Saturday, November 12, 2011

Penn State Peril

     I was on the Music Boat Cruise Wednesday night when all the details surrounding the Second Mile/Jerry Sandusky/association with Penn State and the longstanding sexual abuse scandal unfolded.  I remember hearing earlier that afternoon on a scuba diving excursion that Joe Paterno had "retired" and didn't really think much about it assuming their season had ended or something normal had prompted his decision.  But as I later watched the news conference and realized ALL that was going on, I was sickened and shocked by the disaster and felt so disgusted by the thought that a "program" was protected at all costs while the abused children were not.  This, to me, says a lot about our spiritual health in America as a society.   And we are VERY sick.

     For me, it was a pivotal moment as I assessed the sanctity of a young life and realized that the value was deemed inferior to a superior "white washed" football program and as a society,  just how "sin sick" we actually are.   As I processed the info, I quickly made a spiritual app regarding hidden sin and the time bomb it becomes when not dealt with.  Sin that is not dealt with promptly and properly (confession and genuine repentance all the while getting to KNOW God through His word) will ultimately be exposed in a hot mess such as this.  The opportunity to deal with the situation presented itself 10 years ago.  But unfortunately, it was swept under the astroturf.  But sin management doesn't work for long!   Hello, Christian America?!! God was always right!!  Why are we so prone to unbelief?!  Can't we learn anything in the classroom?!  I wonder how many times the Holy Spirit convicted those involved, however "indirectly," and the Holy Spirit was ignored.  That is so dangerous because the Scriptures speak of this and the results are horrendous!  Perpetually hardened hearts are eventually given over to depravity.  I know that all of the "innocent" bystanders would have been miserable if they in fact chose to ignore the Spirit.  Surely the "thought's" came; thoughts of calling the police and righting the wrong on so many levels. But then you block them and try to ignore them by distracting yourself or justifying yourself  or whatever it takes to move on.  We've all done this to some extent or another.....entertain doing the right thing but choosing not to.  Failure to deal with your sin will always cost you and those closest to you more the longer you postpone it.

     As Penn State now knows all too clearly, what may have been a slight bruise to the program 10 years ago,  is now a mortal injury. Actually I think exposing Jerry Sandusky and the sham at THAT time would have deemed Joe Paterno and all of Penn State University as a heros.   But THEY chose to believe a lie from the pit that it's better to keep such things in the dark....out of sight out of mind.  Doubtful!  I bet it crossed everyone's minds that knew about it more than they will admit.

      As a Christian, I know that sin exposed to The Light is how the healing begins.  Light heals.  God gives us the opportunity to TURN from our sin but when we choose to continue down the path of rebellion and deceive ourselves into believing that it will all work out just the same with no dire consequences, we are genuinely deceived.

     Good News:  Before the Penn State vs. Nebraska game today, both teams came together mid-field and got on their knees in unity as Nebraska assistant coach, Rob Brown, lead a time of prayer.  I was praising God for that prayer time for the abused children.  I know that bringing it out into the light in humility and unity was a huge godly step.  I am not going to use this opportunity to bash or criticize how Penn State handled this horrible ordeal.  But what I can do is examine my heart and ask the LORD to shine His light on it and reveal to me anything offensive, hurtful or damaging to His character that might be dwelling in me.  I am learning that it's easier to deal with sin upfront than to sweep it under the rug and pretend it isn't there.

 Oh, LORD, pour out Your Spirit on us and may we return to you and the fear of the LORD.

