Thursday, December 30, 2010

The New Anomaly

Many of us have had difficult upbringings. We come from dysfunctional families that have affected us in different ways based on numerous variables.

Unfortunately, most of us fall into that category now-a-days. Of course, there are always exceptions. I remember when coming from a broken family was a departure from society's norm. Today a person is almost considered an anomaly if they were raised in a completely healthy family environment. If you fall into that category, I'm really happy for you. Seriously. But if you don't fall into that niche please don't fret because I've got great news for you!

You are not only not alone, your life dovetails with a group of people that were the ancestors of the greatest person to walk this earth. A person who was actually God in the flesh. We celebrated His birthday a few days ago.

He came from one of the most dysfunctional groups of people I know of. Many of Jesus' ancestors did some pretty scummy things. For instance...

Jacob tricked his father into giving him his brother's birthright.
Rahab was a prostitute.
King David committed adultery then murdered the husband of the woman he had an affair with.

I could go on, but the point is clear. Jesus had both a gnarly family tree and difficult life circumstances to deal with. He was surrounded by people who hated, rejected and despised Him. But as Jesus allowed Himself to be molded into what His Father wanted Him to be, it is my guess that although the outside world He lived in was hostile and pained Him greatly, His inside world was protected.

Our inside world - our emotions - can also be protected and healed as we let God lead, guide and fill us with His Spirit. The healing restoration began when we joined the family of God. A family that many today consider "dysfunctional". Some people may see us as...

The New Anomaly.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Is It Possible To... Muzzle a Puzzle?

Whatever can I be talking about now? Muzzle a puzzle? Surely, the only reasoning behind that "title" is that is that it rhymes?

Yes, this morning I was asking myself what I could share. I suppose you could say I was...puzzled. Then I looked up and saw the puzzle that began when one Christmas years ago, our daughters gave us a Thomas Kinkade puzzle...with puzzle glue. We put it together and a beautiful picture formed. My husband found an old frame that had seen better days in the trash on one of his morning walks. He painted it and after applying the puzzle glue to our new picture, we let it dry and fastened it to the newly painted construction that would act as a border. It was beautiful. Matter of fact, we ended up putting together another round Thomas Kinkade, gluing it and mounting it on a round piece of wood that I purchased for very cheap. My sister helped us paint and prepare the backing and "voila"...another Thomas Kincade "painting" in our price range! It is what I see every morning as I sit here.

The point? It's beautiful...but it began as a puzzle. Life is like that. Though it has the potential to be the beginning and possibly even now, it is a mass of puzzle pieces that are overwhelming and meaningless. Intuitively, many of us know that there is no way we can put the puzzle pieces of our lives together by ourselves.

Even if we are clever and do manage to create a "Thomas Kincade" from our lives, it won't last forever and it won't be "the real thing". The good news is that when Jesus was born and gave His life sacrificially for us, He began putting the pieces of our lives together again. God sent the Holy Spirit to work in His children's lives as He takes the myriads of odd shaped puzzle pieces and creates a beautiful masterpiece! Unfortunately, many of us won't let God into our lives. We try to put the puzzle pieces together on our own but the pieces in our lives are so many that discouragement can quickly find a home in our hearts. We not only do not want to put the puzzle together, we try to ignore the pieces all together in our misguided attempt to...

Muzzle the Puzzle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Complete Compassion

You want me to tell you something that will make you think twice? Something good?
I thought so! We could all use a little encouragement here and there. Okay...maybe a lot. So what am I talking about?

Let me start by asking you a question. Do you tend to feel that Gods love in your life is based on your performance? Isn't it true that you - we all - tend to feel Gods love when we think we deserve it? And, well, when we've had a rotten day and haven't been the "best kid on the block"...we feel God's disapproval?

We spend a good deal of our lives...feeling. Most of our actions and/or reactions are based on them whether we realize it or not. Some people hold in their feelings, but they're still there.

So why am I talking about this?

I just wanted to remind you of something that I needed to be reminded of as well. God loves His children. He has compassion on them. Since He is not confined to the thing we call "time", God is able to look at us ... at the end of our lives. He loves what he sees in you and me. Why? Well, it certainly isn't because of how awesome we are. It is simply because He loves us. Period. He is our Father and has compassion in His heart toward us when He looks at us. Does he still discipline us when necessary? Of course. Are circumstances that threaten to overwhelm us, in His control? Yes. Can He "get rid of them" for us? Yes, if He chooses.

What if He doesn't "choose"? Is it because He doesn't love us any more? No. God's love for us is not based on our actions. So next time you "feel" Gods disapproval - I want you to recognize something important. The disapproval you felt was not a reflection of Gods feelings toward you. It is how you felt about yourself. So take God out of the equation if you are applying it to His love for you.

God cannot love you any more or less than He already does. You can't do anything about that fact. Absolutely nothing. When God looks at us, His heart is filled with...

Complete Compassion

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Because of Christmas, We Have a Home!

This past weekend, everywhere I went I kept hearing one song over and over again..."I'll Be Home for Christmas". We all love the sweet aroma of a love-filled home. Whether that was a reality in our lives or not makes no difference. A good home is a good home and much to be desired.

In addition to mine and my husbands two girls, my husbands son and daughter from his first marriage visited us every other weekend. When they were young they had a good home with us. That didn't change...but we also let other adults stay with us from time to time who seemed to need help. Over time, after we witnessed the destruction these people brought into our lives, we finally realized that we needed to protect our home for our children's sake. They had been hurt because of the people we were trying to help. It was time for us to provide a safe haven for our little family.

We still cared for other people...we just had to care for them on different terms. It's difficult to do that, sometimes. But our children were able to finally grow up in an environment free from behavior that brought with it bad consequences.

God loves His children. I'm grateful that when I leave this world one day, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will go...Home. God provided a place for me that is free from corruption, free from sin. Heaven.

He didn't just provide that for me...His Son, Jesus, was sent to this world to take the punishment that we deserve. God is loving, but He is also Just. Only Jesus had the ability to take on the punishment for our sins, and God knew that. So God did what no man could ever do. He sent His Son...His only this world. Jesus was born to die. For me. For you. Christmas is a celebration of His birth into this world.

His death is meaningful for anyone...absolutely anyone...who asks Jesus into their lives. And now...

Because of Christmas, We Have a Home!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Fear Gear...

Can you feel it in the air? It's as if the Spirit of Christmas is turning into the Memory of Christmas. Without realizing it, it seems like people are more and more succumbing to a quiet fear. As a matter of fact, many people don't even know exactly what it is that seems to be shifting. It's as if Christmas, the way it used to be celebrated, is becoming a thing of the past - replaced with "Happy Holidays". It's not the same.

This country has, in the past, embraced the celebration of Christmas as it symbolized the birth of Christ. We had nativity scenes in the park. People would wish everyone a "Merry Christmas" with joy. The spirit in the air was due to... the Spirit. Why? Because we were celebrating the birth of Jesus. God had to have been pleased. So many people throughout the world and through the ages have hated God. But here, in America, even our coins expressed our love of God. "In God We Trust".

As a country we have been blessed in many ways, but some of us have confused Gods spiritual blessings with prosperity in the material realm, as if that were the only way God could bless us. It actually fits quite well with the American Dream idea...and then we did two things.
1) We relegated God to "Religion" and compartmentalized our relationship with Him, focusing on church attendance.
2) We stopped talking about Him.

Now, our big "evangelical tool" is to say "Merry Christmas". It seems, for a variety of reasons, some of us are allowing fear to dictate our actions or non-actions. But not everyone. Many citizens refuse to let fear rule them. It makes me happy to know that a significant amount of people throughout our land refuse to be shifted into...

The Fear Gear,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Are you a Moral Mirror...or a Morality Maker?

Our lives are more about "image" than we realize. We allow ourselves to think that the people that are concerned with image are people in their teens and twenty's. Even into the thirty's. But by 40 and up, well...we tend to equate image with fashion, appearance, idols - people with a guise that is in keeping with the trend of the day.

Image, however, is simply a reflection. So what do you and I reflect? Who do we "take after"? Are you the spitting image of your Dad or Mom?

I liked the story I heard about the little girl who asked Jesus into her heart and figured that since He was big and she was small, well...He would have to shine through her. As she let God live in her, she actually became a moral mirror that reflected God's life in her little human body. Do we do that? Will we let go of the self made image we have of ourselves?

Sometimes we might. Many times, though, we decide our own morality. We make up our own rules and regulations. Decide what is right and what is wrong. That's understandable if you don't believe in God. But what if you do believe in God? If so... I have a question for you.

Are you a Moral Mirror...or a Morality Maker?

Friday, December 17, 2010

So Tell Me...What Kind of Glue R U ???

How about it? Do you have "stick-to-it-ness" in general? If you don't...fear not. As long as you have given your heart to Christ, the Holy Spirit will work in you whether you like it or not. But I have to say, your ability to "stick" to things can come in handy.

