Anatomy Of A Flower

Being Part Of The Whole

As with all living things, a flower's intention is procreation. All the various parts of a flower work together toward this purpose, and each plays an essential role in the process. The vivid, delicate petals attract pollinators (birds and bees) who aid in the transfer of pollen. The center is the source and inspiration for the visually stunning petals and the petals, in turn, attract what the flower needs to create seeds and multiply.

When you have an opportunity to serve something larger than your individual self, you are like a petal on a flower, offering your particular brand of beauty and charisma in the service of a centralizing force. This centralizing force might be a person with a higher vision, a community with a common goal, or a spiritual path. Contemplate the ways in which you are a petal on a flower in your life. Who or what is at the center? What core values are you serving?

Consider also any situations in which you are the center of the flower, offering the nourishing seeds of an idea or quality that others are willing to gather around and perpetuate. It takes confidence and vision to be the nucleus. It also takes humility to empower the "petals" around you helping to feed your vision and enabling it to grow beyond you.

Like the parts of a flower, we are all here working together to create and be creative. Whether we are the center or the petal, it helps to be conscious of the seeds we are sowing in the world, as this is how we create the future.

In essence, we are all petals radiating outward from the unified source of energy that is life. Our time on this earthly plane is finite and fragile, and yet we branch out from our invisible source vibrantly and powerfully, attracting energy and making fertile connections that contribute to the continuation of life itself.

[Psalms 103:15-18] As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

[Isaiah 40:6-8] ...All flesh is grass, and all the glory of it is as the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God shall stand forever.


An Onion

Author Unknown
FoodForThought - InJesus.com

I was an onion before Christ set me free. Layers upon layers of iniquity. An ugly old onion whose fragrance was strong; that my Jesus bought and loved all along.

Unknown to me what He was going to do.
Of what He was planning, I had not a clue.
Pulling each layer off one by one.
In order to make me more like Jesus the Son.

The first layer wasn't so bad.
I saw all the sins that I knew I had.
They were easy to fix, just change the way I talk.
And learn more of how He wanted me to walk.

Reading His Word, and learning again;
How to put aside my life of sin.
But the next layer was pulled which hurt more.
He was getting closer to the core.

Unknown what He would find there.
I simply gave it to Him in prayer.
As another layer was removed, He started to cry;
Pulling this layer brought pain to my Father on High.

And I was crying over the sadness I felt;
The brokenness and all of the guilt.
Past memories that I thought were gone;
They were buried under layers disguised in a fragrance so strong.

As onions peel more and more;
And they put tears in our eyes as we get close to the core;
So my Father wept over my pain;
Giving me a balm of comfort and strength to sustain.

"No More Layers." I would scream.
As He continued to peel them off of me.
"I'll have nothing left my Lord, what will I do?
I'll be nothing but a worthless core to you. "

But He just said "Trust me," and continued to peel
I was sure He was blinded to my pain that was so real.
Year after year I shrunk more and more;
Until all that was left of this onion was a core.

It was then that I began to understand;
As the Lord embraced me in His loving hand.
He said, now and only now can you be;
The creation that will minister before me.

Clothed with the righteousness only from above;
Gone are your layers of self so you can be filled with my love.
He took my layers of sin, hurt and pain;
And clothed me with love, truth and mercy in His name.

Yes, we are all onions, learning with each day;
How to overcome as each layer is taken away.
Some layers tear and pull at our heart;
While others grieve us to our innermost part.

But we are nothing but an ugly onion without Christ.
Layers upon layers of pride, sin and strife.
Only God can take those layers away.
And clothe us with His righteousness in that final day.

Small Steps To Big Change

Making Big Change Easier

When we decide that it's time for big changes in our lives, it is wise to ease into them by starting small. Small changes allow us to grow into a new habit and make it a permanent part of our lives, whereas sudden changes may cause a sense of failure that makes it difficult to go on, and we are more likely to revert to our old ways. Even if we have gone that route and find ourselves contemplating the choice to start over again, we can decide to take it slowly this time, and move forward.

Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are merely indicators of the need for change and are useful in getting us moving in the right direction. But it is possible that once we try out what seemed so ideal, we may find that it doesn’t actually suit us, or make us feel the way we had hoped. By embarking on the path slowly, we have the chance to look around and consider other options as we learn and grow. We have time to examine the underlying values of the desire for change and find ways to manifest those feelings, whether it looks exactly like our initial goal or not. Taking small steps forward gives us time to adjust and find secure footing on our new path.

