Monday, December 20, 2010

God’s Chosen Season: A Prayer

Here is an inspiring Christmas poem written by John Paul Dollar, an inmate at a Florida correctional institution. John, who has earned a doctorate degree in theology while incarcerated, sends frequent letters of encouragement to me.

God’s Chosen Season: A Prayer

We come now worshiping and praising our New Born King,
With the Angelic Chorus we glorify Him as we shout and sing,
Blessed be Immanuel, God’s chosen one above all things.

We thank you, Father, for your servants you’ve sent our way,
Those who are “Special Men” serving us day by day,
Loving, caring, and guiding your flock along life’s way.

We also come praying a special prayer for Your chosen man,
Pastors and leaders who came according to Your divine plan,
Reflecting Your love and preaching the Gospel upon which they stand.

Thank you Lord for our men You’ve chosen who give their all,
Thank you Lord for our women who support, never wavering nor fall,
Thank you Lord for our Church whose gifts beacon’s the Macedonian call.

God you’ve blessed us richly even beyond our wildest imagination,
We thank you, Father, for your Son who brought us unto salvation,
We love you, honor you, Father, for ’tis the season for His celebration.

May we as your Body, Lord, always come glorifying You this season,
May Christ be returned to Christmas as fully the rightful reason,
We pray this in Jesus’ Blessed Name, Our Savior, Our King of this His richly blessed nation.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Standing in the Gap

I received this devotional from Steve Jones, a pastor friend of mine in Vero Beach, and wanted to pass it along to you:

Ezekiel 22:30 - "I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land, but I found no one."

Somewhere there is a "wall of righteousness" with a gap that has your name on it. Somewhere there is a wife, a child, a parent, a widow, an orphan, a teen, a business, a school, or a church that needs you to step up and stand in the gap. You can't stand in mine.

I pray that today that you will stand in the gap.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pure and Faultless Religion

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

I received a newsy e-mail from Barbara Shoner, who leads a Tomoka ministry to foster children, Rock Fashions. In partnership with another ministry, Rock Fashions won a storefront lease for a year and will use it as a free clothing outlet for foster families. Here is Barbara's message:

“Hi everyone!! I have a praise report — the Volusia Parent Magazine did an article on on our ministry. And, someone just donated $5,000! This is so exciting because we were struggling with some initial operating expenses and now we can move forward to get the store opened. We are tentatively planning an October 23rd work day (possibly the weekend after, we are still working out logistics). We are going to rent a UHaul to pick up all the items at the storage units and then pick up the display racks, etc. from Bealls. Bealls has donated 20 rounders which hold 100-125 pieces of clothing each, so we have enough for over 2,000 items of clothing!! We are also getting jewelry cases, mannequins, etc. Oh, and 2,000 hangers also, so the store will look uniform. We have someone that is going to paint a "Fruits of the Spirit" theme on the walls, but he's in the midst of another project so we may need to open before that's done. All we want to do right now is get the utilities on and the clothes on the racks so we can start servicing clients. We've still been meeting needs, but it's been tough working out of storage units. This store is going to be wonderful. Please let me know if you are interested in helping out on our work day. Thanks!! Please continue to pray that the Lord will continue to pour out His favor on this ministry.”
Contact Barbara Shoner for more information about Rock Fashions.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fill 'Er Up!

There is no substitute for memorizing God’s Word. In the words of Ron Phillips, “Satan tries tirelessly to steal the Word.” So here are a few key verses to start your week.

1. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” — Psalm 119:105

2. “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 1:6

3. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ ” — Romans 1:16-17

4. “For nothing is impossible with God.” — Luke 1:37

5. “ ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” — Isaiah 1:18

6. “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” — Psalm 119:11

7. " is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." — Isaiah 55:11

God’s Word never comes back empty.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Three Lies We Often Use To Excuse Disobedience"

I read a great blog from Perry Noble that I wanted to share. Take some time today to evaluate yourself in your obedience to God.

Below is part of his blog. Click on the link at the bottom to read it in it's entirety:

First…read I John 2:17…now…

#1 – “Someday”

One of the biggest lies we can tell ourselves when God clearly speaks to our hearts is “someday!”

  • “Someday” is easy because we can say it and, in our hearts know that we never actually are going to do what He’s called us to do.
  • “Someday I will get help in my marriage.”
  • “Someday I will plant a church.”
  • “Someday I will invite him/her to church.”
  • “Someday I will begin reading my Bible.”
  • “Someday I will get serious about my physical health.”

But “someday” usually ends badly for most of us…because “someday” hardly ever turns into “done-day!”

What is it that He’s called you to do? Life is WAY TOO SHORT for us to get at the end of it and have regrets…”someday” needs to be TODAY!!!

Click here to read the full article.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Great To Be Back

The last four months of sabbatical have been a great time of rest and renewal for me. It was a time to refocus our family, renew our spiritual lives, and rest my body. I was blessed to be with my parents in Missouri this summer as they turned 78 and 69 respectively. Thanks to all of you for your faithful prayers. It's great to be back!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Matthew 25

Tomoka Christian’s Food Pantry was the beneficiary of more than two tons of food through the May 8 Boy Scout Food Drive. Below is a report about the drive from Ralph Zellers, who graciously donates his time to coordinate TCC’s Pantry.

“The Pantry was blessed with at least 27 volunteers. All that attended worked on picnic tables in the heat, receiving 195 tubs of donated food from 10 different postal routes. According to Postal Supervisor Bill Klein, each tub equates to 25 pounds of donated food. Doing the math, that equals to 4,850 pounds of food received! The volunteers separated the donated food into categories such as meat, fruit, glass, vegetables and miscellaneous condiments. We then boxed and stored the food for future distribution to Pantry patrons.”

