Any Moment…

Now while you are having supper with your family. Later while you are peacefully asleep. Tomorrow after lunch while you are watering your plants. Sometime in the future, anytime, any moment…without any notice one of two things can happen. You won’t see it coming.

You will either die

OR

Christ will return.

Are you Ready?

 

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Diet Plan #4731

Not really but it feels like it. A few years ago I discovered the perfect way to loose weight and eat healthy. Since I am a diabetic I have to be careful. Even the doctors liked the change and it was a healthy approach…until I started working again.

I have been researching for months about protein and fiber. I found several good plant-based protein products that should do the trick. Unfortunately they used sugar or aspertame as their sweetener. Although I did find one that used stevia, it was nasty and face it, if it’s that bad, you won’t stick to it any more than I did; no matter how motivated you are.

Enter the obvious…Glucerna. It’s made specifically for diabetics and now they have a hunger smart meal replacement variety. Win…win for me.

I looked over each and every one of their products and found that the powders just don’t taste the same to me so I opted for the ready made, just chill and go, varieties.

I am thrilled to report, even though it has only been a week, that I have lost four (4) pounds. I drink one for breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack again. Then eat a sensible supper. For a TV snack I either drink a snack shake or eat something from the Weigh Watchers Freestyle 200 item no points list. (I figure they did the research so I’ll go with that.) I try to “shake” (lol, sorry I couldn’t resist) around every 3 hours. This is the diabetic approach to healthy eating plus it tricks your body into not storing future needed fat since you are eating so often it doesn’t have time to hoard what you eat.

I just placed a re-order with Abbott for more shakes so I’ll continue to report as the weeks go by.

Now for a challenge. Yes getting down to a healthy weight will be the challenge but remember I got down to 175 before I started work again and gained half of it back and it was still slowing creeping up, no matter how hard I tried to make it stop. Hence this new approach. Had I not started working again, I can assure you I would be down to my goal weight but life happens and sometimes you have to punt. So I am punting. But this also means finding a healthy way to live and eat in a way that I don’t gain weight back once I reach that goal.

Please share your successes and failures in hopes of helping encourage others. A lot of people think being fat is a choice or they have no self control or they are literally just gluttons who don’t care. I know that not to be true. It is a struggle and not just about choices. I often find myself reaching for comfort foods as though they could somehow dull the pain I am feeling. But I am also one of those people who could eat three (3) healthy meals a day and still gain weight. It is how God made us, we just have to learn how to manage it. And it isn’t the same formula for everyone.

Father, as I enter into this season of learning, I pray for your wisdom to help me make Your choices for my life, not just what I eat. In Christ name I pray, Amen.

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing Glucerna or Weight Watchers or their products, merely reporting on the benefits I receive from their use.

 

My New Adventure

I have been working hard to earn my Christian degrees. I just finished and received my Doctorate in Theology. I have taught Sunday School to many ages, lead small groups, VBS, and gone on mission trips to name a few.

I continually load my brain with all the knowledge possible to complete these cool tasks and be an effective witness for the Gospel. And I love each and every one. But now I need to put this knowledge to different use.

I have been praying for a long time on what to do next. I volunteered for hospice for many years and while that was fulfilling, I needed to move on, so to speak. While I was checking local listings, I noticed one that caught my eye. So I seized on an opportunity to volunteer with the hospital chaplain and visit patients in our local hospital.

While I was visiting on my second day something hit me.

The first man we visited was in because he is loosing his toes to diabetes. He seemed kind and friendly and welcomed our presence. We asked him about his family which brought him to tears. He was genuinely concerned about his health and his family. He spoke of them fondly and welcomed our offer to pray with him.

We got out to the nurses station and commented that he had signed up for the Partners in Healing program which is a community based effort to improve recovery and healing. The nurse lifted her eyebrows in surprise. She went on to explain how he is bashing the hospital and giving the nurses a hard time, with actions and with words. I was blown away. I was stunned. I felt betrayed, vulnerable and dumb all at the same time.

This concerns me a little. I want to be a good steward of mercy but I don’t want to be a naive type of victim either.

