Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Review: I Just Saw Jesus




I Just Saw JESUS is an incredible book about the planning, making, and releasing of a movie about the life of Jesus.  It was painstakingly planned down to the most minute detail to make this the most accurate and authentic movie about the Son of God, Jesus, that had ever been made.  The producers filmed everything in the Holy Land (Israel) and used only the most realistic characters and scenes.  One thing that sticks out is that after a set had been built to the extreme "pickiness" of John Heyman, the director, he noticed that behind a lamp on the wall there was no soot.  He asked how in the world a lamp could have been burning against a wall for a hundred years without any soot behind it!  It was this attention to detail that made the film able to focus solely on the Gospel.

All around the world, starting in the U.S. and going to places film crews had never been before, missionaries and film crews showed the movie, JESUS to crowds of hundreds, even thousands.  At the end of each filming, the viewers were asked to "come to the light" (a literal light in the darkness of some places that had never even seen electricity!) if they wanted to received Jesus.  And many, many people came.  This film made it to places that as I just said, had never even seen electric light before.  The film crews and missionaries presenting this film had to go up against much opposition; witch doctors, government officials, high ranking religious leaders, and much more.  Not to mention the terrain they had to battle! The book opens with the author and missionary Steve Dudugjian *walking* through Africa to reach the Maasai warrior tribes.

The film was translated into many different languages so people like the Karamojong could watch it.  People from the Solomon Islands, remote villages in India, Indonesia, Africa, Thailand, Swaziland, and so many more were watching Jesus speak to them in their own language.

Wherever the film went, there was not only opposition, but plenty of miracles.  A witch doctor placed a curse on an entire village, but nothing happened. A small girl was healed from dysentery through prayer and the laying on of hands. They didn't just show the film and leave either.  The missionaries stayed and trained locals how to lead Bible study groups, prayer groups, and start churches.

What struck me most about the testimonies in this book is how hungry the people of other countries are for the Gospel.  This quote summed it up well for me: "How different from America where we so often feel the need to court and entertain our church members to keep them coming.  Here in India in the face of persecution and hardship, this incredible brother pastors four churches and leads five prayer groups."  If only American Christians had half that dedication.

I would highly recommend this book...as a Christian, it has inspired and motivated me to pray for other countries and peoples who have not yet heard the Gospel.  This is a fantastic, inspiring book of the power of Jesus.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Aneko Publishing at no cost in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Do I Really Count?

So this 2016 election is really ramping up.  And every election, mud-slinging, name-calling, and character assassination abound. Some Christians don't care for politics. Some don't think their one vote matters.  And they would be correct.  However, *collectively* Christian. Votes. Matter.

After much statistical research (which makes my eyes spin and my brain hurt) primarily by Pew Research Center, this is what I have discovered:

There are about 245 million adults in America (i.e. eligible to vote)
46.5% of those claim to be Christian, which totals about 114 million people.

Of those Christian adult Americans, 82% say they are "sure" they are registered to vote. That would be just over 67 million Christian votes.  That number, my friends, can win an election. 

Do you know how many of those just over 67 million people voted in the 2012 Presidential election?  About 26%. 
 
That's nearly 50 MILLION Christians who DID NOT VOTE.
 
 
 'All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing', Edmund Burke.
 

"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty -- as well as the privilege and interest -- of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
John Jay, (1745-1829, Original Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court 
 
So my point?
 
CHRISTIAN!! Get off your butt, and VOTE!  March 8th is "Super Tuesday".  That is the day in between plasmapheresis treatments, and I will have no immune system.  Will that stop me from voting?  NO!!  It's called an absentee ballot. They are not hard to get.  Go to you state's Secretary of State website for information.
 
We have an OBLIGATION to vote.  (See Romans 13.)  We cannot sit idly by and watch Donald Trump take over this country.  Nor can we allow Socialism to rule.
 
As a Christian, I feel the number one priority of any political candidate should be the sanctity of life.  Therefore, I vote Pro-Life. Period.  End of story.  I truly cannot think of one reason a Christian would vote for someone who is Pro-"Choice".
 
