Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Take My Life

Romans 12:1I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

As we near the coming year, a renewing resolve for a fresh start to give glory to the Lord and a blessing to everyone that I can in 2012. I heard this Hymn of such a prayer this morning, so I thought that I’d share this familiar sonnet in hopes that it touches your heart, mind and soul as much as it has grabbed mine this morning.

I went for a lit­tle vi­sit of five days (to Are­ley House). There were ten per­sons in the house, some un­con­vert­ed and long prayed for, some con­vert­ed, but not re­joic­ing Christ­ians. He gave me the pra­yer, “Lord, give me all in this house!” And He just did. Be­fore I left the house ev­ery one had got a bless­ing. The last night of my vis­it af­ter I had re­tired, the gov­ern­ess asked me to go to the two daugh­ters. They were cry­ing, &c.; then and there both of them trust­ed and re­joiced; it was near­ly mid­night. I was too hap­py to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and re­new­al of my own con­se­cra­tion; and these lit­tle coup­lets formed them­selves, and chimed in my heart one af­ter ano­ther till they fin­ished with “Ever, On­ly, ALL for Thee!” Frances R. Havergal, Feb­ru­a­ry 1874.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.

Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.

Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Isaiah 64:8 “O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Knead me, mold me & form me for your loving purposes by your perfect will.
Have a blessed new year and a blessed new you. In Christ, Brian

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Savior of the World

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon is shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.

From my family to you and yours, Merry Christmas. John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Christmas is about the arrival of this Savior of the world; God amongst us, God incarnate (God with skin on), come not to condemn, but to redeem the condemned by paying for our sins with His own innocent blood, unto total forgiveness to eternal life as Children of God in the Kingdom of Heaven, for whoever believes the gospel truth. Redemption for all mankind has arrived! Hallelujah! Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen!

Luke 2:6-14 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spiritually Possess the Land

Deuteronomy 11:8-22Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.”

There is much talk these days about the secularization of America, with plenty of examples of indoctrination of children for anti-biblical beliefs in the name of diversity without parental consent or opt out options, removal of Christian symbols, references and even prayer in the name of separation of church & state (a well-known mis-interpretation and not found in the U.S. Constitution), and ever-increasing efforts to remove Christ from Christmas for a “non-offensive winter celebration” of nature. I heard it said that the self-proclaimed tolerant preach that they cannot tolerate Christianity. Why single out the “Light & Savior of the World”? It has completely to with who is on the Throne of their dark heart, mind & soul. They love their darkness and desire to vanquish and eliminate the light of truth, Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.

"And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’ Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the LORD’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.”

Deuteronomy 11 instructs us to be God’s holy people, to seek and know the truth, teach the truth to our children, obey & display our faith freely, then spiritually possess the land by bringing the light of truth into the darkness of sin & unbelief. The lures and temptations of the adversary Satan are all around, but the child of God obeys God, not that which is contrary to the Lord’s Word, Will & Way. Abide in Christ means to forsake the lawlessness of darkness and live out our faith dedicated and devoted to Him alone, who saved us, who guides us and blesses our every steps. Don’t expect the blind to see on their own, but expect the blind to see Christ reflected in your Christian life. At Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation of God-the Son, Jesus Christ, literally “God with skin on” , Emmanuel – “God with us”, who came to seek and save the lost. May we do likewise. Spiritually possess the land, in the name of Jesus Christ.

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him

Love, walk & hold fast,
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Presence

Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

It has been a couple years now since we lost of our family dog. That beautiful yellow Labrador was not only our cherished companion, but became the “neighborhood” dog, as all the children of the block came over to pet her and rub her belly. She loved to lay on the raised front porch of our Bungalow home and watch the world and take long walks on the sidewalks of our big bustling city, but she wouldn’t leave her front yard on her own. The bible makes it clear that the LORD created and loves all creatures, and put the care of them into the hands of mankind … plants, water, ground, and air also. It’s hard-wired into our soul to love and care for the creation. God cares, we are made in His likeness, so we naturally care; to not care is unnatural. Studies show that a pet given to elderly people improves their life, both mentally and physically. It’s a joy of life. We’ve owned two cats and two dogs in our 35 years married, and both all through my childhood.

Genesis 8:1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.

Yesterday, we brought home “Tobias”, a cute, cubby little yellow Lab, to join the family. Looking up the meaning of the name, we found that it means “God is good” in both the original Hebrew and Greek. We couldn't disagree with that, so “Toby” became the latest addition to our home and family. Our oldest son bought his brother “Rossi” at the same time, so they can visit and go on walks together. They can watch “Toby”, when we go on vacation and vise-versa. The adventure begins with this blessed Christmas presence. What are your pets, and pet memories?

Psalm 104:24 O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Dove

Psalm 40:1-4 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.

