Showing newest 17 of 20 posts from March 2011. Show older posts
Showing newest 17 of 20 posts from March 2011. Show older posts

Can a Disney Parade Be Anything Like Heaven?

Mar 31, 2011

When we arrived at Magic Kingdom last Tuesday, we were greeted with a lovely parade of Disney friends.  There was fun music and dancing in the streets.  It was an amazing celebration and we felt as though they had rolled out the red carpet just for us!


Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy waved to us, blew kisses and got down off their floats to hug and dance with anyone who wanted to join in! So K jumped right in there and danced!

It was quite the party.  In a weird way, it reminded me of what heaven must look like each time a saint is welcomed home.  Can you picture that?  Instead of the Disney gang welcoming the new residents, it would be Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Peter, Paul, David, and John.  The parade winds through the streets of gold, through heaven's gates, right up to the throne of God!  The angels sing, the saints dance, and God welcomes us home.  It is a fantastic celebration!

The joy experienced at Disney World will far be surpassed by the perfection of heaven's welcome.  But it was sure fun to get a glimpse of the continual party in heaven each time a believer is called home.

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
Revelation 5:13

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How Bold is Your Witness?

Mar 30, 2011

While traveling last week for Spring Break, we pulled into a gas station and saw this car.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  It has to be one of the boldest ways of witnessing that I have ever seen.



It really got me thinking about my life as a witness.  How about you?

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Catching Up on Life

Mar 29, 2011

Whew! It has been a crazy few weeks!  Our family had an awesome week at Disney World and visiting the beautiful coast of Florida and sunny beaches.  We squeezed in some site seeing in Georgia as well.  I even got to hug my sweet friend Teri Lynne over a quick breakfast!

I'm playing catch up here at home, and haven't had any time to spend with you here.  I have much to get done around the house!  The laundry is ridiculous!  I haven't found the kitchen yet.....I'm sure it is here somewhere.  I need to make up a weeks lesson in our Financial Peace class and I am finishing the Bible in 90 Days reading this week!

I promise very soon I will tell you all about our vacation!  We had a blast!

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Inspiring Women Series - Natalie

Mar 24, 2011

Ask any blogger and they will tell you one of the highlights of blogging is when we get to meet an online friend in the flesh!  So of course, I was very excited last week to have the opportunity to meet Natalie for the first time.  She is an amazing wife and mother of three who stays very busy!  You can visit her blog at Mommy on Fire to get to know her better.


Let's chat with Natalie:

You had a rough start in life with an alcoholic father.  How did you cope with such an unstable life?
Honestly, I didn’t realize it was unstable in the midst of my trauma because I was a child and there was much I didn’t understand.  I was definitely more anxious than most children my age and I remember feeling a longing to see my father almost always (my parents divorced when I was six years old due to his alcoholism and various behaviors that partner with this horrible disease) but I have to credit my mother in working hard to create the healthiest and safest environment as possible given the somewhat torrential circumstances that surrounded us.  

In addition, I had very stable and loving grandparents who lived less than five minutes from us and I was fortunate enough to spend a decent amount of time with them.  My grandparents continue to be a very influential part of my life - my sweet Grandjack passed away four years ago and until his death, we had a very close relationship. My Meemo is still living (she just turned 85!) and we remain close as well.  I’m so thankful my children can know her and they adore her as well - it’s a blessing to see history repeat itself.

You’ve shared on your blog that you had an abortion in college.  How have you been able to heal from this experience?
This is an issue I buried for a long time because it was just too ugly to face.  I knew God would forgive me for a choice I made when I wasn’t following Him (and even if my choice had been made when I was following Him!) but at the same time, I had a difficult time forgiving myself.  

I heard all of the pro-choice arguments - it’s not a baby yet, it’s simply a cell, and it’s your “right” - and I chose to believe them because that’s what aligned with the choice I had made.  However, after having my own children and choosing to follow Christ four years after my abortion, I began to realize the magnitude of what I had done.  

The “higher up and deeper in” I found myself in my walk with God, the more I realized that this was unnecessary baggage I was carrying and it was actually a lack of faith and trust in who He is to keep trying to schlep it around.  I released it and felt a nudge to start writing about it because the statistics tell us that 45% of women aged 40-55 admit to having an abortion at some point in their lives!  That’s almost half of the women of our population and yet the subject remains taboo and dialogue about this issue is not often encouraged.  Therefore, women in my position walk around believing the lies that are being implanted in their minds because they don’t have anyone to talk with about their feelings of guilt, despair, “dirtiness”, and, as one of my friends put it, committing the “one thing God will never forgive.”
I had been feeling a nudge to speak out on this topic but when I heard my dear sister utter those words, I knew it was time for the lies to stop.  I have been washed by the water and I hate to see women who have made a similar choice living in such captivity. God’s grace and mercy is such a gift and it’s got all of our names on the tag.  There’s no reason - even abortion - He won’t allow us to open it.

