Monday, September 29, 2008

God is Good

My pastor, Pastor G as we call him, was the guest speaker at a Baptist church this Sunday morning, and it was great to hear him tell people his testimony, because he has an incredible one. He was 3 when his Hells Angels biker dad left his family, and eight when his mother was murdered in front of him. He grew up without hardly any parental supervision or guidance, and he himself joined a gang, sold drugs, and was addicted to cocaine by the time he was seventeen. He was ready to end his life. He thought he was no good and that no one would ever miss him. He was wandering the streets of L.A., contemplating taking his own life, when he came across a church. He had not been taken to church ever before, but something led him to seek help within those walls. He went inside, told the greeter that he needed to talk to someone, that he was at the end of his rope, and that if they didn't have any answers for him, he was going to go home, get his gun and end it all. The greeter quit smiling and went and got the pastor. He sat down and talked with Pastor G, who was amazed to see a pastor with tattoos and jeans on. Pastor G told his story of hopelessness, and the pastor told him that he, too, came from a broken home, that he had also been in a gang, and that it was in prison where he first heard about Jesus. He found freedom in Christ while he was incarcerated, and when he got out, God told him to pastor a church in L.A. He said that Jesus had completely changed his life and gave him peace, happiness, and joy. Pastor G gave his life to Christ that day. And God wasn't finished blessing him, because the pastor pulled out a picture and showed it to Pastor G. It was a picture of him when he was a little boy. This pastor was his father. I know it sounds crazy, but it really happened like that. God reunited these two in an amazing way.

I loved seeing peoples' mouths drop to the floor when they heard that. They were also a little nervous church is not your average church. We have about every kind of person you could imagine there, including a biker ministry, which was greeting at the Baptist church this Sunday. I know it is unconventional, but I love my church and feel so blessed to be a part of it. I wanted to show a video of when we were on "The 700 Club" so that you can see a little of what I am talking about. Going to a different church made me feel so grateful to be in the place that I am; not that there is anything wrong with conventional services, I just feel like my church is truly unique and I always am excited to go. Okay, link is below. Love you guys.

Richmond Outreach Center on the 700 Club

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just another man named Monday

You remember the Bangles' hit song "Manic Monday"? My friend Ashley doesn't, as I discovered when she belted out "just another man named Monday" over the actual lyrics. Have you ever discovered that the song you have been singing for years actually doesn't say what you thought it said? I sing all the time, and one of my favorites is "River of Dreams" by Billy Joel. It's just fun to sing. However, I sing the chorus and I usually am making half of it up as I go along. It's never the same song twice. What song have you done sung wrong?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Should've had a V8

Without God, I would be sunk. What is it about us that makes us chase after things that will at best disappoint us, and at worst completely devastate us? I am in such a situation now, involving a male friend that I am developing feelings for. I know no good can come of it, and I know that I have to surrender this want in my life to God, who will supply me with something(one) far better. I just am not loosing my grip on it yet. I love God, but I am fighting one heck of a rebellious streak right now. Guess who will get hurt? Me, for sure. Him, quite possibly. My testimony could take a big hit, which could affect people I otherwise might reach for Christ. I don't want to publish this. I am one hundred percent sure that I am not going to go through with anything, but my thoughts about it are sin enough. He doesn't even know I think of him that way. I think he thinks of me that way. I act weird around him, and I am not being myself at all because I am so consumed with this. I feel like I am falling in love, but I don't really know him that well, and what I do know is not promising. I stopped liking him for a while, but then, when I thought I was safe, we hung out a couple times and talked. There is just that certain attraction there that makes me think of us being a couple. I know it is not God's plan for me. I will not do it. But it is hurting me to be in this place.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This title stucks!

Our Fantasy vs. God's Vision

A couple years ago I was attending a much quieter church than the one I go to now. The worship wasn't really my speed, but the pastor was great and I really enjoyed his sermons. I took notes on one such sermon, and that piece of paper still hangs on my fridge. It lays out in black and white how our vision for our life differs from God's, and the results that stem from choosing either way.

Series: "Getting Unstuck" February 19, 2006
Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-27

1 Corinthians 1:18-27 (New International Version)

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."[a]
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Notes I took:

Common element of all stuckness is "Me".( What's in it for me?)