Thank you to all who stepped up to be the hands and feet of Jesus despite the temperatures!

Ralph also shared some fascinating information about TCC’s Food Pantry and the help it is providing to local families.

1. The Pantry has about 32 regular volunteers that operate it throughout each month.
2. The Pantry feeds 35 to 45 families each week. (Most families average three people per family or approximately 160 families and 480 people on the average four-week month.)
3. Other sources of Pantry food include donations from the TCC Mission Wall basket, Publix Supermarkets and Second Harvest Food Bank.
4. To date this year we have received 24,902 pounds of food from Second Harvest at a cost $3,163.53 or an average of $158.00 per week.
5. The Pantry also serves three other ministries: The TCC kitchen, the Palmetto House Ministry and the Homeless Sandwich Ministry.

FYI: The Food Pantry is open each Saturday from 3-4:30 p.m. Those wishing to volunteer are invited to contact Ralph Zellers at (386) 672-6438.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Acts 1:8

We received a thank you note and photo from the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan for a recent shipment of items that members of the TCC family donated. This military unit completes about three humanitarian missions a month. They visit an orthopedic clinic, a children’s hospital, a school for girls and women, a girls’ orphanage and refugee camps. At the camps, most of the refugees live in mud huts, tents or buildings made of rubble.

The letter said: “Your donation of clothing, toys, and school supplies are given to local Afghans. During any one visit, we can serve as few as 10 families to as many as 230. Each family receives several large plastic bags filled with clothing socks, shoes, hats, gloves and blankets …”

“It is your generous donations that make these trips possible. As you can see from the pictures (above), our trips put smiles on their faces.”

Thank you to Andrea Gilbert, TCC’s coordinator of the Afghanistan project!

In the photo at right, Tomoka Christian children led by Panda Rodriguez display clothing and supplies they gathered for the Afghan drive. They surprised Andrea with them — and $90 the children gathered through a month of offerings — on a recent Wednesday. Thank you to Panda and the children for showing God's love to those they'll never meet.

Note: Donations of clothing in excellent condition are being accepted at Tomoka Christian for a future shipment to Afghanistan. Please place them in the Afghanistan basket in the Café.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8

Friday, May 21, 2010

Psalm 139

Tomoka Christian values the sanctity of life and supports five or so different pro-life organizations. But one, called Hope, Help & Life, was launched by three ladies of our own church family, Renee Stump, Bree Littleton and Barbara Beute. The organization participates in local, state and national pro-life awareness events and rallies.

The ladies are excited that they recently received official IRS designation as a charitable organization, called a 501(c)3. This is a big deal, because it means that Hope, Help & Life now can receive donations that are deductible to the fullest extent of the law. This designation also puts the organization in a much better position to receive grants, as well.

Congratulations, Barbara, Bree, and Renee!

FYI: Hope, Help & Life’s address is P.O. Box 4117, Ormond Beach, Florida 32175. It is online here:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Power of Love

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians 4:14-15

I received an e-mail from Jennifer Colella, who leads Tomoka Christian’s ministry to strip clubs called Power of Love. She and her ministry team went on an outreach on Friday. “Each time we go out, we can see the hearts of the lost being drawn closer to God,” Jennifer said. “Little bit by little bit they become more comfortable around the 'church ladies.’ They engage us in conversation and we can see God building the trust necessary to open the doors for relationship.” Below is Jennifer’s report from the night.

We had such an exciting outreach Friday night. God's favor was amazing! At the first club, as we waited for permission to visit with the girls, a young lady approached us and began a conversation with us. She told us she wanted out of the business and is only there to complete her college education. She went on to tell us that her father was a preacher and had died of a rare disease and hasn't been to church since he passed away. She explained that she wanted to complete college so she can work with children who died of the same disease her father did. She seemed to be struggling deeply with her father's death and with God. Once we received permission to pass out the bags, we gave her a card and invited her to call us and suggested meeting for coffee so we could talk some more. Please pray that she would be moved to call us and be willing to meet with us outside of the club. Pray for God to provide the income she needs to be able to leave the business. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to soften the manager’s heart. Pray for the other employees to come to know Jesus as Savior, and for continued favor at that club.

At the next club, most of the ladies were new, but the bartender recognized us and stretched her arm out over the bar and asked if she could have a bag. She said: "I'm not dancing tonight, but I still want my bag!" We laughed and happily handed her a bag. The atmosphere overall was unusually very heavy. On the way out we chatted with the new owner, who thanked us for coming and wished us well. Please pray these women and men would come to know the saving grace and healing power of Jesus Christ.

At the next club, we began passing out bags and on the way out of the dressing room we gave a bag to a young lady who seemed to be in a hurry but curiously searched through the bag asking a lot of questions. It was the first time we had met her, she'd only been working there about 4 months. We told her there was a card in the bag with contact information if she needed anything or had any questions. At the bar we met a woman who was very friendly and grateful for the bags. She said she regularly attends church but she looked very weary and in need of the Lord's comfort. Please pray for both ladies to know God's truth and surrender their lives to Jesus.

At the next club, we began passing out bags and one of the ladies at the bar cheered: "Hey, it's the church ladies!" as she smiled and reached for her bag. Everyone was very friendly and seemed happy to see us. We talked with one woman in the dressing room who thanked us for the bag and explained that she had a daughter who was having a birthday tomorrow and said she was going to give her the bag as a present. On the way out, we handed her an extra bag and said: "This one is for you." She smiled and gave us a hug and thanked us again. We stopped at the DJ booth to give the DJ a bag of treats. Please pray for the women at this and all the clubs who have children. Pray for God's protection over those children. Pray for the Father to provide the financial relief these mothers need to support their children without having to work in the strip clubs. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the male employees towards God and His Word.

