27 May 2014

I Have Moved

In an effort to limit my relationship with Google, I have moved my blog to WordPress. My husband gifted me with a URL for my birthday, so I may be found at:

I will not close this site, though, because I still pop into your blogs, those I've been reading over the years, and want to be able to keep sharing your life.

Thank you for your kindness,

25 March 2014

Be Mary

The Enemy is working very hard to both take people out of the ministry, and keep them from ever really answering the call. 

Please, do not let that be you. Please, be the person who hears that distant ringing in their spirit and answers with the same willingness as sweet Mary, who had nothing to offer the Lord except her faith and obedience. "Yes, Lord. I'm Yours. Do with me as You please."  That is all God needs.

There will be suffering. There will be very hard times. And, our Enemy is ruthless. He knows where we are tender, and strikes so that every attack does the most damage. But, he is defeated! He may take us down in a scrimmage, but the war isn't over. 

Be Mary, dear friends. Don't turn away from the call of God. And, do not compromise it, because God's way seems too hard. Keep climbing.

            “O Shepherd. You said you would make my feet like hinds' feet and set me upon High Places".
            "Well", he answered "the only way to develop hinds' feet is to go by the paths which the hinds use.”                                                                                                                                 from "Hinds' Feet On High Places" by Hannah Hunard 

16 February 2014

Marriage Musts

Hannah and I were talking yesterday about how important it is to marry a man who respects your mind. This was my Mother's #1 piece of advice for me, and the more I encounter sexism in the Christian church the more I am grateful for my husband. I married a guy who sees me as Christ sees me; and he not only hears me, but thinks I have something worth saying

Marriage is more than just the good qualities of one member, though. Marriage is a union of two equal halves. Both sides must bring their best to the table. So, while I do urge Hannah to marry a man who listens to her, I would add, "Be sure to say something worth hearing." 

Marriage Musts
Here is my version of the must-have qualities for her husband, with a counterpoint just for her. These qualities are inspired by the Saxophone Player, and are listed in no particular order.

1. He must listen to you. 
    Be sure to say something worth hearing.

2. He must keep growing. 
    Be the sunshine of his life.

3. He must have a grateful heart. 
    Be considerate of his needs.

4. He must care about your personal growth. 
    Be willing to change.

5. He must never give up. 
    Be merciful, when he fails.

6. He must make you laugh.
    Be always charmed by his efforts.

7. He must be in love with God. 
    Be sure God is your first love first. 

8. He must be the priest of your home.
    Be submissive, and pray he lead well.

9. He must be affectionate.
    Be his comfort.

10. He must be generous.
      Be a good steward of all you have.

11. He must be a faithful provider.
      Be content.

13. He must defend you.
      Be careful to choose your fights well.

14. He must hold himself to a biblical standard.
      Be "a woman who fears God." (Proverbs 31)

15. He must have a servant's heart.
      Be willing to serve alongside him.

16. He must communicate.
      Be a good listener.

17. He must make you feel beautiful.
      Be the woman who makes him feel like a man.

18. He must care about your interests.
      Be invested in his.

19. He must be respectful of your family.
      Be in love with his.

20. He must be kind and gentle.
      Be strong and supportive.

21. He must be transparent.
      Be slow to anger.

22. He must be your Brother in Christ.
      Be his intercessor.

23. He must cherish you. 
      Be respectful of him. 

24. He must share the duties of homekeeping.
      Be a good manager of your home.

25. He must lay down his life for you. 
      Be his best friend.

Whittier, California in 1993

Portland, Maine in 2012

07 February 2014

Betcha Can't Eat Just One!

This is not a post about potato chips.

Tonight I read this short article:
"Philip Seymour Hoffman - A Single Drink Ultimately Led to Death"
"Philip Seymour Hoffman's recent and fatal path down the road of addiction was triggered by an innocent drink...Hoffman had been sober for 23 years...but during a wrap party in 2012, the actor succumbed to temptation...and celebrated the movie with a drink...which quickly became a couple of drinks.
"Hoffman acknowledged to confidants...the drinks opened the floodgates...Hoffman didn't begin experimenting with heroin until 2013, after he had already fully fallen off the wagon." LINK
No doubt in the 23 years Philip Seymour Hoffman lived as a sober man he was tempted many, many times. I don't know why he gave in to temptation that time, but in a split-second he made a decision that led to his death. And, it's the same for every addict. Though each hour of sobriety is a reason to be glad, their accumulated hours do not earn them immunity from temptation. They can never stop choosing to be clean. Every addict, no matter how long they have been clean, is one decision away from death.

Think about that. 

Now, think about that party. Imagine Mr. Hoffman there, celebrating with his friends, his coworkers. Imagine the relief they all felt to have finished this project, and now to be able to relax. Of course, it felt so good. Such an accomplishment! Now, imagine the person who turned to this man and offered him a drink. Maybe, it was a glass of champagne. A beer. It wouldn't matter. 

