"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflecting on Challenging Questions

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way


From Casting Crowns "If We Are the Body"

I remember as a child I always had as soft spot for missionaries, likely because many in my family had served the Lord on foreign fields and I grew up hearing about their lives in China or Africa or Cayman Brac. At one time I thought one day I, too, would go overseas and share the gospel, but when I got married, it seemed pretty obvious that serving as a foreign missionary wasn't going to happen. Afterall Andrew had his business here, and it just didn't seem the Lord was leading us in the missions direction. I wasn't too disappointed. I'm not a huge fan of radical change ... my friends and family even laugh at my expense sometimes because I wear old clothes or use things 'til they wear out. I have replacements and new clothes nearby, but I wait until the old is all used. And that's a great joke to them ... even to Andrew. And I don't mind as it IS one of my endearing quirks. *ahem* So I don't like radical or even little changes all that much -- at least, not until I realize how good those changes were or are. So staying in America near my family and friends and enjoying "the good life" here was A-OK with me!

But as 2008 wraps up, I have to say missions is back on my mind. I don't know what God has in store for us, but He has been challenging my heart greatly the last several months and changing me in many ways.

I heard this song recently and really listened to the words instead of the somewhat potentially-distracting beat. Wow, did they speak to me! Especially when I consider what is going on in the world presently, and how God has tenderized my heart for the Arab/Muslim world the last 15 months. Before October 2007, I really didn't think much of Arabs or Muslims (kind of apathetic) unless it was a passing thought of "why, oh, why do they hate us so." Even then, that didn't consume my thoughts much.

It's amazing how God changes your heart and puts great love and tenderness and compassion in it towards people who are vastly different from you. I hope I keep these words in mind and reach out to all people, not picking and choosing based on merits that I think are acceptable. Who am I to judge that? I pray I can love all people.

So reread the words to the song and ask yourself those questions. Really makes you think, doesn't it? Are we doing all we can or are we a part of that Body that has become weak from non-use?

Matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Edit: Wanted to add: THEY CAME TODAY! In the mail!

Monday, December 29, 2008


This is something I posted a few months ago when I was reading Chasing the Lion. It's a quote from that book. Someone brought it to my attention today and I thought I'd repost it. There are a lot of difficult things going on in the world now, and this was a good reminder to me. Our help comes from the Lord. He is the only One able to make lasting changes.

"The circumstances you complain about become chains that imprison you. And worship is the way out. Worship reframes our problems and refocuses our lives. It helps us get through the bad days by reminding us of how good God is. And when you are worshipful, your eyes are more open to notice the miracles that are happening all around you all the time. One way or the other, your focus determines your reality. The outcome of your life will be determined by your outlook on life." (pg. 70)

May I always remember how good God is!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Slave Is Our Brother

While still in the Christmas spirit, I wanted to reflect on a verse from “O Holy Night” that really spoke to my heart yet again this year. It’s especially meaningful to me since becoming further aware of the starvation and terrorism taking place with my American tax dollars. Makes me sad. Especially when I see these pictures and many more like them. No matter what you think of Hamas’ tactics, you cannot starve the children. Only if you have a hard heart. Jesus would feed the children.

Come on, Israel! Come on, Egypt! (These are our allies, Americans!) OPEN THE BORDERS! Let the people eat!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Jesus said to feed your enemies not starve them!

Obey your Lord!

December books

Children of Hope by Vernon Brewer with his daughter, Noel Brewer Yeatts -- This book discusses the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa and the civil wars and other factors on that continent that contribute to HIV's spread. The authors seek to portray the huge need by presenting the faces and stories of hurting people so that American Christians will be more compassionate in reaching out to the Africans with Jesus' love. The Brewers seek to show us the reality of many people in the real world by declaring, "The world we live in is not the 'real world.' We live in a bubble; a world more like Disneyland. The rest of the world is reality." (pg. 92)

Some pages that were noteworthy to me include the following:

Page 102 -- how the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) "recruits" soldiers -- kidnaps children from their families, shames them by having them kill siblings or friends and raping them so they will be too guilty to return home

Page 130 questions whether the response to the genocide in Rwanda (800,000 people dead within 100 days) was "so muted because of the prejudice against the people of Africa. Maybe it is because we've seen too many images of women and children with dirty faces, dust-covered bodies and wearing torn clothing. ... We forget these are people who feel and hurt just like us. God created each of them with gifts and a purpose. They are special to our Creator, and they must become valued by us."

Wow, when the author started putting it that way ... man! How come I thought these people were just used to this kind of living so maybe they don't hurt as badly as I would in that same situation? (blush, blush) When I heard about these children who were heading households because their parents either died or were too sick to care for them ... did I forget that their hearts were hurting, breaking, weeping over the loss of their loved ones?

Sadly, evangelical Christians in America tend to be the least likely to support the African AIDS crisis! Perhaps we feel the problem is too overwhelming or maybe we have prejudices against people with AIDS. (It's a homosexual disease, right? And those immoral heterosexuals pass it along to others. Tsk, tsk....they deserve to be sick because of their sinfulness, right?)

And we have the audacity to think of ourselves as "real" Christians? We know the true teachings of Jesus?

The same compassionate Jesus who never denied helping out someone who was sick. Who was MOVED with compassion ... moved enough so that He did something without asking first, "Have you been sinful? If so, I cannot help you." No! Jesus said the sick people need the physician and He came to heal the sick. He came to heal people from their sinful conditions. He was merciful to those who needed help. His harshest words were to those judgmental, self-righteous types who didn't understand how this so-called Messiah could associate with society's biggest sinners!

