I thought I would make a video of some random pictures I took during the holidays. I miss my brothers terribly, but I am thankful for the beautiful things that God is doing in my family. I am grateful for the child I do have amidst a season of loss. May all of your tragedy be turned into triumph in 2010.
*The last two pics are things Gomer's House received for Christmas.
May you have a blessed 2010 as you seek God's face.
†Love to you from the Cherry Family and Gomer's House!
* I am sorry this is late. The internet was out at our house last night.
Mark Batterson's new book is an exploration of Christianity as we know it. We try to complicate it in our natural man. Mark shows us how Christ is the new Moses. He explains that what Moses said was good, but that the religious have complicated it and missed the point completely. Christ has shown us a simple way to live. This book is a call to creativity, to listening, and to acting on the call of God. I challenge you to make it the first book you read this year. Start a reformation in your own life.
My grandfather used to say that children were born with a natural bent toward creativity. Society (adults) kill this desire that is latent in children with rules and disapproval. I thought Mark had some beautiful points about the creative nature of God. He said as we mature, we become more like Christ and that is shown in our own creative maturing. Many people do not believe themselves to be creative, but we are creative in our excuses and our justification of sin. We are just misusing the creativity inside of us.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It left me with many ideas and sparked some creative desire within me. I could feel God's pleasure hidden in the words. May you be blessed, Mark. May your book be used to glorify God.
Buy this book. This book was provided for review by the WaterBrookMultnomah Publishing Group.
Most of you know that my husband and I are deep in the throes of remodel. In the spring, Denbigh stepped on a hundred year old rusty nail and we got to make a trip to get a tetanus shot. Thankfully, there have been no major accidents since . . . until Friday. Like most fun-oriented young couples, we were hanging drywall on Friday night. With a new utility knife in his hand, Denbigh was cutting down the piece of drywall to fit the chosen spot. Yes, he cut himself. He sliced off the tip of his index finger. I was trying to make light of it and exclaimed, "Baby, the money makers! What are you thinking?" Then I saw the piece of skin on the ground and my soul mate turning a pale, pasty bluish color. I made him sit down and I grabbed a towel to stop the bleeding.
Sitting on the floor with my husband, I noticed him getting more and more pale. His eyes started rolling back in his head and he started mumbling incoherently. Was he having a seizure? Was he fainting? Poor Denbigh woke up to his hysterical wife weeping and saying, "Jesus, is this how it is all going to end!?" Drama much?
I emailed my friend Wyana for some suggestions while my friend Christine talked to a nurse hot line. We didn't have to go to the ER, thankfully.
Realizing that we needed to clean and dress the wound, we headed into the bathroom. Christine cleaned the wound because I was about to toss my cookies. I was sitting in the bath tub to make room for the other three adults in the bathroom. Denbigh was biting down on a paint stick and holding Frank's hand while Christine cleaned his wound. Now, this might seem weird, but this was all of a sudden hilarious to me. Four adults in a bathroom, with my husband biting on a paint stick, and holding Frank's hand. Funny.
Denbigh is doing fine. As soon as he could, he ran and got out all of his guitars to make sure he could still play. The money makers are in full effect! Don't you worry. Nobody tell him I shared this story with you. He'd be upset with me. Come help us at Gomer's House any time. Bring some drywall.
What is this book about? It is a short story devotional that aims to answer the questions we are afraid to ask in our Christian culture. Each days tackles a rarely asked question and invites you to imbibe of the bread of Christ as you confront ideology that has been placed in our minds by faulty sources. I thought it was a unique approach to the devotional. I did not agree with everything stated in it's pages, but it caused me to think about what I do believe about the subjects. I think that is the whole point. What do you believe about God that has come from Him and what have you accepted about God that isn't true about Him at all? It is a great little devotional. Check it out.
You can WIN a copy right here. All you have to do is leave a comment or email me!
