Tuesday, March 31, 2009

For The Distressed But Praying Soul...

Psalm 56:8 (New Living Translation)
"You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book."
Whether you're in the middle of a disaster, greatly distressed or disturbed, disappointed or dealing with the burdens of others, know that God ALWAYS hears your prayers. I pray this excerpt from Charles Spurgeon's "Strengthen My Spirit" Devotional explains it better to you than I ever could. And may it give your heart the same comfort it gave mine today:

"Prayers are instantly noticed in Heaven. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying soul. Often times, a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears; yet that groan has made all the harps of Heaven thrill with music, that tear has been caught by God and treasured in Heaven. 
'You put my tears into Your bottle' implies that they are caught as they flow. The suppliant whose fears provide his words will be well understood by the Most High. He may only look up with misty eye, but 'prayer is the falling of a tear.' Tears are the diamonds of Heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah's court and are numbered with 'the sublimest strains that reach the majesty on high.' 
Think not that your prayer, however weak or trembling will be unregarded. Our God not only hears prayer, but also loves to hear it. He regards not high looks and lofty words. He cares not for the pomp and pageantry of kings, He listens not to the swell of martial music, He regards not the triumph and pride of man; but wherever there is a heart big with sorrow or a lip quivering with agony or a deep groan or a penitential sigh, the heart of Jehovah is open. He marks it down in the registry of His memory; He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing up from it."

"But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, 
and we are waiting for it patiently. 
Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. 
We do not know how to pray as we should. 
But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, 
even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. 
God can see what is in people's hearts. 
And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, 
because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants.
Romans 8:25-27 (New Century Version)

***This post is dedicated to ones I love undergoing great burdens and hardships. Laury, Jenny & Aaron, the Bensko family and Bent Tree Bible Fellowship staff, Christa & Matt, Emily & Katie, the people of Fargo and North Dakota residents, Chris and Stephanie. I'm praying for each of you and love you dearly.

***Should I add your name to this list? Please take a moment to share your burden, and I will pray for each one. I'm certain my friends in the Christian blogging community will pray as well.

If you find yourself in the position of being a burden sharer right now, I read a post today that blessed my soul. The Heart of a Pastor's Wife is the place you want to be today if you need to know more about loving and comforting those who are hurting.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Flooding A True Community with Prayer

I'm in the middle of a flood right now, one of tears, as I pray for our close family friends, The St. Johns.

And before you exit away, thinking this is just a personal story, please don't. I believe this story has something for everyone to learn.

You see, our friends are in Fargo, North Dakota, as they experience a natural disaster to go down in the record books. As I sit in my comfy writing chair, my very best friend in the whole world is evacuated from her own home. They are waiting for the waters to recede. Waiting to see if they will have a home that is fit to live in when all is said and done.

What has amazed me as I've watched the news reports is that this place is a true community. They haven't just come together all of a sudden in a disaster. They were a strong community before it happened, and I'm certain they'll be even stronger after. Where I live, and in many cities, the church has to force community, even manufacture it to some degree. THESE PEOPLE live community every single day. My heart is moved by it.

Anyone who knows me knows that "God of The City" is my favorite praise song right now, so when my friend forwarded this to me this morning, I knew that God wanted me to share it. The photos are amazing, and the Word at the end got my eyes to raining again. Please take the time to watch it all the way to the end. Notice the community effort despite the incredible discomfort each one must have experienced.

And please, will you join me in prayer after the video? My heart would be greatly blessed if you would.

Fargo Flood Fight 2009

One more thing. My daughter asked me yesterday why God would allow our precious friends to be moved from Dallas and taken into a situation where they would be in harm's way, and I was caught off guard at her anger. The only thing I could think to say in immediate response was, "Sweetie, I've no doubt that the Lord took the St. Johns there for such a time as this. He's going to use them mightily." We stopped to pray, and our hearts were encouraged, even if just for a moment. I pulled up Matthew's blog, and it is obvious that they are doing just that, ministering through the disaster. If you have a moment to go over and leave a comment, I know it would encourage them. It's short and sweet (unlike my post), but precious still.

