Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

In Memory of My Mother


Mom image in stardust frame.

Mom in a stardust frame. May she be even more beautiful now in the presence of her Lord and Savior.

It’s hard to believe it’s already January 25th, and this is my first post for 2015. When I said I’d be traveling to care for my mom, I don’t think I realized how much her diagnosis would change my world. Her loss on January 13th turned it upside-down.

I have some news to share related to her last days, but I will share that at a later date, probably when I’m back home and ready to start updating again more frequently. For today, I want to share the information I put together for her memorial service. I found the above picture in her belongings, and I believe it’s from her late teens.

From the memorial brochure…

Page 1, with the picture: “Tell the people, I am happy. Be happy for me too.”

Page 2:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)
(Paraphrased)
7. As for Catherine, she has fought
the good fight, she has finished the
race, and she has remained faithful.
8. And now the prize awaits her—the
crown of righteousness, which the
Lord, the righteous Judge, will give
her on the day of His return. And the
prize is not just for her but for all
who eagerly look forward to His
appearing.

Page 3:

In Loving Memory of
Catherine Anne Jensen

Born on September 8th, 1944
in Concord, California

Went peacefully to her eternity with
her Savior, Jesus, on
January 13th, 2015

Memorial at her home church,
First Assembly of God, Benson, AZ
Sunday, January 18th, 2015 @ 1pm

Potluck reception to follow service.

Page 4:

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
8. And now, dear brothers and sisters,
one final thing. Fix your thoughts on
what is true, and honorable, and right,
and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent
and worthy of praise.
9. Keep putting into practice all you
learned and received from me—
everything you heard from me and saw
me doing. Then the God of peace will
be with you.

Click Mom Memorial Flyer for a PDF copy of the brochure if you’d like to print it out.

Many blessings to all my readers for your caring and concern as I walk through this unexpected valley of change in my family. Before she left us. the advent of technology allowed some wonderful last moments for Mom with her older sister, Shirley, and her younger brother, Dale, as we gathered on a Google hangout from three different homes. She was able to say good-bye to siblings, daughters, sons-in-law, a nephew, and friends on the Thursday evening before she began sleeping through her last days. On Saturday and Sunday, she awoke for brief moments for good-byes with her church friends in Benson. A little after 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, January 13th, Mom took her last breaths while looking up and appearing to say “yes” to someone above her. We believe it was an answer to the question, “Are you ready to go?.” She left peacefully and without enduring the extreme pain normally associated with pancreatic and liver cancer. The grace of God has sustained us and will continue to sustain us in the coming days.

May God sustain all of you today and always,

~Crystal

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Current Events, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2014 in review


2014 is almost over, and I’ve slowed down a bit as the year winds down. I guess we all need to take a bit of a break now and then, and mine came in with some physical issues that wore me out for a few weeks. Now, I wonder if my body was preparing for the emotional hit I received just two days ago when I found out my mother has inoperable late-stage pancreatic cancer. Prayer gives me amazing comfort, and I can’t imagine walking through a time like this without the grace of God and the strength of praying friends. When we’re out of control, there’s so much comfort in knowing that God is on His throne and that He cares.

With planning and upcoming travel, I don’t know how often I’ll be posting, but I promise I won’t forget about the blog or about my precious and valued readers. Thank you for every day, and every lesson, you have walked (and will walk) with me in this wisp of life here on earth. Now, here’s a 2014 review prepared for me by WordPress…

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 30, 2014 Posted by | Current Events, Nonfiction, Prayer, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Effective Efforts


Christmas Crochet Clock Face by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Christmas Crochet Clock Face by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved Click the image to open a new tab/window to visit my CafePress Christmas store.

I’ve made a strong effort with this blog since August of 2013. I think I’ve been trying to make up for the years I had it and barely wrote. But I need to make a change. There have been times where I have spent so long trying to come up with just the right topic, that I couldn’t post in a timely manner. If I want a good picture to go with it, that takes even more time.

Am I quitting? No way. I will still make an effort to get something posted every day, but it’s going to become more “slice of life” stuff with some good lessons mixed in as I learn them from a variety of sources. Maybe I’ll throw in a haiku or other type of poem now and then. Sometimes, I’ll post my photography or creative images. I just don’t want people surprised if all of a sudden there’s not deep Bible study on every single post.

Tonight and last night, I’ve been thinking about time and my use of it, hence the clock face above which is a blend of my creativity and a representation of time itself. I’m thinking about the efforts I put into the minutes and hours of my day. For example, I actually started this post early enough tonight to get done before midnight, but some unexpected issues came up that made it impossible to post as planned. I guess God is reminding me that time is in HIS hands and not my own. (By the way, if you click the image, it will take you to my Christmas shop at CafePress. It’s mostly coffee cups, but I do have this clock face on an actual clock there.)

Anyway, as my title says, I want the efforts I make in this life to be effective. What does it mean to be effective? To me it will mean that the things I do have some type of lasting value. I am bombarded by things I want to do, things I need to do, and things I should do. I have to prioritize them based on those that have the greatest value now and later. I want to watch the nice G-Rated Christmas movies by Hallmark while they’re in season. Some of them have life lessons that inspire me long after their viewing. Also, I need to send Hanukkah and Christmas cards. I take longer because I like to write personal notes in them to let people know they are more than just names on a list. And, I should get out and do some shopping before it’s too late.

Here’s some more. Want: I want to either call or Facebook message all the family and friends that have current events going on in their lives. Maybe they’re having birthdays, maybe anniversaries, maybe fighting illnesses, maybe suffering loss, or maybe they’ve just released new writing I want to read. Need: I need to plan for our upcoming Christmas dinner for our writer’s group. That includes making updates on our website and contacting everyone on the e-mail list. Should: These are the things on my want list, like reading the works of writer friends, but with a bit more oomph and importance.

What about you? Do you struggle with all the stuff you want to do with your gift of creativity and all the stuff you need to do to keep life up and running? I want to make more products for my Zazzle store, not because I make much there, but because I’m energized by being creative. I need to watch the lessons I’ve purchased on using my Scrivener software, so my purchase is valuable and so I can share information with others in my writer’s group. Helping others energizes me too.

Under both creativity and helpfulness, it has been requested that I compile my posts on Torah reading for those who want to read it in print all in one place. I want to do it, but it will be some work because of things like Bible version permissions. I’ll have to change some of what I wrote to go with the King James’ Version of the Bible or get permission to use the full text from the Complete Jewish Bible. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, do you think I should do a book on those posts? If so, would you read it? Should I seek permissions to keep the text from the CJB? Please comment below just to help me hone my “to do” list and get the important and effective efforts pushed closer to the top. Thanks.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Creativity, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Can Be A Wonderful Life


Still from It's A Wonderful Life by Flickr User Insomnia Cured Here, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike

Still from It’s A Wonderful Life by Flickr User Insomnia Cured Here, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I spent this evening in a dinner theater with friends. We watched a well-performed musical version of It’s a Wonderful Life, which is always a nice reminder of rethinking our perspectives at this time of year. I am always brought to tears when George learns just how much people will be there for him after all he has given up in being there for them through the years.

The thing I notice about the story is that George Bailey is extremely generous with his time and money, but he’s a bit stingy with his emotions. He gives in the same way Jonah ministered to the people of Nineveh (yesterday’s post)–grudgingly. He has so many dreams he wants to carry out, and every time he thinks he’s on his way to one or the other, some tragedy strikes or something comes up to change his plans. An abundance of these events with George “giving in” to whatever call is on his life leads him to feeling suicidal.

What changes for George in the end to give him more hope? Nothing externally. His attitude changes before he finds out that his friends and neighbors are ready to be there for him and meet his needs the way he’s always done for them. His grudging giving was still giving, so it didn’t hurt his relationships in the long run, but he likely missed out on some joy through the years. A stack of days without joy can certainly lead to the dark day where George meets the angel named Clarence. (Who, by the way, gets his wings when the bell in the above image rings.)

Attitude makes all the difference in the world. As said by Charles Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.” (Click the word “attitude” to see the whole message in context.) How we respond to difficulties in life does not change how difficult they are to us, but it changes how much damage they’ll be allowed to do to our spirits. We’re not guaranteed happiness, but joy is a fruit of the Spirit of God, so circumstances can’t take it away. God’s spirit of joy is there to strengthen us to face our difficulties if we will let it.

Chip Brogden brings up a good point in today’s Infinite Supply newsletter when he points out that God sees every sparrow that falls, but He doesn’t stop them from falling. He may not take the difficulties or storms away from us, but He Himself will be our very present help in times of trouble; a shelter during our stormy times. As a matter of fact, here’s how King David spoke of God’s sheltering Spirit in Psalm 61:3-4 (NKJV)

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

If we respond with an attitude of expectation for that help, comfort, and shelter, we will find the strength of God’s joy right when we need it. Then, no matter what happens to us, it can be a wonderful life.

