Monday, December 21, 2009

Joy to the World!

Throughout the year, but especially at Christmas, we Christians talk a lot about Joy. We also sing about joy, read scriptures about joy and sign and send Christmas cards adorned with the word Joy. So, what’s the big deal about Joy?

It was a verse in Luke chapter 2 that caused me to dig deeper into the concept of Joy. I was reading the part of the nativity story where the Angel of the Lord announced to the shepherds the birth of Jesus, saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

We hear it straight from the angel’s mouth…the birth of Jesus is a cause for great joy for everyone. We certainly can all agree that being released from the chains of sin in exchange for the gift of everlasting life in heaven is worthy of our joy. So, why then, as a Christian, am I not always joyful? Shouldn’t I be walking around with a silly grin all the time, in a sort of tickled-pink trance? Of course not. Life can be tough and lots of times instead of being on top of the world, we feel like we’re bearing the weight of it. What happens to joy then?

I think the Scottish minister and author, Oswald Chambers, answered that question well when he said, “The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a "happy Christian." Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and He prays "that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves."

According to Chambers, the distinction between joy and happiness means that we can have joy even at times of deep sadness. Here’s an example…a Christian diagnosed with terminal cancer is probably not happy about his condition. Yet, he remains joyful, knowing that he is still being held in the palm of God’s hand and that his soul is heading for an eternity of bliss.

In John 16, Jesus says to his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Our joy is rooted in the last part of that statement…He has overcome the world.

Joy to the world!

Friday, December 18, 2009

This Little Light of Mine

Each year at Christmas, Girl Scouts from across Greensboro present an event called Candlefest as a gift to the community. The girls and their leaders line the roads at area parks with thousands of luminaries, creating a simple yet stunning visual effect. While driving along the candle-lit roadways, one can only imagine the hours of girl power that must have gone into placing each one of these hand-made luminaries, each about a foot apart, in perfect lines. The display runs for one night only and lasts until the candles burn out, which takes about 3 hours.

What a great lesson this is for the scouts who participate in Candlefest! The girls learn the value of teamwork and are given the opportunity to see, first hand, the great things that can be accomplished when people work together.

While driving through one of these presentations, I saw a powerful spiritual lesson as well. I imagined that each luminary represented a Christian. Now, each one of these luminaries on its own is nothing special. Just a small candle in stuck in some sand in the bottom of a paper bag. No big deal. But, when thousands of them are placed side by side, "nothing special" becomes spectacular. Not only were the luminaries beautiful, they also served as a guide through the park’s dark pathways.

As Christians, we have power and light, given to us as gifts from God. We’re expected to use these gifts to glorify Him. In Matthew 5:10 we’re told, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Of course, these words are undeniably true. However, each of our lights have a limited radius. On our own, we’re just a single light flickering in the darkness. However, when we come together with other believers, standing side by side with a common purpose, our effect can be spectacular!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whine, Cheese and Manna

I had weight loss surgery last year (the Lap-band), and as part of the recovery process I was limited to a full-liquid diet for 3 weeks. Basically, I was allowed to eat protein shakes, yogurt, chicken broth, pudding, and that’s it. It was right in the middle of this diet when the melt-down happened. My cravings for “real food” seemed too much to take, and the thought of protein shakes for another week and a half was just unbearable. I even sent a desperate email to my nutritionist to see if there was something, anything else I could eat.

However, in the midst of this meltdown, I was suddenly reminded of the Israelites. God had freed them from slavery and oppression, miraculously saved them from Pharoah’s army, and provided them with manna that fell from heaven and water that flowed from rocks. And, how did they show their appreciation to God? They complained about the manna. They gathered more than they needed. They grumbled about their circumstances.

