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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Get Ready For the Holiday Expo!


Don't forget that this Thursday, December 4, we will be hosting the Café Holiday Expo. Let's get into the spirit of giving by holding contests to give away gifts. I already know what I am giving away. I can't wait to see what everyone else has to offer!

Here are the guidelines:

1. The Holiday Expo will be run just like a blog carnival. You post the information about the giveaway on your blog and then link to it here through Mr. Linky. You must link directly to the post or your link will be deleted. The participants will then comment on your post and you'll choose a winner by Friday, December 12th. Please note in the post whether or not you will ship to other countries. You must email us with the winners name and email. We will announce the winners here as a group and we will also verify that the promised item was received by the winner.

2. You are free to give away anything that you would like but we do ask that it be something that you would also like to receive. It can be something new, something you created yourself, craft itmes, books, pampering products (must be new and unopened), or even something in excellent shape that you no longer want but someone else just might. Please include a photo of the item(s) if possible.It must be completely free and you pay shipping. No coupons or anything else that requires the receiver to hand over funds.

3. Place a link to the Cafe's Holiday Expo on your post. You can also place the button on your site:




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Tell Fear to Take a Flying Leap

I'm thinking that there are plenty of us that deal with fear on some level. For instance, I sincerely hate driving or walking over those big drain grates in the road. There is an irrational fear that they'll open right up and I'll fall deep into the waters under the city where rats will be my only company.

A friend of mine doesn't like swimming. She thinks an indoor pool might open up and throw into hell. We all know these things won't happen, but sometimes the fear of what could happen outweighs the truth.

That's the joke with fear. Usually our fear of something is never as bad as what actually could or will happen.

The fear is very real, even if it never comes to a reality.

For me, it's flying.

Now, I have a pretty good reason to be afraid of flying. In 1986 my grandparents were flying to Dallas in their small, six-seater Bonanza plane when disaster hit. They got caught in a storm, the autopilot wouldn't disengage, and my grandparents went down somewhere in north Texas.

It was one of the most horrible days of my life. I remember it clearly. Young, scared, and helpless. So, because of that, I tend to not like flying.

Who really likes to get into a metal cylinder that flies above the ground at 30,000 feet? I'm just not comfortable being in a tube that is only inches thick. You know that step from the jetway to the plane? That moment between on the ground and in the tube? Well, I always look at how thin the plane is and whisper a prayer. I might also throw in a little pat on the plane, kiss the doorway, do the sign of the cross, and anoint the pilots with oil.

Not only that, when I fly Jesus has to talk me through the entire flight. I'm not kidding. Every minute is a prayer. Mind you, I'm not freaking out in those minutes, but I am keenly aware of how much time we have left in any flight. I love those planes with the little T.V. that will show you have far your plane has left to fly, however, I'm sure if you looked at my face you'd want to slap that look of concern and worry right off.

To make matters worse, anytime there is turbulence I get a little white knuckled and it's all I can do not to stand up and yell to those unphased by the terror, "What's wrong with you people?! Didn't you feel that! Did you know we're going to die!"

In contrast, when I hear the captain say we are beginning our descent, I want to jump and shout, "Thank you Jesus!" Then I imagine making my way around the plane to hug complete strangers because we just escaped death together.

One time, when the pilot put the landing gear down, I had a little bit of a moment of "Oh no! What was that!" So much so, that I grabbed the arm of the man next to me and said, "Is that normal?!" He answered, looking at me with a bit of alarm then glancing at his arm, "I think it was the landing gear."

"Oh," I replied, slipping my hand off of the man's arm.

Now, could I die in a plane crash? Maybe, that fear cannot be allowed to paralyze me and steal life and joy from me.

One way to beat the fear came from a dear friend of mine. This wisdom touched my heart and helped me be set free from so much fear. Now when I fly I remember these tender, tender, touching words from the heart of someone who really wanted to ease my fear.

"Natalie, look, if the plane goes down, you die."

Point taken.

Why freak out about what I can't control.

I am now free to move about the country.



What fear rules your life? What is something you let control you even when you cannot control it? How can Christ deliver you from fear?


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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cafe Chat - November 29, 2008


Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in* Christ Jesus our Lord.

The greatest gift that any one of us could receive is salvation but what are some of the other amazing gifts that you have been given? Why were they so special to you?





Blessings,
Kim





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What Say You?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’ Matthew 16:24-26

These particular verses come in the chapter where Jesus predicts his death to his disciples. He tells them of the exact events that will occur and is met with opposition. The one who is brave enough (or stupid enough) to question the happenings Christ just outlined is Peter.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be because this is the guy who, ten chapters later in Matthew, confesses his love for Christ and then denies him three times. Did I mention he also cuts off the ear of one of the men who arrested Jesus? Peter is definitely a character.

If you’ve walked the Christian road for any amount of time, the likelihood that you’ve heard a message preached on the verse above is great. Oftentimes we hear a message that exhorts us to rise above ourselves and live our lives to honor Christ with no regard for what we’ll receive. And we are told that when we take this path we will truly find life.

I remember the fall of 1995 vividly. The San Antonio apartment where my husband, Chris, and I resided was about 750 square feet. We spent a lot of time playing music together. We even wrote our first song there. A bigger event that transpired while we were living there was God’s calling on our lives to surrender. Surrender what, you might ask.

Everything. And I didn’t know if I wanted to.

