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Friday, October 28, 2011

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

I have been furnished with a free copy of this book by in return for the writing of this review. I have not been paid otherwise, and all opinions stated in this review are my own.

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley is an insightful and well-written book that traces the subject of grace through the scriptures. Stanley is an author, pastor and founder of North Point Ministries, Inc. located in the Atlanta area. He has written numerous books in the Christian genre and is a strategic church planter through North Point Ministries. Stanley gracefully lays open the topic with intelligence and humor. This writing is deeply challenging; although, completely relatable to our modern everyday lives.

Stanley broaches the subject of law vs. grace in Chapter Four of The Grace of God. Of The Decalogue, Stanley remarks, “The Ten Commandments do not stand in contrast to grace; they are introduced within the story of God's grace” (Stanley 2011, 53). The author goes on to confirm that “God's law is never given to establish a relationship; God's law is given to confirm an existing relationship” (Stanley 2011, 64). How freeing it is to have the truth of grace, which is so easily confused, pinpointed in such understandable terms. After digesting this book one is left with an undeniable understanding that regardless of our striving, each of us are flawed human beings, existing in a fallen world, with an extraordinary God Who has bridged that crevasse by His Grace. Fleshly pride can not breathe in the atmosphere of this truth. I would recommend this book to anyone who desires a deeper understanding of God's relational intention toward humanity.

Stanely's stance on grace is supremely healthy, it leaves one with the feeling of a warm hug from our heavenly Father.

Reverend Patricia Paige Harrison

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't Miss The Moment

Matthew 25:13
 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Pic from

There is the most amazingly beautiful tree in a church yard that I pass on my way home from a nearby town.  I noticed it as the leaves turned a vivid apricot, orange color that dances on your eyes like a blazing fire in the afternoon sunlight.  The tree is located on the highway, so I couldn't pull over to take a picture of it.  I told myself that the next time I passed it I would make a point to stop in a safe place to get a picture.  Only a day later, as I approached the tree, I was sad to see that half the leaves had fallen off and the remaining ones had turned from blazing to dull.  I had missed the moment.

This reminded me of the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13, "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’  “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.  “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

God has offered us eternity.  It is ours for the accepting.  We have this moment to prepare, to accept Him.  We never know if this would be our last chance.  I pray you accept the offer and not miss the moment.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Garden Enclosed

    You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices. You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon.” Song of Solomon 4:12-15 NIV
Listen to the words that God uses to describe the love that He has for you. The lush portrait that He paints of His Beloved is illustrative of His extravagant love for us. The Song of Solomon is popularly attributed to be written by Solomon in 900 BC. Some scholars believe that it was eponymously, or written in the name of Solomon, by some other ancient writer. This theory is put forth due to some verses that compare and contrast the writer to Solomon; although, this in itself, is a technique used by writers to accentuate a point, and is not strong evidence that Solomon did not write the book himself. Other scholars have argued that several of the words used in the book are Persian, which would indicate that the work was written in the postexilic period or after the Babylonian captivity. Regardless of the authorship or dating, this allegorical book is God breathed and very telling about the love that He has for us and our necessary response to Him.

God desires that we put Him first in our lives. He desires that we not lift our souls up to any other, which in essence, is idolatry. This concept seems so adverse in the fray of the world. As human beings we crave creature comforts. We covet human relationships, possessions, notoriety and power; while most of these things in and of themselves are not inherently bad, allowing them to come before God in our lives blocks our entrance into the lush garden of experiencing His love in the fullest. Imagine a locked garden verdant and overflowing with fruits and fragrant herbs, a pure fountain waters its enclosure. Contrast this to a garden with its walls broken down, its water source tainted, it is trampled by the world and its foliage withering and dying. Our lives can so easily become like this polluted garden. God wants us to guard our relationship with Him wholeheartedly. Exodous 34:14 admonishes, “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” This is not petty jealousy, but God's desire for our hearts to be pure before Him so that He is able to flow through our lives as living water.

