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