Diary of David Brainerd – Book Review

This blog was originally written on September 12, 2014

My pastor challenged all in our church who have gone or would like to go on a mission trip to read at least one book of  the life of a missionary. He mentioned a book on kindle that was actually free, so I downloaded it. The book is: “The Life and Diary of David Brainerd with Commentary by Jonathan Edwards”.

I had heard of David Brainerd before and started reading. Talk about humbling!! At first it was very difficult to adjust to his utter wretchedness. I actually believed that the diary was beginning at a time in his life before he was saved and that he was writing about his feelings on the pangs of guilt and shame that sinners feel before they are saved. But as I kept on reading, I realized that this was just him. He was so in tune with his sin, so aware of his state that I couldn’t help but to feel shame that I wasn’t as serious about mine. Constantly, sometimes weeks at a time he would mention his corrupted person, and it would affect him so much that he would actually become physically sick. Here is a short excerpt of his diary on May 2, 1741:

“God was pleased this morning to give me such a sight of myself, as made me appear vile in my own eyes. I felt corruption stirring in my heart, which I could by no means suppress; felt more and more deserted; was exceeding weak, and almost sick with my inward trials”

There are moments when he feels better and praises God, but most of the time he is melancholic and suffers so much because of the sin in his life, his lack of holiness and this desperation of not doing enough for God.

He is also overcome with compassion for the lost. He longs for their salvation! He spends hours pleading to God for them. The prayers in his diary are full of anguish, self-examination, and fervency for holiness. I then look at my diary and it’s so bland and emotionless.

April 13, 1743 he writes:
“My heart was overwhelmed within me; I verily thought I was the meanest, vilest, most helpless, guilty, ignorant, benighted creature living. And yet I knew what God had done for my soul, at the same time: though sometimes I was assaulted with damping doubts and fears, whether it was possible for such a wretch as I to be in a state of grace. “

Does the thought of grace for me cause me to question God “why did you choose me?” Not question Him on “how He could” but “why He did”. When I am aware of my cesspool of a life, do I marvel at the wonder that God loves me!?!? Or have I forgotten the magnificent impact that redemption causes?

In this book, I also learned that David Brainerd went to Yale, but was expelled because he had called one of the professors a name. Not being able to go to school, he then was asked to preach to the Native Americans in New England. He begins his work with the Mohegan Indians at Kaunaumeek in New York in April of 1743 and he lovingly refers to them as “my people” in his diary.

Throughout the diary we read just how much he suffered physically. He mentions his sicknesses, his fevers, his aches and pains, his trouble eating and with his stomach. Several times he speaks of coughs that are accompanied by blood  (which actually started when he first entered college). He continues to work with different tribes and “nations” of Native Americans. Although we know he had much success with the Native Americans in their acceptance of the Gospel, you wouldn’t know it by his diary. Mr. Brainerd was not at all the kind of man to boast. He praises God when he notices the Spirit working, but he always re-evaluates how he can further the kingdom even more amongst the Native Americans.

He loved the people that God sent him to. He desired for their salvation. As he preaches in different churches he is asked to become a pastor and refuses because of “his little flock” in the wilderness – as he calls them. He is endeared to them and on his death bed receives letters from them that bring him much joy of how well they are fairing in their spiritual walk.

As the end of his life draws near, I just longed for him to die and be with God. He suffered tremendously the months before his death and he still continued to find something to do for the furthering of His Kingdom. Four months before his death he writes: “… death appeared inconceivably more desirable to me than a useless life..”

There is a recurring theme that somewhat haunts the whole diary and that is that he longs to be with God. David Brainerd died at the age of 29 and from the first entries of his diary we see he just wants to be with Him. Jonathan Edwards comments on David saying that ” . . he generally made it one petition in his prayer, ‘that we might not outlive our usefulness'”.

I didn’t know this, but Jonathan Edwards and David Brainerd knew each other. So much so that David died in Mr. Edwards home. Mr. Edwards’ daughter Jerusha, nursed David Brainerd until he died. She died four months later of a fever. This is what her father, Jonathan Edward says in the commentary: “Since this, (the writing of the commentary of David Brainerd’s diary)it has pleased a holy and sovereign God to take away this my dear child by death, on the 14th of February, next following, after a short illness of five days, in the eighteenth year of her age. She was a person of much the same spirit with Mr. Brainerd. She had constantly take care of and attended him in his sickness, for nineteen weeks before his death; devoting herself to it with great delight because she looked on him as an eminent servant of Jesus Christ.