Father God, I am amazed and in awe at Your greatness. I love the way you can take a people and gel them together so that they can survive this flood. Recede the waters, Lord God. I pray for the people of Fargo and the area all around, that You would protect each and every one. Guard their homes, and continue to guard their hearts from discouragement. I pray for Matthew and Christa, Emily and Katie, and all the staff and families at Bethel Church. Continue to give them everything they need to pull together and help one another during this disaster. Encourage them as they draw upon the strength inside of them, the strength that You provide through the Holy Spirit. May those who don't know Jesus in their community see Jesus in these chosen ones, who are Your salt and light and help for the hurting. Thank You, Lord, that You have these people in the palm of Your capable hands, and may You receive honor and glory through this situation. 
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Maggie's Letter/The Power of Community

I attended the Christian Book Expo in Dallas last weekend, and one of the speakers was Lee Strobel. He is one of the most engaging, passionate speakers I've ever heard. By the time I finished his breakout, I was ready to go share the gospel with the telephone pole, or anyone who would listen. I have two stories in particular that Mr. Strobel shared which yanked my heart out of my chest. I'm going to share one in this post, and reserve the other for when the Lord leads.

It's about the power of small groups open to reaching seekers with tough questions. In essence, they listen and love 'em into the Kingdom, with the Lord's leading of course. Lee Strobel includes this story in his upcoming book (of which I have an advance copy, (gasp)),
The Unexpected Adventure. Maggie's story has been shared in various places on the internet, however, and maybe in another of Mr. Strobel's books as well.

Years ago, a young woman named Maggie began attending the Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago. She was a hurting soul who'd long stopped trusting that the God of the Universe existed, and especially that He loved her. As a child, she'd been deceived by inauthentic Christians. Abused by them, deeply scarred as a result.

But you know God's heart for those grasped in grip of grief. It wasn't long after Maggie joined a small group at the church just to spite Christians that she began to understand the love of God through the hands and feet of Jesus Christ--His church body. She wrote a letter to Pastor Strobel after attending these small groups for awhile, which I believe God intended for all disciples of Jesus to hear:

Do you know, do you understand?
That you represent Jesus to me?

Do you know, do you understand
That when you treat me with gentleness,
It raises questions in my mind that
maybe HE is gentle too?
Maybe He isn't someone who laughs when I hurt.

Do you know, do you understand
That when you listen to my questions
and you don't laugh, I think,
'What if Jesus is interested in me too'?

Do you know, do you understand
that when I hear you talk about arguments
and conflicts and scars from your past, I think,
'Maybe I am just a regular person,
instead of a bad, no good little girl
who deserves abuse'?

If you care, I think 'maybe He cares—?'
And then there’s this flame of hope
that burns inside of me.
And for awhile, I am afraid to breathe,
because it might go out.

Do you know, do you understand,
that your words are His words?
Your face is His face to someone like me?

Please, be who you say you are,
please, God, don’t let this be another trick.
Please let this be real.

Do you know, do you understand,
that you represent Jesus to me?"

Not long after sending Lee Strobel this poem, Maggie give her life to Christ. Praise God that the people in her small group understood that they represented Jesus to Maggie.

How does her letter make you feel? 

My first response when I heard Mr. Strobel tell this story was one of extreme regret. I'm sure the person beside me thought I was NUTS. I could hardly breathe, and my face was flooded teardrops of shame. I thought of all the ways that I have failed to represent Jesus to others.

Now that I've had time to pray about it, repent of legitimate convictions and let the Lord speak Truth to me, I still feel the gut-wrenching emotion from Maggie's letter, but my guilt is gone. I am stirred to respond instead.

And the place I'm starting is on my knees.