If you are a Christian and have given your heart to Christ, it is time to ask yourself if you are wanting Him to be your Savior only or if you really do want Him to be the Lord of your life.
Lets say you want Him to be your Lord. I'm talking, like, on a daily basis. Well, God is in it for the long haul...but you can make life a lot easier for yourself if you let Him work and willingly stick to Him like glue.

No problem, you say. One question you might want to ask yourself is, "what kind of glue do you remind yourself of"?

There is, as I'm sure you all remember, good old Elmer's glue. It was, for most of us, the first glue we ever used. Kindergarten and elementary school come to mind. Remember, the little scissors and glitter? Elmers glue was a first for most of us. However, as we got older, we started to get tired of waiting for it to dry...and even then, it just didn't hold things together for long. was a start, right?

Then we heard of super-glue. That stuff was pretty nice. Matter of fact, you had to be careful to keep from getting it on things that you didn't want to get stuck together. It was and is a much stronger glue.

More, you say? Well, yeah. Next comes "Gorilla Glue". That stuff is STRONG. Talk about sticking power.

Then there is the "Hot Glue Gun". Oy vey! How many times does God have to use the hot glue gun on us? Nothing quite like the heat of trials and tribulations to intensify the adhering power. You've heard about the persecuted church and how rapidly they multiply? Hmmmm...I'm thinking, "Hot glue gun". Those brothers and sisters in Christ are really sticking to God!

And then...drum roll please... there is the all powerful... Post It Note. (I'm being sarcastic, I admit it freely). Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves becoming "unglued" fairly easily! Our sticking power is about as strong as a Post It Note. That, as you know, doesn't say a lot. So tell me...

What Kind of Glue R U ???

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Tevya Tirade !

Do you remember Tevya in the "Fiddler on the Roof"? He was a Russian Jew with a very "laid back" personality and a good sense of humor. Throughout the movie he would talk to God and speak as if he were talking to a friend that he had known for a long time and could speak comfortably with. I loved that. It's the way it should be...and is for many people.

One of the things Tevya would say was, "On the other hand" ... as he analyzed opposing views in his mind. You could almost see a ping pong ball going back and forth!

Anyway, that's how I feel sometimes. Like Tevya. Are you like that? Trying to see "both sides" of things and having to make a decision based on what you know? Actually...that can be a problem with me. I go back and forth as I think in my mind, "on the other hand"...but the two sides that are duking it out seem to be the analytical side and the emotional side.

More often than not I go through what I refer to as...

The Tevya Tirade!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Analytical Emotionalist

I get together with a group of awesome women every Tuesday night. I love it! It is so hard to find people that are compassionate towards others...yet also very aware of the fact that if anything is going to change in our lives - the focus needs to be on ourselves. I mean - we can't change anybody else, right?

Anyway, we were all talking about a bunch of things. At one point we discussed people who are analytical and people who are emotional. After listening for a while, I piped in with "I think I am both analytical and emotional". As in... half and half. Hey? Isn't that what people put in coffee? But I digress...

See? I made my own point. I immediately found myself analyzing the statement "half and half". I tell you, sometimes I am so overwhelmed with thoughts that I get...overwhelmed.

And then there is the emotional side of me. Some might say, " you mean the emotional outbursts?" Yeah, well...I guess that comes with the territory. Sometimes though, don't you wish you had a switch that you could turn off? Sigh...

What point do I want to make? No point. Just an observation from...

An Analytical Emotionalist...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Now What?!

I know. It's frustrating. We look at the world around us and it's changing so fast...and not for the good. Not overall, anyway. The economic climate is a bit "humid" if you know what I mean. The future looks bleak to most people. They want to know what happened to their country. It's as if they blinked...and everything changed.

Don't blame this on Obama or the government. Criticizing schools, their administrations and or principals may make us feel better for a while...but the problem began with us. WE elected those people. WE looked the other way when people tried to warn us. Most of us acted like ostriches with their heads in the sand.

Prayer was taken out of the schools in 1962. Did you hear an uproar? I didn't think so. Abortion was legalized in 1973. What did you do about that? Have you even bothered to inform yourself about life and when it begins...or have you just listened to people tell you what you are supposed to think?

Are you aware that anybody - regardless of their political views - can run on any platform they want? That's been going on for decades and we wonder, for example, why the Republican party is not very conservative much of the time. Hey, Democrats have been running on the Republican Party platform for quite some time now. didn't know that either?

Did you know that eventually when abortion protesters protested...they were not allowed to "speak their piece" even though they were given a jury trial? Nope. The lawyers gave the judges anywhere from one to three typed pages of words that the "protesters on trial" were not allowed to say. The list of words was approved by the judge. If any of the "forbidden" words were repeated (,hospital,baby,clinic,etc.) the person on trial was sent to jail for three days and three nights. Eventually, they returned to their trial - and an entirely new jury. Yes...this was in America - the land of the free.

Many Christians tried to say something. They weren't all silent...but they were all shut down, for the most part. The media put their special spin on things and "political correctness" was formed. I hate to say this but even most churches decried "activist" as inferior interlopers who don't understand that they simply need to pray...and it will all go away.

But, as the saying goes, all that is water under the bridge. The question facing us at this time is pretty simple.

Now What?!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The "Haters"

You know what's really weird? Really, really weird? Not long ago (In the mid-90's) I watched some "end-time" movie. I can't remember the name. But I do distinctly recall how ridiculous I thought it was. One thing in particular stood out to me as being especially absurd. I took it with a grain of salt because even though I am a Christian and believe that this world will come to an end someday, the movie itself was just fiction. I'm referring to huge numbers of people in the movie that would refer to Christians as "The Haters".

Admittedly, I thought it sounded pretty cheesy. I cringed inwardly when I heard that terminology being applied to groups of believers in Christ. It was so outlandish. I remember thinking that whoever put that movie together was really "reaching" when they came up with that term.

Now...not even 20 years later...that doesn't sound far-fetched at all. The animosity people have towards Christians is becoming increasingly evident. I can't even play a Christmas song that speaks of Jesus and why He came, without people attacking me. I am now a judgmental hypocrite who can't be trusted. It is a horrible feeling to feel abandoned and betrayed by people that I love. Actually, I think it is pretty naive of me to think people wouldn't be offended. I suppose I'm accustomed, as an American, to being able to express my beliefs freely considering most of our founding fathers did exactly that and more.

But time is passing and our culture is passing with it. The Christians that once were loved are now, in growing circles, seen as...

The Haters.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thank You ... Memory

When I was in the college dorms, the public telephone rang. I answered. The girl on the other end asked me if I would like to take a survey on Life and Death. I decided it sounded interesting so I met with her the next day and took the two page oral survey. The first page was basically for the giver of the survey to determine where a person was at spiritually. She must have figured I was 'nowhere' based on my answers. On the top of the second page was the only question I remember. "Are you afraid to die?"
I answered, "No". That answer was apparently surprising to the survey girl. "Why?" she asked. "Well", I said, "because Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and the sins of anybody in this world who believes in Him and I believe in Him... so why should I be afraid to die? I'm going to Heaven."
The girl, shocked, said... "You're a Christian!"
"Oh?" I said. "I didn't know there was a word for it."
"You should be going to church", she says. "But", I said, "there is no Christian church around here". That is when she told me I could go to her church. It was christian. Happened to be a Baptist church. "Oh, okay" was my response. I've been going to church, bible studies and appying God's principals on a daily basis ever since.
Obviously, I must have learned about Jesus and how He died for the sins of the world, somewhere. But where? My life was a blank as far what I remembered. But...
God sent memory to me that day.
Did I tell you the name of the girl who gave me the survey? Her name was... Memory.

Yesterday, I told you about all the memories that flooded my mind in an instant. Everything I needed to know to deal with the circumstance at hand poured into my little naive teenage braincase. One year later...the same thing happened. This time, however, the "circumstance" had to do with my eternal destiny.

Thank you...Memory.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"I'm Going to Run Over That Cat" Part 3

Brief recap. I'm driving 50 mph in a car at night on a country highway. I round a curve and the head beams of my car hit a cat in the middle of the road. I was only 18 and a novice driver. Nevertheless, everything I needed to know to deal with that moment, came to my mind in a flash. It was supernatural. There is no other explanation. I had to avoid a rock wall on my right, a ditch on my left and a cat in the middle of a narrow 2 lane road. The passenger on my right thought he needed to help me drive so he reached over and turned the power steering drivers wheel significantly. There was no way to avoid an accident.

After "Danny" turned the wheel, I knew...for some unexplainable reason, that I had to turn the wheel slightly to the right. That put us into a backward spin which thrust us back into the cushion of the seat as opposed to throwing us forward on impact. If you knew me you would know that it is not "me" to think of something like that. It was utterly amazing. With my mind and body, countless thoughts, assessments and actions took place in about a two second period of time. Maybe less.

