Friday, November 16, 2012

Fasting From the Internet

But when you pray, go into your room, CLOSE THE DOOR and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ~Matthew 6:6

I’m so excited as I embark upon my 38th birthday tomorrow (November 17). Today will be the last day I’ll be on Facebook (or any Internet platforms such as Yahoo, Gmail, Linkedin, CNN, blogging, etc.) for an extended period of time. I’ve felt the Lord tugging at my heart to “opt-out” so that I may give my undivided attention to the One who is worthy of it. Initially I struggled with this due to the amount of time I spend online (I work from home so my time is consumed with sitting before my monitor). Finally this past week I surrendered this to the Lord and joy unspeakable has flooded my heart with great anticipation of what the Lord is going to do in the coming year.

As many of you know, I long to proclaim the glories of Christ Jesus unabated. In recent preaching engagements, I’ve felt a lack in the unction of the Holy Spirit to preach the supremacy of Christ. I’m keenly aware of the subtleties of my own waywardness in seeking the praise of men. I believe this extended fast will be a time to allow Him to purify the desires of my heart so that they truly reflect His heart. I'll preach from a posture of a deep longing that Christ be magnified above all else.  

In the past month the Lord has awakened a fresh hunger to pursue Him through the Scriptures. I love the reality of what the Apostle Paul declared in Colossians 2:3 concerning Christ—“in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Friends, there are unspeakable riches to be found in the glorious God-Man that we are unaware of. One dust thread of gold panned in the riches of His beauty will awaken you like nothing else. You were created to be LOVED—and, to lavish that LOVE back upon Him. These hidden treasures of His abundant love through Christ are priceless!

Please pray that I would be further captivated by His splendor. Oh, pray that I would in response to His mercy become a better husband and father; one not prone to be quick to anger (James 1:19). Let us pray together that we’ll continue to be conformed into the image of the glorious Son (Romans 8:29). 

In closing I do want to emphasize that I’m not approaching this as a means of “sacrifice” unto the Lord. (Sacrifice?—what sacrifice? This is an invitation from the Lord to spend time seeking His face). It is my wholehearted desire to position myself to gain the revelation of His sacrifice on the Cross (thus growing in my identity as a son of the Lord). I’ve been praying Matthew 9:13, which highlight the words of Jesus as he’s referencing Hosea 6:6: “But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'" I come to the Father on the basis of THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE—the death of His Son on the Cross. Jesus is the One whom I seek in this coming season.

I want to thank each of you for your support. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beginning in the Prophetic | David Oh

Click here to order this new release.

David Oh has done an outstanding job removing the sometimes mystical undertone to the prophetic and presenting it in a very clear, concise and easy to follow layout. This book is filled with solid sound biblical teaching as well as real life examples on the practical application of prophesy. It is with great pleasure that I recommend Beginning in the Prophetic for everyone who has a desire to hear God’s voice and partner with Him in calling forth His purposes into existence. 

Dr. Ché Ahn
Senior Pastor, HROCK Church
President, Harvest International Ministry
International Chancellor, Wagner Leadership Institute
Pasadena, CA

I highly recommend reading Beginning in the Prophetic as a great how-to manual for hearing God.  David answers many questions that we all have as we begin listening to the voice of God and steers us in the right direction as we journey deeper into the prophetic.

Cheryl Allen
Director, Pasadena International House of Prayer
Pasadena, CA

It is rare to find an author who is able to introduce a multi-faceted subject in a brief, concise, and thoroughly readable manner without sacrificing clarity or skimping on the essentials. David Oh has produced delightful evidence of just this kind of skill and gifting in the pages of Beginning in the Prophetic. I heartily recommend this prophetic primer, not only to those taking their first steps in prophetic ministry, but also to seasoned prophets who are often called upon to help de-mystify this gift for the equipping and encouragement of the saints.   Allow David to “open the door” to the vast treasure room of prophetic ministry and you’ll find your appetite whet for more of God’s communication to and through his children.

