Sunday, August 31, 2014

Victoria Osteen? What About Her? What About Us?

*This post has already become one of my most popular since it was written.  If the post has been a blessing or of interest to you, would you kindly bless me with a comment and a blog following? Thanks in advance!

Imagine you were human. Imagine you make a mistake and publicly say something that is incorrect or highly controversial. Imagine your brothers and sisters all over the world begin to mock you, disparage you, and even call you demonic. Imagine that you and your family are barraged by social media with every kind of foul and vicious attack. Imagine how you would feel, being persecuted by the very people who should love you and pray for you. 

Jesus himself told a group of religious men who were ready to stone a woman caught in adultery that the one who was sinless should cast the first stone. Even these pompous men dropped their rocks. Yet this is a lesson we apparently have not learned. 

We love to throw our rocks from the comfort of our computers, never considering the repercussions of our actions to those we stone with our words. We even love when others pick up stones and throw with us- sharing our disparaging words, meme, or video. We call it "going viral." 

Yeah, it's viral. Like a contagious disease spreading it's poison. We do exactly opposite of what Jesus taught us by His words and actions. And then we condone our behavior saying we must judge one another lest others be deceived by the one we disparage. 

I can hear someone saying, "But that one has a higher accountability.." That if we care about the body of Christ, we must be watchmen...My Bible tells me to examine MYSELF. To take the log out of my eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else's. As imperfect as I am, I have enough work to do right here in this heart before passing judgment on others. 

And the spirit of our stones thrown is not one of love. There is little or no love anywhere recognizable- at least in most of the posts I've seen.

I'm writing to myself first and then sharing with you! IMHO- it's time for those who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ to repent of this sin. We need to stop falling prey to what I call the Internet Cesspool. Stop making excuses for gossip and slander. God is not pleased and the world looks on and laughs at us. 

Now imagine again you are a human who makes a mistake. Imagine swimming in a sea of prayer, love, and forgiveness, encouragement and godly exhortation. Imagine thousands of hands lifting you to your feet after you've fallen. Imagine having your biological family being covered and protected by your spiritual family. Imagine what that would look like to a watching world!

If you are called by His name, then seek His face, turn from your wicked ways, humble yourself and pray. And let's start looking a little more like the One who loves us by being a little more like Him. 

Update: Here's a link to a great video by Clayton Jennings regarding the same issue. It's worth the time to watch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I Won't Do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Believe me when I tell you that my heart is tender toward those who battle ALS. As a nurse, I had patients who suffered tremendously and their end was more than difficult. I’m glad the challenge has brought light to Lou Gehrig’s Disease and has raised so many millions to combat it. I’m really happy to see so many Hollywood and sports celebrities taking part. I hope and pray the money raised will go directly to helping those who are struggling daily with ALS, and I pray even more that better treatment and a cure is found.

But now I need to explain why I won’t participate. For the past three years, I’ve been working on growing an organization to help young ladies who have been the victims of domestic sex trafficking. (That means American girls trafficked in our backyards by American perpetrators.) In brief, part one of our vision is to build a short-term transition house to assist young adult survivors with independent living and leadership skills so that they can become healthy, productive leaders in their spheres. 

Part two of the vision is a long-term safe house for minor victims that will help them become victorious overcomers. We will be the first not for profit organization to accomplish these goals in a faith-based setting in the state of NY where thousands of girls and young women are trafficked annually. Currently, there are very few places that have direct services for this overwhelming number of trafficking survivors. Many end up in jail, detention centers, or large residential treatment centers simply because authorities have few options for them.

The great news is that we just received our tax exempt status! Now we can finally write grants and raise funds so that we can do what we must to help these girls. Until recently, anything we needed to do with and for the girls we currently work with came out of my pocket. Legal fees for incorporation and the non profit status included. To fulfill the vision, we will need several million dollars just to get started. 

So while ALS is a wonderful cause and this challenge has brought so much good to the fight against it, my passion and fight must stay focused. With that, I will take the $100 for not pouring ice cold water on my head (Those who know me know that I HATE being cold!!!) and put it into Sparrow’s Hope for Girls’ bank account. And for the very first time, it will be tax deductible! 

Thanks for understanding. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

André Rieu - And The Waltz Goes On (composed by: Anthony Hopkins)

If you've not heard this stunning work by Sir Anthony Hopkins, please do yourself a favor and take the time. It really is just ... okay. I'm speechless at the beauty of this piece and had to share it with you!

May it bring a smile to your day!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Debate: The Art of Passionate Listening

I bet you’ve never thought of debate as passionate listening before. In fact, the first thing we think of when we hear “debate” is two sides voicing their own convictions and opinions. Yet, if we are really debating well, we are also listening to our “opponent.” 