Chris felt sure that we were called into full-time vocational ministry. I didn’t have a desire whatsoever to do that for a living. Volunteering was just fine with me. But, after wrestling with God about it for a few months, I eventually surrendered. And that was the beginning of me truly finding life.

Travel ahead eight years if you will and you’ll find me hearing from God yet again about the direction in my life. With my marriage absolutely on the rocks due to my husband's infidelity, I was and still am convinced that God called me to stay and work things out. That encouraged many and frightened plenty. I realize the ones who shared their concern were those who’d known me for some time and just wanted me to be okay. It might have seemed logical for me to save face and walk away from my marriage. But, I chose to follow God’s direction and literally lose my life. And again, I found it.

During the last seven years, I have had more life given to me by God than I could contain. Sometimes I just sit and think about how much I’ve been given. I have ample opportunities to fulfill God’s calling on my life as I help other women. We are very close to living in financial freedom. I can’t imagine my life getting any richer and fuller than it already is. But then God shows up and brings abundant joy and more blessings than I can comprehend. And I got all this because I lost the life I thought was amazing? Chalk that up to Isaiah 55:8-9.

I don’t remember the exact day but God spoke profoundly to me. His voice was not audible but the message is indelibly written on my heart. I could not deny His still, small voice that day. I was praying and simply sitting in awe of the amazing life I live and asked, “Why me, Lord?” His reply was simple.

Because you said yes.

I sat upright and realized that back in 1995 I had a choice to make. I could have said no and kept the life I enjoyed. Or, I could have said yes and received a life that I never could have imagined. And occasionally still have to pinch myself to make sure this abundant life is real.

It is.

So, what say you? Yes or no? It’s that simple.

In Him,



Join Cindy daily at her website CindyBeall.com


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Friday, November 28, 2008

Notes from a Prayer Journal


This week has been bittersweet. Our first Thanksgiving has come and gone without my sister, Wanda. She is with the Master---basking in His divine love and care! Happy and whole.

On Monday night of this week, Aimee, mother and I met with Mark at his house to, once again go through some of Wanda's things. He had asked us to go through her books and pick out what was special to us. Well, of course, all of them were! He gave us Cart Blanche.

Among those books is a prayer journal. I have to tell you that night when I arrived back home, I sat for more than an hour, just reading. Meditating on what she had received from the Word, and marveling at the spiritual growth I saw in her life. And, of course I cried a bit. Especially on her entry for January 7, 2006. Please allow me to share it with you.

Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Can we say of our lives we live wholly for Christ as the apostle Paul did? "For me to live is Christ"...Yet, this alone is the love life of a Christian--it's source, it's sustenance, it's fashion, it's end. All gathered up in two words---Christ Jesus.

For me to live is Christ. Lord, burn that in my heart and mind. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in Thee and to Thee. Let me be as the bullock that stands between the plow and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, "ready for either."
From the prayer journal of Wanda Jakelsky.


She lived that motto. I can testify to that. She worked with a willing heart and devoted spirit---and with just that same devotion, she left this life with her hand neatly clasping His. Her release of the mortal shell that bound her with sickness came with much praise from our aching hearts. As we stood around her bed, and the line on the heart monitor became straight, I felt her take her gentle leave. As a conductor holds his arm for the musicians to reach the highest note, I felt her spirit soar up off the bed and into His waiting arms. And His love held her secure. And His love comforted our pain.

I can tell you with complete certainty---there is no pain in this life, that Jesus Christ cannot see you through.

The complete total desire of our hearts in this coming year---for the remaining days of our lives should be just that. Use us Father for Your glory. For Your work. In whatever manner You chose. Your ways are best. Much higher are Your plans than ours. May the desire of Your heart become the desires of our hearts. May we too be like the young bullock---ready for whatever service You chose.

Points to ponder~

Start a prayer journal if you never have. Write it out in your own hand. Your handwritten thoughts will mean much to those who follow in your footsteps.

Take some time these next few weeks and list out some things that you feel are hindering a closer relationship with Christ Jesus.

Also, call by name some areas where you want to see growth in your relationship with Christ.

Lastly, give the passion of your heart it's name and place in the front of your own prayer journal. Seek His will and direction in that calling of your heart.

Then stand by and watch what HE gloriously does in your life! And keep us posted!

I'd love your visit at my blogs, The Knightly News and Sisters of Faith

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Falling for Jesus Winner Post


Joanne Sher was the winner of the Falling for Jesus Contest that we held this fall at the Internet Cafe. Today we have the privilege of sharing with you, her winning entry.
Congratulations Joanne!



My people have been looking for Him for thousands of years. Every Jewish mother, since the beginning of my race until this day, has hoped that perhaps her son would be the One. The Anointed. The Messiah. The Righteous Branch.

As I sat in my easy chair on that cool February morning a decade ago, I realized that, for the past two thousand years, these Jewish mothers had hoped in vain. You see, the Anointed One had already come. The waiting was over, but they were still looking.

You hear sometimes about soldiers, decades after “their war” was fought and forgotten, hiding away on the old battlefield without communication, thinking they still had that enemy to defeat. That’s how it is with many of my people. They are anxiously sitting by the front door, waiting for their precious child to come in from his date—when he’s actually asleep upstairs.

