Friday, March 16, 2012

Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way you thought He Would

This is a book review for BookSneeze. I received the book at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

I received this book as part of the BookSneeze program by Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review. I was supposed to release my review the day it was published but wouldn't you know it ... disaster struck.

New disasters in my life have recently come up and I figured now was the time to give this book another read. I was scared but I did it anyway.Not all of the content of this book is encouraging if you're looking for Christian platitudes to simply soothe your soul. Nor does it contain any steps to recovery (do this and God will do this sort of thing). And the title threw me, as I have always believed that we, God's people, are Plan A and there is no Plan B.

But that's not what this book refers to.There are no easy answers here. But there is hope. And although most of us who are followers of Christ already know, He is our hope. And as most of us who are followers of Christ often need that reminder, here it is.The greatest reminder, especially since our family is going through so much pain (we are both disabled and in deep trouble financially to the point that we don't always get our medications that we can't afford and our very home is on the verge of being lost), is that God is STILL RIGHT HERE. I've asked my husband, my friends, "Where is God?" and they've told me He's right here. I guess hearing a stranger remind me of that finally got through my thick head.

I'm not saying this book removed all of my doubts and fears, but it reminded to seek God and remember He is within those doubts and fears and somehow will see me through.And He'll see you through, too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Facebook Contest

Go to this link: , go to Sweepstakes, and win!

Friday, March 19, 2010

66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb: Book Review

66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God that Invites You into His Story both excited me and made me apprehensive at the same time. While I've always been a fan of Larry Crabb's, this was something different from his usual offerings. It is written as a conversation between reader (or is it just Crabb?) and God. If the conversation is just Crabb's, does that mean that the 'answers' belong to me, too?

I was pleasantly surprised to find it an enjoyable and enlightening read. Each book of the Bible (each 'love letter') begins with what God wants us to see in the book and how it all flows together and speaks to us personally. I'd have much rather taken the time to read it slowly, along with each coinciding book, as I think it would make a beautiful daily (or weekly) devotion. I also think that it would be a wonderful resource for those who are looking to write a topical (not historical) sermon or as a small group Bible study.

I appreciated that Crabb addressed difficult issues of the Bible, even venting his frustration to God and then letting 'God' speak, explaining the love that is behind some of the very passages that I struggle with myself.

I still left wondering if this was a devotional, a commentary, a well-written work of fiction (the conversations) filled with truth, or just a great book for encouragement and growth. Whatever you describe it as, if you, like me, have always been told that the Bible is God's love letter to us but could never quite reconcile some of the passages of the Old Testament in particular as love, pick up this book and enjoy the insights that Crabb provides.

Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nine Ways God Always Speaks*: Review and FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST!

Nine Ways God Always Speaks*
*Offer only available in certain states
Authors: Mark Herringshaw & Jennifer Schuchmann
Publisher: Tyndale

Before reading this book, I was skeptical. It's typically my nature to be on my guard when reading books about "hearing God". I've been a Christfollower for about 30 years and have been exposed to many different teachings about hearing from God. Much of it was what I call weird, spooky, or even downright ridiculous.

Don't get me wrong. I hear from God myself in many different ways. Recently the topic came up in my own circle of friends about how do we know when it's God and not just wishful thinking or coincidence? Is this going to be another 'religious' book giving me step-by-step instructions -- if I do this, God will do that or if I don't do this God won't do that?

My fears and doubts were relieved right away with the first chapter.

The book is an easy read in contemporary and relevant language. Yet don't confuse an 'easy read' as not being challenging and thought-provoking. It most definitely is.

My eyes were opened to seeing the ways that God spoke to people during biblical times. Mary's excitement over the message that the angel spoke to her made me excited! This story, which I've heard and read hundreds of times since the time I was a child became truly human and alive by the authors' timely telling and language. All she could do was babble about God's goodness, His promise, and her love for Him. But what about Joseph? Here's a guy who is going to marry a 'good girl' who not only tells him some crazy story about being God speaking to her but that she is going to have a baby while still remaining a virgin. Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? The doubts, the skeptism? Wouldn't that be our reaction as well? Yeah, right, sure, he must have thought.

So how does he overcome these doubts? God speaks to him through an angel as well. Not only did he end up believing but he was obedient to God's command and didn't have sex with her until after the baby Jesus was born. Would any man, unless he was convinced that he heard from God, abstain from consumating his marriage with his new bride unless he was sure that it was God he heard from? Not only is this proof that Mary's story was true, it's proof that Joseph heard from God as well.

Rarely does God speak to us and ask such crazy things of us. But if He spoke to them and they were convinced it was God's voice, why is it so far-fetched to some of us that He still speaks to us today?

On page four the authors write,

"One reason people say they don't pray more is because they feel as if nothing happens when they pray, that God isn't listening, or worse, that He is not there at all.

A one-sided relationship isn't worth much.

If we're expected to talk to God through prayer, shouldn't we know whether He will talk back? And if He will, how will we hear Him?"

This book helps to answer those questions in practical, mysterious, logical, illogical, and meaningful ways. It asks as many, if not more, questions than it answers. This is a good thing as it encourages you to read and learn of the differnt ways that God speaks and recognize them when you encounter them. It doesn't tell you how God will speak to you, but that He does, and will if we are listening as it tells of many of the ways He does this. Only through listening and hearing other people's stories -- the ones that God told about in the Bible and the regular, every day people of today -- can we learn to be sensitive to God's voice, to discern what is Him and what is the noise of the world, what is real and what is, well, crazy.

In my own personal experience of hearing God so clearly that there was no denying it was Him -- dreams so vivid and full of knowledge and insights that I never would have know on my own (to one of my pastors at that!), to expected, to pictures that God gives me (I guess the common biblical term is visions), to visiting people in one area of South Africa where povety and AIDS is rampant, returning to the same area a year later to be greeted by joyful spirits and healthy bodies, seeing the lame walk a day after we prayed for them, teaching classes to South Africans in our native American language and having the interrepter come up to thank the teacher for speaking to them in the language of Zulu -- when she spoke English the entire time but they heard Zulu! The list of His amazing ways of revealing Himself and speaking to us and through us, through others, and through His word did not end after Jesus left this earth. It continues today and this book will encourage you, amaze you and make you hungry to hear more from our incredible God.

I want to listen. I want to know more. I want to hear God in all I do, think, act, and see.

Do you want to know, too? If so, this book can help you in your journey of learning to listen and hear God personally in your own life as well.

*** Want to learn more? Leave a comment stating your thoughts, or share a story of how God has spoken to you, maybe how you want to know if He is speaking to you, or anything that is on your mind about how God speaks today, or simply why you would like to have this book. There will be one randomly chosen winner. Open to residents of the US only. One entry per person please. Please be sure to include a way to contact you if you are the winner! Contest will end May 10, 2009. For more blog giveaways, click the button below to Mom Most Traveled. I look forward to your comments! ***


Thanks for all of your great thoughts and posts. A new copy of Nine Ways God Always Speaks* is on its way to Judith. Return soon for more reviews and giveaways. (And if you didn't win this book, I recommend you go out and buy a copy. You'll be happy you did.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Still Relevant ...

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.

- Abraham Lincoln,
Second Inaugural Address (1865)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Maintaining Peace

The struggle to maintain peace is immeasurably more difficult than any military operation.

- Anne O'Hare McCormick,
first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Love needs no words

She never said a word. Not to me. Not to anyone else. She didn't sing or respond to sound or music. I don't know her name. I don't know where she came from or who she belongs to.

And I fell in love with her.

Touch ... she responded to touch. She'd smile a shy little smile into my face when I took her on my lap and clapped her hands together. She'd just as shyly reach out to touch me when my attention waned and was focused on another beautiful child who wanted and needed it.

I met her on Wednesday. On Thursday, they bussed in all of the children that we had gone out into the township to spend time with and shower our love on during the week.

As the hundreds of children piled into the auditorium, there she was. She didn't run. She didn't skip. But she had a purpose in mind, and her little legs moved steadily and confidently. She didn't stop to get in line for a gift or craft or to play with a friend. She determinedly strutted all the way across the huge auditorium ...

... and stopped in front of me. Her little arms reached up to me and I eagerly scooped her up. I hated to let her go.