Luke 8:17 “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

John 8:12  "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Love Is The Greatest Commandment

Most of us know the Greatest Commandment and if you don't, no worries.  Here it is.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Mark 12:30 NIV

  In April 2009, I made a road-trip to Nashville where my daughter  was a junior in college at Belmont University. The  following day, I dropped her off at school as I had planned to head over to the Opry Mills Mall and shop for a couple of hours while she was in class. I told her that I would be back to get her.  Only as I began to leave, I felt compelled to stay and pray on the campus.  The only way I can explain it is that I had trouble walking away to my car because I didn't have peace about leaving.  I wrestled it out for a moment as I really had my heart set on quality shopping time. But the LORD had a different agenda for me.  He wanted me to stay on campus and pray and walk and pray some more. Lord knows the prayers that are needed on our college campuses today so I obeyed the Spirit and did just that.  I basically began to pray whatever came to my mind in regards to possible things that the students could've been dealing with such as various strongholds, temptations, secular verses Christian worldview issues plus other various petitions.  I kept waiting for the Spirit to release me to go to the outlet mall.  After all, Pastor Ken spoke once in a sermon about the importance of having outlets!!  Surely this is what he meant!! Haha.  At least that's how I interpreted that particular sermon!  But He did not release me.  So I stayed and prayed what was on my heart for the students of that campus.  After a little while, I walked to another section of the campus and began to ask God if there was "anything in particular He wanted me to pray?"  He immediately spoke to me and said, "Love," to which  I retorted, "Oh, pray that they would love each other."  And He said, "No.  Pray that they would love ME."  I immediately had an "aha" moment because it became clear to me that if they loved HIM, they would love each other as well.  Loving God would have a domino effect that would topple over to others.  Our capacity to love others as well as ourselves would depend on our supernatural agape love for Him.  So I quickly began to cry out, "Oh LORD, I pray for them to love YOU!"  Over and over I prayed this.  And it was so simple!  God boiled it down for me when I asked Him.  Imagine that!  Ye have not because ye ask not!  What if we asked God for His prayer requests?  Maybe some of you do.  But this was a new revelation to me.  Up until this point, I assumed I knew what ought to be lifted up in prayer.  Hmmm.  God taught me something that day.  And I realized that had I ignored His prompting to stay and pray and shopped instead, I may have come away with a cute dress or darling top but nothing of real eternal value.  I believe by faith that the students and professors must have benefited from my obedience that day.  Although we often don't know or have the ability to measure the outcome of our petitions and prayers, God does.  And sometimes He does give us a glimpse of how HE IS answering.  When I returned in the fall for another visit, two particular girls told me on two separate occasions how God was working in their life and how they had been growing in their faith.  They knew nothing of my prayer time back in the spring. They went out of their way to enthusiastically share this with me.  Both had been prodigals for quite some time before that.  Later, after pondering what they had shared, it occurred to me that God was letting me in on something!  He wanted me to know that my prayers had made a difference!!  

Bottom line.  There is a time for everything under the sun;  a time to shop and a time to pray.  Also, we would do well to ask Him on occasion if HE has any prayer requests and PRAY TO LOVE GOD over the next few weeks. Let's ask the Father of Love to give us what we lack and teach us how to honor His Greatest Commandment.  This IS His Will.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why Jesus IS The Party!!!

                                             Jonathan (L)  and Jordy (R)

In the fall of 2005, my step-son, Jonathan, moved into his dorm room at Marshall University.  After carrying multiple loads of "freshman stuff" up and helping him to get settled in, it was time to say goodbye.  I wanted to say something profound that would stick in his brain for-ev-ah!  I grabbed his Bible and wrote, "Have a great time, but remember, Jesus IS the party!!!  I had never used that phrase or even thought of it until that moment.  But in remembering what I knew as a college freshman myself back in the Fall of 1980 at the University of Kentucky versus what I know now,  that was the best way I could think of to articulate what I wanted him to know from me.  I gave him a phrase that just boiled it all down.  Granted it took me many years to come to this conclusion, I had higher hopes that he would not flounder in the desert for as many years as I had before I came around.  The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  I suppose that is the average time it takes for Christians to come to their senses!!  Fast forward six years, Jonathan, like I had, has done some serious false partying.  But I can honestly say today that he is way ahead of where I was at his age and is earnestly seeking the LORD.  PTL!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dr. McDreamy (from Oct. 20, 2010)

March 27, 1999
Molly, Lauren, Sophie, Me, Mike, Jonathan, and Jason

Show Us Your Life at Kelly’s Korner is asking for bloggers to submit their best marriage advice and although I wrote this back in October of last year, I submit this post today as my best marriage advice evah!

