FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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A Million Miracles

Since my second retirement, I’d become addicted to daytime television.  Not the trashy, mindless, dribble (though I believe you have to keep it ALL in balance –  see an earlier post confession – Television 8, Prayer 1), but rather I try to watch what I believe will teach, help, inspire and grow.  Such is my justification for my near addiction to the daytime television show, The Doctors.

Daily I am amazed by the miracles of life – not of the individual doctors, though I am in awe of the knowledge, skills and wisdom that God has imparted to them.  But it is the miracle of the human body that most astonishes.  If we would stop and consider, likely we witness millions of miracles on a daily basis.  Just think about the miracle of conception – a sperm and an egg uniting then dividing to become a human being.  Think about the miracle of birth.  I once heard a neurologist share a presentation on all the ways and all the junctures at which “something” could go wrong from conception to birth.  He said it was a miracle that anyone was born alive much less born with a whole and healthy body and mind.

Burn yourself and watch the body heal.  I’ve been very cooking challenged lately and bear the scars of burns to prove it.  A seemingly small and innocent burn on my hand blistered, festered, oozed and ached.  But after a few weeks, it has healed – smooth to the touch and pain free.  Though discoloration remains that, too, is fading with each passing day.  Break a bone, cut a gash, stretch a tendon.  The body has a whole unique system for dispatching white cells, regenerating red cells and doing tons of other things that I couldn’t begin to understand much less explain.

How about surgery?  I’ve had a few different procedures.  Imagine someone cutting you – not just a nick at the surface but deeply through layers and layers of skin and tissue then playing around with some of your organs, cutting things away, “lasering” and “lanceting” and cauterizing things and then STAPLING (who thought that up?!) you back together perhaps adding a few needle and thread stitches along the way.  And after all that you’d think you’d have to lie in bed not just for days or weeks, but months, possibly years!  But if you’ve had surgery, you know they get you up and out of bed walking – sometimes within hours of your procedure. If that’s not a miracle – what is?!!!!

Surgery or no surgery, that your heart beats, that your eyes see, that your ears hear, that your brain interprets the sights and sounds, that you walk, that you think, that you speak – those are miracles!

Today I watched a new version of The Ten Commandments – not the Charlton Heston version that I grew up watching, but a much less Hollywood version. I happened to flip the channel just at the point when the newly fleed from Egypt Israelites were complaining about not having enough food to eat.  Grumbling, they actually said they might as well have stayed in Egypt and died (Numbers 14:2 NIV).  In Egypt they declared, they sat around pots of meat and ate all the food they wanted (Exodus 16:3 NIV).  And when God GAVE them manna, they detested it and called it miserable (Numbers 21:5 NIV).  At this point in the movie, I had very unholy thoughts.  I actually telephoned my sister to tell her about the movie and my thoughts declaring that I would have told the Israelites to just take their little ungrateful, manna detesting hips back to Egypt then.  That’s why I’m not Moses!  (I have since repented.)

There are miracles all around us all the time!  Yet, we find so much to complain about.  God evidenced great patience with the Israelites, and thankfully, He does with us as well (me included).

THIS WEEK as many of us celebrate the Easter season, pause and reflect on the million miracles that God performs daily in our lives including the gifts of grace, mercy and salvation and the “Egypts” He has delivered you from.  Repent of your grumblings, and recommit your life to His service.  If you do not currently have a personal relationship with Christ, there is no better time.  Please click the SALVATION tab above to learn how you can invite Jesus into your life as your Savior and witness firsthand the miracle of Salvation.

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Choose Peace

NOTE:  We are still vacationing, so I am posting while I have Internet access!

~excerpted from The Pattern of Peace by Charles Stanley

“[I]t can sometimes seem as if we are victims of our highly stressful world, but in reality, every Christian can choose to live in peace rather than under a burden of anxiety. If we let apprehension rule our hearts, it will interfere with sleep, disrupt concentration, hinder productivity, steal joy, and even cause health problems. However, when Christ, the Prince of Peace, has full authority over our lives, He guards our hearts and minds by building a wall of protection against worry.

Stress may pull us apart mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, but God’s peace will always bind us back together so we can be whole again. And while we cannot control many of the stressful situations in our lives, we can decide which master we will serve.”

If you do not know the inner peace that only God can bring, you can! This is the ideal season for you to meet His Son, Jesus, who came into the world to make peace between you and God. He died on the cross, was buried and rose again to bring you into a right relationship with God, the Father. (Romans 5:1) If you will accept Jesus as your personal Savior, all your sins will be forgiven, and He will give you His peace (John 14:27). Please visit the SALVATION tab above to learn more and to take the first step toward a relationship with Christ and His peace.

