Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Most Beautiful Thing I Have Ever Read

I mentioned in our Christmas post last night that we lost a dear friend this week, very unexpectedly, and it has really rocked my world. I could barely hold it together in church this morning singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". The line "Mild he lay his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth" brought new meaning as I was grieving. Its one of those things that doesn't make sense. Tod was reaching so many people to Christ. Why would God take him so young. But then one of his friends posted this tonight, and its truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. So I wanted to post it here, partly so you could read it, and partly so I could reread it over and over when I need reminding of God's faithfulness and goodness. Written by Tod's best friend, Brian Summerall.

O Holy Night:
I spent Christmas Eve, not in the way I expected last night. My friend, Tod Bush, passed away a couple of days ago, While his brain showed no activity, his body was kept alive on a respirator for the last two days. So yesterday evening I went up to the hospital for one last earthly goodbye and to try to find some closure.
What I found instead was hope.
You see, Tod was an organ donor, and his body was kept alive so he could serve as a gift to many with no hope. After a tearful “I love you and I’ll see you in heaven,” and a final prayer, I sat with his family in the waiting room as this friend I love became the ultimate gift on Christmas.
In the midst of pain and heartbreak, hope entered in right about 8:00 in the form of a blue cooler that rolled into the room.
It was accompanied by an EMT and two heart surgeons (one in scrubs and one in golf pants and hat) from North Carolina. They had just landed at Addison Airport and arrived by ambulance. One of the surgeons told us Tod’s heart was going to a woman who desperately needed it in North Carolina. While the surgeons were rushed to the operating room with their cooler, we sat with the EMT for two hours and told her about Tod.
Next thing we knew, the EMT got up, the surgeons rushed by, thanked us and told us everything went perfectly, and Tod’s heart rolled out the door in that blue cooler and boarded a private plane to North Carolina.
Jesus gave Tod a new heart when he accepted him at Frontier Ranch 30 years ago. On Christmas Eve, Tod gave that heart to a woman in North Carolina to save her life.
“Love so amazing. Love so divine.”
Within minutes, the next EMT rushed in with the lung team. We told her about Tod and his love of the Dallas Mavericks. We told her about the woman in North Carolina who would get Tod’s heart and would soon be wondering why she has a strange desire to watch Mavericks games.
After about an hour, his lungs rushed out the door to save a man in Florida.
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
The same lungs that God breathed life into for Tod would now give life to a man in Florida. The lungs that climbed mountains so countless kids could hear about Jesus would now give life at sea level.
“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”
It went on all night. They took his eyes so a blind man could see.
“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?”
He gave everything… heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, eyes, skin, bones, tissue. Coolers rolled out, and planes took off one after another filled with gifts of hope.
Tod gave everything so that people who had no hope on Christmas Eve would receive the gift of life on Christmas morning.
What’s truly amazing about all of this and the reason it truly stirs our hearts is that Tod’s story is really God’s story. What Tod did for so many last night, God did for all of us on Christmas.
Like the woman in North Carolina, God’s word says our heart is defective.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” - Jeremiah 17:9
We are in desperate need of a transplant. Without a donor, we have no hope… no life.
On Christmas Eve, God entered the story. But instead of hope in a rolling cooler, we find it in a manger. Hope entered the world in a baby. Jesus. God with us.
A world with no hope on Christmas Eve, was given the gift of life on Christmas day.
“He came that we might have life and life to the full.” - John 10:10.
And just like Tod, God gave everything.
“For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only son…” John 3:16
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering… and by his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
The ultimate gift.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” - John 1:12
Those who received Tod’s gifts last night got a new life. Those who receive God’s gift today, get eternal life.
New heart, new breath, new sight, new life.
So in the midst of heartache and loss last night, I saw God’s story. I saw what God did for me. I saw hope.
I saw Jesus in Tod when he lived, I experienced Jesus in Tod when he died.
“A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born.”

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016 Update

Just pretend that you received a Christmas card with an adorable picture, and on it was the link to this blog post so you can read our update. Cards just didn't happen this year. New Year's cards are maybe a possibility, but doubtful. So here is our update.

Campbell is in 3rd grade, loving school. His teacher is our neighbor down the street, and I love having an insider to keep me posted on him. He's a character. He played basketball, baseball and Upward football this year. He made the All Star baseball team and that helped him get more motivated to work hard I think. Jason coached him in baseball and they both had to learn how to work together in that setting but they were season champs, so it all worked out. He loves to play video games and watch You Tube videos.

Cade is in 7th grade. He's on the FCA leadership team, the Math Counts team, the 7th grade basketball and baseball teams, and our church middle school servant leader team. He is a born leader, but he's a quiet leader, behind the scenes. He loves to play X Box and play with our dog Sadie.