Today I wanted to share about something Mike and I do whenever we have an argument, disagreement or any type of conflict or strife. Approximately six or seven years ago, we started a conflict resolution solution that seriously works to the point of healing all grudges, bitterness, friction and gunk! The Lord taught this method of conflict resoulution to us and it is completely failproof because it is of Him.

Whenever the "fight or conflict" occurs, the "bigger" Christian (a.k.a. most willing to humble them self) at the time will encourage the other to walk together to a quiet place (bedroom) where we both get on our knees and pray something like, "Father, we have sinned againstYou. We ask for Your forgiveness in dishonoring You by how we have spoken or treated each other. Then we look at one another and ask forgiveness of each other. We tell each other we are sorry. We ask the LORD to completely heal the hurt and pain we've inflicted upon one another (and we mean it! If not, repeat the process!!! This takes humbling oneself). By humbling ourselves before the LORD, He has never failed to come through and completely heal our wounds. This way, we never carry unforgiveness into the relationship and thus, our marriage remains healthy. I am not saying this is easy. Pride is stubborn and admitting our wrongs is terribly hard at times. But if you choose to trust God and go with Him here, HE works!! He heals!!! Usually within one hour, the feeling of hostility subsides toward my mate as God supernaturally displaces it with love. This IS supernatural!!! I completely forget the angst or inner turmoil that previously consumed me. Then when I see or hang with him as our day progresses, he is back to "Dr. McDreamy" to me in my heart and in my mind. Only the supernatural power of God's Holy Spirit can do that kind of divine work.

Hanging onto unforgiveness can kill a marriage! We know. This is the second marriage for both of us. Oh, wait, one more tidbit of advice......PRAY TOGETHER. Push through any awkwardness and do it!!!! Pray, pray, pray!!!! That is all.

James 4:7-10 says it perfectly, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you......Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."

Also, 1 Peter 5:5b says, "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Psalm 51:4a "Against You, You only, have I sinned." (NIV note: David acknowledges that his sin was preeminently against God)

Monday, June 20, 2011

May Oh and June Oh

May began with the Greenup County National Day of Prayer walk and quickly followed were two college graduations within 20 hours of each in Nashville and the other, Chicago. No problem we thought. We can just fly everywhere we need to go. RRRRrrrrrrightttt! Except that every time we went to the airport, there was an issue about getting from A to B. "Your flight is delayed, you will miss your connection in Charlotte, we don't have seats to accommodate you on a later flight to Nashville, Your Chicago flight is canceled, blah, blah, blah, capeesh?! No problem. We know somebody. So we prayed to the LORD our God and every time, He worked it out! We arrived at our destinations in time and we KNEW who was on the throne! He even worked it out so we could drive to Chicago in order that Molly could join us. Long story short, He works!!

June was supposed to be a low key month as we didn't plan many activities in order than we would be available for the birth of Silas Jason Tucker in Louisville. We did host a community kitchen fundraiser dinner "A taste of New Orleans," which was a blast and a blessing!! We did all the cooking ourselves and since this was our signature food, it was easy.......bayou spicy shrimp appetizer, uptown salad with red leaf lettuce pears, pecans, blue cheese and homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The soup was a French Quarter chicken, andouille, and oyster gumbo over rice and the entrees were chicken and sausage jambalaya as well as craw fish etouffee. The dessert was my fav bread pudding recipe with whiskey sauce and, of course, pralines with cafe' a lait. The community kitchen held dinners in 5 other homes, all of which had different themes. They raised approx. $6000 to help supply food for the year

Then, Molly left for Camp Hollymont, Silas was born, Jason, my nephew moved in with us to get free (detox) from a serious drug addiction, seven difficult but sacred days PTL, as the LORD was His Shepherd who made him lie down on hunter green carpet, we adopted his dog, Boomer (named after Boomer Esiason), who loves to pick fights with our boxer, Boaz. Both are currently bitter and holding onto unforgiveness, jealousy and stubbornness. Why, LORD, can't they just love one another?! Jonny turned 25!!