Or, maybe, no one offered him a thing. Maybe, just being there with them all, watching everyone else drink, was the only temptation he needed that day. Imagine that. I know people who would say that's all it would take for them. Just seeing someone drink. And, that one drink—nay, that first sip—is all it would take to knock them off the wagon.

And, let's be clear. An addict doesn't fall off the wagon to the ground, where he can easily get back up. He falls off the wagon, and into a pit. A deep, deep pit. With quick sand at the bottom. 

This Isn't About Potato Chips
We all know the famous slogan for Lay's Potato Chips. They warn us that we can't eat just one, because they're just so good. Most people will enjoy a serving, and be satisfied. Some might not be able to stop until they're all gone.
Yet, even if someone ate an entire bag, they most likely wouldn't then eat every pretzel, cookie, and piece of beef jerky in the house. They wouldn't rush to the store to buy ten more bags. They wouldn't empty their bank account, steal from a neighbor, or hawk grandma's diamond ring in a desperate effort to get more money for snacks. They wouldn't risk their job, their family's safety, or their freedom. 

And, that's the difference between everyone else and the addict, because  an addict can't stop. They are a car careening downhill without brakes. They are a snowball that starts at the peak of Mount Everest. They will risk everything for a fix. It's an ugly thing. And, it's a pitiful thing. As Christians, we are moved with compassion for the addict. Our hearts are touched by their sad stories. We may put action to our emotion by volunteering, or give to support the work of others. Hopefully, we'll pray, but there is something even more important we should keep in mind.

Don't Do This
There is one more thing we can do as Christians that is more important than everything else. It's more important, because it has to do with us, and our very own soul. 
"Temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but woe to the man who does the tempting." Matthew 18:7
Think about that. Now, imagine the person who proffered the drink that started Philip Seymour Hoffman's snowball. That's hard news to take. Yes, Hoffman took the drink; he took that first sip. He alone made that decision. However, the Bible says, "Woe to the one who does the tempting." The Message says, "Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you, if you do."

So, let's imagine what this really means to the Christian who drinks socially. I'm not questioning your right to drink. I am just asking you to question yourself, and your choices. An addict has no business going to a bar, where he knows there will be temptation. However, what about a function with his Christian friends? The football game accompanied by a cooler of beer? The jewelry party that begins with a glass of wine?  The couples dinner that includes pitchers of margaritas? 

It's all perfectly legal. 

Yet, is it a temptation for someone?  I know we've had New Brothers fall off the wagon, because of social drinking amongst their Christian friends. The Bible doesn't say it's up to the addict to ask first. The Bible says, "Woe."


Please, Do This
If you're a Christian, will you please think about this? Will you please consider who your guests are, before serving booze? Will you please think twice, before exercising your freedom to drink? Will you reconsider sharing those pictures of yourself, and others, enjoying a drink? Will stop and ask yourself if it's really necessary, never mind compassionate, to broadcast your plan to partake of an adult beverage at the end of a long day?

It's hard for an addict out there, folks. The church family used to be a safe place for people coming out of addiction. It's not so safe anymore. And, it's not just about the drinking. Smoking for the addict is often the trigger that leads to that fall. And, I could talk quite a bit about how Christian women's attire makes it very hard for the sex addict. How many church services did I stoically sit through, while the woman in front of us left little to the imagination? 

Church, we must own our choices. They do affect our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and we are accountable. Oh, I know. People don't like to hear that, but it's true. The Bible repeatedly tells us it's not about us. It's not about our rights, and our freedom. It's about laying down our lives, and our habits, for the sake of our friend. 

02 January 2014

A Guest Post from Doug

I encourage you to take a few moments to read this guest post from Doug. Please, feel free to comment or leave questions. Doug will be happy to respond.

by Rev. Doug Gregan
(aka, the Saxophone Player)
The most astounding thing about the subject of Christians drinking alcohol is the narrow focus that both sides of the discussion tend to stay on. 
The spiritual root of drinking is one of authority and friendship with the world, neither of which do I ever hear discussed. 

The very nature of an intimate relationship with God is one of increased Presence, resulting in increased holiness. This conversation on whether a Christian should drink, or if drinking is sin, is shallow and weak. The real question should be, "Why aren't Christians more Christ-like?" 
We are called out from among them, to be separate. Friendship with the world is enmity with God, and brings us under the authority of the world and its spirit. The spirit that drives alcohol is undeniably of the world, and under the authority of the devil. There's not a man or woman alive who can tell me of a time when drinking brought them into a greater intimacy with Christ, drove them to love God more, or brought them into greater holiness and sanctification. 
Does not the scripture tell us from beginning to the end that He is calling us out and unto Himself? Consider Romans  6:18-22:
"You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."
This is the key to this whole issue, whether it be drinking, watching anything that exalts the flesh, gluttonous eating, dressing like the world, or any other behavior that opens the door for the flesh to be strengthened. 

