Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lead us Not into Distraction

Earlier this week, I started a draft of my blog.

Distraction, I asked? I can certainly identify.  I laughed and said “ Distraction? Let me count the ways” I try to laugh about this, but I think sometimes it is an attempt to cover the pain I have experienced with this issue.

I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, and that revelation answered many questions, I had. My struggles with school work and in later years had an explanation. I could distinctly remember feeling like I “should” be able to do a test or activity and yet so many times, I fell short. Why?

The big difference between my first draft and what I am writing now is that the Lord has given me a better perspective.

Instead of saying ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, I am going to say it stands for A Different Dilemma.  Getting victory seemed insurmountable. But by changing a word from disorder to dilemma, opens up the possibility to change.

The scripture” I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me”, does not say all things, except ADD.

Having this distractive nature has been kind of a thorn in my flesh. But as Paul did, I have asked it to be removed many times.  Instead the Lord has offered me grace. Not only grace has He given me, but grace that is sufficient.

My quiet times are probably not similar to many others. I cannot do the same ole’, same ole’, day after day, after day. I need to have variety. I can think of a lot of ways to worship the Lord. As a few of you have noted, worship need not be relegated to a particular time slot. It is a matter of a worshipful lifestyle.

I have an ongoing, day long conversation with the Lord. Sometimes, the listening part on my end can go awry. I have to say WHOA…” Earth to Linda” and go on to refocus what is before me.

I have been reminded, in the past few days, just how much music nourishes my soul. Whether it is contemporary music or old hymns, it quiets my soul and turns my eyes to beholding the Lord.  This is part of the remedy to learn and to focus and to quiet myself down.

What I am asking of the Lord, is to be made more cognizant of when I go off with my 300 thoughts and new ideas. I want to learn to say STOP!!!  And even sometimes to say NO!!! To things that are brought before me.

I also know that face book, the internet, emails and my computer are not always my friend. My time in technology land takes chunks out of time, which can be well spent, doing some productive things. I think I need to whittle down my time even further, than I have recently.

The Lord, once again came through for me. He readjusted my thoughts and my attitude and bolstered me with hope.
He opened up the scriptures, so that I could have a positive take on this entire subject, instead of belying the fact, that I have this condition.

He reminded me of making lists, which has always helped me. (One thing I should note though. When I am giving myself a time estimation of how long a project will take, I NOW multiply it by three times)., I have discovered that adjustment from all the times of underestimating.

He reignited my desire to take a siesta or two, during the day to relax with Him and just enjoy His company with music.

I even thought, I could call up my friend Chris. She “suffers” from the same distractive nature. We do not have to explain that to one another…we just know…we just understand. What usually happens is, we laugh our heads off, at the quirkiness of it all. Not everyone understands the “code” we speak in, but I thank God that He has embedded a few people in my life, who struggle as I do.

I also have become cognizant again, that when I behold Jesus face to face, the encounter will render me undone. Looking away will be impossible, as He alone will keep my attention steady.

I long for the day, that I will totally loose myself, into the pool of His eyes, which only speak of love and acceptance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Focus--My Favorite 'F' Word by Jenna Vick Silliman

Worshiping the Lord with the people of God (with singing our hearts out and dancing and flagging) is one of my favorite things to do. However, I worship the Lord as a lifestyle, continually, 24/7/365 simply by focusing on Him. Focus has become my “modus operandi” or as I taught one Sunday morning “Focus is my favorite ‘F’ Word.”

When I awake in the morning I start the conversation and focus on God and say, “Good morning, Lord. I love You.” He is the lover of my soul, my Beloved Papa, and I love to spend my day with Him—close and personal. I delight in His presence and He delights in me. This is eternal life—to KNOW Him. (See John 17:3.)

I try to read at least two pages of the Word every morning. I meditate or think about it and ask the Lord to speak to me and “open my eyes and let me behold wondrous things from Your Word.” (See Psalm 119:18.)  He speaks to me from the Word all the time. “Let the Word dwell in you richly.” (See Col.3:16.)

I keep turning my thoughts and my attention to Him during my day. He helps me, guides me, gives me wisdom, and He encourages me as I go along. I listen for His voice throughout my day and even as I go to sleep. I know I may hear from Him in a spiritual dream.

