He makes all things new.

I have been praying over the timing to write this blog, and today is the day.  Easter weekend.  How appropriate.  If you’re choosing to read this, please do so in its entirety….it will be worth it to see how things connect and how God is clearly orchestrating all of it.  If you don’t have time to read, you might want to stop now…this one is going to be lengthy.

In late 1012, I started noticing some mild (very mild) chest pains.  I didn’t think much of it, until it began happening more frequently.  My grandfather, aunt, and mom, all died of heart related problems and at relatively young ages.  Knowing this, I made an appointment with a cardiologist.  My appointment was in mid February.  Honestly, I expected him to tell me that all I needed to do was lose weight and get my cholesterol down, and all would be well.  But, that’s not what he said.  When I got there, they did a routine EKG and it showed two places that the doctor called “questionable activity”.  He then took some blood and recommend that I come back for tests, soon.  A million things were running through my mind.  I didn’t share this information with my family, for fear of them worrying about the unknown.  I scheduled my tests the following week, and they took the entire day.  After much prayer, I handed the situation over to God and determined that I could give Him honor and glory through tribulations just as easily as I could through times of peace.  That day, I scheduled another appointment to discuss the results…and that appointment was three weeks away.  Three weeks!  During that time of waiting, God began working on my heart in a fresh new way that I would have never seen otherwise.

The weekend following the tests, I watched a documentary called Hungry for Change.  The documentary changed my life.  It discussed the food we eat, and what it actually goes through by the time it gets to us.  Unbelievable facts and information.  As I sat on my couch watching, I felt God gently telling me that this is what I needed to do.  Change my eating habits, and the way I viewed what goes into my body.  At the same time this started making sense to me, the following scripture:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

became real and alive to me.  I used to think this referred to tattoos and piercings (both of which I have and felt no conviction either time), but it’s much deeper than that.  I also realized that I have never really done this; treated my body like the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, that evening, I began a documentary of my own…..

With my hand held video camera, I recorded my fridge and my pantry.  I went to Whole Foods and looked at organic foods to get an idea of how much more my grocery bill would be if I started making different choices.  I made a goal of 4-6 weeks to get the crappy food eaten or thrown away from my home, and replace it with healthy things.  During this same week, I started noticing more and more people talking about the Paleo diet and how they had noticed considerable changes in their bodies.  So, I began researching as much as I could.  I found testimonials of people that had been cured of various ailments, simply because they changed their diet.  I bought a book called It Starts With Food along with a Paleo cookbook.  It seemed like this was clearly the path God wanted me to take.  All this happened during the three weeks between heart tests and results day.

On the day I went to check on my results, I had a PERFECT peace.  I knew the results, regardless of what the EKG showed three weeks earlier, would be fine.  God wanted me to begin treating His body like He created it to be. I’ve wasted 44 years of wrong choices, He is giving me a chance to live the remainder of my life healthy.  I’d be a fool not to see this.  When my doctor came into the room to go over my results, he said exactly what I expected.  Everything looked fine…..except my cholesterol, which was well over 200.  He was ready to put me on cholesterol medication that day.  I refused and told him about what I had been researching, and that I felt God was clearly telling me to do….did I mention his name is Dr. Shalaby and he is Muslim?  What a perfect opportunity to share the love of God with an unbeliever!  Anyway, he said that if I did this, my cholesterol would indeed go down, and I would see overall improvements with my health….but it would take work and wouldn’t be easy (is anything worthwhile easy?).  He agreed to meet with me in 4 months and take more blood tests, if my cholesterol was where it should be doing it “my way”, I wouldn’t have to be on cholesterol meds.  So, my next appointment is July 8th.

Monday, April 1st, I will begin a month of detox called the Whole30.  This is a month of Paleo eating and exercise.  I am convinced that as long as I stay focused on this:

mail.google.com  everything will be fine.

I see nothing that has happened as coincidence, and I know I would have never gotten this serious about my health had the chest pains not occurred.  I see it as a blessing in disguise.  As I said above, I’ve never viewed my body like a temple like I am right now. So with that being said, these two things will help aid me on the road to better  health:

mail.google.com    and     mail.google.com

I am extremely excited to see what God has in store for me as I begin this new adventure.  Oh, and did I mention that I haven’t had a single chest pain since I went to the doctor?  I haven’t…not a one.

I hope this post has encouraged you, and if you would like more information on the Paleo diet, or the Whole30 program, just ask.

Blessings, and Happy Easter!

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Got manna?

