Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, Port St. Joe and Wewahitchka. How many of these spots are on your “been there, done that” list? Likely, not a one of ‘em. These Gulf County, Florida locales are part of the “Forgotten Coast.” Here development hasn’t suffocated Old Florida from the landscape and there’s no bumper-to-bumper tourist traffic, crowds, noise or hurry. Here is a secret paradise that will hopefully never be discovered by the masses.
Read all about it on my Vacation Spot page and on Examiner.com. (Photo credit: Sunset Coastal Grill
Friday, August 31, 2012
God bestowed many gifts and talents and abilities on His children. Why? To build up His kingdom. If you have great mechanical ability, why not use it to help with the maintenance of machinery, vehicles or other equipment around your church?
Are you an electrician? I know of very few churches that don’t use electricity. Perhaps your church is in need of someone to help with that sort of maintenance.
Do you have a desire to sing God’s praises? Note I didn’t ask how “good” you could sing. If in your heart you want to praise the Lord through singing, join the choir; lead out in congregational singing – let Him know you love to glorify His Name in this way.
Maybe you have other musical talent: you play piano, organ, drums, violin. If your church has an orchestra or other musical instrument ensemble, get involved – or get an orchestra started.
Do you enjoy being with children? Although we’re all quick to say that the church’s future is in the children of today, there’s always a shortage of people willing to work with children.
There are endless areas where your talents and abilities can be used to honor the Lord, and of course, all these are not within the confines of a church building or even a church-led ministry. You, as a child of God, are to be His minister, His messenger – at work, home, shopping, leisure, wherever you are.
The work of the Lord is YOUR responsibility and privilege. Whatever your gifts and talents, whatever your abilities, God has endowed you with these so you may serve Him and bless others: writing, acting, painting, carpentry, cooking, sewing, EVERY ability.
A dear pastor and friend once preached a sermon on “Everyone Is Called.” Afterwards a lady told him that she had enjoyed the sermon and that it had affirmed to her what she already knew: that her calling was to be in the same spot on the same pew every time the church doors were open. My pastor friend felt she had voiced what many people believed: that service to the Lord was showing up for church. The next Sunday his sermon was titled, “We’re Called to Take a STAND, not a SEAT.”
Good advice for all of us, I’d say. An old country song says, “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” Are you standing for Jesus? Find your place of service in His kingdom.
“…for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2, KJV).
“…for by faith ye stand” (I Corinthians 1:24, KJV).
Thursday, August 30, 2012
This is no re-run. We’re looking at the same passage again: “…a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them…” (Ecclesiastes 3:5, NIV).
Yesterday we looked at gathering stones. Hopefully we all did a bit of self-evaluation to be certain we haven’t tried to stretch the boundaries God’s teachings have put in place for His children’s well-being. God-made boundaries are not to be moved; to try to do so is to put yourself and those around you in a precarious position.
But what about manmade boundaries? Do you feel CONFINED or CONTENT? If you answered CONFINED, could be that you have allowed manmade boundaries to put a stranglehold Heavenly Father will work through you to do incredible things!
So what are these manmade boundaries I’m referring to? “I’m not smart enough.” “Meeting new people on your joy, your peace and your potential.
Philippians 4:13 clearly tells us that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us (NIV). What are you NOT capable of doing? Nothing – if what you’re doing is God’s perfect will for your life. When you’re seeking after the things of God, your makes me nervous.” Manmade boundaries can be summed up quite easily in one verse, Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood” (KJV).
Believer, who wants you to live in less than victory? Who wants you to feel incapable, defeated, unworthy? What one force is capable of deceiving you into believing God’s boundaries are constricting your life? Satan alone desires for you to feel stifled, suffocated, by the boundaries of God’s will. Don’t buy what that liar is selling! It’s time to rebuke him boldly in the name of Jesus and get those phony boundaries out of your life!
Child of God, you are worthy. You are loved. You are precious in the sight of your Father. Jesus paid your sin-debt and covered you in His blood. Because of this, your Father sees you as spotless – a pure and holy messenger of His wonderful Good News.
So, you ready to scatter those false boundaries? Claim your victory today and experience the freedom of Kingdom living.