I have heard it countless of times that as Christians, we should read biographies of other Christians, and I agree with that. The diary of David Brainerd really helped me to stop complaining. I sometimes feel too tired to work in ministry, but this man puts these feelings to shame! You will not come out happy, refreshed, or rejuvenated after reading this book. As a person, I don’t struggle with depression. I tend to be a fairly happy person, and I am not known to be serious; but this book made me think a lot about that. God saving me brings me so much joy and the fact that He didn’t have to save me changes my perspective on all things dire. I am saved to be eternally with Him and I don’t deserve to be. But do I hate my sin that much? I just go so quickly to the Cross when I sin. I feel shame and quickly turn to the work of Jesus that saved me. I don’t think about the slop I just fed on. I don’t think about the $*** I just played with, it doesn’t horrify me all the heaps of dung I prefer at moments instead of my Savior. I believe I should think on those things more, and I hope I do when I return to my sin.

To the Christian: I recommend this book to any Christian considering mission work. Also, if  you are struggling with pride or vanity, this would be a great book to read to ground you. 🙂

Star Wars Rogue One – Movie Review

 My husband introduced me to the Star Wars movies, and I have been a fan ever since! My favorite character is Chewbacca. I just love him! Deep down inside, I think Chewy would understand me and somehow I would understand him.

Anyway, on December 17th, we saw the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One. And although the movie did start off a bit slow and was a little confusing because of the lack of introduction, we soon figured out what was going on. To help you out if you haven’t seen it, the movie ties part 3 – Revenge of the Sith and part 4 – A New Hope together. If I would have known that going into the movie, it would have helped me a lot to understand what was going on.

I was a little disappointed that they didn’t start the movie with the usual music score that will be forever famous in American culture. And like I said before, there was no traditional written introduction that helped us understand what was going on as the movie opened. I felt lost for about 20 minutes trying to figure out where exactly the movie was in regards to the series.

The director does do a great job in bringing back that Star Wars feel the older movies have. The CG is awesome, but it still feels “old”, but not in a bad way at all. It’s nostalgic and the director does a superb job in reproducing that, especially in the garb of all the characters. I was a little disheartened that they changed some of the classic star wars scores a little, but I ended up getting over it.

The end of the movie was spectacular and reminds us that the hope that was given to the Rebellion in The New Hope – Star Wars IV, did come with a tragic cost.

I recommend this movie to the star wars fan. You will love how everything ties together! It is not a good movie to start with if you would like to begin watching Star Wars movies.

To the Christian: The movie is great and clean! It also contains a good message of sacrifice and selflessness that you could talk about with your kids afterwards. As 21st century Christians we too are standing on the shoulders of many who sacrificed a lot for Christianity. A good subject to talk about would be how we got our Bible in English.

I took my 8 year old daughter and she did mention that it wasn’t as exciting as Star Wars 7 – The Force Awakens. Rogue One is rated PG-13

The Rise of Mommy Porn

Few passages in the Bible are as graphic and sexually explicit as Ezekiel chapter 23. This chapter is full of the details of the depravity of two women – sisters, which represent the nations of Samaria and Jerusalem. I want to comment on this chapter because there is much we can learn from it given the current female movement of “mommy porn”.

Chapter 23 of Ezekiel is an allegory of two sisters named Ohola and Oholibah. I found it very interesting that the names of these women derive from the word “tent” or “my tent” and it insinuates a place of worship. Both these women prostitute themselves and revel in their lust. They are used, abused, and defiled and they seem callous to what these men do to them. Ohola is spoken of first. Her children are taken from her, she is then shamed and then killed with a sword. Seeing how her sister is shamed and murdered, you would figure that Oholibah would learn, but on the contrary, she follows in her sister’s footsteps and becomes even more depraved than her sister and took her degeneracy even further. Through the middle of the chapter God speaks to her and tells her what the consequences are because of her lewdness. Her children are impacted, her body is impacted, her mind is impacted, and ultimately her relationship with God is impacted. This is a chapter full of disgust, sadness, sorrow and death.

I want to focus on Oholibah now and what happens to her. I want to talk about what she does and how she ends up because I believe this allegory of this idolatrous nation, can help us understand what sexual immorality can lead to.