Love needs no words.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Peace is powerful

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

- Etty Hillesum,
died in Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 29. From An Interrupted Life, a compilation of her diaries and letters.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


They came in masses.

Hundreds and hundreds of children. Children in need ... in need of love, attention, affection, laughter, physical care, shoes, homes, in need of HOPE.

They lined up for hours for a sparkly star on their face, a crown made out of construction paper, to draw pictures with new paper and crayons, for balloons, for specs and bracelets and doo-dads made out of pipe cleaners ... stuff that cost mere pennies, yet brought such joy to these children. You would have thought everything they lined up for was made of gold.

What can I give them? I felt so helpless and useless. Other teams were off doing the "real work" -- planting food gardens, holding medical clinics, building homes. What did I have to offer?

Then I realized that love really is more valuable than gold. Jeff said it best ... he didn't know before going over how time with these children, these precious and beautiful children, would change the world. But he learned that these children will remember the time that the Americans came over and showered love on them. They will remember that they are not forgotten or forsaken. They will remember that they are loved by the Americans who came to bring meager gifts and all of our hearts.

Love can change things. I know their love changed my life. I trust and believe that our love will change their lives. It has to.

Please, it has to.

(You can see Jeff all the way in the back of this picture with his Reds cap on ... surrounded by hundreds of precious, valuable, beautiful, and worthy children.Click the picture to enlarge.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We're back!

I have a million stories to tell and don't know where to start. For now, I know that we can change the world one act at a time and that love trumps all.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mamelodi prayer requests

Well, Jeff and I will be boarding our plane to Mamelodi, South Africa in less than 2 weeks! We fly out on November 20! Amazing!

We will both be working on the kids' team which is so exciting to us! We will be traveling out into the township to different sattelite churches of their main campus, Charity and Faith. Two of those churches are tent churches! We will be with the 3-5 year olds in the mornings (who don't speak any English! We all speak the language of God's love though!) and with the older, schoolaged children in the afternoons. On our last day, all of the children will be transported to the main campus where we will have a huge celebration together.

It will be an amazing, joyful, and heartbreaking experience. We have no idea how God will use us in the lives of these children but we know that He will and will do so mightily.

We ask you to please pray for all aspects of the trip for the entire teams that are going, over 400 people and literally tons of supplies! We ask you to pray for their safety and their health and that they would experience God in a way like never before. We also ask you to please pray for each person that we will be encountering in Mamelodi, that God will do miraculous and healing work in each one of their lives. We ask you to pray that we will all be a blessing to the people there.

We ask that you please pray for Jeff and I personally as well. We both have health issues that have been flaring up lately, yet we are confident that our God who has called us will deliver us. We have no doubt in this. We ask you to pray that we will be strong and painfree. We ask you to pray for our safety. We ask you to pray that God will use our hands and feet as His very own to be a blessing. We ask you to pray that our eyes will be open to see Him in all we do. We ask you to pray that our hearts will be open to receive all that He has for us and that they will be filled with His love and compassion for the people of Mamelodi.

Thank you so much for your faithful prayers. I'm looking forward to sharing with you pictures and stories when we return.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just do it

Don’t tell me what you hope for. Tell me what you are doing to bring it. Then you will know both patience and justice.

- Joan Chittister

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's one of those days

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.

- Martin Luther King Jr.,
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Dec. 11, 1964.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fair Questions for Sarah Palin

From "God's Politics: A Blog by Jim Wallis & Friends"
by Jim Wallis

After Sarah Palin was selected by John McCain as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, reporters asked me whether the pick was desperate, brilliant, or risky. I said, “yes.” Only time will answer the question about the wisdom of McCain’s choice. But soon after the announcement, the firestorm began. I said that it was a double standard to criticize this mother for running for high office because she had five children, including a special needs child and a pregnant teenage daughter. Unless we are also going to ask men (fathers) the same question, we should not ask it of a working woman who decides to run for political office. Families in public life certainly need to take good care of their kids, but that is a mutual and family responsibility, not just for the mom.

And then some media started going after Palin’s faith and church. One night I watched Keith Olbermann of MSNBC say something like “Sarah Palin goes to a church where they speak in tongues, believe in the Rapture, and think you can pray away the gay.” Please Keith, you may not understand religion, but don’t offend evangelicals and Pentecostals who either like Palin’s politics or don’t, but see nothing wrong with their religion. Palin was a curveball to the Obama campaign, which at first had no real idea as to how to respond. But while they made many mistakes, they didn’t resort to the attacks on her family and faith that some in the media did.

But now Republicans are crying crocodile tears and accusing anybody who questions Palin’s record, experience, or readiness to lead as part of the liberal cultural elite that is just out to get ordinary people like Palin and the rest of us. Yesterday I spoke to a newspaper columnist, a committed Christian, who knows he will be attacked as anti-Christian if he focuses on the political facts of Palin. Is she the reformer she claims to be? What is her knowledge of the world, of foreign policy issues, of the complicated relationship between the use of diplomacy and force in conflict situations? Do her statements and positions on energy and economic policy comport with the facts and with what is needed to make major changes in direction on both? And most of all, does her experience, knowledge, and perspective give her the judgment, competence, and prudence to become the next president of the United States should something happen to the president?

Those are entirely fair questions for Palin, Joe Biden, John McCain, or Barack Obama. They are about the facts, the issues (not the personalities as I discussed in my last post), and the leadership qualities (which is different) needed to govern the country.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

James Carville at his finest

This is a quote from last night's Larry King Live. I almost spit my drink out laughing so hard.

Now one of the things that I understand is she never had a passport until she was governor. She's has only been out of the country to -- she went, honorably, to visit the troops in Kuwait and went to Germany. And so I don't know how many times she's even been out of the country.

But it's supposedly that she had to get a passport to do that.

And we're going to have her be vice president of the United States based on a 15 minute conversation she had with Senator McCain?

I mean I'm -- this is -- she was touted experience as mayor of this town in Alaska. This is a picture of the city hall. It looks like a bait shop in South Louisiana, all right?

This is executive experience to be vice president of the United States, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, to have to take over the country when we're fighting three wars, where we have the biggest credit crisis we've had in this country?

I mean in the entire Republican Party, this is the best that they could come up with? -- James Carville

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

I know it's wrong, but ...

... I couldn't help myself. I've been so saddened by the number of hopeful people that have flocked to "have an encounter with God" under this guy's leadership. Now that it's been discovered that he's had more than one "inappropriate relationships", he's stepped down from his 'ministry'. There is a previous post about his revival and my issues with it a few posts back.

Although I'm sad that it had to come to this kind of incident to expose him, I'm glad that he's been exposed.

Here's just one out of hundreds of articles about this latest news here.

By the way, I'm still resting and healing, but I couldn't help but respond to this news considering the strong stand I took regarding this in an earlier post.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I've had a heck of a week. It's been terrifying, beautiful, and absolutely crazy.

God is so good. His love is amazing. I have so much to write and tell!

But for a little while, I'm going to take a rest. I'm going to learn what it feels like to let the Good Shepherd tend to me and I'm going to rest in the shadow of His presence.

But when I post again ... oh, I'll have so much to share!

See you in a while. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

No More Shame: A Story of Healed Wounds

I was a heroin addict in my 20s. I shot up as many times as I could a day. They left terrible track marks up and down my arms and hands. When I finally got clean, I was left with a lot of scars.

These scars all but faded over the years. But I have one very ugly, very obvious scar that remains on my right wrist. One day I was talking to God about it. I asked Him, "Lord, you have removed all of the other scars from me. This one stares me in the face every day. Others can see it clearly. I know you can remove it. Would you please remove it for me? I'm ashamed of it."

Very clearly and very gently, I heard God say to me, "Look at that scar. Do you remember the conditions that caused it? Do you remember the pain?"

"Yes,I do", I replied.

Then He said to me, "Touch it. Does it hurt? Do you feel pain now?"

"No", I said.

"That scar is there to remind you of how I healed you. Scars are a sign of healing, evidence of where I took your wounds and stitched them up. Everyone that you encounter has scars, Joyce. Many of those scars are on the inside but everyone has them. But scars don't hurt. Open wounds do. I stitched your open wounds up, inside and out."

