Take Heart

. . . In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world. John 16:33.

To say today is a hard day would be a gross understatement. Today actually started last night. I talked with a friend late yesterday, who told me the prognosis isn’t good for a family member. It’s a young person who I’ve followed for the last several years. Bill and I have visited a couple of times and tried to offer encouragement, tho always leaving feeling like we came up woefully short. I confess, I’ve even left angry at times saying to myself, “of course you have faith, Carmen, you’re not 20 and battling cancer”. How do you tell a young person that the God who loves them and created them wants the best for them when they’ve just finished another round of chemo.

So this morning, I’m driving in praying, “God, I’m gonna trust You. I know you have good plans for us. And I will rest in that knowledge today. I don’t have to know . . . just help me to trust. Increase my faith.” And then, our own Jen Page reports that a pastor from Brandon is missing. My ears perk up. And then I hear it . . . Pastor Forrest Pollock of Bell Shoals Baptist is missing since yesterday. He left NC piloting a small Cessna and rescuers are blanketing the area south of Asheville. Immediately, I reach for my phone to look for the number of a friend who is on staff at Bell Shoals. In moments like these, you’re reacting out of subconscience knowledge of what you’re suppose to do, but your mind and heart are rejecting all of the knowledge you’ve just acquired.

Of course the questions begin . . .

“where are you, God?”
“why wouldn’t You protect him?”
“does prayer really work?”

It’s times like these that “God allowing” and “God doing” becomes a very short distance. God didn’t do this, but He allowed it. How do you make sense of that?

Of course there are no answers to these questions. And there never will be this side of heaven. But here’s what I have to do. What we have to do. What we must do. We must wrestle it out. No matter what! For it is here that our wrestling becomes intimacy. And as only our Father can, He gently reminds me, “Carmen, take heart – I have overcome the world”. This I know is true. There are plenty of things that I don’t know. But I do know, that I know, that I know, that I know. No doubt. That’s what it means to have the Word hidden in your heart. You have to draw on what you know to be true even when your heart’s not feeling it. You must – absolutely must – wrestle it out with Jesus. Especially when our tendency is to run.

But I choose to run to the cross. For it is there, that I see the cross with fresh eyes. To know that I have hope. To know that what I sow in tears, I will reap in joy. To know that joy does come in the morning. To know that God holds my tears in the palm of His hand. To know that God loves me more than life itself. To know that Jesus has already conquered anything that we might face. And to know that no matter what – death nor life, angels or demons, the present or the future, any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus. Romans 8:38-39.

Will you run with me?

Vanishing Edge

Yesterday wasn’t so great of a day . . . but as the scriptures say, “Joy comes in the morning” :-) And when I received this email from Ed, a listener in St. Pete . . . I not only felt “joy” but had an all out belly laugh!

Last Friday, I told the women in our audience about a revolutionary new clothing that I had discovered that boasts vanishing lines . . . meaning you don’t have lines where you don’t want them! The “breathable silicon” material (their words – not mine) helps everything stay in place and not gather to give a smooth look. Having a huge megaphone that covers roughly a third of the state, I felt it was my obligation to inform the women in our audience of such a great invention.

One more thing I must mention . . . I believe I asked all of the men in the audience to turn down their radios for 2 minutes while I had a “chat” with the women. Interestingly, most of the feedback that I’ve received (including my associate pastor!) has been from MEN!

Ed’s email . . .
Subject Line: “the product”

Hi Carmen,
Perhaps you will enjoy hearing about something you instigated…..

Last Friday you felt compelled to share with the listening audience about a product you had discovered which was almost revolutionary. My wife and I have been married 23 years and her birthday was the next day, so I listened intently to hear if it was something that would make my wife happy. You were so enthusiastic about, yet so discreet that I didn’t know what exactly it was….but after years of buying the wrong gift for my wife, I was determined to do it right this year. I jotted down some words you had said and called my wife’s friend, but she wouldn’t get the message until much later that day. I finally decided to call a female elder from our church and told her I have an embarrassing question to ask her. I explained what I knew about the product, but didn’t know exactly what you were talking about and she exclaimed, ” Oh, she’s talking about lingerie! Soma is the name of the store that sells it. It is a great product…I buy it myself.” We laughed about my embarrassment and she told me where I could purchase it. A couple of hours later I left work and dashed over to West Shore Plaza to buy my wife’s birthday gift.