And, you know what? That’s exactly what I was doing! In less than 2 weeks time I had gone from praising God for the opportunity to have this surgery…freeing me from my addiction to food and an unhealthy lifestyle…to griping about a short term diet designed to help me recover from surgery and have the best possible outcome. Just like the Israelites, I was complaining about the manna.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that I have quickly forgotten God’s blessings. How about you? Think of a time that God pulled you out of a painful situation, leaving you to jumping for joy. Are you still jumping? Maybe he provided you with a wonderful new job that now feels more like a daily grind. Perhaps it’s the spouse who God provided as an answer to your prayers. As the years have passed, are you still thanking God for him or her? How about your kids, do you spend more time complaining about them or praising God for the gift of a family?

I encourage you to take some time today look for the Manna in your life. If, you find that instead of thanking God for it, you’re complaining about it…ask Him for forgiveness. Pray that God will point out and renew your appreciation for each blessing that has fallen from heaven on your life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Love Transmitter

You may have heard me talk before about my mom’s hearing problem. Her hearing has been less than perfect since she was a teenager, however over the past decade it has gotten far, far worse. She uses hearing aids, but what most people don’t realize is that hearing aids amplify EVERYTHING in a person’s environment. So, if she is trying to have a conversation with someone at a restaurant, for example, her hearing aids not only amplify her friend’s voice, but also the rest of the sounds at the restaurant… clinking dishes, doors opening and closing, people talking and laughing, etc.

Fortunately, she recently got a new gadget that helps with this problem. The device has two parts, a transmitter and a receiver. The person talking to her wears the transmitter on his or her neck and my mom wears the receiver. The transmitter captures what the speaker is saying and transmits it to the receiver, which then sends the sounds directly to mom’s hearing aids.

This system has been a true God send. Recently, I attended a church service with my mom where the preacher wore the transmitter for her. I asked her afterwards if she was able to hear him. She smiled and said, “Every word!” Had it not been for the transmitter, his wonderful sermon would have been a garbled collection of sounds, all of his wisdom and insight would have been lost on her.

Did you realize that we have a wonderful message to share with the world, a message of grace and forgiveness? Indeed, we have good news, the best news of all to share with the lost. But, like the sounds my mother often hears, our words will be a garbled mess if we deliver them without love. Listen to this verse from 1 Corinthians 13 “If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Like my mom needs a transmitter to send sounds directly to her ears. Love is the transmitter that sends our message directly to others’ hearts. Pray that God will provide you with the love you need to get HIS message across.

Friday, November 20, 2009

You Have Not Because You Ask Not

A friend recently told me about an issue she has with one of her employees. Apparently, this woman, who we’ll call Jane, is a very intelligent, capable employee with lots of potential for advancement within the company. In fact, my friend has considered offering Jane a promotion several times. So what’s the problem? Jane has never asked my friend for more responsibility. If she’s interested in a promotion, she sure hasn’t let anyone know. My friend feels that if Jane hasn’t at least taken the initiative to come to her and ask about the possibility of a promotion, then she must nor really want one.

We all struggle from “request anxiety” from time to time, don’t we? Jesus knows that we do, especially when it comes to our prayer lives. He reminds us in the Gospels that it really is OK to present our requests to God…He tells us, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The key phrase here is Keep On…God values persistence in our prayers, we see that time and time again in the Bible. Think of the woman who had suffered a hemorrhage for 12 years before she was healed by Jesus. Sarah was 90 years old before her prayers a child were answered. In Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow whose request is answered by a corrupt judge only because she keeps bothering him with her pleas. Jesus ends the parable by saying, "Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?”

What are you seeking today? Go ahead and boldly present your requests to God, you have the Authority of Jesus to come before His throne. You have the assurance that within God’s timing and will, what you ask for will be given, what you seek will be found and the door that you knock upon will be opened.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Give 'till it Hurts!

CS Lewis once said, in his marvelously British accent “If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

With this statement Lewis has provided us with a characteristically eloquent definition of sacrificial giving. In other words, give till it hurts. But why? What is the benefit of this type of giving?

When we tithe to our church or give to a charitable cause, the decision we have made is about so much more than money. It’s about trust and faith. If the amount we give is so small in comparison to the amount we have, how is that leading us to trust? However, when we give beyond what is comfortable, we are saying to the Lord that we trust him to fulfill all of our needs. We’re putting our faith in his promises.