Steve Trullinger
Founding Servant, The Father’s Touch Ministries
Chancellor, Wagner Leadership Institute – South Bay
Torrance, California

Friday, April 27, 2012

Praise Him | Aneta Hume

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23 NIV

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:16 NKJ

Praising God is the ultimate end and aim of all we go through. ~Oswald Chambers

Scripture stresses the importance of thanksgiving. Both Old and New Testament emphasizes that above everything else, God wants thankfulness.

We go through our routine of thanking God for our food before we eat; or we may even thank Him when we catch our child as they fall down; or when it stop raining on the day we planned a big picnic; or even during the Thanksgiving holiday we may list out our blessings and reflect on what God has done. However do we really offer the sacrifice of thanks or praise to God continually?

First of all, a sacrifice is something we put effort into—it costs us. I think it means that we are to give thanks in everything, even in a difficult situation when all we want to do is complain and meditate on our hurt or sorrow. The act of sacrificing the thank offering to God, when we do not feel like it at all, will bring forth the“salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23). This “salvation of God” empowers us to overcome selfishness, bitterness or anger; it delivers us from darkness that keeps us trapped. When we stop focusing on ourselves as we lift our face up to look at God to give Him thanks, we are set free from the things that weigh us down. Then we're able to receive the joy that the Lord wants us to have. Giving thanks to Him keeps our focus on God, on what we have in Him, and how blessed we are. 

We have to develop a habit of looking around for things that bring us joy, makes us smile; to stop our busy, hectic lives to “smell the flowers” that are around us. Even when it rains, when the first drops touch the warm ground, they bring this special scent that I love. Let us then train our eyes to see beyond the obvious; let us lift our heads and seek God’s beauty in everything.

Oh, there is so much to write on the subject of thanksgiving, but with this short devotional I hope you will be encouraged to be intentionally thankful and in that you will surely be blessed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Peniel, The Only Way In by | Greg Austin

“There are plenty of Christians to follow the Lord halfway, but not the other half. They will give up possessions, friends, and honours, but it touches them too closely to disown themselves.”
(Eckhart, 15th century mystic)

Not every blessing appears in the open. Some miracles are hidden, concealed, veiled.

The blessing of God’s mercy, His grace are often unseen until, unanticipated, Amazing Grace appears in the midst of life’s hard trials. And often, what we interpret as misfortune is, in fact a blessing from heaven.

Paul’s own imprisonment at Philippi would “fall out rather for the advancement of the gospel.” What appeared to be a curse was in fact the favor of God.

When Paul tells the Roman church I have longed to visit you so I can share a spiritual blessing with you that will help you grow strong in the Lord, few, if any of those disciples of Jesus would have understood the hidden blessing in Paul’s heart and mind.

The Face of God appears in the mists of elusiveness, mystery and death accompany His holy visage. From his earliest moments on earth, man has desired to “see,” to behold, to look upon that which God declared would produce his decease: You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.

Yet never in history has there been a lack of those who, in spite of the knowledge that looking upon the divine will bring their demise, will cry out with Moses, “I beseech Thee, show my Thy glory!”

And today, in the midst of so much hype & propaganda, the hyperbole of a religious structure that calls itself “the church” but in so many places has become deception personified, in the midst of so many counterfeit tributaries that label themselves as authentic flows the river of God’s presence and His eternal purpose in the earth.

And there are those in abundance who have determined to remain near God, to move with Him, and these must find a way through the lure and the entrapment of carnal, religious Christianity until they find and appropriate for themselves the transforming power of the heart of Jesus.

More than forty years of walking, running, stumbling, falling and getting up to run again with Jesus have taught this writer that it takes more than a sermon to change eternal souls: We are changed by the impartation, by the conveyance of the Spirit of the living God; mysteriously, eventually, immediately, He works His wonder of conversion: He changes us or we are not changed at all.

Spiritual transformation, the amendment from one form and substance to another cannot be the result of study or of learning or of absorbing and performing flawlessly the requirements of a set of religious rules or qualities. Pop Christianity advertises life without challenge, change without pain, transformation without struggle, but the butterfly emerges only after effort; he must free himself of the burden, the dreariness of the caterpillar if he is to put on the beauty hidden and potently, patiently awaiting within.