THIS WEEK: Pray to accept Christ as your personal Savior and His peace as your way of life then visit http://www.intouch.org/you/sermon-outlines/content?topic=i_am_saved_now_what_outline to watch the I Am Saved – Now What video and to learn more.

If you already have a relationship with Christ, this is a great season to rededicate your life to Him. You might start by reading these Scriptures: 2 Kings 20:3; Psalm 119:44. Read, too, Jacob’s story in Genesis 28:16-18, and begin the habit of rededicating yourself daily. Consider what that might look and sound like.


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Peace on Earth (Part 2)

NOTE:  We’re vacationing, so Monday’s post is early!

There’s a saying that’s been going around, “Every family has that one crazy relative. If you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.”

Here’s another saying, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

What do these two sayings have to do with peace on earth? Well, in our last post we discussed that before there can be peace on earth we must individually have peace within, so without a lot of extra words, let me just jump to the point. Might you be the one robbing yourself of peace? “No way!” you think. Well, let me just offer you three more quotes.

“Nobody screws me up better than me.”

“Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself.”

“Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your two ears.”

Again, are you robbing yourself of peace?

There are events and seasons that seem to thrust us into deep self-evaluation and self-reflection, and Christmas is one of them. This can be a good thing – pausing to consider the love of family and friends, the blessing of health, the satisfaction of a prosperous and fun career, the joy of children… It can also be not so good – dwelling on the loss of loved ones, failing health, the stress of unemployment or job disappointment, the fear of miscarriage…

The latter (and similar) thoughts can quickly launch one into a depression that robs one of personal peace.

What are you telling yourself? What script do you keep running through your head? “I’m no good.” “I’m all alone.” “I can’t make it.” “Nobody loves me.” “I’ll never – have children, get that job, leave this town, be able to afford a house, get married, be in love, go to college, be healthy again…”

It’s time to replace those thoughts. It does no good to simply try to just stop them; you have to replace them. Craft some new thinking based on Philippians 4:8 (NKJV): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

What does this mean? What does it look like? Sound like? The Message translates the same text: “…filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from Me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Do that, and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7b NKJV)

THIS WEEK: Make note of the thoughts that rob you of peace. Write substitute thoughts then practice using them. (e.g. THOUGHT: I’m just no good – always have been, always will be! SUBSTITUTE THOUGHT: In Christ I am a new creature – old things, thoughts, ways and deeds are passed away! (2 Corinthians 5:17)


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Anything You Want

When I was a young girl, my Dad told me that I could have ANY thing that I wanted IF I was willing to do an honest day’s work for it. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “if someone has something to give you, they will let you know. In the meantime, plan on going to work to get what you want.”

And so, I began working when I was 15 years old. I’ve worked since with the exception of one year during undergraduate school when I literally begged my Dad to give me a break. “Can’t I have just one semester without working?” I whined. And one semester is what he permitted. Then it was back to work – two jobs, sometimes three.

I remember teaching school full time, working in a Department store 20 hours every weekend and managing an after-school tutorial program two afternoons a week while attending Graduate School full time. And that was one of my “easy seasons.” For another season, I taught school Monday through Friday and worked in a hospital laboratory Friday nights, 16 hours each Saturday and 16 hours each Sunday (a 40-hour weekend) – two full time jobs.

I’ve worked in schools, hospitals, offices and department stores. I even (this is the honest truth) sold cemetery plots door-to-door. Finally, I am retired – honestly. I get the check every month. And I still work two jobs!  Why? Many reasons, but partly because my Daddy created a true workaholic and partly so I really can have what I want…without charge cards.

I doubt my Dad was the first or only parent to tell his child that they could have what they wanted if they worked for it. That was not just the mentality, but the prevailing attitude, spirit and belief of our day. You want it? You work for it. For many, there was much truth in that thinking, and they have the homes, cars, clothing and “toys” to prove it.

But there is one thing that working cannot bring you.

Eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV) makes it clear that we are saved by grace, through faith – and this is not from ourselves. “It is the gift of God” and not by our works, “so that no one can boast.” No one can buy or work their way into Heaven. It is the work of Christ and His work alone that opens wide the doors of Heaven for us to enter.

Isn’t that good news? It is for me; I can only imagine how many jobs I’d have to work to go to Heaven!


