Welcome Readers!

"Hello" to all my regular readers and those who are here for the first time!
I hope that this blog enlightens and encourages those who read it but I also hope that it will wake up those who have been asleep to the clock that is ticking within our beautiful nation and within the body of Christ. It is my goal to glorify our Lord and share the Truth with anyone who will listen!
I pray that the Lord will give you strength and courage each day to do His will and to glorify Him. It seems to be getting harder and harder these days to keep our heads above water, but He does promise us that He will not allow the waters to overtake us! Praise Him for that promise!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Ultimate Health Care Plan

"Side effects may include; dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, nausea, weight gain or weight loss, sexual dysfunction, liver or kidney failure and in some cases death."
How many times do you see this on TV or read it in a magazine for a pharmaceutical ad? The list of side effects can go on for a paragraph or two! It makes one wonder if the side effects are worth the risk of whatever drug a person may be considering.
I read an article in a magazine the other day about a woman who had suffered from severe depression all of her life and, as I believe it typically goes, periodically she would need to change her medication because it would eventually stop working. After years of treatment, the last medication left for her to try came down to a drug that caused significant weight gain. I mean significant. The article was focusing on the dilemma of being fat and somewhat happy versus being thin and depressed. As I read this person's story, I began to feel an acute sense of sadness for the numerous people worldwide, who are seeking pharmaceutical help for certain physical, mental and emotional conditions. Then I began to consider: Why? What is the cause for our society to be so dependant on medications to be "healthy" and "happy"?

The answer I believe, is simple. As our society has become more and more "Me" focused we have become less and less "He" focused. When times get tough, to what do we turn? Food, alcohol and drugs would probably be on the "top-five" list. We are programmed to want instant comfort, help and gratification. We want pills for everything: weight loss, depression, better sex and the list goes on. If we can't get pills or are too proud to admit we need help, we then turn to food or some other form of "self-medication". So, to what or whom should we turn? To God and His Word! The more dependant we are on ourselves and others to meet our needs to be happy and healthy the further we truly are from real and lasting joy and good health. God designed us in a certain way. He created a being whose perfect situation would be fellowship and companionship with Him. Originally in the Garden of Eden, that is the way it was. It wasn't until we, as a race, were deceived by Satan into thinking that there was something better out there than what God had provided. We believed that lie and broke our relationship with God through disobedience.
Aren't we still doing the same thing when we turn to things other than God to "fix" the problems? We really aren't fixing them anyhow, we are just covering them up and pretending that they are all better. We are believing the lie that God can't or won't help us. The enemy wants us to be lulled into a false sense of security in our own ability to overcome. Well, we can't overcome and pill after pill, bite after bite or drink after drink will never fix the problem.

If we were to stop living according to our own ideas and looked to God's will for us, we would become a healthier and more joy filled people. We wouldn't be obese and lazy, but instead we would be busy doing the work that He created us to do. We wouldn't be overloading out insurance companies with prescription after prescription for medications that are only relieving the symptoms, not dealing with the root problems. Our bodies would be functioning like they were made to function. If you fill your car's gas tank with water how far will you get? Nowhere! Why would we think that a body designed by the Creator of the universe would work any better without the proper fuel? The long and the short of it is that we are way off track with God's Master Plan and until we get headed in the right direction we will continue facing these problems as they exponentially get worse.

Where are you off track with His plan for your life? If you are struggling with addictions or depression, I can tell you from personal experience that He can and will help you to overcome. The answer isn't found in what we put in our stomachs but what we put in our minds. We need to start with prayer and feeding on the Word of God. As we do this, He will show us the cure to our poor health. Sometimes He may lead us to modern medicine for assistance, but allow Him to direct you there rather than choosing that first. God has the ultimate health care plan and if you choose to follow His directions the side effects will be: a healthy heart that can love and be loved, increased energy to do His work, a sense of well being, an overall radiance and ultimately, eternal life! So, read two verses and call on God each morning!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Who is Your Judge?