“Let us boldly draw near to God’s throne of grace that we may find help in our time of need.” (See Hebrews 4:16.) I constantly turn my eyes, my heart, and my thoughts to the Lord Jesus and steadfastly fix them upon Him. The Lord wants to be our “first love”. Consecration and devotion to Him is His love language. He said to seek His kingdom first and He said to love Him with all we've got. Jesus tells us to abide in Him, live in Him, or stay with Him.

It isn’t hard because it is a relationship, not a religious duty. When you are in love, don’t you want to be with your lover? When a person gets the revelation of God’s love for them individually, and “taste and see that the Lord is good” through an encounter with Him and His awesome presence, it changes everything.

I wrote a song I like to sing to Him—it is like my own Psalm. Here it is.

Abiding in Jesus by Jenna Vick Silliman, Fall 2009.

Chorus        I will abide in You, abide in You,
For You are my strength and my song.
I will abide in You, abide in You,
Lord Jesus to You I belong.

Verse 1       I love You each day and this is what I pray,
Like Mary I sit at Your feet.
In Your Word I stay, You show me the way,
To dwell in Your Presence so sweet.

Verse 2       It is You we long to know, You satisfy the soul.
                   You give us Your favor and grace
                   May Your Holy Spirit flow and Your bride begin to glow
                   Beholding the beauty of Your face.

Verse 3       As we walk in Your light, in Your love we unite.
                   We pour out our worship to You.
                   In Your life we delight, may our lives shine so bright,
                   A city on a hill in plain view.

I write lists of Bible verses in the back of my Bible on various topics that are important to me and I have one entitled FOCUS.  Here are 16 Scriptures on the topic of focusing on the Lord.

1.   Abide in Me. (See John 15:4.)
2.   Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Jesus, fixed and founded in Him…becoming more and more established in the faith and abounding and overflowing in it with Thanksgiving. (See Colossians 2:7.)
3.   If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds and keep them set on what is above, not on the things that are on the earth. (See Colossians 3:1, 2.)
4.   Looking to Jesus, I lay aside everything that hinders. (See Heb. 12:2.)
5.   Don't look to the things that are seen, but to the unseen, for things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (See 2Cor.4:18.)
6.  My eyes are ever toward the Lord. (See Psalm 25:15.)
7.  Our hope shall be fixed on Him. (See Heb. 2:13.)
8.  Stand firm in the Lord. (See Phil. 4:1.)
9.  He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable & fixed. (See Psalm 91:1.)
10. I've set the Lord continually before me. (See Psalm 16:8.)
11. The Lord God helps me...therefore I set my face like a flint. (See Isaiah 50:7.)
12. We have fixed our hope on the living God Who is our Savior and Deliverer.
(See 1Timothy 4:10.)
13. I continually behold Your face. (See Psalm 17:15.)
14. My heart is fixed, O Lord God, my heart is steadfast and confident in You. (See Psalm 57:7.)
15. Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. 
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Holy Spirit is life and peace. (See Romans 8:5-6.)
16.  Be firm, steadfast, immovable. (See 1Cor. 15:58)

I just read the Foreword in the book I'm reading about John G. Lake, 
"What gave my grandfather John G. Lake his power? 
...The reward for his focus was the gift of healing he operated in so strongly." 

Isn't 'focus' the most wonderful ‘F’ word?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Distracted? Praise Him!

Our world is just too busy! When I was raising wee ones several years ago, the buzz word for the accomplished mom was, "busy." If you weren't busy enough, that implied laziness or a less-than life. It was a competition to prove who was doing the most or who was the weariest. It was the old, "do better, try harder" false gospel of what matters.

Busyness can be a tool to distract us from what really matters: our relationship with God. I struggle with this, and I know I am not alone. Just the other day, my pastor-husband spoke from the pulpit about worship, that we tend to categorize it as just a Sunday activitythat could not be further from its truth!

The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught." Isaiah 29:13.

Worship is a matter of the heart, not place. Although worship as a community of believers is important (scripture is clear about that; see Psalm 109:30 and 1 Corinthians 14:26), and if your heart is not directed toward your Lord, then who is your Lord?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1.

Whoever or whatever we give our hearts and lives to, is the object of our worship. If our minds and hearts are given to our tasks, our televisions, our time, our money, rather than turning to our God, our worship is really with those things. I am not trying to "get religious" on you, I am "getting real." My life is deeper, more meaningful, when it is God-directed, instead of Kerry-directed. And when I am worshipping my God, I cannot worship myself. Praise Him!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Come, now is the time to Tony C

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with love, family and most importantly God. We are all truly blessed beyond any possible means of expressing or demonstrating our appreciation...but I believe effort does counts.