Challengeless faith, comfortable and therefore impotent faith is not faith at all. Trial and tribulation are assigned purpose. Bad things happen to good people to reconstruct good people into God’s people.

“The Consequence of Impartation is Transformation”

God intends His children to receive the impartation of Himself. Radical impartation is not achieved when a sermon is preached, but when the Word of God is received in the very core of one’s being. Spiritual life does not consist in memorized spiritual-sounding clichés or in whimsical praise or in Three-Step spirituality. Impartation comes when truth pierces the soul and the result of impartation is transformation.

Multitudes desire impartation, but few are willing to endure transformation, since the latter requires the incision, the piercing, the pain.

When we all will stand on That Day before the great Adjudicator of all that exists, we will be judged not by how much we heard, but how much we were changed into the image of Christ.

The great task of evangelism is never simply to scatter seed but to see fruit growing from the effect of the implanted seed. It is a process Jesus identified as “discipleship.”

James encouraged us all to receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls. He insisted that we become doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Impartation comes only as we receive the Word of God as the tree admits the foreign branch to be grafted into its life. The Gardiner gives us the process: to graft another limb to a living tree, he uses the knife to cut into the flesh of the tree and pull open the wound in its side – exposing the cambium, the living, tissue producing cells of the tree.

And the branch is implanted inside the wounded place. The Gardner then wraps cloth around the limb, binding together tree and grafting. Even so, they wrapped His body, both sealing and concealing, bringing us with Him, Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

The Cloth is soaked. The tree weeps, its sap, the lifeblood is poured out, but unless it weeps, there will be too little sap to support the life of the newly engrafted branch.

We want to see victory, success, joy, we want to experience the full blessings of God, but so frequently we fail to understand impartation. There must be the cutting, the pain, the weeping, the death if there is to be engrafted life.

In order for Adama to be made complete, to have life, to have companionship, he first must be wounded. Something must be taken from him if he is to enjoy an Eve.

In order for Christ to have a church, He must first be wounded. Blood and water must pour from His side and drain into the earth. He must be laid down in death before He will ever have a Bride.

For impartation to occur, something must be wounded for something else to be grafted in.

There must be travail before there can be birth; loss before gain, death before resurrection.

So God approaches us in our desiring. He answers us in our asking. He comes, and we anticipate, we desire the embrace of heaven, but He comes, not to provide us with a scepter of authority but He comes with the sharpened blade of a knife. He would cut through the bark of our souls, He will saw a gash through the self-protection we have devised to cover, to conceal to shield ourselves. We want to become His righteousness, but first He must pierce through our self-righteousness until He reaches the tender, weeping part of us, that place in our lives where impartation happens. The place where the soul bleeds and where the heart seeps is where God will carve a gorge through which self will escape & the Spirit of God may gain entrance.

“God’s purpose in wounding is invading, entering, becoming from two, one, but the wound is first in Him, and He demonstrates the wound by receiving the first gash.”

God does not create the wound to bring us pain, but it is only through the broken open places in our souls that He can instill His power and plant His purpose in us.

The Genesis account enlightens us. Gen 32:24–32

Jacob is alone; a Man appears, wrestles with him until the breaking of day. And the Man does not prevail against Jacob, so He touches the socket of his hip, “disjointing” Jacob.

On that day Jacob becomes Israel and obscure wilderness becomes Peniel, “For (Jacob) saw God face to face, and his life was preserved.”

The change did not appear until an impartation was accomplished that brought transformation, grace, blessing. We call the experience “The dark night of the soul.” We avoid gross darkness, we hide from pain, we delay the appointment, postpone the inevitable, but out of the shaking and the disruption, the pain in our lives, God opens the mysteries of His being to our languishing and thirsting hearts.

Jacob wondered from whence he had been attacked. God’s face remained in darkness. He could not know with whom he struggled. We cannot always distinguish why, who what causes the wounding, yet in the battle we must hold out for the impartation.