One of my favorite stories from the book was about Nildo. God used this poor orphan boy in Brazil to break Noel's heart when she was just a teenager. The Brewers were able to help him and he adored them for rescuing him. A touching part of the story was when Vernon was able to return to Brazil the following year and gave Nildo some gifts from the family including a framed family picture. He hugged and kissed the photo "and started telling everyone around him in loud Portuguese, 'These are my American sisters! They took me off the streets.'" (pg. 163)

I read most of this book while at McDonalds, and, boy, did I have to hold back tears many times!

I have more I could write about this book, but I may address those things another time. For now I want to leave with a quote from Shane Claiborne in The Irresistible Revolution:

"Over and over, when I ask God why all of these injustices are allowed to exist in the world, I can feel the Spirit whisper to me, 'You tell me why we allow this to happen. You are my body, my hands, my feet.'"

Defining Moments
by Vernon Brewer -- This book highlights the story of when God put his compassion in the author's heart on a missions trip to Mexico at the age of 17. Each chapter is full of how God has worked through Mr. Brewer's life through cancer, through ministry here and abroad in many remote places. I greatly enjoyed the stories from India, Burma, Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. I was touched greatly with the goodness and power of God!

Two quotes from the book that I wanted to share:

From Vernon Brewer's prayer: "You have changed my life! Don't ever let me lose sight of what's important to You! Help me to be sensitive to Your moving and to where You want me to go. Help me not to look inside, but to look upward. Give me strength; don't let me grow weary." (pg. 199) --- I want this to be my prayer to the Lord each day!

From Robert Pierce, founder of World Vision: "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

Things to remember: love touches, gets involved; Jesus was "moved with compassion," and Jesus was willing to make people well.

Christianity Today International Study Series: Islam -- This series is supposed to be done within a small-group discussion, however, I wanted to read it for myself. It has interviews by Muslims and former Muslims as well as others who know some things about Islam. A few things that stood out to me . . .

1. We are to reach out to all people, all nationalities and not "hunker down with folks just like us." Jesus reached out to everyone and told us to go into all the world. This includes reaching out to people we may be unfamiliar with and people we may even be prejudice against. (pg. 131)

2. The chapter asks, "Are you ready for the long haul of sharing the love of Jesus with a Muslim you know over many years?" (pg. 137)

3. Americans "have to confront our individualism and space issues" in order to reach out to others. Also "effective evangelism among Muslims means incarnating the love of Jesus through friendship, patience, humility and tenacity. 'It comes down to our relationship with Jesus Christ.'" (pg. 141)

4. "Your enduring, hospitable friendship with a Muslim is probably the greatest witness you can have for Jesus." (pg. 147)

The book gives the story of the Good Samaritan as one of the best examples of cross-cultural hospitality. Remember Jews and Samaritans detested one another so for a Samaritan to reach out to a Jew was a huge deal.

Mission Al Jazeera by Josh Rushing -- After spending 15 years in the US Marines, Josh Rushing resigned and started working for Al Jazeera English. This book tells much of his story. Some parts I enjoyed included the following:

Josh talking with the Al Jazeera journalists and producers about cultural understanding. The "struggle for the Arab soul" and what it means to be Arab was interesting. (pg. 44)

I love how Josh merely wanting to learn their language and about their culture was touching to them. Josh "was surprised to see how easy it was to shed the Ugly-American image."

Re: Isolationism and the "fear of all things foreign" -- pg.45. Josh says, "Even a small dose of international travel goes a long way toward curing this small-mindedness."

I enjoyed the story of Salama on pages 93 and 94 especially when he finally arrives in America, gets so involved in his guitar lessons that "I'm just so wrapped up in this that I've kind of forgotten what is going on in the rest of the world."

Page 101 -- Josh's take on how he was portrayed in the movie Control Room (This was how I learned about Josh. I saw this movie online.)

Page 102 -- "I think it should all be shown, the dead on both sides. In America, war isn't hell, we don't see blood, we don't see suffering. All we see is patriotism, and we support the troops. It's almost like war has some brand marketing here. Al Jazeera shows it all. It turns your stomach, and you remember there's something wrong with war."

Josh sees himself as a "cultural bridge" so people can understand Americans and we can understand Arabs (pg. 110)

Al Jazeera's intentions to raise people to a position where they are human beings (pg. 140)

Interestingly enough, Israelis regularly appear on Al Jazeera to share their sides of the story. However, Americans often think this is terrorist TV so they refuse to show their side on Al Jazeera. Josh says this is a huge mistake on our part. (see pg. 160)

The pages about the US being "the big fat hypocrite" were good (see pgs. 162, 163) -- preaching human rights, but then denying them to certain people is more like something other countries do than the self-righteous USA, right?

Pages 182-184 discuss America's "schizophrenic image" in the Arab world. Very very interesting!! (And sounds like things my Syrian friend has told me ages ago!)

Page 197 tells how - surprise, surprise -- a lot of Americans don't care about international news. Josh argues that we need to realize other countries' perceptions of us do matter!

"Arab blood runs thick" -- Josh discusses how Arabs care for the Palestinian cause so greatly and how any aggressive action often ties into Israel in their minds. He mentions our side "They're not Iraqi, why do they care?" and how the "idea of Pan-Arabism and their interconnectedness is simply lost" on us. (pg. 200)

I think I really enjoyed this book because I have found the message of it true. We need to have open discussions with others. Instead of desiring NASCAR for 24/7, we should make an effort to find out about other cultures and what other people dream and what their goals are in life. Make an effort to befriend people unlike ourselves and learn to respect various opinions and perspectives. I know Josh strongly encouraged this type of dialogue and I know firsthand how rewarding such a friendship can be. Indeed, I count it among the best gifts from God to now have Arab Muslim friends who live in Damascus, Syria.