When your father died and you were going through a divorce, did you feel God calling you at any time?
Absolutely - this is when I chose to follow Christ.  I married my college sweetheart two years after choosing to end our pregnancy.  He developed a very serious drug addiction and was repeatedly unfaithful - I soon found myself in the throes of a divorce at the age of 27.  Soon after making the decision to file for divorce, my father, who had battled alcoholism for most of his life and at one point, lived on the streets of Indianapolis, died of COPD very unexpectedly.  Luckily, he was sober for the last six years of his life and we were able to develop a relationship but ultimately, it was his addiction to cigarettes that ended up taking his life.  I am so comforted in knowing that he had found Jesus and I have no doubt where he is now yet I am so saddened that he doesn’t know my three children in an earthly way.  I’m so thankful I will see him again one day!

Who has been an inspiration in your life?
As I mentioned before, my mother.  My sweet, stable grandparents.  But the one I haven’t mentioned yet?  My ever-patient, ever-gracious husband.  We met two years after my divorce and we were both wounded birds.  He had also been married for a year and we were the same age.  God had always planned for us to be together but in His own time - we were even at the same college at the same time and didn’t know one another!  He teaches me about God’s love constantly - he forgives me more than I deserve and he just “gets me” and can lovingly (usually J) call me to the mat on things I need to be called on.  He makes me walk closer to our God and he’s an incredible father to our children.

Can you describe how God has worked through the tragedy in your life to bring you into a life of faith?
God began working very hard on me during my divorce and the loss of my father.  My aunt had given me a Michael W. Smith CD and I had aligned my path with a mentor from a group called “Priority Associates” which is basically Campus Crusade for working professionals.  

I also started running and this gave me a chance to think, pray, and reflect.  My running group met at a church - all of the pieces were put together and it began to make sense to me.  I devoted my life to Christ at 28 and I haven’t looked back since.

Through all of the trials I have endured, Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 were my guiding forces. 
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you, not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future,” reads Jeremiah 29:11.   Romans 8:28 tells us that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  

I realized His plan for me was indeed good and now I use my somewhat wild story to glorify our God and what He can do.  He literally restored my crown of ashes to a crown of beauty.
Today I am happily married and I have been given extreme mercy in the gift of my beautiful and healthy children. I often think of the verse from 2 Samuel 7: 18 which reads “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
Who am I that you would bring me this far?

A child of the king.  His princess.  One worthy of a crown of beauty.  Beloved.  Cherished.  Protected when hurting.  One who has been provided for beautifully.
And the best part?

That’s available to every last one of us.

Thank you, Cherie, for featuring me today.  I loved meeting you IN PERSON last week.  You are a beautiful soul - not to mention lovely on the outside, too. 

Natalie, you have such a beautiful story of redemption.  Thank you for sharing it with us today.  I LOVED meeting you last week as well!

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Looking Forward to Summer

Mar 23, 2011


The warmer weather has be dreaming of getting back into my garden and spending time with these beauties!  The garden catalogs start arriving and my mind goes crazy imagining the perfect garden just like the ones on the covers of magazines!

It won't be long!  What are you looking forward to this summer?

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The Book of Acts - Week 2

Mar 21, 2011


Acts 2:1-13
First filling of the spirit-the power of the church

As we discussed previously, Luke is the author of Acts.  You might find it interesting that Luke 2 is the birth of Jesus and Acts 2 is the birth of the Holy Spirit.  The Day of Pentecost is upon the disciples and they find themselves gathered together again.

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine. " (NIV)
The wind described in verse 2 uses the Greek work "pneuma", which is the same word used for spirit and breath.  Like the Holy Spirit, the wind is invisible, immaterial and powerful. It shows us the power of the Holy Spirit that cannot be contained.

In verse 6, they began speaking in the native languages of those crowded around.  The Spirit enabled them and gave them the words to say, as none of them knew these languages on their own.  Jews were coming into Jerusalem from all over the nation for the feast.  They were amazed to hear their own languages being spoken.  Note that it says "languages" not just random sounds without meaning.

I love the quote at the end of verse 11  "we hear them declaring the wonders of God".  May we all be so bold as to declare the wonders of God!

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Inspiring Women Series - Penny

Mar 17, 2011


I am so excited to introduce you to my online friend Penny Franklin of Living Above Ministries.  She also writes at the blog Seeds of Faith.  I want to tell you that this is a long post, but so very worth your time in reading.  Penny has been very transparent in where she has been and where her life is going and I know you will be blessed!



Late in December, Penny, her husband John, and their two children were enjoying some vacation time at a friend’s ranch in Texas.  John’s love of hunting took him out to a stand one more time before their trip would end.  Tragically, somehow John’s gun was accidentally discharged and he died that day.  Penny herself described that day as being full of little gifts:  Sweet time with their children, photos taken of John with the kids, and John loving on Penny.

Every time I read something that Penny has written, I cry.  If you go to her blog and read her My Rockstar page about her husband, you will cry.  They share a beautiful love story with a tragic ending on earth, but an amazing  homecoming in heaven.  Your emotions can’t get more confused than that!  Penny inspires me to live out my faith in both the good times and the bad times.

