Friday, December 31, 2010


Just before Thanksgiving, I was driving along on a familiar stretch of road near my house and was captivated by the beauty around me. The colors I saw were bold and bright in their rustic and earthy tones as the leaves of the trees had morphed into what many believe is their most magnificent hue. I began to wonder about the season we call “The Fall” and how it so represents that infamous biblical event with the same name.

When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, they “fell.” And, from what heights they did fall! They were created for relationship with God and with each other. They were created for eternity. But, our sovereign Lord knew the choice they would make and also what He would have to do to rectify their sin. God sent them out of Paradise into a world filled with thistles and thorns, with heavy labor and pain, but… not devoid of ALL that is good.

Even in this fallen world, we see beauty. It isn’t constant, and it is never perfect, but there are glimpses of Eden here and now. And, with every little glimpse of goodness and light, color and joy, the warmth of the sun or the crispness of fall, we see God. He reminds us everyday, “You’re not alone.” He screams it in the sunset, “I’m here!”

“I’m with you!”

“I love you.”

He sends us gifts like snow in winter to cover the nakedness of the leafless trees and lifeless fields making what is barren beautiful. God is good and mysterious and wonderful. I’ve sung about white Christmases all my life but never imagined that it might really happen here in Alabama, but it did. Life is so like that, unexpected. On Christmas Day in Alabama, it snowed. It didn’t cover the ground, and it was mixed with rain at times, but it snowed! The first snow in my 40 Christmases spent in Alabama. I wondered all day about it. Why is it snowing? What does it mean, God?

My Bronner had gone to heaven on the day of the first snow in Alabama in six years, January 19, 2008, and now it was snowing on Christmas Day 2010. Another friend of mine buried her adopted daughter on a snowy day in February 2009, and the snow comforts her. She has always seen it as symbolic of the purity, the innocence, and the goodness of her sweet Emme. Snow is never comforting to me. It’s beautiful to me, and as I have watched it fall, I have felt so many emotions from peace to melancholy to even joy.

I truly believe that everything matters, everything, and that God is speaking to us all the time and in every possible way. I, for one, want to listen. I want to know what God is saying to me through the snow mixed with rain. Maybe He was saying that the cold, dark days I’ve spent here on earth since Bronner’s been in heaven won’t last forever and that the many tears I’ve cried have all been kept in His bottle. Maybe He was saying that goodness and light can fall on a fallen earth and that something else is on the horizon, the dawning of a new day when tears will never fall and winter will not bring death.

God has a plan for redemption, for restoration, for life.

Fall becomes winter, and winter… becomes spring. And, spring brings life. If all was not lost in the fall, then all is not lost in winter either. The cold, dark winter of our souls bears a seed that in springtime will awaken. If fall represents the dying (and we all are, both fallen and dying) and winter represents death, spring is the resurrection of all that is good. Spring is life and brings life. And, we know that it is coming, so in that, we take comfort, and we bide the fall and the winter with the hopes of spring.

But, the seasons are not only for biding. There is a purpose for every season under heaven just as there is a season for every purpose under heaven. So many people say that fall is their favorite season, and rightly so in a way. It is the here and now. It is what we can see, feel, and touch. It is a reminder that all is not lost. There is so much to be thankful for in the fall. Here is the harvest, a time to bring in the crops, a time to work. Most of us aren’t farmers, but even in my little garden, I found that there is so much work to do when the “crops” come in. For instance, corn comes in all at once. You have to either eat it, dry it, or freeze it right away, because it doesn’t last long. Time is imperative with a crop like corn.

We must remember to work in fall, to help bring in the harvest for God, the harvest of souls searching for the seed to resurrect their spirits in springtime. Everyone wants to live. We were created that way. We were created for life, for God, for something each one of us knows deep inside is there… Eden, Paradise. We’ve never been there, but we remember it somehow. It’s deep within us, and all of us are searching for our way back. Some have found the way, the truth, and the life, and those who have, have to show the others. It’s required. It is not suggested, but commanded. But, even this is a gift.

What are we doing with the time God has given us to live here in “The Fall?” Are we bringing in the harvest of souls put before us? Are we praying for spring? Are we working as if time was of the essence? Are we reminded of God’s plan and purpose for man and the earth with each coming season? Do we take time to reflect on and ponder God’s goodness and grace?

Every night is dark, but every morning is the dawning of a new day! Everything in nature and in time testifies to the resurrection. As the caterpillar inches his way into his own tomb only to come out a new creature, more vibrant and beautiful than before, so will we. Just as dying brings death and winter brings the cold, Jesus brings life. Jesus walked out of that tomb on Easter morning. He was dead, and behold, He is alive forevermore, and He is making ALL THINGS NEW.

