Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Set Apart

I have always been a little different.

This probably has been my mother's and my greatest struggle. Where she always wears her hair coiffed, nails regularly manicured and always dresses nicely (in case she runs into someone at the grocery store,) I opt for shaggy hair that only gets cut when I can no longer wash it and run. My last manicure was at RevTab's Lady's Spa Day in February. I tried to invest more time in keeping my nails nice, but to no avail.

Clothing must be comfortable. I mostly wear jeans or capris and any old favorite t-shirt will do, particularly if it has some funny saying on it. If I had my way, I would wear one of my four pairs of Tinkerbell pajamas EVERYWHERE. But, alas, I can only go so far in my individuality without my mother's voice in my head saying, "You're wearing THAT?????"

Unlike most women, I have only two pairs of shoes - a pair of sneakers I only wear to work out and a pair of leather clogs I wear with everything. Now that it's hot out, the clogs will disappear under my bed, and I will buy myself a pair of flip-flops. Ugh! Then I'll have to give myself pedicures regularly to keep my mother happy! Oh well!

I used to have purple hair. Burgundy hair. Shaved hair. I used to wear black and white striped tights, tights that had one leg black and one leg white, and tights that had patterns on them so my legs looked tattooed. The name Daniel or Danielle means "God is my judge." I let everyone know on a regular basis I didn't care what anyone thought about my choices in life. GOD, not anyone else, was my JUDGE. As long as I lived by God's rules for my life, I was okay. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "Thou shall not have purple hair."

Today I couldn't find my Devotional, so I prayed with my Bible in hand and said, "Lord, direct me to the scripture you will have me study." I opened my Bible to Daniel 3.

In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar "made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon." In verse 4, "the herald loudly proclaimed, 'This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations, men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."

Now, I don't know about you, but when I read this, I immediately envision maybe one hundred people all standing looking at this hunk of gold thinking, "Here we go again." Another king, another stupid decree. Worship the cow. Worship the block. Where do these kings come from?
But alas, when the music sounds, verse 7 continues: "all the peoples, nations, and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up." The fear of that fiery furnace was enough to bring them all to their knees.

Then I picture myself standing there. Would I have been able to stay standing? I'd like to think that I would have crossed my arms in a defiant manner and said, "Your mama!" But could I have, would I have, really? Is my faith that strong? I would like to think so. But how many times have I been speaking, emailing, blogging, thinking, when I have compromised my faith and wondered if I was offending anyone if I mentioned Jesus Christ? How many times have I forwarded those Christian-message emails to my Christian friends, only. How many times have I stood among friends and family and a completely inappropriate conversation pops up, and I smile and nod, maybe chuckle and shake my head, but say nothing. I might as well get on my knees and pray to some false idol, cause I'm shaming God anyway.

What faith Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo had! In verses 16-18, they told that King Nebuchadnezzar, "we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Did you read that closely? Did you read the part where they said "even if he does not"? WHAT??? They went into that furnace knowing there was a slim chance God might just use them as a human sacrifice - and they still WENT????

Now that's FAITH.

And then, this is the part that I truly love: In verse 28 Nebuchadnezzar says, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." Then Nebuchadnezzar makes another decree that "the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."

Read that again - "NO OTHER GOD CAN SAVE IN THIS WAY." The King said it. Do you know what that means? By Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo's FAITH, they had witnessed or shared God with the king. Now we know that the king wasn't turned godly overnight. In fact God really had to have His way with him before Nebuchadnezzar would submit to God. But by the Faith of those "three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace," the king knew that "no other God can save in this way." A seed had been planted.

Now I'm not asking you to go dye your hair purple. But as Christians we are to be Set Apart. We are different. We are not "of this world." Share with me in an effort to push yourselves a little bit more every day to stay standing before God. Do not be afraid to mention His name in public. Do not be afraid to say, "Would you tell that joke to Jesus?" when someone is being offensive.

It is by our Faith that others may see. A seed may be planted and another soul won.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Seeking Him Daily

Matthew 28:5
I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

As Mary looked into the tomb she saw "two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where Jesus had lain" (John 20:12). Then one of the angels who was sitting outside the tomb proclaimed the greatest message the world has ever heard: "He is not here; for He has risen" (Matthew 28:6).

