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Dare To Dream

I would be less serious. I would laugh more. I was too serious the first fifteen years of ministry. Serious people miss the punchline—and there are lots of them. We’re funnier than we think—and quite a bit more weird. When I started laughing more at the church where I was pastor, so did others. The older I got, the less serious I took myself. And the less serious I took myself, the more serious I took God. Interesting. And the more you laugh, the less likely you take up offenses, which wouldn’t hurt.

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ready for the road ahead

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Forgiveness is not easy.  Sometimes the hurt is so great, I may feel like I cannot forgive…on my own.  But because of Christ, and the forgiveness I have received from God, I am able to extend grace and mercy and forgiveness to others.  That is why we can say that forgiven people forgive.  The reason we forgive is because we have been forgiven.  And when we forgive, it is as much for us as it is the person we’re forgiving, because what happens with forgiveness is forgiveness begins to release the grip of the grudge in our own lives.  It brings cleansing, healing and freedom that is not available to those who choose to continue nursing a grudge.

Forgiveness is not passive.  It is very aggressive.  Forgiveness breaks the chain of the past and allows us to move forward.  We have already said that application of scripture is what makes…

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Love Notes From God

The car seemed to reverberate with my frustration: “I CAN’T go on like this! I CAN’T do this anymore! I’m burned out, don’t you understand?!” In my muffled sobbing, what could my husband say? He knew I was stressed to the max, but at this point, late last year, there was no solution. I felt like maybe God was not hearing my prayer.

We walked on into church–of course I got my halo out of the glove compartment and put it on!–and soon the service began. After a time of praise and worship, our pastor began his sermon. He had my full attention in any case, but God, just to be sure my mind wasn’t wandering, had him question, “When is the last time you said you CAN’T make it, that you CAN’T go on?” As he finished his sermon, I sat stunned. God, the Almighty Creator, had spoken through…

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COVENANT HEIRS

just hours after hearing a beautiful message of holiness, on Pentecost Sunday?

 Initially, I tried to ignore the soft, yet undeniable promptings of the Holy Spirit. “Be truthful. Don’t lie! Be an example to your family.”

 A little more bait dangled before me. “It’s not that big a deal. After all, you are hard-pressed to make this work out.”

 Six hours later, my mind flashed back to the day before. I had spent a leisurely afternoon walking around a community festival with my husband. Returning to our car, I observed a young couple walking on the sidewalk, along with their two small children. Within minutes, the little boy veered off the sidewalk and began to take a short-cut, through a clearly marked “No Trespassing” grassy area.  Immediately, the mother gently redirected her son’s steps back onto the sidewalk. Their conversation went something like this.

No Trespassing“Johnny, didn’t you see the…

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stonesTell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:7

My aunt died recently and I was given the honor of leading ‘Celebration of Life’ service for this dear, godly woman. As I heard the news about her passing it suddenly occurred to me that my aunt was the youngest child of my grandparents. Each of my grandparent’s three children died in their birth order. More importantly, I thought about the fact that an era had passed.

It doesn’t seem to matter how old you are, when your parents die you feel like an orphan. Whether you are 15 or 50 you wonder, “What will I do now without mom and dad?” Now, my grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles from that side of the family were gone, with only memories to fall back on.

One wonders if the Israelites felt the same way as they crossed the Jordan River and entered the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The stones they gathered from the Jordan River became a memorial to remind them of God’s promises.

The stones the leaders of the 12 tribes gathered that day were far more than rocks. Each of those stones was a story. Stories of being held captive, abused and feeling abandoned by God.  Stories of watching as, one by one, their parents and grandparents died in the wilderness. Stories of fear, confusion, doubt and grief.

As instructed, the leaders took those stones, those stories as it were, and made them into a monument. A monument to remind the Israelites and their children of the struggles in their past. But that pile of rocks meant one more thing that we must remember in our lives. That pile of stories spoke loudly and clearly the message that God delivers on His promises.

There will be times in our life when we are filled with grief, despair, confusion and anger. There will be times in our lives when we are under physical, emotional or spiritual attack. There will be times in our lives when we will feel completely abandoned by God. There will be times in our lives when we feel we have failed so badly that there is no hope.

That’s when each of us must look at those piles of stones and remind ourselves that God delivers on his promises. There was another ‘pile of stones’ that we look to for this reassurance. That ‘pile of stones’ so to speak is called Golgotha. It held the cross of our Lord and Savior and reminds us once again, that God delivers on his promises.

Each of us is building a memorial for those behind us. May we be building stones of remembrance to lead our children and our children’s children to the promises of God’s deliverance through Jesus Christ. May they be able to say about us that in spite of our failures and in spite of our shortcomings, we showed them the path of deliverance.

The ARC and at many other camps and retreat centers offer us the opportunity to ‘come away and rest’ awhile. It’s often during these times of solitude that we are able to step back and reflect on the stories of our own lives and re-energize ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us.

What stones [stories] of remembrance are you building for those coming behind you?

PRAYER: Father God. I praise you for the promises you have fulfilled in my lifetime. Forgive me for forgetting to notice the many ways you deliver me daily. Forgive me for the times my lifestyle has been rebellious. Help me by the power of your Holy Spirit to be building stones of remembrance that will guide those who follow me to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

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