Monday, September 28, 2009

Keep On...

This is the scripture for my Quiet Time. I love the Message translation.

 3-5What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.

 6-7I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

 8-9You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don't see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to: total salvation. (1 Peter 1:3-9, The Message)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Joni Eareckson Tada

You may be familiar with the story of Joni Eareckson Tada.
In 1967, at the age of 17, a diving accident left 17-year-old her a
"quadriplegic in a wheelchair, unable to use her hands. After two years of rehabilitation, Joni re-entered the community with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations."

But this determination didn't immediately happen. Joni wanted to blame God and ask "Why?" her paralyzing accident occurred.

A turning point came the evening that a close friend, Cindy told her, "Joni, you aren't the only one. Jesus knows how you feel - why He was paralyzed too." Cindy described how Jesus was fastered to the cross, paralyzed by the nails.

A reminder that Jesus is along side us as we travel through life's interrupted expectations.

If you are not familiar with Joni, I suggest that you read her story as she learned to use her paralyzing situation to bless others and praise God.
40019: Joni: An Unforgettable Story
Joni: An Unforgettable Story

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Excerpt: Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering? 3

Excerpt from : Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering? (Discovery Series)

We can see that pain could be God's way to alert us that
1. Something is wrong with the world - sin
2. Something is wrong with God's creatures - As free creatures, people have made and will continue to make many bad choices in life. These bad choices often affect other people. For example: Cain and Abel, Saul who became Paul. Suffering can also be caused by Satan and Demons - Think of the story of Job.
3. Something is wrong with me - Job's friends mistakenly thought it was because of the sin in Job's life. Jesus' own disciples jumped to the wrong conclusion when they saw a blind man. With these cautions in mind, we need to deal with the hard truth that some suffering does come as a direct consequence of sin - either as corrective discipline from God for those He loves, or punitive action by God upon rebels in His universe.

Suffering has a way of showing how weak our own resources really are. It forces us to rethink priorities, values, goals, dreams, pleasures, the source of real strength, and our relationships with people and with God. It has a way of directing our attention to spiritual realities - if we don't turn from God instead.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Honeymoon is Over

One Interrupted Expectation you may be experiencing is your marriage. You got married thinking it would be all bells and whistles but the honeymoon ends quickly and life hits you dead in the face.

On Sept 21th and 22nd, Focus on the Family aired a program - Removing Excuses from the Bedroom. On this show, Dr. Julie Slattery discusses her book No More Headaches.

Take a moment to listen. Once at the Focus on the Family website, click on the Family Media Center button at the top. Then choose "Shows" and find the correct one. Also check out Dr. Slattery's book.

5011433: No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex and Intimacy in Marriage
No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex and Intimacy in Marriage

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Excerpt: Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering? 2

Excerpt from : Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering? (Discovery Series)

As I sit here thinking of all the suffering that my friends, co-workers, family, neighbors, and church family have experienced, I can hardly believe the length of the list - and my list is incomplete. So often these people have suffered through no apparent fault of their own. An accident, a birth defect, a genetic disorder, a miscarriage, an abusive parent, chronic pain, a rebellious child, a severe illness, random disease, the death of a spouse or a child, a broken relationship, a natural disaster. It just doesn't seem fair. From time to time I'm tempted to give in to frustration.

How do we resolve this? How do we live with the cold facts of life without denying reality or being overcome with despair? Couldn't God have created a world where nothing would ever go wrong???? Couldn't He have made a world where people would never have the abiltiy to make a bad choice or ever hurt another person???? Coudn't He have made a world where mosquitoes, weeds, and cancer would never exist. He could have - but He didn't.

The first and most basic answer to the problem of the existence of suffering is that it is the direct result of sin's entrance into the world. Many times our troubles may be merely the side-effects of living in a fallen world, through no direct fault of our own.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Excerpt: Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering? 1

Excerpt from : Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering? (Discovery Series)

I am not going to pretend that I fully understand the suffering that you personally may be experiencing. Although some aspects of human pain are common, the particulars are different. And what you may need most right now is not a four-point outline on why you are suffering or even what to do about it. What you may need most is a hug, a listening ear, or someone who will just sit with you in silence. Sometime along the way, however, you will want and need the truths of God's Word to comfort you and help you to see your plight from God's perspective.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guest Post: Bend in the Road, Part 3

I found this sermon while surfing and wrote Pastor Boerger for permission to share this message that he preached May 27, 2007. Pastor Boerger's wife Vonda had breast cancer 7 years earlier and she had just received the devastating diagnosis of the cancer returning as non treatable bone cancer. Pastor Boerger is the pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Texas.

BEND IN THE ROAD 2 Corinthians 12:7-11

SOME PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: You say, well I’ve not had many disruptive moments - just hang on - you will! And that’s not a morbid outlook on life. Optimist or pessimist? Realist!

