Wednesday, December 31, 2008

6 Things I've Learned This Year

Stephanie..I am finally doing your meme!!

1. The Word of God is the only thing we can put our faith in completely.

2. The Office is still good, but 2008 wasn't it's finest year.

3. When you are willing, God will use you in extraordinary ways. More on that later.

4. Going through hard times is a good way to grow faith.

5. God wants us to step out in faith and trust him so that he can show himself to us in ways that can only be him.

6. Memorizing Scripture is vital. It is a powerful weapon when the lies start flying at us.

2008 has been a big year for growth in my life. I have learned how to actually say "no" to things that I had previously allowed in moderation, and I am now not just someone that learns from other Christians, but someone who can teach other Christians. It has been a year with much joy and some painful times, but I am very excited about the future. I am not really big on "this year I will" because we don't know what the future holds. I know that today I choose to follow God, as I will each day, no matter what year or month it is. This journey called life is in progress..and I am so excited to be journeying with God and with his people.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Romans 12: Living God's way

I am very excited to be starting this Bible study with my small group next Tuesday. Chip Ingram is, in my opinion, an awesome teacher who is very serious about living out faith. The ten-week study focuses solely on Romans 12, and I can't wait to get started. I have listened to all of the podcast messages, and I got a lot out of them. The DVDs are much longer than the audio messages, so I think I will still be learning even though I will be familiar with the content.

Click HERE to go to the website to see an overview of the study. For the month of December, they are giving away the DVDs with the purchase of 5 workbooks. Not a bad deal. May God bless you as you follow him.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What do I do?

Sorry, y'all, I know it's Christmas Eve and all but I have a problem. I have been going to my church for about a year and a half. While I have had some issues with some practices (exclusively K.J.V., and I have taken issue with some things said in sermons, plus sometimes he wears sunglasses throughout the whole sermon), I truly believe that good is being done. There are over a hundred ministries, and we even have an office Mon-Fri at a public school where kids can come get counseled and hear about Jesus. That's huge!

I love that it's a mixture of every race and social background, and that the music is fun and that it's different than any church I've ever been to.

Unfortunately, my little nagging "I don't know about that's" have a basis, which I discovered tonight.

It's a long story but I will say that I no longer can attend that church. I believe that the leadership is corrupt and that they are not truly following God. I knew from the website where I got the information that my pastor had issues in the past,but I thought that I should be mindful of forgiveness, and that everyone screws up. So I kept going. However, based on comments on the site from recent attendees of my church, I have to accept the fact that my pastor is not a man of God. He is a charlatan, and I am kind of mad that I've been tithing there, but God knows that I meant to obey him.

I am just sad and scared for those that don't know the truth. Luckily, I was not heavily involved because it is kind of a far drive for me. There are so many people that give their whole week to the church, and according to the website, there is all types of ungodly behavior going on in the "upper" echelons of the leadership and those in their inner sanctum.

I am so thankful to be able to leave and I would like to say I won't look back, but how can I not? I feel as though I have a responsibility here..but what do I do? My church was voted "Church of the Week" on the 700 club. My pastor's amazing story of finding his dad is most likely a lie, as there are conflicting stories of how they met. His dad is also a pastor. His dad's church is labeled a cult, and while I don't think my church is one, based on what I have learned, I do not think the Word of God is being taught correctly, and not by accident. One example being the teaching of people being saved simply through a prayer to accept Christ. I do believe this is a starting point, but it is NOT being a Christian. That could be very misleading. That is the thing I have taken the most issue with, however, I kept looking to all the people they were helping. I would get my guard up about certain things, and then I would let myself be lulled back into complacency.

So, I thank God for the Christmas gift of having my eyes opened, but I need advice.. and I will certainly be praying about this..where do I go from here? I know I will be able to find a good church, and I have been getting solid teaching on my own time through daily online sermons and through Bible study and fellowship with other believers. I have remained grounded in truth. But what about those whose only exposure to God and his people come through a bunch of fakers?? Thank God I have some sense of discernment, but even I was pulled in by the music and the showy sermons. And how do I go back to a church with slow worship? More than that, I feel like I HAVE to take a stand against this..but honestly I am a little scared of retribution (duh, you should never be scared of church leaders) and I just don't know what to do.

