I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jesus Promised...

Well, He promised a lot of things. Like, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Photo from Free Digital Photos

And that’s just about as amazing as it gets. As long as Jesus walks by our side, we don’t have anything to fear, and I know we can make it another day.

But He made other promises too. We read one of the best in John 14:3.  “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also.”

How’s that to wow your neon-pink socks off?

But can we be honest here? Is there something you’d like to happen before Jesus comes?  Maybe you’d like to get that book contract first.  Maybe you desire the squealing joy when you tear open a package to find you own book finally there.

Perhaps your heart cries out for reconciliation with someone before you meet your Savior face to face. Or you urgently need to say, “I’m sorry” to a friend or family member.

 Could it be you want to hold your very first grandchild in your arms? (Hint, hint, somebody.)

Now that we’re being honest, how would you finish this sentence?

I’d want Jesus to come, except first, I’d like….

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Make Your Hero Likeable

By Jennie Atkins
I’ve been studying movie characters trying to decide what it is I like (and dislike) about the hero. What is it about them that makes me love them, in spite of their character weakness?
You can make them bad . . . but give them something good too.
Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in Pirates of the Caribbean.  Jack Sparrow is a cocky pirate and a rogue. He’ll steal, he’ll flirt with the women, and he’ll do almost anything to find the Aztec gold. But he has a soft spot for his reluctant sidekick William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Norrington (Keira Knightley).  And despite his cavalier attitude, in the end he does the right thing, winning the hearts of viewers everywhere.

Give them a cause.
Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You’ve Got Mail.  Joe is the mega-million franchise book store, Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) owns the small book store on the corner. Despite Joe’s determination to invade the New York market with discounted book prices, he feels bad that Kathleen must close down the store her mother started as a result. He shows sympathy and even gives her business pointers.  He does everything he can to convince Kathleen that he’s not as bad as he seems. And, he succeeds!

Give them values that resonate.
Navy Rear Admiral Matt Sherman (Cary Grant) in Operation Petticoat.  This is one of my top five all time movies. Sherman is determined to have his submarine, the USS Sea Tiger, in the war which means overlooking Lieutenant Nick Holden (Tony Curtis), ability to “scrounge up” whatever supplies they need—and then some. When Holden brings five female nurses on board, Sherman takes it all in stride—even when he’s tempted to do otherwise.
As characters go, I guess I could add that you need to make them all likeable. No person is all bad or all good, so let their character traits stand out.
Your turn:  What are some of your favorite movie heroes? 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Divine Romance—full disclosure

I would read few Christian romance or romantic suspense novels if some of my best friends didn't write them. As a single woman who appreciates marriage, reading fairy tale romances can grate like fingernails across blackboards. But a divine appointment March 30th in Indonesia changed my outlook as 6,000 formal guests and I attended the most amazing wedding ever.

Reaching the civic auditorium on one of many chartered buses, we met easily 100 trucks delivering large floral billboards celebrating the couple. Inside the building, every lavish detail contributed to a perfect day. Magazine-worthy flower arrangements towered over our heads. A full backdrop of a church with stained glass windows transformed the auditorium stage. Fragrant ceiling to floor banks of white flowers flanked both sides with orchids, lilies, tulips, roses, baby’s breath, gladiolas, and more for this fabulous wedding joining the son and daughter of two wealthy fourth-generation committed Christian families prominent from Indonesia and Singapore.

The couple could have chosen any wedding venue. Instead, they made their service a God-honoring portrayal of Christ loving and coming for His bride, the church, before multi-faith guests including three former Indonesian presidents, one vice-president, and endless other dignitaries. Most honored the prayers and tried to sing the printed Christian hymns presented by a talented live orchestra and chorale. I’d only seen such splendor at William and Kate’s televised wedding. I was privileged to attend this in person.

The handsome groom stood in front awaiting his bride, his rapturous expression showing anticipation. Impeccably dressed with every detail perfect, his bride walked confidently forward escorted by her beaming father. Her large genuine diamonds and lustrous pearls were tasteful, not overdone, and enhanced her beauty. Her 12-15 foot lace train was deftly managed by an attendant. I was impressed that every lavish touch to make her the loveliest of brides had been provided with no expense spared. And I suddenly realized that our heavenly Father has also provided everything we need, no expense spared, for our divine marriage.

