Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Bridge Over Troubled Water

I was looking for Angels We Have Heard On High, but God knew what I needed to hear.

Enjoy this rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water by Josh Groban and Brian McKnight.

May you enjoy peace this Christmas season and should you need one, may you find your bridge over troubled waters in Him.

Peace & Blessings,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Featured Book: Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It)

What do you believe about hell?

Today's featured book, Hell is Real, is definitely for adults.

No, correction.  It's for any believer of any age who doubts the existence of hell.  (Younger believers may need translation, but the message remains as relevant to them as to any.)

Read the first chapter.

You may want to read on.

David C. Cook (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Brian Jones is the senior pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley, an innovative community of faith in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Brian is a graduate of Cincinnati Christian University (B.A.) and Princeton Theological Seminary (M. Div.) and has served in leadership positions in churches for over twenty years. His humorous and raw style has made him a popular speaker for conferences, seminars, churches and retreats.

Visit the author's website.


Recently, the media has ignited in a brimstone blaze of controversy over the question of Hell, and the idea that’s generating so much attention is that Hell isn’t real, and even if it were, a loving God wouldn’t possibly send people there. Is Hell real, or is it a concept that is misguided and out of place in today’s Christianity? Many believe the answer to this question will have profound implications on the future of the faith, and important personalities on both sides of this question are drawing lines in the sand.

If you would like to hear his sermon on Hell is Real, see video below...

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781405726

ISBN-13: 978-0781405720


Eternal Damnation, Really?

The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when somebody takes radically something that was always there.

—H. Richard Niebuhr1

My three daughters know that I have one sacred, unbreakable rule when our family drives anywhere on vacation: If you have to go to the bathroom once we’re on the highway, you better have a Pringles can close by because we’re not stopping.

I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to small bladders, you have to exert martial law on the whole van. Otherwise you’ll spend half your vacation touring the country’s finest rest stops and eating twelve times the daily recommended allowance of pork rinds. In fact, after years of driving to remote vacation spots, I’ve learned four key principles for a successful road trip with kids: Keep ’em sleeping, keep ’em separated, keep ’em dehydrated, and keep ’em watching videos. If complaining erupts, I’ve also found it helpful to have memorized Bill Cosby’s classic line: “I brought you into this world; I can take you out!”2

There have been times, however, I’ve been tempted to break my own rules. For instance, I’ll never forget the time we drove from Dayton, Ohio, to Dallas. We had just stopped in Louisville to fill up, and after twenty minutes we had successfully emptied all the bladders, gotten situated with our snacks, and pulled back on the road heading toward the highway. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a plume of smoke rising from the rooftop of a small apartment complex. I looked for a chimney but saw none. I reassured myself that surely someone had already called 911 and everything would be fine.

Besides, I thought, I can’t even tell for sure if there’s a fire.

Yet something inside of me kept wondering, What if I’m the only person who is seeing this right now? As I approached the onramp I went back and forth in my head, Should we stop? Should we keep going? Should we stop? We don’t have time for this! But what if I’m the only person—I swerved to the left at the last second, drove past the onramp, and circled back into the apartment complex. My guilt (or basic human decency) had won out.

As I pulled up I discovered that it was in fact a fire, and by then the flames had engulfed a large part of the roof. Worse, my suspicion was accurate—we were the only ones there. I asked my wife, Lisa, to call 911, and then I ran inside to warn people to get out.

Once I reached the third floor, I frantically started to bang on the doors, one by one, but at each door there was no response. I then ran down to the second floor and did the same. As I was about to go down to the first floor, a shirtless young man with disheveled hair stuck his head out of one of the second-floor units. He cracked the door open, and as I ran back to meet him, I was hit with a wall of marijuana smoke.

“Yo, my man, what’s up?” he said with a slight grin.

“What’s up is that your apartment is about to burn to the ground. Put your joint down and help me get people out of here!”

We ran down the steps to the first floor. Two couples responded to our knocking. “There’s an elderly lady on the third floor!” one woman shouted. “Did you get her out?”

My heart sank. After racing back up to the third floor, we began furiously pounding on her door. The first-floor neighbor yelled, “She gets confused easily. We may have to break down the door.” But just as she said that the handle slowly began to turn. Coughing, confused, and minutes away from being consumed by the fire, she followed her neighbors down to safety. As we stepped out the front door, we heard sirens in the distance. After we guided the elderly woman into the hands of the paramedics, I turned around and watched the firemen storm up the apartment steps to stop the blaze.

As I stood there, the weight of it all hit me. I let out a deep sigh and thought to myself, What would have happened if I had kept driving?

A few hours later, when my adrenaline had finally worn down and the kids were asleep, a bizarre thought came out of nowhere. I call it a “thought” because to this day I’m still not sure if what popped into my mind came from God or from the triple stack of chocolate chip pancakes from IHOP digesting in my stomach. Here’s what came to my mind:

Let me get this straight: You’re willing to run into a burning building to save someone’s life, but non-Christians all around you are going to hell and you don’t believe it, let alone lift a finger to help.

Admittedly, I was a little freaked out by the “thought,” but at the time I blew it off as a lingering remnant of my conservative-evangelical upbringing.

Four years prior to this event I had graduated from seminary, and with the endless boxes of books I lugged into the moving truck when I left, I also packed my watered-down theology, a healthy dose of skepticism about biblical authority, and a nail-tight conviction that hell was a mythological concept that no loving and thinking Christian could accept. I had weighed the evidence, read all the books, and sat at the feet of experts for three years. Now the verdict was in—the Bible’s teaching about hell was inaccurate at best and hateful at worst. What I was taught as a child was a lie, and now that I was becoming a pastor, I was sure I’d never perpetuate that ridiculous myth again.

Objections to Hell

Undoubtedly, you’re a smart person. You like to read, and you were intrigued enough by the topic of hell and eternal damnation to give this book a go (either that or the bookstore didn’t have that Dan Brown novel you were looking for). And so I think you can understand the six good reasons it seemed ridiculous to me that God would send anyone to hell. Read through these objections and see if you resonate with how I felt.

1. Hell Is a Very Unpopular Idea

Hell has always been an unpopular concept, and for obvious reasons. According to a recent survey by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, only 59 percent of Americans believe in hell.3 That’s six out of ten people, a slight majority in any room. But another poll narrowed the question even more and discovered that “fewer than half of all Americans (43 percent) thought people go to heaven or hell depending on their actions on earth.”4 Furthermore, in twenty-five years of being a pastor, I would add that maybe three out of every ten Christians I’ve met truly believe people who die without becoming Christians go to hell.

The fact that so few people believe in hell made me wonder if it was about as factual as the lost city of Atlantis.

