Toby Mac with Dr. Billy Graham
Have you ever heard someone dissing a kind of music because they say Jesus wouldn't approve? Too much bass? Too rock-y sounding? Beat is too fast? You know the arguments! Opinions like this can be quite divisive within the body of Christ and many a church has experienced a split as a result of musical preference!
We were watching a bio on DC Talk and Toby Mac yesterday. Not my favourite music, but I do like quite a few of their songs. Many in the Christian community have had a problem with them, though, because of their style of music.
A few years ago Billy Graham invited DC Talk to open for one of his crusades. DC Talk was surprised to be given this opportunity and evangelicals were more than a little shocked, too! To say they were up in arms is an understatement. Billy Graham's flavour of music was more George Beverly Shea, Sandy Patty and Steve Green and his supporters liked it that way!
Billy Graham, being the man that he is, realized that DC Talk was reaching a culture he couldn't, though! He made this statement and it was so profound it stopped me in my tracks...
"When I go to a foreign country, I don't speak the language and I need an interpreter. DC Talk is my interpreter to the youth culture of today!"
Wow! Doesn't that just kind of give you shivers? Mr. Graham was able to see past his own preferences and understand that youth needed to feel like their opinions were being heard, too! DC Talk performed at the crusade and record numbers of youth came forward at the conclusion of Mr. Graham's message!
Praise the Lord for a man who was able to recognize his need for someone to translate the love of Christ in a language those kids could understand! May we all be as open to the voice of the Spirit should He show us an option a little out of the box for us! He likes to do that, you know...shake us up a little and open our minds to the fact that our way might not be the only way!
Maybe it's time to ask the Lord if there are any foreign languages He would like us to brush up on! I'm game...are you?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
September 25, 2000 - December 23, 2004
Psalm 139:16 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.
Today is a sad day, but a day filled with hope. Today my dear friends will experience just about every emotion known to man. They will cry, they will laugh, they will reminisce and they may even experience a twinge of guilt wishing they could do things over with a different outcome.
4 years ago today sweet Jackson went to live with Jesus. Wow! It's hard to believe it has already been that long, but I imagine it has seemed a whole lifetime since Smith and Julie last held their boy.
As a friend it's hard to know what to do. My heart is so heavy for these ones I love so much and my tears have flown freely much of today. I pray for them and we let them know we haven't forgotten. Even this blog entry is to let them know how much I care.
I recently, during a Bible study, wrote a prayer to the Lord that went something like this...
Papa, I know that YOU knew when Jackson was born that his time here on earth would be just 4 short years. It's what your Word says. It wasn't an accident in the sense that it certainly didn't catch You by surprise the way it did the rest of us! Please minister to Smith and Julie as only You can!
After all this time I was reminded yet again that He really does know when He's going to call us each home. None of us are promised tomorrow so we better live the heck out of today! Look at those ones you love and imagine what you would say to them or do with them if you knew He was almost ready to call them up to Him! How radically different would we live our lives?
Lord, I thank you for the way You have ministered to Smith and Julie and their families. Thank you for what You are yet doing in Roz's heart. Papa, You alone know what's in the hearts of these who are grieving today, yet they grieve not without hope for they have the assurance that one day they WILL hold their sweet boy again. They will gaze into his eyes and be able to tell him how much they love him and have missed him. Please Papa encourage their hearts today! Allow them to be still before You. Allow them to feel in such a tangible way the deep and abiding love you have for them! And Lord, please help those of us whose hearts are full of love for them, but just don't really know what to do!
And Lastly, Papa, would you let Jackson know that his presence here on earth is missed in a way that words could never adequately express!
We love you, Jack!!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We, as most of you know, are in full-time ministry! We have ministered in this area for 15 years and have a solid nucleus of friends who partner with us! We had our annual Christmas party the other night and it humbled me to the core! How I wish you all could have been there.
The room was filled with a multitude of names who could make just about anyone's "who's who" list...top athletes in football and baseball, entertainers with TV shows, musicians with Grammys and AMAs under their belts, leading Christian apologists and even just some of us common folk. All with different occupations, but all with a common focus ~ Jesus!
