Five Minute Friday – Where’s My Focus?

I’ve got to confess I’m a former political junky.  I religiously listened to Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt and Fox News was my channel of choice. 
And then something happened.  Over four years ago, I met the man whom I would marry.  It was a turbulent year with significant changes and I didn’t have a lot of time to listen to my old favorite radio programs. 
After purchasing our home, Chris and I decided to do without cable TV to help cut expenses.  I wouldn’t have guessed it, but before long I really liked not watching television at home.  Peace replaced anxiety and my interest in politics dwindled.  That was a good thing.
On the heels of both conventions and all the brouhaha that surrounds a pivotal election, I’ve found my focus is back on politics.  Even more so this week with the horrific acts of violence perpetrated on our US Ambassador in Libya. 
I’ve been sucked back in to listening to radio programs and reading news stories on politics, elections and candidates.  Not in a good way.  Politics can be an all-consuming focus if I let it.   
I need to be informed on the people and issues.  I need be a responsible citizen and vote in the election.  But I need to keep my focus on that which matters most and that is God, salvation found in Jesus Christ alone, the Word of God and through the Holy Spirit walking in a manner which is good and pleasing to my Heavenly Father. 
If you would like to participate in Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday Challengehead over to her website “Tales from a Gypsy Mama”.  Be sure to read some of the entries from other writers.  I can promise you that you will be blessed.

Five Minute Friday – Changes In the Last Year

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five MinuteFriday.  Even though I’m a day late, I wanted to take this week’s writing challenge.
Recently I was asked the question, “What has changed in your life over the past year?” 
I was hard pressed to come up with an answer.  At first glance it seemed as though nothing had really changed.  But upon closer examination, there were many things that had changed.
There has been the passing of many dear friends who died.  For those that were Christians, I feel a peace and look forward to the day in which I will once again be reunited with them.  For those who were unbelievers or those I don’t know if they received Christ, I think about them often and wonder where they are now?  Heaven or hell?  There is one friend in particular I wish I had been bolder earlier on and made clear the Gospel message of sin, repentance and salvation is found in no other name than Jesus Christ. 
One of the changes for good is at the beginning of the year I started keeping a daily journal.  I write in it at the beginning of my day before I start reading a Bible chapter and sometimes I add to it with scripture verses that really stand out that day.  Sometimes it’s short and I usually start out saying, “Good morning Lord”.  Other times…it’s pleading “Help me Lord!!!” and bringing my situation or the concerns of others before Him. 
Keeping a journal has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, but never, ever kept it up.  I’d start it but within a few days I stopped.  I’d stop because it wasn’t what I thought it should be, filled with eloquent prayers and words of wisdom. 
But then earlier this year I had the opportunity to hear Jennifer Barrick and herparents Andy and Linda speak.  They shared journal entries and prayers that Jen had written prior to their devastating car accident and after.  Hearing their story and being personally blessed by their faith recorded and preserved in Jen’s journals inspired me to continue my journal.
It’s exciting to write something that day, only to see the Lord work in that situation.  It’s heartening to know that our God sees and hears me and answers my prayers.  To know that He wants to have a personal ongoing relationship and He cares for me is what brings me back to that journal each day. 
If you would like to participate in Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday Challengehead over to her website “Tales from a Gypsy Mama”.  Be sure to read some of the entries from other writers.  I can promise you that you will be blessed.

Five Minute Friday – Beyond Comprehension

I’ve been thinking about salvation, repentance and grace lately. 
When I drive home I’ll often listen to Pastor Brian Brodersen who is currently teaching through the book of Romans.  He said something that really struck me the other day.  The only difference between the person who is saved and unsaved is the grace of God. 
How true!  As a Christian, the only thing I have to boast in is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I have been saved by God’s grace through faith, its God’s work alone that saved me.  Because of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross as payment in full for my sin, I have been forgiven by God the Father. 
What an outrageous plan…beyond human comprehension.  The Righteous for the unrighteous, the Just for the unjust, the Holy One for the sinful. 
I received and email from a gentleman I know via my blog, Pastor and Evangelist Jim Allis.  He has blessed me by sending some of his audio posts and we’ve exchanged emails.  He said something in his most recent email captured the importance of preaching the gospel message accurately. 
“Yes repentance is essential for a genuine conversion experience.  I fear there are many half Christians around if there could be such a description given where repentance is forgotten.  It is so clear in scripture. What must I do to be saved?” Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Some are preaching sometimes a soft gospel which is no gospel again.”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:8-12
Good golly…my Five Minute post is on time!  Head on over to Lisa Jo Baker’sTales from a Gypsy Mama and join in the Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  Head on over and read the writings of many gifted individuals while you are there. 

Five Minute Friday – Only Through Stories

One of the downsides of marrying late in life is that you may not get to know your in-laws.  That’s the case for both Chris and me and we often feel the loss of not knowing them in person, but only through stories.
Actually, Chris was able to meet my mother Gayle when she was in her late stages of Alzheimer’s.  He met her for the first time on Easter Sunday 2008.  It was one of those awkward times you get with Alzheimer’s because she had a mouthful of food that she refused to swallow, nor would she spit it out.  With her mouthful of food she walked arm in arm with Chris back to her room. 
She sat on her sofa, next to Chris and to my amazement answered questions Chris asked her about her stuffed dog.  She even gave him a bite of her brownie.  She seemed to take to Chris right away.  But within a matter of days, Gayle was hospitalized for pneumonia and within a few weeks she was dead. 
In the ensuing months Chris and I were engaged and married.  Things would happen that would remind me of Gayle and I would tell Chris another Gayle story, of which there were many.
Stories like how she used to hide her used Depends in the closet, or when she would sit down on the floor and refuse to get up, or of the many hospital visits.  One of the most memorable was when she tried to “escape to Vegas” by climbing over the wall, only to hit her head and get an ugly gash on her forehead that needed stiches. 
One story that comes up regularly is the logic I had to use with Gayle to get her to do something she didn’t want to do.  I would tell Gayle, “You don’t have to want to do this, you cannot want to all you like, but you still have to do it.”  There was something crazy about that, but it worked.  She was satisfied that I knew she didn’t want to do it. 
I think both Chris and I feel a loss because we didn’t get to know each other’s parents and I often wonder what our lives would be like if we had that opportunity.

