Thank you for my freedom!

This week I had a conversation with my friend who is a Chaplain in the U.S. Army.  I am so thankful for him and his family!  They are all beautiful and I am so thankful for their service to God and our Country!  I look forward to seeing them over Christmas before heading to their new Post.

Tonight I have been watching Ty Pennington’s Behind the Scenes of Extreme Home Makeover.  It’s a typical night of watching… I can’t help but cry.  Normally I can hold the tears back enough so no one can tell what’s going on… not tonight!

This Christmas look for opportunities you can serve others.  Maybe there is someone you know who serves in one of the branches of the military… how can you serve them this Christmas?  Sears has set up a way to do so if you don’t know someone personally… check it out here.

Catalyst Day 2

There is so much to reflect on for Day 2. 

First, these are most of the people we had the pleasure of learning from today:  Tim Sanders, Jeff Foxworthy, Franklin Graham, Dave Ramsey, Matt Chandler, and Andy Stanley… There were others who spoke or shared I don’t have my workbook in front of me right now.  The icing on the cake was the experience of a lifetime in worshipping the Creator of all things and the King of kings.

I stood there on several occasions during worship and just looked around at the 12,000 people attending this conference on Leadership.  The noise that 12,000 people can make is amazing.  I leaned over to Brad at one moment while everyone was clapping and said something similar to this, “Listen to all of the clapping.  It’s kind of strange to hear how we humans have found a way to express our approval and gratitude to others.  We are no different from other animals in this regard.”  We want to express to people and to God in a manner that shows our approval of them and one way we do so is by clapping.  I paid attention a lot today to how people responded to what they were hearing. 

One of the greatest rounds of applause came for a Staff Sergent from the Army on a 15 day leave who was at Catalyst.  WOW!  He spent 2 of his 15 day leave at this conference… He left the war in Iraq and got his spiritual and leadership batteries charged.  It was an amazing moment to witness his introduction.

There is so much to say as to what I gained from this 2 day conference.  If you have never been to Catalyst I highly suggest going… Catalyst 2008 is by far the BEST conference I have ever been to!  For those of you on the West Coast, Catalyst is coming your way in April 2009!!  Catalyst will be in Orange County, CA. 

Seth Godin gave us his latest book, Tribes.  I have begun reading it tonight and haven’t been able to put it down.  I know I will finish it this weekend.  I have already gotten several ideas on how to implement his ideas in this book to my own “tribe” at work.  I look forward to being stretched this way… my title may be “Area Manager” but my function is to be a leader of those who make up my tribe.  As I apply some of the thoughts I have jotted down tonight as to steps I will begin taking I hope to write on how my team of employees respond. 

The short story about today’s sessions is this:  Missions was a large thrust of today’s topics.  I was challenged to preach the Word, reach people with the preached Word and not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.  The goal of proclaiming Christ is Christ.  Nothing less.  For it to be less would be to lead people to think “you” (or I) did a great job in the presentation.  Doing a great job in presenting the Gospel should never be the goal.  Preach the Word and watch God do the work!

There was so much more that was communicated today that will apply to so many areas of my life.  I look forward to sharing this in the days ahead. 

I am so very thankful for the opportunity to go to this Catalyst.  I words can’t express my thanksgiving.  Thank you!

One more thought about both days.  God orchestrated so much for me over these two days.  From conversations with new and old friends, each of the sessions, the worship, the quiet moments by myself journaling, and the many tears that were shed…  I know everything I experienced was planned by God.  I am so looking forward to unwrapping all of this…

The Election, The Economy, and God’s Purposes

I have a lot on my mind these days.  My mind is always on hyper-thought.  It’s been difficult to capture each of these thoughts… it gets kind of frustrating.

My time has been a bit divided with my thoughts as well.  The news about the election and the economy gets overwhelming.  My mind is made up on the election (I’ve already cast my vote!!) and as for the economy I don’t support this bail out.  The Senate just passed the $700 Billion Bill.  Now it’s in the House’s lap.  One Senator said this was not for Wall Street but rather for Main Street.  Whatever!  Does this mean that the loans are going to start flowing once again?  I don’t think so! (I’m very skeptical – at best!)