The end of the night led us to the doors of a club that only allows us to leave gift bags at the door for the ladies. We were again denied permission to pass out bags, but we left the bags at the door with the manager and one of the dancers. Although the manager always seems to be bothered with our persistence in delivering gifts to the ladies, our hope is that the women will know we have not forgotten them. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the owner, managers, dancers and other employees at that club. Pray for God's will to be done in that place. Ask God to have mercy on the lost inside those walls and for the saving grace of Jesus to transform their lives.

As we closed out the night, we were in awe of God's immense favor and the power of God's Spirit working to soften the hearts of the lost we so desperately want to see know His love.
Note: If you want to help ensure that this ministry can expand the number of filled bags to distribute, you are invited to donate 3 to 4 ounce bottles of new, quality scented body wash, lotion & sprays; fashionable jewelry (bracelets, earrings and necklaces); and new make-up of all sizes and brands (samples OK). Donations may be deposited in the Power of Love basket on the Mission Wall in the Cafe. Jennifer may be e-mailed here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Overcoming Strongholds

I received an inspiring note from Jim Utter, a member of the Tomoka Christian family. After many years of battling alcoholism, Jim finally surrendered it to the Lord. Now, his struggle with this sin is over!

After 12 years of receiving God's personal gift of grace, not only am I a changed person, but now feel compelled to share my life-changing experience with others who may be struggling with the same bondage that I had become a slave to.

That bondage was alcohol. That's right... WAS alcohol, past tense. The struggle for mind control was won by God and has been removed from my thought patterns entirely!

For 15 years I battled the demon of alcoholism, through self will, through family intervention, through hospitalization, alcoholics anonymous, mockery, thoughts of suicide, and more significantly a complete surrender to its mind control.

One night I felt deeply compelled to go outside. It was the wee hours, cold and still. The side light was on. I cried out to God, "Please God remove this demon of mind control. I cannot do it alone. I need your help as only Your will can provide me."

I went down on my knees. All the weight of my body was gone. I put my cheek to the cold Earth. To my right was a single sea grape leaf. Next I held it up to the light and there I saw outlined was the "tree of life" represented by the veins in the leaf, shaped like a tree, with its trunk and branches.

All this happened in only a few seconds, yet it seemed timeless in scope and power. It was the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ filling me with a "new life," beginning at that very moment.

Pastor Joe, God's truth is AMAZING! My prayer was answered! I truly believe that it was that prayer of total surrender that removed my struggle and most importantly, my sin of alcoholism was forgiven.

You see, about one month ago you boldly stated that alcoholism was a "sin" and not a disease. I, for one, can honestly say with my whole heart that you are right: alcoholism is a sin. Mine was forgiven completely. Now I have my life with God as my co-pilot and Jesus as my navigator. We have an awesome GOD!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Proud Partner

I'm excited to share with you that our lead missionary to Egypt, Safaa Fahmi, was featured in a recent issue of the Christian Standard magazine. His work with CAS was the highlight of the article, "Egyptian Churches Move Toward New Testament Principles." Read it online here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Confessions For Overcomers

My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, (1Cor. 6:19) redeemed, (Eph. 1:7, Ps. 107:2) cleansed, (1 John 1:7) and sanctified by the Blood of Jesus (Heb 13:12). My members, the parts of my body, are instruments of righteousness (Rom. 6:13), yielded to God for His service and for His glory. The devil has no place in me, no power over me, no unsettled claims against me. All has been settled by the Blood of Jesus (Rom 8:33-34). I overcome Satan by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony, and I love not my life unto the death. (Rev. 12:11) My body is for the Lord and the Lord is for my body. (1 Cor. 6:13)

I am not just an ordinary man or woman: I am a daughter of the Living God. I am an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. I am one of God’s people. (Gal. 4:6-7, 1 Peter 2:9) My mind is being renewed by the Word of God. I pull down strongholds. I cast down imaginations and I bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 10:4, Rom 12:2). I am accepted in the beloved. If God is for me, who can be against me? Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. (Rom. 8:35-39)

Satan is defeated; the Son of God came in to the world to destroy the works of the devil. No longer will he oppress me. I defeat Satan and all demons by the Blood of Jesus and the word of my testimony not loving my life unto death. I submit to God: I resist the devil and he must flee from me now. (Rev 12:11, James 4:7-8)

No temptation will overtake me that is not common to man, but God is faithful; He will not let me be tempted beyond my strength but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape that I will be able to endure. (1 Cor. 10:13)

I give no place to fear in my life. That which a man fears comes upon him. The fear of man brings a snare, but perfect love casts out fear. I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears (2 Tim. 1:7, 1 John 4:18, Ps. 34:4) The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear. (Ps. 27:1, Ps. 46:1-2)

I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. (Rom. 1:16) I am a believer not a doubter, I have faith towards God. My faith is not in myself or the realm of my feelings, but in a living God who will never fail me nor forsake me. I walk by faith and not by sight. (Heb. 11:1-6) I will be anxious for nothing. He will keep me in perfect peace, for my mind is stayed upon Him. (Phil. 4:6-7, Is. 26:3) I choose this day to love by faith, to walk by faith, and to see with the eyes of faith. I will go from faith to faith, from strength to strength, from glory to glory. (Rom 1:17, 1 Cor. 5:7) I look not to the healing but to the healer; Jesus Christ, my Lord. My body is for the Lord and the Lord is for my body. He took away all my illnesses and carried all my diseases. By His stripes I am healed. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is a work in my body giving me life. (1 Pet. 2:24, Mat. 8:16-17)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life Can Be Really Shaky

The entire world seems to be moving with earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Taiwan as well as tremors throughout the world. Our lives are shaky even without the earthquakes due to little issues related to marriage, money, broken health and grief. Our faith in Jesus and His unshakeable Kingdom is vital in surviving all of the quakes, small and large, in our lives.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:25-29
Here are a few more key verses for all of us to read to prepare us for what lies ahead.

