If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge


Click the above button to join in with Joyce for all the fun.

1. April rolls in at the end of this week and in celebration of that infamous date (April 1st) answer this question-What is something foolish you've done?
One of the most embarrassing, foolish things I did was back when I was 16 and had just gotten my first job at Kings Island Amusement Park.  I was on duty in a small gift shop at the front gate of the park and there was a door off our back room and they had told me that was the restroom.  Well, I needed to go and opened the door and went into a stall and then went about my business. lol  I looked under the stall and saw a man's foot and realized I was in a public men's room.  I was about to die, but I had to leave, so I gathered my courage finally and walked out.  But the door I came in was locked and I had to walk through the whole restroom and out the main door.  You should've seen the looks I got from the men walking in. haha  But then to top it off, when I exited it I was then outside the entrance to the park and I had to walk through the gates to get back in.  Fortunately, I was in uniform and they let me in with no problem.  Obviously that was pretty embarrassing, because 16 was a long, long time ago and it still makes me cringe when I think about it.

2. With April comes Easter and that classic edible treat known as Peeps...so tell me...what's your favorite way to fix/eat chicken? That wasn't what you were expecting, was it? I 'fooled' you. teehee.
I love chicken fixed just about anyway.  But I probably love it best when my hubby makes Paula Deen's fried chicken.  Yummy!


3. What's the best museum you've ever visited? Or your favorite? Or the one you'd most like to visit?
One of my most favorite is Wright Patterson Air Force Museum.  I love almost anything to do with flight and or space.  The Holocaust Museum in Washington was good too.

4. You know what they say about April showers...what's your preference-a shower or a bath?
Shower, for sure.  We were only allowed baths growing up, so as soon as I had my own place with a shower, that's all I use.  We've lived in our current house for 15-16 years and I bet I haven't had 10 baths there in that time.

5. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"...fact or fiction? Why?
Can be true, because when you're apart for a long time, you can forget some of the things that maybe irritate you about a person.  But I'm talking more about a friend or relative in that statement.  As for hubby, fiction.  I'm not sure anything could make me love him more.


6. What's your favorite product made/grown in your home state/province?
Esther Price Chocolates



7. What is going on in the world today that affects you the most?
Probably the things that are being discussed in our state that could affect my job and my retirement.

8. Insert your own random thought here.


Monday, March 28, 2011

It's a Mouse...but it sure isn't Mickey!

This morning I was standing in front of my closet with the door open and all of the sudden, my dog went running into the closet like she had just seen something. Sure enough, I heard something rattling and a few minutes later out ran a little mouse. It was so funny, because the dog didn't know what to do and neither did the mouse.

I knew what to do though. I jumped up on the bed and yelled for my husband! lol

The mouse ran back in the closet and hubby made the dog leave the room. Then he got a mouse trap and about 10 minutes later, we had a dead mouse! Hope it didn't have any family members in the closet. Just in case, we have another trap set.  Guess this is what we get for having a farm field right behind our house! 

These are the only kind of mice I like!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whether or Not...

Whether or not we like it, it seems winter is trying to come back.  Sunday was the first day of spring and it was pretty nice and so was Monday and Tuesday.  But Wednesday...while it was still warm, it rained and hailed and stormed and then the sun would come back out and then it would get dark again and then the sun again.  Strange day.  Tomorrow is supposed to be colder and they are calling for some snow tomorrow and Friday and it's going to be a cold weekend.  And I took a 3 day weekend and it's going to be too cold.  While I'm not happy about the cold, I totally plan to enjoy my time off anyway!.  Don't know what we're going to do, but I'm off and I plan to have a good time.

Now for some random pictures from today and last weekend.

Saturday we went to a small Amish Community in South East Ohio.

Here's one of the buggies.  Hubby tried to be discreet and not make it obvious he was taking their picture as we passed.

This was a unique looking building.  Inside was set up as a meeting room.  We stopped here because there was a Geocache close by.
That's hubby and our car and our youngest is in the car.  We are at Rocky Fork Lake.  I'm up on the hill because I had just gone up to get a Geocache  Hubby stayed down at the bottom to give me a chance to find it.  He almost always finds them before me. lol  And yes, I did find this one! ha
 
And this is the hail from today.  Almost looks like snow.  All this came down in less that 5 minutes.  The hail was about a 1/4" in diameter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Click on the above Hodgepodge button to play along.

1. Sunday was the first day of spring. So they say. Ahem. What is your favorite outdoor springtime activity?
Geocaching...did some Saturday.

2. Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?
Paula Deen 


3. When did you last fly a kite?
I have no idea.

4. What topic puts you to sleep faster than anything?
Politics

5. Which flowers do you associate with specific people, places, or events?
I have no idea!  But my favorite flower is the morning glory.

6. What significant historical events took place during your elementary school days?
I was in the 5th grade when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

7. Do you swear? Do you pseudo-swear? (You know crap, shoot, friggin'?)
Crap or shoot yes but hopefully no worse.  And I really need to stop that.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Our ladies' Bible Study "The Patriarchs" by Beth Moore is so awesome!  


