Friday, September 13, 2013

Please help me make our fundraiser a success!

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Flower Power Fundraising
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SFAC has just launched its seasonal fundraising campaign and they need your help! For every purchase you make today, 50% of the proceeds will directly benefit their great cause.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

I have moved and don't think ya'll have followed. You have to go to the new blog to sign up to get it via email. Here is the link to the latest post:

http://www.chrisfrenchkramer.com/2012/01/30/survival/

I am still working on the design. And trying to be more intentional about writing. I also have a page on Facebook that I am linking my blog to when I post.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Snow-Daisy/189095551147926

I need 3 more followers to get an 'official' name/address. (help!)

Thank ya'll for sticking with me through this journey ... it is not over by a long shot!

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Moving ...

I am moving to a new site. 
A personal domain name.
A step toward more intentional writing, photography and maybe speaking

The new site is still rough. 
And not very pretty. 
but the name is MUCH shorter
and MUCH easier to remember. 

so come check it
(you can even resubscribe there to get your emails)
and leave me your thoughts, comments, prayers


see you over there ... the welcome mat is always out.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Trust - Definition

My one word for 2012 is 



Definition: Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something, assured, reliance on the character, one in which confidence is placed, dependence on something future or contingent, hope, a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship

Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse traust trust; akin to Old English trēowe faithful 

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One Word for 2012


There has been a challenge for several years to pray about one word to focus on for the year. This was started by Dan Britton with FCA. I learned about it from a Compassion blog written by Chris Giovagnoni. Below is a comment I left on the blog ... and the word for 2012 that has been laid on my heart. I tried not to commit to doing this. To avoid having a word to commit to for this year. To make the hard choices. But sometimes, the hard choices turn out to be the right ones and actually the easy choices.
No word for 2011. I toyed with the idea, but I was too deeply mired in anger, grief, depression and despair to even try. Everything was so dark. This year, the darkness is still lingering. The pain is still suffocating at times.  
I have spent the past month serving others - working with a local ministry before Christmas and going on a mission trip the week after - distractions from the anger, grief, depression and despair. While in Belize, I was praying for God to continue holding me. Loving me. Showing himself to me clearly. And for a word to help keep me anchored this year. Something to cling to during these seemingly endless dark nights of the soul. 
I met a woodcarver in Belize and asked him to make me a cross necklace with a word carved on it. I have been toying with two different words - similar yet different ... surrender and trust. Trust was the one carved onto my cross. 
I think that is the one the holy spirit is calling me to.
Trust - that the pain will go away. 
Trust - God does love me 
Trust - I have been forgiven 
Trust - the darkness won't last forever 
Trust - God will catch me

In case you didn't figure it out already, my word for 2012 is TRUST.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drought?


From a blog I receive ... I adapted it some to fit me. I sat in the sanctuary tonight trying to let God just wash his spirit over me.  The past few weeks I have been so dry ... this list just confirms what I have been experiencing. Tomorrow - I plan on spending the morning quietly at home. Letting God refill and refresh.  I pray that you get a chance to all God to fill you up as well. 

----------------------------------------------

Warning Signs of a Dry Soul

Posted By: Youth Specialties on September 19 2011
Many of us have found ourselves in a time where we felt spiritually dry.  
Here are some warning signs that you might be slipping into one:
1. Spending more time talking about prayer than actually praying.
2. Private prayers begin to start sounding like “nice” public prayers (prayers that my 6 & 8yo would say before bed.)
3. Reading the Bible only when preparing a Bible study or lesson.
4. Living a life so fast and so cluttered there is no time for cultivating the inner life that people don’t see.
5. “Third-person reading”: reading not for what God can say to you, but for what answers the questions accurately.
6. Inner exhaustion that leads to outer crankiness and cynicism. [!]
7. A loss of wonder.
8. Increasing work with decreasing joy.

What have you found are the best ways to keep yourself from letting your soul go dry?
----------------------------------------------

I juggle so much and lately, have dropped some of the balls. I am tired. And dry.  I don't know how to keep from getting to this point, but now that I am seeing where I am, I can be proactive on  not staying here. I will learn to rest and work from my rest. I will!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rumors of God


Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson is very similar to many books currently on the market such as Radical, anything by Frances Chan, etc. Both men work in large churches and talk about what is wrong with the church today. The authors use many personal stories, but the first person accounts got a bit much - especially when as a reader you are trying to keep track of who is telling the story at a particular spot.

Topics covered include abundant life, dreams, generosity, generosity, love, grace, freedom, commitment, community, justice and hope.  There were times when the chapters seemed to be strings of quotes from other authors and websites.  There wasn't anything in the book that I disagreed with. However, nothing was new in the book. If you haven't read many of the current books on churches of today and how we need to return to the basics of the bible then this would be a good book to read.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements  

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Ezekial 22:29-30 - The Best Gift


The people of the land
practice extortion and commit robbery;
they oppress the poor and needy
and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.
I looked for a man among them who would
build up the wall and stand in the gap before me ... 
Ezekial 22:29-30
 
Do you know what the best spiritual gift is? Besides love (see 1 Corinthians 13), the greatest spiritual gift is a willing heart.
 
