January 24, 2011

God’s Got an App for That!

“The LORD will protect him and preserve his life;” Psalm 41:2 (NIV)

Kay made a statement in Bible Study a few Sunday’s ago in regards to the Scripture. She smiled and told us “There’s an app for that!” and during worship on the same Sunday Pastor William repeated the thought, “God’s got an app for that,” well, it was like waving a red writing flag in my face. Bob looked at me and said, “That would make a great devotion.” I thought, "Oh yeah!".

If you have been living at the North Pole for the last few years, then it’s possible you have not heard about the new iPhones. They are computer, Internet and phone technology all rolled into one little black box. I personally do not own one, but I know people who do.

A friend has an app that shows a cat on the phone screen and it will purr if you rub your finger over it. I almost bought into that one! But on the more practical side, there are programs called “apps” you can purchase for your phone that do all kinds of stuff like get you directions, tell you the current news and weather, and possibly even what your favorite restaurant has for a daily special. Now ain’t that special!

The claim is that whatever you need – there is an app for it! Maybe, maybe not. Do they have an app that will clean my toilet or wash my dishes? When that happens, I’m trading up fast!

But until then, I’ve developed a few apps of my own. They are easy to use. They work in or out of any 3 or 4G zone and best of all – they are free! Let me share them right now.

The Loneliness App: 
John 14:16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you FOREVER” [emphasis mine]
Matthew 28:20 “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Guilt App:
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The Truth App:
John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
John 14:6 “And Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’”

The Love App:
I John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
I John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

The Get-to-Heaven App
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I admit, they are pretty basic apps but then it does a body good to keep those basics in mind. Regardless of how technology advances and how many “at our finger tip” devices we can invent and attempt to incorporate into our lives, they will never cure loneliness or guilt. They might not always tell you the truth and I doubt they will love you unconditionally. They certainly can’t get you to heaven. Sad, but true. But that’s okay – because God’s got the app for that! 

Thank you God for the application of salvation in your Son – Christ Jesus and your Word – which will never pass away!

Just a little App for Thought,

January 17, 2011

Dancing with THE STAR!

“And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might…” II Sam 6:14a (NASB)

Bob and I are big fans of Dancing with The Stars. It makes me want to dance! I have to admit that when no one is looking I indulge a private whirl. At least, as much of a whirl as my bones will allow!

Every time a couple hits the dance floor, whatever dance they are dancing becomes my favorite: the Salsa, the Foxtrot, the Jive – to name a few. Currently they are off the air so I am not sure what made me think of this but it is not mine to question – just to roll with, or dance with in this instance.

Actually, I guess I do know what preceded this whole line of thought. It was the Tango. I hate to confess this but I am not the perfect Christian. As much as I’d like to hold that title, I will never even come close. This year has already presented some interesting issues that have created struggle in my life.

What’s really funny is that only a few days ago, I told another struggling sister to remember that trials in life are always meant to draw us closer to God and not drive us away from God. This is something I believe with my whole heart! So if that is true, then why do I find myself doing that which I so strongly urge others not to do?

That’s when I remembered the Tango. There is much that can be said of the Tango as far as the passion and artistry this dance provokes. But bottom line, the basis for the Tango is the old attitude that screams, “Come to me” and in a split second growls, “Go away!”

“Go!” “Stay!” The war is on, back and forth, in an endless cycle. It’s a battle of will played out on a dance that is full of passion and emotion. While the pair is together the entire dance, the series of stops and sharp movements keep you watching from the edge of your seat. It’s filled with brief smiles and long periods of stern, angry or distance expressions. Apparently, this is not an easy dance.

Personally, I’d rather be waltzing.

The waltz is slower paced and elegant. It’s two people perfectly in sync with one another. Each step flows effortlessly after the other. Eyes meet with a sweet intimacy – two minds in tune without a word being spoken. The couple glides rather than take steps. Each body sways in perfect harmony with the other. There are a few twirls and dips that can make your pulse race and your face smile. It all looks as easy and natural as breathing. Sigh!