One of my favorite verses about giving is found in Malachi 3:10, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”

Giving is about the heart. Notice in the following verse from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians where he says the decision to give comes from..

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Take some time today to examine your heart. Ask God to clearly show you whether your giving is done sacrificially and cheerfully. Pray that he will help you to have the trust it takes to hand everything, finances included, over to him.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Handle It!

1 Corinthians 10:13 is one of the most misquoted verses in scripture. I’ve heard it and also said it like this, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”. But the verse actually says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

I think the root of this common scriptural misunderstanding is our need and longing for a God who is in control, in both the good times and bad. And, there’s plenty of other scripture promising us that he is.

But, when we misrepresent scripture, saying that God won’t give us more than we can handle, I think that we unintentionally also misrepresent the nature of God. We’re creating an image of a deity who sits in heaven meting out misery, stopping just before we hit our breaking point. Do we really believe that’s the kind of God we serve?

Isn’t it far more plausible and in line with God’s character to believe that we suffer trials because we live in a fallen world? And, because he is our Father God, who loves us and provides for us, he offers us his strength and his power to help us cope with these tough times. So, instead of not giving us more than we can handle, he actually gives us the strength we need to handle the difficulties that go along with living in a fallen world.

Listen to this reassurance from the book of Isaiah 40:29-31…"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

So, if you are going through a trial today, remember the strength that God has promised you. Call on him to give you what you need to endure.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Walking Wounded

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Over the past 10 years, my mom has been slowly losing her hearing. It started very slightly, but has progressed to the point where she hears about half of what she should, even with her hearing aids.

Until my mom started going through this, I had no idea how difficult life becomes when someone’s hearing starts to go. Phone conversations, watching television, socializing at a restaurant, even going to church are all things that have been affected by my mom’s hearing problem. But, the one thing my mom has had the most trouble with is other people’s insensitivity to her handicap. If someone is in a wheelchair, most people will do whatever they can to accommodate that person. A person who is blind either has a cane or a guide dog and everyone realizes immediately that the person is unable to see. However, there is nothing overtly visible about someone who is hard of hearing. So, people who do not know she has a problem get frustrated with her when she asks them to repeat what they just said. And, people who know about her hearing loss, myself included, sometimes forget and get frustrated with her as well. She has said that sometimes she wants to have a t-shirt printed that says, in BIG letters, I HAVE A HEARING PROBLEM…PLEASE SPEAK SLOWLY AND CLEARLY SO I CAN UNDERSTAND YOU!

This has been a tough thing for her adjust to. But, her situation reminds me that that we all have challenges, losses and handicaps that are not outwardly visible, yet that profoundly affect we relate with others. Think about that person at church or at work who you have to walk on egg-shells around because he is so hyper-sensitive and defensive. But, what if you knew that he grew up in an abusive home, or was married to a spouse that was overly critical and verbally abusive? Or, consider that ultra-needy and way too clingy friend whose feelings are hurt when you cannot be there for her? If you found out that her parents gave her up when she was a child and she grew up in several different foster homes, you might better understand her fear of abandonment.

Now, I’m not saying that we can’t overcome past hurts. It is true that with faith, maturity and effort healing can happen. My point is this…when you are dealing with someone that you find hard to handle, remember that they may very well have a long history of suffering that you can’t see, but that drives their attitudes and behaviors. Ask God to help you be gracious and tolerant towards the people in your life who are hard to love. After all, who better to learn grace from than the One who knows every detail of your heart, both the good and the bad, and was still willing to die in order to secure your eternity with Him?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sleep is Over Rated!

My daughter, Carley, goes on lots of weekend camping trips with her girl scout troop. She’s got a wonderful troop leader, so I don’t worry about her too much when she’s gone. But, I also keep my phone nearby when she, or any of the kids are away from home, just in case.