So, when springtime comes, dance, and when summer is here, rejoice! Work in the fall, and reflect in winter. It is all from the Lord, and He is perfect. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Drink in every new day with expectation, the expectation that God will speak, the expectation that there are gifts around every corner and that with every new year, there is growth within the Kingdom of God. Grow your gifts in this New Year, seek the holiness and mystery of God Almighty, and challenge yourself to see what could be. Spring will come. Let us prepare ourselves for it, for Him who is coming to revive our souls, to wipe away every tear, and to make all things new.

Happy New Year, my friends!

With love,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Speech to Christian Women Job Corps (given Nov. 8, 2010)

Hi, I’m Sherri Burgess, and I am thrilled and honored to be here in Huntsville today. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon us all.

Well, my story is story of hope. As a young girl, I remember looking up into the sky and wondering what life was all about. I had the same questions I’m sure many of you have had. “What am I doing here?” “Where are you, God?” “Why can’t I see you?” “Do you see me?” “Do you love me?”

I knew Jesus had died for my sins. I had heard that for as long as I could remember, but I didn’t understand why He had to die. Couldn’t God forgive us of our sins without having to crucify His son? And, a big question I had even as a young adult was “Is Jesus the only way? Would God really send all those other people to hell?”

See, I didn’t know God, so I didn’t understand Him, but thankfully, the bible tells us that if you seek God with all your heart, you will find him. All those questions I was asking weren’t stupid. They were good, because the bible also tells us that if anyone lacks understanding he should ask God. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for wisdom. I wanted to know the answers, and I found them and I keep finding them… right here.

This Word is truth. It’s the only truth… and it is absolute. The God of the Bible is God. How do I know? Because, now, I know Him. I’ve talked with Him, and He has talked with me. He has given me of His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who searches and reveals all things.

Have you ever seen someone at a potter’s wheel when they have the wet clay and they start shaping with their hands something from the clay? Well, God is that for us. He molds and shapes us into what He wants us to be.

For a long time in my life, I think I just sat there on the wheel, this big lump of wet clay. The potter’s wheel may have been spinning, but God’s hand wasn’t upon me, so I was being made into nothing. And, I sat there a useless lump of clay for a long time.

But, then God’s hand touched me, and that lump of clay that was my life started to take shape. He smoothed out rough edges. He added vibrant color and precious gems, and anyone could see that what God was making was very beautiful. But God, in His infinite wisdom, looked at the vessel of clay he was making, and said, “I can do better.” So, he took all that he had been building and smashed it back down to the wheel. The life that had been was no more. It had been crushed, taken back down to nothing, but…

God’s hand gently touched the clay once more and He started sculpting something else, something very different from before… something sure, something useful, not quite as vibrant or beautiful anymore… just a humble pot filled with tears and marked with sorrow, but a pot who now knows who is doing the building in her life.

When you come face to face with death, you realize you have no power over it. You realize that you are in control of nothing and that God alone gives life or takes it. He is power. He is might. He is sovereign Lord above all things, and we… are clay in His hands. He does what He will among men. And once you realize and understand how great God is, then you’ll have gained a real jewel in your crown, humility. You’ll understand as Job did that naked you came from your mother’s womb, and naked you shall you return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.

On that day when God took my baby, Bronner, I knew God, and I knew him to be good. I had tasted and had seen the Lord’s goodness. He had lifted me up out of darkness, out of the miry clay, into the light. I could see, and I knew where my help comes from. So, I ran to my Father, and that little girl in me came out again and asked those same questions I had asked so many years before.

“Where are you, God?” “Why can’t I see you?” “Do you see me?” “What am I doing here when my baby is there?” “Don’t you love me, God?”

And, He had to answer those questions all over again for me.

And He said, “I am on my throne, and you will see my face. I love you with an everlasting love. Those I love I discipline and reprove. I don’t give as the world gives. But, I bind up the brokenhearted and comfort all those who mourn. I give them a beautiful headdress instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

“Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

I said to God, “But, we were so happy. We were so happy, God.” And, He said, “But I want you to be holy, set apart for my good purposes.”

And, again, I said to God, “There is nothing worse than losing a child. Nothing! I know you lost your son, but you got him back after three days. Three days!” And He said, “But what about the others? All those I have to send away from my presence for eternity. Those who breathe the breath of life I have given them. They are all mine. You are going to get this glorious reunion with your son, but not all of my children will I see again except on that day when they rise only to die a second death.”

Then I understood from God’s perspective, and I had compassion for God. He loves each person and desires a relationship with us all. I could see that God saw fit to take away my happy life, for a time, so that some others of his flock could come home. I could also see that I was losing my life here on earth, so I could gain it for eternity.

Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Jesus is coming again. He’s coming for us. And, I believe that it’s soon. No man knows the hour or the day, but Jesus Himself said, “Behold, I am coming soon.” “Surely I am coming soon.” “I am coming soon.”

This is our great hope. Do you realize that? Our hope is in eternal life with God. If this is all there is, then we are to be pitied. But, it’s not all there is. It’s not. We do have hope.

Romans 8:24-25 say, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Does that mean we just sit around and wait for Jesus to appear in the clouds?

No… we are to be about our Father’s business until that day.

And, just as John the Baptist was a herald of his first coming making straight the way of the Lord and crying out for people to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand, we should be shouting from the rooftops the same thing. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

If John the Baptist was a herald of his first coming, we who are His children now are to be heralds of his second coming.

John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Let us also say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Jesus is alive, and He is saying to us in this generation, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades.”

Wake up from your slumber and behold the living God.

Behold Him, have him in your sights, and Trust Him no matter what life throws at you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. I have said that to myself over and over and over again. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and in all thy way acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

We’re all going to trials and tribulation in this world, but in this we rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, we have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of our faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

“And after we have suffered a little while,” the bible says, “the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.”

So, stand firm. Fight the good fight, run your race, and in the end you will be more than conquerors in the fight. You will win, if you do not give up, the crown of righteousness and gain eternal life.

What is not worth that? Nothing. I can endure. I can stand. I can because of Christ.

I say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet shall I hope in Him.” Even if He kills me, I will still hope in Him, because God is our only hope. We live in a world of hurt, of sickness, of pain, of turmoil and strife, but it won’t always like this.

The heroes of our faith from Hebrews Chapter 11, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joseph, Noah, all these died in faith, the bible says, not having received the things promised but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

John saw that city. He said, “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Jesus will make all things new. I will see my baby, Bronner, again. I will hold him in my arms, and I will raise him up on a perfect earth where there will be no sickness or pain or even sin.

And, when that happens all my suffering, all these days without Bronner, will fade into a distant memory as this slight momentary affliction will have prepared for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

And, since I know what’s coming, I have the strength to hold on until that day. I can endure this life, because I know in whom I have believed. And, not only can I endure it, I can be useful in it. I can be used of God. My son, Bronner, the baby, the one that brought us so much happiness was taken from us for this purpose, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, that all who believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That is our great hope, eternal life there with Him. Even though we die, we live. That’s the gospel. And I am ambassador in chains for it.

“And the rain fell, and floods came, and winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall for it had been founded on the rock.”

Let’s pray:

“Father God, thank you for being with us today, and thank you for the hope we have in Jesus. I pray, Lord, that if there are any here today who don’t know that kind hope, that today will be the day they find it. Your word tells us to seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you. It is my prayer that your Holy Spirit will convict each of us of our sin and that we will turn from it and seek a life fully devoted to you, Lord. Let us walk as children of Light and as heralds of Your return. We know that you are coming for us, and we welcome you, Lord Jesus. But, until that day comes, God bless our state and our nation in order that we may shine Your light to ends of the earth. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Mission in China

I recently received this e-mail from a family friend, Anne Marie Musgrove, a young woman who along with her husband, Chris, has chosen a life of service to the Lord. They are only home for a few months - long enough to have a baby. They plan to take his passport photo on the day he’s born, and when they receive it back (maybe four weeks more), they’ll return to China where they’ve been for the past two years working with college age students sharing the gospel of Christ.

Dear friends and family,

I wanted to share a snippet of my heart with you and two reasons why it is heavy this morning. I went walking a while ago, like many other mornings, which serves as a great time for me to think / process life / pray / etc. Towards the end of my walk, for some reason reality began to sink in for the first time of what is going to happen in a few short weeks. We are about to have a baby… and then shortly after take that new born on a 15 hour plane ride across the world. My mind kept playing scenarios of what the day is going to be like when me, Chris and Maddox say goodbye to our support system here and board the plane at the Birmingham airport… I got really sad. Not necessarily because I am afraid to take baby Maddox to China or that I don’t think that with God we can handle living in a 3rd world country as first time parents with a new born. It was more of, hey this is gonna be so much harder than I have let myself admit, and now I’m admitting it. I felt so overwhelmed at that moment. As my train of thought was ending, I rounded the corner and as I looked up I saw an Asian mother with her little girl walking toward me. I began to weep uncontrollably. All at once I felt the weight of a lost nation desperate to hear about the saving power of Christ. It was like God put those two people in front of me to put everything in perspective… to remind me and reassure me of his calling in mine and Chris’s life, regardless of how uncomfortable or difficult it is or will be. This is what I want my life to be about… dying to myself and my ultimate comfort to bring others life.