P.S. If you click the movie title above, it will take you to a special on the DVD set. As of this writing, it’s $7.99 instead of $24.99 for the two-disc set that includes both black & white and color plus some bonus features.

December 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, Slice of Life, TV and Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ferguson Golden Rule


Agape by Flickr User Marcelino Rapayla Jr., Creative Commons License = Attribution

Agape by Flickr User Marcelino Rapayla Jr., Creative Commons License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’m not sure when it became en vogue to pay people back as we feel they deserve, but it is a horrible twisting of God’s real “golden rule.” Injustice should not breed injustice, especially when the first act has not been proven. What has been proven is that people are excusing bad behaviors as balancing justice. Individuals are burning businesses of people who have done them no wrong, and journalists are publishing private information of the innocent family of a perceived wrong-doer.

And what if we all, including the police, did what rioters are doing in the name of justice? What if, every time an African-American gang member shot a white police officer, the rest of the white police officers burnt down the houses of all the gang members and their families? Without any color or race in play, what if police routinely attacked innocent civilians coast to coast as a method of payback for the deaths of their brothers in blue? Would any consider that to be justice?

What does Scripture tell us that God considers justice or right behavior? Here are a few verses from the New Living Testament

Matthew 22:39b–Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 5:44-45aBut I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 4:31-32Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Two wrongs have never made a right. I believe Yeshua told people to forget the old “eye for an eye” instructions for more than just His mercy. I believe it was because people misused and abused God’s instruction, and they used payback for personal reasons instead of under God’s direction.

If we try hard enough, any one of us could find a reason to hate, or at least dislike, any other of us. I have known people who wished evil on others just because of what state they were born in or what team they favored. This idea that we should hate someone because of the job they do, the race they were born into, their financial status, or whatever, is senseless. Those who incite the hatred in others are just as guilty as those who start the fires because they ignite the matches that ignite the matches.

Here’s what I want to know: Where are those who are using this situation to teach their children why they should never put themselves in bad positions by getting involved in criminal activities? Foolishness is born into the heart of a child, and only the rod of correction will drive it from them. Children aren’t necessarily innocent just because they’re children, and by the time they’re teens, they are old enough to take responsibility for their own behaviors. There’s no personal responsibility for them or their “defenders” in trying to refocus the attention on how the police dealt with the criminal instead of reminding youth that crime doesn’t pay.

This new “Golden Rule” as promoted by events like the Ferguson riots, and older versions of the same, is neither golden nor a good rule to live by. It’s all about division even if it disguises itself as unifying people because it’s only unifying for the purpose of being set against others.

The spirit of division began in the garden when Adam blamed God for the woman who helped him sin, and Eve blamed the serpent for offering the sin. In truth, Eve was responsible for listening to the temptation, and Adam was responsible for choosing to obey a voice other than that of his Creator. It continues to this day in dividing race, gender, status, etc. It won’t stop as long as sin reigns in us, but that doesn’t mean any of us has to live by its rule. Will you be one to choose God’s word and rules over man’s?

December 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Current Events, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Tall is God?


At 4 feet, 10 inches (4′ 10 & 3/4″ when I was younger–LOL), I’ve compared my height to a lot of people. I like that I can make even short people feel a bit taller. I remember when I worked in a truck stop travel store. The cash register was on a platform, but it wasn’t obvious, so when I stepped down from it to make coffee by request, it shocked the driver standing there waiting for his coffee. He said it looked like I had just fallen down into a hole.

Unless I’m trying to retrieve something from a tall shelf, I’m happy with being short, and sometimes it can even be fun. But, if everything in my life was way above my head, then I might desire to measure up to those who can reach all things easily. Spiritually, however, it’s a very different story. I don’t know that I can ever grow enough, so I want to keep growing and learning as long as I’m in this life. Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter talks about our need to set a goal to measure up to a stature greater than ourselves.

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirtieth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Thirtieth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 30

The Purpose of Ministry

“He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
EPHESIANS 4:11-13

Each of these ministry functions fulfill different roles, but their purpose is the same, and that is, to bring ALL of us into that same fullness, that same spiritual maturity, that same experiential knowing, which the elders themselves enjoy. Thus, He gives SOME, till we ALL… SOME, till we ALL… SOME, till we ALL. Do you see this? And He will continue to give SOME till we ALL. Once He has ALL then the work is complete and these ministries will no longer be needed. Until then they ARE needed, and they are critical to God’s Purpose.

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

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I think this is a great post for my last day of sharing Chip Brogden’s newsletters with readers. Before I go on, I want to encourage readers to subscribe to these newsletters for yourselves. I’ve been on the list since 2009, and even those posts I’ve read more than once have encouraged or taught me great things more than once. To get deeper, purchase the books he takes these studies from, or go to the site and get involved with the discussions.

On this topic, I love the point Chip makes about God giving some to each of the ministries above with the purpose that we will all become complete in Him. Our completion comes with learning how tall Yeshua is, so we can measure up to His stature. When all of us have become perfect and can measure up to The Lord, we will no longer need others to minister to us. For now, we need teaching, guidance, examples, perspective, and accountability. Not one of us has it all together on his or her own, even if we are teachers ourselves.

Our purpose in serving God is not to become better at being human, but to become more and more like Christ. We are promised that we will see Him one day, and on that day we will see Him as He is. At that time, we also have the promise that our bodies will become like His glorious body. How tall is God? We don’t know right now, but we know He is taller than us, so we might as well keep growing.

December 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Taste Test


Remember the old commercial that told what kind of peanut butter choosy mothers selected? They would do a blind taste test to let people choose their preferred flavor without the benefit of knowing which brand they were tasting. Of course, the commercial displayed those who selected the brand paying for the advertising time.

Much of advertising is set to compare one brand to another, so consumers can make a choice between the two. If that comparison is done with actual experience, such as taste or feel, the advertiser best be certain of the quality of his product before putting it to the test. If the product is of good quality, there should be no fear in comparing it with any other brand.

There are a lot of voices in the world hawking their theories and beliefs as to what is truth. With an array of opinions, both old and new, the advertising and reports of each can seem overwhelming. But as old theories are disproven by new facts, the one that stands the test of time is the word of God. Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter speaks of why it continues to stand.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Sixth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Sixth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 26

His Word is Truth

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
JOHN 17:17

I am frequently asked how do we partake of this fullness? How do we walk in it? What practical application exists for living according to this Truth? We see what God says, but we also see our situation. We see Jesus, but we also see ourselves. God says we are complete in Him, but we say we are incomplete. God says we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, but we say we still need this or that. What is the problem here? Is it not a glaring discrepancy between what God says and what we say? Whose word is more reliable?

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!

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King David said it this way in Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

When all is presented before us, we must be choosy. Whose report should we believe? The one that goes beyond theories and ideas and stands with personal testimony that cannot be disputed. Our own testimony, and the testimonies of those we love and trust, will tell us more than any educated and intelligent scientist can tell through disassociated theory.

When I served my most recent jury duty, one of the things they taught while going over how things worked was evidence. Testimony, they said, was the strongest form of evidence available. Testimony coupled with physical evidence is what makes the difference in knowing whether a report is believable; otherwise, anything could be called the truth.

God’s word is true and believable. Those who stand against it have rarely put it to an actual test of experience, especially of long experience. I would both encourage and challenge anyone who is unsure about the written word of God to read it and try it for yourself. Read it over and over and apply it to your life. Regardless of what you’ve heard from pulpit heralds, good or bad, nothing will be as convincing as your own experience. The saying goes, “Try Jesus: If you don’t like Him, the devil will always take you back.” I say, take God’s word for your own “taste test.”

Psalm 34:8 from The Message Bible

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Teaches the Teachers?


I remember an algebra teacher in the ninth grade that made me wonder who was the student and who was the teacher. It was my desire to get a good grade, but it was even more my desire to learn the subject. Apparently, I was a rarity in that. When I approached the teacher for help, he was content to just look up the answer in the teacher’s manual. He was surprised that I wasn’t satisfied with his answer. I explained that knowing the answer and not the solution would only benefit me for that question and not future questions on tests and such. He considered me argumentative.

That’s not the first time I’ve been called argumentative, and it was definitely not the last. What really frustrates me is the times when I have approached Bible teachers for solutions, and they too just wanted to provide a pat answer. You know, the kind of answer like, “Just because it’s always been done this way.” Scripture might tell us to avoid foolish and vain questions, but it does not tell us to avoid questions altogether. I guess what matters on getting answers is who or “Who” we consult.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, author Chip Brogden speaks about teaching and learning.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Second by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Second by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 22

When Men Fail

“The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you.”
1 JOHN 2:27

It was God who gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to His Ekklesia, to encourage, edify, and establish all of us deeper into Christ. Can the Holy Spirit in John contradict the Holy Spirit in Paul? By no means.

