Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Day of School

My first day of school for the Fall 2012 semester was wonderful! Throughout the day, I thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm finally here!!! I can't believe I get to learn at such a great school!!!"

And throughout the day I thanked God for this unique time in my life.

We started our school day off right by singing worship songs!

My first convocation! I love that I'm required to be in church mid week! 
"Free" water bottles to all the new students after convocation! 

James 4:7. *My professor asked that we pray for him, that he may teach more like Jesus, his role model!!!!!!!

"Free" t-shirt for the S.A.L.T. program. I'm so thankful that I received the postcard about salt 3+ months ago... God knew what he was doing by starting off my SAU experience in this program!!

Back of the shirt. :)

This is hanging in my teachers office. Little things like this make a big impression on me since SAU is the first time I've ever attended a Christian school (at least I guess that's why).

I <3 this!

All my classes are in this building except for my Chemistry class and my outreach practicum. 

Where I'll be spending lots of quality time the next 4 months. :)

I killed a snake for my very first time last night! The timing could not have been better... huge spiritual lesson gleaned.... "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." Luke 10:19

This is just a glimpse of my blessed day. I'd love to provide more detail but it's past my bedtime. Speaking of bedtime... my cat woke me up at 5:30 this morning... I hope he does the same tomorrow! God is soooo good!!!

God is love,

PS. For those of you praying for Poco... I think he is on the mend... I take him back to the vet tomorrow for a medicated bath and check up. I've learned that Poco loves Peanut butter on saltine crackers... it's the best way I've found to get him to eat his pills. The problem is I like peanut butter on saltine crackers... and maybe a lil honey too... NIGHT. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Point of Prayer Chains

One trial after another. That seems to be my life the past few weeks. With God's help I've managed to keep a positive attitude... until this evening...

Taking my dog, Poco, to the veterinarian was the proverbial last straw. Discouragement and frustration finally made it's ugly head well known in my afternoon/evening. And tomorrow is my first day of Fall term at Southern Adventist University. Coincidence in timing? I think not.

Turns out I'm not the only one experiencing frustrating trials. Tonight was orientation to the S.A.L.T. program, it started at 6:30pm. I ended up being late because of the veterinarian trip. So I missed my fellow students introductions and whatever else was covered in the first 12 minutes of "class". While listening to the speakers I quietly counted the students. I only came up with 17. There were suppose to be 25.

After class I found out that approximately eight people had dropped out of the S.A.L.T. program at the last minute due to frustrating/discouraging trials.... some health related, some finance related, all living in this world related...

And for some sick reason I was comforted by this fact. I took comfort in knowing that other people were suffering. How messed up is that??!?! It's like my logical suddenly transcended to; "Well what I'm about to embark in must be important for Satan to be working so hard to mess it all up."

And then my friend told me about a friend of hers, an acquaintance of mine, that has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time and has been given six to twelve months to live. This brings me no comfort, just big fat tears. And later tonight it will bring me to my knees.

I've had this question floating in my head off and on for the past month or so: "What's the point to prayer chains? What's the point in having other people pray?" 

If God is all knowing and all powerful, does He really need multiple people praying? I asked these questions to some prayer warriors recently... and here are the answers I got:

  • "Remember that the purpose of prayer is not necessarily to have then answered as we imagine, but to bring us up to God so we can see things from His point of view.  His objective from the very beginning was and is to place things on an eternal basis of security. Also, God will not force people to make a decision; but He will influence them, create opportunities, and work circumstances out to place them in the best position to make logical and reasonable decisions.  Because God respects our freedom of choice, He needs permission, the OK, from us to work in us.  If loved ones don't pray for themselves, we must intercede for them and give God permission to work in their lives.  As far as prayer chains and having multiple people pray about something; that's only to strengthen our faith in God and in each other, and encourage unity in God's cause.  God can and does work in the lives of others through the prays of one person or many."
  • When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man's best service, and he makes up for the deficiency with his own divine merit; for He is the source of every right impulse"  Oriental Watch, A Friend to the Friendless 1909
  • "...Also God blesses our actions when we sincerely come to others and to Him.  He gives us our church family to go to, to lean on, and support us. "
  • "There is amazing power in prayer and we all need it. Praying for each other brings us closer to God and the people we are praying for. Jesus prays for us everyday, why wouldn't we pray for each other?! Organized prayer groups are spectacular in the fact that it makes us all vulneralble and we need that to grow spiritually."
  • "as to prayer chains- it is a powerful gift! "Where two or three come together in My name, there I am, in the midst of them" Matthew 18:20. to me, this goes beyond actually meeting and holding hands together in a room. when you have a group of people focusing their prayers on something together, it is a joint effort. and God hears each one!  "And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12"
  • I don't know. I think they CAN and SHOULD strengthen people, bring people together, and put the focus on God. It's hard for me when I don't know a person I'm asked to pray for and It's hard for me to know what to pray and how. James 5:16 mentions praying for each other. I feel that it's more a community activity though, and prayer chains often seem disconnected to me.
  •  I'm not sure... I think it's community. It seems at times that we think we can convince God to do what we want if we get enough people on our side begging him. Like we can convince Him if we beg enough. On the other hand, we live in a spiritual battle field -and there is power in prayer.
  • James 5:13-16 the effective prayer of the righteous man can accomplish much. If we belive this, the BIBLE/GOD, the more righteous people praying the more God will accomplish for us. So the prayer chains are blessed by God
  • Well God has commanded us to pray and He has also commanded us to bear one another's burdens. James 5:13,14, Galations 6:2.
  • "The fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" comes to mind. . . Have to look for the reference :) In truth, though, I believe prayer changes ME (aligns MY heart with God's) far more than it changes HIS mind. "Our thoughts are not His thoughts nor our plans His" - He has SUCH bigger plans than ours...I believe prayer chains link our hearts with His and with the Body of Christ - becoming "Jesus with skin on" to the watching world. As urine hearts are transformed, we live and act truly as "little Christi" May it be so! James 5:16 & Isaiah 55:8 we the two references