I have a friend who says his call -- to use the language of Ezekial 22 -- is "to stand in the gap."
 
If we lived in a sinless world and everyone one poured their best into the kingdom, there wouldn't be gaps. We'd have more applicants in the church ministries than we had jobs. We'd do more and more and more -- not for the sake of busyness, but because we couldn't hold our service in.
 
We live, however, in a busy, sinful, distracted world. Too many of us are busy, and because we're tired, we leave gaps in the wall. Too many of us are distracted, and because we're constantly focused on "the good," we don't focus on "the best." Therefore, there are again more gaps. Sin leaves even more gaps. We desire too many things other than the upbuilding of the kingdom.
 
The greatest gift in the kingdom is a willing heart. It is seeing the holes and plugging them.
 
We can do this as longsuffering martyrs, making sure everyone knows our sacrifice. Or we can ...
  • do everything for the glory of God -- 1 Cor 10:31.
  • do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him -- Col 3:17.
  • do everything for the sake of the Good News -- 1 Cor 9:23
  • do everything with love -- 1 Cor 16:14
  • do everything without grumbling and arguing -- Phil 2:14
  • do everything through Christ who strengthens me -- Phil 4:13
  • follow God's example in everything you do -- Eph 5:1
  • work at everything you do with all your heart. -- Col 3:23
  • be faithful in everything [you] do -- 1 Tim 3:11
  • and always do for other people everything you want them to do for you. -- Mt 7:12
Indeed, "do everything God has given you to do" (2 Tim 4:5).
 
Or in other words, stand in the gap. The greatest spiritual gift is not necessarily doing what's easy; it's doing what's needed for the building up of the kingdom.
 
How willing are you to just march forward and say, "God use me!!!"
 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who does a million thing
he never thought he would have
(and counts himself very blessed)
 
 
Indeed, we can be like Paul who said, "Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up, [because,] in everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God." (2 Cor 12:9, 2 Cor 6:4). And when we yield our hearts to God, "God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. He does everything by his power that is working in us" (Paul again in Eph 3:20).
 
 
 
Over the years, I've witnessed too many people using spiritual gifts as an excuse to not serve. "Oh, I can't do that, it's not my gift." Moses tried this with God. "Oh, I can't do that. I can't speak to Pharoah. After all, I have a speech impediment."

---------------------------
The biggest impediment to my going forward is simply fear. Sadly, I all too often let fear control my actions (or lack of actions.)

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Luke 1:18 - Discovering Our Gifts


Zechariah said to the angel,
"How will I know that this is so?
Luke 1:18
 
In my years as a pastor, I've watched plenty of kids head off to college. Some know exactly what they want to do and be and charge headlong toward a degree and a profession. Most do not. Most haven't heard a definitive "call."
 
Being a teacher can be a call and a passion. Being a nurse can also be a call and a passion. Some are called to be machinists, workers, and producers, utilizing their craft to bless a company (and all the people it employs). Others are called to management and to help others be more productive. But students are in an awkward place until they identify their call and passion. So what do they do?
 
Our goal today is to learn how to determine our Spiritual Gifts, and I bring up seeking direction in college because the process is the same. How do we learn about our gifts?
 
1. Take an Aptitude Test -- As high schoolers point toward college, they're often given aptitude tests. Based on what a student says they're interested in, possible careers are suggested. The church has aptitude tests called spiritual gifts inventories. Google "Spiritual Gifts Inventories" and take one online.
 
2. Talk to a Guidance Counselor -- An inventory of gifts and aptitudes reflect what we think about ourselves. Talking to a pastor or a faithful spiritual friend invites in the insights of others. Like a coach, spiritual friends and mentors can help us see ways that God is already using us.
 
3. Do an Internship -- Schools often place students in internships because, among other things, it helps students see the good, the bad, and the daily of this kind of work. In the church, one of the best ways to see if you're gifted in an area is to just start serving. Say, "Well, I'll never know if God wants me to teach if I don't try." Just do it for a season. Follow through on the commitment. Ask for advice and help when needed. If its a newly discovered gift, praise the Lord. If its not, you've just defined your "career path" more clearly in terms of what you don't want to do.
 
4. Pray -- Students often go to human guidance counselors but forget to go to the true guidance counselor. Only one guidance counselor knows us inside and out -- because he made us! When we want direction, we should start with prayer!
 
