Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fixed on Jesus

I continue to be amazed at how God reveals himself to me.  I have been studying the book of Revelation and when you look at how he addresses the seven churches, they each needed to see a different aspect of God.  When God addresses them, He reminds them of the very thing they need to remember about Him.

The past few weeks have been extremely overwhelming and difficult, but I am continually amazed how God puts the right verse, the right song and the right people to encourage me. The Holy Spirit has led people to pray for me.  My heart is full, being reminded of how much God values me.

God values you.  He loves you so much.  If you question what's going on around you, look to Scripture.  Does He have a lesson for you?  Is He growing you in a deeper way?  Does He need you to share the hope that you have in Him with someone else?  Stay strong.  Stay in the Word!  And most of all...keep your eyes on Jesus.  The world will tell you lies and try to knock you off course.  Persist in obedience and you will find blessing!

So for now...I'm keeping my eyes on Jesus and staying in His Words to me.  I hope you are too!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dependent

I am overwhelmed with the fact that God CHOOSES to use ME. 
  • I have let Him down.
  • I have broken His heart.
  • I have turned my back on Him and done my own thing.
  • I have worried.
  • I have put other things before Him.
  • I have ignored Him.
Yet...HE LOVES ME.  In spite of ME, HE LOVES ME....and WANTS a relationship with me. 

I have just become the Pastor of 37 North Church in Southgate, MI.  I am humbled.  I am overwhelmed.  I am excited.  I am scared.  I am blessed.  I am keeping my eyes on Jesus.  I can't do this on my own.  I can't love God's people the way they need to be loved on my own.  It's a good place to be.  A child...totally dependent on the Creator and Sustainer....that's where I find myself. 







Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jesus Calling

Psalm 27:4  My heart says of You, "Seek His face!"  Your face, Lord, I will seek. 

This year I have been reading the daily devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I love the title of this book!  Jesus Calls us every day to seek His face.  This book is about putting yourself in Jesus' presence on a daily basis.  When we do this, we experience His peace, His guidance, His comfort, His shelter, and so much more! 

I have found that there are many days when I am struggling to trust God's plan and I am feeling down.  These kind of days are hard to remember that God is still on the throne and that nothing is catching Him by surprise.  He sees tomorrow and we have no reason to fear or worry.  I find great encouragement in seeking His face, because when we seek Him, He WILL be found!

I got a new Bible and have been highlighting the verses that Sarah Young suggests we read.  After almost a year of highlighting, I have a Bible full of highlighted promises and encouragement at my fingertips. 

So, I continue to lead my heart in Psalm 27:4  "Seek His face!"  Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rejoicing with the angels!

Last night I had the awesome privilege of leading a young man to Christ.  Sometimes you wonder if the teens ever really hear what you are saying.  They sometimes act like they don't care and nothing matters, yet somehow it sinks in and God works! 

I am praying for my young friend, as his Mother was not as thrilled for him as he was to tell her about it.  I forget sometimes how hard it is for teens these days to stand up for truth. 

I rejoice in God's word that He says "My salvation will last forever.  My righteousness will never fail." (Isaiah 51:6b)  No one can take that salvation away.  I am  praying for continued faith for this young man and for his Mother to be drawn to Jesus as well.   

This is why I do what I do......salvation is near.......

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm BACCCCKKKK!!!!!

It has been an incredible journey these past couple years. I have been at my lowest and have come to know Christ in a deeper way. I am incredibly blessed to have gone through the "junk" to be where I am today.....deeper in love with my Savior and learning to keep my eyes focused on Him. This world can hand us some pretty icky stuff and the ONLY way to get through it is to realize who God is. God has been my strength, given me a song to sing when I didn't feel like it, provided for me in ways I couldn't even fathom, healed my heart, protected me in the storm, given me victory that I couldn't have attained on my own, and been the Cornerstone of my life. He has been faithful and true. He has sustained me and given me a new sense of purpose. I could go on and on. My Redeemer Lives! Today I just want to say....Jesus, I love you! Thank you for believing in me when I felt so alone. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for reviving me. Thank you for being my Intimate Friend, Savior, Shelter, Sustainer, Strength, Provider, Healer, Deliverer, Rescuer, Refuge, Comfortor, Transformer, and Breath of Life. Today I sing only Your praises!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A post from a friend

The following is a post from my former Pastor and friend. It touched my heart and I wanted to share it with you and pray it speaks to you as well.

I went to my cousin's memorial service this week. You would've loved Ed, he was a great pastor and a fun guy. I find myself sitting next to some of you in the stadium of questions. You know the place - it's the crowded arena that holds all of us who have had an experience that doesn't seem to fit in the game of life.

I hugged Ed's wife, who now is without a husband, a father for their kids, a pastor, and even a church. I stood in the stadium next to her and felt a fraction of her pain. We cried. I walked and talked with my other cousin who is now without his younger brother and himself racked with pain from cancer - we talked about God, about questions, about hanging on.

The stadium is often quite full. As I work my way out of the stadium I'm looking back making some observations.

1. The stadium of questions rarely has answers. I went in with a list of things that didn't make sense to me. I went in with a bunch of suggestions for God on how he could have handled this one differently. I went in thinking I should be exempt from having to be there again. I went in knowing I wasn't alone - but feeling like I was. Being answerless makes what I feel bigger than what I know.

2. The stadium is often the birth place of anger. It is amazing to me how close we are to an angry response. Please know that God can handle our anger, but in most cases it's a huge waste of our energy. We get angry over what we can't change and don't like. The danger is that anger not given to God grows into a poison that infects all of our life and is usually expressed on innocent bystanders.

3. The stadium of questions is where I am most selfish. I couldn't count how many people were there. When I'm in the arena I'm not usually aware of anyone else. I see people, but I don't notice souls if I'm not careful. My questions become my identity and the absence of answers is my evil twin. We're not good for each other.

4. The stadium of questions some how grows me. After I sit in my chair for a while and search for illusive answers I eventually notice that Someone is sitting close to me. At some point He asks if I am ready to leave. "But I don't have an answer yet," I reply refusing to get up. "You know, you can leave without one, don't you?" He kindly asks. "But if I have questions doesn't that mean I am weak and have no faith?" "No," He didn't hesitate to answer. "Are you willing to keep walking without an answer? Are you bold enough to let My Father have the answers and not share them with you? Are you able to have faith and questions at the same time?" He asked the series of rapid fire questions not waiting for my response. "Yah, I think I am." I finally said. "I'd love to have a person like that walk with me," He smiled. We stood together. I don't have answers - I have a Friend.

Leaving the Arena Again,
Pastor Dave

Monday, April 26, 2010

GOD IS UP TO SOMETHING GREAT

I have found myself saying "That's just not fair!" this week. I have experienced frustrating situations that I would allow to consume me. I have let my mind wander and have experience a cluster of destructive emotions. I had valid reasons to be angry; valid reasons to fight; valid reasons to quit. So, if that is the case, why would I say "it's not fair" and out of the same mouth "God is up to something great"?

Perspective. It comes down to perspective. In all of our situations, whether or not we can see it, God is up to something great! Through our situations, we may find ourselves saying:
• How could God let this happen?
• This isn't fair!
• If God cares about me, why is he allowing ____________ to happen?

Our life is a short little speck in light of eternity. God has seen all of the past thousands of years and he already sees the next thousand years. He knows everything we have ever done and will ever do. He knows what will happen to us...the good, the bad and the ugly!