You see there I go with my thoughts once again… I didn’t sit down to write about this.  I can say I am on a track now to be focused on our finances like never before.  We are so close to being on the right side of the tracks as far as finances goes… there are a couple of hurdles still yet to make…

But I’m not wanting to talk about that either.  God is good.  I may have some fear over the election, the economy, and finances – but I know God has a plan that is being lived out.  His plan is being worked out globally and His plan is being worked out in your life and mine.  That is so mind blowing to me.

If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, September 29).

I’m trusting God to bring out those deeper levels and allow my thoughts to be effectively communicated for His purposes.  God is so good to us all.  We need to trust Him more than ever through these tough times that we are all facing at this time in history. 

One more hyper-thought… with all of the attention on the election and the economy let’s not forget we have men and women fighting for our country overseas.  We have others preparing for war.  We really need to remember to pray for them and for the leaders of our military.  Pray for God’s peace to rule in their hearts in these troubling times.  I’m asking God to give our leaders wisdom… may God’s purposes prevail.

7 Years and Counting…

Do you remember where you were when you heard the news that planes had been hi-jacked and were crashing into buildings? 

I was in Rio Rancho, NM on September 11, 2001.  I was getting ready for my day when the phone rang.  Pam, our church secretary, called to tell me to turn on the news.  I was standing in my bedroom and turned on the TV.  The first plane had hit the first tower.  While watching moments later the 2nd plane hit.

I recall hearing about another plane hitting the Pentagon… and yet another plane missing.  We all know the missing plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

It was shortly after this day American Flags started showing up everywhere!  If one didn’t have a flag on the car you looked a bit out of place.  “United We Stand” became slogan for the day and the years ahead. 

A sleeping Nation was awakened…

I pray we will not forget September 11, 2001.  I pray we will not let our guard down again. 

Today’s news seven years later leaves us with questions about North Koreaand IranRussiais in the midst of performing military exercises hosted by Venezuela.  Osama Bin Ladan is still at large.  Iraq is showing progress and more attention is being placed on AfghanistanIsrael seeks to defend her Nation in the midst of threats from Iran.

With new challenges on the horizon lets not forget September 11, 2001!

I recall listening to “All for One” by STRYPER in those days that followed 9-11-01.  If I had the gadgets and gizmo’s to make a video in memory to 9-11 – I would use this song.

All for One

By:  STRYPER, 1990.

Take a look around, won’t you tell me what you see
Is there love to be found in this world’s pain and misery?
Tell me, will it ever change?
All for one and one for all
Isn’t that the way that it should be
Will we ever change this world?
United we will stand up tall
United we will never fall
If it’s all for one and one for all
Days are going by, its up to you to make a start
Before this earth of ours turns to dust and falls apart
Right now I know we can make a change
All for one and one for all
Isn’t that the way that it should be
Will we ever save this world?
United we will stand up tall
United we will never fall
If it’s all for one and one for all

Thank you to patrioticon.org for the flag photo.

Walk On

I just watched Saving Pvt. Ryan – again! 

I cried – again!

The sacrifice made by the WWII generation is something those of us who reap the benefit of freedom today will never be able to comprehend.  I’m thankful to those who served then… I’m thankful for those who serve now!

There have been so many lives given so that our Nation may be free… so that many in other nations may live in freedom. 

That last scene in the movie is so moving… it stirs the soul.  “Tell me I’ve lived a good life.”  Those men gave their lives to save this one Private. 

When it is all said and done the bottom line is… How did you live?  What have you done with what you have been given in this life.

We can work and work and work some more… we can gain all the stuff our houses can hold… but without love what’s it worth?  Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”(Mark 8:36, NIV).

I was listening to U2 this weekend.  “Walk On” always moves me.  I was driving down the road while it was playing.  I leaned over to my oldest daughter and said, “Look, this song does this to me every time.” 

I love the first verse,

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring…
And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind (From, “Walk On”, U2)

At times, I find it so hard to love.  To put aside all the “stuff” that goes on in and around my life.  I find it hard to put down the troubles and let love rule in my heart.  Jesus is the source of true love.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 13:15, NIV).

We all have something greater than ourselves to live for… to sacrifice our lives for.