1 Kings 19
Matthew 28:2
Acts 16:26
Matthew 24
Revelation 11
Revelation 16

The earth and our lives will continue to shake. The question is, do you have a firm foundation?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Seeing Life Through the Eyes of God

Here are a few more powerful verses I encourage you to commit to memory.

"They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong."
Psalm 73:4

"Lord, by such things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live." Isaiah 38:16

"At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food." Daniel 1:15

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Great Library

The practices of writing, collecting, and reading manmade documents is as old as man himself. I don’t know if Adam wrote any books but am confident that he had the ability to write. Great scrolls and clay tablets have been found amidst the cultures of Israel, Egypt, Turkey (Hittites), Iran (Persians), Iraq (Babylonians) and many others, including the new world nations.

The Library of Alexandria in Egypt has a mythical image of a scroll that it contained before the building’s destruction, which historians suspect took place between the years 400 and 600 AD. Today the new Alexandria Library is an impressive archeological wonder with a wealth of pictures and other resources. However, it is doubtful that anyone in the world would question the fact that the greatest library on earth now is the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., pictured here. It contains 142 million documents and adds more every day.

A yawn might escape you as you wonder why I am including this fascinating information. The prophet Daniel is our next stop. “But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” (Daniel 12:4)

Two of the signs of the end times are the ability to travel all over the earth and a rapid increase of knowledge. I am writing this blog from my little writing table in my bedroom. I am surrounded by more technology than most nations throughout history possessed. In fact, my grandfather, who died in 1976, would not be able to name or explain half of the items that surround me. I have the history of the universe at my fingertips. As exciting as it is to have all of this knowledge at the touch of a button, I am reminded that the end of the age is at hand. We must return to Daniel’s writing: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)

Winning people to Jesus is all that matters! King Solomon states the facts this way:

“The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11-14)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tiger and Me!

In Matthew 5:27, we read, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ ”

In this passage Jesus is quoting Moses, who is quoting Jesus. Perhaps this is a little confusing but Jesus is God and Moses got commandments from God. These commandments state, "You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 21:14) and "You shall not commit adultery” (Deuteronomy 5:18). Therefore, in reality, Jesus is quoting himself!

What you are about to read may upset you, yet I hope you will process God’s words. Whether we are discussing adultery or any other sin mentioned in Exodus 20, two key factors must be processed.

The first factor is that without a Biblical worldview, one might wonder why adultery is wrong. If we are a product of evolution, where does any other ethic come from if not from oneself? Through that lens, what Tiger Woods did would not only be OK, it would be good because it was good for Tiger.

Many in our culture continue to distance our nation from her Judeo-Christian roots, yet our entire system of laws and morality are built upon the ethics of the Biblical text. Are Tiger’s actions wrong or right? This question can only be answered properly based on a moral absolute.

Our second factor is the issue of addiction. The term turns everyone into a victim, as though no one is ever responsible for his or her own behavior. Did anyone force Tiger to be unfaithful? Did anyone ever force you to drink, do drugs, or abuse? I do understand that some grew up in more difficult circumstances than others, but we are still missing the key ingredient in all our problems. This ingredient is what God calls SIN!

Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Meanwhile, in Romans 6:23, we read that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The word "sin" implies missing the mark. What mark? God’s mark! Therefore, our surrender to Jesus and repentance is the only hope for wholeness. I am wrong. I have sinned. I am not the victim. I am the guilty party. Sin has wreaked havoc in all of our lives, but the issue is not to analyze my culture but my own choices.

Jesus gently made this statement to a woman caught in adultery that is detailed in John 8:10-11. “Jesus straightened up and asked her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? No one, sir, she said. Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Albert Pujols, superstar athlete and St. Louis Cardinal, said it best. “As a Christian, I am called to live a holy life. My standard for living is set by God, not by the world. I am responsible for growing and sharing the gospel.” Pujols’ words were spoken at Manly Night, an annual evangelistic event held in January in a St. Louis, Missouri, high school. In his message, he added, “I can’t think of a greater place to celebrate my 30th birthday than with you guys, sharing my heart and lifting up the kingdom of Jesus.”

The three-time National League MVP said he prefers to live his life for Christ, not for himself. “It would be easy to go out and do whatever I want, but those things only satisfy the flesh for a moment. Jesus satisfies my soul forever.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Names of God

We serve an awesome God! He has been given many names and each reveals our Lord in a different way.

I encourage you to prioritize learning the names of God. An extensive list is online here at "Smile God Loves You."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Use It Or Lose It

Countless numbers of people are serving as the hands and feet of Jesus through the many vital ministries at Tomoka Christian. Below are a few that you may not have known about that I encourage you to explore if they are a good match for your God-given talents and gifts.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Hospital Ministry
This ministry exists to show God’s love and compassion through visitation and prayer to those in nursing homes, hospitals, secured living, or homebound. Contact for men: Ray Lewis at (386) 671-1466. Contact for women: Annette Vincelli (386) 586-2260.