I went into a Chico’s store because my friend had told me that it owned Soma. Five sales women were busy behind the counter, facing the wall and chatting with each other, so I waited patiently until one of them was done. A customer asked ” Did I cut in front of you?” I replied, ” No, I am just wondering where I can find a store called Soma” All five women instantly stopped chatting and turned around – obviously a mans voice is a rarity there – and the customer explained that Soma is right next door. This is already an indication to me that I am not fitting in.

OK, so Soma is right next door and it appears it is all lingerie and nothing else. I tell myself ” I can do this”. I head straight to the counter and wait for a sales clerk to acknowledge me. I ask if she can help me and I mumble something about “Vanishing Line”. She walks me over to a display. I tell her the style my friend had recommended, and the size my wife wears….the nice young woman helps me select three colors and we head back to the counter. I share with her how I heard you rave about this product on Christian radio….I am thinking that hoards of women have already been to the store because of your recommendation and the sales clerk will understand how I came to be here, but she obviously has no idea what I am nervously babbling about….. The woman beside me is talking with another sales clerk about the right way to store this huge brassiere she is buying and I am looking in the other direction, wishing myself invisible, and consoling myself that my embarrassment will be over very soon….but my sales clerk is taking forever, wrapping the lingerie carefully in tissue paper before she puts it in a bag. Then she hands me this frilly little bag with the store name emblazoned on it, with these fancy rope handles…Great! Now get to walk through the mall with my prize hanging beside me – looking more like a purse than a shopping bag…when does this nightmare end?! I had intended to look around the mall a little bit longer, but instead I dart out the nearest exit I can find and get out of there!

OK, I’m not a total idiot. I knew the new chair I bought my wife for her computer desk wasn’t going to thrill her, even though I knew she needed it. And I spent all day with her on her birthday doing whatever she wanted to do, and she later told me she I had made her birthday really memorable this year. She is delighted with “the product” – Thank you Carmen, for recommending it!

…..but I do have this nagging feeling that the best part of my wife’s birthday isn’t the gift, or even the nice time we spent together. My wife does have a little bit of a dark side…and I think she is just vengeful enough after all these years of getting stupid gifts from me to be getting a lot of satisfaction out of the fact that Carmen put me through all this embarrassment. Maybe I’m paranoid, but my wife appears to have been walking around all week with a smirk on her face. It just keeps me wondering…….

Ed Goebel
St Petersburg

Thanks for the God praising music and the fun!


I hate it when things are undone. When there’s a conversation that you need to have and can’t. When there’s no resolution, no matter what you do. When you’ve made a bad choice, and try to rationalize it with God, but the more you talk – the more you see that you were just plain wrong. When your feelings have been hurt, apologies have been made, but you’re still left with the feelings for a while.

That’s where I’m at today. I’d love to say that I’m just referencing one event, but unfortunately it’s 3 different scenarios, and they’ve left me feeling really undone. It’s the “cumulative effect” you might say. There’s a conversation that I very much want to have. So many things I need . . .want to say. I’ve called/emailed/texted four times now. A fifth attempt and I might just be arrested for stalking. And to add to that, I made a bad choice earlier this week, and to make it even worse – I knew it was a bad choice when I was choosing it! I’ve tried to rationalize and argue with God for 3 days now. I don’t even know why I attempt; it’s not like I’ve ever won. So this morning when I decided to go “right the wrong” – I was given what seemed to be a perfect excuse to remain mad, and say “forget it”. But as ever faithful, God gently said to me, “don’t not do what is right, just because another layer has been added.” I guess that’s what it means to have the Holy Spirit living IN us.

I said on the air Tuesday that sometimes we just have to know with our head, what our heart sometimes doesn’t feel. I confess – my heart doesn’t feel it today. But I do know with my head that God does know the plans that He has for me. And things do work out for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I know, that I know, that I know that. For sure. It’s a good thing . . . because I’m feeling really undone.

GMA 08

Just getting home from a fantastic week in Nashville. Bill’s Blog pretty much summizes the week in a thoughtful way. Me? I’m too tired to even formulate a thought!
The hi-lites for me:

1. Franklin Tour. Having Jayar take us on a tour of downtown Franklin. OK, maybe it wasn’t a tour of Franklin – but a conspiracy between me, Jayar & Dave (tho, he won’t admit it) to mess with Bill since Jayar knew where tobyMac lives. (And for those of you who will be tempted to write and scold us – Bill DID see his house). It was a joke. Really. Video forthcoming. Stay Tuned . . .

