Sunday, December 31, 2006

Encouragement vs Discouragement & Compassion vs Judgement

I started smoking in high school and I continued while in the U.S. Navy and after getting out of the Navy. I know this is not pleasing to God and I know it hinders my testimony as a believer. It is something I was convicted of after rededicating my life to Christ in 2000.

Sometime shortly after my rededication in 2001, while battling the addiction, we were having dinner with some friends from church. These friends had been with the church a long time and we looked to them as mentors. There was some people smoking in the restaurant and one of them went on a rant of how horrible smoking was. All of it was true, but how did it make me feel? Did they know my battle? No. Were they purposefully trying to hurt my feelings or condemn me? No.

But, I was crushed anyway. How was I to share this struggle with others if this was what Godly people thought about my struggle? I was very hesitant to get help with this from church folk because of fear and condemnation.

I was reminded of this situation by Pastor Dino's recent post. His post was very encouraging and his attitude is one I hope to mirror. I hope to be an encourager and to be compassionate towards other peoples struggles. We live in a critical society. The critics are everywhere. Journalism is not so much reporting the facts anymore than it is using the facts to criticize and judge what's going on around us and their behavior is contagious. I guess its human nature to forget all the issues we have as we point fingers, criticize and judge what OTHERS are going through.

Pastor Dino did a Men's morning bible study on personal holiness this past year. He talked about our reaction to other peoples failures and struggles. He encouraged us to remember that it is only by God's grace that we don't have some issues that others do. It is only by God's grace that our issues & faults aren't publicized like some leaders or public figures.

We should all be encouraged to remember these things. Its hard, especially for new believers or believers who aren't rooted in God's Word, to admit or face up to struggles. It's hard because there is a fear of judgement and discouragement and if Christians criticize and judge "so and so", who's life is open to the public, how would they react to our situation? Probably the same way.

I think its VITAL as believers to create an environment that encourages our brothers and sisters to be open about our struggles so we can get the Godly counsel from the Body of Christ that may help us overcome our issues. To create an environment of humility and knowing our call for help will be met with encouragement and compassion and NOT with discouragement and judgement.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 - Our Family Miracles

I guess I'm in alot of company when I think of 'miracles', I think of turning water to wine, feeding 5,000 with a couple of fish and some bread, bringing sight and hearing to the blind and deaf or even raising the dead to life. The more we look back on 2006, the more we see how God did some wonderful miracles in our lives.

First off was our understanding of the miracles of adoption. Jada is part of our family, she's our daughter. Even though common thought would think she was added in an unconventional way, we learned that adoption was God's "Plan A." We see Jada as the perfect fit for our family. We think about all the miracles that brought her to our family. Her parents choosing to carefully place her in the orphanage system in China. We know they had other options, but God had a plan. All the little things that came together in God's perfect timing was awesome to be a part of. We're still learning about things we didn't know about.

We've seen Jada play a small part in bringing the lost to Christ. Healing Place Church asked us to share our story for Adoption Awareness month in November and for the HPC Christmas television special. The weekend Pastor Dino shared our story (11/26) there were dozens of individuals who publically accepted Jesus Christ as Savior! Not because of me, Brandi or Jada, but because of seeing how much God loves us and how much God wants us to be adopted into His family and to recieve His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We also experienced a miraculous turnaround in our finances. I want to make sure it is understood that this is not bragging or boasting. We could not have made this turnaround without some great biblical information about personal finance. The numbers still don't add up. But, we've learned that God is way smarter than us and His plan for good stewardship works. We started the process with over $30,000 in debt with credit cards, 2 car loans and a student loan. We also was looking at an adoption that would cost over $23,000. We started in June of 2005 by learning the proper way to create and excecute a budget. We also learned where our bad spending habits were and how to SACRIFICE. We learned how to create short term and long term goals. Most importantly, we learned how to communicate these plans and work together as husband and wife to accomplish them. After a little application of all that we learned we became DEBT FREE except the mortgage on April 18, 2006. Even better is we had the cash in savings to cover the adoption. Even though God did drop some miraculous gifts in our laps, for the most part the only thing He did was give us opportunities. He just opened some doors for us, but we had to decide to walk through them.