Another problem was the fence. I knew that hitting the ditch alone could be disastrous... but the heavy fence as well? It was a hopeless situation. But again, I somehow knew in that brief period of time that if I applied any pressure to the power brakes they would lock and we would flip. Where in the world did I- a naive inexperienced teenager- get that information?! Then, I covered my eyes and placed both of my feet on the floorboard...and waited.

Let me enlighten you about something. The fence I was careening towards was miles and miles long with a 12 foot gate every 1/2 mile that would allow a truck to enter the cow pasture with hay, I suppose. Of course, the foreboding ditch would be exposed on either side of the wide dirt path that enabled the truck to cross into the pasture once it passed the gate. Got that picture in your head?

So, I am prepared for a crash, with my hands covering my eyes after the car went into a backward spin at 50 mph. Miles of ditch were avoided as the car somehow managed to find the 12 foot wide dirt bridge and avoid the miles and miles of fence! Oh...and it was just a few feet wider than the car. Oh...and the car just happened to go through it at exactly the right angle to avoid the ditch.

The car crashed through the heavy gate and spun a couple of times before it halted...about 15 feet from a cow. He just slowly looked up and... mooed.

The cat lived. Neither Danny or myself had a scratch...and the police gave the ticket to Danny for "interfering with the driver."

A horrible accident was avoided. Nobody was hurt. That was the first time that I was really aware of...of...of something beyond me. Something that I didn't understand. But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that "reality" was not limited to what I could see with my eyes and even understand with my mind. I knew...

I was not alone.

Neither are you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"I'm Going to Run Over That Cat..." Part 2 of 3

Before you have a hissy fit (pun intended) I just wanted to let you know that my intention was to run over the hopes that it would be still and stay low to the ground, allowing me to refrain from hitting it with the car tires.   It worked and the cat probably died of old age.  I never saw it again.  But the accident that was sure to take place and would actually result in a totaled car, was just beginning.

It's strange to think of an accident "just beginning."  They happen so fast.  But if you have ever actually been in an accident-especially if you were the driver- you'll know what I'm talking about.  Everything slows down.  It's as if you are in a surreal dream or walking in a sea of molasses.

Right after I told Danny that I was going to "run over that cat", I concentrated on my steering.  The car my dad let me use had both power steering and power brakes.  I knew that even a slight overreaction could be disastrous.  While I was intently focusing, Danny - undoubtedly  thinking I had lost my mind - reached over and turned the steering wheel about 4 inches to the left.  As a result, we headed straight for the fenced in cow pasture...but before the pasture was the ditch.  There was no doubt in my mind that we were about to experience a very unpleasant crash. (Is there such a thing as a pleasant one)?

I took my foot off the accelerator and planted both my feet on the floorboard.  If I applied the power brakes at that speed, I'm sure the car would have flipped.  Again...all of my reactions, all my thoughts before the reactions, came in an instant. There is no absolutely no way I could have thought all those things in an hour...much less recall all that information that quickly.  No more than one second passed during the whole time before...well, I'll finish my story...tomorrow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"I'm Going to Run Over That Cat..." Part 1 of 3

They thought dropping Danny off at my parents house, where I lived at the age of 18, was hilarious.  Why?  Because he was drunk.  Surely my parents would get upset and I would be the recipient of their anger.  Danny's buddies laughed as they took off in the night... undoubtedly looking for more mischief.  What they hadn't counted on was my parents indifference.  After all, both my Mom and Dad knew I didn't drink or party. They understood without my saying anything that it wasn't my fault that Danny was now under the influence and under our roof.  My Dad trusted me and simply told me to take Danny home.  He gave me the keys to his car.

Earlier in the year, Danny's parents - who he lived with- asked me if I would be Danny's "driver" as his license was revoked.  They were thrilled that their son actually knew someone who wasn't a fellow mischief-maker.  I think they were hoping to be matchmakers.  It didn't work.  But, hey, I did take Danny home when he was drunk.

He lived about 15 miles away, in the country.  Ever the vigilant driver, I drove a cautious 50 mph on the small country highway.  I always tried to do things "right".    A few miles past the town I lived in,  I rounded a curve.  The headlights of my car hit a cat in the middle of the road. When you have to stop quickly ... 50 is fast.

How long does the light from your headlights, reach?  And how long would it take for a car to reach the end of the original headlight beam?  A car that is going 50 mph?  And what do you do when you can't go "around" the cat?  On my right was a high rock wall/hill.  To my left was a ditch...the other side of which was a cow pasture.  And... cows.  Oh, and sitting on the seat to my right was poor, drunk, Danny.

It was really weird.  In less than one second, countless things went through my mind.  Now keep in mind, I was only 18 and had been driving a car for no more than two years at this point.  I wasn't a bad driver, but I wasn't a skilled, professional  either.  There was no way I could have avoided an accident. I said, tons of things came to my mind in no more than one second.  Obscure newspaper articles about people getting in accidents and even dying in order to avoid an animal, came to mind.  Not just one article - lots of them.  I remembered things that I learned two years earlier, in drivers ed.  I don't have the time to tell you all the thoughts that flooded my mind in an instant.

You've heard of a persons entire life flashing before their lives in life and death situations?  Well...this was similar - except I knew it wasn't a life and death situation.  Nevertheless, everything I needed to know to deal with that moment, came to my mind in a flash.  It was supernatural.  There is no other explanation.

Then I heard a voice - Danny's voice as he screamed out "What are you doing?!"  I replied with a calm, concentrated certainty:

"I'm going to run over that cat."

Tomorrow, I'll tell you what happened...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Amazing Circumstances or Miraculous Milestones?

Okay, so yesterday I asked the question," Why would a stubborn person like me, turn to God? To Jesus? Was it an...action or reaction?

Well, frankly, I think a lot of people would assume that I was reacting to my "need" to belong. I mean, yes...I grew up lonely and estranged. It would certainly make sense that a person might turn to just about anything in a desperate attempt to belong to something. That kind of thing happens all the time. But in my case, I would have to say that I have always been a very stubborn person. For example, in the "peer years" of teenagehood, many people will find themselves involved in something that they wouldn't normally choose - but because it means they will "belong" they will do almost anything. I, on the other hand, was disgusted at the thought that I would finally be "accepted" ... if I would just join a particular church.

Even though I wasn't a Christian at the time, and in spite of the fact that the church I am referring to claimed to believe in the Bible...I knew they were a cult. I was so certain of that that I refused to join their church in spite of all the "events" I would be able to be a part of. From sixth grade through High School I quietly refused to "give in" and join a group of religious people just so I could be invited to dances. The very thought made me ill. Consequently, I had no friends and no social life at all.

The year after I graduated High School, before I went to College...something happened that was the beginning of a series of amazing "circumstances".

Why am I sharing these things? Because I need to remind myself of very real things that took place in my life. Things that shaped my thinking. Some people would refer to them as "Amazing Circumstance". Were they...

Amazing Circumstances or Miraculous Milestones?

It begins with the accident...I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Action or Reaction?

So...what does determine a persons actions and reactions? What determines your actions and reactions? What determines mine?

We can be people that are always on the defense...forever reacting. Or we can be on the offense as we take action. It's easier for some people to be on the offense. Other people, like myself, struggle in our attempts to refrain from reacting to circumstances...whether they are good or bad. If you ever battle with that, I encourage you to at least refrain from reacting right away. Try not to do anything when your emotions are still raw and you are reeling with hurt, anger or pain of any kind.

You guys, I don't have the strength in myself to do what I just encouraged. If you ever struggle with emotions that are boiling underneath the surface like a volcano that is ready to explode...or if you are so lonely or hurt that you feel like every cell in your body is filled with cement and your heart feels as if it is in your stomach...I just want you to know that I understand - and I am so sorry that you are experiencing that agonizing ache that is so distressing and disturbing that you literally feel crushed. Your wounds are deep and you despair of ever living a somewhat normal life.

The emotions I described above are not what I want in my life...but I would be lying if I said I never experienced them. I can say that I don't experience them nearly as frequently as I used to. But as I said in the paragraph above, I don't have the strength to deal with all those emotions on my own. Nevertheless, I've also always been and continue to be, a very stubborn person. On the one hand, I say I can't deal with all those harmful, raw emotions, on my own. On the other hand... I can't stand it when people tell me what to do.

So why would a stubborn person like me, turn to God? To Jesus? Was it an...

Action or Reaction?

I'll begin telling you about the journey in my life that answers that question...tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is Our Society Experiencing "Truth Decay"?

Why do people have to make the meaning of the word, "truth", so difficult? The following is a sampling of definitions I copied out of on Google:

1.the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2.conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3.a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle
Sample sentences from the same source:

At some point you have to face the simple truth that we failed.
Their explanation was simpler but came closer to the truth.
The article explains the truth about global warming.
A reporter soon discovered the truth.
Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Her story contains a grain of truth but also lots of exaggeration.

I'm quite sure that the reason people indicate that the word "truth" is difficult to understand is because they don't "agree" with the truth they are hearing. Perhaps it conflicts with their paradigm, or world view. Therefore, they insist that truth is relative. But wait. If a statement is relative...then it can't always be true. Would that make it partially false? But if something is partially false, can it then be completely true?