Billy Graham writes: "Those few words changed the history of the universe. Darkness and despair died; hope and anticipation were born in the hearts of men. With those few words joy and new life now dawn in the hearts of all who believe. Don't leave Jesus in the manger... or on the Cross... or in the tomb. He is alive, and even now He wants to walk beside you every day."

I know that you seek Jesus. If you seek Peace, Rest, Comfort, Love, Hope, Help, Mercy, Strength, Healing - you seek Jesus.

But do you take the steps to seek Him daily?

My family used to have this tradition of going "visiting" on Sundays. We'd visit extended family members, people in nursing homes, you name it - we visited on Sundays. Now we're more likely to visit with each other on Sundays - you can usually find us at McDonalds in Lewisburg where the kids play and we sit and well, visit. You're welcome to come visit us!

Do you save your visiting with Jesus on Sundays? It is too easy for us to do this. I mean, come on, there are only so many hours in a day. We do our morning routines, get kids off to school, get to work, work, check email, drive home, do our evening activities, dinner, wind down time, bed. How can we possibly squeeze time with God in there? Daily?

It is difficult, I will admit it. But we ask so much of God. Please God, help me find a job. Please God, give me strength. Please God, help me financially. Please God, take away this affliction. Please God, heal Bob's brain tumor. Please God, don't let my kids embarrass me when we go out for dinner tonight. Please God, Please God, Please God....

What if we turned those "Please God(s)" into action verbs? How can WE "Please God"?

One of the best ways I have found is to visit with God every day. Since I am so addicted to this laptop computer and all of my friends communicate with me through email, one of the first things I do in the morning is make my coffee or tea, flip on Disney Channel for Zoe and pick the computer up. I flip open my Devotional, or sometimes just my Bible, and I make time for Him. Sometimes I feel a certain message touch me and I choose to share it with you through this blog. Sometimes, the message sticks with me and I rest on it, or examine it in my mind as I go throughout my day. Sometimes my wind down time produces another opportunity to share my examination of the morning's verse with you, sometimes not, but I've committed this much to God. It's not much, but it transforms me daily. Every day I am blessed with a verse directly from the Word of God which has the power to change me and I am given the opportunity to share this message with you.

Jesus wants to visit with you daily. He wants to be first in your life. We want and want, but what can we GIVE to the ONLY ONE who is worthy, but our time and attention?

When we give Him this time and attention, He can and WILL guide our lives. I KNOW you're seeking. We're ALL seeking.

Please God!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Don't Lose Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16-17
"Do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

"My Jesus is Everything"
His office is manifold, and His promise is sure.
His life is matchless, and His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is enough, and His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
He is indestructible. He is indescribable.
He is incomprehensible. He is inescapable.
He is invincible. He is irresistible. He is irrefutable.
I can't get Him out of my mind...
And I can't get Him out of my heart.
I can't outlive Him... And I can't live without Him.
The Pharisees couldn't stand Him, but found they couldn't stop Him.
Satan tried to tempt Him but found he couldn't trip Him.
Pilot examined Him on trial but found he couldn't fault Him.
The Romans crucified Him but found they couldn't take His life.
Death couldn't handle Him, and the grave couldn't hold Him.
~Anne Graham Lotz

Is your God in a box? Do you pick Him up off the shelf when you need Him? Do you doubt His ability to take care of EVERYTHING? Do you trust in your own abilities until the very last moment when you have nothing else to do but to call on Him?

Too many times, I find people around me stressing out. My own husband can drive me crazy with his inability to trust that God will handle it all. Call me a Pollyanna. Call me eternally optimistic. Call me completely naive. But I KNOW my God Can. I KNOW my God WILL. I KNOW my God is BIGGER than all of it - no matter what "it" is.

Friday night, I was faced with the task of finding cheap flights to Chicago for our son's high school graduation. With the higher cost of gas, my husband and I were not sure if we would have enough money to make it to Chicago without running out of gas. After searching all night, comparing costs and length of time to travel, I finally came to the realization that if I was going along, we had to drive. It would be a ten hour drive - nearly eleven. But I had driven on longer excursions. We had to trust that God would squeeze out the extra gas mileage. We had to know that HE would make a way. We had to REST in our knowledge that GOD. PERIOD. We couldn't rest in our HOPE. We couldn't rest in our WISH. We had to rest in our KNOWLEDGE that GOD.