Rethinking Holy Land is "a study in salvation geography" by Marlin Jeschke -- Considering God's promise to Abraham, words from Psalm 37 and using texts from Jesus (Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth) and Paul's words about Abraham's descendants inheriting the whole earth (Romans 4:13), the author makes a compelling case for making all lands holy. "This points up a fundamental privilege of all people who heed the call to sanctify the land in which they dwell. Since their God is the God of all the earth, they can be a pilgrim people and be at home with God wherever destiny calls them, and sanctify the land wherever they live." (pg. 144) The author gives an example of his people, the Mennonites.

Some topics and pages of interest to me:

God's commands to the Jews in exile (pg. 70), Constantine's role in politicizing Christianity (pg. 111), the shame of Christianity (pg. 118), Christian history repeating Deuteronomy and Joshua (pg. 121), how Christians produced modern Zionism (pg. 123), a special dispensation for Israel (pg. 124), holding Israel to a higher standard (pg. 127), "the dilemma of Judaism and Zionism" (pg. 130), salvation geography's Biblical texts (pgs. 40 & 151), misplaced confidence in violence (pg. 154).

Very interesting book that brought up some things I have never considered or heard. Need to reread to better understand this new (to me) perspective. Very worthwhile.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, Born this happy morning; Jesus, to thee be glory given! Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing! Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Luke 2

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Lord, if You are willing ... "

Luke 5

12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him.

Of course I feel much the same as this leper. I really want to be healed by the Lord. I ask Him often, "Lord, if you are willing ...," but so far He is teaching me to praise Him even when I am hurting.

Just today I was reading the Bible and this rebuke from Jesus to Peter stood out to me. It made me evaluate my wishes. Do I have in mind the things of God or do I have in mind only what I want because I am hurting and selfish? I was thinking of how my back had been aching, but then realized how much Christ hurt for me on the cross. My aches are so small compared to what He endured for me.

Matthew 16:23b-26

"...You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." 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? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"

I want to be willing to give up my own life for His sake. It's hard to pray this right now, but I want the Lord to be magnified in my life. I want to be satisfied with what He has for me. Most of all, I want to be faithful to praise Him no matter what I go through. In the good and the bad, I want to praise the name of my Lord.

This is the day the Lord had made. I will be glad and rejoice in it. I can rejoice in the Lord always, and in everything give thanks because this is the will of God for me. Am I going to trust my loving Father? Please, Lord, make me fit for your kingdom.

And can I add how much I LOVE the expression on the face of the little boy in this picture! Such raw joy!! Wow, it makes me happy just seeing his face! :-)

Truly He has made us glad! Praise the Lord!

The God of Heaven Loves Me!

(The nativity at my house & Michael's picture)

Zephaniah 3

17 The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

Someone read this verse at our church Sunday morning and it just blessed me so much to think of God this way. It's really precious. I hope it encourages you to realize how the God of heaven loves you and dotes over you as a beloved child.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Emmanuel - "God With Us"

Isaiah 7:14

14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Matthew 1

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Love Gives!

I am reading a book I purchased many months ago, What the Bible Is All About, a handbook by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears. I read parts of it a while back and just recently picked it up and hope to read it a bit most days so I can eventually finish it! What a goal! (It has over 700 pages.)

I was reading the chapter on Esther and came across this question:

"Why has God allowed me to live at this particular hour?"

I would like to further expand upon this and also wonder "out loud" why God has allowed me to live where I do and have the blessings and privileges that He has given me. I've been reading Children of Hope by Vernon Brewer and his daughter Noel. It's about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the many civil wars within Africa and how it has particularly affected the children. Did you realize in a span of just 100 days approximately 800,000 people were killed when two tribes clashed in Rwanda? That's nearly a million people gone in just over 3 months!

And suffering abounds elsewhere in the world from the Hmong people hiding in Laotian jungles to North Koreans persecuted by their government to Gazans starved by cruel Zionists and fellow Arabs, on and on and on. I'm not saying we don't suffer in America. We have much suffering with our families being destroyed by addictions and immorality and cultural decay and so forth. But at least most of us don't have to worry about not eating today. Or not having clean water. Or a basic education. A warm place to sleep. Electricity. We even have toys! Cars, computers, books, ipods, lots and lots and lots of stuff! We are a blessed nation!

So why did God have me be born now? And why here in America to this family that I did not choose for myself? Why am I blessed materially when many others are starving? And some are wearing home-made flipflops (see above) while we have choices of Adidas, Nike, Reebok, New Balance and the Wal-mart brand to name a few!

As my preacher challenges us often, I'll leave you with this Brian classic:

"How many of you know God doesn't pass us the gravy so we can drown in it?"

And this from Jesus . . .

Matthew 25

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"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.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Perhaps Jesus was serious when He told us to love one another. Love isn't a feeling.

Love gives!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We Are The Reason

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

From: "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

There is so much hurt in the world. It even strikes close to home when friends and family go through things. Makes my heart ache for them. Makes me desperately cling to my Father ... and maybe this is why He allows these things to happen. Unfortunately when things are going well, it's often easy to forget our need for God. I want the Lord to come dwell in my house. I want Him to clean me and make me pleasing in His sight. I want Him to use me as He sees fit. Please, Father, help me to know you more and love you more. I want to please you with my life.

I finally found the reason for living
It’s in giving every part of my heart to Him
And all that I do every word that I say
I’ll be giving my all just for Him, for Him

We are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

From "We Are The Reason" by Avalon

Friday, December 12, 2008


Finished it! The book I mentioned recently... uh, let's see. It's The Complete Guide to the Bible by Stephen Miller. It had 510 pages, but the writing was big and it had colorful pictures throughout! I read the last half of it while walking the elliptical here in the house. It made the time pass quickly and I got through that book much faster than if I'd merely read a few pages each evening. As the name implies (sort of), it's a summary of each book along with certain facts concerning the teachings of the book. I didn't always agree with the author as his interpretation was a bit different than I was used to, but overall it was a nice read. Now I can read some of the new books that I've been getting lately in the mail. I think I'm only waiting on one that I ordered a few days ago.