Is Our Society Experiencing "Truth Decay"?

Check out:
Absolute and Relative Truth

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Question of Charachter

I mentioned yesterday the importance of establishing someone's character before you immediately embrace their thoughts or views. Just to make sure we're on the same page, let me tell you what I am referring to when I mention "character". You see, some people automatically assume that a person with character is someone of good repute. That is an accurate definition that can be found in the dictionary. Another definition would be: The inherent complex of attributes that determines a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions.

Since there are so many people of varied opinions today as to what "good repute" is, I will stick to the second definition I mentioned. Basically, things that determine a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions.

So, since I can't tell you how to determine if a person has the characteristics you think are important - since I don't know what that is - I will tell you that I believe if a person holds truth as paramount in their life...then that fact alone answers a lot, the...

Question of Character.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Just A Start

It's amazing how easily we can be duped. Let's see...some of us let our emotional world get the best of us and our resulting actions attest to that fact. Other times we think if something is in "black and white" it is absolute truth. Then, of course, most of us will listen to just about anybody if they sound confident and authoritative. Something or somebody else we tend to put our "trust" in is a person or group of people who have specific degrees behind their name.

All these things are understandable. They probably do have access to information that we might not have. But, you know, even doctors that are reputable disagree with each other. Who can we trust? Who should we listen to?

Reminds me of a story:

A fisherman from the city was out fishing on a lake in a small boat. He noticed another man in a small boat open his tackle box and take out a mirror. Being curious the man rowed over and asked, "What is the mirror for?"
"That's my secret way to catch fish," said the other man. "Shine the mirror on the top of the water. The fish notice the spot of sun on the water above and they swim to the surface. Then I just reach down and net them and pull them into the boat."
"Wow! Does that really work?"
"You bet it does."
"Would you be interested in selling that mirror? I'll give you $30 for it."
"Well, okay."
After the money was transferred, the city fisherman asked, "By the way, how many fish have you caught this week?"
"You're the sixth," he said.

So what is my point? Well...since we can't know for sure if what people tell us is true or not, it is my opinion that it would be wise of us to examine their character. But...

It's just a start.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Too Painful To Ignore...

A few years ago I was "surfing the net" and, well, ended up on some page that I could never find again. You know how that happens. It was interesting, though. You see, if you hadn't noticed already, I love asking questions and then finding answers. Probably drove my parents crazy. Anyway, the question I was asking at the time was, "Why is it that so many people hate the Jews...with no apparent reason?"

For the life of me, I couldn't put a finger on that one. It made absolutely no sense to me. So...I typed in that question on "Google" and found a bunch of silly answers. None of them rang true to me. I mean, I like "checking things out"...but that doesn't mean I automatically believe everything I hear or read. But sometimes we run across something that is actually true. The following story is an example.

When David was a young boy his family took a vacation. They stopped at all the tourist sites. One site stood out to David and the memory of it remains with him to this day.

Being a typical boy, David was excited to exit the car that he had been in for hours and visit the "tourist site" his family happened upon. It boasted of an underground cave, at one time used by miners. I can't remember how far down it went - just that it was very deep.

David enthusiastically sat in the minors car that was used by the tourist guide to take people to the depths of the cavern. When he got to the bottom, the guide turned off his flashlight which was the only source of illumination that the people had. He had explained to people that the cave was so deep that once you reached a certain depth...not even light could be found. Now, we think there is no light late at night or in a dark basement...but when our eyes "adjust" we can eventually see the vague shape of a hand in front of our faces. That's because there is at least a little bit of light available - via the moon or stars. Not so, in this cave. Absolutely no light reached it's depths.

The guide spoke in the inky blackness that surrounded the fascinated tourists. After having sat in the dark long enough for their eyes to adjust, the people were asked to put their hands in front of their faces. Not even a dim outline of a hand could be seen. Eventually, the guide told them to close their eyes as he was going to turn on his flashlight and the light of it would be painful to their eyes. He was quite serious. However, being a young daring boy, David wasn't about to miss this unique opportunity. He, of course, kept his eyes open...and was shocked to discover that the pain he experienced in his eyes was real. Yes, he recovered...but he never forgot.

Fast forward at least 30 years. David was now a pastor who was pondering the "Why do so many people hate the Jews question" when he remembered the vacation he took as a boy...and the cave.

In a flash of insight, David remembered all the scriptures in the Bible that refer to Jesus as the Light, and how darkness hates the light. The "Light" was a Jew who came from Israel.

Not all people hate the Jews. I don't. Many people don't. But is it possible that people who are in deep spiritual darkness find "light"...

Too Painful to Ignore?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Which Way is Up?

Why do I believe there is only one way to heaven? Because that is what I see God saying in His Word. Some people view that as judgmental. That's because it is offensive. It is not, however, my judgement to make. It is a judgement made by the end of a persons life and based on a heart that only God knows. I'm grateful He is the one making that judgment...because He knows our hearts so intimately and because His love for us is greater than any love we have ever had for anyone. I know we can't comprehend all of requires a faith in God that says "I believe in You even if I can't understand it all".

Most people I know, regardless of whether they believe in the Bible or not, believe in the spiritual world. Could it be that the spiritual warfare that we know is very deceptive as well? Remember Satan? He was called actually called the Angel of Light. His beauty surpassed that of all the other angels of heaven. Jesus actually refers to him as "The Father of Lies".

I am not some amazing theological scholar by any stretch of the imagination. That is simply what the Bible says. It is not my personal interpretation. Nor has the Bible morphed into a new class of Christianity.

Do I think it's important to speak out when appropriate? Yes. As I mentioned a few articles ago, the "Preach without Speech" thing has gone a bit too far...though I understand the intentions were well-meaning and even understandable. It's important to live the life that reflects the principals of God's Word - but not to the exclusion of sharing His Word. Hopefully you will be sensitive enough to know,however, when it is inappropriate. You know, like, when people specifically ask you not to talk about it.

But don't worry that you are "doing nothing" if you "only" walk the walk and refrain from "talking the talk". The very fact that you don't gossip or you don't swear or you don't have sex outside of marriage,etc. will be "enough" for some people.

Tomorrow I'll tell you a story about darkness that was so pervasive, a person couldn't tell...

Which Way Was Up?!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving BLT ?

I was listening to K-Love last week and they landed on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Food. In particular...Thanksgiving food. I think it qualifies as my favorite time of the year for guilt-free eating. At least...I find it guilt free. It's like this. I figure there are 365 days in our average year.

There is only one Thanksgiving Day. How can I be thankful for food if I don't eat it?

Ya gotta admit. Eating on Thanksgiving makes perfect sense. Being thankful for the food we're eating makes even more sense. The moral of the story? Eat joyously!

Ahhh...Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean or asparagus casserole,cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and whatever other specialties you may avail yourself of in which to delight your palate...they are all there - waiting for you.

Or perhaps, as K-Love mentioned, during preparation time the bites, licks and tastes could actually be referred to as...

A Thanksgiving BLT !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Greatness Gauge...

Someone once said:
A mans greatness is measured by what it takes to discourage him.

I like that. Yes, I realize there are always exceptions. A person isn't exactly at their best when they are ill or battling hormonal fluctuations which make them want to scream one minute and break down in tears the next. The quote above is simply referring to your relatively healthy individual. And yes, I realize some people will be "pre-disposed" to a nature that lends itself to more easily combating the discouragement battle.

A few months ago I was reading about the importance of loosing weight. Alas, that is a topic that millions of us struggle with. But I have to say, I just wanted to hug whoever wrote the article I was reading. They made the comment that, is definitely important to exercise, eat well and keep your weight at a normal range - but they also brought to my attention the fact that when people are overweight it can actually be helpful to a point.

Of course, my ears perked up immediately. What was this person talking about? I mean, yeah...they made it clear that a normal weight range is what we should always be shooting for if we're not there already. However, while we are in the "overweight zone"...keep in mind the fact that all the extra weight we are carrying is actually potentially strengthening our that when we do loose the excess weight, we just may find that our bones have been strengthened a bit in the process.

How true is that? I don't know...but it does illustrate a true principal that can be applied to many areas of our lives. How's that? A truly great person doesn't make excuses. A truly great person is great in spite of the odds stacked against him. As a matter of fact, when things are bleak and he/she refuses to let discouragement defeat them...they become even stronger. Remember:

A Man's Greatness is Measured by What is Takes to Discourage Him. It is:

The Greatness Gauge.

Monday, November 22, 2010

And I Thought I Was Alone...

What am I referring to? I'm referring to Christians who "can't find a church". Why? Oh, there are lots of reasons. Perhaps they're looking for a church that will meet all their needs. Or maybe they're tired of "all the hypocrites" and don't want to associate themselves with that group of people anymore. Then there are the people who can't seem to get over the fact that "so and so" (who really should have known better) hurt their feelings...whether it was two weeks ago, two years ago or 20 years ago. You fill in the blanks.

