When we were in Dallas for the "Leadership Team Conference", God did my favorite thing. He showed up in a restaurant where no one was expecting Him!
I know the Scripture, "Everywhere you place your foot is holy ground," and I love knowing that wherever I go He always goes before me. This time He went before all of us by planning a one hour wait at a previous restaurant, so we left there and went to another place where He was waiting in the kitchen for our order.
When the waiter, Stan, took our food order to the kitchen God made sure that the mushrooms were not placed on the burger that we had ordered. We called Stan back over to the table and explained this to him and also told him about another problem with our order, too. Stan said that he was going to send the manager over to our table.
The situation was resolved with lots of apologies and Stan was so nice and pleasant that we were feeling very badly that he had gone to so much work to make our meal enjoyable. When he brought our final bill, he knelt down between Tommy and me and I gave him one of my GospeLines cards and told him if he ever needed prayer for anything that we would be glad to lift up his request to God.
I shared how we have a mighty group of "Prayer Warrior's" who intercede and stand in the gap for God's chosen people and how we have seen miraculous results through this ministry. Stan said that he needed prayer and would love to have us pray for him. (Stan and his wife, Eden, had undergone VERY difficult times in their recent past. Their needs were financial as well as spiritual.) I asked him if he minded if we prayed for him right there and he said, "Not at all." I prayed the prayer that God placed on my heart for Stan and his family. Afterward God spoke to my heart and told me to give Stan some money besides the tip that we had already given him.
Upon doing that, we made sure that Stan knew how very glad we were that God had placed him into our path that evening and that he was a Divine Appointment sent by God to us. Stan blessed me more than he will ever know!
Those are the moments that I live for, to be used by God for His purposes and to be broken and spilled out for His glory. I also want all of you readers to know that you cannot EVER out-give God. Within 36 hours God had given back to me almost 200 fold the money that I had given to Stan. The gift goes on and on and on... What a Mighty and Glorious Savior we serve. I have always tithed and have been a good steward to what the good Lord has entrusted me with.
Stan and Edna, may you be blessed and encouraged today knowing that our heavenly Father loves you with all of His heart and He is going to take very good care of you. He will never leave you nor forsake you and He will provide all of your needs as He has promised you He would do. Don't give up on Him, for He never gave up on you. May you have the peace of God that passes all understanding. I love you with my whole heart and I will see you again soon. Know that you have a special place in my heart and I will take you with me wherever I go. You were the highlight of my trip.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Happy New Year! Stan and I are doing well. We were just reflecting on how you guys have blessed us so much by one gesture of love. We can't ever forget it because things have just gotten better and better from that special day. We've been sharing that story with anyone and everyone who will hear it and passing on the blessing to others. Stan is now a manager working with the Chief Information Officer for the city of Dallas in charge of communications for Fire, Police and Jails in Dallas; I am working with the CIO's wife at a charter school in Duncanville, I'm doing what I've wanted to do my whole life which is teaching and I am loving it. I am studying for another state exam and will have the teacher's credential before the end of the school year. The house is wonderful and the living is really good now. We finally got new furniture and we own it outright - no credit card payments for us. We intend to spend this New Year the same as the last - G.R.A.T.E.F.U.L.
Stan sends his best to you both and says Thank You again. Sorry we missed you when you were in town. We still keep mushrooms on hand so that we will never "forget" them or you.
God Bless You,
Eden and Stan
≈ Devotional for Tuesday, January 15, 2008
We decided to publish a devotional from the past - something from the "Best of Carla."When I searched for one of Carla's devotionals, this one, first published in June of 2006 jumped out at me; but, I didn't understand why. Then, after reading it again, I understood why God's hand was in its selection.God is moving in all our lives!
"God’s Moving In My Life"
What a humbling experience it is when your talent (or “gift”) is discovered by someone else. I’ve heard the expression many times – using your “gift for God,” but I really didn’t know exactly what my gift was.
Writing had always been a passion. I thought I wanted to be a broadcast journalist and that was my major in college. But, I’m more than a “who, what, when, where, why and how” kind of writer I thought. Or, as Jack Webb’s character said on Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am.”
I continued to write creatively, prose and poetry and letters to friends probably boring them with details – yes, “who, what, when, where, why and how” – of my life with my daughter, my hubby, etc. But, friends humored me.