But in all of this, God revealed His unequaled greatness and we knew He was with us and ordaining our months according to His will. We embraced what He had arranged for us. Galatians 3:11 says, "The righteous will live by faith." (NIV) But the Message translation says it best, "Those who live in right relationship with God will do so by embracing what He arranges for them." He taught me that verse at the Opryland Hotel back in 2005 via a sub-par room.

Monday, April 18, 2011

King Of The Road (Trip)

As I was reading The One Year Bible for March 31, 2011, I was a bit frazzled trying to get my act together to leave town for Nashville by noonish. Molly's senior sorority brunch was on for Saturday and I had never attended so this was the year to make that happen. But Mike was on call for both hospitals and as always, when he is on call, I might as well be on call because my week is notoriously just as hectic. This has been the case for many years now. But that particular morning, I wanted peace to reign in my heart and mind but guilt and chaos were clearly at the helm. Guilt loves to mess with me by saying things like, "Probably isn't the best time for you to leave your domestic responsibilities and such and don't forget the difficulties your mother is experiencing with your dad and wouldn't it be easier if you stayed here to help out? Blaty blaty blah...." So the war wages on in my mind to quench my road-trip excitement. But low and behold, God's Word came in like a superhero to save the day!!! As I read from Deuteronomy 16, the passage spoke of the Festival of Shelters or Tabernacles. When I got to verse 14, it read, "This will be a HAPPY TIME of celebrating with your DAUGHTER....and in verse 15, these words leapt off the page. "You MUST CELEBRATE this festival to honor the LORD your God at the place He chooses, for it is He who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work. THIS FESTIVAL (celebratory trip to Nashville) WILL BE A TIME OF GREAT JOY FOR ALL." I knew that God had spoken to me from an unlikely place in Scripture but it was Him and I knew it. Woo hoo! I had been given a "divine guilt-free hall pass" to go to Nashville and celebrate with Molly all that the LORD had done over the past four years. He had brought me through empty nest-hood and revealed Himself in a mighty way in Molly's life as well. I needed to know that He was sending me on this road-trip and He revealed that this was His will. So now I could tell the enemy to back off and shut thee up! I was headed to Nashville to have a blast with my daughter for her Alpha Sigma Tau parent's weekend. To sum up His message to me, "Now go have fun and reflect on all I have done for you both!!!" Yes Sir!!!
If anyone thinks that reading the Bible doesn't make a difference in your day, weekend or life, I beg to differ!!! God used Deuteronomy 16:14-15 to fight the enemy of my soul and to prevent him from stealing a precious time that was meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.    John 10:10 says that, "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly." God's Word to me on that particular day was a loss prevention word. I had an amazing time of great joy with Molly in Nashville. Thank you, LORD!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jason M. Goodwin: Five Years Since You Went To Heaven 2/19/06

I remember it like yesterday, February, 19 2006. My brother called and said, "Hey Sis, are you gonna be home for a while 'cause I need to come and talk to you?" I told him that I was on my way home from church and that we would be there all afternoon. I remember thinking immediately that something was wrong but I erroneously assumed that it was something that had to do with mom or dad. So I told Mike what Jim had spoken to me and immediately proceeded to call mom and dad to check on them. They were both fine. So I waited. In the meantime, we had just experienced our Sunday morning as usual only this was our first Sunday in the new sanctuary at our home church,FBCR, because the weekend before the new sanctuary had opened while we were on a trip to the Bahamas and had to miss it. Mike was finishing up his last day of "call week" for both hospitals and it had been an unusually hectic week. I was so looking forward to resting and chilling out after church.  We always eat out after church but on THIS DAY, we decided to go home.