Most of us have deep passions stemming from our experiences in this life. And I hate to break this to you, no matter what we’ve lived through, neither you or I know everything about anything! We should all be learning and growing as long as we have breath. Sometimes I think we forget that we have much to learn from one another. 

I enjoy when someone challenges me on something I think I know. Going back and forth with our given understanding, if we are willing, we both learn something important, new, or a different perspective than the one we’ve come to perceive as the sole truth. And if I’m being honest, my first reaction is usually that I’m right, and you’re not necessarily wrong. I want my opinion validated, because unless I consider what you’re saying is dead wrong, I will validate yours. And even if my strong convictions decree that you are, in fact, dead wrong, I will still do my earnest best to validate your experiences and what you’re saying.

The bottom line is that I want to hear you. We should want to hear one another. As humans, we should validate each other by passionately listening to one another and considering well what is being said. It broadens our thinking, helps us understand our own limitations, and helps us strengthen our convictions. 

With social media, it seems that we are too quick to judge, too stubborn to listen, and too adamant to lend understanding and validation to each other. We demand that we are the only voice of reason, and any and all other opinions are unsound and foolish. It’s seems that this is a plague brought on by the ability to hide behind a keyboard and spew our opinions unthinkingly. We don’t face one another and engage in conversation much anymore. I’m pretty sure that the way we “behave” on the internet would be different if we were looking into one another’s eyes. 

I challenge myself and each of us to learn to listen. Before responding to that person whose post or comment you so vehemently disagree with, take a breath. Think about what they’re saying. Ask yourself or even ask them why they see it the way they do and listen. Don’t REACT to their opinion. Respond to it by thoughtfully proposing your viewpoint, if you must. But first, take care to clarify that you at least hear what they are saying.

If we all did this, we could actually learn something. About one another. About ourselves. 

Try it now. With the man in this video. Can you listen and judge not? I know I would have loved to spend a few minutes talking with Mr. Knight! Now, I'll just have to wait! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Willie Myrick: Every Praise is to Our God!

This blog was written by my friend, Sean Wrench and reposted here by his permission. Read his wisdom and insight after being inspired by one very wise,  brave little boy!
Meet 10 year old Willie Myrick. 
Last week Willie was kidnapped right in his own front yard.
Willie did something that many of us would probably think is a little crazy.
He started worshipping. In fact he kept singing for 3 hours and finally the kidnapper let him go.
I’m going to speculate a little here if you don’t mind. Something tells me Willie went to Sunday school. I wonder if Willie was drawn in with amazement as the teacher told stories of impossible situations that God delivered people from.
I wonder if Willie heard about Jehoshophat.  In 2 Chronicles 20 Jehoshophat who was King of Judah was about to go into the biggest battle of his life. Scripture says that a ‘vast army’ was coming against him. 
Jehoshophat was outnumbered and outmatched. I don’t know about you but I can relate to this. There are so many battles in life I’ve fought that were just bigger than me. I felt overwhelmed.
But Jehoshophat did something that for the leader of a great army just didn’t make sense. As they went into battle he put the worshippers on the FRONT LINE. Can you imagine this? 
They went into the biggest battle of their life singing “Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever”
I just wonder if Willie Myrick heard this story.
I wonder if he heard about Gideon. In Judge 7 Gideon faced a similar battle as Jehoshophat. Scripture tells us that just their camels numbered more than the grains of sand on the seashore.
Gideon led only 300 men into a battle that was likely against hundreds of thousands of men if not millions. With trumpets and clay pots they charged into battle shouting “For the Lord and for Gideon”and if you study the Old Testament you’ll see that the most common use of Trumpets were in worship cermonies. 
I wonder if Willie heard about King David. David went into more battles than we could count. In fact David fearlessly led many a battle. I don’t think it’s by chance that David was a worshipper. 
But here’s the thing. It’s easy to stand in church and lift our hands and sing songs when life is good. It’s easy to sing those worship songs on the top of our lungs when we are driving in our car when everything in life is comfortable.
That’s the easy part. But when we worship before the battle and during the battle. Oh man that’s where the powerful stuff happens.
You see King David knew something about this. In fact in 2 Samuel 22 he said “I called to the Lord who is worthy of praise and then I was saved from my enemies” 
David didn’t just praise after the victory. David knew that praise preceded the victory. 
I wonder if Willie Myrick heard the famous story about the Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho. In Joshua 6 as they marched around the walls Joshua ordered them to shout unto the Lord and sound the trumpets. And I think most of us know what happened next. The walls came down. 
Abraham. He faced one of the most impossible situations recorded in the Bible. I’m no doctor but I don’t know anyone in recent history that became a Dad at the age of 100. I mean let’s be honest ‘stuff’ just stops working at that age. Sarah was 90. But scripture tell us that Abraham didn’t stop praising and giving glory to God.
Here’s what I want us to understand. 10 year old Willie Myrick has just taught the world a very powerful lesson. Praise wins the battle.
Listen, I am going through some tough stuff in life right now, you are going through some tough stuff, we ALL are facing battles in our life.
So I dare you. I dare you to worship in the battle. I dare you to sing on the top of your lungs when you absolutely least feel like it. I dare you in the midst of what seems like an impossible situation to lift up your hands wherever you are and just start praising God. 
Why is worship so powerful? Because scripture is crystal clear that God is moved by our faith. Worship energizes our faith. Do you know that there are 42 times in the Bible where God actually changed his mind? This is really a whole different blog post but let me briefly say this. God’s character never changes. But prayer and worship move the heart of God. God will change his mind when we pray and worship when it lines up with his character. And it’s not always about us asking God to change his mind about our situation. Jesus was clear that prayer brings heaven to earth. When we pray we bring God’s will that is in heaven down to earth. Sometimes we simply have not because we ask not. Or we gave up asking. I’m so tempted to start talking about prayer but I’ll save that for another blog post. 
If we could just understand how deeply God loves us and is longing to move on our behalf we would start praying like crazy and worshipping our lungs out ! 
Because prayer and worship MOVE GOD ! I don’t know Willie Myrick personally but I’ll bet at some point in his 10 years someone taught him that. 
And when faced with possibly the most fearful situation a 10 year old could ever face Willie started to worship.
Here’s the song Willie sang.
Sean is the Founder&CEO of Alive Marketing Group. He also leads a team of incredibly passionate entrepreneurs as a Brand Partner with Nerium International. 
As the former director of Forsaken Generation he has spoken around the country about the issue of Human Trafficking.
He was also a part of 2 church plants and continues to be passionate about sharing his faith with others. 
Please take a moment to leave a comment on this post and share the post! For more from Sean you can find him here: 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Musings from My Hyper-active Morning Brain 2. I Need Something