Today I went to Wal-mart. I had time to spare, needed a lot of stuff for the family party next Saturday and I was in one of those browsing-at-leisure moods so I left home around 11 AM. I'd eaten an early lunch since I'd only had carrot, broccoli and beet juice for breakfast. I made a quick stop at my workplace and then was at Wal-mart around 11:30ish. I noticed gas was $1.55 ($1.52 with Walmart shopping card) .. not cheap enough so I thought I'd get it elsewhere later. When I came out of Wal-mart two-and-a-half hours later (yes!), gas dropped 6 cents so with the Wal-mart shopping card, I paid $1.46/gallon. I filled up my car.

I looked at many many items and bought 39. No, I didn't count them. It was printed on the end of my receipt in rather big writing. I enjoyed looking around and actually marking most everything off my list. I ran into an old high school classmate's mom and talked to Mrs. Evans for a few minutes. It was good seeing her.

Last night Andrew and Will went to play basketball, but Will sprained his ankle after about 30 minutes of play. When Andrew dropped off Will, Michael came over and said in a matter-of-fact way, "So, Dad, you hurt your ankle again, huh?" He then acted as if he were going to massage it, but Will stopped him before he did that. Michael was helping to get off the other tennis shoe and said, "Let's see if this baby can walk." Since Steph didn't have an ice pack or ice, Will used a bag of frozen greenbeans or stir fry to ice his ankle.

Sunday night we went to Michael's church Christmas program. Michael really sang out and seemed to enjoy the program. He asked me Tuesday, "Did you like my play?" He was still talking about various aspects of it. It was about a spelling bee, but very Christmasy, of course. The contestants spelled various names and descriptions of Jesus.

Andrew's friend, Al, was over here Wednesday night. He had graduation rehearsal on Thursday morning, and Southeastern is quite a ways from his home in Lynchburg, VA so he asked to stay here. We ate supper at Andrew's parents' house since Al loves FIL's barbeque. We talked a good while and then Andrew and Al went to the basement to play pool. We watched some of Al's scuba diving video from his trip to Aruba.

Yesterday we got 2.75 inches of rain. Since Andrew wasn't working, we went to Ruby Tuesday for lunch and then rode over to the old mall and walked around for a bit. Went by Goody's since it's going out of business. We didn't buy anything there. I found a purse at Sears that Andrew got me for Christmas. Very no-nonsense, smallish, black purse -- my style! I saw my friend Denise for about 15 minutes. She works at Victoria's Secret and I happened to see her as we were passing that store. I had not seen her in literally months so it was great talking to her for a few minutes.

I sent off my Christmas cards on Monday. I didn't do as many this year ... 39, I think. I have gotten a few in the mail this week. I really enjoy going to the mailbox this time of year and seeing pictures especially!

Last night I wrote "Hey, Christian! Remember this?" on my other blog. I discussed some of these things with Al while he was in town. I'm trying to find out why Christian Zionists blindly support a group of people who are oppressive and murderers when God is so clearly not that way. In fact, He sternly addresses Israel in the Old Testament and one example is in Isaiah 1. Here are just a few of those verses.

15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood;

16 wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,

17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.

I think I've rambled enough for now. Oh, I absolutely loved Survivor last night! Andrew watched it tonight on the internet, and I watched the last 20 minutes again. I'll post this now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I must admit that Jesus has been all those things to me lately. He has been a Wonderful Counselor -- giving me instruction on how to deal with situations. He especially made Philippians 4 (see below) more real to me. That goes along with the Prince of Peace description because as He promised, when we are anxious about nothing and instead present our prayers to Him with thanksgiving, the peace of God does come down to us ... and, really, it is beyond human understanding. It gives a quiet, inner strength and joy as well. Have I arrived? Goodness, no. It's often a daily, sometimes hourly struggle with worry and fear, but when I remember the faithfulness of God AND the fact that I put my trust in Him - the Mighty God and the caring, loving Father -- I have that sweet peace in my heart.

I am eager to see how God will work and glorify Himself. I am thankful I serve a God Who cares and Who is involved wholeheartedly in the affairs of humans. I don't serve one who sits back with indifference.

My Lord cares. He's involved in all the details.

I love this from a book I am presently reading. Concerning Job, the author states: "Job now realizes that all his deep-sounding philosophical questions about suffering are the mutterings of a fool. He can't begin to understand why God lets good people suffer. And he doesn't have the creativity or the foresight to think of ways God could actually use suffering to help the sufferer, as well as to help others." (pg. 153 --The Complete Guide to the Bible by Stephen M. Miller)

In a way it goes along with something I read this week in the Voice of the Martyrs publication for this month:

"Some of those who persecute the Christians in Vietnam are turning to Christ. We receive reports of Vietnamese policemen interrupting meetings, following Christians to a river baptism, or interrogating men and women in a police station. When the people they arrest show the mercy, grace and love of the Savior, these authorities are puzzled, then stunned. These captors become captives of the kingdom of forgiveness. (How often we forget that those who insult and harass Christians are our mission field.)" -- pg. 12

That part in parenthesis was a wake-up call to me! How I long to snap back at those who insult me and those I love. Oh, that I will be filled with God's love and forgiveness instead!

The Lord has been using these words to help me recently.

Philippians 4

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Even if you cannot rejoice in your circumstances, you can always rejoice in the goodness of the Lord! Give this passage a try and see how God will reward your obedience with that unexplainable peace.

Monday, December 1, 2008


First I'll tell you that we already got 2 Christmas greetings. One was a postcard from Andrew's friends in Germany and the other from Robert Sharpe addressed to "Susanne Tuck & Family." You'll remember I got a picture of this man and his family (wife, 3 kids) last year and didn't know who they were! At least this year the picture greeting came in a business envelope for Robert Sharpe, Attorney here in Graham. Why I am on his Christmas list, I don't know. His wife looks Korean and the children are surely cute.