Do you remember when you accepted Christ?
Yes!  As I read this question, I smiled!  I’ll never forget that Sunday afternoon.  I was sitting on the staircase with both of my parents. I remember going through all the questions and discussions about salvation with them.  Then it came time to pray - pray to receive Christ.  Through my tears, I asked my Dad if he would pray “the prayer” for me.  He just smiled and said, “Penny, this is the one prayer I can’t pray for you.  You have to do this.  It’s between you and the Lord.”  That day, I prayed the only way a six year-old can pray and asked Jesus to come into my life and save me from my sin.

Did you grow up in a Christian home?
Yes!  I have been very blessed to have two Christian parents who in fact are still married and serving the Lord faithfully to this day!  I grew up watching my parents read their Bibles daily and discuss topics from the Bible as if they were reading the newspaper.  Although through my teen and college years I did not emulate their example - it truly has been my foundation - and something to which I knew how to return to once my life went astray from the Lord.

What can you attribute in your faith walk as being something that really grew and strengthened your faith?
Wow!  I’m not sure if most of my readers know this about me…. But John was not my first husband.  While in college I lived a rebellious life.  I wasn’t into drugs or anything like that - I just walked away from the Lord, from going to church, and all the other foundational things my parents taught me.  I met someone who was not God’s choice for me.  I rebelled and married him anyway.  This was not a good marriage and we were divorced 6 years later.  I lost almost everything I had.  This was an extremely difficult time in my life.  The only thing I knew to do was go back to the Lord.  

I started going back to church.  The first few Sundays I cried every time!  I think I was homesick for my relationship with the Lord and truly sorrowful that I had been away from Him for so long.  I started reading a One Year Bible.  I soaked it up like a sponge!  I realized just how much God loved me and wanted to renew a real and intimate relationship with me.  This truly was a time of renewal between me and the Lord. 
I started sharing my story of Redemption at Single Events around town.  And it was through this that the Lord called me into ministry.  I left my very successful career as a HazMat Training Supervisor and enrolled in Seminary.  While working for a church, I met John Franklin!

John was a pastor and you were a mother at home when he passed away.  How are you handling this change?
Whew!  This has probably been one of the biggest struggles.  I’ve been very busy during the day tackling financial & legal issues.  I’ve been trying to study for the Alternate Certification Exam so I can teach High School Science.  I have a Chemistry degree.  However, it’s in the quite moments that I wonder who I am now.  I was once a Pastor’s Wife and now I’m not anymore.  I once was a Womens Minister, and now I sit on a pew every Sunday - sitting not serving.  I feel when John died, I lost my job.  My job as a Minister’s wife and as a minister myself!

Today I read about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  After she heard the news about how her life was about to change, she said this, “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.”  I want this to be my heart as well.

Logistically… I’m currently living with my parents.  My kids are enrolled in great schools in the very same town where I grew up and went to school myself.  Daily I am working as a substitute teacher.   I’m hoping to be a full-time Science Teacher in the Fall.

You also had to move across several states shortly afterward.  How did you find the strength to do this?
Wow!  I think was completely a God-thing.  The true answer to this question, as I look back on that week… is I don’t know!  We arrived in New Orleans on a Friday night.  On Saturday morning there were people there from several different cities (Houston & New Orleans) ready and willing to help!  A week later, on Friday at 4pm we were leaving New Orleans - heading for Texas.  The house was clean and empty and we threw away more trash that I care to remember.  All I kept telling myself is, “’pack a box!”  Others would come and tell me about things I needed to address, (the lack of Life Insurance, the lack of a will, selling the Jeep, etc) - and my only response was, “right now I have to pack a box - I’ll address that issue later.”
To be honest, I really thought going back into the house after Christmas - finding it just as we left it - and going through all of John’s stuff to get it packed would completely destroy me.  I have to say, I didn’t cry much in those early days.  It’s now that I’m crying.

Within a week of John’s passing you were back posting to your blog and sharing your story.  I was amazed at your strength and perspective.  Can you tell us about that?
Yes.  I’ll never forget my first post after his Homegoing.  It was a Sunday morning.  It was our first Sunday back in New Orleans.  In fact, it was the Sunday we had his Memorial Service!  On Sundays I like for my blog to only about God’s Word - I call those posts “His Word Sunday”.  It just seemed fitting for my “first day back” to be about God’s Word.  It’s God’s Word that I’m clinging to so tightly.  It’s the only thing that was not changing - and still has not changed!

I know many want to know how I’m doing - but don’t feel they can ask.  I’ve experienced this myself as I’ve ministered to others who have experienced extreme losses.  I guess I just wanted to let them see God’s grace and love in action. Faith is not seen best on the mountaintops - it’s seen best in the valleys!  I wanted people to see that I still loved, trusted, and believed in my God!