PLEASE.  Vote.  It is an obligation, but more importantly, 
 
 "It is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity, by all lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend and preserve these civil and religious rights and liberties for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations."  (In 1774, our founding fathers wrote this in the Journal of the Continental Congress.)



Monday, July 13, 2015

Christian Accountability



God has placed a Word on my heart, and it’s been burning in there ever since.  It’s time to put it on paper.  It might not be a particularly moving or emotional piece.  But I believe it is important.

This may not be the most popular passage to preach about, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a Bible study where the topic was “judging sin among believers.”  However, I don’t believe it’s a choice.  God wrote the Bible for us to follow, not ignore.
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

 "When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. 13 God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”                    I Corinthians 5:9-13 NKJV

(God is talking about the habitual offender here, by the way, otherwise we would all be in trouble!)

Whatever happened to Christians holding one another accountable for their actions?  Friends, we are called to judge the SIN (not the person) of those who call themselves “believers.” This was a command, not an option!

Paul also addressed the Thessalonians about this issue:
13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 ESV

So how are we to go about this?  In Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV) we read:
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

This is not an option.  Reproving a brother who had sinned was a positive command under the law. (See Leviticus 19:17). And the Jews have a saying, that one of the causes of the ruin of their nation was, "No man reproved another." – Clark’s Commentary on the Bible
 You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD.  You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. Leviticus 19:16-17 NASB

Friends, are we going to allow habitual sin and dissention in our churches?  Are we going to turn our heads at behavior we KNOW is wrong?  How long will we continue to ignore sin in our midst? When will confront it as we are told to do in God’s Word?
Now is the time.  We MUST get back to a holy reverence of God, and a sense of real responsibility when we see a fellow believer participating in sin.  We are all sinners in need of a Savior.  We are not called to be the Holy Spirit and judge a person based on what we see.

We ARE, however, called to gently rebuke our brother or sister in Christ, and love them unconditionally.  Hate the sin, not the sinner.  God has put a responsibility on our shoulders that can be very easy to abuse.  Remember that we all need grace.  We all need mercy.  We all have sin in our lives.

The cost of looking away is far too great.  We may spare someone’s feelings at the cost of their souls. Christianity isn’t always comfortable, and conviction isn’t without care. 

“Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed… 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12-14, 16-17 ESV

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Continuing the Vacation That Wasn't

Florida was off the table.  My heart was crushed.  Even if I did understand why (you can read the first post by clicking HERE) we didn't get there, it didn't make it hurt less.  I was going to meet an MG friend I've "known" for years. I was going to see 2 old college friends.  I was going to meet my life coach Kristen and her family; our sons are pen-pals!

I was still recovering from being so sick when we arrived in Pigeon Forge, TN. Think Dollywood.  Think Wisconsin Dells.  Think tourist trap. 

When we arrived, there was about 3 inches of snow on the ground.  No biggie.  We checked into a hotel, kind of unpacked, and then we were off to see what there was to see.

{crickets}

There were more shops, businesses, entertainment spots, even restaurants CLOSED than open!  Now I understand that this (Pigeon Forge) is considered "the South", but WOW!  Having lived in Michigan my whole life I can't even FATHOM a business NOT opening for the day because of snow!  We arrived on Tuesday, and it was Friday (the day before we were going to leave to head to North Carolina) before nearly everything was open.  It was a total bummer.

Every afternoon/evening, I sat in the hotel room and rested while Doug and Jacob went to the swimming pool for a few hours.  Jacob LOVES to swim and play in the pool.  So do I.  But alas, too many kids splashing, too loud and echo-ey, and they had the heat set on "just shy of the surface of the sun."

Doug would drag me out lovingly encourage me every day to go out with him and Jacob to try and find some things that were open to see and to do, and I was still weak.