The story of Oholibah begins in verse 11. She sees her sister murdered and doesn’t learn from Ohola’s experience. She sees her children taken from Ohola. She sees the men strip her sister naked and then sees them run her through with a sword. As women, we have also seen it. We have seen the woman who is abused and returns to her abuser. The woman who committed adultery and shattered her family. The woman pursuing love in all the wrong places while neglecting her children. The woman addicted to sex and one-night stands, longing for a true relationship. We have seen it, but what do we do with what we see? Oholibah doesn’t learn and maybe even thinks that what happened to her sister, won’t happen to her. The problem is that she ends up fornicating with the same men that killed her sister! But look at verses 14 through 16. She sees men portrayed on a wall and lusts after them. Women, she is looking at pornography! She sees that they are handsome and virile and she craves them, she wants them, she yearns for them. Ladies! What are our eyes looking at? With books out like “50 Shades of Grey” and movies like “Magic Mike”, the story of Oholibah rings clear. God abhors ANYTHING that causes us to lust, because what is lust but another form of idolatry. So Oholibah sees her pornography and lusts after these men. She goes after them and they in turn release their lusts on her. At first, she seems disgusted in herself. That is what one usually feels at the beginning of any sexual sin. At first it makes us feel dirty, but practice makes perfect and sooner than later, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is gone. Oholibah continues with her mess. She forgets that what she does impacts her children. She even gives up her children to false idols. Her entitlement is more important to her. She feels she deserves to feel free and liberated and it costs her her children. Then after all her fornicating, after all her sin, after she does all her filth, she goes to church – or in this case synagogue. She goes to worship God and doesn’t find Him. She turns to booze and soon becomes depressed. What she thought was her liberation, ended up being her enslavement. The Lord let her destroy herself. He gave her what she wanted and released her to her sin. What is so sad about Oholibah is that she was His. She belonged to our Lord and acted like an unwanted orphan.  She is ruined and becomes desolate. She ends up being murdered also. Ladies, this is serious. What we allow ourselves to let in, impacts us.
I know many might think what harm can a movie or a book make. I have heard plenty of times that Satan’s greatest weapon is to tell people he isn’t real or that sin is no big deal. This is precisely what Satan wants you to think, after all a fictional book is no big deal because it’s not real. Well, pornography isn’t real, but it affects our marriages. TV drama is not real, but affects our youth. Violent video games are not real, but it affects our children. Magazine pictures are not real, but they affect our self-esteem.The list goes on and on. What we view, what we see, what we read affects our hearts and minds. Jesus mentions it several times when He speaks on the inner self. If you hate in your heart, it is murder. If you lust in your heart, it is adultery. If anything replaces your love for Him, it is idolatry.  If you want something that is not yours, it is coveting. What goes on in our heart and mind is excruciatingly important. So much so that it nailed Jesus to the cross.

Ladies, anyone who reads or views this kind of mess unrepentantly and calls herself a Christian is just like Oholibah. She is prostituting her mind and heart. Remember Oholibah means “my tent”. What is our body and mind? It is a dwelling place of the most High.  I Corinthians 6:19 says that we are not our own and our body is His temple.

“50 Shades of Grey” is a depraved romance novel that uses pain and torture as a means for arousal. Is this the equality that women have fought for? To be used and abused for the arousal of a man? Is this supposed to be romantic? Is this how Jesus loved His bride? Just because a woman wrote this book does not mean it is okay to read. And just like Oholibah, this filth impacts your mind, your children and above all your relationship with God.

Ezekiel 23 ends with this warning: “So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. ”

Let us learn from Oholibah and not imitate her and remember that her despair spiraled out of control when she saw the images on the wall; when she had feasted her eyes on those lewd things. Let us make a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1) and think of pure things (Philippians 4:8). The risks and the consequences are not worth it.

Into the Arms of Molech

Bible Reading: I Kings 11:1-8

There is so much here that just shocks me. And just as quickly as the shock sets in, the Spirit convicts me, that I too am a Solomon.

Chapter 11 starts with: “King Solomon loved many foreign women”. In order to set alliances and also just because he could – Solomon married women who were not Hebrew. One of these foreign women is said to be the daughter of the Pharaoh. (I Kings 3:1). He built her a beautiful palace. There were 700 of these “alliance wives” and 300 concubines. And these women led him astray in his faith. Later Solomon goes on to warn against these kinds of women in Proverbs 5-7.

As Solomon grows old he ends up worshiping Ashtoreth (goddess of the Sidonites), Chemosh (god of the Moabites) and Molech (god of the Ammonites). He then actually builds two places to worship these gods and he joins his wives in worshiping these detestable gods. The place where he builds these places of worship was on a hill east of Jerusalem which is actually the Mount of Olives (the place where Jesus later wept for Jerusalem and gave His sermon on the mount). Even though Solomon did these horrible things, God still appeared to him twice so that he would turn away from these gods, but the Bible tells us that he turned away from following the God of Israel (I Kings 11:9). God then tears the Kingdom of Israel from Solomon and divides it into two kingdoms.

Reading I Kings 1-10 consecutively we see the glory of Solomon’s reign.   In these chapters we see how he became king, how God blessed him, how he brought the people together, how he luxuriously spends to make an astonishing temple to worship God. We see Solomon’s wisdom and judging techniques. We hear of his beauty and his love for justice. We see kings and queens from distant lands pay him homage for his wisdom and splendid kingdom. He just overflows with excess, riches and elegance. I can envision a shining city where nothing is made of silver because it has no worth because there is just so much gold (I Kings 10:21). But God is not flattered by the pomp. He reminds Solomon to obey His commands and warns that if he doesn’t He will leave the Temple and tear his kingdom apart.  In chapter 9, Solomon finishes the Temple, but by chapter 11 he is building temples for the gods Chemosh and Molech. These gods are called detestable/hated (11:7) and required human sacrifice as a form of worship. Molech specifically required child sacrifice through burning them (what was called “passing them through the fire”) in order to bring prosperity and success. Molech was molded to have extending arms where a fire could be lit underneath and a child could be placed within his arms. We see Manasseh King of Judah use this type of worship in 2 Chronicles 33:2-6. How horrific to have a Temple where God has decided to live and then down the road we hear the screams of humans and even children as they are sacrificed to abhorrent gods and then to find among the worshipers Solomon, God’s chosen king. The son of the man after God’s heart. Among this beautiful city made of gold is the excrement of man-made worship. I can’t help but wonder if Solomon, fearing losing his success and prosperity, placed one of his little ones in the burning arms of Molech.

