. I was sore and stiff to the point of incapacitation for the week that followed, unable to get myself into or out of a chair or bed without assistance. I lived alone with my elementary school aged daughter. All 50 pounds or so of her. For one of the very few times in my life, I was forced to rely on others to just make it through that week. It was a tremendously humbling that my life desperately needed.

It would be less than a year before the coming night I would fall to my knees and beg God to forgive my self-absorbed, temporal lifestyle. The night I became the prodigal son returning with not just my hat in hand...but completely naked and broken.  God knows in my heart I wish that transformation had taken place as I suffered through the injuries of that motorcycle wreck. No. The truth is I wish that transformation had never had to take place at all. That my continuous work for the Kingdom was well displayed from the moment of my salvation. If only...

I still had the broken helmet from that day until recently. The motorcycle was sold years ago (another interesting story in itself), but I kept the helmet around as a reminder of the humility I endured from the results of that day. Yes. I still need to be reminded from time to time that humble is a virtue we are all called to be. God just later gave me two more precious the helmet...well...kind of became redundant.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Powerful Thoughts

Do you believe that the God who is in control of the universe is also in control of what happens in our lives?

I do.

He blesses us, and He allows the bad stuff to happen. He uses it all to build us into who He wants us to be. Through it all, it does seem as if there are specific moments and times in life that have a huge impact on who we've become. When I think about it, there are 5 of these "defining moments" that come to mind.

One defining moment for me came when I was in 7th grade. It was when I learned that reading the Bible for myself was a source of strength and encouragement. That year a modern translation called The Living Bible came out. Prior to that my Bible experience had either been in fun Bible stories and activities from children's church, or hearing or trying to read a King James version of the Bible that made no sense to me. But that year as I experienced the beginning of that extra emotional, angst ridden, adolescent intensity, I discovered that I could totally relate to the writer of the Psalms. So I began pouring over the Psalms. That practice of spending time in the Word became a habit for me. That habit has brought countless good things into my life.

Another defining moment for me was when I was 16 and a Campus Crusade for Christ staff person took an interest in me and invested in me and taught me how to share with people what God had done for me, and how to study and teach the Bible. Those foundational tools have stayed with me throughout my life. Those foundational skills have been blessed repeatedly through the years and God has used them to allow me to minister in various ways during various seasons of my life. From working both one on one and in small groups with high school girls, to developing and facilitating Christ centered recovery groups, to teaching 4th & 5th grade Sunday school, and now coordinating women's ministries curriculum and Bible studies. In all of these experiences I've felt overwhelmed at the goodness of God that He would use me.

Then when I was 40 and my then-husband left me and I realized that life was not going to turn out as I'd planned it, God surprised me with a new time of defining. As I've described before on this blog, this was a time in my life when God taught me gratitude and how to live in thanksgiving and joy. My life has never been the same since!

Just after this God blessed me with a man, who wasn't even a Christian (yet, I'm still praying for him) who chose to invest into me and my career. He made me his assistant and he worked me over and above what was reasonable. But he taught me how to lead, how to produce and perform, how to take care of my staff, and how to come up with new ways to make money. This experience lighted a fire inside me, a passion, that still burns.

When I turned 49 I was terminated from a career job that I'd worked for years to develop and hone the skills to be able to perform. I felt bereft and confused. Yet God used this time to deepen the resolve within to praise Him and live for Him no matter what He allowed in my life; in the good and in the bad.

Looking back on these moments in my life causes me to look forward to the future and whatever else God has in store for me.

What does thinking about your defining moments do for you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Inciting Incident

In Don Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, he writes:

Robert McKee says humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story...The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.

Defining moments, inciting incidents – they’re the same thing; the action or moment that changes the story of your life. Recently I described on this blog, a sweet moment of joy with Jesus. Aside from it being an incredible moment of savouring the presence of Jesus, something else happened that evening – I picked up a worship flag. The action was innocuous in and of itself but it was a defining moment for me.