Okay... as for spies, about a month or so ago I read a book about Israel and wrote some things about the book per my dad's instructions. I guess he didn't want to read the book and thought I could sum it up for him. So I sent it to him and a few others and also mentioned it here briefly. Anyway, I recall reading about how some Christians in America sponsored the immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel and also how some ladies' fellowships sponsor poor Jews like widows who were too poor to buy their Passover meals and so forth. I remember that made an impression on me because I'd never heard of it before.

ANYWAY, fast forward about a month and what do I get in today's mail? Something from the International Fellowship for Jews and Christians and the outside envelope has a picture of an elderly Jewish woman with the writing, "You can feed an elderly Jewish widow in Israel for only $2.40." And then inside it has a letter from an orthodox rabbi who is appealing to Christians who want to help rescue Jews and so forth.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THIS HAPPENING?? Are there spies in my computer? Do any of you know how this works? Spyware? It's just weird that I wrote about this topic in late October, and today I got this by snail mail. Weird. How'd they find my home?

'Tis December

As the Christmas season quickly approaches, I want to post something I saw on a church sign the other day as I drove home from ALDI.


I really liked that!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Whom have I in heaven but you?

I was sad this evening about the condition of a loved one, and the Lord brought a phrase to mind, as a prayer that I prayed to Him: "whom have I in heaven but you," and I found it in this chapter. I liked the whole thing so I wanted to include it here. Ever felt this way? It seems the wicked prosper and the ones who seek to obey the Lord struggle! I love the reminder at the end of this passage. I hope it encourages you as it did me.

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.
1Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.

3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.

5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.

7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.

8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.

9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.

10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.

11 They say, "How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?"

12 This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.

13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

14 All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.

15 If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed your children.

16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me

17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.

19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!

20 As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,

22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

Thank you, Lord, for the peace you whisper to my heart. I praise you for how you will work in hearts and lives. I am eager to see how you will bring people to yourself. I trust you for this. Thank you for holding my hand and guiding me. You are my strength and refuge. Thank you, Lord, thank you!

Christmas Cards in November & Ordering Books

So yesterday I finally ordered the guidebook that I was wanting. Since I couldn't find it at the local bookstores, I ordered it at Amazon.com. It was several dollars cheaper anyway so I'm glad it wasn't available at Barnes & Noble or Books A Million. The "bad" part is that since I was ordering the guidebook, I went ahead and found other books from my "to read" list and ended up ordering 8 books all total. One was for Andrew ... some Navy SEAL wrote it. I am excited to receive my new books in the coming days. It will be exciting going to the mailbox and finding them there. :-)

Speaking of mailbox, I got a picture Christmas card from Robert Sharpe again this year. I do not know this man, yet he sent us a picture this year and last year of his family. The envelope says he is a Graham attorney, but WHY send us a picture of his family for Christmas? And even though it's not even December, his was not our first Christmas card. Ha, ha. We got a Christmas postcard from Andrew's friend Scott and his wife Heather who are with Youth Compass in Germany. I really love getting cards and good mail so this time of the year is especially fun for me!

Back to books, I had to find room for my new books so I cleared space on my bookshelf today. I need a bigger one, but don't really have space for it. Does that mean I need a bigger house? I used to only read library books or books I borrowed from friends, but ever since Family Christian Bookstore opened in town, I have bought a few books every now and then. And of course last night I went wild buying books on Amazon.com!

Here are the books I purchased.

1 "Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender"
Kenneth R. Timmerman

2 "Rethinking Holy Land: A Study in Salvation Geography"
Marlin Jeschke

3 "Lonely Planet Syria & Lebanon (Lonely Planet Syria and Lebanon) (Multi Country Guide)"
Lara Dunston; Terry Carter

4 "Unleashing the Warrior Within: Using the 7 Principles of Combat to Achieve Your Goals"
Richard J. Machowicz

5 "Mission Al-Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World"
Josh Rushing

6 "Whose Promised Land?"
Colin Chapman

7 "God & Government"
Charles W. Colson

8 "Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ"
Brother Andrew

Can you tell which one Andrew wanted? Four of them are from Amazon and the others are from private sellers. Also I ordered 3 books for Andrew a couple weeks ago from Focus on the Family. One of those was about Pistol Pete, but I can't recall the others at this time. I told Andrew we will give each other books this Christmas!

Speaking of which, I need to decorate for Christmas soon. I did change my outside flags today so they reflect the Christmas season. Now for hauling the decorations and tree out of the attic. It seems like we just did this!

Epicenter - book review

Just finished reading Joel C. Rosenberg's Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future. This is one of the library books I mentioned the other day. After skimming through some of the chapters, I was curious about the author's views of the end times since he based much of this book on future headlines to watch for based on "the third lens," Scripture. Using mostly Ezekiel 38 & 39, the author discusses things such as a czar rising in Russia, raising fears of a new cold war and also Russia's coming alliance with Iran and how those nations will lead an attack against Israel (war of Gog and Magog) among other things.

Since Joel believes the Genesis 12:1-3 promise to Abraham about blessing Israel holds true even today, I was interested when I saw on page 242 that the author wrote the following:

According to the Scriptures, blessing Israel means

  • praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)
  • bringing good news of God's love to the afflicted (Isaiah 61:1)
  • rebuilding the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61:4)
  • caring for the poor (Deuteronomy 15:11)
  • being a "light to the nations" of the Middle East (Isaiah 49:6, NASB) -- that is, blessing Israel's neighbors and her enemies, not just Israel herself

Pretty interesting book. I'll be eager to see if the author is correct as I scan the news headlines in the coming months or years.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

November Stuff

I've been staying pretty busy this month. I went to SC to visit my grandparents a couple weekends ago. I had not been all year so it was great seeing Mema and Pop again. The pictures in my "Happy Thanksgiving!" post are from our trip to Falls Park when we were in Greenville. I enjoy walking down there.

