Sunday, May 31, 2009

God & Harry Potter

This is one of my favorite quotes in the Harry Potter movies. It is spoken by Professor Dumbledore to Harry; He knows that Harry is the key to destroying Voldemort and his evil that has been unleashed upon the world. They are harsh words. It is far easier to ignore what is "right" and choose the path of least resistance. But consider the story our church heard just today of Abigail from 1 Samuel 25:1-44.

In this story, Abigail's brutish husband insults the neighboring King David - causing a near war. Abigail leaps into action - taking the blame for his poor behavior and ends up saving her husband from being murdered - and King David from becoming a murderer. Abigail takes the tougher path - standing up for what she believes in no matter the danger to herself - and following the instructions she knows are of God.

Through Abigail's actions, our Pastor outlined 4 things for us to remember:

  1. Do what is right - even when things are bad or tough or complicated.
  2. Take action - do not delay in making the right choices.
  3. Keep the best interest of your whole family.
  4. Let God do His work in His time.

This parallels the struggles Harry must go through. At the end of Book 4, Harry and Dumbledore KNOW that Voldemort is "back" and at full strength, yet the Minister of Magic takes hold of the media to refute this claim. All of Book 5 (The Order of the Phoenix) focuses on Harry's determination to do what is right even in as his actions do not have popular support. He steadfastly refuses to be swayed from his task of defeating Voldemort - knowing that this is in the best interest of the entire Wizarding (and Muggle!) world. It will take patience - as the Harry Potter series is one of 7 books - but this road less traveled will bring about victory against evil... even in the face of heartbreak and hardship.

The second thing Dumbledore says to Harry is "Remember, Harry, you are not alone."

And neither are we.

With every breath... with every step... God is with us: guiding us, comforting us, cheering us on.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8 (Msg)

Each of us will have times in our lives where we are forced to make a tough choices: choices where we can take the easy path OR where we can battle the obstacles that come our way with dignity and the knowledge that we are following what is RIGHT. These are the times where we can rise above mediocrity and complacency and serve as a positive example for others. And through our tough journeys, we are aided by God - the Creator of the entire universe. With Him on our side, how can we be defeated? I love this quote by Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

For those of you who believe that Harry Potter has no place in a Christian library, consider reading this book by John Granger: Looking for God In Harry Potter. It addresses all of the concerns about God's Word, magic, Christian themes, etc. Written by a pastor and published by a Christian publishing company, it will definitely help you understand the other Christian themes weaved seamlessly throughout the entire saga.

I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and one of the things I try to show on this blog is how God can take ANYTHING and use it for His glory. The stories in Harry Potter demonstrate Christian principals again and again and again... You can find God anywhere... even at Hogwarts! :)

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Funnies - (DE)Motivators

I love I know it's (slightly?) obnoxious - but honestly, these signs often show an element of truth in the business world. I'd love to buy a whole assortment of framed prints for our den. These would be some of my favorites...

Aside from being just funny, I put these here to remind us that PERCEPTION is important. God says this in Matthew 4:1-6...

"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good
so that you don't make a performance out of it.
It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. "When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—'playactors' I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Consulting businesses make their money by building on, changing, or tweaking the public's perception of a particular company or individual. What we see is what we tend to believe.
So what perception do others have of you? Kind...? Honest...? Loyal...? Christian...? Your behavior in the "real world" decides the reputation you will earn. How do you want others to view you? Because by behaving in the way that you want to be seen, you can shape and change perception.

Perception: What the caterpillar calls "the end," the rest of the world calls a butterfly.
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Email Inspirations: Finding God In A Label

My cyberfriend, Tricia, gets these amazing daily devotions delivered right to her inbox. Then she posts them in my Scrapbooking With Faith online group. I'm snagging a few of them and posting them here as well because they are just wonderful and inspiring. I may also use "Email Inspiration" Days to post some other great devotionals that I receive as well. These aren't my words, I'm just passing on a good bit of food-for-thought. Enjoy! :) Mags

Check the Label (by Mary Sutherland)

I love a good sale, don't you? In fact, a 75% off tag may very well be a sign from God. (I'm still trying to convince my husband.) I have also learned that you can save money in the long run if you check the label. Let me explain. We needed a new sofa -- desperately. It had to be a certain color and style and cost a certain amount. I headed for the nearest furniture outlet, where I narrowed my selection down to two sofas. Both were on sale and both would work in our home. I saw the salesman coming. Before he could say a word, I asked, "Which one of these sofas would you tell your wife to buy?" The man immediately pointed to one of the sofas and said, "Definitely that one." When I asked why he had chosen that particular sofa, he replied, "Check the label. The one I chose was made by a company known for its quality work. The other sofa is a cheap imitation.

We can judge a product's potential and value by looking at the one who created it and God does not make cheap imitations of anything. You are valuable simply because you were created by the hand of God. I am here to tell you that God is not mad at you! His design of you and plan for your life is second to none. He paid the highest price that could be paid -- for you. To cower or crawl in inferiority is to say to God, "You made a mistake when you made me." God doesn't make mistakes, friend. He never has to say, "Oops!" We were created in His likeness and are valuable to God. God knows my name and loves me. I am His masterpiece and have been validated by God Himself. Wow! That is quite a label, girlfriend!