This last week of Decemeber, each of your Kingdom Bloggers is going to share a frequently pesky hindering to our regular worship. While not limited to a weekly corporate worship service, that's where I will be in my post today.

A few years ago, I shared on Kingdom Bloggers my rough beginnings joining the Praise Team for the church where I attend. Often during that time, my focus during church worship services were far from thoughts of my beloved Savior. While I've settled into the role and completely relish the relationships I've developed in my 'small group', there are still times that my focus drifts more to the mechanics of the task at hand and are less on making a joyful noise for Him.

Satan surely knows exactly which buttons to push...

Over the course of the past few years, there have been regular occurrences where I'm playing a hymn for the very first time. Not just playing...but often hearing it for the first time too. Who would have guessed there are a number of differences in hymnals between denominations?

Our band plays two services: a traditional service at 8:30 am and a contemporary service at 11 am with Sunday School sandwiched in between. While our second service is often planned and practiced prior to Sunday morning, the traditional service music is never that way. As a matter of fact, the hymns are often chosen mere moments before services start.

I actually feel a bit of anxiety just typing that stated fact...

Here's where my worship hindrance can often be found. I earnestly try to prepare for worship services each week by praying and focusing on my 15 minute drive to church. Many times, that drawing close to my Father is quickly evaporated when the anxieties come with the loss of confidence in the abilities God has given me to play drums.

My focus shifts to me and away from our most worship-worthy Creator.

There's a continuing effect at times too. During a service where I know I've...well...been far less than stellar (a nice way of saying I stunk it up), my mind is often fixated on the proverbial water under the bridge and less on the message God wants me to hear that morning.

God deserves my very best effort beyond all doubt. What I need to fully accept and realize is my best effort to Him most likely involves the condition of my heart when I worship...not the perfect timing of my drumming.

Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's Not Too Late to be Thankful, Is it? by Linda Maynard

This Thanksgiving Week, we are looking at what we are grateful for.

My list would include knowing the Lord Jesus, my marriage, my family, my home and my church to name a few. I will eternally be grateful to God for the deep blessings in these areas.

 Soon after this past presidential Election, I was ambushed with thoughts with an urgent tone. It was a strong message that resonated deep within my soul.

“Don’t forget to be grateful for the freedoms that you enjoy in America, especially the freedom to worship and the freedom of speech.”

For a long time. The ministry, “The Voice of the Martyrs” had been placed before me. I am going to be honest and tell you that I heard about its existence, but shied away from knowing anything more about it. I suppose it came into the category of ““Well, I can’t support every Christian Ministry and having to do with the fact that I knew their news would not be uplifting "(at least in my eyes at the time) Its reports, from distant countries, seemed far removed from me.
That was my stance, until I signed up to receive a free book “Tortured for Christ”, written by Richard Wurmbrand. Like Fox’s Book of Martyrs, it is a not an easy read.

 Through that offer, I also signed up for the magazine Voice of the Martyrs.

The accounts and their pictures told of horrific tales of believers standing for their faith in Jesus Christ. These men and women and yes even children are modern heroes of faith.

Many live in countries that are more than just intolerant of the Christian Faith, but those who are utterly hostile to it.

Many think it is honorable to rid their areas of Christians. In some countries Christians are referred to as infidels…people to get rid of.

Sometimes they will declare that they are doing so in order to follow the dictates of their own “consciences” by “honoring” their "god(s)"

Babies are still sacrificed in India and thrown into a fire to appease the gods. In India, I think the number of "gods "is in the millions.

In many hostile places, they are neither able to practice their faith nor to speak about it.

I recently became friend with a Chinese college student who is a new Christian. She shared how her friend and she would study the Bible together, but of course these meetings had been clandestine, she also mentioned how the teacher, who told her about the Lord, could have been arrested for proselytizing.

Growing up, I was told not to take things for granted. The message ,more or less, focused on any material things I had acquired.  Taking for granted the blessing of freedom… to practice my faith and express my beliefs openly seemed like a given.