Our God is longsuffering and patient. (Psalm 86:5,  2 Peter 3:9, Joel 2:13, Isaiah 30:18) and gave Solomon time to return to Him, but Solomon had made his decision. Despite all God had given Solomon (and by all, I mean ALL!), Solomon betrays God for the arms of women who would eventually lead him astray to the arms of a burning god. He became lost in the glitter of the world that surrounded him. The blessings bestowed on him eventually cursed him. The riches given to him made him a poor and miserable man. Even the knowledge and wisdom God entrusted him with brought about him misery and emptiness. Just read Ecclesiastes.

In the end, God is not mocked and the fools are us if we seek to do things our way. We have a tendency to wander from God and His holy ways, and most of the time He is gracious to lead us back with tenderness. But there is a thin line that once it is crossed, God says enough and the buck stops with Him. Solomon worshiped the way the world in his day worshiped. Are we also tempted to do the same? Do the lights, speakers, smoke, and full out rock band tempt us to say “if we had a worship service like that, we would feel the Holy Spirit every Sunday, more people would come to church, people wouldn’t be so bored” etc etc? Is there anything inherently wrong with these things, no. But if you need those things in order to “feel” like you worshiped God, we must examine ourselves again.(I John)

The kingdom of God is a mustard seed (Mark 4) or leavening (Matthew 13) meaning it is small and in time it does something great. But not great in our fickle eyes, but greatness only God could invent. Solomon had a thousand women to bring him pleasure, wealth and power beyond measure, unprecedented wisdom and knowledge and the admiration of the known world, but it all crumbled under God because he worshiped other gods. And before he knew it, that road lead him to a place where he allowed the slow and painful death of children and maybe even participated in it.

I don’t believe that the moment Solomon finished building the Temple of God that he turned around and said “I think we will worship Molech now.” I do believe though, that there were some red flags that he chose to ignore and although it may have bothered him at first, he eventually stopped seeing them. Besetting sins don’t ever start off shocking us into humility and repentance. I know my ugly sins didn’t look so ugly at first. But our God is merciful to forgive us and sent His Son to bring us into communion with Him.

Let us not be tempted to worship like the world. Let us not become lost in the glitter of things that will not bring true happiness. Let us only look to the God who saves us from ourselves and allows us to truly rest in His arm.

I really liked this movie!  It had tons of flying bullets, great cinematography, well developed characters, and a satisfying ending. It was a stereo-typical good guys versus bad guys Western,but it wasn’t at all banal. And the ending was explosive! The only problem that I did have with the plot though is that the villain identifies himself as a capitalist. It is only one small line at the beginning of the movie, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but I was a bit on the defensive for about 10 minutes. Thankfully, the movie gets going. And just to clarify, the villain wasn’t a capitalist, he was a tyrant, him saying he’s a capitalist is very misleading.

So the villain takes over a mining town, abuses and kills a bunch of the villagers and takes away their guns! I wanted a little bit of a “right wing” agenda there, but I never go it! I wanted Mr. Chisolm (Denzel) to tell them that they should never let anyone take away their guns. Actually, one of the first things the Magnificent 7 does for the townspeople is arm them to help them defeat their oppressors!

I was grateful for the lack of sexual exploitation of women that tends to be the norm in Westerns. There were prostitutes, but they just floated around in the background and were not in many of the screen shots. The female lead, Mrs. Emma Cullen (Haley Bennet) is fresh and a natural beauty. She doesn’t woo over any of the Magnificent 7 nor gives a forced faux-tough-girl-anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better perception. She’s real and I enjoyed cheering for her throughout the movie.

The movie ended well. I was a bit shocked about who died and who didn’t die. There is some depth to the movie that wasn’t obvious at first and I was glad for that surprise.

I did expect the movie to be funny and it didn’t let me down. The writers did a great job with the witty jokes and comebacks. The Mexican in the Mag 7 gang saying “cabron” all the time did get a little old for me. My mother is Mexican, and neither I or she speak like that – well maybe my uncle does. Either way, it was just over used. It was funny the first 10 times, but after that I was like, “I get it! You’re Mexican!” Thankfully he wasn’t portrayed as a stereotypical drunken, womanizer Mexican , oh wait, never mind. It was funny though!