Lord, help me to know, help me to understand, 
how to represent You to the Maggie's in my life.
May I treat them with gentleness.
May I be more interested in them than I am about myself.
May I take their questions and doubts seriously.
May I take off the plastic, "I'm perfect" smile, and be authentic to them.
May I show them where I've found, and still find for that matter,
true healing from my scars, bumps and bruises.
May I give them a flame of Hope that won't go out--the One True Hope.
May my Words always reflect You. My face always shine with You.
Help me to be Salt which reaches the bottom of that deep wound,
And Light which shines out pain hidden in some closet of the soul.
Please, God, help me to be who I say I am.
Don't let me be another obstacle.
Please be real in me.
Let Your Holy Spirit, alive in me, revealed through me,
be Jesus to the Maggies in my world.

***Book to come out is called The Unexpected Adventure by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg, Zondervan

Difficulties, Anyone?

Dear Father, my Papa ~

That problem or
That predicament.

That stronghold or
That struggle.

That attitude or
That aggravation.

That confusion or
That commitment.

Ah, Sovereign LORD, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You. Thank You, Lord, that I can give You all the stuff that doesn't make sense in my life. Whether it's my own puzzles I'm fretting over, or someone else's, I submit to You, Father. You are in control of anything that feels out of control for me. Order my life, solve my problems, and help me to obey Your counsel, I pray. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Would you like to see more Truth-filled Scripture pictures? Then hike on over to:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Walkin' Circles Round the Internet Cafe

Round and round I go...
Where I stop, nobody knows...

Will you meet me at the Internet Cafe? Hopefully, I'll end up there today:

Thanks for walkin' on over, and if the Lord leads you, have a conversation with me while you're there...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lay Down Your Lovies

One morning, my nine-year-old daughter caught me in the middle of my quiet time when she woke up. She laid down her lovies and crawled onto my lap with open arms. The way our snuggle was positioned, I could feel her heart beating against my chest. She nestled there perfectly content and quiet for at least five minutes. Then as she let go and looked straight into my eyes with pure admiration, she leaned close in and gave me an Eskimo kiss, then looked at me again and gave me a butterfly kiss. She went back to the clench hug and said, “I love you, Mommy.” They were moments to be branded on my heart forever.

About a half hour later, my seven-year-old daughter (at the time), came down the stairs and found me in the same position (still trying to finish my alone time with the Lord). She hopped up on my lap with a bunch of stuffed Webkinz lovies in her arms and hugged me.

“Sweetie, why don’t you put your stuff down, so Mommy can give you a real hug,” I suggested.

She replied, “That’s okay, I’m all warm and comfy.” 

We had our bulky snuggle time for a few minutes, she got down, gave me a quick, wet smack on the cheek and said, “Love you, Mom,” as she went on her merry way to begin her day.


This tangible experience became a spiritual example for me. When I go to my Heavenly Father, do I lay all my “stuff” at His feet so that my whole heart and mind can cling to Him? OR do I hold on to the things that make me feel warm and comfy inside, halfway embracing our relationship? Both of these scenarios are in contact with Him, both illustrations communicate my love for Him, but the first is deeper and fuller and will produce the fruit of the Spirit in the ripest and richest way.

“Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul
and with ALL your mind and with ALL your strength.”
Mark 12:30

The idea of this sounds beautiful, but how can it work practically? 

When I look at any verse of worship or devotion to the Lord, I try to put hands and feet on it to help me out. Let’s sort through the following Love The Lords:

• WITH ALL MY HEART ~~~ My heart is what gives life to my body. It is the place where the things I love to do, the people I love, the situations in my day and the passions I have are turned into emotion.

• WITH ALL MY SOUL ~~~ My soul is the whole me, that which identifies me and makes me feel whole.

• WITH ALL MY MIND ~~~ My mind is where the main battle occurs, where the choices are decided, where the output of what is in the heart and soul is processed.

• WITH ALL MY STRENGTH ~~~ My strength is my efforts, and it is a direct result of what comes out of the mind.

