Internet Cafe

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Internet Cafe


Melanie from This Ain't New York

"Why you may never know what happened to the ants in my kitchen."

You were supposed to be reading about how ants overtook my kitchen last summer. It was going to be a lovely, spiritual, whimsical parody until about 7:00 last night.

It had been a long day, one in which I honestly cannot remember how I got from Point A to Point Z. ( I know it is supposed to be Point B, but I passed that a long time ago.)

I called my dear friend and got her voice mail. When the recording asked me to leave a message, I just hung up. Before I could put down my phone she was calling me back.

"What's up?" she asked.

As tears welled up in my tired eyes, I said, "I just need some encouragement."

I am usually the one offering encouragement to others. I love sending cards and giving hugs. When I need encouragement, I keep silent.

Until last night when I called my friend.

She didn't ask why I needed encouraging. She didn't ask why. Partly, it was because she knew; she's my best friend. She's also my sister in Christ.

Encouraging words spilled from her heart right there over the phone line. She listened and offered advice, but most of all, she accepted me for who I am, an imperfect woman, saved by the Perfect Love of Christ.

By the end of the call, we were laughing. She gave me a few tips for some of the tasks I have ahead of me- including finding a special outfit for an occasion this weekend. She even offered her own clothes…

"I have this nice blouse that I would let you borrow, but it would probably be too big for you."

That, dear friends, is some serious Christian exhortation.

God's Word tells us that believers need each other. We are not here to go through life alone.

“Just as our bodies have many parts that has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ,we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” Romans 12: 4-5 (NLT)

Do you need some encouragement? Don't be afraid to ask. A Christian friend is willing to offer you some loving, Godly advice. (And maybe even let you borrow her clothes.)

Our prayer is that you will find encouragement here each day.

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 3:16 (NLT)

May You Have Joy in His Name,


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lessons In Birthdays and Faith

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One
who is leading.” ~ Oswald Chambers ~

Quite a few years ago God gave me a lesson in faith. This quote reminds me so much of that day so I wanted to share it with you all.

It was my 25th birthday. I was pregnant, my marriage was in shambles, and I was a little on the tired and worn out side so my family decided to cheer me up and celebrate my birthday in a big way. My grandpa called me up and told me to be at his house for 2 PM.

"Why?", I asked
"Don't worry about it", he said. "Just be there!"

Grumbling... I did what I was told. What I found when I arrived was a pleasant surprise. A chocolate cake was on the table and my whole family was there. They had planned a surprise birthday party for me. Notice I mentioned the chocolate cake first! ;o)

I love my grandpa. He has been there for me like no one else has. I can't even begin to tell you all the good things he has done for me. I trusted him with my whole heart so when he told me to put on a blind fold I just smiled and turned around so he could tie it on me. Then he took my hand and led me outside.

Now I didn't know what to expect. Was it a car? Was it an animal? Why the blindfold. Why not just tell me what I was going outside for? I just had to trust grandpa. I knew that if he was in charge of it that it would turn out great!

He lead me to the carport and had me hold out my hands. Then I touched what felt like a ball wrapped in paper. Then I was handed what felt like a small bat. "A pinata!" I yelled. I heard laughing and knew I must be right.

Then I was told to swing. Grandpa was quite the prankster so he kept moving it out of reach. I wang as hard as I could and nothing happened. I almost fell over and still didn't land a hit. I was getting so frustrated. Then I filtered out the noise and could hear my grandpa shouting at me to swing high or low, left or right.


I heard the sound of candy hitting the ground. I pulled the blindfold up and began to fuss at grandpa for the frustrating experience I just had. "Do you know how hard it was to break that thing papaw?" I took off the mask and looked down. " I mean do you..." "uh, um"

You will never guess what I saw.

Pink undergarments!! Obviously my grandpa and sister thought this was the greatest prank ever. My child found the undies first. Grandpa thought this was hilarious!

"What is this mama?" Gevan asked.
Then I heard my brother say, "I don't know but I'm shook!" (I mean look at his face!) My sister is behind the camera and my brother is staring at her like, "Are you crazy?"

I took the undies from Gevan (he stole them back later) and walked over to pick up the brazier and some really great smelling candles that were also in the pinata.

Jacob loved it. My sweet little man picked up every Dum Dum he could find. Look at the smile on that face! (I gave Grandpa the denist's bill ;o) Then Gevan had a ball playing with the oversized undies (they were new!). He said "They are so soft moma." He just kept rubbing them on his little face and smiling. He had us laughing so hard! It was so much fun and I was so excited to see the looks on my baby's faces that I forgot all about the frustration I had felt earlier while trying to bust open the pinata.

Then, my grandpa took me inside and gave me a gift that was priceless. He had put a necklace on lay-a-way for me and paid on it every week for 2 months. He told me that since he loved me so much and because I was such a good sport and I always try to make everyone else's birthday special that he wanted to do the same for me.

That was the best birthday I have ever had and to think... I almost ruined it by getting irritated.

God wants us to just trust Him. Let Him take us by the hand. Listen for His voice and do what He says to do. He loves us and will never do anything to hurt us. Besides, you never know just how much joy you will receive until the task has been accomplished. You also never know just how many others will get joy out of your obedience!

In Memory of my grandfather, William C. Grant
6/3/32 - 9/11/02

I'd love for you to visit me at my personal blog: In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Do you have a quiet place?

How did your day start today?

My day started with a to-do list that was as tall as my laundry pile?

My plan to rise early was missed when my son came into the room and said, “Mom is there school today?” I ran out the door to take my kids to school with a three year old tucked under my arm screaming something about a certain dinosaur as I almost tripped over our black lab who thinks he needs to go with me everywhere.

My irritation only grew as my morning continued with the feeling that somehow I was ten steps behind.