2. The Punishment Doesn’t Fit the Crime

To my post-seminary self, sending someone to hell for all eternity seemed tantamount to sending someone to death row for stealing a postage stamp. Enduring physical, emotional, and spiritual torture not just for a year, or ten years, or billions of years on end, but for all eternity—it just didn’t seem fair. In fact, it seemed hateful and absurd. Who would propose such a punishment on anyone for anything done in this life? Atheist William C. Easttom put it this way,

                  God says, “Do what you wish, but make the wrong
                  choice and you will be tortured for eternity in hell.”
                  That … would be akin to a man telling his girlfriend,
                  do what you wish, but if you choose to leave
                  me, I will track you down and blow your brains
                  out. When a man says this we call him a psychopath
                  and cry out for his imprisonment/execution.
                  When God says the same we call him “loving” and
                  build churches in his honor.5

When I looked at it from this vantage point, I understood why Tertullian, a well-known pastor in the early church, wrote, “We get ourselves laughed at for proclaiming that God will one day judge the world.”6 In eighteen hundred years that sentiment hasn’t really changed.

3. Life Is Hell Enough

The more I thought about the concept of eternal punishment, the more I kept thinking to myself, Don’t most people go through enough hell in one lifetime? Think about all the suffering people go through in this life. Hell just didn’t make any sense to me. One blogger does a fantastic job of illustrating this point:

                  Given life’s headaches, backaches, toothaches,
                  strains, scrapes, cuts, rashes, burns, bruises, breaks,
                  PMS, fatigue, hunger, odors, molds, colds, parasites,
                  viruses, cancers, genetic defects, blindness, deafness,
                  paralysis, retardation, deformities, ugliness, embarrassments,
                  miscommunications, confused signals,
                  ignorance, unrequited love, dashed hopes, boredom,
                  hard labor, repetitious labor, old age, accidents, fires,
                  floods, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes,
                  and volcanoes, I cannot see how anyone, after
                  they’re dead, deserves “eternal punishment” too.7

4. Hell Seems Intolerant and Hateful

One of the biggest things that weighed on me was how cruel and arrogant the concept of hell sounded when I talked about it with good friends of mine who weren’t Christians.

A friend once asked me, “How can you believe my great-grandparents who brutally suffered and died in the Holocaust won’t go to heaven just because they didn’t believe in Jesus? They were loving, God-fearing people.” I didn’t have a good answer, and the lack of an answer that sounded loving and moral troubled me immensely. The vast majority of people on this planet think that believing anyone—except people like Hitler who commit heinous crimes against humanity—would go to hell is arrogant, insensitive, ignorant, and hateful.

Victor Hugo wrote, “Hell is an outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made you in his image, I reply that he must have been very ugly.”8 I had to agree. What kind of God would send anyone to hell? I thought.

5. Respected Evangelical Scholars Reject the Idea of Hell

What troubled me even more was that everywhere I turned, noted Christian scholars confirmed my inner struggle. For instance, evangelical theologian Clark Pinnock wrote,

                  I consider the concept of hell as endless torment in
                  body and mind an outrageous doctrine.… How can
                  Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty
                  and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting
                  everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful
                  they may have been? Surely a God who would do
                  such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God.9

Statements like this made sense to me. Knowing that highly educated people like Pinnock and others thought this way gave me more confidence that it might be okay to veer away from my traditional Christian beliefs if I chose to do so. If they veered from clear biblical teachings, why couldn’t I?

6. I Like Being Liked

Finally, truth be told, the need to be liked was a real factor in my personal struggle. I hated the fact that I could have friendships with people, but if I stayed true to my Christian beliefs, I felt like I had to spend all my time and energy trying to convert them. I wanted to embrace them, cherish their uniqueness, understand their beliefs, and celebrate our diverse cultural and religious upbringings. Hell was an affront to all of this. I didn’t want to be thought of as the nutty, intolerant guy who was always trying to get people to admit that they were sinners in need of a Savior. I wanted to be the cool, relevant, and intelligent pastor people liked and wanted their friends to know.

Do you resonate with any of those objections to hell?

An Unexpected Confrontation

The combined weight of the attacks by my professors and the sheer immorality of the idea itself finally broke the theological dam open for me. Over time I simply gave up on the idea, proudly. The problem was that believing the Bible is God’s Word is, well, up near the top of any pastor’s job description, at least in an evangelical church. I needed a job, so I came up with what seemed like a simple solution:

I would never tell anyone about my disbelief. In fact, I carried my secret around for four years after graduate school without ever telling anyone, not the people who went to my church, not the staff with whom I worked, not my friends, not even my wife. The secret was so well hidden that sometimes I was able to forget about it—until that apartment fire in Louisville, and then again a few months later at a monastery in northwest Ohio.

I was in the habit of going to a monastery roughly once a month for a spiritual retreat. I would arrive early in the day to pray, journal, take long walks in the woods, and leave late in the afternoon. On one such retreat I felt an overwhelming sense of spiritual pressure, the spiritual equivalent of the kind of pressure you feel in your ears when swimming in deep water. I sensed that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. For the better part of the day, I locked myself into a cold, cement-block room and asked God to show me the source of my consternation.

For the first three hours, I heard nothing—my prayers seemed as if they were bouncing off the ceiling. By noon I felt like I was starting to make a connection with God, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened next, when I felt God’s Spirit impress upon my heart, “Brian, this charade has to end. You’re a pastor and your job is to teach people the Bible, but you don’t believe what you’re teaching. You don’t believe in hell.”

I was a little startled, so I picked up my Bible and did something I had up to that point discouraged people in my church from doing—I played what I call “Bible Roulette.” In his book Formula for a Burning Heart, A. W. Tozer said, “An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly.”10 I can attest to the truth of that statement.

I closed my eyes, wildly fanned the pages back and forth, and randomly pointed to passages and read them. The first passage was about eternal punishment. I looked up at the ceiling and said, “That’s a coincidence.” The second passage was about God’s wrath. This time I felt a little uneasy. Then I did it a third time and couldn’t believe my eyes—eternal punishment again. I’m not usually the most mystical person in the world, but I slowly closed the pages of my Bible, put it down on the table next to me, and said, “I get the message.” Church leaders must “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9), and hell is one of those “deep truths.”

I spent the next five hours reading and underlining every passage about hell in the New Testament, and as I did, I felt an overwhelming sense of conviction. What I discovered shocked me. I had always assumed that the Bible contained only a few scattered references to hell. I was wrong; hell is taught everywhere.

