January 27, 2007

How Great is our God?

I really liked the speaker at the Chris Tomlin concert. Louie Giglio is a dynamic preacher, who uses a lot of word pictures...just what gets into my brain the best. His theme was the greatness of God, as the tour was called How Great Is Our God, after one of Tomlin's songs. He used the Universe with pictures up on the powerpoint screen to drive home how great the universe is and the God who literally breathed the stars into being. Then he told us about the Whirlpool Galaxy....a far off galaxy that was found using the Hubble telescope. It is a beautiful galaxy, white spirals with red jewel looking spots all through it. But at the very center of the galaxy is the most amazing picture. Usually at the center of any galaxy is a round black hole. This is what they found at the center of the Whirlpool Galaxy:

.....the cross. He was slain from the creation of the world. (Rev 13:8)

John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.  3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Colossians 1:19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

(emphasis mine) Then, after wowwing us with word pictures and visual pictures of God's awesome Greatness, he brought it down to how God is also interwoven into the smallest detail in our lives. There is a protein called Laminin which is like scaffolding of our cells...it holds it all together, like the rebar in the cement of our being. Then he showed us a picture of what laminin looks like....amazingly enough, it is in the structure of a cross. Laminin, the very protein that holds our being together, is shaped like the cross of Christ, who holds all of life together.

Colossians 1:17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (NAS)

There are so many clues, or confirmations, to us concerning God's presence and the deep meaning of the cross....that horrible instrument of torture and death, our symbol...and God's symbol, I believe, of His purpose of redemption from the beginning.

How Great is Our God.....indeed!

January 26, 2007

Free to run, free to dance, free to live for Him...I am free

Some friends took us to a 'concert' last night. It was really a worship service....one of the most powerful ones I've been to. It was held in a very large concert auditorium....pictures of famous rock stars lined the lobby, along with autographed guitars in glass cases. The auditorium holds 5,000 people and it was almost full. Chris Tomlin was the worship leader for the night, along with Matt Redman. And the speaker was Louie Giglio. I looked out at one point and saw a sea of pink faces, beaming with the joy of the Lord.

I don't know why my mindset was ready for a calm, sedate concert. But I was wrong! These guys were energetic!! I don't know if you've ever seen Chris Tomlin live, but he bounces. It's kind of a jumping/moshing kind of bouncing and it gets you excited and pumped up. By the last few songs, my husband and a friend who was with us were bouncing too. ;) For two hours we rocked out, praising God loudly to worship songs and inspired by Bible verses and testimony from the singers. I don't know if it was the set up of the auditorium or just their sound system, but you could literally feel the drums beating inside your chest. It wasn't too loud though. The sound was just right and you could hear every word the singers said. Tomlin kept thanking us all for being there, as if we were doing him a huge favor.....so humble and refreshing. In fact, they had sold so many tickets that last night's performance was sold out and they scheduled an extra concert the night before for the 'late' ticket buyers. Well, it was worth it. The speaker was captivating and dynamic. I have written a blog entry about his talk already, but I will post it tomorrow. He had everyone's full attention through multimedia and professional, yet very real (not forced) sermon delivery. The night absolutely drew us into joyful, exuberant worship of the Almighty Creator.

It reminded me of another worship service we went to last Saturday night. A group of people from our church went to a ministry we are going to help sponsor to attend their Saturday night service. They didn't exactly rock out, but it was true worship. The building would have only held 100 at best, although it was in no way close to being full. The hallways were dingy and the old floors creaked, but the grounds and the buildings were clean and well kept. The building was a church whose original congregation had moved out of the downtrodden neighborhood long ago. As I looked over the assembly there, I saw a gathering of black, brown and pink faces and some shaved heads with tattoos scrawled across them. Some of the people were shaking, all of them looked tired, some looked sick, their faces showed the signs of a hard lived life. When the music began, everyone sang to their own beat, key or 'melody'. There was an elderly man on an electric piano...it had the sound of a '70's rock song electric piano....and a guitar, but they did not play 'together'. It was a little chaotic, no one was on key (even the worship leader) until I nudged my husband with my elbow and said, "Sing! Loud!" My husband has a great voice and a loud, joyful one, so we all got on track and could sing after that. And even though they didn't sound pleasing to our ears, I know it was a beautiful sound to God. The speaker for the evening was not polished, he simply stood in front with his Bible, no powerpoint or videos to show us. But he held our attention, captured our imagination and drew us to God's Word through his testimony and love for the Word. A former biker who rode with a very notorious gang, he is now free from addictions and shame. He is called to lead there at this ministry and God is using him powerfully. This was one of his very first sermons.