The absolute highlight was going to the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN. I would recommend it to anyone.  It was SO cool.  The only bummer is that Doug has to push me in a wheel chair through the whole thing.  There was NO way I could have walked.  I felt bad for making him push me all over, and I felt bad for Jacob having a mom in a wheelchair.  But at least he HAS a mom!

It was really incredible.  They had a whole section where you were "under" thousands of gallons of water.  A small people mover gave Doug a break from pushing. You could just concentrate on the amazing scenery.  Stunning tropical fish of every kind, sharks swimming right over your head.  A giant sea turtle gliding effortlessly above you.

It was tranquil and beautiful. I was awestruck.  Amazing.

The other 2 highlights were the amazing purse store there...OOOh-la la!  I got 2 new purses.  They had hundreds to choose from.  I could have stayed there all day!  And then there were Gigi's Cupcakes.  Oh. My. Delicious-ness.  Their frosting is OFF the hook crazy good.  Not too sweet, just perfect.  And they put a metric Cr@p-ton of frosting on it.  I would start picking at the frosting a couple of days ahead of time until there was the right amount to match the cupcake.

We seriously need one of those up here.  Oh yes we do.

SO. On our very last day in town Gigi's was open, we got our cupcakes and prepared to go from Pigeon Forge, TN to Avon, NC (on the Outer Banks), driving all day Saturday.

I was still sad about Florida, but was looking SO forward to our gorgeous oceanfront house on the beach... Couldn't wait to look for shells, walk the beach...and I KNEW they wouldn't be closed because of snow!!

Stay tuned...Did North Carolina turn out to be the saving grace of this trip?  Or did our fair heroine find herself in dismay once again???

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review: Evening Prayers

photo courtesy of amazon.com
Evening Prayers For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt is a wonderful, richly Scripture-saturated book of prayers for every day of the year.  The book is divided into months and days, and each day begins with a Scripture passage.

This is the kind of book you could use for your own personal devotions just as it is, or you could use the Scripture passage and prayer as kind of a springboard for your own more in-depth study of the verses and topic.

It could also be used for a family devotional, say, after supper.  The passages are short enough to keep everyone's interest, but in depth enough to spark real conversation.  The fact that the author lived from 1842-1919 does not make this a stuffy, old-fashioned book.  The language is plain and succinct, and there are no "thees or thous" to confuse younger readers (not that there is anything wrong with that language...this author just does not write that way).

Evening Prayers really could be a contemporary book; you wouldn't know it wasn't written last year, let alone last century. I highly recommend this book.

You can purchase this book on amazon by clicking HERE
Both Kindle and Hardback versions are available.

You can purchase this book from Barnes and Noble by clicking HERE

Disclaimer:  I was given this book in return for a fair and unbias (not necessarily positive) review. All opinions are my own.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Vacation That Wasn't

Vacation.  That all too often elusive dream.  Finally, we were going to make that dream a reality.  It has been 3 years since our last family vacation, and I was MORE than ready for time away from my house and animals.

Now before I start my most recent vacation saga, let me just tell you that we don't have the best history as far as family vacations go.  Our very first family vacation, when Jacob was 3 1/2 years old, was to Florida.  The first week of our vacation in Florida, they had the coldest weather in the books.  It was colder where we were (on some days) than it was back in Michigan.  We had towed our fishing boat all the way down to Florida, and were staying at a fishing resort.... Along with the price of an apartment-like dwelling was a slip for our boat. 

For the second week of our vacation Doug we had booked a motel online.  It was voted "cleanest hotel on St. Pete Beach."  In retrospect, I think the only people who took that survey were either homeless or from third world countries.  It was nasty.  I mean N-A-S-T-Y.  We're talking schmutz-on-the-inside-of-the-earpiece-of-the-phone nasty. Jacob got horribly ill.  You can read about that by clicking .HERE

If you want a funny-but-insane story about this trip, click HERE. 
You can read how I felt about being home from that horror by clicking HERE.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago.  I had been packing for a MONTH.  Literally. We were going on a fantastic vacation on which I was going to see four wonderful ladies: My lovely MG friend Nancy whom I have never met; my long-time friend from college, Diana (and her SIX children!); another college friend Tracy (yup, the same one from the first trip); and I was going to meet my friend and life-coach Kristen!!  I was beyond excited to see/meet these amazing women.

