Monday, December 29, 2014

My New Year's (LIFE) Resolution

John 5:19
So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way [in His turn].

I've been thinking on this verse for awhile.  Jesus was only able (chose) to do what the Father was doing.  That means he only healed those the Father wanted him to heal.  He only went where the Father wanted him to go.  He only confronted those the Father wanted him to confront.  He only taught what the Father wanted him to teach.  So basically, he had to hear the Father to obey the Father.  And he had to spend time with the Father to hear him.

It's quite remarkable when you think about it.  Jesus was God.  But he chose to limit himself so he could teach us how to do this life.  So everything Jesus did is possible for you and me.  But what most of us are missing is the alone time with the Father to hear even be able to act on what He wants us to do.

This is my New Year's Resolution.  Really, my New LIFE resolution.  I want to get my marching orders every day from the Father.  I want to spend time alone with Him to hear him.  I want to be so intimate with Him that He can tell me to "turn right" during my day and I will hear him say it.  My problem isn't really obedience.  I'm pretty quick to obey...when I hear Him.  But too many things in my life have crowded out the Father's voice.  When confronted with difficult situations or difficult people, I want to be able to ask the Father, "What now?  What do you want me to do?"  And I want to hear His answer.  I want to see how different my life can be when I'm focused on hearing God every single day and every moment of the day.  I also think it will take out some of the frustrations in my life when I'm so focused on what I want...or what I want to do or say.  

I want to be like Jesus and only do what the Father is doing...and in the same way.  ( I want to have His attitude while I obey.)  This will be a game-changer.

"Whoever is of God listens to God. [Those who belong to God hear the words of God.] This is the reason that you do not listen [to those words, to Me]: because you do not belong to God and are not of God or in harmony with Him."   John 8:47

"The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me."  John 10:27

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

HIS Story

This evening, at our candle lighting service, I'm teaching the children the Christmas story.  Andy asked me to do that about a month ago.  And I am excited to do it.  So I've read the story over several times, gotten the C.E.F. flash cards which I'll use from my mom, and chosen which part of the story I'll tell.

Last night, I was preparing some more and it hit me!  I'm telling HIS story!  God's story about JESUS!!  That may not sound particularly incredible to you, but let me tell you why it's so incredible to me...

A week ago, my brother died.  And in this past week, my mind has been flooded with "Bob-stories."  I can't quit thinking on him and everything he did.  About a month before, my good friend, Faye Ybarra, died.  One of the last things Faye told me was this, "Tell my story!"  Tell her story indeed.  And I will.  But I knew I needed time to process everything...and grieve.  Both of their stories are good stories!!  Stories worth telling.

But HIS story makes their stories have perfect endings.  Jesus may have been born and laid in a manger...but He was also the mighty warrior King who victoriously busted his way out of death to redeem mankind to Himself.  Our lives are held in the balance until we decide what to do with HIS story.

Go here if you don't know HIS story....

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reindeer Guts


I don't even remember how it started....but if you knew my dad, this won't surprise you!  When my kids were little, Dad started this thing of trying to get my kids to say, "Reindeer Guts!"  He had them convinced that if they said it, Santa wouldn't bring them anything for Christmas.  He'd work and work at it.  He'd ask them leading questions to try and get them to say it.  He was a patient man, so he'd begin weeks before Christmas and just wait for them to get caught saying "Reindeer Guts."  Of course, my two brothers pitched in and helped him!  And then he'd tease them unmercifully if they slipped and said it--saying they were getting nothing from Santa!  Usually, there would be tears because one of my kids would inadvertently say it and be scared to death that Santa wouldn't come see them.  And dad would laugh and laugh.  Of course, it only took a couple of Christmases for my kids to figure out that Santa came regardless if they said "Reindeer Guts" or not.  It became a game to see who would say it first---them or Papa.  Then my kids became the antagonists and tried to get those younger than them to say it.   And...the game continued when my sister had kids...and then when my kids had kids.  Reindeer Guts lives on.

Monday, December 22, 2014



the handing down of statements, beliefs, 
legends, customs,information, etc., from 
generation to generation, especially by 
word of mouth or by practice:

Why is it that when we speak of Christmas traditions that we get all warm and fuzzy?  Christmas traditions speak of continuity, family, warmth, memories, security.  For me, it's remembering my family going to Central Park in Pampa, TX each Christmas Eve and walking through the life-size progressive story of the nativity and listening to the story at each stop.  Then we'd drive around and look at the Christmas lights on the houses.  We'd end up back at our house where we'd read the Christmas story out of Luke 2 and open gifts from one another.  Tradition.  And sweet memories.