Life doesn't always give us the opportunity to anticipate or prepare for a big change, and we may find ourselves overwhelmed by what is in front of us. By choosing one thing to work on at a time, we focus our attention on something manageable, and eventually we will look up to see that we have accomplished quite a bit. Forcing change is, in essence, a sign that we do not trust the wisdom of the Creator of the universe. Instead, we can listen to our inner guidance and make changes at a pace that is right for us, ensuring that we do so in alignment with the rhythm of the universe.

But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)


Sweetening A Sour Fruit

When Bad Apple Spoils The Bunch

Because life requires that we interact with different personalities, it is not uncommon for us to encounter a situation where there is one person whose behavior may negatively impact the experiences of others. Someone who is loud and crass can interrupt the serenity of those who come together to practice peace. A disruptive worker can cause rules to be imposed that affect their colleagues' professional lives. A team member who is pessimistic or highly critical may destroy the morale of their fellow members. And one "bad apple" in your personal life can be a potent distraction that makes it difficult to focus on the blessings you've been given and the people who love you.

There may always be people in your life who take it upon themselves to create disruption, foster chaos, stamp out hope, and act as if they are above reproach - even when, in doing so, they put a blight on their own experiences. But you don't need to allow their negativity and callousness to sour your good mood. Often, our first impulse upon coming head-to-head with a bad apple is to express our anger and frustration in no uncertain terms. However, bad apples only have the power to turn our lives sour if we let them.

If you can exercise patience and choose not to respond to their words or actions, you will significantly limit the effect they are able to have on you and your environment. You can also attempt to encourage a bad apple to change their behavior by letting your good behavior stand as an example. If your bad apple is simply hoping to attract notice, they may come to realize that receiving positive attention is much more satisfying than making a negative impression. While you may be tempted to simply disassociate yourself entirely from a bad apple, consider why they might be inclined to cause disturbances. Understanding their motivation can help you see that bad apples are not necessarily bad people. Though bad apples are a fact of life, minimizing the impact you allow them to have upon you is empowering because you are not letting anyone else affect the quality of your experiences. You may discover that buried at the very heart of a bad apple is a seed of goodness.

But even good fruits can turn sour if they are just left alone and not utilized within their limited useful lives. In like manner, positive potentials can sometimes cause negative outcomes when they are not utilized within their proper time and season.

When sweet fruits get rotten, they become very acidic. They attract nothing but the decomposers.

The World In A Bright Light


Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings.

There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.

When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure. Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings. Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)


A [Better] Trick

Author Unknown
Food For Thought - InJesus.com

A young man, a student in one of our universities, was one day taking a walk with a professor, who was commonly called the students' friend, from his kindness to those who waited on his instructions.

As they went along, they saw lying in the path a pair of old shoes, which they supposed to belong to a poor man who was employed in a field close by, and who had nearly finished his day's work.

The student turned to the professor, saying: "Let us play the man a trick: we will hide his shoes, and conceal ourselves behind those bushes, and wait to see his perplexity when he cannot find them."

"My young friend," answered the professor, "we should never amuse ourselves at the expense of the poor. But you are rich, and may give yourself a much greater pleasure by means of the poor man. Put a coin into each shoe, and then we will hide ourselves and watch how the discovery affects him."

The student did so, and they both placed themselves behind the bushes close by.

The poor man soon finished his work, and came across the field to the path where he had left his coat and shoes. While putting on his coat he slipped his foot into one of his shoes; but feeling something hard, he stooped down to feel what it was, and found the coin.

Astonishment and wonder were seen upon his countenance. He gazed upon the coin, turned it round, and looked at it again and again. He then looked around him on all sides, but no person was to be seen. He now put the money into his pocket, and proceeded to put on the other shoe; but his surprise was doubled on finding the other coin.

His feelings overcame him; he fell upon his knees, looked up to heaven and uttered aloud a fervent thanksgiving, in which he spoke of his wife, sick and helpless, and his children without bread, whom the timely bounty, from some unknown hand, would save from perishing.

The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears. "Now," said the professor, "are you not much better pleased than if you had played your intended trick?"