We all have lived enough life that at this point you can probably say that you could write and even direct the movie "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". We have each experienced those times in our life when everything seems to be going our way.
• every time you go to park your car, there is a front row spot just for you
• finances are good
• friendships are good
• you're healthy
• your family is healthy and getting along

It's a great time! But life isn't always what we would term "good". We live in a fallen world. From the beginning when Eve took the fruit and gave it to her husband, sin entered into the world. From that point on, God said we would have to work for our food. We would have troubles and life would be hard. Sometimes life is bad.
• facing relationship strains
• financial hardships
• maybe you were laid off from your job for a time
• maybe a car accident or other difficult times
• life just seems stressful
And then there are times that life gets down right ugly.
• health issues - cancer or some other debilitating disease
• bankruptcy
• divorce
• friendships are in turmoil
• at every turn it seems everything is going wrong

But in all our situations, God is up to something great! Stick with me for a few minutes. I know, you are thinking, What? Did she take a happy pill or something? How can she say God is up to something great? She has NO idea what I am facing right now. Life is ugly and unfair and I don't know how God can let this happen to me. Like I said...stick with me for a few minutes and let's take a look at someone in the Bible that had every reason to say "Life's not fair!"

We are going to take a look at the life of Joseph. Genesis 37 We won't be reading all the chapters, but I'm going to give you the cliff notes version of the story and we'll highlight some verses along the way.

Joseph was the son of Jacob. Joseph had 10 older brothers and they weren't such good boys:
• murderers
• affair with father's concubines
• sex with his daughter in law....thought it was a prostitute

Joseph was Jacob's favorite son. He loved him the best. He gave him a coat of many colors to show his love for him. It was no secret that he was the favorite. Joseph didn't do himself any favors either. He tattled to his father that his brothers were doing a poor job in the fields and he had a dream that his brothers would bow down to him and he went out to the fields to tell his brothers about this dream. True, but that probably didn't go over real well with the brothers who already hated him.

It got to the point that the brothers wanted to kill Joseph. They plotted and planned and then his brother Reuben had the idea of throwing him into a pit and he would die of thirst and exposure. It seemed more palatable to them instead of outright murder.

But then, the Midianite traders were going by and they decided that they could make some money off him, so they pulled him out of the pit and sold him for 20 shekels of silver.

Continuing with the story, we see the Midianites sold him as a slave to Potiphar, one of the Pharoh's highest ranking officials.

Joseph went from being the favored son to being a slave. He faced rejection, hate, neglect and probably felt completely alone.

Then we see my favorite verse in this whole story: Genesis 39:5 "the Lord was with Joseph" God was intimately aware of Joseph's circumstances, feelings, and future. Joseph's life was not catching God by surprise. I am sure God's heart broke watching Joseph go through the troubles he was facing, but God was up to something great! The Lord was with Joseph.

Let's keep on with the story. It gets worse. Joseph is a slave in Potiphar's house. He's a good looking dude and Potiphar's wife begins to lust after him and propositions him. In Genesis 39:8-9, we see Joseph refusing. She doesn't like his answer, so what does she do? She falsely accuses him of having an affair with her and Potiphar threw Joseph into prison for it. so, Joseph does the right thing and it seems to put him in a worse position.

So, let's review so far:
• hated by his brothers
• loved as the favorite by his father
• sold as a slave for $
• sold again as a slave
• makes wise, good choices and is thrown into prison for false accusations

THE BIG QUESTION:
• "Why am I going through all this?"
• "Lord, how do you want to use this ugliness to move me ahead for your purposes?"
We don't have time for the first "it's not fair" approach! Sometimes we can't see the reason for a situation, but all the while God has a plan that we can't yet see.

Tony Evan's shares a great example of this from his family life: Their car was falling apart and needed to be replaced. Family gave the very last of their finances to the church on Sunday, not even knowing how they were going to put food on the table. Later that week, as they were traveling down the highway, their car caught on fire. Car repairs were the last thing he could afford to pay for right now. He had it towed to the shop to get an estimate, but when he got there, they had the car totally torn apart and were fixing it. He knew he had a $200 deductible on his insurance and he had no idea how he would pay for it. The shop said the insurance company said to go ahead and do the work. Upon checking his insurance papers, he found he had no deductible only if it was a fire. So all the work that needed to be repaired was now done for free.

At the time of the fire, it looked like an impossible situation. He was frustrated and discouraged and yet all the while God was coming to the rescue behind the scenes. They had no idea how GREAT the final outcome was going to be. God was diligently working.

You see, just because we can't SEE what God is doing, doesn't mean that He isn't working. God is up to something great!

So how did Joseph respond to all of his circumstances?
He may have prayed something like this: "Lord, if you have to allow what is going on in my life to bring about even greater things, then that's ok. I am willing to trust you completely and put my life in your hands, since I know you are up to something great!"

Joseph served diligently. His actions revealed his heart. While in prison, he interpreted two different dreams. One of them was that the guy was going to get out of prison. He asked that man, who would become a cupbearer to plea for him to Pharoah. Genesis 40:14-15 " But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharoah and get me out of this prison. For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in the dungeon." Get this....the man forgot.

Years pass! Joseph is still in prison for a crime that he didn't commit. Yet, remember the verse "the Lord was with Joseph." God was up to something great!

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams and he was scared and needed an interpretation. It was at this point that the cupbearer said "OH YA!!! Um, ya, there's this guy in prison named Joseph and he interpreted a dream for me and maybe you should bring him in."

Genesis 41:34-36 we see that Egypt is going to experience a famine and Joseph would save Egypt through the instructions in that dream of how to prepare for the famine.
Pharaoh was impressed and we see in Vs. 39-40 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you."

Joseph is promoted. Only the king would be greater than him. He went from a prison cell to the second in the kingdom. From prison to Vice President of the USA.

So, the famine is playing out as Joseph said. His brothers are still back in Canaan starving from the famine. Egypt had grain, so they left to go buy grain from Egypt. Little did they know that they would be buying from their very own brother, Joseph. At first, Joseph didn't reveal who he was. He wanted to test to see if they had changed. He wanted to see what kind of men they really were.

James 1: 2-4 says to "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything."

He grows our character and makes us stronger people to do the work that God calls us to do. It's in those hard times that God is creating you into the person he wants you to be to do the work that he has planned for you to do. God has to test us to see if we have changed. Are we the strong people that we need to be to do the next task God has for us?

Joseph sees that the hearts of his brothers have changed. Genesis 45:4-7 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But god sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."

Look at the words that come out of Joseph's mouth. He doesn't cast blame on them. He doesn't say "I can't believe you did that to me." He doesn't call them a jerk. Look at what he says: Joseph said "God sent me". Even though it happened by being sold into slavery. You thought you were getting rid of me, but God was orchestrating a plan, using the bad and ugly events of my life to fulfill HIS purpose for this time. He prepared me in advance for this time in history. You see, Genesis 50:20 says You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. There's some comfort in that, isn't there? There's comfort in knowing that God is accomplishing a bigger work and He intends to use US! He has chosen YOU for the task.

Perspective! Joseph chose to look at it through the lenses of God's glory being revealed vs. a "that's not fair" approach

Have you ever seen REAL pizza made? Not the kind of pizza where everything comes pretty much pre-made. I mean...REAL pizza. The kind of pizza place that serves homemade dough. They take that dough and kneed it and punch it and roll it around. The pound on that dough and then they twirl it and make it ready for baking. Why do they work it so hard? Because that dough has to be able to hold "the works" on top of it without falling apart and splitting out.

We are like that pizza dough and God is the person working the dough. He has some good stuff that he wants to lay on you, but he can't give it to you until you are strong enough to hold all that stuff. God has good things in store for you. The process seems brutal at times, but when we finally see God's plan revealed, it's worth it! Oh, it's so worth it!!! We have to trust that.

Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.
If we were to look at the verses before Jer. 29:11, we see that Israel is in captivity in Babylon because they had rebelled against God. They were being disciplined. They were hopeless and discouraged and living in a pagan, evil, idolatrous place. And smack dab in the middle of all that is Jer. 29:11 offering hope and a future.