Take the book of Matthew, for instance, just one book among twenty-seven in the entire New Testament. Here is what we learn about hell from that book alone:

Twelve separate passages record Jesus’ teachings about the judgment of nonbelievers and their assignment to eternal punishment.11 Matthew 13:49–50 summarizes them all: “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus employed the most graphic language to describe what hell is like: fire (Matt. 5:22; 18:9); eternal fire (18:8); destruction (7:13); away from his presence (7:23); thrown outside (8:12; 22:13; 25:30); blazing furnace (13:42); darkness (22:13; 25:30); eternal punishment (25:46); weeping and gnashing of teeth (8:12; 13:42; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51).

Jesus twice used the word eternal (18:8; 25:46) to convey that the punishment of nonbelievers would continue forever.

As I moved from the Gospels into the rest of the New Testament, I was struck by how the writers unashamedly addressed the issue. There is no hesitancy or apology in their words. The basic tone is,

“This is a reality. Now let’s get out there and tell people how to avoid it.” Second Thessalonians 1:7–9 summarizes what these other New Testament authors taught:

                  This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed
                  from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful
                  angels. He will punish those who do not know God
                  and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They
                  will be punished with everlasting destruction and
                  shut out from the presence of the Lord and from
                  the glory of his might.

My heart raced as I flipped page after page after page. I discovered, by the end of my study, that the New Testament’s teaching about hell is not an ambiguous topic supported by a few hard-to understand passages. It is inescapable: Virtually every book in the New Testament underscores some aspect of the reality of hell. Jesus taught it; Paul, Peter, and every early church leader taught it, but I wasn’t teaching it. I realized I had a decision to make. Could I discount what Jesus taught about hell if I based my belief in heaven on similar passages in the same books?

Could it be possible that Jesus’ disciples actually had some of the same reservations I had but still persisted in teaching it because they knew in the depths of their souls that hell was real? Wasn’t my hesitancy to believe in hell a sign of my compassion for people? Yet, if hell really exists, and I knew that but wasn’t willing to tell people how to avoid it, wouldn’t that also be the most extreme form of cruelty imaginable? Most of all, could it be that I was ultimately basing my acceptance of this teaching more on what people thought of me than on whether I felt it was intellectually plausible?

As the weight of it all finally set in, I dropped to my knees, stretched out my arms and legs to the sides, and fell prostrate on the unfinished concrete monastery floor. Not content, however, with the act of simply lying facedown, I shoved my face over and over against the concrete as if an invisible hand pushed against the base of my neck. I buried my face in the silence and wept. After an hour or so passed, I just couldn’t stomach listening to myself any longer. I stood up, gathered my belongings, and walked out of the monastery retreat house I had rented for the day. While my planning retreat certainly didn’t end quite like I thought it would, I left knowing exactly what I needed to do.

I drove straight home and met Lisa in our kitchen, sharing everything that had transpired from beginning to end, and then I begged for her forgiveness. Then I drove over to the church, gathered my staff, and did the same. Later that night at an emergency Leadership Team meeting, I walked our bewildered church overseers step-by-step through every detail of my secret. A few days later, standing before the church, I completely fell apart. Four long years of strategic rationalizing couldn’t protect me from the inevitable—my sin had indeed found me out.

Do you want to know what’s scary? When I confessed this, nobody really cared. In fact, the response from a man on my Leadership Team captured the response of just about everyone: “Oh, thank God. You really scared me,” he said. “I thought you called us together to tell us that you did something serious like have an affair.”

Want to know what’s even scarier? You probably agree with him.

I’ve shared that story hundreds of times over the last two decades, and each time I’ve always gotten the same reaction: “Let me get this straight—you started believing in hell again because you reread every passage in the New Testament that talked about hell and then fell on the ground and asked for forgiveness?”

When you put it that way, well, then yes, that’s exactly how it happened. But it wasn’t that simple. There was much more going on beneath the surface. Undergirding that experience were two foundational truths that I didn’t come to realize until much later.

Christians must repent of “sins of disbelief ” in the same way they repent of “sins of behavior.”

Most Christians I know think they need to ask God’s forgiveness only for things they do that are outside of God’s will for His followers. Did I lie today? I need to ask for forgiveness. Did I gossip? I need to ask for forgiveness for that sin too. Did I take something that wasn’t mine? I’ll ask for forgiveness for that as well. Sins of disbelief are no different. 1 Timothy 4:16 says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.

Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

It’s life and doctrine—we can sin against God in both how we act and how we think. Both our actions and our thoughts should be under Christ’s control because both have the power to negatively impact our relationship with God and the spiritual walk of everyone around us. We can’t live our lives guided by the Word of God and then allow our minds to function differently. Scripture tells us to love the Lord our God with … what? All our hearts, souls, and minds! How we think is a reflection of our love for God. Don’t believe me? Reread the New Testament and notice how many times the phrase false teachers pops up. Then look at how ruthlessly Paul and other church leaders deal with false teaching.

Christians don’t think their way out of a faith crisis; they repent their way out of a faith crisis.

When it comes to leaving behind “sins of disbelief,” recapturing a biblically correct position regarding the reality of hell (and the fact that non-Christians will go there) is never accomplished by laying out all the evidence and weighing the options. It’s about obedience to Jesus Christ. At its core, believing in hell is an obedience issue, not a theological issue. Am I willing to trust Christ to forgive my sins? That’s an obedience issue. Am I also willing to trust what He says about heaven? Of course. He’s my Lord. If He says it, I believe it. Then why would the issue of hell be any different? As Oswald Chambers wrote,

                  The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not
                  intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific
                  knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but
                  if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches,
                  he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark
                  to me, then I may be sure there is something I will
                  not do.12

The fact of the matter is: Hell is real. Deciding whether or not hell exists isn’t an intellectual exercise; it’s a matter of eternal life or death. Of course I still have doubts about hell from time to time, but the point is my relationship with the risen Jesus supersedes all my doubts. The reality you and I need to grasp is that this is happening. Right now. On our watch. This is happening to friends and acquaintances of yours and mine who aren’t Christians. And you and I have one decision to make in this matter—are we going to keep on driving and pretend we know nothing, or are we going to turn around?

If you’re ready to slam on the brakes and do a 180, I’ll sit in the passenger’s seat and take that ride with you. I’ll help you understand why hell makes sense. I’ll also help you feel good about believing in the Bible—all of it. I’ll help you feel confident defending what you believe before your friends who lump you together with the crazy televangelists who make people want to throw up in their mouths. Together we’ll discover that believing what the Bible teaches regarding hell is logical, fair, and above all else—loving.

And finally, if you let me, I’ll also coach you on how you can have authentic conversations with your friends without getting creepy in the process. That’s really, really important. More on that later.

However, I have one tiny piece of advice: You might want to grab a Pringles can because we’re not stopping.


