Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A common New Year's resolution- get in shape!

My own six-pack is now covered by a protective covering...

1 Corinthians 9:26-27
I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Take off the mask & come out of hiding...

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear.
For I wear a thousand masks that I am afraid to take off and none of them are me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me, but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give the impression that I am secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me,
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game;
that the waters are calm and I am in command,
and that I need no one.

But don’t believe me, please.
My surface may seem smooth, but my surface is my mask.
Beneath this lies no complacency.
Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.

I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear of being exposed.
That is why I frantically create a mask to hide behind;
a nonchalant, sophisticated facade,to help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation.
My only salvation. And I know it.
That is, if it is followed by acceptance, if it is followed by love.
It is the only thing that will assure me of what I can’t assure myself,
that I am worth something.

But, I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare. I am afraid to.
I am afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance and love.
I am afraid you will think less of me, that you will laugh at me,
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate game,
with a facade of assurance without, and a trembling child within.
And so begins the parade of masks, and my life becomes a front.

I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that is really nothing,
and nothing of what is everything,
of what is crying within me.

So when I am going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I am saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying.
What I would like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say, but I can’t say.

I dislike hiding, Honestly!
I dislike the superficial game I am playing, the phony game.
I would really like to be genuine and spontaneous, and me,but you have got to help me. You have got to hold out your hand,
even when that is the last thing I seem to want.

Only you can wipe away from my eyes that blank stare of breathing death.
Only you can call me into aliveness.

Each time you try to understand and because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings, very small wings, very feeble wings, but wings.

With your sensitivity and sympathy, and your power of understanding,
you can breathe life into me.

I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be the creator of the person that is me if you choose to.
Please choose to.

You alone can break down the wall
behind which I tremble, you alone can remove my mask.

You alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic and uncertainty;
From my lonely prison.

Do not pass me by.
Please… do not pass me by.

It will not be easy for you;
a long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.

The nearer you approach me, the blinder I strike back.

I fight against the very thing I cry out for. But I am told that
love is stronger than walls, and in this lies my hope.

Please try to beat down those walls with firm hands,
but with gentle hands–for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder? I am someone you know very well.
For I am everyone you meet, I am me and I am you. Charles Finn

John 1:12-13
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Father, humility and brokenness are great virtues to you. Help me yield myself to you so completely that I live solely in your grace & your love for me. Help me to accept how you see me & live only in that identity as a child of God. Open my eyes to see the others on the same journey as I am. Amen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

the big 'C'

Do you want your life to be more about competition, or would you rather be remembered for Compassion?

Psalm 103:6-18
God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he's rich in love. He doesn't endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins.

As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we're made of mud. Men and women don't live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. God's love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.

Matthew 9:36
When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Question for the day...

Am I letting Jesus be the focus of my worship?

Or is something else on my radar?!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


...doesn't work in the kingdom of God. Look what happened when King Nebuchadnezzar tried it,

Daniel 3:1-30
King Nebuchadnezzar built a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet thick. He set it up on the Dura plain in the province of Babylon. He then ordered all the important leaders in the province, everybody who was anybody, to the dedication ceremony of the statue. They all came for the dedication, all the important people, and took their places before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected.

A herald then proclaimed in a loud voice: "Attention, everyone! Every race, color, and creed, listen! When you hear the band strike up—all the trumpets and trombones, the tubas and baritones, the drums and cymbals—fall to your knees and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Anyone who does not kneel and worship shall be thrown immediately into a roaring furnace."

The band started to play, a huge band equipped with all the musical instruments of Babylon, and everyone—every race, color, and creed—fell to their knees and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Just then, some Babylonian fortunetellers stepped up and accused the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Long live the king! You gave strict orders, O king, that when the big band started playing, everyone had to fall to their knees and worship the gold statue, and whoever did not go to their knees and worship it had to be pitched into a roaring furnace. Well, there are some Jews here—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have placed in high positions in the province of Babylon. These men are ignoring you, O king. They don't respect your gods and they won't worship the gold statue you set up."

Furious, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought in. When the men were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar asked, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don't respect my gods and refuse to worship the gold statue that I have set up? I'm giving you a second chance—but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don't worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn't serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."

Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, "Didn't we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?"

"That's right, O king," they said.

"But look!" he said. "I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!"

Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.

All the important people, the government leaders and king's counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn't so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!

Nebuchadnezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king's orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.

"Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this."

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thank goodness for forgiveness...

... and the economy of grace!!

One of my best presents this year was the smile on my kids faces...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jesous Ahatonhia

Jesus, He is born!

Luke 2:1-20
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Celebrate His birth in style...

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Disco be a good Christmas for everyone!! With love from the Carsons. (I never said my style was contemporary!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Eve @ Hope, Wednesday, December 24, 700 PM.

Celebrate God's presence on Christmas Eve...