Jacob wrestled until he was changed. How many times have we heard the Word of God, yet we were not moved? How many times have we felt the shaking of God’s presence but we refused to tremble at His word? We too commonly allow ourselves to hear enough to be touched, but not sufficiently to be changed.

Intuitively, we know that in order to be transformed, we must be wounded. We long to touch the royal robe of Deity, but we refuse to allow God to come too near, for fear that He may cripple our carnality. And all the while we know that if we desire to save our lives we must lose them; if we want to walk with God, we must adjust our gait to the limp.

The question beckons, as the yawning horizon breaks forth inviting us to come, to immerse ourselves in the mystery, the unknown, the unseen of its atmospheres.

Are we willing to lose everything, everyone in order to await divine visitation that may come in the black night of unknown possibility?

Are we willing to be crippled by the great Healer and to be forever wounded by the touch of the Hand that knew the shrieking pain of Roman nail? Are we willing never to be normal again, embracing all of God until the dawn of eternity, and to allow the impartation to transform our lives forever and for Him?

In our wounding, God will create sensitivity, like the war-wound of the old man who anticipates the coming rain by the pain he feels.

In the touch of God will be planted the branch of His blessing. In the impartation of His life, we are forever changed in beholding His face.

If we are willing to be wounded, if we are unwilling to let go divine visitation until we receive impartation, we will experience transformation.

Jesus said to them, If any comes after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever saves his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

He told us, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Peniel – the Face of God. Jacob’s coming to the end of self – the end of trusting his own wisdom, his own ability, his powers of conniving, manipulating, deceiving.

Confronted with an enemy who swore he would kill him next time they met, Jacob ran out of schemes. There remained no place to run but Peniel, the face of God.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Transformation of a Tribe

This morning Eric Teitelman of House of David forwarded a video to me that deeply touched my heart. It is a true story of a missionary, Mark Zook, who reached out to the Mouk tribe in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. This is a tribe that had no previous knowledge of Jesus Christ or any teachings of the Bible. Watch how the missionary introduces to them Scriptural truths step-by-step over a period of time even before he mentions the name of Jesus Christ. Make sure you watch it to the end to see their response.

What did you glean from this story that you can apply to your own life? 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When is Enough Enough? | Jennifer Slattery

I want to introduce a guest blogger, Jennifer Slattery, who shares her heart concerning prayer. It will challenge  and inspire you to allow the Holy Spirit to direct your times of prayer. Jennifer has also been a great asset as an editor and publicist on behalf of Burning Lamp Media & Publishing. Enjoy!

When is Enough Enough?
Jennifer Slattery

We’ve all had those moments in our life when we’re ready to throw in the towel. We’ve prayed and prayed, fervently and with faith, for something or someone, to no avail. And we’ve all had those moments when God’s Spirit has burned within us so strongly, we just knew things were going to turn around, our loved ones were going to finally take that leap of faith, our house was going to sell, we were going to get that job. Whatever. But then the moment passes, and our loved ones are still headed down a different road, the house continues to sit, and the job we’ve worked so hard and long for is given to someone else. So what do we do? When is enough enough?

I’ve been on both sides of this coin many times. I have moments where my faith is so strong I’m ready to turn mountains into mole-hills and to command trees to uproot themselves and jump into the sea. But I’ve also had many moments, way more than I’d like to admit, where I’ve thrown my hands in the air with a scowl and a vehement accusation hurled at God.

A while back God gave me just a glimmer of His heart, and it overwhelmed me with sadness. I’m not sure if sadness is quite the word. Sadness mixed with intense longing. I couldn’t stop crying, and praying. As I prayed, I listened to Addison Road’s “What Do I know of Holy” over and over. Like OCD over and over. Not sure why, but the song drew me. Even now, as I think about it, tears resurface. What do I know of Holy? What do I know of God? My human mind fails to comprehend. So what do I do? I box Him in to what is manageable, or understandable. In that moment, God shattered my nice little package with an intense, overpowering love.