1. H. Richard Niebuhr, quoted in Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997), 13–14.

2. Bill Cosby, “The Grandparents,” Himself (Motown, 1983), compact disc.

3. Greg Garrison, “Many Americans Don’t Believe in Hell, but What

about Pastors?” USA Today, August 1, 2008,


4. Christiane Wicker, “‘How Spiritual Are We?’ The PARADE Spirituality Poll,”

PARADE, October 4, 2009, 5.

5. William C. Easttom II, quoted in Gary Poole, How Could God Allow Suffering

and Evil? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 59.

6. Tertullian, The Apology, quoted in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson,

trans., Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 4:52.

7. Edward T. Babinski, “Hell and Heaven, and Satan, and Christian Superstition,”

October 22, 2005,

8. Victor Hugo, quoted in Rufus K. Noyes, M.D., Views of Religion (Boston: L.K.

Washburn, 1906), 125.

9. Clark Pinnock, “The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent,” Criswell

Theological Review 4 (1990): 246–47, 253, as quoted in Randy Alcorn, Heaven

(Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2004), 24–25.

10. A. W. Tozer, The Formula for a Burning Heart, quoted in Martin H. Manser,

compiler, The Westminster Collection of Christian Quotations (Louisville, KY:

Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 363.

11. See Matthew 7:21–23; 8:12; 10:15, 33; 11:22–24; 12:41–42; 13:30, 40–43,

49–50; 24:50–51; 25:11–12, 29–46.

12. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (New York: Dodd, Mead &

Company, 1935), 209.

Copyright 2011 Brian Jones.  Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) published by David C Cook.

Publisher permission required to reproduce in any format or quantity. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 2, 2011

How A Little Can Change A Lot

Today's post is courtesy of Jessica Dotta, Senior Editor of Inspire a Fire., by way of Gina Holmes, author of Crossing Oceans and Dry As Rain.


We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness and the result of our failures in love.” -- Madeleine L'Engle

When my brother traveled to the Sudan he had an encounter that changed his life—and as it ends up, mine too.

He stood in Darfur at an orphanage filled with children leftover from the genocide. There were over 800 children, and during the night wild dogs were dragging them off and killing them.

My brother already felt shell-shocked from the travesties he'd witnessed in Uganda.

The day was hot. The sun beat down upon him. His camera had nearly been ruined from all the dust. He'd barely slept. His gear was heavy. Yet his conscience was seared by the numbness he felt, so he turned and confessed to a Sudanese pastor.

"We shall pray right now that your heart will be opened," he was told.

Not long after that prayer three young children approached Joshua and started to follow him. After a bit, his father nature kicked in and he stopped and sang Father Abraham. It didn't take long before the four of them were dancing and going through the motions.
When they finished, he asked the children to tell him how they came to be there.

The oldest, a girl, answered. "The soldiers came and shot my mother and father, so I came here."

The two other children nodded in agreement. "Me, too."
He was grief struck, but it was what transpired next that tore my heart. "Do you have a Mommy?" The little girl asked my brother.

"Yes," he answered.

"And a Daddy?"

Again, his answer was yes.

"Oh," she said, her voice hinting at a strange intermingling of numbness and grief.

Her question stirs me still. For I believe it came from her soul and revealed the thoughts of her heart. She didn't want to know what his country was like, what kind of food he ate, or what he did for a living. She had her own bullet holes leftover from the genocide. Her world consisted of this single question: Who still had parents and who didn't?

In her questions I heard her worry and fear. Imagine being trapped in a war-torn country, a land of famine, drought and disease. Imagine trying to survive it as an orphan with death threatening you every hour. No matter how much she's endured, at the end of the day, she's still just a little girl. And all she really wants is her Mom and Dad.

I imagined my daughter living as an orphan in the Sudan. If I were shot and dying, it would be my hope that my brothers and sisters would care for her. But what if her aunts and uncles were killed too? What was it then, that her parents hoped?
As members of the body of Christ these children are not alone. They have aunts and uncles. Multitudes and multitudes and multitudes of them. Talk about staggering! These kids are our nieces and nephews! Mine. Yours.

So who, I wondered, within the church has the responsibility to step in?

I didn't like the answer that came. Earlier that week I was shocked to learn that globally I was one of the richest people in the world—even though as an American, I'm pretty poor.

Like it or not I was the rich aunt. I had knowledge of the situation. That made me accountable.

I wasn't comfortable with the knowledge then, and I'm not comfortable with the knowledge now. But I am determined to do something.


That day Joshua had in his possession a picture book that someone had asked him to give to someone in the Sudan. It was a children's book with a story about how we have a Heavenly Father who always loves and cares for us. Joshua read the book and gave it to them.
An American woman took it upon herself to raise the money to build shelter. Every person who donated, even a dollar, helped to create a place where the little girl now sleeps safe from wild dogs.

When Joshua told me he's going to start a branch of Watermelon Ministries called Media Change, a non-profit encouraging Americans to give up a portion of the money spent on entertainment to serve those fighting world hunger and thirst, I wanted to support it.

For seven years he's helped non-profits raise money that serves the "least of these." He's seen the impact a small investment can have. This is a brand new initiative. He's not quite ready to launch, but you can sign up and be kept updated at His first goal is garner the support of 10,000 people who are willing to give $10 a month. I'm number #3.

This is only a blog post, but who knows what one blog post can do.

What if the task of helping others isn't as overwhelming as we make it?


Thank you, Jessica.

If you have a blog and would like to make a difference, please tithe your blog.  For more information:!/events/195671567184043/

Monday, November 28, 2011

Featured Book: Triple Dog Dare

Over the next several days, I'm featuring several books that were on my calendar for 2011 but slipped through the cracks, but I still want to share.

The first is Triple Dog Dare, a devotional book for boys, by Jeremy Jones.

Triple Dog Dare Devotional


Jeremy V. Jones

David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Jeremy V. Jones is an award-winning journalist who has served as senior associate editor of Breakaway magazine. He has authored several books, including Toward the Goal: The Kaka Story and The Keeper: The Tim Hoard Story. He also writes for magazines such as Clubhouse and Christianity Today. He resides with his wife and two children in Colorado.


Boys want action. They don’t want to sit around and talk—that’s for grown-ups and girls. They engage life and relationships by doing something: skateboarding, playing games or re-creating favorite movie scenes. So why should faith be any different? That’s why Jeremy V. Jones created Triple Dog Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Boys—to provide the action boys need in order to grow their faith.

The Bible is full of action. Remember how David slew Goliath, Daniel faced those lions, Paul survived a shipwreck and Jesus stood up for a woman about to be killed? God made boys to take His truth and do something with it, to man up and change the world. These action-packed devotions for boys ages 9 to 12 are filled with godly truth and bold spiritual challenges that transform time with God into the adventure of the day.