I am not talking about main stream false prophets like Osteen, or Meyer, or Bell. This false prophet lingers inside your church appearing to have the very best of intentions. They are many. For every Elijah there are 450 prophets of Ba'al.
"Warnings against false prophets are necessary based on the fact all prophets are not true. Truth can be violated and the gospel's enemies usually conceal their hostility and try to pass themselves off as fellow believers." - DA Carson
They are not always easy to spot. They clothe themselves in the uniform of God's sheep, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Beware. They learn to use narrow gate language. They emulate hard road living. They masquerade as small crowd people.
False prophets use Bible verses. They pray on their faces. Don't be deceived.
We are allergic to this teaching. Wouldn't Jesus want us all to just get along? Somehow drawing a line in the sand and saying that this is true and that is not is considered "unChristian." What fellowship can light have with darkness? Beware. Matthew 7:1 tells us not to judge, but read on...
"Beware of the false prophet (Matthew 7:15)."
Two Marks of a False Prophet:
1. Bad teaching.
2. Bad Living.
Examine the fruit. The false prophet speaks things as though they were from God, but cannot be found in scripture. Test the spirit by the spirits. Let no one deceive you with empty words.
Our culture tells us this is mean and nasty. That's judgmental. That's not "Christian." The Bible says to test the spirits, beware of false prophets, expose the deeds of darkness, and rebuke those who contradict sound teaching.
God has been teaching me a powerful lesson of late. I knew it and believed it, but I wanted to be super nice and give everyone all the chances that I could. Then God told me something loud and clear. "Stop." There are people who are being used to work against the kingdom of God. For us to not believe this, would be for us to say the Bible is not true and spiritual warfare is not real.
Over a period of several months, I kept getting the same message over and over. Beware of the false prophet. Immediately after listening to a podcast from one preacher, I walked into my parents ranch house and saw that a man had shot many soldiers at Fort Hood (a few miles away). That man was a member of the military himself. There was another clear message. The shooter was a clear depiction of a false prophet. He walked among them. He spoke their language and wore their clothing, but given the chance he opened deadly fire upon them.
1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the enemy walks around like a lion looking for someone to devour. A zoologist will tell you one of the top places a lion waits to attack his prey is at the watering hole. In the body of Christ, where do you think this watering hole is located? The church. One friend said he thought that about 75% of the church would fall under the realm of false prophet. High number. Barna research says 60% of the Christian church does not believe Jesus is who He says He is. 60 %. Pastors included.
How can you tell if someone is a false prophet?
Part Two tomorrow.
"The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still."
I read a lot of books and I am thankful to the many publishers who send me free books to read and review. I read about 70 or so books a year. That is terribly nerdy, I know. I just realized that I haven't watched television in 8 years. That would be how I have the time to read. I am always telling Denbigh of the grand insights I learn. He just smiles at me. Finally, I picked up a book he would love for me to read.
Yesterday, we had the chance to meet The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, at Book People in Austin. She was a delight to listen to. I was amazed at how humble and nervous she was. Denbigh was salivating as he flipped through the pages of her book. I am going to attempt to cook through it over the next few months as a way to minister to him. It should prove to be fun! Ask me mid-January what I think of the recipes. I like how she took a new spin on the cook book with much photography and story telling. You did a fabulous job, Ree!
Book People is a grand store if you ever get a chance to go. I had not been in there since they were in a tiny one room building. This thing is spectacular! I want to go back when the place isn't swarming with food crazed women. It was insane! Women were yelling at each other for blocking their view. I think Denbigh was a little scared. I think there were only 4 men in a room of hundreds of women.
In God Gave Us Christmas, we see the beautiful story of the true meaning of Christmas unfold before us. As a mother bear takes her young cub on a journey to find God and the meaning of Christmas, we see the wonders of God all around them. This adventure reminds us that Santa is not the author of Christmas. God has written a beautiful love story to His children and Lisa describes it beautifully. Laomai and I give this book four thumbs up!