I am currently working through a Bible study called No Other Gods.  It takes a look at the things in your everyday life that you could be placing in front of God, thus becoming idols.  Idolatry is something we all struggle with, even those walking the closest with God can’t escape their fleshly temptations.  We’re human and we’re born with these tendencies.  As I work through this 6 week study, I have come to several interesting and eye-opening conclusions regarding some things that get in the way of God.  We often equate an idol as something good, or pleasurable that we allow to take up too much of our time or focus.  But, in fact idols can be sinful activities that have kept us in bondage as well:  lack of faith, fear, and control can all be considered “bad” but if we hold these things above God, they too can be considered idols.

But this post isn’t a plug for the Bible study.

This morning, I realized something when reading about the way God provided for the Israelites in the form of manna.  Remember the story?  The people were hungry, and God provided manna from the sky each day in order that they may survive.  In Exodus 16:31 we read that manna was like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.  So we can conclude that it was bread-ish.  Each day manna would fall with the dew, and each evening it would go away, only to repeat the process again the next day.  Stay with me…I do have a point to make.

The people were complaining because they wanted to “eat freely” the food they had from the past:  fish, onions, garlic, leeks, melons, etc….They weren’t satisfied with what was being given to them. So, the question I came up with is this:  why did God take the “good” from them and replace it with something bland…not only that, but giving them just enough and not one bit more?  Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘man cannot live by bread alone’?  I think this is the answer.  He knew that they had to have their faith ALONG with the manna in order to become all He intended for them to be.

Think about this:  was all the food they missed in Numbers 11:15 really freely given to them.  Didn’t those who came before them work as slaves and lose their lives for those who would come later?  The answer is found all through Exodus.  The Israelites who came before them were in bondage and were slaves so that they could be eating freely…..so why didn’t God let them keep the good food?  Why did He choose manna?

He did it because they were still in bondage.  They weren’t yet free because He still wasn’t number one.

God gave them bread, but they craved something else.  Something they thought was better, but that something else came with a price (slavery/bondage) and it really wasn’t something better.  At that point in time, the manna was best for them because along with it, they had to rely on God and this was drawing them closer to Him. He took something good away to give them something better…the best thing…..Himself.

This brings me to think about myself, and maybe you can think about yourself as well.  During the darkest times in my life, the times when I knew I had something better in the past or couldn’t understand why God was allowing the circumstances were my times of manna.  He may have had me living paycheck to paycheck and depending on Him to get me through.  He may have brought me to a place where I knew no one and had no friends or family to support me so that I would fall more in love with Him.  He may have placed me in a job in order to teach me something and the only way I made it day-to-day was to depend on Him….the list could go on and on…..

How about you?  Are you in a time of manna right now?  If so, be blessed.  Use this time to soak up all God has planned for YOU personally.  He wants to change you, grow you, and cause the two of you to be closer.  Look at this as a time of opportunity.  A time to learn and become something new.  Growth means He has something fresh and exciting planned for us.

Man cannot live by bread alone.  And that my friends, is a very good thing.

Christmas in America

I guess you could call this a disclaimer:  If you’re new to my blogs, welcome.  Please understand that these are my thoughts and views on things…I don’t often jump on the bandwagon ways of thinking and often find myself saying what others are thinking but never say….so if my blogs offend you, simply stop reading them.  If you are looking to argue, look elsewhere….I have yet to find healthy debate done over blog comments or emailing.  Again, welcome…..I hope my thoughts and insights can challenge and encourage others in the name of Jesus! 

And so, another holiday season draws to a close.  I wish I could say that there was something different about this year.  Something that stood out.  That THIS was the year people really sought the true meaning of Christmas, and by seeking I don’t mean posting “He is the reason for the season” on their Facebook walls.  But unfortunately, this Christmas season was just like all the others, or at least it was in America.

  • The consumer got farther in debt (on average) and the bank account of many business owners got fatter.
  • A “good Christmas” was measured by the amount of gifts received….or the value of said gifts.
  • Many showed up the second time this year for their yearly church appearance, and marked that off the “good deeds” list.
  • We felt the sadness and grieved along with Sandy Hook, and that ramped up the random acts of kindness movement all over the country….or at least it did for a few weeks.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. For most (not all) where was Jesus in all this…celebration?  Was he resting in the nativity scene in the front yard or over the mantle?  Was his story read on Christmas morning just before everyone dove under the tree for their ‘stuff’?  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving to others in the spirit of Christmas, and blessing each other selflessly, I see our culture as a whole slipping further and further away from what the reason represents.

New birth.

Redemption.

Reconciliation.

And, hope.