The back-story (and there is always a back-story) is that I had been watching people use flags during worship. I didn’t grow up with worship flags, nor were there tambourines or dance or people even raising their hands for that matter, so the flags were new and exciting for me. I was mesmerized and I wished to try. But I was afraid. Afraid that I’d look silly, afraid that I’d hit someone else in the head, afraid that I’d hit myself in the head. Mostly I was afraid I’d look silly.

During the evening worship that I described earlier, my intoxication with Jesus lowered my inhibitions and I picked up a large, beautiful purple flag that just happened to be lying at my feet. I picked it up and ran with it. Seriously. I literally ran with it. Not only that, I ran to the front and waved it in the air in front of everybody. Who was this crazy person, running around the church with no shoes and a flag? That certainly wasn’t the me I was used to. But it was glorious and I felt heaven agree.

I’m a warrior – I’ve always known that. When I read, “until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force,” I am charged up, like a horse race bracing against the stall impatient to run. I thought, as a warrior, I had to push back the gates of hell but the Lord showed me a better way. When I flag and worship, the glory of God descends like a weight and the Bible tells us that when light appears, the darkness must flee; taking the gate is child’s work after that.

I am a warrior and I carry the battle standard in worship, which makes the enemy flee (Isaiah 31:9); picking up a flag was a defining moment for me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A view from a window

For those of us who know Jesus, probably life’s most defining moment is coming to faith in Christ-that moment that we first begin to understand that Jesus has forgiven us.  We are newly born into the Kingdom of God.  I heard a sermon this morning about baptism.  I thought how much is wrapped up in that act of baptism.

I don’t have a story of I was lost and then found Jesus and all was changed.  Oh, I have been lost and have found Jesus and my life has been changed.  However, my journey is just that, a journey of growing understanding of faith and relationship with Jesus.  I got “saved” many times as a child and youth.  Each time it was part of the saying yes to Jesus in increasing ways.  For me, a defining “moment” is hard if I think of the most important thing in my life, my salvation and relationship to Jesus. 

There was an event, a “moment” that truly changed my life forever.  It all happened because of Jesus.  But it wasn’t when I came to faith.  It was when the spirit of God caused something to rise up within me.  It was that moment that I realized that God could give me the strength and grace to change my life through education.

For those of you who have read this blog for a while, you know at one time I was high school drop-out.  You know I was deserted and abused by the husband of my youth.  If you haven’t read these stories you can go over to Sounds of Hope and read some if it by starting here.  The shorter version is that I had a husband who beat me, abandoned me, while pregnant with our third child.  In everyone’s eyes including mine, I had not hope, not future.  A single mom on welfare doesn’t have much going for them.

It was May 10, 1975.  I had a premature labor and delivered a baby girl whose future was uncertain.  Not just because of my circumstances but because she wasn’t expected to live.  Alone in the hospital room I walked to the window and saw a sea of caps and gowns as my peers came from receiving their degrees.  At first it was a cruel joke.  The loses I’d had.  The lack of hope I had contrasted to graduates clasping their diplomas ready for a bright future.  I cried. 

But that’s where the spirit of God rose up.  That’s where something I can’t explain stirred inside of me.  Somehow, someway, I would be one of those graduates.  Somehow, someway, I would find a way to get that education.   Three and half years later, remarried, pregnant with child number four, I clutched my Bachelor of Science degree from the same university. 

I can imagine what my life would have been like if that defining moment in that hospital room so many years ago had not occurred.  If I had never gone to school.  If I had never worked hard to make something of myself.  Most importantly, if God hadn’t given me the grace, strength, and fortitude to persevere, I couldn’t have done it.  Some people never understood my push.  Others came beside me and helped with love and comfort and tangible help.