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
God Gave Us Love is a cute book that takes the reader on a journey with a grandpa and a young cub. The grandpa explains the types of love God gives us and how God desires for us to love others. My daughter and I enjoyed reading this book together and talking about love. It delivers an easy to understand description of love for young and old audiences alike. It gives a beautiful reminder to love others no matter how we feel. We recommend this book to you.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
The idea behind Leigh's book is to know God by the things He might choose to keep in a treasure box. I thought it was an interesting idea and that is why I chose to review this book. Unfortunately, I could never get into the story. I hate to even say it. It didn't seem to flow. I struggled through the shallowness of comparing the life of Joseph to being evicted from a duplex. It lost me at the lengthy description of a love affair with Harry Potter. Perhaps I am expecting too much from a book about Christ and His treasures. Sadly, I cannot recommend this book to you.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
Denbigh asked me a few weeks back if I felt a greater sense of urgency of late. Is anyone else feeling the birth pains of revival? I do. In these days when the enemy is trying to scatter, discourage, and confuse us, we must stay about the work. In fact, we must be more about the work than we have ever been before. I came across Bryan Padgett's post the other day and my heart started beating fast. I asked him if I could post it and he graciously agreed. Let's be about the Father's business. What is God calling you to do with what you hear? How is God calling you to support this vision?
"I heard the above quote last week during a training in Phoenix, AZ. I love it because it is truth. For so many years now, a weak, tame and small god has been preached week in and week out in churches all across this land. The result: Christians who are scared to death to take chances for the King because of the dangers that they could endure. We have become like that which we worship. We worship a god who is more concerned with our safety and our security. This, friends, is NOT the God of the Bible.
The God of the Bible is dangerous and good! He sends us out like sheep among wolves...dangerous! He calls us to die daily, take up the cross of suffering and follow Him...dangerous! He warns that following Him will make us a hated bunch and a persecuted bunch...dangerous! He calls us to love our enemies...dangerous! He calls us to make disciples of all nations...dangerous! He promises to be with us always...good! He has saved us through the death of His own Son...good! He has given us everything we need and all the blessings of heaven...good! He has reconciled us to Himself...good! Nothing can snatch us from Him and nothing can separate us from His love for us...good! OK, I think the point has been made well enough. He is dangerous and good!
I have heard much of my life that at the center of God's will is my comfort and my security. LIE! At the center of God's will is a bloody, deadly cross with the Father's Son on it! Yes, this cross has purchased for believers eternal comfort and security, but in this life will be much hardship and difficulty. Today there approximately 2,000 people groups that have not even been engaged with missionaries yet, let alone the gospel. 639 of those people groups have a population of 100,000 or more. Some of the largest unengaged, unreached people groups are in northern India and the Punjab of Pakistan. I am speaking about groups that have 10 million people or more with ZERO workers among them. There is a reason these groups are still unengaged. They are dangerous. I write this mostly to draw out the Paul-types who sit in churches week after week wondering what their purpose is. They will eventually get frustrated and go form a non-profit or start a business. They will inevitably re-invent the wheel while telling everyone they don't want to re-invent the wheel. For these unengaged peoples, THERE IS NO WHEEL!
I would like for people to ask themselves one question: "What am I willing to endure to see Christ worshipped among all peoples?" For some it will be leading a team to a place where no work is currently going on. For others it will be living more strategically here in the States so as to bless those who go to the unengaged and unreached peoples of the world. And for some it will be releasing your children into the Lord's hands to labor among the nations. There are many other options, as well. The point is that the Church in America needs to become far more reflective of her Husband, Christ. We need to function and live as dangerously as Christ, and as fixed on the Father as he was. As we fix ourselves on Him we will become like Him, for it has been written that we become like that which we worship. We are living in a day and age when the task of completing the Great Commission is close to being fulfilled. To steal a football analogy, we are in the red zone now. The field is shorter and it's harder to score. There are some hard places ahead of us, but Jesus is not a fool. He knows where He's sending us, and He knows full well what will happen to us. And as has been said to some many pioneers throughout history, God says to us, "Do not be afraid, for I AM with you!" No place can be too hard with that promise!