On this recent trip, that “just in case” became reality when, in the middle of the night, my phone rang. And, you guessed it. It was Carley’s troop leader on the phone. Apparently, Carley had developed a sore throat and an ear ache during the night and it had gotten so bad that she couldn’t sleep. She just wanted to come home.

So, I got out of bed and hit the road at 3 AM to get my sick kid. Her illness wasn’t life threatening and she certainly would have made it through the night if I had chosen to stay home and go back to sleep. In fact, at my request the troop leader gave her some Tylenol to help with the pain, and by the time I got to there she was already feeling much better. I found her bright-eyed, happily chatting away with her leader, sipping lemonade and eating Cheetos.

So, was I aggravated that I made a midnight ride to pick up a child who, now, looked pretty healthy? No, not at all. Instead, I was grateful that her troop leader had called and that I was able to come get her. She’s my daughter! I’d do anything in my power to comfort her and I want her to know that whenever she’s hurting and in need of help, that I’ll be there…no matter what time of day or night and no matter how seemingly big or small the problem.

As children of God, isn’t it comforting to know that we also have a devoted, loving parent who waits for our call for help? Just like any caring mom or dad wouldn’t want their children to endure painful times on their own, God doesn’t want us to suffer alone either. He’s not concerned with the size of the problem or whether or not you’re the one who caused it in the first place.

Be encouraged by Psalm 46:1- God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

So, what’s hurting you right now? Take it to your heavenly father with the assurance that he does not want you to face this by yourself and he doesn’t want you to seek comfort in the wrong places. Cry out to Him, and he will answer, even in the middle of the night. After all, there’s no wiser counsel to seek, no broader shoulder to cry on, no stronger arms to fall into than those of our Father God.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No Deal!

Hi. I’m Tami and this is a Moment for Mom.

Among my many titles: Mom, Wife, Morning Show Co-Host, is the title Official Game Show Reject”. You see, I was one of the thousands of people who auditioned at open casting call for Deal or No Deal when it came to Winston-Salem. And, you guessed it...I didn’t make the cut.

At the audition, I had 20 seconds to “sell” myself to the show’s casting director. And, I gave it everything I had. I tried to be enthusiastic and personable. I even threw in the fact that, if I won big money on the show, I’d buy a bigger house so my poor, widowed mother could move in with us.

But, evidently, what I gave just wasn’t good enough. I knew I was finished when I got the whole, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” routine. And, as much as I hate to admit it, it hurt! The feeling reminded me of my single days when I was interested in a guy who didn’t feel the same way about me.

Thankfully, my dejected state didn’t last too long. I realized that there were lots of other people auditioning that day who wouldn’t make it either...many of whom had camped out overnight and waited for hours in a cold rain for their chance at instant wealth. So, at least I was in good company. Still, nobody enjoys rejection. Think about the way you felt the last time it happened to you. Unfortunately, we’ll all probably have plenty of experience with rejection over the course of our lives.

But, I can promise you this. There is One who will never reject you. Your heart is safe with God. Romans 8:38 & 39 confirms it: “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, be assured….God will never tell you that you are not good enough. His love and acceptance are 100% guaranteed by the blood Jesus shed on the cross.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


In my inbox, among the spam, jokes, cute animal pictures and e-bills, there are usually a few sensational chain emails forwarded by well intentioned friends. The topic usually involves something like an attack on Christianity, the latest political scandal, a new type of crime or a newly discovered health hazard of a particular food or product.

Usually, I delete these emails once I realize that they are probably just urban legends. Occasionally, though, they come from someone whom I consider a reliable source and the content seems at least plausible. So, I dig deeper. A quick check on or reveals whether or not the email is valid. Unfortunately, most of the time it is not. I am always relieved that I did not forward the email to all of my friends without checking first. And, I’m always surprised that the friend who sent it to me didn’t do the same thing.