I know there is a word that is thrown around these days and it is entitlement. I would have to say, that was my attitude. I couldn’t really see any reason why these freedoms wouldn’t always be there for me and my family.

When thoughts contrary to that long held belief intruded, I could chase them away…until this past presidential Election.

I don’t want to be among those anymore who think the freedoms that we enjoy in our country are any less, than a God given grace and blessing over our land.

I want to be among those who join with wholeheartedly praying, in the long requested prayer, which has been around the Body of Christ for years.

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land….2 Chronicles 7:14

A beautiful and favorite patriotic song that I love is God Bless America….It even has more words than we usually sing

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Will you join me in thanking the Lord for blessing America? Will you pray that we all will turn from our wicked ways and humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to spare us from wickedness and hostility, such as we have never seen in our lifetime?

In most polls, we will never come out on top but… if we take a lower stance and humble ourselves, God promises to hear our prayers.

 And for that very fact, I am grateful.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Healthy Life by Jenna Vick Silliman

My size 20 jeans from 2003 "before".
I lost 75 lbs. in 1 year eating raw.
Wearing size 4 now "after" 9 years.
One of the things I am most thankful for is a healthy life. I am slim, energetic, and have no health issues. At age 54 this is unusual! In the year 2003 the Lord helped me to successfully lose 75 pounds and continues to help me keep it off. Here’s the short version of my story.
In the year 2003, at age 45, I weighed 222 pounds. (I now weigh 147 and wear size 4.) That summer a friend took a picture of me, wearing size 20 with a big belly, double chin, and a puffy face. I knew that it wasn’t me—I felt like a prisoner inside of an obese body. I was miserable. I had tried every diet I knew about and had lost and gained hundreds of pounds since my teenage years. However, I didn’t know how to maintain after losing excess weight and I would always gain it back.
In addition to being obese, I had headaches, neck, back, and knee pain, arthritis, and I was constantly sick and tired. After I saw that photograph of me, I desperately cried out to God for help. “GOD, I AM SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED AND FED UP WITH BEING FAT! PLEASE HELP ME!”
A friend shared a story of a woman who lost excess weight and regained her health by eating an all raw vegetarian diet. I had tried eating 80% raw vegetarian—but it amazed me she ate this way 100%. The author wrote that the raw fiber, raw fats, live enzymes, perfect pH, high water content, and high oxygen content of raw produce are all satisfying to the appetite and that cooked food (especially cooked carbs) trigger overeating.
I read about twenty books and dozens of websites and people eating this way all said the same thing—they felt great and lost excess weight. I read I could eat all I wanted of fruits and vegetables as long as they were raw. The normal weight loss to expect was 20 pounds the first month, ten pounds the second month, and about five pounds per month thereafter till reaching the ideal weight range—then weight loss naturally stops. I knew this was my answer. I said, “Thank You, God!”
I talked to my husband and he said, “I think you should do it. I will fully support you, but the boys (four sons) and I are going to eat normally.” I agreed. (They continue to eat differently than me, but thankfully they all like fruit and eating salads, so there is a lot of good healthy raw produce in their diets.)
Just like predicted, in one year I lost 75 pounds and all my health problems went away and I became a new woman. That was about nine years ago and I am still rejoicing and enjoying being slim and energetic and healthy! Here’s what I normally eat in a day.
For breakfast I enjoy two or three pieces of fruit and a whole avocado —whatever fresh fruit I want—till I’m full. Before lunch I grind up a tablespoon of golden flax seed mixed with chia seed that I have in a jar on my kitchen counter. I grind it in a little electric coffee grinder that I bought at Wal-mart for about $15 that I only use for this purpose. I either stir this into water and drink it, or sprinkle it on my salad.
I enjoy my main meal in the middle of the day. I use about a fourth of a cup of extra virgin olive oil with fresh squeezed orange for my salad dressing. I eat sort of a “Waldorf” style salad every day with the following ingredients: orange, apple, grapes, grated carrot, celery, red bell pepper, raspberries, berries of other types if available, sprouts, other veggies, and 8 ounces (10 cups or so) of dark green leafy lettuces or “spring mix” with spinach, romaine, green and red leaf lettuces. I also have a couple of hard boiled eggs from my friend’s free-range-naturally-fed-happy chickens. For dinner I have a couple more pieces of delicious, fresh fruit (whatever I want) and a banana. (I am very active in the evening, dancing and flagging a lot, so I eat my evening meal after I get home.)
See my YouTube entitled “Raw Vegetarian—How I Eat” for more info.
I also enjoy a handful of raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or other nuts and seeds) each day. Nuts and seeds can be ground with the flax and chia seeds and sprinkled on my salad, or I will enjoy chewing them. (I limit nuts and seeds to about a tablespoon to ¼ cup a day at the most because I don’t feel well if I eat more.) Best source for truly raw and fresh nuts and seeds is: and lots of nutritional information is free on this website.
Once in a while I enjoy fish—I especially enjoy some baked wild Alaskan salmon with a double order of steamed vegetables (with no butter or salt). This is what I will order if my husband and I go out to eat to celebrate an occasion. At times I splurge and eat something else, but then I’m sorry because I don’t feel well. People ask how I have such will power. My answer is from Philippians 4:13 Amplified: “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me. He infuses me with supernatural willpower!”
My sweet treats are fruit. For example, right now persimmons are in season. Yum! I also enjoy cherries when they in season, nectarines, plums, black berries, figs, mangos, etc.—delicious and nutritious fresh fruit made by God especially for us!
I went through healing events or natural detoxing when I started eating this way. Our miraculous bodies layer the toxins in the fat stores, so as we lose weight and the fat is burned off, the toxins are released into the bloodstream and we don’t feel too well. I just rested, took hot baths, and drank plenty of water and these times of feeling weak and tired and flu-like passed. After a bout of detoxing I would feel really great and lose weight, so it was worth it. The detoxing went in ever decreasing cycles—heavier bouts at first, then lighter and lighter. Sometimes I detox for an hour or two and get through it and feel great. I use no medicine, no pills, no potions, and no powders. I use no stimulating substances like coffee, chocolate, or soda and I use no pain-killers of any kind. My beverage of choice is WATER—that’s all I drink.
I do not eat like the average American, but I’m not sick and overweight like the average American either! Most Americans die of heart disease or cancer. I would like to die surfing in Hawaii when I am 107. Hahaha!
Eating this way has plenty of the macro nutrients—protein, carbs and fats, and plenty of the vitamins and minerals we need, for example: sodium (natural salt of the type our body uses) and B12 etc. There is no need to add a thing! It makes sense too. In the beginning God put us in a garden and basically said, “Here is your food and it is very good!”
In case you are wondering, I am not eating anything different for Thanksgiving dinner. I will eat my normal fare and for a treat enjoy some ripe, juicy persimmons and give thanks. “Thank You God for delicious raw produce and for a healthy life!”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thou Art Wordy

