Friday, December 7, 2012

When God Winks

"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8 (NKJV)

When I say "when God winks", I'm not talking about when he winks in the Biblical sense of the word, as in Acts 17:30, where it literally means "to overlook". No, I am talking about when God winks, as in that sweet confirming feeling when that special caring and wiser elder individual in your life gives you that knowing wink. That assurance feeling. That "I've got your back" reminder. To me it's similar to a God Smile, but not quite the same. A "God Smile" is more an earthly pat on the back. When God "winks", it's His way of saying, "Keep your chin up; I've got your back."

Not long ago, I felt led to attempt to deputize in a few areas extremely far from home. This was a major decision for me, in part because the gasoline alone was going to cost about every penny I had. Starting out, I really only knew for sure a few places that I was going to be able to speak. Still, believing it was the right decision, but not wanting to be unwise, I asked God for confirmation as for what I should do. It came quickly and was undeniable. So, completely walking by faith, I headed out, still a little nervous, but knowing God's hand was in it.

For the next month and a half it seemed like almost every day I saw God wink. From doors opening like I never could have imagined, to the overwelmingly kind way people received me, to the special connections I was blessed to make, to even the little things...especially the little things. There are many things I might need or desire, but that I simply choose to go without. Usually God is the only one that actually knows what those things are. During this time God showed me over and over and over again that not only does He know, but that He cares. And that there is NOTHING so small that He doesn't care about. During this time of contemplating and coming to a more full understanding of this concept, I was meandering through a thrift store one day and right on top of of a book I'd been wanting for a long time was a book called "When God Winks at You".  Oh the irony. Needless to say, both of these books are now on my bookshelf.

While I still have quite a long ways to go in this deputational journey, God has truly blown my mind thus far and has shown me His glory in so many beautiful ways.  I am thankful I do not serve a distant impersonal God or a God made by man's hands that is nothing more than elements from this earth on which we walk, but rather I serve a God who smiles, who winks, who loves. I serve a God that will take care of me to the same extent that I choose to depend on Him. Never before have I walked so much by faith, and never before have I seen God work so much in my life.

"The love of God cannot be comprehended through knowledge; it can only be known through experience." ~Rev. Rodney Shaw 

"..for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."  ~Matthew 6:8

Friday, November 23, 2012

Staging a Protest

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am presently reading a book called “The Devil in Pew Number Seven” by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo.The writer’s very creative narrative of her own birth made quite an impression on me:

I yelled.

My eyes were pinched shut against a light as harsh as a solar flare. They stung as if sprayed with salt water. From head to toe, my skin tingled as if a blast of arctic air had swept over me. Chilled to the bone, I couldn’t explain the traumatic change in the temperature. My body shivered, trembling like a leaf in the wind.  And, although I was suddenly cold, my lungs burned with each breath.
In vain, I cried out.

My legs, kicking without regard for the hands that attempted to hold me down, were no match for the masked faces surrounding me. I could not make sense of their muffled voices. Out of control, powerless to hold my head up, I was carried away against my will. With fingers curled into a ball of fury, face as red as Mars, I howled so loudly the wail could be heard down the hall.

Like all humanity before me, I entered the world staging a protest.
My first thought when I read this was “..and so it is with us.”  How many times in life does our flesh protest something God wants us to do or perhaps just something he wills us to endure?  How many times does He move us forward, while our heels are still dug in the sand?  How many times has He asked us simply to remain standing, yet we proclaim a sit in and recruit friends to join us.  

A baby’s options are death or life, nothing else, and so it is with us. Stagnation is a spiritual killer, as is letting down your guard, forgetting or neglecting to keep your spiritual armor on. Recently, while driving through the state of Missouri, I read alarming statistics posted on an illuminated sign beside the interstate: “Number of Deaths this Year: 711; 64% Unbuckled”.  I personally have been in at least one accident, in which I have no doubt that I would have died, had I not been wearing a seat belt. Instead, due to this precaution, and, no doubt, greatly due to God’s protection, I walked out of the car, practically unscathed. At 70 mph, the car had rolled multiple times and finally landed upside down, with a caved in roof.  When I read that sign reporting the number of deaths I just kept thinking, how low would that first number have  been, had, by chance, that second number been lower? And how much is this like us in the spiritual realm? How many casualties could be prevented if we simply remembered to keep our spiritual armor on at all times? (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Whether God has told you to move or whether He’s told you to stand. Don’t doubt. Don’t question. If He has spoken, you can rest assured that the path you will trod will be the safest. Why?  Because He has promised to be with you.

As the song goes…
“Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand,
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know He hold my hand.”

So stand up, put down those protest signs, and get those heels out of the sand. God is FOR you. (Psalm 56:9)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Dad. My Hero.

"... A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without..." ~1 Timothy 3:2-7

Today is my Father's 75th birthday.  He is not a bishop, however he is a man that the above passage could easily have been written about. I have been blessed to have been raised by an example of a true prince of  a man and would love to share with you a little about this special person.

He was born in Ohio and raised in West Virginia. By no means is he someone who started out with everything handed to him in life. In fact, he left home at the age of 15 to begin working, to help provide for his family back in West Virginia who was struggling financially. As a man with great musical talent, he has traveled, seeing most of the U.S, and lived in many places, sharing his talent everywhere he went, and connecting with many others who shared the same love for music as him. He has always been well loved, by those who are familiar and strangers alike. If my mom and I are shopping somewhere and he decides to wait for us sitting on a bench, we know that by the time we come back he will know the life story of the individual who happens to sit down next to him...and that we will be introduced to them upon our return. :-)

My father's family came to first know of God in full truth in his early teens, when his stepfather, who had earlier been an atheist, was healed of cancer at a local tent revival. My father's complete surrender to God and His perfect will for his life came later, after he had married my mother and she had received the Holy Ghost. During this time, while living in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where they would remain for around twenty years, my parents chose to fully commit their lives to God.  For my father in particular, this meant forfeiting a likely career in the country music industry, due to realizing that it was a world that was not conducive to raising a Christian family.  Having already made his first album in Nashville, and having many key connections, this was a big sacrifice for my dad and I greatly respect him for it. All my life I have been taught with a clear understanding that life is not about gaining fortune or fame, but simply about pleasing God.