We have to be so careful about what we accept as truth. While I think it’s important to have an open mind, that does not mean that we should blindly accept everything we hear as fact…even when it comes from a source we respect. Teachers, parents, bosses, spouses and preachers are human beings and, as such, prone to make mistakes. Even scripture, when taken out of context can be used inaccurately.

Proverbs 3 (21-23) contains the following admonition, “My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble”
Let’s pray that God will provide us with sound judgment and discernment so we’ll be better able to filter out truth from untruth.

And, by the way…it does say, “In God We Trust” on the side of the new gold coins, lemon slices in restaurants really can be nasty, petro express is not owned by Citgo, and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will not burn off your skin. Hope this helps!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Inside-out Worship

On a recent Sunday morning, as usual, we were late getting to church. The kids, Alton and I all rushed through the parking lot, into the building and then quickly and quietly entered the sanctuary. After finding a place to sit we began singing along with the last few moments of praise and worship music. The worship leader then asked us to bow our heads and join him in a word of prayer. As I lowered my head, I discovered, to my horror, that my shirt was on inside out! I quickly felt the back of my collar and sure enough, there was the tag, hanging out for everyone to see. While the rest of the congregation prayed, I slipped back out of the sanctuary and headed to the restroom to correct my “wardrobe malfunction”. I then made my way back to my seat thinking to myself how grossly unprepared I was for worship.

It struck me that my inside-out shirt was really an outward sign of an inward condition. My soul is pretty disheveled when I make my way into church on Sunday, because I haven’t spent nearly enough time getting ready for worship. I like to sleep in on Sundays and then ease into the day, sipping coffee and surfing the ‘net. Then, at the last possible moment, I end up rushing to get ready for church and out the door.

There is something in the “every Sunday-ness” of church that’s led my heart to believe that, as long as I actually make it to church, I’m good to go. My inside-out shirt spoke volumes about the fallacy of that line of thinking. Especailly when I compare the condition of my heart with these words in Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”

What can we do to better prepare for worship? Well, I’m clearly not an authority on these matters, but I’m thinking that a good night’s sleep is a good place to start. The Jews begin the Sabbath on Saturday at sundown, that’s not a bad idea! Also, it couldn’t hurt to spend some time reading the Bible and praying prior to heading out the door. These are the things that prepare our hearts for God’s message. These are the things that “Let us Draw Near”.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Don't Make Him Come Back There

The other day, as usual, my 3 kids were bickering in the back of the minivan. I usually try to ignore these sibling rivalries, hoping the situation will resolve itself without any blood letting. But, this time their words had gotten particularly ugly and the insults they were hurling were pretty biting.

So, I decided to intervene by pointing something out to them that they probably had never considered. I asked them to imagine how they would feel if their dad and I constantly argued and called each other mean names. Then I had them think about how they would feel if our verbal fights escalated into physical confrontations like theirs often do. I explained that I was pretty sure that they would be very upset to see and hear two people that they love very much hurting each other I said that’s exactly how their father and I feel when they fight.

Despite this stroke of, what I considered, parenting genius, I am fairly sure that my insight was basically ignored. I know this because the kids resumed their argument pretty much the moment I stopped talking.

However, our discussion did impact me in an unexpected way. I realized that, just as it pains me to hear my children say and do terrible things to each other, it hurts our heavenly father when His children are unkind to one another. God tells us plainly how he wants us to treat each other in Galatians 6:10- Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Is there someone in your life who is a regular source of conflict? It could be anyone, a family member, co-worker, spouse, in-law, whatever. Now, try to imagine you and that person in the back seat of a minivan and picture God in the driver’s seat. You’re going to tell that person exactly how you feel about them. Remember, God is watching everything in the rear view mirror. What are you going to say to that person? How will you say it? Does the fact that you are preparing to talk to one of God’s children in his presence change your tone?

