A Reluctant Writer

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Is God Up to Something?

microphone-1024x768I walked into the church expecting the same old thing. The finely polished band would entertain us for forty minutes; announcements of upcoming events and the offering received. A few more songs to set the mood before the pastor shared a message, prayed for those who came forward and then dismissed the congregation. The monotony had been wearing on me for years. I usually left at the conclusion of the message.

About twenty minutes into the service, the worship leader, set a microphone on a stand in the middle of the stage. “Anyone who wants to say something about Jesus come to the microphone,” he said, then resume his place behind the piano. That was different and perked me up a bit. A few people made their way to the stage to thank God for the things he had done for them.

I had not seen a testimony service in a very long time. The first church I attended in the mid-1970s often called upon the congregation to tell what God had done for them. In fact, the first time I walked into a church they were in the middle of sharing testimonies. Eventually, the practice was abandoned. After sharing the initial salvation experience several times from different perspectives people had a hard time thinking of things to testify about.

I expected the stream of people walking to the microphone to wane and the service to move to the next order of business. The stream of people continued. The pastor spent the whole service sitting on a pew. For the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed the service.

Then the unexpected happened. Teenagers and adults, who had been attending the church for years, stood behind the microphone to confess their sin and repent. I have witnessed a number of pastors caught in sin forced to ask forgiveness before their congregations. I had never witnessed people voluntarily stand before their fellow Christians admitting their failures and asking God for help.

Thirty minutes into the testimony service that turned into a time of repentance I realized something unusual was happening. John the Baptist prepared the way for a visitation of God by calling people to repentance. The only person who called upon the congregation to repent that morning was the Holy Spirit. Is he preparing us for a visitation of God?

The next morning, I called my prayer partner to inquire if anything unusual had happened at her church. “Nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. I told her what happened and my thoughts.

She told me about a conversation she had with a friend over coffee Sunday evening. Her friend told her, “I feel in my spirit that God is up to something. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how to describe it. But God is going to do something.”

“I wasn’t feeling it,” said my prayer partner. “We hear that kind of talk all the time, and it usually amounts to nothing. When I went to bed that evening, I asked God if it was true. What you just told me gives me hope that it is.”

PGerogeThe following Sunday the pastor told the congregation that he had seen people coming to a microphone in a vision, and there was more to come. Apparently, he thinks God is up to something too.

Only time will tell if that service was an anomaly or the beginning of something greater. My feelings about the matter are neutral. I have witnessed a lot of corruption in the church, and wished I could find a church that sincerely loves God and God’s people. The church is sorely in need of a revival, but revival is a mixed bag of blessing and persecution. To some it would be a sweet odor. To others revival disrupts their lives with a foul stench.

 

 

Follow Me: Scattered

building-the-tower-of-babelObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 11[1]

After the flood, humanity decided they would remain unified if they abandoned their nomadic lifestyle to build a city of stone and a tower that reached the heavens. They thought the city would become their identity and keep them from being “scattered over the face of the whole earth.”[2]

They started laying bricks before they consulted God about their plan. He “came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.”[3] Then he said something interesting, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”[4] God promptly confused their language and scattered them all over the earth.

The people had everything they needed to do the impossible. Anything they could imagine would be theirs. Yet God brought the construction to an abrupt halt and did to them the very thing they were trying to avoid. He scattered them all over the earth. His actions are perplexing. Why would he deny them the ability to do the impossible?

As man perceives time 174 years had elapsed since the flood. As God perceives time 4 hours[5] had elapsed since humanity broke his heart by filling the earth with violence. The earth was full of violence because “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”[6] God could not allow people to possess the power to do whatever they can imagine when their every imagination is evil.

The city they attempted to build in the plain of Shinar would have given them little more than a false sense of security. Their shepherd had not consulted God before he led them to build a city.[7] Their shepherd would have squandered the power to do the impossible on his lusts and produced every kind of impossible evil.

God thwarted humanities plan in the plain of Shinar, but he has every intention of giving us a city where anything we can imagine is attainable. The people were missing an important element to keep their evil in check. A faithful shepherd who obeys God who will lay down his life for the people he rules.

 

[1] All Scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Genesis 11:4, KJV

[3] Genesis 11:5

[4] Genesis 11:6

[5] http://www.divinecoders.com/thousand-years-as-one-day.php

[6] Genesis 6:5

[7] Jeremiah 10:21

Follow Me: A Sign

rainbow-bridge4Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 9[1]

If God made a covenant with Adam and Eve, it’s not recorded within the first nine chapters of the Bible. The first recorded covenant is with Noah, his family and every living creature that was on the ark with Noah. The covenant is a promise from God to “never again” destroy all life with a flood.[2] Most are familiar with the covenant of law made with the children of Jacob in the wilderness that contained a blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. The covenant God made after the flood is different in a number of ways.