We came together to celebrate the birthday of our Saviour and celebrate we did. Definitely not how many would expect people of this sort to celebrate, but what a sweet time it was!
We are so bombarded with high profile people who time and time again make foolish choices and live in such self-consumed bubbles that to imagine a Christ-centered party involving names like these would seem counter-intuitive! Christ-centered it was, though!
We sang Christmas songs of praise, listened to the writings of one famous for humour who had us in tears, heard a devotional about the birth, death and resurrection of the Saviour that was knee-buckling and closed with a lengthy time of prayer! And as I gazed around the room I was hit with this verse ~
Acts 4:32-35 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn't even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, "That's mine; you can't have it." They shared everything.  The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.  And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale  to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person's need.
I found myself in tears as I beheld a work that could only be orchestrated by One greater than ourselves. Gatherings like this don't just happen, they are created...one heart at a time...by Someone Who cares not a whit about titles and fame!
So this Christmas season as you contemplate what it's all about, know that the One Who became nothing has invaded the hearts of many who have everything and caused them to lay it all down at the feet of Him Who owns it all anyway!
2 Cor. 9:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
My friend has cancer. She was diagnosed about 1 1/2 years ago and has undergone many rounds of chemo. She was recently removed from the chemo because it appeared it was not doing its job of killing off the cancer.
My friend and I are joining 2 other girls in the study Believing God by Beth Moore. She picked the study and I am not sure if she picked it for herself or for us! We certainly need to believe God in some areas right now, too.
I am finding, though, that I am struggling through processing the whole faith issue as I think about my friend. If faith that has not been tried cannot be trusted, then I guess this struggle is a good thing! Sure feels icky, though!
I wrote down these questions today as I contemplated the scriptures I had been reading and the words Beth had penned...
What am I afraid to believe God for and why? Am I afraid of His perhaps unwillingness to do what we ask or my lack of faith in believing He can? Does my faith, or lack of it, even help or hinder Him in any way?
I realize I am afraid to ask God for my friend's healing because I don't want to become too attached to the outcome should His answer require her heavenly healing rather than a healing that allows her to stay with us for longer! I believe He CAN heal my friend, but will He? His word says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God", so is it the act of believing He can or He will that shows true faith?
Wonder if I'll ever have answers to these questions this side of heaven? I rest in the fact that He sees my heart for what it is and He understands my desire to wrestle with Him for the answers and not against Him!!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Today is his 46th birthday! He is the love of my life...an incredible gift from Papa and I am so thankful I get to share life with him! It would be hard to find someone with more integrity, boldness and wisdom than he has and he is a testimony to what the Lord can do with a yielded heart.
Happy birthday, best friend! May you feel celebrated, appreciated and deeply loved today and always! I love you!!
Friday, December 5, 2008
1 a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom) b: a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable
2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
3: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions
4: characteristic manner, method, or style
My husband was asked an interesting question this week and it has been on my heart. The question was this..."Does God love tradition?"
Makes you think, doesn't it? No other time of the year is as rich with traditions as this one. Christmas trees, nativities, carolling, hot chocolate, family gatherings, stockings filled with goodies, cookies made from recipes generations old and Charlie Brown with his unimpressive Christmas tree. What's not to love, right?
Okay, I realize we are pondering God's love/hate relationship with tradition, but in coming to any semblance of a conclusion we must consider this...Whatever God thinks about tradition, I am confident of this one thing ~ God loves us and we love tradition!
Now I realize some traditions truly can steal God's glory and His Word says He will share His glory with no one, Santa Claus included! We have to be careful that in celebrating our traditions we are not inhibiting the ability of those around us to embrace what it's really all about! But I don't think traditions are inherently bad.
I hope that traditions will remind my kids when they are older that they came from something special. As they decorate their own Christmas trees with ornaments from long ago, I hope they'll share the stories of their origin with their own little ones. When they bake the pumpkin bread and snowball cookies that we've mixed side-by-side each December, I hope they will be comforted by the familiar smells. As they giggle and laugh their way through Elf and Christmas Vacation, I hope they'll remember all those nights snuggled by the fire with pillows, blankets and Daddy's popcorn. I hope mornings filled with lighted candles and shimmering Christmas trees will remind them how Mama used to get up early so those were what they were greeted with as they awoke.
