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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho ... it's off to Damascus we go!

A year ago the January excitement was snow, but not this year!

My house in January 2008 when we actually got snow!

So, Lord willing, tomorrow morning I will leave my familiar world and fly far from home. Yep, me ... the one who has never been west of Tennessee. I will face my fears and chase a huge lion called LEAVING HOME!!! I love home! My family all lives nearby. (Yes, I'm one of those types.) But I really love my Arab friends, too. And I believe God wants us to go to Damascus even if it's just to be an encouragement to someone there.

So we will board the plane and head to Chicago. Then it's off to Istanbul where we have a 12-hour layover before leaving that city at 11:30 PM Thursday and arriving at Damascus at 1:25 on Friday morning. Please pray for our safety and that we will show love and kindness to everyone we meet. And for me, that includes Andrew. I can be irritable sometimes. I know it's hard for you to believe, but trust me on this one. ;-)

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. You all have been a blessing from the Lord!

I wanted to add a praise to the Lord for taking care of Michael on Sunday afternoon. He was hitting the glass door when it shattered and cut the heel of his hand and his wrist pretty badly. He was bleeding a lot, and his blood pressure got pretty low. I just want to thank God for sparing my precious little nephew's life. I really love Michael so much and look forward to seeing him grow up to serve the Lord. Cute tidbit: he sang "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord" for the physician's assistant and her helper as they stitched him. (We suggested this so he'd stay awake which is what they wanted from him.) That's his favorite song. Here is a picture of him singing it when we were visiting my grandparents back in November 2008.

I'll try to check in from Damascus, but if I don't, hopefully, I'll "see" y'all in a couple of weeks!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cowardly Lion, Dear Angela, Verse & Tribute to a Courageous Lady

OK. So today has been one of those days. I really hate this battle in my mind. *sigh* So much for hearing me roar (see yesterday's post.) More like I'm the Cowardly Lion ... blah! I am so done with this. What was it that cured him? A new heart? Ah, I looked it up. Ha, ha....courage*.

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Makes sense.

Thankfully, I was cheered by Angela's post from this morning. I am so glad to know that I am normal in my struggles! Or, at least, I am not alone in them. Maybe Angela and I are weird together. ;-) Plus she wrote me a sweet follow-up comment that spoke exactly to what I'd been dealing with today. How does she do that? *cue spooky music* I want to record what she said here so I can keep it.

Susanne, I will tell you, this week my thought life was REALLY struggling. I realized today that I was not 'fasting from foreboding thoughts' It's a bible study that we have been working on since September. I have usually been very consistent with taking those negative, fearful thoughts captive, saying in my mind, sometimes outloud, "Lord, I'm fasting from these thoughts, they have no place in a child of Your's". It dawned on me this morning that I have become weak, lazy, not mindful on how important it is to NOT even start meditating for a few minutes any negativity! It creeps up REAL fast and takes a HOLD,right around your heart, your mind, your neck, your breath and sucks the living life out of ya!!
Sooooooooo..I'm back to working out my faith muscles and destroying all those arguments and pretensions that sets themselves up against the knowledge of God, and taking captive those thoughts and bringing them to the obedience of Christ Jesus!!
I praise God He was able to minister to you and touch your heart my beloved sister.

Angela is such a godsend! I can't believe I met her only about a month ago. God has really used her to speak to my heart the last few weeks! She is such an encourager. Plus I love her vlogs because her accent is cute!

I am excited about going to Damascus, but as I shared last night I am scared about leaving my family. Why can't I just trust God with them? My husband and I were walking around our neighborhood this evening and I told him, "I am a wimp! I wish I could be strong, but I am only a wimp!" However, I soon added, "....who can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Ah, thank you, Lord, for enabling me when I am weak.

Still, I am a fearful person. Why can I not trust? This reminds me of my childhood when I thought for sure my dad would forget to pick me up from daycare. For Pete's sake, he was the principal of the school, yet I cried thinking he'd just go home without me? Yikes!

On a whim just now I checked a blog that I added to my blogroll, but seldom read. I see that men normally write, but for some reason they had something posted by Lisa Robinson and I really liked what she had to say. Sort of. Actually some of it was tough, and I didn't like it much. But she left me with hope and with a reminder that without God, we have no hope. It's not like we can just walk away from Him and find something better. At the end, she included this verse and I really love it. For it is so true.

After some hard teachings, many of Jesus' followers left him, and John 6 records the following:

66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.

68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

Whom do we have in heaven or earth except Him?