2. Beth Moore – Sunday morning. All I can say is that if you’re breathing – you must find a way to hear her. Especially if you’re female. Enough said. She IS amazing. I will try and blog specifically about her talk in the coming days.

3. Reading scripture with my friend, Amy – someone who has become a dear friend. Though GMA is an “industry” week, there are those folks that you meet along the way that are anything BUT industry folks. They are brothers and sisters who are doing this journey with you. The scripture we read together is out of Lamentations 3. Just remember, The Lord is our portion. He is good to those whose hope is in Him and to those who seek Him. Good stuff.
4. Denver & Chris. Oh my word – a full circle moment from giving Chris the book last year at GMA to us all there a year later – together. . Bill & I picked Denver up at the airport on Monday. I’m proud to report that we only lost Denver once. He is precious to us, and has become family. I’ll never be able to fully articulate the gift of knowing him (and Ron, too!). We were all gathered in our makeshift studio – me, Dave, Bill, Jeff, Chris, Denver, Louie & Shelly Giglio . . . Denver started singing and the rest of us started crying. A moment I won’t soon forget. We’ll be sharing the moment with you soon. God is good.

5. Phoebe. The girl is a character! She’s so sweet and takes life as it comes. I’ve learned that she’s very literal. And for those of you who have asked – yes, she knows Jesus! :) Intimately, I might add.

6. Bubble Tea. Tea with tapioca balls at the bottom. Interesting. I liked it, but will admit the first sip was a bit scary! A good time hanging out with our friends, Josh, Brian & Betsy.

7.Brandon. My BFF :) winning New Artist of the Year! Another full circle moment. This time last year, we (me, D & B) were sitting in SATCO (San Antonio Taco Company) with Brandon’s manager, Jim Houser. Jim said, “Guys, Brandon Heath has got this amazing song called “I’m Not Who I Was”. We just filmed the video with a whiteboard. Y’all have to see it. I want you to hear the song, and then I want to figure out something that he can come down there and do with y’all in Florida”.
Hello Summer Cruise II! And the rest is history! So proud of him.

Get rid of it!

My closet is RIDICULOUS!! There are several reasons why this is. First, I cover about 3 sizes. There’s the “right after the holdidays” section, the “normal/give or take a few pounds” section, and then there’s the “only 10 more pounds” section. Needless to say, many in the latter section still have tags on them. The 2nd reason is that it’s hard for me to throw anything away. Today, I was looking at my closet with my oldest daughter, Haley, and commenting that I definitely needed to clean out. As I was going through a few shirts and such, it became apparent that I had an excuse for everything that was up for consideration. “No, I can’t get rid of that – I might wear that to so and so. No, I can’t get rid of this, because that’s what I wore to such and such.” Later, we came to a blue denim vest with a black velvet collar. And here was my statement, “No, I can’t throw that out, ’cause I might need it for a western skit.” And here’s the funny part . . . I didn’t mean for it to be funny. Haley, however, lost it. At first I didn’t understand what was so hilarious. And then she said through her doubled over belly laugh, “Mom, a skit? Are you serious? Only you would save something for a potential western skit!” (Let it be noted here that I was involved in YoungLife for years, and I know how valuable a costume closet is!) But after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized how crazy it really sounded. I’m holding on to a denim vest that I’ve had since before Abbey was born because I think I might need it for a skit. I would love to tell you about the last time that I was in a skit, but the truth is – I can’t remember.

What else do we need to get rid of? Unforgiveness? Pride? Stuff that no one else knows about but you?

In my bible study lesson today (Jesus, the One & Only by Beth Moore), I was reading in Luke Chapter 5 about Jesus healing a paralytic. Jesus was teaching, when the friends of the paralyzed man lowered him through the ceiling for Jesus to heal. Man, what friends! The interesting thing is that when Jesus saw the man, the first thing he said was “Friend, your sins are forgiven (Luke 5:20). The Pharisees in the room thought Jesus blasphemous for saying that. However, Jesus knew what they were thinking. He addressed the sin problem, before he addressed the physical problem. Now, please don’t hear me say that the man was paralyzed because he had sin in his life. Though, here’s what I am saying . . . Aren’t we all paralyzed in some way? Don’t we all have something that we need to get rid of? Don’t we need to hear Jesus say, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” I’m urging you today – GET RID OF IT! There’s no amount of “fill in the blank” that is worth whatever is keeping you from the plans that Christ has for you. Not even the starring role in a western skit.