Saturday morning, we filled the tank, put air in the tires, checked the oil and the coolant, checked the bank account, (just in case,) and grabbed hands and prayed over our van. I prayed that God would do whatever He needed to do to get us to realize a higher gas mileage, and that we would rest in the fact that He is in control. With that, we boarded the van and set out westward for Chicago.

It took us $53 to fill up the first time. Somewhere in Ohio, we added $30. Just to be on the safe side, we added $10 at the Indiana/Illinois border. Then there were tolls: $8.3o on the Ohio turnpike; $4.15 in Indiana. A dollar here; 80 cents there for toll booths through Chicago. We safely arrived at our hotel room with a whopping $6 left. But by the grace of God, we MADE it.

Do you stress out? Do you have trouble remembering that God is in control? Do you ever, like Peter, wait until you start sinking under the water to call out to God?

It is very human for us to do so, however, God calls us to something greater. He calls us to truly understand Him. Trust Him. Rely On Him. And KNOW Him and all of which He is capable.

We are to not lose heart. We are to acknowledge that our inward man is being renewed daily. We are to realize that our affliction is but for a moment, and working for a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Our God is not a God-in-the-box, or for our convenience. He is GOD. Let us recognize the glory and praise due Him.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lord of All, Lord of ME

I've been walking around the house, driving in my van, singing my new song. Every time I get to the part - Lord of Me, I get that knot in my throat and the tears start to well up.

What does this mean - Lord of Me?

I use prayer beads in my prayer time. I've got a brain that acts like a monkey on a pole - always bouncing around getting distracted. Spinning each bead in my fingers helps me to focus on God. Each bead represents someone or something in my life so I remember to pray about each person or persons as well as the little desires of my heart just by following the beads. Oh, and if you want prayer beads, I'm in the business of making them, so let me know!

One bead is a Celtic Cross. For those of you who don't know, my maiden name was Murphy, so I'm just a wee bit Irish. When I get to this particular bead, I thank God for my ancestry.

"You thank God for what?"

Let me explain. Each of us has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, thirty-two great-great-great grandparents and so on and so forth. If you've ever had the pleasure of researching your family tree, it can get quite overwhelming! In fact, I "collected ancestors" for years until I realized how much time it was consuming and although the information was interesting to my family and I, it wasn't as if I could use this hobby to serve God. But one thing became very clear - God used hundreds of people, thousands maybe, to "funnel" down to the creation of You.

Yes, You.

He took those tired, poor huddled masses, and kept them moving forward, striving for survival. Maybe your ancestors didn't know God. But guess what? HE knew You. He knew that He could USE You.

Another way of looking at it is to use those painful memories of Junior High. How many of you were the last person to be picked for the volleyball, basketball, or even flag football teams? I was. Junior High was so painful for me, I don't know how I got through the Eighth Grade. See, I had a group of girls in my class who made a pact that if they were chosen as Team Captains every day in gym class that no matter what happened, they were to pick me last. This particular group of girls thought it was real funny to get me down. But God is good. All the time. GOD picked me for HIS team and He picked you, too.

Matthew 7:17-20
"Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit you will recognize them."

Got fruit?

In my earlier post, "He's Still Working On Me," I intimated how God is working on me each and every day. I feel it. I'm living it. He's answering prayers. He's knocking down bad habits. He's meeting me at the Cross and saying, "I want you, Danielle, to preach my gospel. I want you, Danielle, to spread my Word. I want you, Danielle, to sing My praise." He is PRUNING me so that I may BEAR FRUIT so that others will RECOGNIZE.

God created YOU! It took a lot of work, but He did it. It took generations upon generations, but He did it. He created you to have a purpose in life. He created you to make points for His team. He created you to bear fruit for all to see.

I don't work right now, but I got a job! God is guiding me strong faithfully to use the gifts that He has given to do good works so that the glory may be reflected back on HIM! In the same way that He gives us Faith to reflect back on Him, He wants our Ministries to reflect BACK ON HIM!!!