I don’t like being asked what is my favorite thing, from food to film to family member (don’t your kids ask which one you like best?). There are just too many things I like and love, even the odd relatives. But, it would be a cop-out to opt out of this week’s writing assignment--what I am most thankful for--just because I dislike narrowing things down. So, here goes: I am most thankful for...words.

I have loved words since I was a very young child. I wrote poetry and stories. My beloved first-grade teacher once asked me how I managed to create a certain poem. “I dunno,” I replied. “I just thunk it up in my head.” At age 8, I wrote a poem for my uncle in honor of his college graduation. It contained something about a wise owl. The adults were impressed, but no one framed the thing or tucked it into a memory book (do I sound bitter?).

Don’t judge me: I used to enjoy reading the dictionary and fancied becoming an etymologist. Yeah, kind of a geek, but since I enjoyed learning about history, it’s not a far stretch to be curious about the history of words.

We all have a ‘history of words’: words we hear and those we speak; those we read, and those we write; words we text and words we dictate. Maternal comfortings, excited expressions, stern warnings, friendly overtures, caustic playground comments, encouraging observations, bossy dictates, boring lectures, romantic proposals, angry outbursts, emotional speeches, children’s first words, furious arguments, powerful prayers, peaceful exchanges, inspiring sermons, funny commercials, hilarious stories, sad songs, worshipful services, last words.

There is much to be thankful for when it comes to words. I have precious word memories: my dad's greeting, “Hey, good-lookin'!” My husband's words of commitment on our wedding day, and every day since. My son, age 3: “You're the most beautiful mother I've ever had.” My daughter, looking at the changing leaves outside: “Those leaves are very colorly.” And another daughter, barely age 2: “You're so bad and so stupid.” Well, can't win 'em all! 