I managed to put a few thoughts into a bible study. I did get to pray with a lady in our church. I even managed to write a note of encouragement. And even though I was able to check off several things on my huge list, I still felt irritated.

I knew I needed an attitude check. What is wrong with me? I knew the answer. I had missed my morning quiet time. I was quickly reminded of these two verses….

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 15:15-16

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

Thousands of people longed for the touch of Jesus. Yet did he spend all day and night healing and serving the people? No, he certainly did not. Scripture reveals that Jesus often withdrew for time alone with the Father even when there was a huge crowd waiting for him. Notice the word often.

Teaching and preparing for bible study is commendable, but it is not time alone with God. Praying with a friend is a privilege, but it is not time alone with God. Encouraging others is certainly biblical, but again it is not time alone with God.

It is easy to justify all of my serving and sacrificial giving to others as time spent with the Lord. But these acts or anything else on my to-do list cannot serve as a substitute for time spent daily seeking God’s face through prayer, and quietly listening for that still, small voice.

The crowds didn't go away from Jesus, yet he found a quiet, solitary place to pray. My to-do list may not go away either, but I too need to find a quiet, solitary place.

Do you have a quiet place?

Jesus led by example.

Follow Him!

In Him...Chris
Chris can also be found at her personal blog Come to the Table

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unlimiting God

Limitation - a limiting condition; restrictive weakness; lack of capacity; inability or handicap:
something that limits

Does this definition describe the God we serve? Does He have weakness, a lack of capacity, or inability? Of course not! We would say that this is a ludicrous idea. But too often we live our lives as if it is true.

I was flipping through my new edition of Discipleship Journal and saw an ad for a new book by Richard Blackaby called
Unlimiting God. He states that the God we serve has no limits when it comes to His power and His love. "Yet, we frequently put restraints on our relationship with Him."

While I have not read this book, I love the title and idea behind it. I can look at my own life and see so many times where, due to my doubt and unbelief, I have "limited" God in my life. I am not saying I can literally limit a sovereign God, but that I limit the joy and purpose that serving Him in faith would bring. He longs to give me "abundant" life!

A favorite verse that I have shared before is Ephesians 3:20(NLT):
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely, immeasurably, and abundantly more than we might ask or think.

Don't put limitations on your relationship with God and how He wants to use and bless you !Don't allow your unbelief, worry, and disobedience rob you of that joy!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Peace, wherefore art thou peace?

The Internet Cafe


Susanne from Living to tell the Story

"Peace, wherefore art thou peace?"

Sunday night. And I'm breathing a sigh of relief. It's Sunday. That means that the last week is over. A new week is beginning. A new week with new opportunites, new chances, new things to look forward to. Have you ever felt like that?

This last week was, now what's the right word? It was shall we say, overwhelming? What with work, home and all that comes with celebrating a child turning 18, a mother in law's birthday, a sister in law's birthday, add in a beloved pet passing away and I was exhausted. Then the weekend came and there were a few major issues to be dealt with and the next thing I knew, I was agitated, short of patience, and wanting to run away.

How could this happen? This knot in my stomach, this roiling feeling inside? Had I not dedicated this year to be a year of peace for my family. Wasn't this supposed to be a happy week with the oldest crossing the threshold into being an adult? Well, I was blowing it big time. Where was the peace? Where, Lord, was the peace in my heart that you promised?

Sitting in my car at the lake trying to get myself to calm down, I was clearly reminded of the very scripture I had put on my site only yesterday. Isaiah 26:3.

"You will keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You."
New King James Version

The Amplified Bible says "You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace."

And clearly I saw where I had gone wrong. Peace was not in the cup of Starbuck's Cinnamon Dolce I had run for, nor in the novel in my lap that I was trying to escape into. In all the everyday, in all the celebrations, in all the sadness, I had allowed the Lord to be squeezed out the equation. My mind and heart had been on everything else all week. The Lord was reminding me that if I wanted His peace, I would have to keep my mind and heart upon Him. In the good times, and the bad. In the celebrating and in the sadness. In the busyness and the relaxing.

So I ask myself, is this the kind of peace that I desire? That my heart yearns for? The kind that doesn't get blown around, that trusts confidently in the strength of our God, that knows that He is an everlasting rock? Yes, oh, yes. That is exactly what I'm desiring! And isn't that what each child of God desires in their lives also? Then let us commit to keep our minds and hearts stayed upon Him, to lean upon Him, throughout our day, in the good moments and the bad. And He shall be our Peace.

Susanne S. ~~
I invite you to visit my personal blog at Living to tell the Story

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I don't know how often "the resurrection" figures in your daily life. It's a question I once posed to some guests that we asked over for dinner, and my husband gave me quite a quirky, "Would you knock off the seminarian-speak?" kind of look when I asked them:

What difference does Christ's resurrection and the belief that those of us in Christ will be raised from the dead make in your daily life?

And please pass the rolls.

Truth be told, it doesn't figure all that much for me. I just don't think about it all that often. Certainly, we celebrate Christ's rising from the dead on Easter. But compared to a holiday like Christmas, Easter can feel very second-fiddle. I'm not about to blame the commercialization of Christmas for it, but it's a really sad reality that Christians often permit Easter to be such a second-class Christian feast.

But it's really understandable why it happens. By the time you've hidden the Easter eggs for your kids, and polished off some spare candy that you kept in reserve, and finished the touches on your Easter ham for your Easter feast, it's really easy to lose sight of the shocking proposal that we as Christians affirm as believing about our Lord:

He died. And then he rose from the dead.

Not just that, but those of us who are in Christ will also be raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20-22).