You see, God has a plan for you. Even if you have missed it or ignored it for years. How do we hold on to that hope? The first step to hope is:

1. STEP UP IN FAITH
Have you ever booked a flight? What do you do when you book a flight?
1. Identify the destination of the flight.
2. Pick a time to fly that works for me.
3. Affordable price.
After that you just show up and fly, right?
Have any of you ever:
1. Asked the pilot to explain how the plane works?
2. Ask the pilot what the equipment does and how they plan to use it?
3. Checked the route to make sure you are flying only directly to the destination?
4. Argued with the price after you already made your reservation and paid for it?

No, we don't do that. We book the flight and trust the pilot to get us to our destination. How much more do we need to trust God? He is our pilot and we have placed our life in His hands. We need to stop questioning the route he is taking. Have faith. What is faith? Believing in what we can't see. Have faith that God is at work and has a plan for you. Have faith that God has a hope and a future for your life.

How's your faith?

2. RUN AWAY FROM SIN
Hebrews 12:1 says Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. That first word you see there "therefore" means something came before it. It means, in light of what you just read, this is what you should do. What came before Hebrews 12:1? It's the great faith hall of fame. It tells of all those who had faith and in God's plan and their actions showed their faith but didn't see what had been promised to them. Hebrews 11:39-40 says 39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

So, in light of this, we get to Hebrews 12:1 and SINCE we have such a great heritage of those going before us that had faith, we must throw off all that hinders. Let me stop right there. What hinders your hope? Is there anything in your life that hinders your faith in God's plan? Throw it off! And the sin, that easily entangles. Throw it off too!

It's so easy to get tangled up in sin when life isn't going the way we had pictured our life to be. It's easy to get angry, to give up, to throw our fist up at God in anger. It's easy to run to those things that look like they will satisfy us, but in the end, they just dig our hole even deeper.

Satan sure works hard at making sin look attractive, doesn't he? Oh, I can do ________ and it won't hurt me. No, maybe it won't, but next step down the road, WILL. Don't even play with sin! Run from sin! It starts in our minds. Do you ever let your mind wander and think that it's not hurting anyone? Those initial thoughts, left unattended to, turn into bigger thoughts and eventually down a path of sin. Those things that hinder: start in our mind, distracting us from the good that God has for us.

Don't believe the lies! Go back to step one. Step up your faith that God has a plan and don't take your eyes off that. Don't believe the lies that the enemy tries to distract you with. Don't just walk away. RUN!!!

3. WALK IN GOD'S PRESENCE
If we look at Jeremiah 29 again, where God promised hope. He didn't just promise the hope and let them sit back and do nothing. He told them exactly what to do.

Jeremiah 29:5-7 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

God told them exactly what to do. Don't just sit back and wait for God. Maximize your potential! How do we do that? How do we maximize our potential?
• learn from your mistakes
• remember God is working behind the scenes....trust Him! Step up in faith!
• run away from sin
• be confident that God will accomplish the work he has begun in you. Philippians 1:6 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Walking in God's presence means we seek him! Active looking for God in our lives and situations.Jeremiah 29:12-14 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

I think many times we misuse this verse. We seek solutions from God and we use this verse to say "Call on God and He promises to answer your prayer and fix all your problems if you pray with all your heart." That's not what these verses say. It says "When you seek ME, you will find ME, when you seek ME with all your heart. I will be found you." It doesn't say seek solutions. It says...seek HIM and you will find HIM and let me tell you, HE is far better than anything you are asking for, I guarantee it!

Do you notice all the key words are action words? God is up to something good, but we have a part to play in receiving it! We need to:
1. Step up in faith
2. Run away from sin
3. Walk in God's presence

Monday, March 29, 2010

Where did Easter come from?

A friend asked me the origin of the term "Easter" this week. I looked it up on Christiananswers.net (http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t020.html) and here's what I found:

Where did “Easter” get its name? Where did the concept of an Easter egg and bunny originate?


The name “Easter” has its roots in ancient polytheistic religions (paganism). On this, all scholars agree. This name is never used in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For these reasons, we prefer to use the term “Resurrection Sunday” rather than “Easter” when referring to the annual Christian remembrance of Christ's resurrection.

Ancient origin
Most reference books say that the name “Easter” derived from the Eastre, the Teutonic goddess of Spring. Although this relationship exists, in reality, the origin of the name and the goddess are far more ancient - going all the way back to the Tower of Babel. The origin begins not long after the biblical Flood.

The Flood was a divine judgment sent on mankind after evil had become all pervasive and all people everywhere were totally unresponsive to God. The Bible says that "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5, NKJV). It is not difficult to imagine that life must have been almost unbearable at this time in history. God gave humankind a second chance by preserving the righteous man Noah and his family (a total of 8 people).

After the Flood, Noah had a talented, but evil, great-grandson named Nimrod (Genesis 10:6-10) who rebelled greatly against God. The Bible says that he was “a mighty one”[1] Jewish tradition indicates that Nimrod was a tyrant "who made all of the people rebellious against God."[2] It is evident from history that Nimrod was not only a political leader, but also the lead priest of a form of occultic worship.[3]

King Nimrod, Queen Semiramis (Easter), and Tammuz (the “reincarnated” Nimrod)
Nimrod built and organized major cities. The Bible notes that these included Babel, Asshur, Nineveh and Calah (Genesis 10:10-12). If you know anything about ancient history, the mention of these places may send shivers up your spine. For these were cities of great, almost unimaginable practices and perversion.
When Nimrod eventually died, the Babylonian mystery religion in which he figured prominently continued on. His wife Queen Semiramis saw to that. Once he was dead, she deified him as the Sun-god. In various cultures he later became known as Baal, the Great Life Giver, the god of fire, Baalim, Bel, Molech, etc.

“Later, when this adulterous and idolatrous woman gave birth to an illegitimate son, she claimed that this son, Tammuz by name, was Nimrod reborn.”[4] Semiramis “claimed that her son was supernaturally conceived [no human father] and that he was the promised seed, the 'savior'” - promised by God in Genesis 3:15. “However, not only was the child worshipped, but the woman, the MOTHER, was also worshipped as much (or more) than the son!”[5] Nimrod deified as the god of the sun and father of creation. Semiramis became the goddess of the moon, fertility, etc.

"In the old fables of the Mystery cults, their 'savior' Tammuz, was worshipped with various rites at the Spring season. According to the legends, after he was slain [killed by a wild boar], he went into the underworld. But through the weeping of his mother… he mystically revived in the springing forth of the vegetation - in Spring! Each year a spring festival dramatically represented this supposed 'resurrection' from the underworld.[6]

Thus, a terrible false religion developed with its sun and moon worship, priests, astrology, demonic worship, worship of stars associated with their gods, idolatry, mysterious rites, human sacrifice, and more. Frankly, the practices which went on were so horrible that it is not fitting for me to speak of them here.

It was at Nimrod's city of Babel that a towering structure was first built in defiance of God as part of their Satanic religion. Archaeological evidence indicates that this was a spectacular pyramid-shaped structure (ziggurat). The Bible tells us that at this time there was only one language in the world and that most of the world's population centered in this area and participated in this religion. It was evident to God that all mankind would soon degenerate into a level of evil that would parallel that of the pre-Flood world. For humanity's sake, something had to be done to slow and frustrate this organization of an evil one world, tyrannical government.

God confused their language, so that they could not understand each other (Genesis 11:7). (This is the ultimate source of the world's many languages.) As a result, many people moved away from the area in groups according to their particular new language. Most, if not all, of these people carried their evil Sun-God-based religion with them. They continued to worship the stars and practice all the other ungodly rituals of their religion. Some also continued to build pyramids reminiscent of the Tower of Babel as part of this mystery religion. Today, we can still find remnants of these throughout the world (e.g., Iraq, South America, Central America, Egypt, Burma).