The youth replied, "You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget. I feel now the truth of those words, which I never understood before: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

In every situation, there are always two opportunities; to do bad or to do good. Choose to do the good thing therefore no matter how insignificant it may seem to be; for you never know what great blessing there is that awaits.

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)


An Instrument Of God's Peace

The Prayer of St. Francis
By Fr. John Dear

Lord make me an instrument of your peace--

Let me serve as a channel of your love and peace, a reconciler of peoples, an apostle of Gospel nonviolence. Help me to love all people, including the enemies of my country. Use me as a voice and instrument for nuclear and total disarmament. Make me a witness to your way of suffering love and redemptive goodwill. Use me in your struggle to liberate the oppressed, create justice for the poor, resist systemic injustice, topple the idols of death, denounce the gods of war, and beat swords into plowshares. Use me to unmask the false peace of the world, which buries the cry of the poor, the blood of the oppressed, the victims of war. Use me to create your peace, the peace which comes through the nonviolent cross and resurrection. Fashion me into a person of contemplative nonviolence; a person of prayer, mindfulness, harmony, and wisdom. Let me radiate your disarming grace and light and presence to all.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love--

Transform the hatred in my own heart into your love, understanding, compassion, forgiveness and grace. Disarm me so that hatred disappears and love flows freely. Use me to build bridges between divided peoples, to soothe their fears, to see one another as sisters and brothers. Let me sow the seeds of love that will bear fruit in a new spirit of repentance, mercy, disarmament, justice and liberation for the poor. Extinguish the flames of war and spring forth your life-giving waters of love--in the church, between the races and the genders, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, in Baghdad and Washington, D.C., in Calcutta and Mississippi, in Rwanda and East Timor, in Haiti and El Salvador, in South Africa and the Philippines, between East and West, North and South. Help me to sow seeds of agape, compassion and peace, and to water and care for those seeds that they may flower into your reign of nonviolence.

Where there is injury, let me sow pardon--

That I may forgive seventy times seven times, and teach forgiveness by my life; vowing like the Buddha compassion toward all living things for the rest of my life; healing especially those who have lost loved ones to violence and murder, that they may forgive those who murdered their loved ones. May we as a people grant clemency to all, including those who have murdered. May the death penalty be abolished, deterrence discarded, and the just war theory thrown away. May healing, repentance and forgiveness be the new spirit of the times. May we repent for our use of nuclear weapons on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and apologize; may we pardon all crimes of war and genocide by disarming our arsenal to ensure that they never happen again. May all claim their true identity as your children; and may you continue to forgive us our sins, our rejection of you, and our violence to you on the cross.

Where there is doubt, faith in you--

In the midst of this culture of death--faithless, insecure, fearful, idolatrous, vengeful, arrogant, materialistic; in the doubting church, believing in the culture's empty promises, illusions, material goods, idols of death, the false security of its bombs and militarism instead of you; let me sow seeds of living faith in You. Help us to trust you who remain faithful to us. Let our faith manifest itself in the committed lives we live, true to the Gospel, to your way of nonviolence and suffering love. Let us keep your covenant of peace and remain faithful to you yourself, our gentle father, our loving mother, our faithful God.

Where there is despair, only hope--

Low grade despair and high octane desperation; no win situations with no way out; in the midst of anxiety, panic, loneliness, fear, devastation, poverty, war, death itself--there, let me sow hope, the seeds of resurrection, a way out of no way; new possibilities, new life, the life that overcomes death; the seeds of reconciliation, love, and confident trust in God. Let me instill the gift of peace, the dawn of a new day, the promise of resurrection, the vision of the promised land where there is no more war, no more nuclear weapons, no more violence, no more injustice, no more poverty, no more misery, no more fear--only love and you, the God of resurrection, standing warmly in our midst.

Where there is darkness, light--

Amidst the darkness in our hearts, the sin of violence, our self-hatred, our fear, our hostility toward one another, our oppression of the poor, our rejection of you; let your light shine--the light of peace, joy, love, trust; the light of truth, the light of resurrection, the light of hope. Let us be like Christ, the light of the world, pointing to your presence, showing each other how to live justly, humanly, nonviolently, and compassionately. Let us burn with love, truth, faith, peace and justice, so that our light, your light, will shine for all and one day, we see you face to face.