I can relate. Two years ago, when I was experiencing conflicting emotions over this very subject, I came to the realization that I needed to stop looking at people and start looking at God. The fact is, it is highly unlikely that whatever hurt you is encouraged in the Bible. BTW, I'm not talking about people who take things out of context...or throw their own spin on things. I remember, years ago, a pastor told me to be sure to refrain from taking his word as gospel. He reminded me and others that he is just a human being that is susceptible to human error just like anybody to please make sure we run anything he says by what God in the Bible says.

Alas, you will have a difficult time doing that if you don't know your Bible. I'm not talking major theological issues, here. I'm referring to simple things like "Love the Lord your God with all your heart,mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself". God teaches us to be loving, kind, gentle, patient, etc. Chances are, you were hurt by someone who didn't display those characteristics...but since they were "religious" you associated those actions as "church" related - not because it was biblical but because someone in the church acted in a way they may have thought was correct...but it really wasn't. Just run it by what God teaches.

But people are people...and they're everywhere. Churches,work,restaurants,movies...everywhere. And what's more - you are there with them whether you like it or not. Yeah... even you make mistakes. Same here.

And I thought I was alone...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Butterfly Wings

Story by...our friend, Anonymous

One day a small opening appeared on a cocoon, a man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.
But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened!
In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.
We could never fly.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Scar Experiment...

(Story adapted by Louis Lapides from Still More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks, Wayne Rice, Zondervan Publishing House. Pg. 79.)

A scientific researcher assembled ten unsuspecting volunteers for a psychological study called the Scar Experiment. The participants were separated into ten different cubicles equipped without mirrors. The purpose of the study was to observe how people would respond to a stranger with a marred physical appearance, such as a facial scar. Using Hollywood makeup tricks, the scientist put bloody and gruesome scars on each volunteer's left cheek, and displayed the new "scar" to each participant using a small handheld mirror. After glancing at their marred image, the mirror was taken away. The researcher's final step was to inform each volunteer that some finishing powder needed to be placed on his/her scar to prevent it from smearing. In reality, the researcher used a tissue to wipe off the scar. But the volunteers still believed they had the awful scars on their faces.
Each individual was sent out into the waiting rooms of different medical offices with instructions to notice how strangers responded to their appearance. After the appointed time, the ten volunteers returned to the scientific researcher and all shared the same report. In their encounters they noticed that strangers were ruder to them, less kind and stared at their scar. Regardless of the removal of the false scars, their unhealthy perspective on themselves affected how they thought others saw them.
In contrast, the scars and pain we carry inside us are hardly ever obvious to everyone on the outside. We make them visible by our actions towards others. If we see ourselves as unlovable, worthless and defective, we will often respond towards individuals in an unloving, insecure and discouraging manner. Meaningful and trusting relationships become very difficult to form.
It is surprising to learn a positive self image does not come from how we look on the outside, but on how we feel on the inside. In order to have a lasting, healthy view of self, we must base our worth upon God's unconditional love and value of us. King David sings, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it!" (Psalm 139:14) (NLT). Through a personal relationship with our Creator, we can find healing of those inner scars and deep wounds that hinder us from enjoying fulfilling relationships. There is no need to worry about what other people think of us when we know God has already placed His highest worth on our lives.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big John

I don't know who wrote the story below, but I wanted to share it with you. You see, I can relate to the bus driver in this story. I won't say anything else. Read on. :)

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops, a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well.
At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, "Big John doesn't pay!" and sat down at the back. Did we mention that the driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek? Well, he was. Naturally, he didn't argue with Big John, but he wasn't happy about it.
The next day the same thing happened--Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the one after that, and so forth. This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him.
Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff. By the end of his summer vacation, he had become quite strong; what's more, he felt really good about himself.
So on the next Monday, when Big John once again got on the bus and said, "Big John doesn't pay!" the driver stood up, glared back at the passenger, and screamed, "And why not?"
With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, "Big John has a bus pass."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reign of the Brain!

Did you know that it takes approximately 17 years for a solid medical study to actually make its way to your average doctors office? Yeah. I was indignant when I discovered that little tidbit of information. I have to say, though...I'm beginning to relate to being behind the times instead of behind the eight ball. That's how I feel right now, anyway.

I knew the human brain was complex. So complex I didn't bother studying it as much as I would listen to other people tell me things like ... well, I'm not going to go there because I don't want you to focus on any particular issue. The point is, I oftentimes will buy into things without blinking twice. Hey, when a person speaks with apparently doesn't matter what they say. Most of us "eat what we've been fed".

Over time I discovered I was wrong to believe everything so easily. But recently I've been realizing how much true scientific study has been done on the brain and it is fascinating. Go to Google and type in "Brain Patterning". You'll be amazed. Is everything accurate? I don't know. But I do know that enough things are repeated that it gives me a better picture of the serious role our brain plays in our everyday lives.

Have you ever heard of brain plasticity or neuroplasticity? The basic definition says that neuroplasticity is the lifelong ability of our brains to reorganize "neural pathways" based on new experiences. Very simply put; our brains respond to new information, images, concepts, etc. If that is true, then it stands to reason that since experiences actually physically alter our brains, they can also alter how we "see" the world. Hhmmm...interesting. I wonder if that is why some people say they feel like they've been "born" with homosexuality, for example. Also, interesting to note is that since the vast majority of our brain growth took place as we were growing up...well, it helps explain why so many people have a hard time getting "over" issues that were pertinent in their childhood.

The Reign of the Brain is nothing to take lightly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Bad Ending Can Signal a Good Beginning...

Why do I get so upset when I think something has come to an end? I do. I cry. I mourn the loss of something I saw as a good thing...and I hate it. But, how many times does the end of something simply signal the beginning of something new? Does that happen? Well...

War ends and a new culture emerges. A caterpillars life ends but a butterfly takes wing. A good book ends...but the resulting inspiration leaves you feeling good. Wasn't a good book? Good thing it came to an end. There are many examples of how an end can be a good thing. When I've got on my negative cap,though, I forget that the "end" might result in something good.

True, there are tons of times when ends aren't at all welcome. Sometimes they are a real bummer, to say the least. The end of a good job comes to mind. How can that be a good thing? The end of my ability to wear small clothes. Uh, I'm not liking that either. The end of a favorite pets life? The end of a persons life who you really loved. How can those be good things?

My answer. The end of something good isn't always a good thing. That's why I, as a Christian, love the verse "For God causes all things to work together for good...for those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose". Romans 8:28 It's the verse I hold onto when things are looking bad.

With God at the helm, even ...

A bad ending can signal a good beginning.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Warrior... Part 1

Where are you in this story? Are you God's friend or Satan's friend? Where do you want to be? People can flip sides all the time! Is it time for you to change your path and listen to the God who loves you?

The Warrior-Part One

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Are You Convinced...or Excited???

Wow. Earlier, I was talking to my daughter, Cari, and she told me something that I thought was so insightful that I asked her if I could share it with you. Being who she is, she gave me the green light.

You know how you hear things sometimes that are, like... whatever. Other times you hear something that really rings true and "resonates" with you? This was one of those times for me.

Well, it's like this. I've been walking with the Lord for almost 34 years. Why so long? Because I was convinced that Christianity was true. I'll tell you more about that another time, but for now I want to relay a story.

"Katy" told "Suzanne" about a product she was excited about. After listening to Katy for a period of time, Suzanne eventually told Katy that she was convinced that the product was a good one. She probably thought Katy would be pleased with her answer... but instead, Katy said "What? I don't want you to be convinced... I want you to be excited!"

That's an excellent distinction that Katy made. When Cari relayed that message to me, it hit me like a ton on bricks. Wow! In regards to my Christianity, I have been someone who is absolutely convinced that it is true. I'm so convinced that I'm willing to be rejected over it. And that, for me, is huge. Seriously, huge. So... I am convinced. But am I excited? I'll ask you the same question:

Are You Convinced...or Excited?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yesterday, I said that I understood why people embrace the "Preach the Gospel...use words when necessary" a point. But more and more, I am seeing the other side of the equation. Oh, how the pendulum swings, eh? We either have people "living the gospel...but not speaking out" or "speaking out...but not living the way God intended." The "balanced" approach doesn't mean we should sit on the fence. Reminds me of the proverb...He who walks down the middle of the road can be run down by traffic from both sides." I want to take a stand in that regard, but for me it is difficult. But, I know it is not impossible to live a loving life that is a reflection of God and share God's Word...with words. What an idea.

Do I sound harsh when I suggest that we don't "speak out" enough? Hey, it's hard for me to hear as well. But I am willing to look at the possibility that perhaps we have gone too far with our "Preach without Speech" philosophy. I mean, how many people today even know what the gospel is? If you are already a true, believing Christian...that question is a no-brainer. But is it so easily grasped outside your Christian circle? Outside my Christian circle? Or am I too busy trying to be a nice person that I use that as an excuse to refrain from sharing God's Word? "Don't want to offend anybody." "Don't want people to think I am an unloving person." "Don't want to be rejected."
Sigh...yeah, that's me. Typically.