This is terribly relevant stuff. I mean, we're talking life and death. Then why is it that I can wander through any given week and give very little thought to this earth-shaking truth about my Lord? And about me? I guess it's because it just doesn't seem to have anything to do with my doing the dishes, or getting dinner ready, or making sure the laundry's folded.

Honestly, this isn't going to be a devotional post that gives you an answer to the question I proposed above. I don't have one. And I don't dare propose one for you, my gentle reader, just to make this post feel tidy. I'd just suggest that we spent some time preparing our hearts to celebrate Easter, and meditate on Christ's resurrection this week. And meditate on the hope that we have that those of us in Christ will be raised too.

As the church around the world observes this season of Lent, it does so with a growing longing for this Easter hope, for the time of lilies and alleluias, and for the declaration that death is not the final word. That death does not win. Jesus does.

Dig Deeper: I would love to hear your reflections about the resurrection in your daily life. What does it mean to you? To help guide your thoughts, I'd recommend reading the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15. Ask the Holy Spirit to press upon you the relevancy of resurrection to our Christian life. (This chapter is not the easiest reading. Don't focus on making sense of it all entirely. Trust that God will reveal what he wants you to dwell upon for Christian faith and life.) Please share your thoughts in the comments about what you hear God say to you in this reading.

PS. On all of my posts, I've made it my policy to link any Scripture references to the text online. The translations will vary, but you can always change them once you get to the text. So, to make engaging with the Bible really easy, just click on the reference.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Are you tired of that word yet?
It's the "it" word of the day. Change.

From the White house to my own house, our nation is in a state of change right now.

I feel pretty safe in assuming that many of you are also in a season of change.

Some changes are huge- moving, major job changes, marriage, divorce, children. Others are smaller, yet meaningful changes. Some changes are internal such as attitudes and dreams.

I believe that the body of Christ is going through changes also. There seems to be a common thread in the conversations that I have with Christians lately. It is a sense that the Lord is calling us closer to Him and that things are starting to shift and shake within our churches.
Some of the changes are painful, yet necessary for us to become the "spotless bride" that He will ultimately return for.

One thing is for certain...we're being taking out of our comfort zones!
My "comfort zone" was always busyness. Yes, running around taking care of this ministry and that ministry and having lots of goal driven activities filling my time.
Now the Lord has brought me into a quieter place and calling me to lay down some of these things as He ministers to me the value and necessity of family and home.

This has caused me some pain. There have been a few things...titles...etc. that I have had to lay at the altar and walk away from.

Has God asked you to lay something on the altar?

He asked Abraham.
Gen 22:2
2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son,

Isaac, whom you love,
and go to the region of Moriah.
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering
on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

Abraham was asked to bring his greatest blessing to the altar.
His legacy. His only son, whom he loved so much.

Isaac was a gift.
Abraham was God's servant. He knew His God. He trusted His God.

God then provided a different sacrifice.
Genesis 22:12-14
12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.


Abraham renamed that mountain "The Lord Provides," also known as "Jehovah Jireh."

Look at what Abraham said on the way up the mountain:
Gen 22:5
We will worship and then we will come back to you."

Did you know that is the first time in scripture that the word 'worship' is used?

There were other offerings, but not worship such as this.
How beautiful is that?

When we lay down, as to sacrifice, something for the Lord- it is an act of true worship.
As a former worship leader and one who loves to sing praises to Him, that is powerful to me! There is no talk of music or singing being involved, but there was...worship.

So again, let me ask...has He asked you to lay something on the altar?

I believe, "sacrificial change" as opposed to "superficial change" will be the hallmark of the body of Christ in these last days.

Let's look at the blessing Abraham received for honoring the Lord:
Gen 22:17-18
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.


I love it!
The Lord will bless our obedience. He knows our hearts. He puts desires in us. He will take care of bringing them to His time and in His way! He's so incredibly loving.

When we sacrifice our own wants and needs so that we can honor Him with our lives, He is worshiped!

As we do this, it changes us. It makes us more like the Savior we worship.

It’s change that we can really believe in!


Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 21, 2008


The Internet Cafe


Christine from Fruit in Season


...and everything in time, and under Heaven, finally falls asleep. Wrapped in blankets white, all creation shivers underneath. And still I notice you when branches crack, and in my breath on frosted glass. Even now in death you open doors for life to enter...

You are Winter.

I grew up in central New Jersey with cold, often snowy, winters, hot, humid summers, and the bliss of the in-between. I remember snuggling in my bed, rubbing my feet together and then drawing my knees to my chest to get warm under 3 blankets and an afghan made by my grandmother. I remember hearing the wind moan outside the walls of my corner bedroom and feeling cozy and safe inside. I thought it was normal to have frozen feet all winter long, and only when I became an adult did I realize that not everyone kept the windows open, or the heat only up to 65, during the cold months of the year.

I remember traveling across the street to the farm for sledding in the snow. The hill looks small now, but for my sister and me it meant hours of fun that resulted in red, runny noses, pink cheeks and a hot cup of cocoa when we returned home.

Then came Spring.

There's nothing like Spring after a cold winter. Finally shedding coats, hats and mittens, smelling the clean scent of rain and mud and growth in the air. I love the seasons. I feel lost when the dance between them is missing.

I chose to go to college in Miami, Florida. I was the envy of many friends, who I'm sure thought I would be on the beach instead of at class, but I didn't head there for the sun. And while I was there, I wilted a bit each year, missing the change from hot to cool to cold. Christmas wasn't the same- seeing palm trees dressed with lights, smelling green instead of the white of approaching snow, and seeing sun instead of the white-gray of a northeastern winter sky.

Toward the end of my Florida stay, Jason (who's originally from South Florida) and I were dating. He knew of the void the constant warmth left for me. The first fall he was gone to graduate school in Ohio while I remained in Miami he sent me crisp, colorful fall leaves in an envelope. It was a precious gift.