The covenant of law is limited to one family, the children of Jacob and their descendants. This covenant is with every living creature (human and animal) and their descendants. God is bound by this promise as long as he lives. Our death has no bearing on whether or not God will keep his promise to “never again” flood the earth.

The covenant of law limited what the children of Jacob could and could not do. The first covenant God made limits God’s actions but not the actions of all living creatures. The only limit God set on humanity’s actions was to empower us to protect ourselves from those who commit murder. People who shed innocent blood will also have their lives cut short.

With the covenant, came a sign. God said, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”[3]

The rainbow is for God’s benefit more than the inhabitants of the earth. God will see the sign and remember his promise. It doesn’t matter if we see the sign or not. It doesn’t matter if we remember God’s promise. We cannot restrain God’s actions. The only power great enough to restrain God’s actions is his integrity.

 

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Genesis 9:11

[3] Genesis 912-16

Follow Me: Starting Over

starting overObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 8[1]

God’s initial command to the survivors of his judgment is similar to the command he gave Adam and Eve – “multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”[2]

Upon exiting the ark Noah built an altar and offered a burnt sacrifice. The sacrifice was an “acknowledgement of the sin nature and a request for renewed relationship with God.”[3] The sacrifice pleased God. He made a decision as extreme as destroying everything to start over. Never again would God curse the ground or destroy all living creatures. As long as the earth endures there will be planting and harvesting, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.

Once again humanity is appointed as ruler of planet earth with a few modifications. There won’t be any more serpents spouting lies about God. God put the fear and dread of humanity upon the animals.

No longer is humanity limited to a vegetarian diet. God gave everything that lives and moves (animal, plant, bird) as food. The only exception is eating meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

God promised an accounting would be required of every animal and human who took the life of another human being. He also gave humanity the right to take the life of any human who shed human blood.

For the first time, I see God make a covenant. His decision had affected all living creatures. Therefore, this covenant was made with “all life on earth.”[4] God’s concern for all living things is consistent with his claim that he created all things.

I am beginning to see God’s character come into focus. He regretted what he started, but he had made a promise to destroy the serpent’s lies. He did not quit. He started over by wiping the slate clean, making adjustments and moving forward.

 

[1] All Scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Genesis 1:28, Genesis 8:17

[3] http://www.gotquestions.org/burnt-offering.html

[4] Genesis 9:17

Follow Me: Hands on Deliverer

arkObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible.

Genesis 6-7[1]

Once God determined to start over, I see him doing what the prophet Amos later stated as a characteristic of God: “Surely the sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”[2] Is someone with the power to create and destroy planets obligated to give lesser beings an explanation for his actions? Yet God takes the time to explain what he is doing, why he is doing it and how to survive his coming judgment.

God did not expect Noah to have “blind faith”. He told Noah why everyone would die. They had filled the earth with violence. For Noah that was an easily verifiable fact. Noah knew God’s actions were justified and may have welcomed God’s intervention to stop the violence.

Once God announced his decision, he remained actively involved. God gave Noah specific instructions for building the ark including the kind of wood to use and how to make it watertight. God also gave Noah the dimensions and design: 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high with three decks, a roof and window 18 inches from the top with a door in the side.

God had prepared the ships roster before the ship was built – Noah and his immediate family, seven pairs (male and female) of clean animals, and one pair (male and female) of unclean animals. Noah did the possible, gathered his family on the ark. God did the impossible, gathered every kind of animal and sent them to Noah.

God never left Noah in the dark wondering what would happen next. Noah knew exactly when the rain would start. God told him, “Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights…”[3] When the invited guests, human and animals, were safely on the ark “the Lord shut him in.”[4]

What God started he finished. Five months later, God remembered Noah and the animals. He stopped the rain and sent a wind to dry the earth. Five months later the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat.

Every morning Noah sent a dove to see if the waters had subsided. One day, the dove returned with an olive branch. A week later the dove flew away and never returned. Noah removed the covering of the ark and saw the dry ground, yet he remained on the ark more than a month before God told him that everyone could leave the ark.

When God made a decision, he remained actively involved in accomplishing his purpose. His plan was so detailed Noah knew exactly how many inches to place a window from the roof of the ark. If a plan designed to destroy had God’s full attention and participation, does his plan to save us have less attention and participation?