Oh what lessons to be learned from dancing! (Please don’t tell my preacher, I am supposed to be Baptist!) I could spend quite some time giving you spiritual points and parallels. However, in the essence of time, I will draw us to the thought at hand for today. Just like King David, I have an eternal dance partner – the Father. Some days it is so easy to dance before Him with total abandon. But mostly, I enjoy dancing with Him.

It’s just lately – I feel like I’ve engaged God in too many Tangos and not enough Waltzes’. I need to relax and let the Holy Spirit restore those intimate glances I long for and live for. I need to practice my steps more, with the Father as my lead so walking through the issues of life are as effortless as watching two ballroom dancers glide across the floor.

However, when those Tango moments come along, I am so grateful that God never leaves me on the dance floor alone, even when I try to push Him away. He is my partner for life and what comfort that brings.

I pray that today you find your dance card filled with waltz’s, with the throne room of God as your dance floor! See you next week.

Until then, dance with all your might!

January 11, 2011

Scans, Tests and Exams

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. “ I Peter 4:12 & 13 (NASB)

A dear friend and former pastor of ours recently finished six rounds of chemo. This chemical warfare taking place in his body is to fight off an all-to-often deadly enemy called cancer. Today he faces a PET scan. This will reveal who is winning the battle. My money is not on the cancer!

Pastor John has chronicled this season of his life in blog-form. From my perspective it appeared to begin as a way of keeping everyone informed of his condition and progress, an outlet for his feelings. Every entry glorified God whether it was a good day or a bad day. After a several entries, his writing seemed to morph into a teaching/preaching mode where he gave us insight to what God was revealing to him and through him.

In this morning’s writing prior to his test, he wrote that he has concluded that life is a series of scans, tests and exams. He expounded on each from his current perspective. Thank you John! You once again blessed my heart.

I agree. Life is a series of scans, tests and exams. Please allow me to expound from my current perspective. But to read John’s click here! Look for article dated 1-11-2011 at 5:44am MST

Scans are a hot topic right now especially if you are traveling by air. Some folks feel that the newer security scans are too evasive. Others don’t care. But if you want to board that plane. . .

For a Christian, our life is subject to constant scanning – generally by others. Our words and actions are scanned for validity. It’s simple, but cliché – does the walk match the talk and vice versa? However our lives are also open to scanning by the Holy Spirit. Now that’s a scan you can’t hide anything from! Unfortunately, I think we are unwilling participants most of the time, not wanting to acknowledge what the scan reveals and then submit for treatment. Shall I go on?

Then we have tests. Will you pass the “help your neighbor” test? What about the “serve your community” test? When was your last “share Jesus with this person now!” test? How will you come out on the “love God” test? Sometimes we have tests of patience. There are tests of endurance. The tests test our faith, our growth and our dependence on God. Tests also prepare you for exams.

Remember final exams? We gathered all the material from all the previous tests to study. We poured over books. We sweated. We fretted. We cried. Then we sighed when we discovered a passing grade and the teachers relaxed as their mission was accomplished. They actually did teach us something!

Life is a series of scans that reveal who we are inside and outside. Life is a series of tests to grow who we are inside and outside. Therefore I submit that exams prove whose we are inside and outside.

Peter told the scattered believers not to be surprised by the tests they encountered. Peter had a few himself. Some he passed with flying colors. Remember in Scripture when Christ asked the disciples who they thought He was? Peter answered confidently, “You are the Son of the Living God!” Jesus affirmed Peter for passing that test.

You always win some, but then again you lose some as well. Ask Peter about the test he took where he failed by denying he knew Christ. Shameful? Yes. Painful? Most definitely. The end of the line for him? Not a chance. Fortunately, in Christ failure is not fatal, nor does it mean you are finished. Yes, Peter failed a few tests. But he passed some as well and learned from his failures to go on to pass his first big exam – Pentecost.