While some will argue this next point, Christmas isn’t about family.  It’s about Jesus.  Its not about giving, it’s about Jesus.  It’s not about your neighbor,  decorations, trees, or cookies, it’s about Jesus.  I titled this post Christmas in America because I believe we do the poorest job of representing what the holiday really stands for, compared to the rest of the world.  People in Africa are so family oriented anyway, Christmas day is no different when it comes to gathering with their families, so if they are Christians they celebrate Jesus.  People in Jamaica, Honduras, and China have nothing to give, so if they are Christians they celebrate Jesus.  People in Israel would possibly get shot if they knocked on the door of their neighbor to give some cookies or do a good deed, so if they are Christians they celebrate Jesus.

So what do we do?  What would cause a country, based on the foundation of Christianity, who has gone so far left with their thoughts of tolerance, to get back to the roots of their belief and REALLY recognize Jesus?  The best I can come up with is that it starts with me. You.  What will I do with the gift that his been given to me?  How will I throw what America is giving me right back and choose TRUTH?  What does that look like?  I know what it looks like for me…..but what does it look like for you?  I don’t mean random acts of kindness or Facebook statuses that humbly promote what we believe, I mean what can you do in secret…just between you and God?  He knows all and sees all and knows your motive….who cares what others see you doing.  What can you do for His glory? Please don’t misunderstand, i’m not saying we shouldn’t love our neighbor and do good things for them, but I am talking about what Matthew says in chapter 6, verse 4, Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Your greatest gifts will undoubtedly be intimacy with the creator God and closeness with Him….is there any gift greater?

Maybe when we see a glimpse of God’s heart in this context, we will finally “get it” and realize the hope that came to earth over 2,000 years ago isn’t about anything else…..regardless of our cultural norms.

Chains

Happy New Year.  For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that I use titles of Beatles songs as titles for my blogs…they are my favorite band and its something I started doing a while ago…last year, I tried to switch to U2 song titles, but as you can see, I’m back to the fab four.

I had a pretty intense ministry related day yesterday, and since it kept me up most of the night, I thought this would be the most healthy way to process it.  I have recently begun working with a local ministry that focuses on ministering to victims of sex trafficking.  Let me begin by explaining what sex trafficking is:  when a person is taken away from home, family, and/or country against their will and sold into prostitution. Houston is the number one city in the US for illegal sex trafficking.  Yesterday, I went out with a team to visit some spas and pray with some of the ladies. One of the spas had girls who were all from Thailand. As we were walking in, a “customer” was walking out.  He was a tall man, stocky build, in his 30’s maybe early 40’s.  Dressed like he was running errands to Target or out grabbing a quick lunch; shorts, flip-flops, and a button up shirt.  Drove a nice Dodge Ram truck with an extended cab.  Oh, and did I fail to mention how polite he was to us….as we walked in, he held the door open for all four of us and smiled.  A perfect gentleman.  I hope you have a picture of this man in your head and realize that this guy looks no different from hundreds of other guys you probably know.  He could have been a dad, a husband, a church member, an executive…the list goes on and on.  One thing is certain….all people are weak and sin knows no boundaries.  I’m not trying to pick on this guy or single him out, but instead I am trying to show you that it’s not the nasty, sleazy, sinful pagans that we often equate to these institutions, but more times than not, it’s the typical guy next door.

When the girls found out we were there, they were very excited and all came out to the lobby to greet us.  While this is partly culture related, I also know they were happy to know somebody was there to pray for them.  There are two girls that I can’t get out of my mind.  They told me their names, but they were Thai names, and I can’t remember how to pronounce them.  One was very young, definitely under the age of 20 and she was new to the spa.  Underneath the layers of make-up and  polished smile was a frightened young girl.  When Jesus said the eyes were the lamp of the body (Matthew 6:22), He must have been talking about this girl…her eyes told us of the hurt, emptiness, and fear she felt.  I couldn’t stop looking at them.

One of the things we are supposed to do when we visit the spas is to gather as much info as we can about where the girls came from, and how long they have been here.  This helps us find out which ones are there illegally and which ones are there of their own free will.  I will be going to Thailand this summer, so I use this as a way to get into a discussion about where they came from and their home…One of the girls told me she moved here some time ago, but she will be going back for a visit this summer.  When those words came from her mouth, I immediately knew she was lying….again, it was the hurt I saw in her eyes.  She can’t go back because she was kidnapped.  Brought here against her will, and held here, forced to allow men to do as they please.  As we left, I hugged her and told her that I really do hope someday she can go back.  She dropped her head and simply nodded….I was broken.  It was all I could do not to cry when I got back to the car.