This week I had the privilege to help in a community project. A local Christian school hosted a regional speech and debate tournament. I was asked to assist in the judging; something that I had never done before, but was assured that I needed no prior experience. I was nervous and excited to be involved and when the day arrived I prayed for guidance and headed out. They provided a brief orientation for all who were willing to judge and gave us clear instructions. It seemed simple enough. The first event I was scheduled for was a debate and at the end of the orientation, I discovered that there would be only one judge for each debating event! I had assumed, of course, that there would be a panel of judges. Well, that wasn't the case; the sole responsibility would be on my shoulders! Feelings of trepidation began to creep into my mind and I started to become quite concerned.

I found the correct room and got settled in. The students began to arrive and before long we were under way. As time passed so did my nervousness. In fact it was quite interesting and informative. I was amazed at the professionalism and knowledge of these high-school aged students. It truly was a blessing to be a part of this tournament. The students wrapped up their closing arguments and thanked me for judging and that was it. Now came the part that I won't quickly forget: the time to choose one over the other, to rank them for their effort and to JUDGE them!

I was able to make the decisions that I needed to make but as I was driving home later that day, I found my heart to be troubled over the scores that I had given one of the students. Even though this student was clearly not the best of the four, I started to feel guilty about the scores that I had recorded. An overwhelming feeling of responsibility came over me as I prayed about this. I began to contemplate the debate and to ask for forgiveness if I was too hard on this student. This path that my mind took regarding judgment went down a road that I wasn't expecting. I started to think about how heavy a responsibility it is to judge others and then I realized that I probably do it every day! Maybe not on paper, maybe not out loud, but in the secret places of my mind. I place judgment on others for things that I have not been given the authority to judge; like the woman who, in my opinion, wears too much makeup, or the person who was in too big of a hurry on the highway. Maybe the judgments I make are even deeper than that regarding my friends and family. My wandering mind then quickly went to the ultimate judge: God. How thankful I am that the only Person's opinion that truly matters for my judgment His! I am so grateful that it is a Perfect and Holy God that I serve and follow and that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will NEVER be good enough on my own to meet His requirements. What a tiring and endless effort for those who think that if they are good enough or that they work hard enough they may have a chance to spend eternity with Him. What poor souls!

Ultimate judgment will come to each and every person who has ever lived, but for those who have believed on the blood of Christ for their righteousness they can be assured that condemnation will pass over them. We can take heart that even though we try to live according to His Word and by the conviction on His Spirit, we will never live a sinless life. A score of 10 out of 1,000 on our evaluation will not eliminate us from the round and cause us to lose the ultimate reward; a relationship with the Lord God Almighty. He knows how hard we try, (or don't try), He knows what our limitations are and He knows exactly on what and where our hearts are focused. It isn't up to others to try to determine that; only Him. So have you accepted the glorious gift that Jesus gave you when He died on the cross for your righteousness? If so, do you still live in fear that you aren't good enough or that other people may not give you a good enough score? Don't despair! You're covered, you're in, you're set! You are now considered a child of God and your permanent residence is in the Kingdom of Heaven. AMEN!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Counselor with a Capital "C"

How many people in your circle of close friends and family have had serious issues to deal with in their lives such as death, divorce, addiction or job loss? Maybe you have personally gone through or are going through, one or more of these situations. Counselors' couches and waiting rooms are being filled to the brim these days with people waiting to share their pain and to seek help with their overwhelming lives. If it weren't for my pride and embarrassment, I too, would have been waiting years ago, to find guidance through the struggles that I faced. What an empty and lonely place to be. Sometimes it can feel like the dark clouds will never lift and the tunnel of darkness will go on forever. In some cases, that may be the truth, but for those who seek guidance and help from the Counselor with a capital C, the truth of their situation will be revealed and healing will begin.

An important thing to remember, for those who have accepted Christ's sacrifice for their sin, is that we have available to us the One and Only True Counselor. If you buy a Kenmore washer, do you use a Maytag operator's manual? Of course not. So why wouldn't you go to the Counselor who made you? There is no one who knows you better than the Creator Himself. A gift that He gives us when we commit our lives to Him is His Holy Spirit. I believe that far too many Christians overlook this truth. I am filled with sorrow when I hear of the lost and struggling Christians who feel that they have nowhere to turn. Is it that the churches fail to remind us that He dwells within each and every believer? Is it that we don't desire a personal relationship with Him and therefore, He is quiet in our lives? Whatever the case, I am here to remind each Christian out there that we have the very best and purest form of counseling, guidance and comfort available to us if we would only seek Him.