As I continued to look at it and receive that as truth from God, He spoke again. "Don't you ever be ashamed to show and tell people of how I healed you. That scar isn't about you. It is about what I did for you and is to be used to share my hope and glory".

I've never been ashamed of that scar again.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ambassadors of God

People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness' sake. Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum's rush. But the Greeks used to say that people in need are ambassadors of the gods. Although you may be called bums and panhandlers you are in fact the ambassadors of God. As God's ambassadors you should be given food, clothing and shelter by those who are able to give it.
--Peter Maurin

Monday, July 7, 2008


Love is never wasted. It may not get the results or reaction expected. But it is never wasted. In fact, love that expects positive reaction or results is something less than love. Love never makes any demands. Loves only gives, and it does not cease giving when there is no reciprocity. The true lover does not require the beloved to meet any conditions. True love is unconditional. The perfect Lover devoted Himself totally to others ...

and they crucified Him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

It is sad to see that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the joy of giving. We often live as if our happiness depended on having. But I don't know anyone who is really happy because of what he or she has. True joy, happiness and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others. A happy life is a life for others.

- Henri J.M. Nouwen
Life of the Beloved

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.

- Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966. Today is the 40th anniversary of his assassination.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lakeland "Revival"?

Someone asked me a question on my blog entry about having a terminal disease. I answered it in the comments section but it was so long I thought I'd post it here. I'd be interested in your comments.

Scott said...
Have you been watching any of those revival meetings in Lakeland ? What are your thoughts on that Joyce ?

May 24, 2008 7:17 AM

Joyce said...

Wow. That's a big question! Yes, I'm familiar with what has been going on there and I've done a lot of research. There are many things about it that concern me.

True revival begins with repentance and a turning to God. The gospel is shared, hearts are changed. I've listened and read closely many of the messages being shared at Lakeland and rarely do I hear the gospel shared and even more rarely do I hear the name Jesus. That bothers me. A lot.

Now ... I absolutely believe in the gifts and believe that they are just as active and alive today as they were in biblical times. But there is so much about this "revival" that really disturbs me and has too many of the markings of a false revival.

There are many problems with Todd Bentley's teachings resulting inmost serious problems with the "revival" in Lakeland. There is a very heavy influence of the Latter Rain movement, word of faith, impartation of spiritual gifts and healing at the WILL OF MAN ...etc.

Todd Bentley claims to have frequent visitations with angels, trips to heaven, personal meetings with Jesus Christ and so on. He also has no higher biblical education (not that I think that is a requirement for God to use someone. Just an observation).

God can and will move when people are truly reaching out for Him, but that does not validate a person's teachings or beliefs - it is not God's seal of approval.

You should read some of Todd Bentley's teachings, also read up on William Branham, who Bentley calls his mentor. Also, see what Todd Bentley has to say about the angel 'Emma'.

I copied this following article (written by Todd Bentley, in his own words) about ‘his’ angel Emma from his own website back in December. I think that an urgent warning needs to resound so more people do not get caught up in this counterfeit revival.

There are a lot of concerns (not just one) that many watchmen in the church have about Todd Bentley and his ministry. Todd Bentley’s past has been brought up (he was jailed as a teenager for child molestation), but this is not an issue for me at all in terms of why I am critiquing him. Though I in no way condone his actions, nor do I glibbly gloss over them (I do not in any way, nor could I - it is horrific and inexcusable) - I do not think it fair to judge a repentant reformed forgiven born again adult (if that is what they are) for what they did as a messed up abused kid before coming to Christ. So that factor shall be of no regard in my weighing or testing his ministry at all - for if the old is done away with, I shall not bring it up.

Anyway here is the article by Todd Bentley:

“Now let me talk about an angelic experience with Emma. Twice Bob Jones asked me about this angel that was in Kansas City in 1980: “Todd, have you ever seen the angel by the name of Emma?” He asked me as if he expected that this angel was appearing to me. Surprised, I said, “Bob, who is Emma?” He told me that Emma was the angel that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She was a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic as it broke out. Within a few weeks of Bob asking me about Emma, I was in a service in Beulah, North Dakota. In the middle of the service I was in conversation with Ivan and another person when in walks Emma. As I stared at the angel with open eyes, the Lord said, “Here’s Emma.” I’m not kidding. She floated a couple of inches off the floor. It was almost like Kathryn Khulman in those old videos when she wore a white dress and looked like she was gliding across the platform. Emma appeared beautiful and young-about 22 years old-but she was old at the same time. She seemed to carry the wisdom, virtue and grace of Proverbs 31 on her life.

She glided into the room, emitting brilliant light and colors. Emma carried these bags and began pulling gold out of them. Then, as she walked up and down the aisles of the church, she began putting gold dust on people. “God, what is happening?” I asked. The Lord answered: “She is releasing the gold, which is both the revelation and the financial breakthrough that I am bringing into this church. I want you to prophecy that Emma showed up in this service-the same angel that appeared in Kansas city-as a sign that I am endorsing and releasing a prophetic spirit in the church.” See, when angels come, they always come for a reason; we need to actually ask God what the purpose is. Within three weeks of that visitation, the church had given me the biggest offering I had ever received to that point in my ministry. Thousands of dollars! Thousands! Even though the entire community consisted of only three thousand people, weeks after I left the church the pastor testified that the church offerings had either doubled or tripled.

During this visitation the pastor’s wife (it was an AOG church) got totally whacked by the Holy Ghost - she began running around barking like a dog or squawking like a chicken as a powerful prophetic spirit came on her. Also, as this prophetic anointing came on her, she started getting phone numbers of complete strangers and calling them up on the telephone and prophesying over them. She would tell them that God gave her their telephone number and then would give them words of knowledge. Complete strangers. Then angels started showing up in the church.

I believe Emma released a financial and prophetic anointing in that place. That was the first angel that I have ever seen in the form of a woman. Some angels I’ve seen seemed like they were neither male nor female. However, Emma appeared as a woman who was like a Deborah, like a mother in Zion. When she came, she began to mentor, nurture and opened up a prophetic well. The people in the church began having trances and visions and the pastor began getting words of knowledge and moving in healing. That congregation also saw more financial breakthrough than they had ever seen before.

I was at another meeting in Atlanta when my wife, Shonnah, saw two financial angels walk into the service and pour oil out on the pastor. Shonnah then knew there was financial breakthrough coming. That night two people wrote the pastor cheques for $16,000 and $17,000 and others also wrote cheques to Fresh Fire for thousands of dollars, which we used for missions to the nations. In addition, many people experienced great financial blessing as well. The day after this angelic visitation one guy had millions of dollars released to him-he had been waiting for about 10 years for this breakthrough. All this financial release came because my wife saw two financial angels walk up and stand on the platform. Can you imagine? We need to pray for the Father to give us financial angels for our lives, our church and region. With this angelic assistance, we will prevail and overcome the warfare trying to hold back our financial breakthrough. Some of you don’t know how to use the angels in intercession like this. You don’t even know whether it’s OK or not….”

There are several red flags that immediately are raised from this piece.

We see straight away that this ‘angelic introduction’ comes through ‘prophet’ Bob Jones of the Kansas City Prophets. This, if we recall, is the man who had young ladies strip naked before him to recieve a prophetic word from him in private, and who claimed Jesus told him when he was in mental asylum he had to kill or forgive people to get his mind back, and from whom other spiritual abuses and elitism came from. (He is now supposedly under the pastoral care of Mike Bickle of IHOP/The Metro Vineyard fame, though I dispute these prophets have ever been pastored.) Bob Jones was then, and is still, a heretical false prophet - his words and practices are abusive and often weird (eg he claims his hands change colour to indicate spiritual conditions), his theology is Latter Rain Manifest Sons of God dominionism and blasphemy (direct from Branham’s ‘genetical’ line including Paul Cain), and many of his prophetic words miss the mark - scripturally and also historically. (But he claims that it’s not only ok to miss the mark, but it is to be expected as the church is not ready apparently for prophetic accuracy!) So therefore for someone to claim they got something spiritually imparted to them from Bob Jones is worrying. Of course it is also odd that one seems to have to be personally introduced to these angels by Bob Jones, which is spiritual elitism and bears all the hallmarks of cultlike tendancies. If these angels were truly from God, they need introduction from no man.

