Archive for January, 2009

Quotes to Ponder…

Posted: January 31, 2009 in What I've been thinking...

Jesus is either Lord of all or not Lord at all.

 

 

 

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.

 

 

 

The antidote to fear is trust, not courage.

 

 

 

Happiness is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to deal with it.

 

 

You will not succeed until you fail frequently.  1001 failed attempts were actually steps to inventing the light bulb for Thomas Edison.

 

 

Babe Ruth broke the record for strike outs before he broke the record for home runs.

 

 

You can change without growing but you can’t grow without changing.

 

 

 Faith is trusting someone you can’t see to do something you can’t do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Birthday to Remember

Posted: January 27, 2009 in Service with a Smile

service_with_smile_heading4

Chapter Two
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It was a hot, muggy August day and business had been painfully slow.  I perked up when a customer came through the door and put on my best smile as I approached the table.  She looked up at me with an expression that I couldn’t quite read and slowly smiled.  “Today is my birthday” she said with odd resignation.  “I would like the biggest steak you have!”. “Of course, will any one be joining you?”  I said “Oh no, I’m all alone”.  “Well not today, you’re spending your birthday with me!” I laughed, and left the table to put in her order.  I was determined to treat her like royalty as no one should have to be alone on their birthday.  When she finished her dinner I brought out some cake and loudly sang happy birthday to her ( I have lived long enough to not be embarrassed by such things, ha!).  Then I sat down  and we both had coffee and made small talk. 
 
The Westfields had been in earlier that day and as usual they left a generous tip and a pocket size card with an inspirational verse on it.  I so looked forward to those cards and always passed them on to my customers as the Lord would lead.  Today, this particular card would save a life.
 
When we finished our coffee, I set the bill on the table along with the card that the Westfields had given me.  I noticed that she took a napkin and wrote a lengthy note on it.  She handed me the note on her way out and hugged me and she was gone.  As I read it I was moved beyond measure: “Before I came in here today, I stopped at the drug store and picked up a prescription for sleeping pills.  I had every intention of having a last meal, going home and taking the pills and ending my life.  You see, many years ago my family disowned me for marrying outside of my race.  They have not spoken to me in fifteen years.  This year my husband died and our son that was born with cerebral palsy died six months later.  I have been totally alone ever since.  I thought that the Lord had forgotten me until you showed me such kindness.  When I read the card I knew that God still had a plan for my life.  Thank you.”
 
The card read:  Never give up hope!  Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
 
Praise God for people like the Westfields who faithfully continue to sow seeds of hope. 
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Sweet Water, Bread, and Candles

Posted: January 25, 2009 in Candle Lights

candles_lights_tall2From Candle Lights by Diane Padgett

 

What a story!  Pharaoh’s army is destroyed in the Red Sea.  Moses and the children of Israel break into song about the triumphant of God over their enemies and how He cares for them (Exodus 15:1-19).  Miriam and the other women “went out…with timbrels and with dances.” (Exodus 15:20&21).  What a celebration!

 

 Then three days into the wilderness (Exodus 15:22), the children got thirsty.  When they arrived at Marah they found the water was bitter, and they began to murmur.  But, there was a tree that would make the waters sweet, and a little further down the road were twelve wells of water and seventy palms waiting for them.

 

 On the road between Elim and Sinai (Exodus 16:1), the murmuring began once more.  This time they were hungry, and the Lord rained “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4).  They could take all they needed for the day, and the next morning fresh manna would be waiting for them.  Nehemiah 9:21 tells us that God sustained the children of Israel in the wilderness, “so that they lacked for nothing”.  Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.

 

 As children of the Living God, we are sojourners in this world who are traveling to our promised Home, and while on our journey, we lack for nothing.  We will not thirst when life’s water gets bitter because Jesus, our Living Water (John 6), will make bitter waters sweet.  We will never hunger when life’s cupboards are bare because Jesus is our Living Bread (John 6), and as the manna came every morning, His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3).  And when the lights on life’s highway go out, we never need to be afraid because Jesus, the Light of the world (John 9:5), will light our candle and enlighten our darkness (Psalm 18:28).

 

Lord, please forgive me for murmurings.  I truly do lack for nothing.

 

 

 

 
dining_restaurant_55_smaller1Hello friends!
My name is Karen Dunn.  I live a simple life with my husband Anthony, daughter Amanda and 2 lazy cats. My job as a server in a local family restaurant is exhausting and perhaps seen by some as even degrading and unrewarding.  However, the opportunities to bring joy and hope to the masses is extraordinary.
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In the days to come I want to share some stories with you about the way that the Lord has moved and changed the lives of many (especially my own) one lonely, desperate soul at a time in an unobtrusive little restaurant in southeast Tennessee.  Who can possibly say how many lives THESE people have changed as a result of the far reaching arm of God.  Perhaps capturing these memories on paper will remind me of the plan that God has for my life.  So, I suppose I am somewhat selfish in my desire to share these stories with you.  The stories are true but the names are mostly fictitious.  Not to “protect the innocent” but because I never even knew their names.  God, however, has their names permanently etched in his heart and had a definite plan for them that day………
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Service with a Smile 

Chapter One

I was finally winding down to the end of a very long day. Only one more table to go!  Three shabbily dressed men with scruffy beards and holes in their shoes sat down in my section.  Oh well, at least it was my last table.  I put on a smile, straightened my apron and approached the men. 
 