To have the fullest abiding relationship with the Lord, we must lay down our lovies and fully cling to Him. Is there anything or anyone we love more than Him? Is there anything or anyone we love as much as Him? Is there anything or anyone that distracts us from fully loving Him? Lay it down. He wants every part of us…there’s nothing He desires for us to keep to ourselves--

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
ACTS 17:28a

Father God, You have loved us with a gigantic, perfect, whole, unconditional, 
surrendered love. We are so thankful. Work in us that kind of love today, LORD, 
through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't Forget to Share Your Story

Just 10 more days to submit your salvation testimony.  Don't forget! I'm looking forward to publishing some of them the week of Easter.

Click here for more details:

I can't wait to read more of God's life-changing stories...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Fellowship of the Unashamed

Oh, that I could say this prayer and mean it...
It fills my heart with passion.

Pause. Ponder. Praise...

"I AM A PART OF the fellowship of the unashamed.
I have Holy Spirit power.
The Dye has been cast.
I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His.
I won't look back, let up, slow down, 
back away or be still.
My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. 
My future is secure.

I am finished and done with low living,
side walking, small planning,
smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame vision,
worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position,
promotion, plaudence or popularity.
I don't have to be right, tops, recognized,
praised, regarded or rewarded.

I now live by faith, 
lean on His presence, 
walk by patience.

I am uplifted by prayer, labor by power,
my pace is set, my gait is fast,
my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow,
my way is rough, my companions are few,
my guide is reliable, my mission is clear.

I can't be bought, compromised, detoured,
lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of adversary,
negotioate at the table of the enemy,
ponder at the pool of popularity,
or meander at the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up,
until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up,
paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ:

I am a disciple of Jesus,
I must go 'til He comes,
give 'til I drop,
preach 'til I know,
and wait 'til He counts me.

For when He comes for His own,
He will have no problems recognizing me.
My banner will be clear."

~ Author: An unknown pastor from Zimbabwe

1 Peter 4:14-19 (The Message)

If you're abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. 
It's the Spirit of God and his glory in you 
that brought you to the notice of others. 
If they're on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, 
that's a different matter. 
But if it's because you're a Christian, 
don't give it a second thought. 
Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name!

It's judgment time for God's own family. We're first in line. 
If it starts with us, think what it's going to be like 
for those who refuse God's Message! 

If good people barely make it, 
What's in store for the bad?
So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, 
take it in stride. Trust him. 
He knows what he's doing, and he'll keep on doing it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The ONLY Way to Freedom

I just love a Wednesday that is Word-Filled!

No matter who you are...

Or what you think you know...

The Truth is...


JESUS Christ, the Son of God, 
is the ONLY name by which you can be saved.
The name of FREEDOM.

If you haven't put your faith in the One true way to salvation,


ask forgiveness for your sins...

ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.

Now is the time.

If you have His salvation in your heart 
and are looking for anything other than Him to satisfy your needs,


If you have HIs salvation in your heart
 and think that you can do anything to make Him love you more,


And look to the only One who can fill the 
God-sized hole in your heart.

Now is the time.

No matter who you are...

Or what you think you know...

Jesus is your One and ONLY way to freedom.

Would you like to see more Truth-filled Scripture pictures? Then hike on over to:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beside Myself

The Christian life is not a constant high.
I have my moments of deep discouragement.
I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes,
and say, 'O God, forgive me,' or 'Help me.'
Billy Graham
I have to say a HUGE “Amen” to Mr. Graham here. I also have seasons of deep discouragement. And when that happens, I get a little bit beside myself.

But beside myself is exactly where I need to be. It reminds me of my smallness, my inability to inspire myself and to find pleasure in anything this life has to offer.

During those times, I’ve learned that the first place I need to go is to my Papa. I need to make Him the first one to wipe my tears and to comfort me. I need to ask for His direction. Sometimes He frees me up to phone or text a friend, or put out a few emails or even a public plea for help to ministry supporters. Often, He leads me to keep it just between the two of us.