The years I spent in Florida taught me a very important lesson.

Spring loses its meaning if it doesn't follow winter. The rebirth is shallow when not preceded by starkness and death.

And we can't appreciate the resurrection without the cross.

Suffering has its place. There is so much that would pass us by, without gratitude, if we didn't experience death in our lives. Death of dreams, death of expectations, death of health, or death of the body. The cycle would be incomplete without it.

To finish the song "Every Season", by Nichole Nordeman, is to be reminded of how God is rebirth, renewal and life itself.
...And everything that's new has bravely surfaced, teaching us to breathe. And what was frozen through is newly purposed, turning all things green. So it is with You, and how You make me new with every season's change. And so it will be, as You are recreating me...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Adoption - Chosen

I have often thought of the looks that my husband and I get when we tell people how many children we have.  "You have 18!", people exclaim. "They can't be all yours!"

Just one time, I would like to respond with, "Well, who's are they, then?" :)

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you did not receive the Spirit of bondage again to fear but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out "Abba, Father."  The Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Romans 8:14-17

1234522-R1-E012What a beautiful passage of scripture!  It's a great reminder that once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we become His sons and daughters by adoption.  He is our "Abba" Father! 

Though the Bible does not present explicit legal process or rights and responsibilities demanded for adoption, Old Testament examples abound - Esther, Moses, Ruth, Timothy and even Jesus Christ were all adopted. We are the children of God by adoption just as Jesus was the child of Joseph by adoption. 

Adoption is not always done by a relative. There are many times someone else assumes responsibility to care, love, mentor, teach, and protect a fatherless one. 

There is no age limit for adoption as there is no age limit for one for receiving by faith, Jesus' offer of forgiveness of sin and His promised salvation. That is just like our Savior to love us and adopt us as His own!

When a we accept Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit completes a transaction of adoption on our behalf. We become God's son. He becomes our Abba or "Daddy."  As God's adopted ones, we inherit a perfect home with Him.

In the meantime, we have immediate access to Him for comfort, direction, and provision.  He adopts us with great pleasure and he will never change His mind about our adoption either! 

I look back on the lives of our children before the Lord allowed us to bring them to our home and I am still awed by on the Lord's sovereign snatching them from houses filled with neglect, abuse, anger, hatred and placing them in our home instead. 

Daughter Jasmine sharing Jesus' story with little children in Uganda, Africa village! What a mystery this seems to me! What a great honor and blessing to be chosen to provide a home that these formerly fatherless ones never had!

So, yes we have 18 children and they are ours but ultimately the Lord's. Our family continues to expand even today, with the addition of "Paul", a 15 year old young man!

Our adopting is a gentle reminder to me that God too, never stops the adoption process - but, continually seeks those whom He will save from the coming judgment. This is why Jesus Christ dying for our sins, His resurrection from the tomb and His coming again to establish His kingdom is called, "The Gospel of Good News."

We are hand-picked by God and adopted as His own! 

Women what is your calling?  Is it adoption?  Is it mentoring?  Whatever that calling might, be will you consider what the Lord is tugging at your heart about? 

"Yet, who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

Read these words from Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "Something Crazy"...

I know a lady in Uganda, forty kids call her mama. And everybody thought it way crazy. She used to drive a 'beamer, but I've never seen her any happier than she is now.

I've met them all around the world, they're the boys and girls filled up with the love of the Father. And they know it may seem a little strange but, they just smile and say that's alright!

'Cause love puts everything in a different light. And, it's crazy when love gets a hold of you. And, it's crazy things that love will make you do. And, it's crazy but it's true.

You really don't know love at all, 'til it's making you do something crazy, something crazy
Crazy when love gets a hold of you
Crazy, crazy
Crazy thing that love will make you do

"My dear Heavenly Father, may we pay attention to what you have called us to do in this crazy world.  Help us to look out for others in their time of need.  Help us to remember how you have comforted us so we can comfort others and to be prepared in and out of season to do your perfect will! We love you Lord and thank you for choosing us as your adopted ones! In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord... Amen!"

In Him



Can we trust Him with our children?

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."--II Timothy 1:7

It's a mother's worst nightmare: a gunman walks onto a stage in a university lecture hall and, without warning, opens fire.

As any mom knows who has hugged their son or daughter good-bye in front of a college dorm, it's hard enough to let go of our children without the paralyzing fear that we could be putting them directly in harm's way.

But as the tragic NIU shootings last week showed us graphically, the nightmare can come true.

Northern Illinois University is less than fifty miles from where I live, so the tragedy affected many people who listen to the radio station where I work. As I blogged earlier, my radio co-host and I opened the phone lines the day after the shootings to allow listeners to talk about it and offer words of comfort and support.

We also received a host of e-mails from parents thanking God that their own NIU student had been spared.

But five sets of parents--actually six, counting the shooter--are having to deal with awful loss.

I could go on and on about the sovereignty of God (in which I do firmly believe), and tell you that our children are safe in His hands (which I also strongly believe.) But the truth is, that doesn't mean nothing bad will ever happen to our children. That doesn't mean that tragedy won't strike, and that our worst nightmare won't come true.

Years ago, I interviewed Karen Burton Mains about her book, The Fragile Curtain. Karen wrote:

"I have lived all my life behind a fragile curtain, formed by the small worlds I know: backyard worlds, the familiar ground of home and work...Illusion is my curtain's name, the illusion that all is well, that I am safe. Neither is it mine alone. . . . "

The sudden life-threatening illness of one her children forced Mains to realize how easily that "fragile curtain" can be torn.

All of that is true. But we don't have to live in fear. As hard as it is--and I don't believe we can do it in our own strength--we have to give that fear to the Lord. We have to trust Him that His ways and His plans are best. We have ask Him to help us deal with that spirit of fear.