I however, have found Him. I am looking no longer. And in the moment it took me to connect my Jewish beliefs to His Truth, I was transformed. I went from a searcher of the scriptures to a lover of their Writer.

It began as a curiosity five months earlier. Through a Christian conference I was covering for the newspaper, I developed an intense interest in Christianity and the Word of God. I fed on Christian teaching. I enjoyed the fellowship of a local church. I read—no, devoured—His Bible: Old and New Testaments. I pondered what I had read. I examined it logically.

But on that late winter day, there was no logic. No mere emotion. On that day, Jesus Christ, my Messiah, swept me off my feet and into His loving arms of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. For it was on that day, while reading His prophet, that my spirit was, after more than three decades on this earth, awakened to His “Messiahship.”

I had read about it several times in the past five months: in the Gospels, in Paul’s letters. But those were “Christian” books. I was a Jew. The Lord needed to show me in His chosen people’s writings. He had to show this modern-day Pharisee that my lineage, my good deeds, my upbringing was not what I needed. What I needed was Him—the Messiah I had hoped would come for 32 years. The same Messiah I’d learned about in Hebrew School and synagogue. He had already come—and Isaiah had told us about it hundreds of years previous.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV
My Messiah loved me so much, that He was voluntarily pierced and crushed for my sins. I could not be pleasing in God’s sight on my own. He willingly took on excruciating punishment so I could have peace. His wounds on the cross healed me.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6 NIV
Joanne Sher, observant Jew, one of “God’s chosen,” was a lost sheep—a dirty, unholy, messed up sinner. But the Lord laid my iniquity on Christ. It is no longer mine. He died for me, so my Father will see me as sinless and holy.

How can I not love Him? How can I ever doubt again? And why would I, or anyone else, want to? There is nothing left to wait for. The Messiah—my Messiah—has come.

Heavenly Father, I cannot thank You enough for saving my soul, for initiating this intimate love relationship I have had with you for almost ten years now. Thank You, Lord, for helping me to get beyond the doubts and the “mechanics” of my faith and into the amazing love of You. Help me, Lord, to never forget the wonder and excitement of that first love. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen


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Joanne Sher, raised Jewish, became a believer at the age of 31. She is a writer and homemaker living in West Michigan with her husband Marc and her two children: Annika, 5 today, and Andrew, almost 8. In addition to writing Christian fiction and blogging at "An Open Book," she is currently working on writing a non-fiction book about God's working during her husband major health problems.
Visit Joanne daily at http://joannesher.blogspot.com

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Thanksgiving Day! Celebrate the Holidays With A Day of Gratitude

Internet Cafe Devotions is celebrating the holidays this year with lots of great things for you to participate in! There will be six weeks of celebrating going on and it will happen on Thursdays.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This THURSDAY, November 27, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving by participating in a Day of Gratitude. Tell us what you are thankful for and how you plan to spend the day.

With so many things to be thankful for we'd love to hear a few. Also, do you enjoy cooking or relaxing while everyone else scatters around? Do you watch the Macy's Thanskgiving Day Parade or football?

If you participate, please post the following button on your blog and link to your site through the Mr. Linky below:

Please post this button to your blog and spread the word!









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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Love Connection

Where’s Mary?

That was the question of the day. I’d planned a party and failed to show up. Not on purpose, just by the circumstances.

The party was for friends I’d yet to meet face to face. Women from all over who’d come together for this brief time in New Orleans. We were all in town to attend the same Christian conference and one of the women, a local, decided that it would be a great idea to plan a lunch. I immediately raised my virtual hand to help out. I talked about the gathering, encouraged others to attend, and actively publicized the lunch gathering to all who would listen. I was so excited to get to meet these virtual sisters face to face. The time of the luncheon came and I couldn’t make it.

I was so sad and a little red-faced. Who helps plan the party and then doesn’t show up?

Apparently, I do.

This wasn’t like the obligatory family gathering that is happening across this great country tomorrow. The traditional Thanksgiving gathering. This was just a bunch of women; most had never met in person. We were connected through the Internet. Some were bloggers and others were readers, but all had a love for the Lord. We came together in New Orleans for a Bible study. Who knew what the Lord had in store for us!

When I consider the abandon with which we worshipped, I’m stunned. When I consider the outpouring of love and joy, I’m awestruck. When I think about the scriptures studied and the revelations for so many, I'm amazed. And when I remember the testimonies of these brave women, I’m humbled. I’m so blessed that the Lord allowed me to walk this path with these women, these warriors in Christ.

A life that is changed. A life renewed. A heart restored.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”
This is the abundant life that I saw begin for so many in New Orleans. Abundant life that began with hearts wiling to accept the grace of God’s love.

We started off our week a little hesitant with each other, but we got to know each other quickly (this is really true for those who DID show up for the lunch event). Over the course of the week, these relationships were made stronger, friendships began, and promises to stay in touch were whispered in our goodbyes and through our tears. We longed to stay connected to each other and to Christ our Lord. But it’s not the goodbyes where we found our strength; it was in powerful relationships with Christ. It was in transformed relationships with Christ. We connected with each other through our love of Christ.