What then? John was the sole survivor of the first twelve apostles, and now he is very old. Naturally he is concerned with the welfare of the Ekklesia after his death. So God comforts John, and then John comforts us, with this truth: even if we do not have access to the apostle, or prophet, or evangelist, or pastor and teacher, we are still instructed inwardly. The Ekklesia that Jesus is building is not dependent upon the great men or women of God. We are grateful to the ministry gifts when we have them, but we are not dependent upon them for our Life. The Life is greater than the ministers through which it may be ministered.

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

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The “Five-Fold Ministry” (from Ephesians 4:11) the author mentions above is to bring ALL SAINTS deeper into Christ. And we–all of us–must go deeper for a reason. Verse 12 tells us that the ministry is… for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. And why are all of us supposed to be equipped for the work of ministry? Verse 12 continues by saying…for the edifying of the body of Christ.

There are teachers and students, but when you read these notes to the Ephesians in context, it should be clear that God’s intention is that we all eventually become teachers. Just like newborns don’t stay infants, and don’t stay toddlers, and don’t stay children; everyone has to grow up eventually. It works the same in spiritual things. Our growing up in The Lord is to “unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God” according to verse 13. Continuing in verse 14, we read…

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.

Children can be more easily fooled than learned adults. If we remain spiritually immature, we risk being tricked by apostate leaders who call themselves prophets and apostles of God but are instead blind leaders of the blind. I can’t tell you how many times in my walk with God I’ve heard the term “winds of change.” Most of the time, it has introduced some new “minister” with wild new doctrines or miraculous-seeming powers. With this warning about not being carried about with every wind of doctrine, I think it’s wise to be careful of any doctrine that calls itself new or coming in with winds of change.

Just because people proclaim themselves to be teachers does not make them teachers. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 speaks of those who transform themselves into apostles. If someone says he or she is a teacher, reverend, minister, prophet or otherwise, we should watch to find out who taught the teacher to see if the teaching is from God. If those teachers are simply parroting what they learned from other men, we must be careful of them. Better yet, If we’ve been serving God for a while, we should be teaching more than being students. We should seek God as our Teacher, so we do not have to fear being blown around by any false winds of change.

In case you wonder if you are living up to what Scripture considers maturity in Christ, I recommend reading all of Ephesians 4. It gives clear and precise descriptions of the behavior that will be displayed by those who walk with The Lord. May we all walk worthy of the calling of God.

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drawing Nearer to The Lord


From Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

What a privilege we have to know who our God is and what He has done for us. What a pleasure He has given us to bless us with His presence when we bless Him with our praise. We often attribute the gates and courts with church attendance, but if we see His gate as the narrow gate of salvation, we find even more opportunities to enter with thanksgiving and praise.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, the author speaks of what we find beyond the gate.

Infinite Supply Image for November Eighteenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Eighteenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 18

His Fullness

“Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
EPHESIANS 4:13

It is the FULLNESS of Christ that we are after, the revelation of Christ as He IN FACT IS. For too many Christians the Lord Jesus is “merely” their Savior. Thank God He is our Savior, but there is a depth and a richness bound up into the personage of Christ that goes far, far beyond “mere” salvation. Salvation is the narrow gate – coming into the fullness of Christ is the narrow path. The gate is only the entrance to something larger.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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Something larger; something bigger; something more. Most of us want bigger and more, and it is God’s desire to give us bigger and more. If we were satisfied with only a little, we may not desire or pursue a heavenly reward.

I remember some years ago trying to work with a nephew on the idea of the rewards of sobriety. I presented all the great possibilities a sober life could bring, but none of them worked. For every good thing I presented, my nephew told me he was satisfied with something less. Sleeping on a couch in someone else’s home, getting a ride in someone else’s car, never having anything of his own: All of these were acceptable to him. How can anyone argue with that?

Salvation is so much more than just a ticket out of Hell. Being saved is a gate we should all want to walk through, but there is so much more on the other side–both here and in Heaven. I’ve tried to use food as an example, comparing dog food to a steak dinner, but those who simply do not hunger or thirst for righteousness will often reject that too. They want to be saved because they don’t want to go to Hell, but the idea of filling their life with more and more of The Lord holds no appeal. I don’t get that.

The idea of having more of Yeshua and less of me gives me a reason to press on in this life. In his message called Drawing Near, John Bevere talks about Enoch as walking closer and closer to The Lord until he got so close that he just couldn’t stay attached to this earth any longer. I believe that statement is on the audio CD, but I recommend at least reading about the interaction between Adam and Enoch from pages 11-13 which you can read for free at Google Books. (The link will show you 11-12, but keep reading.)

I’ll close with the lyrics to verse three of song Draw Me Nearer by Fanny J. Crosby. It seems to perfectly capture the heart of longing to be in The Lord’s presence. May you find yourself longing to draw nearer to the fullness of Christ each day you dwell on this earth.

Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

November 19, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Have Thine Own Way, Lord


Do you remember the days of youth when personal decisions were not totally our own? We had to ask an adult for almost every plan we wanted to make. We often thought how we couldn’t wait to grow up, so we could do things without asking.

As adults, we don’t have much more freedom than we did in youth because we have a whole new lineup of authorities that want us to get their permissions. On one hand, people will tell us to follow our hearts, and on the other, some will try to make us feel guilty for acting without seeking their opinions. Of course, we should seek opinions when our actions will affect others, but sometimes we’ve got to listen more to a “Higher Power.” In the Infinite Supply for November 16th, Chip Brogden speaks of Paul’s call to ministry  and what permissions he needed to move forward.

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixteenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixteenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 16

No Permission Needed

“When it pleased God… to reveal His Son in me…I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me.”
GALATIANS 1:15-17

Paul did not seek credentials, ordination, or affiliation with a human organization. He did not wait for anyone to confirm the call on his life. He did not seek for hands to be laid on him. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ was renegade enough, but to preach the gospel to the Gentiles was a departure from the norm for the Christians at that time. It would later prove to be quite controversial and divisive. Prudence would dictate that it would be better to check with the other apostles and get their opinion and feedback before striking out in a new direction. Yet, Paul says once he obtained revelation he had no need to confer with flesh and blood.

Why? Because he was a maverick, an independent spirit, a rebel? No, it is only because the Revelation of Jesus is sufficient guidance. Flesh and blood cannot add to or take away from the Revelation.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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Have you ever felt called or inspired by God to make a move in a particular direction? In any of those times, did you second-guess that call and seek the opinions or permissions of others first? I know I have, and sometimes it has stopped me from moving in obedience to God. I remember a time when I even stopped myself from praying for a girl in public because I was afraid my pastor at the time would not approve. I regret that, but I also know that time is in God’s hands, so I trust He sent someone to her in my place.

In our walks with God, there should always be balance. That means, we will have things that require permission, and maybe opinions. It also means there will be times when we must move forward in faith to what God speaks to our spirit. Sometimes, what He speaks might be to wait or stop, but whatever we do, obedience to His Holy Spirit is what matters most. As Chip says above, obeying God without seeking permission from men does not make us rebellious to people, it just makes us fully obedient to God.

God’s ordination is far more valuable than any ordination or permission, but if we’re not sure we’re hearing from Him, we will need to seek flesh and blood for confirmation. Here’s how Paul states it in 2 Peter 1:10 (NKJV)…

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.

Never stumble; wow. What a promise. But if we are His sheep, we will know our Shepherd Yeshua’s voice, and we can be sure of His calling to us when He speaks. If we are sure we’ve heard from The Lord (if so, our direction should also line up with Scripture), we can move as He leads. May our hearts and actions say as the song below, “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way.”

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Tell the Truth


I remember a college class where the main book focused on the thought that “truth is subjective.” They used examples like two different people looking at something from different angles and therefore seeing different truths. In some ways, yes, truth can be subjective. The argument between my grandparents as to whether my uncle’s front door was brown or white was recorded for posterity. We still laugh as we watch Grandpa sitting on one side of the open door and Grandma sitting on the other; both insisting on the color from their perspectives. One side was white, and one side was brown, so both descriptions were the truth.

Real truth, however, is the whole picture. In the case of my grandparents, neither were actually telling the truth because neither saw both sides of the door. To tell the whole truth, you must know the whole truth. Grandma could tell Grandpa it was brown all day long, but he would never believe her as long as his view was only of the white side of the door.

Today’s Infinite Supply talks about “The Truth,” meaning Jesus Christ who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Sixth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the article and other resources at The School of Christ website.

November 6

Seeing As God Sees

“He, the Spirit of truth… will guide you into all truth.”
JOHN 16:13

To choose the Truth is to want the Truth at all costs, even if it means sacrificing everything I have believed up until now, challenging all my paradigms, questioning all my teachers, examining everything I have ever experienced.