Two days before we are supposed to leave (Tuesday), I'm in bed with a fever. Flat out sick. I couldn't believe it. I prayed and prayed and asked everyone I could think of to pray that I would make a miraculous recovery.  Then I started coughing up blood and figured I had pneumonia.  Again.  So I called my pulmonologist to see if I should start taking antibiotics.  Yup.  Lovely.  So even if/when we went on vacation I would be taking those. Ugh.

Wednesday I was still in bed.  Doug called me from work; the power steering had gone out on the van and he didn't know if it was a quick fix or not.  I was starting to think we weren't meant to go on vacation.  At the same time, we were experiencing a horrible winter storm.  Doug found the problem on the van, and called around to find parts. They had to be ordered.  I felt my long-coveted vacation slipping away...

Because of the horrible weather, the parts truck at the van dealership didn't make it in on Thursday.  The truck which SHOULD have the parts on it would arrive Friday at 4:00. They were open for a few hours Saturday morning and Doug went and got them, and fixed the van. I however, still wasn't feeling well enough to travel.  At this point, it seemed like Florida was totally not going to happen.  I was devastated. We had so many plans...Legoland with Kristen and her family.  Grilling out at Kristen's house.  Spending an evening at Tracy's house.  Spending Friday with both Kristen AND Tracy (who have known each other forever).

By now we were just hoping and praying I would be okay to make it to the rental house (we had already booked and paid for) in North Carolina.  I had to tell everyone that I was planning to meet that it wasn't going to happen. All I could think was why, why, why??  Why wasn't God fixing this situation?  Why were my plans ruined? Even though I was beyond disappointed, Doug and I both felt that God was protecting us from something.

On Wednesday, my mom called. She told me to turn on the weather.  I was like, Mom....  On the Weather Channel they were showing a map of southern Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and even Alabama.  The worst ice storm in history was traveling the very. same. exact. route. that we would have been driving.  People were stuck in their vehicles on the freeway for HOURS.

Doug and I looked at each other and I almost sank to my knees.  With my medical issues, the trach, all my medications (not to mention the need to go potty quite frequently), I couldn't even fathom being stuck in that mess.  Or worse, get into a terrible wreck!  I thanked the Lord right then and there.

The following Monday I felt ready to travel.  We DID get to have lunch with my girl Joanna... Oh, was that the BEST lunch of my life. Her whole family came and we sat for about 2 1/2 hours and gabbed.

We had decided to head for Tennessee for a couple of days, and stayed in Pigeon Forge. Then on to our rental in North Carolina.  I will continue telling my vacation tale in further posts (probably in excruciating detail)...

But for now, I leave you with this:  Sometimes, when you feel completely abandoned by God, He is just protecting or preparing you for something else.  I don't believe in coincidence.  The combination of my fever, the power steering AND the amount of snow falling ensured that we would not be on the roads in one of the worst storms in the country. I didn't feel loved or protected when I was lying sick in bed crying over my lost vacation... But I sure did when I saw the weather map and heard the horror stories of people getting trapped, going off the road, and worse.

So next time something "bad" happens, try to be patient.  You never know what might be just around the corner that will explain everything.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cow Recovery Bucket?!?!?

Yesterday was an interesting day.  To say the very least.  Oh. My. Goodness. It resulted in my husband coming in at about 7:30 last night with a bucket.  The Cow Recovery Bucket (we'll just call it CRB. It's easier.)  Which is basically an old ice cream bucket with corn and a rope.

So why, Kerri, do you need a CRB? you ask.

VERY good question.