Thank you, God, that you are not blinded by outward appearances..please open the eyes of your people..

Monday, December 22, 2008

Love, Factually

He is the God of everything..He is God over the Indians, the Asians, the Europeans, the grass, the trees, the animals, the seas, the McDonalds, the Trump Tower: places are built on his land that do not even acknowledge him. He is still God there.

I am not a Christian because I needed religion. I am a Christian because I found the truth. I used to believe in lies..I believed I should go along with what everyone else was doing to fit in. I knew the things I did were wrong but I believed that was just what you did to make it in life. Now, I believe in facts. It is a fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. It is a fact that lives change and prayers are answered. It is a fact that EVERYONE will die. It is a fact that there is an afterlife. It is a fact that I will be with The One whose name is Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, my Lord and Savior Jesus. If you are a Christian, it is a fact that we are under protection of an all-powerful God. If you are is a fact that God does not force people into relationship with him. Because factually, that's how relationships work. God is not distant or removed from you, even in your sin. Even in my sin, he still loved me enough to die for me. He loves you that much, too.

This Christmas, as Christians, we can rest in the fact that we are walking with God- who can come against us? Even in hard times and pain, we can be at peace. God is God when we are hurting, when we are happy, when we don't understand, when we fall, when we are on top, when we praise him, and when we don't make time to. He is still God. And we belong to him. Jesus was born so that we could have life. If you are not a Christian...don't miss out! God loves you so much and is just waiting for you to turn to him! Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

El Shaddai

I just found this song yesterday and I thought it was pretty. I used to listen to a ton of R&B and hip hop music so it is nice to find some that honors God.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bible Study Christmas Dinner 08

Merry Christmas!

Because I have good ideas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Soles for Souls

Please consider donating to Soles for Souls, which is an organization that provides shoes for kids that would otherwise walk around barefoot. Five dollars buys two pairs of shoes! I know that in today's economy, even five bucks can be hard to part with, but trust me, God blesses those who take care of his business! You can click on the side button and link to the site to donate.


Friday, December 12, 2008

And the winner is...

Jami at Live, Laugh, Love! Congratulations!

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2008-12-12 16:00:16 UTC

Thanks for playing everyone! This was my first giveaway and it was so much fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Now, that's hot!

Did you grow up comparing yourself to a sister? Last night in Bible Study, the topic was beauty. It was funny, but when we were talking about our personal beauty, we each talked about how we were prettier than our sister, or she was prettier than we were. Hmm..

One of the questions was, "When someone tells you you are beautiful, what is your response? Do you believe them?

One of the girls said that she thought that when she got married she would finally accept the fact that she was lovable and desirable, because someone wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. She's been married over a year and she still doesn't feel it.

God judges how beautiful we are on the inside. The world values physical beauty. But I think that very few of us are not affected by all of the media, magazines, and people we know that place a high emphasis on faces and physiques. But just because someone has it together on the outside doesn't mean they're not a hot mess on the inside.

I think of Misty, who used to work with me. She is one of the most beautiful women I've known personally. She looks like a young, hip, rocker version of Catherine Zeta Jones. She also has contemplated suicide on more than one occasion. She used to be involved in teaching a Sunday school class, but when she got pregnant out of wedlock the people in her church turned their noses up at her and she fell away from God. Some of this may have been her own guilt perception of what was going on around her, but it is true that we can be pretty hard on people when they fall sometimes. What would have happened if the people had loved her through it and helped her restore her relationship with God through repentance and obedience? God doesn't give up on us when we fall. People do.

I look at Hollywood- divorces and drug problems, affairs and scandals. I think about the pr*stitutes we take off the street at our church- one woman in particular who is a tall pretty blonde who looks like she has seen hell here on earth. She walks around in really high shoes and is covered in tattoos. She has the most guarded and wary look on her face- like a dog who's used to being kicked around. I just want to hug her- but I'm kind of scared of her right now.

Then I look at the women I've met through blogging; ordinary women who breathe life to others through the Holy Spirit who prompts them to encourage one another. I see the love that must have been in the early churches Paul visited. I think each and every one of you is a woman to be emulated-yes, even in your weak times, because you have found true beauty and you live it out each day. It shines through your words of hope and your ability to laugh, love, and reach out to others with abandon in this world that can be so cold. You are so beautiful.