Friday, March 18, 2011

Handle With Prayer by Charles Stanley

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Charles F. Stanley, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries, demonstrates a keen awareness of people’s needs by providing practical Biblical truths for everyday life. His In Touch teaching program is broadcast worldwide in more than 50 languages. Dr. Stanley is also a New York Times best-selling author who has written more than 35 books, including: In Step with God, Landmines in the Path of the Believer, Living the Extraordinary Life, A Man’s Touch, Handle With Prayer, How to Listen to God, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?, The Gift of Forgiveness, How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team, The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, The Source of My Strength, How to Handle Adversity, The Blessing of Brokenness, Success God’s Way, The Handbook for Christian Living, Into His Presence, and When Tragedy Strikes.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Originally released in 2000, this book has already sold over 250,000 copies and now it features new artwork, an enhanced study guide, and updated content to connect with today’s readers. Using stories from his own life, Dr. Stanley engages readers with his insight and truthfulness. According to Dr. Stanley, “Jesus encourages us to pray. He tells us to ask, seek, and knock. We ask for things, we seek understanding, and we knock on doors of opportunity that lie before us. The Lord is saying that in every area of life we can find what we are looking for by talking to the heavenly Father.”


Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404460
ISBN-13: 978-0781404464

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Unveiling the Hidden


Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. —Jeremiah 33:1–3


As I was praying one afternoon in 1967, I began feeling as if God had something very specific to say to me. The more I prayed, the more the burden increased. I decided to take an early vacation and spend the time seeking God’s guidance. I went to the mountains of North Carolina for two weeks, intent on finding out what God was saying to me.


I spent the majority of the time fasting and praying. I waited, expecting God to follow up the burden with an answer. To my surprise, He pointed out areas in my life that needed correcting. The entire two weeks was a period of personal cleansing and preparation for what was to come.


I returned home excited, but still unsure. It was as if there were a veil that kept me from knowing the unknown. I felt that the answer was close, but it was still out of my grasp. Then one

afternoon soon afterward, I was on my face before the Lord, and the veil lifted. God wanted me to start a school. I hesitated to commit myself to such a task, but God made it clear to me that His instructions were to be obeyed, not just considered. He unveiled the hidden to me when I called on Him to do so, and He showed me the things I did not know. God was faithful—even to the point of preparing my heart for what He had to say.


God desires to make known the unknown to His children. He desires to unveil the hidden. Yet many times we are satisfied not knowing. Either we aren’t willing to take the time to wait, or

we aren’t sure God even wants us to know. But this command to Jeremiah speaks specifically to both of these problems. We are to call, we are to expect an answer, and we are to know the unknown. Let’s look at the background of this Scripture in Jeremiah (33:1–3).


The Babylonians are coming toward Jerusalem from the feast. They have already defeated the Assyrians, so the people off Jerusalem know they don’t stand much of a chance against their superior military strength. The leaders of Jerusalem believed they should align themselves with the Egyptians, which was the logical thing to do. But Jeremiah tells them, “God says you are going into captivity. What you really ought to do is go out there and surrender.” Well, this wasn’t at all what the leaders had in mind. They threw Jeremiah in prison and refused to listen to him.


Their reaction should not surprise us. What do you think the people in my congregation would do if I stood up next Sunday and said, “God says the Canadians are going to overthrow this nation. We might as well surrender now and save ourselves some trouble”? They would run me out of town! But this was exactly the situation Jeremiah found himself in. From his experience, he gives us a passage (33:1–3) that helps us understand how to talk with God.


Encouraged to Pray

We can obtain three prayer principles from Jeremiah 33:3 by listening to what God told Jeremiah. The first is that God encourages us to pray: “Call unto me.” Since Jeremiah was in prison, he had a long time to catch up on his prayer life. We may never be put behind bars, but God will put us in circumstances and situations in order to teach us how to talk with Him.


Most of the time we pray, “Get me out of here!” We want to avoid suffering and difficulty. When we do run into a trial or difficulty, we ask God to change our circumstances so we can serve Him better and love Him more.


But we cannot fool God or bribe Him with our promises. Jeremiah didn’t even ask God to get him out of prison. Rather, he waited to see what God would say to him. And what was God’s

reply? “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jer. 33:3). What God did for Jeremiah had a far greater impact than simply getting him out of prison.


But most of us aren’t that patient. We’re more intent on getting out of our circumstances than we are on finding out what great things God wants to show us. But the Father never allows

difficulty just for the sake of difficulty—there is always a higher purpose involved. The problem is we cannot always identify God’s higher purpose in the midst of our trials. That’s when we must exercise our faith by waiting on His word to us.


A good friend of mine who was a real estate broker experienced a seven-year period of financial failure. The loss of his security devastated him. It became the constant focus of his thoughts and prayers. “Why doesn’t God do something?” he would ask me. For a while, we were both puzzled.


But after some intense soul searching, he realized that he had substituted financial security for God in his life. The Father wanted to be recognized as the Source of all things in my friend’s life. As he began renewing his mind spiritually and yielding his rights to the Lord, my friend gained a new freedom in his attitude toward finances. He started a new career and found greater financial blessing than ever before.


God had a great and mighty lesson to teach my friend—a lesson more important than keeping him comfortable. And God kept him uncomfortable until he took his eyes off his circumstances and sought God’s mind in the matter.


Waiting is not easy. We often turn away from seeking God’s counsel and seek guidance from friends and loved ones. We read books, attend seminars, and talk with others, trying to find out what God has to say to us. Usually, after we’ve exhausted all other possibilities, we turn back to the Lord and wait on Him. By doing this, it’s as if we are saying to God, “Now that I’ve tried everything else and failed, I’ve decided I need You after all.”


