Thursday, December 20, 2012

Glory to God in the Highest

I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music (of course) but my favorite this year is Chris Tomlin's Christmas album. Yeah, yeah, it's a couple of years old & I'm a late-comer but it is so good. Our kids' choir sang a song from it and it's magnificent - and that has little to do with the fact that I'm partial to the drummer that played with them that day!

Jessica and I were talking about the songs that say "glory to God in the highest" the other day. The angels said it to the shepherds when they announced the Savior of the world's birth. Jessica asked if glory in the highest means highest praise to God or glory because He's the highest. What a great question and one that I certainly don't have the answer for. Perhaps it could be both.

That sent me on a search for use of the word glory in the Bible. It's over 300 times, by the way. The second time it's used in the NASB is in Exodus 16. The setting is after the Hebrew people were delivered from Egypt and had already crossed the sea on dry land. But, they were hungry and they started to grumble. I'm not judging, I'm just reporting. I've been known to grumble a time or one thousand myself.  The Hebrews even wondered if they would've been better off still in captivity because at least there they had food to eat and their physical hunger was satisfied. God's reply to their grumbling? Food. Moses said, "God will show you His glory by providing food for you to eat." (my paraphrase) God said, "You shall know that I am the Lord your God" because He's the one that satisfies every need.

My soul repeats glory to God in the highest these days because of His provision. In so many ways He has provided and satisfied. I am humbly grateful - and that seems like an understatement. I know all too well hunger, if not physical, and sorrow and despair. I'm grateful for provision in those cases too.

My favorite book of 2012 is Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret. It was written in 1932 but Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China beginning in 1853. He knew hardship and physical loss. In all that he experienced and endured he knew, really knew, about God's provision. I hope you'll read these words he wrote following the death of his wife:

"The present year has been in many ways remarkable. Perhaps every one of our number has been more or less face to face with danger, perplexity and distress. But out of it all the Lord has delivered us. And some who have drunk more deeply than ever before the cup of the Man of Sorrows can testify that it has been a most blessed year to our souls and can give God thanks for it. Personally, it has been the most sorrowful and the most blessed year of my life, and I doubt not that others have had in some measure the same experience. We have put to the proof the faithfulness of God - His power to support in trouble and to give patience under affliction, as well as to deliver from danger. And should greater dangers await us, should deeper sorrows is to be hoped that they will be met in a strengthened confidence in our God." (180) 

Glory to God in the highest. Highest glory to Him because He's proven Himself faithful, though He doesn't have to. Glory to God in the highest because He hears, He responds, He knows. Glory to God because He's the highest and I know He's the Lord my God. 

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Serving the King,


Monday, November 5, 2012

Whose Side are You Leaning On?

I really can't remember if Whose Side Are You Leaning On? was a song we sang in youth group when I was a teen (back in the dark ages) or if we sang it in the early days of leading Student Ministry. If you were not a teen in the 80's or maybe even early 90's, you probably don't know it. The words were simply - Whose side are you leaning on? I'm leaning on the Lord's side? (repeat) I lean, I lean, I lean, I lean, I'm leaning on the Lord's side. Snazzy, right? Remember, these were the dark ages. Ok, here's the fun part - every time you sang the word lean or leaning, you physically leaned. It was a lot of fun and could get a little rough, depending who was sitting next to you.

I thought about that song this morning in cycle class. I hadn't been in 2 weeks (mistake) and I forgot my water bottle. I was already running late and had to stop in the cafe for water. I was a little frustrated and I didn't remember, until the instructor kept telling us to turn the gear up, that the only way I make it through cycle class is to pray. It's a great time to talk to God about Himself, what's on my heart, and friends and such. I was praying about the election tomorrow and thought about a story from Scripture and so I came home to look it up. It's found in Joshua 5:13-15, if you care to look for yourself.

Basically, here's the background: Moses died, Joshua was put in charge. The Hebrew people had been wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years and they were finally going into the land of promise. The crossed the Jordan River on dry land - not because there was a drought but because God dried it up. The people took some time to celebrate the Passover but then Joshua was looking ahead to the battle for Jericho.

Here's the encounter: Joshua was checking out Jericho and as he looked he saw a man standing with his sword drawn. Joshua approached him and asked, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" (Whose side are you leaning on...) The man answered, "No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord."

I had to start a new paragraph right here so you could let that sink in just a bit. I have chills.

Here's why: at that moment Joshua realized to Whom he was speaking. One commentator I read this morning wrote that it was possibly a Christophany - an appearance of the preincarnate Christ. It was at that moment that Joshua fell face down. All the way down.

And that, my friends who are believers, is where I'll be tomorrow. (and you should be too) Tomorrow is a critical day. I've already voted and I voted my convictions. I fully recognize that there are believers and followers of Christ who do not share my political convictions and have voted in a contrary way. Ultimately, as believers and followers, we might label ourselves are Republican or Democrat or Independent but Whose side we are on is clear. And I'm pretty sure He's not wearing any labels. And, I can type with confidence, that no matter who the next president of our great nation is, God will still be on His throne and our knees should be used to being on the floor.

As for me, I'm leaning on the Lord's side.

Serving the King,


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I was home a couple of days ago doing the awful house cleaning so I thought I would turn the tv on to keep me company. I rarely watch tv on a week day and, if I do, it's always something on Food Network. This particular day I watched a day-time talk show. It was my first time to see it but I was attracted because I saw on the guide that Kelly Pickler was guest co-hosting and Chris Rene was going to be on.