The Word of God in particular is so precious to me because it is alive, encouraging, instructive and helps me to know God. The Word is good: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).  Words are important to God: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds” (Deuteronomy 11:18). “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Of course, not every word we speak is a gracious word: we can use words to hurt, twist truth, dismiss, destroy, abuse, propagandize, criticize, even to kill. That is why the Apostle James addresses misuse of  “the tongue” as a spiritual problem. We sin quite easily with our tongues and need to listen more and talk less. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry....Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (James 1:19, 26).

Keeping a tight rein on my tongue...ouch. Only God can help me with that. But, I am thankful for His Word--the Living Word Jesus Christ--for displaying for all of humanity, including me, that His gracious words can indeed bring healing to our soul and bones. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

I have much to be thankful for... by Tony C

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours! May we never take for granted the many, many blessings that come from a loving Father.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Voices by Linda Maynard

On Kingdom Bloggers we are each looking at a parable that has meaning to us.

I would like to discuss one that relates to a loved one and a little boy fighting for his very life.

Luke 18:1-8
Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people.  In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Won’t God provide justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night? Will He be slow to help them? I tell you, He will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One comes, will He find faithfulness on earth?”

My loved one has suffered from Schizophrenia for most of his life. I have agonized over his illness. It has affected not only him, but those who love him.

He is a brilliant. He can fix just about anything. He is artistic. He was a bricklayer. Bricklaying, in and of itself, is an art.

He has been unable to hold down a job for years.

I have struggled, questioning, is his illness from a neurological malformation or is there demonic activity? Today, I hold the opinion that it is a combination .Having done some research; there are opinions, that a developing child in the womb could be exposed to a virus. The other portion, the demonic influence, is something I cannot ignore. . They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. Through his eyes, I saw what I could describe to you as an evil presence. I do not believe he is demon possessed, but I do believe that he is demon harassed.

He once told me while bathing; he positions himself, so that his ears are underwater. He does this, trying to silence the voices he hears. We can look at his reasoning as faulty, but he is a tormented soul. My heart grieved. You’d have to be hardhearted not to grieve as well.

More recently, a dear friend of mine had a terrible tragedy happen to her 4 year old grandson, Robby.

He had an accident, with a log falling on him, trapping him. He reportedly wasn’t breathing for 25 minutes and was in cardiac arrest ,before being brought to the hospital. He has been diagnosed with severe brain damage. BUT, his family is exploring all possibilities of further treatment, and whether, by medical means or an intervention by God, we join his family, believing for total restoration of his brain.  

How does it relate to the parable? 

I believe that the Lord, years ago, “told” me that He was going to heal my loved one. Robby’s family believes for the same.

Perhaps you are saying “ Whoa! Wait a minute!” This woman is talking about demons and hearing God and promises of a healing for these two lives.” I understand that reaction, as I too have discounted such activities, in the past.

Now, these are realities to me. I respect your opinion to discount my beliefs. But the possibility and the hope that is within me, is as real as anything I can think of.

This parable gives me the gumption to continue to be persistent in praying for their restoration… one to full sanity and the other, having a brain restored physically. It is a hope that keeps me continually seeking.

  Oh yes, I falter and sometimes think I have made this entire miracle thing up. But then, a righteous anger rises up in me, saying, “ Enough! Of suffering!”

That is when I can go back to being persistent. Strength and faith arise, even though the evidence of a miracle has not presented itself yet.

Listen to Matthew 7:7 and 7:8

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The original language tells us to ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.

That’s where the strength to be persistent comes in.

We continue to pray, because we know the Lord has the answer and IS the answer.

God is not deaf, yet we are commanded to pray without ceasing.

Would you join me, in the prayer for these two precious souls?

Let our voices deafen the voices that torment my loved one and the one that mockingly says that Robby cannot be healed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Receive the Word of God! by Cliff Silliman

My favorite parable is the parable of the sower. It is recorded three times in Scripture in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:1-18. Since parables are picture stories of common things known to the hearers, it is not surprising that as a landscaper this one would speak to me.

Jesus explains the parable to His close disciples after explaining to them why He does not explain it to the multitudes that were crowding around Him. Matthew 13:13, “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” So I pray, “Lord, even though You explain it, let me understand what You have for me in this parable.”