But God wants us to come to Him first. He wants us to stand in His counsel and wait for His word. He longs for us to come to Him as a son would to his father. But instead, we go to Him last, as if we don’t trust Him or consider His word of much value. Yet He is the only trustworthy Source of counsel we have. He is our most available and accessible Friend. He will never give us a busy signal—even if He frequently gets busy signals when He tries talking to us.


God entreats us to pray because He knows we are often caught in prisons of our own making; not prisons with bars and locks, but intellectual prisons, emotional prisons, and relational prisons. We must remember that the shortest distance between our problems and their solutions is the distance between our knees and the floor.


Answer Promised

Second, God told Jeremiah, “I will answer thee.” Sometimes we make commitments that we cannot keep. Though we may do this unintentionally, there are times when we disappoint those who are counting on us. But God never disappoints—when He says He will do something, it will be done.


God promises He will not only hear our prayers, but He will answer them. This brings up two interesting questions: Does God always answer our prayers? Or does He respond to certain kinds of prayer? Think about the requests you have made of God recently. Are they being answered? Do you really believe they will be? You see, the question is not Does God answer prayer? The real question is How does God answer prayer? Sometimes He answers yes. This is usually the only answer we hear. If God says, “Yes,” then we believe He answered. If He says, “No,” we think He ignored our request.


God’s Answers

When God answers our prayers, He either answers with yes, no, or wait. When He answers yes, we are prone to shout, “Praise the Lord!” We tell everyone what a great thing God has done for us.


But when God says no, we have a hard time finding reasons to praise Him. We look for the sin in our lives that kept Him from granting our requests, because surely if we had been living right He would have given us what we asked. But not one shred of scriptural evidence shows that God will say yes to all of our prayers just because we’re living right. God is sovereign. He has the right to say no according to His infinite wisdom, regardless of our goodness.


We try to manipulate God by our humanistic “if then” philosophy. If we live good, clean lives, then God must (we believe) grant our hearts’ desires. But such attempts to manipulate God defeat the whole purpose of Christianity, which is to glorify Him through our submissive obedience to His desires. Besides, if our goodness was the only factor God considered, where would His grace fit in? Many times His grace is what motivates Him to say no.


God only says no and wait when it is best for us (Rom. 8:28). He does it many times for our protection. Sometimes God wants to answer our prayers, but the timing is not right. For example, in the past, many couples wanting to marry came to me for counseling. Sometimes I would advise them to wait. Some would heed my advice, while others sought counsel from those who told them what they wanted to hear. You and I have the same choice over and over again. Will we wait on God for His perfect timing, or will we rush ahead?


We don’t like waiting around. Especially when it looks like a unique opportunity might slip away. We don’t like to hear God say, “No,” especially when everything in us says, “Yes, yes, yes!” We often try to find a Scripture verse and claim it while we continue our prayer, hoping somehow to change God’s mind. What we’re really saying is, “God, I didn’t like that answer. How about reconsidering my point of view?”


But deep in our hearts we really want God’s perfect will for our lives. And we must remember that God’s answer is always His ultimate best for us. Claiming Scripture will not change God’s mind because His Word cannot contradict His will. If He says no, then the answer is no. If He says wait, then we should wait. God is more interested in our character, our future, and our sanctification than He is in our momentary satisfaction. His answers are always an act of grace, motivated by His love.


Our Response

Our response to God’s answers reveals one of two things about us. It will reveal either a rebellious spirit or a submissive spirit. By accepting God’s answer, despite the fact that we may not understand, we express a submissive spirit. But by refusing His first answer and trying to get our way by manipulation, we express a rebellious spirit.


If we refuse God’s answers when they don’t fit in with our plans, then we are trying to use God for our purposes. But if we graciously accept His answers—no matter what they are—He will use us for His glory.


The Hidden Revealed

The third principle we can obtain from this verse comes from “I will … show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” All of us face decisions that leave us baffled. We are constantly bombarded with relational decisions, business decisions, household decisions, and financial decisions—and these all need immediate attention. In this verse, God promises to reveal the answer to all of life’s decisions. Yet many of God’s people spend their entire lives making decisions based on their knowledge, their understanding, and their experience—not realizing that some decisions must be based on divine wisdom and illumination from God.


Almost any preacher can prepare a sermon. He can write an outline, gather a few stories, and away he goes. But a preacher cannot get God’s message for a people until he waits in the Lord’s counsel, until he seeks God’s face, and until God gives him a word from heaven (Jer. 23:21–22).


This same principle applies to every Christian. We can pay the price required to find God’s mind on an issue, or we can make a decision based on what we think is right. Either way, a decision will eventually be made. But while one decision may have the approval of man, the other will have the eternal approval of God.


Sometimes we flip a coin (spiritually speaking) and say, “Lord, this is what I’m going to do. If it is of You, then bless it. If I’m wrong, then better luck next time.” Instead of waiting, we jump ahead and hope we have done the right thing. The point is this: As Christians, we never have to guess—we can know for sure what to do. God wants us to know His will about things, even more than we want to know it. But He cannot—and will not—bless anything we do that is not of Him.