I had been preoccupied all day with the realization that if I did not bring $187.00 to the dealership in the morning my car would be repossessed.  I knew that if I was lucky I would make $75, but $187.00?  No way!  “Well Lord, you know what I need!” I laughingly prayed.  By the time that I reached the last table I was overjoyed!  I had earned an unthinkable $150.22! Praise God, I could now call around to some friends to get the rest of the money that I needed.
 
“Hello gentlemen, may I bring you some coffee or tea today?”  When they looked up, their smiles were quite disarming.  They were so kind that I decided to ask them where they were from.  They shared with me that they were street ministers that had been formerly drug addicts and they came to work with some ministers here in town to teach them how to reach the people that many of us have written off and forgotten.  I was truly moved by their testimony.  When they had finished their meal I noticed that there was a $5.00 tip on the table for which I was grateful.  As I layed down the ticket one of the men asked if they could pray for me before they left.  I responded that it would be my honor to pray for them instead.  I did so and felt such peace and joy that I was energized as I started back to the table to clean it up.  I was shocked to see that the $5.00 was there-along with several other bills and a pile of change!  When I counted it up you would never believe it-$36.78-not a penny more or less!   The men were leaving when I sprinted to the door to thank them.  They said that when I finished praying for them the Lord told them to empty out their pockets of any cash or change so they did.  When I told them my story we rejoiced together!
 
I learned a valuable lesson that day-when I pray for others I stop worrying about my own problems and needs and my burden is lifted!  Praise God for His faithfulness and His great patience with me!
 
Job 42:10a After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous..
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 Tenth in the series Get Close to God

 

I have at my disposal a tool that can unlock doors, solve problems, heal sickness, and lift your spirit.  In fact, there’s nothing that it can’t do if it’s used correctly.  What kind of tool can do all that?  It’s called prayer.

 

I have been guilty of taking this wonderful tool far too lightly.  I forget that every single prayer is heard and answered every time.  They may not get answered the way I want them to, but I always get everything I need.  Awhile back I came to this realization:

 

If I don’t make time to pray, I lose some power that could have helped me or someone I care about.  When I pray for someone, I may be the only one praying for him/her that day.

 

Do you have any prayer warriors or intercessors?  I’m thinking of one of mine right now who has known me my entire life.  That would be my mother.  She always wants to know what’s going on in my life so she can pray specifically for my needs.  How blessed I am to still have her to care for me so!  My cousin Louie Yilling said that our Aunt Myrtle would “carry your burdens to the Lord in prayer.  The morning when she left this world to go to the Lord I knew within the hour she was gone – even though I lived 800 miles away – because I could feel her “prayer cover” lifting from this world.”

 

Some tools are fun to use, aren’t they?  I love power tools.  I like to saw and drill and blast and smell the wood shavings while enjoying those loud, piercing growls those monsters let loose, which is music to my ears.  I’ll never forget being baptized with transmission fluid when the cover above me finally broke loose.  Yes, I admit I’m a non-recovering home improvement gear head!  I like to browse around in hardware stores and go to car shows just to be around all that stuff.  Guys, you understand, right?

 

The same thing applies to prayer.  Well, sort of.  It’s not just a means to an end.  The very act of prayer itself brings me close to God and enables me to experience a relationship with him.  What kind of friend would I be if I just came to you when I needed something?  A true friend is someone you hang out with.

 

I’m starting to learn that communication with the Lord is not always an intense session of pouring my heart out.  As the reality is seeping in concerning the role of the Helper (mentioned four times in John 14-16) who is my constant companion, I find that it’s more like an ongoing conversation.  It’s thanking God throughout the day for things that go right and asking for his assistance when they don’t.  It’s little words of praise when I see his handiwork, like sunsets or rainbows.  When people that I know come to my mind I bring them before the Lord as well.  I like what Frank Laubach said in one of his journals:

 

“One need not tell God everything about the people for whom one prays.  Holding them one by one steadily before the mind and willing that God may have His will with them is the best, for God knows better than we what our friends need, yet our prayer releases His power, we know not how.”

 

When I was younger and still living at home I used to hear my dad talking in the bathroom by himself with the door shut.  I later found out he was not by himself, after all.  He was having sweet communion with his heavenly father.

 

I’m not a great conversationalist or very good with small talk so “having a little talk with Jesus” does not come natural for me, but that’s OK because a lot of the time I think my prayers toward God, or just experience his presence.  It’s kind of like being in the house with Sharon but not in the same room.  We are together but not together.  We are aware of each other’s presence, even though we’re not speaking face to face.

 

I have been in touch with the Lord while writing this article, asking him to give me some truth to share in a way that might help and encourage you.  I want to be his tool.  I want him to use this blog.  Only then will it be worth reading and only then will it bring glory to him.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying I’m speaking for God.  But if he uses just a few of these words to bring you closer to him, then that will make me very, very, happy, indeed!