Finding Jesus made all the other defining moments of my life possible.  Education gave me the chance to feed my family and to be equipped to work for the Kingdom.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Recipe of My Life - Building Blocks To Individualism

Some Days I am a Lot of Things!
Dr. Phil wrote a cool book entitled "Defining Moments" or something like that. I heard him hawking it on his show. It was all about the 7 or 8 experiences in life that really define us, the significant ones make us who we are. And with a spiritual twist, that is what each one of the Kingdom Bloggers will be writing about this week.

I suppose that if I was to go back through my life I would find some experiences that defined who I was; well when I first met Jesus. I was abused kid from a broken home. I ended up with a drug and alcohol problem (I kept running out!). I had certain talents and likes that shaped some of my decisions: art, hockey, and music. I still like all of them nearly 50 years later. There were activities that I did with my family, or because someone in it enjoyed, so I joined in. Many of those I don't do anymore. Especially camping!

I have an average intelligence with and aptitude for mechanics and logic. It comes in pretty handy as a software engineer. My love language is "time together" and I love kids, especially girls. Both are required skills for navigating the sea of progesterone at the Johndrow' house!

This topic is about moments, but in July of 1978 I crossed the river that separates light from darkness. That moment, the perspective of my addiction, the abuse, even my own talents changed so dramatically, some of the guys from high school don't believe what they see in me 35 years later. Jesus will do that to you. He can take those moments of pain and agony, the ones filled with hopelessness and despair, and poof, they are healed and meaningless.

Don't get me wrong, I still have stuff, but I have piled on years and years of blessings which far outweighs the good old days.

My life is most easily defined by the risks (steps of faith) I have been willing to take. Jesus says go here, and when I do, amazing things begin to happen. I am going to talk about those, and leave some horror stories of my alcoholism and insane family life on the blogs in which I have already written about them. HERE is one on my alcoholism. HERE is one about my dad - a difficult relationship until he was finally saved.

So, in chronological order this is a list of my defining spiritual moments. Each title is linked to the full story!

-1 Salvation: This was pretty amazing, and so powerful I wept every time I talked about it, and sometimes I still do! I was sent off to an Alateen conference, and there, I went from being an atheist to a believer. It took some time, but it certainly took deep roots.
-2 Baptism of the Holy Spirit: I thought I had it all and then God opened up a faucet from heaven. David began to understand the Scripture "Rivers of Living Water will flow from your belly." (John 7:38) All I can say is that I went from passionate, to ON FIRE for Jesus. It was the doorway to releasing my spiritual gifts, a deeper relationship with Jesus, and eyes that opened to the spiritual realms.
-3 My Complete Overhaul: I went to a Marilyn Hickey "Save the Family Encounter" in 1994. Wow! All I can say is that I was not the same when I came back. Healing, encouragement, impartation - wow!
-4 Ken Sill's Prophecy: In 1994 I went to see a career counselor who was also a Christian. He gave me all the standard tests, and some of his own. In the end we prayed and the Lord told him to tell me to buy a Macintosh computer and the software Photoshop in 1994. It opened the door for me to be in business during the DOT COM boom, and I am still happily coding even today!
-5 Denny Cramer's Prophecy: over me in January of 1998 regarding writing, mission and prophesying. I had not had any significant experiences with prophetic people until this day in January of 1998. Hi words about writing, about missions, and about prophesying were amazing, wonderful and seemingly far fetched.... until they began to happen.
-6 My first mission trip to Brazil: I cannot describe what it is like to get on a plane in the US and land in a country where you do not know that language. Until it happened, I did not have a paradigm for it. It was as life changing as being Born Again for me. I love to do short term missions, and I am waiting for the next opportunity.
-7 Marriage: What can one say about the spouse who changed their life; all for the better!
-8 God leading me to Faith Worship Center: In 2010 I came to the end of a three-and-half-year journey in the desert. There 10 years of revelation, hope and anointing were released! So often it is easy t see the desert as a place of death. For this with spiritual eye, there is life everywhere.

How about you, can you tell us about one defining spiritual "ah ha"?