You don’t have to travel to New Orleans to find this transformation. It’s right here, right now. It’s in the powerful love of Jesus. Do you love Him?
Not with a lukewarm-take-it-or-leave-it kind of love, but with a breathtaking, consuming, passionate love? The kind of love that just threatens to overwhelm you.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Even in our unlovable state, He loved us.

but God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died
for us. Romans 5:8

Do you love Him? If not, it’s yours for the asking.
Read the scripture below:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything
according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever
we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

Pray and ask God to fill you with a passionate love for Him.
Do it everyday.
Every hour if you need to. Will it happen immediately? I don’t know. It didn’t work that way for me. I had to commit to loving Him and believing Him. Believing that I was worthy of His love was the hardest part for me. But I am, because He died for me.

Trust Him, trust His Word. And pray for this love relationship daily. Oh, my dear Sister in Christ, the freedom that comes when you put Christ first in your life.

When you choose to love Him passionately!

The joy. The power. The hope. All of this is yours, in Christ. This is your love connection!


In Him,

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wild Savior

Following Christ is a constant learning experience. It never fails to astound me how little I know the deeper in relationship I get with Him! Over and over again He has taught me stagnancy is just not healthy. He desires movement. Growth. Travel. He wants my today to play out a little differently than my yesterday.

I was in the shower a few weeks ago talking with Him about random things (most likely the wonder of Starbucks) when I got into my crazy head the shampoo in my hand looked like what I imagine the Israelites would’ve used as anointing oil.

Stick with me. I know things just got strange but hear me out.

Staring at the thick, beautiful, volume-taming dollop of oil-like shampoo, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to anoint my head with oil.

Clearly I am the Lucille Ball of the Christian faith.

I had a moment of prayer, threw my hand to my forehead and…

Anointed my eyes.

I missed my forehead completely. Not on purpose, it was just that the “anointing oil” was so thick it slid off my hand due to its heaviness before I had reached my head.

With burning eyes I couldn’t help but crack up laughing.

Isn’t that just the way of our wild Savior? He shakes things up.

I think, “I’ll go to school, get a job, get married and perhaps bake a sale item for the church fundraiser when I grow up.”

He says, “That’s not where your anointing is.”

I think, “Okay, I will go into advertising and shine my light on the subways in Manhattan.”

He says, “That’s not where your anointing is.”

I think, “Alright, let me see…I will consult business owners on how to run their shops more effectively.”

He says, “That’s not where your anointing is.”

I think, “We’re running out of options here, Lord.”

He says, “We haven’t even started yet.”

I believe we often think we know better than Him. Don’t we? I know I do. The deepest struggle I have walking with Christ is the letting go of my independence and the walking in dependence.


Each day is a lying down of what I think my life should look like or how I feel my talents would better be spent. It is the thing that I most struggle with and yet it is the thing that most keeps me looking ahead.


As that shampoo hit my eyes and my laughter filled the bathroom I thought, “Nicely put, Lord. I’m trying to anoint my own head here and you won’t have it.”


“I am your Anointer.”

“Lord,” I whispered, “do you think you could…”

“I already have.”

“You anoint my head with oil;


my cup overflows.”


Psalm 23:5



Kristen is the daily author of {dancing} in the margins, her personal blog. She welcomes you to stop by!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The Truth Of the Matter

If you speak to any insecure woman long enough then you are bound to get to the root of the cause and likely, it isn't a pleasant situation. You see, lurking in the fast paced, get-it-done, information superhighway known as the internet is a not so hidden evil: pornography.

Unfortunately, I have gone to generic websites only to see a flashing image in the sidebar that screams for attention. For some, the attention can turn into sin. It did for me.

Having never even clicked on the image to see what it was about I did several things that caused me to sin:
  1. I judged the woman who's face I saw.
  2. I became unsatisfied with my own self and the way God created me because I did not compare in physical appearance to the woman who's image I'd seen.
  3. I became enraged at her and other girls like her and the men who continued to obsessively keep them in business.
It put me in bondage. God had to set me free.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
James 3:16
I had become envious of what I believed I did not have: my husband's sole desire; a body like I had when I was 20; and answers as to why these girls do what they do. Then God spoke to my heart...

In the midst of angry thoughts towards these women God put images into my head, new ones. I saw an older man and He spoke directly to me. He said, "She is my daughter. I was never there for her. I worked long hours and weekends believing that was what she needed to have a good life. I wasn't there to love her but others were. What have I done?"

Then I saw a woman about my age. She was crying and through her tears she mumbled, "She is my little sister. She was date raped when she was 16. She planned on saving herself for marriage. That all changed after that night. She was never the same again."

I tried to shrug off the things going through my mind at that point but God persisted. A little girl showed up next. She was making cereal for her little brother. After she poured the milk she explained that her daddy left and her mom couldn't pay the bills. They had already lived in their car and they didn't have enough money to get to her grandma's house. One day a nice guy offered her mommy a job taking pictures. Mommy promised she would only take a few and that once she had enough money to get to grandmas then she would stop but after a while that nice man wouldn't let her stop. He would come to get her mom if she tried to stay home. He hit her a lot too. She put the milk back in the refrigerator and my thoughts drifted to another scene.

I saw a casket. A woman and a man knelt beside it. Her screams penetrated every fiber of my being. She cried and wailed. I saw a picture of a beautiful young girl on a table near the head of the box that would forever be her resting place. The father picked up the photo and held it to his close to his heart. Through his tears he said, "My daughter was kidnapped when she was 13 years old. Within days she was sold into sex trafficking and even though we got close to finding her many times they always managed to keep her just out of reach. They eventually killed her for trying to escape but not before they had uploaded her photos to the internet for all the world to see. They left her in a ditch like she was nobody. The papers read, 'Local Prostitute Found Dead.' She isn't a prostitute! She is my little girl!" Tears overcame him as he rejoined his wife.