Bob Jones has, however, ‘introduced’ various angels to the many of the ‘new’ line of (false) prophets (eg the Elijah List favorites) including Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic (to whom Todd Bentley is linked) and Sharneal Wolverton of Swift Fire Ministries (Note the name ‘Swift’ Fire). One of the angels is a golden eagle called Swift - have you seen how many golden eagles there are on most modern prophetic websites? It was the erroneous false prophet and healer and occultist William Branham (who many pentecostals revere despite his terrible theology - including Todd Bentley (Todd also claims one of Branham’s angels now accompanies his ministry: allegedly, Cal Pierce of the Spokane Healing rooms (linked to John G Lake) came to a meeting with a 15ft high angel ‘in tow’ and told him that the angel was John Knox’s and William Branham’s angel and that if Todd ‘received’ the angel it would partner him in ministry.) It was William Branham who wrongly said that ‘Prophets are often represented by Eagles in the Scriptures, known for their vision, power, and speed…’ So the symbolism for the golden eagle is an identification with the NAR prophets, but also with their false spirits and ultimately to William Branham, his false spirits, teachings, prophecies and the heresies of the Latter Rain.

Then we move on to ‘Emma’s’ identity. (Incidently, all angels in scripture appeared to people as ‘men’ and they did not float above the floor, they were not all weird colours as described, they appeared as tall ‘normal’ looking men). We are told by Todd Bentley that Bob Jones told him: ‘Emma was the angel that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She is a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic as it broke out…’ That is one huge reason not to touch Emma or any of her ‘gifts’ with a bargepole (if she even exists and is not a lie or urban legend - for many of these ministries are NOT adverse to lying or to charlatanism or at least gross exageration, double-speak and cover-ups). The prophetic movement in Kansas City reeks and is false as can be. (See previous articles on this). It is not the true prophetic, and thus any angel (if there are angels involved as claimed) was not from God in birthing it, but is rather an angel from the Father of Lies, albeit dressed as an angel of light.

The described mothering element to Emma is also troubling, for God’s real angels point to the Father, or the Holy Spirit as a comforter - they are not mothers or fathers who ask men to come to them to be comforted or mothered or salved, but ‘only’ ministering spirits, servants of fire, sent to help those who will inherit salvation.

The next red flag is the gold dust and gemstones and oil element - a false sign and wonder (again not adverse to being counterfeited by human trickery). Patricia King, Joshua Mills, Rick Joyner and others are even now pointing to stigmatism as another sign and wonder and Rick Joyner. Patricia King apparently has three angels who appear wherever she goes. One is red - one is green - her prosperity angel (green like the dollar which these prophets are overly fond of) - and the other angel is either blue or yellow.

The next red flag is Todd Bentley’s prophetic testimony that God told him “I want you to prophecy that Emma showed up in this service-the same angel that appeared in Kansas city - as a sign that I am endorsing and releasing a prophetic spirit in the church.” If this actually happened as I believe many of these men and women are fakes, then Todd testifies he is a false prophet as God could not, and would not, and cannot endorse these manifestations or the word testimony that goes with them which is false Latter Rain heresy and dominionism. Furthermore, if God is ‘endorsing’ the release of the prophetic spirit within the church then Todd still has a long way to go if his own prophecies are anything to go by. It is a very odd and very false prophetic spirit indeed that Emma testifies to.

‘When she came, she began to mentor, nurture and opened up a prophetic well. The people in the church began having trances and visions and the pastor began getting words of knowledge and moving in healing.’

I also see the fleshly and not spiritual focus of these manifestations- the odd bodily behaviour that historically accompanies the counterfeit which we are told by Todd Bentley is actually being ‘whacked in the Holy Ghost’, yet the Holy Spirit is one of order and of self-control -- and the focus on the gold, on the money, on manna. ‘That congregation also saw more financial breakthrough than they had ever seen before.’ Yet the true test of the Holy Spirit is NOT the fleshly manifestations, not the alleged angelic encounters, not the prophecy, but whether the congregation are led to God, are led to their knees in submission and obedient service and self-sacrifice (is this church involved in more missions, are they feeding more widows and orphans, where is that gold going to, that is a test), and ultimately and always, that they are led into all truth. If they are not led into truth but error by the angel Emma and her servant Todd, then it is the spirit of error that accompanies him, and not the truth.

So ... I obviously have serious reservations and doubts on the authenticity of this so-called revival.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hometown Editorial

I am on vacation in my hometown in New London, CT and wasn't planning on doing any blogging or emailing or any of that stuff. But I read this in the "Letters to the Editor" this morning in The Day paper and thought it was worth sharing. This guy makes some good points.

'Bogyman' scam still used as nefarious tool

In 1937, when I was 6 years old, my family left Norwich and moved to Charlotte, N.C. We had a“colored maid” who came to our house once or twice weekly. When my mother asked her to baby-sit, she said that she couldn't, as being in Dilworth at night could lead to her arrest. The baby sitter my mother found was a neighborhood white girl. As soon as my parents left, she threatened that the“bogyman” would get me if I didn't go to bed.

I lived through the days of segregation, murder, rape and destruction of people of color caused by white, churchgoing folks. If a man's job is tenuous, and he knows thousands have lost their jobs, but he still votes for a man who will continue the same policies because a black man is also running for president, then the“bogeyman technique” still works.

The media and Republicans are linking Sen. Barack Obama with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as if Rev. Wright is the bogyman.

Much has been made about Sen. Obama not disassociating himself from the church where Rev. Wright once preached.

Was there a mass exit from the Catholic Church when it became known that thousands of people had been sexually molested by priests?

Did millions of Muslims protest the mass murder on Sept. 11, 2001, and convert?

Have Jews abandoned their religion because Israel's retaliations have killed civilians?

We can disassociate ourselves from a clergyman without leaving our place of worship or religion.

Sen. Obama has done that, but it's not enough for those who try to associate him with the bogeyman. Perhaps if they put their flag pins on, it will scare the bogyman away.

Harold A. Soloff Norwich

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our Partnership in Mamelodi, South Africa

Here is the background information about our partnership church in SA. Information on how you can support our trip is available at the bottom of this entry and on the April 11 entry. Thanks for reading and for your support!


Crossroads in Cincinnati, Ohio, began its partnership with Charity and Faith
Mission Church in Mamelodi, South Africa, several years ago when the leaders
of both churches, Brian Tome and Titus Sithole, met at a conference in Chicago. As Brian and Titus grew to know each other they found that the missions of their churches were similar. Specifically, both churches strongly believed that they must be a blessing to their communities by helping to solve the real issues they faced.

Titus was the only pastor in Mamelodi who was actively confronting the AIDS epidemic. Mamelodi is a township community of one million people where between 30%-
40% of the population is HIV positive. Titus built an AIDS crisis center on his church property that provides free testing and counseling for hundreds of people both
inside and outside of the church. He also established a large home-based care team to provide vital services to AIDS patients throughout Mamelodi.

In 2003, Titus had a vision to build a full-service AIDS hospice that would both:
A) serve as a base for in-home care of AIDS patients, and
B) provide a place where people in the final stages of AIDS could be taken from
private homes that were often abusive and be placed in a
caring environment.

Concurrently, Crossroads was beginning a building campaign to double the size of its facility in Cincinnati. Brian and Titus agreed that a portion of the funding
raised in the campaign would be dedicated to make Titus’ hospice vision a reality.

Funding for what is now known as Bophelong Community Hospice was secured in May 2004, and the facility officially opened in April 2006.

Both churches believe that the AIDS hospice in Mamelodi was only the beginning of a long-term partnership. Crossroads employs full-time staff, supported by a strong volunteer team, to lead the partnership in the U.S. Charity & Faith has also
developed a team of leaders in Mamelodi dedicated to the partnership.

The ideological foundation of the partnership is that Titus and his church best understand the needs in the local community and that the role of the church in Cincinnati is to support h is vision. Currently, core initiatives in the partnership are:

• Providing health care services, beginning with the AIDS
hospice and expanding to other capabilities.

• Creating jobs and sustainable revenue that offset the
operating costs of these services.

• Meeting immediate needs such as food and medical

• Personally connecting individuals from both communities to
accelerate volunteerism and engagement.