Of course our first decision about Truth is based upon Who Jesus is. With that question settled many Christians are content, but Truth is living. Truth will continue to reveal Himself to us and around us for as long as we will allow it. What, after all, is Wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to see things from heaven’s, and thus God’s, perspective. Daily we must choose between ignorant bliss or seeing things as God sees them. It is a daily choice. You cannot be told, you have to see it for yourself.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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I think what Chip says about truth having to come by revelation; that it’s something we cannot be told, is important. Yeshua speaks to Peter (Hebrew Kefa) in Matthew 16:13-20 and asks him who people say He (Yeshua) is. Peter confesses that Yeshua is the Anointed Messiah, and Yeshua blesses him for it. He tells him that it’s not something he could have figured out on his own, but that only God could have revealed such truth to him. That’s where Yeshua follows up with the prophecy that on that rock (the foundation of revelation or revealed truth), He would build His church.

Truth must be revealed. It’s like the truth of realizing you are in love. No one else can tell you. I think that’s why people compare it to falling. It comes on quick like you tripped and fell into it, and then you just know, and you know better than if someone had tried to tell you.

Christian Country singer Ann Hartmann has a song called God’s Got the Box on her “Look Up” album. In the lyrics, she talks about how hard it can be to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the box. Then, she talks about life being like a jigsaw where we struggle until we realize that God sees the whole picture because He’s got the box. It’s an analogy that has stayed with me since I first heard her sing the song.

To tell the truth, I guess “truth” really is subjective since the only One who really knows and sees it all is the One who is Truth Himself. Knowing that, however, we can walk in truth simply by walking as we are led by His Holy Spirit.

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creative In God’s Image


My business cards usually include the line “Writer and Creative Mind.” I have been creative for as long as I can remember, so it’s nothing I’ve worked for or been trained in. I know my creativity is a gift from God, and that I am made in my Father’s creative image. God gives me authority over my gifts, so I can use them for Him or for things which are not pleasing to Him. I can even choose to not use my gifts at all. But, my love for Yahveh drives me to want to create positive and uplifting designs whether that be in writing or in products on my Zazzle page.

Speaking of the latter, I finally plugged in the new night lights I created and ordered last month, and they are my favorite items from Zazzle so far. I’d love to know what my readers think of these two items. Also, do you think customized night lights would make good Christmas gifts for friends and family? If so, tell me which of the 29 I recently created are best, or if you think some other images might work better. The two I ordered are of my Pink and Yellow Fractalized Butterflies with Stars and Yellow Daisies in a Field of Purple.

Now, when thinking of God’s gifts, we often think about the promise of His word that we can do all things through Christ. In addition to that Scripture, we have Yeshua’s claim that we can do nothing without Him. Here’s what Chip Brogden wrote on that subject in today’s Infinite Supply newsletter…

Infinite Supply Image Nov Third

Infinite Supply Image Nov Third
Click the image to open a new tab/window and view the article on the School of Christ dot org website.

November 3

Nothing Without Him

“Without Me you can do nothing.”
JOHN 15:5

Jesus would explain to His disciples that spiritual life hinges upon living in active dependence upon Himself. That is the fundamental lesson to learn because it is the fundamental sin of mankind – the independent path. Jesus says without Him we can do nothing. Nothing! But it is human nature to try and do something in ourselves. We call it freedom and liberty; blazing our own trail; making something happen. But the end result is death and destruction.

The fall of man illustrates a fundamental truth: that whenever Self is allowed to rule in the place of Christ, the result is sin, sorrow, separation and death. Apart from Him we really can do nothing.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom

by Chip Brogden

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©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears.

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Again, the author covers an important topic for all Christians. I love that he says we need an active dependence on our Savior. Salvation isn’t a “set it and forget it” lifestyle change. It’s more like a raging yet contained fire if we’re fully committed to walking in the newness of a life with Yeshua as our Lord and Savior. We should always be learning something new from His word or from the words He speaks in our spirit. We should be acquiring understanding from Him instead of leaning on our own. And, we should be walking and creating as He leads even if we can generate a million ideas “on our own.”

I know when I’m trying to do things on my own. It’s usually a time of great chaos on my life. My ideas will come at me so fast that I don’t know whether to jump, duck, go around, or catch them straight on. I’ll have an abundance of thoughts but nowhere to go with them, or I’ll want to go everywhere at once. That’s the downside of having a creative mind, and I’ll admit to still not being sure I have all my creativity in God’s hands. Thankfully, God is merciful, and He gives me a new chance to try again with each new day.

Are you creative? If not, do you wrestle with your gifts, whatever they may be, trying to drive you to acting first and praying later? Ideas of any kind can pop up and threaten to leave if we don’t act on them right away, so I’m certain I’m not the only one who faces this challenge. Tell me about your challenges, and we can pray for each other.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life, Zazzle | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Before You Vote on Tuesday


The above video should start at about 10:16 in for a segment of Israel Now News called “Ask the Source.” The host, Josh Reinstein, is interviewing a Pastor Larry Huch about celebrations in Israel at the time of the filming. The part I want to refer you to begins at about minute 13 and continues to minute 19 where the pastor talks about the effect a divided Israel will have on Christians. To summarize briefly…

Larry began a program called The Jerusalem Call to make Christians aware of the biblical and international law showing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We will lose much if Jerusalem is divided. First, Israel is the only place in the middle east with true freedom of religion. Even at holy sites like “The Western Wall,” he says you can find people of multiple religions from all over the world praying there. We will lose that if Jerusalem is divided. In addition, we will lose access to “The Via Dolorosa” (the road Christ walked to Calvary), “The Church of The Holy Sepulchre,” and more. He says we’ll also lose where Yeshua was crucified and where He resurrected.

I highly recommend watching the entire video, and other videos by Israel Now News for informative news from The Holy Land. If you click to view the video at YouTube, you can subscribe to be notified when new videos are added, but there are 152 episodes available now.

So, I titled this in reference to voting simply to remind Christians to check whether the politicians they vote for are supportive of Israel as an ally. Our current establishment is actually causing those who used to be our enemies to rejoice in our new policies. We are supporting those who are enemies both of us and of Israel, and we can be sure God is not happy with it. He said He does not change, and His word (that stands forever) is that He will bless those who bless her and curse those who curse her. We must choose if we will support candidates who bring us blessing or curse.

Now, to switch gears since I promised Infinite Supply for the full month. Here is today’s post…

November 2

All I Have is Yours

“Bring out the best robe and put it on him.”
LUKE 15:22

To put on the Lord Jesus is to be clothed with the very best robe. This robe makes us look better than we really are. But when we are dressed with the best we begin to act differently. Having put on the Lord Jesus, we are clothed with Him and His character replaces our character. His Life is received in exchange for our life. If we cooperate with the Life we will naturally find our behavior is changed.

But what of the elder son? “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours” (Luke15:31). Hallelujah! There is no partiality with God, however much we may think God is being more fair or more generous to some brother or sister. Not so: the robe, the ring, and the shoes only represent the “all,” the fullness of the Father, and “of His fullness we have all received” (John 1:16). The Father says, “All that I have is yours!” Who can dare ask God for a single thing apart from the Son?

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

©1997-2013 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. Share this message with your friends!

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The above is how the author wrote it, but I have linked the Scripture passages to Bible Gateway for easy reading. If you click on the date at the top, you can view the article at School of Christ where you can also leave comments.

I love the idea that putting on Christ is putting on the best and therefore requires us to act our best. I remember those childhood days where my mom would put my sister and I in dresses of velvet and lace, and then she’d top that off with shiny black patent-leather shoes. We knew better than to jump in mud puddles when we wore those clothes. Usually, we sat down, folded our hands, and tried our best to be “little ladies.” Many times, people would put money in our tiny purses to reward us for being so ladylike.

I’m going to try to remember this when I get up in the morning. As I put on my clothes and say Good Morning to my Lord and Savior, I’m going to imagine putting Him on for the day. I will do my best to avoid any spiritual mud puddles and to act Christ-like all day. Since He must increase, and I must decrease, when I put Him on, modeling my best behavior in Him is what matters the most. And one day, as is promised in God’s holy word, I will be rewarded for treating my garment of Christ with the utmost of care.

P.S. I have decided that I will give my characters their due and spend my NaNo month with them instead of creating new characters. May all of you pushing for your 50,000 word goal be abundantly blessed and just keep writing.

 

November 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hallow-What?


Halloween Kitten by Flickr Users Bill & Vicki T aka Great Grandpa & Grandma T, CC License = Attribution

Halloween Kitten by Flickr Users Bill & Vicki T aka Great Grandpa & Grandma T, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

This is a day of many mixed emotions for me. I love cute little images like the kitty and pumpkin above, kids dressed up in all variety of adorable outfits, and the smile on a child’s face when they score big candy treasure. I have never been one to like the dark side of the day, like witches, vampires, and zombies, but an abundance of superheroes and princesses roaming the streets is adorable.

Many years ago, I was in a “no TV” phase of my life, so reading and a shortwave radio were my main entertainment. I found a book at the library that is out of print but one of the best books I’ve read on the history of Halloween and other American festival days. It’s called Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, and it’s co-written by the editors of Hallmark Cards, so it’s unbiased and probably more accurate than many such books. It was through this book that I learned, not only the history of “All Hallows Eve” but the history of many traditions for the day as well. It’s not pretty.