There are four different conditions that the seed falls on: by the wayside, stony places, among the thorns, and good ground. We desire our hearts to be the good soil to be able to receive the seed, which is the Word of God’s kingdom.

Twice in the Old Testament the Lord speaks to Israel and says break up your fallow (untilled) ground. The first place is in Jeremiah 4:1-4. It basically says, “Prepare your heart to hear what God is saying to you.” It also says to not sow among the thorns. The second verse about the soil of our hearts is in Hosea 10:12-13. In this Scripture it says we should keep preparing the soil of our hearts to receive the seed/Word until He comes and rains righteousness on us.

It is clear from all these Scriptures that the responsibility of having the soil of our hearts soft and tilled and ready to receive what God has for us--is ours. He wants us to develop a listening ear for His voice. The Lord will provide the water so the seed will germinate. He rains His mercy, grace and righteousness upon us to cause growth and a flourishing life.

How can I make sure that my heart is good soil? How can I be sure that my heart is not hardened, or overcome by the cares of the world, or full of thistles or stones? I believe it is in openness to hear the voice of the Lord.

God has so much for us. We need to expect to hear from Him. He desires us to be listening to receive wisdom, fresh and new revelation, and insights from Him continually. Just as in any relationship we develop more intimacy if we listen with open hearts, waiting our turn to speak, for the Lord Jesus loves two way communications with His beloved ones. Do you have ears to hear what God wants to say to you right now?

This morning as I read through the parable of the sower I saw many insights that might speak to people’s hearts. However, God wants to simply speak this: BREAK UP THE FALLOW GROUND! PREPARE THE SOIL OF YOUR HEARTS TO RECEIVE FROM ME. MY WORD IS SEED THAT WILL PRODUCE A HUNDRED FOLD. WILL YOU LISTEN TO ME?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Kingdom of God...In Your Face!

The kingdom of God is NOW. Raw. Real. As Dr. Sean McDonough says, it is in your face! One of the most exciting things about life as a Christian is to see the in-breaking of the Kingdom of Heaven into time. Since I can’t write anything as compelling and intelligent and moving as Dr. McDonough, one of my favorite professors at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, I thought I would share his chapel message from last year about our limited understanding of the powerful reality of God’s Kingdom.
Click on this link to view his talk, "The Kingdom of God": Please don't miss this!

Monday, November 12, 2012

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

The topic this week for your Kingdom Bloggers is very appropriately the Kingdom of God, and more specifically, our individual favorite parable on the matter.

About a year ago, I went through Matthew Chapter 13 with my Sunday School class over a two month period. My goal for the study was to give the class the biblical perspective on the Kingdom from the very words of Christ. In preparing for the series, I discovered a few new things myself that were very enlightening (which is often the case in my preparations).

The synoptic Gospel of Matthew gives a very eloquent account of the drastic influence of the ministry of Jesus highlighted by His famous Sermon of the Mount in Chapters 5-7, where Jesus constantly gives reference to the Kingdom of Heaven. We understand that Matthew uses the phrase Kingdom of Heaven opposed to Kingdom of God because he was writing and ministering primarily to the Jews who considered the name of Yaweh too sacred to utter or write. The two are in fact synonymous.

Jesus seems to be effectively communicating His message and has much momentum in His ministry when suddenly...Jesus is accused by those pesky, trouble-making Pharisees of driving a demon out of a man in the name of Satan (Beelzebul) in Chapter 12.

After all of the wonderful things He had taught and demonstrated, the miracles, all of the compassion He had poured out during this concentrated period of time, the hurt from being accused of acting from evil and not from Good must have been devastating. An exhausted Jesus begins to teach further about the Kingdom of God using several analogies including the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of Weeds at the beginning of Chapter 13. To add insult to injury, it is at this point that even the disciples begin to question Jesus about what it all means...

I can't help but believe Jesus must have been completely dejected. How could the very men that had been by His side and ministered right along with Him not comprehend what He was talking and teaching about all that time? When I read Matthew Chapter 13, I visualize a huge sigh coming from our Savior between verses 36 and 37.

It is here where my personal favorite parable concerning the Kingdom of God comes from Jesus...

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Simplistically brilliant for Christ to break the matter down into terms most, if not all, of His disciples could directly relate!

