Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pierced


The hands and feet of Jesus are what we’re told to be
To go where He will lead us - to serve in humility

To love and care for orphans, to support the weak and poor
Our lives a living sacrifice with motives that are pure

And yet to be his hands and feet, we must never forget the cost
Christ’s hands and feet were pierced that day as He hung upon the Cross

The piercing was so painful and it held him in His place
While the soldiers mocked & beat Him and death He bravely faced

He was pierced for our transgressions as our sin was cast on Him
We are pierced by our transgressions now each time we commit a sin

We are pierced when those we love don’t respond to Jesus’ Name
Or when we see a suffering child whose illness seems in vain

We’re pierced when our lives seem hopeless and we question God’s intent
If things don’t go our way and our faith seems to have been spent

We’re pierced when we see the Truth but to act means sacrifice
To truly live like Christ, we must give Him our whole life

That means the money that we’ve saved and the possessions that we own
It means the dreams that we have dreamt and the relationships we have grown

But sacrifice is never as hard as the enemy would have us believe
We must trust God enough to give without expecting to receive

The hands and feet of Jesus are what we’re told to be
Pierced but raised to New Life – walking in His Victory!

-Leslie Nease



He was pierced for our transgressions,
   He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
   and by His wounds we are healed. 
Isaiah 53:5 





Friday, February 25, 2011

A Fabulous Day...

When I worked for New Life 91.9 in Charlotte, one of the first promotions I did was this Skydiving Adventure!  It was absolutely terrifying but a wonderful experience all at the same time.  I wanted to share it with you today since for some reason, I was thinking about it and reliving it this morning.  I hope you enjoy it! :)

Video Diary #2 - Memphis Trip

Here's our final video entry for the trip. The movie was FANTASTIC and I am asking you to please, please go see it and support it either today or tomorrow if possible. The opening weekend is so very important and determines how long the movie will show and if it will show in more cities. Trust me...we want EVERYONE to see the important message of grace and forgiveness in The Grace Card. It was truly spectacular.

Video Diary #1 - Memphis Premiere of "The Grace Card"

My daughter, Kennedy & I went to Memphis this week to see the world premiere of The Grace Card movie for His Radio!  We were joined by His Radio's contest winner, Denise Fulmer and her son, Will.  We had a BLAST!  Here is the first of the two video diaries we recorded with the flip camera Denise won as part of the His Radio prize package:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Whose Opinion Matters Anyway?

Today as I vacuumed my carpet, I thought about what a mess my house had been lately.  We are in the process of moving, so boxes are everywhere and it's in complete shambles.  As I vacuumed I thought about how horrified I would be if someone were to stop over unannounced.  I shuddered as I remembered the first time I felt that overwhelming feeling of insecurity...

I was in the third grade.  John Busbee was my friend and I had a little crush on him.  He came to my house, unexpected, and wanted me to go to the beach with his family for the day.  I wanted to go so badly!  I remember I felt insecure about my body though, and I begged my sister to give me back my one-piece bathing suit so I could go.  I didn't feel confident in a two-piece and that was all I had.  My sister was wearing my one-piece though, and she was washing the car with my mom.

After about ten minutes of begging her, through tears, to please let me have it back so I could go, John and his family finally left.  I was covering up, hiding in the bedroom because I had on a two-piece and I didn't want him to see me in it.  I had never felt this way before that moment.  But it certainly wasn't the last time.

Can you relate to this feeling?  It's the feeling that if someone you care about (or someone whose opinion you care about) were to see you in a vulnerable, dare I say real state, you would be completely mortified.  Why do we care so much about things like this?  What happened in me that made me think for one moment that if someone wasn't going to like me for who I really am, it would be the end of the world? 

I also recall walking down the road in my apartment complex one day.  I had just given birth to my son, Tommy, and I was struggling with my weight.  I was the largest I'd ever been and I was already insecure about how I looked.  For many years I was the cheerleader, popular girl with "looks" and all of a sudden, they were gone.  I had lost my identity.  I heard some teenage boys talking about me from one of the apartment windows.  One of them said "Oh, look!  She's hot!" and the other one said "Are you kidding me? She's a fat cow! Are you blind?" and the other (charming) guy said "Oh, you're right, my bad." Then they proceeded to "Moo" at me.  I was absolutely sick and it tormented me for days.