Then, during a dark period, surrounded by God’s Angels, I was directed to GospeLines. There was a glimmer of light when I received those encouraging and inspirational emails daily. Through the most difficult days, I thanked God for His Word through the Prayer Warriors, Pastor Ron, Tommy and Sherry. I’ve even developed several great friendships as a result. (Praise God for my Sisters in Christ!!!)
I couldn’t imagine that I’d be here today, sharing my testimony and admitting to the world as only the incomparable Maya Angelou could say, “I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.” So often, when I counted my few successes, it was as though I’d done it alone. I did nothing… He supplied and continues to supply everything I need.
Just goes to show, “God’s moving in my life.”
GospeLines Prayer: Father, thank you for not failing me, even though I’ve failed miserably at times. Thank you for your love, when I have not been deserving. Thank you for giving me your wisdom and counsel through your Word and through various Angels along my path.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, January 16, 2008
"Pray Before You Build"
God never called me to become an engineer but I sure had fun building stuff when I was a kid.The pastures behind the houses were overgrown with Johnson Grass and stick-like wild plants that grew as high as six feet (we called them cena bean trees).From that concoction we would build houses by pushing two parallel rows of sticks in the ground and filling in between with grass and weeds to form the walls.It could take several days to build one and sometimes they would have 3 or 4 rooms, complete with a roof and windows.
Then there was a time when I thought I would build a dam across a bar-ditch just after a hard rain.Those ditches ran in front of the houses and the closer they got to the big gully (about a quarter of a mile down the road) the deeper they got.I selected a spot about 30 feet before you reached the gully and started filling the ditch with rotten logs, broken cement, old tires… just about anything I could find that would make a nice dam.And it worked, too!
All day long I tugged and pushed until that ditch had about 4 feet of debris in it.By the end of the day the water had started slowing to a trickle and was backing up just as I thought it would.Around four o’clock I headed back.Dad got home at 4:30 p.m. and I sure didn’t want to miss supper!
On the bike ride to my house I saw that the ditches were a lot fuller than they were when I had left earlier that morning.In fact, the water had gone out of the banks and was spilling into the yards and the edge of the blacktop.I knew it hadn’t rained anymore and wondered where all that water was coming from.By the time I got home it hit me.There was a good reason why all the neighbors had water up to their front porches.
As I pedaled closer to my driveway a group of the parents were standing out in the road talking.My Dad was already home and he had joined the meeting.I rode by quickly, hoping to be as invisible as possible when my dad yelled, “Tommy, come here!”He asked me where I had been and I told him I had been down by the gully.
I don’t remember a lot about the rest of the conversation but I do recall that I ended up going back down the road to tear down my dam.And I missed supper that night.
Adults spend a lot of time scheming, planning and building for tomorrow.Instead of rotten logs, broken cement and old tires, we try to find building blocks with more stability.If we build in haste, our structure may be destroyed because we didn’t consult our Heavenly Father before getting started.Had the little boy asked his dad about building a dam in a bar ditch, he probably wouldn’t have done it.He was productive but his efforts were wasted and potentially harmful to others.
It isn’t enough just to be busy doing something.It’s far better to be doing something worthwhile.When Jesus designed the plan for building His Kingdom, there was nothing temporary about it.From the beginning, He intended that the Kingdom of Heaven would be eternal.So He carefully set the stones in place, one at a time, consulting His Father every step of the way.
When you are building your kingdom, think about following some of the same rules:
1.Consult your Father!Ask Him to help you with the project from the beginning.
2.Use building blocks that will last forever, like love, peace, joy, longsuffering, patience, and kindness.
3.Don’t be afraid to tear it down and start over.If what you have built has a faulty foundation, or was started in the wrong place at the wrong time… start over!And this time, consult the Master Architect.
4.Build it so that the generations which follow will be blessed, not hurt.The unselfish builder strives to leave a legacy for others, knowing that what he builds will never be finished in a single lifetime. Those who come after you will benefit from your faithful perseverance.
When it comes to building a structure that lasts, God is the only architect to trust.To be assured that tomorrow will be everything you had ever dreamed it would be for you and your loved ones, wisely consult the Master Architect before you make a mistake and cause a mess.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
Over 500 years ago, Martin Luther told his followers not to call themselves "Lutherans."However, the movement he started was so significant to the people involved that his name became irrevocably attached.
Ardent fans of the TV series Star Trek are called "Trekkies."One of America's great car companies is still known by the name of its founder: "Ford Motor Company."Physicists all over the world refer to "Newton's Law," not "The Law of Gravity."
Two qualities make a person unforgettable: those who change the way we live and those who change the way we think.In all of the world's history, one man stands above all the rest as the most significant harbinger of change - That man is Jesus.
Jesus did not come to change the world - He came to change us."I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)However, if we become as He desires - children of God - and if His children, then His heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-18), we will change the world because we will "go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)We will be the light of the world - a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.We will not light our lamp and put it under a bowl.Instead we'll put it on a stand and let it give light to everyone. (Matthew 5:14-15)
We've just changed from 2007 to 2008.What a great way to start the New Year by recommitting ourselves to help change the world by sharing "The Good News."
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
The long trek from my office to the soft-drink machine takes only a few minutes. That’s the way it should be I think. After all, a man needs a “drink” once in awhile. At the end of the vending machine hallway there are double doors which enter into the sanctuary (I work at a church). This day the doors were open and what I saw was anything but sacred! There were 25 or 30 balls scattered in various positions across the floor. The chairs which are always lined up evenly in four large sections to accommodate the Sunday crowd, were stacked crudely against the walls.
The large room was now divided with a net hung from a heavy rope which stretched the length of the room. The top of the net reached about a dozen feet from the floor to separate the worship center into two parts. The floor was carefully marked off with tape to provide some sort of boundary for the dodgeball teams which would occupy the building later in the evening. For the first time I clearly saw the heavy black lines painted on the carpet of the place where I worship God on Sundays which actually forms two basketball courts.
Across the area where the pulpit usually stands and from where the orchestra and choir provide beautiful music, was a very large, heavy curtain. It reminded me of the curtain in the Old Testament, tall and thick, which separated the common folk from the Holy of Holies. Obviously, this curtain which spanned the width of the room was provided to keep the volley balls out of the choir loft.
This is Monday. We will have about 60 teens here tonight, playing and cheering on their favorite teams. On Saturday, my worship center/dodgeball court will then become a worship center/dodgeball/basketball court. On that day there will be about 100 kids for Upward Basketball, and at least that many adults crowded inside to scream encouragement for their children.
On Friday it becomes a movie theater for the youth; next month it hosts a superbowl party; and in a couple of months for three incredible performances, it will be transformed into a stage where a cast of 250 will present the annual Easter Pageant. This will be complete with flying angels (for real, and attached from the ceiling!), a heavy authentic looking cross, pneumatic platforms which lift actors 15 feet above the stage, and live animals of all kinds (phew)!
Some call this place a gymnatorium, or a multi-use facility. Sometimes it’s a little bit of everything, this…
For me it’s the place where I meet with my church family on Sunday’s to sing, pray and hear the Word of God preached. It’s where I kneel at the altar with fellow sinners; where I weep through songs which touch my soul; where I hold my wife’s hand in worship. But if you could see it today you wouldn’t recognize it as being a special place. Tonight it will overflow with noisy, sweaty teenagers. But to me… it’s church! Looks can be deceiving!
Have you ever been judged by your looks? Then you know what I mean. I have a white beard and white hair, paunchy, short, and I smile a lot. Sometimes I tell people that if they see me as being an easy target just because I look like Santa, then that would be a mistake. I know a guy that dresses and looks like he is a pauper… but he’s one of the wealthiest men I have ever met!
Just because it sometimes looks and smells like a gym, and sometimes looks and smells like a stable with flying angels, that doesn’t make it any less of a place where I can meet God on a regular basis. We would be well warned that a building does not a church make! When I was seeking a church home I wasn’t looking for the loudest or the prettiest. I didn’t care if it was the richest or the poorest congregation. I was looking for a place where I could find God in worship within the fellowship of other believers. Too much is made over emotionalism, denominationalism, sensationalism, and dispensationalism when it comes to church. Let’s set aside all our phony-isms and get serious about the business of worshipping God and providing a place for real fellowship among the saints of all ages. Let’s make a statement to those few church leaders who are in-it-all-for-the-wrong-reason, who qualify their constituents by the dollar sign. To the congregation at large, I implore you to keep focused on the only reason for CHURCH… and you will not feel deceived when you read about another “fallen” religious leader in the news.
Find a church home that doesn’t just smell right, look right, sound right… make sure they do the important stuff right! Because… looks really can be deceiving.