So what does He mean when He says, “I will … show thee great and mighty things”? Every time we pray to God, seeking His will, there are two things He wants to show us: He wants to show us Himself (Phil. 3:7–8), and He wants to show us what He is able to do (John 15:16). Is there anything greater than seeking God and knowing His power?


We Are to Seek His Face

Because God wants to reveal Himself to us, and because our goal as Christians is to know Him, we should begin our time in prayer saying, “Lord, thank You that You are omnipotent. Thank You that You are omniscient and know everything I am about to tell You. Thank You that You are omnipresent, and You are not separated from me. As I come into Your presence, I humble myself before Your throne to thank You for Your holiness, Your forgiveness, and Your mercy. I acknowledge You as the great Creator, Sustainer, and Lover of mankind. Father, I am coming to You, recognizing Your greatness and Your holiness. I bow before You as Your child, knowing that You are more than sufficient to meet my needs.”


This is the spirit in which we should come into God’s presence. But instead, we come first with our needs and usually don’t have enough time for anything else. We never stop long enough to recognize that God wants to show us Himself when we pray.


He Shows Us His Power

God also wants to show us what He is able and willing to do for us. He does this through His Word. He reminds us of what He has done in the past. He gives us example after example in Scripture of how He met people’s needs and how He protected them. And the Father is willing to do the same thing for us, if we will only ask.


The word mighty in this passage means hidden things, things that are fenced in. This word is used when referring to fortified cities. God is showing us that as we pray, He will unveil insights for us that have previously been a mystery.


This also implies that some answers will be found only in prayer, not from other sources—not from books, friends, or counselors. Some things must come straight from God, who is the

Source of all wisdom. How many families would still be together today if they had sought God’s answers to their problems at home? How many sons and daughters would still be at home if their parents had taken their situation to the Lord? Too often we refuse to wait on God’s answers. We want quick solutions to our problems.


But God wants to do much more than just meet our needs and answer our questions. He wants our love. He wants our spirits— He wants our lives. Yes, He encourages us to bring our trials and our heartaches to Him in prayer, but only after we recognize who He is and what He can do. Only then do we believe He will answer our prayers. Only then are we seeking His face and not merely His hand.


As a pastor, many times I go to God for answers that can be found only in Him. Sometimes He shows me something for today, and sometimes He shows me something that will happen in the next week or month. But I’ve never been to God about anything that He did not willingly answer. He does not always answer my prayers according to my time schedule, but He always answers on time.


Back in 1969 when I was preaching a weeklong revival meeting in Virginia, I once again felt that God had something specific to say to me. Each night after the service I retired to my room early to pray. One evening, I pulled out a pad and drew a circle with five lines leading from it. At the end of each line, I wrote several things I thought God might desire to reveal to me. On the last line I drew a question mark, thinking maybe it was something I had not thought of.


The following night I came back to my room with the same burden. As I prayed and looked over the possibilities, God made it clear that He was going to move me. I asked Him when, and the month of September flashed into my mind. This happened in May of 1969, but I thought He meant September of 1970. A few months later, however, a pulpit committee from the First Baptist Church of Atlanta came to see me. On September 30, 1969, my family and I moved to Atlanta. God revealed this to me ahead of time in order to prepare my heart. He unveiled what was hidden when I called on Him to do so.


Regardless of what circumstances you are up against, there is no knowledge you will ever need that is not accessible before the throne of our living, loving, holy, righteous God. He has promised to show you the great, the hidden, and the unknown things that you will never be able to understand any other way. There are some things you will never be able to know (Deut. 29:29), but all the knowledge you will ever need is available to you if you ask God.


He desires to illuminate your mind and heart until you are conscious of Christ’s mind within you. He wants you to say no to the world on the basis of your faith in Him. It is then that you feel an extra sense of power when you share with others. You no longer depend entirely on circumstances for God to teach you lessons. Instead, you learn straight from Him through His Word. You have a new excitement in your relationship with God because you have learned to listen as He speaks to you.


Submission Required

You must be submissive to God to the point of absolute obedience— regardless of what He asks of you. Why? Because if our heavenly Father continues to answer our prayers, and we have certain conditions on which we obey, then He is nothing more than a giant Santa Claus. If He were to continue to bless us regardless of our rebellion, we would be using Him for our ends, not His. Submission is essential.


If you have been seeking God’s will for a long time and you seem to be getting nowhere, examine your heart. See if there is any area of your life that is not totally surrendered to Him. By settling this issue, you will put yourself in a position that will allow the Father to bless you. The quicker you move from your will to His will, the quicker God will show you what you need to know. Since God gives us His Word for obedience, not just consideration, He must be assured that you have submitted yourself completely before He will let you in on His secrets.


Are you facing a decision in your life that is too big for you to handle? Are you going through some difficulty that has left you confused and disheartened? God said, “Call unto me, and I will

answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” As you seek God’s face, understanding who He is and what He is willing and able to do, He will clear away all the mist that surrounds your circumstances. He will show you what to do. Are you willing to say yes to whatever He requires? If so, you have taken the first step in learning to talk with God.


Session 1

Unveiling the Hidden

Chapter 1


Session Goals

1. To assess our individual prayer lives to see if we really expect God to answer our prayers.

2. To take a long look at our ideas of what God is like, how He feels about people, and what He is willing to do for them.