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 finely chopped onion, cooked in with ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 can yellow whole kernel corn, drained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
Pepper and garlic salt (to your own taste)
1/2 bell pepper, chopped, cooked in with ground beef (optional)
1/2 bell pepper, chopped, cooked in with ground beef (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)
While browning, sprinkle the ground beef and onions with pepper and garlic salt; once cooked and drained, combine with the other ingredients and heat. As far as adding water, add a little at a time only if the consistency of the stew is thicker than you prefer. Add a few dashes of hot sauce if you want to give the stew some extra spiciness. For an immediate meal, use a stockpot to heat on the stovetop; if you're not in a rush, mix everything in a crockpot and heat on high for 2 more hours, or low for 4 or more. Note: (My personal preference is without the bell pepper.)
Accepting the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult things we humans have to cope with. Even as Christians who know that a believing spouse or child or parent or friend has gone on to be with the Lord, learning to go on without that person’s earthly presence can be devastating. People who’ve experienced these types of losses need to know that the family of God is with them to help them work through the grieving process and to simply offer a shoulder to cry or lean on.
But there’s another group who often misses out on the support they also desperately need. These are the people who have “lost” a loved one in another sense: divorce. Sometimes a husband or wife leaves a marriage not by death but by choice. When this happens, the pain is much like that of one who has experienced the physical death of a spouse; but coupled with that grief is the knowledge that this mate left of his or her own volition.
And what about the person whose adult child, like my own, suddenly decides to sever his relationship with his parents and entire extended family? The realization that this “loss” was by the child’s own choosing can drain from a parent the very will to live. In other instances it’s the parent who decides to cut the relationship with the child. This, too, can leave the strongest person feeling utterly helpless.
Friends sometimes end relationships for no apparent reason. Someone who has been the closest of friends with another person begins to see her phone calls not being returned and invitations to get together met with lame excuses.
There are many situations where a person has “lost” a loved one without a physical death having occurred. We need to be sensitive to the pain of those who are coping with these types of losses. You probably won’t have to look beyond your immediate circle of co-workers, family and church members to find several people who fit one of the loss categories I’ve mentioned. Take on the servant attitude of Jesus and look for ways to comfort and encourage these people.
Maybe you’re one who has recently experienced a loss. First, surrender your hurt to the Lord. Be honest with Him and tell Him that you don’t understand; that you’re in pain. Ask Him for His peace and trust Him to give it to you. And ask Him as often as you need to – He never tires of His children seeking His comfort. Secondly, ask the Lord to give you a ministry. One of the best ways to heal your own hurts is to become involved in helping someone else.
“…not to be ministered unto, but to minister…” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 20:28, KJV).
“If anyone… sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (I John 3:17, NIV).
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
During the 1980s I attended a women’s retreat with a number of other ladies from my church. To me, the entire program seemed Holy Spirit-inspired and His presence was as tangible as the chair I was seated in. It was during this time that the Lord confirmed what I felt in my spirit: I would one day be speaking before audiences.
When God confirmed this, the clarity was such that there was no room for doubt. How did He do this? I can only say that, as I listened to the retreat leader, I KNEW that I would some day be doing what she was doing. I felt so strongly about this that when we had an opportunity to get up and share the things that were on our hearts, I stood and told the other women what the Lord had impressed upon me.
And they all gathered around and affirmed me, right? Wrong. When I sat down, virtually no one said a word. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember those old commercials where an entire room becomes suddenly silent at the mention of E. F. Hutton? That’s what happened in that room that day. Afterwards, one lady came to me with a word of encouragement.
You see, I had never been a leader in our church. The closest thing I’d done was to teach Bible study classes, and at that time all my classes had been youth or college and career. I think the general consensus was, “No way the Lord would use HER when there are so many better qualified ladies all over this room.”
Yet I began to receive invitations to speak all over the place, didn’t I? Hardly. Almost ten years went by and nothing happened. At least nothing that I realized at the time. During the following years, I began to teach co-ed and women’s classes. Too, many difficult situations came along that caused me to seek the Lord more faithfully and more deeply. My mom and several other family members were diagnosed with terminal illnesses. A lot of tough things came my way.
And through all this I unknowingly was being prepared for exactly what He would have me to do. Most importantly He was maturing me so that I would have sense enough to take no credit for what was entirely His hand’s work.
Is God calling you to do something for His glory? Pray, seek Him, trust Him with all your heart, and know that His timing is always perfect. If you’re like me, your biggest problem will be not forcing an opportunity to come about. Wait on the Lord.
If you’re coming from the opposite personality, don’t let fear stop you from doing what God has called you to do. When God opens a door, it’s for a specific person and time. And when He does this, His hand will be unmistakably clear. Has He already opened a door for you? Walk through it NOW – He won’t leave it propped open.