Where there is sorrow, joy--

In this world of sorrow and grief, desolation and depression, sadness and death, in hearts dulled from hostility and hatred, deadened by the bomb's shadow, by the despair of imperial oppression, the race for money, the loss of love and loved ones; in hearts grown cold by horror upon horror, a nuclear blast upon the human spirit--there, put in us the joy of your resurrection, your joy now complete, the dawn of that new morning, when you stand by the shore, alive, welcoming, forgiving. Let us taste the joy of shalom which the world can never take away from us.

O Divine Master--

Jesus; God of Life; Human One; Compassionate, Nonviolent Savior; Prince of Peace; Mercy within Mercy within Mercy; Resister of Evil; the Way, the Truth, and the Life; Good Shepherd; our Beloved, our Brother, our Bread, our Breath--

Grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled as to console--

Not to be the center of attention, to strive for praise and honor, to let my domineering ego, proud and arrogant run rampant; instead, may I comfort others, bring them peace and warmth, safety and affection, unconditional love and kindness, and not cause anyone to be afraid in my presence, but to be at ease, at peace, relaxed, content because it is not so much me they see, but your presence shining transparently through me. May I speak the truth, denounce injustice, proclaim the good news of your justice, your jubilee year, the liberation of all from violence and death, and as I invite people to the way of the cross, and undergo it myself, may others be consoled in the hope, joy, and confidence of your resurrection, in your coming reign of peace at hand here and now.

To be understood, as to understand--

May I not be focused on argument, anger, fury, resentment, self-righteousness, indignation, or arrogance, but rather, let me understand every one else, listen to their pain, feel their sorrow, know their burdens, share their hopes and joys, weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice, be attentive to their needs and always, put others first. Let me know every human being as my sister and brother.

To be loved, as to love--

Grant that I may not so much seek selfishly the love of others, insisting on my rights and needs, but instead, to love others selflessly, generously, beyond measure, unconditionally, without any desire for reciprocation, without any expectation of service in return; a love that is willing to suffer for others; that will lay down my life for others in the nonviolent struggle for peace, for justice for the poor, for protection of the earth and all living things; a love even for my enemies, my persecutors; a love that insists on truth, that resists evil nonviolently, that reflects your own love for all people, a love that radiates your love present in my own spirit calling me your beloved.

For it is in giving that we receive--

By giving selflessly, sacrificially all that we have, as you did for us dying on the cross in the struggle for justice and truth; by sharing our resources with the poor, sharing our lives with one another, sharing our faith, hope and love with all people--we receive a hundred times more--life, love, friends, faith, hope, peace, and joy. We receive your blessing, your wisdom, your mercy, your love, your presence, You yourself.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned--

That I may forgive everyone who has ever hurt me, especially those closest to me, my family, my friends, my community; that I may let go of all resentment, grudges, anger, bitterness and hostility; that I may see only your love, present in everyone; concentrate on your abiding presence, and so love all; that I may grant clemency to all and so win clemency for myself and all; that I may pardon others as you have already pardoned me and continue to pardon me; that I may resist war, injustice and poverty through the steadfast nonviolent resistance that risks my life yet already forgives all who persecute me, so that your reign of forgiveness and compassion may be proclaimed.

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Through our own deaths, the peaceful letting go of our lives, everyday of our lives, until our final breath, may we experience life and go deeper into new life; by entering your paschal mystery, by sharing in your cross--the way of nonviolent resistance to systemic injustice, the way of compassion and truth, justice and love, the way of redemptive love through unearned suffering, willingly accepted without even the desire for retaliation. By sharing in your death, Jesus, we are born into the new life of your resurrection and enter into the paradise of your peace to live with you, the saints, and the God of life, in perfect joy, forever and ever.


Source: FatherJohnDear.org


Problem or Promise?

By Chip Ingram
Living on the Edge

Reptiles have an amazing ability to look at two different objects simultaneously. Their eyes function independently of one another, so they can gaze in opposite directions. That's an impressive feat. I wish I could do it.

But human beings aren't equipped with that kind of vision. We can only look in one direction at a time. (We have other perks, like depth perception and an insect-free diet).

This limitation applies not only to our physical vision but also to our spiritual focus. When we stand between a problem of circumstances and a promise of God, we can really only focus on one or the other. When we focus on the problem, the result is paralysis, anxiety, and stress. When we focus on the promise, the result is power, faith, the presence of God, and the peace that passes understanding.