1) Disruptive moments are often divine appointments - Satan's angel did his best to get me down. Reality is that God gave him permission. When Satan wanted to buffet Job, he could only do what God gave permission for him to do. Satan can only do the damage that God will allow. These moments come from God! Not clear? Then we’ll feel violated.

A letter from God to a child: I have a message for you it is short, only 5 words, but let it be a pillar on which to lean, “This thing is from me”. When temptations come, “this thing is from me”, Finances? “This thing is from me” I will give supply. Sorrow? “This thing is from me” I understand. Friends forsake you? I’ll never leave you! Divine Interruptions are divine instructions. As long as you can see me you’ll make it. “This thing is from me”

“This thing is from me” Was God caught off guard when the cancer prognosis came? Did he turn to an angel and say, look what happened to the Boerger family? What’s going on? No! From the very moment a cancer cell developed in her body God was there.
This principle I do not like - but I share it!

2) Progress without pain is NOT possible - It’s easy to get caught in our own agenda, but until a dynamic intervention comes it’s hard to hear God. I’ll get to it tomorrow - today is busy. Friends this is not a convenient time for my wife to have cancer. I’m convinced her influence and ministry as a hospice nurse is more needed and important than ever. I need her. We have future plans.. But maybe this is the best time in God’s bigger scheme of things.

One of the great tragedies in life is people getting caught up moving faster and forgetting the important things. A lot of jobs I had as a carpenter in Austin was in newer homes that had been hastily built - and not correctly.
But you see, there must be a way to get priorities straight. It’s hard! And so God zaps.... Once again I’m reminded that things don’t matter. That family is important, that my relationship with God is paramount.

When someone has no trouble, then I’m looking at a shallow person. When a storm comes it reveals loose shutters, rotten posts, loose shingles.

3) Promise of God is the provision of his grace. - God walks with us. He sent his son to die for me, to be my savior, your savior, and that’s the big deal, the big priority.

4) Disruptive moments produce growth - plants need a bit of wind, a few storms to send down the roots into a deep and good places.

5) What we receive depends on how we respond - We can be mad. We can give up, lie down and quit living. Or we can say, Lord teach me; teach me things that I could never have learned any other way. Not “why me?”, But Lord, I will not be the same person. I will learn from this.

I can tell you that you will never see life the same again. When Vonda first got cancer it changed everything. The moon is brighter. The sun is more brilliant. The golden waving wheat is more wonderful.

Helen Steiner Rice, “Bend in the Road”:
Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads and we view what we think is the end. But God has a much wider vision and he knows it’s only a bend. The road will go on and get smoother and after we’ve stopped for a rest, the path that lies hidden beyond us is often the path that is best. So rest and relax and grow stronger. Let go and let God share your load. Have faith in a brighter tomorrow. You’ve just come to a bend in the road.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guest Post: Bend in the Road, Part 2

I found this sermon while surfing and wrote Pastor Boerger for permission to share this message that he preached May 27, 2007. Pastor Boerger's wife Vonda had breast cancer 7 years earlier and she had just received the devastating diagnosis of the cancer returning as non treatable bone cancer. Pastor Boerger is the pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Texas.

BEND IN THE ROAD 2 Corinthians 12:7-11

Disruptive Moments:

1) Have Purpose: 2 Cor. 12:7 [is writtne] so I don’t get a big head. Paul had seen the glories of heavens as no man had ever seen before. Can you imagine if that had happened now, his press agent reporting, “come hear the man, the only man that has ever seen heaven and come back to talk about it. But God knew it could be his downfall. So God sent a problem into his life - that he not be exalted above measure - that was the purpose

2) Involve Pain or “thorn in the flesh” (Lit.: stake) Infirmity, reproach and distress. Often disruptive moments are quite painful! Some suggest Paul's "thorn in the flesh" may have been eye trouble, or epilepsy, hysteria, gastritis, leprosy, deafness. Williams Ramsy said malaria. My studied opinion? NOBODY knows! It applies to all of us. Maybe a bankruptcy, or family breakdown, or loss of a job.

No pain? - maybe you need to check about your relationship with God - Heb 12 talks about discipline comes to those considered children. No poverty, no disease, no pain - NOT from the word of God! But God has a purpose. When you feel the pain you can know you are in the family. And God is in the pain - the walk - with us. After all Jesus, God’s son understands pain better than any of us...

3) Provision - Three times Paul asked for his thorn to be “taken away”. [Instead Paul wrote], “my grace is sufficient...” In midst of pain, the Lord came down and walked with Paul in the bend in the road so he would not lose his way. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

John 15 - Jesus is the vine dresser. He prunes in order for there to be fruit.
“The Vine dresser is never nearer the branches than when he is pruning them” Out of that pruning comes greater holiness.
–when Vonda first got cancer, I remember the words of one of our members, “God loves Vonda far more than any of us could.”