Today is three years since I lost my precious cousin Laura to Breast Cancer. I being the youngest kid of the oldest of six children and she being the youngest of the youngest child, there was a great difference in age growing up along with 2000 miles of distance between creating two separated lives, but still with a family tie and many personal similarities. When a family reunion brought us together as adults, the most incredible connection was immediate as family, in both bloodline and the blood of Christ was established. Have developed cancer prior, I only had a year plus of being blessed by this amazing woman. Our talks and correspondences were priceless and she truly touched and changed my life for the better. Her fight against cancer became her ministry to others about cancer awareness and prevention. Her Blog @ reached out to all of us in compassionate love and care, which inspired me to start my own Blog. Today, I give tribute to my cousin, who went to be with the Lord. Laura is now my dove that reminded me of the purity of God’s love. Here is one of her letters and a story that she wrote, to give you a glimpse of the loss that this world had in her passing and the gain that heaven has today.

Brian, I truly appreciate your genuineness...and I totally GET it. I am the same way. We are both Christians and it is so interesting to me that we both take it so seriously...yet another similarity between us. I do a lot with my church and have found that my faith really kept me grounded when I was diagnosed with cancer. I have ALWAYS believed this experience is about God healing me, not me dying. It gets hard at times because even among other Christians, I have found that everyone’s faith is different. Faith is a spiritual gift, of which there are many. Each of us has our own strengths and weakness when it comes to the faith is one that has always come easy to me. I try not to take for granted and always want to help others understand that I continue to feel protected and buffered by God. I continue to feel that He is protecting me.
It is so interesting because this whole experience has been surreal for some respects. What I mean is, I continue to feel privileged by my cancer at times. I have always felt very guided by God, very directed to do very specific things. I know I am loved by God and have received way too many blessings by this disease.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I wasn’t a cancer survivor. If I could take it all back or start all over, I probably would. But, then I remember the story of Job or Noah or Jonah or Abraham. All of them went through suffering and God allowed it to happen because that is just the way life is on earth. Suffering happens. It just does. I am a better person because of all of this and my family (extended, included) are much better, closer. We care about other people more and try to take on causes outside of our world. I am attaching a short story that I have written.
Blessings, Laura

My Dove
As I was sitting in the car in a parking lot, the dove flew into my line of sight. Her beautiful white image shone bright against the grey backdrop of the dreary winter sky. She flew around my car and perched on the light pole, directly in front of me. Like a guardian angel, she was watching over me. I began to tear up, got chills all over my body. I just kept looking at her; I was humbled by her presence. She reminded me of the purity of God’s love, at the very moment I desperately needed reassurance. I was a year into my fight against advanced breast cancer when I saw my dove. I was almost through my treatments after hitting many rough patches. I was weary, but she renewed my strength to confront the disease.

I was 32 when I was diagnosed, a young wife and mother with a four-year-old daughter and an infant son. I had no family history of breast cancer. I was naïve in thinking this would protect me. I realize now that anyone can get cancer, it does not discriminate. We caught my cancer as early as possible, but I still had three small tumors. I found the initial lump in my breast, which led to a mammogram, sonogram and biopsy. Doctors confirmed it as breast cancer. There was another tumor in a lymph node and one on my liver. It was harrowing to find out all of this information, but I was grateful to know my enemy.

God gave me the strength to effectively fight this battle, the resolve to win. I went through multiple surgeries, numerous rounds of chemotherapy and two life-threatening infections to get my disease stabilized. I am now in remission and plan on keeping it this way. I live with cancer, daily. I am aware that it could come back, but I constantly seek treatments and information to mitigate this risk. I am thankful to God for being the mastermind behind my treatment and for directing my path from the beginning.

He gave me many gifts along the way. He surrounded me with an amazing support system, sharpened my survival skills through sermons at COR and bolstered my faith by reminding me that Jesus healed people through their faith in Him. But, the dove was my most precious gift, a harbinger of good things to come. Not only was she was a visible sign of God’s presence in my life, but of the wings He had given me to fly through adversity. She reminded me that God was holding me securely through that entire journey, as He still does to this day.

Laura Walsh Plunkett
May 10, 1972 – December 14, 2008

Today, I honor you Laura.
We shall meet again in heaven. Brian

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holy Gound - Part 2

Leviticus 11:44-45 “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

The discussion came up in our small group Bible study last evening about how holiness means being set apart unto God; by God for God’s purposes by God’s standards & perfect will. But in that separation from sinful sensual lusts of the flesh contrary to God’s will & way found in His holy word and/or the self-centered pursuits of a God-ignorant or God-rejecting worldview God, how we, as a child of God saved by grace, are then to be actively engaged with this lost and dying world, as holy ground by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, equipped and filled by the regeneration of our heart, soul and spirit and the renewing of our consecrated mind to the character of our heavenly Father in Christ, to bring the light of truth into the darkness of sin & unbelief to reach the spiritually blind and perishing by planting seed of the gospel in their hearts by our compassionate and godly words and actions, to bring them to the foot of the cross and a “saving” knowledge of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. A holy people in covenant with the holy God must never forget who they are and the separateness, not isolation, they are called to as Ambassadors for Christ. Set apart from sin, not the world, as delegates from the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.Numbers 15:39-41 Remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.”