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Funnies - Everyday Signs

I'm starting a new weekly(ish) series, "Friday Funnies," - It was inspired by the antics of commedian, Mike Williams, who visitied our church a few weeks back. What I loved is how he found the "funny" in people's everyday stupidity. I know... I know... that doesn't sound very "Christian"... :) His premise was that God allows stupidity in our lives because he has a great sense of humor, Himself.

Personally, I KNOW God has a sense of humor. I have a basement full of carefully-packed dolls from my childhood: Madame Alexander, Barbie, Glamour Gals, and the entire "Melanie's Mall" still never-removed-from-box. I was sure that I'd have a daughter one day. But God chose to bless me two amazing sons. So those dolls remain boxed up... granddaughters one day?? :)

But I digress...

Mike Williams shared some signs he's found out and about -warnings or instruction signs that were probably put up with the best of intentions, but fall seriously short of their intended message. You can watch a portion of his skit here: Wait for the part about the sign at the McDonald's Drive-Thru...!!

All you need to discover God's Humor are eyes and ears. It's everywhere. Here are just a few funny signs that I've accumulated...! Enjoy the giggle...!

And my personal favorite - a vintage ad:
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Karaoke Tuesday: Still by Hillsong

We are busy. Everyday... every minute... Busy.

We have cell Phones to always be "connected" to the real world at any given time. We have the Internet, Email, Facebook, and Blogs to keep us "connected" to the cyberworld at moment. We have DVR's to tape the shows we miss, and DVD Players for the movies.

We have work and work meetings... church and church meetings... school and school meetings...

Our lives are hectic and frazzled and over-booked ... and I'm getting tired just reading about this! :)

Consider the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible (Luke 10:38-40):

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand."
The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."

It's so easy to BE busy. It's easy to get caught up in all "life" has to offer. Much harder is to take a moment for peace and fellowship with God... a quiet moment to reflect with Him. That's our Karaoke Tuesday song today - a gentle reminder to just BE STILL and know He is God.

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me within your mighty hand
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood

I will be still and know you are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust

You can here it here (with video).
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Found God In The "Lost and Found..."

At the end of the school year, the "Lost-n-Found" bin at school is just overflowed with items: Jackets from those days that started with chilly mornings but gave way to warm afternoons... Gloves and Hats that were discarded during recess... the latest "craze" toys (Bakugan, Pokemon, Pogs, etc.)... Notebooks and pens and keychains... Of course, the really "PRIZED," lost possessions never seem to show up in the Lost-n-Found. Things like lost iPods, money, homework never make their way to that Rubbermaid tub.

And often, these lonely, lost items are never reunited with their owners. Coats are outgrown, gloves and hats are long-forgotten (until next year's snowy day). The contents of the tub are donated to Good Will where they will find new homes.. and ironically, might end up in some other school's Lost-n-Found the following year.

Can you imagine if that Lost-n-Found bin was full of people? Lost people... not the directional-peanuts (like myself!!) who cannot even be easily guided by Google Maps... but the spiritually lost people who are ever searching for the one thing that will give their life meaning. The ones who, maybe, just go through the motions by saying all the "right" things or meeting all the "right" people. Perhaps these lost souls even go to church - but, again - like me for many, many years - never FEEL God or faith or comfort or His presence. For the lost, church is just a building filled with posers or pot-luck dinners.

But consider the story of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (Luke 19:1-9)

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Jesus is like the ultimate detective... diligently searching out those who are are lost. He doesn't give up on you. He has endless patience. He is always welcoming. And when you turn to Him, He will accept you with open arms.

...We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)
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Friday, May 15, 2009

I Found God In Dessert...

Believe it or not, today is National Chocolate Chip Day. In my opinion, it's about time someone gave official kudos to this little nugget of chocolatey goodness... :) But it did get me thinking about dessert...

Psalm 34:8 says
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of taking refuge in Him.

We had a Women's Event at our church a few month's ago with a dessert-y theme. The keynote speaker lended some wonderful thoughts to ponder on this verse...

God is good. All the time. While people experience illness, loss, grief, or other hardship that can make it nearly impossible to face each day, God can take that hardship and use it for good.
When trauma or hardship enters your life, there are two choices: You can run TO God... or you can run FROM God. Running TO God can give you comfort... support... peace... and no matter what hardship you endure, God can use your story for good.

I've mentioned before that my neice, Julia, died after only 6 days of life. My in-laws are currently working on this year's Charity Golf Outing. This is their main source of funds for the yearly scholarship, and the 2nd scholarship will be awarded any day now! In the wake of their unspeakable grief, Tim and Stephany never turned away from God... In fact, they ran to Him with their sadness and sorrow. God was able to help them find a way to turn their loss into a blessing for college-bound students. And, that's just the scholarship fund...! They have also lended their support and experience to numerous other families dealing with the loss of an infant or unborn child. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of taking refuge in Him.

I've dealt with a brain tumor. There really isn't anywhere ELSE you can go with a brain tumor except to God. Nothing was in my power to fix. I couldn't even comfort my husband or family because I had no idea if this would kill me or not. But God was with me and my family. He comforted David when he was at his lowest point worrying about me. He guided the doctors' hands during the surgery. He gave me strength through my physical therapy. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of taking refuge in Him.

God is like dessert.
But better than dessert, you can drown your troubles in Him without worry for extra calories...!
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