(I want to write parenthetically here that I do watch reality tv shows. I did see Chris Rene win XFactor last year and I do remember when Kelly Pickler was on American Idol. I will not, however, under any circumstances watch American Idol this year because a certain new judge has made it unwatchable in my opinion. Also, does everyone in the world now have a day-time talk show? I mean, I watch 30-Minute Meals but not that cook on a talk show. We're huge Survivor fans but that host now also has a day-time talk show. No, I've never seen it but I saw it listed today when I was setting my dvr to make sure I recorded the season premier of Duck Dynasty tonight. Reality tv = a silly habit that I can't kick.)

Anyway, on that day's episode of the show there was a segment about rage in America. There was a set-up in an ice cream shop and customers were secretly recorded to see how long it would take them to get mad about bad service or the waitress touching her hair before she touched the food or whatever. At this point, I was on my hands & knees scrubbing my kitchen floor so I'm not all together sure exactly what happened. But, there was a psychiatrist or sociologist or "expert" of some kind reporting about the increased cases of people's anger getting out of control over meaningless stuff. Some of the customers that were recorded in the ice cream shop were there to tell their stories about getting so mad. The expert was there to provide counsel on how to avoid such situations and, maybe, some anger management advice.

Really, I'm embarrassed that I've spent an entire paragraph explaining the segment on the show but, hang on, I'm about to make a point.

The problem with anger in America is simply a first world problem. I see that hashtag on twitter on occasion. I did a search for it just now. Things like - pants being wrinkled, walking into a door because it's automatic, iphone is here but can't pick it up til later today, and, oh, this may be the kicker, "Im hungry and want food but im to lazy to get up." (yes, there are some errors to that but I typed it exactly like it appeared on twitter.)

Yeah, we've got problems. Really nothing at all like the problems found in third world countries. You know, like starving and wanting something to eat but there's nowhere to get food and, even if there was, there's no money to buy it.

We have anger issues because we're used to getting what we want when we want it. We don't want to wait for anything and we certainly don't want there to be problems or hold-ups or people not serving us in the manner in which we deserve. Give us some respect, would ya? And, by the way, if I do become angry it's really not my fault anyway.  I know for sure I will be able to find someone to blame it on.

I could go on and on but I've got to go wash dishes. I'm gonna have dish-pan hands because I'm not used to washing dishes but my dishwasher is broken and the repairman couldn't get to my house until later this week. ugh!


Serving the King,


Friday, October 5, 2012

What Would You Give to Save a Life?

I was hanging out with these beauties last night and the subject of blogging came up. My oldest has been blogging daily about what's on his mind. We were talking about it in light of the presidential debate a couple of nights ago but the comment was made that I have not blogged in weeks. Months, actually. I've had a thought for a post in my head since June, though, so I'll see if I can make some sense out of it.

Weeks and weeks ago now I got emotional while teaching Life Group. I may have gotten emotional since then (if you know me personally, you know that is highly likely - I live emotions full on) but this day sticks out in my mind. Actually, it was June 10th and our Life Group had been doing a study of the book of Philippians and it was the last day so we were at the end of chapter 4. In Philippians 4:17 Paul wrote this, "Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account." When Johnny preached a sermon on giving he said it's like God is saying to us, "I don't seek what's yours but you." (as if it's really ours any way) God's purposes on earth will be accomplished but it's our privilege to be participants. Paul wrote of his gratitude to the people of Philippi for their support of him but the message is that they got it. They got it that living their lives and giving of their possessions were to be about something greater than themselves.

Let me just interject right here that I am so guilty of being fixated on self. At times, I want to hunker down with those 4 whose faces I posted on this post and not be aware of hurt and suffering and need around me. Our schedules become busy and our lives so full that we are completely unaware of what's all around us. That's not how we are supposed to live though.

I asked the question in Life Group (here's the part where I lost it), "What would you be willing to give in order to save a life?" I mentioned a couple (his parents go to our church) that had reduced their worldly possessions to 8 suitcases and left the comforts of home to go live on a foreign mission field. We're not all called to do that, so I also mentioned the 18 million (I can't even type it without tears) people - I can't even fathom 18 million people - that are suffering from food shortages in Africa. In an area called The Sahel of Africa, nearly 1.5 million children are near starvation. There's a ministry website that counts the number of people who die daily from starvation - they report 1 every 6 seconds.  From my desk here in Texas I can't save 1.5 million children but I can't turn a blind eye either. Mother Theresa once said if you can't feed 100 hungry people then feed just 1.

We were never meant to hoard our blessings or our time or our families. That's not what Jesus taught.

My birthday was just a few days before that lesson on June 10th. A mother and her adult daughter often sit right behind us in corporate worship on Sundays. They gave me a fun card and gift and I was talking to them and thanking them. The mom's words penetrated my heart and have stuck with me. She talked about my travel and mission work and she said something about "all those lives you're saving."

I rarely feel like a life saver but I want to be one. Whether far away across the sea or right here in my community I know there's some lives that need to be saved. I've become fully aware of some chances I've missed just recently. Gosh, it hurts.  

I'd rather have the profit to my account than the hurt. Not more profit in my bank account. I could care less about that except in what I need to take care of those 3 that God entrusted to Johnny and me. I want that profit that's like a big hug from my Father. To hear in my spirit, "Well done. You're getting it. You're living like you believe Me."

Weighing what I'm personally willing to give to save a life is a daily task. All I ask from God is that He make me willing to give more. That He never stops calling me and asking me to join Him in His purposes.

Serving the King,


Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm Not So Great at Goodbye

This picture was taken a few weeks ago on our family vacation. This summer we went to Sedona, Arizona. It was beautiful and amazing and relaxing and fun. I'd rather be with these 4 people than anywhere or with anyone else. But, college classes start back tomorrow and high school the next Monday. That means the college kids are back at school and summer is coming to an end. I feel super melancholy today about the whole thing. Well, let me back up a week...