E-mail Prayer Team
Each member prays independently for urgent requests that are received via email. Contact Linda Marshall at (386) 677-5455 or Pam Gilmer at (386) 212-0963.

Tomoka Loves Children
This ministry provides lunch money for grade school children whose parents cannot afford lunches. Also helps with school trips, supplies and sweaters during cold weather. Contact Ron Tenney at (386) 671-1457.

God’s Counsel
This ministry provides free, confidential Christian legal assistance. It handles legal matters excluding divorce and bankruptcy. Led by Judy Davidson and Scott DuPont. Contact the church office at (386) 677-6455.

This ministry is for those 16 and older. Learn to act, write, produce, and direct Christian drama. Contact Rob Rodriguez at (386) 676-2328.

Chariots of Praise
Volunteers greet and direct Tomoka Christian’s guests as they enter and navigate the campus before and after services. Contact Larry Valenta at (407) 221-6228.

This bereavement group is for men and women who are grieving a loved one who has died. Contact Cindy Pinion at (704) 402-0370.

Hispanic Service
This service in Spanish takes place at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoons in the Worship Center. An interpreter is provided for those who do not speak the language. Contact Yolanda Cintron at (386) 441-8720.

Good News Clubs
Good News Clubs for elementary students meet at Pine Trail Elementary School and the Ormond Beach YMCA. Meeting time at the school is from 2-3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, while the YMCA group meets from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Those with a heart for children are welcome to assist with Bible stories, songs, active games, scripture memorization and snacks. Training provided. Contact Marc Wooten at (386) 615-8627.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Test Me

Below is a story from Lauren, a member of the Tomoka Christian family. She began tithing recently, and right away experienced first-hand how God makes good on his promises of provision to those who take Him at His Word.

This past week, I tithed a little more than 10 percent. This week I had so many blessings from God! I went to look for an apartment on Monday and they just had a one-bedroom open up on the first floor. The rent would be $620. Then when I went back with my application, the lady saw my financial record asked me if $320 a month would be OK for me! It could only be God. Then I went today to the Love Center that Calvary has and I got dishes, etc. When I was there Sandy called and told me A Second Blessing had a table and two chairs for me! I went over there and asked if everything was half price — and the volunteer said I didn't have to worry, that everything I wanted was at no cost. The blessings just keep happening and I believe it is due to being obedient to God.
" 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.' " Malachi 3:10

Friday, February 19, 2010

Power of Love update

Jennifer Colella leads TCC's ministry to strip clubs, Power of Love. Below is an update from the most recent visit she and her team made to the downtown Daytona area.

Praise God for another safe and successful outreach! We headed to Daytona Friday night bearing gifts of homemade cupcakes and Valentine's gift bags filled with goodies for the ladies. We went to club #1 and were given favor once again. The ladies were happy to receive the bags and cupcakes. One young lady asked why we were giving her gifts. When told it was because she is worthy and loved, her eyes welled up with tears. She said no one had ever told her she was worthy before. On the way out, after giving out the last bag, we realized a young lady was following us. We turned around and with a shy hello we realized she wanted a bag! We asked her to hold on as we went out to the van and got a bag just for her. In return we got a big hug, a smile and a thank you.

We headed to club #2. The owner wasn't around, but we were still welcomed in. Once in, we were shocked to find out that by 8 p.m. they had 70 women! We knew we didn't have enough bags, so we decided to hand out what we had in our hands and come back after we went to the other clubs if we had extra bags. We went to the dressing room to drop off the cupcakes and passed out bags to all the ladies there and made our way back out to the van. We were heartbroken to leave without giving everyone a bag, but we felt sure we would have extra bags after we finished the last two clubs.

We went on to club #3. There were a lot of ladies there, but mostly new faces. We didn't see any of the regulars. Club #4 was like a ghost town. We did get to talk with the manager, but there were only two dancers and a bartender working. Like all the other times, the atmosphere was so heavy and depressing.

We were excited to have extra bags so we could go back to club #2. This time as we made our way around the floor, we saw the owner. The last time we saw him on our Christmas outreach he was very anxious because his girlfriend, who was struggling with drugs, had been missing and no one knew where she was. This time however, he was very excited to see us and even told us his prayers had been answered. He explained that his girlfriend has been clean and sober for three months now and was very happy that their relationship was doing well. He then pointed to the stage and said: "There she is." If you remember, months ago he had told us that she wanted him to quit the business and that it was the club environment that caused her drug problem. We were excited to hear she's sober, but knowing that she's back in the club raises concern. The really awesome thing about this whole situation is that we know her heart is to see them both out of this business. She has asked him to quit many times. She's sober right now and we were able to meet her and give her a bag. The seed has been planted, and God is working.

Before leaving we apologized to the owner of club #2 for not having enough bags for all the ladies. He said most of these girls weren't regulars anyway and it doesn't matter because we come all year long and any of the regulars we missed will catch us another time. That was so encouraging to hear him express his approval and even expectancy to see us again. I told him we'd be back in April so that any of the ladies who have missed us in the past will be able to count on a date that they could see us and receive a bag. I also asked him if the girls liked what they were receiving in the bags. He said, "Absolutely, these women are like little girls on the inside and need to be treated special, but these guys don't get that. They don't understand. The girls love it when you come in here and give 'em gifts." God has so blessed us with this club! Already, the team can't wait to go back! What a wonderful ending to the outreach! This was the fastest outreach we've ever had, and although it would of been nice to have more bags, the night went extremely well with God reminding the team just how important this ministry is and confirming that we need to keep going with an expectant heart because we are expected!

