Wednesday, October 31, 2012

From Vision to Reality: GCWS

Five months ago I sat in a hotel breakfast lounge on the west side of the Sea of Galilee.  We were getting ready to head out to a day of exploring the beautiful land of Israel near Tiberias.  My roommate and I were just enjoying our delicious breakfast when none other but our pastor, Pastor Dan Betzer, joined us at our table.  Wow!  What an honor!  To have someone you respect so much take the time to eat breakfast with you is something not soon forgotten.

We were glad to have him join us.  Not people to be shy, we included him in our conversation and enjoyed the humor he infused into it.  Then he hinted at a project he was working on, a vision, really.  Something that had been on his heart for a while but that God was just putting the finishing pieces together for it - and they were coming together quickly.  That was all.  He didn't share anything except that God was working out something big.

Now, if you know anything about Pastor Betzer, you know that God doesn't put small dreams in his heart. You also know that when God puts dreams in his heart, he doesn't see them as dreams, he sees them as goals.  The great lesson I've learned under Pastor Betzer's leadership throughout the years has been faith.  Faith, faith, faith.  Not that you can't have doubts, but that faith does not have to be swayed by doubts.

That being said, we didn't think much more of the conversation, and we enjoyed a magnificent day of touring on our dream trip.

Fast forward to now.  Much has happened, you understand, between then and now, to make now a reality.  But this was the work God was doing in Israel: The Great Commission World Summit.  It's like a huge fundraiser, yes: the goal is to raise $50 million in one night, November 2, 2012.

But that is just the tactical end of things.  $50 million represents millions of lives impacted by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  It is not about the money.  It's about what will happen with the money.  It's about getting Jesus into the hands of people who have not yet heard of him.  A project like this has a ripple effect that will last for generations to come.

Consider Paul's challenge regarding sharing the good news about Jesus:

"But how can they call on him [Jesus] to save them unless they believe in him?  And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?  That is why the scriptures say, 'How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:14-15)

 You can be a part of lots of things that help spread the good news about Jesus, and I don't discount one over this one.  This is just another opportunity, and I encourage you to be a part of it, whether by coming to the event on Friday night, or by streaming it live, or by sharing it with people you know.

For information on the project, you can visit their website here.

Let's show the world the incredible gift of Jesus!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Part of the Tapestry

I'm sitting in the doctors office as I write this, waiting to be seen. Another "interruption" in my day that causes me to sit back and thank God that He does everything for a purpose and I can trust He already knew how my day would go today. 

I finished a Bible study last night that left me craving for more. So I pull out this book to read that I've been eyeing since I got it from the budget bin at the local bookstore: Max Lucado's God's Story, Your Story. 

The first chapter of Max's writing reels me in: God has a story for me. For my life. "You are so much more than a few days between the womb and the tomb."  

Who doesn't long for purpose? And who doesn't struggle to find it at times?  

Max talks about his genealogy, and the pictures of my own family tree projects as an elementary school student pop into mind. I have a new idea on how to chart this history in a more meaningful way to me.

Have you ever charted your family's history? Have you ever wondered if you were related to royalty or some great inventor? 

But God's story unfolds for me in the now. The history is still alive inside of me and I carry it. No, I don't carry the burdens of my ancestors nor do I claim their successes or failures. But I recognize their thread in a larger tapestry, and I continue that thread with my own color. 

I don't know about you, but I want my thread to be strong, to bind to other threads around me and create a picture of my generation that is more brilliant than the one before me, and one that is more dull than the one to come. I want my portion of the loom to build a foundation for the one to come: One of faith that rocks the world, that shocks the world; One of love and compassion fueled by the heart of God. 

Dream today with me, will you? Let's not give up on this journey of impact and purpose that goes beyond our today. Lets look to God for the bigger story and how we can be threads available for Him to weave.  