This visualization is not too far from the truth. God really does see and hear the things we say and do to each other. He even knows what is in your heart. Remember that the next time you’re facing a confrontation with someone and you may find that resolution comes much more easily.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The word “MEH” is being added to the next edition of the Collins English Dictionary. The definition of “meh” is an expression of indifference or boredom. Its origins are somewhat unclear, but one of its first known uses was in an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer suggests a day trip to Bart and Lisa, whereupon they simply shrug and say "meh" in unison before going back to watching TV.

There are lots of things that I feel “Meh” about. Any of the following questions, “Who will win the world series?”, “What’s for dinner tonight?” or “What’s your favorite brand of cornflakes?” could all be answered by me with a “Meh.” These things just don’t stir me up.

It’s OK to feel that way about some things. But there are lots of things that do deserve our attention and passion. Jesus is one of them. You cannot be “Meh” about Christ. Unfortunately, there are lots of Meh Christians. People who may go to church and claim to be believers, yet look just below the surface and they’re really pretty indifferent about their faith.

John had a prophetic vision about these folks and wrote about it in the book of Revelation. Here’s what Jesus says to them “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:15-16)

If you are genuinely a Christian, then you have no choice but to be passionate about your faith. God’s only Son died so you could spend an eternity with him. This has to stir you. Notice in the verse I just mentioned Jesus knows whether or not someone is lukewarm by looking at their deeds. If you are passionate about Him it will show by your actions.

Let’s pray that when Jesus looks at the things we do, He sees people who are deeply in love with Him. I know we’ll make mistakes and I know we’ll fall short more often than we get it right. But when it comes right down to it I pray that the lives we live are proof that we are anything but “Meh” about the Messiah.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When I'm 64

I love the Beatles Song, “When I’m 64”. You know the one that starts out,

“When I get older losing my hair Many years from now
will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?"

And then in the Chorus the songwriter asks,

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me When I'm sixty-four?”

Later in the song, the writer tries to prove his worthiness, saying,

“I could be handy, mending a fuse When your lights have gone”

This song addresses a fear that many of us have, a fear of rejection by our loved ones. We worry if we lose our attractiveness or do or say something wrong that we may lose the affection of the people we care for.

Ironically, Paul McCartney, who wrote this song when he was in his 20’s, turned 64 in 2006, the same year his wife of 4 years filed for divorce. She was recently awarded $50 million in alimony and child support.

Paul’s not alone, he’s now part of the 25% of the adult population that has experienced a divorce in their lifetime. Human love is indeed fickle.

Thankfully there is One whose love never runs out, never dries up and never leaves us for someone younger, richer or better looking. God’s love is eternal, it cannot be earned nor can it be taken away.

The first verse of Psalm 136 puts it plainly, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.”

We’re also told use God’s love as an example for the way we love each other.

1 John 4: 7-9 explains it perfectly:

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

Pray that God will help you experience His love for you and for others in a real way today. And, take some time to thank Him for His gifts of unconditional love and everlasting life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


It's hard to believe that its been a year since the accidental death of Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest daughter, Maria. I don’t know this family personally but when I heard the news of her loss, I found myself grieving right alongside the Champans.

Ironically, Steven’s song, “Cinderella” had just hit the airwaves before the accident. "Cinderella" is a song about a father taking time out of his busy day to spend time with his little girl. The father in the song realizes that he doesn’t have forever with his child…so he makes the most of the moment to dance with his little girl.

The lyrics of this song took on a new, haunting meaning in light of the events surrounding aria's death. In the song, the little girl pretending to be a princess becomes a teenager getting ready for the prom and then a young bride preparing for her wedding day. The Chapman family’s website reported that the accident that took their young daughter’s life happened “just hours after the family celebrated the engagement of their oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and just hours before a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman's completion of high school."

The one year anniversary of the Chapman's tragedy has, once again, reminded me that I really take the time I have with my children for granted. Mom and Dad...let's remember to hug our children extra hard as we send them off to school or daycare today. We need to appreciate every moment we have. They are only ours for a time. Eventually, they will grow up and walk their own path…write their own story. And, as the Chapman family knows all too well, even tomorrow is not a guarantee.