Enough of the status quo. Enough of the fear of terrorists. Enough of the excuses. Enough of the passion for comfort and security. OK, so here's my question: Are you ready to get in and get after these remaining people groups? If so, message me and let's get the ball rolling. I'm serious! Why wait any longer, let's begin the process and see where the Lord leads.
On Friday, Denbigh and I had the honor of accompanying Robert Barge, author of the Jesus test to Killeen to give away copies of his book to soldiers. Armed with 500 books, we started handing them out. There are those who did not want a copy and I am sure a few who saw Jesus and thought we might be Jehova's Witnesses or something else cultish. With every book that was taken from one of our hands, I teared up.
I don't know about you, but the tragedy at Fort Hood really got to me. I thought about my own dad serving in the military. It could have been any number of people we love. I desperately wanted to do something, anything to show God's love.
One beautiful story that we heard was from a man who told us that his son had been estranged from him and had told him he never wanted to talk to him again. That young man was scheduled to be in that room that day and something happened so that he wasn't. That night, he called his dad.
What if you went to dinner with a friend and she was trying to share with you a story about a wonderful trip she went on with one of her children and you continually stopped her and asked her how the story applied to you? What if you constantly stopped the story to try to get something out of it for yourself, some bullet point to live by? Would she ever want to go to dinner with you again?
We do this to God. We are always trying to break apart the story to get the most out of it for ourselves. We are trying to obtain the 8 steps to have a better life from the book of __fill in the blank__. Perhaps, God just wants you to listen. Jesus was a story teller. People sat at His feet to listen. It was the main way He chose to reveal Himself to those around Him. We try to dissect every word we read without ever listening to the story all the way through. The funny thing is, that the principles we glean don't change us. The story changes us. Listen.
In a time when people are losing the things they have worked so hard for, Dr Jeremiah sets out to call us to the confident life we can have in Christ. The world is more caustic than it has ever been, but we can have faith that God is in control and has a game plan for His chosen people.
I had a love hate relationship with this book. The pages are rich with stories of survival and dependence on God coupled with scripture that reminds us who and what we are in these dark times. He casts vision of the call of God for us to remain awake and aware. I thoroughly enjoyed the things in the book, but I drudged through it. It felt like an old Sunday school lesson that wasn't very well planned out. I didn't feel much at the end. I wanted to. I kept trying to convince myself to like it. There are good things contained in it, but my spirit rarely connected to them. This is rare. I like most every book I read.
On Tuesday night I had the joy of hearing Donald Miller speak about his new book at First Baptist Church in Georgetown, Texas. I enjoyed the drive there on the glorious toll road 130. Upon arriving, I see some of my dearest friends, Cosmo and Suzi who were coerced by my husband to join me. It is always a joy and a blessing to see them. We laughed at the opener, Susan Isaacs. She was funny, and angry, and funny. Then, the Donald, as I like to call him, came out and shared. I enjoy his writing. I enjoy his insight which makes me stare deep within into what I think and believe about God. His story telling causes me to search out God for myself.
One point that the Donald made was about conflict. I wrote about this idea in my book review several posts back. He told us that there was conflict in the Bible before the fall. Adam was naming all of the animals and he was lonely. This could have taken Adam up to one hundred years to name all of the animals on earth, so you can see he would start to notice everyone had a mate suitable but him. Lonely. That sounds like a post fall condition, but there it is. Adam was in conflict. God noticed and let him stay there for a while. This was meant to give Adam a deep desire for a mate. It was meant to stir thankfulness. Conflict is a gift.
He told of disgust at the books Christian authors are putting out with the 5 steps to get more out of Jesus. When we follow these paths if we succeed, WE succeed. If we fail, WE fail. We must thrust ourselves completely dependent into the embrace of the Almighty. There is such danger in us trying to apply the teachings of Jesus to ourselves like we would the teachings of Buddha or Muhammad. We are to put on Christ according to the glorious book of Romans, not dabble in His teachings.