Last Saturday night Johnny got a call from his mom telling us his dad had a really rough day. I can't remember the exact conversations or even the right timeline of things but, essentially, we didn't realize how bad it was until Johnny talked to the hospice nurse on Sunday after church. Needless to say, Johnny, Josh, Jacob and I threw some stuff in suitcases (Jessica was in Amarillo visiting a friend) and started toward Georgia. It's a stinkin' long way from Mansfield, Texas, to Lavonia, Georgia. We made it there the next morning and spent the next 3 hours standing and sitting, keeping vigil over the bedside of one we love so much. My boys talked to their Granddad about fun things they had done together, about great memories, about computer repairs, and about what a great role model he was of how to be a godly man. Johnny assured his dad that his mom was going to be ok. Actually, Johnny told his dad that he was proud of his mom and how strong she was. Johnny's sister was there - she laid up in the bed with her dad for a while and just loved on him. When she left the room, it was just me and Josh and Jacob watching as Johnny's dad drew his last breath and slipped peacefully into eternity. Just like that, it was over and we said goodbye to the patriarch of the Dickerson family. Heaven was richer - our loss was its gain.

It was nice to see old friends and to spend the next few days with family. Even those goodbyes were hard for some reason that I can't really explain. Packing up the car with my 4 people (we flew Jessica in from Amarillo to Georgia) - even then, being with my people - and driving away from the lake house was wrenching.

We drove straight through the night and, again, made it home in the wee hours of the morning.  I don't know what I expected. Maybe for the 5 of us to sit around and share our feelings for the next few hours. (I'm so kidding) Nope, none of that. Our kids had things to do and people to see. I knew I would see Josh over the weekend but Jessica headed back to school that afternoon. We hardly saw her this summer - she was on the road working most of the summer. I know DBU is just a 20-25 minute drive from here but there's something about those kids not being here, not sleeping in their own bed, my not seeing their faces, not having them with me...

Josh is starting his last semester of his bachelor's degree tomorrow. Jacob starts his last year of high school the next week. An ending is always followed by a beginning.

So we've said some goodbyes. We've closed some chapters but we've started some new ones. I know life is supposed to go on, and it will. I told Johnny today that tomorrow life will go back to normal (whatever normal is) but it seems like it shouldn't. We keep moving forward even when we have to say goodbye.

Serving the King,


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Family Stories

I really enjoy a good story. Especially stories that are a result of a shared experience. And most especially when it's something shared with my family. You know, when you can just say a few words or a phrase and everyone involved knows exactly what you're talking about. A few words can bring about laughter and that warm feeling from a sweet memory. Just such a thing happened this week. Johnny and I were in Georgia while our 3 kids were at Student Life Camp. Before Johnny and I left for Georgia to visit his parents at their lake house we heard that the 14 year old Sea-Doo had not been put in the water and no one was sure if it was even working. Johnny made it his mission to get it working. The first time he and I put it in the water, it definitely was not going to start. Unwilling to pay someone to work on a 14 year old personal watercraft, Johnny just asked for some advice from the guy at the marina. To make a long story short, he fixed it! That night I tweeted to my kids that it was working and we had gone out on the lake. Josh tweeted back, "that's awesome! Hope you made it back without getting lost in South Carolina." I laughed a little just typing that tweet. That's a really long story but, needless to say, he was referring to a time when I got lost on the lake and ended up in South Carolina when my inlaws' lake house is on the Georgia part of the lake. That happened in 1998 and we still get a  laugh out of it.

The reason Josh tweeting that was particularly meaningful to me is it's the exact story I was thinking about when I was riding behind Johnny on the Sea-Doo the other day. You see, the reason we were in Georgia is because Johnny's dad is really sick. We've been going to Georgia and spending time on that lake for all of our 24 years of marriage. When we first starting going, Johnny's dad would wake Johnny and his friends up at the literal crack of dawn, when the water was still, and drag them all over the lake skiing. Johnny's dad has had a number of boats over the years and we've done all kinds of skiing, tubing, and fishing out there. Then, in 1998, he bought that Sea-Doo. He was like one of the kids, pushing it as fast as it would go, coming into the cove and doing donuts. We still have photos to document him taking all of his grandkids out when they were way to little to ride it by themselves. Sweet memories.

I'm pretty sure that was the year that I took the Sea-Doo out and got lost on the lake. The next day he took me out in the fishing boat with a map and showed me how to read the map and the corresponding buoys. He wanted to make sure I never got lost on that lake again.

So, the other day I rode on the back of that old Sea-Doo (that Johnny put back together with duct tape) with tears streaming down my face, like they are now. He didn't even know. I was thanking God for a life well lived. For a man that has cared so deeply for his family and so many of his friends. For one so giving and faithful. For so many great memories and so many great times out on that lake. I'm grateful for the years that I've been a part of the Dickerson family and our shared stories and memories.

Serving the King,


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Holy Moment

Yesterday was Memorial Day. Johnny and I observed the holiday by doing some traditional American, Memorial Day activities - you know, we sat out by the pool and ate watermelon and made homemade ice cream. But not before remembering why we are so privileged to be able to do such things. We don't forget for one day how truly blessed we are. Really, we know what it's like to struggle and worry and count the change to see if have enough to buy, well, whatever it was that we needed. For me, remembering where I've been is enough to drive me to my knees in gratitude.