By this time I was crying too and I knew exactly what God was trying to tell me. I'd never seen these women as real people before. I just always saw them as my enemy. God wanted me to see them through His eyes. They all have a story just like I do. They have reasons for their actions just like I do. God loves them as much as He loves me and He wants them to spend all of eternity in heaven with Him too.

I have a new perspective on this. Though there are some who may not have ever experienced anything like this and still have chosen to live this life, we have to remember they are still God's children. We must pray for them. We must treat them with dignity and respect and we must not judge them.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

If we want to see this foul practice come to an end then we need to intercede on behalf of all of those involved. We must ask God to break the strongholds and we must seek to find security in God and not in what we perceive to be desirable beauty. If we each only focus in prayer for one person then we could most certainly change the world. Won't you join me?

Two great ministries to get information on this subject matter is: Cyrus International and A21.



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

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

When our own Become Prodigals

Lately my Savior has been nudging me concerning those adult children in my life that are presently on a wilderness excursion! I have been thinking on the parable of the prodigal son, it's content and the response of our Savior toward all Prodigals.

The story of the lost son is found in Luke 15:11-32. We read that the youngest son demanded his inheritance from his father. Later on in the story we find him eating with the pigs.

Vs. 17 "But when he came to himself, he said, "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! Vs. 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, vs. 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."

I too, have some of my own who demanded their inheritances. They, as well, have become prodigal, though they have the foundation of God's Word learned when they were very younger. Life has not been easy for any of them so far.

As adults though, it was their decision to take the path of a prodigal. As parents, we are confronted with our children's life decisions. Do we chase them? Do we say no when they want or need something?

We have our answers in the Prodigal story of the Bible. We never do see the father chasing the son and begging him to come to his senses but rather we see this response:

vs. 12 "So he divided to them his livelihood. Vs. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living."

The father granted the demanding son what he asked for. It may be that the father was earnestly praying to our Savior as he handed his wayward son what he asked for. I have been there before. Not always handling it as that father did but, I have come to realize that our children don't belong to us anyway. Rather, they are lent to us from our Savior . They are with us until the Lord removes them, either as a prodigal, marriage or ministry calling. Sometimes, even by death itself.

I also have learned that there is a reason why we have the Prodigal story in His Word. The Lord loves us so much and He knew we would have "Prodigals" in our lives too. He left us that story so we could learn from it and not ignore its wisdom. It is God's way of showing us how to properly handle a situation similar to the prodigal.

The father did not go after his son. Nor, did that father but rescue him while his beloved son wallowed in the mud of wickedness either. He didn't send a servant to give him money to help with either his needs or his wants. As you read vs. 20, it becomes apparent that the father was always looking out the door to see if and when his dear son would come home again. He must have been there daily praying earnestly for his lost and wandering son.

I too, have thought about these things. I pray daily for our own "Prodigals".

But, do I sit at home thinking of ways to come to their rescue? No. My efforts will not bring that son or daughter back home again.

The lost son, according to vs.17 says that "he came to his senses in other words he took the first step towards repentance."

That prodigal son or daughter has to come to the personal realization that he or she has sinned first against the Heavenly Father and He alone. And, when true repentance comes from that type of realization, the prodigal will not return with more excuses or bitterness. No. He or she returns totally broken and humbled too!

In vs. 19 he asked to become "a hired servant."

King David, when confronted with his own wicked actions, repented immediately. He went on to write these words in Psalm 51:4... "Against you, you only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight."

A prodigal who is truly repentant and sorry will have those words pour forth from their lips to God directly.

When the father saw his son coming over the horizon, it was then that he ran to him (contrary to Jewish custom of that day) and had compassion on him. In vs. 20 it says, "he fell on his neck and kissed him."

The father did not sit there and badger his son with questions and that famous "why?'

Rather, in vs 22 it says that he, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. and on vs. 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found."

The next thing that happened? They had a party of thanksgiving!

When our prodigal comes home again, we too, will know how to respond. The Lord Himself has shown us what true repentant looks like and you will be able to discern it as it comes to pass with your own prodigal too. Love your son or daughter unconditionally. Don't waste time asking the "why's" but now the "what's." What now? What do we do from here? Isn't that how our Savior is with each of us? He just wants our heart. He wants our coming back home to Him. He forgives and seeks just as the Prodigal son's father had.

So great is our Father's excitement over the return of one of his lost ones!

Being confronted with your own prodigal situation can be an unexplainable pain. Suffering over the tragedy of a "wilderness prodigal child" is not fun or easy. The prodigal story is God's example to we parents and our comfort too. Placing our prodigal in the hands of a merciful God brings about a "peace that surpasses all understanding."

I wrote a letter to one of my own prodigals and now, I wish to share an excerpt of it with you. Remember, our Savior knows things and each outcome too. He simply asks us to trust Him and do as He instructs. and obey Him. Read on...

Prodigal, Jesus loves you so much.

Prodigal, He died for you on that cross and He has never given up on you, ever!

He never gave up on me and I was the worst of all sinners.