Exodus 33:12-17
Moses said to God, "Look, you tell me, 'Lead this people,' but you don't let me know whom you're going to send with me. You tell me, 'I know you well and you are special to me.' If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don't forget, this is your people, your responsibility."

God said, "My presence will go with you. I'll see the journey to the end."

Moses said, "If your presence doesn't take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you're with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we're special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?"

God said to Moses: "All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bono on Christmas

But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross. Bono

Colossians 1:26-29
This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Give up on 'The Blame Game'

What are you complaining about these days?
Where are you blaming others or your past as an excuse to avoid taking personal responsibility?

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. Helen Keller

Psalm 51:7-13
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Acronyms for LIFE...

SWAT - Surrender, Willingness, Acceptance, Trust
DENIAL - Don't Even Notice I Am Lying
FAITH - Fear Ain't In This House
YANA - You Are Not Alone
FEAR - Face Everything And Recover

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's cold out there...

For most of us it's difficult to imagine the challenge of homelessness in winter conditions like we're experiencing. Consider what God would have you do to help this Christmas season.

Luke 4:17-21
Jesus stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A little Christmas fun...

Thankfully we are forgiven, 'repeatedly' as one friend put it. Remember the God of second chances this Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pain humbles the proud. It softens the stubborn. It melts the hard. Silently and relentlessly it wins battles deep within the lonely soul. The heart alone knows its own sorrow, and not another person can fully share in it. Pain operates alone; it needs no assistance. It communicates its own message whether to statesman or servant, preacher or prodigal, mother or child. By staying, it refuses to be ignored. By hurting it reduces its victim to profound depths of anguish. And it is at that anguishing point that the sufferer either submits and learns, developing maturity and character; or resists and becomes embittered, swamped by self-pity, smothered by self-will. I have tried and cannot find, either in Scripture or history, a strong-willed individual whom God used greatly until he allowed him to be hurt deeply. Chuck Swindoll

2 Corinthians 11:23-33
I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.

And that's not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.

If I have to "brag" about myself, I'll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Believe...

Matthew 5:3-16
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Believe...

"I find it appalling when people say it's politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you've got to talk about 'The Holiday Season.' Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas." Greg Lake

Romans 1:16-17
It's news I'm most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God's powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: "The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The greatest enemy of intimacy with God is service for him. Dallas Willard

John 15:5
Apart from Me you can do nothing...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Why isn’t God acting how I want and when I want?

Your life isn't about you! You can't handle life by yourself - so give up trying!!

Ephesians 6:10-18
God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I want patience and I want it NOW!

Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans!!

The spiritual journey is about learning to surrender our agenda and tune into God's instead. Have you ever been in a meeting where it was hijacked by someone's own agenda?!

We need to lay down personal agendas and allow Jesus’ agenda to surface wherever we are- at home, at work, at church or at play.

Nebuchadnezzar didn't get the idea- try reading what happened to him in Daniel 1-4.

Daniel 4:25, 35-37
You will be driven away from human company and live with the wild animals. You will graze on grass like an ox. You will be soaked in heaven's dew. This will go on for seven seasons, and you will learn that the High God rules over human kingdoms and that he arranges all kingdom affairs.

"At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever:

"His sovereign rule lasts and lasts, his kingdom never declines and falls. Life on this earth doesn't add up to much, but God's heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt his work, no one can call his rule into question.

"At the same time that I was given back my mind, I was also given back my majesty and splendor, making my kingdom shine. All the leaders and important people came looking for me. I was reestablished as king in my kingdom and became greater than ever. And that's why I'm singing—I, Nebuchadnezzar—singing and praising the King of Heaven:

"Everything he does is right, and he does it the right way. He knows how to turn a proud person into a humble man or woman."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Advent week 2

Your life is shaped by the end you live for… you are made in the image of what you desire, and who you are living for… no man can serve two masters. Life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. Thomas Merton

Friday, December 05, 2008

Jesus was the first to say, "I'll be back..."

...and when He returns He won't be broken down either!

Revelation 22:12-21
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Do you know the difference?

1 John 2:15-17
Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Romans 5:3-5
We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Let your state of denial start to crack open...

I am trying to be aware of what is ruling me as I move through my day, and I’m making small decisions to act against it. That’s how I cooperate with God in my transformation. Larry Crabb

In this quickaholic society in which we live, people want instant results. But transformation works like yeast in bread, a seed growing in the ground. It is too bad we often do not have the patience to wait on it. . . .Transformation is a mysterious work because the Holy Spirit is ultimately the source of it. The Spirit blows where it will, and often catches us off guard. Instant transformation is not the way the Spirit works. But the Spirit does work, which is why transformation does happen. God is always doing a new thing, Isaiah reminds us. The questions whether or not we want to be a part of it. Jan Linn

Ephesians 5:1-2
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Go looking for Hope...

You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. Winnie the Pooh

Proverbs 13:12
Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.