* Speaking of courage, I wanted to mention that the NC State women's basketball coach, Kay Yow, lost her 22-year battle with breast cancer today. She was 66. From all I have heard or read about this lady, she was truly courageous and amazing in her fight and in her faith. Even the local weatherlady at 6 said she was a Carolina fan, but when she got to the station and heard Kay Yow had died, she went home and put on her red blazer. She said, "I'm a Carolina fan, but today we are backing the 'pack. I had on purple, but when I heard Kay Yow died, I went home and put on this red." She was tearing up. The Duke men's team had a game with Maryland and they had a moment of silence as they shared that someone so respected had passed on to the next life.

From this article.

Over the years, Yow never lost her folksy, easygoing manner and refused to dwell on her health issues, though they colored everything she did almost as much as basketball. Ultimately, her philosophy on both were the same.

``If you start to dwell on the wrong things, it'll take you down fast,'' Yow said in '07. ``Every morning, I wake up and the first thing I think of is I'm thankful. I'm thankful for another day.''

Thankful and courageous ... that's how I want to be.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hear me roar!

Maybe my lion should have had its mouth open -- in a roar... oh well.

“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.”

~ Psalm 112:7-8 NLT

Paula from His Living Sacrifice had this wonderful verse on her blog today. Wonderful because I SOOOOOO needed that message this morning! We are preparing for our trip. It's consumed my thoughts and made my January fly! But fear and worry keep crowding into my thoughts as much as I want to keep them out. "What if ________ happens while I am gone? I will be over 6,000 miles from home!" Apart from food allergies (of all things) *rolling eyes* I'm not so much worried about what will happen to me over there as I am about my family I am leaving here. I've been thinking what if something happens to my grandparents, or parents or siblings, blah, blah, blah. It can drive you crazy and make you just decide to stay home! So anyway, I was glad to read that verse this morning. I'd been dreading bad news, but it's like the Lord said to just stop with the "what ifs" and fearful thoughts and trust in His care. I love how God speaks to me through His Word ... even as it's posted in the blogosphere. (Thanks everyone!) I am going to face those foes (fear, worry) with confidence, rest in His care and triumph over them with His help!

How 'bout you join me in that? We can both be bold and victorious in His care! Ready to roar?! :-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Got the tickets, got the tickets!

Just wanted to report that we got our tickets to Damascus! The visas came the last day of 2008 and this week we purchased the plane tickets. Lord willing, two weeks from now we will be totally out of our comfort zones and lovin' the experience! We are scheduled to leave January 28, fly to Chicago before leaving for Istanbul, Turkey on the longest flight of my life. (Not hard to beat since the longest one I've been on to date was Orlando, FL from NC....ha, ha.) So when I decide to fly somewhere longer, I really pick a doozy, huh? I am excited, nervous, EXCITED, a bit fearful about some things. OK... a lot fearful about some things, but choosing to not act on that fear and instead remember Emmanuel: God with us! When my dad is in the room with me, I don't fear. God is my "very present help in time of need" and why should I fear when He goes with us where ever we go .... even to Syria?!

John 4

32But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

33Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?"

34"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. 38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Follow His Dreams

Nehemiah 2: 11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

Nehemiah 6: 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.

Today at church my preacher talked about dreaming. More specifically those dreams that God gives us when we delight in Him. You know...those big ol' dreams that seem impossible because - without God's help and enabling us - most often they are too big for us to accomplish.

I read a quote recently from John Maxwell, "If you tell someone your vision and they don't laugh, it's not big enough."

And this one from J. Hudson Taylor, "Unless there is an element of risk in your exploits for God, there is no need for faith."

So all this seems to confirm what God has been putting in my heart for some time: GO TO DAMASCUS! Ah, that seems so scary, doesn't it? Strange food, different language, culture, religion! You are talking to someone who has made it thirty-plus years without going west of Tennessee and you expect her first overseas trip to be to the Middle East? To a country President Bush included in the "Axis of Evil"? Whoa!

So, did ya laugh when you heard this "dream"? If so maybe it's truly from God. Definitely I need His help in taking this huge step! And I guess there is that "element of risk" involved, eh?

Going back to Nehemiah. You see in the first passage how he said his God put something on his heart to do? Psalm 37 tells us to delight in the Lord and He will give us the desire of our hearts. You reckon when we delight in Him, He gives us His desires which ultimately ARE THE BEST and most fulfilling. I hear Americans who seem to be searching for more in life. Shoot, I am that way sometimes. Not satisfied. Surely there is more to life than the daily grind. More entertainment, more activities and more stuff doesn't seem to fill the void for long. I like those verses from Nehemiah. My pastor told us to keep dreaming for when you stop dreaming, you die. Sure you exist physically, but inwardly ... not much there.