I know that time is limited, energy is drained, houses are dirty, yards need to be mowed, and dinner needs to be on the table. But, how important are those things really when compared to precious, irreplaceable moments with your children? So, I’ll dance with Cinderella while she is here in my arms….I don't wanna miss even one song, Cuz all to soon the clock will strike midnight and she'll be gone.

Learn more about the Champans and their organization, "Show Hope" by clicking here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Easter Encounter

A couple if years ago, I visited First Presbyterian Church in Downtown Winston-Salem for their “Easter Encounter” experience. I found it to be a simple, yet profound journey through eight scenes, each reflecting different parts of the Easter Story and the way it relates to our life.

The walk was self-directed, much like our own. We can choose how much time we are going to spend on Easter, how much of the meaning we are going to let settle in our hearts. Will you rush through Easter this year, or allow yourself time to really reflect on the resurrection?

The encounter was also meant to be experienced in its entirety. Deciding to only visit the first few stations would leave one with an incomplete picture of what the crucifixion and resurrection are about. For example, at one of the scenes you were encouraged to write down one of your sins on a piece of cloth and then carry it with you through the rest of the encounter. If you stopped there, then you’d never get to the station where you tear up that piece of cloth and lay it at the foot of the cross. Think about that, you’d leave the building, still carrying your sin around with you. What sins are you still carrying around because you haven’t fully accepted the gift of forgiveness given to you on the cross?

In addition, each station of the encounter offered an opportunity to personally respond. At one scene there was a mirror and you were asked to look into it and reflect on the depth of Christ’s sacrifice knowing that it was for you. Truly, the story of Easter does require a response from us. We cannot simply hear the story and then walk away. It forces us to make a decision to either accept Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness or reject it. Even people who have heard about Jesus yet do not believe in Him have made a choice.

And, finally, the encounter did not end with the resurrection. Instead, it ended with a reminder that the journey of the Holy week began long before Jesus’ last week on earth and continues today. We are a part of that everlasting journey. A part of His story.

Ask God to help you encounter His love in a real, personal way today, and that He will reveal more of Himself to you as you celebrate Easter this weekend.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I recently attended a church service (don’t worry, I won’t name names) and I have to say, I was really disappointed by the level of enthusiasm, or lack thereof, during worship time.

It wasn’t the worship team’s fault…they were doing a great job of passionately leading worship. But, no matter how hard they tried to stir up that passion among the congregation, the response remained, for the most part, completely flat. Here we stood, singing “I Am Free to Run, I am Free to Dance, I am Free to Live for You, I am Free” and the majority of the people weren’t even smiling as they sang. Based on their facial expressions, they could have just as easily been singing, “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.”

It made me wonder how many people at this church really understood what the praise and worship portion of a service is all about. I know that I sure didn’t get it when I became a Christian. But, it’s important to understand that it’s called Praise and Worship because that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing at that time… Praising and Worshipping the Lord! When we sing in church, it’s not to fill the room with pretty music, or to fill time before the pastor starts talking. We’re singing to God…he’s our audience of one.

Listen to the description of worship in Proverbs 29:2 “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”

I understand that people express themselves differently…not everyone raises their hands, claps and/or sways to the music. However, no matter how you choose to show it, when singing praise and worship songs, we are wise to remember that we are singing at the foot of the throne.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trashed Trailers

The town council of Pilot Mountain recently voted to ban mobile homes within the town limits. Anyone currently living in a trailer will be permitted to stay, however if they should decide to replace their mobile with a new one they’ll have to move out of town. People in favor of the ban complain that the presence of mobile homes within town limits, particularly those that are not being properly maintained, is an eyesore. They add that these homes are bringing everyone else’s property values down. People opposed to the ban say that the people who live in these homes can’t afford anything else, and that the mobile home ban is just a thinly veiled plot to run lower income residents out of town.