God is holy. God is separate from and other than all of His creation. He is righteous, He Is pure, He is holiness dwelling in unapproachable light. Habakkuk 1:12 & 13 asks: “Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness.” If this is our God, how should we as His people live and reflect His glory in a dark world that is passing away into judgment? How are we to live as holy ground, holy people, as a kingdom of priests, as image-bearers of the Almighty? We represent God by walking in obedience to His commands. The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love people. We are to love the sinner, not the sin. Repentance and Salvation is what Jesus’ atonement and redemption is about. His command is then to love the people of the world as He loved us and saved us. As we seek God through the study of His Word, we fall more and more in love with and in awe of the Lord. It is a great privilege to be a child of God. But with privilege comes responsibility. It is our responsibility to conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects God’s holiness, to live lives that are easily distinguishable from those of the secular world around us. Is our live so separate from and different than the world around us that it is like the difference between light & darkness, because we are holy ground?

Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holy Ground - Part 1

Exodus 3:4-6 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush (burning with fire, yet not consumed) and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
As we enter this season of celebrating the visitation of God incarnate in the birth of the Savior of the world Jesus Christ, (literally “God with skin on”), may we truly make every efforts to convey the “reason for the season” to this lost & dying world that is walking in darkness of sin & unbelief. “Our “Colony” Friday evening small group Bible study is continuing in our study on “Holiness” and this last week we looked at God choosing Israel to be a holy nation, sanctified and separated from the other nations. But what does it mean to be holy? What was, and is, the standard of holiness? What makes holy ground?

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Leviticus 20:26 And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine. Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 28:9 “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.” Psalm 147:19 He (God) declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.

To be consecrated is to be set apart as sacred; dedicated & devoted to God. That which is sacred is that which is extremely dear to God and worthy of deep respect and reverence; holy. To sanctify is to set apart as holy. Set apart from the darkness of sin and sanctified apart for God and His purposes. Sanctity is holiness, sacredness & saintliness of character. The standard, the bounds set for His people, are His sacred word, commandments, statues and ordinances. The root word of the Hebrew word holiness means “to separate”. The idea is that of separation between what is unclean and what is pure, between what is common and what is sanctified. God is separate from all that is evil and defiled. I’ve heard it said that evil is the absence of good, as darkness is simply the absence of light. His holy character is the standard for moral perfection. Therefore holiness for us is simply conforming to the character of God. Holiness is a vital attribute of God. This same quality is to be a characteristic of His people. Holiness is the standard not only for the Israelites, but for all who claim Him as their God.

Isaiah 6:3 And one cried to another and said: “ Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Revelation 4:8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
God is Holy. What makes “holy ground”? Next time.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Prayers of Nicole

Hebrews 12:12-16Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.

Over Thanksgiving, we drove out to amazing Arizona to visit my brother and his family for the long weekend. On my birthday, August 2, of this year, my niece Nicole was involved in a terrible roll-over accident on her way to start her first semester at Northern Arizona University in pursuit of her degree to become a Veterinarian. Her vehicle experienced a blown out rear tire and her boyfriend, who was driving as she slept, lost control on the highway. The SUV swerved, flipped and rolled, ejecting Nicole from the vehicle. She was Medi-Vac airlifted from the accident scene to a hospital in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she under-went multiple surgeries. Many prayers went up for Nicole, by family, friends and you Readers too. This Thanksgiving trip was my first chance to see Nicole after this horrific incident for this young lady, and the family. The four months of recovery and rehabilitation have been hard, but now I can give a first-hand report on her status.

Acts 28:25-27 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, ‘ Go to this people and say: “ Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”’

I was blessed to find my precious niece in wonderful physical and emotional shape. She seems excited to show us her surgical scars and X-rays images showing the metal in her shoulder, as battle scars of victory. She spent most of our two day visit being with us, as we explored a desert ghost town, small shops and dining out was no visible sign a pain or handicap, outside of (understandably) not being able to hike rough & hilly desert terrain. It was wonderful to experience her passion and high spirits, as she spoke of her determination and efforts to return to college next semester to resume her dreams. Full of life and vision, the future is definitely “right in front of her”, the hurdle cleared and she is pressing toward the goal. The next chapter begins. I thank you all for the many intercessory prayers and the blessings for Nicole from them. They were and are cherished. Glory to God!

Romans 8:1-9There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

Why did I choose these Bible verses for this message? Because, as important as it is to renew our physical vitality, is the renewing of our spiritual vitality. Let us not focus completely on the physical, but may we always see the physical through the spiritual with an eternal perspective. We must not take life for granted; this one or the next. The healing of our body is a great gift, absolutely. Of course, the greatest gift of the Great Physician was proclaimed John 9:19bOne thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” Praise be to God!

In Christ, Brian