What do you think?

Here's what I think.... I'm reminded of last Fall when myself and many other prayer warriors across the country prayed for a dear friend, Blaine, who had a brain tumor. Church members and I gathered together multiple times to pray for Blaine. Countless emails and phone calls were sent pleading for prayers for Blaine. It wasn't until I was beside the hospital bed in which Blaine died that I realized how Blaine was bring ing people to Jesus when he was at his weakest. And even though our prayer for his survival wasn't answered how we wanted, our prayer was answered in that God's will took place. I have friends today because of prayer chains last Fall. And the experience brought me closer to some of my fellow church members. 

There are plenty of Bible verses that recommend prayer. Jesus spent a huge portion of His time here on planet Earth in prayer. But Bible verses aside....

Praying for others... or knowing others are praying for what I'm praying for is... ENCOURAGING.
Psalm 138:3, TLB. "When I pray, You answer me, and encourage me by giving me the strength I need."
Some how I find strength in intercessory prayer. I don't know that I could argue this belief with Bible verses and such... I just know my experience.

So with that said: I NEED PRAYER!!!! I'm weak and I need all the help I can get!!!! Just sayin'!!! In case you don't have enough to pray about, here are some things you can add to your list:

  • As I mentioned, Fall semester starts tomorrow. My schedule is crazy full (more like Tachenko full which by definition is crazy full by the way ;). Please pray that I can effectively manage my time that God has blessed me with.
  • Sleep. Please pray that I'm in bed at a decent time each night so that I can get up early enough to do my devotionals  and exercise before class at 8:30am.
  • Money money money.... (insert "The Love of Money" song by O Jays)... God always comes through for us in this department... I'm hesitant to even bring this up because of how He always blesses.
  • My pets. No more vet trips please. See previous prayer request. Please pray that Poco heals quickly.
  • Ryan and I have been apart for almost 3 months now. Please pray that God makes His will clear as to a job and so forth... so Ryan can join me here in TN.
I feel really selfish asking for prayer when some many others need prayer more than me. But Jesus reminds me that kind of thinking is silliness. 

How may I pray for you????? I have a prayer board that I keep track of prayer requests on... can I add you to the board?

Thanks for the prayers!!!!!!!

God is love,

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Memory Verse a Week for the Weak: Isaiah 45:8-10

"Open up, heavens, and rain. 

Clouds, pour out buckets of my goodness!

Loosen up, earth, and bloom salvation; 
   sprout right living. 
   I, God, generate all this.
But doom to you who fight your Maker— 
   you're a pot at odds with the potter!
Does clay talk back to the potter: 
   'What are you doing? What clumsy fingers!'
Would a sperm say to a father, 
   'Who gave you permission to use me to make a baby?'
Or a fetus to a mother, 
   'Why have you cooped me up in this belly?'"
-Isaiah 45:8-10 (MSG)

God is love,

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Memory Verse a Week for the Weak: Deuteronomy 10:20

"Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name." Deuteronomy 10:20

Perhaps I'll share more on this verse later... perhaps... :)

God is love,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Memory Verse a Week for the Weak: Romans 5:10

"For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:10, TNIV

God is love,
Vanessa the sinner who desperately needs grace 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What’s Unique About Jesus?