Why did this bother me so much, though?  I mean, who really cares what two immature, obviously disrespectful and mean teenage boys have to say?  But at that moment, I took it as truth.  It was painful and it shook me to the core.  Just a few years prior, they would have been cat-calling and I would have been rolling my eyes at them!  Funny how you hate that so much when you feel good about yourself, but when you've lost your "looks" and the cat-calls stop, you begin to wonder if you are still beautiful.

I wish I had known Jesus at that point in my life.  I would have been a lot less bothered by it. And yet still today...I had an insecure thought about ,"What if someone saw my house like this?"  I prayed the moment I had the thought today, though.  I prayed the Lord would help me to overcome my insecure thoughts.  I prayed I would be okay with being flawed and imperfect.

He reminded me of these words in Jeremiah 17:5-8:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
   who draws strength from mere flesh
   and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
   they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
   in a salt land where no one lives.
 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
   whose confidence is in him.  
They will be like a tree planted by the water
   that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
   its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit.” 

Friend, the moment we take someone else's opinion of us as truth over what God says about us, we are putting them in the place of God in our lives.  They become an idol.  I pray that we would all see the truth in the above words from the prophet Jeremiah and put our trust and our faith in God and God alone.

I've said it before, but it seems worth repeating today:  

Trust in man = insecurity.  Trust in God = In Security.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Maybe This is Why You Know Me...


How do you know me? 

Is it that we grew up together? 

Did you meet me when I was a “party girl” and used to stay out ‘til the wee hours of the night?  If that’s how you know me, you must have realized by now that eight years ago my life changed drastically when I became a “Jesus Girl”. 

Maybe you go to church with me, or you have in the past.  Did we go to high school together in Okinawa, Japan or did we attend college together in Shepherdstown, WV perhaps? 

Maybe you heard me speak at a church or event at some point. Perhaps you saw me on Survivor China in 2007 and you cheered when I walked out of the temple and talked about my faith in Jesus.  Then, of course, there are those who know me because they didn’t like what I did at all – they think it was wrong and inconsiderate.

However you know me, I’m glad you’re here.  It’s not a fluke that you are reading this.  For some reason, our paths have crossed.  And because of that, I know there is something important that I must share with you.  It’s about the Jesus I spoke about on Survivor, the Jesus I left my old life to follow; the Jesus that changed me.  He’s also the Jesus who loves you and wants you to know Him. Maybe this is why you know me...because I know Him.  And He's calling you.

Who is Jesus?

You've heard His name, no doubt. But maybe you really don't understand who this Jesus Christ is and why you need to know Him. I will try to give you the broken-down, easy to understand low-down on who He is. All the information is available to you in the Bible, which I believe is the Word of God, given to us so we can know the truth about why we are here, how we can have eternal life and who Jesus is.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life – and no one comes to the Father except through Him. That means, in order to get to heaven after we die, there is no other way. None. Not good works, not a good life, not even good intentions. 

Jesus is God in man-form. As I tell my kids, He’s “God with skin on”! God knew we needed a Savior, so He rolled up His sleeves, so to speak, and came to be a Servant-Leader in the body of a man.  He showed us how to live, how to love, how to serve and how to die for something important.  Jesus Christ is part of the Trinity - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus came to live as a man, perfect in every way and without sin. Because of this, He was acceptable to God as a sacrifice for the sins of all men and women, and even though it was the most difficult thing to do, God allowed Jesus to be a sacrifice for us.

Jesus gave His life so you and I can have a relationship with God through Him. He was crucified, though He had done nothing wrong.  Then He rose again – came back to life – in order to show that death had been defeated! He conquered death, setting us free and taking punishment for our sin on Himself. He asks nothing in return except that you believe (which in the original Greek definition of the term "believe" means firm conviction, full surrender and a lifestyle that reflects that surrender). 

When you believe in Jesus, His Holy Spirit comes to reside in you and changes you from the inside out.  Your passions change, your heart changes, your life changes.  This is what happened to me.  I'm no longer the old Leslie - I've been re-made. 

(scripture references:John 1:1, John 1:29, John 3:16, John 14:6, Romans 3:10, Colossians 2:9, Galatians 2:20)

Why would Jesus do such a thing for me?