As a child growing up in Missouri, many of my memories of my dad revolve around ministry. I remember participating in Sunday School bus ministry evangelism, going door to door on Saturdays, dressed up in cartoon character costumes, inviting little kids to service.  My dad was often dressed as Bugs Bunny and little kids would bring him carrots. Him and my mom also were involved in nursing home ministry and always brought me along for this as well...two nursing homes, every other Saturday. Some of my best, squeeky solos, have been sung for elderly people. While it's doubtful that it ministered to them, it did always make them smile. :-) My Mom and Dad also, of course, have continued to minister in song in church services and at various events...only now they sing for God alone.  My brothers and I also used to accompany them sometimes.

Later, after moving to Arkansas, in my teen years, I always appreciated how my Dad was so faithful to be there for me for big events, both for school events and for Bible Quizzing events.  Due to being a self-employed contractor, and his busiest times usually being in the summer, we rarely were able to take summer family vacations. However, when Fall rolled around, if there was any way possible, I knew he would  dedicate over a week to coming to the North American Bible Quiz Tournament/ General Conference to support and to encourage me and my team and to enjoy conference with us.  

Throughout my life I have seen my parents counsel and help restore multiple couples who have been on the verge of divorce. In times of plenty, I have seen them assist those who were hurting financially. Throughout the years my dad has hired and mentored many young men, some whom no one else would have hired, such as former prisoners and a man with HIV. I have seen him become a father like figure to a young man whose father was in prison due to the father's terrible treatment of his family. My dad has indeed been a father to the fatherless; himself knowing what it's like to grow up in a rough environment, without a true father figure.

For 42 years, my dad has shown himself a true man of God to his wife, and for 40 years, to his children. I have never seen my dad lash out at anyone, inside the home or outside the home. If there were a word that I think would sum up him and his actions in a nutshell, it would be "humble."  On any given morning in my parents home I know I will hear and see both of them reading the Bible and praying. True humility comes from one realizing their proper place in this thing we call life. I'm thankful for a father who realized it a long time ago, before I was even born. And I'm thankful for an evangelist, whom I will never meet, who years ago bothered to preach a tent revival in a small country town in West Virginia.

Below are some pics from a display for a surprise party we had on my Dad's 70th birthday. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What about the Potter?

So, it's past 1:00 and I am wide awake...the tragic result of drinking coffee too late. Anyway, earlier today..I mean yesterday, I was taking some time to read back through my prayer journal and came across this entry from early May. I  believe at that time that I was reading from Numbers (thus the reason for the references to Israel's relationship with God). Just felt this might be something worth sharing....Hopefully it will at least speak to someone...

"But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." ~Psalm 86:15

"I've been thinking about how God's relationship with Israel, as with us, is so much like that of a parent.  In one instance Israel will do something wrong and God will discipline them, yet, in the next instance, He is telling those in opposition to Israel to basically "treat them right or die." The wilderness was forty years of discipline for Israel, yet, at the same time, God was keeping outsiders from hurting them.  His Word is sure and He won't let anything happen to prevent it from coming to pass. Like a good parent, He always keeps His word, always protects, and always does what's best, whether painful or not, to make sure His child becomes the best He can be.

Yesterday, while having a potter walk my friends and I through the step by step process of the art of old fashioned pottery making, I found myself thinking, "Wow, that's ALOT of effort and inconvenience just to make that cup, bowl, etc...but then I realized, that's exactly the way God is with us!  Often I read poems and such about "being on the potter's wheel", written about yielding to the Potter's hand and they are always beautiful and well said...but, what about the Potter?!! Oh the patience, Oh the love!!!...Thankful for a God that never gives up on me. He protects me. He provides for me. And, above all else He's STILL working on me."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Simple Talk

Obedience: Belief with Legs on It

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." ~John 3:16

I have been reminiscing lately over some of my experiences while living in Latvia.  Among my memories have been random conversations with members of the team there...just plain goofy conversations, as well as extremely enlightening ones.

One of the main conversations I have been thinking about occurred between the head missionary's wife and I.  We were relaxing one evening, chatting away, when I randomly gestured towards some cookies and said slowly and very prounounced, "Cookie... Yes?", asking her if she would like one. I didn't think anything of it at first, but her dumbfounded expression provoked me to think about what I had just said and how I had said it. It didn't take long to realize the reason for the funny expression. We both busted out laughing simultaneously. With English as both our native tongues, we, of course, usually speak at a normal pace, use bigger words, and tend to use complete sentences, or at least complete phrases, when talking to each other. However, this day I spoke to her as one would to friends with a very limited knowledge of their language or in the same manner that most people tend to speak to young children. I responded this way to her simply out of habit. Living in a foreign country, and not yet knowing the local language fluently,one becomes quite accustomed to speaking to people this way, and them speaking to you this way.

Sometimes when sharing the gospel with people who know little or nothing about God, seasoned Christians may unintentionally try to feed an individual meat who has not yet even been born into the Kingdom of God. When a female is pregnant and cares about the health of her child, she takes extra special care as to what she puts into her body, because it all affects the baby. In like manner, this same approach should be applied to a Christian's speech when witnessing to people about The Gospel. It is deep and has many layers, but it is not complicated. Start at the first layer. Speak simply!