Cooper is in 9th grade, and handling high school quite well. He lives and breaths baseball, and works out after school three days a week with the varsity baseball team. He's getting so tall and strong. He has big dreams and we are excited to watch where his hard work takes him. He serves in children's ministry on Sunday mornings and middle school on Wednesday nights doing tech.

Jason's job has shifted some and he now focuses on our high school ministry at Pinelake. He's loving building relationships with the students and building a new leadership team. He has some exciting things planned for 2017.

I am still the Director of Childcare/MMO at Pinelake and loving it. I'm also still a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope, although in my fourth year I have had to step back some with our boys' busy schedule. But I love that I can do something to help those in poverty and trafficking from my home in the free moments that our family's schedule allows.

Jason and I are going to the Passion conference next week with our Seniors and then leaving from there to go to Pigeon Forge, TN to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. (That's just craziness!) We went there on our honeymoon, and if you had told me back then as a 21 year old newlywed where we would be now, I'm not sure I would have believed it. But I am so thankful and honored to be in this place in our journey. Not to end on a sad note, but we had a friend pass away this week, way too young and very suddenly. It has wrecked me on some levels. It makes me all the more certain that I have to take each day as a gift, ask God to show me opportunities to minister and love people, and love and serve my family daily because we don't know how long our time here will be. I want to not take a day in 2017 for granted. And I want people to remember me for making a difference. Here's to a wonderful new year!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Poor Peter, Wait that's me!

At the end of Matthew chapter 16, Jesus tells the disciples that he will die and on the 3rd day be raised to life. And Peter gets upset and says "Never Lord!" Verse 23 "Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

And then the very next chapter, Peter, James and John get to go up to the mountain with Jesus, and he is transfigured, shown in his glorified state. They also see Moses and Isaiah and hear the voice of God who says "This is my son, Listen to Him!" Sweet Peter, after he picks himself back up off the ground, offers to build Jesus, Moses and Isaiah shelters. Why would Peter offer that? My NIV Study Bible says "Peter may have desired to erect new tents of meeting where God could again communication with his people... he seemed eager to find fulfillment of the promised glory then, prior to the sufferings that Jesus had announced as necessary... The idea was not appropriate, however, because Jesus had a work to finish in his few remaining days on earth."

Poor Peter thought he was saying the right thing. He didn't want his friend to die. What Jesus was saying didn't make sense and didn't sound right. He wanted good things for Jesus, and thought he would be King. But God had a bigger plan.

Peter wanted to build them little houses. He probably wanted to live in that holy moment. "Let's just stay here. We don't need to go onto this horrible thing that you said is going to happen. Just hang here." Luke 9:33 even says "He did not know what he was saying." Again, poor Peter thought, out of his flesh, he was saying something good. But God's plans were bigger. And Jesus needed to finish them.

We can only see temporary. But God sees eternal.

Help me Lord to see your big picture, and be obedient, even when it doesn't make sense, even when where I am seems safer. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts and your plans are better. And I don't always need to know why. I am a why person, but I need to learn to obey without the why. Its a form of humbleness to trust you. Teach me.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Compassion for Starving People... I don't have it.

Matthew Chapter 5 contains the story of feeding the 4000, but something jumped out at me differently this time. Jesus is teaching the people and its time to go home. Jesus says in verse 32 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry or they may collapse on the way." Two major thoughts.

1. These people had been listening to Jesus for three days without food apparently. They were more spiritually hungry than physically hungry. That shows how dedicated they were to hearing him and being in his presence. No excuses. I have probably never been that desperate to be with Jesus. I come up with excuses all the time not to be with Jesus, and they aren't even good excuses. I need to do laundry, cook dinner, empty the dishwasher, get on Facebook, check my email, on and on and on. These people were starving, not just for food, but more starving for Jesus. 

Psalm 63:1 The Message "God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts"

Oh that that would be my prayer.

2. Jesus had been teaching and healing for three days at least. He had to be worn out. I can't imagine how worn out he was, but he didn't just say, "see ya people. I'm out. Y'all are on your own." He had compassion for them. As they were leaving him, he wanted to make sure they were ok. His compassion didn't have an end to it. My compassion and love for people needs to grow! Even when I'm tired and tired of people.   

I Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

Teach me how to be compassionate Lord, even when I'm worn out. 



Monday, November 14, 2016

Are you Weary?

I am weary. Have been for a few weeks. Not just tired physically, but lots of other ways. The verse about coming to God if I was weary floated through my head a few times, and Praise be to God, it was part of our L3 Saturday. So God and I camped out there for a while on Saturday night, and as He usually does, He taught me some new things in a verse that I've read a hundred times.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I was thinking about the yoke part. One of my commentaries says "A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox or oxen. It is attached to a piece of equipment the oxen are to pull..." Here's a picture in case you aren't sure what that looks like. 