Lord, we come before you in humility and prayer, please show us the areas of our lives that we need to release to You. Lord, sometimes it is painful to admit our sins and let go of them in repentance, thank you that it is very freeing and healthy to do so. Lord when our flesh revolts against You when You ask us to let go of something that it thinks it needs, I pray that you cover us and enable us to lay down our idols at Your feet. I know that very often You will restore what we let go of, when we don't put it before You. Thank you for your Word, thank you for your Son. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sing Praises

Psalm 18:49
"Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name."

The Book of Psalms teaches us much about God's nature and what He desires from us.  The word psalm means, "a sacred song or hymn."(  Psalms are valuable for personal spiritual development and encouragement.  The Psalms teach us that our Spiritual God requires Spiritual worship from His people.  Many Psalms translated in the King James Version of the Bible contain a title with Hebrew directive words to show the singers and musicians in what manner the Psalm is to be sung.  Here are those words and their meanings.  I pray that this enriches your reading of the Psalms.

Psalm:  Hebrew - Mizmor  "To be sung with instruments."  57 Psalms with this title
Song:  Hebrew- Shir Pronounced "Shy-ear"  denotes vocal piece  31 instances
Prayer:  An entreaty to the Lord.  5 Psalms with this title.
Praise:  A vocal exclamation of God's goodness.  Psalm 150
Maschil:  Skillful special teaching.  Occurs 13 times.
Michtam:  Musical composition, speaks of atonement and faith.
Song of Degrees:  Sung by pilgrims as they ascended Mt. Zion.
To The Chief Musician:  To be led by the worship leader, shows authority.  55 times.
Neginoth:  Sing song with stringed instrument.
Nehiloth:  Sing song with flute or wind instrument. Psalm 5
Sheminth:  Sing with 8 stringed lyer (harp) by men.  Psalm 6
Shiggaion:  Wild passionate song.  Psalm 7
Gittih:  Music sung while pressing grapes.
Muthlabben:  Dirge for the death of a son.  Psalm 9.
Alamoth:  Sung by women.  Soprano.
Mahalath:  Sing while dancing.

Psalm 55
To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, a Psalm of David.

These directive words express that the authoritative leader should play this skillful teaching song of David on the stringed instrument.

Psalm 7:17
"I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness; and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high."

Will Praise:  Strong's #3034:  Yahdah To throw, to cast, to speak out, confess, to praise, to sing, to give thanks.  According to the Apostle John, God wants a person to be cleansed through confession (I John 1:9).  This constant acknowledgement maintains a proper relationship with God.  The name Judah comes from the root word Yahdah.  Praise acknowledges Who God is and what He has done for us.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Last Piece

Revelation 10:4 "And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not."   

One of my childhood friends had a United States map puzzle, which we would play with together.  She would dump the pieces out of the frame onto the floor and inevitably she would grab Rhode Island. She would hide it under her leg so that she could place it in the map last to complete the picture.  I really have no idea why she was so enamored of Rhode Island.  Her habit was quirky and slightly annoying, but it was her game and her rules. 

God has given us a plethora of information regarding creation's past, present and future.  So much, in fact, that one could spend an entire lifetime studying His Word and still only barely scratch the surface of it.  He has given us intellect and insight in order that we can come to understand Him and His intention for humanity.  The Book of Revelation, although shrouded in symbolism, speaks massive amounts about the destiny of man and creation.  Revelation 10:4 divulges another truth, "And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not."  John the Beloved was made privy to information regarding God's intentions that he was instructed to "write not".  This is very telling about the relationship God has with us.  We are not in control.  We have been given a sacred road map, but a piece, or pieces have been left out.  This may be dismaying to some.  How can we know what to expect?  What can we do to prepare?  The answer honestly is nothing; but, trust God and keep His Word that He has given.  Ultimately, even if my friend had not placed Rhode Island on the map, I knew that it belonged there.  We are not aware of what God is holding back, but we can be assured that it is amazingly awesome and for our eternal best.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