On Sunday morning, in corporate worship, we finished singing a song (I can't even remember which one) and then were given the instruction to sit down. A video started playing. I was unprepared for it. It honestly took my breath away. It was a video expressing gratitude for the thousands of brave men and women who have answered the call of duty in order to protect the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Since I enjoy history, I've read some books about WWII and even more recent wars. I am awed by the heroism. I am amazed that people little over my son's age were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. I feel grateful and blessed. I am, by nature, a very patriotic person but having travelled to countries where people are not free makes me even more grateful and feel even more blessed to live in the greatest country on the face of the planet.

For those serving in America's military right now - thank you.

For those who have been left behind - thank you.

After the video played on Sunday morning we observed a moment of silence followed by a prayer. My immediate thought was, "this is a holy moment." You know, like those moments when you see a sunset over the mountains and you are awed by the Creator. Those moments when you recognize someone and Someone has given so much that you might live.

My challenge today is to live worthy of a holy moment. I pray that I will.

Proud to be an American
  and a child of the King,


Thursday, May 24, 2012

School's Out for Summer

I recently deleted (accidentally) my blog bookmark folder - meaning, links to all blogs that I read on a fairly regular basis were gone. I don't read blogs too much anymore and, apparently, I don't write them too much anymore either. A sentence or 2 on fb or twitter is so much simpler. Blogging is for days when, well, life is simpler. School is out for the high schooler and middle child for summer. The oldest is taking summer classes so he can graduate from college in December. (yikes!) Jessica is home for one week then off to her summer job traveling, leading rec at camps with a team of students from DBU for about 10 weeks. Honestly & selfishly, I'd hoped she would be home for summer. However, I did spend a summer working at a camp and I know it's going to be a great summer for her.

A couple of nights ago all 3 kids were here and Jessica cooked dinner and we just spent time together. The boys teamed up on their dad and tried to throw him in the pool - some things never seem to change. Johnny eventually turned the hot tub on and we just sat around, both in and out of the water, and talked and just were together. It's so amazing how much Johnny and I absolutely cherish those times we have together. It seems like it happens less & less. And, with Josh graduating from college then Jacob graduating from high school next May, it may happen even less and less...

I hope you are making the most of the time you have with your family. The days fly by and the thing you prepare your kids for - you know, growing up and taking care of themselves - happens in a blink of an eye.

Just speaking from experience.

Serving the King,


Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Plentiful Harvest & The Laborers

We returned from London little more than 24 hours ago. It was my first time out of Heathrow in that city so I was super glad to be there. We went out into the city last Saturday - just on our own, navigating the public transportation and typical tourists attractions. Mainly we went to the British Museum. I've wanted to go there since 2001. It was great - and free! After the morning and part of the afternoon there we went to the area of the city where we hope to invest our lives over the next many years. As I am typing this and my iTunes is playing on my Mac, the song "Give Me Your Eyes" came up. That was and is my prayer as we did and will walk those streets in the future.  It will take us seeing with His eyes, being sensitive to His leading, for us to do anything.

During the first day of training in London we looked at Luke 10:1-16. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs to the places where He would go. He said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." I am aware with a new, keen sense of awareness of the plentifulness of the harvest. The need for planting and sowing and reaping and gathering. I am beseeching, on the behalf of my city here and of our UUPG there, for laborers. In a way that I cannot at all explain, I feel a weird sense of confidence that there will be laborers. I cannot wait to see what God is up to - what He will do in us and through us, the laborers.

While we were on our way home from the UK, a group of ladies from our church community were leaving to go to prison. They headed down to Central Texas to go in to tell women inmates about the great love of Jesus. Really, I am so thankful for my church people and their willingness to be a part of Kingdom activity. Perhaps that's my confidence - except that part that comes from The Holy One - these people that God has put in our lives are simply willing.

What lies ahead will be challenging and fulfilling and a bit scary. We don't go alone. We know that. It will require sacrifice. We anticipate that. It won't be easy. Oh yeah, we're fully aware. Oh the joy of going. Oh the privilege to give and give up. Oh how strong we will grow when we are stretched.

Beseeching the Lord of the harvest,


Saturday, April 14, 2012

How Does One Define Peace?

I've had the awesome privilege to study Philippians 2:6-11, "The Christ Hymn," in preparation to teach with my man this Sunday. Just teaching with him and studying the Bible with him is amazing but I thought it so great to have this particular passage on the Sunday following Easter. Really, I'm in awe of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. I've had my theology book, my word study & lexical aids, and my Dictionary of Paul and His Letters out on my desk all week. Top that off with some of my favorite worship songs playing on my Mac during study and it's near perfection.

I've been studying theological truth this week but there are some concepts that are just hard to define. Faith, for example. How do you truly define faith that saves? We can explain theological and doctrinal truth but each person has to come to faith in Christ on an individual basis. Peace. We all want it and can give a dictionary definition but sometimes it's hard to really experience. Especially when life seems a mess, or complicated, or hard. I think this week I came in contact with someone who experienced real peace.

There's a man at our church who faced some potentially serious news this week. He was having some medical tests for something that could be even life-threatening. On the day of the medical tests dozens of men at our church gathered with him to pray. He sent me a facebook message the next day to ask me a question about a particular ministry at our church. Following our exchange about the ministry, I ended my message by simply asking him how he was doing. I think I expected almost any answer except the one he gave. Just one word. Blessed. 

I don't know about you, but I don't know if someone asked me how I was doing following a full day of medical tests that could end with some bad news if I would answer "blessed." That is an example of peace. It's calm in the storm. It's confidence that the Creator/Healer is greater than human circumstances.  It's faith. Maybe not easily definable but experienced, none the less.

By the way, he got a decent report back. Apparently, even the doctor thought it was near miraculous.

All to the praise of His great name.  The Name that is above every other name.

