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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Little Christmas Break

I would announce to you that I'll be taking a little bit of a Christmas break from blogging, but the truth is I've been missing in action for a couple of weeks now.

Actually I spent part of that time in Wilmington, N.C., where I had the privilege of speaking at Scotts Hill Baptist Church's three beautiful Christmas teas. I had such a blast with the ladies of their Wings ministry (Women in God's Service).

My ministry assistant Kim, myself, and 
Etta Pace, the prayer ministry leader with WINGS
(It just occurred to me, as I read back over this
post, that it appears from this photo that we were
at a wine bar. Hold you horses! We were at a cute
little lunch place. Indeed, it was called Temptations
but we did not imbibe all the same. Just sampled 
some delicious salads and soups. I promise!)

 Kim and myself with Brenda Potter (center), our hostess. 
We spent three nights in her lovely home and 
felt the peace of God every minute we shared 
with this hospitable woman and her charming husband, Ace.

A few of the lovely ladies who decorated a table for the
Friday evening Christmas tea. There was also
teas on Saturday morning and evening.

I was very careful to get at least a few pictures of the women I had the honor of ministering to this time. Honestly, the women were so much more beautiful than the tables they decorated! But I thought you might also enjoy seeing the work of their capable hands.

 The hostesses did a lovely job with their tables, 
but what I really liked about this particular 
Christmas tea is that the leadership dictated that 
each hostess had to use a nativity scene for 
the center piece of her tableau.

 They were all centered on the birth of Christ.

 Beautiful and unique.

 Here's our hostess Brenda again at one of her tables.

 I never did meet the artistic woman who 
created this tabletop, but isn't she 
colorful and creative?

 One of my favorites.

 They were all splendid. Over 100 tables in all!

Don't you know the women enjoyed sitting 
at such beautiful tables?

I spoke on John 1:1,2,14. The message didn't really have a title, but I'd probably call it "The Other Christmas Story." I hope to load it on my Sermon.net player soon.

 Brenda's house was situated on the water, 
but a small island stood between her home 
and the Atlantic. So she drove us a 
few miles so we could take a peek at the big pond.

It makes such a difference when my friend 
and ministry partner Kim Tucker travels 
with me and takes care of the details. 
She is such a blessing!

Kim, Marva Gordon (director of WINGS),
myself and Susan Malpass, who coordinated
the details of mine and Kim's visit.

Thank you, ladies, for a lovely weekend. It was SUCH an honor to minister alongside you to the women of Scotts Hill. I truly appreciate you inviting me to be a part of your ministry. You are such special women, and the ladies of your church are blessed to have you leading them.

After I left Wilmington, I headed to Georgia to visit my family for a few days. I hadn't seen their Christmas tree in years! It was good to "go home." Now I'm home in Arizona enjoying my family here. Daniel is home from college, Abby is finishing up finals today, and things are winding down at the church. So I will be taking the rest of the Christmas holiday off from blogging. I just need to sit and soak up the meaning of this special holiday, share some time with my family, and rest. It's been a busy, productive and blessed year for Off the Beaten Path Ministries.  I am so grateful for the doors the Lord has opened, but now I feel Him giving me complete permission to rest up for the adventures that lie ahead.

Merry Christmas, dear reader! You are special to me, too. I pray you have a blessed, healthy, and happy celebration of the birth of our King. I will begin posting again at the beginning of 2012. See you then!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Than the Common Cold

There are all sorts of contagions in the air these days. That why things like vitamin C, zinc supplements, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer have become common in our world. My bet is you've used one or more of those things in the last 24 hours; I know I have.

But there are worst things we can spread than the common cold. I've got the sniffles right now, in fact, but I'm managing to keep on plugging away with the help of a box of tissues and a little over-the-counter medication.

Unfortunately, someone else will probably end up catching this little cold from me. But I've spread worse things undoubtedly. You have, too. Peter did, too.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, 
I withstood him to his face, 
because he was to be blamed; 
for before certain men came from James, 
he would eat with the Gentiles; 
but when they came, 
he withdrew and separated himself, 
fearing those who were of the circumcision. 
And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, 
so that even Barnabas was carried away with hypocrisy.
Galatians 2:11-13

The bottom line of the passage I read this morning is that Peter was living under the grace of God and doing the gracious thing, until some people came along whom he felt the need to impress. Then he changed his tune and his behavior; suddenly Peter was acting like a hypocrite, throwing out the truth in order to win the favor of these he esteemed. But not only did Peter behave badly; others followed suit.

His sin was contagious.

Even Barnabas -- good-natured, positive, godly, and kindhearted Barnabas -- followed Peter's lead and began to act contrary to what he knew to be right. I think we call that peer pressure in our modern world, but Paul calls it leading others into sin.