I think our perception of our beauty is directly correlated with what we think will make people love us. If we don't feel beautiful, we don't feel lovable. But check out these verses:

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:2-3

"For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." Psalm 149:4

Jesus was not a hottie! But I feel like crying each time I read that he was despised- because I love him so much. I've never seen him bodily. I have seen him in the hands and words of his people. The ones who believed in him were drawn to him by who he was - not by what he looked like.

This same spirit resides in each one of us who has trusted God as the ruler of her life. He gives us the joy and the strength that ARE appealing to those who want to know- how can she stay positive? Why isn't she gossipping? She is so nice! Christ's beauty shines through each one of us.

I am not saying that we shouldn't bother to try to look nice. It's okay to feel pretty on the outside. All I'm saying is that when we have a bad hair day, we are still totally lovable.

I am excited to see the woman from church change as she realizes that she is not worthless. I am excited to see her face go from "set-in-stone" to soft and smiling. I can't wait to see her let her guard down. I have no doubt it's going to take a while. She doesn't know how beautiful she is yet. But God does.

Today, tell someone how beautiful she is. Find something about her that is wonderful, and tell her that she is awesome. Have a great day!

If you want to see the Bible study we are studying go HERE. It is an awesome resource. We did lesson two last night.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Cab

Let's say you and I are both standing on the side of the street of a bustling city. We are both hoping to hail a taxi and get where we're going. The sun went down half an hour ago; the Christmas lights are twinkling, the air has a decided nip, and the scents of city mix with the hot fragrant aroma of spiced cider being sold from a street vendor. It's a night that has that magical, indefinable quality to it, and you and I strike up a conversation, starting out with the obligatory " Must be a shortage on cabs."

We have the same sense of humor, you and I, and I can tell that there's some sort of chemistry sparking between us. The conversation is easy. And you have a VERY cute smile. I tell you about a band I saw in the Pavilion; and you can't believe it! You were at the same concert! They just happen to be your favorite band. Mine too.

At long last we spy a cab. You hold your arm up, and it chugs over to the curb.

"You take it," you say. "I'll wait for the next one."

I have to make up my mind about whether I'm going to play the shy card or not. Nope.

"Why don't we share?" I suggest.

You smile, and I notice that your left front tooth is just slightly crooked. I like it. You hold open the door for me, and then slide in next to me, pulling the door closed. It's very cozy in here. And your aftershave or cologne or whatever you've got going on is definitely working for me.

The cabbie, let's call him Joe, looks at us from the rear view mirror. "Where ya headed?"

"Uptown," I say.

"Downtown," you say at the same time.

Now I feel foolish for suggesting that we share a ride. I didn't even ask if you were going the same way! Darn that smile!

"Look," you say, leaning towards me, " Is there any chance you'd want to come hang out with me for a little while? I know we just met, but I would love to get to know you a little better. I'm on my way to meet some friends at this great bar. I know the guys who will be playing there tonight, and they're actually not that bad!"

Oh. I really don't do the bar scene anymore. But you are so cute! And the company would be nice. Still, I do have to get up early.

"I'm sorry. It sounds like fun, but..I have to work in the morning." I'm hoping you'll ask me for my number, because I really do like talking to you.

"Go in hungover,"you say. "I do it all the time." You smile, but it's a little less cute.


"Folks?" Joe is getting impatient.

You give me a reluctant grin as you reach for the door. I can tell that you'd hoped I'd be a little more daring. I used to be. I found out it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. And I wouldn't be hungover even if I did go out with you. It seems you're a bit of a party boy, and as cute and as sweet as you are, that's not what I'm looking for.

"Guess we're not going the same way," you tell Joe as you slide out. You give me one last smile, and we go our separate ways.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

With a capital A

If you came for the giveaway it's the post below!

Tonight at church I saw my friend T who used to work with me. She got a great job elsewhere and I really don't see her much anymore. She is one of those people who always look perfectly put together, and who just seem..COMPETENT. At everything. I have honestly always felt a little awkward around her. I would always say something stupid or just feel like an idiot for some reason or another. I am sure it was just my own insecurity, but I am not like that around many people. I love to have fun and I generally enjoy making a fool of myself- as long as it's on purpose!