We all have a "picture" of how we think our life should be.

Life will never fulfill our self-focused fantasy. If we don't fix our perspective on what is important, we will be in for one disappointment after another.

We begin to get "unstuck" when we have a conversion from "me" at the center to God at the center. This requires us taking our picture of how we thought our life should be and laying it down at the feet of Jesus. Asking God for his perfect and pleasing will for our lives, which does not (ouch) make us the center of attention and praise. It puts the glory where it is deserved, and gives us the freedom to live as we are supposed to: not as little emperors but as a loving family and servants of our wonderful God.

Me at the Center + + + God at the Center
disappointing +++ fulfilling
fantasy +++ vision
immature +++ mature
bondage +++ freedom

When life is getting painful( often a sense of being left or rejected), there is a cross coming. Crosses in our lives are places where we die to ourselves (sin nature). On the other side of every cross is a resurrection, and in that resurrection there is remarkable joy. We, as followers of Jesus, are called to daily face crosses in our lives. We are to die to self each and every day. It is not easy, and the flesh part screams "what about me?". I know I am warped by the worlds' way of thinking. It is a daily struggle to remember who it is really about. If I find myself upset, or have my feelings offended, more than likely it is because I am not looking at my situation in light of God's perspective. I so easily take it all on my shoulders, when in reality, God has offered to carry it for me. Everything. I just have to give it to him. Denying "self" is exactly what satan doesn't want me to do. If I walk around with the knowledge that I am taken care of, and I don't have to worry about myself, then I have time to focus on what I am supposed to be doing. Loving God. Loving people. Finding out what joy is. Learning by experience to let God have every part of my life. This is freedom. To let God be God. To get unstuck off of ourselves, and instead stick together! To love and be loved, and to let the ugly die and the beauty that is Christ take over.

Galatians 2:20
20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Too Close

My coworker tried to commit suicide last Thursday. He knows God, but has recently backslid into a gay lifestyle. He was driving home drunk on Thursday night and he hit something large and stationary, maybe an unoccupied semi truck. Then he pulled into a church parking lot and called his friend, our manager J. He told J to cover his shifts, that he loved him, and he just wanted to say goodbye.He hung up. J called him back, and my coworker proceeded to tell him that he was going to take his own life.He hung up again. Thank God, my manager called the police. They were able to track his phone by the GPS, and they found him just as he collapsed, coming out of the woods by the church. He had cut open his wrists with a broken cologne bottle. He is in the hospital now, and stable (physically).

What the heck?

What causes a person to just give up like that? A Christian, at that. It has shocked me. One thought I've had, trying to reason it out, is that he is tormented by living a life that is not pleasing to God, and I think it is extra hard for homosexuals to leave their sin behind, because it comes to be what defines them as people. I had to give up immorality, but it's not so bad because sex will be permissible for me, even blessed, within the confines of a godly marriage. Not so for my friend. That's one thing that may be stressing him out. I know that there must lie deeper issues, because a rational person, no matter the situation, would probably not decide that suicide was the only way out.

My coworker is a hard worker. He is very funny, and more than a little sarcastic. He is gay, but has been living chastely until very recently. His mouth has always been bad, and he smokes. Yet he claims to love God, talks about not letting the devil or people steal his joy, and he LOVES Joyce Meyer. I don't know his heart, only God does. I'm just analyzing here, because I think God has given his children a discerning spirit to recognize fruit in fellow Christians, and lack of it. I pray that he will have a close relationship with the Lord, and find strength and peace through Him.

God isn't finished with him yet. Satan didn't win this one. What will life hold for him now? Hopefully healing and love. This is going to be very difficult to get over. So painful. I don't know if he'll come back to work. He may not. All I know is that there is a reason that he is still alive, and I trust that God has not left his side, not once, through this horrible time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Random Question: What element of creation most causes you to worship God?

The picture here is of a 21- week old baby that was being operated on in utero and reached throught the incision and grasped the doctor's finger.