The acting was great. Ethan Hawke did a marvelous job portraying Goodnight Robicheaux, a Civil War hero suffering with PTSD.

To the Christian: There were a couple of swear words and the name of the Lord was used in vain. The movie is violent, but not gory. People are killed with guns, explosives and arrows. There are some dirty jokes towards the end of the movie. The church plays as an undertone in the movie – both the opening scene that sets the plot, and the tragic ending of the movie take place in the church. And the preacher is portrayed to have respect among his parishoners.

Recommendations: I recommend this movie to the Western lover and to those who prefer tragedies. Also any Denzel fans, the man still looks great – he’s 61 years old!

The movie is rated PG-13.

Magnificent 7 – Movie Review

To Him Be All The Glory

To Him Be All The Glory
By Anna Tobey

A reflection in the mirror forces me to see the destruction
Of what I have done with my life and all the repercussions
The mirror is a tablet of stone, carved by the great I AM
Given to a Levite, son of Jacob, son of Abraham
I look at the Holy and Righteous Judge and I cower and whimper
Knowing that of all the wretches in this world, I am the greatest sinner.
What can I say, what can I do, maybe there is somehow I can serve?
Because I know the punishment, I know what’s coming, I know what I deserve.

SO . . .

I cling to my culture, I cling to my tradition,
I cling to church on Sunday, and to my ambition.
I hold on to good intentions, and to time spent helping the poor.
How I cooked for the starving, and how I swept the church floor.
I sang the songs of redemption, I sang of amazing Grace
I felt the Holy Spirit, and thought I saw Your face..
I gave all that I could, I gave more than I could even afford
I even healed the sick, I even called out LORD LORD!!

Surely, this is good enough, surely this all counts for something.
Surely, what I did in Your name is something worth trusting.
Surely, I can confide in these things that brought me joy.
Surely, they’re not dirty rags or heaps of dung for You to destroy

BUT THEY ARE . . . . . .

Your word says it plainly and it speaks rightly,
That all deserve death, even the least likely.
That we have been working and toiling and our paycheck is death
And You will come to collect when we take our last breath

Have Mercy on me oh Holy, Almighty and Righteous One.
Give me Grace paid on the cross by Your Only Son
Help me believe and put my trust on the blood of the Lamb
There is nothing, no one, nada that can save me from what I am.


A sinner, a wretch, a worm not worthy to crawl in the mire
Lead by my feelings, my wants and heinous desire.
Save me from myself, don’t let me be the same.
I trust Jesus, for salvation comes from no other name!

So covered by the blood of the Lamb that made a way
No longer do I cry for mercy when I’ll see Him on my Judgement day.
For when I stand facing the most Holy One, Christ exclaims:
“Justice for this one. Justice in my name!!”

“Justice, for she is not guilty, her debt has been paid
Justice, for my life for her has been laid!!”
So I stand, thinking mercy is what I needed
But my Advocate proclaimed that it’s Justice that proceeded.
For I am not guilty, I am without shame
Because He became guilty, He took on my blame
And the Judge poured out His wrath and made Him pay
The debt, I could never pay, no how, no way!

So how can I not love you, how can I not sing?
Of how Amazing Grace is, and how death has no sting!?
How can I not serve you, how can I not love the least of these??
How can you not be the only One I see and want to please?!?

There is no other like you, no not one!
I love you Holy Spirit, Father and Son!
Not because I’m good, but because You loved me first!
Because, no one else would for me become such a curse!

Behold the Lamb of God, come to take away my sin!!
It was never about me, but it was always about Him!!
He will bring glory to Himself, I’m just a small part of the story!
To Him be all blessing and to Him be all the glory!!


Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.

When I sing this particular verse of this hymn, I can’t help but close my eyes and bow my head in shame because it is true. So easily do I just wander away from Him. And I don’t think I do it on purpose. It is more like a boat that isn’t anchored that just floats away and just heads in all kinds of directions. Never on purpose, but always surrendering to its circumstance. Thankfully, whether I feel lost or floating about in my spiritual life, the truth is that He is the One who has me anchored to Himself and I am assured that He will never let me go. (John 10:29)

One way that I feel anchored again (remembering that regardless of my feelings, my salvation doesn’t ebb away) is through prayer. And I know that sounds so “cliche” and so easy of a fix, but truly there is nothing (outside of Scripture) that hones in my heart to match His as prayer can do.

Prayer sifts out my sin.
When life gets busy, sin can easily hide. When life gets idle, sin comes out to play. Regardless if I am confessing a besetting sin or if the Holy Spirit is revealing one to me, prayer allows me to be more aware of the sin that grieves God and brings me to the cross gladdening my heart for He is always faithful to forgive. (James 5:16)

Prayer brings me to the throne
When I think that I am approaching the King of kings in prayer and I am not going to die I am left speechless. There are no words to describe that a Gentile woman can enter the Holy of Holies and worship. (Heb. 4:16) Prayer allows me to worship Him privately.