I was that one that would have been stoned Prodigal but He showed me mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

I have seen the worst of Christians turning against me and everyone talking about me including those closest to me.

Prodigal, remember David when he said in Psalms 51, "against you only have I sinned." He was still named a man after God’s own heart.

Prodigal, it is not to late for you to completely give your life to Jesus. It is never too late!

Prodigal, if you are saved you are a princess to the King of Kings. Your body is His temple for the Holy Spirit is in you. How can our members be entangled with impurities and then say we are "okay?"

We can’t sweetie... I tried it too. I know what I am saying to you is real and true. My heart has been towards seeing my Savior face to face Prodigal and it hit me tonight as something fierce and scary what if something happens to you and I will not know if I will ever see you in heaven?

Prodigal, I am crying as I am writing you because you are in a wilderness and only Christ can help you.

Our Heavenly Father is the father in the "Lost Son" parable. He is waiting with unconditional love and compassion for us to come home. The letter is His Word and He is waiting for you to open it. His Word, the Bible is where we will get our wisdom that we need to deal with our prodigals and loved ones.

Keep watching over the horizon as we pray for each of our prodigal's to come home!

Close and Personal....

1. Have you blamed yourself for having a prodigal?

2. If you have gone after that prodigal do you now understand why we should not?

3. Have you had a prodigal come back to Him and also asking your forgiveness? How did you handle it? Were you like the father in the story or were you like the brother?

"My dear Heavenly Father, I want to tell you thank you for not ever giving up on me. I was once that prodigal daughter lost in the wilderness. While I was in that path of destruction you waited for me and prayed for me to come home. Thank you Father, for teaching me through your Word what it is to have love and compassion towards our wandering young adults. Thank you Father, for loving each one of us! May we depend on your strength and hold on in obedience to your truth knowing that you will work all things for our good. I love you Lord Jesus and I know that you will protect our children as they wander too. May you help me to be ready with open arms to welcome them back to you first and then us! Thank you for what you are going to do!"

In Him,

Join Elaine daily at her personal site.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Announcement About CWO

Some of you have written in inquiring about CWO. It is down temporarily because it is being switched to a new server. It will be up and running soon.

Sincerely,
Amy Bayliss

Café Chat November 22nd

Recently, in my women’s Bible study class, all attending were challenged to read Hebrews Chapter 11 daily. Although, I have not read Hebrews 11 daily, I have read it several times in the last few weeks. I have heard Hebrews 11 referred to as the “Hall of Faith” where many biblical figures are commended for their faith in God. Our church is doing a series right now on “Heroes of the Faith”, which I thought was so timely as I am reading about many “Heroes” in Hebrews 11. So today’s question gets its inspiration from Hebrews 11.

Who are some real life “Heroes” of the Faith that you know? Why would you refer to him/her as a “Hero”? (Although, it would be great if it was someone you personally know, it is ok to also name someone you do not know, but still think he/she a “Hero”)



Blessings,
Kim





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Morning and Night

It is good to give thanks to ADONAI and sing praises to Your Name ‘Elyon (Most High), to tell in the morning about Your grace and at night about Your faithfulness...For ADONAI, what You do makes me happy; I take joy in what Your hands have made. ~ Psalm 92:1,2,4

Have you ever become so lost in the thought of God's Word that HE unveiled beautiful truths amidst ordinary moments? I love when HE touches our lives with HIS glorious interruptions!

It is most necessary in this life, isn't it?... Receiving a touch from the LORD Himself?

One morning after a rich time in God's Word, I was met with such a touch. I walked outside with Psalm 92 weighing heavily upon my heart.

My backyard looked different to me somehow. It couldn't have changed that much since last night, right? I took in all the beauty of the flowers and their scents with great delight. I breathed in deeply the crisp air that early mornings offer, and felt a satisfaction that took me by surprise.

As I began to reflect on the above verse, I was reminded how King David had prepared for his beloved son Solomon’s future kingship; as well as the planning of the magnificent Temple that would be built not by his own hands, but by his son's.

King David had re-commissioned the Levites in the caring for the future temple of the LORD.


"They were to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening." ~ 1 Chronicles 23:30

I began to consider the Kingdom perks that come with giving thanks and praise to the LORD every morning and every night.

I grabbed a piece of sidewalk chalk that the wee monkeys had left lying around and wrote out in large letters:

  1. WORLDLY FEAR
  2. INGRATITUDE
  3. COMPLACENCY

I suppose you could say the Spirit of the LORD wrote with my very hand what my heart intuitively 'saw'. Beyond that, I truly believe HE wanted me to see with my own peepers what had been keeping me from rejoicing and trusting in His faithfulness.

As odd as it may sound, in that very moment, I was actually rejoicing as I beheld the words forming on the sidewalk. It was a gentle unveiling of a glorious Truth!

You see, the only remedy for this Tenacious Trio of joy-stealing worldly cares is our thankfulness, our praise and our recalling of HIS generous and faithful provision in our everyday lives.

And not only internally should we offer our praises, but OUT LOUD as I did! Just as HE wanted me to see with my eyes those words, HE also wants us to hear with our ears the very praises that excites and ignites our inner man!

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that the cares of this world would choke the Word in us and cause us to become unfruitful. (And Ladies, an unfruitful life is tantamount to an unsatisfied life.)

For as we call to mind and tell about His abounding grace and eternal faithfulness, we are intentionally choosing to cast or roll our cares upon the only One Who is able to bear, change, and use them!