We had an added surprise blessing after the outreach. One of the ladies we met on an outreach contacted us and wanted to go to church with us! A team member picked her up Sunday morning and we got to worship with her and she even went up front after service with a team member to pray. After church we were able to take her to lunch and had a really wonderful morning. God is so faithful and good!

Thank you so much for all your prayers and hard work with the bags, baked goods, and donating time, money and supplies. This Kingdom work couldn't be done without all of you. You are special, you are appreciated and loved very much!
Note: If you want to help ensure that this ministry can expand the number of filled bags to distribute, you are invited to donate 3 to 4 ounce bottles of new, quality scented body wash, lotion & sprays; fashionable jewelry (bracelets, earrings and necklaces); and new make-up of all sizes and brands (samples OK). Donations may be deposited in the Power of Love basket on the Mission Wall in the Cafe. Jennifer may be e-mailed here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Give Me Strength

Here are a few more scriptures that can help you during the rough times of life.

  • Psalms 103:1-5 NKJ – Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

  • Psalms 103:20-22 NKJ – Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Bless the LORD , all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! All that is within me I praise your Holy Name!

  • Psalms 91:1-2 NKJ – He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God in Him I will trust.” Praise you LORD, You are an awesome and righteous God.
Excerpted from Crowned with Lovingkindness.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Making the Most of Adversity

I received an interesting e-mail note from my friend, Gene, that I thought I’d share.

“Someone broke into my car when it was parked at work this past weekend. I had probably one to two hundred dollars of music CDs in two storage cases and a few sitting loose in the car. But all that they took was my Bible and a flashlight!

While it hurt me deeply that they didn't like my taste in music, I hope and pray that with the flashlight and the Bible that whoever did this will come to the Light and find the Way in Life!

This happened on Saturday. We worshipped at TCC on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning (at my workplace), I parked my car in the same place. My new Bible, which is in plain sight in my car, has a blue polka dot cover. Inside is a sticker that says, ‘If you steal my Bible ... please call me and I will talk to you about my JESUS!’ “

Monday, February 8, 2010


Here are a few more scriptures that can help you during the tough times of life.

  • Mal 4:2 NKJ – But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings. LORD, you are Jehovah Rapha – The LORD who heals me.

  • Luke 10:19 NKJ – Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

  • 2 Cor 12:9 MSG – God said: “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness…I just let Christ take over!”

  • Eph 1:13,14 NKJ – In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. LORD thank you for the free gift of Your Holy Spirit.
Excerpted from Crowned with Lovingkindness.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. Deuteronomy 18:9-14
God warns that His people are not to get involved with the occult world. The spirit world is real and dangerous. In Exodus 5, the Egyptian astrologers/magicians were able to copy God’s miracles. God revealed to Moses what we call the 10 Commandments. The first four listed in Exodus 20 remind us of our relationship with our deliverer, God. We are to have NO other gods.

The occult world has appeal, as it sounds spiritual. But in reality, it is witchcraft. As you read Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, the spiritual battle is obvious. This battle is to be taken seriously, beginning with deciding which side you will be on.

What do these passages forbid?
1. Child sacrifice, prostitution, abortion
2. Witchcraft, sorcery, spells, voodoo
3. Fortune-telling
4. Omens
5. Spiritualists
6. Seances, Ouija boards
7. Tarot cards
8. Drug use
9. Astrology/zodiac

We know the living God. If you want to know the future, read Luke 21 and the book of Revelation! Many Christians have missed this vital warning, engaging in these activities while thinking they are being spiritual or simply having fun. They are playing with fire.

Please consider passing this information on to those you know, and purchasing a vital resource, “Out From Darkness: A Spiritualist Medium Escapes Satan's Clutches.” This book is written by Ben Alexander, who spent many years involved in the occult before coming to know Christ.

Monday, February 1, 2010


As challenges come your way, remember to cling to prayer and to God’s promises in Scripture. Here are a few passages to help you feel His peace.

Psalms 91:10-12 NKJ – No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. I trust you to keep me safe from harm, in Jesus name.

Psalms 91:14-16 NKJ – Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation. Praise you LORD for healing me from all my iniquities and sin.

Prov 4:20-23 NKJ – My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it springs the issues of life. Thank you God for your divine wisdom, may I cherish your life giving Word all the days of my life. In Jesus name I pray.

Excerpted from Crowned with Lovingkindness.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Seeking comfort from scripture is the best way to handle the storms of life. Here are a few passages that can help you, with accompanying prayers.

  • Psalms 46:1 NKJ – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Thank you Lord you are always near to me you never leave me or forsake me during times of trouble.

  • Psalms 46:10-11 NKJ – Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Thank you Lord of Hosts who goes forth to guard and protect me from harm. Praise your Holy Name, You are an Almighty God!

  • Hab 3:2 NIV – LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known. Thank you God that you are abundantly available for help in tight places.
Excerpted from Crowned with Lovingkindness.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Am I?

Every time I turn around someone is putting a new label on me. Here is a partial list of who people may state I am.

• Fundamentalist
• Bible thumper
• Anti-abortionist
• Anti-equal rights
• Homophobic
• Right wing extremist
• Environment hater
• Climate change denialist

Wow! Now, I think I'll write down my thoughts of who I am.