Some fellow AIMers in Latvia encouraged me, as well as others, to do something they also had been encouraged to do before: go through the Bible and, in your mind, every time the word "believe" is mentioned, replace it with the word "obey". (This doesn't work for all, but for a lot of them.)  Why do this? Because if you truly believe, you WILL obey.

To believe is to obey. True belief begets complete obedience.

Simple Talk... 

John 3:16 says that whosoever believeth on Christ "SHOULD not" perish, not "would not" perish. Why? It's a matter of complete obedience. If one completely believes, they will obey all that the scriptures say. They will search them and find that God in flesh said that "except a man is born of water and of the Spirit" he cannot enter, nor even see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3,5)  They will obey God by repenting, being baptized in Jesus name, and being filled with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19, John 7:39, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 10:44-48 ).

It IS true that one must first believe...however, if one truly believes God's Word, he will covet, study, and obey ALL of it. 

Jesus himself said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."  ~Mark 1:15

Repentance is not the full gospel, but rather a launching point. Believe...Obey!

It's that simple.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Friendship, Bitterness, & Treasures

"And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." ~Ruth 1:16-17

Today I started reading Ruth again, one of my favorite books of the Bible. For such a short book, there is so much to be learned from it. Today I learned about friendship…which is what the name "Ruth" means.  The first chapter of this book is a perfect example of what true friendship (love) looks like. Out of real love for her mother-in-law, Ruth refused to leave her alone to go on her way, but insisted on going with her...not just going with her, but remaining with her. 

Naomi showed real love for Ruth by trying to protect her and insisting that she stay where she might have a better chance for survival, or so she hoped. However, God had a much better plan for Ruth, and, unlike Orpah, she chose to cling to Naomi, and that is the moment God would begin to change her life. This change began when she chose to stick with her loved one and enter Bethlehem (The House of Bread), risking leaving behind all that was familiar to her, simply because she truly loved Naomi.
Naomi means "my delight", however, when they reached her homeland, she told them to call her "bitterness", rather than "my delight", due to the negative way she felt God had dealt with her.  You see, through eyes of love, Ruth still saw her mother-in-law as delightful, someone worthy of love...someone in need of and who deserved companionship.  No doubt, by her insistence to be called Mara instead, life had beaten her down and she probably was no longer quite the loveable lady Ruth had first known. She has probably depressed, negative, and unlikely the type of person people enjoyed being around...she was "bitter". 

Bitter...not only an attitude, but a taste that can get into other people's mouths and spirits as well, if those people do not choose to love and over power, rather than to ingest, that potent taste. 

Reading about this reminded me of a tweet by Bro. Raymond Woodward that I read earlier today:
"We're not willing to take what we don't want to get what we do want. A field has rocks and weeds in it, but the TREASURE is in the field! You're church, pastor, marriage, or spouse is a field with treasure in it. Don't complain about the field; rejoice in the TREASURE!" ~J. Hyles
None of us are perfect. If you don't agree with that statement I suggest you repeat it out loud until you do! In different ways I believe we are all diamonds in the rough. A diamond in the rough may be defined as "someone (or something) that has hidden exceptional characteristics and/or future potential, but currently lacks the final touches that would make them (or it) truly stand out from the crowd." 

 Lucky for all of us:
"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." ~Proverbs 27:17
A true friend remembers you at your best, and if you are no longer at that place, reminds you of what "your best" looks like until you are back to being the treasure God created you to be. In process it is very possible one may become an even more valuable treasure than ever before!
 Left to their own devices it is doubtful that Ruth or Naomi would have survived their tragic situation. However, together, they not only survived, but thrived.  And, just as, in my last blog, I spoke of Christ being born through the lineage of Isaac...He also chose Ruth and Boaz to be part of that blessed lineage as well!
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" ~Matthew 6:21

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Then God Said, "No."

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave him victory. He crushed the Ammonites, devastating about twenty towns from Aroer to an area near Minnith and as far away as Abel-keramim. In this way Israel defeated the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. ~Judges 11:30-34 (NLT)
In the margin of my Bible next to the scriptures above is written the word "rashness' and that is a perfect description of this terrible decision. Nowhere in this passage does God ask or even imply that a sacrifice was necessary for victory, yet, Jephthah insisted and in turn lost the most important thing in his life. 
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. ~ Hosea 6:6
A "sacrifice" may be defined as: "an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially: the killing of a victim on an altar" or "destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else".

What does it mean to sacrifice something to God? How do you know that's what He wants you to do? How do you know what to sacrifice? How do you know when to sacrifice?

If you're thinking I'm planning on answering all these questions, you might as well quit reading, because I'm not about to act like I have all the answers. All I have is experience to draw on. A sacrifice can be something as simple as fasting or giving something away. It can be short term. It can be long term. It can be necessary. It can be harmful. It all depends on if it is done in obedience to God or if it is done rashly, without consulting God before telling God. 

I have seen a few sacrifices that I knew were not "God ordained". For example, a person I went to Bible school with decided he was going to tithe to God 1/10 of his time to prayer each day forever (That would be 2 hrs & 40 mins). Now, I'm all about prayer, and believe times of consecration such as this can be necessary, but while being a Bible school student who had to work many hours and had a lot of homework, and who already was not getting enough sleep as it was, I did not believe this was a "God thing". And...time & his weary body eventually proved it wasn't. God expects for you to talk to Him every day, but not to do it to the extent that you're wearing yourself down physically and mentally.