Prayer reminds me that I have love to give
When I read my prayer list and pray for those on it, I am reminded of people who are hurting, lonely, lost or feeling loss. It triggers me to make a phone call, bake some cookies, write a letter, type out a text, send a facebook message, or make a house visit. Prayer beckons me to be His hands, feet, shoulders, arms and voice.

Prayer softens my heart
Some people are hard to love and some people are even harder. When I honestly pray for those that hurt me or those that hurt the people I love, God does something amazing. He softens my heart towards them and they begin to have less control over me and my feelings. And in the rare occasions when I have trouble “forgiving”, God always reminds me of the dastardly things He has forgiven me for already. 🙂

Prayer is therapeutic
My overbearing mother, my passive father, my annoyance with my ex-husband, the attitudes of my children, my lack of wanting intimacy, my self-esteem, that thing I do that I don’t want to mention here and so, so much more; I have brought to God. And He truly has helped me figure so much out. It is through prayer that we are given wisdom. (James 1:5) So many times I have come to God bawling my eyes out, completely overtaken by despair, and patiently He has brought to mind Scripture that overtakes my moments of sorrow or pain. I have also come to him lost, in a rage, scared for my life, indecisive, numb, depressed, raw and feeling so many other things. I have also been given the peace that transcends understanding, and it was always after time spent with Him in prayer. (Phil. 4:7) Who better to tell me about myself and how to handle a certain situation than the One who created me and was with me throughout my entire life? (Jer. 33:3)

I want to encourage you to take time to pray. If you are not sure how to, Jesus Himself teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-15. Also we can read Jesus’ prayer before he was captured in John 17. And what is so amazing about this prayer is that in it you can read where Jesus is praying for you!!!!! (see verses 20-21 of that same chapter), and He is still praying for you! The Son of God prays for you! So let us imitate Him and pray.

 . . . . For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~ Romans 8: 26-27

Benefits of Prayer

I vo(mi)ted

(originally posted on November 1, 2016)
I still do not know who I will vote for in this coming election. I still think when I am at the voting booth with my daughter (I usually take her with me) I will pray and make my decision then. I have family and friends who all have given me their opinion and I truly believe all of them have made valid arguments for their choice for president. One thing I have done less of though is worry. As Christians, anxiety is a sin. Jesus advises us not to be anxious (Matthew 6:25-34). We must remember that this is not our home (Hebrews 13:14) and we look forward to the day God returns (2 Peter 3:12-13).

When all my favorite primary candidates lost, I really felt like all hope was gone. That hope dwindled more as we were left with Donald Trump as the Republican candidate. And it practically died when I saw how many Christians defended Mr. Trump’s way of living. I may pull the lever for Mr. Trump come November 8th, but something I will never do is minimize what an awful human being he is. But this post really isn’t about the election, it is more about a snippet I heard on the radio about a news show called “Morning Joe”. I first want to admit that I honestly almost live in a cave when it comes to “normal TV”. We have Netflix, Amazon and DVD’s. That’s about it when it comes to TV. The “news” I get usually comes from a podcast, the radio or a youtube channel. If I want local news I get that from the ladies who sit in my church pew or the police scanner. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried fox news, msnbc, and other places, but the agendas they push are so blatant sometimes that I can’t help but wonder how “fair and balanced” they really are. And occasionally I really think they believe I do not have a brain of my own and could never rationally come to my own conclusion, so they must insert their opinions because I could not possibly have any of my own. But back to worrying. I refuse to worry about this election. I am anti-worry. Because when I worry, even slightly, I have diminished the colossal, absolute and total power that God has over His creation. I trust Him, and I lie that I trust Him when I worry. The kingdom of God is eternal (Matt. 16:18, Heb. 1:8). His church will prevail (Matt. 16:18). And God is just, compassionate, long-suffering, loving, good, all-knowing, all-powerful, almighty, etc (the whole Bible)! So my dear brothers and sisters, let us rest in those promises, do what the Holy Spirit has prompt you to do regarding your vote, and continue with your active faith of loving God and loving others. Let Him deal with the consequences. (Please don’t get me wrong when I say I am anti-worry. I am not advocating fatalism or unproductive passivity)

Being a conservative who leans libertarian, I recognize that I have my own set of biases and stereo-types. I believe that Christians tend to lean to the right of center and I am surprisingly almost always shocked when I meet a Christian democrat. I know! I know! I know there are Christian democrats who truly love the Lord, but I am always slightly shocked by it okay! I’m trying to be honest here! Saying this, I also have my biases on msnbc and shows like Morning Joe where I know they are left leaning. But, I want to give credit where credit is due. On yesterday’s “Morning Joe”, Mika Brzezinski said some things that were very noble of her. So I looked her up some more and, needless to say, she and I have almost nothing in common when it comes to our views on politics and government, but what she said yesterday regarding Hillary Clinton’s latest FBI investigation and Mika’s own media peers was vitalizing. I have provided the video below so  you can see it for yourself.