I totally believe that the Lord is completely sufficient for our journey ahead. (and is even okay with me having occasional breakdowns…as he is faithful to remind me of truth.)

But, as tears kept coming I began to think about the magnitude of what has to happen for us to even be able to return to China – the place we feel that God has called us for the time being. How in the world are we going to raise almost $2000 more monthly in the next 2 months? To be honest, right now it seems impossible. BUT, I know that we serve a faithful King who provides for his children, and has provided for Chris and me for a long time.

I write this to you as my closest friends and family so that you would pray with us that in the next 2 months we would see our support come in and that we would continue to trust in God’s provision for us as we take Maddox to China.


Anne Marie

“This is what I want my life to be about… dying to myself…”

Let the words of this sweet 20-something-year-old girl and first time mom sit on your heart for just a minute.

“I totally believe that the Lord is completely sufficient for our journey ahead.”

I’ve been reading Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, lately, and in it Stearns reminds us over and over again that we are to be the hands and feet and mouth and heart and every other bodily part of Christ in this world.

Some will be called to far away places like Anne Marie and Chris, and some, like Rick and me, will be called to battle here at home, but I’ve seen what it’s like in some of these far away places. In Stearn’s book he tells the story of a woman named Margaret who was maimed during an attack on her village by rebel’s in Uganda. While they hacked Margaret’s friends to death with machetes, they let her live because she was pregnant, yet they cut off her nose, ears, and lips and left her to die. She lived and had her baby, James.

Stearns writes that for most of us, “There is nothing in our frame of reference that allows us to understand such brutality.” While that is true, there is something in my “frame of reference” that sees what Margaret may have looked like after that attack. I saw a woman in India at the Mother Teresa Center for Death and Dying who didn’t have a nose or eyes. When I first saw her, I thought maybe she had leprosy since that is still a common disease in India even though great strides have been made toward wiping it out. But, when we saw a baby on the subway whose face was mutilated, someone in our party explained that the baby had probably had acid thrown in his face by a jealous boyfriend or husband.

That made me think of the woman with no eyes or nose and wonder what had really happened to her. I have to say that I don’t agree with some of what is written in Stearns’ book. I think he writes from his own experience and from what he has seen. I believe he writes from his own heart, but I do agree with him that the church in America has to wake up and see their role in this world. We are blessed beyond measure. “Our cup runneth over.” I believe God has blessed us in this way in order to help others. If we can help someone else, why wouldn’t we? If we can share the gospel of Christ, why wouldn’t we? If we could give, isn’t that what we should do?

There is much suffering in this world. We all suffer, and we can’t compare suffering. My heart breaks everyday not only because of my own loss but also because I have seen real evil in this world. My heart breaks over the sin and suffering and pain not just in India or in China but also for the girl in Helena who has had her only child ripped from her arms. It’s overwhelming when you think about the fallen state of our world and what it could be and will be one day. The contrast is too great to really even comprehend, a world without evil, sin, or death… We’ve never seen that, but we will if we continue in faith, love, and holiness as we eagerly await our Savior. One day our faith will become sight, but it takes endurance and patience in order to wait that out. But, as we wait, let us not be idle, and when our Lord comes for us, let Him find us doing all that He has bid us do.

Let me blow your mind one more time. Think about this… In spite of all the pain and suffering that goes on in this world that none of us is immune to, God’s way is perfect. He does absolutely no wrong. All His ways are good and perfect and just.

So many ask, “How can a good God let this or that go on?” But, I say maybe the answer is… TO GIVE YOU A PURPOSE. If you see devastation and ask, "How can God… ?" maybe you need to ask yourself, "How can I… ?"

“Trust and obey,” the hymn says, “for there is no other way.”

God has made each of us for a purpose. Maybe the dying woman in India was made to receive my compassion, and I was made to give it. The giver nor the receiver is better in God’s eyes, but He has caused it to be so according to His will and His good purpose that we may never see, know, or understand.

I know a woman who adopted a little boy who had been so severely abused by his biological mother that he is paralyzed from the waist down. That happened in Mississippi. But, even in the life of this beautiful woman who took this handicapped boy into her life and heart and made him her own, life wasn’t perfect, and she was not immune to marital problems and even divorce.

Life here on earth stinks sometimes, and all of it weighs heavily on me at times. I don’t like it, but God has shown me that I must endure. I can’t leave my wall halfway built. I’ve got to keep building, climbing, reaching ever higher. It’s hard. The way of the Lord isn’t an easy one. When we choose to follow Christ, we follow Him wherever He takes us. He’s taking Anne Marie and Chris to China, and they are dependent on Him for everything.

But, if Christ lives in us… they are dependent on us.