When I sing "Lord of All, Lord of Me," I am humbled. He chose me. Yucky me - with my bad habits and human weakness. But He "guides me strong, so faithfully" in the next line of the song. And you know what? He does. He really does.

Grasp the significance of what it means to have the Lord be Lord of You. Ponder the magnitude of grace that He has bestowed upon you. Thank God and Praise Him every day for the ways in which He remains faithful and prunes you daily - even if it hurts a little. And begin to bear the fruit for which you were intended.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A New Song in My Heart

Oh Lord of All, Lord of Peace,
You call me now, "Prepare the Feast."

Oh Lord of All, Lord of Love,
You're in control -- below, above.

Oh Lord of All, Lord of Me,
You guide me strong, so faithfully.

I rest my heart here in Your hands.
Make me to shine throughout the lands.

Oh Lord of All, Lord of Days,
I'm before you now to give you Praise.

Where do I begin to express the joy I have found in the Lord as of late? So many moments. So many trials He brought me through. So many things He has put on my heart. So many visions He has given me. Ever been overwhelmed by God?

I am easily overwhelmed. I have been prescribed Zoloft to stop these feelings of being overwhelmed and therefore incapacitated in life. When I don't take my medicine, the kids get yelled at for everything. My husband gets the brunt of every bad mood. The house gets meticulously cleaned, alphabetized and color coordinated - but really, this isn't a good thing. Giving into my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder means I'm not paying attention to things that really matter like being a Mother, Wife, and Child of God.

But being overwhelmed by God is a true blessing. Being given visions lays my work out for me. Being blessed by a phone call from my Pastor when I am on my knees on the kitchen floor crying out to God is true joy. Feeling as if I am under complete attack by the Enemy reminds me that I must be doing something right or Satan wouldn't be trying so hard to break me down.

This week, I was truly under attack by forces which I have never encountered. Somebody or Something wanted to get me down. Something wanted to stop my husband and I from giving God the Glory! Every turn was blocked with some obstacle. Pastor had just spoken about the difference between running a race and running hurdles. Hurdles block your way. Hurdles slow you down. Hurdles get in your way and either need to be surpassed or knocked down, but because they are there, they will still affect your speed and effectiveness.

Well I ran a race this week, complete with hurdles. Our theatre company was to put on a production of my husband's original script - "My Soul Looked Back and Wondered" on Friday, May 12th, 2006 at 7 pm. Monday, we were supposed to meet with a local news station. An hour passed, they never showed. How could we reach the masses without TV coverage???? On Tuesday, our brother in Christ, fellow church member, and person who would be portraying Marcus Garvey and Paul Robeson emailed me to say that there was a death in his family he and he may or may not be able to do the show. Tuesday night, we had the most horrible rehearsal! And as I said in my earlier post - I turned into a true Eeyore. Wednesday, it was confirmed. Our Beloved Cast Member could NOT do the show. We did the best we could to film his performance and include it in the play.

Thursday - Dress Rehearsal - Everyone is SUPPOSED to be there. Everyone is supposed to know that rehearsal WILL run late. THIS is how we put a show together. Every time I turned around, another person had slipped away. Sure, they had bed times, I understand. But mannnn, this isn't how theatre is done!!!! I left Thursday night with at least 5 major jobs to be done before 7pm on Friday. Of course, I was the only person who was available to do them.

Friday morning I found myself on my knees, bawling to God. Each time I cried out, someone called with a ticket reservation to be made. One phone call while on my knees was from my Pastor. He told me how proud he was of Derek and I. He couldn't wait to see the video. My heart leaped with joy with these little blessings and I knew that everything was going to be okay.

I will admit, there were glitches. But one thing remained true: actors and nonactors alike, came together for the pure purpose of unity for this play. I don't care how that play may have dragged or seemed to have dragged. Pure magic came to that stage. And I give all the glory to God.

My three best friends live in New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; and Napa Valley, California. If it were not for the computer on which I type right now, allowing us to keep in touch, I would not have friends. Since Friday Night, I have been blessed with some incredible people and some incredible visions involving these people. I have made some real connections with God-led people -- something I have so desperately longed for in my life.

