Never Forget And Always Remember

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Photo Credit Dr. Dick Foth

Have you ever seen this on the back of a fire engine and wondered what it meant? Certainly KEEP BACK is a warning but what about 343 FEET?

Last month I was in D.C. visiting our oldest lovebug and I had the opportunity to attend Theater Church. If I had a bucket list, visiting Theater Church would be on my list. I learned about Theater Church about four years ago after reading Mark Batterson’s book on prayer titled “Circle Maker.” Mark is the lead Pastor and there are eight locations and almost all meet in an actual theater.

Four years ago my daughter was just starting her Freshman year at American University in D.C. and after reading “Circle Maker” I began praying that God would lead her to one of the Theater Church locations. Fast forward to late last year, my husband and I were having our weekly phone date with our lovebug and she tells us that she and some of her friends had gone to a church that she liked and began telling us about this church. When she had finished I said, “That sounds like one of the churches Mark Batterson planted, he is the author of “Circle Maker.” She responded, “Oh yeah, they had his book in the lobby.”  Thank you Jesus.

The Sunday I attended they were just starting a 13 week series titled, “Long Story Short” and I have been following along each week. Because they have a preaching team each Sunday a different Pastor gives the message. The Sunday I was there Mark Batterson gave the message. Two items checked off a bucket list I don’t have! Thank you Jesus.

The message from Sunday March 26, 2017 was given by Dr. Dick Foth and was about warnings. The theme of his message is the one who warns you is the one who loves you. In preparation for his message Dr. Foth took pictures of warning signs. When he saw the above picture on the back of the fire engine he went to the fire house and asked if he could take a picture. He also asked why 343 feet was added to stay back. He was told that on September 11, 2001 343 firefighters lost their lives that day and we will always remember.

Precious One, NEVER forget and always remain connected to The Vine.

Shalom.

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Theater Church

 

That Woman

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When I was in Jr. College, MANY years ago, I had taken a basic business class. I was also working at a bank. During the first part of this class the professor was teaching us everything we didn’t know about a check. The kind we use to write to pay for things; in some instances I still do, before our ATM cards became our go to form of payment.

The professor began asking “Do you know where the ABA number is?” “What does the number after the slash of the ABA number stand for?” “Why is it important to write out the amount and draw a line or xxx’s after the amount to the end of the line?”  As you can guess I had all the right answers and at the time I enjoyed every minute of it because I was being heard. Not only that, I was THAT WOMAN being heard!

A few years ago as I was preparing to give a message at church God gave me an epiphany about being heard and why I felt for so many years that I was unheard. He reminded me that when I was five years old my little Italian paternal grandmother called me, in English, a language she swore she didn’t understand and could not speak, a talking machine! How I had bought into that lie of Satan at an early age and believed it well into my adulthood. The truth is God called me to a speaking and teaching ministry. He called me to be heard!

This morning as I was working on a study from the book of Nehemiah, I came to the place where Nehemiah had to respond to the question of the King of Persia about why he was so sad. The author asks, “Of what was Nehemiah afraid?” Then asks participants to list the first few fears that come to mind about living a gospel inspired life.

Before I had time to think words flew from pen to page and I had used the entire side margin with my response.

Almost immediately after becoming a born again Christian God gave me a new passion for prayer and a burden for the spiritual health and growth of the Body. For many years I have lived from a spiritual perspective with Holy Spirit giving me His view to encourage and give hope to others. To come alongside others and inspire them to fall in love with Jesus and to know how important it is to stay connected to Him, especially through reading and studying his word. But, sometimes, many times, I feel like ‘that woman’

So, what is my fear of living a gospel inspired life? Being THAT WOMAN! Ha! Guess what God is doing in his perfect timing and sovereignty? RESTORING me!

That Woman is who God called me to be and I am loved eternally by my King!

Shalom!

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Prayer Requests From The Gym

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I can be such a creature of habit. Every morning I arrive at the gym at least a half hour before class starts. My reasoning for this is these morning classes are quite popular and I have my favorite spot and want to set up my weights and mat and anything other equipment we might be using. This leaves me with about 10 to 15 minutes before class starts. I burned 458 calories this morning! But, I digress.