This ceremony did not lack heart-grabbing romance. The groom declared his vows to love, honor, and cherish following his, “I do,” by adding, “with all my heart. His beautiful bride echoed his words, also answering, “I do, with all my heart” Their palpable love made both bride and groom shed tears, as did most present.

The groom  lifted the bride’s veil to reveal her beauty and they kissed. Instead of "Here comes the bride," for the recessional we sang all four printed verses of In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song by Stuart Townsend & Keith Getty Copyright 2001. For copyright reasons I'm told I can't share more, but it's worth tracking down the full song.

We imagined the bride and groom whisking away for a luxurious honeymoon. That may eventually have happened, but the next morning I sat in a campus church of 500 with my niece and family as children waved palm fronds for a Palm Sunday service. We filled the 2nd row, not noticing that the row behind us was empty and reserved. At 8:45 a.m. we heard a slight stir as the bride, groom, their families, attendants, and honored guests, arrived and filled that row. When church ended, I stood to shake hands and thank them for making their wedding so impacting and God-honoring.

People describe both families as billionaire philanthropists. When wealth serves outstanding purposes, I wish them continued success. I will never read another romance or attend any wedding without remembering the true Divine Marriage they represent.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I Don't Feel Good!

I don’t know about you, but I can generate a thousand excuses for not writing. Unfortunately, as I wrote in my last blog post, putting off writing when I know I’m supposed to equals sin. Regardless of excuses. But what about when I have a genuine excuse? What if I’m too sick to write?

When I was a little girl, if I told my mom I didn’t “feel good” and couldn’t go to school, she always told me to get up and shower, and if I still didn’t feel good, I could stay home. Brilliant, right? She did this to differentiate between sick and lazy. Because if I wasn’t really sick, by the time I was out of the shower, I was wide awake, and might as well go to school.

Does God do the same thing? It’s possible, except that He can see our hearts and doesn’t need the shower trick to know if we are truly sick. But I also think He doesn’t call us without giving us what we need to obey. In other words, I don’t believe He calls us to do something and then leaves us without the tools we need to finish the job. Look at all the scriptural accounts in which God equipped the people He called. He gave specific instructions to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Mary and Joseph, Paul, and even Jesus, and then provided tools to aid in their obedience. Whether detailed specifications or His unshakable power, God provided everything these men and women needed to succeed.

Yesterday I woke up with a migraine headache. If you’ve ever suffered with migraine, then you know that my day was shot. Usually, when a migraine comes on during the day, I get a “warning” of sorts—a blurry patch in my vision, like pixilation on a TV screen—and I can get in front of it with my “Migraine Cocktail” (a combination of Excedrin, Benedryl, magnesium, feverfew, and turmeric washed down with a caffeinated beverage) and icepacks. However, if I wake up with one, nothing helps. My husband or sons put blankets over the windows to block out as much light as possible while I attempt to sleep it off and resist the urge to dig my left eye out of its socket with a spoon. Usually, I wake up the next morning with the exhaustion of a headache hangover being the only trace of the migraine. (And yes, both eyeballs intact.)

So, yesterday. The migraine went pretty much as expected with one notable exception. This morning I woke up and it was still there. This doesn’t happen to me very often…like maybe once every five years…but it happened today.  And of course, today was my day to blog. As I lay in bed, trying to figure out what to do, I remembered that thing my mom used to make me do. So I followed her lead and came out to my computer. I prayed that God would equip me to sit at my computer, look at the excruciatingly bright screen, and think clearly enough to write sentences that make sense. (Hopefully they do!)

As usual, God proved He is unfailing in all things. He literally used my pain to provide a topic, a message, and the clarity I needed to communicate it. Also, He showed me His faithfulness: after all, if He is willing to provide what I need to write a 700-word blog post, how much more will He provide when I need something significantly bigger? Psalm 55:22 tells us if we cast our cares on Him, He will sustain us. What a fabulous promise!  

So, back to the question of being “too sick to write.” Honestly, rarely do I feel worse than when I have a migraine. If ever a time existed in which I was too sick to write, it would be today, right now; the throbbing pain behind my left eye and down the left side of my neck, the nausea, and the sensitivity to light should make it impossible for me to sit here and write this blog. Yet, because God is faithful to provide, here I am, writing word number 701 on today’s blog post: YAY!!

Have you ever been too sick to write (or whatever else God is calling you to do)? If so, what did you do?