An old Twila Paris song talks about the question of trusting God:

Do I trust You, Lord?
Does the robin sing?
Do I trust You, Lord?
Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart,
You can read my mind,
And You got to know
That I would rather die
Than to lose my faith
In the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord?
Do I trust You?

Can we trust Him with our children?

Without a doubt, yes.

Father, help me realize that I can trust you with my children--their plans, their hopes, their dreams, their very lives, their eternal futures. Help me not to fear. Help me to trust in You. Thank you for loving my children so much more than even I do. --Amen.

--Cindy Swanson

Visit Cindy's personal blog:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Internet Cafe


Lauren E. Caldwell from Faith Fuel

"The Road is Closed"

At 4:45 this morning, I woke up to the sound of my dog, Harry, flipping his empty water bowl and clanging it down on the kitchen floor. 4:45am, in the wee hours of the morning, he decides he is thirsty. What a life this dog has. Whenever he has a need, he tells us. And we comply- regardless of what time it is.

I filled the bowl, hissed at him, "Now go back to sleep!" and went back to bed. When the alarm went off at 6am, my husband Bill got up, made coffee, and let the dog out. I awoke to the fragrant smell of fresh hot coffee. The day had begun. I came out to the kitchen, glared at the dog- but he paid no attention to me. He was sleeping on the couch.

That clanging sound in the middle of the night jarred me awake. I certainly wasn't expecting a literal wake up call. It just happened that Harry couldn't wait a moment longer for something to drink. And sometimes that's how life is. What happens, happens- regardless of whether we were ready for it or happy to see “it” arrive.

But there are other things that come into our lives because we go back and retrieve them. We decide to return to what we came out of. It can be an old way of comforting yourself, an old way of thinking, or an old way of coping. It’s so easy to return to the familiar.

I don’t like to make progress for a season only to give it all up in a moment of despair. I don’t want to return to an old habit or the old me who stubbornly resists taking the journey to wholeness. To avoid this, I have to remember that the old me is dead and gone- even if it desires to pop in again for a quick visit.

When that "old you" returns to the scene and wants to stir up trouble, you don’t have to comply. You do not have to serve the "old you" just because it makes a loud, sudden fuss and begs for your immediate attention.

Whether it’s an old habit of worrying, or the compulsion to drink again, or the temptation to return to an old relationship that never was good- these are all things that belong in the past. And they can simply stay there where they belong. You have ended contact with the junk of the past, remember? Do not open the door to these things.

Someone I love dearly is struggling with this. This person is dallying with the past. We have talked about this together. I shared how I myself know the dallying dance- because I've done it. I know how easily I can forget that " …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV).

On this new road there are new markers and signposts that will help you know the way to go. God's Word is full of counsel to help you know how to go forward. Confirming peace and clarity of thinking, the counsel of wise, godly friends, the accountability of a friend who knows you well and will not let you lie to yourself or her- these are some indicators to help you go the right way. The new road, the path of peace, has these clear markers to point the way.

"The new markers are there like a signpost to say 'The road you once traveled on has been permanently closed. Ahead is your new road and you must follow it until you come to the next marker' " Don Piper writes in his book, Heaven is Real.

While that road you once traveled on is permanently closed, it doesn’t mean you may not long for it, at times. The familiarity of the past is soothing, even if it is lethal. Even the way you once knew yourself, in the past, just feels better than looking into the mirror now and seeing someone who is "becoming" and growing. It's unsettling to be changing and having to get to know this new you.

I don't always know what I'm about to step into or what season of life I am in. I don’t always know if I am strong enough to face or enjoy what's next. But I do know that I want to go forward, onward, higher, and farther. And I can't do that if I'm trying to go back to the place where the sign says, "Road permanently closed". I don't want to stand there, weeping, looking at that sign while longing for the past.

I need to look at that sign of "Road closed" and with a sigh of relief, turn and go forward on the road that God has for me.

It's a road that however risky it seems, is safe for me to travel.


Lauren Caldwell is a Writer, Speaker, Wife, and Mother of two teenagers. She is a graduate of Proverbs 31 She Speaks training, and the Director of Women’s LIFE, a monthly workshop she teaches at her home church in Upstate NY. Visit her at Faith Fuel

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 18, 2008

Life in the back yard

I read a book recently entitled "Straight from Hell" by Donna Frank. The book tells her story of being born into Godlessness and despair and abuse and confusion and fear. It tells of her maturing into a lifestyle that would guarantee her more of the same.

Then . . . God showed up.

The rest of the story describes her deliverance, one painful step at a time, at the hand of God, into truth, freedom and life in Christ.

It's a gripping story because I know that it's true - I've met her. It's also gripping because I know she's not the only one who has struggled with following the flesh. Most of us do at times. We all deal with things in life that God calls sin - things like unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and lust. (yeah, my drooling over the house down the street is lust.)

There are days when my own struggles are "obvious" to everyone within the same zip code as me. Then, there are days when I kind of look like Jesus. On my Jesus days, I feel deserving of God's attention and of my role in the body of Christ. "Oh yeah. I can see it . . . God using me in some fashion to advance the Kingdom, spread some truth, make someone's burden a little lighter. It could happen!"

But, on those "other" days, things can take an ugly turn. On those days I sometimes decide that I have a right to do a little blaming, nurse a few hurts, sling a little attitude in all directions, and exercise a little lust (I'm telling you, if you could just SEE this house. . . ).

And, if it begins to look like I'm not gonna straighten up and fly right - on my own - God will almost always throw me "the look". (If you have parents, you know "the look"). After 2o-something years of walking with God, I am proud to say that "the look" stops me in my tracks. I instantly realize that I've been playing in the devil's back yard and it's time to go home.