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Lion Killing

Yesterday felt like the title of a book I read some years ago, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day (Mark Batterson, Author).  Just read that title and ponder each word while adding the next word and image to it.  In a pit.  Bad.  With a lion.  Worse.  On a snowy day.  Worst!  But actually, there is good news in this story from 1 Chronicles.  Paul tells us in Romans 15:4 (NASB) that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that…we might have hope.”  So what are the lessons from the text that gave title to Batterson’s book?

First, let’s read the Scripture.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  And he struck down an Egyptian who was five cubits tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver’s rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors.  He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard. 1 Chronicles 11:22-25 (NASB)

What instruction does this text, written in earlier times, have for us?  Well, let’s see.

Benaiah was the son of a Priest.  We have a personal relationship with a great High Priest – Jesus. (Hebrews 4:14)

Benaiah was a valiant fighter.  You are a fighter.  Daily, you must fight the good fight of faith! (1 Timothy 6:12)

Benaiah was from Kabzeel, a city in southern Judah. The name means “gathering of God.”  As a Christian, you are part of God’s gathering, the church.

Benaiah struck down two warriors from Moab.  The Moabites were closely related to the Israelites, but they were enemies of Israel.   There are those who are close to you, but they are your enemies.  Perhaps your closest enemy might even be you – your flesh, that is.  And you must strike down those enemies – yes, flesh included.

Benaiah went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  Bet you’re thinking, “Hmm.  Let’s see her make a connection with this one!”  1 Peter 5:8b says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Renowned Pastor, Ray Stedman said in a sermon addressing this topic, “Benaiah slew a lion — a lion, not a leopard, not a wild hyena or a boar or a buffalo, but a lion… it is not for nothing that the lion is called the king of beasts, because it is indeed a very powerful animal.”

But I did a little research.

The “king of the jungle” doesn’t have the strongest bite.  There are many other cats and many other animals that surpass the lion for bite.  As a matter of fact, ListVerse says, the lion has the “weakest bite of the genus Pathera or big cat.”  Wow.  But the research clearly points out that the lion doesn’t need a strong bite.  This big cat is really a social animal and presents as quite cooperative during the hunt.  It is not by power of bite that the lion kills; rather, it is by strangling its prey – biting the trachea.  ListVerse says lions “lack the need of a strong bite.”

Our enemy, the Devil, prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour.  Like a lion, he is often social.  Like a lion, he is often cooperative.  Like a lion, he doesn’t need a strong bite.  Like a lion, he often slips up on us and strangles the life out of us.

Every one of us has a lion prowling and pursuing us – that something, someone or some situation that is waiting, seeking to devour us.  It might be a loss that we just can’t seem to move beyond – the grief of it has entangled our hearts and minds and even our lives.  We may even feel as though a part of us died.  There may be a physical disease that is daily draining our bodies of strength or our minds of clarity.  Possibly your lion is a habit – a bad habit, that you know is killing you – a substance addiction, gambling, overeating, gossiping, worrying…  Your lion might be fear – of the unknown or of something very specific, but it has you paralyzed.  You know your lion.

But let’s get back to Benaiah.

Benaiah met his lion in a pit on a snowy day. Bad enough to meet a lion – anywhere.  (I once met one on an African road.  The body and windows of a little old minivan separated us.  That was not enough for me, so in a pit?  Not!)  But Benaiah met his lion in a pit.  Pits tend to be small.  They tend to be deep.  They tend to have slippery sides.  They tend to be hard to escape.  And then it was snowing!  When I first read this Scripture, my response was, “Really!”  (Not as in I doubted, but as in “Really.  Can this get any worse?”)

Have you been there yet?  In the pit with your lion?  On a snowy day?  Ray Stedman said, “He met the worst possible foe, in the worst possible place, under the worst possible circumstances.”  Now, that’s the Devil for you.  Getting you right where he wants you and setting you up for the kill.

Turn to Benaiah once more.  The Scripture says, “He…went…and killed a lion.”

Victory!!!!!

Hopefully, you are encouraged that you can face your lion. You can go down into the pit with him – even on a snowy day, and emerge victorious.

But there is one remaining question. How? How did Benaiah kill the lion? How do you kill your lion?

See you next blog entry…


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No Corns, No Pinching

Yesterday I spoke at a work-related event. It was risky, but I opened with a joke someone shared with me years ago. Risky because I’m not the best joke teller and because of the audience. But I told it anyway. It went like this:

It seems that a man, known to be a cheapskate, had gone to the tailor to have a suit made, but when the suit was finished and he went to try it on, it didn’t fit him at all.

He was greatly disappointed and complained to the tailor. It was a horrible fit.  The jacket was too big in back, the right arm was too long, one pant leg was too short and three buttons were missing!