Many who go through a tragedy of this magnitude struggle with anger and bitterness toward God.  How were you able to avoid these feelings?
What a question!  In fact, as I’m typing… I’ve had to pause. John always used to say that he didn’t want to go to Heaven clean and unused.  He wanted to slide in there beat up and worn out!  He wanted to say he gave it all on the field - so to speak.  Ministry was never an easy life for us.  Sure we had great experiences - but they were battles well fought all the time.

No one did this to John.  No one shot him.  I can’t be mad at someone.  In my mind I reason this out in two different ways.  1) This was God’s time for John.  He was sitting in a deer stand where he loved to pray the most.  He was alone doing what he loved best.  For John, he couldn’t have stepped into Heaven from a better place. 2) I truly believe that God has chosen me for this “assignment”.  This could have happened to anyone - but it didn’t.  It happened to me.  And I believe it’s time for me to show all those around me that I truly believe what I’ve been saying and writing about God all these years.  Can I  abandon those truths just because He brought John Home?  Did God stop being loving?  No!  He says He loves me with a steadfast love.  It doesn’t say He loved me with a steadfast love.  He still does.  And  I believe He’s called me to continue that message - even in the face of tragedy.

I won’t lie to you.  It has not been easy.  And I’m not talking about the grief part.  Our finances were and still are a wreck! I’ve had to make calls to the IRS, Social Security, Chase Home Finance, Honda Financial, and many others.  This part has felt extremely lonely and is still a current journey I am walking.  I know my God is going to get me through this part as well.

Can you tell us about someone who has been in your life who has inspired your faith?
I have many.  Several years ago, my sister lost a baby girl.  Her name was Anna Kay.  Anna was born to Heaven.  My sister knew the entire time of her pregnancy that Anna had a rare genetic disorder that would probably take her life.  She shared two passages from scripture with me during her pregnancy.   One was the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Obednigo.  She relied on the verses that said, “I know our God is able to save us, but even if He doesn’t we will still praise the Lord.”  And then she found a verse in Psalms that reads, “Your love is better than life.”

I was amazed at her strength as she carried a child that she knew would soon see Jesus.  I have never forgotten how God loved her and carried her through that entire experience.  I think of her, and her pain and grief often, and draw from what God showed her today.

Where is your life heading right now?
I still very much want to be in ministry.  I’m not sure what God is going to do with the call He has on my own life.  Of course I have dreams and aspirations that He will let me return to ministry in some capacity.  But for now, I’m working on my Alternate Teaching Certification..  I’m very comfortable teaching - whether it be God’s Word or Science.  In the immediate future, I would love to get a Chemistry teaching position, but I’m completely open to whatever direction and doors He decides to open.  In the long run, I would love to one day lead Womens Retreats and Conferences or even right a book.  

But more than all of that, I want to be able to say, “let it be to me according to your word.”


Getting to know Penny has been such a blessing to me.  Thank you Penny for sharing your story and your faith with all of us!

Do you have an Inspiring Woman in your life that you have honored with a post?  Leave us a link in the comment section!

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God May Have an Appointment Made For You

Mar 16, 2011

Last weekend at the Hearts at Home Conference I was so excited to get to meet this beautiful blog friend, Natalie from Mommy on Fire.  You'll get to learn more about her next Thursday, as she will be featured on the Inspiring Women Series.

I love that Hearts at Home ministers to the hearts of mothers.  The conference is one of my favorite times of the year, as I get to be a part of watching God work in the lives of so many moms.  Friday and Saturday I had volunteered to staff the prayer room.  This is a place that women can come and talk to some of our staff and have us pray for them.  Now I don't tell you about this to boast about praying for women.  I want to tell you about it because I am in awe of how God works!


Serving in this way has reminded me of so much that I need to keep in the forefront of my mind at all times.  We all carry baggage.  We all have life experiences that are ugly and hard. BUT WE NEED TO SHARE THOSE EXPERIENCES WITH OTHERS!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  II Corinthians 1:3-4

God knows these experiences are hard.  He knows it has nearly defeated you.  But He has also sent others near you that have lived through the same thing.  He wants them to be His arms, to wrap around you in comfort, His shoulder to cry on, His ear to hear your struggles.

You've probably noticed here on my blog that I am pretty much an open book.  I share a lot of things that have happened in my life, and by all means, many of them are pretty ugly.  But because I have shared, I have also been able to help others in the same situation.  God seems to somehow put us together.

This past weekend, God was an amazing conductor of circumstances.  Every.single.woman. I talked with and prayed for had a circumstance in their life that they were struggling with that I had dealt with at some point in my life.  
  • a husband who had declared he didn't love her anymore
  • struggles with hurtful words from family members
  • adultery
  • yearning to know God but not knowing how to find Him
  • attending a husband's church that she didn't agree with
  • depression
  • marital counseling
Happenstance?  I don't think so!  I am humbled that God has used my ugly trials to be able to encourage others to fight through, to not give up!