Check it out here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Weak, the Fatherless, the Poor, and the Oppressed.... and My Response

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. (Psalm 82:3)

The Team and I in Moldova, October 2010, working with Phillip and Chrissie Cameron at Stella's Voice

Tonight, some of my friends and I discussed the account of Israel in Judges 19.  It's a tough story.  It's the sin of the movie "Taken" in Bible times.  It's vulgar, painful, brutal, and ugly.  It's a modern day horror story.  

I have read it before, but life's twists and turns have given me a totally different perspective.  A big supporter and promoter of anti-trafficking movements and causes, I read the account last night and asked God: "What did this woman do to deserve that treatment?"

The answer? Nothing.  She didn't deserve the treatment at all.  

Then why?  I want to ask God this question.  OK, I did ask God that question.  "Why did You allow her to be used and abused like that?"  

My friend Phillip Cameron feels the same way about the ugliness of trafficking.  When telling his account of a girl named Stella (read the full account here), he says "I just can’t come to terms with the callousness and systemic wickedness that permitted such an awful thing to happen to anyone..."

I don't have the answer to this "why" question whether it is regarding this unnamed concubine, a girl in Moldova named Stella, or any other people that are currently being used and abused in hell holes all around the world.  All I have is anger for the act.  All I can do is pray for protection for those who are not protected, mourn for the hurting,  and beg God, in His mercy, to shut down the evil hand that compels those acts.  

My meeting was difficult tonight, because I came away with another perspective, but my heart still hurts.  My throat was still swollen with choked-back tears as I read the story with my friends again and thought of the people I've heard first-hand stories of in Moldova, in Florida, and in Ecuador, all on the brink of death after similar encounters with this evil.  

I can be positive every day and search for good in everything, but there is no denying the fact that evil exists in this world in very real ways to people I see every day.  Don't mistake my search for joy in life with my realization that this pain is a very, very, real thing to many, and it is not fair.  

So I have a choice.  Where do I go from here?  What do I do with this burden?  Well, I tell you about it.  I make you aware of this hidden, yet common, brutality, and that there is no excuse for the behavior.  I continue supporting and promoting movements, causes, and organizations that fight trafficking (see some links below).  And I look for every opportunity I have to stand up for the weak and wounded, while trusting in the power of God to apply justice where justice is due.

And until heaven, I do what I can to see others find freedom that, truly, cannot be found except by a miracle of an All-Powerful God.  

Please, PLEASE, help fight the cause of the weak, the fatherless, the poor, and the oppressed of our generation.  

Useful Sites:

(Thanks to Pastor Phillip Gonzales for his insight on the story in Judges...)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Strength in Weakness

Do you ever have amazing days - like EPIC amazing - and the day after is a almost a let down?  Well if someone like me does (who works hard to find the good in every hard situation), I imagine many other people do to.  So let me share with you what God spoke to me a while back while I was dealing with this very issue on a sunshiney Florida afternoon...

Oh Lord
You have shown your favor,
your every word stands true
And I'm found
Safe within your harbor
Anchored deep in you
You washed away my tears
Gave me joy and freedom
Lifting me through the years
Your love is stronger than
The sound of heavens angels
Higher than
The lofty mountain peaks
Deeper than
The deepest ocean valley
Strong enough for me*

I need this strength today. I am empty and weak and frail. And I feel every bit of it in my whole being. Yesterday was an amazing day, and today, I'm empty again.  

It's good for me to remember this: when I am empty, I am available to be filled. When I am weak, I am available to be saved.

Well here I am, Lord. Empty and weak, but available.  

Here I am for You.

It's important to fall at the feet of Jesus FIRST - in whatever way this looks to you - when you're at this place.  No person on Earth will be able to meet the deep needs in your soul.  A person may be used by God to encourage and uplift you, but only God can fill that place with the sustaining strength you need.  

While it doesn't seem possible, go to God with confidence that He will show up, because He does delight to hear from you, weaknesses and all...

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness."  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

*lyrics from "Stronger Than" by Hillsong United, Released 4/6/10

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hemmed In

Have you ever had a dog or a cat as a pet?