The main thing I learned about the day (and no, I won’t call it a “holiday” since that’s a shortened form of “holy day”) concerns the spiritual elements. In spiritual terms, it compares to “hell night” when kids have one last night of partying before trying to buckle down for nine months of school. In this case, spirits have a wild fling before the religious season that begins with All Saints Day aka All Hallows Day. So, the eve before, called All Hallows Eve or Halloween, is a last chance for evil to run amok and get away with it. Sure.

Anyway, people would perform all sorts of rituals to try and appease the spirits to keep themselves free from harm. The rituals may have been partly based in religion, but they were most certainly pushed because of fear. Some rituals included dressing up as that year’s deceased, a feast to appease the spirits, or a parade to lead evil spirits out of town. Where a virgin girl was demanded to appease the spirits, parents would put candles out in pumpkins or gourds to show they had an available daughter.

As God’s own people, we know we have a Power (Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world) that will protect and defend us. No rituals are needed except maybe prayer and fasting as Yeshua said to the disciples in Mark 9:14-29. We are told in James 4:7 that all we have to do is resist the devil and he will flee. Note in the Scripture that it does not say “rebuke the devil” and the resist part comes in only AFTER we have submitted ourselves to God.

Still, even with that authority, Yeshua reminds the disciples not to rejoice because of their authority over evil. Instead, they should rejoice because their names are written in Heaven. That speaks of humility before God and gratefulness for the blood of The Lamb over our repented lives. It’s why I have some trouble with songs that rejoice over the enemy and say things like, “I’m marching through the enemy’s camp to take back what he took from me.” I worry about the arrogance in that. I worry about the dark “Christian metal” bands with names like “Demon Slayer” that sound as if they are arrogantly bragging about their authority over evil.

So, should we celebrate this festive day that coincides with Day of the Dead celebrations around the world? Personally, I don’t like it. I don’t even like that my husband wants to give out candy, but I understand both sides. I understand the joy of making a child smile, so for parents that dress them up and nice neighbors who treat them, it can be fun and festive. For those who do want to play dress up though, if they call themselves Christian, I believe they should avoid anything dark. I would even suggest trying to dress kids (or yourselves) up like Bible characters, so when candy-givers ask what you are, you can share God’s word. 🙂

Whatever people believe and do, I encourage you to study the word of God, and I suggest you find out more about whatever festivals and recreations you take part in. Whatever you do… Do all things as unto The Lord (Colossians 3:23), and Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). On this holy Sabbath eve and day, I bid you Shabbat Shalom in The Lord, and I leave you with these words from The Amplified Bible

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Simple Prayer for a God-Led Day


Moth by My Sister and Flickr User Candiece N, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Moth by My Sister and Flickr User Candiece N, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I was all set for what I planned to share tonight, so I went to YouTube to look for the video I wanted to attach. When I got there, I found some videos claiming that the teaching I planned to bring to you was incorrect. Yikes! Now, I’m not saying it is incorrect, but I am saying I will do more research before I present it here as any kind of fact. I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong (though I don’t like it, of course), but I do try to research all I can before I pass information on to others. And, while I know there will always be dissenters about any kinds of doctrine or teaching, especially when it comes to Bible teaching, I am driven to examine both sides before making a decision.

After a couple hours of study, I didn’t come to a conclusion. So, I am going to read more by and about both authors, and I am going to pray, and then I will present my findings here. Whether I come to a conclusion or not, I will share both sides, but I want to give myself some time to examine all possibilities before I just jump into believing one thing or another. Too many these days believe in things right off because they sound good, and unfortunately, that even includes me sometimes. I try to be like the biblical Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 who searched the Scriptures daily to verify the words being taught by Paul and Silas. Now I find that even teachings I hear from what I consider to be a trusted source can be a misconception, so I will keep studying until I can be confident in what I share.

Therefore, in addition to encouraging you, my readers and friends, to do the same–study to show yourself approved to God, let me share something I wrote sometime ago. I typed it as a note in my phone that I can look at first thing in the morning to set my day on a right path. I hope to put it on some Zazzle products soon, so others can get it before themselves on a daily basis too. Enjoy!

GOOD MORNING LORD!!!

HERE I AM.
I KNOW YOU HAVE PLANS…
FOR THIS DAY;
FOR MY LIFE;
FOR ME;
FOR ME IN THIS DAY.

MAY I LISTEN TO–AND HEAR–YOUR VOICE.
MAY I SEE, AND KNOW, YOUR WILL.
MAY I FOLLOW YOU, AND
MAY I PRAISE YOU
FOR ALL THAT YOU ARE…
THIS DAY AND FOREVER

IN YOUR HOLY, MEMORIAL NAME, YAHVEH,
AMEN AND HALLELUYAH!

Blessings and God’s Shalom to each and every one of you as you seek more of Yeshua and His Word every day.

~Crystal

October 31, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, Prayer, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ApologetiX’s Apologetics


If you’ve read very many of my posts, you’ve probably come across at least one with a video from the group, ApologetiX. Today, I’m going to share with you why I like them so much, and I’m going to share their plea for support and prayers.

First, for those who don’t know, this group of musicians, singers, and writers is a multi-talented band that has been declared a cross between Billy Graham and Weird Al Yankovic. They take songs from different generations and styles, and they change the lyrics to those which uplift Christ. They do their best to imitate the original songs in music and vocals to the extent that you often have to listen carefully to hear the lyric change before you realize it’s a parody.

The lead singer, J. Jackson, has fantastic talent and ability in being able to imitate a variety of voices and vocal styles. He blends those with a touch of humor while trying to write the new lyrics to rhyme with the original ones, so the crossover is smooth and harder to detect. If you attend a concert, you’ll get to see him in a variety of costumes, and he puts on a great performance. But, he doesn’t end with the musical show. An audience of many who would never attend a traditional church will be entertained, but they will also hear some strong words of God both in the songs and after. J shares his personal testimony, encourages people to give God Almighty a chance in their own lives, and then offers an altar call.

I will tell you that I am not normally fan-type of person (dedicated follower), but when I can see sincerity and love for God in action, I can get behind the ministry that presents it. I feel this way about ApologetiX. I love the strong biblical messages in their songs, including the liberal use of Scripture verse locations. I love that each set of lyrics also comes with a history on the writing of the song. If you check their music page, you can click on the lyrics for songs in the left column. In the window that pops up, you’ll see both the lyrics and story behind the song’s writing. By the way, you can also listen to the mp3 music from that page for free if you are a member of the fan club.

From the home page, you’ll also see the recent news and a few past stories. This is where you will see the updates on music, but you’ll also get a glimpse of the heart of the band. If you want to know even more of their hearts, become a fan club member and agree to receive their newsletter. Within a variety of their pages and newsletters, I have become aware of some of the band’s financial needs, so without any prompting from them, I just want to share some ways you can help. Before I do, I just want to share that I have seen them go through years of performances and CDs, and they are always straightforward and honest. If there were ever a group to support, I would wholeheartedly recommend this group who has faced many challenges yet will stop and help stranded motorists as they travel from one concert to another.

So, below are a few links that you can use to either purchase their products or support them in other ways. They use PayPal for a pay portal, so it’s safe and convenient–especially if you’re already a PayPal user.

  1. Get free downloads for any donation amount at http://apologetix.com/store/store.php#MustSeemSilly
  2. If you want to donate online, read the how-to page at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2696 where you will also find a donation link.
  3. More downloads for donation at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2706
  4. Limited time Buy One CD Get One Free Offer at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2774
  5. Instant download of their songbook with lyrics for every song from 1993 to 2013 in an interactive PDF for $20 at http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#songbook
  6. Tis the season to get The 12 Downloads of Christmas for $8 at http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#christmas
  7. And a letter from a fan that sums up much of what I feel for the group and explains why I would dedicate a full blog post to their support… http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2782

If nothing else, please keep this band and their families in your prayers. They are a ministry like any other, and serving God while spreading the good news is their primary purpose. You can buy their music from places like Amazon (ask me for links and I’ll donate any commission to them) and iTunes, but I’m guessing they get a bit more by purchasing directly from their website. Whatever you do for them, do as unto the Lord, and may God bless you for blessing His children. In the meantime, enjoy the history of their band in the top video and one of the first of their songs I ever heard (Play that Funny Music Right Boy) below…

October 29, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Perilous Times Are Here


Stick Figure in Peril by Flickr User Kenneth Kiffer Fong, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Stick Figure in Peril by Flickr User Kenneth Kiffer Fong, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Because peril is a serious subject, let me start out with some lighter fare. The image above is from a Flickr group called Stick Figures in Peril. People post images of warning signs, and then group members comment on them. For example, on the above image, someone wrote, “Skipping like a girl will get you shot.” It’s a fun group since some of the warning signs are not exactly evident, especially if they’re in languages other than English. Plus, many of the stick figure warnings look less like people, so they will not have gender or age issues, and the comments often make fun of the figures themselves. For example, many will say something like, “Don’t do this, or you’ll end up with a detached head and no hands.” The older images have more comments of course.