 In the book Always Prepared William G. Johnson wrote an essay titled “What’s Unique About Jesus?” The essay does an eloquent job of answering the title’s question. On page 69, Johnson urges, “Work your own way through to the answer. Don’t trust anyone else’s opinions or views. It’s got to be your answer.” Which is so true, what’s unique about Jesus is different for each unique individual.  Johnson spends most of the essay describing why he believes Jesus “is unique: in impact, in birth, in life, in teachings, in what He claims about Himself, in death, and in continuing presence.” (page 71).
             Volumes and volumes of books could be written in an attempt to answer this single question. I don’t know that I could write volumes, but I could certainly write dozens of pages if given the time to do so. For now, I’ll just touch on two aspects that make Jesus unique; these qualities are something I’ve been pondering a lot lately, and that is Jesus’ uniqueness in association and acceptance of others…
            I am a Facebook user. I admit it. I check my Facebook account at least once a day, six days a week. Lately I’ve really noticed the mean words, slogans, and pictures that my Facebook friends, I have 496 of them, (I’m mentioning this number not to brag, but to give an idea of how many posts can be generated in a day) have been posting. What are the mean posts about? In a word: politics.

President Obama's official portrait
Jesus died for this man.
Jesus died for this man.
It really blows me away at how my Facebook friends (some of which I love very much) can say such mean things about other people that don’t believe the same way that they do. This sort of behavior has recently increased with the Chick-fil-A issue (if you’re not familiar with the issue then I suggest Googling “Chick-fil-A” and then reading the original interview that the uproar is about.  You can read the original interview by going to this website:  These mean posts are coming from “Christians” and “non-Christians” alike. All of the posts that I have seen either doesn’t portray the Jesus I know and love, or the posts speak horribly of the Jesus I know and love. Either way it hurts, it literally makes my stomach hurt. So what does this have to do with “What’s Unique about Jesus?”
            Jesus has a unique way of associating and accepting people the way they are. If Jesus were alive today, I think you would find him in a Chick-fil-A restaurant. I think you would also find him with the Chick-fil-A protesters and gay marriage supporters. I think Jesus would be found amongst the liberals and the conservatives. You would find him with these kinds of people because Jesus associated with the sinners, as He pointed out in Matthew 9:11-13. Gay/straight or liberal/conservative – anyone who has a pulse is a sinner. Perhaps Jesus would offer the same words to these folks as he offered to the Samaritan woman at the well:
            “But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."
These verses are found in John 4:23-24 (I used the Message version), however it would be well to read John 4:1-30 (in other versions too) for the entire conversation that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman. Jesus wasn’t concerned about what people might think of Him for associating with the Samaritan woman. She too was a child of God, another soul for which he would hang on the cross for, and Jesus accepted her as such. Before I go further, let me be clear on something; Did Jesus condone her sinful behavior? You tell me (read the verses mentioned above). The same is true for sin of today or any day.
Chick-fil-A and the Samaritan woman aren’t the only reasons why I believe Jesus is unique in acceptance and association. Johnson offers other great examples on page 74, “As I contemplate the life of Jesus as portrayed by the Gospel writers, several characteristics jump out: never too busy to stop and help, love of children, one-on-one conversations, thoughtfulness, unceasing outpouring of love and compassion, and Friend of the marginalized. Jesus lives a full life, but He finds time to talk with the Samaritan woman who comes to the well to draw water.” Now that’s something to share on Facebook; what makes Jesus unique, His acceptance and association.

The above was a paper I had to write for one of my classes. I thought I'd share some Life Lessons I've gleaned after reflecting on above:

  1. If you read the initial interview that I shared above, I think you'll agree with me that the media has blown this way out of proportion! I've searched multiple articles and have discovered that the President of Chick-fil-A is very careful not to say anything judgmental or mean. His words have been taken out of context several times and in various ways. I've also read articles where many Chick-fil-A's across the South are purposely opening their doors to the gay community. I'm not trying to convince anyone that Chick-fil-A is a great place to eat (especially since I prefer a vegan diet), I'm merely pointing out that the mass media is once again doing a poor job of delivering the full story.
  2. I'm thankful to live in a country where people can say whatever they want, but this has caused me to remember that despite what the rhyme says, stick and stones can break bones and words do hurt.
  3. I also think back to 10 years ago, before I became a Christian... It wasn't people telling me how wrong premarital sex or doing drugs is that drew me to God and then eventually a church... It was loving individuals who pointed out Bible truths when I asked for them... It took years, after I accepted Jesus into my life before I made lifestyle changes... In fact I'm still needing to make changes... thank goodness we have the Holy Spirit to help with that. My point to this is: please, "Christians" stop and consider the message you are sending to lost souls when you "take a stand"...  please pray about your good intentions.  Which leads me to my next thought...
  4. There is a time and a place to take a stand against some things, but there is rarely (not never) a time to take a stand against some one... the line between the two seem to be getting fuzzier and fuzzier. If you read this post, then you'll know that I have learned that "Sometimes love involves judgement; but judgement must always involve love." It's been my experience that when people loved me enough to judge my sin, they also loved me enough to walk along side me as Jesus and I conquered that sin in my life... In other words, judging others is a big responsibility (let me know if you need Bible verses for this).
  5. Lately I've been feeling a bit like an outcast. May I offer this song to you if you ever feel like an outcast too:

        God is love,