Triple Dog Dare connects God’s Word to boys’ hearts and hands with real-life scenarios and activities. Each day is filled with short Scriptures, concise biblical truth and a daily dare, all challenging them to put their faith into practice. Scripture readings from every book of the Bible open up the action-packed Word of God. Whether it’s drawing comic strips of biblical battles, dreaming up a life list of goals, making snack packs for the homeless or producing Bible-based movies, boys will go on daily dynamic experiences with God, taking faith off the page and setting it into motion. Themes cover the daily realities of pre-teen males, including bullying, peer pressure, girls, sibling rivalry, honesty and more.

These exciting devotions will inspire boys’ hearts toward godly characteristics such as integrity, generosity and kindness. Parents will appreciate watching Christ-like traits emerge as each dare is undertaken. It is a manual that will deepen boys’ friendships with Jesus as they look forward to spending time with Him every day. So if you know a boy who is up for the challenge, triple dog dare him!

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404576
ISBN-13: 978-0781404570

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER (Click on images to enlarge):


I wanted to take a look at Triple Dog Dare because I've got boys. Three of them. And one is approaching that very interesting period between 10 and 13 years old. Thought this devotional might be something we'd find interesting.

We did.

Everything from trash talking to puking to zombies. That's the part he likes. Then there's everything from practicing patience to respecting others to taking responsibility for one's actions. That's the part I like.

The activities are all about reaching beyond one's comfort zone and getting involved with others. Some seemed more practical and readily done by teens than by this age group, but all are worth consideration. 

Take a look. I Triple Dog Dare you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Nobody Like You, Lord

Nobody like, nobody like, 
You, Lord, You, Lord.
There is nobody like 
You, Lord, You, Lord.

Picked up Fred Hammond's 2009 Love Unstoppable CD a couple of weeks ago.

I love most every song, as I expected I would--it's the incomparable Fred Hammond!--but this is the one that's been swirling around in my head.

Because, frankly, there's no one quite like Jesus.  

I can't find nobody, 
There just ain't nobody.
Can't find nobody,
Nobody, nobody.

Have you found someone like Jesus?  Do tell, or share why you agree "there ain't nobody...".

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Live Life Now

My life was over but I never got what I wanted.

So ended a poetic illustration by speaker Luci Swindoll.  Luci's advice to the Women of Faith attendees was to "Live fully in this moment.  Life fully now."

This is my last Tampa Women of Faith post.  It was a tremendous experience, one I will always cherish.  I have a new friend, Gina, and I had some amazing women pour into my spirit.

It was appropriate for them to end the conference with Luci Swindoll.

Luci Swindoll is nearly 80 years old and she has an arthritic knee, but she also has a deep reservoir of wisdom and joy.  Luci's message was about experiencing joy.

We don't always like where we find ourselves and we expend a vast amount of energy wanting something else, waiting for something else.  As Luci says, "We've forgotten what it means to be happy."

About life, Luci said, "It's a gift and it's called life.  Don't miss it be always wanting something else."

How many women spend time wishing they could go back to happier times or waiting and hoping for better times?  If we spent our time and energy on making the most of where we are today with what we have today, we will be happier people.

And the world will be a happier place.

Luci admonished us to "Do something for your soul, something that will make life fuller or richer or more substantial within."

And she asked us, "What are those things that turn your joy crank?"

When it was all said and done, I thought (and tweeted), "Luci Swindoll is the grandma everyone dreams of, and every child deserves."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes Getting Beyond the Pain Means Getting Out of the Boat

Angie looks deranged in this picture, doesn't she?  I assure you she's not.  She is a powerful and funny speaker.

I can't relate Angie Smith's talk which centered on the loss of her daughter.  I can't do it justice.

Too painful.

Too close to home.

We too lost a daughter to physical challenges identified while she was yet in utero.  Our Stephanie was a stillbirth; Angie got to hold her daughter until she breathed her last breath a few hours after delivery.

Both are devastating experiences.

Angie talked about impossible faith using the story of Peter being asked to walk on water and, because he realized it wasn't something he should be able to do, he began to sink.  To paraphrase, Angie said, "Every day we have to choose between what the world tells us and allows us access to, and a man who tells us He is the Son of God."

I sobbed through her talk, especially once she took a moment to recognize all the women in the audience who had experienced a pregnancy or infant loss, in keeping with the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I thought I was over it.

Not "over it."  You're never over this.

Rather, I thought I had made my peace with my loss.

No, I haven't.

Not sure I ever fully will.

The thought that came to my mind was that getting past the pain is not the same as being healed from the hurt.  Pain tolerance can grow over time.

Healing for this thing seems impossible.

It will require impossible faith.

What I also know is that Jesus will hold your hand and walk with you even as you are walking in pain.  He, of course, is waiting for me to give my pain and my inability to forgive myself for what I see as my fault to Him, but as long as I'm carrying it, He'll still be right there by my side to soothe and to comfort so that I can bear it. 

Until I no longer have to because He does.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are You Angry?


Anger is dangerous.  It's hurtful and devastating to those we love.  To ourselves.

Nicole Johnson told us anger is unique for women.  Women find it hard to admit to being angry.  When asked, "What's wrong?", we often reply, "Nothing", internalizing rather than expressing the anger.

I know that's true for me.  I will go so far as to say I'm hurt or disappointed, but I realized I rarely ever admit to being angry.

But Nicole also told us, "Anger is never buried dead.  It's always alive."

Anger lies in wait, for just the right moment--or I should say, for just the wrong moment--to explode.  It erupts and overflows like hot lava, spilling onto everyone and everything in its path.

As Nicole continued to teach about anger, she told us that we have as much right to be angry as we do be thirsty.  Anger is made up of hurt, fear and frustration, the frustration simmering on the top.

It's what we do with the anger.

Nicole continued to share about dealing with anger, using her divorce as an object lesson, but she was three things that will stay with me:

"You need people who will walk alongside you, not throw rocks at you."

"No other God has wounds."

"God has the best recycling program.  He takes the trash of our lives and turns it into treasure.  He sees what we cannot see for ourselves.  He turns us in the most beautiful creations."

Are you angry?  Who are you angry with, is it God?  Where are you directing your anger?

Can you see yourself letting go of that anger, giving it to God?

He is happy to take your anger from you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

God's Great Blessings

Have you ever considered how much God blesses you in a single year?  In what ways does God bless you? What types of blessings does God promise?