Babel was the origin of an idolatrous system that swept the world. The Bible says of her, “Babylon… the nations drank her wine; Therefore the nations are deranged” (Jeremiah 51:7). The Bible often speaks of the Satanic religions which came from her. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus "witnessed the Mystery religion and its rites in numerous countries and mentions how Babylon was the primeval source from which ALL systems of idolatry flowed.[7] Austen Layard said “that we have the united testimony of sacred and profane history that idolatry originated in the area of Babylonia - the most ancient of religious systems.”[8]

Basically, almost every vile, profane and idolatrous practice you can think of originated at Babel with Queen Semiramis, the Mother Goddess and Nimrod. As the people scattered from Babel with their different languages, they, of course, used different names for Nimrod (Tammuz) and Semiramis. Some called the Mother Goddess “ISHTAR” (originally pronounced “Easter”).[9] In other lands, she was called Eostre, Astarte, Ostera, and Eastre. Other names for Semiramis, the Mother Goddess include: Wife of Baal, Ashtaroth or Ashtoreth, and Queen of Heaven.[10] The Mother goddess was frequently worshipped as the goddess of fertility - and as a sort of Mother Nature and goddess of Spring and sexual love and birth. She was also worshipped as a mediator between god and man. Sexual orgies and temple prostitutes were often used in her worship and in attempting to gain her favor.

The Easter Rabbit or Hare
The rabbit is well known as a sexual symbol of fertility. In various parts of the world, religions which developed from Babel also associate the rabbit with periodicity, both human and lunar (Egypt, China, etc.). As you may remember, the Mother Goddess Semiramis (Easter) is associated with the Moon. In other words, the Easter bunny symbolizes the Mother Goddess. Annual Spring time fertility rituals are associated worship of the Mother Goddess and Tammuz, the reincarnation of her husband Nimrod.

The Easter Egg
Most children and families who color or hide Easter eggs as part of their Resurrection Sunday tradition have no knowledge of the origin of these traditions. Easter egg activities have become a part of Western culture. Many would be surprised and even dismayed to learn where the traditions originated.

“The egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. They believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size which was supposed to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvelous egg - according to the ancient story - the Goddess Astarte (Easter) [Semiramis], was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter.”[11]

The idea of a mystic egg spread from Babylon to many parts of the world.[12] In Rome, the mystic egg preceded processions in honor of the Mother Goddess Roman. The egg was part of the sacred ceremonies of the Mysteries of Bacchus. The Druids used the egg as their sacred emblem. In Northern Europe, China and Japan the eggs were colored for their sacred festivals.[13]

The egg was also a symbol of fertility; Semiramis (Easter) was the goddess of Fertility. The Easter egg is a symbol of the pagan Mother Goddess, and it even bears one of her names.

Summary and Conclusion
“Easter” is simply one of the names of a woman who mightily deceived the world and whose religion has caused untold suffering and misery.[14] She was clearly an enemy of Christianity, and her son Tammuz was an anti-Christ, a false messiah that ultimately deceived millions.


If you are Christian, it is not difficult to discern the bizarre deception and confusion that Satan has successfully orchestrated. For example, notice the embarrassing irony in these traditions which are practiced innocently by most people. They are repeated year after year, because they have become traditional and their origin is unknown to many.

■On the day commemorating Christ's resurrection, Americans roll decorated eggs on the White House lawn and pretend the Easter rabbit hid them. The same ritual is practiced at some Christian churches.
■“In Lancashire [England] on Easter eve boys and men have been in the habit of touring the towns and villages as 'Pace-eggers' begging for eggs before performing the 'Pace-Egging' or Pasch (i.e., Easter) play.”[15]
■In Greece each person in a group bangs his red EASTER EGG [not knowing that it is symbol of the Goddess] against the eggs of all the others present in turn, saying 'Christ is risen,' and receives the reply 'He is risen indeed.'"[16]
The seductive symbols of ancient ungodly religions inspired by Satan have been incorporated into people's everyday lives, even to this day - continuing to obscure the truth of God .
One might wonder if there is a better way for Christians to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection, the most important of all Christian holy days. In retrospect, it seems obvious that it would have been a better witness to the world if Christians had not attempted to “Christianize” pagan celebrations - adopting the name “Easter” (Ishtar/Semiramis) in remembrance of Christ. Jesus has been obscured by painted eggs and bunnies. Attention has been shifted away from spiritual truth and toward materialism (clothing, products and candies with the wrong symbolism). Stores merchandise the name of Easter (not “Resurrection Sunday”) and sell goods that have nothing to do with Christ's death and resurrection. Christians naively use symbols and practices that unknowingly perpetuate ancient anti-Christ traditions - symbolic customs followed by the same religious cults that inspired the destruction of great numbers of Christians and Jews. Is the Devil laughing at us?

Many church bodies recognize the problem and make every effort to keep the focus of Resurrection Sunday totally on Jesus Christ and the Good News that He brought.

Monday, March 15, 2010


It has been a long while since I have posted. So what have I been doing? Church. Fresh Start Community Church is a new church in Interlochen, Michigan, just outside of Traverse City. It has been an amazing journey!

We started services in December and held our official launch on March 7th. It has been a whirlwind of a trip but I am so excited to see what God has in store for this new church.

We held a carnival on Saturday, March 6th and we had over 400 people in attendance. It was well received and we pray to see some of those people walk through our church doors in the coming weeks.

Thank You, Lord for allowing me to be a part of this awesome opportunity that is so much bigger than I am. You know the plans you have for Interlochen. Plans to prosper and not to harm. Plans to give a hope and a future. Guide us and direct us in Your way. I want to see YOU!!!

Fresh Start meets on Sunday mornings at 11am in the Interlochen Library's Fellowship Hall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Complete faith

I want to share a quote from a friend that she posted on her facebook this week. It has totally encouraged me in my faith.

"To know that God watches my back is so wonderful. I say I trust Him to take care of me only to find that when it comes down to the wire, He outlasts my faith. Just when I wonder how I am going to make things work, He reminds me that it is His timing, not mine and comes through the Victor at the final bell. I am humbled."

I am in the process of starting a church in Interlochen, Michigan. It's an exciting time, but we have not been able to get into a building. There is NO question in my mind that this is what we are supposed to do, but why hasn't God opened up the doors to the right place for us? We have one option, but I am just not at peace about that quite yet.

God's timing is NEVER late. I trust in that and reading her quote reminded me once again, that He WILL come through and I just need to keep my eyes on the Savior and not look in any other direction. There is a reason for the delay and I have faith that we will open our doors on the perfect date that HE sets.

So, Thanks Sheryl for the reminder of God's faithfulness. I keep trusting...

Monday, May 4, 2009

I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN

Psalm 62:5-8 says Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people;pour out your hearts to him,for God is our refuge.



My soul finds rest in You
My fortress and my rock
My hope for life my hiding place
My refuge and my God

In You I've found my home
My shelter from the storm
And I'll pour out my heart to You
And lean upon Your throne

I will put my trust in You
I will put my hope there, too
I will stand upon Your word
And I will not be shaken

I will let my praises show
Holding on to what I know
Because I know You're always there
And I will not be shaken
I will not be shaken
(Repeat)

I will not be moved
I'm leaning on the throne
Because You died for me
And called me to Your own
And even when the strongest winds begin to blow

I will stand my ground
I will not be moved
I will not be shaken

My soul finds rest in You
My fortress and my rock
My hope for life my hiding place
My refuge and my God

I will put my trust in You
I will put my hope there, too
I will stand upon Your word
And I will not be shaken

I will let my praises show
Holding on to what I know
Because I know You're always there
And I will not be shaken

I will put my trust in You
I will put my hope there, too
I will stand upon Your word
And I will not be shaken

I will let my praises show
Holding on to what I know
Because I know You're always there
And I will not be shaken
I will not be shaken

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A little humor about criticism....