If so, you will know the sweet comfort that comes when they sit next to you.  Or perhaps, they fell asleep next to you one day while you were taking a nap.  These are precious moments.  They exude trust from this little warm body.  They know they will be safe with you, and they are fully confident that they are, for that moment, OK.  A knock on the door may cause them to jump, but in that moment, you are their rock.

You “hem them in” with just being you.  To hem is to swaddle, to protect, to hold close: like a mother does with her baby. 

I want you to be hemmed in.  I want you to know what that is like.  I want you to find comfort, your “safe-zone”, your home-base, your protection in God.   He does this.  He will hem you in if you let Him.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from far away.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”  Ps. 139:1-5

Just as you might comfort an animal by petting them, so God wants to comfort you with not only His love, but with His hands.  What are you overwhelmed with?  He wants to hold you close while you are yet living your life.  He alone can provide the comfort that will see you through.  Will you go to Him today?

Duke and I watching a movie... ;)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Perspective and Politics

Isn't it the hot topic?  I know it is in my corner of the world.  Yes, I've been watching the debates.  I see the ads.

I may take a bit of a different stand on politics than most.  I think a quiet voice is better heard than a loud one most of the time.  The banter, the bicker, the complaints, the (few) encouraging words.... none of that convinces me like the voice of God within me.

I don't mean to be cliche'.  I just look for truth and the only truth we can depend on is the proven truth of the Bible.  I listen, but I focus on the still, soft, quiet voice in my soul... the one that tells me right from wrong... the one that whispers truth in my dark moments and when beautiful lies are dangled in front of me.

Your own ears will hear him [God].  Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left.  Isaiah 30:21

I don't believe I could ever tell someone how to vote.  That would go against my nature in every sense.  God gave you a mind, body, soul, and spirit.  Listen to the facts.  Let God tell you what is right and what is wrong.  I believe He gave you the capacity to determine that when He created you.  At the same time, I would strongly encourage you to vote.  I believe God calls us to action, and when He convicts us of what to do, we are sinning when we do not do so.  If He has convicted you to vote for a candidate, vote for them.

I can't pretend to take the place of God or I immediately become in the wrong.  So I encourage you to let Him speak to you.  And that means action on your part, too: you have to seek Him on the matter.

Let me leave you with this: an old Irish hymn that is definitely classified as one of my favorites.  It is a great reminder to me on where to keep my focus when I (often) lose it...

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; 
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night, 
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

I would like to see this generation find perspective from the Truth.  This means (for most of us) a conscious perspective change.  Will you do it with me?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Great Hope

I have great hope.

Tremendously great hope.

It's buried way down deep inside of me.  Sometimes you will look at me or talk to me, and you will not see the hope.  It's there most of the time, but I still have bad days.

But if you stick around long enough, if you see me in the really bad days, you will see a depth of longing and questioning that you may not have experienced.  And just below that is this steady stream of hope.

Sometimes in life, we must get down that low to find out what's really there.  I'm not saying to delve into discouragement, but if it hits you, reach down deep for that hope.

Let me encourage you with one more thing: if you don't find that hope, you can get it flowing down there.  Come up for air, grab a Bible, and read it until you find the hope you need.  And if you want help even at that point, contact my friends here and let them help you find it.

There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are:  Cry out to Jesus
(Third Day, 2006)

Those who delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night - they are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.  Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:2-3)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Cost of Garbage in New York

When my brother first moved to New York, he shared with me that the local town he lived in charges $2 for each bag of garbage he puts out to the street.  On top of that, if it is not tagged in a certain way, they would not take it.  $2 does not seem like much, but the cost can certainly add up.  Still, I thought it was quite comical to hear him tell of this "inconvenience".

The way my mind works, I quickly thought about how we have to pay for the garbage in our minds that we want out too.  We pay with stress, emotions, frustrations, peer-pressure, and lost friends when we choose to live a life righteously.  It's not much different from the rest of humanity, except when you make a decision to live righteously, you gain an abundance of peace in your life that you'd never thought possible.