We can't think of one area in our lives that this adoption hasn't been impacted. Being new parents, we've had some other issues exposed and magnified. But, its really OK. We know if God brought us out of 6 years of struggles, He'll get us out of anything. He is faithful.

The Lamberts believe in miracles. We had a blessed 2006 and we believe 2007 will be even better. We're looking forward to it. We just encourage everyone to think about your 2006. We're sure if you look hard enough, you'll find some miracles too.

Happy New Years & God Bless
Jada, Brandi & Gered

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

There is an "I" in Faith

Ever go to a pastor, mentor, couselor or friend and ask for help during a hard time? Ever listen to what they say, but don't do it or don't follow through by doing it consistantly? Ever read a GREAT book on an issue you are struggling with and implemented the ideas, for a short time but not consistantly? Oh, I have. But, before I figured out I didn't follow the good advice long enough or thorough enough, I just gave up and thought I was supposed to struggle with this forover. But, it was my fault. I wasn't diligent in my part.

We have to make sure "I" am doing what "I" am supposed to do. That's what's important about the "I" in faith. Usually when we're struggling for a time, we figure out we have 'thought' about making changes, but actually didn't. We found ourselves just praying about it, but not doing anything about it, yet still wonder why things don't change, why it doesn't get better. There is a small part I have to do. Because, we will keep getting what we are getting if we keep doing what we're doing. So, if you want to get something different, do something different. God doesn't want us to do it all. But, when we do things in faith, God will bless that and begin to work in our lives.

And remember, all these failures in the struggles won't make God love us any less. Neither will all the things we do make Him love us more. He loved us before we were formed in the womb. But, He does have a great plan for our lives. He does want us to have an abundant life. But, we have a part to play in living an abundant life. If there is anyone who's advice we need to take, it's Jesus' advice. His Word is full of advice and guidance for us to do to live an abundant life.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:11-14

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas $pending

How do you compare to the nation concerning your Christmas spending?

Studies reveal the average annual household income in the U.S. is around $44,000 annually. Studies also show the average family will spend $792.00 on Christmas this year.

So, according to the averages, if you make $80,000 annually, you will spend $1,600 on Christmas this year. If you make $20,000 annually, you will spend $400 on Christmas this year.

Of course, none of these averages matter if you are in debt. Is the joy of Christmas missing this year because you know you'll have to pay for it all later? Or will this year's Christmas shopping only add to the pile of debt you already have? Which of course will add stress to your marriage, family life, workplace and tithing or charitable giving.

Thanks to the information we got from Dave Ramsey, we were able to pay off ALL our debts in about 19 months and this year, we budgeted for Christmas spending and all those worries and stresses are gone for the first time in a long time.

In March of 2007, Brandi and I are attending Dave Ramsey's Financial Counselor Training in Brentwood, TN. This will make us Certified Financial Counselors and we will be providing FREE Financial Counceling through Healing Place Church. Yep, that's right, FREE! (We got a major discount on the training for signing up for Church Ministry Curriculum.)

We are excited to share our experience of becoming debt free and helping others down the same road. We'd be happy to help anyone interested right away, but after March, we'll have many more tools to provide in depth counsel and advice.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Baton Rouge local on USA Network's "Nashville Star"

David St. Romain is from Central, Louisiana. We met David and his wife Elizabeth when we were their mentor couples for Premarital Mentoring at HPC. We LOVE these guys. We love their hearts and their attitudes. Of the 6-7 couples we've mentored so far, these guys have worked the hardest and put the most work into the mentoring process. We are seeing the fruits of their labor too. They are doing great, just had a new baby girl, Bailey Elizabeth. Beautiful, Godly family!