But why is it that when we speak of tradition in the church, it's another feeling altogether?  I believe it's because we equate tradition with legalism.  So many of the church's traditions are tied up in legalism and not the Word.  For instance, the Baptist church has the tradition that we don't dance.  Where did that come from?  Certainly not the Bible.  In my research, I found it began in the 40's (or maybe even the Wild West Days) and I'm guessing it was a reaction to the type of dancing and the sensuality of it (or being done in a dance hall).  To ban it was the Baptist's leaders way of keeping people from sin.  But, of course, it didn't.  Legalism only causes people to want to sin.  Tradition does not equal legalism.  Tradition doesn't have to be scriptural (looking at Christmas lights), but it shouldn't be contrary to scripture (don't dance).  And I believe the younger generation needs to realize traditions in the church are good--they bring stability, fun, and make memories.  Likewise, the older generation needs to be willing to change and broaden traditions--and certainly not become so entrenched in tradition that we can't change!!

But back to the dictionary's definition of tradition.  When we understand it's the way we pass down our belief system, it becomes something to embrace.  Before the written word, passing down beliefs orally used to be the only way children learned what their parents believed!  It was important to tell the stories.  It still is.  In fact, a friend shared with me that he believes that's why video games are so popular.  They tell a story and you keep working to finish that story.  Kids are innately curious about our stories.  My grandchildren always want to hear stories about when I was a little girl and what happened in my life.  We need to be sharing those stories.

But more importantly, we need to be sharing the stories of the Bible.  I'm concerned that our children (and some adults) are spiritually illiterate.  They haven't heard the stories.  They don't even know the basic stories like David & Goliath.  We need to embrace tradition and hand down our beliefs. Otherwise, we all lose.  

Traditions can be a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Groom Tigers, the Flu, Play-Offs & Spiritual Check-Ups

By our own amazing Groom photographer, Seth Ritter.

You've probably heard us yelling all the way from Groom at our football games!  The Groom Tigers are the Cinderella story.  They already had a great team, but their former coach moved to another school about 2 weeks before football practice started.  As you can imagine, there were no coaches to be found.  The Groom assistant coach, Larry Roskens,  and the girls basketball coach, Tony Dodson, stepped up to coach this team. They are class-act coaches and they've done an amazing job.  These boys are a great group of guys-- humble, full of character, polite, and respectful--and many are involved in the youth activities of our church.  And they play great football---as a TEAM!  It's so fun to watch them play together.  I'd never seen 6-man football until I came here.  It's much faster-paced and a game can be over at half-time if one team outdistances another team by 45 points....which has happened numerous times. This team could have faltered this year--but coaches and parents have encouraged and challenged them.  So instead, they're headed to the State play-offs at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.  As you can imagine, the adrenaline is raging and our little town is going CrAzY with excitement!!

And then there's the flu.  Groom has been hit hard the last couple of weeks with the flu--kids and adults alike.  Classrooms have had one-third to half of their kids out sick.  People are being extremely cautious and going to the doctor early to try to kick this stuff.  People are graciously staying home if they feel the least bit sick.  Parents have stayed home as the flu has quickly passed from one child to the other.  We've had to cancel our children's activities this Wednesday night because of it....just too many sick and we want to stop this stuff!  Parents are using essential oils and poking vitamins down their kids hoping it will prevent them from getting sick.  We don't want our team and coaches sick with the flu--we want them playing their hearts out this Saturday!!

As I thought about it this morning, I started thinking about our spiritual welfare.  It's so important to be just as diligent about our life strategy and our spiritual check-ups.  Are we loving God with our heart, soul, mind & strength?  Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?  Are we imitating Jesus Christ?  Are we being holy as He is holy?  Are we living set-apart lives?  Do people see a difference between us and the world?  Are we giving off the aroma of Christ?  Is our light shining?  Is our relationship with Jesus enticing others to Him?  Are we more focused on Jesus than the world?  Are we listening to God--spending time with Him?  Are we concerned with our testimony?

I'm praying that with both our physical & spiritual check-ups we'll all succeed---in football and in life!  I want to finish well with both.  How exciting would it be if we won State?  And how much more exciting would it be to hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant?"  I don't think we can even imagine what it would be like to have the praise of our Father.   But I'm thinking the Groom Tigers are getting a small, earthly taste of what it's like.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

God IS good...

Isn't this what we mean when we say, "God is good?"  We're talking about our blessings...about the positive outcomes to our prayers.

There have been some amazing answers to prayer recently.  I've celebrated along with everyone else over them.  I may have even posted on Facebook, "God is so good!" to the answer to those prayers.