We make an exchange!

Our Heavenly Father says...

Look to Me! Remind yourself of Who I AM and I will take that worldly fear and turn it into a REVERENTIAL FEAR and TRUST in ME alone (which is the beginning of wisdom)!

I will take your ingratitude and cause GLORIOUS THANKFULNESS to spring forth from your mouth!

And finally, I will heal your complacent heart and give you a fire...a SPIRITUAL FERVOR that burns with power from On High.

So what cares are choking His Life out of you at this very moment in time? Just knowing HIS word is not sufficient. However, acting upon It is!

Heaven’s Truth is unveiled to us by The Holy Spirit Who indwells every Believer.

Aren’t you glad that He has a direct deposit plan?

Thank you Abba YHWH for lifting our heads, opening our hands and pouring forth more of Your love into our lives each day. Be magnified in our living and thank You for Your guidance, Your grace and Your eternal faithfulness. I praise You ADONAI that, indeed, it is Your grace that wakes us up in the morning and it is Your faithfulness that puts us to bed at night...Blessed be The Name of the LORD!!

Quotable Quotes

"In many ways the spotlight is always on all of us as far as our morals, ethics, and responsibilities are concerned. By conducting our lives as if the camera is on, we will be living with integrity, which means we won't have to apologize for, or explain tomorrow, what we did today." ~ Zig Ziglar

“Trusting God is never an intangible act. It always involves planting a seed.” ~ Tony Evans

"We are made happy not by what we ACQUIRE, but by what we APPRECIATE." ~ Stuart McAlister

Join Carmen for more about the journey to Possessing Your Promised Land!


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Friday, November 21, 2008

Can God Trust You with Silence

The Internet Cafe welcomes Guest Contributor Sandy Cooper!


“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick…Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:1-3,6) NIV

Can you imagine the deafening silence in the household of Mary and Martha in the days following Lazarus' death? Silence, except, of course, for the questions expressed between sobs and moans...

"Where is Jesus?"

"Are you sure you told him Lazarus was very sick?"

"Why isn't he coming?"

"I thought he loved us..."

In June 1998, I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my precious 9-month-old son, Noah. Though I was surrounded by loved ones comforting and aiding in funeral preparations, the silence from God was deafening. Frightening, actually. For the first time in my life, I found myself questioning God's motives and His ability to act on my behalf.

Like Mary, I was comfortable worshiping at the feet of Jesus. I loved spending time in His presence, soaking up every word coming from His mouth. I was Jesus' friend and I knew it, never hesitating to ask Him for anything.

But there I was... instead of receiving the divine healing I prayed for, I was sitting in a hospital room singing lullabies to a shell of what used to be my baby. I was picking out caskets and floral arrangements and wording for an obituary. And in the chaos of the days that followed, all I heard from heaven was silence. Silence, except, of course, for the questions expressed between sobs and moans... "Where are you, Jesus?" "Don't you know that Noah died? "Why aren't you coming?" "I thought You loved me" "I thought I loved you..."

Oswald Chambers in his book My Utmost for His Highest says that God’s silences are actually His answers. That when we cannot hear Him, it’s because He is trusting us in the most intimate way possible. When there is absolute silence, He is leading us to even deeper revelation and into the mainstream of His purposes.

The mainstream of His purposes. I love that.

Though ten years ago, no one could have explained to me that God was bringing me to the mainstream of His purposes or giving me deeper revelation. Quite frankly, I could not have cared less about “purposes” or “revelation.” All I wanted was my baby.

During God’s silence, I pounded on Heaven's door and demanded a response. I screamed, fought, yelled, and cried. I beat my pillows and threw things across my kitchen. I wrestled with God—quite literally. With truths I previously thought to be sound, but now questioned. With clarification as to who He was, exactly...and what He promised and did not promise, exactly. With whether or not I could trust a God who would give me a good parking space at the mall, but would deny me the healing of my little boy.

All because of the silence.

Slowly, carefully, lovingly, God spoke. And He revealed that He never really left, but was holding me more tightly than ever. I heard Him say;

I love you.

I know how much it hurts.

Ask me anything you need to.

Don't give up.

I understand.

Trust Me.

Unlike Mary and Martha, I never received an explanation as to why Noah died or the miracle of his resurrection. The miracle I received instead was my resurrection.

God took me from a crumbled mess of tears and sorrow and transformed me into a woman full of joy and expectancy. He took me from one doubting the goodness and power of God to a woman who now falls on her face daily in awe of God's bigness. From a woman asking, "where are you Jesus?" to a woman who confidently shows others the way.

Can God trust you with silence?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to trust You even when I can’t hear You. Help me to remember the promise that You will never leave me or forsake me, even when I can’t feel You. Help me to walk by faith and not by sight. I submit every painful and confusing situation in my life to Your care and ask that you use it for my good. Allow me to be transformed into Your likeness, so I can fulfill the mainstream of Your purposes for my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Questions to Ponder:

1. What is your first response when you can’t hear God?

2. What might be some reasons that you can’t hear Him?


In Him,
Sandy

I am a wife of 15 years to my best friend, Jon and mother to four beautifully crafted children, one of whom passed away at the age of nine months and two of whom are adopted. I am a sometimes-freelance writer and editor, health nut and fitness buff. I love to sing and dance in my kitchen with my kids and be around people who make me laugh. My goal in life is to someday humbly stand before my Heavenly Father with my precious family and hear Him say, "Well done good and faithful servant."