Isn't that second passage great? Nehemiah did what God put in his heart to do and later it was accomplished TO THE GLORY OF GOD! God got the praise He deserved because even the enemy nations realized how Nehemiah's God accomplished this great work through His obedient servants.

Instead of doing something and asking God to bless it, I want those dreams from God. And HIS enabling so that when HIS work is accomplished, people can say, "To God be the glory! Great things HE has done!"

By the way, we sang "It Is Well With My Soul" in church this morning. It had come to mind this week, and I just love it. Found it so cool that Richie chose it as one of our songs to sing. Here are my favorite lines, I think.

From verse 2:

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

And then all of this verse:

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Whoo hoo! Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Give me, give me, give me, Lord!

Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Did you read those words above the picture? They are from Brandon Heath's song Give Me Your Eyes. Incredible message, huh? All these people are going somewhere when they die ... have I ever really cared where they would go? *gulp*

I could say that about all places in this world. I just used this picture of Gaza because it definitely portrays "confusion and chaos" and is in the news daily right now.

The words to this song are really touching and they have become my prayer - especially the chorus. Just look at these words and think of how powerful it would be to truly have the heart and eyes of God. Eyes to see these things and a heart willing to reach out in love and service.

This is my prayer. Lord, let me see others through your eyes. Let me have your compassion, your love and tenderness for them.

Here are the words to the chorus:

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Your arms for the broken hearted ... Your heart for the forgotten ones ....


John 16:23b,24

"I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. . . . Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Speaking Through Songs

God has been speaking to my heart a lot through songs lately. Yesterday at church we sang 4 of my current favorites and each of them had at least one line that stood out to me.

New Hallelujah

I've been hearing this one on the radio for a few weeks, but didn't know all the lines. Seeing them on the big screen and singing them with my church was touching. Especially when I considered the challenge issued here. "A new song breaking out from the children of freedom." Moi? A child of freedom with a new song? COOL!!!!!!!!!!

Can you hear, there's a new song
Breaking out from the children of freedom
Every race and every nation
Sing it out sing a new Hallelujah

I absolutely love verse 2 because it goes along with the abiding thought on my mind concerning missions that I wrote about recently. Read these wonderful words. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we applied them? Singing love to the nations instead of arrogance and war, bringing hope of the grace that has freed us? WOW! Line 3 is great -- what a worthwhile goal!

Let us sing love to the nations
Bringing hope of the grace that has freed us
Make Him known and make Him famous
Sing it out sing to the new Hallelujah

let the church Arise
Let love reach to the other side --- you mean all the way to Gaza?
Alive come alive
Let the song Arise

You Are Good

This song was just good because it reminded me of how God is so good and merciful. Plus I like the part about "people from every nation and tongue." Makes me think of my Arab friends and rejoicing with them and other nations in heaven one day.

Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever,
Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever
People from every nation and tongue
From generation to generation
We worship you
We worship you
For who you are...

We worship you
We worship you
For who you are

You are good

You are good - all the time
All the time - you are good

Jesus Messiah

I only included part of the lyrics here. Aren't these great?

All our hope is in You
All our hope is in You
All the glory to You, God
The light of the world

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

How Great Is Our God

I just enjoyed being reminded how great my God is. This song helps me remember that.

How great is our God,
sing with me
How great is our God,
and all will see
How great, How great
Is our God

Name above all names
You are Worthy of all praise -- amen!
and My heart will sing how great
Is our God

Thus concludes my song post.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Faith Not Fear

My God is so good! I was struggling a bit earlier today with my faithful vs. fearful goal for the year but the Lord was so encouraging. He knows how this child of His struggles!! :-/ Just now I was checking my friend Angela's blog and this post was like God speaking directly to me through her voice. It was incredible! It was tailor-made for me! Exactly how I have felt lately and just WOW! :-) Thank you, God, for guiding me to Angela's blog! I only found it about a week ago, if that, but already I feel as if she is going to be a dear friend in my life. Indeed she is already such an encouragement! I love her already!

Other ways God encouraged me today ... as soon as I got in the car the song was about walking by faith not fear (ahhhhh! How did He know? ;-)) and then the KLOVE verse of the day was Philippians 4:6 & 7.

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.

Two of my favorite verses in times like these!

Then the next song spoke to my heart as well. It was like God was speaking to me through the radio. :-) Here are the two songs I heard. (I made bold the parts that were especially meaningful.) I really listened to the lyrics and they were very comforting. God knows my needs, He remembers I am dust and He graciously reaches down to me where I'm at ... to speak to my heart. He didn't promise a life without pain, but He promised to be with us. He is there every step. I'm not forsaken. I am trusting in Him now.