• Created by the Almighty God
• Saved from sin by the blood of Jesus
• Bible believer
• Pro life
• Pro marriage – man/woman
• Pro child
• Pro adoption
• Pro truth
• Pro freedom
• Pro grace
• Pro personal responsibility

Jesus said in Matthew 5 that I am the light of the world. I love who Jesus makes me to be!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Finding Strength Through the Storm

I recently read an article by John Piper, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” It was written on the eve of his prostate surgery a few years ago. While it hits home for me, the wisdom applies to all of us as we struggle through life’s crises.

I recommend you check out "Don't Waste Your Cancer" online here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Be Careful Little Thumbs What You Text

Mark Batterson of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., posted a great reminder to all of us that communications can be used for good or evil. As he puts it in "Be Careful Little Thumbs What You Text," we need to remember that God is blind-copied (BCC) on everything we write!

Read Mark's post here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti relief

We have a better idea now about specific items that are needed by those at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission who are helping victims of the earthquake. While donations of money are by far the most needed, other items they are seeking include:

  • Baby formula
  • Peanut butter or any other high-protein food: Protein bars, beans, canned meat
  • Any foods that do not have to be cooked
  • Medical supplies: Bandages, sutures, splinting supplies, IV fluids, antibiotics, any over-the-counter medicines -- must be dated at least six months out
There is no need for clothing at this time.

Items from the list will be accepted this weekend and during the week through Wednesday only so that we can ship the items ASAP. Please put your donations in the large container that is expected to be in the Tomoka Christian parking lot by this evening. You are encouraged to ask your neighbors and co-workers to participate. Please note that money will continue to be accepted beyond Wednesday. Checks may be made out to TCC with "Haiti relief" written in the memo line. Online financial donations are welcome here.

This weekend, Tomoka Christian will offer Haiti T-shirts for sale, with all of the money going toward rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, below are two heartrending blog excerpts by Jody Castillo and Melonnie Kelly, two of our missionaries to Haiti dealing with the devastation.

From Jody - her blog is here

Two orphan boys came back with a tragic story. The quake started and they ran out of the house as it fell and killed everyone in it. They ran to another house that had their friends and only one person came out. A school full of little children fell and everyone died inside. We could barely understand their story through the sobbing. I had to ask three different times to really understand and I honestly may still be missing something. Everyone is mourning as news continues to filter in. Why tell you that? Because I'm trying to make this real - not just something you see on the news. This isn't some distant land - this is my home. The terror in their eyes is something I will never forget and I want you to picture what that looks like. They have had nightmares all day long. They told me they will never be the same. They were shaken and scared and in shock. How many others are that way, those that did survive and will never forget what they saw? How could it not change the life of every single person there? Lord Have Mercy On Haiti.

From Melonnie - her blog is here

We have a truck leaving at 4 a.m. (today) filled with tons of medical supplies. Melissa and Maureen are going with five of our Haitian staff. Please pray for them. I pray God's protection around them all.

We invited all of the Haitian staff to join us in a time of worship and prayer tonight. It was very emotional. Ivenor (my friend and assistant) has not heard anything about his parents yet and is fearing them dead. Watching him cry for them brought Susan and RJ to their knees weeping. Please pray that we can all be strong. There is so much sadness around us. It is hard to stay on top of it.

Please keep praying for Haiti.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." Mark 9:41

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Whatever It Takes!

A team of 24 returned over the weekend from a rain-soaked but action-packed 10-day mission trip to Haiti. Below is an account of some of the team’s activities, written by TCC’s missionary to Haiti, Melonnie Kelly. See photos from the trip here.

The team had a rainy but fun day. They started with church across the street this morning. It was a special New Year’s service so there was lots of singing and celebrating. A visiting pastor from a Christian college in Nebraska preached with a translator, so we were all able to hear God's Word in a language we could understand.

This afternoon was filled with rain, unpacking and sorting supplies, more rain, setting up tents, cleaning out a storeroom and organizing the pantry, loving on the baby orphanage babies and the Miriam Center kids and more rain.

Tomorrow’s plans include a couple different construction projects, a carnival with the nutritional program kids, sports camp, dance camp and meals on feet — ALL outside activities. It has been raining pretty much since everyone got here.

Today was amazing! It was pouring out all day long, but that didn't stop the team! They found all kinds of projects to jump in on. They helped out in the Miriam Center, moving beds, laying foam tiles on the floors and loving on the kids. They did hut-to-hut visits in the pouring rain. They held the babies from the baby orphanage while another team painted it. They delivered "meals on feet" to the granmoun (elderly) downtown this afternoon.

The sun was shining this morning (and most of the day) so plans were full steam ahead. The team started off two construction projects today, clearing the property for the new greenhouse we are building and preparing the roof for one more baby bungalow for the baby orphanage. Lots of heavy lifting!

Anyone not involved in construction helped another team run a carnival for the nutritional program kids. All hands on deck and it was a huge success!

The afternoon involved more construction, a sports camp for 100 boys and a dance camp for the girls. Meals on feet (delivering food to the elderly) ended a very busy day.

Another day of changed plans for the team. This morning brought the news that the orphanage trip wasn't going to be possible for today. The mountain roads are just too wet and slippery from all of the rain we've been having. The team was very disappointed but quickly pulled together a new plan for the rest of the week so that the trip could be rescheduled.

They held a sports camp this morning and a street VBS this afternoon. There were hut-to-huts, dance parties in the Miriam Center and granmoun feedings. I was incredibly proud of the way they continued to make the most of every situation and didn't waste a moment.

The team had an AMAZING day today! For once the rainy weather didn't interfere. It just made the day more interesting.