Because He loves you so very much! It was never His desire to be separated from us – He created us to be in relationship with Him, but because God is Holy, He cannot have a relationship with sinful man. Unfortunately, man chose to sin even though God told him that it would destroy their relationship and ultimately, cause him death.  God judges sin because He is just, but because of His great love, He also offers salvation.

In the Old Testament, God was very clear that in order to approach Him, man was to offer sacrifices for his sinful behavior in order to be acceptable to God. So that's what happened for years and years. You can read about the different sacrifices in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, in the Old Testament.
However, the Old Testament also showed that someday, God would provide the Ultimate Sacrifice for our sin – and all of the prophecies found in the Old Testament line up with who Jesus is.

He came as a servant, not an earthly king, but a true servant leader who wanted to teach men how to live according to God's ways and then give His life so that man could, again, enjoy a relationship with God and eternal life (God's original design).

(scripture references:Isaiah chapter 53, John 14:1-6,Romans 5:6-11)

What do I do to develop a relationship with Jesus?

The Bible says we are to confess our sins and He will be faithful and just and forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness! (1 John 1:9) He says that if we seek Him, we will find Him! (John 7:34) It requires humility, something we have a difficult time with! You must realize that you are a sinner (aren't we all?) and then confess that God.

That means you confess you are a sinner and in need of a Savior. Tell Him you want Him in your life – in your heart – and you need Him! Tell Him you are willing to give up the sinful life you are leading and turn to Him – and mean it. Then repent of your sin (turn away from it) and turn to Jesus Christ. Repenting is not just saying, "I'm sorry", but saying, "I'm through"! You need to know this – this is so important – you do not need to be sinless or perfect before you come to Christ!  He will help you overcome your sin! You will never, never, never be in a position to be "good enough" to come to Jesus – He accepts you just as you are!

Here is an example of the prayer your can pray to Him:

Dear Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a sinner. I'm so sorry for all of the wrong, sinful things I've done in my life. Please forgive me. Thank you for giving your life as a sacrifice for me. Please come into my heart and be the Lord of my life. I accept your sacrifice for my sins and I give my life to you. Please live your life through me! Help me to make better decisions, to learn more about you each day and send people into my life to help me grow as a Christian. Thank you so much for loving me and providing for me! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Once you have said a prayer from your heart, you need to study and read the Bible (The Word of God). Now that His Spirit lives in you, the Bible will make sense! (1 Corinthians 1:18) God talks to His children every single day – but in order to hear what He is saying, we must be in the Word daily because this is how He talks to us. Also, please make sure you are in a Bible based church where you can grow and learn and surround yourself with other believers. 

If you have questions or want more information about Jesus, you can visit www.needhim.com.  There are people there 24 hours a day to answer your questions.  This could be the most important decision you will ever make.
However you know me, I'm so glad you are a part of my life.  And I hope you will see for yourself the importance of knowing Jesus Christ - the One and Only.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meet Julie...

I met her in April of 2004, when I started my job as a radio host in Charlotte, NC. She surprised me because I never expected to connect so quickly with someone I'd just met. She was introduced to me in one of my first meetings at the station. I was told a lot about her right off the bat because she was someone special with whom I would be spending a  lot of time.

Our similarities were unmistakable and I found myself really enjoying getting to know her more and more. Julie is truly an amazing woman. She’s married and has three amazing kids she dotes on whenever possible but who also drive her to the brink of insanity at times. She works part time but also helps out in her kid’s classrooms. She’s even the room mom for her seven year old.

Julie has an amazing heart for her family and God but she struggles with making sure she’s spending the right amount of time doing the right amount of things. It’s called balance, I believe. Balance is something that seems nearly impossible in today’s world of hectic schedules, after school sports, house work, home work, pets, friends and family obligations. I’m sure I missed something there. No doubt it is because I lack sleep from jet lag that seems to be clinging on for dear life after a trip to Korea last week, but I digress.

Julie gets frustrated over what to make for dinner each night. She isn’t much of a cook but she loves to provide a good meal for her family. Her life seems too busy to be the June Cleaver kind of mom we all grew up thinking we must be like. How did June do it all so effortlessly? Oh yeah, she wasn’t real. She was a pretend mom who had a make up and wardrobe assistant and adorable little children who said “golly gee!” and were always on their best behavior. When they weren’t, her husband Ward was sure to handle the discipline while June looked on lovingly. Her family sat around the dinner table and ate pot roast, potatoes and green beans with rolls and sweet tea every night. Excuse me while I go lose my lunch!