Seems like an easy choice, doesn't it? But our tendency is to gaze at problems more than we gaze at God's faithfulness. The negative consequences of magnifying our perceptions of circumstances don't seem to deter us; our natural ability to worry keeps us focused on the source of our worries. Meanwhile, the God who has the whole world in His hands—whose power to save has been proven again and again, and whose promises cover every situation we find ourselves in—offers to take our burdens off of our shoulders. All He asks is that we trust Him.

Probably all of us in a difficult trial have been advised by a caring friend to "turn it over to God." Most of us have even offered that wisdom to someone else. It's great advice, but how do we accomplish it? How do we get a burden out of our own hands and put it into God's—and leave it there?

I think the answer is found in Romans 4. In that chapter, Paul discusses the process Abraham went through to believe in a very unlikely promise. After describing God as the one who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are, Paul identifies Abraham's focus: "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed" (v. 18). Abraham considered the fact that he and Sarah were far too old to have children, and he probably had a lot of questions about how God would accomplish His promise. But according to Romans 4, he didn't focus on the questions. He focused on the faithfulness of God. He got to a place where "he did not waver through unbelief . . . being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised" (vv. 20-21). He took his eyes off of the problem and gazed at the promise—or, better yet, the Promiser.

The result was that Abraham was considered righteous—and that he received the promise. The timing and the means were entirely in God's hands, but the responsibility for faith was in Abraham's. That's our responsibility too.

For some reason, we assume more responsibility than that. We hold our problems in our hands, sometimes very tightly, stressing over them, advising God of all the ways He might want to resolve them, and strenuously praying without faith until we're exhausted. Usually only when we let go of them does He take them and work out His answers.

Ask yourself these two questions: (1) "What problems are in my hands today?" You can probably think of several pressing issues pretty quickly—things that your mind is drawn to whenever it has some down time; and (2) "What does God hold in His hands today?" The answer, of course, is the whole world. Everything.

Think about that. If you let go of the things in your hands, whose hands will they be in? God's. That ought to make you feel pretty secure. You, along with your issues, are in God's hands. If you let go of the circumstances that worry you, they remain in God's hands. But they don't remain in yours.

That's where faith comes in. The way to focus on the promise rather than the problem is to emulate Abraham in the way he did not waver in unbelief but was fully persuaded that God was able—and willing—to faithfully fulfill His word.

We'll never be fully persuaded when the problem occupies our whole range of vision, and we won't be anxious when God is our entire focus. Unlike reptiles, we have to choose one or the other. Decide whose hands you want your problems to rest in. Then you can rest in His hands yourself.

What Does God Promise You?

By Dr. Ed Young
The Winning Walk

You might be surprised, but God has made you many promises. But they’re promises that you have to claim in order to receive. Yes, God has in fact made hundreds of promises in His Word to those who profess to be Christians.

But many of these promises are conditional or limited. This means that you and I may have to meet certain conditions or do our part before God can act on our behalf. “If you do this,” God says, “I’ll do this.” Our response determines His actions.

When you read in your Bible and you see the words “gift” or “given,” or the words “then” or “if,” you need to back up. If you see these, you know you may have a promise that you can biblically claim…scripture that you can appropriate for your life.

As Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:7-8:

But to each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’

A lot of folks don’t know the promises of God and don’t know the blessing and inheritance that is available to them. And if they do, they may misuse a promise.

A good way to navigate the promises of God is to think of a 3-legged stool. You have to know about the promise – that is one leg of the stool. You have to understand the promise – that is another leg of the stool. And then you have to biblically and accurately claim the promise – that’s the third leg of the stool.

A good template to see if you can biblically claim one of God’s promises revolves around four key words: Understand, Ask, Claim, and Act.

1. Understand the context of the verse. Understand what was going on in the verses before and after the verse with a promise. What was the situation, the setting, the timing, what was happening? Ask the basic questions – who, what, when, where why?

2. Ask the critical questions. Ask if the promise is conditional or unconditional? Is the promise limited or unlimited? Is there an “if, then” stated? Is the promise for someone specific in the Bible? Ask the critical questions.

3. Claim the promise. When you claim a promise, you exercise your faith. By faith, stand on the promise of God and believe in Him.

4. Act on the promise. You believe, then you act. You proceed in faith and move ahead.

Understand, Ask, Claim, Act. Remember to use this template to discern when God has made a promise to you and how you are able to receive it.