But come to Him first, I must.
Psalm 42:1-8, The Message
A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.
I'm thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, "Will I ever make it—arrive and drink in God's presence?"
I'm on a diet of tears—tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long people knock at my door, pestering,
"Where is this God of yours?"

These are the things I go over and over,
emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
right out in front, leading them all,
eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
celebrating, all of us, God's feast!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—soon I'll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face. He's my God.

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!
My life is God's prayer.
Why go to Him first? Because HE is the only One who can forgive my sins, who can heal my dysfunction and brokenness, who can deliver me from my strongholds, who can encourage me in my inmost being (read Psalm 103). He’s the only One who can see into the locked broom closets of my soul.

Furthermore, He already knows me. He doesn’t see my hurts and pains as a reason to judge me. He doesn’t see my weakness the way humans do. He is completely forgiving and sees the absolute best in me.

So this is why I give Him my all, and first. These past few months, my Papa has seen the worst in me, and He has seen His best in me. I’ve been beside myself, while He has been my everything. And I love Him all the more, even though He couldn’t possibly love me any less.

“My life is God’s prayer.”
“And the God of all grace,
who called you to His eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will Himself restore you and make you
strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10

Friday, March 13, 2009

Leah Orcutt/Guest Blogger

I'd like to welcome Leah Orcutt to Selah today. This testimony she shared blessed me so much, and she gave me permission to publish it here. I pray it causes someone to pause, ponder & praise today...

Walk By Faith
by Leah Orcutt

One night.

That is all it took for life to shake me to the core. Now I sit, questions swirling around like a tornado in my brain. Questions of faith, of future, of reality and falsehood. What am I doing? Where am I going?

Does He really favor me?

There. That's the dead-center of the issue. Can I look at my life, and this situation, and truthfully say, "God is good"?

How can this be good? Either I am a total failure, or the entire situation is grossly unfair, or to some degree, both. What the heck is God teaching me in this moment? How can He ever make good from this?

Let me back up and bring you up-to-date.

Week two of working on my own in my first RN job. I have four patients with various complicated illnesses, and a fresh admit (the fifth). She has an array of illnesses that take almost an hour to make sense of, and now the doctor has written a page or two of orders that need to be done like now. In the midst of taking care of all this, I need to check my other patients, do their assessments, and administer all the medications in a timely manner. Oh, and a couple hours later, they add a second admit to the mix, with his batch of new orders. Remember, this is my sixth day of working on my own just out of training. Nearly about to break down and cry, I go to my charge nurse and tell her I am having trouble getting this all done. "Buck up and deal with it. I can't help you," is her response. I do what any normal person would do--call her roommate at 4am and say, "Pray for me!"

At the end of the night, my manager comes to me and puts me on suspension until further notice. A week and a half later, she calls me to tell me that they will be laying me off in the morning. A phone call to the union reverses that process, but now I am on a sort of probation to prove that I can do my job. Under intense scrutiny and having my charge nurses completely betray me and stab me in the back (telling my manager that I pretty much suck as a nurse after telling me that I did a wonderful job), I find myself questioning what I am doing in this place.

Driving around town tonight on various errands, I wonder if I had heard God correctly. Did He really call me to be a nurse? All the trouble I had in nursing school, struggling to pass my most difficult class; having teachers tell me that I should reconsider my career path; curses from my charge nurses that had turned on me--can all these signs point to the fact that I should not continue? Even in this probation period I struggle to finish all the required tasks in a timely manner. What will I do instead of nursing?

More importantly, the questions that run deeper concern my identity. All my life I have fought the lie that I have no worth, that I fail the most important tasks, that God does not truly love me because I can never measure up. Facing the reality of my glaring failure as a nurse, these questions shake me to the core of my faith in Him to make all things work together for good. Certainly He must not favor me, for this is not good.