Crossroads has assembled a team of over 40 health care
professionals who partner with Charity and Faith to:

• Volunteer their time on mission trips, providing medical,
dental and eye care to the community and building relationships
with the local health care community.

• Develop a plan to provide a continuous presence of U.S.
health care professionals on the ground in Mamelodi.

A Crossroads business team has focused on several projects to combat crushing unemployment in Mamelodi, and to generate revenue to help offset the cost of health care services.

IT professionals from Crossroads installed a fully-functional adult education center on the Charity campus, complete with dozens of computers and one of the only high-speed Internet connections in Mamelodi. Two Crossroads volunteers spent
almost a year teaching English and typing classes. Five South African women were trained as medical transcriptionists and are currently working out of the computer center for a Cincinnati-based medical transcription firm.

A team of Crossroads business experts have created a business development program in Mamelodi that envisions quarterly job-seeker and entrepreneurship classes as well as
business mentoring for Mamelodi-based entrepreneurs. The team is also actively seeking out business opportunities in South Africa to create jobs.

And Crossroads has assembled a team of grant-writing experts to seek out long-term funding for the various initiatives. In fact, Crossroads received its first monetary award as a top ten finisher out of 100 churches in the 2007 Award for Courageous Leadership in HIV/AIDS.

Crossroads and Charity also helped establish a non-profit business called “Beaded Hope” ( that connects a community of South African women affected by HIV who create beaded jewelry to a receptive market in Cincinnati. This provides much needed income for these women who are severely disadvantaged in the local employment market.


Crossroads has mobilized a team of volunteer shipping and logistics experts to facilitate the deployment of much-needed food and supplies in Mamelodi. Over the past two years, the team has shipped over $225,000 worth of medical, construction
and business supplies to Charity. Also, as part of its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, Crossroads has collected and shipped over 140,000 pounds of food to be distributed by Charity to those in Mamelodi who are starving.


In the past two years, a project entitled “GO Mamelodi” brought nearly 900 members of Crossroads to meet and serve alongside members of Charity and Faith Mission. As a result of these trips:

• Hundreds of Americans and South Africans formed strong,
lasting relationships, with many still communicating via

• Hundreds of Americans spent an evening in the homes of
the people of Mamelodi. This is groundbreaking as very few
Americans have ever set foot in Mamelodi and many South
Africans refuse to visit the townships.

• Hundreds of backyard gardens were planted in Mamelodi’s
squatter villages providing much-needed vegetables to those
who are dying of malnutrition.

• Dozens of homes were constructed using both South African
block construction and American wood construction.

• Thousands of Mamelodi kids attended programs with music
and games designed just for them, a first in the township.

• Nearly 900 suitcases packed full of children’s classroom
supplies were delivered and teachers from Crossroads
partnered with teachers at Charity’s school to discuss best
practices in education, classroom management and

• A children’s library was set up at Charity’s school, complete
with 6,000 donated books.

• Because of the extraordinary presence of hundreds of
Americans in the township, important public officials,
including the South African Minister of Social Development,
the Mayor of the City of Pretoria and the Deputy Speaker of
the South African Parliament visited Charity and committed
to help Charity in its efforts.

• Both Crossroads and Charity leaders were interviewed on
several national TV and radio programs.

• After the first trip, Titus received a call from the South
African Vice President saying, “I’ve seen your church and
those Americans all over the news, and I want to learn more
about what you’re doing and how your model can be
expanded nationwide.”

• After the second trip, the Minister of Social Development
was so impressed with what was accomplished and the hope
that Charity & Faith is bringing to the people of Mamelodi
that he instructed his staff to begin negotiations with Titus to
rent the second floor of the hospice, thus providing
additional support services to the poor of Mamelodi and
helping to offset a majority of the hospice’s operating costs.


Crossroads is now sending three or four teams to Mamelodi each year, and we plan to send up to 400 people to Mamelodi in November 2008, with regular annual trips thereafter. Crossroads hosted 35 Charity members in our homes in May 2007, and we are bringing more of our South African partners to the U.S. in May 2008. Charity members join us in a one-day “mega serving” opportunity where 4000 church attenders
volunteer at over 175 projects of non-profit organizations in Cincinnati and surrounding areas.

Crossroads and Charity both hope to hire full-time professionals in Mamelodi to manage the partnership, and are working diligently to ensure the long-term stability of the infrastructure we have already built.

Finally, Crossroads and Charity are both 100% committed to the partnership and believe this model of relationship and service can change the world, through widespread replication with other churches and organizations in the US and Africa.

***How can you help us change the world? Well, we need your prayers and we need your money! Please ... if you were considering any gifts to us this year (birthdays, anniversary, Christmas ... or even if you weren't!), we ask that you please redistribute that money towards this trip. Checks can made out to Crossroads and are 100% tax deductible. Once our deposit is raised and paid (by May 5th, in case you forgot. Hehe.), contributions can be made online to our account. Your contributions go far beyond changing our lives and rocking our world forever ... they go towards combatting poverty, providing health care, shelter, food, love, and so much more to an entire village impacted by life-shattering poverty, sickness, and oppression.

Checks should be made out to Crossroads and mailed to Crossroads,ATTN. GO MAMELODI, 3500 Madison Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45209. Please write our names (Jeff and Joyce Kendrick/Go Mamelodi) in the memo).

We thank you in advance for your prayers and financial support! And please know that no contribution is too small (or too large. We like the large contributions, too!)

We love you!***

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Messy Church

Life is messy, people are messy … and the church is therefore messy. But would we want it any other way? If the church were perfect, that would simply mean we had stopped letting in the world’s wounded … that we had stopped being a triage space for the desperate, the needy, the oppressed, the orphaned, the widow. May it never be so.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Build Homes, Feed the Hungry in Mamelodi, South Africa

... and never leave your home! Jeff and I have commited to going to Mamelodi, South Africa this coming November. How can you help and what will we be doing? We're glad you asked! (Well, maybe you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway!)Please read on. (The following is the FAQ from our church's website. (The links in the copied FAQ below are disabled. Please click on the GO Mamelodi website for access to more information.)

GO ahead and ask.

Quick Facts
DESTINATION: Mamelodi, South Africa
DATES: Nov 13-22, or Nov 20-29, 2008
DAMAGE: (breathe in) $3000 for one week. $4500 for two weeks. (breathe out…more below)
DEADLINE: 5/5 at 5pm for all applications and deposits
The Important Stuff
(You should know this)

Where are we headed?
Mamelodi, South Africa—A community of one million people about a half hour outside of Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa. This is where our partner church, Charity & Faith Mission Church, is located. It’s a place overrun with serious problems like HIV and extreme poverty, as well as serious (serious!) dancing, singing and joy. We guarantee you’ve never been anywhere like it. If you're interested in more background on our South African partnership, you can read this.

Why are we going?
Because when a lot of us GO, God shows up…and we want to see what happens this time around. Also, we are in year four of our partnership (see background document) and we want to throw some fuel on that fire. We are specifically going to create more friendships, build homes, plant food, develop more infrastructure, love on kids and do pretty much anything else we can think of to make a difference.

When are we going?
Group 1 leaves Cincinnati on Thursday, November 13, returning on Saturday, November 22. Group 2 leaves Cincinnati on Thursday, November 20, returning on Saturday, November 29 (two days after Thanksgiving). You can preference either week, and, if we have space, people can go for both weeks at an additional cost. We are going in November because 1) it’s cheaper to go in the fall (see below), 2) it takes less vacation time if you use the Thanksgiving holiday, and 3) based on current plans this is probably your last chance to travel on a big trip to Mamelodi until early 2010…don’t miss it!

***Jeff and I will be heading out for the second week. What's especially cool about this week is that it is our 5th wedding anniversary and it falls on the same exact same day as the day we got married in 2003; the same Wednesday before Thanksgiving on November 26 (Thanksgiving is the 27th this year), just like in 2003 when we got married! What an awesome way to spend celebrating our love for God and each other ... by sharing that love with the people in South Africa!***

Who can go?
We have space for up to 200 participants each week. If we have more than 400 sign up we will hold a random lottery to pick who gets to go (though that has never happened). This trip is for anyone—Crossroads people, non-Crossroads people, friends and family from out of town, people from all over the faith spectrum—basically any person who wants to serve others. The only requirement is that you are 18 years old (or 13 years old with a parent or guardian). And groups of two or more, like families or small groups, can let us know they'd like to travel and work together.