We have the benefit of hindsight today and the Word that frames our points of reference as Christians. Despite that fact, there still exist much confusion and dissent among followers. We often complicate and cloud the Gospel with tradition and dogma. I can't help but believe that same sigh I imagine coming from Jesus in Matthew Chapter 13 still occurs today as He prepares to return.

My point isn't to advocate a dumbing down of our doctrine...not at all. But at the same time, just how complicated is the message to begin with when our focus is directed on two primary commandments?

You can find those over in Matthew 22, by the way...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Inconvenient Truth or Unconscionable Truth? by Linda Maynard

The Sanctity of Life
Sanctity=blessedness, Godliness, sacredness
The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing in between…Mother Teresa
America needs to get over its love affair with the fetus…Jocelyn Elders, former Surgeon General

Wow…two very different opinions about life, specifically life in the womb.
The cries of the aborted unborn will continue to reverberate in our land. THAT is the sound I heard, when the results of this election were announced. Our Leader clearly does not support the unborn.
Can I get through this without weeping? The grief I am experiencing mirrors the anguish of our Lord.
Some of us, who would say we are pro life, are appalled at posters that show mutilated babies. Shocked?…we should be. They represent a reality that is hard to face.
When I first heard about partial birth abortions (which our President approves of) I felt sick. In case you don’t know, I am going to tell you. A baby is partially born, enough for the head to emerge. The Dr. then pierces the baby’s skull and sucks out the brain. The body is then delivered
It is said that a person, who is not the victim of violence, yet witnesses the violence, is negatively affected. I think of that for myself, when I remember a phone call from a friend, as she called in obvious distress. She was waiting with her daughter to “deliver” the unwanted baby. Hers was about 5 months. This was a saline solution abortion. The labor would take 20 hours, give or take. What she would deliver is a dead and burnt baby.
That phone call haunts me still.
Many women grieve over pregnancies that end in miscarriage. Now, how could that be for those who say a fetus is not a life? Are these mothers grieving over a “blob” of tissue?
Over the years, I have prayed for many women who have had abortions. Without fail, each woman felt they knew the sex of their baby. Most of them had a name for their baby.
Whether they were pro choice or pro life at the time of their abortions, they regretted their decision.
Thankfully, abortion is a sin that the Lord forgives. He is merciful and filled with kindness. He has compassion for these mothers, as He loves their babies.
The hard reality though, even though forgiven, we have to live with the consequence of our decisions.
Just so I don’t appear holier than thou, I too was faced with a decision years ago. I became pregnant at 17…unmarried.
I can still remember the terror I felt about having to tell my parents. It was almost too much for me to face anger and even more so, the disappointment they would feel. I hid my pregnancy for 5 months.
Reflecting on my choice to continue the pregnancy, I shudder to think it would have been so easy to get rid of my child. Nobody would have to know. Nobody would be angry or disappointed in me. Nobody would have to feel ashamed.
So, I understand the pressure, the bargaining and the reasoning. Anything to justify it.  Many of them are scared and don’t see a way out.
I did end up relinquishing my son for adoption, which in and of itself was an agonizing decision. Yet, giving him a chance at life is a decision I will never regret.
Another disturbing thing is that tissue and body parts from aborted babies are part of a lucrative business. Does this remind you of Nazi Germany and how the skin of the Jews was used for lampshades?
Then there is the issue of stem cells. Thankfully, it has been discovered recently that stem cells from the person who needs them can mete out similar results.
Another disturbing trend though, is sex selection. We thought that only happened in China or other countries. No, it is happening right here in the United States. I mean what business of ours that a couple has 3 girls and want a boy now? (You know for the dad’s sake).They can keep conceiving and aborting that “wrong sex” child.
Yes, this issue is one in which I am very passionate and narrow-minded according to some people’s opinions.
On this one, I would rather err for life’s sake.

A face book friend penned this beautiful poem.
Life is a Precious Thing
By Cheri Neitzel

A Life is a precious thing…not a thing to waste
             A thing that should not be thrown down
                            Into the abyss
Even if there was no eternity
              Even if there was no more to follow-
To take a life that was designed to hold and to carry
                        Honor and Purpose
        And throw it down into the abyss
                              Is WRONG
          Is SO wrong…it is SO perverse  
God designed each and every life to carry a purpose,
        To HONOR Him
                    To GLORIFY Him
                                To reflect His Beauty and His glory!
No Life should just be thrown down  into the Abyss

                                   Never to reach its Purpose