If they are willing to go, then we should be willing to send them.

I’m asking you to join me in sending Anne Marie and Chris and little Maddox to China. Anne Marie and Chris work for an organization that requires them to be at full support before they leave. They will not allow them to go to China with their newborn unfunded, and they must raise their own support.

If you would like to be a part of spreading the good news of the gospel to the future leaders of China, please help Anne Marie and Chris raise the money they need to go back.

Here’s how:

Click on my blog link titled "Send Anne Marie and Chris Musgrove to China." This will take you straight to their giving page. Their names may not be on the page, but 0544888 is their staff account number which is what comes up. Anything given here will go into their staff account. When you click on "give a gift," it will take you to a page where you can type in the amount and whether you want to give one time, monthly, etc.

Thanks for caring, sending, loving, supporting, praying, giving, going…

But, most of all thank you for being in love with God and for answering His call to action. I know this has not been a first for you, and I know it will not be the last my dear friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.

I pray for compassion to continue to dwell in our hearts for all people and for God’s strength for the battle.

With love and hope and faith,


Sunday, October 10, 2010


It is made up of the sum of the World number, 4, and 6, the number of Man. It is probably based on the decimal system, suggested by the 10 digits of hands or feet. It was looked upon as a complete number and was used as such in the Ten Commandments. In the parable of the Ten Virgins it gives the legal number necessary for a Jewish function. In the Ten Toes of Nebuchadnezzar's Image and the Ten Horns of Daniel's "Fourth Beast," that point to the Ten Kings, or Kingdoms, typified by the Ten Horns of John's "Beast" (Revelation 17:3, 12), we see the summing up of Gentile power in Ten Federated Kingdoms, which will be the completion of worldly Gentile rule, and which will be destroyed by the "Stone Kingdom" of Christ. Then we have the Ten "pieces of silver" in the parable of the Lost Coin from Luke 15:8 and the Ten servants to whom were entrusted Ten pounds and one rewarded by being given authority over Ten cities (Luke 19:13,17) also the Ten plagues of Egypt and other uses of number Ten scattered through the Scriptures.

(taken from Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin, 1920)

I didn't notice when 7/7/7 (July 7, 2007) came and went, but now I know how significant that day was. We were wrapping up our beach vacation at Rosemary Beach. It would be the last time I would be there with Bronner. Sometime after Bronner went to heaven on January 19, 2008, we started noticing sevens as you may have read or heard about before. Each of his names, William Bronner Burgess, has seven letters for 777. His birthday was 5-27-2007, 777. He was the seventh member of our family. The last full year of his life was 2007, etc. Seven is the number of perfection, completion, fullness. God was showing us that Bronner's life was complete and perfect at 2 1/2 years, and now I believe that 7/7/7 marked the beginning of our last days with him. God had ordained his life. After trying unsuccessfully for about a year, I began to fast and pray for a child, and on the third day of my fast I realized I was pregnant. How's that for answered prayer? But, God had also ordained the day that He would bring him to Himself. So, I am determined not to let this day 10/10/10 pass without my notice. I do believe that we are living in the last days and that Christians everywhere should assume their role as heralds of Christ's return. As John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord," we should be crying the same thing. Let's cry aloud, "Prepare Your Hearts for the Lord." On this tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year, let's set aside worldliness and determine ourselves to live lives holy and acceptable to the Lord. Let's be bold and ON FIRE!!! Let us cast off the lukewarmness of our generation and open the door to a knocking Savior who wants to rejuvenate and empower His people. Arise, church... awake from your slumber... YOUR KING IS COMING!!! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

This passage of scripture is among the most amazing, miraculous, and beautiful of all scriptures, yet it is so humbling at the same time. This passage of scripture not only gives us hope but also gives us purpose. To think that the old sinful self that was me is no longer, that it’s gone, passed away, and that who I am today is a completely new creature, pure, holy, and beautiful in the sight of the Lord is to think of God’s great mercy and grace. And, to think that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me, is to think of a love that surpasses comprehension. So undeserving are we of Christ’s beauty and grace, His great love, His sinlessness, His righteousness, yet He has freely given all these to us limitlessly.

But, maybe even more humbling than all of this, if that were possible, is the fact that those of us who have been reconciled to God through our faith in Jesus as Christ and Savior is the fact that we have now been given the responsibility to act on God’s behalf in the world. We are “ambassadors for Christ.” And, He has “entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Wow! God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation, God reconciling the world to Himself, and doing it through us! Us! Unbelievable! Not only am I awestruck by the trust God has given to me and to others like me who make it our aim to live for Christ, but I am also humbled at such a daunting task. Do you really trust ME, God, to deliver your message of hope and grace and love to the peoples of the world? I want to be found trustworthy. I want to be found faithful. I want to be found being about my Father’s business, my Father’s business.