"So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow... and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:10-11, in part)

Serving the King,


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Checking out Maundy Thursday

I'm not sure I ever knew this but the word maundy is from the Latin word mandatum which means "commandment." Maundy Thursday is commemorating the day of Passion Week (Thursday) when Jesus met with His disciples and celebrated the Passover meal with them; what we call "the Last Supper." The reason for maundy is, therefore, in recognition of the instructions, or commands, Jesus gave His disciples during the time they spent together in the Upper Room. The synoptic gospels record the event in the chapters that follow: Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22. John's gospel account covers 5 chapters, 13-17. It starts with Jesus washing the feet of His disciples and ends with the High Priestly Prayer. In both, Jesus modeled how to have the heart of a servant. He said, "I washed your feet. Now you follow my example." (my wording, John 13:13-14) Later in John's recorded account, Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35, NASB) Again, He didn't just teach what to do, He lived it: even as I have loved you...

In John 14, Jesus said that if we (spoken directly to His disciples then and meant also for His followers of all time) really love Him then we will keep His commandments. But, we don't have to do it in our own strength or ability (hallelujah!) but we have the Holy Spirit as our Helper. In chapter 15, Jesus talked about abiding in Him and bearing fruit. One reflects the other. If we are staying close to Jesus, then we ought to be living in such a way as to bring glory to Him. The focus is on Him and not on ourselves. Not on temporal but eternal. Not on the world but on the spiritual.

Jesus began the High Priestly Prayer, as recorded in John 17, by saying, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You." (verse 1, NASB) The dark part of the Passion story follows. The arrest, the trials, the beatings, the crucifixion. But, today is Maundy Thursday. We celebrate what Jesus did on that Thursday every time we participate in the Lord's Supper. He instituted it on that day.

So, if it's appropriate, happy Maundy Thursday to you! Tomorrow's Friday but Sunday's coming!

Serving the King,


Friday, March 30, 2012

A Little Madness in March

We started a new Bible study by Angela Thomas on Wednesday mornings. It's titled Beautiful Offering and it's a study on the Sermon on the Mount. As Johnny says, "the greatest sermon ever preached." Such a preacher kinda thing to say. It's my first study by Angela Thomas but I selected it because I so love (I know, I'm trying not to over-use the word love but I think I really do love it) the Gospel of Matthew. Johnny and I spent an entire school year in it and it gets me every time. Anyway, in the study today I came upon the following question: "Which words best describe your relationship with God right now?" There were 5 choices. I really wanted to check the last one:

running toward a God life, desperate to know Him more

But, to be completely honest, I checked the one above it:

walking toward God, sometimes distracted

I then went back and put a check by both and wrote in the margin that I vacillate. It's true, I do.  I told the following story to my Life Group this past Sunday:

Johnny and I have been trying to eat better and we're generally just trying to have a more healthy lifestyle. Most days, I do it. For lunch I have a wrap and fruit instead of a sandwich and chips. It's delicious and I like it. But, last Saturday we went to a movie and Johnny said he was getting a snack. I walked right up to the concession stand and said to the teenage guy, "I'm so excited about this." He thought it might be because we were seeing Hunger Games, the hot movie out last weekend. We weren't even seeing that movie but, instead, October Baby. So, I said (even though I know he didn't care), "No, the popcorn." What does that say about me that I was excited about popcorn? But, here's the point I was making in our class - some days I get up and I'm living that all-in follower of Christ kind of life. I'm denying self and taking up the cross daily... (Luke 9:23) and some days I'm just eating popcorn.

It's those popcorn eating days that keep me from checking the box in front of running toward a God life, desperate to know Him more.

So many things can creep in, jump in, be thrown in, that distract me from the running toward God life. Sometimes it's important things like family issues or even health matters. Sometimes it's meaningless stuff like March Madness. I made my brackets for both the men's and women's tournaments. I've followed each tournament. And, btw, I'm 100% on the Final Four on my bracket for the women even though I only got 50% for the men. (The teams I got right are Kentucky & Ohio St; I missed Louisville & Kansas. Yes, I did pick Ohio St to beat Syracuse. But, Baylor beat Kansas in the Big 12 tournament so I wasn't expecting them to beat NC)

Jessica and I are headed to Denver to watch the NCAA Women's Final Four games on Sunday and Tuesday. I'm so excited that our Baylor Lady Bears will be there. I'll be cheering them on to, hopefully, a national championship. But more than I want the Bears to win it all, I want to be desperate and passionate about my pursuit of God. It's a daily choice, a daily discipline.

Some days I'm walking and eating popcorn. I wanna be running. I like the way that feels. It really is the winning life.

Serving the King,


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm Jealous

Happy Spring Break to you! My 2 oldest have gone to Colorado to snowboard but I'm here, home in Mansfield. The best part of that is what arrived in the mail on Monday. It was White Flag, the cd from Passion 2012. I've been listening to it frequently since Monday - it really is so amazing. I have it playing on my iTunes on my Mac right now. Really, in the last 6 months or so I've purchased 3 of the best cds ever - 10,000 Reasons Matt Redman, Give Us Rest David Crowder Band, and, of course, White Flag.  

The big thing going on right now is that Johnny and I have started a new Life Group at our church and we are teaching from the book of Philippians. I like it so much. The book of Philippians, that is. I like how you can almost read Paul's intensity, how passionate he was for the Gospel and for the people in the churches he founded and pastored. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 he wrote, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy." Paul so wanted his readers to get the Gospel, to be sold out to it, to be committed to Christ. Paul warned them so they wouldn't be led astray.