Prayer for the Church


Our merciful Father, may Thy church be stripped of all that weakens and be clothed with all that strengthens. Cleanse us from a worldly mind-a mind that reaches eagerly for the things that perish and discerns but dimly, the values that are deathless- and purge from our souls the pettiness that quarrels over trifles, the pride that makes an idol out of titles and offices, the narrowness that has no understanding eye for churches and nations and races other than our own. Drive from our hearts the complacency, the prayerlessness, the heedlessness that form always so deadly a drag on our discipleship and witness.

We ask, amid the difficulties and vexations of these times, for a holy and heartening remembrance of the pioneers who have blazed the long trails by which the gospel has been carried to strange lands and distant peoples. May the mantle of their dauntless courage and their passionate love for the souls of men fall upon us.

Revive Thy church everywhere. Give us reality to our worship. Grant soundness to our teaching. Kindle brotherly love into a glowing ardor. Turn our formal attachments into fiery committments. Push back our horizons and bestow upon us the truly seeing eye. May we be baptized by Thy Holy Spirit into feeling a oneness with all sorts and conditions of people. And thus may we enter into partnership with Thee in making known to all people in all places the message and power of Thy saving mercy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-From Paul Reese: Portrait of a Preacher

Monday, March 30, 2009

Olivia's hospital visit

It's been a while since my last post. It seems life has been pretty crazy. Olivia was in the hospital for a few days with a kidney infection. Brian was out of town and some friends of ours were out of town and we were watching their 3 girls. I wasn't sure how I was going to take her in to the hospital at 9pm and manage to get kids off to school and such in the morning. I am so blessed to have good neighbors. Andrew was ok to spend the night here and "hold the fort down" and my neighbor took the girls and my brother was able to take the big kids to the highschool. A big hearty THANK YOU to all who helped make things easier. I couldn't have done it without you. Olivia has been on antibiotics since the visit and is doing well. It took us a week to get back in the groove of things, but praise God she is back on her feet!

How quickly we can take our physical health for granted. I have a friend who has to go to the hospital all the time for her three children. She is a single Mom. I can't imagine all the time and money in trips to the children's hospital in Grand Rapids. She is a strong woman! I don't know how she does it, except in the strength of the Lord. I often forget to see how I can help her. I often forget how stressful that must be for her. I often forget how her heart must hurt for her children.

Have you forgotten? Have you taken your health for granted? I want to continually spend time in prayer...thanking God for our health and praying for those who need health. Who needs your prayers or encouragement today?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Slivers part 2

Last night I finally took that sliver out of my foot. Because it was so small, I had to dig a bit to get it out and now today, my foot really hurts. It hurts worse than when I had the sliver in there. Every step I feel the cut.

I thought about that for a bit, as it pertains to my post from yesterday. When we confess our sin and finally get it out of our lives, the pain of the consequences of our sin linger. Sometimes the consequences of our sin are worse than the pain of having the sin in our life.

The good news is...that pain may feel worse at first, but it goes away and you become stronger and wiser for having gone through that process.

Key for today: Cut out the slivers in your life and rejoice in God's grace and healing power in your life.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Slivers

Somehow when I was in the basement yesterday, I got a sliver from the floor in my foot. I didn't notice it much, but every once in a while I got a little poke in the bottom of my foot that kinda bothered me. It wasn't that big of a deal, so I left it. I figured it would work its way out since it was such a small sliver. It wasn't worth all the digging and cutting.

Last night every time I took a step it really kinda bothered me, but today, it's almost as if I've gotten used to the occassional little pick I get. It's not like I am running a marathon that I need to keep my feet in good condition. So...the sliver is still there.

In Hebrews 12:1 it says "Therefore, since we surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." The phrase that stands out to me is "sin that so easily entangles". Why and how does sin easily entangle us? It's like that little sliver. We convince ourselves that it's really not a big deal. It's just a little thing and isn't really bothersome, so we leave it. I'm talking about those things we might categorize as "little sins" (which, be reminded that sin is sin...it's not big or little, it's sin). Things such as: bad thoughts; gossip; not sharing our time, talent or money with God; watching a t.v. program that we know we really shouldn't; a little "white lie"; prayerlessness; overeating....You get the idea!

We tell ourselves that our particular sin is just a little thing, maybe hardly even a sin, and we let it go. We let it continue to be a part of our lives. But what happens when you don't remove those "slivers"? They tend to fester, get bigger and infection starts to set in. Now the sin is easily entangling us.

We are in a race. Little slivers will become bothersome and cause us to lose the race marked out for us, because our focus is off Jesus and on those things that have entangled us. Verse 2 of Hebrews 12 says that we need to "Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith." What does it mean to lose the race? We face the Lord's discipline, we may cause other's to sin with us, we end up deeper and deeper in sin, we may even get to the point where we just give up and walk away from the race. How incredibly sad, because it began so small and could have been easily removed.

So I am off to remove my sliver...both the real sliver in my foot and a sliver I've been justifying for a while. How about you? Got any slivers?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ABC's of a Great Marriage


My friend, Mark Wilson and his wife put this list together. With Valentine's Day approaching, it's a great time to spend some extra time on our marriages. Great list, Mark! You can visit more of Mark's thoughts HERE.


A - Accept your partner as he/she is - no strings attached.
B - Be attentive, thoughtful and considerate.
C - Commit yourself and your marriage to God.
D - Date each other regularly and often.
E - Endure the difficult times with a good spirit.
F - Forgive any grievances you may have against each other.
G - Give affection generously.
H - Have fun together. Make wonderful memories!
I - Involve your partner totally in your life. Don't shut him/her out.
J - Journey through life together, looking forward to what's around the bend.
K - Keep the lines of communication open. Always be honest.
L - Listen, really listen to your partner.
M - Make love often.
N - Never gripe about your mate to others.
O - Openly praise your mate.
P - Pray together. The couple that prays together, stays together.
Q - Quit doing stupid things that annoy your partner.
R - Remember to put the lid on the toothpaste tube.
S - Start something new. Don't let your love grow stale.
T - Take time to tune in to each other.
U - Understand that there is ebb and flow in every relationship.
V - V.I.P.! Treat your partner like the most important person in the world.
W - Write love notes.
X - 'Xpress affection and tenderness every day.
Y - Your spouse is God's gift to you. Be thankful!
Z - Zoom! Your marriage will zoom into high gear when you give it your best.

God's Positive Answers to Life

You say: "It's impossible"
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired"
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: I love you (John 3:1 6 & John3:34 )

You say: "I can't go on"
God says: My grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5- 6)

You say: "I can't do it"
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able"
God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it"
God says: It will be worth it (Roman 8:28 )

You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: I Forgive you (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage"
God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid"
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)

You say: "I'm not smart enough"
God says: I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone"
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Worship and Prayer

Prayer can no more be divorced from worship than life can be divorced from breathing. If we follow his impulse, the Holy Spirit will always lead us to pray. When we allow Him to work freely, he will always bring the Church to extensive praying. Conversely, when the Spirit is absent, we will find excuses not to pray. We may say, "God understands. He knows I love him. But I’m tired…I’m so busy…It’s just not convenient now." When the Spirit is absent, our excuses always seem right, but in the presence of the Spirit our excuses fade away.

R.T. Kendall

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The IRS

Isn't it interesting:
If you put the words "The" and "IRS" together you get...THEIRS

and....