I tend to bare my soul to Julie quite often, but she doesn’t judge me for it. She knows this struggle well. She is going through the same things I am. Julie and I both love the Lord so much and we both struggle with making time and putting Him first in a world that seems out of control. But we know the first thing we should do every morning is spend time with Him, so we can face our day. It’s like putting on your body armor before going into battle. I mean, who would go fight a battle in their pj’s? Unfortunately, we often attempt going into the battle in our pj’s but thank God we have each other to yell “Hey! Get back here! You’re not dressed yet!”

We give each other accountability. We are there for each other and we look forward to our daily conversations. We email, blog and try to encourage each other through our life experiences and things we learn in our quiet times with God. We cry together, laugh together, sing together and we even pray together. Julie is truly a very special woman.

So why am I writing a blog dedicated to Julie? Simple. I love her. She’s an amazing woman and maybe she doesn’t get told that often enough. I think it’s important our friends know we love them and appreciate them. I go way too many days without letting them know how much I love them for everything they are to me – for being there for me, praying for me, loving me and being patient with me on the days when I don’t have it all together.

You’re probably anxious to meet this special woman and lucky for you, she’s anxious to introduce herself to you, too! You’ll probably recognize her right away. If you want to meet her face to face, just step into your bedroom and look in the mirror. There she is. Julie is you. Julie is the woman I speak to when I'm on the radio, the woman I love to encourage and minister to through social media and blogging, the woman I think about when I am preparing a message to share from the Word of God. Julie represents us all.

Over the years, I’ve noticed it helps me to be more transparent and real with the listeners of the radio station when I imagine that it’s just me and "Julie" hanging out every day in the studio. I didn't want to seem like I was talking to a bunch of people at once. We all seem to get "lost in the crowd" at times.  I don't want my friends to ever feel that way.   When I receive emails and calls from listeners who are able to be real and transparent, I realized Julie is real.

So, Julie – this blog is for you. You are an inspiration to me. You are a real-life woman with struggles but a heart for God that makes everyone around you smile. You don’t have all the answers, but that doesn’t matter because you’re humble enough to know that you don’t. I like that in a friend.  Thank you for being in my life - and for being a friend.

Whatever your name really is, I'm so humbled you have chosen to spend some time with me and to walk through this life with me, even if it is just a few minutes on a blog every now and then or a quick break on the radio that we spend together in the car.  Would you take a moment and introduce yourself?  Name, age, kids or no, married or no, where you live, etc...and give me an idea of what God is teaching you right this very moment.  I promise not to call you Julie, unless that's your name. (smile)  Her name is merely a representation to remind me that you are an individual with feelings, thoughts and a heart that loves deeply and deserves to be loved back.  Thank you for sharing life with me.  


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just Like Jesus

Today I remembered something that happened a year or so ago when my youngest daughter couldn't sleep and it warmed my heart.  She'd been having a difficult time sleeping since her friend's house had burned down and she'd been having nightmares.  It was so sad and it's hard to see your kids begin to realize how mean and unkind the world can be at times.  I remember those days when I was a kid - somehow snuggling next to mom made it all better.

As she was crying and standing there at my bed, she said "Mommy, you don't understand.  I can't stand it when you aren't right there with me!  You make me feel so safe!  I need you with me all the time!"  I gave her a big hug and said, "I'm so glad you love me so much - but just remember that Jesus is the only One you should ever feel that strongly about.  He can be with you even when I can't!"  She hugged me tighter and said "Mommy, you're JUST like Jesus!"

Oh, my kids know just what to say to make my heart melt.  I can barely type this as I sit here and remember how unworthy and how incapable I felt at that moment.  Who can live up to that comparison?  But to kids, that's how it seems.  She can see I love Jesus and that I spend time with Him, and even though I know she loves me because I'm her mom, I think she also likes to be around me because of Who I hang around with.  She can see the difference He makes in my life.  And she likes it!

I held her sweet face in my hands, looked her in the eye and asked her, "Peyton, do you believe in Jesus?  Is He inside your heart?"  She answered through tears, "Yes, Mommy."  Then I said, "Well, then, the same Jesus that is in me is also in you.  He will never, never leave you.  And that's a promise." We read through the Twenty-Third Psalm once more, prayed together and then she peacefully drifted off to sleep.