So yesterday morning the dogs starting barking like crazy.  Not unusual, but it requires investigation.  I look out the south window and see 2 large cows standing in the road.  I was trying to discern if these were our neighbors cows, or ours.  They proceeded to run away from the house, right on down the road. They looked WAY too big to be ours.  I was "this" close to calling the hair salon on the corner, because the woman who runs it is the daughter of my neighbor with the cows. (For my city friends, and those who knew me before I became hick-a-fied, yes, I know I sound like a redneck.)

Well, before I could call, Jacob yells, "Mom, those ARE our cows!"  I'm like, CRAP!

It's 12 degrees outside. There are patches of ice everywhere.  MG + trach + 12 degrees F + icy ground = Kerri doesn't go outside.

Unless the blasted lovely cows gets out!!  I immediately call Doug, panicking calmly informing him of the situation.  He says he's on the way home NOW. I tell Jacob to get dressed, get his coat on, go out and turn the fence off (later I'm thinking, duh, the fence is probably not ON, which is why the COWS WALKED OUT).  Then I told him to open the gate.  I frantically look for the Jacob's bag of apples in the pantry.  Crap.  Just used the last one last night. No apples. 

While he's doing this, I'm on the lookout for giant hoofed animals that are somewhere in the vicinity of my house, running amok. I found 2 half rotten apples and gave them to Jacob who stood by the back door in case they came down one side of the driveway.

I then went up to the front of the house, looked out the windows, and found a big ol' brown cow butt *right* there.  So I frantically move all the stuff in front of the front door (yes I know it's a fire hazard, but we never use that door, and that's a perfect spot for Jacob's easel), whip open the door, and now I'm toe to hoof with 2 animals that collectively weigh close to a ton.

I was shaking in my slippers.  I had my typical morning attire on: tank top, shorts, cardigan sweatshirt and slippers.  (Remember now, it's 12 degrees.)  I am not a fan of livestock.  Especially when they are in my FRONT YARD staring me down....  They are big and they scare me. I'm yelling around the house for Jacob to bring me the two apples we did have.  Finally remembered that he was INSIDE the back door, so I open the front door and holler as loud as I can, and Jacob comes running.

ALL kinds of thoughts are running through my mind....they're gonna charge me.  They're going to decide that door looked pretty good and want to come in.  Can you imagine?  COWS in your house??
Well thank the good Lord that didn't happen. 

Here I am, out in the freezing cold, talking to these two ginormous cows trying to keep them from running away with nothing but my charm.  Oh, and 2 apples.  I hold my shaking arm out to Hamburger, the little cow (probably 600 pounds), who is the leader of the group. I have an apple in it. (Albeit a shaking apple.)  Brown cow (1200-1300 pounds) is a scaredy-cow and hates being out of his pasture.  I'm like then why did you leave it, stupid cow?? 

Then a large truck goes by. Oh dear Jesus. Brown Cow gets the even crazier eyes. Hamburger, on the other hand, has these kind of big, doey eyes that are very calm.  Brown Cow?  Not so much.  Crazy-eyes.  And he's got them pinned on me.

I am praying, "Lord Jesus please don't let them stampede, and charge me, or run into the street again!" all whilst holding this shaking apple out to Hamburger.  He took it right. from. my. hand. AHH!!  Thank God he dropped it, and it rolled down the hill in the right direction to go back to their pasture.  The I kind of half-threw, half-dropped the other apple in the driveway and it started to roll, and thankfully Brown Cow went right behind it.

Just then Doug comes home.  He ended up whipping off his belt, getting it around Hamburger's neck, and pulling him into the pasture.  Where Hamburger goes, Brown Cow follows.  So crisis over. He's such a show-off cowboy!

Doug went back to work, Jacob and I did school, and I was totally paranoid, and kept looking out the windows, half-expecting to find Crazy-Eyes staring at me. 

Doug got home late yesterday, but he came in with our Cow Recovery Bucket.  It has corn and a rope. Apparently the idea is, if the cows get out again, to grab the rope out of the bucket and shake the corn.  The shaking of the corn gets their attention.  Then you put a rope around one and put it back.

I'm like, seriously?!?!?  I think I'll still just scream like a girl and call my husband.