Last Sunday Johnny and I were in the first few verses in the book of Philippians. In that chapter, Paul wrote, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment." Christ's love is central - His love for us, in us and to the world through us. I told our class about how I have prayed for my children - because they have been in church their entire lives and, because of their dad's vocation, have been taken there just about every time the doors are open - to not just have head knowledge about God but for it to be heart-knowledge. Like Paul, I want my kids to really get it. I don't want them to just know the right answers but I want them to really know - the experiential knowledge of really knowing and discerning. Is that repetitive? Yeah, I think it is, but I'm jealous for them with a godly jealousy.

As I am writing this the song that started playing on my iTunes is "One Thing Remains." Part of the lyrics are as follows, "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me." That's what I'm jealous for my kids to know. To know with such a depth of knowledge that they know they can count on that whatever happens, where ever they go.

And that's what I want for the folks in our Life Group to know, too. I don't know if I will always adequately relate it but, just like the passion Paul had for his original readers, my passion is for our people to know and believe and, as a result, to live out the all-consuming, never failing, sustaining, empowering love of God. I'm jealous for them to that end.

Serving the King,


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Their Belief in the Value of All Human Life

I think I've started every post lately with a statement about the inactivity on this blog. All the nonsense that could be typed here is now limited to 140 characters and takes place on twitter. Let me warn you right now, before you read one more sentence - this is not a light and frivolous post about the random happenings in the Dickerson house. This contains my repeated theme and constant source of contemplation - the sanctity of human life.

Unlike my partner-for-life, I do like to be up on all things current and cultural concerns. I twitter and facebook and follow, friend, and like all sorts of random organizations and people. Much to the displeasure of one of Jessica's professors (if he knew me or my situation) I do get my news from twitter. So, this morning, when Jacob brought up what was trending on twitter today and I didn't know I so wanted him to fill me in. Did you see #stopkony trending? Do you know who Kony is? Jacob's known for years. He learned about it in school 2 or 3 years ago.  In case you don't know, Kony a terrible, horrible person who leads an organization in Uganda that kidnaps, terrorizes, and forces horrible things on children. Thousands and thousands, tens of thousands, of children. They (the kids) have been known as the Invisible Children.

There's a video on youtube about the situation called "Kony 2012." There's a movement building to actually stop kony in the year 2012. I think he should be stopped. I think he should be hunted down and no stone should be left unturned until he's found. I think those that have followed him and helped him should be stopped as well. I think children have the right to be children and to be taken care of and to be protected.  In the video, the filmmaker talks about the film being "an experiment" to save the invisible children of Uganda. The movement, he says, is being funded by "an army of young people" who "put their money toward their belief in the value of all human life."

Amen. I believe in that. I was there at Passion 2012 when we heard about 27 millions slaves - more slaves on the planet now than any time in human history. I gave to support the effort to abolish slavery in my children's lifetime. Everyone has the right to be free. Freedom...

But, the words of the filmmaker haunt me, "their belief in the value of all human life." When does human life become valuable? When a heart is beating? When fingers and toes are formed? When there's movement? When? What defines when the life of an infant begins - life that demands rights, the chance to live and to take breath, the God-given breath of life?

I've been hearing about the link between our current President and infanticide. I want to know facts and not just what news show hosts or anchors have to say. You won't find the mainstream media types talking about it but it's definitely out there thanks to Newt Gingrich. Apparently, as far as I can tell, there was an attempt made at writing a law protecting "born-alive infants" back when Obama was chair of the Health and Human Services committee in the state of Illinois. It never made it to the floor to be voted on - couldn't get past that pesky HHS committee. Those "born-alive infants" included babies born alive from failed abortions. Imagine, a law to protect babies born alive was deemed necessary by someone.

"Their belief in the value of all human life..."

Back to the filmmaker, toward the beginning of his video to Stop Kony in 2012, he shows a clip of the birth of his son. He says, "every single person...because he's here, he matters." Unless, perhaps, he happens to be born alive by mistake. Because of a failed attempt to prematurely end his life.

I'd like to start my own experiment. The one that calls not only for freedom but for the chance to live. For everyone. My everyone definition just happens to start with conception. I know, it's not a popular belief. It's just the one that moves me. That makes my heart beat faster and compels me to give my time to make a difference. Even if only for one, the breath of life for one.

Serving the King, the Creator of life,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Good Morning

I'm hopping on my blog this morning simply because it seems as though I've abandoned it. Not that anyone is reading, but I'm posting just in case. I really don't have much of anything in particular to post about but a LOT is going on.

First of all, we finished our 1st weekend of training for our new mission endeavor this past weekend. We had a great turn-out for a 5-hour training session on a cold, rainy and dreary Saturday evening. We got to skype with a pastor from Greece and a contact in London. That was cool. There was some small group discussion that was interesting - I mean, interesting to hear the responses from our people in attendance. I have more information but still feel overwhelmed by it all. I'm super excited to be going to London in April for more training. Yeah, super excited about that.

Next, Johnny and I are going to start teaching a Life Group (yikes) in a couple of weeks. We have an amazing class leader that has been enlisting a core group and making plans for people to be involved in the ministry and outreach parts of being a group. He's amazing! It's going to be a lot of fun and I've been doing one of my favorite things in prep - piling my desk up with books and reading and researching!

On a home note - Johnny and I have been doing some painting and moving furniture around and ripping off wallpaper. We've owned this house for 7 years now. (Johnny's been here for that 7 years but I didn't come until a month later.) After 7 years, some areas needed some attention and we enjoy that sort of thing. This week I'm pulling wallpaper off the walls in our master bathroom. I'm texturing and painting when I'm done with the paper removal.