A Question from Edie at Rich Gifts

I see God in everything. He made it all. I think one of the things that declares Himself to me most is the human body. All of it. The outside, the inside, the brain especially. The fact that we have the capacity to heal when injured. DNA. Sight. Smell. He gave us everything we need to experience the world around us, to analyze, to laugh, to cry, to feel. Our lungs depend on the atmosphere right here on earth.Our minds are behind music, architecture, literature, the alphabet, reading,..everything! We were made in his image! What is being ticklish all about? Pain is a blessing. It is our built-in warning system to stop doing what we are doing (i.e. touching something hot) before we cause permanent damage. Our thoughtfully placed useful! Digestive systems that process innumerable food types. Our ability to love. The way our bodies bend to accommodate all types of activities. The way men and women fit together to make new life. The way a baby grows inside its mom. Laughing. Taste..thanks! Hiccups. Dreaming. Sleeping. Yawning. Sneezing. Memory. Being able to make up a story. Our one exactly the same. We have been given incredible gifts. I know I take it for granted and have also not taken the best care of mine. God's creativity is absolutely amazing. He really thought of everything! Is there anything you find neat about the human body that I didn't mention?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More like an outline

Holiness, holiness is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness, holiness is what you want from me - Sonicflood

*I am fasting for 40 days from soda, specifically for the salvation of my unsaved friends and coworkers: Amanda, Nicole, Dad, Sheryl, Dimitri, Greg, Will, Drew, Ashlee Nicole, Babs, Mike B., Mike D., Tasha, Thomas.

*From Beth Moore's Believing God:
We can tear down with our words or build up with our words. We can encourage, or we can discourage.

God may bring forth results through different means or timetables than we pictured, but His Word says power is applied when we pray or speak in His name in faith.

No sin, no matter how momentarily pleasurable, comforting, or habitual, is worth missing what God has for us.

*Bible study last night was just me, Heather and Stefanie. We had informal discussion about marriage, and about loving as an action and not a feeling. This also applied to Stef's relationship with her dad.

* As I develop relationships with people who want to know God, I am aware that I have to be very careful. I am going to get hurt. When you love people who don't have God, they can't really love you back. Not in the right way, anyway. I remember how much more selfish I used to be,and how I would make everything about me..If I wasn't benefiting in any way, it wasn't worth it. It's a switch to see things from a different angle. My desire is to give, guide, and care for people. I'm going to get hurt. I am going to have to keep a clear head about everything, about God's glory, about who I can and can't be to others.

* I am currently reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

* I have a hard time grasping God's physical presence when I can't see it. I know he hears and answers my prayers. I wake up, have quiet time, go to work , think about Him all day, and when I get home, I feel like he's gone home for the day, too. Not that I don't obey him at this time, it's just a weird realization about the way I think. God doesn't take time off from being God just because I'm having down time.

*My friend/coworker Amanda is having a probably cancerous tumor removed tomorrow. My friends Catherine and Julie are having babies soon. Catherine is scheduled for a c-section next Thursday. She was really hoping to have a natural birth, but Baby's breach. If you would pray for my friends' and babies' health, I know God will listen!

*Will read the letter I wrote him. He is not ready to turn his life over yet, but he is being convicted. He told me he threw away all his girly magazines, and doesn't plan on buying more. My coworker Greg is going to buy a study Bible. On the other hand, a bunch of the guys we work with went to a strip club last week. That sparked some interesting conversations. I see God working. There is darkness all around, but light is shining in. Please pray for the strongholds of unbelief and spiritual blindness to be torn down among these people. God loves them so much.

* I am believing God for financial stuff because it has not been a good month so far. This is where I feel like I am falling off the cliff and waiting for God to catch me. I can't wait for him to grow my faith. It's what I want the most. When I finally get it into my head that God is big enough, I will really be free from the worrying I tend to do. I actually read in Psalm 38: "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil." Worrying leads to evil? Yes. Whenever we don't trust God, we try to do things our way. And that can get us in trouble. Plus, we miss out on seeing God do what he can do.