In Christ's Love,
a guidance counselor
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I have taken Spiritual Gift tests numerous times ... even recently. I have talked the results over a little bit with a couple of folks (including Pastor).  I have done things that are directly related to the gifts, but it seems like others aren't accepting of my gifts.

But the one thing I haven't done much of is pray. That is a true weakness of mine. Something I know I need to work on.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Psalm 1:3 - UNDERSTANDING GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT


They are like trees planted by streams of water,

which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
Psalm 1:3

Spiritual gifts first began to make sense to me when I heard a pastor tell a story about a tree.
This pastor had a favorite kind of tree. It reminded him of his childhood. So he bought on from a nursery and planted in beside his house.
It died.
The next spring he bought a new tree, same variety, and planted it in about the same spot. It withered and faded too.
Then a neighbor came over and said, "Why do you have a _____ tree in the shade? These trees need sun." So the pastor took the tree and planted it in the sun and it thrived.
He said, spiritual gifts are like this. God has created us for a place in his service, but people get discouraged because they've been planted in the wrong place.
Tomorrow we'll talk about how to discover your true gift, but if you find that you've been planted in the wrong place, don't be a victim, lamenting your spot or lack thereof, pick yourself up by your own roots and try something new. Indeed, keep planting and replanting yourself by streams of living water.
In Christ's Love,
a pecan tree
(tall, productive, and a bit of a nut)
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Traveling around the midwest, you can always tell where there is water. You are driving for miles and miles and there is nothing but farmland. It is a combination of low rolling hills, jagged buttes and canyons, flat prairie, wheat fields, cow pastures and small towns.  One thing that is a given - when you see trees, you know there is water nearby. 

Maybe it's not planting yourself, but patiently waiting for roots to grow as you drink deeply of the living water. 

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Convo with Pastor - 1 Corinthians 12:1,4,7


Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters,
I do not want you to be uninformed.
There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit
for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:1,4,7
 
People are shocked and amazed. They constantly tell me, "I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you remember everybody's name."
 
But here's the shocking part: "I am actually lousy at remembering names!"
 
It's been that way all my life. If I meet someone at Robbie's football practice, for example, I won't remember it for two seconds! But something amazing happened my first Sunday in my first church. Names and families were suddenly woven into my heart and mind like a tapestry.
 
That's not me. That's God! It's a spiritual gift, breathed by the Spirit, for upbuilding of the church.
 
Our spiritual gifts do not necessarily match our abilities in the world. Imagine a person's who's least likely professional job would be to teach. Their brain, for example, may not remember one fact well enough to convey it to a third-grader. But teaching about God and faith is about much more conveying information. St. Peter put it this way, "always be ready ... give an account for the hope that is in you ... with gentleness and reverence." The best Christian teachers are those who love the Lord and love his children and are willing to tell of the hope, joy, and faith within them."
 
What is the gift that comes more naturally to you in the church than in the world?
 
In Christ's Love,
a guy that can't remember
his own name some mornings
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That is a very interesting concept. What is a gift that comes more naturally in the church than in the world? It is actually something that I have been fighting against. Telling God and others that I DON"T do that! What is it? Public speaking. However, I have willingly spoken in front of crowds at church. More than once. In fact, I am attending a conference in a couple of weeks to learn how to develop my skills as a public speaker.

Is this a gift I would have developed for something worldly? No.
But it is a gift that I know God has given me and that I need to hone to share his love, grace and mercy.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Titus 3:4-5 - KINDNESS


The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,


patience, KINDNESS, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23 

when the goodness and loving kindness
of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of any works
of righteousness that we had done,
but according to his mercy
Titus 3:4-5
I remember one time reading about an event in famed religion professor Huston Smith's life. Preparing for a conference, he picked up their keynote speaker, Aldous Huxley, at the airport.
On their long drive to the university, Smith dared to ask the famed and aging atheist if he had an great insight on the meaning of life.
Huxley replied: "You know, Huston, it’s rather embarrassing to have spent one’s entire lifetime pondering the human condition and to come toward its close and find that I really don’t have anything more profound to pass on by way of advice than, "Try to be a little kinder.’"   
Without the hope of heaven, I guess that's the sum of a famous atheist's life -- "Be nice."
Another famous writer and thinker also advised that we should be nice and kind. But this great thinker -- the Apostle Paul -- linked kindness to both Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul said that kindness is a fruit that the Spirit wishes to pour into you. In other words, "true kindness" is Spirit-inspired. And in light of this "true and Spirit-inspired kindness," listen to Paul explanation of kindness from our verse for today. In his letter to Titus, Paul said that ... 
  1. the greatest measure of kindness is from God, through Jesus Christ. 
  2. He linked kindness to "lov[e]" and "mercy."
  3. He showed how the actions of Jesus Christ are the fullest expression of kindness. 
  4. Which implies that Jesus' actions are the model for us expressing kindness.
  5. Finally, he also said that God's loving kindness leads where? To salvation!
Think about that. Kindness for kindness-sake is nice. But in the end is it really kind to be nice and friendly but leave people on a road that inevitably leads to death and destruction? The whole point of Jesus' cross-directed life was a kindness that put us on a road to salvation.
Which means ... If Jesus' links kindness and mercy to eternal salvation, let your kindness lead to salvation too.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who'll stand with
the famous writer and thinker
who's sold more copies
.. who do you think it was
Huxley's Brave New World
or Paul and the New Testament?
(The Bible is the best seller every year!)
---------------------------------
The bible is the best selling book every year ... yet the least read.