Of all the things I do, I hope I will be able to point my children to Jesus.  I honestly cannot think of anything more rewarding and important than seeing my children grow up loving Him.  And it all starts with them seeing me love Him first.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

So Much More

I recently took a trip around the world to share with some amazing people in Korea.  The flight was a very long one, but it was rather entertaining.  The seats have little personal tv's built into them and you can watch movies, documentaries, tv shows and even watch on a radar screen where the plane is in the world! I watched four or five movies and some tv shows, caught up on some reading and really enjoyed the flight.  I did the same thing on the way home! I was amazed.  When I flew to China just a little over 3 years ago, this was not the case and the flight was soooooooo long!

When I was in Korea, the worship leader for the Spiritual Emphasis week also flew in from the US (Georgia, to be exact) and we talked about the long flights.  He flew in on a different flight, but both of our flights were with the same company.  I was excited as I relayed to him how awesome the little tv's were that were provided for each seat.  He remarked how great he thought it was it was, too - and how he enjoyed watching the plane on the radar screen the whole time.

Then it hit me. 

He had no idea these televisions also provided tons of other options!  I wondered if he spent a 14-hour flight watching the plane inch its way around the world, not knowing that he could have been watching movies, listening to music, playing games or catching up on television shows.  I wondered if anyone had shown him how to do this and told him about all the other things the screen could do?  Oh my goodness.  So I asked him about it.  Sure enough, he had no clue.  But he was sure looking forward to the flight home now that he knew!

After we all got a good laugh, I began to think about how I have done this exact thing with my relationship with God at times.  I know God, but sometimes I don't tap into all that He has to offer.  Sometimes I don't read the Word like I should or I don't pray like I should.  Sometimes I don't worship like I should or  I'm not obedient, though I know I should be.  And then I wonder why my spiritual life seems dried up.  Hmmm....maybe it's during those times that I just don't realize there is so much more to a relationship with God than what I'm experiencing.

This example helped me remember that in order for me to experience all that God's promised "abundant life" has to offer as a true believer in Jesus Christ, I need to do a little more exploring.  There is so much to be experienced, so much to learn, so far to grow!  And this side of heaven, it will never be as boring as watching a little airplane inch its way around the world as long as we are living by His Spirit, reading His Word, praying, and learning more about Him each day.  It's powerful, it's exciting and it's all available to us all as believers!  The other side of heaven, well, it's just not even something we can comprehend with our finite minds. (smile)

I hear his flight home was so much more entertaining, by the way. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seeing Beyond the Mess

"You've got to be kidding me!"  Those were the words I cried to the poor woman on the other end of the phone last Friday night when the listing agency called me to tell me someone wanted to see my house in fifteen minutes.  My house was a wreck!  I wasn't even home to clean it and my heart was beating out of my chest.  What should I do?  Should I say no?  Or should I just swallow my pride, let them see it and apologize for the mess?"  Those thoughts were swirling around in my mind.  I hesitated and then had a very clear, direct thought...This could be the one.  So I hesitantly said, "Please, just apologize for the mess and tell them they can come see it."

I drove home quickly and stuffed things in places, under beds, cleared counters and threw things in places that they certainly did not belong.  I did my best.  As we pulled out of the driveway, they were pulling up.  I was a mess. And so was my house!

I swallowed hard and began to cry.  It's stressful selling a house.  We've been tempted to go stay in a hotel so the house will always be clean, but that didn't make financial sense and honestly in this economy, I wasn't sure how long it would take to sell it.  But I can tell you - we have learned over the past five months how to get the house in tip-top shape in just under an hour.  But fifteen minutes?  Oh, have mercy.

The potential buyers came and left and the feedback we received was that our house was in the top three, but not their number one pick.  I shrugged and chalked it up to the messy house.  Oh well.  But then a day later, my friend Pam called (she also happens to be my Realtor) and told me that they wanted a copy of the seller's disclosure.  She said this was a good sign.  I had no idea what it meant, but I was glad she thought it was positive! (smile)

A day later, we received an offer on our home.  After some back and forth negotiating, we sold our house!  Our closing date is March 15.  Wow.  