I'm gonna walk by faith, not by sight
'Cause I can't see straight in the broad daylight
I'm gonna walk by faith, not by fear
'Cause I believe in the One who brought me here

I'm standing on the edge of whatever
Whatever He has planned for me
My next step will be measured
With confidence in the unseen

Like dancing on the edge of forever
I have nothing left to lose
Flying free as a feather
A vagabond in beautiful shoes

I'm moving through this great unknown
With faith beneath my feet
I take the road invisible
But I know Jesus goes with me
Oh, I believe, I believe
Because You gave Yourself to me
And I have nothing left to fear
'Cause I see it's You who brought me here
Though the road ahead is not quite clear
Still I know the way

--"Walk by Faith," by Out of the Grey


Sometimes your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes in comes in the Spirit's breeze,
You reach for the deepest part of me,
And call out for the things of eternity.

But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say,

Here I am, Lord send me,
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me,
Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,
Are you not the closest when it's hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began.

These broken parts you redeem,
Become the song, that I can sing

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that I'll fail you in the end,
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but you can.

Thank you, Lord, for your encouragement & faithfulness to me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Books I Read in 2008

I checked just this morning. List started in January 1999. This means for ten years now I have kept a list of books I finished throughout the year! Most years I read 99.9% fiction -- usually of the historical, Christian or mystery varieties. But this year I only read 2 fiction books and 35 non-fiction ones! Quite the change! I wrote reviews for each book throughout the year. Some are just short things, others more extensive. Click on the titles below if you are interested. Hopefully I did the links correctly. :-)

List of Books Read in 2008

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese

The Destiny of Muslims in the End Times by Faisal Malick

To My Muslim Friends
by Anise Behnam

The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross by Nabeel Jabbour

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

Does My Head Look Too Big in This by Randa Abdel Fattah

Meeting Islam: A Guide for Christians by George Dardess

The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun & Paul Hattaway

The New Answers Book by Ken Ham, general editor

The Shack by William P. Young

Being Arab by Samir Kassir

The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. I
by Warren Weirsbe

Scratch Beginnings: Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepherd

Victory for Us Is to See You Suffer by Philip Winslow

Too Christian Too Pagan
by Dick Staub

The Faith by Charles Colson

The Attentive Life by Leighton Ford

Called to Die by Steve Estes

Mary Louise's Opus by Mary Louise Mason

Unshackled & Growing by Nabeel Jabbour

Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker

Muslims, Christians, Jesus by Carl Medearis

Standing with Israel by David Brog

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

Once an Arafat Man by Taysir Saada
& Dean Merrill

Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg

The Complete Guide to the Bible by Stephen Miller

Christianity Today study series on Islam

Children of Hope by Vernon Brewer & Noel Brewer Yeatts

Mission Al Jazeera by Josh Rushing

Rethinking Holy Land by Marlin Jeschke

Defining Moments by Vernon Brewer

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Today I will rejoice!

"This is the day which the LORD has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it."

~ Psalm 118:24

or as one translation puts it,

"This is the day which the Lord has made; we will be full of joy and delight in it."

This is a special day in many ways because it's the beginning of a brand new year. Happy new year to you! Praise the Lord for His goodness and the fresh beginnings of a new year to serve Him day by day. I don't know what this year holds. To be honest, I am struggling with some fearful thoughts even now, but in the midst of those thoughts, I am refusing to act on them. I want to live this year marked by faith not fear. I want to serve the Lord with all my heart and leave the results of those fearful things with Him! Afterall, what good can I do by my worrying? Can I not trust my loving Heavenly Father to take care of me?

Jesus speaks to my heart with His peace and joy, and I can respond to Him with praise and trust. Indeed this year, I want to glorify Him by my life more and more. I want to be thankful in everything and rejoice in the Lord always.

A verse that I used a couple days ago to help a friend is this from Jesus in Matthew 6

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Then Jesus says not to worry about the next day. Indeed in the model prayer Jesus says, "Give us this day our daily bread." He didn't ask for weekly or yearly bread, but this day's bread. Each day we need this Bread of Life. I pray I live each day to the fullest and become one of the most thankful children of God.

He is good. He is good. He is good!

This is the day, the first of 2009, that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Thank you, Lord, for another day to serve You! May you find me faithful not fearful, thankful not complaining, bold not cowardly, willing not reluctant, obedient not rebellious. Loving, compassionate, caring not apathetic, hateful and bitter.

Please enable me to do all that. Those are difficult resolutions in my own power. :-)

Make me more like You. Amen.