My Five Minute Friday,I mean Saturday submission is a day late again…but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in The Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday.  Head on over and read the writings of many gifted individuals while you are there.  Perhaps you too would like to try your hand at writing for five minutes and see what comes out.

Five Minute Friday…Not Chosen to Dance

Hummm…dance is this week’s topic.  I think this is one of the most challenging yet. 
When I think of dancing, it doesn’t hold a lot of good memories for me.  But one good memory was when I was attending Prescott Jr. High.  In 7th grade I was going to my first dance.  I had taken tap, ballet and modern jazz…so I sort of knew how to dance, but nothing that would be in keeping with a school dance.
One of my friends was Alesha, a sweet beautiful young lady who enjoyed life.  Before the dance she took the time to teach me how to dance.  We played Three Dog Night’s song “Mama Told Me Not to Come” over and over again on the record player as she showed me how to dance.  Whenever I hear that song on the radio, it takes me back to that day.
When I think back to Jr. High and High School, it brings back some hard feelings.  Feeling of being socially awkward, not so pretty and not fitting in.  Memories of sitting on the sideline with some of the other girls who were not chosen to dance.  I couldn’t wait for the night to end.  Those memories left some indelible painful scars on my heart, mind and soul.  As a result I didn’t attend too many dances in high school.
Lord is it any wonder that I am forever grateful and take refuge in the fact that I was chosen by You.  Rejected by man, but accepted by the Lord.  May I be mindful that in Christ I was chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven.  Is it any wonder when I hear praise and worship music my heart sings and I want to dance and celebrate the One who chose me?  Lord…I look forward to the day when I can dance with joy in heaven.  May I have glimpses of that day even now and be lost in wonder, love and praise.
Psalm 149:1-4
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.

My Five Minute Friday submission is a day late again…but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in TheGypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday.  Head on over and read the writings of many gifted individuals while you are there.  Perhaps you too would like to try your hand at writing for five minutes and see what comes out.

Five Minute Friday – The Risk of Procrastination

At the prompting of my sister Denise, I decided to actually post for Five Minute Friday on Friday.  She even gave me the topic to write about for the word Risk.  Thanks Denise for holding my feet to the fire!
Whether it’s at work or at home, procrastination always has its risks and consequences.  One of the biggest consequences is stress.  When I delay completing work or following through on a commitment, my stress level increases.  Definitely not good! 
When my stress level is high, my thinking is not as focused as it should be and it’s harder to complete my work. 
If I procrastinate and delay completing work on one project, it impacts other work that I’m supposed to complete after that.  It’s like a downward spiral and hard to get out of.
Another risk is that my integrity will wane.  If I don’t keep my word and do what I said I would do and be respectful of how my work impacts others, I will lack integrity.
Show how should I handle procrastination in my life?
I need to go to the Lord each day and seek His direction and help. 
If I find myself procrastinating regularly, perhaps I need to look at my schedule.  I need to choose wisely what I commit myself to.  When I say yes to one thing, even if by default, I’m saying no to something else which may be more important. 
This post is linked with The Gypsy Mama’s FiveMinute Friday challenge.  I encourage you to go on over and read some of the wonderful posts from others who join in.  You will be encouraged. 

Five Minute Friday – Narrow Path

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:13-14
The first Sunday after I recognized that I was a sinner and unable to save myself and received Christ at the age of 32, I started going to church.  During the ensuing years I went to a church that was Christian-lite.  From there I moved to a church that did expositional preaching but it was large and I found it easy to fade into the crowd.  One of my biggest regrets was moving to a church that didn’t preach the Word, but desired to make the unsaved feel comfortable being at church, rather than feed the flock. 
While at that church I grew very weak and took one of my biggest stumbles which I regret to this day.  Thank You Lord for Your mercies are new every morning and Your forgiveness is complete. 
When this prodigal recognized her sin and wanted to come home, the Lord brought me to Bible Study Fellowship.  It was through this in-depth Bible study that I began walking on the narrow path.  Soon after the Lord led me to a church where I was able to get well grounded in the Word of God. 
It wasn’t until I began studying the Bible, day by day for myself, through the power of the Holy Spirit I intentionally and purposefully began walking on that narrow path.  Through my personally study of the Word of God and applying it that I began to see that the Lord had a message for me. 
These days, I continue to participate in an in-depth Bible study through Community Bible Study.  May I seek to know You more Lord and obey Your commands through Your sustaining grace.  May I grow in wisdom, knowledge and truth.  May Your Word continue to illuminate the narrow path ahead. 
My Five Minute Friday submission is a day late…but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in The Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday.  I must confess I took longer than five minutes this week, but it felt good to write and remember the goodness of the Lord.  Head on over and read the writings of many gifted individuals while you are there.  Perhaps you would like to try your hand at writing for five minutes