I understood instantly that what I was feeling was God’s heart for the person He was calling me to pray for. And I have to tell you, my human love paled in comparison to the gut wrenching emotions that swept over me. And just when I thought I was done praying, and ready to get on with my day (the laundry never did get done and that article I keep talking about never did get written) it’d hit me again, like a Mack Truck straight to the chest, and I was back to tears and desperate cries to my Holy Father.

The pain was so intense it frightened me. If God felt such heartache for this person, did it mean that the person I was praying for had walked away completely? Was God in mourning? The thought terrified me and sent me into another tailspin of fervent prayers. I begged God for mercy, for intervention, for nothing short of a miracle. And then I received an email from a fellow writer who had also been called to pray. She relayed to me the words God had spoken to her, and they resonated so deeply, I was instantly reduced, once again to tears. And more prayers. An hour later, I received another email from another friend who was also being called to pray. She, too, provided words of affirmation and encouragement. Through out the evening, my yahoo account lit up with confirmation after confirmation that I was not, was not, was not to give up. Whether it took a week, a month, a year, or even decades.

So again I ask, when is enough enough?


And now I’m going to listen to that song again. Want to join me? Oh, LORD, if you touched my face, would I know you? Touch us now. Overwhelm us with Your love.

Jennifer Slattery writes for the ACFW Journal, Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, Internet Cafe Devotions and Jewels of Encouragement. You can find out more about her and her writing by visiting her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud. She also works for Tiffany Colter as an editor-for-hire and publicist. Find out more about her services at Word That Keep.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Zeke Lam | subMISSION

As many of you know I started Burning Lamp Media &Publishing at the end of 2010. After a year of much prayer and hard work, we finally published our first book—subMISSION: heeding only His voice by ZekeLam.

I first met Zeke back in 2009 at the Global Day of Prayer event in Culpeper, Virginia where we were both invited to minister. Immediately upon meeting Zeke, I could see his deep passion for Christ and for those in need of the liberating power of the Gospel message. Over the next 18 months our paths crossed multiple times.

Then in early 2011 we had a divine orchestration that would forever alter our paths. Previously we agreed to pray together weekly about a vision to launch The Circuit Riders (a topic for another time!)—however, during a particular phone conversation, I shared that I was going to start publishing Christian books through Burning Lamp. Immediately Zeke confided to me that he was about to finish up a book that he had started called subMISSION. I was intrigued. From that point on the Lord had us partner together to publish his first book, which was released on December 1, 2011. 

It was a learning experience for us both while also deepening a friendship between us—and our families. My wife adores his wife, and my girls love playing with his rough-and-tumble boys! We know this couple personally and we can attest to their walk of integrity before God—and to the verifiable fruit of a calling as an evangelist. (If you’re looking for an evangelist to come minister to your church, campus ministry, or at a conference—please consider Zeke Lam.)  

You can read his bio on our Burning Lamp Featured Author page.

Also I want to give you permission to share our Burning Lamp banners featuring Zeke's book on your blog, website, or Facebook page. On Facebook go to our Burning Lamp Media & Publishing page and you'll locate the three banners that we have available, each with a powerful quote from Zeke's book. 

Here are some guest interviews and articles that Zeke has done on various blogs in the past month.

MARY AND MARTHA (Naomi Dawn Musch)



UPDATE:  In 2013 Zeke moved his family to Gainesville, Virginia to plant a church, Submission Ministries Fellowship. Visit them at their Facebook page or to their website to learn more information. 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

History & Covenant | Jim Arnold

I had a dream on 2/22/08 that I want to share with you.

Peter Wagner
Aneta and I were in Colorado Springs. We were in a large room that had both a classroom and a bookstore area. Peter and Doris Wagner are teaching a class over in the classroom section. Aneta and I are off to the side looking at their products. I'm going through these packages that include teaching sets (CDs) with a corresponding manual of sorts to follow. I asked the worker if I could look at the list of all the courses they offered (she had a master list in her hands with all the teachings that they had), but she wouldn't permit me to do so. I could only see what they had in stock there at the store. I see a few by Chuck Pierce and Peter Wagner, but there was one that caught my attention: History & Covenant by Jim Arnold (end of dream).