On the way back from driving one of our cast members home, I was driving my famous back road trek from Selinsgrove to Lewisburg. I thought to myself, "I feel like singing, what should I sing?" So I sang some contemporary praise song. When finished, I heard God speak, "Sing from your heart." I opened my mouth and out it came: "Lord of All, Lord of Peace, You call me now, 'Prepare the Feast'...." Wow!

God continues to give me Peace and hope for that heavenly banquet. He continues to be in control of all and guides me even if it's lifting me over hurdles. He continues to give my husband and I visions, plays, words, SONGS! All I want is to be a light that shines for all to see and to give Him praise every day.

For every little blessing, for every lift over life's hurdles, for every new friend who crosses your path, continue to praise Him and Acknowledge Him. And then bask in the glory of being absolutely, undeniably, and incredibly OVERWHELMED by God. I guarantee you'll never be the same.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

He's ALWAYS In Charge

Matthew 26:26-30
As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take eat: this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it new with you in My Father's Kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

How many times have I read this passage, heard it in church and took it simply as an account of the Last Supper? Max Lucado has found deeper meaning, which certainly speaks to my heart right now! He writes:

"When you read Matthew's account of the Last Supper, one incredible truth surfaces. Jesus is the person behind it all. It was Jesus who selected the place, designated the time, and set the meal in order.

And at the Supper, Jesus is not a guest, but the host. The subject of the verbs is the message of the event: 'He took... He blessed... He broke... He gave...'. He was in charge and still is."

For the past three months, I have been directing a play, "My Soul Looked Back and Wondered." It is a celebration of the African-American experience, and my husband wrote the beautiful script. Of course, we know that God wrote the script using Derek as His instrument, and as such, I believe God has directed this play as well.

So why the stress? Last night our first rehearsal in the auditorium was less than stunning. There are still a lot of details to iron out. Then, the one person whom we most wanted to be a part of this production suffered a death in his family and cannot be in the show, after all of his hard work. What am I going to do? How can the show go on? What if other people back out? WHAT AM I GOING TO DOOOOOOOOO?

Do you see what's happening here? I'M NOT IN CHARGE!!! Say that with me, "I'M NOT IN CHARGE!!!" Why is it that our human-ness struggles for so much control? Why is it so hard for us to remember all the times God made it work? How many shows have we produced that were this far from finished, this close to showtime, but turned out to be incredible?

After a very long night where I couldn't stop myself from sounding like Eeyore, one of our newest cast members emailed me and said, "Read Philippians 4:6 as you brave the next few days."

Phillippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ahh, what a Word. How I needed that. How we need God! We can't and we shouldn't be foolish enough to rely on our own strengths and abilities. If we do, chaos ensues, and we surely will fail.

But when we remember that "we are weak, yet He is strong" and give God the glory for the gifts that He has given us and then use those gifts to again reflect glory on Him, we can rest.

He is in charge, always has been, always will be.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Cup of Instant Answered Prayer

I am not what I ought to be.
I am not what I wish to be.
I am not even what I hope to be.
But by the Cross of Christ,
I am not what I was.
~John Newton

I attend Revival Tabernacle in West Milton. About six weeks ago, Brother Tim Johnson spoke about how we need to take a few steps towards God if we expect Him to bless us with gifts of healing, anointing and intercession. At that moment, I repented to God that I had let my devotional time fall by the wayside. I told God right then and there that I would get back into setting Devotional time in order that I might grow and continue to be more each day than I was the day before.

I was rehearsing with actors at Susquehanna University weeks later on April 11th. When I left rehearsal, I had to drive to West Milton to pick up my children at my grandmother's house. I got into the van, decided to take back roads from Selinsgrove to West Milton, and just as I put my hand up to put the CD player into action, that still small voice said, "Pray."

And so, I prayed a nice, heartfelt, 35 minute-long prayer until I pulled into my grandmother's driveway.

While I was praying, I was again reminded that I had not been faithful -- again. I promised God I would set devotional time and I had not. I repented again. I prayed that God would keep Zoe in bed just a little longer the next morning so I could turn to the Word.