Personally, I decided to do a 24-day challenge that starts with a 10-day cleanse. It's only day 2 but I'm feeling really terrific. (I mean, not hungry or like I'm missing out even though I'm not eating dairy or carbs. Well, only some complex carbs but not the yummy carbs like bread, etc.) The only downside to the whole cleanse is that I had to give up coffee for that period of time. I looked longingly at the coffee maker this morning. Yes, I'm addicted and will be having at least one cup first thing on day 11, I don't care what the instructions say.

I guess that's about it. Today was a day made for a run in the park so I'm headed out.

Serving the King,


Friday, February 3, 2012

My Heavy Heart

My heart is heavy today but I cannot fully describe how I'm feeling. I've been studying the Old Testament book of Habakkuk for the last couple of weeks and I feel like asking some of the same questions he asked:  "Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arises." (Hab. 1:3) I am so frustrated about the whole issue between Komen and Planned Parenthood. Money and liberal ideology spoke louder than compassion and the sanctity of life. And I'm sick about it.

I had a terrible night of sleep Wednesday night. I tossed and turned and had bad dreams. I don't know but I kinda think it was what I was reading right before I went to sleep. I've been in training to be a volunteer at the local pregnancy center and I had to take a test covering, among lots of other things, the development of the baby in the womb as well as abortion procedures. Our center does not offer or refer for abortions but we have to be educated in order to give women the whole truth, the real facts, about what their options are. Not only did I have to memorize procedures and what stage each could be performed, I had to write them down - describe them - in order to pass my test.

Do you know that a baby's heart starts beating around 6 weeks? I've seen it on an ultrasound that early and I've heard it. A woman has barely even had time to notice that she's pregnant and already the living being inside her that was handcrafted by God is developing.

Did you also know that Planned Parenthood made over $100 million in 2009 performing abortions? Did you know that they don't even give mammograms? (so I really don't know why Komen is giving them money anyway.) Did you also know that Planned Parenthood is trying to shut down pro-life pregnancy centers in the United States?

"The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places." (Habakkuk 3:19) Even when I don't understand. Even when I hurt and see injustice around me.

Serving the King,


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What I Really Do Love

My Jessica brought up something over the Christmas holiday that keeps coming back into my head. I catch my self messing up but I'm trying to do better. It's all about the overly used word love. It seems Jessica has a friend at college who recognized the word was overly used and has been trying to say instead, "enjoy." Like this - instead of, "I love Blue Bell ice cream" (which, I would have a hard time saying I didn't cause I think I might) I could say, "I enjoy Blue Bell ice cream." Or, "I enjoy beautiful Spring-like days in January when it was icy & cold this time last year."

Here's my question: does it de-value the things we really do love if we say we love something wonderfully awesome like Blue Bell ice cream or beautiful Spring-like days in January? Or, if we say we love a movie or a great book we just read (like the Hunger Games trilogy) or a new piece of furniture? And, a second question: why do we love so many things that are worldly and fleeting and, ultimately, unimportant?

Here's what I really love, I mean REALLY love: God, His written Word, Johnny Dickerson, the 3 kids that I gave birth to, my parents, Johnny's parents, my church (not the building, the people, the family), my brothers & their wives & kids, my sister-in-law & her husband & her daughters & their families, my friends. I think the list could go on a bit. I's not an exhaustive list by any means. I love the ladies I meet with for Bible study. I can't figure out, though, if my dog should be on the love list. I mean, I really am fond of her but I think it might be love. And, she's definitely higher on the list than Blue Bell ice cream.

Jesus warned us about loving earthly treasure. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21) The greatest treasure we have, after all, is the one we carry around in our earthen vessel - it's the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:7) And, I do love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love what it's done in my life and how I don't have to depend on myself.

That's what I really love. Now, what I am borderline hating today is cleaning my youngest child's room. Not just cleaning, but taking every single thing out of there because I am having some furniture delivered tomorrow.  It's an awful job, I'm not going to lie. I'm going to enjoy the results, though, that's for sure!

Serving the King,


Monday, January 30, 2012

Pure and Undefiled Religion

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27

I'm working through Beth Moore's Bible study on the New Testament book of James and I got to the above verse. Here's a few sentences written by her in references to the verse, "You don't live this kind of life accidentally. You make up your mind who you want to be and daily die to the rest. You surrender yourself to living in the tension where you'll always be stretched and often be broken. Religion pure and undefiled is grit without the grime. You accept that far easier ways to live exist, but you were born for nothing less."(James: Mercy Triumphs, 86)

I've been thinking about that this morning. I admit, I do have an easy life. No doubt. I have an amazingly wonderful family, a comfortable home, plenty to eat, more electronics than I even need to keep me in touch with the world, a really great church, and awesome people around me to share life. I see so many opportunities around me to serve others, to give of my time and resources, and I know God is calling me to give and to go. But it's not hard. Seeing people living in poverty is hard but doing what I can to help is not. Hearing someone pouring out their heart in absolute sorrow is hard but being there for her is not. Hearing statistics about abortion and STDs and unplanned pregnancies is hard but giving a few hours every week to be there for women making major life choices is not. Hearing about someone in need is hard but giving is not - I have more than I need.

I totally get what Beth Moore meant when she wrote the above. And, yes, sometimes I feel the pull of culture and worldliness. And sometimes I am sucked in. But, for the most part, I feel so over-abundantly blessed that I have no choice but to give, to go, to be there. I don't know why God chose to bless me. But I do know what He's called me to do as a result. And it's not too hard because whatever He calls me to do He equips me for that task. It's not the life I chose but the one He chose for me. Maybe the hard part is the obedience, walking faithfully. Praying harder, studying more. Yet, even that feels like a privilege.

I'm thankful for the privilege.