The problem is, when I get home, I can't look God in the eye.

I hang around in the back yard hoping He doesn't come looking for me. Because I've sinned - and knew better - I don't feel that I deserve His attention anymore and I'm sure that He's given my assignment in the kingdom to someone else who's nicer, more forgiving and less a pain in the neck. I would have.

Enter, Donna's book. She describes the moment that she prayed and asked Christ to be her Savior. While making Himself very real to her, He spoke to her, saying:

"You are going to build My Church."

Here's the incredible part. She was YEARS away from total deliverance. She would spend several more years dealing with a lifetime of anger, abuse, dysfunction, sexual identity issues, fear, confusion, etc. She was years away from actually being what some might call "useful" to God. But God didn't say, "Listen Honey, if you get yourself cleaned up and stop embarrassing Me, I'll consider looking into whether I might have a little something for you to do behind the scenes somewhere. Maybe." He simply said, "You will build My Church."

"You, who are, at this present time, a mess."
"You, who don't yet know Me very well."
"You, who even while you're hearing My words, think that I'm talking about building literal church buildings."
"You, who have never experienced peace or freedom, will bring both to many."

(You, hiding in the backyard. You who won't look Me in the eye. You, who think that I've given up on you because of your mistakes, which are many. You. I have called you.)

God called Donna as a 'church builder' before the foundation of the world. He saw her ministering to prostitutes, homeless folks, strippers and run-a-ways long before He even created the universe. God never saw her as the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wreck that she was. He saw her as His "Church Builder".

He saw the end before He created the beginning.

That's why He is able to "call things that are not as though they are." (Romans 4:17)
That's why He called Abraham "the father of many nations" while he was childless.
That's why He can call us (yes, us) "kings and priests , a royal race" (Rev. 5:10) though we struggle with everyday life and on the surface, bear little resemblance to anything royal OR holy!

While we walk around on this planet bungling our responsibilities, ministering to our flesh and living lives of ------- distraction, He is calling us to leave the back yard and enter His house. He is calling us to come by the kitchen table and pick up our assignments and believe that He has called us and gifted us to minister. While we sit in shame, believing the devil's lie that - because of our mistakes - we are no longer of any real use to God's Kingdom, part of the Kingdom remains un-manned.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10)

Our struggles don't disqualify us. They simply identify us as human --- and our 'human-ness' doesn't surprise God. Donna took God at His word when, after He healed her and set her free, He asked her to ''Pass it forward!" She believed that she was, indeed, a new creature filled with the power and love of the God of the universe - despite the fact that she spent a lifetime in the devil's back yard. And I'll just bet that the people she ministers to in the streets and back alleys and strip clubs are very grateful that somebody took God at His word and isn't afraid to jump the fence and come after them and explain to them just whose back yard they've been playin' in.

Visit Darnelle at her personal blog:
All Things Work Together. . .

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, February 17, 2008

When my oldest was three, we went through this phase where the "book choice of the night" was Dr. Suess', Oh, the Places You'll Go! We read it over and over and o~v~e~r! This week as I was praying, this came back to me.

things are going along just as YOU planned, when suddenly you find yourself in the "waiting place."

"you can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.....
the waiting place...
for people just waiting.
waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a yes or a no.....everyone is just waiting....
NO! that's not for YOU!"

(I was tempted to post this in rhyme, but I refrained)

Have you ever felt as if you are in the "waiting place?" Waiting for an answer from God?
The nonsense of Dr. Suess' words have a deeper meaning for us. Oh yes, we will as Christians have to wait, just like the rest of the world, but we can have peace in the "waiting place." Our waiting is NEVER in vain, if it is GOD who had brought us there. We can have the peace that GOD is in control, He's checked us into the room and ALWAYS for good reason.

"Blessed are those who wait for Him." Isaiah 30:18 first glance it seems so passive, but if we truly look inward and to our God, our time in the "waiting place" can be a time of tremendous activity. It can be a time for us to grow in faith and trust. Our time in the waiting place CAN, if we choose, bring us to a NEW place in Christ. It's been in that God anointed "waiting place" that my greatest life lessons have emerged. Waiting WITH the Lord often is an experience of a lifetime. I have to admit that I have gone into the "waiting place" kicking and screaming, only to emerge humbled and healed. I still occasionally kick and scream when I'm in the "waiting place," but I'm learning.

I read recently a quote by Frances de Sales, that just resonates in my soul.

"Sometimes the Lord desires that our souls be nourished by a firm and unfailing resolution to persevere in serving Him in the spiritual life amid hardships, dryness..... This is YOUR will; how ardently I desire it!"

His will, how ardently I desire it!
Now that is a real, 'bring it on God, I'm trusting YOU and ONLY YOU statement!'
It wasn't easy for the people of Israel to wait, 40 years is a L~O~N~G time....they had their moments, as do we, where we want desperately to move from waiting....into answers. We often don't understand why we need to wait, and that is not always for us to know. If we are truly His, then we must have faith that He has His reasons, and that it is ALWAYS for our good. Trusting is not always easy, however, if we want to TRULY be at peace and in God's will, it's what we HAVE to do while we find ourselves in that "waiting place." It was in waiting that the Israelites discovered who they were. We will too, you see...
God hasn't changed, and that is a beautiful thing!

We are all waiting, for eternity...and the God who loves us more than we could EVER comprehend sometimes has to take us by the hand and gently lead us to the
'waiting place.' It's for our own good....He brings us there so that we can turn to Him and trust, we can cry out, we can be healed. Trusting, turning, clinging; definitely not passive, and sometimes the waiting place is exactly where He needs us to be.