While I think there are some valid arguments on both sides of this issue, one thing missing from the debate is an interest in “loving thy neighbor”. The trailer dwellers, who have not kept up their homes, are being unloving toward their neighbors by allowing their run-down properties to negatively affect the neighborhood. On the other hand, if the people in the stick-built homes were as committed to loving their neighbors as they were to petitioning town council, they could accomplish so much more. As my friend, Derek, pointed out, these folks could reach out to their neighbors by helping them fix their gutters, paint their homes or mow their lawns. They could do some landscaping and replace broken screens and missing underpinning. If the community could, somehow, come together in such a loving, helpful way, imagine the real impact they would have.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to pick on the people of Pilot Mountain. A general lack of interest in loving our neighbors and caring for our communities is prevalent throughout the United States. We do a much better job of complaining about each other than we do of caring for one another. Perhaps that’s because complaining is so much easier. And, while griping may be the easiest way to deal with the people who bug us, it’s certainly not the Godly way. God calls us to be peacemakers. Let’s remember to live out the words in 2nd Timothy 2:24, which says, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Earning Your PhT

After several years of hard work, my pastor recently obtained his Doctorate Degree in Divinity. He could not attend the Graduation ceremony held by the University where he completed his studies because he was out of the county at the time. So, we held a brief ceremony for him at church. The worship band played “Pomp and Circumstance” and 3 leaders from our congregation who also hold Doctorates performed the ceremony. It was a very sweet moment and we were all very proud of his accomplishment.

The coolest part of the ceremony, I thought, was when they called his wife up on the stage to join him. After they conveyed the PhD to Pete, they recognized his wife Kathy for the hard work and dedication that she had put in to support him. They gave her an honorary PHT…Putting Him Through. She got a standing ovation.

There are so many women and men like my pastor’s wife, who make sacrifices every day so their spouse’s hopes and dreams can be realized. Often, these partner’s efforts go unnoticed and unappreciated because everyone is focusing on the accomplishments of their spouse. My own husband struggles with this…he half-jokingly says he used to be called Alton, but know he’s known as Tami’s husband. But, the fact of the matter is, that I could not do what I do if he was not there to support me.

If your spouse is the one who takes care of the day to day stuff so that you can do what you do…I have a challenge for you. Take time today to write him or her a note of thanks. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few lines to express your appreciation will do. And, if you are not married, write a note to someone else who could use a little appreciating right now.

Finally, if you are the “behind the scenes” spouse, know that your work does not go unnoticed. Even when it seems that no one else sees the sacrifices you make each day, God always notices. And, He is glorified whenever we serve each other with a humble heart.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Just to Be With You

I must admit, I’m not much of a Golf fan. Last year, there was some big golf tournament going on in Georgia. I think it was the masters. Normally, I wouldn’t know or really care about who was playing or winning in this event. This past year, however, one player caught my attention. Drew Weaver is a 21-year-old kid from High Point. He attends Virginia Tech and was there the year when tragic shootings killed 33 fellow students. But, the thing about him that peaked my interest the most was has to do with his mother, Cathy.

Apparently, Cathy has suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis for most of her life and her knees had taken the hardest hit from the disease. She was in constant pain, even unable to sleep at night. The disease also had begun to prevent her from being there, at each hole, to cheer on her son, Drew when he played Golf. Last summer, when Drew played in and won the British Open, she could only bear to watch the last three holes. And, I’m guessing that’s when she decided she had to do something.

So, Cathy made the decision have both knees replaced…at the same time. Because of the difficult recovery period from this surgery, most people only have one knee done at a time. But, that was not an option for Mrs. Weaver. Her boy was going to be in the masters and she was going to be there to cheer him on…at every hole. So she had the intense surgery last February and then began the long, hard road to recovery.

Her determination paid off. Cathy made it to the Masters. At each hole, she was there. Drew Weaver’s biggest fan…who did what had to be done in order to be there for her child. How deeply loved he is!

Friend, you are loved even more! You have Parent in heaven who is watching every move you make, cheering you on in your victories and encouraging you when you fall. And, He made an incredible sacrifice because he wants to be with you…forever. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).