My encouragement to you today:  share your experiences.  I know it isn't always easy.  But God never said it would be!  Someone needs to hear your story so that they have enough strength to keep going.  They need you.  Don't miss your God appointment!



iFellowship


Don't forget to check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Inspiring Women Series.  You won't want to miss meeting Penny.  Her story will amaze you!

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Life Before Blogging

Mar 15, 2011

A crazy full weekend and busy Monday has left me without a blog post today.  But it does offer me the opportunity to say THANK YOU to all of my readers!  You have all encouraged me so much through your comments, emails and tweets.  I love this online community and I thank you for reading my blog.  I love when you visit my little corner of the universe and share in it with me.

Until tomorrow, have a GREAT day!

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The Book of Acts-Week 1

Mar 14, 2011





Acts 1:12-26

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk(about 2/3 of a mile was allowed) from the city.13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.  15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)16 and said, "Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus.17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry."
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)  20 "For," said Peter, "it is written in the Book of Psalms:
"'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it, and, "'May another take his place of leadership."

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us,22 beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."  23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.24 Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs."26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

This passage highlights one of the apostles first leadership decisions.  Judas has died and they must replace his position among the disciples.  

  • They pray!  Note that this is not just the disciples, but also those who are constantly traveling with them.  See it says about 120 people in all.
  • They seek scripture! Prophecy had been fulfilled in the Psalms concerning Judas, and a directive given to find a replacement.
  • They seek someone qualified.  To be qualified to be a disciple, you must have been with Jesus and around Jesus during his entire ministry.  An eyewitness to his ministry was crucial for those who would go out spreading the gospel.
  • Joseph and Matthias fit this criteria.  
  • They cast lots.  Since this is taking place in time when Jesus had gone to heaven and the Holy  Spirit had not yet come upon them, lots were used in a way that let the Lord speak through this sign.  They were usually stones marked with each possible outcome.  They prayed beforehand and trusted that the lot that was revealed was the answer from God.
  • Interestingly, even though Matthias was chosen, this is the only time in the entire New Testament that either of these two men are mentioned.
 The application to our lives today about making decisions is pretty clear through this passage:

  1. pray
  2. seek scripture
  3. seek the wisdom of someone qualified
  4. allow God to show you His choice
  5. everyone is important in the Kingdom of God

Thanks for joining me today.  I hope you'll stop back next week for more on the Book of Acts.




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Friday Fun - Cool Bible Trivia

Mar 11, 2011

The most interesting things show up in my email.  Thought you would enjoy this one!

Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the bible

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the bible

Psalm 118 is the center of the bible

There are 594 chapters before Psalm 118
and 594 chapters after Psalm 118.

594 + 594 = 1188

The center verse of the bible:  Psalm 118:8

What does that verse say?
That's no accident either...
go look it up!

I absolutely love this!  God is  in control with amazing power and detail.  Even in the little things!

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Inspiring Women Series - Nikki

Mar 10, 2011




I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Nikki.  She's been married to her husband Greg for 15 years.  They are both preachers’ kids.  They have three great children, JP, Gabbi and Colton. Nikki is employed by our church as the Director of Involvement.  But that is not why I think she is inspiring!  It is the service and love she gives to others outside of her job description at the church.  Let's chat with Nikki:


When did you accept Christ as your Savior?

NIKKI:  I can’t remember ever a time without Christ.  My dad and both of my Grandpa’s were preachers.  I was baptized by my mom when I was in 6th grade.  (And that was back in the day when you only saw the preacher or a man perform a baptism!  It was by my dad’s suggestion that my mom be the one to baptize me!!)  I knew when I was in high school that my life was going to involve Christian ministry.    I have amazing Christian parents and I’m like both of them in different ways.  I get my love for hospitality from my mom and my love of grace and truth from my father.   

Do you remember a woman in your life who inspires you?  

NIKKI:  I have been blessed with many Godly influences but my Grandma Odom (my mom’s mother) is at the top of my list.  There was no one like her.  At her funeral my dad spoke and shared something I had never heard before.  He said that when my dad starting dating my mom, that her dad (my grandpa) said to him privately that he had NEVER witnessed my Grandma knowingly sin.  My dad confessed that he thought to himself, “that’s very sweet of a husband to say about his wife, but certainly not true.”  But, years later, my dad could attest to the same thing of her- he had never seen her knowingly sin.  Certainly not claiming that she never sinned- but those that knew her the best never saw it.  She was the closest thing to what and who Jesus was in my life.    

My grandparents owned a clothing store in a small town and knew everyone that walked in.  My Grandpa was busy with being a bank president, community leader, business owner, making hospital calls, elders meetings, preaching so my Grandma did everything right alongside him and in his absence when has was working on other things.  She ran the store- worked at the church - she did everything- the picture of Proverbs 31 - she was an amazing strong woman of God.  She loved everyone with the love of Jesus. 

You and a group of friends have recently been spending some quality time with some precious women at a Gentleman’s Club.  Can you tell me how this came about?