Although it has been over three years since I had this dream, I've mulled upon it many times since. There are times when a particular dream will "stick" over time and seemingly resurfaces at pivotal points. The primary focus of this dream for me has been on the name Jim Arnold—and the teaching, “History & Covenant”. I've been unable to really discern the thrust what the Lord is trying to say through this dream. Yet, I've felt strongly that this person and the teaching, "History & Covenant" is quite significant for this hour.

Let me share a little of the insights I’ve gleaned from this journey of seeking the Lord.

Last summer on June 3, 2010 I got an email from the ministerial association in Culpeper. For sake of time, I usually don’t read the emails unless something in the subject heading captures my attention as it did on this day—“Death Notice: Jim Arnold”. Immediately my mind went back to the dream I had previously concerning a Jim Arnold.

I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of this man due to a tragic accident. Yet I was encouraged to read that he was active in his church in Culpeper, New Beginnings Worship Center (the pastor, Paula Jones, was instrumental in leading two dear friends of mine in the baptism of the Holy Spirit). Also Jim Arnold was an educated man: he graduated from Georgia Tech with a BS in Electrical Engineering and from the renown MIT with a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

A week later I was with my family on vacation at the Outer Banks along with my parents. Out of the blue my dad mentioned that an old colleague of his had recently passed away tragically. Without missing a beat, I blurted, "Jim Arnold?" My dad was somewhat surprised. Indeed it was this person. They had known each other years before when their paths crossed. I was taken back that my dad knew this guy.

This whole ordeal inspired me to search more on Jim Arnold and I came across history books by an author of the same name written about the Civil War. These are books for children and early teens—and are quite well done. I ordered three copies (although there were more books).

Divided in Two: The Road to Civil War, 1861—This theme of division and union has captivated my thoughts in the past few years. Years ago the Lord sent me in August of ’08 on a prophetic assignment to anoint the headwaters of the Mississippi River and it entailed a whole learning process through the Scriptures concerning division and union.

On To Richmond: The Civil War in the East, 1864-1865—Richmond has been frequently mentioned in my dreams; plus this book focuses a lot on Virginia, including the Battle of Bull Run. My prophetic mandate is somehow intricately tied to this historic Battlefield, which is why I relocated my family back to this area in ’09. God is bringing together a white man and a black man to pioneer an apostolic equipping center in the very area that judgment manifested 150 years ago this summer (July 21) at the Battle of Bull Run!

Lost Cause: The End of the Civil War—As I write this I’m reminded of a previous dream with Lou Engle back in ’04 prior to his visit to preach at the first Awaken the Dawn conference. In the dream I told him I’d been praying about a book to get for him called “LOST CAUSES” by George Grant—we walked together into the book store to retrieve it; however, I couldn’t find it and Lou was fixated upon another book about the history of our nation with the subtitles, “DEFINING MOMENTS”. When I awoke from the dream I went to the store to buy that book to give to him at the conference.

Obviously the Lord has given me much to chew on. Yet I've felt led by the Lord to share this dream on my blog, which isn't the norm for me. I think perhaps it will bring greater clarity as I'm able to hear from others. Feel free to share in the comments any thoughts you want to communicate.

God bless you!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Unexpected Surprise at Eggspectation

This past month—May 12 to be exact—my wife and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. From the beginning we dreamed of grandiose plans of a romantic getaway to celebrate such a milestone: a location only reachable by plane; warm weather; opportunities to splurge on fine cuisine; time alone to…ah, talk like newlyweds (cough, cough) while reminiscing upon the memories of our honeymoon. But as the date drew closer, the reality of such a dream-like getaway became obviously just that—a dream.

With my wife’s parents in Poland we were left with only my parents and older sister as resources to help assist with our two precious daughters. However, with my mom’s shaky health, it became increasingly clear that it would not be possible to have my parents watch them especially the younger one on the verge of crawling.