Most mornings I sit in the lobby area and either read “Power Of A Praying Parent” or the huge stack of colored 3×5 cards that have Scripture that I have turned into prayers for my family. Over the past several weeks my gym friends have been asking me what I am studying and I have had the awesome opportunity to share that I am praying for my family. If you know me you know I love the opportunity to share my faith. My intent wasn’t to share my faith in this way but it was for God! I simply wanted to spend my time before class in a constructive way rather than on my phone, which is exactly what I would be doing.

Since this all began I have learned that one of my favorite instructors is also a believer and shares the same passion of studying God’s word that I do. I even shared with her the awesome Bible software that I blogged about not long ago.

I discovered that one of my new gym friends is a believer as well and she asked me to pray for her. Today we exchanged numbers so we can encourage one another and meet every now and then for coffee.

Last week another gym friend asked me what I was studying and after I told her I was praying, she immediately asked me to pray for her best friend who was having a procedure. Today she told me her friend’s procedure went well! Praise God and thank you Jesus!

Just this morning another ‘classmate’ asked me what I was studying. He was so cute, when I told him I was praying for my children, he smiled and said, “Well, I’ll see you in class.”

Faith in motion.

Precious One, NEVER underestimate how God will work through you. Take a leap of faith with open eyes, open ears and an open heart.

Shalom!

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The Kindness Factor

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 4.08.08 PMHate is a very strong word. In our family we like say, “dislike with great intensity.” I dislike with great intensity how the ways of this world can sometimes cause us to be suspicious.

This afternoon I was in line at the grocery store. The man in front of me kept turning around in my direction and clearly invading my space and I was becoming very uncomfortable. Just before it was his turn he walked away and the checker was left asking me whose groceries were next. As it turns out this man comes back with his wife who has a separate basket of groceries and quite a bit more than her husband had already put up on the conveyor belt, in fact my groceries were already there as well. I told the man’s wife to go ahead of me to which she was very grateful.

Her husband came up to me and told me I was too kind. I replied, “The world needs a little more kindness.” He said, “I hope I can return that kindness sometime.” I told him, “Yes, pay it forward.” He touched his wallet and very kindly said, “You want me to pay for you?” I smiled and said, “No, pay the kindness forward!”

There is so much animosity these days, especially across social media. It was nice to experience God’s grace even as he was gently reprimanding me for my earlier suspicions.

Precious One, that is why it is so important for us to be continually connected to The Vine; to Jesus. Only He can calm our emotions and show us the good in every situation.

Shalom!

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Prayers of a Pastor

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There we sat, the room empty, except for one other man. The light was dim and dingy. Off in the corner the television was on and bleating louder than it ought to have been. She sat next to me doubled over in pain with tears streaming down her face wondering what was taking so long. It was 3:30 in the morning. The man brought my attention to the rain that had started again and the howling of the wind.

I sat feeling helpless trying to control the panic beginning to creep in. I closed my eyes and began to pray. I simply said, “Jesus we need you.” The door opened and we were called back. The man came right up next to me and followed us. Just as I was beginning to feel unsettled about this, he said, “I want you to know I was praying for your daughter.” With a relieved smile, I answered, “Thank you.” He said, “As a Pastor that is my job.” I thanked him again and told him there is something special about the prayers of a Pastor.

As we sat in the exam room engulfed by the privacy curtain, listening to the activity of a busy ER, I marveled at HIM. His lavish love poured over us creating a sweet perfume for our souls. Before I ever uttered a word in prayer, God had already answered and placed that Pastor right near us.

If that isn’t love, what is?

Precious One, God is ever close, his love knows no bounds and he is always listening to the sweet tinkling of your voice.

Shalom!

PS she is fine and God is good….ALL the time.

Birthright

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Whenever the enemy aims his fiery arrows at you, hold up your shield of faith, which is part of your armor, and remind yourself who you are and to Whom you belong too. Fight with God’s word, which is the sword of the Spirit, another piece of your armor of God. You ARE a warrior fight like one. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, HE testifies, he announces, he proclaims you ARE a child of God; hands OFF God’s chosen and beloved. If you don’t yet believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior what do you have to lose? What is stopping you? What are you waiting for?

Precious One, fight well.

Shalom!