I need something. I want something. I want something more than the status quo, predictable Sunday church service. I want more than sitting in and doing my due diligence to what we now refer to as “church.” I deeply desire the kind of gathering, an Acts 2 kind of life where we regularly come together, break bread, and open our hearts to one another about what God is teaching us, how He is leading and directing us, and encourage one another as we follow Him. Where we continually hold one another accountable, living iron sharpening iron, laughing, crying, and loving on each other, spurring each other on in the things of God in this life.

I don’t want a pizza party or bowling night. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. And I believe God’s true church is more than a group of people facing forward in a room. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either. But I crave a New Testament experience with other believers who are hungry for something perhaps less appealing to most. I’ve been with folks who shy away from conversations about God, saying that we could be so “heavenly minded that we are no earthly good…” I beg to differ. The more heavenly minded we are, the more we have the mind of Christ, the more we look like Him, act like Him, love like Him, the more equipped will we be to do His will and work in the earth and be part of His Kingdom come. 

In John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one, I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."

Jesus understood that as we are in complete unity with Him and with one another, the world will believe in Him! How will they know? By the love we have for one another. (John 13:35) When the world sees the love of Jesus shed abroad in our hearts FOR ONE ANOTHER, then they can trust the Jesus we proclaim. And honestly, we can’t learn to truly love one another, forgive one another, be family with one another (with all that “family” implies) by just doing our due diligence performances on Sundays. There’s got to be so much more!

We must have the kind of fellowship believers had in Acts 4:32 where the “multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” And I can hear the rumblings. Well, that’s just not practical today. If you are a Christian, you already know there’s nothing practical about following Christ! 

I really didn’t mean for this to get into a bible study. I’m just passionately seeking answers for myself. Because I need something. I want something more than the status quo, predictable Sunday church service. I want family. In reality, not just in a musing. I’m desperately hungry for true, bible fellowship. What about you?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Morning Musings from My Hyper-brain. 1

My brain is often hyper-active in the morning. Thoughts pour in and out of my head as I ready myself for work. Brushing my teeth seems to really bring on the flow. So here's the first of my hyper-morning brain musings.

What if Jesus and the disciples acted like some of us do? What if they went to the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery with signs that said, "GOD HATES ADULTERERS" or what if they just behaved as though he hated them? On the other hand, what if we behaved like Jesus did and loved all kinds of people, showing them that God really does love them in spite of themselves, just like he does us?