I use the term "seek Him" quite a bit as I share with people and this is what I mean: to give Him some time each day talking to Him, reading His Word, listening to sound Biblical teaching on the radio or on tape and really showing Him that you want His guidance and direction. Seeking Him also means to keep doing it day after day, not just until you receive the answer but for the rest of your life. If you quit when you get the direction you were looking for, He'll just allow another trial to come your way so that once again you'll be on your knees seeking Him again. Believe me, it's just easier to make it a part of your life, permanently! He very much desires a personal daily interaction with us because He knows it is best for us and because He loves us.

Now, I am not saying that if we seek Him through prayer and Bible study that He will miraculously make all of our trials disappear, but what I am saying is that He will reveal to us things that will help us through them. Maybe He will reveal sin in our lives that is causing the problem, maybe He will show us a different path we need to try or maybe He will show us a relationship that needs healing or may even need to be severed. Sometimes we do need outside assistance with our situations, but we certainly need to seek Him for guidance with that decision as well. No matter what He leads us to do, it will be in our best interest. Sometimes the process is long and it is rarely easy, but it is worth it. The days of dark clouds and long, light-less tunnels are far and few between for me anymore. I am learning to look to the Counselor for my direction and comfort. After all, it's His job and He's really good at it!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Common Denominator

Have you ever noticed how often we find life to be disappointing? It started very early. We didn't get the toy that we wanted for our birthday, or our friend got a better bike than we did for Christmas. As we grew older the disappointments seemed to go deeper. The person we'd given our heart to broke up with us for our best friend (OK, previous best friend!). Our parents told us that we had to move away from our friends or worse yet, they said they were getting divorced. On and on the scenario goes as we age and as life "happens". Maybe we are the ones divorcing or losing a parent to cancer or losing a job and struggling to make ends meet. Even though there are "ups" in the midst of all the valleys, the mountain top joy doesn't seem to remain and the valley looms closer and closer with each passing moment. Unfortunately, this describes life here on this rotating sphere we call earth. Do you wonder why God allows these things and why they seem to be never-ending? Well, recently I have seen a tiny speck of clarity as to the "why" and "how come" of disappointments.

As I was dealing with one of my own frustrations in life, an interesting thought came to my mind. It was this: It is not others that disappoint me, but my expectations of them. I pondered this for awhile and as I dismantled a number of the frustrations and disappointments that I had faced over the years, I realized there was great truth to this idea. My expectations seemed to be a common denominator to my disappointments. Consider the gift that you didn't get for your birthday; wasn't it the expectation of your parents to purchase the gift that caused the disappointment? What about the relationship that went sour; was it an expectation that the other person didn't meet that caused hard feelings and bitterness? I am not saying that we shouldn't have expectations of faithfulness in a spouse or loyalty in an employer, but what I am saying is just simply that when we expect others to behave in a certain fashion, no matter what the circumstances, there is a possibility we will be disappointed.

This week's verse comes into play here because in the "grand plan", "the big picture", we really don't have any knowledge about tomorrow or the next minute for that matter. When we expect things to go a certain way, we truly have little or no control over it. Ultimately, planning and expectations are fine as long as we don't set them in concrete. As I have been learning to go with the flow and to bend like a tree in the wind, I have had fewer disappointments along the way. It isn't through my ability though. It is through the grace and mercy of our lord Jesus Christ. He gives me the patience and the faith to go with His flow. As I seek His will in my life, I am learning to allow Him to take me in His direction. If there are disappointments along the way, I am beginning to realize that they are there because He has allowed them and they are a tool He is using to grow me and change me. I suppose it comes down to how we choose to handle life's disappointments. Will you start by seeking God's will in your life? Next, will you accept the path that He leads you down, especially if it isn't what you expected? And lastly, will you trust in His sovereignty and wisdom to know what is best for you? I guarantee that if you do these things, you will find joy that remains whether you are on the mountain or in the valley because you will be right in the middle of His will. There is no better place in which to be!