For more on hearing God’s voice, visit my blog www.godspeakstoday.blogspot.com

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just a Brief Mention in the Bible

It's only a brief mention.

But it's a brief mention in The Bible. Not exactly the mention they'd have hoped for those ladies, Euodia and Syntyche. If they were here today, I'm sure that they would at least quietly mention that "all the work we did, and he mentions THIS!"

If you are reading through Philippians, and you blink or sneeze, you'll miss the mention of them.

It's that brief.

"Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good news. They worked with Clement and the rest of my co-workers whose names are written in the Book of Life."
Philippians 4:2-3

I'm fascinated with these women of the Bible who reveal themselves amidst the pages, if only we'll take the time to discover them. What fascinates me most is that they are WOMEN, just as we are. Sure, they were living 2,000 years ago, but the stories they reveal are our stories.

Take Euodia and Syntyche, it could be Lucy and Ethel, or you and I. What we know of them is that they BOTH have been encouraging and helpful to the Apostle Paul. We know that they were instrumental in this new church in Macedonia. But as we all know, women have a tendency...

You know what I mean. The tendency to let our differences get the best of us and threaten so much more than we ever intended. That is exactly what is revealed here in Philippians. We have no idea what they were arguing about, but it was significant enough that Paul mentions it in his letter to the whole church of Philippi.

OUCH!

If they had access to cable news, I'm sure that this would have made the ticker along the bottom of the screen. It's big enough for Paul to call them out.

We can assume that these ladies were each passionate and effective in their own rights. They had brought many to the church, but word of their disagreement reaches Paul in Rome. It disappoints him and he knows that the Christian community does not need this kind of division. Smart man that Paul was! He did not ignore the issue, he knew better than that. Instead, he urges them to reconcile.

Can we see ourselves in these two ladies so briefly mentioned in the Bible, but from whom we can glean so much wisdom?

Ever find yourself in a hurtful situation? Situations of unresolved issues, anger, bitterness, and division. That is EXACTLY what these ladies were engaged in....and it was starting to affect those around them, and although we have no way of knowing for certain, it was likely causing them each deep personal pain and was burdening their spirits.

Divisions, as we all know, can tear apart families, churches, communities and even nations. We know that these women were good women. They were working hard for the Kingdom and now were in the middle of something that was going to cause divisiveness and conflict within the community.

We see it everyday.

We see it in our families, and sadly it seems to surface even more at the holidays when we come together. It's in those times that gossip and petty differences can wiggle their way into what should be a time of peaceful, beautiful memories. Instead, it's interrupted by these conflicts that can consume us. As women, we need to take the advice of Paul this season and become peacemakers.

I know, there are sighs going up around the blogosphere as women read....

"You want me to do what??"
"You haven't met my brother-in-law!"
"I've tried being the peacemaker, and I'm done."

Paul continues on in this chapter to remind us, Euodia and Syntyche, and each of us reading today. Conflict is our opportunity to demonstrate grace, love, mercy, patience and forgiveness. The forgiveness that Christ himself had, and the reality of His presence in our lives. It's an opportunity.... the SAME opportunity that it was then, an opportunity to love each other. “Conflict is an opportunity for us to love each other.”

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again. REJOICE! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember the Lord is coming soon.
Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about these things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all that you have learned and received from me~everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:4-9

In this, Paul provides so eloquently the attitudes that we'll need to change these circumstances.

We have to rejoice, (verse 4)
We'll have to be patient (verse 5)

We'll have to pray and pray some more (verse 6)
We'll have to dwell on the positives and not the problems (verse 8)
We'll have to move on in obedience(verse 9)

I've looked and looked again, and Paul mentions nothing about it being easy.

We are standing on the edge of the holidays. Most of us are working hard for His Kingdom and yet we find ourselves in relationships just like Euodia and Syntyche experienced. Take the urging from Paul to resolve it this holiday season. Perhaps it's not you who is directly involved in the conflict. Paul also calls on Syzygus (4:3) to "help him." Pray about how you can bring peace and healing to those around you.

It likely won't be easy. It will mean some serious praying and letting go, but the issues are not going to resolve themselves. We need to be the voices who seek peaceful resolutions. We need to take the advice of Paul to be peacemakers who seek to reconcile and stop a cycle of division.

So as we move into a holiday season that can have us facing challenging relationships, we pray:

Father,

Thank you for speaking to us through the voices of those who have walked before us. Help me to gain wisdom and understanding as I read your Word. Help me to resolve any conflicts in my own life and to be a peacemaker where you need me to be. I know that conflicts distract me from the complete LOVE that you give. Father I ask that you help me to live as your son Jesus did, ever the peacemaker. As we move into this holiday season, help me to always rejoice and be patient with those I share these times with. Help me to focus on the positives and not dwell in negativity, which is often so easy to do in my humanness. Father, help me to move on in obedience, knowing that you are with me each and every step of the way. As I ask all of these things, I thank you that you always hear my heart's prayers. As I await the arrival of your Son's birth, I cling to these promises.

Amen

May the peace of the season be yours in renewed and reconciled relationships.







Join Lori daily at her personal blogspot, where she can be found learning each day from the women who have walked before us.









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