How much does it cost?
$3000 for one week. $4500 for two weeks. This covers your flight, hotel, meals, work supplies and activities. Stuff not covered are things like souvenirs, snacks at the airport, passport fees (if you need a new one) and shots (if you decide to get them). Also, because we are going in the fall, our per person trip cost is $500 cheaper from what it was the last two years. Wahoo! Love those fall airline prices!

What if I don’t have that much money?
Join the club. We have a handshake. Close to 90% of people who have been to Mamelodi did not have the funds sitting in their bank account when they decided to go. And nearly everyone raised the funds. Don’t let money stop you. Raising money is actually a very cool part of this experience. We’ll talk a lot more about the finance stuff—and help you generate ideas for how to raise funds. We have an awesome web system that helps with this process, and a little faith goes a long way. Have some and see what happens.

Is there a deposit?
Of course. Airlines and hotels demand one and so must we. The deposit is $300 per person ($450 for two weekers) and is due with your application. It can be paid online via credit/debit card, or via check (mailed to Crossroads or dropped off in the office with “GO Mamelodi – your name” in the memo). And the deposit is non-refundable (unless you lose a lottery) because it costs us that much to change your tickets if you cancel. If you don’t have this much money readily available, but truly feel called to go, please talk to us.

How do I sign up?
Fill out an application no later than May 5 at 5pm. We’ll ask you all kinds of questions like if you’re part of a group, who you’d like as your roommate, what you want to work on, if you smell and so on. Once you complete your application, you will need to pay your deposit of $300, either online or by mailing a check. Applications are not complete until the deposit is received in the Crossroads office. All applicants will be contacted by May 9 to confirm their trip participation.

The Other Stuff
(More info to convince you that we know what we're doing)

What work will I be doing?
We’re not totally sure. Most participants will be put on one of our three main teams: construction, planting food or working with kids. We can’t guarantee where you’ll be working, or exactly what you’ll be doing because our work changes based on need (as identified by Titus). People have had awesome experiences on all three teams. Also, we form small teams of trained professionals (i.e. medical, business, IT, etc.) called SWAT teams to help transfer skills and do more specialized work. See the application for more details.

***The teams we plan on serving on will be different for both of us. Jeff will be on the IT SWAT team, helping to set up computers and teaching the South Africans how to use them. This is huge in helping them get online in more areas, helping to create jobs and businesses, foster independence, and move towards relieving the devastating poverty of Mamelodi. I will most likely be spending time serving the children there. Children in poverty and AIDS stricken Mamelodi rarely get the love and attention they desperately need. The percentage of children orphaned by AIDS is staggering and the percentage of children stricken with AIDS is devastating. Those who are fortunate to not be orphaned are often left on their own as the parent(s) work hard to support their families. Then again, I may be planting food gardens or building homes! Both of us will be available to serve where the need is the greatest.***

What else are we doing in South Africa?
Seriously? Geesh. We will go on a safari, go to an African market, go to the Apartheid Museum, some of us will celebrate Thanksgiving African style (do they even have turkeys?), go to worship services in tents, eat bugs (joke), stay a night in people’s homes (only if you want to) and generally have a seriously awesome adventure. Let’s just see what happens.

Will I have to preach or pray in front of people?
Not unless you want to. This trip is for everyone, regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey. You will not be required to do anything you are not comfortable doing back at home.

What is the travel like?
It takes about 24 hours to get there. It’s a great time to catch up on sleep, talk to the 100 or so people you are traveling with, read, watch movies on your 21st century in-seat entertainment system, listen to every song on your iPod twice, or just do nothing…which you probably haven’t done in a long time. Everyone departs from Cincinnati or Dayton (out-of-towners need to get themselves here) and lands in Johannesburg. And you will fly on a commercial airline, most likely Delta or South African Airways.

Can I use miles, fly in first-class, or make my own travel plans?
Nope. We are taking this trip as one group with one mission. And that means we work together, eat together and travel in the back of the plane together. Because of the complexities of getting 400 people to the other side of the world, all of our travel plans are centrally booked. No exceptions. You will, however, earn many thousands of miles for your flights. So that’s kinda cool.

Where are we staying?
In a Holiday Inn-type hotel in the city of Pretoria, about 30 minutes from Mamelodi. You’ll have access to the basic stuff – showers, beds, food, strangely compelling Afro-Euro TV programming, etc. We will eat breakfast and dinner together at the hotel. And yes, you will have a roommate. And no, there is no shacking up in co-ed rooms unless you are married.

Is it safe in South Africa?
Of the hundreds of people who have been to Mamelodi before, not a single person has had a serious incident. If you are smart, you will be perfectly fine. We will always travel in groups, and we will always have people with us who speak the many languages (English is common). You’ll probably need to get some standard shots (that’s up to your doctor), and we’ll have plenty of water available. And the only place you will see an animal that is capable of eating you is on the safari…where you’ll be in a big truck.

What if I can’t do the work?
While we have jobs for all skill sets, ages and 5k times, please know that the trip can be exhausting. We will be on our feet a lot, getting up early, and the 18 or so hours in a plane is an obstacle we can’t change. If you have concerns about your physical situation, please talk to us. We want everyone to go, but if you ignore your physical limitations up front, you could end up being miserable.

What is the trip preparation like?
We will have a series of meetings (approx. one per month) leading up to the trip, where you will learn more about South Africa, learn more about what we are doing, meet others who are going on the trip and just have a good time. We also have a website full of trip resources. Out-of-town people will have a special coordinator assigned to keep them in the loop via e-mail so they don’t have to keep coming to the ‘Nati.

Anything else you really want to tell me?
Thanks for asking. If you want to take a vacation to South Africa, then we encourage you to do so. It’s beautiful. That being said, this is not that trip. Deciding to go with us means you want to be a part of our mission to change the world. In pursuit of that group goal, however, you may not get to do everything you want to do in the way you like to do things. It’s a posture of submitting to something bigger than yourself. But if you do it, we promise an incredible experience! We can do more together than we can as individuals.

***How can you help us change the world? Well, we need your prayers and we need your money! Please ... if you were considering any gifts to us this year (birthdays, anniversary, Christmas ... or even if you weren't!), we ask that you please redistribute that money towards this trip. Checks can made out to Crossroads and are 100% tax deductible. Once our deposit is raised and paid (by May 5th, in case you forgot. Hehe.), contributions can be made online to our account. Your contributions go far beyond changing our lives and rocking our world forever ... they go towards combatting poverty, providing health care, shelter, food, love, and so much more to an entire village impacted by life-shattering poverty, sickness, and oppression.

Checks should be made out to Crossroads and mailed to Crossroads,ATTN. GO MAMELODI, 3500 Madison Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45209. Please write our names (Jeff and Joyce Kendrick/Go Mamelodi) in the memo).

We thank you in advance for your prayers and financial support! And please know that no contribution is too small (or too large. We like the large contributions, too!)

We love you!***

Friday, April 4, 2008

Before I speak

I love prayer. Anyone who knows me well knows that prayer is a passion of mine. I consider it a privilege to be able to talk freely and honestly to God about everything in my life; my fears, doubts, longings, desires, failures, victories, friends, family, petitions for others and myself ... oh, the list never ends!

I am so blessed that the Lord has called me to use certain gifts that He has given me to honor Him and bless others. This morning He really convicted and challenged me about how I use those gifts ... and when. What He taught me today is that in order to use those gifts effectively, I need to make sure of one thing: that I spend much time before Him in prayer before I even open my mouth.

No surprise to those of you who happen to read my blog occasionally, God brought this to my attention through my daily devotion from Tozer. Here it is.

April 4

Prayer: Long Before the Lord

But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. --Exodus 34:34

It is written of Moses that he "went in before the Lord to speak with him...and he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel." This is the Biblical norm from which we depart to our own undoing and to the everlasting injury of the souls of men. No man has any moral right to go before the people who has not first been long before the Lord. No man has any right to speak to men about God who has not first spoken to God about men. [Emphasis mine] And the prophet of God should spend more time in the secret place praying than he spends in the public place preaching....