But God is also good when he says "no" to our prayers.  It started bothering me when God performed a miracle and lots of people responded with, "God is good!"...because I know there were people reading those responses whose loved ones--in a very similar situation--died.  Was God not good to them?  Didn't He care about their loved one?

I don't pretend to understand the ways of God.  I recently prayed, believing, for a miracle for a friend.  You can't imagine how badly I wanted God to heal her.  But instead, she died with cancer.  I have another friend with cancer who has been healed.  The same people cared and prayed for them both.  And I know it wasn't because of a lack of faith.  I don't know why my one friend died.  Was God good in one situation and not the other?  Absolutely not.  My friend who died and I often talked about the goodness of God and the evidences of His love which we saw in her situation.

God is always good--whether we get what we want or not.  His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts.  And He knows from the beginning of time the length of our lives and the part He wants our story to play in His kingdom.  He knows who our lives will impact and when & how to bring it all together.  God gets great glory from healing someone...but He also gets great glory when someone dies and goes to heaven.

My friend went to heaven in great style.  She was a ray of sunshine for months while she suffered.  She prayed for others and encouraged hundreds.  Some even had restored relationships with Christ because of her testimony.

God is always good.  But I don't want to imply that He is good in one person's situation and not another.   So maybe a better response when someone's prayers are answered would be for me to say, "To God be the glory!"  Because He gets glory in life...and in death.  Yes...God IS good.  No matter what.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Have you ever re-gifted?  I'm sure most of us have.  Why do we do it?  This is a question I asked the ladies at the Progressive Dinner last night.  I loved their answers.

  • They thought someone else might enjoy it more.
  • They looked at the gift and thought, "This person doesn't even know me!"
  • To save money.
  • Because they really didn't like the gift.
But on the other hand....have you ever given someone a gift and watched the face of the recipient as a look of disinterest came over them and they buried the gift under a pile of torn gift wrappings?  You knew it was a fail.

Well, last night, I gave Jessica a gift.  It was very compact in a small bag.  I had her look in it first without taking it out to see if she liked it.  Her comment was, "It looks like a Christmas gift."  And then she took it out.  She was speechless.  It looked something like this:

She haltingly said, "I guess it could be a makeup bag?"  Of course, everyone was laughing.  Not quite a gift for a grown woman.  But then I explained to her that it was a purse for a little girl.  I had gotten it when I was in China and carried it home and kept it for a special little girl.  Jessica has an adorable little girl named Karoline.  The fish purse was for her.  I thought she'd have fun playing with it.  It took on a whole new meaning after I explained it.

God has given us many gifts.  How many have we tried to re-gift?  How many did we look at in the bag and not even pull out?  Are we like the person who buries the gift under a pile of trash?  And I did with Jessica, it takes an explanation by the gift-giver to understand the gift and its purpose.  And once we do, it becomes something special...even prized!

I hope this Christmas season you'll strive to be a gracious receiver.  Realize each gift you receive was given out of a heart of love.  It may not be your taste, but it's special and meaningful to the one giving it.  But more than that, I hope you'll take those gifts out of the box which God has given you.  Let Him explain the gift, its purpose, its uniqueness just for you.  That's what I've been doing this season.  Looking at the gifts God has given me in a new way and listening to the Giver's explanation.  

God's gifts are priceless because they're uniquely designed for each recipient.  They're too valuable to re-gift.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Turning the World Upside Down

Paul was no shrinking violet.  Acts tells us that he went to the synagogue in each city of his journey and "was completely engrossed in preaching, earnestly arguing, speaking freely, fearlessly and boldly, and testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ."  As a result, he made a lot of people angry.  In fact, there were antagonists who followed him to other cities just to stir up crowds of people against Paul.  And it worked.  Paul was beaten and imprisoned many times because of his message.

Then Paul & Silas came to Thessalonica.  Paul did the usual and went to the synagogue to teach about Jesus, the Messiah.  Some of the devout Greeks believed his message.  But, it says, the unbelieving Jews were aroused to jealousy and got a mob in an uproar and attacked the home where Paul & Silas were staying.  Unable to find Paul & Silas, they brought the home owner, Jason, and some of the brethren before the city authorities and said, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also."  Wow.

If we want to turn our world upside down, it's not through politics, social media, or rioting.  Just share the good news of Jesus!!  God sent His only Son for this lost world--to redeem them to Himself.  Jesus was born of a virgin--creating a scandal from the very start of his life.  Jesus died a contemptible death and in that moment took all of our sins upon himself.  But he didn't stay dead.  Three days later, he broke through the chains of death and was a victor over its powers.  He's now seated at the right hand of God in heaven.  He's our Savior...our Messiah!

And that, my friends, is a message that will turn our world upside down once again.  Share it fearlessly and boldly!