What I am saying is simply that we take the "Preach without Speech" thing too far. That's all. We use it as an excuse to ignore at least 513 commands in the bible that I am aware of that tell us to...preach. Share the Good News of Christ with words.
Now the question is...


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Preach Without Speech...

I've heard it said in many ways by people of various persuations, that it is important to "Preach without Speech". You've undoubtedly heard the "Preach the gospel...use words when necessary" phrase or concept. I certainly understand that thinking and have embraced it myself, thinking I was being very broad minded and mature when I so easily espoused that point of view.

A few weeks ago, somebody challenged my thinking in that area. At first it made me angry, but slowly I began to see the point that the person in question was trying to make. Frankly, so many times people have preached the gospel without living it in their everyday lives that the gospel to some people almost became a synonym for "religious hypocrisy". That's because people were equating the gospel with religion and religious people. People who obviously had not yet learned how to truly apply God' words to their everyday lives. Not as big a deal as we make it out to be. I we expect physical babies, for example, to act like mature adults?. No. Apparently, however, the world has that expectation of us. And to a point, I understand what they are saying.

Tomorrow, we can check out this idea a bit more...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pricey but Priceless.

I'll tell you right now. I don't like pain. At all. A couple of days ago, my right knee started hurting non-stop. No, I'm not going to talk about it and complain...but it did remind me of something. Well, first of all I was bummed to have to deal with another "pain". Gettin pretty darn tired of the ole "pain pattern" that seems to be encroaching into my life with steady veracity. Reminds me of a birthday card my brother-in-law gave my husband. The card is hilarious. "Worf" from Star Something, is on the front of the card. He says: "Old Age is Approaching" on the front of the card. Then you open it and he continues: "Apparently you have not chosen to fight".

I love that card.

So what does that have to do with anything? Well, since pain seems to be the order of the day of late, I've been thinking about it a lot. Yeah...I do that pretty frequently. Think. Analyse. (You have to be careful, could make you dizzy). Anyway, I have reminded myself of the good aspect of pain. We all know it can be pricey. Don't think anybody needs any reminders about that. But sometimes we forget why pain exists in the first place. We seem to think of it as something that needs to be banished from our lives as soon as possible.

Well, I love pain relief...but I need to remind myself that aches and pains are there for a reason. They are trying to tell us something. Will we listen to those "maladies" or shut them up without a trial?

Too many times we have a knee-jerk reaction to pain. Instead of asking ourselves what that pain could be trying to tell us...we want to quickly rid ourselves of it. After all, it hurts. Now, I realize I'm not a doctor...though it is my personal opinion that they are highly overrated. A good doctor, however, will identify the reason for the pain and attempt to deal with that issue. He or she will also welcome your input and will not be put off by your questions. They will see the value in listening to you. Doctors like that are hard to find, but not impossible. However, don't sell yourself short. You know your body better than anyone. For example, the only reason I knew that the pain in my knee was possibly due to excess pressure due to quick weight because it has happened to me before. The point is,there is a reason behind things that we sometimes neglect to see...and pain serves as a very helpful reminder to us of the importance of...whatever. I tell you what. Whenever I start to reach for a piece of bread or something that I know is not "helpful"... I feel the pain in my knee and am immediately reminded of the importance of loosing some unwanted weight. All the sudden, that cookie doesn't look as inviting. Pain leads us to healing in the sense that it helps us identify the problem. True, pain is...

Pricey but Priceless

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Turn Your Life Down... It's Too Loud!

How can a persons life be too loud? You probably have some ideas of your own and I would love to hear it, after all... "there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors". But as for me - what do I think of when I think of a life that is so loud it needs to be turned down? Hhmmm...let me think.

Tick, tock, tick,tock...

Okay, I'm back. The word that keeps popping into my head is "distractions". A loud life doesn't necessarily equal the volume control on your music station. Distractions take countless forms. I'll tell you what my distractions are. You can comment on yours. I'm thinking that whatever takes your mind off God is a distraction. Are all distractions bad? No, I sure don't think so. Hey... I gotta eat, and I rather enjoy it I might add. It certainly is not a negative experience- unless of course, you are a kid whose mother is forcing you to eat beets that you can't stand the smell of. But for the most part, eating is a good thing. Lots of things are good. However, when you have so much on your plate that you can't keep your priorities straight or you have so much to do that you don't even have time for a quick's time to do some re-evaluating.

But I digress. I was going to tell you at least one distraction that I am aware of in my life. It is so loud I can't hear God's voice. Nobody can see, therefore it is unlikely they would guess it was a problem.

So, what is it? I lie. Not to others. I'm squeaky clean when it comes to telling the truth to people other than "yours truly". My problem is that I lie to myself all the time. Quietly, so nobody can disagree with me. I tell myself things like, "I'm worthless. If I were to die today, nobody would even a matter of fact, they would be better off. I'm ugly. The job I have doesn't pay much because I am worth so little. I'll never amount to anything". The list of lies I listen to on a daily basis is loud. Very loud...and I need to turn it down. For that matter, I need to turn it off completely. Aahh... so much easier said than done.

Some things need to be turned off, other things simply need to be turned down. When we recognize that and quiet our lives, we will have the opportunity to hear God better. The Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God".

Ask yourself...

Is It Time to Turn My Life Down...Could It Be Too Loud?

Monday, November 8, 2010


You know how, in science fiction, parallel universes are eventually spoken of? Not only have all the various Star Trek series touched on that time and again...but it is also spoken of in popular T.V. shows like "Fringe". Well, you may think something like a parallel universe is limited to fiction...but I think it is a topic that is very relevant to us today. To me and you. All of us.

What ever am I talking about? I'm referring not so much to parallel universes as I am thinking of how many different worlds we live in. Really. For every human being that has or will ever live, there is a unique world that is seen only through the lenses of their own eyes. True, we may make fun of people who "live in their own world". Comedian Brian Regan even has a hilarious routine that includes speaking irritatingly of people whose range of vision is very narrow. What was the name he came up with? Oh..."Excuse me, Captain You-Planet". I laugh every time I hear those words. Perhaps because I know what he is talking about when he is speaking of "those" people.

Unfortunately, all people...whether we like it or not...see the world through their own personalized lens. We are all a bunch of "Captain You Planets" whether we mean to be or not. True, there are varying degrees of lenses. We have:

The Lofty Lens. People who look at the world with their lofty lens certainly mean well. As a matter of fact, they would probably insist that they have a wide-angle lens with which they view the world. They understand that they are not alone in the universe, that there are myriads of people "out there" who all have their own lives and viewpoints. Indeed, many times throughout the day they try to view the world through other peoples eyes. Unfortunately, since they are only human...they will always eventually default back to their own "lens".

The Limited Lens. These people don't even try to look at the world with "another lens". Why? Different reasons. Some are too insecure in their own world to even consider venturing in to a world that would be like "taking on other peoples problems". They're not trying to be insensitive...they're just trying to survive. If they do think about it, they will quickly dismiss the idea as their pragmatic mind tells them that to do so would be useless.

God's Lens. Not much to say here other than to say that God does not have a lens...therefore He is not limited by it.

Even the loftiest lens doesn't compare to the vision that God has for us. Will I continue to look through the lens that is a part of me? Yes. And frankly, to go from a limited lens to a lofty lens is a worthy goal. The fact is, Gods lack of a lens is one reason why He has no limitation when He sees us. A wise person will embrace that reality and allow Him access to his life that is trusting and open. After all, Gods lack of a lens in our lives results in a range of vision that is not limited by...

Captain You Planet

Saturday, November 6, 2010


A vacationing family drives along in their car, windows rolled down, enjoying the warm summer breeze of the sunny day. All of a sudden a big black bee darts in the window and starts buzzing around inside the car.
A little girl, highly allergic to bee stings, cringes in the back seat. If she is stung, she could die within an hour. "Oh, Daddy," she squeals in terror. "It's a bee! It's going to sting me!"
The father pulls the car over to a stop, and reaches back to try to catch the bee. Buzzing around towards him, the bee bumps against the front windshield where the father traps it in his fist.
Holding it in his closed hand, the father waits for the inevitable sting. The bee stings the father's hand and in pain, the father lets go of the bee.
The bee is loose in the car again. The little girl again panics, "Daddy, it's going to sting me!" The father gently says, "No honey, he's not going to sting you now. Look at my hand."
1 Cor 15:55 -- "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Jesus says to us, "Look at my hands." He has Satan's sting, the sting of death, the sting of sin, the sting of deceit, the sting of feeling worthless. Jesus has all of those stingers in His hands.
When you see that nail-scarred hand, realize that, on your behalf, Jesus took all the pain that Satan could throw at Him. He reduced Satan to a big black bee that's lost its stinger - all Satan can do is buzz. That's the victory that Jesus won for you! The key is that you take hold of that victory - if Satan can deceive you into thinking it isn't there - you'll live like it isn't!