If Fex Ex and UPS were to merge, they would be "FED UP" and then we could FED UP our payments to the IRS.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

While I'm Waiting

There are so many areas of my life that I have been bringing before the Lord. I am staying focused and worshipping and serving Him while I wait. Listen to the words of this song....While I'm Waiting
John Waller
The Blessing

I’m waiting.
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy, no
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait


I will move ahead, bold and confident
I'll be taking every step in obedience, yea

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

Friday, January 30, 2009

Are you distracted too?

This video is done by one of the Free Methodist Bishops. He has a good point to his message. Listen carefully...

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Sin of PRAYERLESSNESS


I have been reading a book called The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray. This book was written after a ministerial conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 1912. The ministers at the conference realized that one of the deepest roots of evil is the sin of prayerlessness. Andrew Murray writes about what they talked about to be victorious in this area.
It was interesting to me that the reasons they struggled with not praying back in the late 1800's and early 1900's are the same reasons we give today: distractions, busyness, sin, ect.... It is not that we don't have time to pray, as we make time for friends to come over when they call. It's a matter of choice.
Just as a doctor takes our pulse, our level of prayer is the pulse of our spiritual life. Prayer is a weapon that can destroy in a fight. We can conquer EVERYTHING by prayer. "Is it any wonder taht Satan does his utmost to snatch that weapon fromn the Christian or to hinder him from the use of it." Satan hinderances: giving us the temptation to postpone or curtail it, bringing wandering thoughts and all sorts of distractions, feelings of unbelief and hopelessness.
"The greatest stumbling block in the way of victory over prayerlessness is the secret feeling that we shall never obtain the blessing of being delivered from it." I know that at the funeral of dear Jessie Farlow, I committed to "picking up the mantle of prayer that she held in her life." I have struggled to do that on and off in my life. I pick it up and put it back down at times. I want to be a prayer warrior, but I have been looking at this all wrong.
Lack of prayer...a sin? But, if we look at it this way, we see that Jesus says "Just as I will cleans you from all other sins, so also will I deliver from the sin of prayerlessness - only do not seek the victory in your own strength."
Andrew Murray continues to say, "What a folly to think that all other blessings must come from Him, but that prayer, whereon everything else depends, must be obtained by personal effort! Thank God I begin to comprehend - the Lord Jesus is Himself in the Inner Chamber watching over me, and holding Himself responsible to teach me how to approach the Father. This only He demands - that I with child-like confidence, wait upon Him and glorify Him."
"Our whole relationship to the Lord Jesus must be a new thing. I must believe in His infinite love, which really longs to have communion with me every moment, and to keep me in the enjoyment of His fellowship. I must believe in His Divine power, which has conquered sin, and will truly keep me from it. I must believe in Him who, as the great Intercessor, through the Spirit, will inspire each member of his body with joy and power for communion with God in prayer. My prayer-life must be brought entirely under the control of Christ and His love. Then, for the first time, will prayer become what it really is, the natural and joyous breathing of the spiritual life, by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer."

This type of relationship, in love with my Savior, is what compells me to prayer. 1 John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This includes the sin of prayerlessness. This is how we can "pray without ceasing".

You can read this book online HERE.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Some friends have done this, and I have really enjoyed hearing their 25 things, so I thought I would share my 25 things with you here:

1. I grew up as the oldest of 3, a younger brother and sister. When I was pregnant with Andrew, I found out that I had 2 older half brothers from my Dad's first marriage that I knew nothing of. When I was pregnant with Olivia, my Mom got a call asking for my Dad from a young man. Upon conversation, I found out that I also have another half brother that is younger than me but older than the brother I grew up with. So, essentially, I have one sister and four brothers. And...I am DONE having kids! lol

2. I have two beautiful children, Andrew (15 years old) and Olivia (almost 9)!

3. I met Brian at McDonalds on May 25, 1990 and saw him every day after I met him until I went on a missions trip to Mexico in July of 1990.

4. I have lived in Michigan all my life, except for about 10 months when I was one years old, when we lived in Wisconsin.

5. I am an ordained minister in the Wesleyan church and currently serving as the Assistant Pastor at Woodside Wesleyan.

6. I love the beach and summertime weather.....and I live in Northern Michigan where it's polar opposite of that!

7. I love to wakeboard...even if I'm not that great at it.

8. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a missionary to Brazil.

9. I love worship music.

10. Someday I would like to plant a church.

11. I love to socialize.

12. Starbucks! Cinnamon Dolche Latte. Need I say more?

13. I like knowing the big picture of things. I like a plan.

14. I HATE to be late for anything.

15. Good Chinese food really hits the spot.

16. I love seeing people come to Christ and be victorious in their walk with Christ.

17. I used to make my sister and brother and all my stuffed animals and dolls be my "students" as I played teacher as a kid.

18. Even though most people would probably think of me as a rule breaker, I actually like people to play by the rules. I don't like to see injustice, disrespect, or dishonor.

19. I attended Calvary Baptist Academy/Church almost all my life. When I was a Senior in high school we moved over to Midland Free Methodist Church and my first week there I signed up for the missions trip to Mexico for that summer. It felt like home immediately.

20. I have received much grace through my mistakes in life and hope I can extend just as much love and grace as I have been given.

21. Once I set my mind to something, I have a hard time changing gears or letting go.

22. I process things by talking them out. (sometimes a good thing, sometimes not)

23. I have lived in Traverse City since January of 2003.

24. My favorite color is periwinkle. (for those of you asking what that is....it's light blue and light purple and mixed together)

25. I love flowers, but seldom have them in my home, cuz I hate that they die......that's why I garden in the summertime.

Monday, January 5, 2009

23 MINUTES IN HELL


I just finished this book by Bill Wiese. Bill is a realtor that experienced 23 minutes in hell one night. He and his wife Annette share their story.

Whether you believe he actually went to hell or not, I pray that it will open your eyes to Scripture. May we each avoid hell and be inspired to share the gospel with others so that they, too will avoid hell.

Bill shares his story in the video here.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kung Fu Panda


We watched Kung Fu Panda last night. I really liked this quote from the movie:


"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but TODAY is a GIFT. That's why they call it the present."


What are you doing with the gift of today that you have been given?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finding Peace at Christmas


If you have ever seen a beauty pageant? What is the one thing that they frequently say that they are working for or wish for? World Peace! Everyone longs for peace.

Have any of you been shopping this past week? If you were, did you walk out of the store saying “Wow, this season is full of peace on earth and goodwill to men!” Ha ha….probably not! Some of you may be thinking “Peace at Christmas? Is that possible?”

This week I watched a t.v. program that had a woman on who HATES…and I mean…HATES Christmas. She hates how mean people get to get a good deal at the stores, she hates how rude people are to the store clerks. She hates all the obligation to get together with family and worse yet….feeling obligated to buy gifts. Now, I do agree with her that people can act exactly opposite of what they should be for the season and I do agree that people should make a point to get together other times of the year as well, but….HATEING Christmas? What she is ultimately saying is “There is no peace on earth at Christmas.”

How important is peace to you? If you could purchase it at a store like you do your groceries, what would you pay for peace? Would you regularly buy a dose? I went online to check out “how to find peace”. It was amazing what came up. Here’s what one article told me to do to find peace:
1. Find a quiet, shady space. it can be anywhere (including outside) and get yourself comfortable. 2. Sit in a relaxed position.
3. Put your hands on your lap, or any comfortable position.
4. Close your eyes.
5. Focus carefully on your breathing.
6. Think about a long winding river and try to achieve stillness.
7. Notice how much easier it is to concentrate when you are done and how you feel much, much happier.
8. Practice this more; you will get better.
Disclaimer at the bottom of the page:
· To get ongoing access to the peace within, you will need to find a way to access the experience directly -- to live peacefully.
· The peace is lost due to our own disturbability of mind, which is due to subclinical neuroendocrine and autonomic imbalance and lack of focus and conviction. This can be rectified by namasmaran and pranayam which compliment every other measure to attain peace.
· The experience of peace cannot be created by mental exercises or physical exertions. Sometimes they allow you to get a glimpse of the peace within.
I had to laugh….here’s how to find peace…but you may only get a glimpse of it. It doesn’t last. Who wants that? It’s like going to thanksgiving and being told you can look at all the food and maybe have one small taste, but you can’t sit down for the dinner.

