Thursday, March 24, 2011

Christian Merry Go Round!

We live in a world of darkness, but the darkness seems to be increasing.

My strong suggestion?

Don't focus on the darkness, live in the Light!

Easy words. Don't you wish it was as easy to live them as it is to say them? The amazing thing is that if we actually applied God's word, if we truly believed in His goodness, if we embraced His promises because we trusted Him fully and would be easy to live those easy words.

That's a lot of if's.

So how do we turn those "ifs" into do-able reality?

I've got good news and I've got bad news.

The bad news?

We can't do anything.

If you are honest, you'll recognize this truth. You'll know it because you've experienced it. "Been there, done that." I know there have been countless cycles that I have gone through. They usually go something like this:

I eventually recognize I have a problem.
I go to God in prayer and with all my heart tell Him how sorry I am.
I really mean it.
I tell Him I'm not going to "do that" again.
I resist the devil, pull myself up by my ever-loving bootstraps.
I apply God's promises.

For a while, it works.
For a while, I feel like I have overcome the problem.
For a while.


It comes back.

Sound familiar?

Sounds like a Christian Merry-Go-Round! I know I am tempted to say, after who knows how many "revolutions" (revelations?) ... Stop! I want to get off!

Do you know how many Christians eventually do stop?

A lot.


Because "living in the Light" isn't as easy as we thought. Matter of fact, we notice that we are not the only ones having a hard time. Look at all the hypocrites in the churches!

It's embarrassing. We certainly don't want to be associated with them!

People begin looking for reasons to get off the Christian Merry Go Round. And we are a crafty people.

Crafty, impatient, judgmental, unwilling and undisciplined...people.

That's the bad news.

Fortunately for us, there is also some really good news!

Take your focus off of the things you are doing wrong.

"But, but", you say... "it's wrong!"

I know. And neither you or I will ever be able to correct our wrongs...

As long as our focus is on the "wrongs" and not on Jesus.

Remember James 4:7? It doesn't just say to resist the devil. The first thing is says is to submit to God.


Because we can't resist the devil. Something that is easy to forget is the fact that when we do "wrong" things or even think "wrong" things...those things are not of God. They are either from Satan or they are inspired by him. Try as we might, we are not strong enough to permanently resist evil.

When we refrain from focusing on the darkness and instead submit to God, then yes, living in the Light will be as easy as breathing.

If we submit to God first, keeping our focus on Him and not on us trying to please Him, then He will empower us to correct those "wrongs". We will no longer desire to get off of the...

Christian Merry Go Round!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Sherman Tank of Praise...

What do we do when we look at the world around us and see bizarre activity? I'll be honest with you. I think, when all of our ducks are lined up in a row, it's easy to say "Just go to God in prayer".

We hear that, but when the rubber meets the road, it is often easier said than done.

I hate admitting that, but I know...for's true. I also know that turning to God at all times and putting our trust in Him is really my only intelligent option.

What? But Shay, did you hear about the earthquakes, tsunami's and other severe weather warnings looming on the horizon? Are you up on what's going on with the dollar? You need to stock up on food, emergency supplies, invest in precious metals, make yourself aware of surrounding world events. Don't act like an ostrich who puts its head in the sand when they are overwhelmed.

I understand. I really do. As a matter of fact, I have become so aware of so many things that I do feel like putting my head in the sand as I feel waves of futility coming over me.

I mean, taking stock of potential threats and calmly acting on that information is something I have no problem with. But I look at mine and my husbands situation. We barely make enough money to take care of our normal living expenses which we are very minimal.

I feel like a Christian walking through a minefield.

If you feel overwhelmed as you look at world events, I understand. A period of time passed in which I felt crushed and defeated as I was deluged with information and inundated with advice that, though I appreciated it, was...I realized... more than my little brain could take in. I feel like there is so much to do with not enough time to do it in.

I like the visual image that our pastor gave us last Sunday. He was speaking of the importance of praise and depending on God for everything...even when you feel... especially when you feel... overwhelmed. My ears, naturally, perked up when I heard that.

Thank you Pastor!