One swallow does not make a spring nor one hot day a summer; nor will a few minutes of frantic praying before service bring out the tender buds or make the flowers to appear on the earth. The field must be soaked in sunshine over a long period before it will give forth its treasures. The Christian's heart must be soaked in prayer before the true spiritual fruits begin to grow. The Root of the Righteous, 121-122.

"Lord, it seems like much of what we've been emphasizing all year requires that we slow down from our frantic pace. It takes great spiritual discipline to 'spend more time in the secret place praying than we spend in the public place preaching.' Quiet my heart today, slow me down I pray. Amen."

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Cry of a Soul on its way Up

While I'm still processing so much from our latest church journey called "Consumed", God brought the thought back to me of a prayer I publically displayed, boldly and brightly:

Less of me, more of YOU.

These are the words that I painted on the wall in the Prayer Experience. It's not only a reminder of when I scrawled out that prayer on the wall with bold, colorful sharpies, words lost in a landscape of thousands of other prayers of gratitude and love and healing and surrender - but a personal reminder that He is delighting in me that I am longing for more of Him. Perhaps this shall be my personal mantra, my personal prayer for this very season that I am in right now. Less of me, more of YOU.

So ... my daily Tozer devotion is emailed to me at 1:30 a.m. every day. I had a bad night of insomnia so I decided it would probably be a good thing to spend some time reading him and spend some quiet time in prayer and contemplation. Tozer has a way of cutting straight to the core and it's one of the things that I love so much about his way of teaching: 'Here it is', he seems to be saying, 'plain as day, now what are you going to do about it?'

It really hit home and spoke volumes to me this morning. I figured I'd go ahead and share it with the rest of you.

March 28
Pastoral Ministry: Just a Huckster

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 3:13-14

Some young preacher will study until he has to get thick glasses to take care of his failing eyesight because he has an idea he wants to become a famous preacher. He wants to use Jesus Christ to make him a famous preacher. He's just a huckster buying and selling and getting gain. They will ordain him and he will be known as Reverend and if he writes a book, they will make him a doctor. And he will be known as Doctor; but he's still a huckster buying and selling and getting gain. And when the Lord comes back, He will drive him out of the temple along with the other cattle.

We can use the Lord for anything--or try to use Him. But what I'm preaching and what Paul taught and what was brought down through the years and what gave breath to the modern missionary movement that you and I know about and belong to was just the opposite: "O, God, we don't want anything You have, we want You." That's the cry of a soul on its way up. ~A. W. Tozer Success and the Christian, 29.

"Lord, give us that hunger to know You; deliver us from the pride that makes us want to use You. Let me pray today with John, 'He must increase, but I must decrease.' Amen."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." ~ Alvin Toffler

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thank you

I had a crazy, beautiful and baffling thing happen to me this week. I was at church for my Bible study. There were hundreds of people roaming around, meeting in their groups and just hanging out.

Out of nowhere, a beautiful woman who I didn't know came up behind me at my table and asked if I was Joyce. I said yes and she gave me a pink giftbag with my name on it. I looked at her quizzically and she told me that she was asked to give this to me anonymously, smiled at me and walked away.

I was a bit overwhelmed and didn't want to open the bag in front of the rest of my group so I placed it beside me and we continued with our Bible study (which was fantastic, by the way. Jeff and I have been doing this study with such a wonderful and diverse group of couples ... we love them so much and have made some really great new friends in the process).

When our group ended, I picked up the bag and opened it. Inside was a beautiful little box. I opened the box to find a note:

"Joyce, Bless you & buy yourself a nice new outfit! Enjoy!"

No signature. And $75 worth of gift cards to Macy's!!!! I am never able to go to Macy's! Especially not to buy myself an outfit! (I buy 95% of my clothing at Goodwill.)


I don't know who. I certainly don't know why. But I do know that I am overwhelmed. I do know that I feel incredibly humbled (why me?!), grateful, excited, loved, and completely amazed that I was on someone's mind and that, for whatever reason, they wanted to bless me.

Wow again.

So whoever you are ... thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you so very, very much. Thank you for thinking of me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for your generous heart. Thank you for making my heart swell with joy. Thank you for bringing tears of wonder and amazement to my eyes.

And thank you for the new dress I will be buying!

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. (Philippians 1:3,4 The Message)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Call to Lament and Repent

A Call to Lament and Repent: Guide Our Feet to the Path of Peace

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” —Luke 1:78-79 (NRSV)

This season of Lent, we are truly living “ in darkness and in the shadow of death” as we mark, on March 19, 2008, the fifth anniversary of the war with Iraq. It is a war that is being waged by our country, financed by our taxes, and fought by our sisters and brothers. As U.S. Christians, we issue a call to the American church to lament and repent of the sin of this war.

We lament the suffering and violence in Iraq . We mourn the nearly 4,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died, the unknown numbers of both who are wounded in body and mind, and the more than 4 million Iraqis who are displaced from their homes. With the families of U.S. soldiers torn apart, our families are also torn apart.

We lament the effects of this war on our country. The war has undermined our religious and national values. International perceptions of the U.S. church’s support for the war have hurt the cause of Christ. The abuse of prisoners and use of torture have damaged the U.S.’s moral standing in the world. The war is squandering billions of dollars that are urgently needed for other domestic and international needs.

We repent of our failure to fully live the teaching of Jesus to be peacemakers. Some of us believe our faith leads to a rejection of war, while others affirm just war principles—but after five years of conflict, we are convinced that continuing occupation and war in Iraq cannot be reconciled with just war teaching, and it is the obligation of Christians to help bring unjust wars to an end. The U.S. occupation must end; a transition to an international solution to Iraq must be found. A peaceful resolution is possible and must be pursued. Our country should end this war, not try to “win” it, and we must help the Iraqi people build a safer and more peaceful country.

We believe repentance means more than just being sorry. Repentance requires a change of heart and a commitment to a new direction. Repentance means transformation—breaking out of our conformity to a foreign policy based on fear and war to a policy that is rooted in seeking justice and pursuing peace. There is a better way—and the U.S. church must take the lead.

We dedicate ourselves to the biblical vision of a world in which nations do not attempt to resolve international problems by waging war on other nations . We believe the followers of the Prince of Peace should be the hardest ones, not the easiest, to convince to go to war. We are not utopians—we acknowledge that human beings and nations will have conflicts. But given the toll that the habit of war has taken in our violence-torn world, we must begin to learn to resolve our inevitable conflicts by learning the arts and skills of conflict resolution and a new international approach to just peace-making and law enforcement. We must seek a world in which we allow our Lord “ to guide our feet into the path of peace."

As a sign of repentance and commitment to lead our nation toward a new path, I pledge to:

● Pray for our nation to learn lasting lessons from th e tragedy of the war in Iraq and commit to greater wisdom in the future.

● Help heal our nation by talking and listening to our fellow Christians, finding better ways to resolve conflicts—by seeking the reconciliation of our divisions and working together for a more peaceful world.

● Reach out to the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who often, after making terrible sacrifices, feel abandoned.

● Urge our elected representatives to:

pursue a foreign policy consistent with moral principles, wise political judgments, and international law
ensure that veterans and their families are provided with the medical, psychological, financial, and spiritual support they need
fulfill our responsibility, working with the international community, to stabilize and rebuild Iraq, provide humanitarian support, and resettle those displaced by war.
Repentance requires a change of direction and a new commitment to follow Jesus, who tells us very clearly, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Sign the statement

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This ain't no bull

Mixing the church and state is like mixing ice cream with cow manure. It may not do much to the manure, but it sure messes up the ice cream.

--Rev. Tony Campolo, p.20 Jesus for President

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Consider this

To cure us of our immoderate love of gain, we should seriously consider how many goods there are that money will not purchase, and these the best; and how many evils there are that money will not remedy, and these the worst.
Charles Caleb Colton

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Quote of the Day

I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We're here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don't have time to carry grudges; you don't have time to cling to the need to be right.

- author Anne Lamott, in a recent interview. (Source: The Washington Times)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Well, today are the Ohio Primaries. Ohio does things differently from other states that I have voted in ... and I like it. Even though I voted for a different party in the last election, I was able to go to the polling place, ask for the ballot of the party I want to vote in this time, sign a form stating that I am changing my party affiliation, and bam! Time to vote! Sweet.