One-Year God’s Great Blessings Devotional

Want half a blessing? Or God’s best? Award-winning author Patricia Raybon dares to pursue God’s greatest in her new One Year® devotional, God’s Great Blessings. Join her search for the enriching secrets of a bold Christian life, exploring 52 biblical values and virtues that God blesses not because we’re good but because He’s God. This path is uplifting, challenging, sometimes surprising but always transforming. Get on board with our Blessing God for the life-changing journey.

About the Author

Award-winning writer Patricia Raybon is author of two critically acclaimed books, “I Told the Mountain to Move” and “My First White Friend.” Her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, USA Weekend, Charles Stanley Ministries’ In Touch Magazine and have also aired on National Public Radio. She writes full-time on life-changing faith. Visit Patricia’s Website at

Bound for Glory (Coming November 1, 2011)

This powerful gift book is inspired by a stunning collection of calligraphic paintings by world-renowned calligrapher Timothy R. Botts and featuring reflections in verse by award-winning author Patricia Raybon. The book’s 52 paintings are visual interpretations—in words and pictures—of African American spiritual songs. These amazing songs are an important part of our American heritage, and they continue to give us hope in the face of life’s many challenges. The book also includes 52 reflective readings from Botts and African-American writer Patricia Raybon. It also includes lyrics from the spirituals along with inspirational Scripture verses from the New Living Translation.

Video Trailer for God’s Great Blessing Devotional


What constitutes a blessing?  Do we know God's blessings when we encounter them?

The One-Year God's Great Blessings Devotional from Patricia Raybon and Tyndale House will help you to discover the answers to these questions.  With 365 devotionals examining God's  blessings and the virtues He seeks in us, this beautifully appointed devotional will inspire you to think about and grab hold to the blessings of God in your life.

Bound in soft green leather, a color that signifies life and living, these devotionals will speak to and encourage you to see and embrace the blessings of God. Tradebook-sized, the book contains pages with an appropriate weight, not too heavy but heavier than the average book, perfect for notations as you read.

The title didn't grab me.  It's a mouthful, but then I guess the title of a devotional book has to convey what the book is about and how many devotionals it contains.  This title accomplishes both of those things.

I skimmed this book, and I loved what I saw.  When you consider all that you may encounter in the course of a full year--birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, job loss, sickness, the start or ending of relationships, promotions, financial woes or harvest, and other unexpected events, good and bad--having a devotional book that reminds you to consider and meditate upon God's blessings is a good thing.  I'm sure a lot of people could benefit from such a devotional during these recessionary times.

Author Patricia Raybon has a second release coming out, Bound for Glory, a full-color, coffee table book which pays homage to African-American spirituals.  The colorful pages of this book caught my eye so much so, that I found myself flipping through it even before examining the devotional.  Beside the lyrics of each spiritual, you will find a poem or writing that not only speaks to the spiritual but elevates it into contemporary context.


Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Worship: It Is Well

The music at the Women of Faith conference was awesome.

Although I was familiar with both Nicole C. Mullen and Natalie Grant, I wouldn't have called myself a fan.

I do now.

Both women were just astounding in their energy, their vocal ability and their heartfelt worship.

So it's fitting to share them with you.  Today, Natalie Grant singing "It Is Well".

I was so astounded I didn't actually record her singing in Tampa.  From the moment she began, I was caught up in worship. 

This video is from a different city, but the best one I could find online.  The experience was very similar. 

Ignore that this clip was shot from a distance and starts into the song.  At least this woman had the presence of mind to record something.

Close your eyes and listen.  Tell me that you don't get chills. 

Off to find a Natalie Grant CD...

Peace & Blessings,


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Matter To God

Lest you think the only speaker at the conference was Sheila Walsh, there was a whole cadre of other speakers, all of whom had wonderful, insightful things to say.

Lisa Harper, she of the southern drawl mixed with Western twang, started out by asking, "Have you ever seen something with the naked, natural eye only to find out later that it wasn't at all what you thought you saw?"  (If you ever meet Lisa, ask her about the naked man in Pulpit Rock Park, Colorado Springs, CO.)

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Lisa, but since I didn't, the IMAGINE sign works well.  Because the entire weekend was about imagining ourselves to be more than we know or believe in God.

Lisa's message was about the holes in our heart, holes that only God can fill.  Using illustrations from her own life, Lisa offered a number of quotable phrases, all of which I scribbled down for future reference. 

Consider these:

"God had saved me, but I thought he tolerated me.  I didn't know He delighted in me."

How's that for mind-blowing?  How many women were punched in the gut upon hearing this because they too thought the same thing?

More from Lisa:

"Little girls with Daddy issues grow up to be women with intimacy issues."

"The Bible is not a rule book, not a textbook.  It's a love story."

"God loves messy people."

Most of all, Lisa implored us to remember that God knows everything there is to know about us, every detail and He knows because we matter to God.

"God knows every detail about us because we matter to God."

Do you realize just how much you matter to God?  Can you make the leap from believing you're tolerated to believing you are a delight?

Peace & Blessings,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Resting On God's Promises

I'm going to continue to post from the Tampa Women of Faith conference throughout the week.

Sheila Walsh, who I could not get enough of, after her very first session, asked, "What is always true, not just for a season?"

We all know about seasons.  We go through seasons in our lives.  People come into our lives for a season.  We endure certain circumstances for a season.  We think "If I get just make it through this season..."  because there's always another season coming.

But what is true in and out of season, across all seasons?

Do you ever wonder whether the troubles in your life stem from some deficiency in you?

It's hard to express this without the entire context, but I think you'll understand.  Sometimes we think, deep down, that the root of the problems in our lives is us, that something dark and secret about us is the reason for the bad things that happen to us.

But God is sovereign.  For always and forever.

Sheila read a portion of Psalms 91 to highlight her message about the promises of God, about what He has promised to do for us when we find ourselves in a world of difficult circumstances and hurt, but I'm going to post the entire thing here.  It's that powerful.  In it, you will find more than one or two promises.  There's a whole bunch of them, so many that if we only focused on the promises in this one passage of Scripture--although you may want to find out about others the Lord has made, that you may have the totality of His grace--we'd be doing ourselves a world of service.

Note, however, that's there a promise in there that we must make as well.  (Hint:  It's on the 2nd line.)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,

no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;

I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Did you catch all the promises, all the things God said He will do for you?

Now you know what God will do for you. 

What will you do?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Connecting in Healthy Ways

Friday afternoon's message from speaker Sheila Walsh was no less powerful than her morning talk.  The theme for the afternoon--for the day, really--was about having healthy relationships, healthy connections.  Connecting with others is vital, but we have to learn to do so in healthy ways.

Sheila began by telling us, "Guilt says, 'I've done something wrong.'  Shame says, 'I am something wrong.'"