Author Unknown

Friday, November 5, 2010

Intervention -vs- Interference

This morning I was thinking about God and how He sometimes intervenes...but other times He remains strangely silent.  I say strange, because oftentimes we don't understand why God allows some things but intervenes in other instances.  Have you ever wondered that?  I have.

So I thought and I prayed.  Sometimes I get answers, or at least partial answers.  Other times I get silence.  Today was a "partial answer" day.  I say partial because how can I know all of God's reasonings?  But one thought I had was based on the question... "Why is it that God allowed certain things in cultures throughout time that are abhorrent to us today"?

When I have questions like that, I tell myself  "I may not understand now...for that matter I may not ever understand - but I do know that God is loving, knows all things past and present, lives outside of time, wants our best, and is at the same time a righteous God who hates sin and will not tolerate it."    Only God can have all those attributes and more and somehow work them all together for our good.  That brings us back to the question, "Why does God intervene sometimes and not other times?"


1) God allows things or finds it necessary to intervene if it is what He understands is best.  I emphasize He Like it or not, God lives outside of time, knows us completely, understands what it will take to deliver  different people from the same bondage.  He knows.  We think we do.  If you are His child you must accept that reality whether you like it or not.  That is, you will accept it if you want to become better as opposed to bitter.

2) God will not push Himself on us or our culture. That would be interference.  For the most part, God chooses to work on people's hearts when they have opened themselves to Him.  Yes, sometimes He does miracles that are outside our every day experience.  But I would say the majority of the time, He focuses on the condition of the heart. That would be intervention.  What kind of experience will be necessary in order to ensure that their hard heart will soften?    
What must I allow this person to go through temporarily in order for him to have the best future?  Those are some questions I imagine God would ask Himself if He were to express His thoughts in our limited vocabulary.

Yes, throughout time there have been cultural "things" that we, today, find unacceptable.  But God chose to work in the hearts of the people and let them eventually change the culture when they were ready.   Example:  More than one wife.  Slavery, etc.

I actually know many people that seem to understand that concept.  I'm grateful to call them my friends; they understand the importance of using God as an example when they desire to help people and wisely ask themselves if what they are doing is an...

Intervention or Interference?                  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Spoils Your Soil?

I was listening to Miles McPherson the other day. He was talking about some trees he planted several years ago. They were all the same type of tree. Same size. All planted the same day on the same property. All of them grew underneath the same sun. They experienced the same amount of water. Same. Same. Same. But wait! Now, all these years later we discover that they are all different sizes? Why?!

I'll tell you. The soil. Yes, they were planted on the same property...but the soil varied from the front yard to the back yard as well as the side of the house. The only thing these trees did not have in common was the soil.

So what is it about soil that is conducive to growth? Maybe an easier question to answer is, "What is it about soil that inhibits growth? Well, one thing is if it is rocky. It is difficult for a plant to take root in those circumstances, since there is no depth of rich soil with needed nutrients. Thorns are another problem. Thorns and weeds. They choke the plant. Definitely not helpful. Those are just a couple of "inhibitors".

What about you and me? How have we grown? Are we like spiritual babies in an adult body? Are there things in our lives that prevent us from "taking root"? Could we be allowing certain things in our lives to "choke out" the Word of God? Ask yourself...

What Spoils Your Soil?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dilemma Delimitation

What!? Dilemma Delimitation? And what, pray tell, is that? Well, I'll tell you.
1) It's a catchy phrase. Hey, it got your attention didn't it?
2) To delimitate is to mark or prescribe the limits or boundaries of something.

Hence, the title: Dilemma Delimitation. The limitations set on a dilemma. How do you set limits on a dilemma? Well, first acknowledge it, then seek out a solution that will prevent the dilemma from controlling you. How?

For the average American, the solution is sought out vigorously. We hate pain and will do whatever we can to eliminate it from our lives as quickly as possible. We:

1) Make more money and rely on materialism to bring us relief. It works, too. For a while. But only for a while.
2) You have undoubtedly heard the expression: "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything". So, we focus on our health. Nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, even a healthy person will eventually find life meaningless.
3) Make a name for ourselves. Contribute to society, etc. Again, are you really going to care that somebody put your name on a hospital - when you're dead? Sorry...It isn't my intention to be morbid, but facts are facts. I mean, do you know of anybody in all of history that has not died? I didn't think so. Well, there is one person. He died...but He rose again. His name is Jesus. If you know Him, you will also know that He is the answer to our problems.

Are His solutions quick fixes? Rarely. He uses time, circumstances, experiences and all manner of people, in His solutions that are tailor made for each of His children.

Do we know what those solutions are? Usually not. More often than not we are put in a position where we have to do what the world thinks is ridiculous. We have to have faith and trust in Him to take care of our needs. Faith is key, so God allows situations in our lives that will require our faith to expand. Then, once our faith has turns out that it is very much needed. But God, who lives outside of time, already knew that. That's only one reason why we can trust Him. Because we can trust Him, He is the solution to our...

Dilemma Delimitation.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dangerous Dilemma

When you think about it...since when is a dilemma not dangerous? Yes, there are various degrees of "dilemanation" - I'll grant cha that captain! So, hey, do you like my new word? Either changing meanings of existing words or coming up with new ones altogether is apparently all the rage these days. Dilemanation: Noun or verb. 1) The condition or state of being in a in, "Their dilemantion was a result of the dilemma they found themselves in.
2) The overwhelming dilemmas experienced in this country result in a "Dilemmanation". 3) verb: the act of causing a dilemma. "The dilemmantion of the country was deliberate.

Okay, okay... I had my silly fun for the day. But on the serious side. (Sometimes I hate that side) Anyway. I just thought I'd share with you the dangerous dilemma I find myself in. Well, here goes.

I'm overwhelmed by so much. My frozen shoulder can now be referred to as my frozen in both arms. I can't even get relief when I go to sleep at night. The mild case of poison oak has not gotten better. No, it's worse. Now I itch all over. It hurts to simply sit, because my neck is in pain. Hey I didn't say I was the pain in my neck...simply that I have a pain in my neck and it is non-stop. What else? Oh, I have been betrayed by many people. I won't say more on that. More? I don't want to bore you with more. But it is there. Believe me.

The point I want to make is that, speaking for myself, it is good to be vulnerable - but it is dangerous to live vulnerably. What I mean is that being vulnerable is good...but where do you draw the line between being vulnerable and being a victim? We'll talk about that in a future post. But for now, I want to acknowledge that when we are vulnerable it lets other people know they aren't alone...and that's a good thing. But it isn't an answer to any problem. What is? Tomorrow, we will talk about the solution to the...

Dangerous Dilemma

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Intolerant "Tolerant"

I accepted Christ almost 34 years ago. I have not regretted that decision. Do I expect all other people to make the same choice as I did? No, obviously not. People have a will of their own - myself included. It would be arrogant and patronizing of me to assume all people should believe what I believe and think what I think. How ridiculous. How intolerant.

Years ago when people started making an issue of intolerance - I wholeheartedly agreed with them. Sure, there are some things civil people are intolerant of. People are intolerant of what they perceive as immoral murder, for example. However, aside from criminal activity, I certainly would hope people would be tolerant of others. The definition? "In general usage, intolerance is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose beliefs or personal characteristics (race, religion, nationality, etc.),differ from one's own." We are talking about being permissive towards people - even if we disagree with their thinking or actions...and dare I say it? Their beliefs.

I know many people who have different views than I do- whether it be religion, politics or clothing preferences. We get along well. They are tolerant of me and I of them. It truly is not an issue. However, over the years the definition of intolerance (for some people,anyway) seems to be: "Support and full acceptance of my views -irregardless of yours"...and if you don't support and fully condone my views then you are judging me. To be sure, not everybody falls into this category. It is my opinion that those who do are extreme and radical.

I am not nor have I ever been in a place to judge anybody. That is God's jurisdiction. If you don't believe that God exists...then you shouldn't have a problem with this. You can simply feel sorry for me and go on with your life. However, not all people feel that way. Their judgement of me and other Christians is all too clear. Frankly I find that behavior repugnant, disappointing and, yes, intolerant.
The very people who pride themselves in being "tolerant" don't seem to know the meaning of the word. They are, in my estimation...

The Intolerant "Tolerant"

Saturday, October 30, 2010


What is the foundation of Christianity?
The Royal Part 2

Death of a Church

A new minister in a small Oklahoma town spent the first four days desperately calling on the membership, begging them to come to his first services . . . He failed.

He placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that as the church was dead, it was his duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said.

Morbidly curious the whole town turned out. In front of the pulpit, they saw a high coffin, smothered in flowers. The minister read the obituary and delivered a eulogy; he then invited his congregation to step forward and pay their respects to the dearly beloved who had departed.

The long line filed by. Each mourner peeped into the coffin and then turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. For in the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror. Everyone saw himself.

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)

By: Anonymous

Friday, October 29, 2010

More Dangerous Than Ever...