“No problem,” said the tailor, ” this is an easy fix – just hunch your back, bend your arm, walk with a limp, and stick your fingers through the button holes and you’ll look just fine!  Nobody will ever notice.”

So the man, still upset but not wanting to upset the tailor, contorted his body to fit the suit and, even though he felt that he had been duped by the tailor, he left. He had not walked one block when he was approached by a stranger.

“Who made that amazing suit for you?” asked the stranger. “I’m in the market for a new suit myself.”

Surprised, actually shocked, but pleased at the compliment, the man directed the stranger to the tailor’s shop.

“Well, thanks very much,” said the stranger, hurrying off. “I do believe I’ll go to that tailor for my suit. He must be an absolute genius if he made a suit to fit you.”

Isn’t it astonishing how we will wear something that we KNOW does not fit?  There are many a corned toe that will attest to this.  It’s also probably why SPANX and Lipo-in-a-Box are multi-million dollar companies, and everyone else has sought to make knock-off versions of their products which make claims to “transform” your body, help you fit in a size smaller garment and look pounds thinner.

All day long we (especially us women) walk around trying to “fit” into something that simply does not “fit” us.  Remember Cinderella – all those women trying to fit a Size 10-looking foot into about a Size 5 slipper?

We try to “fit” into social groups.

We try to “fit” into workplace cliques.

We try to “fit” into love relationships.

We try to “fit” into careers.

We try to “fit” into age groups and mindsets and lifestyles.

We try to “fit” where we simply do not belong and have no place being.

Author and TED Talk speaker, Brene Brown, says, “Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them.

A human pretzel.  Corns. Pinching. Ouch!  Don’t we realize how painful it is trying to “fit?”

Brown goes on to say,Many of us suffer from this split between who we are and who we present to the world in order to be accepted, but we’re not letting ourselves be known, and this kind of incongruent living is soul-sucking.”

I think the split is not just between who we are and who we present to the world but rather between who we are, who we present and who our Father has designed and called us to be.  God has called us collectively as His people and He has called us individually to specific roles and responsibilities.  Trying to “fit” into roles contrary to His calling is like slapping God in the face and telling Him that He doesn’t know what He is doing. Now, there’s an ouch for you!

Examples of how He has called us as His people are found throughout the Scriptures:

  • Matthew 11:28                      We are called from labor to rest.
  • Matthew 5:14, 1Peter 2:9     We are called out of darkness into light.
  • 1 John 3:14                           We are called from death to life.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15                We are called out of turmoil into peace.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:9                  We are called from loneliness into the fellowship of Christ.
  • Galatians 5:13                       We are called from bondage to liberty.

God also extends to us a personal invitation to a unique and special task He planned just for us as individuals. Seek to know, understand and “fit” that plan. How? First, you must have a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. (Click the tab SALVATION at the top of this page if you don’t have or don’t know how to have a relationship with Jesus.) If you already have a relationship with Christ, then seek to know His plan by praying, reading His word, meditating, seeking Godly counsel and, listening.

One size fits all is a lie about pantyhose and about most other things in life including God’s calling. He has a plan just for you, and when you walk in the way that He has called, you will find it to be a perfect fit – no corns and no pinching!


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What does it mean to be fully alive?

Webster identifies the word alive as an adjective and defines it by identifying synonyms such as  animated, alert, active, energetic, vigorous, sprightly, vivacious, buoyant, exuberant, ebullient and spirited.  Does that sound like your life?  Does that sound like anybody’s life that you know?  All too often we feel anything (and everything) except alive, much less fully alive!  But fully alive is just what our Father desires for us.  John 10:10b reminds us that Christ came that we might have an abundant life (NASB).  I especially like some of the other translations for this particular Scripture such as that we might have life “to the full” (NIV) or that we might have a life that is “rich and satisfying” (NLT).  The Aramaic Bible in Plain English translates John 10:10b as “I have come that they may have life and have whatever is abundant.”  That’s something to ponder – what is abundant to you?  What is fully alive?

I wish that I could tell you that I had an answer for you to either of those questions, but I don’t.  But I do have the next best thing to offer and that is what is the source of an abundant life!  We only have to back up a few verses from John 10:10b.  Verse 9 reads, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved…and find pasture.”  Join this verse with verse 10, and you have the answer.  Jesus is the source of an abundant life – the only source.  Not a career.  Not a person.  Not a place.  Not a time or season.  Jesus is the door, and He came that we might have life and “whatever is abundant!”