Wasn’t that just awesome of her and Joe to say that? I know some Christian Trump supporters who aren’t as honest as they were just there! She admitted to her own hypocrisy. Something very difficult to see in ourselves. Something Christians on “my side” refuse to see in themselves.

I believe that all of us have been made in the image of God. That we are more precious than the plants or the animals. That we are even more special than the angels because nothing else carries with them the image of God. Nothing. During presidential election years, we tend to forget that sometimes. We fail to see the personhood of an individual because we do not agree with their politics, their religion, or their ideas. Their humanity is stripped away because of their voting tendencies or frankly because of the sin in their life. Just because someone acts out in their flesh, doesn’t make them any less an image bearer. And just because someone doesn’t agree with me, doesn’t make them any less a human created by God. I must remember this when someone comes along with an idea that I believe to be wrong even if they are wrong because God says they’re wrong. There is a way to converse with people and if the conversation leads to nothing, we are still called to love and serve each other, in humility, not thinking anyone is better than the other (Phil. 2:3). Even if we have the truth, there is a way to speak the truth. Obviously, we cannot make everyone happy. Obviously some people will become upset. Obviously, some people will hate us, but let them have to try really hard to do so.

I leave you with this verse found in Titus 2:7-8:
In everything, show yourself to be an example by doing good works. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed to have nothing bad to say about us.

Mechanical Bull vs Church Lady

For a while now, I have had on my bucket list: ride a mechanical bull. Unfortunately, the only place I could think of riding one was at bars – probably the kind of bar that solely played country music. Being somewhat close to Nashville, I knew I could easily find a bar or an event where I could unleash my desire to ride one of these things; but the thought of riding a bull, with my top heavy self, in a bar with men, as a 3rd grade Sunday school teacher, just didn’t sit quiet right with me. So I looked elsewhere.

My bright idea was to rent one for our annual church women’s Christmas party. I felt I could “let loose” a little more, not having to worry about being a stumbling block to any males because there is a sensuousness to riding a bull. After being a bit disappointed at the super expensive quotes I got, I finally found a reasonable one. (If you live in the Western Kentucky area, I highly recommend them! They were great and super friendly and accommodated all my theatrical whims. Click here for their website.) I told the owner my plight and whispered – because that is what church ladies do – “I need a bull for women. Because – you know- men.” He chuckled at my modesty and affirmed me he had actually done a couple of events at some churches and he completely understood since he’s also a pastor! I gasped! He gasped! But I knew he would turn his eyes the other way if things got a little too sexy on the bull, up at the church lady’s Christmas party! So he e-mailed me the contract, I signed and returned it with a check. The date was scheduled, but as fate would have it, it rained the day of our event and rain and mechanical bull don’t mix well. I would have to wait to check off “mechanical bull riding” off of my bucket list. We rescheduled for my daughter’s birthday party, but alas, it rained again. I was discouraged. Distraught. It was as if this would never happen. But it did!

Every year our church has a fall festival INSIDE a large convention center and we have all kinds of games, prizes, food, hay rides and even a petting zoo. I called up Ethan (bull guy) again and re-rescheduled him one more time. I told him that this event is indoors and even if did rain, it wouldn’t matter. So again, we set up a date.

The only problem though, was that I face paint at our fall festival, and I face paint A LOT of little cute faces. And I don’t take a break from face painting because I just don’t have the heart to tell an adorable little bumble bee to wait while I make a fool of myself on a mechanical bull. So I just painted along. We had hundreds of visitors come to our festival, and a lot of people enjoyed the mechanical bull. I guess I would just have to sacrifice my whimsical bucket list item, for the kingdom of God. And in reality, it really wasn’t that difficult.

But, as our event was ending and there were no more faces to paint, I went up to Aaron (the bull guy’s helper) and gave him permission to end the bull riding. (Going over our allotted time would cost me more money, and I didn’t want to go over!) He asked me if I wanted to get on. I looked around and there was mostly just church people there! “Oh yes please!”

I got on the inflatable and raised my leg to mount the bull. But I couldn’t get on! You know when your mind thinks it can do something, but your body just doesn’t respond? That is what was happening here. Oh no! I tried by putting both hands on the bull and hoisting myself up! As if I had that kind of upper body strength! Finally, Aaron told me he could help me. Thankfully he’s a pretty tough guy, but how was he going to help me? What if I killed him? Thankfully, I am sure of it, Aaron has dealt with bigger women trying to mount a mechanical bull at a church event. He got on a knee and told me to use his other knee as a stool to get up on the bull. I huffed, I heaved and I got on.