On the flip side, there is a sacrifice I personally made quite a few years back that I believe has set the course for my life and calling ever since. It wasn't even a decision that I prayed and travailed over. It was a split second decision I made that involved letting go of something I desired in life, when it seemed close at hand, and choosing to give myself to service for the kingdom instead. A sacrifice God required of me? That I may never know for sure. A sacrifice He will bless me for? I have no doubt.

In most decisions in life I choose to err on the side of know "Better to out give, than not give enough." And I've always looked at sacrifices to God in this way. But what about about Abraham? When the word "sacrifice" comes up, he's usually the first one you think about, other than Jesus Christ himself.

Abraham. The ultimate sacrificer.
Abraham. The one who was willing to sacrifice his son on the altar, simply because God said to.
Abraham. The one who walked away with His son in perfect health.

...Ok. now stop. Read that again.

Abraham receives praise for being WILLING to sacrifice his son. Not for actually doing it.

What if Abraham had seen the ram and still went ahead and killed Isaac, because he said he was going to, and, by all means, he had to keep his word. Would God have praised him for loving Him enough to go ahead and do it anyway? No. Of course not. No doubt God would have even been angry, because He had a greater plan in mind. God simply wanted to know IF he was willing. God wanted to know what truly was in his heart...whom he loved most.

Isaac would be part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. God knew this when He gave Abraham the test. God had a plan even then. If Abraham had went through with the sacrifice, the lineage of Jesus Christ would have been severed!

Abraham said, "Yes.", then God said, "No." and because God "said 'No'" we have salvation through Christ today.

There is a place for sacrifice and there are times for sacrifice in every believer's life. Just be sure to consult God first, then tell Him, in that order, when deciding what those sacrifices should be, for, first and foremost, He delights in your obedience. 
And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. ~1 Samuel 15:22

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Time is It?

"And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you." ~Numbers 9:8 
 Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses." ~Numbers 9:22-23

This morning while reading in Numbers about how God led and directed the children of Israel, I began thinking about how this applies to our lifes today... I believe there is much to be learned from this passage about God's leading and protection in our lives.

Numbers 9:8 is Moses' response to a sincere inquiry from men who were trying to do the right thing but were meeting opposition. These men didn't try to "get around the system" on their own or just say "forget it" and bluntly disobey God. Instead they talked to the man of God and sought His counsel. The first thing he told them was, "Stand still". Sometimes not doing anything is the best thing you can do for the moment. Always hold off on making major decisions until you have sought godly counsel and heard from God in a definate way.

Numbers 9:17-23 is, in my opinion, one of the most simple, yet profound, passages in the Bible about walking with God. There are many things one can learn from the passage, four of which I have listed below:

1) When God says, "Go", Go.
2) When God says, "Stay", Stay.
3) Going when God says,"Stay" = Very Bad Idea
4) Staying when God says, "Go" = Very Bad Idea

I know I know...Perhaps you are thinking, "Is it really THAT simple?!" I believe it is.
The "cloud" in this passage is representative of the blessings and favor of God on one's life.  If the cloud had moved, and the children of Israel didn't, their provision would no longer have remained.  Had they got tired of staying at the times they were to stay, and proceeded on their own, the same would have happened. They would have starved in the wilderness or died from heat stroke.  The cloud was both their direction, their provision, and their protection all wrapped up in one...and so it  is in our lifes today. Only now it's not a cloud, but rather the Holy Ghost inside us, and in those who are our spiritual authorities (who, if we're submitted, should also be our spiritual counselors).

On a personal level, there have been times when God has told me to stay, when I would rather have gone and times when He has told me to go, when I would rather have stayed. Sometimes our personal environments may reach a point where our flesh desires to take the escape route. Other times our personal environment may become our comfort zone, and no one enjoys leaving their comfort zone.

Please understand that I am not necessarily talking about only literally moving, such as to a different city, though that may well apply, but rather this could apply to a ministry situation, a relationship, a job, etc...any kind of change.

In the literal sense, however, it is also important to note that sometimes God says "stay" not to make one fidgety and miserable, but often it is because He wants you to rest and prepare for the journey ahead. Remain sensitive to the purpose of every season in your life. There is always a purpose.

Above you see a picture of Cookie Monster in shock that an option on his computer is "Delete Cookies". Cookie Monster loves cookies. He lives to eat cookies. So in his mind he's thinking, "Why in the world would you want to DELETE cookies?!!!"  Yet, even the most unsavvy computer user realizes that deleting "cookies" is, in general, a good thing.   And sometimes it is this way in life.  Cookie Monster in his ignorance would probably not press that button. However, a computer specialist might very well advise him to do so.

You see, making decisions in alignment with God's will is not about doing what you THINK is right or about what FEELS right.  If you make decisions based on this criteria, don't expect for God's favor to be on your life.

So, what IS it about? Well....It's about having good listening skills. What?! Yes. Really. It's that simple. I've heard it said that God has three answers: Yes, No, and Not Yet (Stand Still). I believe this is true. If you are seeking direction by praying and fasting, reading your Bible, and seeking godly counsel, God will answer you. It's not a matter of if He will answer, though sometimes you may think He's not when the answer is "not yet" or because it's not time for you to know yet, it's a matter of if you will obey when He does answer.

As in the Cookie Monster scenerio, sometimes the answer will come through a vessel of God. The question is, are you humble enough to listen to them and to act on it, even if it goes against what your flesh desires?  Are you willing to "delete cookies" if that's what God tells you to do? Are you willing to say goodbye to your comfort zone if that means staying hand in hand with God and His favor, provision, and protection on your life?

Observe the 23rd Psalm....