We continued on our visits and came across a young man who had had a stroke and could no longer speak. I looked at him wondering what kind of productive life he may have had before. Another patient had pneumonia and could barely speak because of his previous stroke. He was uncomfortable, weak and didn’t want to be there. The final patient was an elderly lady who had hip issues following surgery. She seemed angry but pleasant.

I know they don’t want to be in the hospital which can explain their demeanor’s. I come from the computer analyst world of business so it is my nature to make folders or piles to organize things into groupings of similarity which helps solve software issues. I have learned today that life isn’t that way.

I can’t look at the chart and see a heart patient that didn’t exercise and take care of himself. I cant look at the diabetic and see someone who couldn’t control their cravings. I can’t look at the former smoker with COPD and think “well you knew it could happen”.

They all have one thing in common…

…they are all the same.

They all need healing, compassion, respect, comfort and most of all Jesus.

LOOSING MYSELF

Every day people go missing. I don’t know which is sadder, the young, the old or the in- between. But they all have one thing in common…they are lost. Some come home and some don’t. Some recover but many never do. The scars and pain will never completely heal.

I find myself feeling lost sometimes, not as horrible as the mentioned above instances but bad enough to cause me to doubt everything. My job, my ministry, my faith and even my life. But like the above, there is a hope that is always found in Christ Jesus.

I am comforted knowing that Jesus never leaves me.

Hebrews 13:5  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I am comforted knowing that Jesus Cares for me.

1 Peter 3:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

I am comforted knowing that in Jesus, I am redeemed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 

Being content and comfortable with our life is a gift of Christian maturity. It isn’t something we are born with and it takes many years of seeking God first to attain.

When you reach a point in your life where you can stop in the midst of chaos, look up,  and give it all to God…then you know you are getting closer and closer to being able to honestly relax and give up the control you don’t really have anyway.

Finally, I am comforted knowing that Jesus is painting beauty with the ashes of my life. (Reference from Casting Crowns, Just be Held lyrics)

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

So many times I forget all of this. It is so easy to get lost in the chaos and wallow like the pigs being content with misery and not being able to see through the fog that evil creates. But we cannot loose sight of the One who controls the universe and everything in it.

Thank you Jesus!

 

 

Seasons of Life

As I read my devotion today, I began to reminisce on the seasons of my life. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 , King Solomon used opposites to help us understand the changes that we will experience in our lives. While we don’t fully understand these changes and what they mean, we can be assured that God has a purpose for everything we experience. The good makes us worship Him more and the bad grows us and molds us to be more like Jesus.

I used to regret that I was the one working outside our home while the children were little. I missed a lot of firsts that I can never get back. This caused me to grow animosity towards my husband because he didn’t want to work and I was determined to make our marriage work and keep our little family together.

Over the years the animosity changed me. I became dumb to feelings. Death had no effect on me. Life was just fleeting and meaningless. I was going through the motions as a hallow emotionless unhappy person who had no direction, no goals, no anything. I woke up, went to work, went home, ate supper, went to bed and repeated every day. I was a robotic humanoid money making machine. That is what my husband wanted and that is what he created. He drained me of all feelings related to enjoying life. All this so he could spend the money and do what he wanted to do. And worst of all, I was oblivious.

I could relate to Joseph in that I had no control over what was happening to me. Despite this as in Genesis 39:5 shows, the Lord blessed him and the household. I didn’t always feel blessed. Sometimes I felt trapped and stuck thinking God was leaving me there since I was the one that dug my pit. But He was faithful to keep His promises and slowly pulled me out teaching me about Him and myself along the way.

When my ex asked me for a divorce I gladly granted it. I was not expecting a new season though. I thought now the abuse would end and I can be free to worship God in peace and not have him belittling me for everything I do. I could go about my day as I wish and not have to answer to his every whim. Little did I know the next season would be just as challenging if not more.

You know how everyone says that God moves in mysterious way? Well, I’m living proof he does. When we separated, I moved into a small apartment. I continued working and going to church and doing everything I wanted to do. After a few years my sister tricked me into moving back home to help her take care of our elderly parents. She tricked me by convincing me that their health is worse than it really is. I don’t fault her for that because I have been blessed to be able to spend this time with them. My ex kept me away from everyone, especially family so we have had a lot of time to reconnect and enjoy each other.