I rarely listen to the radio, because I hate the commercials. Tonight, however, I do not feel like listening to a CD, so I tune the radio to Spirit 105.3. Jeremy Camp's "Walk By Faith" comes on a few minutes later, and I begin to sing along out of habit. About halfway through I truly listen to the words:

Would I believe you when you would say
Your hand will guide my every way
Will I receive the words You say
Every moment of every day

Well I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see
Well because this broken road
Prepares Your will for me

Help me to win my endless fears
You've been so faithful for all my years
With one breath You make me new
Your grace covers all I do

Well I'm broken--but I still see Your face
Well You've spoken--pouring Your words of grace

My windshield blurs, but not simply from the pouring Seattle rain. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I sing along: "But I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see."

I cannot see what the future holds. Whatever I face, He promises to walk through it with me. He must have a purpose for this crisis in my life, and someday I will see the results of this breaking.

Tonight I will face my fears, confront the enemy, rebuke the lie that says I cannot do this job. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I will trust the Lord, and walk by faith.

One night at a time.


[Author's Note: I passed the probation period, succeeded in doing fairly well as a new nurse, and as soon as God released me, I moved on to the job I love--delivering babies! I would never, ever want to live that time of my life over again, but I can truthfully say that God has used it to refine my character and deepen my faith. That song came in one of the most critical moments to encourage me while in the depths of despair--our God truly is a God of hope!]

Leah loves Jesus Christ with all of her heart! In addition, she reads, writes, hangs out with friends, plays the violin, prays, sings, and delivers babies by night as a nurse in her local hospital. God has radically transformed her life, and she loves encouraging and praying for others to experience His great love. You can find more of her writings at Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.com.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Share Your Story

1 Peter 2:9-10, The Message
"But you are the ones chosen by God, 
chosen for the high calling of priestly work, 
chosen to be a holy people, 
God's instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, 
to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you--
from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted."

I want to hear your God-stories, the story of your salvation in Jesus Christ.  And then I'd like to share it.

I've extended my 200th Post Giveaway to March 31st. The reason is that I don't want to rush the process. Excuse me while I repeat myself: THERE IS SO MUCH POWER IN OUR SALVATION STORIES. I know I've said that a bunch, but almost every time I go to the book of Acts, I'm reminded. Paul shared his story over and over and over. My favorite is in Acts 26, especially verses 28 & 29: "Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?' Paul replied, 'Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'"

Don't you just love that? I highly doubt any of our testimonies are quite as exciting as Paul's, but the point is that at least a half a dozen times (that's what I counted), he chose to use his personal transformation to tell others about Christ. We have a story to share, too, and I know the Lord wants us to use any method of communication we've been given to tell it.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, 
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord...
but join with me in suffering for the gospel, 
by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life--
not because of anything we have done, 
but because of His own purpose and grace."
2 Timothy 1:7-9a, NIV
You don't have to be a writer, speaker or preacher to do this...just reflect and share on these questions: 
How old were you when someone first told you about Jesus?
When did you become open to the gospel?
What compelled you to give your life over to Jesus?
What Scriptures were particularly meaningful to you?
If you were saved at a young age, when did you finally start living it? What changed inside of you?
How do you think your life is different since you made Jesus the Lord of it?

It also doesn't have to be long or too detailed with the circumstances. The most important part of a testimony, I believe, is that Jesus is glorified, and that it is clear that HE is responsible for the transformation in you. In other words, we want Him to receive all the glory!

My plan is to publish some of these testimonies on my blog on Easter week. If I get a bunch of them, I may extend it. Just let me know if you are open to me publishing it or not. Feel free to send me an email, post it as a note on Facebook, post it on your blog or website, or whatever. I will enroll you in my book and CD giveaway as well, which I mentioned on my 200th post. Just remember, the deadline is March 31st.