Wherever you are at today, know you are not alone. The same God that allows the test will watch over you until it is complete. Let Him scan your heart, revealing what needs to be reveals. Submit to the tests to growth your faith and accept the exams secure in the knowledge that you belong to God. Your grade – a crown of life – awaits at the end.

Love, Barbara

January 03, 2011

My News Years Need

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19 (NASB)

Do you like theme parties? Perhaps you went to several in December – themed for Christmas. Maybe you attended a soiree this past Friday night called a New Years Eve party. Children have princess parties or parties with a cartoon character theme. You can throw costume parties or parties for a specific charity to raise money. The list is endless.

Traditionally, this is the time to make resolutions. Personally, I don’t make them but yesterday in church I decided that it was possible to have a theme for the New Year! Let me share with you how I arrived at my decision.

A week or so ago, I met with my boss. As you may know Cheryle Touchton is the director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries and allows me to be her trusty side-kick. The foundational basis of this ministry involves traveling and street evangelism. If anyone wants a more detailed description, email me. I’d be thrilled to tell you more.

Cheryle said that our working theme for this year is “Give’em Heaven in 2011!” Pretty cool, right! This theme will help us stay focused on loving God by carrying out the Great Commission and ensure that we keep the main thing, the main thing. This was the beginning of my theme-based epiphany.

Moving right along, let’s proceed to the next puzzle piece that God used: my Sunday school lesson. I am involved in an adult ladies class and I love it. Our current lessons are based off a book written by the late Paul Little entitled “Know Why You Believe.” Awesome study! I highly recommend it.

I could spend all day on this – but I can’t! So I’ll cut to the chase. Our lesson book contains five small studies for reading Monday through Friday before class on Sunday. Friday’s study contained the Romans 8:32 verse, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

When I read this, that proverbial light bulb went off in my head and my mind jumped to Phil. 4:19. Romans 8:32 confirms that God supplies my need in Christ: His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection and the certainty of His return. It’s a complete package.

Okay – you probably think I am stating the obvious. I am. But the third part of the puzzle geared my thoughts toward the question – what needs? I need food, clothing, shelter, basic medical stuff and the like. Of course, I am fully aware I have these things due to God’s good grace and loving care. He indeed has met those needs. But something kept prodding me to go deeper still.

Then I hit pay dirt. For quite some time, a particular song lyric has sweetly haunted my mind. It’s from DC Talks’ “In the Light” The line goes, “I am still a man in need of a Savior.” God meets my needs in Christ because my greatest need IS Christ!

I don’t know about you but even as a born again believer, I am still in need of a Savior. Not just any savior but the One and Only Savior. Like you, I had needs last year. God met them. I’m not trying to sound super-spiritual but for the most part allowing Him to meet my physical needs, provide peace during the death of a loved one, give guidance, well, they are generally easy for me to do.

However, there were certain more internal things I wrestled with that caused me more than a fair amount of anguish. Am I doing the right things? Am I doing anything at all? Who do I think I am to be doing some of the things I do? Why can’t I vote my SELF off the island so all that remains is a heart completely surrendered to Christ at all times? UGH!!!!!!!

At the end of day all of this in-depth struggling serves to remind me of one very important thing: I am still a woman in need of a Savior. Every minute. Every hour. Every day.

If you do not have a personal relationship with God through Christ, your greatest need is for the Savior. If you do have a personal relationship with God through Christ, your greatest need is still for the Savior.

It’s that ‘down to the bone marrow and heart deep need’ had by all mankind that calls Cheryle to adopt the theme: Give’em Heaven in 2011. My New Years Need compels me to live this year satisfying myself in my Savior. But neither will be accomplished unless we live in the theme my dear Kiki suggested Sunday morning during worship. That is we should live “In His Presence.”

May God bless you richly in all ways according to your greatest need and His greatest fulfillment in Jesus Christ – this year and all the years to come!