There I was the morning of April 12th - after having fallen asleep with lap-top in lap. I fell asleep working on a flyer that was well overdue. So what did I do first thing when I woke up the next morning while Zoe was asleep? I finished the flyer, of course. And then -- God stepped in.

Suddenly, God reminded me that there I was, downstairs in the quiet of my home. My baby and hubby were sleeping, just as I had asked God (Cup of Instant Answered Prayer Number 1,) and I should be doing Devotions. I stood up, grabbed my Bible from the mantle, and thought to myself, "What will I study? I don't have any Devotional texts. My Purpose Driven Life book is in the van, and I don't feel like getting it as my van is down the street since the roofing contractors are here today."

For some reason I walked out to the kitchen. (I have no idea why I walked out to the kitchen.) There on the kitchen counter was a new devotional that some members of Christ Wesleyan Church had distributed. (Cup of Instant Answered Prayer Number 2.) And thus began my new devotional journey.

Matthew 21:1-3
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them and He will send them right away."

Max Lucado writes:
"When we get to Heaven, I want to meet with the guy with the donkey. I have several questions for him:
- How did you know it was Jesus who needed a donkey?
- How did it feel to look out and see Jesus on the back of your donkey? Were you proud?
Were you annoyed? Were you aware that all four Gospels would tell you story?
- Was it difficult to give something to Jesus for Him to use?"

What is my donkey? When God wants something, do I act like I don't know he needs it? Do I then feel bad when I miss my chance? The too few times I hear Him and obey Him, I feel honored that a gift of mine would be used to carry Jesus into another place.

We all have things in our lives which when given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and his story further down the road. Max Lucado writes, "It could be that God wants to mount your donkey and enter the walls of another city, another nation, another heart. Do you let him?"

My "donkeys" are my gifts of dance, music and theatre; my writing and preaching abilities. One donkey that I had not untied, however, was my ability to comfort others - to reach out to those in need. But God, being faithful, steps in and unties my donkeys for me.

On March 11th, my husband's two co-workers and friends - a husband and wife - were killed in a horrific motorcycle accident. Russ and Dawn Gill were dear to me as well, as they worked out at the Training Center daily with Derek and I. Dawn was my pacesetter on the treadmill, while Russ' stories and laughter made working out a joy.

After their death, I felt an incredible loss. I cried for days. I could find peace knowing that at least they had died together, as they had been inseparable since the age of 13! But I kept feeling called to reach out to the family. But I refused to untie my donkey.

One Tuesday night, I again was driving from a rehearsal in Selinsgrove to West Milton to pick up Ellen. Zoe, this night, was to sleep over at my grandmother's house, so until I got to West Milton and got Zoe to sleep, it was 11:30pm before Ellen and I left for home. We turned onto JPM road and stranded in the middle of the road was this car and its driver. For a moment, I hesitated, was it safe? I heard God say, "Step out in faith and reach out," so I stopped. I could see it was a woman and I asked her if she needed help. She said, "Well, I have a cell phone and I'm trying to call someone." As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I began to see the facial features of the woman.

"Are you Martha?" I asked.
"Yes," she responded.

It was Martha Gill, Russ' stepmother, stranded on the road at 11:30 at night. She had just left the hospital where her husband, Russ' father, was being checked for heart pain most likely due to depression and anxiety from the loss of his son and daughter in-law.

I pushed her car to the side of the road. I convinced her to let her car there, I could take her home. She could call AAA from home. She needed to rest.

I told her how deeply Russ and Dawn's death had touched me. I promised her we would get her copies of Derek's poem that he read at their memorial service. I told her that I felt a deep need to help somehow.

She said, "Well, I really want to start a Scholarship Fund, but I don't know the first thing about fundraising."

Did I tell you I was a Professional Fundraiser for 7+ years? There's her Cup of Instant Answered Prayer, and one great big Donkey of mine loosed!

God wants us to share our donkeys. When we share our gifts, we share Jesus.

Thank you for allowing me to share my gifts with you.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

He's Still Working On Me

I bought a bookmark at the School Book Fair when I was in third grade. It had a kitten looking at its reflection in a puddle and it read "Please be patient. God isn't finished with me yet." Well, guess what? 24 years later, God still isn't finished. 24 years later, He's working on me every day. He is so faithful to us, even when we let Him down. He's working on you, too.