A few week’s ago, a guest preacher spoke at our church’s Sunday morning service, and he greeted us in this way, “Good morning to all my Father’s children.” That statement in and of itself is so profound. When we begin to see God as our Father, someone to love, someone to share our hopes and dreams with, someone we know cares for us, someone we can trust, someone who knows us and loves us like no other, then we begin to really care about Him, too. We begin to care about the things He cares about. We begin to care about the people He cares about.

Most of my good friends have children. I may not know their children like they know them, but I know my friends, and I care about what they care about. If one of Susan or Julie or Linda’s children needed anything, anything at all, and I was able to give it to them, I would. It would bring me pleasure to do so, because I love my friends, and I know that my friends love their children more than almost anything at all. Their children are their treasure. Their children are their joy, and if one of them is in need, then their mother is in need.

This is so for God.

God called Abraham friend, and we are friends of God when we love, trust, and obey Him. We bring joy to the Lord when we are what He calls us to be… Ambassadors for Christ.

Lisa Ann Muir-Taylor is a woman I’m getting to know better and better all the time. She inspires me, because she is the Ambassador for Christ God has called her to be.

I know Lisa Ann because our children go to school together. Her daughter, Sophie, was in Brooks’ class the year he lost his little brother, Bronner. Lisa Ann came to the memorial service, and she heard the passionate cry of a man who knew he had lost his son because of the sin of the world. She heard the Holy Spirit take over as Rick began to speak words filled with urgency for the message of the Gospel of Christ. Rick gave statistics that day that revealed a church satisfied with itself, a church not on fire for sharing their faith but more like the Laodicean church written to in Revelation that God says He will spit out of His mouth for their lack of zeal.

Something in what the Holy Spirit cried that day through Rick’s words went straight to Lisa Anne’s heart, and she began to pray for God to use her. This former nurse asked, “How can I share my faith with a lost world?” And, she heard God’s answer to her. It was hard for her to believe, though. Was she hearing Him right?

“Are you serious, God?”

“Yes,” He confirmed. It was so clear.

Lisa Ann knew God was calling her to start a CLOTHING LINE! Crazy, yes, but true.

Lisa Ann is a mother. She has four children. Sophie is her youngest, so she knew what was out there for teens and young people. Some of these stores that target youth are offensive to even walk into for a person of God. The advertisements are selling one thing, sex, and the more provocative the better. That is just not okay for a 15-year-old girl.

Where is the Godly alternative?

There wasn’t one.

But there is now.

Nations Outfitters was the answer to Lisa Ann’s prayer, “What can I do, God?”

“This whole thing has been so God directed,” Lisa Ann said. “He has even given me the designs. I can see them. I know this is a vision from God, and I know this is what He wants me to do. I would have never thought of myself as a clothing designer, but I guess that’s what I am. It’s just amazing where God can lead you if you really listen.”

Lisa Ann says, “It’s what you do in your clothes that makes you beautiful.” Nations emphasizes inner beauty, a beauty that gets outside yourself and thinks about others. She wants to help teens and young people realize their worth and their true potential as children of God. “It’s a lot easier to get out there and help somebody than you might think,” Lisa Ann said.

She organized a Habitat for Humanity Day this summer where students from around Birmingham came and helped build a house for a family in the Wylam Oaks Community in Fairfield, and she hopes to continue to do more and more community projects. Go to her website at and you’ll see photos of high school and college students on mission trips, doing volunteer work, and giving of themselves. “That’s the kind of person we want to highlight,” said Lisa Ann.

To top off all of that, the clothes are awesome! They’re kind of funky and fun. There’s lots of color and movement. It’s the kind of clothing young people like to wear. It’s just a new a way of thinking about your clothes.

It’s not an in-your-face Christian clothing line. Everything is done subtly. The name, Nations Outfitters, comes from Matthew 28:19 which says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The logo, a descending dove, represents the Holy Spirit who helps us to do the right things of God, who comforts us in trial, and who strengthens us for battle. But, the best thing, to me, is that there’s a bible verse inside each garment. I’m wearing a Nations shirt today that has this verse pressed inside, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

Lisa Ann came to know the Lord as an adult. She was at a Rolling Stones concert when someone handed her a little slip of paper with this verse written on it, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; and Hebrews 13:5)

She wanted to know who it was who would never leave her nor forsake her and so began her journey in pursuit of the Lord.

"Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened unto you." (Matthew 7:7)

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The word of God cuts through to our hearts, so, yes, one verse can make a difference in someone’s life. Lisa Ann hopes her clothes will be used to help expand God’s Kingdom directly through the truths shared in each article of clothing but also indirectly by highlighting good works and by enriching the lives of those students who have already begun their journey with Christ.