Horse Hockey

The last couple of days, Dave, Bill & I have spent a significant amount of time talking about Oprah and the courses that she is teaching/endorsing. I have heard from so many of you, and am touched by the response to pray for her. Without question, I feel an obligation to call out this rubbish. One area that I was concerned about – however – was the response that bringing this to the airwaves would generate. I can safely speak for The Morning Cruise that we are not about bashing anyone or raging a war. As a matter of fact, we feel there is probably NOT a more ineffective way! It makes us cringe when we get painted with the same brush as a “street corner bullhorn guy”. That doesn’t work!! It thrills me to see that so many of our listening family feel the same way. Jesus spoke truth – without condemnation.

I received this email from a friend of mine, and it pretty much sums up my feelings/attitude towards the subject. The only thing I will add is to remember 1 Peter 3:15. It says:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Randy Kilgore

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. -Jesus, in Matthew 5:18

My grandfather’s favorite spot was a rocking chair in the cozy living room of the home he and his sons built with their own hands. He earned that soft chair by spending hard, hard years in the coal mines, and driving tractor-trailers. Others would describe him as a tough old bird who was happy to fight at the drop of a hat. With me, he was always mischievous and uncharacteristically gentle. So far as I’m able to know, he never made a profession of faith in Christ, and I never once saw him darken the doors of a church for anything but a wedding or funeral.

Every Saturday night for as long as I can remember, I sat in that living room, unknowingly molded by the reactions he gave to the things I said. When something didn’t pass the “horse sense” test, he always said the same thing: “That’s just horse hockey.”

I was a dreamer in high school, naively convinced there were easy solutions to the world’s problems if we all “just tried a little harder”. “TJHH”, he would say. My sophomore year, I decided it was time to do more than just talk about my dreams, and so I joined a group called P.E.A.C.E.-People for Emotional Adjustment and Community Enlightenment. With a group of faculty members and other students, we attended an out-of-town conference just full of ideas for promoting peace and love in the midst of the Vietnam War era. The following Saturday night, sitting in the rocking chair next to my grandfather’s, watching one of our beloved John Wayne war movies, I started describing some of the things I’d “learned” at the conference.

“TJHH”, he muttered, trying hard to hear the movie over my jabbering. I didn’t get the message, and kept on talking. After awhile, he reached over and grabbed the arm of my rocker and stopped its swaying. Eye to eye just feet away, he stared at me, obviously angry. For a few moments he just sat there glaring, and I didn’t move. Then his face grew softer and he leaned back in his chair and sighed. “Randy”, he said as he started rocking his own chair, “we’ve all been young once. Nary a one of us hasn’t wished we could fix things, and nothing you’ve said is anything new.” (Long pause here.) “None of it works. It’s all just horse hockey.”

Then he leaned forward and named a chapter and verse from the Bible. It was a game we played, usually when he had friends over. I would recite the verse from memory and he would beam with pride that one of his grandkids was “going to be a preacher.” On this night, it was just us, and I quoted the verse from memory.

“That’s the place to find your answers,” he said. End of discussion.

With that, he turned his attention back to John Wayne, who happened to be leading a charge up another hill.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about those days when I was certain the world’s problems were easy to solve. I just knew if I willed it so, I could make it be that way. Like my father and grandfather, and your father and grandfather, I quickly discovered no amount of willing or wishing or working was going to easily fix what’s wrong with this world.

Many, many of you readers have written in alarm over Oprah’s new embrace of Marianne Williamson’s embrace of Helen Schucman’s obviously heretical book, A Course on Miracles. Several of you have already fitted Oprah for the Antichrist banner.

Let me be clear: There is nothing remotely acceptable to God about Ms. Schucman’s book. It contains statements contradictory to Scripture and inconsistent with truth, human or divine. There is also nothing remotely useful in Marianne Williamson’s commentaries on that book, which is indeed available on Oprah’s website and radio programs. In fact, there is great harm there, as it sweeps well-meaning seekers down a road that looks and smells like truth, but isn’t.