Green Pastures. Still Waters. Niiiice.

But what about The Valley of the Shadow of Death? The Presence of Our Enemies? 

Following God is not always a life of bliss nor should it be. If it were, we would never grow in Him. BUT if you walk with God He will always be there and there will be no need for want. He will always be leading. Always restoring, comforting, refreshing. and annointing. The best part? Goodness and mercy are yours to have, as well as the privilege to forever dwell in God's presence.

So, let's review:
1) When God says, "Go", Go.
2) When God says, "Stay", Stay.
3) Going when God says,"Stay" = Very Bad Idea
4) Staying when God says, "Go" = Very Bad Idea
"He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" ~Micha 6:8 
So, my question to you is, "What time is it in your life?  Is it a time to go or a time to stay?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Bottle or a Well?

And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. ~Genesis 21:19

Hagar, sent out with just a bottle of water and bread, which was now gone, had lost all hope, given up on life, and was now planning to endure the death of her child. However, God heard her child's cry and revealed a source of provision for them much greater than what she'd had priorly. Before: A bottle (now empty) After: A well. How easy it is to be like Hagar, so focused on a problem that we miss the solution God has already prepared that's right in front of us.
      Sometimes we look through a microscope, when the answer is found through a panoramic view. Microscopic vision is man-made, an "I can figure this out if I try hard enough" mentality. Panoramic vision...this kind of vision is God given. This brings to my mind the feeling I experience inside when I stand on a mountain top overlooking a valley. Thoughts of God's amazingness, His power, and His glory overwhelm me every single time. In like manner, stepping back and allowing these same feelings of awe and this same perspective to take hold spiritually in the middle of life's difficulties will begat peace, which will give place to faith, which will produce the answer to any "impossible" situation one could ever face. Step back, pray, then look again...God might very well open your eyes just as he did Hagar's. An empty bottle or a well? Which will it be?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Two Opposites. One Truth...Every Morning

"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." ~Lamentations 3:22-23

I woke up crazy early this morning, and, while lying in bed, hoping to fall back asleep (fail), was thinking about some things I read yesterday, that, while opposite in their approach, both shared a similar message very well....
It was out of this World...........
I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
There must've been a mistake.
'And why's everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'

"What hope has hatred ever harnessed? What argument has ever been aided by anger? What problems have ever been resolved by revenge? You might be trying to consciously or unconsciously punish a brother or sister by not forgiving them. But who are you really punishing? Who carries that judgement with him wherever he goes? Your brother and sister are not what you perceive they did to you. They are not some frozen moment in time that like a brick, you choose to carry into the present. They are God's children on a journey..." ~James B. Cisneros

"To err is human, to forgive divine." ~William Shakespeare

If God's mercies are new every morning, how can we offer our brother or sister any less? If the thought of worshiping before God's throne in Heaven next to any certain person makes you cringe, that means there's a good chance you might not be there anyway. Is holding on to that judgmentalism or unforgiveness really worth missing Heaven over? From here on out I encourage you: Look at others through God's eyes...You might be pleasantly surprised what you see.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

No Bullies Allowed!

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood..."~Ephesians 6:12

When I first began this blog it wasn't just on a whim, but it was for a reason....

I had recently received a very specific word, or rather command, from God, and the devil had immediately went to work trying to convince me otherwise. In essence, God said, "Walk through this door."; Satan said, "There is no door, turn around and walk away." And immediately my mind went into a whirlwind. But,in the midst of that whirlwind, I realized something: the devil has an agenda and God has an agenda, and I had a choice as to whom I was going to let win that war in my mind and whose agenda I was going to choose to follow. One voice said, "Give up, you'll never be able to do what God's told you to do and disobedience is a sin, omission is as bad as commission, so you might as well just throw in the towel now. But God...well, God's voice told me something very different. It said, "My ways are above your ways; my thoughts are above your thoughts.", "I will never leave you nor forsake you.", "I lie not."

So, I picked myself up off the ground and made a firm decision, not only was I going to do whatever God asked of me, and put complete trust in Him to make a way, but I was going to make the devil reeeeaally sorry for ever messing with me at all. I wasn't really sure where to start out in this endeavor, but I felt in this process that God was going to show and teach me a lot, and that it would be wasteful to keep the classroom all to myself. Thus, as a good friend of mine coined the phrase a few years back, creating this blog was my way of affectionately saying, "In Your Face Devil!!!" And every time I write something glorifying God that's exactly the attitude I write with. It's not my desire to waste my own, nor anyone else's, precious time with something not inspired by God, therefore I don't write on a regular schedule, but rather as I feel led. Sometimes this is often, other times rarely.

Since beginning it there have been a lot of wonderful things happen. I have received letters from people who have read just the right thing at just the right time and in turn it has helped them through personal situations they were dealing with in their own lives. I also personally have been ministered to, due to people who were formerly strangers contacting me, sharing just the right words at just the right time that I needed to hear. There have been family friends I hadn't seen since childhood, as well as others who formerly were strangers, who have followed it, and whom God lead to sponsor me as an AIMer. While I have purposely been very vague in sharing the wonderful things that have came from this small decision, due to wanting to honor others' privacy, many of these stories, in detail, are awe inspiring and God's fingerprints are all over them.

I have shared all that to say this....Has the devil been bullying you lately? Well, fight back! Through prayer. Through doing your own special thing to say, "In Your Face Devil!" This special thing could be anything that will bring God glory...from helping mentor a person in need of one, to volunteering to help with a ministry at church, to feeding the homeless, to visiting the elderly, to moving forward in doing something God's already told you to do, blogging.