3. To determine to say yes to whatever God requires of us.


Preparation

1. As you read Handle with Prayer, jot down the main kernels of truth in each chapter. Then study chapter 1.

2. Plan your session time carefully to include the Bible teaching about prayer, which should lead into the practicing of prayer in the session.

3. Assemble any teaching tools: whiteboard or chalkboard, markers or chalk.


Discussion

1. Help people get acquainted by asking each member to turn to the person next to him or her and to sum up his or her prayer philosophy in ten words or less. End with the question: “Do

you agree?” Partners respond with his or her own thinking on prayer. Don’t ask group members to aim for theological definitions, just responses from their personal experiences. Expect

negative as well as positive philosophies, since these sessions are expected to clear up misconceptions about prayer as well as give positive insights—all from the Word.


After this short exercise, point out that no matter what our present philosophies of prayer are, we all want to learn to pray effectively. But we won’t learn how unless we obey God’s instructions (as opposed to our own reactions, ideas, experiential knowledge) and respond to Him according to His will.


2. Ask the group to turn to Jeremiah 33:1–3. Explain: “The Babylonians were coming toward Jerusalem from the east. They had already defeated the Assyrians, so the people of Jerusalem

knew they didn’t stand much of a chance against such a superior military power. The leaders of Jerusalem believed they should align with the Egyptians. But Jeremiah told them, ‘God says you are going into captivity. What you really ought to do is believe God, go out, and surrender to the Babylonians.’”


The outraged leaders, thinking Jeremiah was a traitor, threw him in prison and refused to listen to his warning. Jeremiah probably wasn’t too surprised at the leaders’ reaction. But what would God say to him now? He had obeyed the Lord, and he

was in prison because of it—what next?


Why do you think God reaffirmed His identity to Jeremiah (v. 2)? What three prayer principles did He give Jeremiah (v. 3)?Discuss.


3. Explain that Jeremiah was in a real prison. We may be in figurative ones constructed out of circumstances or predicaments, but the bars are just as strong and the walls just as high.


When we are in our prisons, how do we usually pray? Discuss.


According to Scripture, Jeremiah didn’t ask God for anything. Rather, he waited to see what God had to say to him.


If we’re in our prisons because God needs to get our attention to teach us lessons, what is the quickest way to get out? Discuss.


Deliverance comes as we examine our hearts to find what God wants to teach us. When we learn our lessons, He will free us. Nothing is too hard for Him.


What should we do if we cannot identify God’s purpose in a particular trial? Why is waiting on God so difficult? Discuss.


4. Does God always answer our prayers? Discuss the three ways God answers: yes, no, or wait. Do you agree: “God will always answer yes, if we are living right”? God is sovereign. He answers depending on what He knows is best for us.


How do we sometimes try to manipulate Him into saying yes? Sometimes we think: If I do this, then God will do that. Or we plead a verse of Scripture that seems on target for our case and hope God will change His mind.


Why does God sometimes say no? Remind the group that the whole purpose of Christianity is to glorify God through our submissive obedience to His desires. He says no when it’s for

our best interest (Rom. 8:28). God is more interested in our character, future, and sanctification than in our momentary gratification.


When God says wait, what choice does He give us? What do our responses to God’s answers reveal about us?


5. What two things does God always want to show us when we seek to know His will? Refer to Philippians 3:7–8 and John 15:16. How does God show us what He is able and willing to

do? Answers might come through His Word, through our own experiences, and through the experiences of others.


What is the one condition God’s unveiling rests on? Why is submission necessary?


6. Explain: “If we hear these truths and don’t practice them, we become like the person who wants to learn to drive a car without ever sitting in the driver’s seat. The person reads the

training manual, learns all the rules of the road, but never actually sits behind the wheel.”


We want to move prayer into the reality of our present circumstances. During our times together, we will be using different prayer methods: silent prayers, group prayers, volunteer

prayers, written prayers, etc. Today because of the nature of the subject, we will use silent individual prayers.


7. If God has seemed silent to you about something you have prayed for a long time, examine your heart. Are you harboring unconfessed sin? If you will submit now, you will move quickly into the attitude in which God will unfold for you some of the things you need to know.


Are you facing a decision that is too big for you to handle? Have you gone through some difficulty that has left you confused and disheartened? Read Jeremiah 33:3 again. Seek God’s face, understand who He is, and believe He will clear away all the mist that surrounds your circumstances.


Are you willing to say yes to whatever He requires of you?


8. Spend time in silent prayer as individuals open up their hearts to God. Close with an appropriate prayer of submissive victory.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge


Come on, click on the button above and join the fun...you know you want to.

1. What would you do if you found a pot of gold? Let's pretend this pot of gold is worth exactly $1500 (which would actually be more like a cup of gold at current values). Anyway, let's also pretend you have to spend it as opposed to making a donation someplace. Now tell me what you would do with that cup pot of gold?
Take a trip to Disney World of course.
2. Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in any way, shape, or form?
Not really, but sometimes if I remember I'll wear something with green on it.

3. Have you been bitten by the Spring Cleaning bug? What spring cleaning job most needs doing at your house? What spring cleaning job are you most dreading?
No I haven't but I need to be.  Probably putting away the winter clothes and washing windows.  But if I had my way I'd let someone else do it!

4. lime-shamrock-sage-forest...your favorite shade of green?
Emerald, especially if it looks like this...
5. Thomas Jefferson once said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." So...do you believe in luck or do you believe we make our own luck?
No, I don't believe in luck.