NIKKI: I certainly did not wake up one morning and decide to go to a strip club.  But, I do remember when I really started studying the Gospels thinking that Jesus would be going to bars and wondering about what other places that “Christians” would condemn today…. What are the wells of this century?? This all started with an email that our senior pastor forwarded to me from a young woman in our church that emailed him telling him that she was a stripper and she was surprised to find out that there were MORE strippers at our church!!  Mike thought that I would want to follow up with her and I did…..  I finally got her to come in and meet with me in my office.  She would come in from time to time and we began a cool friendship.   A lot of meetings, prayers, and drama later…… I encouraged her to consider attending Bible college.  After I took her to a campus visit at Lincoln Christian University, I realized that she was totally out of her comfortable surroundings.  I decided that I needed to go into her environment.  She was no longer a stripper- but she sold the clothes that the girls wear.  So, I started going with her when she would sit in the dressing room of the clubs selling outfits to the girls.  

I can’t begin to tell you how heartbreaking it is to witness this setting.  My heart breaks for the men, women, and couples that patronize the clubs.  My heart breaks for the ladies that are use their bodies to make money to support their children.   I can’t even tell you how much I love them.  They all need Jesus and most feel so ashamed of who they are and what they’ve done that to attend church would be hypocritical.  No one needs to tell them that the lives they lead are messed up.  They freely talk about their lives and I LOVE being able to be there to be a listening ear.   


 
I’m convinced that when we get to heaven that many people will be surprised at those that enter the Kingdom.  I’m convinced that many of these girls pray more than ladies that enter church faithfully every Sunday.  (I do have a blog where I keep some updates- although I have stopped writing as much due to confidentiality   www.meetmeatjacobswell.blogspot.com  There are some very cool stories shared there though!!) 

You also became an ordained minister so that you could go into the jail/prison setting to teach bible studies.   To many readers, this would be a huge stretch of faith and courage.  What motivates you and gives you the courage to witness in such bold ways?

NIKKI:  I don’t think of what I do as being very bold or courageous.  Jesus says to go and make disciples of all nations- all nations doesn’t have to be a “missions” trip to Morocco.  Sometimes it may seem easier to need a passport to enter in Jesus’ name- but there are the same lost people down the road in the jail and strip clubs that have never heard the love and hope of Jesus Christ.  There’s nothing I LOVE more than to give someone their very first Bible and tell them how much Jesus loves them. 

Every Friday morning from 9-11 is the highlight of my week!  Most of the girls in the jail have NEVER had anyone in their life that has loved them like Jesus loves them.  
Being the Director of Involvement for a large church is a big task.  What is your favorite part of this job?  Hardest part?

NIKKI: My favorite part of my role is having the opportunity to meet people when they first enter Eastview.  It’s overwhelming to most and I love the task of helping them realize that it’s easy to make a big church feel small just by getting involved.  The other part of that is that a lot of people that are new- are overwhelmed that there’s a God that would love and forgive them.  It’s not uncommon to hear something like, “if I told you what I’ve done you wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore.”  Satan has a great scheme of keeping people out of the church by making them feel unworthy of grace because of past sins.  

I would say there are 2 things in my role that are really difficult.  One is just hearing about people’s backgrounds and all the garbage they have been through or are going through in their life- sin and consequences they are trying to overcome.  The stories are heavy and when I’ve heard a lot in a short period especially it really weighs on me.  My heart hurts.  I often read Matthew 11:28-30 for myself and to those I meet with.  “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  

The second thing that is difficult for me is to see people make really unwise choices.  It’s the parable of the soils- to some the message falls on shallow soil and they come and go quickly.  Others the message is falling on rock and never really changes their life.  But God is always at work and never out of God’s reach. 

What kind of encouragement would you give my readers about living their faith out loud?

NIKKI:  Do something!!  Don’t just hang around with people that call themselves Christians. Get out of your comfort zone.  I believe that one reason why God has me going to the places where I go is because then I TOTALLY need Him!  I have the tendency to tell God, “I’ve got it- if I need anything- I’ll let you know!”  So- He puts me where I don’t have it- and I do need Him!  

Several years ago, a good friend of mine and I decided that we needed to pray on the west side (the bad side!) of town.  So, we met together every week and walked and prayed the streets of the west side.  Something happened through that and neither of us have been the same since.    I will say that it is scary and uncomfortable.  But if it’s not, do you really need God?    

Well friends, didn't I promise you inspiration?  Nikki, thank you so much for sharing your life with us! (I love serving with you!)


Now it's your turn. Tell us about an Inspiring Woman in your life and link up below!


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ABC to Attack Christianity with New Show

Mar 9, 2011

Today my iFellowship link up isn't quite so warm and fuzzy.  Not much encouraging about this post.  But I hope you will stand up and take notice....speak up for your faith.  I was absolutely appalled when I opened my email yesterday to read this:

 

ABC network set to attack Christianity with 

"Good Christian B-tches" show

March 7, 2011


Dear Cherie,

The ABC network is currently working on a pilot for a prime-time program called "Good Christian B-tches."
It's a Christian-bashing version of ABC's current "Desperate Housewives." The show centers on a recently divorced mother of two who moves back to the affluent neighborhood where she grew up to find herself in the whirling midst of gossip, Botox and fraud.