I remember when Lisa Ann first told me about this vision she had. It was about a year after Bronner had gone to heaven. We went to lunch, and this woman of action had already laid the groundwork for her new company. She had sketches of clothes for me to see. She had already hired someone to help her. She was getting ready to go to a fabric show. She had the name and the branding ready. She was well on her way. She told me she had waited to tell me until she knew for sure this thing was really going to happen.

But, she was very excited and wanted me to be excited too because she saw Nations as a part of Bronner’s legacy. She gave me a determined look and said almost sternly, “I want you to know this wouldn’t have happened without Bronner.”

I was at her house this week trying on the “Sherri Shirt” from the new fall line and gave her a picture of sweet Bronner. She wanted one for her office. She never really knew Bronner, but she knows that my sweet baby, God’s baby, is a bold pattern in the tapestry God is weaving through her life. And, I’m so glad. So many people told me after Bronner went to heaven that God had changed them through Bronner’s story, but with Lisa Ann there’s something a little more there. God has not only impacted her personally through precious Bronner and his story, but He has used him in Lisa Anne's life to begin a whole new ministry. There’s just something wonderful in that, and it makes a momma’s heart so glad to know that her child can be used of the Lord is so many unexpected ways.

So, I am Lisa Anne's biggest fan here on earth, but I know there are some bigger fans watching from above. And, I know Nations Outfitters is going to make a difference in this world for young people, because God is behind it. And, when we give God control of our lives, there's no limit to what He can do.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Allied Women

In my last blog, I told you about a story in the bible in which a good king seeks God’s help and receives it. God says, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) I told you that I had noticed a pattern from the Old Testament of how Israel usually follows their king. If Israel has a good king, the people are good, but if they have a bad king, they follow his evil ways and go after other gods. There’s a lesson in this for us as Americans.

If we elect Godless leaders, then our nation will become Godless, but if we elect Godly leaders…

Someone has said, “So the laws go, so the culture goes.”

When Roe v. Wade legalized abortion…

When prayer was taken out of public schools…

America as a nation has been on a downward spiral away from God for a long time now. It certainly didn’t begin with the Obama Administration, but hopefully we have reached the climax with him and can turn the nation around and begin a march back toward our roots as a Christian nation.

Some friends of mine and I began praying during the last Presidential campaign not really believing what was happening. We prayed 2 Chronicles 7:14 a lot, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

I realized during that time that this verse was talking to me and my friends and others who are called by the name of Christ. “If MY people who are called by MY name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from THEIR wicked ways, then…”

American Christians, in general, aren’t on fire for the Lord. We’re weak in our faith and strong in the world. And, frankly, we’re too nice. Sometimes God requires a fight. Our apathy and our worldliness have gotten us where we are right now. It’s time for American Christians to be bold, to fight, and to put our working shoes on.

Another pattern I’ve noticed from the Old Testament is that when God makes a promise to Israel, it doesn't always happen right away, and many times it requires some effort on their part. Case in point, when God first gave Israel their promised land, it was inhabited. God had said it, so it was theirs, but they still had to fight for it. So, they marched into battle and won their land away from the wicked people who had lived there before them.

That's what we need to do, draw up a battle plan, bath it in prayer, and march into battle against the evil that is trying to destroy us.

Here’s what my friends and I did. First, we got ourselves educated about political issues. We have a conservative think tank here in Birmingham called the Alabama Policy Institute, so we met with its President, Gary Palmer, to talk about what we, as concerned citizens, could do. We learned that taking back our nation doesn’t begin with the White House, top to bottom, but rather with a more bottom up approach.

He advised us to work to develop a strong state government that could defend itself against big government ideology coming down from Washington. State government also feeds itself into the federal government. Governors become Presidents, and State Legislators become Congressmen. One of the big problems we have, Gary told us, is that good people are hard to come by. They just don’t want to get involved in politics. We need people to be willing to run for office. It’s icky out there, so I understand. But, in order to make the changes we need and want, then we’re going to have to put ourselves out there.

But, if you’re not ready to run for office yet, like me, there’s still so much that can be done. What we did was form an organization called Allied Women. We are a grassroots organization dedicated to changing the political landscape of Alabama in order that our home state can help change the political landscape of the nation. Our aim is to educate and to encourage activism. We have also set up a PAC in order to support candidates we feel reflect our conservative Christian views. We feel we can be the most effective in the November 2010 election by trying to overturn the Alabama State Senate.