6. Monday (3/14) was Pi Day. Get it? Pi =3.14. Those math types are so clever aren't they? Since I'm not one of them tell me what's your favorite piE (the edible kind).
French Silk


7. That same date (3/14) happens to be the birthdate of the late physicist Albert Einstein. I bet he knew the value of Pi. So...what do you think is more important and or valuable in life... intelligence or common sense?
Common sense.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
I love my puppy. (Some have commented and asked) Lily is a mutt that we got from the shelter and our vet says her family tree is very wide.  We believe she may be part sheltie or collie & who knows what else.  And actually, she's not a puppy either, I just call her that.  She's really about 8 or 9 years old. 




Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse #6


It's March 15th and time form Siesta Memory verse #6.  Again, I've picked a verse from Isaiah.  This is a familiar one to us all, but I need an easier one this time, cause I still haven't gotten the last one memorized.  But I refuse to give up.  I'm going to get these learned yet or at the very least have them so ingrained in my mind that I'll have the gist of them all. 
Here's my verse for this time:
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

So why don't you go here and join in with the rest of us and start memorizing the Word of God.


 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Now This is More Like It...

Now this is what I'm talking about! 64 degrees and sunny and no snow!!! Yeah!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge


Be sure to click the button above to join in the fun of Hodgepodge.

1. The season of Lent begins on March 9th this year...do you participate and if so, in what way?
No, not usually, however our church is corporately (over 500 churches participating so far) doing a 40 day fast starting next week to go up to Easter.  So I guess it's a similar thing.  I can't wait to see what God is going to do.

2. Traditionally pancakes are eaten on the day known as Shrove Tuesday which is the last day before Lent (March 8th this year). So....butter and syrup? Blueberry? Chocolate chip? ewww, no thanks!! What's your pleasure when it comes to eating pancakes?
With butter and maple syrup.  I also love pigs in a blanket (sausages wrapped in pancakes) with butter and maple syrup.

 
3. Spring is coming. (It is coming, right?) What's your favorite springtime flower and do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Two questions I know, but they're lightweights.
Lilacs from my Miss Kim Lilac Bushes are my favorite spring flower and no I do not suffer from seasonal allergies.



4. "Our opinion of people depends less upon what we see in them than upon what they make us see in ourselves." Author unknown. Agree or Disagree? Why?
Wait a minute, I don't feel like thinking that hard.  Can I just go back and talk about spring flowers?  How about I just say, it's probably a little bit of both.  Sorry, that's about as deep as I can make it today.

5. Since it's "March" and also the season of Mardi Gras....have you ever been in a parade? What's the best parade you've seen?
No, I've never been in a parade.  The best parade I've seen is Spectromagic at Disney World.  We saw it after dark late one evening the last time we were there and it was just magical.  Usually we don't take time to watch the parades, but I'm so glad we did this time.  It was beautiful. Here are 3 of the pictures I took from that parade.



6. You would jump up and down and shout for joy right now if someone told you___________?
My daughter got the position of RA for next year at school!

7. How clean is your car on the outside? Inside? Is there junk in your trunk?
It's not clean inside or out right now. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.
If you'd be a happy soul,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut--
And not upon the hole!

Go to fullsize image


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My New Look And Just Keep Swimming

Do you like the new look of my blog? I know I just changed it a couple of weeks ago, but then I decided it was just too white. I like color and just felt like I needed something more. Plus the reference to Mickey Mouse makes me feel good. I mean if you've been around here for any time at all, you have to know I'm a Disney Freak.  In fact, I've also changed the background on my laptop and my work computer to this picture.


For some reason, Dory just makes me smile and I feel like I need to smile more.  Yesterday, I was reading blogs and it seems that a lot of us are feeling a little blah lately.  Some were considering quitting blogging and it seems that some have.  I haven't had a lot to say lately and I think a lot of it has to do with the weather and the fact that I can't wait for summer.  So I put Dory on my computers just  because she makes me smile.  Remember her famous line in the movie?   You know, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming." I think she reminds me that no matter what, I have to just keep on keeping on and I can do that, one day at a time. How about you? Is the winter that keeps on giving, getting you down? Well, let's just be like Dory and keep on swimming, swimming, swimming.  We can do that with the Lord on our side.  Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."



Have a blessed day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Hook

I don't believe I really need to say anything about this video. I believe it will speak for itself.



Saturday, March 5, 2011

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones Click on the Title to buy the book and Click on the author's name to go to her blog and read about her.


Book Description: When Alex and Lucy pick out wedding invitations, they wonder if they can be printed in vanishing ink.

Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all--except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line--and maybe even her life. When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, "I do"?

My Thoughts:  This was a really good book that I enjoyed a lot.  In fact, I have spent most of today reading it.  I just couldn't stand to put it down.  There were a lot of interesting characters in the book and I do mean interesting.  It seems that most all of them were a little quirky which made them so fun to read about.  But with all the quirkiness and fun, there were some deep spiritual truths too.  One of my favorite parts in the book was when Chuck, a youth pastor, told his group "Tell the devil you're through listening.  It's time to tell yourself, 'I'm good enough." It's time to claim the verse in the Bible that says you are a dearly loved child of God, You are adored. And you deserve love." That is an overall theme in the book.  We can't earn love and we can't buy love.  God loves us just because He does, not because of anything we can do.