Definitely out of character for me, I was up and out of the house by 8 am this morning and on my way to the polling place.

Oh. Who did I vote for? Well ... it wasn't for the last party I voted for. You know, the one that sent us to war. The one that has destroyed our economy. You know the one.

And um, I voted for a man.

Do the math.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And yet there's more!!!!!! Yay!

If you read the previous blog below, this speaks for itself. If you haven't, read that one first!!! Oh my gosh ... this guy is hilarious!

And I am really impressed by the accuracy -- it's circumsized and all!!!!

Seen the Virgin Mary Pretzel? Now See Mose's Staff! Item number: 120225438566

Starting bid: US $0.99
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Your maximum bid: US $
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End time: Feb-28-08 17:42:22 PST (6 days 23 hours)
Shipping costs: Check item description and payment instructions or contact seller for details
Ships to: United States
Item location: Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia
History: 0 bids

Starting time: Feb-21-08 17:42:22 PST
Starting bid: US $0.99
Duration: 7-day listing
Payment methods: PayPal
See details

Meet the seller
Seller: notanotheronlinebuyer( 4 )
Feedback: 100% Positive
Member: since Dec-15-07 in Australia


Forget that dodgy 'Virgin Mary Pretzel'. We all know it is just a wonky-shaped normal pretzel (or perhaps shaped and cooked that way...!)

This is an actual copy of Moses' staff - straight out of the packet!

I could not believe it. Moses' staff - the same staff that separated the oceans and split the stone tablets.

What powers does it hold - they could be endless:

* hold it up at the office and give commandments - it worked for Moses

* stuck in floods? - hold it up and see if it separates the waters

* work in construction? if the real thing can split stone, maybe this can too.

I can't explain why, but the good Lord put this replica pretzel of Moses' staff in my pretzel packet for a reason.

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Return policyItem must be returned within: 7 Days

Refund will be given as: Money Back

Return policy details: The buyer has 7 days to return the item (the buyer pays shipping fees). The item will be refunded.

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Item title: Seen the Virgin Mary Pretzel? Now See Mose's Staff!

Place a bid
Starting bid: US $0.99
Your maximum bid: US $
(Enter US $0.99 or more)

Get it while it's hot!!!

Ok, so it's not hot. It's hard. And crunchy. And salty. But this is a real item up for bid on eBay. I just had to share!

***Warning: Crude language in some of the questions. Don't say I didn't warn ya***

CNN even has a video on the story here:

Check eBay if you think I'm kidding about this. *****UPDATE: ebay has removed this item. This Listing Is Unavailable

This listing (180217528954) has been removed or is no longer available. Please make sure you entered the right item number.
If the listing was removed by eBay, consider it canceled. Note: Listings that have ended more than 90 days ago will no longer appear on eBay.

Too bad. It was a lot of fun. But here's the listing in full, just for your viewing pleasure!!*****

(BTW, Jeff thinks it looks more like the Easter Bunny than the Madonna & Child. What do you think?)

The Virgin Mary Pretzel
Item number: 180217528954

Current bid:
US $99,000,100.00
PayPal account required
$10 back with a new eBay MasterCard Apply
End time:
Mar-01-08 14:00:00 PST (8 days 21 hours)
Shipping costs:
Check item description and payment instructions or contact seller for details
Ships to: United States
Item location: Eugene, OR, United States
History: 94 bids
High bidder: a***r(

Starting time:
Feb-20-08 14:00:00 PST
Starting bid:
US $10.00
10-day listing
Payment methods:
See details

Meet the seller
Seller: insanitydrummer( 2 )
Feedback: 100% Positive
Member: since Jan-04-05 in United States


You are bidding on the coveted Virgin Mary Pretzel. A member of the staff at The Donkey Show (101.5 KFLY and 106.3 KZZE) stumbled across this religious icon a little over two years ago in a Rold Gold pretzel snack bag. Of course we saw the financial implications of this relic, and decided to sell it to the highest bidder. This is a once in a lifetime auction, this pretzel is in mint condition, and could be yours if the price is right. If it was not for the Lord Jesus Christ smiling upon the pretzel factory on the day of this little pretzel's conception, you would never have the opportunity to have it for your very own. Think of the magic that would enlighten your soul every time you looked at The Virgin Mary Pretzel sitting on your mantle or nightstand, right next to your rosary and bible. Jesus decided to commemorate his virgin mother in a salted treat that can be yours with the highest bid. Bid with confidence, as this item is being posted by a radio show, and we can't legally lie about something of this magnitude! This little morsel is 100% legit, in the most Holy of ways. This item comes with the original packaging, with "sell by" date included!
Questions from other members
Question & Answer

Q: How would you rate the pretzels freshness? Do you think it is still edible?
A: It is just as crisp golden and delicious as the day it blessed us by coming into our world through a holy deliver. (out of a oven)

Q: Have you seen the replica for sale for $5000????
A: It is just the image of ours reversed. Don't be fooled by the fool!

Q: Would you be willing to throw in honey mustard dip?
A: In no way would we ever add anything that would lead to the eating of this pretzel, for it is a gift from the heavens!

Q: Would you consider this item a Holy Relic?
A: I consider it a pretzel that looks like the picture it sits next to. Don't read into it.

Q: This is the work of the devil!!! Repent all you sinners!!!
A: Halleleuja!!!

Q: This is so fucking stupid...
A: A COLLECTIVE RESPONSE TO EVERYONE WHO THINKS THIS IS "SO FUCKING STUPID," Welcome to the stupid auction, thank you for stopping by the stupid auction, you must enjoy spending your time on stupid things. We appreciate you stupid hit and your stupid bid, so send us your stupid money and we will send you the stupid pretzel.

A: Jerk

Q: Did you eat paint chips when you were a child?
A: Good one David Spade

Q: PRAISE THE LORD! It is miraculous! Are you sure this salty delicacy of a divine nature is mint? No chips, cracks, repairs, loss of salt? What is the expiration date on the bag? Is it still fresh or has it turned soft and rancid? Since it is not stated in the listing, I assume shipping is FREE Priority with insurance. Do you take checks? I don't use PayPal. Most importantly, should this sacred biscuit end up with a non-paying bidder, will it be available after the strike? PRAISE EBAY BOYCOTT!!
A: The pretzel has been locked in a box for almost 3 years since it was found. The original packaging is included, but seeing as this is a collaborative effort, the bag is not on my person as I answer this question. Yes shipping is free priority with insurance, no we will not take a check, PayPal only

Q: Is she salty?
A: Of course she is salty, she's a damn pretzel

Q: Thank you for confirming that eBay attracts the galactically stupid.
A: You betcha

Q: can you get me 10 of this. I am willing to pay $100,000.00 for all 10. Let me know as soon as possible cause I already have a buyer lined up for all of them. Shamcy
A: We didn't make it dude, God did.

Q: How many little nuggets of holy salt are visible on the blessed pretzel? Are you willing to sell the divine salt nuggets individually, or is it strictly a package deal?
A: Sorry this salty treat is far too divine for us to risk her life scraping the salt off...

Q: Does this pretzel come with the original Rold Gold package? What are the dimensions?
A: Yes the packaging comes with the pretzel... and the dimensions are the size of a pretzel... About 1 1/2" tall

Q: Just curious, item is described as "coveted", "a religous icon", and as a "relic". Could you provide any proof to support these claims? (or atleast look them up in the dictionary, so that you can re-think your description?)
A: No

Q: I notice your 'God Given' pretzel also resembles the Hindu symbol for 'Om: Symbol of the Absolute'; would you be willing to rename your offer to 'The Hindu Om Pretzel; previously known as the Virgin Mary Pretzel' in exchange for my bid?
A: Sorry, auction is as is

Q: "Good Morning" or is it "Welcome to Planet Eerf" my question is - if I were to win - and I am in Eugene - would I have to pay shipping costs???
A: No, shipping is free on this item

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Services available
Check item description and payment instructions or contact seller for details.
Ships to
United States

Return policy
Item must be returned within:
7 Days
Refund will be given as:
Money Back
Return policy details:
The buyer has 7 days to return the item (the buyer pays shipping fees). The item will be refunded.

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Item title: The Virgin Mary Pretzel
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