4) Product - What is God producing? God says, “Your weakness will serve to glorify Jesus in such a way that nobody can explain that in human terms. Paul, you will be made different - becoming a receptacle for the power of God.” Paul was like a lot men, thinking he was indestructible. How can you have “power” when you are weak?

For Vonda, she’s always been a strong lady - never sick, never even a tooth ache. And now - for me I can’t begin to imagine being a pastor and father without Vonda at my side. You want to talk about weakness - I readily admit my emotional dependancy on my wife; But God is waiting to walk into the empty place and fill us with his power and strength.

5) Perspective - Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer Paul was saying, “I will boast in my infirmities, now looking back, if I could go back I wouldn’t - I glory in it. What God has done in me is amazing”.
- well I am not at this point! Job cursed the day he was born - even wanted professional cursers to curse it. Can’t say I feel any different about that Wednesday morning...But hopefully later I can!

I don’t want to despise the chasening. Parallel in Heb 12:5 writer says, “don’t make light of the discipline” learn from it. Don’t hang head and give up. V 11 - to those trained by it produces a harvest. “I don’t want to waste this suffering...”
Now, you see my wife has terminal cancer - but friends, we’re all terminal! So we can spend the next days our married life dragging around moaning and groaning or we can live life for all it’s worth.

I suppose I could write a book over the things not to say when people are going through rough times. I still remember some of the things that folks shared when Vonda first got breast cancer 7 years ago: “I had this friend who had breast cancer, but oh, well she died, but I had another friend who had CA, but oh she died too.... (OK, anything positive, anyone?) I wasn’t too sure what to think about that - I just know when she left I wasn’t too encouraged!

So we’re going to laugh more, worry less. Listen folks, you can’t take life too serious. You will not get out of it alive! Now you might think a funeral is the wrong place to laugh. I’ll tell you, when you are a child of God and know where you’ll spend eternity there never is a wrong time to laugh. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer

Don’t be discouraged with those disruptions. To those trained by the disruptions and have learned from them you can make it! Once again, we are finding that we read the Bible in a different way. We pray in a different way. We see life differently. We’re again reminded not to sweat the small stuff - and certainly reminded that most everything really is small stuff.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

FOF: Help for Angry Moms

While folding clothes or paying bills, I love to listen to Adventures in Odyssey and Focus on the Family. I can never catch them on the radio and am thankful for the opportunity to listen on the web.

This past week was a recording that every Mom needs to listen to: Help for Angry Moms 1, 2 (click on Family Media Center at the top/center of the page to listen). It is based on the book - She's Gonna Blow by Julie Ann Barnhill

I have not read this book, but appreciated so much Julie Ann Barnhill's honesty as she talks about the pressure and exhaustion of being a Mom. If you are a normal Mom, there are times that you blow up with anger. This recording helps you start to release anger and begin loving on your kids. It may be that your Interrupted Expectation is that Mommyhood isn't what you thought it would be.

Depending on when you read this post, you may have to find this program on the FOF website. You can search under the "Shows" tab.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guest Post: Bend in the Road, Part 1

I found this sermon while surfing and wrote Pastor Boerger for permission to share this message that he preached May 27, 2007. Pastor Boerger's wife Vonda had breast cancer 7 years earlier and she had just received the devastating diagnosis of the cancer returning as non treatable bone cancer. Pastor Boerger is the pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Texas.

BEND IN THE ROAD 2 Corinthians 12:7-11

Gordon McDonald has written a book, “The Life God Blesses” - he writes about the things that God brings into one’s life in order to bless them. In one chapter he writes about a tool called a “disruptive moment” - unanticipated events that we usually dislike because they are associated with pain and humiliation - like “bends in the road” which we cannot see beyond.

A young man named David wrote about his disruptive moment in college - that the “football was my god - and one day in a championship game I was hit so hard they had to carry me off the field on a stretcher. And the first thing I heard when I came to was the crowd cheering for another runner. My god was in another man’s hands and the crowd was off to another hero. My whole life changed”

You might have heard that Vonda and I have had a disruptive moment. It was more than a bump in the road - it was a crater. A week and half ago we found that Vonda’s cancer had returned to a full blown non treatable bone cancer. Since then we know that it had not yet reached vital organs - but is quite serious.

In this time we have both been drawn back to wonderful scriptures like the text for this morning, 2 Cor. 12:7-10.