With plan A clearly on the backburner, we went to work on plan B. Possibly we could figure something out that would at least give us a few hours together of uninterrupted time. Granted, it would not be quite the extravagant plans we had previously conjured; but nonetheless, we could celebrate together!

Secretly we hoped that perhaps my family would offer to watch our two girls for a few hours since it was our ten year anniversary. As the weeks passed by and no offer made, we went to work to figure out who else within our circle could take on such a task (an energetic 3 year old coupled with an 8 month old who required ample attention). A dear lady from our church, Ann, came to mind—a kind, thoughtful, cheerful woman, one who was a youthful 60. My wife called her and she graciously accepted the challenge to watch our two girls for four hours on the date of our anniversary, from 2-6pm.

We were elated! All Aneta could talk about for a week leading up to May 12 was our anniversary date—it would be a time of bliss. Questions constantly poured forth: where would we go, what restaurant would we select, what food would we order, would we be able to walk around a historic area? The more we talked about it the more the anticipation grew. I could see the excitement in her eyes, a sparkle of hope. We both love our two precious daughters, but we were looking forward to our time together—alone, uninterrupted for four hours. We were dying to embrace the romantic within as we renewed our commitment to one another on this special day. This would be a time of rejuvenation.

On Wednesday, May 11 Aneta received a phone call from a person with a somewhat hoarse voice. Ann had somehow come down with a severe cold and was sent home from work; however, she assured us that she could still come over the next day to watch our girls. Although we were appreciative of her willingness to do so under such circumstances, we declined simply because our youngest had pneumonia and the last thing we wanted was for her weakened immune system to be exposed to further germs.

We were crushed. What could we possibly do now to plan for our long awaited anniversary celebration?

That morning I called my mom to see what they could do and she offered to watch Simone, our oldest daughter if we took Eliana with us. At this point we had exhausted our short list of trustworthy candidates who could possibly watch our youngest daughter.

Honestly, we were bummed. A lump of frustration persisted in my throat for the majority of the day. Without going into all the details, we just felt frustrated that our family could not do more to help us celebrate this special day. And I felt guilty for feeling this way as my negative attitude persisted.

Perhaps we had placed too much stock into the sentimental values of celebrating our anniversaries on the actual day that they transpire (we have a few different “milestones” throughout the calendar year that we intentionally celebrate as a means to honor Christ and to strengthen our marriage).

And as our day unfolded, many of the minor details were not coming together—simply reinforcing that negative jive within. “Oh great,” I retorted, “How am I going to make this day anything worth remembering on a positive note?”

Finally we dropped off Simone at my parents’ house with Eliana in the backseat. Our plan was to go first to the jewelry store. I had previously purchased a necklace that I felt would be appropriate to commemorate our anniversary. However, it was not quite what Aneta had in mind so we went back to Macy’s so Aneta could select one more to her liking. Our time was short since we had to get back home to put Eliana down for her afternoon nap for an hour. Aneta found a necklace that enthralled her! We raced home to put down a crying baby since we were well behind her normal sleeping pattern.

However, she never fell asleep as she was too overworked.

Finally we grabbed her and sped to the closest restaurant to us—Eggspectation in Gainesville. We had been there before and we both knew exactly what we would order, which would cut down on the time: Aneta ordered her favorite new grilled chicken and fruit salad (with fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries); meanwhile I ordered the Eggsuberant (eggs, pancakes, turkey bacon, potatoes, and fruit). We arrived at the outdoor patio with perfect weather. We plopped Eliana down who was in her seat as her eyes took in the change of scenery (thankfully she probably did not realize that she was technically the third wheel on our 10 year anniversary celebration!).

As our waitress took our order, we made mention to her that we were there to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Immediately, she enthusiastically congratulated us.

A cool breeze could be felt as we sat at our table in the shade. Aneta checked to make sure Eliana was properly clothed. I assured her that Eliana would be fine. We both slumped in our chairs. We were somewhat tired as we had been going nonstop for most of the day; yet, we were trying to enjoy each other’s company, but our attention was fixated on Eliana. Aneta started feeding Eliana her dinner so that she could focus on the meal once it was served. As Eliana swallowed her last bite, the waitress brought out our meals. Simultaneously another woman arrived at our table congratulating us on our anniversary. She commented on how cute our little girl was while asking, “Can I pick her up?” As we started eating our dinner this unknown lady walks around the patio with Eliana in her arms. It was obvious from the beginning that she had a knack for little ones.