T was dating a man before she moved to Richmond. He works for the same company we do/did and she actually moved to get space from him and what she says was a very unhealthy relationship. He was a pastor's kid but was not living as a Christian, and T was trying to follow God. Being unequally yoked was not working out for her. Well, the space thing was working fabulously for her until her ex, R, decided to move to Richmond..and work at our store; so she'd have to see him everyday.Yippee! This was VERY stressful for her, and eventually she got a new job and so I still work with R but she doesn't have to!

R had recently decided to go back to his Christian roots and he asked if he could come to church with me a couple weeks ago. I said sure, but he ended up not coming after all.

Until tonight. He was there with T. I saw them sitting in the folding chairs from my place in the bleachers. Yep, they were together and at church! I sent a text that said "I see you!" but she didn't reach for her phone so it must have been turned off.

I was so happy that R has decided to really give God another chance. I waited for them by the door as they were coming out, and T saw me first and said something to R. She didn't look so thrilled to see me. We said a quick hello and so good to see you and then I went to the restroom and they left.

I guess T was either embarrassed or feeling guilty about being with him. As I paced back and forth in the dark trying to find my car, I read a text from T. It said "Let's keep what u saw very quiet. No one can know.. It was good to see you! I'm glad you were there tonight." Sure you were. As I was reading the message, I still was scanning for my car. I was starting to think it had been stolen. A car was trying to back out but I was in the way. It was, of course, T and R, wondering what the heck I was doing walking around behind their car. I waved idiotically and then realized that my car was on the other side of a monster truck that was parked two inches from my driver's side door.

As I climbed in the passenger side door and scaled my center console, I was feeling kind of foolish, but what can you do? I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'm realizing how weird the "I see you" text was. Who does that?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Giveaway

My grandmother lent me this book when I was about ten. I have always loved to read, and this non-fiction tale of a brave and sweet young girl has been my favorite ever since. It is written by Frank Deford, and it is about the short but life-changing time he had with his daughter, Alex. Alex was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant in the early seventies, and she wasn't even supposed to live past a year, but she made it eight. She was a funny and loving girl who made lasting impressions on everyone she knew. I love reading about her, and seeing her through her Daddy's eyes. This book is one that makes me cry, but it also makes me laugh. I never gave my grandma back her book (terrible, I know) and I asked for a less love-worn copy last Christmas. If you like to read stories that warm your heart, I recommend this one. Just keep the tissues nearby!

I would like to offer a copy of this book in the Christmas giveaway- Just leave me a comment about what your favorite book is and why! I will select a winner by December 12! Merry Christmas and happy reading!

Go to Lysa's site to see lots of great giveaways!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. ~Luke 15:7

One can mean "singular" or one can mean "united".

One person can touch many.

One person can tell you about Jesus and change the rest of your life.

A body of believers that is one in spirit and effort is a thing of beauty.

In Bible study tonight, four of us met together to talk about God's timing for our lives-the place, time, and events that we would be in and a part of. We talked about Moses, and how he was born into a specific time and place so that he could lead God's people out of slavery. We talked about how the Jews complained once they were free and didn't trust in God to deliver them safely, even though he had already, you know, parted the Red Sea and got them safely across. And then put it back and drowned their enemies. We talked about how like the Jews we are. God has delivered us from our various areas of bondage and shame; yet we persist in our worry and grumbling. Thankfully, God is faithful even when we aren't.

We were so blessed to hear B talking about God, and how she knows he has placed her in certain situations in order that she might know him. She is not yet a Christian, but she comes regularly and is always excited to learn. She was talking about how she is the Go-To person at her job, and how frustrating it is to get phone call after phone call asking her for help when she is not even a manager. Then she said, "Maybe God is making me the go-to person at work so that I can be HIS go-to girl" (we had also been talking about saying "yes" to God when he asks us to do something). God is definitely making some progress in her heart, and it is so obvious that he desires to give her new life and hope in Him!! Her job is right next to a Christian store and she talks to Christians every day! I love how thoroughly God is pursuing her! It reminded me that the angels do rejoice over even just one person who comes to Christ! How precious that life is to God! How he delights in her opening her heart to let him in! She may be just another girl to some of us, but to God..she is His! And so are we!

One life was spared so that many could live. Praise God!

P.S. If you would like to see the Bible Study we were looking at, you can link here.