What I got from what he said is that instead of seeing ourselves as unprotected people walking through a minefield of potential bombs (or disasters) we need to think of ourselves as a "Christian in a Sherman Tank of Praise...plowing ahead steadily and surely". That is a visual that somebody relayed to the pastor many years ago and it has been very helpful to him.

Well, it's helpful to me as well, to see myself in...

"A Sherman Tank of Praise"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Access Withheld.

I am so glad you are you. Can you imagine what this world would be like if we were all a bunch of clones? God created us as unique individuals with an enormous variety of giftings and talents.

Not one of us "has it all". That's why we need each other so much.

Unfortunately, part of the population of people are under the misconception that they are unimportant, insignificant or somehow unnecessary. The rest of the populace seems to think they are an island and have chosen, for reasons they can't or don't want to share, to refrain from interacting with the undesirables of this world.


The next generation needs us. They need access to our life experiences. Our successes and our failures.

That may be contrary to our natural tendency to focus on taking care of ourselves and our needs or desires.'s important.

You guys, I have come across so many people that are very different from each other and almost pride themselves in that fact. But honestly, when are we going to stop focusing the majority of our attention on ourselves?

Hey, I have spent way too much focusing on me. I mean, it's important to a degree. Certainly it is understandable.

But we are needed. God wants to use us. He wants to work in us and through us. We make things difficult when we deny people access to ourselves.

Know what else happens when we do that?

We also deny ourselves the ability to grow.

Perhaps certain people simply don't fit into our "comfort zone" we exclude them and deny them access to our very important selves!

It's time to look forward and focus on people outside of us.

Reminds me of driving. When I was learning to drive, I was taught to keep my eyes on the road ahead of me. If I placed too much attention on the car I was sitting in or on off road "sight seeing" I would risk loosing control of my car.

Believe it or not, we loose control of ourselves when our focus is turned inward. In addition to that, we send the clear message to the next generation that says...

Access Withheld.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


"You know something,'re a snob!"

I'm a what?!

Obviously I was more than a little surprised by her blunt statement.

Was she correct in her assessment of me? No. You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so stunned.

How could she possibly say something like that!?

I spoke with her and discovered she had misinterpreted some actions of mine and made an incorrect assumption based on what she thought was fact. After a short discussion, she acknowledged she had made a mistake and we became friends. End of story.

The point I wanted to make is that many times people - myself included - send the wrong message to others by our actions. Yes, Veronica gave me a message. But I had also given her a message with my body language. It was completely unintentional.

I'm really glad that what happened, however, happened. Why? Because it's a good reminder of just how important our body language is. Sometimes we can be so focused on "things" that must be accomplished, that we don't see the people in the world around us.

What are some things we do that can be easily misinterpreted?

1) Busyness: Have you ever been so caught up in what "needs to be done" that you don't notice anybody around you?

2) Shy? I know. That may be easy for some people, but for others it is excruciatingly difficult to "speak up". But sometimes we have to be willing to work on things that don't come easy to us - and I know that I, for one, am willing to try harder if I think my actions or non-actions could be misconstrued as snobbery.

3) Unwillingness to say no. Lets see. How many of us avoid eye contact with someone because we don't want to be "waylaid" and actually have to say "no" to somebody. Granted, not everybody has that problem...but some people do. For them, saying no is paramount to walking a tightrope across Niagra Falls!

4) Emotional Doldrums: Sometimes I am so consumed with my emotional world that the outside world doesn't seem to exist. Now, I know people have feelings and sorting through those emotions is not fun...but again - it's important to understand that our emotions are not just affecting us. We are potentially hurting others as well. We all need to remember that. If necessary, we should remove ourselves from others for a while if we need to deal with "stuff".

These are a few things that we need to look at - maybe you know more. One thing I know for sure, though, is that if we refuse to look at behaviors that can communicate unwanted messages to others, then we might find ourselves saying...

Me?? A Snob?! Never!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Intention Doesn't Equal Action

Everybody loves a hero. Most of us hope we would fall into the category of putting someone else before ourselves. We mean well. In our minds, our intentions have become actions. Maybe that is why people are so quick to judge other people - but refrain from judging themselves. Perhaps it's because we can't read other peoples minds. We don't know the intentions that they have.

We only know ours.