As for the serious subject, we have this warning in 2 Timothy 3:1 (KJV): “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” In other Bible versions, the words used instead of perilous include hard, grievous, terrible, distressing, difficult, terrifying, dangerous and trying. Some versions are more detailed and give other descriptions. They say there will be times of stress, much trouble, times of difficulty, and violent periods of time. In The Living Bible (TLB), Paul speaks to Timothy this way…

You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian.

And so it will be, and so it is, but what kinds of peril do we most often hear reported or complained about these days? Stepping away from what the Bible calls “perilous” for a moment, let’s think about some troublesome times I’ve heard about just in my lifetime. My grandfather worked three part-time jobs before he came into a career. It was difficult to find full-time work, and even with all the jobs he put in, it was hard for him to feed his family. His family of five shared a small travel trailer on a lot, and their most frequent meal was pinto beans and fried potatoes. (Those years did teach my grandma how to make the best beans and potatoes though, hence my strong desire for those foods now.)

Anyway, those were truly difficult times, but my grandparents persevered until they were able to buy a home. Once they both has jobs, times got much easier for them. They went from a hand-dug pool to a professional pool, and eventually they got a retirement home with riverfront property. But even when times were better, they were frugal and thrifty about most things, like only using the pot belly stove for heat while everyone was awake. I lived with them for some of those days, and only using upstairs heat meant my downstairs bedroom was really cold, but it also meant a few more times out to eat too.

When people complain about being poor in today’s society, it usually means they can’t afford a smart phone with an unlimited plan, a flat screen television, and premium cable. They feel left out if they don’t have a computer and high-speed Internet. Oh, and don’t even think of telling them to be satisfied if they don’t have steak for dinner and a refrigerator full of 2-liters. Where my mom and her siblings would’ve been grateful for hot dogs to go with their beans and potatoes, people are selling their food stamps for cigarettes and then griping if they run out of soda. I’m telling the truth here. And I’m not saying everyone should have to deal with eating from food banks where you get mostly canned mixed vegetables (I still think Veg-All is disgusting) and off-brand mac and cheese. I’m just saying that people complain when they could have it much worse. They could have to work for a living and still struggle for beans and potatoes.

Now, though, let me tell you what the Bible calls perilous times. I’ll share 2 Timothy 3:1-5 from The Message Bible

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

The KJV Bible lists the last of verse 4 and first of verse 5 like this…

“…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

And doesn’t that explain perfectly why we are where we are in the last days? The real power of God can change everything. Religion is a form of godliness and only changes some things. Ethereal power (angels, miracles, etc.) have their place, but that’s still not the power people deny. The power too many of us are missing now is truth and balance; trusting that God is on His throne, in control, and absolutely knows best even when we don’t understand. We put too many things in our own thoughts and understanding, so we end up with statistics like those shown in a recent article where 63% of active Christians think sex outside of marriage is fine. The article calls them “sexual atheists” and makes very good points.

Yes, perilous times are here in so many ways, but if you know Yahveh as your Lord and Savior, you know from His word that none of this comes as a surprise to Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and is just as able to deliver us from these end times as He was to deliver Israel from her enemies of old. He can and will govern our lives and minds if we let Him. We have the power of His Holy Spirit to carry us through. His wisdom from Proverbs 3:5-6 (Amplified Bible) gives us a perfect promise…

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

October 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In The Beginning, God…


The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

First, God. Then, God created. That’s the necessary order for the best possible world because without God and His wisdom, creation would be soulless. But God didn’t want soulless creatures that operated like programmed robots, so He created man in His own image. Like God, we have a soul, a spirit, and a body. As it says in Colossians 2:9, For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. And because we are like Him, we can communicate with Him even from our human bodies while living in this temporary world.

Somehow though, today’s world has gotten wrapped up in the pursuit of knowledge instead of operating from the soul God gave us. But, if knowledge and thinking were enough for a good life, we would have no problem sharing our population with androids, and men would not try so desperately to humanize artificial intelligence. We know from the soul God gave us that life requires more, yet we keep trying to shut out that voice of reason as if what brings pleasure in the flesh should have priority. And even when we conquer the flesh, we often prioritize thoughts and feelings over the wisdom of God’s Spirit.

So, here I sit, working on my 402nd post for this blog and desperately wanting to make sure that I write from the leading of God’s Holy Spirit more than my own thoughts and ideas. At the same time, I must trust that because my creativity is also in God’s image, my ideas can come from Him too. I don’t write for readers nearly as much as wanting to write out of obedience and leaving readers in God’s hands. I guess that’s why I might be something of a perfectionist when I write.

Torah season has started again, but I’m not going to do daily updates on portions. I will, however, post a link to the weekly portion in The Complete Jewish Bible at BibleGateway.com for those who want to follow the annual reading schedule. I actually got a week behind, so you can read the full first week’s portion as part of today’s Shabbat (Sabbath) before sundown on Saturday, October 25th. That portion is Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 6:8. The divisions are written in the CJB, and there is a page with the divided readings and links available at Hebcal.com. The name links to the first portion with a list of links to all other portions.

Another great place to learn about the Torah and Hebrew roots of the Christian faith is Hebrew4Christians.com. Save the following links for your year of reading Genesis through Deuteronomy…

Now, speaking of current reading, for this week, the portion is called “Noah” in English and is Genesis 6:9 through Genesis 11:32. With the seven divisions, this can be seen at http://www.hebcal.com/sedrot/noach. And with all that information, I’d say my readers have a chance at a good beginning for their Torah year. I hope you will join me and my husband this year, and please stop in now and then to tell me what you’re getting out of the readings for yourself and your family.

In closing for the day, I want to say that it is because of God’s original plans and designs at the beginning that we get the new beginnings we experience each day. I believe His plans were to make humans in His image for good communications and interactions with Himself, but we sought flesh and soul over His Spirit. Still, even though we pushed Him behind the stuff we have too often made more important than Him, He comes in with mercies that are new every morning. It’s hard to imagine being loved so much that all we have to do is earnestly desire Him and He’s there with open arms no matter what came before, but that’s the truth. And that truth is shown beautifully in the song He Was There All the Time, so enjoy this video. View it at YouTube to find the lyrics in the video description section…

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Freedom of Speech Week!


Speech Balloon by Flickr User Marc Wathieu, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Speech Balloon by Flickr User Marc Wathieu, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Guess what? I know, I already gave the answer in the title. October 20-26th, 2014, is Freedom of Speech Week. Apparently, this is something to celebrate every 3rd week in October. And yet, the news is telling me that there’s a mayor in Texas who is demanding copies of speeches any pastors make to verify that what they say won’t offend anyone. So, maybe the freedom of speech thing only works if what you speak is not offensive? Well, obviously that can’t be the criteria since offensiveness is subjective and based on the thoughts and feelings of whomever listens.

See, the idea of never offending anyone is pure fantasy, as is the idea of never being offended. I want to be allowed the freedom to speak from my heart, so I know that will require my allowing others to speak from their hearts. But I also realize how often that freedom will be abused as long as we live in a world governed by men and not by God. What I share as life and truth from God’s word can be received as offensive criticism by those with no intention of bending to God’s will. To pay back those perceived offenses, men will claim they are harmed and demand news laws to protect them from such harms. The laws then start chipping away at the foundations of our freedoms.

The other side of the coin can be equally severe. Did you know that child porn was at one time covered under freedom of speech and freedom of press laws? I was in my first semester of college when I learned of that, and all I knew to do then was to pray.

So, if I want to be free to speak words from the Holy Bible, does that mean I must give people the right to parade disgusting images in front of my family? It would seem so with all that is becoming uncensored even in “prime time” television. Little kids now have to see displays of homosexuality, feminine products well before they understand such things, and commercials about drugs for herpes. I don’t know if the scantily clad underwear commercials are in family hour time slots or not, but I know I don’t like them paraded in front of my husband either.

Even though I don’t want all that stuff shared as freely as it is, I would probably be a little more understanding if there was some balance. A channel owned by the once family-friendly Disney company (ABC) puts out a disclaimer before showing The 700 Club, but they don’t put out a disclaimer before displaying language, witchcraft, sexuality, etc. Why not? Because they don’t care if they offend people with the ungodly stuff? Or just because we, as Christians, try so hard to be “harmless as doves” that they know we are not as apt to march in protest or hire an attorney to file a civil lawsuit? As frustrating as the imbalance is, I’m thankful that we can at least still see the programming.