“…there is a time for everything…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV).
Monday, August 27, 2012
This is the best "almost" homemade carrot cake you'll ever taste! It tastes totally homemade, but is so much easier. Here's the recipe:
16-oz. tub of cream cheese frosting
1 1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. carrots, finely shredded
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, mayo, eggs, water & cinnamon until thoroughly blended. Stir in carrots & walnuts. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the batter. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Cool; then spread with frosting & prepare to impress your family & guests!
“…a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them…” (Ecclesiastes 3:5, NIV). In Biblical days stones were used for a variety of purposes, one of which was as boundary markers. In thinking about boundaries, though, think about not only manmade boundaries, but also God-made boundaries. The Ten Commandments, for example, were boundaries which God set for His people. Today we not only have the written Word, but we have the Living Word indwelling us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. He instills boundaries within our lives that, if we take heed, keep us from wandering into sin and hurting our Father, ourselves and others.
We as believers belong to Jesus Christ (First Corinthians 6:19b-20a) and therefore are obligated to live within the boundaries which His teachings have established. When we attempt to “fudge” these boundaries, we are both foolish and dishonest. “Oh, what’s it going to hurt just this once?” “It’s not like I’m going to keep on. I’m going to stop soon, I promise.”
God’s boundary stone (note the singular) is the Solid Rock of Ages and He is immovable, folks. If you think He will ignore your sin or make an exception for you, you’re wrong. Christian, if you continue to live in disobedience, your Heavenly Father will deal with you in the here and now. He’s a patient, loving God, but He will never allow one of His children to go undisciplined.
And if you don’t know Him as Lord and Savior, you’re at great risk of being dead wrong, which means without sincere repentance you’ll be paying for all eternity. “What sin?” you ask. Rejecting the free gift of salvation available only through God’s Only Son. This is the one and only sin that will cost you eternal separation from the Father.
God didn’t put His boundaries in place in order to take away our fun. Just as a parent might put a fence around his yard to give his toddler a place of safety, so our Father places His divine boundary markers so we can remain safely within His fold.
Whenever a child of God goes astray, the Holy Spirit stirs that believer’s heart, bringing conviction as to the sin in his life. Think about the boundaries in your own life. Are they God-made or have you attempted to “fudge” beyond His markers? Might be it’s time for you to embrace God’s boundaries again.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Did you know that the word prejudice isn't found anywhere in the Bible? What exactly is prejudice? Mr. Webster says that it's: "a preconceived judgment or opinion." Preconceived. In other words, a judgment made without fact or evidence.
Certainly racial prejudice is a problem many people struggle with today. But aren't there many other kinds of prejudices? Social? We see someone who appears much better off financially and assume that person considers himself "above" us. Or we may see someone who seems to have far less than we do and consider that person "beneath" us.
But what about denominational prejudices? Do we as a the family of God have prejudices against our own family members? "That bunch doesn't believe like WE do," one might say. Or, "They believe..." All around us we look at those who don't do things OUR way, who don't worship as we do, and we label them WRONG.
But think about this: the Holy Spirit manifested Himself as tongues of fire in the Book of Acts. In Luke He appeared as a dove. When Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into His disciples, no outward sign is recorded as accompanying this infilling. Same Spirit, diverse manifestations.
If the Holy Spirit can manifest Himself in different ways in different situations, why do we think every person or denomination that doesn't worship and believe exactly as our own is wrong? The Bible isn't complicated. Jesus' message was never complex. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
This salvation brings about a change (repentance = a turning) from following sin to following Christ. This change is then professed through water baptism - see Acts 9:18. Having received Christ as Lord and Savior, the reality of the new believer's faith is shown through the fruit of the Spirit being manifested within his or her life - see Galatians 5:22. Any person who believes these things and has personally experienced salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, who believes that the Bible is the inerrant, irrefutable, Spirit-breathed Word of the Living God, is a part of the body of Christ. He is our brother. She is our sister.
Which brings me to the last point. Check your Bible from cover to cover; the word denomination isn't in there, either.
"For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all all and in all and living through all" (Ephesians 4:4-6, NLT).
Saturday, August 25, 2012
I've been slaving away on a landscaping project today and, thanks to my handy and handsome husband Larry, we wrapped up in one day what would likely have taken me two or more on my own. Having given up on some areas that refused to grow grass under all our shade trees, we used rock, moss and mulch to cover the bald spots and hope to see the moss take hold and take off.