"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!" 
And it does result in death. 
Complacency, laziness, lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, lack of compassion towards those who don't, can't, or won't "handle" the same things you can - it is all death. It produces a self-righteous, self-centered attitude evidenced by the countless defensive comments that come up in these type of discussions. 
Then, there is the subtle, but incredible importance of spiritual authority mentioned in verse 16: "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"

Those who drink are yielding a measure of their spiritual authority to the flesh and the devil. Alcohol, by it's very nature, deadens sensitivity to Holy Spirit and weakens our ability to control the flesh as we should. 
The angry man is more susceptible to anger, the lustful man is more susceptible to lust, the proud man more to pride, the depressed man more to depression, the jealous man more to jealousy, and on it goes. This all takes place when one "walks in his freedom to drink." I've served in prison ministry for ten years and could not begin to tell of the devastation and carnage left in the wake of alcohol. This includes Christians, men and women becoming casual with drinking, declaring their freedom to do so.  I have yet to have a drug addict tell me that their addiction was not preceded by alcohol use. 
Yet, we proudly demand and defend our right to drink. It is sad and shameful. The devil mocks and laughs at the impotence of the Church to touch our generation with Christ-like love, life, and POWER. We would do well to heed the call of James 4. After exposing the Lord's attitude to worldliness, James says in 4:7-10:
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

I understand fully the emptiness of imposing restrictions and not trusting in the transforming work of the Spirit to bring about abundant life, balance, and control. The emphasis of my sharing is on the yoking of ourselves to spiritual forces and influences we have no business being in agreement with. Light has no agreement wih darkness. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:12:

"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."

We interact with this verse only on the level of the substance or behavior in question, but it transcends that. It speaks to every spiritual dynamic that is associated with those elements.

Where are those who are broken, weeping between the porch and altar, for the souls of those bound and enslaved? One can defend the biblical right to eat and drink. I get that. But, who can show me a man who is ministering in power and authority, yet allows himself to be brought under the authority of the spiritual forces connected to these worldly elements? They are not profitable. We will never step into the realm of darkness, addiction, and brokenness with any authority to bring genuine deliverance, yoked to these things.

Should this be the shining prize I declare to the addicted and their broken family? "One day, you'll be able to drink in freedom, like I do."

I am deeply concerned by the absence of genuine discipleship that prepares God's people to be ambassadors of reconciliation, walking in the power of God to bring the lost, broken, and hurting into freedom. Please, take a few minutes to read Ephesians 4:11-27, and prayerfully consider the life you are living today.

I welcome your comments and questions.

01 January 2014

Still Christmas

We celebrated Christmas today.

Yes, we did celebrate with extended family last week, not to mention helping make Christmas for almost 700 men, but this is our Gregan Christmas. Just us three. It was a good solution to the circumstances of our schedule, and allowed us to have more time for our 'away' Christmas. I like how it worked out. Though I am all ready planning for Christmas 2014 and hoping I will be more prepared, maybe even get Christmas cards in the mail in December, I wouldn't mind doing this again. We have had a relaxed day, and that's worth a lot.

I didn't do a lot of decorating (only tapped into two of my six or seven Christmas bins), but it was enough. We do have a very small place, so it doesn't take much to set the mood.

I thought I would share a few pictures. I'll give you a glimpse of our little "missions station."

And, speaking of this mission in which we serve, we are going to need many Christmas cards this year - Mire than every year so far combined. So, if you have unused Christmas cards you would like to donate to NBF, or are willing and able to purchase cards for us, at post-Christmas, discounted prices, please consider helping us in this way. You may contact us if you are in the area, or mail cards to us at NBF, P.O. Box 307, Haverhill, Massachsetts, 01830. Thank you!

My little flag & a Santa that is supposed to light up.

There is a story behind that messy string of lights. 

A wreath made from sheet music; a gift from a friend.

Hannah's village. It is growing!

My "kitchen tree." I use my cookie cutters to decorate it.

Our swag has seen better days!

The window over my kitchen sink.

I love this banner.

Our tree!

Our living room.

Our Christmas Nook.

One of my 
nativities, a gift from my mother-in-law.

Hannah's Santas: Englad, Ireland, & Czechoslovokia.

One of my favorite objects.

Hannah's bedroom door. We surprised her.

Christmas is always about the children - no matter how grown-up!

My Christmas gift to me: an organizer for my Christmas ribbons.

My Mother's Merry Christmas sign. (Missing her sweet face, one year and one day since her Homegoing.)

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. God bless you all!