 

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Amos 3:7

[3] Genesis 7:4

[4] Genesis 7:16

Putting An Article All Together

Successful freelance writer, Mimi Greenwood Knight, explains how to put an article together after receiving a writing assignment. Mimi has authored magazine articles for national parenting magazines, such as Parents, Working Mother and American Baby.  She has in 49 anthologies, including 29 Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently writes editorials and advertorials for a regional lifestyle magazine in 160 markets in Texas. She has over 500 articles in print, including national and regional publications.

Follow me: A Good Idea

goodideaObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 6[1]

Grief had broken God’s heart when he announced “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created – and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground – for I regret that I have made them.”  God’s declaration is mind boggling. The destruction of the entire human race! If we lose sight of the factors that brought God to this decision, he appears to be a genocidal maniac.

First, God created us. Therefore, he is responsible for the pain we inflict on each other. Possessing the power to stop injustice but never acting to rectify the problem would be a greater injustice than destroying evil people who fill the earth with violence.

God wasn’t angry. He was broken hearted. Can we assume everyone who died in the flood went to hell? Sin is not imputed where there is no law.[2] The law of God was given to Israel hundreds of years later. Yes, sin was in the world but God was not holding their sins against them when he flooded the earth. God had a moral obligation to stop the violence. Those who died in the flood paid the wages of sin, which is the death of our flesh bodies[3] and they stood before a God who was not holding their sins against them. Don’t be quick to assume God threw them all in hell.

Finally, God did not extinguish the human race. He started over with the one man who “walked faithfully with God.”[4] The one man thankful for the gift of life who thought remembering God is a good idea.

 

[1]All scriptures quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Romans 5:13

[3] Romans 6:23

[4] Genesis 6:9

Advice on Getting Published

Successful freelance writer Mimi Greenwood Knight gives advice on getting published to the Southern Christian Writers Guild. Mimi has authored magazine articles for national parenting magazines, such as Parents, Working Mother and American Baby.  She has in 49 anthologies, including 29 Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently writes editorials and advertorials for a regional lifestyle magazine in 160 markets in Texas. She has over 500 articles in print, including national and regional publications.

 

Follow Me: I Wish I Hadn’t Done That

Broken HeartObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible.

Genesis 6[1]

After sentencing Cain to a life of lack and restless wandering for murdering his brother, God is silent for 1,408 years by earth time. As God perceives time a little over one day[2] had elapsed when he said, “My Spirit will not struggle with humans forever, because they are flesh and blood. They will live 120 years.”[3] The Message Bible says, “they can expect a life span of 120 years.”

At this point, I am not sure if God shortened the human lifespan to an average of 120 years, or if he determined to flood the earth in 120 years, or both. The Chronological Bible places the flood 120 years after God made this statement. By Moses day the expected life had decreased from 1,000 years to 70 maybe 80.[4] Today, some people live beyond 100 years but it is rare.

God’s intent may not be clear, but there is one thing certain. God can and will come to the end of his patience. Humanity had corrupted to the point of no return in less than two days (as God perceives time) from the day Adam and Eve thought good would come from eating of the tree of knowledge.

For the first time since I started following God through the Chronological Bible I see emotion. He repented (KJV), regretted (NIV), was sorry (MSG) that he created man. He was grieved (KJV), deeply troubled (NIV), heartbroken (MSG).

The source of God’s sorrow is the evil he saw in the heart of man – “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”[5]  Jesus said “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”[6] People did not think about God. They relied on their own knowledge. Their knowledge made them proud and pride made them violent. Violence was the tipping point in God’s decision to destroy the earth with a flood.

Have you ever done something and wished you hadn’t? If your answer is yes, you are like God. The difference between you and God is how you respond. God could have destroyed the earth and moved on to other things. There was nothing good in humanity to prevent God from destroying them. There was something good in God. He promised Adam and Eve the seed of a woman would crush the serpents head. That promise had not been fulfilled. If he abandoned humanity, he would have justified the serpent’s accusation that God is a liar. God had a choice. Take the easy way out and be a liar or keep his word. God’s integrity salvaged the human race.

 

[1] All Scriptures quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted

[2] http://www.divinecoders.com/thousand-years-as-one-day.php

[3] Genesis 6:3, God’s Word Bible

[4] Psalm 90:10

[5] Genesis 6:5, KJV

[6] Luke 12:34

From Surgery to Cosmetics

Christine Collier

Christine Collier

Look in Testimonies for part 1 God “Wants You in His Hands” and part 2 “I Want You To Do It” of Christine’s story.