At the end of the evening, the Donald said that something he discovered was "Terribly Interesting" Cosmo turned to me and said, " He reads your blog!" I bet he checks it every day. Blessings on your endeavors, Donald Miller. May God multiply insight and integrity to you.
A friend of mine sent me this note which was resultant of his prayer time. I thought it was interesting. What do you think?
Good Samaritans in Life
You know I get so frustrated in life seeing Christ followers whose actions differ so much.
You have those who are walking down the path, but instead of focusing ahead on God and Jesus, they are walking backwards, focused on the things of the world. They may be walking the right direction, but only in motion.
You have those who are following the path and their sole focus is God and Jesus. They are so focused on this goal they actually will never reach of their own doing. They do not let their eyes waver from the goal. Though there are others walking the same road, they ignore them and kind of push past them. Those who are walking along backwards will cross their gaze every once in a while and they mutter something under their breath and quicken their pace a bit so as to hurry and get past them. Without realizing it they accidentally bump that person and knock them to the ground.
Then you have the others. They are walking forward in the right direction, but mindful of those around them. They see those broken down on the side of the road. They see those not able to walk well, but trudging along. They see those who are walking backwards. They see those who have been tripped. They see those who have given up and are slowly trudging in the wrong direction.
These people though realize this is not a race. You see a race is something you run knowing the outcome is in your hands, knowing your efforts can decide the winner.
We are called to be the latter group. Just as the good Samaritan stopped and helped, not just a person on the side of the road, not just a stranger, but an enemy, we are called to do the same. Make sure you are helping those on the side of the road. Help those that have fallen, get up and hold their hand as they walk with you. When one of those walking backwards hooks their heel and stumbles, catch them, turn them around, put your arm around them and walk shoulder to shoulder with them. Those who are struggling to walk, hold their hand and encourage them.
Remember that no matter how fast you run, you cannot cross the finish line by your own efforts.
Eternity is going to be a party. I want to hear those angels hootin and hollerin when me and my buddies arrive.
The other day I was reading the account of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14 and I saw a beautiful picture. We hear this passage preached about how Peter got discouraged and began to sink because he took his eyes off of Jesus. I even heard one preacher say it was about losing faith in yourself (this I think is misguided, unlike the aforementioned truth).
I saw a parable, a promise, and a prophesy.
Peter wants to believe that Christ is coming and says, "if it is you, call me to you." Jesus says, "Come." Peter begins walking and gets distracted by the wind and begins sinking.
Jesus catches him.
This to me was a prophesy of the failure of Peter, perhaps all of our failure. Jesus was showing him clearly that he was going to lose faith and get distracted by the conditions around him. That he did when he denied Christ three times.
I saw a promise that as we seek Christ that He is poised for rescue even before we know we are sinking. Jesus was giving Peter a picture to have in his mind later when he failed Christ to a much greater extent. He gave Peter the picture of His extended hand pulling him out of the fear and doubt that would seem to engulf him. After he denied Christ, he could remember his Savior's extended hand. When he later saw the Lord on the shore where he would be offered a chance of redemption, he would jump back into the icy waters he had begun to sink into because he remembered that no matter how he failed in faith, Jesus got him back in that boat. The promise is that if you have the tiny amount of faith to leap from the boat, the Lord will do the work of drawing you to Himself.
I saw a parable. We are going to be rocked in this world. We are going to be wanton of the faith to finish the task. We are going to fail. Jesus has given us a picture of His desire for us to come to Him. He will sustain. As the torrential waves of life seem to engulf us and we sink a beautiful thing will happen. As our body lowers, all of the people looking at us (like the disciples amazed at Peter) will no longer see us.