Disney-owned ABC has no reservations about creating hate speech against Christians, but you can be sure they would never consider a show called "Good Muslim B-tches" or "Good Jewish B-tches."

With a title like "Good Christian B-tches," you can imagine what kind of show it will be. Even if they change the title, the content will still mock people of faith.

TAKE ACTION
Sign a petition to ABC and parent company Disney to drop all plans to air the anti-Christian program.
We'll add your petition to thousands of other voices in also urging advertisers to place it on their "do not advertise" list and consider pulling all ads from the ABC network in protest of this Anti-Christian bigotry.

Sincerely,

Monica Cole, Director
OneMillionMoms.com


Does this anger you as much as it angers me?  Let's do something about it!  Go sign the petition at One Million Moms, send ABC an email or tweet telling them that you are not going to support them or this program.


Do not let the name of Christianity be aligned by such failed attempts at humor at our expense.  Please share this with everyone you know and ask them to participate.  Mainstream media is going too far.  It is time for Christians to stop lying down and taking it!!  Speak up!



iFellowship


Don't forget to join us tomorrow for another installment of the Inspiring Women Series!  You won't want to miss meeting Nikki!

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Tavern Direct.com - A company on a mission

Mar 8, 2011


 I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic company with a heart breaking mission:  Support and Discovery Missing and Exploited Children.  Tavern Direct was founded to provide a constant revenue stream for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Of strong personal importance to both of Tavern Direct's co-owners, is the support and discovery of Missing and Exploited Children, committing to donate $0.50 from every item sold, and more on select baskets and bundles. This means every purchase made through TavernDirect.com, every gift basket for your Uncle, every marinade to treat your family, every Balsamic Vinegar you stock your pantry with- that comes from Tavern Direct directly aids the families and victims of these crimes. 

I had the privilege of meeting Lou at The Relevant Conference last October as he shared their mission.  We were lucky enough to get  to taste many of the dipping oils during our lunch with Lou.  DELISH!

Lou just sent me a bottle of the Toscana Garlic Parmesan marinade.  *YUM*  I love that Tavern Direct has recipes right on the website for you!  So we decided to try the Grilled Chicken Breast and Vegetable Medley.  Super easy!
I sauteed some peppers and onions.
I marinated the chicken for about 3 hours, and cooked them in a skillet since it was only 35 degrees outside!  I'm sure grilled would have been even better!

And the results were absolutely yummy-ness!  Doesn't that look delicious?

I would so appreciate your support of Tavern Direct!  Click on over and see all their wonderful products.  Buy something to support a great organization!  You won't be disappointed.  They are the perfect answer to sending gifts across the country!


I received no monetary compensation for this post. I received a product sample for the purpose of my review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

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The Book of Acts

Mar 7, 2011


Our church is beginning a year long study on the book of Acts and I thought it would be fun to share what I am learning each Monday here at Heart and Soul!

First, let's cover a little background about the book.  Acts is kinda like book II, a sequel of the book of Luke, both written by Luke.  He is writing to Theophilus about the spread of Christianity around the Mediterranean, which today would represent Syria, Turkey and Greece.  Luke is the only non-Jewish writer in the New Testament.

Luke has shown that he is a lover of facts, and we see that many of his writings come from first hand witnessing of the events, as Luke was with Paul on many of his journeys and jail stays.  The book of Luke is his own account of the time he spent personally with Jesus.  Acts is a continuation of how Jesus work will continue through the acts of the Holy Spirit

Next week we'll dig right in talking about the very first leadership decision covered in Acts 1:12-26.  I hope you'll join me each week on this journey through Acts.

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Recall Notice on all Human Beings!

Mar 4, 2011

I like to keep things fun and light on Fridays here at the blog, so I thought you might all get a good chuckle out of this.  I received it by email and have no idea who wrote it, but it is very fun!

RECALL NOTICE:    The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed "Subsequential Internal Non-Morality," or more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed.  

Some of the symptoms include :  
1. Loss of direction  
2. Foul vocal emissions  
3. Amnesia of origin  
4. Lack of peace and joy  
5. Selfish or violent behavior  
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component  
7. Fearfulness 
8. Idolatry  
9. Rebellion 

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect.   The Repair Technician, JESUS,  has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required The number to call for repair in all areas is:  P-R-A-Y-E-R . 

Once connected, please upload your burden of  SIN  through the REPENTANCE  procedure. Next, download  ATONEMENT  from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.     No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:  

1. Love  
2. Joy  
3. Peace  
4. Patience  
5. Kindness  
6. Goodness  
7. Faithfulness  
8. Gentleness  
9. Self control     

Please see the operating manual, the  B.I.B.L.E.  (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.  WARNING:  Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. 

For free emergency service, call on  Jesus.     

DANGER:  The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility. 