Because Of A Box Of Fishies

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One day, years ago, while there was still a need to make lunches for my kids take to school, I was at the grocery store buying snacks for their lunches and another woman saw me put a big box, the biggest box to be found, of fishies (gold fish crackers) in my basket. She proceeded to tell me, unsolicited, that those crackers were the worse thing I could give to my kids. Oh, the many things I could have said to her! What she didn’t know was that I had a picky eater at home and if fishies were one of the five things I could count on my hand that this child would eat, well then, fishies it would be! (if you have a picky eater, it does get better! This child now cooks some excellent meals on hi…their own and will survive, especially as this child gets ready to move out on their own). I thanked this woman for her concern and went about my business. Whether this woman had passed judgement on me or not, I certainly felt like she had and that I had earned the biggest mommy fail moment of the year in that one short shopping trip.

At first glance 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 would seem that Paul is passing judgement, and he is, but not the critical kind of judgement that is negative and depleting of others. In fact, Paul stated that he didn’t even judge himself, it is the Lord who judges him. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Rather, Paul is judging the sin of one of the brethren, which caused this man to lose fellowship with God and the sin seeped into the congregation like a thick, dark goo touching and sticking to the rest of the congregation, even though the rest of the congregation wasn’t directly involved in the sin. Like a paint can that is dropped and splatters onto everything around it, the sin of our faith families affects us spiritually, emotionally and mentally and we may not even realize this.

And they were proud! Rather than being deeply saddened by the spiritual state of this man and the influence, subtle as it may have been, on the congregation they boasted about the sin.

It is important to point out that the sin of the man in the verse above was clear and habitual, it was not a judgement based on motives or opinions, the man was not repentant and Paul came from a place of wanting this man to be restored in his relationship with God and with others. It is very important to state that Paul had a relationship with the Corinthians.

So, what does it look like practically for me, for you, for our faith families when a brother or sister has fallen into sin? I believe relationship is key and that is part of the beauty of fellowship with one another, we commit to each other in deep and intimate relationships through Christ and we hold one another accountable; unlike the lady in the grocery store, whom I am certain thought she was doing good by informing me of the disasters of feeding me kids fishies. I also believe it is vital for us to remain, abide, be at home with Jesus on a consistent basis and prayer is the foundation on which we ought to make all decisions. Everything we say and do ought to bathed in prayer before we ever open our mouths and take action. Ask God what your role is. Is He asking you to pray, be His voice piece or a mediator. If you are still unclear seek wise and godly counsel without giving particulars.  Ouch! I can recall a few instances lately where I have failed to follow my own encouragement!

As Believers nothing can ever separate us from the love of God but sin does break our fellowship with God (1John 1:6-7) and broken fellowship with God hurts us all.

Precious One, let your walk match your talk.

Shalom!

 

President Elect

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Over two thousand years ago a man and a woman travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to the town of David in Bethlehem and most likely they walked the entire distance of roughly 70 miles. The woman was pregnant at the time, very pregnant, yet because Caesar Augustus had proclaimed a census to be taken over the entire Roman world, this man and woman were compelled to make this trip back to the town of the man’s birth for he was a descendent in the line of David, King David and there was no other choice.

While this man and woman were in Bethlehem in the town of David the woman went into labor and gave birth to a baby boy. A Miracle was born. A Miracle because the woman was a virgin yet here she was giving birth to a baby boy, imagine that! And, because there were absolutely NO rooms available the woman gave birth in a manger. Talk about humbleness and humility.

This boy grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. When he was a man people followed him throughout Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan, because, get this, he not only taught the good news of his Father’s kingdom he was healing people! People who were suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, just to name a few, AND HE healed them.

Sadly, the people, most of them, that he came to save; HIS chosen people, rejected Him, the Living Miracle. But God had chosen HIM for such a time as this.

Once again, God has chosen a man for such a time as this. You may ask how can God choose a man that has purportedly been accused of rape, racism and hate?

I can only tell you what God has done in the past. He used Moses, who was a murderer to deliver his people out of Egypt, He used David, who was an adulterer to be the king of an entire nation, His nation and ultimately the descendant line he chose to birth his Son into and from, God chose the birth line of an adulterer to be the ancestral line of his Son, huh. The Son who was born in a manger, who came not to judge the world but to save the world through Him.

Precious One, miracles are real and God is still in the miracle business. I pray and truly believe HE will do wondrous and miraculous things through the man HE has chosen.

Shalom!