* I hope everyone is having a great week! EE-say ou-yay ater-lay!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Praise be to God who can use anyone who is willing. I asked yesterday for opportunity to tell others about God. I am not pushy. I am firm about what I know to be true, and if I believe that, then it is absolutely critical that I share what I know with others. But I'm not pushy. I was one of the early-in people at work, and I ran into my coworker Thomas who immediately started telling me that he was thinking about having a relationship with God, but he didn't think he had to go to church. I told him that the relationship was the most important thing, but it would be a really great idea if he started reading his Bible daily ( I don't think he has one yet). I love to watch as people grapple with coming to know God, as he works in their hearts, and leads conversations. It is so exciting. My day was off to a good start. Then came Adam. Adam is our kitchen manager, a portly young New York Italian, who has a cocky grin and a filthy mouth. I ask people not to curse around me at work, and most try to respect that. Adam respects it to a certain extent, but if at any time he forgets I'm around, I get an earful. And its not only him. I have asked him to come to church with me; he has expressed interest, but never committed to coming. It has become sort of a joke with us that when I hear him cussing, I'll say, "So, when are you coming to church with me?" He usually will make up some excuse or another, but I never force the issue; I just want him to know he is always welcome. Well, another woman we work with heard this exact exchange take place yesterday, and she got a little upset about it. She is from Taiwan, and I have heard her say before that she prays to her ancestors. I just kind of gave her an "ohhhh" look when she told me because I didn't know what to say. We are somewhat of friends, we've gone to the movies together a few times, but we don't really talk on a personal level very often. So, I was very surprised when she asked me if just because she didn't believe in my "religion", did that make her wrong? Then she stormed off, came around on the other side of the kitchen, and told me she just thought it was inappropriate to talk about it at work. She was really upset. Adam called her a jerk in my behalf, but not in those words. I said that I thought it was inappropriate for them to use foul and sexual language all the time. Besides, I wasn't pushing anything on Adam. He knows that. I was shaken by the incident: I have lost closeness with old friends because of my choice to follow God, but I have never before been hostilely attacked like that before. I felt sick for a while after that happened, but we never resolved the issue, we just let it go. We still are on speaking terms. My friend Heather said she went through something similar with a man we work with, but they were able to talk through the initial negativity and have a really good conversation. So maybe that will happen. After work I grabbed Starbucks with another friend from work, and we had a good hour of theological (friendly) debate. He (brought up Catholic, living life secularly) was telling me how cool the book of Revelation is, how all the stuff in there is actually coming to pass; we exchanged stories of things in our lives that had to do with God, although he says his sister and grandmother are seers ( they are from Kenya). He then said that he believes in God, but that he just doesn't think that, for instance, his Muslim neighbor, who leads a very "pure" lifestyle, will go to hell just because he's not a Christian. He gave an example of a bunch of hands(religions) all pointing to the same ball (God) didn't really matter which hand you were looking to for direction. I told him as much as I could about works vs. faith, that Jesus did in fact claim to be the ONLY way to the Father, but he isn't convinced. We talked for quite some time, but I was slightly frustrated because I said that Christianity is the only religion that claims to be the only true religion, and he said that wasn't true..I am pretty sure I heard that before, but I guess Islam thinks the same thing.
This is where I feel I need to do the most studying. I want to know more about other religions so that I know what the exact differences are, and how to explain it. I know that Jesus is who he says he is. When I got home last night, I wrote my coworker a long letter..I actually still need to finish it. I was able to more coherently explain why the Bible is true..the fact that he himself was talking about the prophecies being fulfilled in the beginning of our conversation, the fact that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies of his coming, who I am now compared to who I was B.C... and trust me, I wrote that letter in love, and filled it with scripture, so that he can see that there is not some random God(s) floating around out there, not worried about how our lives are going. He knows us by name, and he desires that none should perish but that all should be saved. Pray for him, please. His name is Will. We saw a poster in Starbucks appealing to young (teenage) gay, lesbian, and transgendered kids to join a support group to talk about their feelings as young homosexuals. Why, my God, is it more socially acceptable to cross-dress than it is to go to church? I am not being condescending, I am just hurting for the state this country is entering. But I will be encouraged, because God is moving.

Isaiah 5:20 (New International Version)
20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
1 Peter 4:12
12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
"If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"[a]
19So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

We are going to need to be able to take rejection, because the alternative is keeping quiet.