That Do I

"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."
Romans 7:15

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Several questions naturally arise when broaching the subject of temperament; the most obvious is, what is temperament and how is it discovered?  Subsequently, one may ask how does one's temperament affect everyday life.  Temperament affects how we relate to ourselves, to others and to God.  Proverbs 27:19 says. "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of a man to man" (KJV).  Inherently we are made in the image of God, we have been given gifts and tendencies for His honor and glory.  Marked by the Adamic Fall, we are distorted by sin; and thus, our personalities reflect both our God-given traits and our sin-twisted flaws.  In Romans 7:15 Paul speaks of his personal struggle with his sin nature, "For that which I do I allow not:  for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."  Paul knew and understood human sin nature and its ability to assert itself in our behavior.  Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living; but I propose that, the unsubmitted life is the valueless one.  Temperament is a combination of God-given traits and tendencies that intermingle to create unique human beings.  Due to human sin-nature inherited by humanity from Adam, our personalities are distorted and only by submission to God, made possible by the Blood of Christ, are they redeemed.   Temperament may be discovered by the use of personality tests; such as, the one contained in Tim LaHaye's book, Why You Act The Way You Do published by Tyndale House Publishers, 1984. 

Temperament is a complex and rich mixture of traits and tendencies, given to us by a creative and loving Father  and skewed by sin.  The value of discovering and understanding our temperaments, as well as, those of others, is the insight into behavior that is gained through it.  The ability to use our strengths to their full capacity and understand our weaknesses, and submit both to God will surely build a greater maturity in our Christian walk.


Monday, October 17, 2011


Pic from

Do you think that eternity
                                       ripples as it washes upon
                                                                             the edge of light
Or do you think it flows
                                     back upon itself
                                                              as it remembers

The shards of the past
                                   washed up on
                                                         Times beach?

Broken pieces of yesterday
                                          hope for tomorrow
                                                                       lingering on the tide

And flowing away again
                                      under a blazing sun
                                                                    Who could imagine winter?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Forgiven is Forgotten

Psalm 103:12 
 "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
Pic from

When we come to God in repentance for salvation, all of our prior sins are forgiven.  He casts them away from us, "As far as the east is from the west. . ." as the Book of Psalms tells us.  We have been redeemed, and Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, when God looks upon us He sees a newborn child.   He sees us covered by Christ's righteousness. Just as any child, we are in need of nurturing and teaching, to grow into strong, healthy and mature adults.  Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," and  furthermore, I John 1:10 says, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."  So the cold hard fact is that everyone sins every day.  This may seem like an untrue statement, but it is certainly true.  We may, by God's grace, overcome huge sins in our lives, but there are many ". . .little foxes that spoil the vines. . ." (Song of Solomon 2:15).   Matthew 12:36 tells us,". . .That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Corinthians 11:31 states,"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."How then, can we reconcile our forgiven position, our inherent sin nature, and the weight of being accountable for every word we speak?  These truths are reconciled in the cross.  To acknowledge our own sinfulness, and know that we need God's grace and forgiveness every moment is a very humbling experience.  We must spiritually dwell at the foot of the cross.

Just as we must bathe our bodies to keep them physically clean, we must bathe our spirits in repentance.  Unconfessed sin is sin that we see and understand and will not repent of.  This state blocks the flow of God in our lives.  Forgiveness is key, He forgave us by Christ's blood.  We in turn must forgive others the trespasses that we have incurred from them.  This is not to say that we are validating their behavior toward us, only that we are consciously forgiving as God forgave us.  God understands our hurts and the scars that they have left on our hearts and minds.  He is not going to automatically give up on us because we stumble.  He wants our willingness and desire to please Him out of the love that we have for Him.  We are weak beings that are completely unable to accomplish what He has asked of us on our own.  We must rely on Him continually.  God is not out to get us.  He sent His only Son to die for us so that we may live in and with Him, now and eternally.  Keep your spirit clear in repentance, and remember that in God's eyes, as well as need be in our own, forgiven is forgotten.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blessed Ichthys