As life finds me in the "waiting place" I'll cling to the disciples words,

"I am the vine and you are my branches, you abide in me my word abides in you; you shall bear much fruit, without me you can do nothing." John 15:5

and I'll willingly and faithfully, peace, with a heart full of trust.

Thank you for always knowing when I need to wait....
Sometimes I feel like the Israelites in the desert, waiting for answers. Help me Father to have the faith of Moses, knowing that my time spent waiting is ordained by You. Help me to grow in my waiting, trusting you each and everyday. Knowing that one day, the waiting will be over and I will see your face. Help me to find patient trust in you, as I wait for your answers in my life.
You know my heart, and you know far better than me what I need. It's only with your grace that I can grow in my waiting.
In Jesus' name,

In Him,

I can usually be found over here at my personal blog spot,
I'd love for you to stop by.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

He Loves Me! He Loves Me!

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called you by name. You’re Mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:…That’s how much you mean to Me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. Isaiah 43:2-4

Have you ever sat thinking about the one you love and, perhaps while you were dating, wondering if they really loved you? We’ve all seen it before. The young girl holding the beautiful flower, plucking one petal at a time, saying, “he loves me, he loves me not”.

As I read these verses in Isaiah chapter forty-three, I found myself reflecting on the reality of God’s love for me. Besides John 3:16, which clearly tells us how much Jesus loves us, these verses are screaming of His deep love for us. Word after word, it says to my heart, “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me”. Read over it again. It says, “He is our personal God, our Savior”. He paid a huge price for us. Why would He do that, we might ask. His word unmistakably replies, “that’s how much we mean to Him”. “That’s how much He loves us!”

Do you remember the song Jesus, Loves Me? Most of us probably learned this as a child and could still sing it today. For most of us, it’s probably been a long time since we found ourselves singing this sweet melody, but I am grateful for the reality that we can never outgrow the love of Jesus. If anything, this precious song that we learned as a child should be even more meaningful to our hearts as adults, as we grow in the understanding of the incredible depth of His love for us. Take a moment to sing this song, and allow God to whisper to your heart through each phrase, “I love you, I love you, I love you”!

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
For the Bible tells me so!

Lord, thank you that you love us. Thank you that you not only tell us in your Word, but you have shown us with your life that you deeply love us. Help me to be mindful of your love and may I experience the breadth, test its length, plumb the depths, and rise to the heights of your love for me (Eph. 3:19). Thank you that nothing can separate me from your love.

In Him

You can read more from Tammy by visiting her at Steps In Our Journey

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Feature

Would you like to receive CWO's Internet Cafe' daily devotionals by email?
Simply subscribe using the Feedburner service in our sidebar.

How's that for easy?

Labels: ,

A Universal Language

A couple of weekends ago as I journeyed out with my family for some food and fun I made a startling discovery. There is a universal language, one that crosses all boundaries known to man to make a statement.

The first evidence of this came as I waited in a long line at my post office to mail some packages. There were screaming children (thankfully mine were waiting in the car with Ryan), frustrated employees, a problem with a computer, quite a few grumpy people.

A lady that was in line ahead of me struggled to understand what was being said by the employees as they would call out "anybody here for a pick-up?", or "anybody here for a passport?" She obviously spoke another language and kept turning to others to see if somehow they could communicate with her.

Usually when she turned around others would look at her with blank stares and you could see the confusion in her eyes as she struggled to understand. Then I finally noticed it: a pick-up slip. The lady had been waiting all this time when she could have picked up her package more than 10 minutes earlier. So, I tapped her shoulder and pointed to the line where the last man was waiting to get his package. She just looked at me confused and I knew she was unaware of what I was saying so I touched her ticket and smiled then pointed to the line again. I knew that she understood because she smiled back and walked off to get in the other line.

When the man took her ticket and walked to the back to retrieve it, she turned to smile at me. I understood. She said, "Thank you".

The greatest of these was when her package arrived and she saw who it was from. She lit up and a smile was evident from ear to ear. She said, "I am so happy to have this package!" though all she really did was smile.

So I began to test this. I smiled at my hubby and the kids when I got back to the car. They smiled back. It was as if we were saying "I missed you! I'm glad that we are together again!" Then I smiled at people as we walked in the parking lot. They smiled back. It was as if we were saying, "Hi!" Some smiled so grandly it was as if they were saying, "Hi and have a great day!"
This was amazing to me. I tend to mind my own business when out in public. Not out of rudeness but out of busyness. This taught me a major lesson. I can change the course of someone's day by communicating with them... through a smile.

Have you smiled at someone today?

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Matthew 25:40

I'd love for you to visit me at my personal blog: In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Extravagant Love

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!

1 John 3:1

I am admittedly one of the most unthoughtful people on the planet. Remembering birthdays, sending the encouraging card, and picking up the phone just to say 'hey' are just not my strong points. Because I am not a girl who needs these things, I forget that others do. And, just so you know, saying I don't need someone to express love towards me is not giving myself a compliment. It's actually a very enormous independence problem I have that I'll work to overcome until the day I die.

Now my hubby Luke is an entirely different story. Thoughtfulness comes naturally to him and he will go to great lengths to bless me. Luke's latest extravagance involved his scrimping and saving to buy me a laptop for Christmas with a card that said, "Because I know God has huge plans for you..."

I still swoon.

And, no, you may not have him.

So what did I do when he made this grand presentation? Well, obviously I cried like a baby but immediately afterward I went into guilt mode because I didn't have a single, solitary thing to surprise him with. In this unwritten code of mine it is necessary to return in the same measure in which I receive. That can present a huge problem when my thoughtfulness kicks in once its too late to reciprocate. What's a girl to do when she realizes she lacks the resources to match the gift?