Now, David professional career is BLOWING UP! He's a Top 10 FINALIST on the USA TV Talent show Nashville Star! He has a great voice and a passion for music. He plays with the youth services at HPC.

We encourage you guys to keep up and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!! This is a super couple, they deserve some success. But, I believe David will have the favor of God during this competition. I'm sure his Top 10 finalist status will draw attention to his skills.

The show premiers on USA Network January 11 at 9pm Central time. CHECK IT OUT!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,"
-Psalm 23:4

For the last 6 years up to September 4, 2006, its safe to say Brandi and I have been through the valley of the shadow of death, at least from our perspective. Now, we have a new perspective. We're on the other side of that season of our lives.

Then, not much looked good, there wasn't much hope. At times, there was barely enough, just enough to keep our heads above the water. But now, we're on the other side of that.

Now, we know that there can't be a valley if there isn't a mountain top. The mountain top is where we want to be. But, sometimes when we go through trials, the failures weigh us down and after a while, we stop looking up at the mountain top. We lose hope. We're too disappointed, tired, beat down and depressed to even lift up our heads and see the mountain top. While we have made it through that trial in our lives, we want to encourage anyone who's in the valley right now to remember, there is a mountain top. That's where God wants to bring us. Remember as believers, we always have hope. We're pretty sure we'll see another valley. But next time, we'll be reminded of how He brought us out of the valley and to the mountain top.

What about the 'shadow of death?' Again, we're on the other side and we've learned some things. We've learned that a shadow is similar to the absence of The Light. The Light is there, the shadow PROVES The Light is there. There is only something partially BLOCKING the light. We've learned that The Light is Jesus. Next time, we will remeber that the shadow is actually PROOF that The Light is there. That will bring us hope.

Positive Tax Legislation? Could be...

Interesting changes to the tax laws. See them HERE.

Stay informed, knowledge is POWER.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Angles & Dangles

I served on submarines (USS Simon Bolivar) in the U.S. Navy for 7 years after high school. When we were getting ready to go to sea, we'd do this evolution called 'Angles & Dangles.' Before leaving the dock we'd walk around our work area and make sure everything was 'stowed for sea.' Then, after we pulled away from the dock and went under the water the captain would make the submarine go up and down at extreme angles & dangles to make sure nothing was loose and would fly around and make alot of noise, which could give away our position to the enemy. Isn't it ironic that a 50 cent nut and bolt could give away the position of a several $100 million piece of machinery?

Looking back on me and Brandi's journey, we recognize God was just shaking up our submarine to see what was loose and what could expose us to the dangers of our enemy. Believe it or not, we made ALOT OF NOISE, during our angles & dangles. But, we would have never known those things were loose, had he not shaken up our boat! Also, now we have the experience to minister to other hurting people who are right in the middle of what we have already been through. That's priceless as far as we're concerned.

It is very hard to grasp 2 biblical facts: First, there is an enemy who is only here to steal, kill and destroy us, (John 10:9-11 & 1 Peter 5:8-9). Second, that God tests us to make us stronger and reveal His Glory in/through us, (1 Peter 1:6-7 & John 9:1-3). But, once we get this, we know that trials are coming and we can tackle them head on with hope and faith.

I hope from now on, when we feel our boat is being rocked, we recognize the things that are loose and properly secure them. Most of all, I hope we recognize the captain of our boat is The Almighty Father, who loves us and wants us to be as "sea worthy" as we can be.

I wouldn't want to serve any other Captain!

Ahoy Mates!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Table Food

We're transitioning Jada from baby food to table food. We are trying to avoid too many sweets and deserts because she will lose her taste for some of the healthy food that provide the right nourishment for her.

Then I was thinking. As a new believer, we are taught that God's Word is a GREAT source for nourishment for our spirits. What we have to be cautious about, as we get further in our walk, is losing the "taste" for true nourishment and only "eating" what "tastes good", but doesn't help us grow.