The great news is that God keeps His word. Throughout the Bible, without exception, God keeps each and every promise ever made. That should give us great confidence to exercise our faith in God’s promises and lead a life of new blessings and transformation.

Does God Really Answer Prayer? Yes, in Four Ways

By Dr. Ed Young
The Winning Walk

Do you believe God really answers prayer? Really and truly... that God hears your personal prayers and cares enough to respond?

Your answer to those questions probably dictates if, when, where, and how you pray.

You know, prayer can serve many purposes, but generally speaking, it’s an intimate conversation with God. Prayer involves Him stirring our hearts, us communicating with Him, and then listening for how God may respond to us.

Now, when it comes to prayer, there are a lot of folks who have the idea that God doesn’t want us to ask Him questions. But that’s not true! God delights in His children asking Him questions. In fact, God was asked questions… big and small... all the way through the Bible.

One of the people who literally put God “on trial” was a man from the Old Testament named Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet in Judah, and he felt the full weight of the problems, pressures, sins, and difficulties of his family and of his nation.

And although Habakkuk lived a long time ago, his story is extremely relevant…especially when you look at modern history and all that we’re dealing with in America and around the world.

In Habakkuk 1:2, Habbakuk asked the following of the Lord:

"How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?"

This was one of those big, deep, tough, “life” questions that Habakkuk was asking God. In the midst of all the chaos surrounding his life, he was basically asking, “God, where were you when I needed you the most?”

Habakkuk was grappling with something each of us deals with as believers: unanswered prayer. He was complaining about the silence of God… and in his heart he desperately wanted to know why God wasn’t answering his prayers.

I’m sure you’ve probably felt this way before. Anyone who’s been walking with the Lord for any amount of time has. We want answers when we pray! And it’s frustrating when it seems like God is silent.

If you’ve ever felt this way, or even feel this way today, I have a word of encouragement for you. God does answer prayer. But He does it in four different ways.

“I can’t hear you.” Sometimes the Lord can’t hear us when we pray. And it’s not because we need to talk louder or speak more clearly. Sometimes God can’t hear us when we pray because according to Psalm 66 and Isaiah 5, there is sin in our life.

“No.” Sometimes the Lord says “No” when we pray. And while this can be a very difficult answer to receive, it’s still an answer…regardless if we understand His decision at the moment or not. God is able to reveal His strength in you and me when we are broken and weak. So there is a purpose when God says “No.”

“Yes.” There is true power in prayer. And when we pray in Jesus’ name, He may also say “Yes.” “Yes, I’ll forgive. Yes, I’ll heal. Yes, I’ll step in to help.”

“Wait.” Sometimes the toughest answer to receive from God is “Wait.” When this happens, we need to remind ourselves that God is in control and can certainly handle our situation. We need to allow Him to continue working in whatever way He sees fit. And we can’t try to take back the situation, but must truly be patient and wait on God’s timing!

And this is exactly what God said to Habakkuk. He told him, “Even though you don’t think I’m listening, Habakkuk, I am working on a plan that is so much larger than you.”

The truth is, even though Habakkuk couldn’t see it, God was working the whole time! And the same is true in your life as a follower of Christ. If you’re in a holding pattern, trust that God is working, and that He is sovereign over all the details in your life.

God indeed does answer prayer…and, yes, your prayers!


Blinded by the Dark

By Greg Laurie

Talk about the perfect job. Adam had it made in the shade. His job, so to speak, was to discover all that God had created in the Garden of Eden. Scripture says that Adam was there to tend it, but this doesn't mean Adam was a gardener, per se. It simply means he was there to take in what God had made, to enjoy it, and to discover it.

Only one real restriction had been placed on Adam and Eve, and that was to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So when we come to the third chapter of Genesis, where do we find Adam and Eve? We find them standing at the one tree God told them to stay away from.

What is it about human nature? When you say to a child, "Whatever you do, don't go into that room," you know it is only a matter of time until the child is in that room. We are attracted to and drawn toward the forbidden. It is human nature. In our warped minds, we may even believe that God is somehow keeping us from something that is good and desirable. But the reason the Lord told Adam and Eve to stay away from this tree was because of the damage it would inflict on them, and as a result, on all humanity. God gave them a warning. And when God gives us a warning, it is for our own good. But Adam and Eve did not heed that warning. They played into what Satan offered.