Peace, at least the peace of God that passses understanding, comes from a Greek word, eirene.  Peace is the total security and well being because God's presence is with us.

Circumstances can remain the same and God's peace still works, "because the peace comes not from the absence of trouble but from the presence of Christ."

Illuminating the Bible story, in which Jesus, after his peaceful sleep during a storm was interrupted by fearful disciples, Sheila went on to say, "Whether Christ speaks to the storm outside your life or inside your life, it doesn't matter.  They both have to obey."

Finally, Sheila talked about unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness is a prison that will bottle you up worse than any guilt or shame.  But sometimes, in the midst of really difficult circumstances, we may feel as though we have nothing left to give, not even forgiveness.

"Fair doesn't live here, but Jesus does...Forgiveness is God's gift to us as we live in a life that's unfair."

Do you struggle with unforgiveness?  Have you found God's peace?

Peace & Blessings,


Q & A with Sheila Walsh and Dr. Henry Cloud

Mid-afternoon on Day 1 of the Women of Faith conference, there was a Q&A session with Sheila Walsh and Dr. Henry Cloud.  Attendees were invited to drop anonymous questions into baskets from which the questions were chosen.

I couldn't see Sheila and Henry during this portion to take a picture since they were seated and I was stuck behind one of the monitors that circled the stage.

But here are some of the notable quotes that came from the Q&A session:

"To make any marriage work well, you have to be part of a community." -- Dr. C.

"You don't want anybody in your cage (your community) who doesn't want to be there." -- Dr. C.

"A burden is bigger than a person can carry." -- SW

I tweeted this yesteday but I'll requote it here:

"Somebody can hand their stuff to you, but you don't have to take it."  -- SW

"Marriage is one of the most perfect places to learn to be more like Christ." -- SW

"When you can draw boundaries and live with the uncomfortableness for a while, you will end up with something worth fighting for." -- SW

"'No' is a complete sentence." -- SW

"Identity is always about saying 'no'...You will never find yourself by starting at the top...Try a bunch of stuff...You will find your gift in your heart." -- Dr. C.

The two were full of wisdom and humor, and together gave great answers to some complex, intriguing questions.

I have so much more to share.  Stay tuned...

Peace & Blessings,


Friday, October 14, 2011

Blogger/Phone Problems

Blogger (or maybe my Galaxy phone) stopped being friendly via smartphone about modway thru Friday's session of Women of Faith. But I took copious notes so I'll post more summaries as soon as I can.

Necessary Endings #womenoffaith

Life is about beginnings and endings.  Not all endings are alike.

Endings are prunings. As with a rosebush, prunings are necessary to reach full vitality.

-- When the rosebush produces more roses than it can sustain and reach its potential

-- When the rosebush has branches that are sick and not going to get better

-- When the rosebush has dead flowers or branches that are taking up space

We hold on because we are hoarders. We believe deep down, like people who hang on to a bunch of junk because "I might need that."

What we really believe is "I don't believe anyone can or will provide for me." and "No one gives to me."

Sometimes it's because we're stuck in the past. But we can't be in two places, in abundant life and in unsatisfying conditions, at the same time.

You may need to prune patterns of behavior, patterns that keep you from having satisfying relationships or a sense of prosperity, that is, of total well-being.

God is calling us to take some risks in order to have the necessary endings that will lead to new beginnings.

Daughters of The King #womenoffaith

A group of women from New Port Richey came adorned in tiaras. These women know they are daughters of The King. What else would a princess wear?

The Law of Happiness #womenoffaith

What makes people happy?

Only 10% of happiness comes from circumstances.

We have a setpoint of who we are as a person. Life and growth are about changing that setpoint, that thermostat.

Secular research doesn't call their recommendations "God's ways", but everything the researchers recommend is in God's Word. A life pursuing God's ways brings happiness.

Happy people are givers to those in need.

Happy people are connected.

Dr. Henry Cloud teaches from his book, The Law of Happiness.

Find Peace In God's Amazing Grace #womenoffaith

When Sheila Walsh sings in that high soprano colored by her Scottiah brogue, tears spring into the eyes.

Sheila said, "We're walking on a broken road...God never intended for any woman to have her breast cut off, to bury a child, or to lose her home. We're on a detour."

Find peace on this road in the unfailing, amazing grace of God!

How Do You Start Your Day? #womenoffaith

Ps 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. 

How do you begin your days? What's the first word you hear and receive into your spirit? 

Speaker Sheila Walsh began hers remembering "a cockroach the size of a hamster" for which she wanted a Marine, not housekeeping. But this is her start of the day Scripture.

New Friends

This is my new friend, Gina from Sarasota. This is her 2nd year. She came equipped with blankets. Our seats are over the ice rink of the Tampa Bay Lightening. Hope my toes don't get cold! #womenoffaith

Women of Faith at St. Pete Times Forum

I'm blogging today from the Women of Faith conference at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

The doors are open and small groups of women are on their way in. Lots of smiles and laughter. A quiet but palable energy. Given the huge buses that were lining the streets surrounding the Forum, I expect a nice crowd.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Worship: You Hold My World

You hold my world in Your hands, 
You hold my world in Your hands, 
And I am amazed at Your love, 
I am amazed that You love me. 

You hold my world in Your hands, 
You hold my world in Your hands, 
And I'm not afraid, 
My world is safe in Your hands, 
In Your hands. 

I first heard this Israel Houghton song shortly before my brother passed away earlier this year. He was alone when he died, in pain and suffering.

I think about him a lot. I wish I'd been a better sister. We were so close and he knew I would do anything for him, knew that I loved him. I just wish I could have done more.

We used to talk about the things of God some times. He wasn't where I am, not quite as sure that his Heavenly Father cared about him or loved him the way I know that Jesus did. He believed in Christ as His Savior, but organized religion, church, wasn't his thing. To my knowledge, his relationship hadn't deepened but perhaps stagnated over the years.

In truth, I don't really know.

Oh, I wish I could have done more. But when I hear this song, as tears stream down my face, I always imagine Daniel hearing these words, almost as if the Holy Spirit was whispering them to him as confirmation, in his final minutes:

You won't let go of me,
You won't let go of me, 
You won't let go of me. 
Never let go. 

You will take care of me, 
You will take care of me, 
You will take care of me, 
You will take care, 
Always take care.

It's such a strong image, with him sitting in a particular chair in the living room, facing the picture window in the house where we grew up. It's almost as though God burned that image in my head to comfort me. It's the same image every time I hear this song.

I'm glad I know that God holds my world and that my world is safe in His hands. Do you know who holds your world?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Lord, How I Love You

Lord, my heart is yours
It all belongs to you
I give you all the glory,
Yes, I love You.
I worship and adore
I'm gonna tell you more
Oh oh, Lord, how much I really do love You.