So, can you find peace that lasts? And if you can, where do you find it? Because I think we all want a piece of peace. “Isaiah 9:6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. The word “prince” has four meaning in the Old Testament. Leader, official representative, governor and royal King. The word peace in Isaiah 9:6 is referring to rest, safety, security and freedom. It’s the word Shalom. So, what this verse is saying is that Jesus is the ruler, leader, governor and official representative of the rest, safety, freedom and security that only He can give a person in life.

True peace is a gift from God that he longs for you to open this Christmas. I believe that God has three gifts of peace for you this Christmas and my prayer is that you not only look at these gifts, but you open them and enjoy them. I pray that you don’t just set His peace for you on a shelf to collect dust in your memory banks, but that you know what it means to walk in peace in every day.

The first gift God has for you this Christmas is THE GIFT OF PEACE WITH GOD.
He who IS peace and enjoyed the peace of heaven where there are no wars, fighting or strife, became a man in the form of a baby that first Christmas night for the sole purpose of reconciling humankind to Himself so that you and I could personally know the peace of God.
Think about what life would be like if you never had a disagreement or fight. If you never had war. If you never had the stress of hard relationships. Jesus had that in heaven. It was perfect there. Let the kid in you come out and ponder the mystery of why Jesus would leave all that and come to earth for you? As I sat thinking this week, I came up with a few reasons: His great love for me. To be an example of how to live without sin in this life. To have a relationship with us and not just be the big man upstairs. To live here 33 years doing ministry and then give his life as a sacrifice for our sins so that we could enjoy the peace of heaven with him. WOW!
God sure loves us a lot. But to have peace with God, we must have a relationship with God. I believe there is a direct correlation in the Bible between peace and holiness. The Bible says there is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22, Is. 57:21), but the Lord promises peace to his people (Is. 32:17, Colossians 1:20). If you don’t have a personal relationship with God, you will seek and seek but come up short every time. Isaiah 57:2 says that those who have Christ will find peace even in death. It’s true. They know where they are going and look forward to meeting their Savior face to face. It removes all fear.

Have you unwrapped this gift of peace? Do you have sin festering in your life that needs to go? Have you ever committed your life to God? Unwrap the gift of peace with God this Christmas.

The next gift God has for you this Christmas is THE GIFT OF PEACE WITH YOURSELF
Doesn’t life get stressful trying to make everyone else happy. Are there times when you just feel like you don’t measure up? You don’t like the way you look or you are holding on to the past and the things you’ve done wrong. You may have a relationship with God, but you don’t much like yourself sometimes. Maybe you think you’re too fat or too big of a nose or you can’t sing or …yada yada yada. We can be pretty hard on ourselves sometimes.

Do you know that the Prince of Peace can actually help you like yourself? He created you in HIS image. You were formed like a pottery forms a piece of clay and makes it into a masterpiece. You weren’t an accident. And when we tell God that we don’t like how we look or what gifts or talents we DON’T have, we are telling God that he messed up and we don’t like the way he created us.

Imagine a potter molding a piece of clay. He works for hours molding and molding until it’s just right. Then he fires it and paints it up beautifully. He is a professional and his work of art is worth thousands of dollars and his art is coveted by all. Would you ever think of going up to that artist and saying…”I really don’t like this. I think it is a piece of junk! If you would have just made it with a smaller handle and with prettier colors…….” NO! You would never do that! But why do we tell God constantly that his work stinks?

When we have that relationship with God, we can open the gift of peace with God, but also peace with ourselves, because we can realize that God fashioned us. And we know that this world is not our home…heaven is and HIS opinion of us is the only one that counts. What goes on inside here (pointing to chest) is what matters. It’s the only thing that will last. When we die we don’t take our bodies with us. It’s our soul and that relationship with God that goes to be with the Lord. So why do we obsess so much over our appearance and talents?

Who does God say you are? Here are just a few truths that we can hold on to. Each one is taken right from scripture. If you want the references, ask me after church and I will give them to you. If you are in Christ, this is what God says your identity is: I am accepted and acceptable. I have been bought with a price. I am God’s temple. I am chosen. I am loved with an everlasting love. I am forgiven. I am complete in Christ. I am God’s child. I am holy. I am a saint. I am God’s workmanship. I am God’s precious jewel. I am created in God’s image. I am God’s friend. Neil Anderson says “The more you re-affirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity.” We really can be at peace with ourselves and who we are when we realize who we really are! God has given each one of you special gifts and talents that are yours alone. God doesn’t make junk and God made you, fashioned you, in HIS image. We are made to look like Him! That’s precious and amazing!

Are you willing to un-wrap that gift this year? I challenge you to take some time this week to re-affirm who you are in Christ and who He has made you to be. Maybe you remember this old song….I’ve changed it just a bit…. Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world…red and yellow black and white, old and young he made just right. Jesus loves the little children of the world!

The last gift Jesus has for you this year is THE GIFT OF PEACE WITH OTHERS.
Romans 12:18 says “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” I have heard of countless stories of family members who no longer speak to one another because of some rift that happened 20 years ago. At Christmas, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could come together in peace? Who is that one person in your life that comes to mind when I talk about being at peace with others that you just wish you could be at peace with? It IS possible!

Proverbs 16:7 tells us that if we have peace with God, we can even live at peace with our enemies. How is that possible? I have seen that very thing this week. They aren’t enemies, but the press is sure giving both sides heat. Who am I talking about? President-Elect Barack Obama and Pastor Rick Warren. Rick Warren was asked to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration and everyone is up in arms about it because they hold such different views on things. So how can Barack Obama and Rick Warren live in peace with one another when they disagree about so many hard issues? It’s because they can agree to disagree but they find common ground and stay there. They can respect one another and live in peace even if they don’t always agree.
John tells us that if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. Wow. That’s pretty strong. Jesus said that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. It all goes back to that initial relationship with God. It holds the keys to having peace in all areas of our lives.

What will it take for you to be reconciled with the ones you are in conflict with? God has offered us forgiveness far beyond what we deserve. Is it time for you to offer forgiveness to someone that may not, in your eyes, deserve it? When we are at peace with God in our hearts and when we are at peace with ourselves, God enables us to live at peace with one another. Are you willing to extend peace? I guarantee if you do, you will receive back more than you gave.

We live in a culture that seems to have lost all peace. Our rest, security, stability and safety seem to be disintegrating before our eyes. How can we have peace when our finances are upside down? How can we have peace when everything is going haywire? We go back to the first point. When you have made peace with God, you will have that quiet trust in Him, trusting that He knows tomorrow. Trusting that He can see what is best. Trusting that what looks impossible to us is easy for the Lord to take care of. Trusting Him in faith which results in peace. Un-wrap the precious gift of peace from Jesus today. Don’t leave this gift sitting under the tree un-opened.

God’s peace never lessens. The Prince of Peace has come to rule in peace over our lives. Remember, HE is the only gift that won’t break, wear out, or go out of style. Isaiah 54:10 says that Jesus offered us peace as a covenant that will not be broken. Receive His gift of peace to you this Christmas.

You’ve heard of re-gifting? It’s where you take a gift that someone has given to you and you wrap it up and give it to someone else. This is one of those gifts that you can re-gift. Give it away to others. You’ll be glad you did! Don’t leave today without this gift of peace.