The devil is a master at making evil look good and good look bad. Just turn on the television, and you'll know what I mean. It is the way of the enemy. And in the Garden, he took that which was poisonous and wicked and vile and actually made it look attractive. So let's note the tactics he used, because he is still using them today-three in particular.

First, He questioned God's Word. Notice that he did not deny that God had spoken. He simply questioned whether God had really said what Eve thought He had said: ?Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden" (Genesis 3:1 NKJV). He wanted her to think she had somehow misunderstood God's command. And in the same way today, the devil twists the truth to try and alienate people from God.

Second, he questioned God's love. He wanted Eve to think that God was holding something back: "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5 NKJV). In reality, God had placed those restrictions in Adam and Eve's lives to keep them from sinning. And the barriers God places in our lives are there because He loves us.

Third, he substituted his own lie. He lead Eve to believe that if she ate from the tree, she would become a goddess: "You will not surely die. . . . You will be like God, knowing good and evil" (verses 4-5 NKJV). So she gave into it.

The Bible clearly says that Eve was deceived, but Adam disobeyed. In fact, he was there with her at the tree: "She took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate" (verse 6 NKJV, emphasis mine). Eve was listening to that voice, and Adam was with her. If he had been the spiritual leader he should have been, then he would have not let her be there in the first place. And certainly he would have taken her away. But Adam was as fascinated as Eve was. They checked it out. And they listened.

Then, when confronted with his sin, Adam not only blamed Eve, but he also blamed God: "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate" (verse 12 NKJV). In other words, "It is the woman You gave me. This was Your idea." God had put him in paradise with every possible comfort, surrounded by breathtaking beauty such as there has never been since. Yet Adam lashed out at the very God who gave all this to him.

You see, that is what sin does to us. It blinds us. And that is why we need God's provision for our forgiveness, so we can be restored into fellowship with Him.

Smarter Women Marry, Australian Research Shows

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 15:11:00 04/07/2008
Breaking News / World - Philippine Daily Inquirer

SYDNEY -- Women with a university degree are more likely to marry than their less-educated sisters, according to Australian research released Monday that reverses long-held views about bookish females.

The Monash University report, based on analysis of data from the 2006 national census, suggests that wedlock was increasingly becoming the province of the well-educated and wealthy.

"There's something new going on, particularly among women," said researcher Genevieve Heard of the university's Centre for Population and Urban Research.

"It's long been assumed that more educated women are less traditional and more financially independent and are therefore less likely to need to or want to marry. And indeed, this assumption has been borne out in the data for a long time," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"But now, in the 2006 data, we can see that in fact the pattern has reversed so that women with post-school qualifications, especially those with degrees, are now in fact more likely to be married than their counterparts with less education."

Strong Woman vs. Woman of Strength

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape...
but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape.

A strong woman isn't afraid of anything...
but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear.

A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her...
but a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone.

A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future...
a woman of strength realizes life's mistakes can also be God's blessings and capitalizes on them.

A strong woman walks sure footedly...
but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls.

A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face...
but a woman of strength wears grace.

A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey...
but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong.

A strong woman considers marriage...
but a woman of strength raises a God-fearing family.

Australia is among the top of the group of nations with serious problem on abortion. It won't be too long before their land will be replenished by the Lord with immigrants if they continue to ignore this problem -- because they will be aborting their own inhabitants into extinction.

Talk about conservation of wildlife (WWF-Australia). But what about HUMAN LIFE? There is no murder more grievous than the killing of a defenseless human being by its own supposed protector within its supposed most secure place that God has placed it in.

When unbelief sets in, Truth becomes relative.


The Blacksmith's Shop

By Max Lucado

In the shop of a blacksmith, there are three types of tools. There are tools on the junk pile: outdated, broken, dull, rusty. They sit in the cobwebbed corner, useless to their master, oblivious to their calling.

There are tools on the anvil: melted down, molten hot, moldable, changeable. They lie on the anvil, being shaped by their master, accepting their calling.

There are tools of usefulness: sharpened, primed, defined, mobile. They lie ready in the blacksmith's tool chest, available to their master, fulfilling their calling.

Some people lie useless: lives broken, talents wasting, fires quenched, dreams dashed. They are tossed in with the scrap iron, in desperate need of repair, with no notion of purpose.