Set Free is a ministry to drug addicts, alcoholics, bikers, and skin heads. It began in San Diego, California and this chapter in Phoenix has been up and running for years now. The church grounds have housing for the men in their program. The program involves Christian based substance abuse recovery, anger management, counseling, intense Bible study, and street witnessing for those who have been in the program a while. They also have low income housing apartments for people who want 'clean' living. (no substances allowed and they are strict about it) The people do not have to be Christians to stay there, but it is a very strongly Christian atmosphere, so I'm sure it draws the people to God. They are quite a presence there in south Phoenix. The neighborhood they are in has finally come to accept them and to be glad they are there and some of the neighbors have even started attending the Saturday night services. On Sunday mornings a Spanish speaking church meets there and the Set Free men load up onto a bus and visit various churches around the city. This is how our church got to know this ministry, as they come to our church about once every 6-8 weeks.

You can't miss the Set Free guys when they come to church either! They come filing in to our adult Sunday School classes and into our worship services, smiling and greeting everyone they see. They all open their Bibles, give imput on the Bible studies, offer to pray aloud during prayer request times, praying with fervor and passion, and they LOVE the Lord. In worship, they sing, sway, clap, raise their hands. It inspires and draws the people around them into a more sincere worship as well. And that is how they were worshipping last Saturday night too at their old, small, run down church building, as if God had made them princes......and indeed He has. I had tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat when they began singing I Am Free!

Because they are....and somehow it shows so much more on their faces than on the people of most of the churches I've been in....because they know, literally, what being a slave to sin is and they know the deliverance and fresh hope that life in Jesus brings.

Luke 7:46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

January 6, 2007

Cold hearted

Things are filling my mind to write about on my blog lately. It's just really too bad that they go through my mind when I'm driving, when I'm shopping, when I'm at church, in the shower and not when I'm actually sitting at the computer! When I sit here, my mind goes...."derrrrrrr, huh?" Very frustrating, but probably a result of the cold meds I'm taking and the cold itself. So here are some blips, as they come to me, not necessarily in sequence. =)


A few weeks ago, Maggie (my 9 year old, youngest child) came down with this cold virus too, but she got a very sore throat. I looked at it, went "eeeeeewwwww". She is quite precocious (note: that is not precious, but precocious....extra syllable there...whole nother word. Although she CAN be precious sometimes too.) ....looked at her throat..... yes, bright red, HUGE tonsils.....with a smattering of white spots.

Before I even had the flashlight put back in the drawer, she raises her eyebrows in the bossiest way, and says, "Mom, whatever you do, even if you give me 3 candies or pay me money, I am NOT going to gargle saltwater. So don't even ask me."

How.....did she know that was my next sentence?? So I just looked at her....she looked so serious....and I cracked up. There was no pretense of parent/child pecking order left here. My comeback (in true one-up-manship fashion), "Well, if you refuse to gargle with saltwater, then I don't want to hear any whining about your throat." Then I called the doctor. She hasn't been to this doctor's office yet since we've lived here less than a year, so we had to go to urgent care. I found out that new patients can't just make a sick appointment. We have to have a well visit first. (Well excuuuuuse us for being sick and not well...gee whiz.)

We sat in the urgent care parking lot (waiting room) for just over 2 hours. I was just about to order out for pizza when they called our name. *YAY* Everyone in the waiting room glared at us jealousy as we went into the inner rooms and after a short wait, we saw a young doctor. He looked at her throat...."Oh, very badly infected tonsils".....he felt her glands on her neck...."ooo, you can feel them from the outside!" A normal, good, kind, sweet mom would have been melting in sympathy for the youngster, so badly infected with germs. But me? The doctor told me that he would order a Zpack of antibiotic and make sure that several times a day, she was to gargle with saltwater.

My cold-hearted mom eyes met her disappointed, sicky eyes and all I said was one syllable....

A very told-you-so, "HA!"

After-thought: I hope the doctor didn't write that in her chart. ;)


Did I mention I've been sick? Since Thanksgiving to be precise. I have gone through 2 bottles of Tylenol Nightime cold medicine, the last of my prescription strength guafasin from last year, a bottle of Mucinex with expectorant and cough suppressant, a small boat load of Ibuprofen, bags of cough drops, and I made quite an indentation in my bottle of Mentholatum ointment too. But by far, the most interesting cold medicine on the market today is Sudafed. I used to buy Sudafed once a year by the bottle and it would happily carry me through cold/allergy seasons. This year I had to get registered in order to buy it. There is a sign on the shelf of cold meds saying "if you're looking for Sudaphedrine containing products, please ask in the pharmacy. So I asked. And they asked for my driver's license, current address information, and pass a polygraph test. Okay, I made up the polygraph part, but it was pretty intimidating to have to go through all of that in order to decongest my sinuses. I realize it is to keep track of people buying sudaphedrine and using it to make illegal drugs. I'm happy to comply, as long as they don't pull it completely from over the counter accessibility!

The funny thing is, after taking all this information and reading warnings of criminal use of the product, etc.....the girl at the pharmacy desk asks me, "Okay, how many packages would you like?" I said, "Well, I don't know. I was going to buy one, but I may as well get 2 so I don't have to go through this again soon." She said, "Are you sure you don't want more?"

She was either trying to tempt me to see if I was going to use it for criminal purposes.....or she was not getting the purpose of limited accessibility!


Okay, I'm tired...more stories later. =)