Have I been guilty? Have you? Probably so, on both counts. We need to be careful. Little eyes (and bigger eyes) are watching. And even godly folks (like Barnabas) can get caught up in our misbehavior and follow suit. Consider the following highly contagious sins and see if you've been guilty of passing any of them along:
  • Gossip
  • Bitterness
  • Complaining against authority
  • Murmuring about the way things are
  • Yelling (in anger; not at ballgames)
  • Criticizing the way things have been done
  • Talking ill of your spouse, boss, children, mother-in-law
  • Acting arrogantly
  • Prejudice
  • Disrespect
  • Overspending
  • Laziness
Oh my, I must stop before the condemnation becomes too great! I've been guilty of most of those at some time or other, and I can even attest that at times I could have named the people I led along the path of destruction with me.

Today I feel challenged not only to sneeze into my sleeve instead of my hand (I'm still working on that one!), throw away my tissues immediately after using them, and cover my mouth if I cough, but also to keep from spreading any ill behavior. I want to keep fastidious watch over my tongue, speak words of grace instead of criticism, and resist the temptation to "pass on" interesting information. In fact, since our behavior is obviously so contagious, I'm going to try to speak positive words, encouraging words and gracious words. I'm going to speak well of others, treat folks with respect, and serve the Lord with gladness. Tall order, I know, but if attitudes, words, and behaviors are catching, let's at least give them something worth sharing!

A little news:

By the way, I've added PayPal capabilities to my web site today. You can now purchase my books or donate to my ministry via PayPal, using your PayPal account or a credit card. You do have to have a PayPal account, but it's quick and easy to set up. 

If you choose to donate to the ministry, you'll need to know a couple of things. I do not have a non-profit license yet. Maybe one day. But the truth is this ministry is truly NON profit. I haven't made a dime in profit from any of my books or speaking engagements. Maybe one day I will make enough to actually contribute to our household expenses, but not yet. I'm still reinvesting every dime at this time. So, you won't be able to "write off" your donation.

Secondly, I want you to know that if you do contribute a donation, every dime does indeed go back into ministry. It will be used to supply books and other materials to those who cannot afford them, ship materials in similar situations, or provide for other operational costs that keep this ministry afloat. And if you do decide to make a donation, know that I am grateful.

I encourage you to check out my books under the By Kay tab. Thanks for supporting the ministry!

Friday, December 2, 2011

What's Eating You?

Is anything just about to get your goat right now? Is there a situation that's about to overtake you, take you to the ground, or body slam you against a wall?

Or maybe there's a person... Is someone about to drive you crazy, push your last button, cause you to lose it?

Or you could have a gnawing worry or concern. Is there a dilemma that you're losing sleep over? One that's consuming your thoughts, showing up in your dreams, wrecking your appetite (one way or the other), or draining your energy?

I've been in your shoes before. I could go there right now if I let myself. Isn't there just about always something that could get the best of us if we let it?

We might be tempted to think that if we could just solve that problem, get rid of that person (or at least change them), or fix that situation, we'd be better off. Not only that, if we could change those circumstances or people then we'd behave a little better ourselves. We wouldn't lose our temper, overeat, toss and turn in our beds, snap at people, look so consumed with our thoughts. We'd be nicer, more generous, more considerate of others, just happier.

If everyone else and everything else would just behave!

But the Bible teaches otherwise. This morning I read a scripture that hit me straight between the eyes. usually the Bible verses that knock me back a few steps are the ones that put responsibility squarely on my shoulders, like a well-centered and fully packed backpack. Whoosh! That responsibility straps itself to my back and a voice says, "You carry this. It's yours."

Here's what I read:

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls.
Proverbs 25:28

Other translations identify "rule over his own spirit" as self-discipline, self-control or controlling one's temper. But one thing they all keep in common is the concept of  "own."

And the bottom line in this verse, no matter which translation you read it from, is that without self control, self discipline, or control of one's own temper, disaster looms.  Like a city with no walls, you're just inviting the enemy to come in and set up camp. You know what that looks like don't you?

When our enemy, Satan, comes in and takes over, we snap at people, say things we shouldn't say, blame others, harbor grudges, hurt feelings, blame some others, act mean spirited, rush into things, and, again, blame even others.

This scripture tells me that if I'm losing sleep, snapping at people, eating out of frustration, losing my temper, or biting my nails...it's my fault. I've let something "get to me" because the walls of my city are down. Instead of dwelling safely and peacefully in the presence of the Lord and taking refuge within His strong tower, I'm exposing myself like a sitting duck to the enemy.

So what's a person to do when something's eating at him? What's the best route to take when anxiety is chasing you around? What should I do if someone's about to push my last button?

Run to the Rock. Take refuge in Him. Keep your mind and heart focused on Him and He will keep you in perfect peace. Do you believe that? You have to believe that He can really give you peace and security or you'll never truly run to Him and lay your weary soul down in the peace of His presence.

And when you do run to Him, He will give you the self-control you need in order to behave better, too. By His indwelling Spirit you'll find the wherewithal to speak kind words, show compassion, forgive, offer grace, and refrain from sinful behavior.

So don't be eaten up with something today. That's just the enemy's way of getting you to let down your drawbridge and welcome the sneaky snake into unguarded territory. 

Let's exercise a little Holy Spirit infused self-control out there today, folks! It's our responsibility.