Today we ate Thanksgiving lunch at my sister's house. Even Berkie and Megan came down from the mountains to join us. It was great! A very nice surprise seeing them and their puppy, Stella. We had a great time eating, talking, laughing, looking at Black Friday ads, watching Michael sword fight to "Carol of the Bells" (instrumentals only, please) and so forth. The weather was pleasant so after lunch a few of them rode bikes and we sat outside to enjoy the fresh air. The food was plentiful and good. Steph's corn casserole was probably my favorite. Andrew smoked the turkey yesterday. Other things we had included mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, green beans, corn bread (Mexican), stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, biscuits, sweet potato casserole, pecan pie, brownies, cheese cake, pumpkin chocolate chip bread and cookies. Yes, lots of food!

I have to get busy with Christmas preparations soon. I have not put up my decorations or done any shopping. :-/ I don't know yet if I will write cards. I need to get those out of the attic.

I've been reading in some travel books lately that I found at the library. I have gotten some pretty good tips for traveling. I need to order a travel guide that I cannot find in local bookstores. Also I've been reading a couple other books this month. I am nearly finished one of them, but the other will take a while longer. It's about the books of the Bible. Really cool book with colorful pictures, glossy pages and interesting points and summaries of each book. I found it at the local Christian bookstore. Today I read about Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Songs of Solomon. I'll update when I am finished that book and the one I got from the library. I won't do a review of the travel books since I am not reading everything in those. Some sections (e.g. cruises) I am skipping altogether.

God has been so good to me. I am blessed and just want to close this post thanking Him for how He is strong and faithful and encouraging to me. Truly He spoils me, I think. :-)

Yep! I look spoiled for sure!
Susanne and Michael
October 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Falls Park
Greenville, SC -- November 2008

Psalm 100

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Review

Once An Arafat Man by Taysir "Tass" Saada with Dean Merrill is a true story of how a former PLO sniper was transformed by the grace of God. In this book Tass shares how he was born in Gaza, grew up as a refugee in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, fought as one of Yasser Arafat's men and how he eventually moved to the United States. Of note to me was when he talked of the Palestinian children who were deprived of their childhoods because of the oppression they were under and also because they were taught to hate and fight back at such a young age. In fact, as an older teenager, he was in charge of toughening up the 9 through 13 year old boys at a Fatah training camp in Jordan (see pg. 43).

Also interesting from page 46 is that the PLO had arguments within its ranks whether they wanted to set up Palestine as a Muslim-only state or welcome people of other faiths.

I enjoyed reading Tass' impression when he first came to America. He was delighted how he was not referred to as "refugee" or "immigrant" such as he had in Saudi Arabia. He said the Americans were "congenial and open." He even waited for people to put down the Palestinians and praise the Israelis, but that subject never came up. (see page 68)

His meeting with FBI agents questioning him on his involvement in Fatah was rather amusing. (pg. 80)

Tass had been in the United States living as a somewhat secular Muslim for many years before the Lord saved him. By the way, it was cute when Tass realized Jesus was a Jew since he grew up hating and killing Jews. After a while God sent him on the road sharing his story with others. He stressed how important it was for Christians to care about Muslims, and God guided him along the way to pastors and leaders who were interested in this work.

Of special interest was reading of Taysir's meeting with Arafat only 6 months before Arafat's death. He was able to share with his former hero how his life had been radically change from one of hate to one of love.

Also interesting from page 158 -- Taysir asked the tour guide in Israel if they could visit Ramallah since it was only 6 miles north of where they were touring. She politely replied that wasn't a good idea for tour groups. It made me realize that the Israelis want to keep evidence of their settlements and continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza from the eyes of tourists, and I don't blame them. I'm sure it would sway public opinion away from their favor if people could see the truth of what they are doing in the name of "security against terrorism."

When Tass and his wife later went back to Gaza to help his people, he went with no weapons this time except the ones from God -- love and compassion and practical service. On page 188, Tass writes, "We simply kept our focus on what God had asked us to do, which was lift up the spirits and hopes of these people, to let them know that they were not abandoned to violence and terror. Somebody cared. And why did we care? Because of the love that Jesus Christ had placed in our hearts."

I enjoyed the idol talk (thinking we must have a certain outcome in order to be happy, secure and fulfilled) on page 225 and also Taysir's ideas about hope for the Middle East in the last couple of chapters.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chase the Lion -- the last 2 chapters

Chapter 8 -- The Importance of Looking Foolish

I loved this chapter so lots to share from it . . .

"Faith is the willingness to look foolish." -- Think of Noah building an ark for years and years, the Israelites marching around the wall of Jericho with trumpets, Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water and so forth.

On page 151 the author states that "normality is overrated" and declares that we are called to be like Christ who was a nonconformer. Mark believes diversity should be celebrated in the church because God created this variety. We should not all seek to act, dress and think the same way. We are the body of believers ... and body parts differ greatly. Not all of us can be arms or toes or eyes.

Loved the part about the kingdom of God being "child-centric." Afterall Jesus did tell us we had to become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. (see pg. 155)

Page 156 includes an e-mail one of Mark's church members sent him regarding children. It was wonderful being reminded how children have so many dreams -- they want to be superheros or doctors or spies or astronauts when they grow up. However, as we get older we tend to stop dreaming, we embrace limits, "reality" some would say. But the woman says we "internalize limits ... [and] worse, we become small people with a small God." She asked what limits we are holding onto -- we are too old, don't have enough talent, not enough money, it's too weird. She reminded us that Jesus saw 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread and saw a feast for thousands of people. Our God owns it all. We don't need to live limited lives. Dream. Live. Chase lions!