Problem. Our intentions have not really materialized into action yet. We hope we would respond in a good way. Matter of fact, we assume we will. But we won't know for sure until we are actually put into a situation that requires action.

But the reality - a reality that I don't like - is that the "Bystander Effect", as psychologists call it, affects a much larger portion of the population than we realize.

It can affect us as well.

God was aware of this appalling lack of concern toward others...a long time ago. Remember the story of the "Good Samaritan"?

God loves His children and desires to heal us on all levels. He understands very well that, as good hearted as we may be...

Intention Does Not = Action.

Click the link below to see an example of the...

Bystander Effect

Monday, March 7, 2011

Christian String Theory!

Boy, I tell ya, I just get so excited when I learn something new! For some of you, you may be aware of what I'm going to say. As a matter of fact, I was aware of it...but I hadn't made a connection between what I'm going to say as it relates to the Christian life.

Well, if you've read some earlier posts then you know I'm talking about grafting plants together. I relate it to the vine (Jesus) and (us)
the branch that is being grafted into the vine.

Of course, the first and foremost thing any Christian will want and need to do is:

Read the Bible and Pray - It is the main way you are going to receive nourishment. If you don't read the Bible for yourself on a regular basis, then you won't know when you are being deceived. It's great to listen to special Christian speakers and Preacher/Teachers, but you need to do that in addition to reading the Bible on your own. And don't let prayer scare you. It is a special way to keep your communication with God open at all times.

But there is something else you will want to know!


Did you know that after the branch is grafted into the vine, an important last step is taken to ensure the two stay together?

With the help of a string or a cut rubber band, the two plants are bound together. Since those things hold the cut sides of the pieces together it encourages them to bond together.

So, what does the string represent? How does the rubber band fit into the Christian paradigm?

I would like to share with you some thoughts that I have.

A couple of things come to mind:

1) Both the string and the cut rubber band are temporary.

I feel really fortunate as I look back to the beginning of my walk with Christ. Several pieces of string were immediately wrapped around me, which kept me very close to Christ in the initial grafting in process.

For example, I remember a guy named Tim, challenged me to read the book of Romans...20 times! He usually had people read the book of John several times, but for some reason he felt like he needed to give me the "Romans" challenge. I am very grateful for that.

Did I read it all those times? I did read it 14 times. It was a great jump start! That challenge was temporary, but other things will be so important that you will want to incorporate into the entirety of your new life.

2) Both the string and the cut rubber band are outside sources. They aren't the source of nourishment. Their purpose is to keep our physical selves bound with Christ. Of course the main sealant is the Holy Spirit, but God also uses other things to help us stay close to Him.

Church, Bible Studies, Retreats, Christian Radio, Books, Mission name a few.

As you can see, I could go on and on. General rule of thumb: If it is going to draw you closer to Christ, it is a good outside source.

I call it the...

Christian String Theory!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Am I Willing to Make the Cut?

I can see why people who work with plants, like it so much. There are so many parallels. I love that. Helps me to bring biblical principals to life so that they are more than words. Know what I mean?

There are so many correlations between Christianity and the grafting process.

Did you know that the cutting of both the scion and the rootstock is paramount if actual grafting is going to take place? How does that relate to anything beyond plant life?

How does that relate to Christianity?

Jesus is the "vine" that we "branches" must be grafted into. His "cut" went deep when He died on the cross for us.

And what about our cut? Do we have one? What is it?

In the grafting process, as I mentioned earlier, both the vine and the branch must be cut before they are grafted together. Jesus's cut is represented by His death.

Could it be that our "cut" takes place when we die to ourselves?

That's a possibility. I'd like to hear what you think.

All I know for sure is that cuts from both sources need to exist in order for necessary nutrients to flow from the vine to the branch. I'm no scientist, but commonsense tells me that nutrients from the sap of the vine won't be able to flow into the branch if the branch is not open to receive the new life.

We were open to Christ when we first became Christians. Are we still open to Him?

Speaking for myself, I have to admit that I - more often than I would care to admit - take for granted that Jesus loves me and even died that I might live.

But am I willing to die to myself, so that Christ can live freely through me?

Am I willing to make the cut?