John 12:32 says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Ask yourself, "What can I do to exalt God?", "What can I do to encourage His children?", "What can I do to please Him?", "What can I do to stand up and speak out and tell the devil 'No Bullying Allowed!!!'?"

As for me, I will continue to blog...I will continue to obey God and walk in His perfect will...and I will continue to proclaim, "In Your Face Devil!"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

God Smiles

Perhaps you are or are not familiar with the phrase "God Smiles". To me a "God Smile" is a moment when God looks down on one and smiles, because He is pleased and desires to bless.

Recently I was blessed to be able to visit home, in Arkansas, for the holidays. During this time I also had the opportunity to attend the ministry conference, BOTT, in Alexandria and spend a few days with some of my dear friends on the ministry team in the U.K. while on my way home. Throughout this trip, which was a huge blessing, as well as a faith move, I continually saw "God Smiles" which brought great peace to me.

As a missionary, it is hard to feel content with "leaving your post", even if the break is greatly needed or if it is because you are trying to keep your ducks correctly in a row: 1st family, then ministry. When taking a trip anywhere, there's still a part of you that is asking "Was this the right decision?,Should I have waited?,etc." However, God has a way of speaking, bringing peace, and showing that a time of rest IS necessary and that God does bless it.

While I said there were many "God Smiles" along the way...A new sponsor here, a special donation there that in all equaled about the cost the trip itself(Praise God!), as well as a few other "divine appointments" that came to pass, there is one really big one that stands out to me....

One of my best friends and mentors, Kim Hall, and I were out having a girls day with her mom. I was the one who got to decide where we would eat. Seeing as we were all on a very tight budget, and, since living in Europe, Taco Bell had came to hold a very special place in my heart, we decide that was the restaurant of choice. Upon arrival at the restaurant, Kim & I were being our typical outgoing, boisterous selves, characteristics that tend to magnify when good friends get together. :-)

While ordering we were joking around, Kim swiping a handful of the peppermints, talking about how much she loved them. Me, acting like a starving person, probably more excited to be in a Taco Bell than anyone the cashier had ever seen. Alas, we'd made our grand entrance...for better or worse.

A little while after we had sat down and began eating, the Taco Bell employee, who had taken our order, walked by, dropped a pile of mints in front of Kim, and walked off without saying a word. We busted out laughing, then returned to making small talk and finishing up our meals. In a spur of the moment decision, right before leaving, we invited her to attend the statewide youth convention service with us that was being held at a convention center a few blocks away. She didn't give us a definate yes or no at that point, but we exchanged numbers, planning to touch base later in the day.

Later I began texting with her to see if she was coming. At first she didn't know. No skirts or dresses to wear and she'd been seeing so many of our girls coming in there looking all cute from the convention. (Pause and think about this...any one of them could have and should have invited her, but that's for another blog and another time. ;-) I talked her through that, then she said she didn't have transportation..."All she had was God and her job." I told her "done" that I would pick her up. When she made that comment I knew that this was a divine appointment and I was determined to not let her out of what God was determined to do in her life.

That night she came. She was nervous. She was indeed one of the few females not wearing a skirt...and She was at the right place at the right time for her "God Smile".

That night God reached down to my new friend and showed Himself to her in a way she had never felt Him before. Due to some unwise decisions in her life, she had lost everything, her family included, and had return back to her hometown to get life back in order. While in her hometown two daughters of The King, one who lives in Dallas and one who lives in Europe, "just happened" to be in town and cross the path of this hungry young lady who was trying her best to do right and who was looking to God for direction. And, that night at Youth Convention, God reached down and filled this young lady with the Holy Ghost.

Two night later, New Year's Eve,she rang in her New Year in worship with the saints of Rogers UPC and by the end of the night she had already declared it her home church. Two weeks later she was baptized in Jesus name. And now she is participating in Home Bible Studies with some friends of mine and is attending church faithfully.

"God Smiles"...That day we met this precious girl, God smiled on me, giving me peace that I was indeed in the right place at the right time. But more than that, He smiled on Her...

"Draw near to God and He WILL draw near to You."(James 4:8)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

He Makes Me Happy

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom....For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ~Luke 12:32,34

A few days ago my sister-in-law shared with me a conversation she recently had with my nephew. She always asks my niece and nephew if they had a good dream, when they wake up in the morning. Usually my nephew tells her that he dreamed about Super Man or Buzz Light Year.(His two favorite fictional characters right now)That morning though, with his eyes still closed and a big smile on his face, this is how the conversation went:
Sis: Kaleb did you dream last night?
Kaleb: Yes, I did have a dream!
Sis: What did you dream about?
Kaleb: I dreamed about God!
Sis: Really! What was it about?
Kaleb: God!
Sis:I know it was about God, but what did God do in your dream?
Kaleb: He made me happy!

Everyday I, and I'm sure most of my family, pray that my niece and nephew will grow to love God and to have a close walk with Him. So when I read this part of the email that she sent me I cried tears of joy...God has already shown my 3 1/2 year old nephew that He delights in making us happy! He desires for us to live happy lives. When we are living lives pleasing to him, He desires for our lives to be blessed as well. And who, but God, owns "the cattle on a thousand hills"...and everything else! No one, not even the richest billionaire, could ever shower us with the extent of or the variety of the types of blessings God has prepared for His children.
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. ~1 Corinthians 2:9

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
~Matthew 7:7-11

Now, for a personal story...Before moving to the Baltics I prayed for a piano. I already own a nice electric piano stateside that I like very much, and as already mentioned in one of my more recent posts, this is an instrument that I technically know how to play, but in which I desire to make much improvement. In large part this is due to wanting to be able (without being nervous) to minister in this way, if and when necessary. (I also just find it very relaxing. :-)

Anyway, I prayed sincerely and my motives were good, pure, and God centered. So, moving forward to my arrival in Latvia,where the apartment I chose to live in (basically by default) had a...(drumroll please)...upright piano in it. It didn't have any beds or hardly any other furniture...but it had a piano. An uuuugly piano, though it was probably quite beautiful at one time a loooong time ago. It is scratched up, has stains on the keys and has stickers stuck all over it. Oh, and NO soft pedal. Remember...I live in an apartment. Neighbors like soft pedals.