"And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." 
Mark 1:17

The Ichthys, or Christian fish symbol; regularly seen emblazoned on cars and Christian merchandise, has deep meaning and ancient roots.  Early Christians would inscribe the Ichthys symbol upon doorways of houses in which they would meet in.  It was a wordless declaration of their identification with Christ, and a signal to other Christians that this a safe place.  The word Ichthys is actually a Koine Greek acronym.  Koine Greek was the common language spoken by the Greek population.  An acronym is a word formed by using the successive first letters of a phrase to develop another word.  Scuba is one such word.  The original phrase that the word scuba was derived from is "Self-contained-underwater-breathing-apparatus."  "ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) is an acronym for "Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ", (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior" (        

Sitting at the beach this week, the October sun barely warm as it was shrouded by long gray clouds, I ruminated on the book that I was reading about grace.  There were several fishermen casting their rods into the surf and I noticed one reeling in a fish.  I began to muse about how it must seem to a fish to at one moment be swimming happily in the salty ocean, the only world it has ever known, and then suddenly be yanked into daylight.  This is very much what the human experience of of salvation is like to a person who has been submerged in the world for their entire existence.  It is like a legend among fishes, "There is a different world up there, no fins, no water to breathe. . . and you know that glow we see, it is actually a huge orb. . ."  Foreign territory.  I felt really bad for the fish as it flopped on the wet sand.  A family went over to inspect it as the fisherman removed it from the hook.  I silently said to God, "I hope he throws him back."  The fisherman did just that, what a reprieve!  To be vulnerable and dying and at one man's mercy be given a second chance!  What a blessed Ichthys.

When new Christians first come into the fold, they are in need of discipleship.  It is our duty to nurture and teach them, in order that Christ is duplicated in their lives.  If this duplication is not taking place we are not fulfilling the commission that Jesus gave at His ascension. Matthew 28:19,20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." 


Monday, October 10, 2011


Pic taken at Assateague Island, Virginia 10/10/11

A gray October sky
                               in such a summer place

Long clouds try
                        but cannot the sun displace

A sweet salty breeze
                                with only an edge of fall

Blows my thoughts away
                                       with the seagull's call

Dreams that never
                            saw the light of day

Smolder like an ember
                                    words I dare not say

Sweetly lying words, promise
                                               I will never leave

Barely whispered voices
                                       upon a winter's eve

But in the grace of summer
                                           thriving healthy love

I will remember winter's dearth
                                                  and praise my God above.

Original Poem by Patricia Paige Harrison 10/10/11


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

2 Corinthians 3:18
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." NIV

Pic from

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  A gender, a race--perhaps some crinkles around your eyes that didn't seem to be there yesterday?  Our outer appearance may be the image that the world perceives us by, but who we truly are is more than skin deep.  We all have been born in different situations, with different skin colors, different social expectations and mores.  The defining factor in the life of any human being is the state of their spirit, not the state of their visage.  Identifying oneself with Christ is as simple as believing and asking Him for salvation, and as difficult as giving Him your entire life. God understands our plight.  When we submit our lives to Him, II Corinthians 3:18 becomes a reality in our lives.  I pray that each day you become more and more the image of your Heavenly Father. 


Friday, October 7, 2011

Issues of the Heart

"Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life." 
Proverbs 4:23 

Pic from

We may feel that our unexpressed desires and thoughts do not affect our outer lives, but this is a fallacy.  Our physical hearts are vital to the health of our entire body; the same way as, our spiritual hearts are integral to our spiritual health.  We know that ingesting poison is detrimental or fatal to our bodies, if we allow it into our systems it will maim or kill us eventually.  What we allow into our hearts is even more dangerous.  The word "issue" can be used as a noun or a verb.  In the sense that it is a noun it means, "Something that is sent out or put forth in any form."  Likewise as a verb, its meaning is, "To send out; discharge; emit" (  So what we allow into our hearts, will become an issue and will issue forth from our lives.  It is said that the eyes are the gateway to the soul; more aptly, they are the gateway to what we allow into our souls.  Job had the right idea in verse 31:1 when he said, "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?"  We must consciously not allow ourselves to indulge in things that we know will lead to sin.  Adding sin to loneliness or problems in our lives will not accomplish anything but digging us deeper in the problem.  The enemy would have us believe that lie in order to drag us away from God and entangle us further.  Be careful of what you allow your heart to dwell on, it certainly will become an issue.