You are walking along, minding your own business when...oh, look at that cute dog. Where is the owner? You don't want to leave it wandering around aimlessly, so... being the good person you are you decide to add another boarder to your home until you can find the owner. You choose to give him a name...after you realize it is a "him" of course. Let's see. He's a shy little guy. How about "Bashy" since that is easier to say than "Bashful"? You are not aware that this pup has rabies. You can, however, see that a wash is in order. Okay, let's face it. You want to be a good Samaritan to this dog, so the little guy gets a "makeover"... courtesy of "you". Everybody falls in love with this cute, cuddly canine. There is only one problem. You see, when he was a scruffy stray a person might have noticed that something was a little off. An experienced eye would see his skittishness. Could that behavior be normal? If a dog catcher was called he would have verified that the dog had rabies.

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that can affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) of any kind of mammal, including humans.

It's not always easy to detect rabies, since infected animals spread the disease through their saliva or brain matter. (Yuk) People may be exposed to rabies when they are bitten by an infected wild or domestic animal. Fortunately for us, because of widespread animal vaccination programs, people in North America aren't exposed very often to rabies; it's more common in developing nations.

Signs of rabies in animals may include having excessive saliva or sometimes foaming at the mouth, paralysis, or behavioral changes in your pet (such as shyness when the pet was friendly) or no fear of humans in a wild animal.

A rabies infection in humans begins with vague symptoms such as fever, cough, or sore throat followed in several days by more serious and rapidly progressing symptoms such as restlessness, hallucinations, and seizures. The final stage is coma and death.

Rabies is nearly always fatal if not treated before the appearance of symptoms.

Now that this little guy has been "cleaned up" on the outside, it will be much more difficult to detect a problem...and because of that, he is...

More Dangerous Than Ever...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christian Chameleons

Seems like a lot of good pastors enjoy the "Discovery Channel" or "Animal Kingdom"... things along those lines. I have to admit, I can understand why they enjoy it so much. There are so many analogies that can be drawn from interesting facts of life.

Take the chameleon. I always thought the main reason a chameleon changed color was to protect itself-via-camouflage. Well, there are many countless varieties of those cute little lizards... some of which many people would say were not so cute and not that little. Personally, I think they are cute. But, hey, that's me. Important random note: I love that little green gecko on the commercials. You know - the one with an accent? Sorry. I digress...

Back to chameleons. The word is out that scientist are re-assessing their original belief that the species primarily changed color for protection reasons. I want you to know I was shocked when I heard that. Anyway, scientist have now come to the conclusion that our lizard friends actually change their color in response to light exposure and temperature, as well as to express their mood.
Even emotions and attraction of a mate can induce the color changes. It is also a way to communicate. Oh! And did I tell you that the change of appearance can occur in only 20 seconds?!

What does this have to do with Christians? I was just thinking it was interesting to note that when a Christian lives in God's Light... his appearance or demeanor, transforms him. When surroundings or circumstances "heat up" - change takes place again. When we let our emotions take over... "Control-Shift". Just looking at Christians - or any "transparent" person is like looking at a mood ring. Our appearance changes as our body language takes over. And the change can be very quick. It looks like all of us have the tendency to allow ourselves to become...

Christian Chameleons

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We've Got A Problem Houston...

It's like this. Here we all are, going about our business and thinking we are okay. Then, circumstances get difficult if not impossible... and after a period of "stress out" time, anger gets the best of us. It could take the form of depression, passive aggressiveness, or even blatant anger at the world. Perhaps you yell at the person you love most - because you know they'll "take" it. Regardless, it becomes apparent to all - including yourself - that "loving others" is not something you are embracing at the moment.

People are watching us; expecting us to be "perfect" because we are Christians. I hate it when that happens. Yes, I know. "Hate" is a strong word. Well, I feel strongly about this. The fact of the matter is that literally all people who have asked Jesus to be the Lord of their lives are people. Yes, you heard me make that amazingly profound statement. I'll say it again. They are people. Human beings that have a body of flesh and blood. You see, though we have died to sin...sin hasn't died in us. When we became Christians, it didn't automatically turn us into supersaints. Wherever did people get that idea, anyway? Aarrgghh!!!

The fact of the matter is, at the time we decided to believe in Jesus and follow Him, we were adopted into His family. God immediately acknowledged a special change in us - but only He could see it. He saw our salvation and our lives in the future. He is not bound by time, so He knew what we would become. He knew our hurts. Our hearts. Our pains. Our past. He knew and knows things about us that we don't remember about ourselves.

But as far as every day life goes, sin is alive and well. We are surrounded by it just as much as anyone. Sin is still around. No, it doesn't have to have dominion over us anymore - but chances are good that it will take a while to "weed out". Bottom line? Well, until we learn and grow it will look to the rest of the world that...

We've Got A Problem Houston.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't Borg Me...

Are you letting God's Word have an affect on your identity? "No!" you cry out ... "my identity is mine and nobody is going to take it from me!"

Calm down there, partner. I need to remind you that God created you to be you... unique from every other person who has ever lived. He didn't create you to be exactly who you are just so He could turn you into a Christian clone. Believe me, if you see any "clone-like" people... it is their own doing - not God's. God wants you to be you. He just wants you to be the best you, you can be.

Will you acknowledge that some things or people in life are potentially good or bad influences? Yes? It is good to let God's Word have an affect on you. What affects you affects your identity...but it doesn't negate your uniqueness. Your special, individual you-ness. Let me repeat for emphasis: God created you to be you... a unique individual who is different from any other human who ever lived. He designed you that way. He wants you to be you!

Let me ask you another question. Is it possible to be you... and have an identity that is separate from your personality? For example. You are probably an American. You have an American identity. Perhaps you equate your identity with your profession: a nurse, doctor or writer, for example. You've heard of people who wear different "hats"? In a way, I suppose, they have different identities... but they are the same unique person they were created to be.

It's understandable why so many people have an "identity crisis" when they do wear so many different hats. But to identify with the One who created us? The One who wants us to be us? The One who created us to be human beings as opposed to human doings?

Identifying yourself with something or someone, does not necessitate an identity crisis...especially if who you identify with is the One who created your identity in the first place! Fear not... identifying yourself with Christ is not going to turn you into the "Borg"! You've heard the expression, "Don't bore me." I say...

"Don't Borg me!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Somethin to Chew On...

Let's see. Last time we spoke I told you I would tell you what "Working God" looked like in my life. For most people, "working God" would imply some sort of manipulation on our parts. We may not even be aware of it. (If I pray enough, God will do this. If I give enough He will bless me, etc.) As for me, I would like to tell you about three groups of people that I see in this it relates to spirituality, including mine. (And no, this is not the beginning of a joke).

1) There are those that don't know God. Or perhaps they believe in some sort of God, but they can't accept Jesus as God. I would say the majority of the world's population falls into this category. I'm not trying to be patronizing or anything... I just see that as a reality, that's all.

2) Those who believe in God and fit Him into their schedule. The beginning of their journey usually starts with going to church on Sunday. It evolves into Sunday and a Bible Study. As they mature they might start praying more often. Perhaps include a mid-week Bible Study. Maybe they will incorporate daily journaling as time goes by. They're on a roll now! Prayer meetings and fasting are tapped in to. The point is: God gets scheduled into their daily lives more easily now - if they haven't abandoned ship already. As you read this you may be wincing because you are indignant. Perhaps that is because it sounds like I am describing you. The fact is, I am describing myself at this stage in my life. I've known for a couple of years now, that something was wrong. This is not what God had in mind for His children. I know it. But it is a start. A good start... but it isn't the "end all" of Christianity by a long shot. You see, to people who don't really understand true biblical Christianity, Christians are simply a group of religious people on a spiritual power trip. And you know what? More often than not - they're right. If you haven't jumped ship you are very possibly like a "saved" Pharisee. Someone who is "Working God". (That is not to say that God is not at work in people that are "working God").

3)The people who believe in Jesus - but don't fit Him into their schedule. Alas, not as many people fall into this category. No, these people don't fit Jesus into their schedule...their lives. Jesus is their life. All the time. Every moment of every day. He is the air they breathe - and it isn't just a song. It's reality. Pure reality. These people have chosen to allow God to continue working in matter how difficult it may have been. They are usually unsung hero's.

But is it really humanly possible to continually incorporate God's love into our lives and be a witness of His love and power in all the ups and downs that we experience every day? Well, it was true for Paul. He experienced incredibly difficult hardships. Yet he, himself, said "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain". But the truly amazing thing about Paul and that statement is that he didn't wish to die so that he could escape this world of pain and torment. No. He only wanted to be closer to Christ. Wow. No. I'm not there yet.

So, I said I would tell you what "working God" looked like in my life. As much as I hate admitting it, the latter part of #2 is where I am at this stage...hoping that someday I'll be in the third category.

I discovered that the number three stands for "that which is solid, real, substantial and complete". Hmmm...somethin to chew on.