Kindness ... if we truly think about it and apply it, we would all lead drastically different lives. There is a cliche' - 'kill 'em with kindness" - be nice to everyone - especially those it is difficult to be nice to. Hold doors, smile, make eye contact, pay for someone's order in a drive through.  Kindness doesn't have to be with people you know, It can be anonymous.  And random.

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Romans 7:15,19,24,25 - Self-Control


The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL.
Galatians 5:22-23 
 
Paul said,
I do not understand my own actions.
For I do not do the good I want,
but the evil I do not want is what I do.
Wretched man that I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:15,19,24,25
 
Romans 7 is perhaps the most poignant description of human nature in all scripture.
 
How many of you have ever cried with Paul: "The good that I want to do, I do not do. But the evil I don't want to do, that's the very thing I do! Wretched man that I am!"?
 
I know I have. I'm repeatedly weak. I'm frequently tempted. My biggest consolation is that if Paul -- a real live saint -- couldn't completely marshal his thoughts, words, and deed, what chance do I have?!!!
 
I don't joke about that in order to justify sin. Rather, I turn to Galatians 5 to discover what chance I really do have. This same Paul tells us that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.
 
Paul calls these nine attributes "fruits" for a reason. In nature, a cherry branch can't just decide one day to squeeze out a lemon. Why? Because it's attached to cherry tree.
 
In the same way, it's nearly impossible for me squeeze out self-control unless I'm attached to the Tree of the Life. Through the branches of the Holy Spirit flow the nutrients of love, joy, peace, and self-control. Think about it ... Isn't this why recovery groups tell us that one of the key steps is connecting with our "higher power."
 
We know who our higher power is. And if we're honest, we know that on our own we'll wind up weak and wretched. But thanks be to God that through Jesus and power of the Holy Spirit we can gain self-control as we rely on him instead of on ourselves.
 
Today, let's say that the fruit of this fruit is "independence"!
 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's thankful today
for the freedoms in our country 
---------------------------------
Self-control is the hardest fruit of the spirit for me.  So often I feel completely and utterly out of control. I will do, say or react to something and only afterwards stop and realize that I really didn't want to do that!

I guess one of the first steps to self control is fully giving control to God.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

convo with Pastor - Matthew 11:29 - Gentleness


The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, GENTLENESS, and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23 
 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29
 
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invited us to come to him when we're weary and carrying heavy burdens. Why should we approach him to find rest for our souls? He answers that in the next verse: Because he is gentle and humble in heart.
 
Let me simplify that: Why should we approach Jesus with our burdens? Because he's gentle.
 
What is gentle? I often define words with a picture in mind ... 
  • With a mother and a baby in mind, I'd describe gentleness as loving, caring, and lullabies. 
  • Picturing a hospice nurse, gentleness describes the soft touch of a compassionate hand.
  • Looking at summer field, gentleness is wind that ripples the grass and brings relief to humid day.
  • Looking at another part of the field, gentleness is the opposite of the bull in the corner. Indeed, gentleness is the opposite of angry and snorting and opinionated.
  • Gentle is also like my dog Lucy. When Mary Louise added chickens to our back yard, our retriever understood that these fuzzy creatures were new members of our family. She allowed them to crawl on her back and peck at her fur. 
How loving and caring is your touch? Or are you more like the obstinate bull?
 
The truth is that all of us have a bit of bull and bruiser in us. That's why Paul reminds us that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit.
 
When we yield ourselves to the spirit's leading we begin to let go of anger and ego and look more and more like our gentle Savior. And in so doing, we begin to transform our world around us with gentle grace.
 
In Christ's Love,
a clumsy bull who wants to look
more like my gentle retriever
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(if Pastor is a clumsy bull then I am a rabid creature ... he is one of the gentlest people I know!)

With others outside of my family, I can be gentle. Especially with my patients at work.
However, with my family and myself especially - I am often angry, stubborn, cynical, bitter. When I am reading the bible, praying, trying to focus more on God and his way - I find myself being more patient and gentle with my kids. And myself. When that happens, sleep is better as well. And my mood. and my overall outlook.

Hmmm ... maybe there is something to prayer, study and focus.

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