Oprah should know better, certainly. Given the influential role God has laid at her doorstep, one could even argue she has an added responsibility to be even more cautious about endorsing or enabling teaching that contradicts the Bible. But Oprah isn’t the Antichrist; and she’s not even anti-Christ. I suspect Oprah just doesn’t have someone close to her with the courage to say what my grandfather always said: “That’s just horse hockey.”

With the same spirit I had when I joined P.E.A.C.E., and a bigger heart than I’ve ever had, I think she just wishes she could find a way to fix things faster, bigger, smarter. A Course in Miracles certainly isn’t that fix.

The right response to Oprah is prayer and candor, not the vicious attacks I’ve seen passing out of the mouths and emails of Christians who are ordinarily gentle. We should pray for God to sit in a rocker next to Oprah and gently remind her that everything that contradicts the Bible is just HH.

Then we should pull out our own Bibles and do just what Scripture tells us to do: Arm ourselves with a keen knowledge of the Word so we can know the difference between truth and “horse hockey.”

Half Truth is NOT Truth . . .

I’m disappointed. I’ve watched Oprah for years, and have even used segments from her shows as content for my own shows many, many times. As a matter of fact, I flew to the Oprah show with some radio winners back during my country radio days and had a blast! We even had a few minutes with her after the show.

For the last few years, I’ve had a prick in my spirit with some of the things that were said on her show. I chalked it up to her just being “PC on TV”. (ex: interviews with Tom Cruise, John Travolta, etc.) I still (chose) to believe that Oprah was a Christian based on the things that I heard her profess and communicate in the past. I felt that she had been moving away from what I originally knew her (or thought I knew) her to be. However, after reading her website and viewing some clips from a few on-line classes, I have surmised that she doesn’t believe the way that I hoped she did. And this makes me sad. Very sad. Sad for her, and sad for the millions of women (and I’m sure a few men too) who will buy into the half truths that she is teaching.

Here are a couple of excerpts from her website:

Lesson 67

This exercise leads you to the truth about yourself by reminding you that you are God’s creation. As you repeat the truth, you are created holy, kind, helpful and perfect; you shed the false self images of the ego mind.

Love created me like itself.

Today’s idea is a complete and accurate statement of what you are. This is why you are the light of the world. This is why God appointed you as the world’s savior. This is why the Son of God looks to you for his salvation. He is saved by what you are. We will make every effort today to reach this truth about you, and to realize fully, if only for a moment, that it is the truth.

Say what?? I had to read it a couple of times just to make sure I was reading it correctly! Yes, it is true that we are God’s creation. Yes, we are to be the light of the world. But God appointed us as the world’s savior? If this is true . . . oh my stars . . . God, help us all! The Son of God looks to us for his salvation? If the Son of God is looking to us for his salvation, we might as well end it all tonight! Granted, the above was written by Marianne Williamson. But Oprah is endorsing this on her website under the lessons, “A Course in Miracles”.

Here’s one other:

Lesson 64

To review our last few lessons, your function here is to be the light of the world, a function given you by God. It is only the arrogance of the ego that leads you to question this, and only the fear of the ego that induces you to regard yourself as unworthy of the task assigned to you by God Himself. The world’s salvation awaits your forgiveness, because through it does the Son of God escape from all illusions, and thus from all temptation. The Son of God is you.

The last line absolutely breaks my heart! It’s appalling. I think about the millions of women who visit this site daily, much less the ones that are participating in this study. I picture them with gaping holes in their hearts, and saying to themselves: “Ah-ha! this is the answer I’ve been looking for!” Granted, it does sound deep and even somewhat “spiritual”. But it’s not the truth. Sadly, they’ve completed 83 “lessons”. I could’ve cut and pasted dozens of other examples. There are plans for 365.

Please hear that I am NOT about bashing Oprah. This is not my goal. She does A LOT of good. She’s one of the most philanthropic people in the world! She’s funny, kind, caring and engaging. But . . . she is deceived.

Jesus is the Son of God. He is the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father but thru Him. (John 14:6) Oprah was quoted as saying that Jesus is one way to the Father. She’s mistaken. He is the ONLY way.

My heart is heavy. Boy, do I have some praying to do. Will you join me?

Jesus . . . the very YES of God!

There’s nothing like reading scripture and have it wash over you like you’re hearing it for the first time.