Peace comes from being right with God.  If I'm struggling with peace in my heart, I first ask myself what I might be doing that is not honoring Him.  Everything about my peace returns whenever I make a choice to live "righteously" (in right standing with God) again.

Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)

Tupper Lake, NY

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Lie I Wish I Didn't Hear

I wish I didn't get stuck like this.  Almost every day I get in a rut of thinking I'm not good enough.  Something triggers it every day.  Something whispers to me and something steals my focus.  

This entry will be short because if there's one thing I've discovered its to dwell on truth and refute the lies to move on in any situation.  And this is something I also have to remind myself of daily.  

So today, in this moment, I know I am a precious gem, a treasure of heavenly worth.  My feet are beautiful because I bring the gospel of peace to people around me and my face shines with the glory of God living in me.  I am clothed with righteousness because of Jesus' sacrifice, and no, I'm not good enough on my own.  But, with Jesus as my Savior, I am fully competent to not only handle, but to excel in everything God puts in my path.  And today I will do that.  By the grace of God, I will do that.  

And even if I fail, I gain victory every time I depend on God to pick me up again.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Playset

My cousin recently sent me this cool story of God’sprovision for her family…

Last night we were walking before my son's bedtime and passed a plastic play set in pieces by the road.  I asked my husband if he thought we could salvage the slide part for our son.  He was doubtful and we walked on.  
 Then at the next corner, we stopped to talk to a couple with a dog and they told us the set was theirs and it's in good shape if we wanted it!  They even offered to drive it down to our house since they had a bigger car!!
My husband cleaned it up and put it together last night and our son played on it today.  He loves it!
What really strikes me is that the lady that drove it down for us had a “coexist” sticker on her car and a Buddha hanging from her mirror.  God is constantly using nonbelievers to provide things that we want/need,especially for our son.
We give and serve the King and his kingdom and He provides...through people that don't even believe in him.  It's pretty amazing.

I don’t know what you need today, but I know that God has riches we can’t even begin to measure. He can give to you what you need whenever you need it, without sacrificing a thing.  He just wants us to ask and trust that He will provide whenever the time is right.

And the same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)

The Happy Boy Visiting me in July!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I fail often.

People right now in my life are failing me.

I don't hate people because they fail or else I would have to hate myself. Failure tells me you're human, and I can deal with that, because I am too. There is a gut-punching feel that hits when someone fails me, though, until I remember that I have probably failed them too.

But God doesn't fail. In fact, He is so good at being God that He can even take my failures and my friends failures and make something really cool out of them.

Think: gift basket. You may have five types of soap, some silly decorative items, and some random candles. These can all be useless to you (perhaps), but when you put them all together for a gift, you create a spa gift for a friend.

I'm hoping for some gift-basket blessings that come from my failures, and your failures, so that together we can be a huge blessing to people in need around us - and to each other!

If you're having trouble believing that God can use you - messed up you - (like messed up me) - I encourage you to challenge Him by offering Him yourself.  Despite the failures, offer yourself to Him, and work with what He gives you to show you that your life still matters.

...and trust that He will never fail you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Magic Tricks and God

Magically volcanic cranberry tarts last Thanksgiving.
They, miraculously, tasted amazing despite their disfigurement. ;)

Have you ever watched someone do magic tricks for children?  The children are skeptically expectant, hoping to be entertained while wanting to figure out how the trick was done.  There's so much anticipation, and often, disappointment, because no good magician tells their tricks.

Oh how I see myself as this expectant child when I've gone to God sometimes.  Instead of tricks, it's miracles; instead of a magician, the One True God.

How does He do it?  What am I missing?  How can I reproduce this?

Often, I've been just as disappointed as a child, too.  I've set my heart to figure it out and fool myself into thinking I can be God.  What a horrible mistake!

We can never be the magician, we can never reproduce the tricks.  We can, however, go to God, who knows all, and ask Him to perform a miracle for us. He still does them today, you know...

Hebrews 4:16
Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.