Serving the King,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Family Dinner

Following is a fairly accurate recollection of the conversation between the cash register guy (checker) and the fella who put my groceries (bagger) into my earth-friendly re-usable bags this afternoon at the Kroger not too far from my house:

Bagger - What happened to the days when you used to go to the store with your mom and you helped her sack the groceries then she went home and made you dinner?
Checker - Man, those days are gone. They went out in the '90s.

Which, by the way, is fairly hilarious considering it is highly likely that both of those fellas were born in the 90s. Possibly getting close to the mid-90s at that. It is a sad commentary on our culture, however. Really, whatever happened to the family dinner?

We don't take the family dinner for granted at the Dickerson house. I don't know how many times Johnny and I looked around the table during the Christmas break, when all 5 of us were sitting around the table, and said how thankful we were for it. With the college kids gone most of the time we relish, crave the times we are all together - and, especially when we have our kids selfishly to ourselves.

The beginning of the school year was a little tough on all of us but maybe especially for the high school boy that got left behind. We recounted that to the 2 college kids over the break. We laughed about it particularly when the high school boy said, "Yeah, you 2 went off to DBU and teamed up together and left me alone with Thelma and Louise." I laughed hysterically! None of us admitted to ever seeing a movie by that title and don't know anything about the characters. Jacob even said he didn't know why he said it but, if you know Jacob at all, he is just a funny, funny person. Our family tradition going around the table and saying "one good thing about your day" at dinner is missing something when 2 people that make up the circle are gone.

But, the college kids did go back and there will be just 3 of us at dinner tonight. I have to go to a meeting at 5:30 but I'll be back in time to whip up a simple dinner for those of us left behind. Because, afterall, I don't want Jacob to miss out on telling us that all-important one-good-thing-about-his-day even though it irritates him at times. Oh, you know, it's just a conversation starter.

But, as for you, don't let the family dinner become extinct! Don't let your kids think it's a thing of the past or something people did decades ago.

Long live the family dinner!

Serving the King,


Friday, January 6, 2012

Passion 2012 From My Perspective

I'm so glad I took notes at Passion2012 because I experienced so much that, really, I don't know if I'll even be able to adequately express it today. Maybe part of that is that we got in around 3 am and I was up at 9:00. And, I'm still processing some of it - 45,000 people in the Georgia Dome for Jesus and the cause of Freedom. I remember thinking one night that I never want to forget what it looks like and sounds like when 45,000 people - mostly 18 - 25 year olds - lift up their voices in praise to God. And then I thought, even more, of what an amazing privilege it was to be there with my own 3 kids. Sitting behind them, watching them sing and praise was total happiness and left me feeling overwhelmingly blessed.

Although some of the messages preached used passages in Luke as the main text, the main Scripture for the week was the book of Ephesians. Ephesians 5:14, "Awake, sleeper (or, rise up, sleeper), and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Passion2012 was not just about what happened in the 4 days we were there but what will happen now, as we are back in our regular lives. Francis Chan said something like this Tuesday night - The greatest thing that could happen would be if we would really believe the Word of God and then do what it says. Later he asked, "How can we sit around when such serious things are happening?"

If you know me at all you know my favorite band of all time (except, of course, my boys' band) is the David Crowder Band. They did a concert Monday night and led worship in one of the other sessions later in the week. It was their last show, their last time to be the David Crowder Band. When Louie Giglio called them back on stage at the end of the session to give us a chance to express just a bit of appreciation Jessica looked down the row at me and said, "Are you crying." Why yes I was. I can't really express it but their music has meant so much to me. Even their brand new cd (which I purchased while there) is amazing. I understand about new chapters and new seasons, though. I totally get that.

Wednesday night, the last evening session, started with the Passion band leading us in worship. One of my favorite songs we sang that night was "I'm Not Ashamed of the One Who Saved My Soul." Christy Nockels sang, "Waiting Here for You" which Jessica had been waiting all week to hear. If you don't know it, it's a slower song. Shortly after that, they filmed a music video for a song called "27 Million" about modern-day slavery that had thousands and thousands and thousands of people literally jumping up and down. Such a cool sight from where we were sitting up top. That was followed by Lecrae rapping. I actually enjoyed it, especially "Background." Lecrae said he could be called the Mailman because he's just delivering the message!!

The last day, in the closing session, Louie Giglio challenged us to take Ephesians 6:19-20 and put it at the top of our prayer list. So I came home and got my brand new prayer journal that a lady from my class gave me and wrote the verses in it as my prayer for the year. I usually pick a verse for the year so it just seemed like the right one for me for 2012.

Even before we left home, for a few weeks now, I have known God was doing something new in me. Leading me in a new direction, challenging me in a new way. I didn't and don't have a complete picture of it right now but, as I wrote in an email to a friend today, I have an odd sense of expectancy humming just below the surface in my life right now. Maybe odd is not the right word. I was thinking about the 18-25 year olds at Passion2012 and their enthusiasm and that they have their whole lives in front of them to serve and give and worship. Then I thought that I am so thankful that even though I am creeping up on the half-century mark (not this year, though - hallelujah!) that God is still doing new things in me, still revealing new things to me, and requiring more things of me. I am honored and privileged and blessed.

To top off the worship through song and music and Scripture and gathering with other believers, there was an opportunity to worship through giving to the cause of freedom. Over $3 million dollars was given over 4 days to end modern-day slavery. It took my breath away.

And that's my recap of Passion2012. I think it's relatively short considering I've typed and deleted so much because I could just go on and on. But, right now I've got to get my new DCB on my computer so I can get it on my running iPod. I know, I know, this Mac will do more than 1 thing at a time but I can't.

And, oh, btw, Happy New Year!

Serving the King,