For you see, traditions are the stuff that we are made of. Those bowed heads around the table speak to that! The reading of the Christmas story and the birthday cake for Jesus...the basket of Christmas books and the home-made snowflakes hanging from the ceiling fan over the kitchen table...Santa Mouse and Angel Trees...shoeboxes sent to those without and plates of goodies shared with neighbor friends. Are they rituals mindlessly performed or the result of hearts filled with giddy expectation?
Don't you see it? Traditions can be the very things that prompt our thoughts to focus heavenward for He created families and our traditions are the threads that bind us all together! Our familial fingerprints, if you will, that makes us distinguishable from all the others.
Now some may ponder this question and arrive at a very different conclusion, but as for me and my house...we're going to deck the halls!
* The roll of dice on a backgammon board as siblings play...
* The tapping of a keyboard as Baby Girl practices the new words she has learned to construct, sounded-out-letter by sounded-out-letter...
* The clomp, clomp, clomp of fireman boots worn by a boy with cowboy holster and gun slung around his middle...
* The excited chatter of a daughter full of stories from her trip to the outermost parts...
* The laughs of inside jokes that tell of a family with rich memories...
* An "I-love-you" as he leaves, testimony to Him Who has kept us united for 18 years...
* The ring of a phone with a hurting friend on the other end...just needing an encouraging word and a nudge to keep pressing on...
* The whisper of His still, small Voice as He calms our fears and reminds us He sees...
* The quiet at the end of the day that signals all are at rest...
...Simple sounds...a symphony of love...His love, so lavishly bestowed on us ~ His beloved!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
At this time of year, the mere mention of the word "gift" can send most women into apoplectic shock. The list of names screaming for the perfect gift seems to grow in leaps and bounds and the stores all shout to us that they have just what we need! If we're not careful, our frenzied activity becomes akin to a gerbil on a wheel and we find ourselves spinning out of control! We truly have become a society addicted to getting and not too familiar with giving...at least not for the right reasons.
It's funny, though, if I was going to a party for my friend, Sheri, I wouldn't spend all my time running around trying to find Jori a present. That would make no sense. So why do we become obsessed, consumed and exceedingly stressed over making sure we have conquered our gift list when the party is really for Jesus? It is, you know!
The politically correct can work all they want to take the "Christ" out of Christmas, but Jesus is still the reason for the season!
Now don't get your panties in a wad and think I am implying that gift-giving is wrong. We do give gifts and our kids love opening their stockings that they find placed beneath our tree covered with lights and ornaments. We're not really Scrooges! We're just trying to make sure we have not lost focus of the true meaning of what we do.
If the celebration is for Jesus, then surely there must be something I can give Him. Remember the Christmas poem that goes like this ~
"What can I give Him as poor as I am,
If I were a shepherd, I'd give him a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I'd do my part,
What would I give Him? I'd give Him my heart."
We all have secret places that we have closed off to everyone...even Jesus! Some of us have areas of unforgiveness toward someone who has hurt us deeply. Some of us are consumed with fear and insecurities because we have focused on our own limitations rather than His ability to protect us and empower us. Some of us have heard the still small whisper of His call to us, but we have not responded to it because we're not sure what He may require of us. Some of us, quite frankly, may have never even known the joy of surrendering our hearts and our lives to Him because of pride and confidence in our own abilities!
Join me this Christmas in asking the Guest of Honor what He would like you to bring to the party! Ask Him which area of your heart He would most like to have access to. And if you have never surrendered your heart to Jesus, know it is the greatest gift you will ever give Him...or yourself!!!
If you have doubts as to whether He is even real and interested in a relationship with you, I encourage you to ask Him! Ask Him to show Himself real to you this Christmas season so that the fun of tradition can be coupled with the joy of the liberating Truth of a heart yielded to Him!!
James 1:17 ~ "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."