Thank you for your attention!     - GOD      

P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by 'Knee mail'!      

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Inspiring Women Series - Mom

Mar 3, 2011


It seems we all have someone in our life that has made a huge impression on us, someone who has inspired us to be more, someone who has encouraged us through thick and thin.  Inspiring Women. God seems to put just the right person in our path at just the right time.  Inspiring Women help us grow, raise our families, and live our faith out loud.   I know several women who fit that description, and I want to share them with you over the coming weeks each Thursday.

I felt it most appropriate to first introduce you to my Mom.

Mom with two of her four great-grandchildren.

She's had more influence over me than she probably realizes.  It starts all the way back to when I was in grade school.  Mom and Dad attended a couples bible study for many years.  All the kids would tag along and play while the adults met over their bibles and prayer.  I didn't realize at the time that this was something that had a huge effect on my Dad's faith as well.

I asked Mom how that all began:

MOM:  Some women here had a womans Bible class (when you were 3. We had a babysitter in another house). We had a potluck supper for us and our husbands in the basement of the bank. It was there that Bob convinced Paul(Dad) that he was saved. The guys decided they'd like to come to the Bible class. Bob said he would try to teach it. And so it began....it was in several homes over the years. 

So who has had the biggest effect on your faith over the years?

MOM:  Bob and Ruth Draper through those bible studies.

Do you remember when you accepted Christ?

MOM:  I can’t think of a specific time. I attended Sunday School ever since I can remember so I think it was more of a gradual understanding that I accepted what I had been taught. Until my adult years, I didn’t really realize the full impact.  Thinking back....I  think I  always new 'about' Jesus and Him giving his life for me, but I was not aware that I had to "invite" Him in to my heart.....the difference of head knowledge and heart knowledge!  I became aware of this at those morning Bible studies

You were married very young, and at the time, Dad was a Catholic and not a strong believer.  How did you handle the differences in your faiths?  

MOM:  He was a strong believer, he just didn’t know it. He had been taught that he would go to Hell if he left the church. I kept quoting John 3:16 to him. After he had a conversation with the priest, he decided to join my church. At the home Bible studies, he finally realized that he was saved ‘forever’ no matter what church he belonged to.

Many of my readers know that Dad died at a young age of lung cancer.  Of course, that means you were young as well.  How did your faith carry you through this difficult time? 

MOM:  My God was stronger than my faith! We had prayed so hard for Paul to be healed. He had been anointed with oil and we really were claiming that promise. When he died, I was so mad at God that I couldn’t even attend church for several months. When I realized that He still loved me in spite of my anger, and understood my anger, I slowly began to return to church and rekindle my relationship. 

I know you were completely surprised and blessed to fall in love again 25 years later, only to have Ken pass away very suddenly and unexpectedly.  Can you describe how loosing another man you loved affected your faith once again?

MOM:  Again, God was stronger than me. He held me together and kept me from ‘going over the edge’.  I was very confused by this event as our relationship seemed to be perfect in many ways. We thought it was God’s plan for us to be together.  The results? Blessed to have been loved so deeply and sharing love with one who had, himself, been through recent tragedy.  A saying I found that has helped to heal these wounds is, “All that really matters in the end is that you loved.”  And, “Don’t cry because it’s over, laugh because it happened.”

This loss may have been even harder to recover from.  Can you explain?

MOM:  When Paul died, he had been ill for over a year. His health gradually declined so we were prepared for it. When Ken died of a heart attack, it was a shock. And thinking it was meant to be, was heartbreaking. With family and friends praying for me during this time, I’m sure it was their faithfulness that has held me up. I still struggle with this but am trying to accept God’s plan for me, whatever that may be. 

So as you can see, Mom has been through some tough times in her life, but has always relied on God to bring her back to wholeness.  Why do I find her inspiring?
When it became clear that my Dad didn't have much longer to live, Mom performed one of the most incredible acts of love that I have ever seen.  My Dad's favorite place in the world was our family cabin in Canada.  It was all he would talk about for 51 weeks of the year....waiting to go to Canada.  Mom found someone who would loan them a van that could fit my Dad's hospital bed inside so she could drive him 14 hours to the cabin just one more time.  They only spent a few days, and then they drove all the way back.  Dad died a few days later.

Mom now needed a way to support herself, so she decided to pursue getting her GED.  After she this achievement, she worked full time for over 25 years, until just recently retiring.

After Dad died, my life began a downward spiral that ended in a divorce and deep depression 9 years later.  Mom was there for me every step of the way.  She came to stay with me  to help care for D, who was only 4 at the time.  There were some days she literally had to force me help me get out of bed and get dressed.  She never let me forget that God was watching over me and would get me through, that leaning on my faith was the only way out of the darkness.

Mom, I love you.  Thanks for your strength and always standing by me, no matter what, and more importantly, never giving up on God!  You are an Inspiration!

Now it is your turn, dear readers!  Do you have someone you would like to honor with a blog post about how they have inspired you?  Link up below and tell us!



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