I couldn't believe that the one time when I thought it was a mess, was out of order and was not worth seeing that someone actually wanted to purchase it!  It really made me think about my life.  How many times do I think I need to be something polished, perfect and all-together with others but really all they want is for me to be real?  How often do I try so hard to make a good impression and lose myself in the process?  Maybe if we weren't so afraid to show our flaws or be "imperfect" we might find that people actually appreciate us even more. 

These people who are purchasing our home are getting an wonderful place to live.  I'm glad they could see through the obvious imperfections and the messes to the beauty of our home.  I know they will enjoy it for many years to come!

You Are More

Do you believe your past defines you?  Do you have a hard time letting go of the guilt from the choices you made a long time ago?  Please....watch this and really listen to the words.  You are more...


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 5:17





Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hi, I'm Leslie and I'm a UFC Fan

I know.  It doesn't fit.  A Southern wife, mom, Christian speaker and His Radio weekend gal.  I'm not supposed to like the UFC, right?  But I do.  I'm coming out into the open and letting everyone know it, too.  I'm not ashamed.  I'm just a UFC fan who loves Jesus!  Let me explain...

It all started when my husband began watching it years ago.  He loved it.  I cringed.  But he told me he would rub my back if I would let him watch it.  So I let him watch it and got many a free back rubs!  Why do these guys beat each other up like this (sometimes it's brutal!) and why would anyone want to watch it? As a mom, I would scream every time they would get knocked out and I couldn't watch some of it.  Why do men have to fight like that?

I have always hated pro wrestling and thought it was so contrived and silly.  This was different though.  This seemed a bit more genuine.  Once they fought it out with mixed martial arts, they would shake hands, hug and congratulate each other.  They were fighting one minute and hugging the next.  I was convinced guys were just plain weird.  Why fight if there is no animosity?  It didn't make sense in my mind.

However, as we watched it, I began to see something more in this sport.  These guys were the real deal when it came to training and technique.  They may fight, but they do it so methodically and it's like a choreographed routine.  Yes, they get beat up.  So do football players.  And hockey players.  And some other sports.  But I suppose that's part of what it takes to get stronger, to get more methodical, to gain experience and to climb to the top in your sport.

I began to think about how cool it was that these guys wanted to fight each other not out of vengeance (for the most part) but out of respect.  They wanted to be challenged beyond what they'd ever fought before and they knew in order to do that, they had to face their biggest competitors.  They are highly disciplined and take their sport very, very seriously.  They make sacrifices and they fight to win.

I began to think that the UFC fighters reminded me of people in the church who are serious about their faith.  They don't play the "game" of church, they are not there for show.  They are there to learn how to fight (spiritually speaking) and the Proverb that says "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" kept coming to me as I'd watch them fight.  The pro-wrestlers a few channels over reminded me of how I used to go to church and play the "game".  I'd dress up, act the part and look good and even had some fans.  But it was all contrived.  Nothing real about it - and certainly it wasn't helping me become the person I wanted to be.  (Sorry if you are a wrestling fan - no offense! haha)

So if me telling you I appreciate the UFC makes you scratch your head and wonder how that might fit into my life, I understand.  But I appreciate their discipline, their skill and their ability to take their sport seriously.  I've never been one that fit into a box very well...I like to claw my way out of a stereotype. (smile)

On a personal note, I do still cringe when there is a knock out and I still close my eyes during some parts.  It's too much for a mom to watch sometimes.  But I keep it in perspective by realizing that they are not victims...they are fighting to be warriors and in order to improve their skills, they have to use them.  I'm not sure I completely understand this as a woman, but I do like the character they are building.  As a mom, I appreciate that.

And just to show you the heart of one of the UFC fighters (a guy who was knocked out this past weekend but ended up knocking me out with his testimony this morning), take a look at the following video.  There are many guys who are believers in Jesus Christ in the sport (Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Jon Jones, Matt Hughes, to name a few!) and they even have some gyms that train UFC fighters not only physically, but spiritually, through God's Word.  I think it's amazing how God is using these "warriors" to further His Kingdom!