Upon seeing the piano I literally laughed out loud, thought, "God you sure do have a good sense of humor" and quickly began to ask the owners to please take it away. I had two roommates coming that summer who would be having to share that small room with that ugly piano, and I just didn't think it right to leave it there just taking up space. Well, the landlords claimed they knew someone who was going to buy it...but needless to say, those people backed out and the piano, 8 months later is still here. Through the summer it filled the roles of "shelf" and "table" for my roommates. Then shortly after they left, some AIMers here had to go home for a bit, so I had the keyboard they use at my apartment for a while...and that made me happy. But, then they came back, I gave it back, as planned, and then headed to the states for a visit myself, where I again got to enjoy my own keyboard for a while.

So why the huge drawn out story?..well, one night while home I was talking to God about this. I told him: God, I'm sure gonna miss this piano and I DID pray for one...what gives? God's prompt response: I gave you it! Me: What? God: Hello..that black thing in your apartment. That's your answer. I answered 8 months ago. Me: Oh...

(Don't laugh. I know you have the same kind of conversations with God! And if you don't, you should give it a try. ;-)

You see, it hit me. Usually, I pray very specifically about things, especially the big important things in life. Even things like my cars I have always prayed right down to exactly what options I wanted in them,etc...and God has always provided. However, when I prayed for this rather small thing, I don't remember ever being specific. Perhaps my faith wasn't as strong as it should have been. I dunno, but I didn't. So God didn't. Lesson Learned.

So, when I got back to Latvia, I happily flipped up the lid to that mostly in tune piano, and began playing. And I will continue to do so because I realize that I am never to toss God's blessings aside, but am to use them for all they are worth. It's like one beautiful cycle...We make God happy. He, in turn, desires to make us happy. Then, through good stewardship of the blessings He gives us, we continue to make Him happy...and the cycle continues.

God's perfect will automatically leads to God's perfect blessings.

HE makes me happy.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
~1 John 5:14

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Gift of a Talent

For quite a few months now I have found myself thinking about the parable in Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents. If you are not familiar with this story, I encourage you to click on the link above and read it before proceeding any further. Grant it, I realize this passage isn't literally about "talents" as we know them, but it is indeed applicable to anything we have received from God, whether it be finances, talents etc.

I'm not really sure what triggered my thoughts being strong on this passage as of late. Perhaps working in a church pioneering effort on foreign soil and the many various hats our team here has to wear has got me thinking about it. Logically, for every responsibility each person on the team here holds, there is a God given talent being used to accomplish it. And we each wear many hats, some weeks more than others. That said though, this hasn't provoked me to think, "Oh look at that, you got this talent and that talent, and...", but rather it has made me more strongly aware of those areas that I wish I were more skilled in, those areas where I wish I could at least offer to rotate out with someone or fill a void that no one else is either able to or has time to fill. (Since the amount of people on the ministry team here fluctuates, due to various reasons, sometimes most voids are filled, sometimes they are not..we do what we can with what and who we have, and trust God to bless our efforts.)

So, in light of these circumstances, and the extreme seriousness of the latter part of this passage, I have found myself praying for God to reveal to me talents He has given me that I may not yet be aware of. Instead, thus far, He has begun to remind me of ones I have had in the past, that I no longer use, or ones that I had begun developing, but had cast aside due to inconvenience, lack of time, (insert another bad excuse), etc.

And, I have decided to do something about it. This year, my "hobbies" will revolve mainly around strengthening my skills in an instrument I used to play (violin), as well as becoming more skilled on the piano, so that I no longer freeze up or feel like I am going to get sick every time I have to play in front of people. (I don't want to stop at being "good enough", but getting past the "freak out" stage will be my starting point.:-)

There are other things God has been dealing with me about.. for example a foreign language that I don't even want to think about how many hours, between high school and college, I have spent time studying, only to not have ever achieved fluency? My reasoning has been that I don't think I'll ever live any where that it is a national language, yet, with all the time I've committed already, why not complete the process? That language is French and one of my closest friends who live here in Latvia now is from France..I really have no excuses.

I could mention more things God has been speaking to me about, but I won't. My point is this: God created us. We are His. We, including our time and our talents, are His. So, are there any talents that you are neglecting in your life? What skills has God given you that you no longer use or that you have never finished polishing off? What is holding you back? How legitimate are your excuses?

Whether you have many talents or few is not the point, the point is, is there something you can be doing (or at least be able to do, should it be needed) that you are not doing? Is there something that you could be able to do with a little (or perhaps quite a bit of) work?

Maybe you fall in a different category. Maybe you are like someone close to me who has many talents, but their talents were abused, due to their not ever being able to say "no", when asked to be in charge of this or that. Eventually they did learn to say "no"...and never stopped. This is not ok either. We can each only carry so heavy of a load, however we must all do what we can as we are able.