Lord, in Jesus' name please show us the areas of our lives that we have allowed wrong thinking to invade.  Please help us to guard our eyes and hearts.  Thank You for Your mercy and grace, for without it we would be lost. Thank You for loving us in our sin, You are our only hope.  I praise You and love You.  Amen.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sing Praises

Psalm 47:6 "Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises."

Pic from
The word "praise" occurs 259 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  It is defined as, "The offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship"(   Praise is an expression of love and gratitude that we return to God at our recognition of His great love and mercy for us.  When we praise God, it pleases Him; but even deeper, it changes us and reflects our heart position toward Him.  It is not possible for a proud or rebellious heart to truly praise.  Praise erupts from a knowing of our bereft and sinful state and that realization that God sacrificed His Son to rescue us from ourselves.  Sometimes it may seem that praise is limited to the musically or vocally gifted person; but truly, God does not listen for perfect pitch or even meter.  He longs to hear the genuine song of your heart.  Praise is about relationship; when we are in right standing with God it naturally flows.  The first place to check in our hearts if we are not flowing, is forgiveness.  Is there someone you have truly not forgiven?  Unforgiveness blocks our relationship with God.  The next place to look is repentance.  Are there sins in your life that you recognize and will not repent of?  They are not worth holding on to!  Examine your obedience.  Has God asked you for something, in His Word, or personally that you are resisting?  He is merciful and kind, but He does expect us to obey Him.  1 Corinthians 11:31 admonishes, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."  If we remain cognizant of our sin and repent for it, God will not have to judge us for it later.

There are many reasons to praise God, five of which from the Book of Psalms are:

His Righteousness:
Psalm 7:17
"I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high."

Our gladness in Him:
Psalm 9:2
"I wil
l be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High."

His Salvation:
Psalm 9:14
"That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation."

His Holiness:
Psalm 22:3
"But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."

His Mercy:
Psalm 106:1
"Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."

Be diligent to keep your relationship with God free of hindrances so that you will be able to fulfill Psalm 34:1 and declare as David did, "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Run To Win

1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." NIV

Pic from
Paul compares the Christian experience to a foot race.  This would have been a very distinct analogy to the people of the First Century, who were well familiar with the Hellenistic Olympic Games.  The Olympians trained intensely so as to be the winner and receive the prize.  They would receive a laurel wreath that would be placed on their head and their name would be inscribed in the Olympic records. This was a great honor.  They would receive great accolades--they were very much the celebrities of the time.   

In middle school a friend and I were fierce at Badminton; well, as fierce as two seventh graders can be.  The annoying thing about us is that we skipped, spun, tip-toed and did victory dances.  While our opponents got angrier and sweatier we just smacked the birdie and perturbed them all the more with silly sound effects.  We were all but unbeaten and there was a price on our heads in the locker room.  Sports Day arrived and I signed up for tennis, which I played relatively well.  Brash from winning so many Badminton games, I began my vexing antics again.  I had a different partner and she wasn't so impressed with my amazing tip-toed backhand.  We began losing and by the time I got serious and really put some elbow into it, it was too late.  I had fooled around too long and we lost, I'll never forget the look on her twelve-year-old face.

Eternity isn't a tennis match or a foot race.  The prize is much more dear than any accolades or a wreath.  In order to run the race so that we may win, we must be trained in the Word of God and love more fervently than any athelete trains.  Becoming too confident of our own abilities is a sure-fire way to lose.  As Christians, it is our responsibility to get as many people across the finish line as possible for the Kingdom.  This is God's will and His heart.


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