Monday, February 7, 2011

Football & The Christian Life

Football reminds me of life. I mean, we all face victories and defeats, allies and enemies, learning from mistakes and team work. Isn’t it the same with life? Think about it...as a follower of Jesus Christ, we can see so many incredible analogies in the game of football. Here, let me list a few:

•    We have a playbook – the Bible. The more we know the playbook, the better we will know how to live. The less we know it, the more confused and lost we become in life.

•    We have a Coach – God. He wrote the playbook, He gives us guidance and He helps us believe in our mission. He keeps us motivated and disciplines us when necessary, for our own good.

•    We have a Quarterback – Our Pastor. He calls us together and gives us words from the Coach in our “holy huddle” at church. This is a time of game strategy and encouragement. It’s a time where we can talk about where we are having struggles in “the game” and we can build each other up. Then, we call “break!”, bust up our huddle and go back in the game!

•    We have Team Mates – our friends and family. They are the ones we are in this game of life with. They support us, exhort us, help us to move forward, celebrate with us in our victories and learn to deal with defeat with us. They are invaluable and we could never do it without them. We were created to be in community.

•    We have boundaries – our convictions. Life is lived within those boundaries that are made up of convictions that the Lord puts in our hearts. Some people’s boundaries are different than others in some areas, but some of them are concrete and set. When we go out of our boundaries, there are penalties and the game is put on hold. Once our boundaries are re-established, we are able to get back into the game.

•    We have an opponent – our enemy, Satan. He is out to get us, plain and simple. He wants to thwart our plans, sack our quarterback, run us out of bounds and keep us from believing in our team. He wants to tackle us, he wants us to doubt our Coach’s ability and he’s even trying to recruit us for his team! Knowing our playbook, knowing our Coach intimately and keeping our team mates close will help keep us from falling for his lies.

•    We have time outs – our quiet times with God. Time outs are times where we spend one on one time with our Coach, our Lord. He shows us truths, He gives us direction and He helps us to see where we are going wrong or right. These time outs are highlights of our game!

•    We have a winner and a loser – and we know who wins! The Bible is clear that the battle is already won – through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us. Our team wins!  There may be injuries and bench times along the way, but our Coach knows what's best for us and we can trust Him, no matter what. We already know the outcome but we play with all of our hearts knowing that it is a matter of life and death, not just a trophy or a ring.

1 Corinthians 15:57 "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

I wrote this a few years back but wanted to re-post in honor of the Superbowl last night!  I hope you enjoyed the game with your friends & family! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Exhaling

Jet lag has finally chased me down, but it's ok.  I feel like God is telling me it's finally time to get some rest and I can honestly admit that my one-hour nap this afternoon did not leave me feeling the least bit guilty! Why do moms feel guilty about getting rest? I used to, but not today.  Not for a moment!

A view from Seoul Tower
I returned home from a week and a half of ministry in Korea on Monday night and I wanted to just let you know some of the amazing things I learned from this trip.  First and foremost, I must say that God definitely took me out of my comfort zone.  A couple of days before I left, I actually put out a Twitter update that said "If God takes you out of your comfort zone, get ready - He's about to use you, big time" as an encouragement to my followers.  Usually, when I'm going through something personally, I'm reminded that there are probably thousands of other normal people, just like me, who are going through the same thing.  It is true, though.  Don't be uncomfortable with being uncomfortable.  It's just the place God can do His greatest work.

The American media really makes Korea sound like a terrifying war zone.  No doubt there are tensions and not to make light of it in any way, shape or form...but it just wasn't as scary as I thought it would be over there even though we were just about 30-40 miles from the North Korea border.   God really gives you grace for the moment.  (Kinda reminded me of how on Survivor I lost my fear of snakes and bugs while out in the jungle.  Of course, I'm scared of them all over again now that I'm home, but I had grace for the moment!  It was pretty awesome.)  As I was saying, though...the media really made it sound scary and my kids were scared that I was going over there.  I was also hesitant to leave my family for so long.  I know how hard things can be for my husband when I'm gone - and how much my kids miss me and how much I would miss my family.  My husband encouraged me to go though, and I am glad I didn't listen to my fear but found courage to go in spite of it.  It really was a huge blessing. 