As I continue in obedience with this ministry, I will be posting as a means to process what is happening in my heart.  My prayer for you is that God will move you to get involved in what is happening in YOUR city.  Pray for the girls that I write about and for those involved in the ministry.  Pray for us as we visit the spas, we need protection both physically and emotionally.  If you have any questions or would like more information, please email me at tammimallory@gmail.com  and I will try to answer as best I can.

Until next time…

Boast No More (quote from Piper)

For the past several months, I have been asking God to teach me more about humility.  In addition to humbling me, which he does without my asking, he is actually teaching me what it looks like lived out.  Here is what i’m finding….

When we live out Acts 1:8 and The Great Commission, God will be glorified.  Why them, do we think it necessary to shout to the world via tweets, blogs, social network status’, etc that God just did something cool in your life?  He is God, and those things are happening all over the place everyday….without you and me.  He certainly doesn’t need to be bragged on, nor does he need to be called cool…lately, I almost find that offensive.  Its one thing to tell somebody what God is doing in your life…that is giving testimony, and we are commanded to do that.  In my opinion, that is all we are to do…I know a lot of missionaries serving overseas right now with countless stories of what they see God doing all around them.  How do I know God is moving in their places of service?  Because they advertise it?  No.  Because I know God and I know He moves…and I know the character of these men and women and I know that because of the godly character they portray, God is using them and as He uses them they are changing to be more like Him…and THAT’S what will win the world!

We are a very excitable culture.  We see a homeless man begging for food and we have just come from Chili’s with half of our meal in a styrophone container in the backseat….we come up to the stoplight and roll down the window, hand him the food, and all of the sudden we start feeling real good….we give it a title, “love in action” or whatever the cool thing is to say at the moment….we post what we did on line, we talk about it with our friends, and we hide behind phrases like” God is so awesome”, etc…  Yes.  He is….and we are not.  And when we are living as we should be, these things will be happening on a daily basis, and He will begin transforming YOU to be more Christ-like.  This will be evident without you ever having to tell a soul…or at least if its done in humility, it should be.  He doesn’t need acolades, he needs prayer and praise to be done privately, or in a setting with like-minded believers.

Do we really think were going to win the world by “bragging on God”?  Is it really God were bragging on, or are we just tooting our own horn?  Keep in mind, all the world wants to see is us changed and consistent with the life we say we lead.  They want our testimony as to what has happened to us personally….funny I don’t see anything on the internet saying “I once was a drug addicted junkie, but now Jesus had changed my life”….or…. “I still fall into temptation over (you fill in the blank) but God remains faithful to deliver me”…. THIS is what changes lives.  THIS is what the lost need to hear.

God doesn’t need to be bragged on….He needs your transparency.  And to me, this is real humility.

This is by no way pointed at any particular person or group, I have done the very thing I am talking about several times, but as I said in the beginning…I have been asking God to show me what real humility looks like, and this is what I am seeing.  Thanks for reading…sorry if I stepped on toes (or egos)…guess I should be used to that by now.

Deep In The Heart (pt 1)

I’ve found that the best way to process and decipher what I am learning and what God is showing me is to write about it.  This blog is about two weeks overdue, and will have to come in two parts as there is a lot of information I want to give.  My prayer is that you too will need some time to process this:

I have been doing an in-depth study on the book of Jeremiah for several weeks now.  This morning, our teacher made some points that have set my mind in a whirlwind all day…as we begin chapter 12, we see Jeremiah basically questioning why God is allowing all the bad in the world to continue…why is the wicked prospering? He is pleading with God to judge them and even blames them for harming the land (v.4).  Before I continue, it is important to understand that God chose Israel to be His people and these were the very people in which Jeremiah was irritated with.  He couldn’t understand why God would allow those whom He chose to ‘get away’ with the things that they were doing…..Lets make this applicable for 2010…have you ever done this?  I have.

Often times, my line of thinking is just like Jeremiah’s.  Wondering why God allows for things that are happening in the world today:  abortion, same-sex marriages, corruption in government, wars, celebrities and athletes getting rich while people all over the world starve and die….the list could go on.  I imagine you could add several things to the list yourself.

As I discuss God’s response…and I will challenge you to look deep within your heart and ask God to speak to you if need be.  In verse 5 God says:  “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?  And if in the land of peace, In which you have trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the flood plain of the Jordan?”

God being omniscient is basically telling Jeremiah in verse 5 that he (Jeremiah) hasn’t seen anything  yet.  If what is happening is bothering him this much now (if you have run with the footmen), how does he expect to handle what is yet to come (how can you contend with horses)?  God knew that what Israel was doing was terrible and it grieved Him deeply…but they were His children, and just as any parent would…He had to let them go on their way, all the while knowing that they will eventually return to Him….AFTER they come up empty to what the world had to offer.