The weight of working full-time as a surgery nurse and running a ministry growing by leaps and bounds grew heavy. Christine broke under the weight at 4:30 a.m. on her way to the hospital to setup for a heart surgery. She loved the new life God had given her, but she was tired and longed for a break. She wept, “God, I’m exhausted. If you don’t stop this train, I don’t know how I will get off of it. I can’t tell my employer I am taking three months off because I’m tired.” That evening, after teaching a group at Jacob’s Well Women’s rehab, Christine fell and broke her foot. The following morning she was in a cast and given three months off work to heal.

The leave was welcome but painful. She filled her free hours writing and promised that God she would not return to her exhausting schedule. At the end of three months, the hospital wanted her to return. Instead of making real change, she reduced her schedule to a four day week instead of five. Two months later, she ran out of surgery to get something and slipped in a puddle of water. She sprained the same ankle, injured both her shoulders and hurt her neck. This time the injuries were serious. She was out of work for more than two years.

A year after her first books released in Spring 2012, she was ready to go back to work. Things had not happened as she imagined, so she consulted her pastor. He advised her to leave the book in God’s hands and continue in the work of the ministry. “God will make things happen in his time,” said her Pastor. This time Christine found a less demanding nursing job working two days a week.

The first day on her new job she was walking down the hall and received a strong impression, “You are done here.” The thought left her distraught. She loved working and being around people. “God, what am I going to do?” she prayed. An appealing idea entered her heart. Go to cosmetology school. Her daughter was a cosmetologist and owned a salon. Christine had been looking for a way to be closer to her daughter. The idea seemed perfect, but she wanted to be sure God had planted the idea. She prayed, “God don’t let me go through a door I am not supposed to go through. Please confirm this to me.”

Christine could not get the thought of cosmetology school out of her mind. She called the school to discuss her possible career change. The teacher invited her to visit the facility. On her drive to the school Christine asked God to “please confirm this decision for me, I don’t want to do anything out of your will.” As soon as she walked in she spotted Michelle, the beautician who cut her hair for years.

“Michelle! What are you doing here?”

“I am the lead instructor at the school. What are you doing here?”

Christine choked out, “Having a mid-life crisis.”

“Let’s go to my office and we will talk.”

Christine sat down in Michelle’s office and started the conversation. “I think I am losing my mind. I am a nurse, but I keep thinking about cosmetology school.”

“Honey, this is what you don’t know. A lot of nurses go into the beauty business when they retire.” That revelation put Christine at ease about making a career change.

Christine, Permanent Make-Up Artist

Christine, Permanent Make-Up Artist

The following weekend, she held her first My New Life NOW Leader training day. Five churches sent representatives. During the question and answer time, a man said, “Christine, I understand RN, how that could be really helpful in ministry to the addicted, but what is this Certified Beauty Technician thing all about?”

Her mouth fell wide open, “What did you say?” exclaimed Christine.

“Well, your credentials say Christine Collier RN, CBT. Certified Beauty Technician.”

Christine grinned. “CBT means Certified Belief Therapist. But you will never know what you just did for me.”

Convinced God had confirmed his direction for her life Christine enrolled in Cosmetology School.  But God wasn’t finished. One day she was telling a friend about her upcoming school when the friend stopped her and said, “You need to learn how to do permanent makeup. It’s been twenty years since I had mine done, and I need a retouch.”

Once again, Christine could not get the thought out of her mind. Two weeks later she flew to Dallas and took a class at Bella Institute in Permanent Makeup.

Christine leaned back in her chair and smiled. “Now I am Christine Collier Registered Nurse, Certified Belief Therapist, Author, Cosmetologist, Permanent Makeup Artist and anything else God may want to add. In fact, I am seriously thinking about going to Bible School.”

I don’t doubt Christine will go to Bible College. I have been acquainted with her for years, but never knew what a treasure she is until I wrote her story. And I love my new eyebrows. If you are in the market for permanent makeup, contact Christine at 601-347-6512 or doxapermmakeup@yahoo.com.

Christine Collier is a native of New Orleans, married to Dennis Collier since 1981 and has two children and seven grandchildren. She and her family reside in Picayune, Ms. where they are active members of Resurrection Life Church. Both she and her husband teach recovery groups in the church and in correctional settings. She enjoys writing, working, gardening and spending time with her family and church family. Christine has won awards for her writing at the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  She is available for speaking engagements on a multitude of topics: Her Testimony; Impacting Your World; Dream Again; Beginning a Fruitful Recovery Ministry; Personality Workshops.

Contact Christine Collier by mail: 795 Memorial Blvd., Picayune Ms. 39466; phone (601)-347-6512 or email: newlifeinchristnow@yahoo.com  www.mynewlifenow.net

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