Allen Hester, Middle School Chaplain
I finally got to meet Allen Hester, the Middle School Chaplain at Yongsan International School of Seoul.  He's been asking me to come and share with his middle school kids for about three years but until recently, I had not felt the timing was right.  It was nice to finally meet him and I can tell you - this is a servant-hearted guy who loves Jesus and loves those kids.  He is the kind of guy that will walk a mile for you, shoeless in the snow, backwards while singing the alphabet, if that is what you would want him to do.  No questions.  No hesitation.  He just loves people - and it shows.  Everywhere we went, he met a new friend.  Most often he would tell them about Jesus or invite them to church.  It was inspiring.  And convicting.  When is the last time I approached someone I have never met and told them about Jesus?  Yeah.  I can't remember.  By the way, if Allen reads this I promise he will turn as red as his shirt in this picture!  He's so humble.  It's really precious.  Sorry, Allen...but it's all true. :)

Me with Allen & Jeremy
I also had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy Whitaker - a husband, daddy and worship leader from Georgia.  He led worship during the week while I spoke.  He's super cool.  The kids loved him and he was so honest in his sharing about how good God is.  He challenged me to never put limits on God - God is the same today as He was yesterday.  He never changes.  I think I forget that sometimes.  I was inspired by his heart to teach others to be worship leaders, too.  He and his friends have started Greater Things Worship Arts Academy in Georgia (I told him several times I wish they were closer to Charlotte!).  I feel like I have a new brother after meeting Jeremy!  Funny how a dude from Georgia and a lady from South Carolina have to go all the way around to the other side of the world to meet!  God does that though.  If you want to check out Jeremy's new CD on Itunes, here it is!

I realized by about day four that I was not going to have to deal with jet lag over there.  Apparently, many of my friends and my mentor were praying for that specifically.  God heard their prayers!  I'm happy to say that I had all the energy I needed to speak at about thirteen sessions between the school and three churches (one of them was an Indonesian Church where I worked with a translator!).  It would have been fifteen sessions, but two of the sessions were on Monday and school was canceled because of a snow storm that blew in.  Oh, did I mention it's C-O-L-D in Korea?

Some of the teachers at YISS
The theme of the week at the school was "Thirsty?" and we focused on what it is that we are thirsty for in life.  I really challenged the students to make sure that they are not playing a game with God - that their relationship is real, based on truth and not something they only have on Sunday mornings.  I wanted to be sure that these kids, though in a Christian school, were not playing "the game", as I refer to it.  I gave my testimony of how I played the game for 23 years and how God opened my eyes to the truth of my situation.  Apparently, many of the kids realized they, too, were playing a game and they gave their hearts to Jesus.  God gave me the amazing privilege of praying with one of those sweet kids as she received Christ!  It was a huge thrill to be a part of such an amazing miracle!  As I hugged her after she prayed, I whispered "Happy Birthday".  She was born again.  Thank you, Lord!

I am humbled every moment that I think about how God allowed me, a regular wife and mom from SC, to be a part of a reality show over three years ago and how He is still using that very short but powerful nine days to open the door for me to teach others about Him all over the world and what it means to know Him personally.  Only God could do this.  Only God. 

This afternoon, as I sit in my cozy living room, exhaling (and admittedly, still in my PJ's and proud of it) and reliving some of the moments from last week,  I just want to say "thank you" if you were one of the precious friends of mine who prayed for me.  I'm so honored that God took me to Korea.  I'm so excited He used me.  And I'm so excited how He used so many others - the missionaries, the teachers, the pastors, the students....to teach me more about Him, too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The "Foolish" Plan

Do you ever wonder why God would choose to allow you to be a part of His miracle of salvation?  It's humbling to think the God of the Universe would choose us - mere humans - to speak through, to touch hearts and to heal wounds. Paul calls it "foolish preaching" in the New Testament.

In 1 Corinthians 1:21-25, Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, tells us, "Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength."

Foolish Plan?

I think that is pretty interesting.  When we speak of salvation, telling others about Jesus Christ, the world thinks it's foolish.  But God knows better.  And those who are being called by God know better, too.  I love how Paul reminds us a few verses later that God "chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise."  So, in essence, as humbling as it is to be used by God, how ironic is it that the world considers it foolish?  The choice has to be made....am I here to please God or to please people? (read Galatians 1:10)

The choice is ours.  Do we want to be a part of God's miracle and be considered foolish to the world, or do we want to be considered wise to the world, but foolish to God?  Father, give us strength and courage to be considered foolish to the world for the sake of Your "foolish plan"! 

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

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