There is a song in my heart as of late. It is a Vacation Bible School song that I learned at least 12 years ago. It is the same title as this post: He's Still Working On Me. The words are as follows:

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart:
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.
But I'll be perfect just according to his plan,
fashioned by the Master's loving hand.

In the mirror of His work, the reflection that I see,
makes me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He helps me as I work, and He hears me when I pray.
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.

He's still working on me
to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be.
He's still working on me.

I don't think I realized what I was in for when I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of fourteen. I quickly became a know-it-all Jesus-Freak and I KNEW nothing was going to take me off my path. I dared anyone to prove me otherwise. But oh, the things HE brings you through to make you into the person you are supposed to be.

Let me a share a message with you from 1 Samuel the 16th Chapter.
This was at the time that the Lord had rejected Saul as King, and He said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as King over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sedning you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king."

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord." But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Then Jesse called Abinidab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, "The Lord has not chosen this one either." Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, "Nor has the Lord chosen this one." Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, "The Lord has not chosen these." So he asked Jesse,"Are these all the sons you have?"
"There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep." Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives."

So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one." So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.

Can you imagine the thoughts that must have zoomed through David's mind? One day, baking in the hot sun, surrounded by smelly, stubborn sheep; the next day, in the service of the king with the promise of one day becoming King! The hope that must have filled David's heart! I remember that same elation I felt when I accepted Christ as my Savior. Unlike the sour memories of Junior High Gym class: I was chosen to be on God's Team - I was Invincible! Nothing would get me down!

David enters Saul's service to play the harp. Then David slays Goliath. The people are saying "Saul has slain his thousands; David his ten thousands!" Jonathan, Sauls son, and David become best friends. The joy that David must have felt! Just like my spiritual mountain-top, it was short-lived.

Saul grew jealous of David. Saul tried to slay David with a spear on a few occasions while David was playing his harp. David finds himself on the run, in fear for his life. David is forced to leave Jonathan. In Chapter 22, David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.

Now, I've been to Adullam. Scripture calls Adullam the place where one would find "those who were in distress or in debt or discontented." They gathered around David and appointed him their leader. About four hundred men were with him.

Have you been to Adullam? At one point in your life something was said to you or said over you that your life was going to be successful. That you were going to prosper. And there you are, maybe living in low-income housing. Standing in line for Food Stamps. You don't have a car. You're not married yet. Maybe life isn't that bad for you, but you thought by now you certainly wouldn't be driving a Chevette. You think to yourself, "But God, you said...." You fill in the blank. And one of the crazy things that happens in times like these, suddenly, when your life's blood is about sucked dry, other people who are down on their luck want something from you.

I've been there! I lived there for years! Surrounded by lost souls who keep themselves happy with drugs and alcohol. People who called me friend because I at least had a job so they knew they could borrow money from me. You can say, "well you backslid, now what'd you expect?" But guess what, I still knew who God was, and I know he still knew me! And there I was - surveying life from the Cave of Adullam.

But God is good. David did become King, and although his life continued to be marked with struggles, he continued to praise God as made evident in the book of Psalms.

I will always cling to the wisdom of being in the fire. We all know that if you want to be forged into a man or woman of God, you have to be in the fire. It burns. It hurts. But when we come out of the fire, we are changed, maybe even refined.

When God wants to skill a man, thrill a man or drill a man,
when God wants to mold a man to play the boldest part;
when he yearns to create so great and bold a man, that all the world should be amazed,
watch His methods, watch His ways.
How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects.
How He hammers him and hurts him and with mighty blows converts him
into trough shapes of clay, which no one understands.
How He bends, but never breaks when His good, he undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses, and with every purpose fuses him,
by every act induces him to try his splendor out.
God knows what He's about.

Every day, something changes in me. God draws a new line in the sand and says, "Here. Here's your new goal. Here is something you need to work on. Here is something I WANT for you." If David wasn't anything else, he was patient and definitely a man after God's own heart, as am I a woman after God's own heart.

Please be patient. God isn't finished with you or I.