Pages 159 to 162 discuss David's utter joy and dancing before the Lord. How he was not afraid to look foolish in front of his people because he was doing this for God's eyes, not for humans' approval! Wow! Oh that I could live this way consistently and dare to look foolish for Christ's sake! The author says:

I think David gives us a picture of pure worship. Worship is disrobing. It is taking off those things outside our relationship with Christ that we find our identity and security in. It is a reminder that our royal robes are like "filthy rags." It's not about what we can do for God. It's about what God has done for us. And that understanding produces the greatest freedom in the world: having nothing to prove. Instead of trying to prove himself as the King of Israel, David was consumed with worshiping the King of Kings.

One of Mark's "core convictions" -- "Christ followers ought to be the most passionate people on the planet." (pg. 163)

Chapter 9 -- Unleash the Lion Chaser Within

"I have an unshakable sense of destiny because I know that as long as I pursue God's calling on my life, then God is ultimately responsible for where He wants me to go." (pg. 168)

Lion Chasing Skills

You have to start by trying to comprehend the infiniteness of God so that you can believe He can help you to defy the odds. You have to face your fears, or they'll hold you back forever. You have to learn to reframe your problems through Scripture reading, prayer and worship. Then you'll shift your perspective so that your problem becomes less significant and God's greatness becomes more evident. And remember, you must take risks. That is the essence of faith. Then you're ready to seize the opportunity. But you have to be able to see it to seize it. That means getting yourself in tune with the Holy Spirit. You have to listen to His still, small voice prompting you and believe that He is setting you up for success. And finally , you have to accept that you're going to look foolish sometimes. Chasing a lion usually looks pretty crazy to everyone else. But following Christ is doing the will of God no matter how foolish you look in the process. (pg. 169)

What lion is God calling you to chase?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chase the Lion -- chapter 7

Grab Opportunity by the Mane

"Lion chasers don't look for excuses. They don't focus on disadvantages. They find a way of making circumstances work in their favor. . . . Isn't it ironic that some people who have so much do so little and others who have so little do so much? Lion chasers don't let what they can't do keep them from doing what they can." (pg. 131)

This reminds me of a young Iranian lady I read about just the other day. She is 20 years old and boldly sharing her faith with her people even though this means persecution for her if she is caught. And here I am with so much and I rarely share the good news with people here.

"Think of every opportunity as a gift from God. What you do with that opportunity is your gift to God. . . . The great irony about opportunities [is] that they usually come disguised as insurmountable problems." (pg. 132)

"One of our spiritual shortcomings is low expectations. We don't expect much from God because we aren't asking for much. . . . Low expectations are the byproduct of prayerlessness, but prayer has a way of God-sizing our expectations." (pg. 133)

Yes, this is definitely a problem that I have at times. Oftentimes I will keep my expectations low in case God doesn't come through. That way I won't be very disappointed. Then if He does comes through, I will be overjoyed. But what a way to live expecting little of God. Hmmm. I am trying to change this now and pray more boldly and with great faith that anything we ask in His name, He WILL do it!

"Living in prayer mode is the difference between seeing coincidences and providences. Prayer has a way of helping us recognize that what we might dismiss as human accidents are really divine appointments." (pg. 136)

Ohhhh, I want to live in prayer mode rather than survival mode. The author says the latter is just reacting to things that happen. I'd rather live expecting God to work and desiring to be part of His work on this earth.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween & Book Review

Michael as a Ninja
Halloween 2007
5 years old

Tonight I am planning to go with my sister and Michael as he goes trick or treating. He is going to be Batman the Dark Knight, but I don't have a picture of that yet. I included this cute ninja Mike picture from last year instead. :-)

Finished reading Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State written by American Jew, David Brog. He discusses Christian Zionism's roots, love, devotion and good works for the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I can say that I understand the Christian Zionist's mindset and reasons since they are based on the Bible. I still have a huge problem with how the Palestinians have been treated. I have longer notes about this book in my Gmail storage under the "Israel" label. I may write more about this here later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chase the Lion -- chapters 5 & 6

Chapter 5 -- Guaranteed Uncertainty

The chapter began with a quote from Oswald Chamber. Really think about this:

"To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways; we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should rather be an expression of breathless expectation."

The author suggests, "you have to do something counterintuitive if you want to reach your God-given potential and fulfill your God-given destiny. Sometimes you have to run away from security and chase uncertainty." (e.g. Abraham, Noah, Jonathan) (pg. 81)

"Lion chasers challenge the status quo. . . . [They] are often considered crazy, but they are able to do these things because they aren't afraid of uncertainty. They don't need to know what is coming next because they know that God knows. They don't need explanations for every disappointment because they know God has a plan. Lion chasers refuse to settle down because they want to experience every divine twist and turn that God has in store for them." (pg. 82)

"Stop spending all your energy making plans for God, and start seeking God." (pg. 100) -- think of Pentecost where the people prayed and waited on God

"So if life is infinitely uncertain and God is infinitely complex, then all we can do is accept our finitude and embrace uncertainty. . . . Faith doesn't reduce uncertainty. Faith embraces uncertainty. . . . Complications are often a byproduct of blessing." -- Marriage, children, wealth, success - all these complicate life. (pg. 85)

The author reflects, "The longer I live, the more I think that spiritual maturity is less about figuring out the future and more about moment-by-moment sensitivity to the Spirit of God. . . . I just don't think spiritual maturity results in higher degrees of predictability." (pg. 86)

Mark suggests we are control freaks who "want a complete itinerary with everything mapped out. . . .But faith involves a loss of control [and] the loss of certainty." (pg. 87)

"Following Christ reduces spiritual uncertainty, but it doesn't reduce circumstantial uncertainty." (pg. 100)

"Our confidence is contingent upon the character of God. . . . Some of your experiences won't make sense this side of eternity, but lion chasers know that God is connecting the dots in ways they can't comprehend. Lion chasers are humble enough to let God call the shots and brave enough to follow where He leads." (pg. 98-99)

Chapter 6 -- Playing It Safe Is Risky

"Good is often the enemy of great. . . . Faith is renouncing lesser goods for something greater. And it always involves a calculated risk. I'm convinced that the only thing between you and your destiny is one small act of courage." (pg. 106)

About stepping out in faith, the author says we most always second-guess ourselves. Did Jesus really tell me to do this? We "stop focusing on Jesus and start focusing on the wind and the waves." (pg. 112)

"Most of us want absolute certainty before we step out in faith. We love 100-percent money-back guarantees. But the problem with that is this: It takes faith out of the equation. There is no such thing as risk-free faith. And you can't experience success without risking failure." (pg. 114)

Lots of food for thought!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today my dad is 61 ... wow!