Here’s why: Although Alabama ranks as the most conservative state in the nation, we rank 4th in the nation for political corruption. There’s really something wrong with that. The people of Alabama are for the most part conservative Christians, but the people we elect aren’t always. There are some good politicians here. For example, Governor Bob Riley has served this state well over the past eight years and goes down in my book as the best Governor our state has seen in quite some time. First, he fought against illegal gambling in our state. He fought because no one else would. He stood alone on the front lines of the battle many times. He also organized a great team to bring new jobs to our state. His economic developer, Neal Wade, is ranked as the top state economic developer in the nation.

But, Riley’s type of forward thinking and active approach to governing isn’t the norm in Montgomery. Gambling money runs deep into the pockets of many in our State Capital as does money from special interests groups like A.E.A. And, money gets people elected for some reason. Believe it or not, advertising works.

The Allied Women PAC has identified some key races in the 2010 election that we’d like to help influence. Top on our list as a “got to go” guy is a State Senator from Cullman named Zeb Little. He’s the kind of person who helps Alabama get that #4 ranking in political corruption handed down by the United States Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. The ranking is based on the number of Alabama public officials who have been convicted of crimes. I personally have on file the newspaper article detailing Little’s D.U.I. He was arrested April 4, 2009 for driving under the influence, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, violation of the open container law, and driving with an expired license.

One of my good friends’ brother-in-law is still recovering from a coma one year after he was hit by a drunk driver. A couple who came to Date Night at the Grand, a marriage retreat Rick and I spoke at last month, told us they had lost their 18-month-old daughter due to a drunk driver. Then, there’s Siran Stacy whose wife and four of his children were killed by a drunk driver. We could go on and on and on about drunk driving… We all know this is bad. But, it’s not just that Zeb Little has been convicted of a DUI that Allied Women would like to see him de-seated.

We want to see Alabama State Senate seats filled with people who will fight for truth and transparency in government, who really care about the future of our state and our nation, people who stand for the conservative Christian values that we believe in, who aren’t controlled by special interests groups like A.E.A and those who want to see Alabama become a new Nevada. We hope to put through candidates to the Senate who will protect and preserve what is good about our state and will move it forward in an ethical and honest way.

One issue we are particularly concerned about is gambling. Here’s why… There is really no end to the money these people have to target our state, and once they’ve got us, they rule us. What I mean by that is that one of the biggest things you have to worry about when you legalize gambling is corruption in government. They start buying people off, buying votes, making things go well for themselves. This is what I mean by special interest. If a politician is concerned about what the guy over at Country Crossings wants him to do then his judgment can become skewed and he no longer has the best interest of his constituents as a whole in mind.

And, what do I mean by transparency in government? Well, take PAC-to-PAC transfers, which are currently legal in our state despite the fact that a bill to ban them has been put through the Alabama State House of Representatives for years now only to get torn apart in the State Senate, for example. Currently, one PAC can give to another then to another and then somewhere along the line the candidate will receive a donation. Following the money trail here in Alabama is almost impossible with that kind of behavior going on. The candidate will surely be informed of who is giving him or her the money, but John Q. Public will never know who the candidates he’s voting for are beholden to. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to overturn our liberal majority Senate in this November election, so it will stop stifling ethics legislation that could help Alabama turn around that #4 in political corruption problem we have here.

For these reasons the Allied Women PAC has identified 10 candidates for the Alabama State Senate we hope to support and elect come November. They are:

  1. Paul Bussman (against Zeb Little) in District 4 which includes Cullman, Lawrence, & Winston Counties
  2. Clay Scofield (against Tim Mitchell) in District 9 - Blount, Madison, & Marshall Counties
  3. Gerald Allen (against Phil Poole) in District 21 - Hale, Pickens, & Tuscaloosa Counties
  4. George Flowers (against Harri Anne Smith and Jennifer Adams) in District 29 including Dale, Geneva, & Houston Counties
  5. Paul Sanford (against Jeff Enfinger) District 7 - Madison County
  6. Bryan Taylor, Goveror Riley’s Policy Director (against Wendell Mitchell) in District 30 in Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, & Elmore Counties
  7. Tom Whatley (against Ted Little) in District 27 – Lee, Russell, & Tallapoosa Counties
  8. Danny Joyner (against Marc Keahey) in District 22 which includes portions of Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, & Washington Counties.
  9. Phil Williams (against Larry Means) District 10 - Cherokee & Etowah Counties
  10. Greg Reed (against Brett Wadsworth) in District 5 - Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Walker & Winston Counties

We would sure like your help in this.

Allied Women is hosting a Nuts & Bolts Workshop on August 28th from 9 a.m. until noon at Cahaba Grand Conference Center on Highway 280 in Birmingham. We’ve partnered with American Majority, Eagle Forum, and Alabama Policy Institute to bring you up to speed on everything you can do to make a difference now.

Register on-line at