Truly hear this today:

Colossians: 2: 9-14
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

Did you hear that? Let me say it again, “NAILING IT TO THE CROSS”! Jesus nailed the debt to the cross. The debt that we couldn’t pay. It really is that simple. And if you’re wondering if he paid the debt for you specifically – the answer is “yes”.

And here’s another:

2 Corinthians 1:20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “YES” in Christ. And so through Him the “amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

The old covenant is gone; Jesus IS the new covenant with God. He did that for us! Don’t let this Easter season pass without fully understanding what that means. It’ll be the greatest freedom you’ve ever felt. And a joy that surpasses no other! And if you do understand fully what that means, but haven’t “felt” it in a while, ask our Savior to give you that spark back. He will.

Can I hear an amen? Amen.

Happy, Happy Day

Today is my 37th birthday. Man, that’s just weird! It seems like only yesterday I was in high school. And when I talk to my BFF from home, Kim, we both still see each other as we did almost 20 years ago! It’s scary to think that I could’ve almost done all of school . . . AGAIN!! My husband Pete teased me today that he can now refer to me as being in my “late” 30’s. I still consider it “mid”. :-)

What an AWESOME day!! It started out with my youngest, Abbey, leaving me a note in an unexpected place! See pic! Yes . . . she’s mine and I’m awfully proud of her. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Both of my girls made me homemade treats . . . cupcakes from Haley and a carrot cake from Abbey. Complete with a huge balloon. A Brown Family Tradition! See pic!
Dave & Bill definitely blew me away today. In the past, their criteria has been “easy & cheap”. But today was anything but! They put together birthday wishes from the staff, followed up by my absolute favorite song, “I Have to Believe” by Rita Springer. But that wasn’t all . . . (yes, I’m still talking about Dave & Bill). They arranged for Bebo Norman, Mark Schultz, and my lil’ brother, BFF Brandon Heath to call. And as if that wasn’t enough, Brandon had arranged for us all to go see a movie after the show. See pic! Yes, it was a 3-D movie. He’s awesome!! And that’s why we love him so much!
I also had a couple of surprises from two of girlfriends from Nashville, my Aunt B called, as she does every year! And I talked to my Mom, too! Great day.

When I got home, Pete and the girls wanted to take me to dinner. My favorite is Macaroni Grille. But instead of going out, I really just wanted a picnic on the floor with my family. So . . . Pete and Haley headed to get take-out while Abbey made me stay in the bedroom while she got everything ready. See pic! (if you look closely, you can see our placecards! Mine says “birthday girl”!)
That’s one great thing about having girls – they’re very thoughtful. I’ve always told them that all I ever want for my birthday is for them to come and spend the day with me. Isn’t it funny how when we’re young we count down the days til our birthday, and then – once we’re a little older, we’re not as much concerned about the day, as we are about being with the ones that we love! And today I felt loved . . . VERY loved. Thank you, Jesus, for each and every blessing.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . . ” James 1:17

How Great is Our God!

This past week we talked about watching Louie Giglio’s talk “How Great is Our God”. I actually got to hear Louie talk live at GMA (Gospel Music Week) several years ago. He is a gifted communicator and the best preacher – EVER!!! He also has another talk called “Indescribable” which is equally as powerful.

A couple of days ago, Bill and I received an email asking when we were going to update our blog. As I stared at a blank screen this morning deciding what to blog about, I decided to go catch up on a few emails. And then I see this link from my friend Josh in Nashville . . . . enough said! Below is from Louie’s Blog.

Never pass up an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus!
Ashley’s Home

You guys remember Ashley, the Florida senior who sent what might be the coolest e-mail of all time. Just after Passion 07 we received this at the Passion House from her:

Hi, I feel kinda weird writing this email. And I doubt if it ever gets to Mr Louie Giglio. I am a Senior at The University of Florida. I got a new roommate this semester and she is a Christian and I have never really been into the whole Christian thing because every pastor or speaker that I have ever listened to didn’t speak in a language I could understand. I have believed in God and Jesus, but never really understood it because the preachers at the church that I have always been forced to go to every Sunday of my life. They speak all high and mighty and I never really felt connected, and I felt like God was only for the perfect people.Well my roommate went to this Passion Conference over winter break. And she came back and moved into my apt and she was real and genuine about all her Christian stuff, like I have never seen before in a person. She said that God changed her at this conference, so i was like what are you talking about. And she told me. She told me about how God was cool, and how God really wanted a deeper relationship with her, and she wanted to really love God the way he loved her, so of course I was like well huh? She then said you need to listen to Louie talk about God, so I asked who Louie was, and she put on the Indescribable talk, and then we watched the Passport talk. And in the Passport talk you said that Christians do not have to just hope for the best at the end, that they do not have to do enough good stuff. You explained how to get to heaven in a simple way, in a way that I have never heard before. I actually got it, I got it that it is not about being so good, cause I am not a good person. I have screwed up a lot. But then you said grace, and talked about how is was different than other religions. Because God is a loving and a kind God who wants to forgive me. My roommate then explained that he wants to forgive me.Now for one of the reasons I am thanking you. One, I am now a Christian. And two, my roommate said that she had never really cared about telling others about how much God loved her before she went to this conference. So though I am not sure who will ever read this. Please tell Louie thanks from me, for talking about Christ in a way that a college kid can understand. I know that Jesus has changed my life and as I get ready to graduate college in May, I am gonna be a different person. I am sorry this is kinda rambling but I just had to tell you that I now know about the Grace of God, and I have life for the first time in my 22 years. Ashley

I will never forget the day her message came. And I’m not going to forget last Friday. Waking early for the last day of Thirsty, I happened to see this on my Blackberry and opened it.

Dear Mr. Giglio,
It is with a heavy heart that I send you this email. My daughter is Ashley, she wrote you an email that went on your blog and podcast Well, today May 3rd at 4pm we buried Ashley. She was killed in a car accident late on Sunday night. She lost control of her car and hit a light pole. She was the only car involved and had serious internal bleeding. She died in the arms of my husband at the hospital from unstoppable internal bleeding. But I have hope of seeing my daughter again. I have this hope because after years of praying for her, and watching her live a lifestyle in college that is known as the typical college experience. The last semester of her college career I saw a woman, not a college girl that I have never been more proud to call my daughter. I can point the thanks to you and Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman, and everyone else involved in your Passion Conferences. Ashley fell in love with our Savior over the last 5 months of her life. She was so excited about graduation this week and moving to California to work her first real job. She had a life ahead of her. I miss my beautiful princess more than anything in this world.But I just felt like you should know that she listened to as many of your talks as she could get her hands on and read your book I am not but I know I am and she was so excited about God and her new found faith. Words alone can not thank you enough. I may never meet you here on earth, but I know that someday I will be able to meet you and give you a hug in heaven, but only after Ash does. Thank you so much for praying for my girl, and your support of her as she was starting her new life. Also thanks for being a man of God who has a passion, and love for college students.Your vision to share the gospel and getting college students to do the same made all the difference at a funeral today. Instead of being sad and scared for her. We were able to sing praise and worship songs today. Though there will be tears and I am so very heartbroken and crying as I type this, it is only because I will not hold her for so many years. And I will miss her for the rest of my life. I know I have said thank you a lot in this email, but because of you and Christa (Ashley’s roommate) and people at the Bible Study that she was going to she was happier than I have seen her in a very long time. In the email she originally sent you, it said she had life for the first time in her 22 years, and please know she meant every word of that. She lived the last few months serving and loving and learning more about Christ. She will now spend eternity in heaven with Him so one more time thanks. I know this was long and I debated for the last 4 days as to whether or not to write you. I know you are a very busy man, but I also figured you would want to know.
Ashley’s Mom Anna

By the third line tears were streaming down my face, blurring the words, but not the sudden reality of it all. I had just received an e-mail from Ashley a few days before saying how excited she was to finally be through with college and headed to a “real job” in the Bay Area of California. And now she was gone.I was crushed, but I found myself pumping my fist in the air, confident that Jesus Christ overwhelmed death and the grave. And just in the nick of time, He reached through the confusion and hopelessness and brought Ashley back to life again. Her mom was kind enough to allow me to share her e-mail and sent a photo of Ashley so we could all put a face with the name that has brought much rejoicing throughout the Passion world in recent months. Anna, please know that you and your family will be in our hearts and prayers as you begin the process of living without the daughter you so deeply love. You will see her again. And with our prayers we are praising God for matchless mercy…mercy that saved the day and carried Ashley safely home.

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