 Sophie, Molly and Jonny were all staying with us that weekend. next thing I saw was surreal......Jim, my policeman brother, Pastor Ken and a state trooper walking down our driveway. I shouted out to Jonathan, "Did you get into any trouble last night?" He shouted back from the basement, "No." By then they were at the door. Mike answered it as I procrastinated heading that way but fidgeting with some groceries I was putting away in the fridge. It was as if I could prevent hearing what I was about to hear by avoiding answering the door. But I slowly walked over.  Jim looked at us and asked us if Jason lived on Sheridan Drive in Lexington to which I replied, "Yes." He then said that "Jason has been killed in a car wreck earlier that morning."  Our jaws dropped and we were in a state of disbelief.  Wait!  What did he just say?!  Jason had just been at our house earlier that morning on his way home from snowboarding at Snowshow as he headed back to U.K. He and two buddies, Justin and Peter, stopped in around 5:00a.m. to let us know that they were traveling on back to Lexington instead of staying with us and going to church later that morning. I didn't even get up when Mike told me that the guys were down in the kitchen. Vanity I guess. But I asked Mike to get a picture of them and then said, "never mind" because I knew Jason would kill me for requesting a photo shoot at 5a.m. Mike gave them McDonald's money, prayed with them and told them to be careful. Approximately two hours later, the driver fell asleep just past the Mt. Sterling rest stop. The jeep veered off I-64 westbound milemarker 109 and flipped over and eventually landed right side up in a ravine. The driver managed to crawl up the hill to the interstate where a passing motorist stopped to help. They called 911.  Justin was airlifted to UK Medical Center in critical condition and Jason was pronounced dead at the scene.

Upon receiving the news, Mike and I broke down and cried and I remember Mike praying and asking God to be HUGE for us right then. I remember thinking the thought of how could someone so healthy and large be gone just like that?

The kids were all downstairs and weren't aware of what we had been told (but yesterday, 2/19/12, Molly told me that Sophie had called Grace and they were all actually pacing because they knew something wasn't right). Mike called them up to the kitchen and had them sit down and gave them the news, "Jason's dead." It was profoundly difficult to not only receive that news but then have to tell the kids those devastating words was almost beyond bearable. The kids listened. Then they cried. My brother, Jim, and Pastor Ken were still there but the state trooper had left. God had surrounded us with two people who knew and loved us to tell us what no parent or sibling ever wants to hear.

I immediately began to evaluate what had taken place on the last day I had seem him which was Friday, Feb. 17th, 2006.  He and his friends stopped in to spend the night as they traveled to ski and snowboard at Snowshoe, WV. Jason bear-hugged me like never before when he came in the door and then we laughed because Calvin , the Jack Russell from next door, was wearing a cone because of an injury and he wouldn't stop jumping at the door. The thought that I should call the kids to come home popped into my head. I now know why I had the wherewithal to call Molly, Jonny, and Sophie, as they were all out with friends on a normal Friday night. The Holy Spirit had prompted me to! So when Jason showed up, I immediately called all three of them and said, "hey your brother is home. You need to come home so you can see him." And within like 15-30 minutes, they all showed up(a miracle in and of itself). We all hung out together in the TV room and talked. Mike bonded with Peter which would be an important detail two days from then. Jason had asked me if we were still thinking about medical missions somewhere. He told me that he would be interested in going with us sometime. And Mike laughed at the thought of Jason being a mechanical engineering missionary.  After Mike and I had gone to bed, they all stayed up and played pool together.  God had orchestrated a "goodbye" if you will.