 

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  (Colossians 4:2)

 

This is one tool I’m not leaving in the shed…

 

 

 

 

Sky Diamonds

Posted: January 17, 2009 in Candle Lights

From Candle Lights by Diane Padgett

star_gazing3I remember a time before television and twenty-four hour shopping when we would sit on the porch in the evenings.  The porch was where we could escape the heat of the house, talk about our day, or just relax in the dark and listen to the hypnotizing sound of the porch swing.

One of the things that I enjoyed doing as a child was star gazing.  I always wanted to spot a falling star so that I could make a wish.  Of course, everyone knew that when you wished upon a falling star your wish would come true.  The heavens are full of possibilities when we are young.

Times change.  People age.  Dreams fade.  Wishes cease.  For whatever reason, we stop looking at the stars.  We stop trying to catch a glimpse of a falling star.  Maybe we let the blinding sights and blaring sounds of life prevent us from looking up.

Emerson said, “When it is dark enough, we see the stars.”  This is so true.  When we lose our electricity following a storm, the stars seem to come out in full force.  Everything around us is black, but when we look up, the sky is full of sparkling diamonds.  The number of the stars in the sky and their brilliance is always amazing.

Life is sometimes like that, isn’t it?  When life gets dark enough it is then that we can see the stars.  In the dark our eyes are drawn upward and we see an innumerable array of stars.  Sky diamonds that remind us that His understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5), and His mercy is as vast as the heavens (Psalm 57:10).  Just as the wise men “rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matt. 2:10) when the star of Bethlehem guided them to the Savior, when we look up in the dark and see Jesus, the bright and morning star (Rev.22:16), we can rejoice for we have a Savior and therefore, we have hope.

“Oh, beautiful star of Bethlehem, shine on.” (A. L. Phipps)

Ninth in the series Get close to God

Tuesday night, January 6, 2009: These last two days at work have been incredibly stressful and frustrating.  It’s a good thing I was able to take the previous two weeks off for vacation and rest up but I’m paying for it now since it created a backlog of network service calls.  A high school with over 100 teachers just beginning the semester can’t log in to make copies or print to their three main networked machines, an accountant wants me to install a new server with Peachtree 2009 (“NOW!”), and I just found out that an optometrist cannot restore the last two years of patient images from a backup system I installed back in 2006.  But wait, there’s more!  Tomorrow night three new couples are joining our small group which makes me excited and apprehensive at the same time, because you never know how 12 people will get along.  Looks like it’s time to pray and remind myself that:

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”  Romans 8:28


That’s one of those verses that takes time, sometimes a lifetime to see come true.  But I’ve lived long enough to see the Lord not only deliver people from disasters but carry them through their struggles as well.  The conclusion I’ve come up with is this:

Nothing happens to me that God does not bring or allow into my life. 

Realizing this doesn’t necessarily make things easier, but it replaces some of the panic with peace.  I don’t enjoy going through a trial the Lord doesn’t fix right away, but I now ask him:  “OK, you’ve got my attention, what are you trying to teach me?” instead of  “why me?”  Well, to be honest, I still ask “why?” sometimes, especially when bad things happen to good, innocent, or helpless people who get caught in the cross hairs of evil.  But second guessing God just leaves me frustrated.  All I know is that the Lord has protected and come through for me and people I know over and over again, way beyond mere coincidence.  Even when something horrible does happen to someone, these “victims” usually grow closer to God as a result of their hardships, and somehow something good manages to emerge from them.

I should embrace the blues as well as the blessings, knowing that it’s all for the best, so there’s no reason for fear or worry, just anticipation for deliverance. 

Of course, knowing the distance between my head and my heart is miles apart, applying that attitude is easier said than done.  But putting my well being in the hands of an all powerful God who loves me more than I love myself is a good place to start.  If he doesn’t make the problem go away, then he will be at my side as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

The Lord disciplines me sometimes when I bring a problem upon myself, but he helps me clean up my mess, deal with the consequences, and move on.  He even uses my failures to teach me to succeed.

Challenges are the ingredients that God uses to produce growth in me.  I have come to see that if I don’t encounter or attempt anything bigger than myself then I won’t experience or accomplish anything bigger than myself.  When something really awesome happens, I know it’s a God thing and he obviously deserves the credit, not me.

Update: Tuesday night, January 13, 2009:  After two days of struggling at the school, the system now works great, the optometrist’s files were recovered, Peachtree 2009 is now running nicely, and all of us got along great last Wednesday night.  God is good!!!  I didn’t even mention all the other issues he helped me resolve.  Yes, it did take me a week to finish this article!

Here’s some good advice Moses gave to his people just before the Lord parted the red sea:

“Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Exodus 14:10

So, go ahead, Satan.  Give it your best shot.  But you’re gonna have to go through the King of Kings, first, who is my father, and my filter, and I shall not be in want of anything!

 

Click here for the entire Get Close to God series

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