I must have really been going through.  Because I completely missed Fred Hammond's Love Unstoppable CD. I frequently heard and bopped to one song, They That Wait, but considering Hammond is one of my all-time favorite gospel artists, I'm not sure how the rest of the CD slipped by me.  I didn't buy it and I'm not sure why. But I'm listening now and as always, I'm in awe of Hammond's talent.  He's great in a live performance, but he's at his best when he's writing and singing contemporary worship songs.

Lord, How I Love You sings to my soul.

If you're a Fred fan, have a listen and lets cyber-worship together.  If you're not, well, you just might be after hearing this beautiful song.

You are worthy,
I love You...

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Addictive Love, Anniversary Love

A special song selection today. Addictive Love by BeBe and CeCe Winans.

Today's my 20th wedding anniversary.

A lot of people, when these major anniversaries occur, say, "I never would have thought..."

I can't say that.

I never thought we wouldn't make it. When I said, "I do", I meant it. I can't imagine us any other way. Perhaps that's "Addictive Love".

Oh, there have been times when things got nip and tuck. Times when we had to have serious discussions to decide whether going on together was the way to go.

Even then, I assumed we'd find our way out of the jungle of whatever issue was threatening to consume us.

We did.

And here we are.

Babe, thank you for 20 years. The good and the tough, the ups and the downs.

Thank God for 20 years of marriage.  The good and the tough, the ups and the downs. (See, He's the 3rd spoke in this marriage wheel and definitely the reason the wheel is still turning.)

Here's to a lifetime more.

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Worship: You Put The Light In Me

You put the light in me...

Got this one from a new FB friend.  That's why I love social media.  We will only get better if we draw closer to, not farther from, each other.

The spark,
The shot to the heart,
You are the hope that leads me out of the dark.
You let your love shine down
So that the world can see,
You put the light in me.

Are you shining your light?

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Nobody Greater

Searched all over,
Couldn't find nobody.
I looked high and low,
Still couldn't find nobody.
Nobody greater, nobody greater,
Nobody greater than You.

I heard other people cover this song for the longest...and didn't like it.  Tempo was changed, usually too slow, and song just didn't speak to me.

But then I heard the original, and now I can't get it out of my head.  Love the smooth music and love the simplicity of the lyrics.

Is there anyone greater than Jesus?

Nobody greater, nobody greater...

Peace & Blessings,


Monday, August 15, 2011

Blogging Women of Faith 2011 in Tampa

The Women of Faith conference is coming to Tampa, and I'll be blogging it!

I was selected to receive 2 free registrations in return for blogging posts and pictures from the Women of Faith conference.

I'm so looking forward to the event, this time of sharing God's love and grace with other inspired women, women over the top!

Here's the conference preview video:

If you're in the Tampa area, join me at the Women of Faith conference, October 14-15.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Worship: We're Going to Make It

No matter what the test, 
Whatever comes our way, 
We're going to make it.

With Jesus on our side,
Things will work out fine.
We're going to make it.

I've loved this song forever.  When I heard it on gospel radio the other day, I had to look for a video.  Couldn't find a live one to share, but this will do.  Just listen...

The tests and trials don't stop coming.  Not in this life.  You just have to know, that someway, somehow, with Jesus, you're going to make it.

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Rescue

You are the source of life
I can't be left behind
No one else will do
I will take hold of You

I need You Jesus to come to my rescue
Where else can I go?
There's no other Name by which I am saved
Capture me with grace
I will follow You

My heart is Yours for life
I need Your hand in mine
No one else will do
Lord I put my trust in You

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
   he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
   from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
   but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
   he rescued me because he delighted in me 
-- 2 Samuel 17:22
Do you need rescuing? Do you know the Rescuer?

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Trust Me

Some times we need to put the promises of God in simple terms, terms everyone can understand.

I will be with you,
I will be with you,
I will be with you,
If you will only trust Me.
Trust Me, trust Me.

The incomparable Richard Smallwood has released a new project, the first single entitled "Trust Me".

Do you trust Him?

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Worship: Jesus Is Lord

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus is Lord!

That pretty much says it all!

This old Andrae Crouch classic withstands the test of time, both in message and in song.  I recently heard a remake Crouch did with a Caribbean beat.  I couldn't find that one, but this older version will do.

And because, as with Doublemint gum, two is better than one, here's a recent tribute version with Bishop Marvin Winans and Karen Clark-Sheard:

Peace & Blessings,


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Beauty and the Power of Christian Fiction

I recently read a passage in a novel that, for me, completely demonstrated the beauty and power of Christian fiction.

When the heroine wonders about the changes God subtlely has been making in her life, and how, if she's a new creature as the Bible says, she still thinks and does bad things, her friend compares her state to that of an amputee who still physically feels the missing limb even though it is obviously gone, a condition known as "phantom leg".  He goes on to tell her:

"So long as you have an earthly body, sin dwells in this body.   All our bodies are programmed for death.  But that's just your body.  Your inner man was renewed with Christ.  When you find yourself doing things that don't line up with who you are, that's the phantom.  You can feel and act and link like something you're not.  What matters is when God looks at you.  He doesn't see that old you.  He views you in Christ.  He's trying to get us all to behold what He sees." 

" behold what He sees."

Simple truth.

I know lots of readers don't like "preachy" fiction, but this small passage was as preachy at this book got.  Believe me, there was lots more stuff that would raise more than a few brows on the faces of church folks--and produce some unseemly snorts of laughter.

This conversation took place between two characters in a TGIF restaurant over a chicken and cheese dish and salad.  It was followed by a kiss.  He's a guy in ministry who wishes people would see him for who he is, not simply as a pastor, and she's a woman who is living with another guy and fighting off the effects of Walmart on her aunt's neighborhood store.

Don't worry.  No spoilers in that if you decide to read Someone To Watch Over Me by Michelle Stimpson.

Real people with real problems.  A teensy bit preachy, but mostly thought provoking.

Gospel truths wrapped up in an entertaining package.

That's the beauty and power of Christian fiction.

Fiction can touch people in places they fear or resist to allow the Gospel to tread.  Usually because they don't see it coming or maybe they're just more inclined to ride along with an entertaining story.

I wish I'd had this kind of fiction when I was coming up.  As a teenager and young woman, had I read this passage, I might not have wondered whether I was "saved" for real when I made mistakes.  I finally got a true understanding in my late 20's, some 15 years after I'd given my life to Christ.

So many years wasted on guilt and shame.

In addition to sharing Scripture with new converts or even long time believers, try handing them a carefully selected novel.  A Christian fiction novel.

Christian fiction can change lives.