Now, why did this affect me so much and why did I feel led to write about it??  Lets bring this back to you and me….For practical purposes, I think its safe to say that we live in peace.  Nobody today has told me how and where to worship, stuck a gun in my face for combat, or threatened me in any way….so for the sake of argument, I think I am living in peaceful times.  So was Jeremiah at the time this was written.  God was telling Jeremiah and he is telling us, that we need not worry about those things…yes, they are terrible and they break the heart of God.  Yes, we should pray about them.  But do we need to worry?  Do we need to jump on protesting bandwagons for this cause and that?  Do we need to voice every opinion we have even at the risk of damaging our witness to a watching world?  I don’t think so.

Why not choose the alternative….hold close to the fact that none of this has taken God by surprise; in fact it was written about and happening thousands of years ago.  Lets realize that it is going to get worse because it is prophesied in the Bible and there really isn’t anything we can do about it….and neither can our government.  Wouldn’t it be more in line with the heart of God if we simply….loved?  Loved the ones we find so easy to shake a fist at while we’re on our knees?  Wouldn’t it bless God more to see His children more concerned with what is happening IN their hearts, rather than what is going on AROUND us?  It seems to me, that we are more focused on causes and what is going on around us, than what is going on inside us….and inside me is really the only thing I have control over…..maybe its easier to fill our life with causes and rallying against injustices that we can’t fix, rather than fill our hearts with the only thing that is real.  Love.

Oh God, please take my plank filled eyes off of the things of which I have no control over, and place them in the shadow of the cross….  That I may seek the lost sheep, and point them to truth and the way home.  Break my heart for what breaks yours.  Amen.

Surrender

The call.  I still have it.  It hasn’t been dulled or gone anywhere.  But this past summer in Ethiopia, God showed me something about the call.  I have it.  And so do you.

I had always considered that Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8 basically said the same thing.

Matthew 28:19-20

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Acts 1:8

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Both are straight quotes from Jesus, both are directed toward the New Testament Church, and both are missional in nature.  But, both are also very different.  Let me explain what God showed me, then I will explain the meaning behind calling this post, surrender.

I had always thought that we are missionaries right where we are planted….be it in our neighborhoods, at our place of employment, at the grocery store….wherever you are at the moment is your mission field.  You could have asked me 4 weeks ago, “Tammi, where is your mission field?”  My response, without hesitation would have been, “Houston, Texas, Sagemont area, Fairmont Jr High, and the college students”.  My response would have been incorrect.  All those places are my Jerusalem as mentioned in Acts 1:8, not my mission field..huge difference.

Every Jesus Christ believing, born again Christian has an obligation to uphold by being His witnesses as mentioned in Acts 1:8. This means that no matter where you are in the world, you will bear witness to being a Christ follower.  We know this is a commandment for all people who are born again because Jesus says “when the Holy Spirit comes on you”, and we know that the Holy Spirit is upon everyone who has confessed Jesus as Lord with their lips and believed it in their heart.  Therefore if you are a believer, Acts 1:8 is for you.  You are expected to be a witness for Christ wherever you go whenever you go there….24/7.  This is non negotiable.  Therefore you are called.  Now on the the Great Commission….

The key word in Matthew 24:19-20 is go.  Two letters make all the difference in this lame attempt at exegeting these verses and showing the difference.  Go. Again, this is a quote and commandment straight from Jesus.  As I see it, we can go in one of two ways:  physically go ourselves, or send somebody to go.  I realize that there are many people who are born again believers who cannot simply jump on a plane and go spend some time in a foreign country or in another state (yes, going can also happen in America).  BUT, that isn’t an excuse.  There was no BUT in the quote…Jesus said “go and make disciples”.  So, if you can’t physically go, you can send.  This is missions.  Actually going someplace out of your comfortable Jerusalem and teaching others about Christ, showing them how to grow in Him, and baptizing them in hopes that others will believe as well.  This is the Great Commission.  Go or send.  As I see it, again, we are all called to do this….which one are you doing?  Are you sending others?  Are you going yourself?  Either way you should be doing something….You my friend, are called.

As I have stated in previous posts, my blog titles are all titles of songs from the band, U2.  This one was especially appropriate today because there is such an element of conviction in that single word.  Surrender.  It can mean so many different things to so many different people.  In light of this post, it issues a charge to you, the reader.  Will you be a witness in your Jerusalem? Your Judea? Samaria and to the Ends of the Earth? I hope so, because you are called.  How about your part of the Great Commission?  Are you going?  Are you sending?  Perhaps you are doing both?  Either way….my brother, my sister……you….are….called!

And what a privilege that is!!