The day was spent in Ansefelour. It was a muddy ride there and back with much starting and stopping, pushing and walking. The important thing is we made it! We started with a VBS at the church for 150 kids. We then made our way to the voodoo temple. It was an eye opening experience for all of the new people for sure. They were able to sit in the room where the people go to pray. They then toured the temple seeing where the people stay that move in to pray until their prayers are answered.

The rain stopped a few from trying the mountain but most made their way up to the voodoo monument at the top. It was a VERY muddy hike up there and very slippery hike down. Well worth it as praying in the name of Jesus in the midst of such darkness is amazing.
The day ended with meals on feet. A busy but great day for everyone!

The team had a good trip to the orphanage. It was 6 hours round trip on the bus so it was a LONG day but good. The field day was a huge success!

Today they are heading off to Tortuga for VBS and soccer and will have a Christmas party for the granmoun and Miriam Center kids this afternoon. They leave at 4:30 tomorrow morning to start the trip home.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Blind Side

I almost never recommend a movie to anyone. This is primarily because I only see two or three a year, usually involving Indiana Jones. However, “The Blind Side” is quite different. While I cannot recommend everything in the movie, this true story is both compelling and heartbreaking.

This story likely will motivate you to examine the purpose of your life. Our culture is full of children – newborns through teens – who need a chance. This is a movie that could change the future for millions of them. Could you make a difference in the life of a child? Are you the answer to a soul being saved or a life rescued? Is God calling you to change the culture itself? Perhaps you should see the film, and then consider looking into foster care, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, inner-city mentoring or adoption. See the trailer here.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


My friend, Denny, sent me a note during the holiday season that serves as a fitting reminder of God’s love. No matter what our earthly struggles might be, we can trust that our heavenly Father has promised us eternal life that nothing on earth can overcome.

Up until a few days ago, I really was not looking forward to Christmas this year. Financially this has been a tough year. Spiritually, I have been drained, helping a good friend deal with the loss of his father and trying to understand how cancer is about to claim the life of a beloved friend and employee, Linda. On a much lesser scale, my Gators lost their chance for a perfect season and a repeat National Championship. As a result, I have been a bit grumpy, especially to my family.

My attitude has changed due to some rather unusual gifts. This is the season of Advent — the time when Christians look forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring forth a Messiah, the Son of God whose birth and then his death would bring the gift of eternal life to all who believe. Material gifts that we exchange will always pale in comparison to this incredible gift of love and grace from God.

The first gift that I received in this Advent season was the gift of scripture. Last summer I was talking to a lawyer friend of mine that I have known for many years. I was trying to explain to him how I had started studying the Bible and using the Word to guide me. He was questioning how a book written two thousand years ago by hermits and illiterate fishermen could have any bearing on life in the modern age. I think I have a better answer now then I did then. I will try to explain.

During the Gators' recent loss to Alabama, Tim Tebow had the verse John 16:33 written on the paint on his cheeks. This was a different verse than the ones he had used previously and it was not something that I was familiar with from my studies. So the next day I looked it up and it reads: "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

These words were among the last spoken by Jesus to his Disciples just before He was taken by the Romans. The scriptural message is one of hope that we can overcome our daily problems, no matter how great, through faith. An interesting choice of scripture for Tebow, who has overcome many obstacles as he proclaims his faith to the secular world.

As I have been talking to Linda and her family as they face her cancer, this phrase has come back to me repeatedly. I have prayed it for her as she deals with medical setbacks, but had never mentioned it to her or anyone else. Yesterday Matt and I drove over to Orlando to see her for probably the last time. We had not seen her in several months. Before leaving my office, I meant to print out a copy of John 16:33 to give to her but got caught up in work and did not get it done. We arrived at Linda’s hospital room as she was reading Christmas cards. We made small talk and laughed about some office news that she had not heard. She told me that she was sorry to hear about the Gators. As she was saying this she started reading one of her Christmas cards. The person that sent her the card wrote that they had been inspired by the message from Tebow and as we sat there, Linda read John 16:33 from the card. I was blown away as I told her the relevance of the verse to me.

The timing of this whole event is amazing and further proof to me that Scripture is alive. God can and does speak to us in interesting ways if we open our hearts and minds to Him.

The second gift is the spiritual gift that is from Linda. She started to work in my office on a part-time basis several years ago. She came into the office at a time of significant turmoil. We had been operating without a receptionist for a while and the stress levels were through the roof. To this environment, she brought a level of calm and peace through her composure and compassion. She restored a sense of order and calm and could handle the most difficult client tactfully. She walks daily with God and is able to face any problem, even the pain and ordeal of cancer, with a sense of grace and dignity. She has made an impact on the nurses and doctors in the hospital and she proclaims her faith — both by her conversation and her actions. That sense of peace will long be remembered by Sally, Susan, Matt and myself as we work through the challenges of running an office in trying economic times. More importantly, I will strive to be caring to those around me and not get distracted by whatever troubles I may face.

Linda’s gift during this Advent season is the gift of love, that no matter how trying and difficult our earthly challenges may be, there is always the love of God and the gift of eternal life that this world cannot overcome. It is a gift that I will treasure always. It is a gift well worth sharing with others.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Real Faith

My friend Rusty has been wrestling with forgiving a man, presently on trial, who killed his brother while driving under the influence. Rusty’s blog post, "Forgiveness," is one we all can learn from.

“Today, I would like to start to forgive a man that I know little about but has hurt me just the same. A man who while driving drunk killed my brother.

I have been struggling with this for a while. I had convinced myself that I could not forgive a man who has not admitted guilt. Instead has hidden behind lawyers and legal maneuvering. All the while it was just cultivating the anger that I hold against him. …” Read more