The reason I know God uses everything in our lives is because if I had not learned how to endure my ex’s narcissistic behavior, I would have killed my sister within the first week. I don’t think she is a full blown narcissist but she is obsessive compulsive, just ask her. That doesn’t mean I don’t love her, it means it is a challenge. God has blessed me with this season and I look forward for the next one.

 

Time…

We hear all kinds of sayings about time like “time flies” or “just give it some time” and countless others. But have you ever just sat and watched a clock tick away time? I recently wanted to see what it was like to do just that. I had a little bit of time, pun intended, and sat in my quiet room and just stared at the clock. I could only do it for 3 minutes and 21 seconds. It reminded me of the days of my youth when I was practicing holding my breath for a swimming lesson.

While I sat there watching the hands of the old clock, a lot of memories ran through my mind. From childhood thru college thru the milestones and strides my children have made with their families. I started to realize that this time, we take for granted, is more precious than any rare diamond.

Time does fly by whether we are starring at a clock or going on with our daily lives. Although it does seem to fly faster when we are not paying attention to it. We cannot get time back once it has gone by. There is no rewind or do-over button for time. So how do we make the most of it?

Don’t leave anyone behind. If you have a loved one you haven’t connected with in a while, give them a call. They are probably wondering what you are up to too.

Make the most of the time you have. Whether you are living with an illness or not, don’t take time for granted. Accidents happen everyday. And even if you escape an accident, the next one is just waiting to happen.

Put the keeper of time at the front of your life. Jesus will return, this is a fact. We don’t know when so we have to be ready. Take that trip you’ve always wanted to take. Make that 15,000 foot sky dive jump. Volunteer at a hospital or assisted living facility. Tell people about Jesus while there is still time.

Once we get to Heaven, this time that is so precious now, will be replaced by the Son of the living God. Where time with Him will be glorious and forever.

God bless and stay safe!

Finding the Authentic Church and Why it is Important – Part Four

This is the final post in my series on the original church of the New Testament. I never imagined a simple essay for my theology class would spark such ferver and passion. While I hope these posts help bring on new understanding, I would be nieve to think it wouldn’t bring on new questions and even conflicts. My hope is that you are walking alongside the Holy Spirit on your daily journey.

To wrap up…The original church did not require anyone to “join” or be “voted” into it’s membership. Obeying the Gospel of the New Testament automatically made them members of the church. Several passages of Scripture reflect this truth as follows:

John 3:5, “Jesus answered, “’Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” 

Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Acts 2:47, “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

Acts 8:35-40, “‘Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.  Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.'”

Next, the original church was organized with men leading as elders, deacons and evangelists. This rightly starts with Jesus being the only head of the church as stated in  Ephesians 4:15; 5:23 and Colassians 1:18. Jesus delegated authority to others as stated in Matthew 28;19-20, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:8. They then exercised government through their written documents collected in the New Testament as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3.

Each local church was autonomous – no higher body of men legislating over it as found in Titus 1:5. This means no board of directors, no conference, no  synod, no pope etc., can govern His church.  These leaders/elders cannot make laws for God or His church, they can only implement them.

To qualify as an elder of His church, one must be the husband of one wife as stated in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. They can be divorced or Scripture would have said so since divorce was discussed in Scripture. This also means only men can be leaders and pastors. Scripture does not say “the wife of one husband”! Scripture was very specific. We cannot add to it or take away from it or it falls into the false teaching category.

The original church wore the name of Christ and it’s members were called Christians. The following Scriptures reflect this fact: Romans 16:16, Ephesians 3:15, Colassians 1:18, Ephesians 1:23, Romans 7:4, Revelation 21:9, Acts 20:28, Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16, John 15:8, Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians1:2, Philippians 1:1, Luke 8:21, Galatians 3:26; 6:1, 1 John 2:1 and Acts 4:12.

One final note about leadership in the church. There is no place in the leadership of a church for anyone who has chosen to alter the biblical definition of birth gender. Choosing to live and behave contrary to Scripture is a sin. 1 Corinthians 6:8-10 states, “No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” One side note, this doesn’t mean you can’t drink beer or liquer. Remember, even Jesus celebrated with wine. It just means you should not get drunk.