Aneta and I glanced at each other as our eyes communicated, “Who is this lady?” I figured she either worked there or was a very good friend of the waitress.

As she walked around with Eliana, Aneta learned that she was a mother of two and a grandmother of three.

Finally she brought Eliana—smiling, and cooing with glee—back to her seat as someone from inside requested out to her attention. We thanked her profusely for giving us a few minutes with each other as she entertained Eliana.

The waitress came back to the table as we finished up our meal. She informed us that they were going to bless us with free desserts: one for each of us! We were taken back, shocked by their kindness. A few minutes later they brought our desserts to us just as the sweet lady returned.

“Maam, do you work here?” Aneta asked. “Oh yes,” she replied, “I’m the manager here.” Furthermore we learned that her name was Joe (at least that's what I understood she said).

She proceeded to pick up Eliana once again to entertain her so that we could enjoy our meal together.

Without question we were touched deeply by the generosity of this woman who blessed us above and beyond our expectation. She was a ray of sunshine bursting through a cloudy day. Humbled, we again expressed to the manager our deepest appreciation. Although our previous expectations for this day of celebration fell short, this act of kindness on behalf of the manager at Eggspectation helped us to enjoy a moment together while reminding us of God’s goodness towards us (and reminding us not to allow unfulfilled expectations to dictate our mood and attitude!).

Well, in closing I want to say, "Thanks Eggspectation and Manager Joe and the kind waitress at the Gainesville Eggspectation!"

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Do you enjoy brownie batter more than the actual baked brownie? Yep, I do! For me, a plain brownie that stands alone is just that—plain, nothing special. Plain brownies tempt me, not! I bypass without hesitation. However, you stick a bowl in front of me oozing with fresh brownie batter and it’s a different story.

Growing up I always had a knack for showing up in the kitchen just when my mom finished pouring the batter into the pan prior to the heating. Being the thoughtful and helpful lad I was, I grabbed the bowl to clean it thoroughly with a good spatula. (It was always messy, but licking good!) Definitely well worth the sacrifice to ensure the bowl was spic-n-span. Needless to say, I’ve continued the habit to this day, to my wife’s delight (what wife wouldn’t want a husband who helps around the kitchen!).

Recently my wife and three year old daughter baked some brownies with some extras like crumbled Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (and other healthy goodies!). As I entered the kitchen that day, my eyes scanned the countertop for the bounty—the treasured brownie batter bowl. I was hoping for dear life that the “unlicked” bowl did not meet an immature and senseless demise in the sink baptized in soapy water.

Off to the side my eyes caught a glimpse. Ah, my heart leapt!

The bowl glistened, undefiled. Untouched, it stood with an inviting allure. My wife noticed my gawking. Being the wise woman she is, she immediately handed me the bowl smothered with batter.

(However, I must state, proudly so, that I decided to set it aside for dessert since dinner was only 30 minutes away. I can’t eat a dessert or snack right before the main meal—my mom taught me well!)

As you may have taken note of, I enjoy—immensely so—brownie batter!

I have a question for you: What is the brownie batter that God unrelentingly seeks after?

Just as my eyes scoured the kitchen for the prized brownie batter, the eyes of God scan the landscape for one thing so dear to Him—namely, your heart of devotion to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 states, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (NASB).

Ah, a heart that is “completely His”—it is like a heart smothered in brownie batter that the eyes of God cannot resist! Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 11:3 precisely this brownie batter smothered heart as “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” A heart truly devoted to Christ is to be treasured above all else.

Is your heart like a bowl smothered in brownie batter waiting for the taking? Will the eyes of the Lord find your heart as one devoted to Him, one that is “completely His”?

Copyright © 2011, Brian Francis Hume