Image result for image of yoked oxen

Poor guys, strapped together. Can't go anywhere on their own. They have to work together or let one of them lead and the other follow. Oh wait! That's what I'm supposed to do! Jesus says to take his yoke, and his burden is light. If I let him lead me, then the burden is even lighter. I don't have to make those decisions about which way to go. Just walk with my Savior who is yoked to me. 

The part that really struck out to me that I have glossed over before is "learn from me". He wants to teach me how to live, how to deal with my daily circumstances, and how to grow in Him. And he is a gentle, humble teacher, not harsh. When I am yoked with him, it can be easy and light, not that my circumstances will be, but the joy and strength and peace I can feel will make it feel lighter. And I can find rest! Just that word makes me want to take a deep breath and relax. He is a good, good father who wants to help me!

The end of that commentary statement above says "The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose."  That sounds wonderful.

Of course the hard thing about being yoked with someone is, you lose your independence. You are now dependent on that person you are yoked to. That's how its supposed to work with God. When I'm stressed and tired because of my circumstances, its usually because I've been doing it on my own strength, and not placing my dependence upon Him. 

Father, thank you for being willing to be yoked to me! I wouldn't want to be yoked to me. Help me learn how to be dependent upon you, to walk with you, to lean on you, and let you lead me. Thank you for your rest, your peace, your joy and strength! You are my good Father!



Friday, November 11, 2016

What a week...

What a week, right? Election 2016 will go down in history as, well, a mess. I have had great self control over the last few months, and even more this week, to not give my opinion on the election or who I voted for, and will try not to in this post. Why? Because like Paul, I want to say  "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." I have lost some respect for a few people through this process because of what they have said. I don't judge them, they are entitled to their opinion, I just didn't know that was their opinion, and I don't think they gave it very gracefully. I don't want anyone to lose respect for me or to label my character by who I voted for. Some battles are worth fighting for and standing up for truth. But in this election, I didn't think either choice was worth me losing respect from anyone. 


I have been reminded of a few things through this process though. I know God is still in control, still sovereign, and not surprised by any of this. And I trust Him. 
I have also realized that the darkness of the world is getting darker, and therefore my light must get brighter. I was driving the other night, and because of time change, realized it had been a long time since I have driven at night. And my eyes were killing me! The brightness of the headlights and street lights were glaring and painful, so much so that I had an vision checkup yesterday, and I will be getting glasses to wear when I drive. 

Its good to get a vision checkup once in a while spiritually too. Think about yourself as a light. Is your light so bright that to those living in darkness its glaring? Not that we want people to be in pain when they look at us, but we do want there to be such a difference in the way we are living they have no doubt that we are not dwellers of the darkness. We need to be shining our light in this world through how we love others, no matter what their labels are to the rest of the world. We need to show grace and love when they disagree with us. Why would anyone want what we have in Jesus if we seem hateful, judgmental and angry when people disagree with us. We need to be a light in this dark world, showing people the way in the darkness to Jesus, the light of the world, who will welcome them with open arms, no matter what label the world has given them. 


Lord, help me be light!


 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16






Tuesday, November 01, 2016

All Staff Today


Once a month, all the staff from all five of our campuses gathers together for worship, teaching and meetings. I love these times. I sometimes miss some because we have childcare during that time for women's Bible studies that are on campus, so if it gets crazy then I have to sneak in the back. Our Senior Pastor Chip usually teaches us out of the L3 for the day. I try to read the passages before we get in there and guess which passages he will teach on and I got it right today.

Ezekiel 18 Your Soul Matters to God

Main points for me...
I matter because God gave me a soul, my soul belongs to Him, and he knows what is going on in my soul. He gives it, He watches it, and He requires it.
Matt. 10:28, 16:26, Luke 12:20, Psalm 34:22

God wants us to have soul health.
1. The health of my soul is not inherited.
We might be exposed to evil, but we can choose to be different. We might have a propensity to the evil, but we can overcome that. Generational sins can be broken! My soul health is not inherited! I can be chain breaker! Amen!

2. Your soul health has to be maintained.
Righteous people can drift, but they can repent and depend on the Spirit of God to help them by creating a clean heart, restoring their joy. Psalm 51:10

I took three pages of notes, so this is truly a summary.
Its my responsibility to take a stand against the generational sins that have been passed down to me, and make the decision to not take that path. And I can pray and ask God to help me with that path, because goodness knows I can't do it by myself. I can strive for righteousness because I am righteous because of his forgiveness. I do not strive for righteousness to try to become righteous. I already am righteous in His sight.

I had a friend once say that because of his parent's divorce, he felt that he wouldn't really have a choice not to get divorced himself. He felt trapped in that destiny. Because of my parent's divorce, I am determined to not get divorced, and it brings freedom to me because that is not a choice. I know I am breaking chains and passing that onto my children. I am thankful!