Well, that’s it. My quest for finding the qualifications for the original church of the New Testament is complete. Now for the search of the church that closest follows these qualifications. I have eliminated more than I have left to explore. Unfortunately the list is short so I should be able to finish by the end of February. I would love the opportunity to discuss my findings with them. If I should have the opportunity to do so, I will surely include those discussions when I report back in February.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone. That is not my intention. Being right is not my goal in life. I felt moved to find the truth in scripture then act on it. These are the findings I have come to believe based on my research. As always, if you disagree, please by all means let me know why. I research because I want to do things God’s way and not mine or anyone elses.

Stay safe and God bless!

 

Finding the Authentic Church and Why it is Important – Part Three

The Original Church expected it’s members to live holy lifestyles. That is that the Spirit will come into your heart and life and nuture your walk so that you will possess and exhibit these qualities. The problem is though, we have to listen and be obedient. The first key verse to this point is Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” This refers to our renewed nature or post salvation expectations and goals. Note that “fruit” here is a singular noun. Meaning these qualities go hand in hand with each other as one quality and develop slowly over time.

The next verse is 1 John 2:15, “ Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” By human nature the more the love of the world succeeds in our hearts, the more the love of God receeds. God knows how narrow the human heart is so He wanted John to include this warning against loving the world more than loving God. You cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13), here the two masters being referred to are God and Money.

Also we are to live soberly, righteously and godly. Titus 2:11-12 reads “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. The display of these virtues are evidence of the acceptance of God’s gift of grace. To live soberly does not mean you can’t drink a beer from time to time. God wants us to be in control of our faculties and not fall into sin which often happens when we are not sober. We are to stand out to the point where people around us ask us what we did to make such a change that they become interested in the change too. We were not created to be perfect, but we are expected to try.

James tells us in 4:4 “ Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James is telling us to remain separated from the world so that we don’t become stained by the behavior of the world. When we love the flesh more than we love God, we are taking God off of the throne and placing the world there instead. Clearly, the world does not offer salvation in any form.

Revelation 2:10 explains what we must do in order to receive a crown of life in eternity. “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” What a glorious promise from the Father of mankind. Again, being faithful does not mean we have to be perfect. Jesus Christ is our perfection. Our spiritual riches are the ones that last further than a lifetime; they last an eternity. This all begins with choices. We are the only ones in control of the choices we make.

Well, there you have it. Only one more part left to write. I hope you are being challenged to reread sections you thought you understood. As always, I welcome your comments and I would be happy to engage in conversation about anything you disagree with. I never claim to have the answers, I usually come up with more questions in the process. As always, please reference scripture, our authority for God’s Word.

 

 

Makayla

I first met Makayla when she was 5, I think. Her mom had died a few years earlier and my daughter was engaged to her dad. She was the cutest little thing, sweet and had beautiful curly hair. Today she is a sophomore in High School. Wow, the time does fly. But she is just as beautiful and sweet as she ever was and a little more. We love her without any “step” and she is a joy to be around.

But there is a problem. She hates her hair. It is so curly you cannot comb or brush it when it is dry. It fizzes if she plays with it so she keeps it up on her head in a bun of sorts. The bad thing is she doesn’t take care of it because she doesn’t like it. We have spent a small fortune on shampoos and conditioners, asked everyone for advise but nothing has helped.

She thinks she is ugly because she hates her hair. She sees pictures of girls on sees them on TV and doesn’t understand why she can’t look like they do. All of this has caused her to gain weight. She is an emotional eater. She doesn’t understand the limits or why certain foods should be avoided. She is pre-diabetic, which is what killed her mother, but she doesn’t seem to care because she blames everything on her hair.

So the following is what I want to say to her. I’m thinking it might be a little too abrupt. What do you think?

From the magazines at the grocery store checkout, from billboards to TV shows, it’s hard to escape the world’s twisted idea of what it says a “beautiful woman” looks like.  The world does an excellent job of seducing women and girls into thinking they are not beautiful enough. It offers everything from beauty products to surgery to help you attain the beauty it says you deserve. But why do you listen to the worlds definition of beauty? Why is the world an authority on what beauty is?

You are a child of God. He made you for a specific reason and He made you the way you are for that reason. It is imperative to study and learn how to embrace a biblical and spiritual balance that honors the God who created you. You don’t need to work on your outer appearance. You need to work on your inner beauty character. That is where your beauty blossoms and flows to the outside of you. God calls you beautiful! Exactly the way He made you. Not the way the world wants you to be.