Molly and Jason talked about the Brad Paisley/Dolly Parton song, "When I Get Where I'm Going," to the point that when it came time to pick a song for the funeral slide show, she knew exactly the one it would be. After a few minutes of trying to process the news, we each went into action mode as best we saw fit. The kids got out photo albums and began looking at pictures of Jason and talking about him. Mike had the task of calling Jason's mother, Mary, who was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, visiting her elderly mother. I listened to him speak to her on the phone. I knew giving that news to her would be horrible. Mike doesn't mince words so when I heard him say, "Jason's dead," I cringed. I guess I would have worded it differently maybe hoping to soften the blow a bit by saying, "Jason was in a car wreck and has passed away." But in the end, he was right. Jason WAS dead. Poor Mary. She was at lunch with her mother and she fell to the ground. Then she had to make arrangements to travel from Louisiana to Kentucky carrying the weight of losing Jason with her. It took her two days to get to our house. Lauren was next. She was a senior in college at Warren Wilson in Asheville, NC. He gave her the news and thankfully, Joel was with her and was able to drive her home immediately.  My brother called my parents and sister. Dad was in Russell and mom was in Ormond Beach. After that, I don't remember how people found out. I don't think I called anyone. But within the hour, the youth group from our church was at our house which was also a good/God thing for all of us. Then people started bringing food. It's sort of a blur. But not really. Had we still been drinking alcohol (not since 2/3/04), we would have popped open the wine and begun to medicate. By God's grace, that didn't happen. He was enough. We felt the pain of it instead of becoming numb to it. We made arrangements to fly mom home the next day. We began to think about the funeral service.  Just when you don't want to have to think, that is all you do when something like this happens. You make decisions. Times, dates, places, etc. And you have to write. Obits. Everything it seems is all about making decisions. Maybe God wants it that way to keep the family talking.  After all we had been through with Jason......drugs, alcohol, arrests, rehab, salvation, walking in victory with Jesus Christ, this was how it was going down?! In the blink of an eye. But we had to trust God. So we did. Thankfully, we had some history with Him and we KNEW He was good, merciful, loving, compassionate, affectionate, and so much more. He was our loving Father. We knew Him. We trusted His decisions. A time to be born. A time to die. Not our will but His was done. So we committed to glorify Him through Jason's funeral.

When a young person dies, people in the community notice. It beckons them to question their own mortality. If I died today, what would happen to me? This is an important question and most of us avoid it like the plague. But God's Word says that it's better to go to funerals than parties(Ecc. 7:2 NLT). They force us to look at our lives and examine our eternal destiny. This is a GOOD thing.

Jason had made a decision for Christ four years prior to his death. And he lived those last four, for the glory of God. He was an awesome young man of God. And God used him. Bottom line: Jason loved God and people. The two priority commandments he followed.  As you can see, it's not how you start but how you finish this life that matters.  We are so proud of Jason's finish. I hope the testimonies by his friends will prompt us all to examine ourselves and just exactly what we are living for.  Jason wasn't perfect. But His Savior was.

By the way, my brother never works the "beat" he worked the day he got the call to go and help a state trooper find an address to deliver a death notice.  But God ordained it for THAT day so that HE could deliver the news to us by people who knew and loved us. When Jim found out who the death notice was for, he immediately called Pastor Ken.   God is so loving, even when He gives us bad news.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Help The Haitians, With Your Prayers

I was invited by a local church recently to go to Haiti at the end of February and participate in orphanage work and speak at their ladies day event. Needless to say, I was excited and humbled to receive the invitation and wondered if God was leading me to do something so radical. I knew I needed to hear clearly from Him ASAP in order to make preparations to go seeing as the trip was just around the corner. I asked Mike to pray about it. I also asked one other friend to be in prayer. I knew that we had other ministry obligations going on but I told the LORD that I wanted to do His will. A couple of days later, I got on my face and asked God to speak to me and give me wisdom about the trip. Within a minute or so, I sensed Him say, "Help the Haitians." At first I thought I got a green light to go. But He continued a few seconds later with the words, "with your prayers." So then and there I had my divine instructions. I would not be going to Haiti. But I would be praying for them and thereby helping them.

It has been almost one year since the devastating earthquake struck that country and I have prayed for the people there off and on since. But now I will be listening for specific prayer prompts in response to this new mandate. Lord, teach me how to pray for those precious people. The thing I love most about hearing from God over ministry assignments is KNOWING that IT WAS HIM, so that I don't ever have to second guess myself. I am just free to pray and serve. And that peace that surpasses all understanding will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus is priceless!!