So pray about it. Pause. Ponder. Then if you feel led by the Holy Spirit, take a moment to send me your testimony. We'll praise Him for it.
"Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master's Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore--you're the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of His Son, whom He raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom."
1 Thessalonians 1:7-10, The Message
If you haven't yet read mine, I wrote it in short-story fiction format HERE,and I plan to write it again "conversational style" in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God's Way=Soul Rest

Happy Word-Filled Wednesday!!!!

When I live life God's way
my heart rests.

When I live life my way
my heart burns out.

When I submit to Holy-Spirit, fruit-filled living, 
my soul is content.

When I allow me-first, flesh-filled living
my soul is fitful.

Today...I choose the road that leads to 
restful, contented living...

*This is our dog Abby...(toy manchester terrier)...
she loves to rest on my soft lap blanket.

For more Truth-filled Scripture pictures, hike on over to:

Monday, March 9, 2009

He Has Been Here 100 percent

Brian has been here for me for 19 years in marriage today. Over 20 if you count our courtship and engagement.

One hundred percent truth: My love for him is deeper and more intense now than it has ever been.

We really were only kids when we got married, see?

This is just a photograph, but if you want a true picture of the kind of husband Brian has been to me, then read this:

Ephesians 5:25-33 (The Message)
"Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband."

Our love has not been perfect. Oh, my goodness, I could share some whopper doozies of problems and conflicts with you. But not today. Today I remember a "policy" that Brian set up early on in our marriage. "We won't go to bed upset or angry," he would say, "and we won't lie in bed discussing it either. We'll go sit at the kitchen table or in the living room until we work it out." He has lived up to that over the years, and so have I.

Today I remember that he has had us on a budget ever since I can remember. Insanely so. I haven't always been grateful about that, if you know what I mean, but I am today.

This day is the day I remember that Brian has always been the one to take me wayyyy out of my comfort zone. He is adventurous. I am not. He is all about quality time. I am not. He is a risk-taker. I am not. Somehow, over the years, though, we've both gone further to the middle, and though I wouldn't necessarily shout this from a mountain top (a blog's pretty private, right?), I'm kind of glad I've let him drag me places kicking and screaming.

The theme that sticks out most in my mind for today, however, is 100/100. Percent/Percent, that is. This is the philosophy I have heard Brian repeat over and over and over and ooooooover and oooooooooooooooooover. A LoT. He believes that a marriage based on 50/50 will surely fail, if not physically, then spiritually. "You do your part, I'll do mine" is a recipe for failure from his perspective, and I happen to agree. If each of us gives 100 percent of ourselves with the Lord as our main focus and guide, then we are living out our marriage the way God intended.

I could go on and on...haven't even brought up what an incredible father he is to our children, but maybe I'm just selfish today and want him all to myself. So...I guess what I want to say is...Brian, thank you for nineteen years of 100 percent love. Thank you for never giving up on me and for growing up with me and for leading us God's way.

Just like you promised when we were dating, "I'll always come for you." Then you repeated as the Steven Curtis Chapman song "I Will Be Here" played at our wedding. You have lived up to your promise. You have been here, and not just halfway. 100 percent. I love you, Brian. 100 percent.

"As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years,
So I will be here."

Steven Curtis Chapman

Taken last night, March 9th, 2009, at an anniversary gathering planned by my 2 daughters and my niece. Photo taken without blushing by my 13-year-old son. Oh, and how could I forget Abby? Do you see her blending in with Brian? She managed to keep her jealousy at a minimum as we gave a smooch, though I don't think she liked it too much. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law applauded at the end as I blushed.
 Just like a new bride.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wonder-Working Power

Patty from Patterings gave me permission to link this testimony for Fiction Friday which Sunny Glade is hosting. It is my 200th post, so it is VERY special to me. In celebration, I am giving away a Women of Passions book and a Selah CD of choice for those who are willing to tell their salvation testimony as well. If you post it on your blog and link it to mine, I will announce it on my final giveaway post, which will be on Saturday, March 14th. But you have a chance to win as long as you send me your testimony via blog post, email or through my website (see tab at top to email me). When you do so, please let me know if you will allow me to post your testimony on my blog on a future date.