What happened next was the most anti-climatic thing that has ever happened to me. I got on the bull ready for him to buck me off. Ready to prevail in the battle between woman and machine! Ready for my hair to fling one way and then another! I was ready! So I clutched the rope, steeled my back and then the mechanical bull moved ever so slightly and I remembered that I have no core muscles. None. I quickly then bear-hugged the hunk of bull and slowly, every so very slowly melted off the bull. Have you ever baked bread? You know when you knead the dough, form it into a ball and then set it in a greased bowl to let it rise? And then you punch said dough and “pour” it onto a floured surface for shaping. That is how it looked like. The pouring part of the dough. And that is kinda how I felt. A turned over, punched, ball of dough ready for shaping. I laid there in my shame realizing that my mind is so much more fun than my reality. I log rolled a little away from my victorious foe and got out of the inflatable arena. Two more deacons went after me and I just walked to my face painting table flushed and defeated. No, deflated would be a better word to describe myself.

                                   Some of the church ladies wedding dress shopping.

I checked off “mechanical bull riding” off of my bucket list. But it wasn’t an assertive check, but in the end that really didn’t matter. I did have fun laughing, mostly at my lack of athletic ability. A lot of people did have fun and like we always do at these events, we shared the Gospel and God’s love to the people in our community.

I don’t think I will ever have the opportunity to ride on a mechanical bull again, but it’s okay. After all, life is made up of memories, not fantasies.


Doctrine of Repentance – Book Review

This book was published in 1668 and written by Thomas Watson. When reading older books, I am always a bit hesitant in reading them because I am fearful that I will not understand some of the details because of the older English vernacular. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case in this edition.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much we still have in common with people throughout the generations. The spiritual struggles Christians had in the 1600’s are the same ones that we have today. As an “old soul” I tend to think that people were nicer in previous generations, but I have found that people are people and there is nothing new under the sun.

In this book, Mr. Watson is very organized. He makes out different lists on how to identify an unrepentant spirit, or how to apply repentance daily and even how to combat sin.  He also uses every day life to help the reader understand the point he is trying to make, and his word usage to compare and contrast is quote worthy.

I also appreciated all the Bible citations he gave after many of his sentences. He made his case for what he was saying by going back to the Bible. The opinions and advise he gave were founded not on his own wisdom, but on Scripture. Many times, I remembered a citation and went back to read it and it was as he had said.

Because of so many citations and so many quote worthy sentences, I do not recommend this book to be listened to as an audio book. This book is meant to be read and highlighted. Maybe, from now on, I will only use Audible for fiction. Thankfully there is a “bookmark” link on Audible where if I hear something I like, I can “bookmark” it and then go back to it later.

Here are some of those compare and contrast quotes I was talking about:

The more regret we have first at our conversion, the less we’ll feel afterwards.
Speaking about the Apostle Paul: He had persecuted saints to death before, now he preached sinners to life. 
Someone who can believe without doubting should suspect his faith, and someone who can repent without sorrowing should suspect his repentance.
On temptation: Is he not a fool who would believe a temptation and not a promise.
So as God has two places where He dwells – Heaven and a humble heart. So does Satan have two places where he dwells – Hell and a hard heart.
And here is a quote that explains repentance with word pictures:
Blessed repentance that has so much sugar at the bottom of the bitter cup!
 The key to personal awakening and revival is repentance and the elation of forgiveness. Believe it or not it is also the key to joy. For when I am truly repentant because I have offended God, I find joy in His forgiveness. When I am repentant I can’t judge hypocritically, for I too am a sinner. I can’t hate what is done to me, for I have done far worse to the most Holy One. I can’t sit idly by and do nothing for my neighbor, for He has done so much for me to be able to grant me forgiveness. I can’t hate, for I am loved. I can’t complain, for I am grateful.

So much in my Christian walk would change if I would just practice repentance daily. This book has helped me to see that. Mr. Watson has so many illustrations and breaks down what he is trying to say so well. His examples of how to apply this and why we should apply repentance are so helpful and clear. He just makes logical sense throughout the whole book. I remember several times just being astounded when he made a point and then clarified it with a reasoned analogy.

The book is actually about 128 pages, so it could be read in one day. And as I researched more I found he wrote several other small books about different topics.  If you would like a list of the books he has written click here.

I recommend that every Christian read at least one book by Thomas Watson. This was a beautifully written book. His grasp on the English language and his thoughtfulness in regards to Scripture is profound.

As I read more on him, I found out that he died suddenly while in private prayer. What a way to die! A thought that came to mind when I read that was that I don’t even pray that much to be caught dead doing it. What are the odds of that for me, much less than Mr. Watson’s or many other strong Christians?

The book is available free here.  Or you may also buy it here.