Thursday, April 30, 2009

discouraged?

from my nightly reading from "Streams in the Desert"
April 29
“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are.”
(James 5:17)

THANK God for that! He got under a juniper tree, as you and I have often done; he complained and murmured, as we have often done; was unbelieving, as we have often been. But that was not the case when he really got into touch with God. Though “a man subject to like passions as we are,” “he prayed praying.” It is sublime in the original—not “earnestly,” but “he prayed in prayer.” He kept on praying. What is the lesson here? You must keep praying.

Come up on the top of Carmel, and see that remarkable parable of Faith and Sight. It was not the descent of the fire that now was necessary, but the descent of the flood; and the man that can command the fire can command the flood by the same means and methods. We are told that he bowed himself to the ground with his face between his knees; that is, shutting out all sights and sounds. He was putting himself in a position where, beneath his mantle, he could neither see nor hear what was going forward.

He said to his servant, “Go and take an observation.” He went and came back, and said—how sublimely brief! one word —“Nothing!”

What do we do under such circumstances?

We say, “It is just as I expected!” and we give up praying. Did Elijah? No, he said, “Go again.” His servant again came back and said, “Nothing!” “Go again.” “Nothing!”

By and by he came back, and said, “There is a little cloud like a man’s hand.” A man’s hand had been raised in supplication, and presently down came the rain; and Ahab had not time to get back to the gate of Samaria with all his fast steeds. This is a parable of Faith and Sight—faith shutting itself up with God; sight taking observations and seeing nothing; faith going
right on, and “praying in prayer,” with utterly hopeless reports from sight.

Do you know how to pray that way, how to pray prevailingly? Let sight give as discouraging reports as it may, but pay no attention to these. The living God is still in the heavens and even to delay is part of His goodness. —Arthur T. Pierson.

Each of three boys gave a definition of faith which is an illustration of the tenacity of faith. The first boy said, “It is taking hold of Christ”; the second, “Keeping hold”; and the third, “Not letting go.”

Friday, April 24, 2009

prayer requests

prayer requests...














got ya!!!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

boundaries...

A few great articles from Rick Warren the past 2 days. He calls it "margin", also known as "boundaries" (Townsend & Cloud).

April 22, 2009
Building Margin Into Your Life
by Rick Warren

A lot of people are on overload and headed for a crash. Consider these statistics among U.S. citizens:

• People now sleep 2 1/2 fewer hours each night compared to people from one hundred years ago.

• The average work week is longer now than it was in the 1960s.

• The average office worker has 36 hours of work piled up on his or her desk. It takes three hours a week just to sort through it and find what we need.

• We spend eight months of our lives opening junk mail, two years of our lives playing phone tag with people who are too busy to answer, and five years waiting for people who are trying to do too much and are late for meetings.

We're a piled-on, stretched-to-the limit society; chronically rushed, chronically late, chronically exhausted. Many of us feel like Job did when he said, "I have no peace! I have no quiet! I have no rest! And trouble keeps coming" (Job 3:26 GWT).

Overload comes when we have too much activity in our lives, too much change, too many choices, too much work, too much debt, too much media exposure.

Dr. Richard Swenson says, "The conditions of modern day living devour margin. If you're homeless we direct you to a shelter. If you're penniless we offer you food stamps. If you're breathless we connect you to oxygen. But if you're marginless we give you one more thing to do. Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor's office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse. That's marginless."

You need margin in your life. When you're not hurrying and worrying all the time, you have time to think. Time to relax. Time to enjoy life. Time to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).



April 23, 2009
Three Benefits of Margin
by Rick Warren

"One handful of peaceful repose is better than two fistfuls of worried work..." (Ecclesiastes 4:6 MSG).

Margin is the space between your load and your limit. Your load should never be heavier than your limit. But the truth is, most of us are far more overloaded than we can handle; we have no margin for error in our lives.

Dr. Richard Swenson explains, "Marginless is not having time to finish the book you're reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counterculture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure."

Here are three immediate benefits you'll receive by building margin into your life:

1. Better health. Unrelenting stress harms our bodies. We all know that, yet we let it continue day after day after day. Many times the only time we get margin in our lives is when the heart attack almost happens (or does happen) or the blood pressure skyrockets. Why do we wait until our health plummets before we make this decision? Why not realize that we need to build some margin into our lives now? The truth is, your body needs downtime in order to heal.

2. Stronger relationships. Lack of margin is one big reason for the collapse of the American family today. When we don't make relationships a priority and make time for each other, our relationships suffer. The truth is relationships take time, and margin provides that time to sit and talk, to listen and enjoy one another, and to provide the comfort we each need.

3. Usefulness in ministry. When you're overloaded by activity, you can only think of yourself. You're in survival mode, just trying to make it through another day. But being available to God for his use makes all the difference in this world.

When you have no margin in your life and God taps you on the shoulder, saying, "I'd like you to do this for Me," your first response isn't joy. Your first response is, "Oh, no! Another thing to do! Sorry, God, I'd like to do that, but I'm just too busy."

We end up resenting the great opportunities God brings into our lives. But when you have margin, you're available for God to use.

You don't have to live on overload. You don't have to live in survival mode. Begin today to build a buffer around your schedule, then enjoy the benefits of margin and see what God does next!

you have been sent...

Each of us has a mission in life. Jesus prays to his Father for his followers, saying: "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

We seldom realize fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks. We act as if we have to choose how, where, and with whom to live. We act as if we were simply plopped down in creation and have to decide how to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do.

- Henri Nouwen, from "Bread for the Journey"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

15 Reasons Why First-Time Guests May Not Return

15 Reasons Why First-Time Guests May Not Return
  1. No welcome from the parking lot to the pews.
  2. Finding the right door to sanctuary appeared difficult.
  3. People in the pews held on to their “good seats.”
  4. Too many “churchy insider words” like doxology and introit throughout the worship experience.
  5. No safe, clean nursery for the babies and toddlers.
  6. No sincere greeting extended by pastors or members.
  7. No warmth or hospitality extended.
  8. Missing joy and a spiritual atmosphere.
  9. No sense of family in the church community.
  10. Very limited reaching out to outsiders or strangers.
  11. Very few ministries or activities for youth or children.
  12. Public recognition of guests that left them feeling uncomfortable.
  13. Appears to be no vision or purpose for the congregation.
  14. On Sunday morning, members and ushers seem focused on “member only” conversations.
  15. No one invited them back.

Friday, April 17, 2009

i dreamed a dream...

Okay, you'll have to click here for today's video, but it is well worth it. I stumbled across this Thursday morning while catching up on the latest from google news... and I have to confess it moved me to tears. Very moving performance.

Happy Friday!

If you want the URL, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnmbJzH93NU

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus is Alive

love the little balloons pointing out who's who on stage...

a classic Easter song from Hillsong with Ron Kenoly

Friday, April 03, 2009

bring it to the cross

A little different Friday video this week...



















Preview for BRING IT TO THE CROSS




Wednesday, April 01, 2009

the simple things... (off topic post)

yes, it's the simple things in life...

my new pencil cup...


actually a stainless steel cutlery caddy (from IKEA), which has been converted into a pencil cup.

alas, upon arrival at home i discovered it was a bit too deep for pencils and pens, but a few layers of marbles and a piece of cardboard did the trick.

off topic? perhaps not, as this was a purely accidental discovery as we shopped for Mel's new desk yesterday. (see serendipity above in blog header)