So I dare you, ask God what talents you might have tucked away long ago or that you may be completely unaware of. Talents He gave you for a purpose. Whether God given-talents or skills in which He provided the opportunity for you to attain them, it doesn't matter. Discover them, then give those gifts back to God.
But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money... Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

A few days ago, while in the tunnel to board the last flight on my way back to Latvia, traffic got backed up, and I found myself at a stand still, staring out the window. To be more specific, I found myself staring at the pilot, a man probably in his late 50s, most likely of Russian decent, who had a stern look on his face, and a serious unibrow. In all actuality the man reminded me of someone who may have played one of the bad guys in one of those old black and white war movies. While looking at him and thinking about this my next thought was, "By walking onto this plane I am making the choice to put my life in this man's hands." About that time my eyesight shifted and I realized the co-pilot was observing me, observing the pilot. My next thought was "I'm putting my life in his hands too." About that time traffic started moving and I shortly found myself on the plane, sitting in my assigned seat, staring out the window at the wing my seat overlooked. I then began to think about all the individuals that were involved in making and servicing this plane and how there were no doubt hundreds of people that I was choosing to "trust" just by the simple acts of purchasing my tickets and getting on the plane. In a little over one month I had made this choice to board a plane built, serviced, and flown by people I know absolutely nothing about 8 different times. And strangely enough, this thought did not have me sweating bullets, or even really disturb me even the slightest bit.

But it did get me thinking about a relationship with someone I do personally know, my Heavenly Father. I am presently reading for the second time what I would consider one of my top five favorite books "√Źn a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson. The back cover of the books says, "What if the life you really want and the future God wants for you is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure...your greatest fear? The book is basically about saying goodbye to fear and hello to faith in God, not just faith that there is a God, but that the steps of good men truly are ordered by Him.

How is it that it can be so easy to nonchalantly entrust one's safety to an airline, etc, but when in the path of life one come to a crossroads, brickwall, he can find himself spiritually hyperventilating? I have no doubt God has came through for both me and for you many more times than any airline has, so why do we ever even question what the future may hold? There is a reason why I have decided to read this book at this certain time...because I know it would remind me of some things that I already know, but just could use hearing again. Thought I would share a few of the passages with you as well, you know, in case you too are at or approaching a crossroads, brick wall, or cliff and might find some of these words beneficial.
"Whenever I counsel someone who is wrestling with discerning the will of God, I remind them of this simple truth: God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go....If you keep in step with the Spirit, God is going to make sure you get where He wants you to go. He is always working behind the scenes, engineering our circumstance and setting us up for success.....Now here's the catch: Sometimes His itinerary entails coming face to face with a lion in a pit on a snowy day. But when you find yourself in those challenging circumstances, you need to know that God is ordering your footsteps. You can have a sense of destiny because you know that God has considered every contingency in your life, and He always has your best interest at heart. And that sense of destiny, rooted in the sovereignty of God, helps you pray the unthinkable and attempt the impossible.

This book is based on the scriptures in 2 Samuel that talk about a man named Benaiah who went down into a pit on a snowy day to kill a lion. The writer is making the point that we are to face fears & challenges, rather than run from them. Those who do so are referred to as "lion chasers".
Lionchasers challenge the status quo....they don't need to know what is coming next because they know that God knows. They don't need explanations for every disappointment because they know God has a plan.....The longer I live, the more I think spiritual maturity is less about figuring out the future and more about a moment-by-moment sensitivity to the Spirit of God. I'm not saying we shouldn't make plans. But you might want to use a pencil with an eraser and have a shredder handy...I believe in planning. I believe in goal setting. But there are some things in life you can't plan or predict. And that drives the obsessive compulsive part of us crazy. We want control, but the decision to follow Christ is a relinquishment of control. Following Christ is letting Jesus take the wheel. [and not acting like backseat drivers or asking "Are we there yet?"]

I am glad to say that at this moment in my life I am not standing at a crossroad, a brick wall, or a cliff. However, it is likely that, in the not so far future, I will be. (Hopefully just the crossroad :-) That said, much like the author, I too am very goal oriented, so when I don't have a plan, and God remains mum, that obsessive compulsive side starts to get a little stir crazy. I have also learned that absolutely nothing can be done to get God to speak any sooner. He is always on time, but, in my personal experience, rarely early. Therefore I have sufficed it to remind myself that on God's time clock for my own life it is only about 8 or 9 oclock and he usually announces the plan around 11..though He has full authority to wait until that absolute last minute. He does, however, always come, always speak, always provide, always open that right door, always provide that special need. He always has and He always will. And it has always been better than I could have even expected.

Before leaving a ministry conference I attended in Louisiana last week, I was riding with a friend to the airport, telling her about how I fly standby and how I had been so thankful to get a window seat with no one next to me on the international flight to the states. I had been the last person to board the plane, and even in the past when I have bought a pre-purchased ticket early, I have still always got that terrible seat in the middle of the middle row, sitting next to two strangers. I then prayed out loud, somewhat jokingly, that I would get the same kind of seat on that international flight back..window with empty seat next to me. I then told my friend she was my witness, for when it happened. Well, I didn't just get my wish for that for the international flight, but on all three flights I had to fly on the way home, two of which I flew standby. There were also many little needs and just plain "wants" that I prayed for before my visit home and to that conference, such as clothing for the cold weather here, certain restaurants I hoped to get to eat at,etc. Some things were very important and some were just desires. God came through for every single one. And believe me, there were quite a few.

If God cares about the little insignificant things, how much more does He care about us surviving those moments in our lives when we face lions in pits on snowy days? The author of this book makes the point that had Benaiah not went through those many heart pounding situations, he would have never had the exceptional resume that most likely opened the door for him to be put in charge of the king's bodyguard, making him one of the most respected people in the kingdom.

So, put on that lion slaying attire and remember that God does all things well, has your best interest at heart (if you have HIS best interest at heart), and is ALWAYS on time!