Others lie on the anvil: hearts open, hungry to change, wounds healing, visions clearing. They welcome the painful pounding of the blacksmith's hammer, longing to be rebuilt, begging to be called.

Others lie in their Master's hands: well tuned, uncompromising, polished, productive. They respond to their Master's forearm, demanding nothing, surrendering all.

We are all somewhere in the blacksmith's shop. We are either on the scrap pile, in the Master's hands on the anvil, or in the tool chest. (Some of us have been in all three.)

From the shelves to the workbench, from the water to the fire…I'm sure that somewhere you will see yourself.

Paul spoke of becoming "an instrument for noble purposes." And what a becoming it is! The rubbish pile of broken tools, the anvil of recasting, the hands of the Master- it's a simultaneously joyful and painful voyage.

And for you who make the journey—who leave the heap and enter the fire, dare to be pounded on God's anvil, and doggedly seek to discover your own purpose—take courage, for you await the privilege of being called "God's chosen instruments."

A blacksmith is someone who is an expert in the trade of making tools. In his shop, he himself takes care and maintains a set of tools specifically designed for the purpose of making other tools for different use and applications. Without his tool-making tools he will not able to make other tools.

If people are tools and the world as the area of application for these different tools, then;

1. do you know what category of tool are you?
2. do you know the area of your application?
3. do you know whose hands are supposed to be using you?
4. does your capability match with the amount of work?
5. are you properly functioning the way you were designed to?
6. are you being maintained and cared properly?
7. does your owner know how to properly use you?

Understand the following messages for they were intended to speak in today's season and times:

a. Messages & Notes - December 24, 2007
b. Messages & Notes - December 29, 2007
c. Emery Wheel


How You Can Face Crisis Without Panic

By Bayless Conley
Answers with Bayless Conley

A number of years ago a pastor friend of mine from another state was visiting my home when he received a late night phone call. It was bad news.

His wife, who was three months pregnant, had been taken to the hospital. She was paralyzed from the waist down and had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In addition, she had lost her sight, which they discovered was caused by a tumor behind her eyes.

The life of their baby was now in jeopardy. They didn’t know how things would turn out… and there was no way my friend could get home until late the next day.

When he hung up the phone, he told us the news and asked us to join him in prayer. He said something like this: “Lord, I know you love me. I know you love my wife. I just ask You to take care of her in Jesus’ name. Amen.” That was it. I couldn’t believe it! I was expecting to be a part of an all night prayer meeting.

I couldn’t work it out… at least not immediately. But it eventually dawned on me that he had a lot more faith than I did. My friend prayed about it, put it in God’s hands, and there was nothing else he could do.

Instead of panicking, he handled it with supernatural peace.

Have you received some bad news lately? Maybe it was a bad report about your health, or the health of a relative or friend. Maybe you’re facing marriage problems… or financial problems… or you have other worries that seem beyond your ability to cope with.

Whenever bad news comes, the temptation is to panic. But there is another way to respond. In the second chapter of Daniel there is a fascinating example of this.

If you read that chapter, you find that Daniel was presented with a life-threatening situation and yet he managed to keep his composure… and take positive steps forward, which ultimately changed the outcome of his situation. How did he do it?

Well, Daniel understood some things about the character of God. He understood that God has all power… all wisdom… and that He wants to help in times of trouble.

In the midst of his crisis, Daniel reminded himself of who God is.

Daniel answered and said, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the seasons, He removes kings and raises up kings, He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:20-21).

At one of the worst moments of his life—when confusion and panic were all around—Daniel reminded himself of what the Bible says… that God is good… He is merciful, kind and faithful… and He is an ever-present help in times of trouble.

And by remembering what God is like… and what He promises in His Word… Daniel was able to resist panicking when he was faced with a crisis. My friend was the same. And thankfully, there was an incredible outcome to his situation too.

Within hours of his simple, faith-filled prayer, my friend’s wife was completely healed! The symptoms of MS disappeared… and where there had been a tumor there was only a sac that had once contained a tumor. She also gave birth six months later to a healthy baby boy.

I want to encourage you today—God knows what you are going through right now—and He does want to help you.

No matter what crisis comes your way, don’t panic! Resist the temptation to be gripped by fear. Rather, remind yourself of who God is, and fix your mind on the promises in His Word.

Remember, the Lord loves you, and He cares deeply about your situation. In your time of crisis, let Him go to work on your behalf!