My friend Anne lent me a book recently that her aunt had written. The God of All Comfort by Dee Brestin was a gift to my spirit. Mostly, I hung on every scripture she included in the book. I needed to read them over and over. The book chronicles her husband's death from liver cancer and the beautiful things that unfolded in the life of her five children as a result of their life. It is an encouraging picture to anyone who has lost a loved one. God is using the very thing that brings us so much pain to grant us so much growth.
On Sunday evening, Denbigh and I caught the tale end of the Art for Texas festival that is located on a ranch out by where we live. I love art. I love how the beauty of it can free your soul to experience a deeper and richer life. I was thankful for art that day. The creative beauty of God ministered to me.
There were many artist at this venue (along with musicians and the amazing Danish hot dog). My favorite artist was Michelle Methvin. I bought a few of her prints.
Michelle's Bio: "1982- Michelle was born on an Air Force base in Germany and spent her childhood at various military bases from Massachusetts to Texas. She now resides in San Marcos, TX where she makes her home with son, Elijah. She came to San Marcos in 2004 and is a 2008 graduate of Texas State with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Fine Arts with specialization in painting, Suma Cum Laude.
Michelle draws upon the tumultuous mix of pain and pride that colors the events of her life - most notable the tragedy of losing her husband to the war in Iraq and finding herself alone to raise their 2 year old son at the age of 21. It is a tragedy that marks her as she explres the possibilities of finding love again.
You will see Michelle's passion for philosophy and how it has deepened her understanding of romantic relationships coming through in her art to explore the effects of "fairy tales" ripped away, the joy and pain of love and loss, and the role of women in today's society.
Michelle's work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and fiber arts. She is currently the VP of the San marcos Art League and you can see her art displayed at various locations around Texas and on her website Michelle Methvin"
I was asked for my top ten favorite children's books. Keep in mind, I have a two year old, but several of these books would be good for all ages. You won't believe this, but I am extremely picky about what our daughter reads. These books have been measured against the gospel and come up approved. I hope you find some great selections in here.
I must confess something to you. I have a literary crush on Donald Miller. I have never gone through a book he has written unchanged. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to leave the book different. I wanted to get to the end of the book, but I did not want the book to end. I fell into literary love in Blue Like Jazz and have been shaped as a human being in part by his story telling.
The subtitle of this book is "What I learned while editing my life." As Donald began writing a screenplay from Blue Like Jazz, he learns about story and the art of story telling. We see him contemplate if his own life is a good story and follow him on his decision to make it one.
There were things I gleaned from this book. One thing is that it is very important who you hang around. If your friends have boring stories, you probably will too.
"Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in."
I learned about how much conflict adds to the story. It makes room for a hero, an overcomer. The stories we are most attracted to are about people who have beaten the odds. Why then do we panic when the odds show up? The conflict is what changes us. It molds us. "Every conflict, no matter how hard, comes back to bless the protagonist if he will face his fate with courage." When we stop expecting God to end all of our troubles, we will be surprised by how much we'd like spending time with God.
"...I was a tree in a story about a forest, and that it was arrogant of me to believe any differently. And he told me that the story of the forest is better than the story of the tree."
Truth be told, I had it set in my heart to change my story some time back. I started praying for and asking for hard things. I wanted to join in on other people's struggles and intertwine our stories. I wanted to give something to someone instead of hording it for myself. I am hoping that as the story of my life is written out that it changes and inspires you to give something and to take the hard road for the sake of the change it will produce.
Donald was sharing his theory on how our lives are like stories that others watch play out with a friend. That friend had a young daughter who was struggling with drugs and a dangerous boyfriend. After much contemplation, the man realized he had not written a good story for his family to follow. They were going through the motions of life. He then felt led to pay to build an orphanage in Mexico and got his family involved in raising the money and going to visit the people there. Shortly after this, his daughter stopped using drugs and broke up with her boyfriend. Her father had showed her how to be the hero of her own story and it changed everything."
This book has easily made it's way onto my top ten list.