Dr. David Jeremiah (with “Turning Point” [and author of a Bend in the Road]) - also preached on this text following his time of cancer surgery. The outline in your bulletin comes directly from that sermon. When you hit a bump in the road you have to talk about it. I hope I can be of encouragement to you as a congregation even as you are to me. I’ve learned things I probably wouldn’t have learned had it not for the “bend in the road”.

The text from “The Message” [2 Cor 12:7-10] translation of the Bible (by Eugene Peterson)
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book: Rain on Me

Several of the "Guest Posts" from this website have come from writings of Holley Gerth. Her devotional "Rain on Me" is listed under my favorites. I love the encouragement and hope that is written throughout the pages. In the form of a journal, this book makes an excellent gift for a friend or loved one who is grieving or anyone who personally is working through life's interrupted expectations.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book: Let Me Grieve But Not Forever

Here is another book that was given to our family that I would suggest giving or reading yourself. I appreciated the authors honesty and realness about grief and the process of healing.

Book description:
On June 28, 1987, four Dallas-based Christian leaders were killed in an airplane crash as they were returning from a Focus on the Family retreat in Montana: George L. Clark, chairman of the board and CEO of MBank; Dr. Trevor E. Mabery, a surgeon who helped found Humana Hospital-Medical City; Hugo W. Schoelkopf III, an entrepreneur and sporting goods manufacturer; and Creath Davis, founder and director of Christian Concern Foundation.

Among the losses their families shared, Creath's wife, Verdell, also lost part of her identity: No longer was she a pastor's wife, and no longer was she sure what she believed. This deeply moving book, gleaned from parts of journals that she kept during the loss of her husband, offers a source of hope and healing for anyone experiencing grief. With remarkable honesty, courage, and generosity, she shares how to examine grief and ultimately find healing in the process.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Guest Post: Taking Hope to Heart

I wear two rings. The one on my left hand is a symbol of love for my husband. The ring on my right hand is a small silver band with one word on it…HOPE.

This month marks the five-year anniversary of the reason I bought that little ring. My husband and I have been on the journey to starting a family all that time. In a way it feels like forever and in another it seems incredibly short.

When we started down that road I thought hope meant believing God would give us a child. As time went on I discovered true hope is believing God is good no matter what He decides to do. Let me tell you, getting to that place is not simple, neat, or easy. But it’s worth it.

I used to think hope was a fluffy, faraway feeling—like cotton candy for your heart. I’ve learned real hope is gritty, real, and raw. It’s strong and wild, unpredictable and fierce.

I’ve had so many conversations with God along the lines of, “Lord, no more with the hope thing. Just answer the prayers already.” (Haven’t you had those too?) He lovingly responds, “Lean into me, daughter, lean into me.”

When I listen and lean rather than resist, I find rest. I have the hope my heart craves. And (dare I say it?) I even discover joy.

We tend to think what we need most is whatever we’re asking for in that moment. God knows what we really need is more of Him in every moment.

I’m holding my ring up to the light as I finish writing these words. I can see scratches on the surface. The edges are rough in places. It still needs some polishing.

But somehow, despite it all, in the center HOPE remains.

HOPE is more than just a word—
it’s a state of being.
It’s a firm belief that
even if you don’t know how,
even if you don’t know when,
God will come through
and better days are ahead.
Life sends rain...
Hope dances in the puddles
until the sun comes out again.

Taken from: Rain on Me by Holley Gerth

About the author: Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer and editorial director for DaySpring and is the editorial director for (in)courage. She is also the author of Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times. Visit Holley online at Heart to Heart with Holley Thank you Holley for allowing me to share this article with others!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Road to Blessing

I read this devotion from Our Daily Bread. It reminded me that God's plans are always to further the gospel. May I have peace in that...

On a map in the back of my Bible, each of Paul’s missionary journeys is shown by a colored line with arrows indicating his direction of travel. On the first three, the arrows lead away from his place of departure and back to a point of return. On the fourth journey, however, Paul was traveling as a prisoner, bound for trial before Caesar, and the arrows point only one direction, ending in Rome.

We might be tempted to call this an unfortunate time in Paul’s life, if it were not for his view that God was leading and using him just as much on this journey as He did on the previous three.

He wrote: “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear” (Phil. 1:12-14).

Even when our journey in life is marked by confinement and limitations, we can be sure that the Lord will encourage others through us as we speak His Word and trust in Him. — David C. McCasland

The journeys that we take in life,
Though unexpected they may be,
If we commit to follow Christ,
His work through us the world will see. —Sper

For the Christian, what looks like a detour may actually be a new road to blessing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life's Lessons

For the most part, I really hate forwards. Over half of them aren't even true! Every once in a while though you will read one that has some pretty good "life wisdom" in it. I felt like these were good enough to pass along. Maybe simply as a reminder.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey
is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up
to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't
save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will
this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or
didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab
ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.