"I received this book for free from Book Sneeze for this review and am not required to give a positive review."


Friday, March 4, 2011

Iris: Trophy of Grace by Ron Owens

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Iris: Trophy of Grace

CrossHouse Publishing (September 15, 2010)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Ron Owens--born in Canada, son of missionary parents to Europe--has multifaceted ministries. These include teaching, preaching, and music ministry in North America and beyond. He has authored other books and articles and has composed, recorded, and had published many songs in collaboration with his wife, Patricia. The Owens have one son, Jeff, a daughter-in-law, Jessica, and two grandson, Ethan and Evan.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Iris Urrey was raised in a middle-class Christian home, but she was rebellious almost from the start. Running away at the age of thirteen, she became involved with drugs and prostitution, and at seventeen was arrested for armed robbery. Once released from prison, she continued down a path of self-destruction. From numerous abortions to using heroin, to managing a topless bar, Iris turned from God's calling again and again.

But God, who in eternity past had devised a plan for this "incorrigible" rebel, didn't give up on Iris. He had work for her to do, and would one day turn this "incorrigible" rebel into one of His beautiful trophies of grace.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: CrossHouse Publishing (September 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934749915
ISBN-13: 978-1934749913

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction


This is the story of one of God’s children who truly understands the meaning of what John Newton wrote many years ago, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Though reared in a Christian home and being expected to do all the things that a “church family” child should do, rebellion was simmering just below the surface. At the age of thirteen it erupted—Iris Urrey ran away from home. This was but the beginning of a life that would become increasingly involved in drugs, prostitution and other criminal activities. Being arrested, jailed and released, had become routine for this teenager until, at the age of seventeen, she was arrested for armed robbery. With her history of drugs and crime, the authorities worked the system and were able to hold her over until her 18th birthday so she could be tried as an adult.


“So what,” was her attitude. “If this is to be part of the life I’ve chosen to live—no big deal.” Iris found herself heading down the wide road that leads to destruction and she couldn’t get off. She was unable to resist temptation, she was living only for the moment, without any thought of her future. A casual observer would have written her off. “No hope for that girl.” But God was not a casual observer. He had already written the future chapters of Iris’ life; chapters that she would never have thought to write herself; chapters she would never have even dared to dream.


Years in prison, solitary confinements, released back into society to immediately return to the lifestyle that had led to her incarceration, she was headed toward the same tragic ending so many of her friends would meet. But this was not to be for Iris Urrey. Pursuing her, every step of the way, in and out of prison, in the middle of heroine highs and robberies, was her Creator, who in eternity past had devised a plan that would eventually turn this “incorrigible rebel” into one of His beautiful trophies of grace. As hard as she tried, she could not hide from Him. He was always there.


But this is not only a story of grace and redemption, it is the story of a world-wide ministry that has found this longest serving Mission Service Corps Volunteer with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, sitting beside top military brass at a NATO function one day, then serving tea and cookies to German prostitutes on a cold wintry afternoon, the next. It is the story of perseverance in the face of obstacles placed in her way by well-meaning fellow believers who sometimes had difficulty in accepting her non-traditional approaches to reaching the disenfranchised. Through discouragements and failures, through losses and gains, this unconventional “saint” pressed on, and still presses on, by faith, toward the prize of her high calling in Christ Jesus.


Finally, this book is more than a history of Iris, it addresses many of life’s issues that are common to us all, and in her unique way, Iris provides answers out of her own personal experiences. The impact she has had on countless lives over the years is affirmed in the tributes and testimonies recorded in these pages.

—Ron Owens

January, 2010










Prelude


My life’s message is faith. That’s why I am excited to have my story follow Bro. Manley Beasley’s biography because he is the person God brought into my life when I was a very young believer, to teach me and show me by his life what living by faith really is.


A lot of people talk and preach the faith life but they don’t practice it because it’s a lot easier to just talk about it. The walk of faith is a choice. There are times that I get in the flesh and begin worrying about tomorrow, especially when we are facing major financial challenges. All I know to do then is to confess it to the Lord and go back to trusting Him with tomorrow.


If God can take someone like us—me and Blue—not educated and not smart like a lot of people think is important or necessary to accomplish anything, and use us however He’s been able to, it has to be Him doing it. When you look at our lives there is absolutely no explanation for how far we’ve come. When it comes to finances, which is so much a part of life, you can’t say we’ve been good managers or that we’ve figured out how to do things, or that we’ve made good investments. I admit that we’ve tried several “tent-making” things on the side, in order to help our ministry, and though that may be alright for others to do, we found that while everyone else was making money, we were going in the hole. So, we’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that the Lord is going to honor our faith and nothing else. It hasn’t been easy because we’ve been led through some very deep valleys and we’ve had to climb some high mountains, but we can testify that He has never failed to see us through.


We’ve traveled around the world without any visible means of income. We have never had our way paid for any of our overseas trips. All the times we worked with Bro. Manley we had to trust the Lord for our own finances. One of my early learning experiences was when he said he would like me to go on a mission trip to Alaska. I had not been saved that long and was still crawling in the kind of faith walk Bro. Manley taught, but I thought I’d try to trust the Lord for the money to make the trip.