We may not be able to control how others will react to our words, but we can do our best to line up everything we say an do in our own lives to the written word of God. That said, I decided to look up some Bible Scriptures on speaking, and I found some interesting instructions in the 10th chapter of the book of Matthew. Compare the following two Scriptures…

Matthew 10:27 (NKJV) (Yeshua speaking) “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”

Matthew 10:19-20 (NKJV) Yeshua had more words for them. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Matthew 10:16 (NKJV) Yeshua gave the disciples a warning. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

I know I have the verses reverse of how you would read them, but it was reading them in this context that showed me something. God wants us to shout His words from the roof tops. We first need the confidence that no matter what men say about God’s word being offensive, it is His will for us to share it. But, confidence alone is not enough. what we share, when, and with whom we share it must all be led by God’s Holy Spirit.

Just because God anoints us, and we are truly wise and harmless, we have no guarantee that we won’t be delivered to uncomfortable situations or face false accusations of offense. After all, we are still carrying these words of life into a world of wolves that desire darkness and death and that despise the Light. Don’t give up, though. If Christ has set you free, you are free indeed, and you can celebrate that freedom with Him…especially since it’s “Freedom of Speech Week.”

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Sweets; Trick or Treat?


Candy, Candy, and more Candy by Flickr User kristymp, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Candy, Candy, and more Candy by Flickr User kristymp, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

It’s almost that time again. Kids of all ages dress like pirates and ghosts to hunt for sweet treasures and scare up tasty treats. As a child, I loved the dress up, and of course, I loved all the candy. Don’t most of us? We’ve got pictures of ourselves or our children with frosting face from one-year birthday cakes and chocolate noses from first Halloweens and Easters. It all seems so fun and harmless until things like diabetes and obesity become the later-in-life prices for childhood indulgences.

So often, it seems we think that because we don’t see an immediate result to a particular behavior, we don’t think the consequence will truly matter. We don’t end up with a sugar imbalance from just one sweet holiday, or even our first few years of them. (Read the article linked under the word “sugar” for some great insight.) But, thinking we have to see instant results is its own kind of trick. We don’t grow a tree the day after we plant a seed either. Years of excuses to indulge in Christmas candy and birthday cake come to haunt so many of us, and even then, the cravings are so strong that it just seems impossible to switch from suckers to celery. After many doses of sugary treats, we have developed a sweet tooth.

So, what do you think Adam and Eve would tell us now when it comes to our wonderings about tricks and treats? I’m guessing they looked at the Tree of Knowledge as harmlessly as a young mother looks at a chocolate bunny filled with high fructose corn syrup. It’s only one bite. What could it hurt? It grows wild. It’s all natural. There was no warning label on the trunk to say, “If you partake of this fruit, you will end up with a sin tooth.” But that’s exactly what happened, and it spread throughout generations up to where we are today.

Our garden couple did realize something had changed almost immediately, but instead of being humble and repenting for their behaviors, their “sin tooth” had already begun to take hold of them. They began tossing around blame like it would undo what they had just done. They blamed each other, they blamed the enemy, and eventually they even blamed God Himself. (The woman “You gave me” fed it to me.)

Adam and Eve didn’t realize what would happen as a result of their indulgence in either the sin or the excuses for it. They couldn’t see a future outside the garden. The death they inherited with their actions took longer then than it does now, but it started none-the-less. Maybe it wasn’t even the fruit or the revelation of good and evil that brought that death, but the craving for sin that it set up in them. Maybe it was just being outside of a place where they could walk with God daily and learn His wisdom and will for their lives. Maybe there is something that grew outside the garden that negatively affects mankind, and all of us who live and eat from the earth consume it to our detriment.

We still don’t really know what brought death to Adam and Eve. We don’t know exactly how much sugar or which of the other additives in the candy we consume can bring physical suffering to kids as they age. We do know that listening to God would have yielded better results, and we do know that listening to some common sense about health will result in kids growing into healthier adults. I’m certainly not condemning others since I have done my share of “spoiling” kids I’ve cared for in my life. But, what if I hadn’t done that? Would some of them be less apt to be depressed or crave alcohol now? What if my caregivers had taught me to love fresh veggies instead of candy? Would I have less trouble with cravings that lead to weight gain? (A sugar fast has led me to cut down on sugar recently, and I’m already feeling better for it.)

If you are in the place to feed or teach a child, I would ask you not to feed or teach in ways that would create either a sweet tooth or a sin tooth. Fill them with praises of The Creator instead of praises of His creations. Guide them a desire for God’s wisdom more than for man’s knowledge. And, teach them to like the good stuff in flesh and spirit before they have grown up enough to indulge in too much of the bad stuff in either. They may feel tricked more than treated now, but they’ll thank you for the treats of better health and a stronger spirit later.

O taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8 NLV)

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s the International Year of Crystallography


Mohawk Mesolite by Flickr User Mike Beauregard aka subarcticmike, CC License = Attribution

Mohawk Mesolite by Flickr User Mike Beauregard aka subarcticmike, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
While you’re there, be sure to look at the album for this image. There are more great crystals there.

I know,you think I’m joking about the title, but I’m not. I don’t know how I missed it, but when I ventured to one of my favorite sites, “Brownie Locks” holidays page, I found the announcement. I don’t know how I’d missed it before. I mean, isn’t it a holiday about the study of me? 😉 Of course, I know better, but I do love anything that sparkles, and that means I’m intrigued by things that crystalize, so this intrigues me. If you want to know more about it, visit About the International Year of Crystallography to read more.

So, in the spirit of all things crystalized, I’m going to do a prismatic post tonight. In other words, I’m going to write on a variety of subjects. For example, today is Simchat Torah which means “Joy of Torah” and it is the time when the annual Torah readings begin again. I was wondering why the readings actually began with Deuteronomy 33 & 34 (Easy to Read version), and I found understanding from a comment posted at Chabad.org (link under Simchat Torah above). The commenter said it shows continuity and the never-ending cycle of the Torah in our lives. I love that because it’s like saying God’s Word is His wedding ring for His bride.

Now I want to talk about special days for October. For writers and readers, we have National Book Month plus National Church Library Month and National Children’s Magazine Month. Of course, for published writers, it’s also National Self-Promotion Month, so get the word out. For those who love to eat, and don’t live on a Kosher only diet, it’s Hog Out Month which coincides with National Pork Month. Oh, and it’s also Pizza Month. No wonder I’ve been craving that.

If you’re into issue awareness, you might already know that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can visit the Pink Ribbons for Awareness group on Flickr to see some pretty pink images in honor of this month. After you enjoy the images, be sure to stop by The Breast Cancer Site to click the pink banner and help raise funds for research. It only costs you a moment of your time unless you decide to buy something from The Breast Cancer Site store, and then the proceeds go to a great cause. (You can click banners and shop for other great causes while you’re there.)

While we’re talking about awareness, we are just completing Take Your Medicine Americans Week (Oct 10-16), which is interesting since October is also Antidepressant Death Awareness Month. So, take your medicine, but be careful. It’s also Global ADHD Awareness Month, and just so you’re aware, I do have Adult ADD, but I don’t think there’s any hyperactivity except mentally. You may have figured that out from my variety of subjects tonight, and by all the distractions that cause my posts to show up well after midnight. Still, I like what I heard on an old episode of Numbers: I’m not easily distracted, I’m easily fascinated. Maybe that’s why I also noticed that it’s Squirrel Awareness Month and reminded my husband to feed the squirrels that visit our backyard.

Okay, just a few more. If you have a bathroom leak, you should know that October is Toilet Tank Repair Month. I guess plumbers are as busy as the ophthalmologists dealing with those celebrating Home Eye Safety Month or Eye Injury Prevention Month. If you like Science Fiction movies or Jeff Bridges, you’ll be glad to know that it’s International Starman Month. If the movie puts you in the mood for a snack, you’ll also be happy to know it’s National Popcorn Poppin’ Month which may also lead to your awareness of National Dental Health Month. If you top your snack in honor of National Caramel Month, it could get you thinking about National Orthodontic Health Month if you have braces.

For those of my readers who are also writers, I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of what you can find out there when looking for writing ideas. There are plenty more ideas at the site above, and there are links to more from there, so add Brownie Locks to your bookmarks. You’ll want to submit articles on these October special days anytime from February to April for those publications that want things six to nine months in advance, so maybe this will give you a head start. For all my readers, I hope I’ve given you something fun to read that makes you want to share my blog. After all, October 12-18th is Getting the World to Beat a Path to Your Door Week.

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beauty Out of Focus


Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution

Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

What does it take for beauty to be beautiful? Perception. Whether it’s a beautiful look, sound, touch, smell, or thought, it must be perceived. We can’t smell with a stuffy nose, hear when we’re deaf, or see when we’re blind, even if those disabilities are temporary. I think we all get out of focus at times, and I think it affects all our senses.

Our lack of perception does not change the quality or beauty of the thing we cannot seem to grasp. That includes trying to see ourselves through God’s eyes, so we can trust His direction for our lives. We fail over and over, and we cannot perceive that God sees us with a love that causes Him to forgive us over and over. We wallow in guilt and feel unworthy, but God wants to swaddle us in His love and help us to understand that His worth is what matters overall.