This is actually a false dilemma. Luke didn't give me the computer because he thought I would give him a flatscreen television. (Though he would have totally appreciated it, I'm sure.) He wasn't gracious to me so I would return love to him out of indebtedness. He did it because, in his own words, he 'wanted to'. He believes God has a calling on my life and he wanted to be used of Him to provide a tool to make it easier to fulfill. It would have been a slap in the face to Luke for me to put the computer on a shelf and not use it because I couldn't get past the fact I couldn't adequately repay him.

I wonder how many of us, including myself, hold this same attitude towards God? He has given us the gift of an extravagant love that we can not possibly earn or ever repay. I've known people who spend their days trying to accomplish enough good works to one day feel they deserve what they've been given. I know others who feel so guilty because they can't return the gift in full measure that they don't try at all. Instead they place the gift on the shelf until they feel 'good enough' to use it. I'm ashamed to say I've found myself in both places. Have you?

There are some things given we can never adequately repay. Luke's gift helped me to understand even more the proper response to God's favor. I may never be able to say thank you enough, but what I can do is type away on this keyboard to God's glory and Luke's delight. I can choose to love out of gratitude rather than a twisted sense of indebtedness. I can live with an attitude of thanksgiving to The One who scrimped so He could save me. Through this show of extravagant grace, he provided the tool of salvation I needed in order to accomplish my purpose on this earth.

I still swoon.

And, yes, I'll share Him with you.

(But you still can't have Luke. That sweetheart is all mine.....)

Please visit my personal blog, The Preacher's Wife!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

His Glory Revealed

Where is God when we suffer? This question was the subject of my pastor's sermon last week, 4 days after an EF4 tornado hit the area where I live, particularly devastating the campus of Union University, a Christ-centered Baptist university. Suffering and loss were surrounding us. Many might cry out, "Where are you God? Why did this happen?"

During the past week, I have seen where He is. He is:

  • In the hearts of multitudes of volunteers, faculty, staff, and alumni climbing through debris to recover belongings of students and carefully bagging them--for hours in c0ld weather.

  • In the hearts of student leaders staying to do whatever possible to help, even when everything they have has just been destroyed.

  • In the donations of Target and Wal-Mart giftcards from the community enabling students to buy clothes, food, bedding, and other school supplies.

  • In the incredible Christ-focused leadership of President David Dockery, a man that must be overwhelmed at the task in front of him, but fully confident in the God behind him.

  • In the faith and of people who are confident that they serve an awesome God who is in control, even in our pain.

He is here, He always was. When the storm was raging, He was here. When the tornado hit campus housing, He was placing His hand of protection on over 1000 students, sparing every precious life against tremendous odds. No one walking through the rubble the next day would have believed that everyone survived. He was and IS here.

It is so hard when we suffer to see that He is present. I love the quote by CS Lewis:

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

He shouts to us in our suffering. He is present and protecting us and using our pain to bring us closer to Him. He allows suffering, because He loves us. He experienced the pain of sacrificing His only son for our salvation. Through the suffering, I have seen the glory of God revealed. He is sovereign and in control.

John 11 tells the story of Lazarus:

Then Jesus,deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"

Through your suffering, He is present and His glory is revealed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lost Treasures

The Internet Cafe


Missy from 'It's Almost Naptime!!'

"Lost Treasures"

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:3-7

Several years ago, I went on vacation. My house would be vacant for several weeks, so I put all my jewelry in a Ziplock bag and gave it to my friend Shelly for safekeeping. When I returned, Shelly gave me back the precious Ziplock. I brought it home promptly disappeared.

The first couple of days, I just figured it was lost in the unpacking and would turn up. But the days turned into a week and I began to get worried. All of my jewelry that was even slightly expensive was in this Ziplock, but I was mostly concerned about some pieces that had been handed down to me from my late grandmother.

I began to pray for God to show me where it was. Still no jewelry. After a couple of weeks, I asked some friends to pray that it turn up. No jewelry. Increasingly desperate, I sheepishly asked my bible study group to pray about it. Still no jewelry. I was pretty upset by now, and rather obsessed with finding it. All my friends and family knew I had lost all my jewelry. I spent a good bit of time asking God to show me where it was hidden. It was very important to me that I find it, and the thought that it might be gone forever made me heartsick.

A couple of months later, still not having found it, I visited a Sunday School class. The teacher gave an excellent lesson on the parable of the lost sheep. As he was teaching, the Holy Spirit hit me over the head with that lesson. This is what He said, loud and clear,

"You have searched and searched and prayed and prayed for your lost jewelry. You have enlisted everyone you know to pray with you. How many lost sheep have you prayed for? Missy, do you care more about lost jewelry than lost people?"

After class was over, I sat in the courtyard of the church and sobbed, full of conviction and truly heartsick at the truth of the revelation.

That very evening at home, I opened a dresser drawer - one that I had opened every single day - and the Ziplock fell from the tracks where it had been lodged and appeared before my eyes. I was grateful it was found. But instead of calling all my friends to celebrate, I stared at that bag, smiled sadly, and begged God to renew my heart to seek what he seeks, and to rejoice over what he rejoices over.

Tonight I read in my bible study that in Luke 19:41-42, when Jesus wept over those in Jerusalem whom had rejected his peace, the Greek word klaio is used for wept, which indicates the strongest expression of grief. Jesus wailed for the lost - an agonizing scream of grief! His heart's desire is that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Do I feel this same pain for so many in this word who are do not know him as Lord? Do I cry over my family and friends who do not believe?

Heavenly Father, our Good Shepherd, thank you for seeking and finding us when we were astray. Now please change our hearts to truly grieve for those who do not know you. Please use us to find and love the lost among us, that there may be rejoicing in heaven, for Your glory. Amen.

Visit Missy at her blog
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Labels: ,