I was directing the girl’s home in Houston, Texas at that time, and with all I was having to trust the Lord for there, I began wondering if I would really get to go to Alaska. Then one day a lady brought me a pair of “long-handles” (thermal underwear) with little pink bows on them. If they had been “long-handles” for men I wouldn’t have thought anything about it, but those pink bows? It suddenly dawned on me that I would never wear “long-handles” in Houston, so I called Bro. Manley immediately and shouted into the phone, “I’m going to Alaska.” He asked: “How do you know, sister?” He probably thought I was going to say, “I’m really hoping to go,” like I had told him at other times. He would always answer, “Well, you’re not going because it’s going to take more than hope.” This time I said: “Bro. Manley, I don’t need ‘long-handles’ in Houston!” I went to Alaska.


I pray that this book will be a help and encouragement to you in your own walk of faith and that, as you read about my early years when I was running away from God, you will see how faithful He was, even then, to not let me destroy myself. Most people had given up on me, but God didn’t. I am living proof that, “…He who hath begun a good work in you (and in me) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Amen!

—Iris Blue

January, 2010











Part One


The

Rebellious

Years



“Those who rebel against the light;

They do not know its ways

or abide in its paths.”

(Job 24:13)






1

Texas Department of Corrections,

Goree Unit, Huntsville


“But Mama’s not going to be able to come way up here to Goree”


It’s about a ninety minute drive north on Interstate 45 from the south side of Houston to Huntsville, Texas—ninety minutes from the Harris County Courthouse to the Goree Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections. She had just been sentenced, shackled by handcuffs and leg irons and pushed into a paddy wagon. Now, convicted felon, Iris Urrey, would have 90 minutes to reflect on what had been happening during the nine months since her arrest for armed robbery. There was one thing for certain; she was glad the Harris County Jail experience was behind her.


From the time they’d locked her up to the time she heard the judge sentence her to seven more years, Iris had had a running battle with the jail guards who tried to control her. She was constantly fighting. The truth was, she never backed down from a good fight, she looked for fights, and in her own words, “was so ornery that it was not long before they began putting me in the “hole.”


“This next place can’t be as bad as where I’ve been,” she thought, as the paddy wagon drove north on Interstate 45. She remembered how hard it had been to sleep in “the hole,” curling her 6' 3" body around the 4' square space that had no mat, no blanket and no pillow. Now, as they approached Huntsville and were turning on to Hwy 75 where the Goree women’s prison unit was located, Iris began wondering how often her Daddy would be willing to make the 150 mile roundtrip to visit her. The last thing he had said as he watched his daughter being led off in shackles, was; “I’ll be coming to see you as soon as I get the visitation schedule.” She figured he would at least try. He had never missed a visitation day during the nine months she’d been in the Harris County jail, though on many of those visits, when she was in segregation, he was not able to see her. That had not deterred him, however. Every week on visitation day Pat Urrey had been there with the exact items he was permitted to bring his daughter, including $18.00 every second visit. “But now…will he…?


Iris thought of her mother and how badly she had treated her. When she was in the Harris County jail, her mother, Mama, would ride the bus all the way across town to often be told that her daughter was in segregation and could not be seen. One time, as her mother was walking toward the jail, she heard Iris shouting through the bars of her 4th floor cell window asking her to go to Foleys to buy some crazy game and to pick up as many Edgar Casey books as she could find. Her mother walked 16 blocks, each way, to do what Iris had asked her to do. “But Mama’s not going to be able to come way up here to Goree.”


Her father had not let Iris’ mother attend the sentencing. He felt it would be too hard on her. He did, however, take her younger sister, Punkin,1 with him, hoping it would put a scare into his youngest daughter who was already following in her big sister’s footsteps. What Iris didn’t know was that her mother would live in denial for the next seven years, doing her best to keep what was happening to Iris a secret from her friends, her church, and even relatives. When asked what Iris was doing, she’d tell people that she had moved to San Antonio to work in the Coca Cola Bottling Company. They would not press her for more information as they all knew the truth. They had read about it in the newspapers.


Goree was at that time an all-female unit, originally established in the early 1900’s. Twenty years prior to Iris’ arrival it had become famous, from coast to coast, when eight women inmates, all under the age of thirty, put together a Country Western singing group that became known as The Goree Girls. Fort Worth radio station, WBAP, heard about them and arranged to use them on a public service program called, Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls. The Goree Girls2 became an overnight sensation as they were broadcast on the Ft. Worth clear channel station all across America. For the next three years, every Wednesday night from ten to ten-thirty, central time, the program averaged a weekly radio audience of over 7 million listeners, while in excess of 100,000 letters a year poured into the Goree prison office.


Who knows but that Iris might have fit in with the Goree Girls back then. She was born with a strong, beautiful, God-given singing voice, but now, as she was about to drive through the prison gate, she had no song to sing. She would not find the song she was born to sing for another nine years, and Goree was to become anything but a place of music for her.



My Thoughts:  This book is truly inspirational.  Grace in action all the way.  I think I would like to meet Iris someday.  She is someone who has truly received and accepted the grace of God.  I know all who are saved receive His grace, but I'm not always sure we fully accept it.  We still hold on to our guilt and never find true freedom in Christ.  I'm not trying to preach here, but this is some stuff that was reinforced to me in this book.  If you want to read a book about someone who has been totally and radically changed by God, I would recommend this book very highly.  I believe if you read this book, you will desire, just like me, to allow God to completely change your life.