As promised, I have shared my own testimony...well, sort of, in the form of fiction and truth mixed. This is what the Lord has led me to for now...I pray it ministers to you or someone you pass it onto...

Wonder-Working Power

Bouncing up and down the aisles of the small Baptist church, Laura was anxious for the service to start. With crooked bangs and a crippled spirit, she wasn’t sure if the wide grins aimed toward her were because she smiled at them first or because they felt sorry for her. As she took her seat in the pew next to her dad, she thought she heard some whispers.

Laura was only a young girl, but she was smart enough to know that she needed someone to help her. Her heart was thumping louder than her dad’s fingers were on the arm of the wooden pew, and she was sure everyone saw it pounding from her chest. She’d been chewing on the words the pastor had said at the end of the service for as long as she could remember. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ you will be saved.” But today, Laura knew she couldn’t leave the building without responding.

“Do you know how much God loves you?” The pastor asked. He paused, and no one in the room made a sound. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Pastor John, patting one hand down on His Bible while the other wiped his brow, quieted his voice. “Do you know anyone who loves you that much? Enough to die for you… Enough to take nails in His hands for you?” Laura shook her head back and forth, as if the pastor was asking her the question directly. “You don’t, do you? But there’s a problem. We’ve all sinned, and that means we are separated from a holy, perfect, sinless God. Romans 3:23 says, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ And if that wasn’t enough, Romans 6:23 tells us that ‘the wages of sin is death.’ BUT. ‘The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”

Pastor John was smiling now, and to her, he looked like he was telling the truth. He went on to talk about Jesus being the only way to Heaven and that it is by His grace that one could be saved, not because of works. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

A deep throaty “Amen” bellowed from her mom’s trembling lips. Her big sister nudged her in the arm to meet the pastor at the pulpit* as they had talked about earlier in the week. She looked over at her dad, who had nodded off behind his tinted spectacles. What would Dad think? Would he be mad at me?  Shivering, Laura’s heart was beating to the rhythm of fear. But she knew she must have this love she’d never had before, and she wanted her sins forgiven too. Finally, the invitation came. Ignoring the persistent grumblings of her hungry tummy, as well as the nagging doubts in her mind, Laura gave way to her groaning spirit instead.

After that decision to receive Christ’s gift of eternal life, Laura’s life would never be the same, though her circumstances at home would remain the same. She talked to God in bed at night with wondering “whys” and pleading “pleases.” “Why, God, don’t you take this bad stuff away?” and “Please God, keep us safe tonight.” Peace did not rule in her home, but it ruled in her heart. She was glad she had a Savior to hear her silent cries and a Friend in whom to confide.

The same God that had enough power to raise His own Son from the dead raised His hurting young daughter to eternal life. Though Satan fought hard to keep Laura miserable all throughout her younger years, God in her overcame.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

This daughter of the King, ME—Laura Lee Shaw—through the amazing grace of Christ, stands boldly before you SAVED by her one and only Father. And each hour of every day He continues to lead me in His way, His truth, His life, healed and free from a life of brokenness, pain and sin.

It is my passionate desire for everyone to know this love. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this life without the Hope of Heaven and without the help of this strong Savior. You see, the same God who has the power to raise His only Son from dead to life, can bring you new life as well, one defined by Him instead of your circumstances.

“to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them
a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
A planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.”
Isaiah 61:2-3

* I want to make clear that my salvation did not come about as a result of walking down an aisle, or in the magic of a certain prayer. It came from a heart that wanted Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. But confession can only come through prayer, and salvation can only come from the One true God. I love the fact now that I walked that aisle, letting everyone in the church know of my decision for Christ. But you can know Jesus as your Lord right now no matter where you are by confessing that you are a sinner, repenting from those sins, and asking Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life. Check out these links for specific guidance: