Monday, January 31, 2011

Interrupting Life


From MTV to Popular Hip Hop Stations,
Groundwire Interrupts Teens with Answers to Life

Teens today can be overwhelmed searching for meaning amidst depressing hopelessness, negative self-image, and the pressure to be perfect. To meet the needs of hurting teenagers across the country, Groundwire, a current and innovative outreach, has become a ministry where teens find comfort, guidance, and answers delivered through multi-media communication.

Using a multi-pronged strategy, Groundwire leverages media and technology to meet teens exactly where they are — viewing, listening, texting, or chatting — and to invite them to voice their questions and struggles so they can find answers in the message of the Gospel. With a raw and real approach, the ministry builds its burgeoning impact through broadcasting that strategically places television and radio spots on secular stations. Teens listening to popular radio broadcasts or viewing favorite shows on networks like MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming, and Comedy Central are interrupted by direct spots. These spots catch their attention, resonating with where they are today. Groundwire’s targeted, authentic, and well-produced commercials are grabbing the attention of teens by the millions. Teens responding to the broadcast messages are invited to visit Groundwire’s website where they can chat with a live spiritual coach available day and night, as well as find a collection of resources such as podcasts by Groundwire’s founder and executive director, Sean Dunn, and daily devotionals.


Relevant topics, cutting-edge communication, the dynamic speaking and content of founder Sean Dunn, and powerful truths have made Groundwire a growing ministry. “Eighty-six percent of teens today believe in God, but don’t believe God is loving,” explains Dunn. “Even fewer believe that they are lovable. What would happen if those teens truly understood God’s purpose for their lives and the hope and meaning he offers each one?”

What began on radio over seven years ago has now expanded to also include television broadcasts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Phoenix, Tampa, Denver, Little Rock, and Spokane. Groundwire is experiencing growth as the ministry cuts right to the heart of the issues teens are wrestling with today and invites them to a safe and honest conversation where they can find answers in the truths of God’s word and in his love. Life-changing stories are received from teens of different backgrounds across the nation.


“I was struggling with a lot of things—cutting, not eating, depression, and suicidal attempts. I was angry and wanted to talk to someone. I felt that I would be judged or shunned if I talked to anyone I knew about such sensitive subjects. I heard an ad on the radio for Groundwire and decided to check it out. I logged on one evening, and since that night my life has changed in a lot of ways. The people at Groundwire chatted, prayed, and encouraged me. I could log on at pretty much anytime of the day and there would be someone to chat and/or pray with me. Since then, I’ve come a long way with their help, and most of all, God’s.”

“We are committed to expanding our reach even further in the coming year. We plan to grow our radio reach from 14 to 20 million listeners each week and our television audience from 20% to 40% of households in the US, and to even replicate our message into other languages,” says Sean Dunn. Groundwire has captured a unique opportunity to use mainstream media to “go into all the world” and reach an entire generation right where they are with the hope of the Gospel.



For interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Anything you say is going to be random

I think that as much as anything, my latest pursuit onto the singles site is to have conversation. For one thing, you have to start somewhere. And it's nice to have male/female friends of all ages in a chat room. Things do get interesting at times.

If you read yesterday's entry, I'll pick back up where I left off.

So, a week or so after the "I have a brother" came up, the sister sent me a message that she had told her brother about me and that I sounded "interesting" so she could send me his email address.

Where does one start an email to someone you have never met to begin a conversation? Anything you say is going to be random. Besides, I'm not really sure what was said about me that was deemed "interesting."

I had seen a picture of him on Facebook in front of a panda at the zoo, so I told him a story about not getting to see a panda at the National Zoo. (It was a vacation story with my parents, so you know it has to have had at least some entertainment value.)

In order to answer the questions he had for me, I really might as well have emailed my resume along with a headshot. My questions in return are way more random, but in many ways much more telling.

I was telling a friend about this and she said she wouldn't know where to start when it came to starting a conversation with a stranger like this, and she said she probably wouldn't do it.

I think that finding out the answer (and how one answers), "have you ever played the tuba?" really does fill you in on some information more so than "what is your complete educational background?" And yes, I have asked the tuba question.

Over the past week, I can say that I do have a new pen pal in China. Actually, he's not a big fan of email, so I have a phone pal. The reason why I didn't make the intended post Thursday was because I was on the phone in fact.


I think part of the reason this does not freak me out or intimidate me is because I talk to so many people and get to know them via phone and email on a daily basis. Many of you reading this probably just know me by email, Facebook and this blog. Besides, if he and his sister are telling the truth, he really is in China and will be for several months. Therefore, it's a lot harder to be hunted down.

And let me tell you, the conversations have been random as well. I can now tell you how upping the minimum wage is not always a good thing for the workforce, especially when it is enforced (or will be enforced) in American Samoa and thereby wreaking havoc on their tuna industry. I also have learned about visiting the emergency room in China.
Oh, there are certain things that shouldn't be discussed right away, especially when you don't really know the other person. In fact, why don't you leave a few suggestions of what not to discuss here as comments!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Strike three?

I really did mean to have this part of the story post a couple of days ago. Tomorrow's entry will explain more as to why it got delayed.

So, I'm on the CoC singles site for the third time. I really don't expect more this time than the previous two experiences. Not that I really expected much of anything.

It's ridiculous really when you think about it. Sort of pathetic. Women combing over profiles of men. Men combing over profiles of women. Ignoring one another. Though it's a lot easier to ignore someone while staring at a computer screen than in person.

You find someone interesting, and you are outside their age bracket because they want a woman younger than them. Or, they actually put a height or weight range on their profile. They may describe themselves as "heavy", but want someone "slim, slim-average, or athletic".

Or, you click on someone to see what they are all about and under what they are looking for in a woman starts off as, "submissive and must let me run the family." While I certainly understand the Biblical concept of a wife submitting to her husband, that is not the first word I want to see on a profile. They might as well put "domineering" as their first word to describe themselves.

So, you find someone who doesn't play the tuba, is open to women of all hair and eye colors, and decide to "wink" as in "I like your profile." Goodness knows, I haven't gotten a wink back.

There has been a time or two I've sent an email, "I thought your intro of being glass half-full with a twist realism was creative and interesting" or "I just wanted to know that there are some people out there that like you, do not want to have kids." It's just common courtesy to say "thank you" single men of the world.

The high point of my various times to be on the site has been making conversation in the chat room with the crowd that is there at any given time. If you ever catch someone of remote interest, it's a good place to make them talk to you.

One night, right after I joined up last month, I tried to talk to a 30-something guy about is favorite subject (baseball) in fact. I was trying to make an effort to engage him in conversation. We disagreed over the Cliff Lee signing, and he obviously didn't see it as a woman trying to make conversation.

A week or so later, he was whining about how he was awful at talking to women. I would agree with that.

Another night, I must have been doing some whining of my own. Though talking with everyone was fun, I really wanted to try to carry on a conversation with a guy somewhere near my age, in part, to see if I actually could. My whine was, "why can't there be any guys in here near my age." I'm really not into guys old enough mathematically to be my father. I'm also not sure that I would make a great cougar.

That's when one of my fellow chatters said, "I have a brother."

"Oh, yeah?"

"He used to be on here, but he closed his account. He's in China now."

And then, the subject migrated to something else.

I think I'll end the story there for now. Like the end of an episode of Grey's Anatomy or something. The previews have you expecting something big, only to leave you a bit disappointed when you tune in next time. ;)

Friday, January 28, 2011

An inside peek at Healthcare You Can Live With

Thanks to everyone who took part in today's tour!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Barbour Books (January 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


From the time Scott Morris was just a teenager, he knew he would do two things with his future—serve God and work with people. Growing up in Atlanta, he felt drawn to the Church and at the same time drawn to help others, even from a very young age. It was naturally intrinsic, then, that after completing his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia he went on to receive his M.Div. from Yale University and finally his M.D. at Emory University in 1983.

After completing his residency in family practice, Morris arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1986 without knowing a soul, but determined to begin a health care ministry for the working poor. He promptly knocked on the doors of St. John’s Methodist Church and Methodist Hospital in Memphis inviting them to help, and then found an old house to refurbish and renovate. By the next year, the Church Health Center opened with one doctor—Dr. Scott Morris—and one nurse. They saw twelve patients the first day and Morris began living his mission to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and spirits.

From the beginning, Morris saw each and every patient as a whole person, knowing that without giving careful attention to both the body and soul the person would not be truly well. So nine years after opening the Church Health Center, he opened its Hope & Healing Wellness Center. Today the Church Health Center has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic in the country of its type having cared for 60,000 patients of record without relying on government funding.

He is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and remains a board certified physician who continues to do rounds at Church Health Center.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

Health Care You Can Live With is an astute and biblical perspective of total wellness that empowers the individual to ultimately see from Jesus’ example what it means to be human and to be intimately connected to God in that humanity. “Jesus asks us to care about what he cared about—wellness and wholeness. Healing that flows through personal care, preventive activities, medical methods, and technology announces that the kingdom of God is here,” says Dr. Scott Morris. “We cannot separate healing from the gospel message. If we’re going to do what Jesus did, and as his first century followers did, we must find some way to be involved in a ministry of healing.”

An ordained minister with twenty years as a family practice physician serving a diverse population in Memphis, the nation’s poorest major city, Morris is uniquely experienced in the challenges of our health care system today. Health Care You Can Live With offers a surprising behind-the-scenes visit into the troubles we are currently facing around the issues of health care and health care reform. With a thoughtful yet candid approach, Morris invites the reader to question what we really know about health care. Who does our health care system serve and what does it do or not do for others? And, most importantly, what should be the response of the Church—and the individual Christian?



Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616262478
ISBN-13: 978-1616262471

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Nobody wants the government deciding when you’re going to die.


When I was a fourth year medical student, I met a witch doctor.


It wasn’t easy. I spent a summer in Zimbabwe on a medical research project, and I took my curiosity about faith and healing with me on a few side trips. I wanted to meet a nyanga, a witch doctor, and I started asking about it as soon as my feet hit the ground in Zimbabwe. To meet a nyanga, you must have permission from a sort of nyanga association, so I asked permission. After two months of being turned down, I was running out of time. Finally I received permission just before I was due to return to the U.S. I arranged to see a nyanga on a sugar cane plantation in southern Zimbabwe, right on the South Africa border. Dressed in overalls, he rode his bicycle in from his fields to meet with me in his house.


He took me into a back room and might as well have taken me into another world—candles, incense, a zebra skin, snakeskins. I asked a few questions about the kinds of ailments people came to him with and how he treated them. In simple cases, he pulled something from his shelves of herbs and roots, and in complicated cases he consulted his ancestral spirit. When this happened, the ancestor would take over the nyanga’s body and tell him what kind of advice to give to the patient.


And then I asked my deepest question. In two months of working in Zimbabwe, I saw that people went to the nyanga, and then immediately went to see a Western doctor. Clearly they believed Western medicine would help, but they always went to the nyanga first. Why?


The nyanga explained to me, “They come to me because I can tell them why they are sick.”


Western doctors don’t answer that question beyond a scientific-sounding answer about infections and disease. But that wasn’t what the people in Zimbabwe were asking. They sought a spiritual answer to the question, “Why am I sick?” The nyanga generally would answer, “Because you failed to honor your ancestors,” and tell patients what they should do to honor their ancestors. Then the people went to the doctor for medicine. They knew the Western doctor’s medicine would make them physically well, but it would not stop the cause of the illness, which they did not believe was physical in origin.


The Zimbabweans who went to both the nyanga and the doctor knew you cannot separate body and spirit. Treating one without the other does not make you well. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying every physical symptom results from some failure in a person’s life. I am saying being well is about more than fixing a broken part of your body. The dominant approach to health care in the United States concerns broken bodies more than broken lives. We’ve developed systems that put people through hoops to get care but too often don’t make them healthier.


Our system says, “Keep Out.”


Eve was forty-six when her life shattered. She had a good job, a happy family, and no significant history of illness. Then one night her chest started to hurt and she had a heart attack. An emergency bypass operation saved her life, but not the circulation in her legs. In a matter of days, surgeons amputated both her legs. During that one prolonged hospitalization, Eve used up her entire lifetime insurance benefit. Clearly she was going to have ongoing medical needs, so she applied for the state’s version of Medicaid—and was turned down because she had health insurance. Somehow it didn’t matter that she had no more benefits available under her policy.


Laura was two years old and asleep on her mother’s lap when I met her. Laura had IGA deficiency, a disease of the immune system that made her susceptible to infections. Her mother, Jill, brought Laura in because she seemed to have a sinus infection. Jill calmly explained why she had come to the Church Health Center. A number of years earlier, her husband had a relationship with a woman who later turned out to be infected with HIV. Now he was in the final stages of AIDS. When he became unable to work, Jill went back into the workforce. Getting a job—even without insurance benefits—meant she lost Medicaid coverage for herself and Laura, whose IGA deficiency required frequent medical attention.


Frank, a construction worker, fell off a ladder and hurt his shoulder. Even though he was in excruciating pain, he waited four days to see a doctor. It didn’t take ten seconds to see what the problem was when he turned up in my exam room. An x-ray confirmed he had broken his collarbone and would need surgery to give him the use of his shoulder and arm. When I told him, he started to cry. “How can I afford to pay for this, especially when I can’t work?”


Health care is a mess. People who need help can’t always get it. Financial repercussions, not health repercussions, dominate their decisions. People like Eve and Laura and Frank are not so far away from you. Maybe you know somebody like this. Maybe you are somebody like this.


We have a health care system that says, “Keep Out.”


Keep out if you’re poor, but not poor enough.


Keep out if you are not part of an employer’s insurance plan.


Keep out if a computer can’t automatically assign you neatly into a category.


Keep out if you are an illegal immigrant.


The question of health care reform pushes buttons in a lot of people—including me. If you’re like most people, you wonder if all the talk about the health care crisis will bring any meaningful change. You have real life questions and you want to know how legislation on such a major issue affects you and your family.


“Does this mean I can stop paying so much in premiums?”


“Are they trying to tell me what doctor I can see?”


“They’re not going to reduce my coverage, are they?”


“Can I keep my kids on my policy?”


“How much is this going to cost me?”


“Why should I have to buy insurance if I don’t want to?”

If we want lasting change in our health care system, however, we have to step back and ask the bigger questions.


Why is our health care system so broken in the first place? If we don’t come face to face with what’s broken, we can’t fix it.


Who benefits from changes to the system? Will Eve and Laura and Frank be better off? Will you?


What does “health care” even mean?


Are more people going to be more well, or will more people simply have cards in their wallets?


Opinions on these questions are all over the board. You’re going to find out what I think as you continue to read this book. History teaches many lessons, and it even sheds light on the kind of care doctors offer you. Whether you are employed or unemployed, insured or uninsured, disease-free or living with a chronic condition, the “system” that comes out of our history affects your health care.


When the Church Health Center opened in 1987, twenty-six million Americans were uninsured. Today that number is close to fifty million, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates it could grow to fifty-four million by 2019. If all goes perfectly, the health care reform legislation signed into law in 2010 will be fully in place by 2019 and provide coverage for thirty-one million uninsured Americans. That still leaves twenty-three million people without insurance. On top of that, millions more—perhaps as many a hundred million—will be underinsured as costs continue to rise. The government subsidies offered under the legislation are unlikely to be sufficient for full-blown insurance coverage. High deductibles essentially will mean the insurance plan has little effect on day-to-day health care. Steep out-of-pocket costs will still deter people from seeking care, even if they have insurance. If a plan does not reimburse physicians adequately, patients will have trouble finding doctors who accept the plan. And although a policy may kick in for a major illness, individuals still will bear costs they may never recover from financially. More than 60 percent of bankruptcies are related to medical bills, and three-fourths of these people have health insurance when they become ill.


People who cobble together income from multiple part-time jobs will remain uninsured. The new insurance plans in the 2010 legislation will remain out of reach financially. Certainly the immigrants among us will qualify for nothing. No matter what your views are on immigration, if someone who cleans our houses or cuts our lawns gets sick, we have an obligation to provide care.


We would all agree that the 2010 legislation launches us out into a brave new world of health care. Nothing about it is certain. Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” So far he has been right. If he ever asks me, “Where were you when I was poor and sick?” I want to be able to answer, “I cared for you as best I could.”


Doctors learn to keep out.


Doctors learn to practice medicine by taking a medical history and asking questions around the symptoms the patient describes. Ninety percent of the diagnosis is based on what the patient tells you. The doctor formulates an opinion about what is causing the problem, and then performs a physical exam to collect more information about the suspected cause. Eventually diagnostic tests may confirm what the doctor thinks.


This process also says, “Keep Out.”


Keep out of my heart.


Keep out of my sorrow, my stress, my fatigue, my relationships.


Keep out of my private space. Just fix what hurts.


Eve, the woman who lost her legs after a heart attack, rocked continuously in her wheelchair the first time she came to see me in my practice at the Church Health Center. I tried to ignore it, but her husband asked, “Do you think you can do anything about her constant rocking?” I spoke to our pastoral counselor, and right away he said, “Often when people rock, it means they want to be held.” He was absolutely right. Eve rocked herself because she felt deformed and unlovable and unable to interact physically with her family as she always had. When I talked to Eve’s husband again, he immediately took her in his arms. She never rocked in my presence again.


Every day, every single day, doctors tell patients there’s nothing wrong because they find no physical root for patient complaints. If we can’t see a spot on a screen, a squiggle of dye on a test, a crack in an x-ray, or a level in the blood, then nothing is wrong. The person is “healthy.” Whatever is amiss is not a matter for the health care system. Probably this happens to you. The doctor reassures you that you are “fine,” but you wonder why you don’t feel fine. Plenty is wrong. Spiritual and emotional issues manifest in physical ways. But our health care system draws a line and says, “Keep Out.”


Palmer was ninety years old when he developed pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital in the middle of the night. When he stopped breathing, someone called a code, did CPR, resuscitated him and put a tube down his throat to keep him breathing. For two weeks, he lay in a bed in the intensive care unit, where they never turn the lights off, with a tube down his throat.


When a loved one finally asked, “Palmer, do you want a kiss?” this ninety-year-old man was ready to yank out the tube. The health care he needed at that moment—clearly he was dying—was not technology, but human contact. He wanted that kiss more than anything. But for two weeks the heath care system had said “Keep Out” to his basic need.


Change means letting go.


Health care is a mess. People want change.


But to what?


Nobody wants the government deciding when you’re going to die. That’s not what health care reform is about. It’s not about how many people carry a card imprinted with the name of an insurance company. It’s not about living two weeks longer in a brash ICU. It’s not about access to extreme technology in every small town.


Efforts at health care reform fail because they avoid the essential questions of wellness. The starting point is off kilter. Our health care system is built on the premise of waiting for people to break in some way and then come through our doors, where we will use our technological wizardry to fix them. “Access to health care” has come to mean having a card that lets you get through those doors. For too long we have accepted this definition of health care.


That’s not health care. Caring for health means attending to the things that keep you well long before you break and need the door to technology. And believe it or not, doctors are only one part of true health care.


Change means getting used to the unfamiliar. For many people it’s easier to clutch a tight fist around what is old and broken than to open our hands to receive something new and different. This happens with health care, even if the care we currently receive doesn’t make us healthier. We hang on to what we know for all the wrong reasons.


In the next couple of chapters, we’ll take a look at some history and attitudes that got us where we are today. Then we’ll delve into what you can do to bring change to your own health care. Once you see the bigger picture of what’s wrong with our health care system, you’ll see you don’t have to settle for the status quo.


It’s time to let go of a broken health care system and venture into real health.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Anxiously awaiting?

The next installment in the story is going to have to wait a little while actually. Part of the reason why actually has to do with part of the story. Confused yet? I'm on the phone right now and can't type and talk at the same time. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The tuba test

So, online dating. Or let's even get down to simply meeting people online because in my case there is not online dating going on.

There are a couple of things I cringe at. The first is every Sunday night when our preacher asks the children the third of his three most important questions you will ever answer. "When you grow up, who are you going to marry?" "A Christian!" While I completely agree with this, especially in theory, sometimes the answer is, "NO ONE!!!" Jenny has cringed with me at hearing this as well. It's not just me.

The other thing that makes me cringe is eHarmony commercials. Actually, they wreak havoc on my gag reflex if I am completely honest.

Once upon a time... actually, twice upon a time, Audra went to eHarmony and spent two plus hours taking her free 40 point personality profile. This time and effort to get a message, "I'm sorry, but you are not compatible with anyone on our site. This result does happen to a certain percentage of people who take our test."

Wow. Thanks eHarmony for confirming what I had been wondering about myself. Sheesh.

I do know people that have found compatibility on old eHarmony. In fact, a co-worker just married the guy she met on there. I really don't know much more about her experience than that. She has tried to convince someone else in the office to try though that person will never give in.

One of my friends has been going out with a guy from eHarmony too. His grandfather or great father one was forced into Hitler's army and other relatives were connected to the mob. Interesting combination, huh? I've not met him, but do a nickname for him based on this information. (He latest news is he is not going to make the cut. She is already communicating with someone else on Match.com.

Now I am going to back up this story to tell about my own attempts.

About 9 years ago, there was a larger group of singles at church that did things together. All the guys that were ever associated with our group of friends have gotten married, moved off and had children. The women? Still single.

Anyway, one of our discussions was about joining the Church of Christ Singles website. I had looked around the site before and was not terribly impressed by the variety of potential matches on the site. I remember expressly protesting joining by saying, "but all the guys that are on there play the tuba."

People joke around about "band geeks," but in my mind and the understanding of those around me at the time, playing the tuba was a whole other level of geekiness.

So one of the guys went ahead and joined. He was the one at the time most determined to find a mate. So he emailed and talked to some girls from the site. He was originally from another state and went home for the holidays. On his way back, he made arrangements to meet one of the girls he had been talking to.

When he arrived back in Texas, a group of us were gathered around at the church for lunch. He told us about his rather interesting experience. A story of how this girl just wasn't going to work out.

And this particular friend hated more than anything to admit that I was right about anything. Imagine how it pained him to admit to me, "Audra, she really did play the tuba."

It was not too terribly long after that when I did decide to give the same website a try and paid for a three month membership. It was fun to get to know people in the chat room and flirt with a guy whose nickname was Captain Cupcake. He delivered ding-dongs for a living.

There was a group from the Dallas area that met at a Rangers game It was quite fun to meet up with 25 people that I had never met.  However, I cannot say I had any luck in finding a match. Only two guys sent me a message.

One guy could not type a coherent sentence if he tried. I told him I would not tell him any more about me until he posted a photo and info about himself. I kid you not, when he took a picture of himself he had a booger hanging in his nose. I'm not dissing taking your own picture. I take my own profile pictures all the time. What I am dissing is uploading a picture where you can see a booger.

The other email was from a mentally challenged guy who emailed everyone.

A couple of years later, I tried again for for another three month span. I think I heard from a guy in Africa that emailed everyone saying, "hey beautiful."

In light of the whole "is there anyone else out there other than the church stalker?" train of thought, I decided I would try again. So a month ago, I joined again.

Curious as to where this time is going? I haven't had a run in with a tuba player yet. Stay tuned because I do have an interesting story.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Which are worse - church stalkers or cyber stalkers?

I know that I've lost some of my one time "faithful" blog followers because I have just not been able to post stories like I used to. In all honesty, I just have to tell you that life has just not been all that interesting for me. Even less so than ever before, and it was pretty boring before. But I have a new train of thought and direction to bring a little life here.

About a month ago, I shared with you the story of the guy that called me while I was drugged up on Novocaine to ask if I was dating anyone. Although it does not make for interesting blogging, I am pleased to say that I have been able to avoid contact and conversation with him, even though we have been in close proximity to one another, for several weeks now. However, and this could be my imagination, I do think that some stares have been directed my way. I think this because I make sure that I am always on guard, knowing where he might be at any given time.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, let's say he's not standing around staring at me out of the corner of his eye (which he looks like he has the ability to do quite well). This futher provides evidence that he was never interested in me in the first place.

Let me start this next part by saying that I am not altogether convinced that I am actually on a man hunt. On one side of the coin, a guy would be nice to have around. On the other, I really don't know what I would do with one if I had one. However, the situtation above had me asking, "is there possibly any other options out there?"

Where exactly does a woman go-a-huntin'?

Well, Audra, if one wants to find a good Christian man, you look at church. Well, my looking at church doesn't go very far seeing as I'm ducking under pews to avoid Bachelor #1. Bachelor #2 is a story all his own. I'm trying to figure out how to say this without coming off as a terrible, horrible person. The one word that comes to mind is werewolf. Bachelor #3 hasn't entered the doors in some time, but I have been known to duck under racks of clothes at stores to avoid conversations there.

After working all week, I really don't want to drive up to Dallas to go to church elsewhere. Besides, I still stand by my stance that going to church just to find a man is wrong. I've been saying that since I was in college.

I'm certainly not going to go bar hopping. From what I know, and what I've heard of most unattached men in the entire town I live in, I really don't think there's much available without the type of baggage that Jerry Springer reveals on his dating show on Game Show Network. (Which just reminded me of something work-related I need to take a look at.)

So, that leads me to my next topic - meeting people online. What's are your thoughts? Join me tomorrow when I bring you more on that topic...

Monday, January 24, 2011

The I AM Statements of Christ

Thanks to everyone who participated in today's tour!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Warren Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “Be” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, NE.


SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

As Warren Wiersbe writes, “My past may discourage me and my future may frighten me, but ‘the life I now live’ today can be enriching and encouraging because ‘Christ lives in me.’” In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explores the “I AM” statements of God—from His burning bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’ startling claim to be the Light of the World. Jesus in the Present Tense offers a fresh exploration of God—the I AM.

God doesn’t want us to ignore the past, but the past should be a rudder to guide us and not an anchor to hold us back. Nor does He want us to neglect planning for the future, so long as we say, “If it is the Lord’s will” (James 4:13-17). The better we understand our Lord’s I AM statements, and by faith apply them, the more our strength will equal our days (Deut. 33:25), and we will “run and not grow weary [and]…walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31). We will abide in Christ and bear fruit for His glory today—now.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404878
ISBN-13: 978-0781404877

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Moses Asks a Question

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

—Exodus 3:13



When Helen Keller was nineteen months old, she contracted an illness that left her blind and deaf for life. It was not until she was ten years old that she began to have meaningful communication with those around her. It occurred when her gifted teacher Anne Sullivan taught her to say “water” as Anne spelled “water” on the palm of her hand. From that pivotal experience, Helen Keller entered the wonderful world of words and names, and it transformed her life. Once Helen was accustomed to this new system of communication with others, her parents arranged for her to receive religious instruction from the eminent Boston clergyman Phillips Brooks. One day during her lesson, Helen said these remarkable words to Brooks: “I knew about God before you told me, only I didn’t know His name.”1



The Greek philosophers wrestled with the problem of knowing and naming God. “But the father and maker of all this universe is past finding out,” Plato wrote in his Timaeus dialogue, “and if we found him, to tell of him to all men would be impossible.” He said that God was “a geometrician,” and Aristotle called God “The Prime Mover.” No wonder the apostle Paul found an altar in Athens dedicated to “The Unknown God” (see Acts 17:22–23). The Greek philosophers of his day were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But thinkers in recent centuries haven’t fared much better. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Hegel called God “the Absolute,” and Herbert Spencer named Him “the Unknowable.” Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychiatry, wrote in chapter 4 of his book Totem and Taboo (1913), “The personalized God is psychologically nothing other than a magnified father.” God is a father figure but not a personal heavenly Father. British biologist Julian Huxley wrote in chapter 3 of his book Religion without Revelation (1957), “Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat.” The fantasies described in Alice in Wonderland were more real to Huxley than was God Almighty!



But God wants us to know Him, because knowing God is the most important thing in life!



Salvation

To begin with, knowing God personally is the only way we sinners can be saved. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). After healing a blind beggar, Jesus later searched for him and found him in the temple, and the following conversation took place: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” asked Jesus. The man said, “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.”



Jesus replied, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you” (John 9:35–38). The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he fell on his knees before Jesus. Not only was the beggar given physical sight, but his spiritual eyes were also opened (Eph. 1:18) and he received eternal life. His first response was to worship Jesus publicly where everybody could see him.



This introduces a second reason why we must know who God is and what His name is: We were created to worship and glorify Him. After all, only little joy or encouragement can come from worshipping an “unknown God.” We were created in God’s image that we might have fellowship with Him now and “enjoy Him forever,” as the catechism says. Millions of people attend religious services faithfully each week and participate in the prescribed liturgy, but not all of them enjoy personal fellowship with God. Unlike that beggar, they have never submitted to Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe.” To them, God is a distant stranger, not a loving Father. Their religious lives are a routine, not a living reality.



But there is a third reason for knowing God. Because we possess eternal life and practice biblical worship, we can experience the blessing of a transformed life. After describing the folly of idol worship, the psalmist added, “Those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (see Ps. 115:1–8). We become like the gods that we worship! Worshipping a god we don’t know is the equivalent of worshipping an idol, and we can have idols in our minds and imaginations as well as on our shelves.



Our heavenly Father’s loving purpose for His children is that they might be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man [Adam], so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man [Jesus]” (1 Cor. 15:49). However, we should not wait until we see Jesus for this transformation to begin, because God’s Holy Spirit can start changing us today. As we pray, meditate on the Word of God, experience suffering and joy, and as we witness, worship, fellowship with God’s people, and serve the Lord with our spiritual gifts, the Spirit quietly works within us and transforms us to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ.



The conclusion is obvious: The better we know the Lord, the more we will love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we will worship and obey Him. As a result, we will become more like Him and experience what the apostle Peter called growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul took an incident out of the life of Moses (Ex. 34:29–35) and described it this way: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Moses didn’t realize that his face was radiant, but others saw it! He was being transformed.



God commands us to know Him and worship Him because He wants to give us the joyful privilege of serving and glorifying Him. Commanding us to worship isn’t God’s way of going on a heavenly ego trip, because we can supply God with nothing. “If I were hungry,” says the Lord, “I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Ps. 50:12). He commands worship because we need to worship Him! To humble ourselves before Him, to show reverence and gratitude, and to praise Him in the Spirit are essential to balanced growth in a normal Christian life. Heaven is a place of worship (Rev. 4—5), and we ought to begin to worship Him correctly right now. But unless we are growing in our knowledge of God and in our experience of His incredible grace, our worship and service will amount to very little.



Salvation, worship, personal transformation and loving service are all part of living in the present tense and depending on our Lord and Savior. “And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).



Preparation

Moses spent forty years in Egypt “being educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Then he fled for his life to Midian, where he spent the next forty years serving as a shepherd. Imagine a brilliant PhD earning a living by taking care of dumb animals! But the Lord had to humble Moses before He could exalt him and make him the deliverer of Israel. Like the church today, the nation of Israel was only a flock of sheep (Ps. 77:20; 78:52; Acts 20:28), and what the nation needed was a loving shepherd who followed the Lord and cared for His people. The Lord spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of faithful service. God isn’t in a hurry.



The call of Moses started with the curiosity of Moses. He saw a bush that was burning but not burning up, and he paused to investigate. “Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect,” said British essayist Samuel Johnson, and Moses certainly qualified. He saw something he couldn’t explain and discovered that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was dwelling in that burning bush (Deut. 33:16). The Lord God had come to visit him.



What did that remarkable burning bush signify to Moses, and what does it signify to us? For one thing, it revealed the holiness of God; because throughout Scripture, fire is associated with the dynamic holy character of the Lord. Isaiah called God “the consuming fire” and the “everlasting burning” (Isa. 33:14; see also Heb. 12:29). Note that Moses saw this burning bush on Mount Horeb, which is Mount Sinai (Ex. 3:1); and when God gave Moses the law on Sinai, the mountain burned with fire (Ex. 24:15–18; Acts 7:30–34). How should we respond to the holy character of God? By humbling ourselves and obeying what He commands. (See Isa. 6.) Theodore Epp wrote, “Moses was soon to discover that the essential qualifications for serving God are unshod feet and a hidden face.”2 How different a description from that of “celebrities” today, who wear expensive clothes and make sure their names and faces are kept before their adoring public. God wasn’t impressed with Moses’ Egyptian learning, for “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Cor. 3:19). God’s command to us is, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). When the prodigal son repented and came to his father, the father put shoes on his feet (Luke 15:22); but spiritually speaking, when believers humbly surrender to the Lord, they must remove their sandals and become bondservants of Jesus Christ.



The burning bush also reveals the grace of God, for the Lord had come down to announce the good news of Israel’s salvation. He knew Moses’ name and spoke to him personally (Ex. 3:4; John 10:3). He assured Moses that He saw the misery of the Jewish people in Egypt and heard their cries of pain and their prayers for help. “I am concerned about their suffering,” He said. “So I have come down to rescue them” (Ex. 3:7–8). The Lord remembered and honored His covenant promises with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the time had come to deliver His people.



It was by grace that God chose Moses to be His servant. The Lord wasn’t disturbed by Moses’ past failures in Egypt, including the fact that even his own people had rejected his leadership (Ex. 2:11–15). Moses was now an old man who had been away from Egypt for forty years, but this didn’t hinder God from using him effectively. The Lord knows how to use the weak, foolish, and despised things of the world to humiliate the wise and the strong and ultimately to defeat the mighty (1 Cor. 1:26–31). God would receive great glory as Moses magnified His name in Egypt.



Identification

If Moses was going to accomplish anything in Egypt, he needed to know the name of the Lord, because the Israelites would surely ask, “Who gave you the authority to tell us and Pharaoh what to do?” God’s reply to Moses’ question was, “I AM WHO I AM.” Moses told the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you” (Ex. 3:14). The name I AM comes from the Hebrew word YHWH. To pronounce this holy name, the Jews used the vowels from the name Adonai (Lord) and turned YHWH into Yahweh (LORD in our English translations). The name conveys the concept of absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf. It conveys the meanings of “I am who and what I am, and I do not change. I am here with you and for you.”



The name Yahweh (Jehovah, LORD) was known in the time of Seth (Gen. 4:26), Abraham (14:22; 15:1), Isaac (25:21–22), and Jacob (28:13; 49:18). However, the fullness of its meaning had not yet been revealed. The Law of Moses warned the Jews, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Ex. 20:7; see also Deut. 28:58). Their fear of divine judgment caused the Jewish people to avoid using the holy name Yahweh and to substitute Adonai (Lord) instead.



In nine places in the Old Testament, the Lord “filled out” or “completed” the name I AM to reveal more fully His divine nature and His gracious ministry to His people.



• Yahweh-Jireh: The LORD will provide or see to it (Gen. 22:14)

• Yahweh-Rophe: The LORD who heals (Ex. 15:26)

• Yahweh-Nissi: The LORD our banner (Ex. 17:15)

• Yahweh-M’Kaddesh: The LORD who sanctifies (Lev. 20:8)

• Yahweh-Shalom: The LORD our peace (Judg. 6:24)

• Yahweh-Rohi: The LORD my shepherd (Ps. 23:1)

• Yahweh-Sabaoth: The LORD of hosts (Ps. 46:7)

• Yahweh-Tsidkenu: The LORD our righteousness (Jer. 23:6)

• Yahweh-Shammah: The LORD is there (Ezek. 48:35)



Of course, all of these names refer to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Because He is Yahweh-Jireh, He can supply all our needs and we need not worry (Matt. 6:25–34; Phil. 4:19). As Yahweh-Rophe, He is able to heal us; and as Yahweh-Nissi, He will help us fight our battles and defeat our enemies. We belong to Yahweh-M’Kaddesh because He has set us apart for Himself (1 Cor. 6:11); and Yahweh-Shalom gives us peace in the midst of the storms of life (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:9). All the promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Yahweh-Rohi takes us to Psalm 23 and John 10, encouraging us to follow the Shepherd. The armies of heaven and earth are under the command of Yahweh-Sabaoth, and we need not panic (Josh. 5:13–15; Rev. 19:11–21). Because we have trusted Yahweh-Tsidkenu, we have His very righteousness put to our account (2 Cor. 5:21), and our sins and iniquities are remembered no more (Heb. 10:17). Jesus is Yahweh-Shammah, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23), and He will be with us always, even to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” is still His guarantee (Heb. 13:5). In His incarnation, Jesus came down to earth, not as a burning bush but as “a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground” (Isa. 53:1–2; see also Phil. 2:5–11). He became a human, a man, for us (John 1:14); He became obedient unto death for us and became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus became a curse for us and on the cross bore the curse of the law for us who have broken God’s law (Gal. 3:13–14). And one day “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2)!

What is God’s name? His name is I AM—and that is also the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm so much cooler online

Are you familiar with the song "Online" by Brad Paisley? It came out a few years ago and tells the story of a guy's alter ego - his online persona. Are you cooler online?

Since I know I have a post coming up in the morning, I doubt too many people are going to to see this post to make much comment, but want to start a discussion on meeting people online.

Have you done it?

Would you do it?

There are several factors that go into me starting this discussion. Anyone willing to participate in a discussion or will it be a rambling monologue?  Let me know!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

Thanks to everyone who took part in today's tour!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kimberly L. Smith is the president and cofounder of Make Way Partners, a mission organization committed to ending human trafficking. She is currently leading Make Way Partners to build the only private and indigenously based anti-trafficking network in Africa and Eastern Europe. A devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, Smith lives with her husband, Milton, in Sylacauga, Alabama.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

Each one of us longs to know we matter. We hunger to know that we have purpose, our life has meaning, and God dreams great dreams for us. In Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances, Kimberly Smith invites us into her own struggles as an ordinary woman who feels those aches, asks those questions, and stumbles through a quest to find her place in a broken world.


Traveling around the world and deep into the darkness of her own heart, Smith’s worst fears collided with her faith as she and her family discovered the atrocities of human trafficking. But in that broken place a self-centered life was transformed into an international effort to save thousands from modern-day slavery, persecution, disease, and genocide.

As Smith and her husband risk everything for orphans in Eastern Europe and Africa, they see God work again and again in impossible situations, especially in their own lives and marriage. They see God change them—even in their exhaustion, marital struggles, and physical limitations. They see the beauty of living out God’s dreams.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143470212X
ISBN-13: 978-1434702128

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


AT THE END OF ME


I stood at a precipice, a crag of rock in a parched, thirsty land that mirrored the condition of my heart. From where I stood, I looked down upon the riverbed that rendered the jagged cut reaching from the left corner of my mouth down to the bottom of my chin, and my right eye purplish black.


I recalled the day these marks came upon me and considered how many of the women I saw laboring in the current below who shared my experience. Fifty percent? Ninety percent? Had any woman been spared the hand-delivered scars of violence birthed in the tomb of this brutal, war-torn land?


Sickly cows wove around and between the women in the river. As the cows did their business in the water, some of the women bathed. Others washed rags they donned as clothing. Still others drew cans of drinking water from the soapy-feculent murkiness.


Taking stock of the last few months spent here at the border of Darfur, Sudan—the cusp of hell—I savored how God had knit these women into the fiber of my soul in ways that I’d never imagined possible back in the day of my corporate-ladder climbing. Love for them had changed my whole world. It had changed me. Now it was time for me to take what I’d been shown here back to my home in America with prayers that it, too, would be transformed.


My soul felt as restless and insecure as my feet did shuffling at the edge of the cliff.


A part of me felt so dark, lonely, and overwhelmed, I wanted to throw myself from the spire and be done with it. That would be the easy way, though, and my life had never seemed to be about finding the easy path. In fact, something in me seemed to like making life as difficult as possible.


A sprig of hope, a mite of faith encouraged me to stand down. Wait. Be expectant, but don’t jump. Pray. Help was surely around the corner.


Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) had promised to send someone to witness the persecution, rape, mutilation, and genocide I was documenting on the southern border of Darfur. Knowing it had taken me months of preparation, followed by endless fieldwork, to find and accurately record this data—information that I was still just beginning to comprehend—I didn’t see how I could possibly help the VOM rep to grasp it in just three days.


Sudan is the tenth-largest country in the world; the region of Darfur is the size of France. The southern half of Sudan has a grand total of about three miles of pavement. Darfur has none. The reality of war, insecurity, violence, and lack of infrastructure, combined with the fact that we had no vehicle to speed up our maneuvers, rendered the task of sufficiently covering the vast territory in such a short time frame all but impossible.


I’d taken it upon myself to take the time and risk of walking from village to village or riding our sole motorbike to the death camps, what I’d come to call the Internally Displaced People’s camps (IDP). I started calling IDPs death camps after my first visit over a year ago. Before that trip, the word camp always conjured an image of security, even if the conditions were rustic. Visiting one stripped me of my penchant for naiveté, showing me thousands of people squatting in the desert with no food, water, or security—just waiting for death. For most, the wait wasn’t long.


I wanted to make sure I would be able to adequately expose the VOM rep to the same kind of reality. To do that, I would need transportation to cover vast amounts of ground more quickly than walking would allow.


Late yesterday a brainstorm hit me. We’d ride donkeys! James Lual Atak, our indigenous director, laughed at my kawaidja (rich white person) notions, calling me a Sudanese wannabe. But he humored me. Since the VOM rep would be here in just a few days, early this morning he’d brought several donkeys to our camp so we could test-ride them before the rep arrived.


Always ready for action, I was the first to climb on. An old man we called Peterdit held the end of the rope tied around the neck of my donkey, which I’d named Blue. The sharp ridge of spine rising from Blue’s bare back cut into me in all the wrong places, and I squirmed to make a seat for myself.


Peterdit kept overenunciating two Arabic words for me, one for stop and one for faster. As Blue reared up, alternately kicking his hind legs and then his front legs high into the air, he let me know he wasn’t happy about my squirming on his backside.


Blue’s outburst jerked the rope from Peterdit’s grasp. Blue set off toward the village, bucking like a horizontal kangaroo.


In my hysteria I could only summon up one of the two words Peterdit taught me. I screamed it as firmly as I could, “Harach! Harach! Harach!” over and over again trying to make Blue obey my limited grasp of the Arabic language: “Stop!”


My head thrashed back and forth, and I flopped to Blue’s side, squeezing my legs around his girth as tightly as I could, while clinging to the frayed rope now burning the palm of my hands as it ripped through my fingers. As I blitzed by, I caught a glimpse of James laughing uproariously from atop his donkey, his long legs conveniently reaching his feet flat to the desert floor. At the time, I found no humor in Blue’s fit, or my condition!


After my whirlwind tour of the village via Blue’s conniption, Peterdit boldly stepped into Blue’s path and grabbed the rope flinging freely in the air as I clung to Blue’s short tuft of mane. He yelled a word I did not recognize in such force that the beast calmed himself, and I fell to the ground. Although my body would yell its trauma to me through deep musculature aches for many days, my only serious injury was to my pride.


Apparently the one Arabic word I had been yelling was not the word “Stop!” but rather “Faster, faster, faster!”


The comedy of my barebacked-donkey ride at this morning’s sunrise seemed a millennium away, and a stark contrast to the bleakness of what followed. As waves of heat swelled from the desert floor, I wrote off the whole donkey deal as another one of my romantic inclinations, and James and I opted to walk, not ride, to the death camp.


While there may be few good days in a death camp, this one was particularly brutal. We’d been out of medicine for a month, out of food for a week, and today, we ran out of water. All of those life giving commodities were gone, except for the private stash we kept at our compound for James and me, the kawaidja.


Although at home in the United States, people often thought of me as a poor missionary, I was coming to understand and grapple with the fact that I was, in reality, wealthy for simple things like never running out of water.


Up to this point in my life, what had I chosen to do with my riches? Standing on that cliff, I painfully acknowledged how I’d squandered so much of what God had given me, most painfully my entire life. Many times throughout this journey, this awakening, I have come perilously close to throwing it all away.


Through God’s grace, I slowly stepped down from the precipice and began to face the end of the me I’d created for myself. I wanted to live the life—be the me—He dreamed of.


I remembered a prayer I’d cried out many years before, begging Him to use me. I wondered, if I’d known where that prayer would lead, would I still have prayed it? Deciding the answer was yes, I uttered a new prayer: “You can have whatever You want from me, but please, God, just show me what difference one person can make in the darkness of this broken world.”


The following is His story, as lived through me to this point.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is it just me?

Is it just me, or..

Is Steven Tyler a little creepy when complimenting 16 year old girls on their clothes?

Does sitting next to Randy Jackson make women seem high on something?

The "good singers" seem under par?

I didn't catch the first hour, but I am underwhelmed with American Idol so far. and this is the most entertaining part of the year to me usually.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I may be lonely, but...

I brought up something regarding fangs on Facebook last night and was asked if there was a blog coming on this subject,
 so here it is.

Is it just me - often it is just me - or are the women on the Bachelor especially needy and psycho this season? I was quite pleased with last week's eliminations because the high kicking Rockette that was simply nutty left along with the two women bickering over basically nothing. one of the bickerers was just plain a psycho, jealous, delusional drama queen (Melissa). The other was a manscaper that tried to wax the Bachelor upon their first meeting.That alone may constitute crazy.

To go on a show such as this screams a need for attention and a level of desperation in and of itself. The cast of characters this season seem more so than ever before. A train wreck I just have to watch for some reason, perhaps to find the sanity of my own existence. If I just thought Melissa was plain psycho, jealous and delusional, she was just plain in comparison to the level of Michelle that has me convinced she is not acting and is on a whole other level on the totem pole of crazy.

For example, without a one on one date, she believes she is the one and all the other women are making a move on her man. What kind of  crazy says, "at the end, it's just going to be me and Brad alone in Tahiti practicing making babies." she also proceeds to say every other woman is acting like they are 19. That was a phrase of her sister psycho from last week. She is so rude in interrupting Every other one on one conversation and tells Brad that she doesn't want the other women spending time with him (the point of the whole show). He thinks she is joking and appreciates her eagerness. I feel for the child she left at home. And I thought guys didn't like such possessiveness.

Speaking of children, there was the whole Emily deal with her sad story of losing Ricky Bobby the NASCAR crewman. granted, his death in a plane crash was tragic. I give you that finding out that you are pregnant at age 18 with your deceased boyfriend's baby has got to be traumatic. But it has been retold so many times over three weeks that it has lost some of its impact. Why not just tell him, especially when given the chance?

And why was Madison the vampire girl so deeply touched that Emily needed Brad worse because of her situation? The moment that got me is when she sat down with Brad to talk and literally pulled out her fangs. Not figuratively, literally. She reached into her mouth and pulled off the veneers that made her pointed vampire fangs and laid them on the table. And Brad tells her she does not have to take out her fangs. Of course he had admitted he found them kind of hot.

If it takes growing fangs to get a man, I think I will pass. and I thought the guy who wanted to guard and protect Ally's heart and got a tattoo to prove it last season was bad.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It didn't get any more exciting

Yeah, the weekend didn't get any more exciting as it went along. I finally went to the grocery store about dark last night since it rained all day long. So help me, I thought I heard ducks last night when I went to bed. My backyard was a pond, and I almost had to swim my way out for church this morning.

Oh, but Jenny and I have something to look forward to on June 26. You might be able to figure out what that is. At least it's something!

Friday, January 14, 2011

My version of a Friday night

This is pathetic. This is my Friday night. I left work after 5:30 because I was trying to finish something that I just remembered that I meant to really finish when I got home, but didn't. Shoot.

I ate fajitas with my parents. I came home. I sat on the couch to watch TV. I slept for probably two hours while Say Yes to the Dress played on the TV. I dreamed my mother quit my job for me. That was really bizarre.

I woke from my fog and checked a couple of things online. I tried IMing a guy on a singles site and got ignored. Any chance he went offline? Yeah, he and the guy I tried to message a couple of nights ago both. Yeah, we won't even go there.

I'm going to go finish that first task mentioned above and go to sleep. One thing is for sure. As hard as it was to get up the last couple of mornings, I am sleeping late tomorrow.

I need plans for next Friday night.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finding Purpose Again

It Is Possible for Older Adults
to Find Their Purpose Again
Missy Buchanan encourages older adults to
continue growing in faith and relationships

Even when age creeps up on the body and mind, and life changes from what it once was, is it still possible to have a purpose in life? When it is no longer possible to venture out and do the things you once loved, can you still find a reason to look forward to each day? Missy Buchanan, a leading expert and advocate for senior adults, believes that you can. Buchanan wants to encourage older adults to find their purpose, share their stories, and make an impact on those around them.

“Here’s the truth. I never set out to write a book for or about older adults. It’s not like I woke up one day with a clear vision that I should pen thoughts about what it’s like to grow old,” explains Buchanan. “I was just a middle-aged woman caring for my own aging parents and trying to encourage other seniors who were also struggling with faltering eyesight and a loss of independence in their so-called golden years. I was an empty-nester looking forward to spending more time with my husband and becoming a grandmother one day. Sometimes in this life God seems to nudge us toward something we never expected. That’s usually when we discover once again that our Father does indeed know best.”

As we grow older, we often lose our sense of purpose, especially as we become unable to attend church services and become less connected with the social ties we once had. Buchanan hopes to create a greater awareness of this and how we can reach out to older adults. She also provides advice for seniors to help them better connect with those around them. Buchanan believes that the faith community often lets their older adults down as they become unable to attend worship services and church activities. If they become physically unable to do many things they once did, they may begin to separate from their church community. When this separation occurs, they often lose a sense of purpose. Without purpose, they feel as though they are just waiting to die.

The things that make Buchanan’s books so applicable to this age group is that she writes the devotionals in first person. She also writes devotionals about things that are from their daily experiences—sensible shoes, going to the mailbox to find it empty, the fear of using a power chair, etc. Children and grandchildren forget that the older adults have rich stories to share. Many have lived long, good lives and have a lot of perspectives about life that those who are younger can learn from and value. Often older adults just do not feel appreciated for the experiences that they have had.

In addition to reaching out to the older generation, Buchanan also helps the younger generations better understand what their parents and grandparents are going through. While many consider caring for their parents to be a role-reversal, Buchanan explains why that is not an accurate description. Although parents may become more dependent on their children, they are not children, and thinking of it as a role reversal in that way can strip them of their dignity.

Buchanan’s parents may no longer be living, but she continues to visit the residential care facility where they lived. She calls them her “late in life” friends. Although she attends many funerals, Buchanan says that when a person has lived a long full and productive life it is hard not to smile a bit. “My parents have gone on to eternal glory, but I still have a host of older adult friends I visit each week. They are my inspiration,” Buchanan explains. She offers words of inspiration to those friends as well, “Don’t close the book until the story is finished.”


Visit Missy Buchanan’s website, http://www.missybuchanan.com/
Become a friend on Facebook (Aging and Faith)
and follow on Twitter (MissyBuchanan).

For interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

God is in the present. Are you?


Tired of regret and fear?
God wants you to know Him in the present tense.

Do you find yourself living in memories, imaginations, and fears more than in the current moment? As Warren Wiersbe writes, “My past may discourage me and my future may frighten me, but ‘the life I now live’ today can be enriching and encouraging because ‘Christ lives in me.’” In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explores the “I AM” statements of God—from His burning bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’ startling claim to be the Light of the World. Jesus in the Present Tense offers a fresh exploration of God—the I AM.

God doesn’t want us to ignore the past, but the past should be a rudder to guide us and not an anchor to hold us back. Nor does He want us to neglect planning for the future, so long as we say, “If it is the Lord’s will” (James 4:13-17). The better we understand our Lord’s I AM statements, and by faith apply them, the more our strength will equal our days (Deut. 33:25), and we will “run and not grow weary [and]…walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31). We will abide in Christ and bear fruit for His glory today—now.

In nine places in the Old Testament, the Lord “filled out” or “completed” the name I AM to reveal more fully His divine nature and His gracious ministry to His people.

• Yahweh-Jire – The LORD who provides (Genesis 22:14)

• Yahweh-Rophe – The LORD who heals (Exodus 15:26)

• Yahweh-Nissi – The LORD our banner (Exodus 17:15)

• Yahweh- M’Kaddesh – The LORD who sanctifies (Leviticus 20:8)

• Yahweh-Shalom – The LORD our peace (Judges 6:24)

• Yahweh-Rohi – The LORD our shepherd (Psalm 23:1)

• Yahweh-Sabaoth – The LORD of hosts (Psalm 46:7)

• Yahweh-Tsidkenu – The LORD our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)

• Yahweh-Shammah – The LORD is there (Ezekiel 48:35)

Many Christians find themselves mired in past regrets or future fears, but the name of God itself reminds them that God wants us to live in the present. The more we understand and apply God’s I AM statements from the Old and New Testaments, the more we will realize God’s peace and joy. Then we will be free to live, serve, and know God more richly in the present tense—which is just where He wants us to be.

About the Author: Dr. Warren Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “Be” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, NE.

Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ
by Warren W. Wiersbe
Warren W. Wiersbe/January 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0487-7/224 pages/trade paperback/$14.99

For review copy information, contact:
Karen Davis - 800-927-0517 x109

Monday, January 10, 2011

Read the first chapter of Flight Plan

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Flight Plan

PDS Publishing (2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Lee Burns is the headmaster at Presbyterian Day School, an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis. In addition, Burns is vice-president and on the executive committee of the Elementary School Headmasters Association (a group of approximately 200 headmasters around the country) and is a member of the Country Day School Headmasters Association and the Visionary Heads Group. He served as a task force member to help the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) develop Principles of Good Practice for Middle School Educators. In addition, he has been a presenter at annual conferences of the National Association of Independent Schools, the International Boys' School Coalition, and the Elementary School Headmasters Association.

Burns plays tennis and enjoys squash and most any sport, as well as reading and writing. Lee is married to Sarah, and they have three children. They are members of Second Presbyterian Church, where he serves as a deacon.


Braxton Brady is the chaplain of Presbyterian Day School (PDS) in Memphis, TN. Before coming to PDS, he worked as Bible teacher, athletic director, and assistant principal at Central Day School in Collierville, Tennessee. Brady has served on the boards of various inner city ministries in Memphis. He is a graduate of the Emerging Leaders Program, a program that helps disciple and develop spiritual leaders in the city of Memphis, and founder of Strategic Dads, a ministry that seeks to provide fathers with practical ways to disciple their sons and lead their families.

Brady enjoys spending time with his family, serving in the inner city, and playing golf. He is currently completing his master's degree in theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. Brady and his wife, Carrie, have three children.


Visit the book website.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Perfect Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: PDS Publishing (2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615380611
ISBN-13: 978-0615380612

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Buckle Up


“Roger, liftoff, and the clock is started.”

- Alan B. Shepard Jr., Astronaut


“It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.”

- Chuck Yeager, General


The engines roar so loudly you can feel your whole body shake as the fighter jet accelerates down the short runway on the aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You can smell the burning fuel. Standing on the deck of the carrier, you can’t even see the fighter pilot inside because his plane is racing by at such an incredible speed. You can, though, sense the power of the great plane and the intensity of the takeoff. Just seconds before, the jet was calmly stationed at the end of the carrier, along with a few other ones. But now, just seconds later, amidst burning fuel and an awesome display of speed, it’s at the end of the runway and quickly airborne, racing up into the blue sky.


But where is the plane going?


Like the fighter jet, you are also about to accelerate down a short runway and take off on a great adventure with many possible missions and destinations. During your childhood, your life has probably been pretty steady and stable for the last few years. Sure, there have been ups and downs and you’ve changed and grown as a boy, but boyhood is usually marked by very slow and gradual development compared to the upcoming season in your life. But soon, instead of just hanging out at the end of the runway with the other fighter jets, instead of slowly taxiing back and forth on the runway, your life is about to accelerate in a very intense and rapid period called adolescence. And at the end of adolescence, you will take off into the sky for an even greater adventure: manhood.


Any fighter pilot will probably tell you that good preparation before the flight is essential to a successful mission. He has spent thousands of hours learning to fly. He has considered problems he could encounter and maneuvers he could use in those dangerous situations. He has tested and serviced the plane. He has filled it up with fuel. He has studied the specific flight plan, considered the weather, and learned the goal and details of the mission. The takeoff is but a few seconds; the mission is but a few hours; but the preparation is years in the making.


You are a man in the making. Before you race down that runway and head up into the sky, it’s important and wise to make sure you are well prepared and equipped for the flight. You’d better make sure you know how to fly the plane and that it has fuel in it. You’d better know what you’re going to do when you come under enemy attack. And, most importantly, you’d better know what the mission is and where you’re going. It’s easy to get lost in the vast sky without a plan.


Manhood is the same way. You’ll be there before you know it, and if you haven’t done your preparations in advance, you can make a lot of unnecessary mistakes as you’re racing down the runway of adolescence. Not only will you make more mistakes without good preparation now, but you can cause yourself—and others—a lot of harm and heartache as well. You can crash on the runway or take off in the wrong direction, and you might never grow into the sort of man God designed you to be. We don’t want you to crash or fly to the wrong destination or get lost in the sky.


This book is designed to give you a mission and flight plan:


We’ll tell you what your purpose is as a man. We’ll tell you what it means to be a man: what your destination is.


We’ll tell you how to accelerate properly and safely down the short runway of adolescence you are about to begin.


We’ll tell you about some problems you are likely to encounter and how you can defeat them before they make you crash or change your flight plan.


We’ll encourage you to get some good co-pilots and flight instructors and technical staff, both your age and older men, who will support and help you on your journey.


So buckle up! The next few years of your life will be a great adventure. Changes like these are on the way:


Your mind, body, emotions and relationships will be changing in ways that you can’t fully understand until you have experienced them.


You will feel new and more intense passions and desires.


You will think about girls, your friends and your parents differently than you do now, and you will relate to them in new ways.


You will think about yourself differently.


You will long for more independence and new challenges.


You will dream new dreams and develop your own identity.


Every adventure also has its share of difficulties and dangers. Self-esteem often dips during your teenage years (though many boys try to hide that on the outside). While you will enjoy and appreciate the increasing freedoms, they will bring temptations that can be hard to resist, and the consequences for a poor decision can be costly. While your body will grow in size and strength, it can be an awkward process with aches and acne. Girls can make your heart race and your heart break. All in all, adolescence can be like riding a roller coaster with many ups and downs.


In this book, we’ll give you as complete and honest of a look at the journey ahead as we can. We want this to be authentic and cover the real issues and temptations that you will likely encounter in the upcoming months and years. We are addressing the topics that boys tell us are on their minds and that teenage boys say they are struggling with. While some of these topics can be embarrassing or difficult, we believe that it is better to know on the front end what you will probably face, and we want to help equip and prepare you for facing them.


But it’s not just the next few years that we care about. We want you to have a vision for the sort of man God wants you to be when you have passed through the adolescent years. That’s our ultimate goal. If you will set your eyes on the final goal—the sort of man you should become—then that will direct you in how you navigate the teenage years. Approaching challenges with the end result in mind is always the best way to begin. Great coaches begin the season talking about where they want the team to be at the end of the season. They talk about conference championships and bowl games and final rankings.


Coaches give their players a playbook to instruct them on how they want the game to be played. God has given you His playbook to help you navigate through the issues that you will be facing in the next few years. Boys are often surprised to hear that the Bible speaks on so many topics. Drinking, peer pressure, friendships, families, girls, even puberty and sex—the Bible gives us perspective and instruction in these matters. It speaks to the role and responsibilities of men. It tells you the sort of man, husband and father you should be one day. It tells all of us how to approach our work and worship and the girls and women in our lives. It talks about our self-worth, our successes, and the stuff we own, use and want to have. It covers difficulties and failures. It tells us about the forgiveness you can experience for all of our mistakes, including ones you may have already committed. We’ll cover all of these topics in this book.


But even more than covering these topics, the Bible describes God’s love for you. Rather than primarily advice and rules, the Bible, most importantly, is the true story of the good news of how much God loves us and how He is seeking to save us. It’s the good news of what He has done for us rather than what we can do for Him. It’s about what we can receive rather than what we must achieve.


We hope that by helping to develop your thinking about these teenage topics and understanding God’s love, grace and pursuit of us, you will grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. Our desire is that one day you will become a better man, husband and father, and we hope that you will, long before then, deepen your faith and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ; we hope you at least begin to explore questions in your mind and heart about who this God of the Bible is and what He means when He says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has plans to grow and prosper you.


Questions for Reflection and Discussion


1. What are some of the issues that you think will be difficult for you in the next few years?


2. Does the idea of becoming a man scare you or make you nervous? Why or why not?


3. If you could have one question answered about the road ahead for you, what would it be?


4. Is your dad available to talk with you about adolescence and the journey to manhood? If he is not

available, who could you talk to about this important topic?


5. What do you hope to accomplish by reading and studying this book?


6. What is the best piece of advice your dad, mom, adult leader, coach, or mentor has given you so far?


7. How would you define manhood?


8. Do you view the upcoming years of your life as an adventure or just a regular part of your life? Why or why not?