Imagine if you created something, and you saw it as perfect and wonderful, but someone else came along and kept saying it was horrible. That’s part of the lie the enemy of our souls has tried to create in us since God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. While God gave them every tree except one, the enemy changed their focus and perception to where that one looked greater than everything else they had with God and in the garden. The enemy made them believe they were incomplete without that one provision, and they fell for it–literally.

These days, we have the blood of Christ to cover our imperfections, so God sees us through that. We have God’s written word, so we can understand how He sees us. But, we still have human eyes and human perceptions, so we often see things incorrectly and get ourselves and our lives out of focus. We may focus on a beauty or success that is not beauty or success in God’s eyes, or we may miss a God-given beauty or success completely. When we get out of focus, we end up in chaos and running around as if we are spiritually blind and deaf instead of walking according to God’s path and rhythm.

The lesson of focus has been made abundantly clear to me (no pun intended) through a week of chaos. While I did everything in my power to create a scenario for our authors to present and sell their books, every door I tried to open slammed shut. I wondered if we were missing out on God’s favor, or if we were just under attack. I was missing the mark on both accounts, and I only found my peace in God when I got my perception corrected through prayer.

Here’s what I learned: God called many people to carry His precious good news to the world. He has anointed us to present that message through a variety of methods, and many of those are in the arts. I believe our creativity is a gift from God whether we use it for Him or not. And, because it is a gift from God, it will do its best work when it is done for Him first and for ourselves last. If we get that turned around, we lose perception.

For our writer’s group, we were trying to create an event centered around sales rather than ministry. We thought success meant a lot of people coming to buy our products instead of a lot of people coming to hear a testimony of God’s gifts in our lives. Our perceptions were skewed by the cacophony of voices out there shouting words like marketing and SEO. It doesn’t help that the Christian book market is more than just a niche genre anymore. It holds its own and therefore needs just as much professionalism and proper presentation as any book topic out there. However, if we’re not careful, we can let the marketing become more important than the message.

Well, we learned our lesson, and now instead of wondering how we’re going to handle a bunch of people we can’t sell things to, we’re hoping we can minister to all of them. We did a lot of advertising, but only God knows what souls He is sending and what message He is wanting them to hear. Our job is to be sensitive, so we can perceive His voice and direction. He says in John 10:27 (NLT)… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If we keep our perception in Him, we can see and follow His leading, so we will not become blind leaders of blind followers. If we don’t, we may find even His beauty out of focus.

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Multitasking With The Voices in My Head


Hubby Trying to Sleep with The Kitty on His Mind, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Hubby Trying to Sleep with The Kitty on His Mind, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved
Click the image to visit my Flickr Photo Stream

Are you a multitasker? Do you try to focus on one thing but get distracted by many other things? If so, you’ll probably relate to some of the sleep humor on a board I found at Pinterest. My favorite pin said, “3 out of 4 voices in my head want me sleep. The other wants to know if penguins have knees.” That is so me when I’m trying to go to sleep. I can sit here trying to write my blog and fight a sleep attack, but when I actually lie down to sleep, my brain opens about 100 new tabs. 🙂 Of course, that could also be from having ADD, but being a woman and being a writer fit there somewhere too.

I thought about multitasking today because of all the plans I’m trying to make for the week, some of which are overlapping with each other. Beginning Wednesday evening at sunset, we have the weeklong festival of Sukkot. It’s one of the most exciting feasts of the Lord, and if you search my blog for posts on it, you’ll find many of them. Under the label of WWJD, I can tell you without a doubt that He would (and did) celebrate this feast. And, I don’t believe He only celebrated it because He was Jewish, but I think He was also celebrating His birthday. I’ll tell you more as we go through the week since I won’t be posting Torah portions as I was last year at this time.

In addition to our home festival celebration, my husband and I have been invited to help celebrate and open the Sukkah for our friends at Christian Country Cowboy Church. If you are ever in the Louisville area on the last Friday of the month, I highly recommend a drive out to LaGrange (about 20 miles from downtown Louisville). Parsons Zeb & Joy Son, along with the house band, put on a free country concert that rivals anything you might pay to see. It often includes a great headline act (many who are award-winning artists), and it always includes “Cuzin Gus and The Boys from Sasquatch Holler which is reminiscent of a skit on HeeHaw.

Finally, along with just the regular stuff of life, like laundry, dishes and paying bills, we still have the event for the writer’s group that will be either a huge success or a great big mess depending on the answer we get from the venue. I’m still trusting God to provide the answer we want, but there’s a bit of stress in just waiting for the official answer. And of course, just adding it to the “to do” list of the week adds it’s own time consumption.

I say all of the above to say this: the one time when my multitasking mind bothers me the most is when I want dedicated time in prayer. I mean, I like that prayer is one of the running tasks in almost everything I do, but it is very hard to slow it all down, so I can pray without interruption. Thankfully, we go back to what I’ve said so often about God knowing our human form. I know He knows the depths of my heart even if the voices in my head are speaking too loud for me to hear it.

Nevertheless, it is my challenge to slow down and focus during my times of prayer, and I pray the same for all of you who have the same desire. If you ever struggle with this, post a comment to let me know I’m not alone. If you have ideas that help, I’d love to hear those two. I’ll be glad to add your positive encouragements to the voices in my head.

October 7, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grandma Tickles and Grandfather Clauses


Welcome Baby Leona by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Welcome Baby Leona (with Daddy James, Mommy Autumn, and Little Elie)…by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved
Click on the image to open a new tab/window to the see full size original , and all other images, in my Flickr photo stream.

It was just over four years ago when I took a trip out to Arizona to attend the birth of my first great-niece. The oldest of our nephews, James, was excited to welcome his first daughter into the world. Sadly, his mother said she didn’t want to have anything to do with the new little one and that no one better call her “Grandma.” I countered with the offer to be the grandmother if they wanted since I had raised James for 5 years of his childhood and felt like a mother to him anyway. And then I hopped aboard an Amtrak train and headed west.

The baby’s mother, Autumn, already had one beautiful daughter, Elie Mable. And yes, Mable is spelled right since Autumn wanted it to be an acronym for…Mothers Always Bring Love Everywhere. How precious is that? I got to spend a lot of time with Elie and mommy and James (now called Daddy and taking the role of a most-wonderful daddy at that) got ready for the hospital.

Everyone had agreed on calling me “Grandma Crystal,” and Elie tried her best, but her three-year-old vocabulary just wouldn’t form my name, so she affectionately named me “Grandma Tickles.” The name stuck, and the meaning behind it stuck, so now all three little ones (we’ve now added little miss Wiley Love) have to run and dodge the tickle monster. Plus, I get the privilege of also being a tickle monster to Josh’s beautiful daughter Sinniah. Here’s a panorama of two pictures of my hubby (Uncle Santa) first with Elie, Leona, and Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love…

Uncle Santa David with Elie, Leona, Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love, Images by Candiece Nelson, All Rights Reserved

Uncle Santa David with Elie, Leona, Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love, Images by Candiece Nelson, All Rights Reserved
Click the image to open a new tab/window to see Candie’s full photo stream at Flickr.

So, with this above image, I’m guessing you think my reference to Grandfather Clauses has something to do with hubby, but it doesn’t. That would be “Grandfather Claus.” My reference is about leaning on promises from the past to get us through our present and our future. Right now, I’m not playing Grandma Tickles but rather LCW President. In my writer’s group, the location where we meet has changed policies and challenged an event we have for this coming Saturday, October 11th. We’ve advertised abundantly, so all of us on the planning committee have been a bit stressed since last Friday.

Our friend, Mark, made a statement as we left the home he shares with my spiritual sister, Debbie, after sunset on Yom Kippur, Saturday night. He said something to the effect of, “Maybe they’ll be willing to grandfather you in for just this event if you promise not to do it again.” I think the words were straight from God. When I called administration today, I used that request, and it seemed to make a difference. The woman I talked to wasn’t the decision-maker, but she did say she would take the request to “grandfather us in” to the president of the administration. Now we just wait for favor. Please join us in our prayer.

If there was ever anyone who knew about grandfather clauses, I’d say it’s our Lord God. The setup for blood sacrifice for the salvation of mankind goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. The perfect blood that makes it possible for men–even today–to receive deliverance from the wages of our sin was shed over 2000 years ago.

Yeshua told the Jewish disciples to spread the gospel (good news) beginning at Jerusalem. Paul says in Romans 1:16 that the message is “to the Jew first.” However, because it is not God’s will for any to be lost, the original gospel message opened the door, so the rest of us could be also be saved. It’s still just as effective today, so if you have not yet repented and submitted to the saving power of the blood of Christ, do it now while there’s still time. I guarantee you can still be “grandfathered-in.”

October 6, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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