Do you have peace with God?
Do you have peace with yourself?
Do you have peace with others?

Let this Christmas be different than any one you have ever experienced. “Let the peace of the Messiah rule in your hearts to which you are called in one body and be thankful.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In the news

Olivia is in the elementary choir at school and yesterday they went to the Pavillions, a nursing home. She was in the news last night and since I can't get the video to post here, you can watch it HERE.

Olivia loves to sing and she blesses us with her gift. Thanks for sharing your gift with these people Olivia. You did a fantastic job and brought smiles to many faces! I love you, girly!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Staying postive...Because life goes on!


Wow...those are precious words from a sweet, 75 year old woman who was beaten and bound for 26 hours. The whole story is here http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/28250704/This is an amazing woman. The teens involved in this were less than remorseful and yet this precious woman says "There aren't many people out there like that"

We can learn a lot from this dear One. She made a CHOICE to be positive. She made a CHOICE to get back up again. She made a CHOICE to go forward. You see, it's a choice that we have each and every day as well. We can choose to look at the negative...cuz it's there. We can choose to be a victim and let it ruin us for the rest of our lives. We can choose to live our lives in fear, OR we can choose to trust in Christ and look for the positive in situations.

What situation in your life has you down? What is it that persistently frustrates you? Take a few minutes to give that thing to the Lord and pray over it and then purposely think of three positives in your life. No matter how bad your situation, there is a positive there if you look for it. Find it now!

If you find yourself struggling to find it, write to me and I'd love to talk with you about it! write to: joy-ziegler@hotmail.com

Monday, December 8, 2008

Uncle Brad

On November 26, 2008, my Aunt found my Uncle "sleeping" on the couch....eternally. At this point, we still don't know his cause of death, but I have been processing over the last few weeks. We went down state early before Thanksgiving to be with my Mom and spent extended time there. He didn't want any type of service or fanfare, so the family didn't even get together.....besides, they are living in Florida for the winter.

I have been mulling over a few things in my mind. Here are some random thoughts I'm having....

- I don't like the idea of people milling around my body when I'm gone, but I think it's a healthy thing to do, as it helps people to get together, talk, process and grieve together.

- Life here on earth is short. We never know how long we have, so we need to be ready.

- Comfort and peace are difficult when the person is "not ready".

- Is my urgency to share the gospel when a crisis comes the same as when there isn't a crisis?

- Does love for Christ pour out of me through action?

- I have some good memories.

- This is what it means to be held....by Jesus, my only Comfort and Peace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I RUN TO YOU

I run to You.

When the waves around me are crashing from the storm....

When I'm in the stillness of the redwood forest and not a sound is heard...

When I am in a crowd of people and feel all alone....

When I sit on the edge wondering where you are....

When I am filled with excitement that I cannot contain.....

When I don't feel I can go on....

I run to You. Your love reaches. Your love touches.

I run to You. Where it's always safe and I am held.

I run to You. The One who never changes.

I run to You. I run only to You.

Jesus.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

God vs. Science

A science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students, "Let me explain the problem science has with religion." The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

"You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"

"Yes sir," the student says.

"So you believe in God?"

"Absolutely."

"Is God good?"

"Sure! God's good."

"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"

"Yes."

"Are you good or evil?"

"The Bible says I'm evil."

The professor grins knowingly. "Aha! The Bible!" He considers for a moment. "Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?"

"Yes sir, I would."

"So you're good...!"

"I wouldn't say that."

"But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't."

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. "He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?"

The student remains silent.

"No, you can't, can you?" the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

"Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?"

"Er...yes," the student says.

"Is Satan good?"

The student doesn't hesitate on this one. "No."

"Then where does Satan come from?"
The student falters. "From God"
"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?"

"Yes, sir."

"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?"

"Yes."

"So who created evil?" The professor continued, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

Again, the student has no answer. "Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?"

The student squirms on his feet. "Yes."

"So who created them?"

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. "Who created them?" There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. "Tell me," he continues onto another student. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"

The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor, I do."

The old man stops pacing. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?"

"No sir. I've never seen Him."

"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"
"No, sir, I have not."

"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."

"Yet you still believe in him?"

"Yes."

"According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?"

"Nothing," the student replies. "I only have my faith."
"Yes, faith," the professor repeats. "And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith."

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. "Professor, is there such thing as heat?"

"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."

"And is there such a thing as cold?"

"Yes, son, there's cold too."
"No sir, there isn't."

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. "You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees."

"Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

"What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?"

"Yes," the professor replies without hesitation. "What is night if it isn't darkness?"

"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word."

"In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?"

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. "So what point are you making, young man?"

"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed."

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. "Flawed? Can you explain how?"

"You are working on the premise of duality," the student explains. "You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought."

"It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it."

"Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?"

"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do."

"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

"Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?"

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

"To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean."

The student looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?" The class breaks out into laughter.

"Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir."

"So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?"

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. "I guess you'll have to take them on faith."

"Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life," the student continues. "Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?"

Now uncertain, the professor responds, "Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keep on Trusting!


The following article is from http://www.crosswalk.com/spirituallife/11595374/ (Answers with Bayless Conley) It really hit home in many ways for me. It is a great follow-up to yesterday's post about waiting.

If you’re like me, there's been a time in your life when trusting God has been tough. Perhaps that time is right now! Maybe your marriage isn't where you would like it to be. Perhaps it's far from ideal… even very far from being happy… and you've been praying and trusting God to turn things around. Maybe you're trusting God for the healing of a physical affliction in your body. Maybe there's a difficult financial situation in which you're trusting God for favor. Maybe it has to do with your kids or some other situation in the home. Maybe it has to do with something that's going on at work and you're trusting God for something to change. Whatever it is, I want to encourage you with a word from the Lord today. I want to share with you one reason to hold fast. A reason to keep believing. A reason to hold on to the promise that God has put in your heart and to keep trusting Him.

That reason is this: If God ever helped you in the past, He can help you in the now.

I read a true story recently about a guy who was totally distraught over some bills which had come due. And in the midst of his panic he remembered an experience he had as a World War II soldier fighting in the South Pacific. He had become separated from his comrades, and some enemy soldiers had spotted him. In his attempt not to be caught, he scrambled through the jungle on the island he was on and managed to wedge himself inside a tiny little cave. And being a Christian, he prayed, "God, please protect me." In that moment, he noticed that a little spider had started to spin a web at the mouth of the cave, and for the next 30 minutes he watched that spider spin a web as his enemy searched the caves around him. Pretty soon, the enemy soldiers appeared at the mouth of the cave—and in an instant, they were gone. The soldier realized the enemy assumed nobody would have gone into that cave if there was a spider web in front of it!

He had let the distress about his bills overwhelm him… before finally remembering that God had saved him with a spider web! God had been faithful in a situation that had been much worse! This human tendency to forget God's faithfulness… our failure to trust Him… is the same thing we find in Mark chapter 8, right after Jesus miraculously fed over 4,000 people with a few fish and seven loaves of bread. Right after that miracle, the disciples had jumped into a boat with Jesus and crossed over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. And they immediately forgot the miracle they had just watched Him perform.

Let's pick up the story in Mark 8:14…

Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (v. 14-21)

Jesus is telling His disciples that they don't get it! He has just performed two amazing miracles feeding thousands with a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread. Yet they are panicking because they realize that they only have one loaf of bread now for themselves. Somehow they have forgotten God's provision… His faithfulness. They are panicking in this situation because it has not dawned on them that what He did before he can do again.

But God does do repeat performances! He is faithful! What He has done in your life He can do again. And that's a good reason to hold fast… to keep believing… and to hold on today to the promise that God has put in your heart

Conformed or Transformed?