People Continue to Amaze Me

What is it about people? You know, the ones who take credit for things they didn’t do. Like when you clean out your grandmother’s RV to help sell it and she tells everyone how hard she worked to get it cleaned up. And why does that make us so mad?

Or when you hear your mother-in-law mention time and time again that she wishes she had a gravy boat for her dining room table. You buy her one for Christmas and when she opens it she says “Oh, a gravy boat?” I looked high and low for that gravy boat. I poured  time, energy and love into finding her the best one to fit her taste. And she acts like it was a random regifted gift. And why did that hurt my feelings?

Or my sister. My mom and dad are 78 years young this year. Every morning they work all of the puzzles in the newspaper. My sister knows this but for whatever reason the other morning, my sister had an issue that required my dads attention. See, my sister has a knack for dragging us into her drama. So she walks into my room and peers through the living room door to see dad working the puzzle, naturally. Then walks back through my room mumbling nondescript words of discontent that he is working is blankety-blank puzzles as though he is supposed to know it is “drama time”.

Or the woman at church who is all about herself. She is a ruler. Yes, you can look up the definition and it will fit her, I promise. She is also a control freak. That definition will fit too. Anyway, the other day my mom and I went to the church the day before our festival to drop off a few items for a silent auction. She was the head of that too. Go figure. She was elbow deep in coleslaw and another woman asked her where she wanted us to place the items until she could get to them. Well, the woman came unglued. She started yelling that the sale wasn’t today, that we couldn’t buy anything until tomorrow, she started to explain what a silent auction was and went on and on and on. I looked at my mom and we headed to the office. We left everything with the secretary to handle and walked away. She clearly has issues that are not up to us to handle.

Why do people continue to amaze me? I’d hate to think that I’m as self-centered as they seem to be. God is so good! Why is it that even though we pray and trust Him, when things work out, it is always a “WOW!” moment. He’s got it under control regardless of how out of control we may feel.

So, chill out…speak the truth with love…and hang on to Jesus for dear life. The ride will be worth it!

Spring Vacation

Vacation… A time of relaxation and rejuvenation. A time to visit family and old friends. A time to unwind and look forward to a restart. Actually, vacation went very well. The only hitch was mom getting a stomach bug. But everything else was great.

My sister still tried to back us out of Sunday, right up to that morning but I smiled, held my ground and held God’s hand. It was awesome to see my son and his little family dedicate themselves to Christ. It was more than worth the extra miles and aggravation.

Stay safe and God bless…

The Art of Misunderstanding Revisited

Just when you think enough is enough and it can’t get any worse, it gets worse. I have concluded that 99% of the problem is a total lack of communication. None! Two people talk over here while two others talk over there and never do they all come together in the same conversation. Thus, no one is on the right page, let alone the same one.

So we drive for an hour to the train station. We get comfortable for about an hour or so watching all the people come and go. Then I notice the status sign is blinking that our train will be delayed for an additional hour. Not bad, we can handle that.

You see, this whole mess started when we decided to go to North Carolina for a week. My son asked if we could come up a few days earlier so he could attend a Masonic event with my dad. Since no one else wanted to go up early, and dad has been wanting to ride the train up, we decided this was a good time to do just that. The misunderstandings started there and have snowballed every turn since.

About the time the train should have arrived in the station to prepare for boarding, an announcement was made. The engine could not proceed in the condition it was in so they had to send for another one from Jacksonville. By way of Tampa, it would take an additional seven hours before the train would arrive in Orlando. Bottom line, we would not be boarding until about 4am the next morning.

Now I’m not beyond camping out waiting for a plane or train or whatever but that is a very lone time. So I consulted with the attendent about the timing and our ability to reach our destination in time to attend the event we were going to in the first place. He advised it was not possible to reach our destination in time. So we got a refund and waited for our ride back home.

We’ll all drive up together like we originally planned in the first place. Everything happens for a reason and while we are disappointed all around, we have to trust the reasons we don’t get to see. Faith runs deep even when we don’t understand everything. We just have to trust God and know He will work it all out. He always does.

Stay safe and God bless