Just wanted to say "Happy Birthday" to my Papa! :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I got tagged . . . Random things about me

A friend tagged me on Facebook today. Here are the instructions and what I wrote. I figured I'd post it here as well. Doing this made me think back to some of my favorite memories. Yes, my life is oh-so-exciting, eh?

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 16 random things, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose 16 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, its because I want to know more about you :-)

1. I am the oldest of four children. The next oldest is my brother who is just 16 months younger than I. The "baby" is almost 13 years younger and in between Daniel and David is a sister, Stephanie, who is almost 7 years younger than I am. Daniel and I used to play like we were brothers growing up. When Steph came along, she joined our "brotherhood" for short time. Then Daniel and I grew out of it, and I was a sister again.

2. For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed talking to people who are not from my area. Whether they were merely Yankees or genuine foreigners, I have always enjoyed talking about cultural/regional differences and languages/accents. It's just one of my thrills in life, I reckon. When we went to New York City a few years ago, I wanted to know from which Asian country this particular group of tourists came. We were on a ferry at the time. Unfortunately, they were not the look-around-and-make- eye-contact variety although I tried and tried to get someone to look my way so I could begin a conversation. FINALLY a short man looked up and saw me so I smiled and asked "where are y'all from?" China! Ahhhh, he then practiced his English on me and asked how he was doing with it. So cute.

3. One of my favorite memories from my teen years is being a page in Raleigh. Although I was scared about going, my dad insisted that I go and I ended up loving it! In fact, the next few years, I went to Raleigh as much as I could each summer. I even lived with Representative Peggy Wilson for a couple of weeks and went with her to a reception then Governor Jim Martin held at the governor's mansion for the GOP members. (Rep. Wilson didn't have time to drop me off at her apartment so she said to come along as Gov. Martin wouldn't mind.)

4. I was a page the week of July 4th. In celebration, they wanted a few pages to each read one of the Bill of Rights in front of the NC House of Representatives. I read one of them and afterwards Rep. Bill Hurley (D-Cumberland County) came up to me and said his mom was a Fuqua. After checking the family tree once I got home, I found out we had the same ggg-grandfather.

5. Somewhere I have a picture of me from my sophomore year of high school when I went with a couple of my teachers and some juniors to the Republican National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. We had a great time and met the Republic of Georgia's President (?) who was meeting with Representative Howard Coble at that time. I have an official Washington picture of our group and those foreigners as well. (I like foreigners.)

6. The most common spelling of my name is with a "z," but since mine is really short for Susanna, mine is spelled with an "s." Although my name is often misspelled because of this, what I like about the "s" spelling is that my name begins how Jesus ends. And I have "usa" in there as well. Two "things" that I love: Jesus and the USA.

7. In high school, I played basketball and had many lovely nicknames because my basketball coach loved nicknaming me. *ahem* He also taught me how to drive and when he saw my dad coming out of the school building upon our return to the school, Mr. B got out of the car and kissed the ground and said "thank you, God!" trying to make my dad think I was a terrible driver. (You just had to know Mr. B.)

8. I usually buy 10 to 20 lbs of carrots every 10 days or so. This week I got a little crazy and bought 28 lbs. People who see my cart full of carrots often ask if I have a horse. No, just a juicer that loves carrots.

9. While at ACC one of my teachers, Division Chairman Byron Robinson, once asked me to see him in his office. He gave me a Gideon New Testament and asked if I ever thought about becoming a pastor.

10. On my first posture performance in freshman speech (high school), I made an E minus. My dad's reaction was, "An E minus? I've never even heard of an E minus." Thankfully I improved a lot and made an A on my Robert E. Lee speech later that year.(Actually it may have been an A- because I went over and had points subtracted for that.)

11. When I went to the WILDS with my high school, each morning we had to tidy our room before we all met for flag raising. The girls in my room woke up late (because we stayed up past lights out talking and laughing and eating) so we were scrambling to get ready. I personally emptied the trash can three times in an effort to clean the room, but still our room was messy and the five of us were punished by picking grass off the steps. I still remember we passed the time by singing "I've been working on the railroad" and other tunes.

12. With few exceptions, I hate talking on the telephone. I much prefer face-to-face talks with my friends or keeping in touch by e-mailing or instant messaging or posting on blogs and group forums.

13. I've always been interested in names. Years ago this interest lead me to Babycenter.com where I ended up meeting a great group of ladies who have remained dear friends. Never knew I could grow to love people I never met before until then.

14. I love my dear nephew Michael. I often go to McDonald's with him where we hang out sometimes for hours. We have made many friends there over the last couple of years. It's great to go there and know the workers' names. By the way, most of them call me "Susie." (I think they got that from Michael.)

15. About two years ago I prayed for God to help me see people with compassion and love. Since then He brought people into my life that others may find undesirable, but I have learned to care for them deeply. I am very thankful for what God has taught me through them.

16. At a time when I was a bit disenchanted with some things about Christianity, God used devout Muslims to make His Son more precious to me.