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Christ Follower

Jesus with children 2Christ Follower

I read an article, either yesterday or the day before, where a woman getting ready to visit another country was advised not say she was a “Christian”, but to instead say she was a “Christ Follower”. Of course, in searching for the article today, I cannot find it. I think she said that the people where she was going had no respect for those who claimed to be “Christian”, but did have respect for those who claim to follow “Christ.”

Antioch was the first place where the word “Christian” was used. It was mainly coined to separate those who followed the teachings of Jesus from the Jews and Pagans. For centuries now, to claim you were a Christian indicated that you did, in fact, follow the teachings of Christ. As the years have rolled by, Christians have gotten a bad rap.

A lot of this has to do with churches moving away from the teachings in the bible, changing their doctrine and belief statements to include acts, life styles, and ideas that are against what the bible teaches but makes them more acceptable socially to a bigger crowd, much in the same way that the original Catholic Church did by including pagan symbols, idols, traditions and rituals into their doctrine, such as using a pagan goddess statue and changing her name to “Mary” and encouraging “Mary worship” to get more people to convert.

There have been some major changes since then, but all in all, many of the mega churches, many of the mega denominations are no longer concerned about how many souls are saved, but how many people they can get in their church, and the money those people bring in. It has become big business.

For years I have called myself a Christian, because I follow Christ, because I gave my heart to him, I repented, I invited him to take over my life, live in my heart, because I was completely born again in him. I have never stepped back from that, I have never denied him and I have never hidden my beliefs.

But what is in a name? Is it important to be grouped together with other people who believe the same and be given the title or name they go by? Isn’t it enough to live the way you are supposed to, to share the gospel, the good news of Christ without having to carry a tag with you that has been tarnished by the misdeeds and acts of others?

Does it matter whether I call myself a Christian or a Christ Follower, or Follower of the way? I think it matters much more on the individual person and what they truly believe. I think it matters more where their heart is, how they live and how they present their beliefs than what they are called.

If you want to call me a Christian, as long as it is meant in a good way, then that is fine. If you want to call me a “Follower of Christ” that is alright also, because I do follow him, and even if you want to call me a “follower of the way”, go right ahead. What is more important is who I am, what I believe in and sharing that belief than worrying about a label someone wants to put on me.

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Landslide

I haven’t posted for quite a long time. I believe that I may be changing directions. I did finish the 366 days of Thanksgiving and I am still trying to edit and find a publisher. I quit almost midway through the next year and hopefully this new article will explain my absence in an acceptable way. I will not be doing the daily “Thanksgiving ” posts but will be writing more often and more than likely doing them a week at a time, a condensed version of the week in and among other articles that I feel I am being inspired to work. Not to worry, More of Positive morning is not going away.

Land Slide

landslideIn my early days as a Christian, I would often hear the elderly Christians talking about problems that people were going through. Many of them believed that if things were going wrong, it was Satan attacking and he was attacking because God was getting ready to bless these/this person. Satan, as I have learned over the years, loves to try and shake our faith.

He will throw every stumbling block he can in our way, using the things like Society, politics, diseases, catastrophes, peer pressure, drugs, immoral acts and habits and even things we say, things we have done in the past, our family, our friends, our health, our jobs, our homes, anything attached to us in anyway to try and get at us.

This means he will turn things around in such a matter that it sometimes feel like you are being hit with a landslide. If you are making huge mistakes, purposely turning from Gods wisdom, love and authority, then you can readily see that some of this landslide is caused by your own actions, but if you are seeking the Lord, trying your very best to live and be who he wants you to be, then, yes, it is an all out attack from the Devil.

If what they say about God getting ready to bless someone and that is why Satan is attacking, then for sure we should have a truckload of blessings coming our way, but, again, the bible doesn’t state that in so many words. There are instances in the bible where he needed permission to attack someone such as the case with Job, but for the most part he doesn’t walk up to God on any given day and ask permission. He will use everything he can possible use against the children of God.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9

Our landslide began in May, when Rich got a virus. Because of his health conditions, we were back and forth at the ER several times before he finally got over it. It took another month for him to start gaining his strength back. In July, I got the virus, and I didn’t bounce back like I used to so it was the end of August before I was back on my feet again.

September seemed like it was going to be a good month, finally, but then the company that makes the medicine he takes, suddenly shut down and quit producing without notice. So for September and most of October we sat on pins and needles, spending hours on phone calls, going back and forth with e-mails, working with representatives, the nurses, the doctors and the pharmaceutical company to try and get something in for his protection and praying and asking for prayers.

We lived like hermits, going out only when we had to, borrowing medicine, with some being donated by relatives who had extra and researching new meds only to find all their stock had been wiped out when the original company went down. We made it through even when we thought there wasn’t a chance in a million. Late October we got the phone call, production was back up, a months worth of medicine was on its way.

It wasn’t but a few days later that we were notified that Rich’s daughter had died and the landslide of emotions began a new only now in a worse way than we could have imagined. Those of you who have lost loved ones, especially children know just what a hurt to the heart this is. There are so many emotions that come with it, grief, love, hatred, revenge, guilt, just about every emotion there is will present itself without forewarning or notice and you sit there not know how or what to try and deal with first.

This is not the kind of pain that time will heal. It is the kind that you just eventually add to the burdens you already carry and hope it isn’t the straw that breaks the camels back. We are still reeling and dealing with this great loss.

It has had it’s effects, especially on Rich and he has had several attacks but to add icing to the cake, when I wanted to remain strong and help him, I ended up with a sinus infection and a virus at the same time. I am certain I had a reaction to the antibiotics, which I only took for three days before going into sneezing fits and becoming short of breath.

After sitting four hours in the ER, short of breath, they finally tell me that the combination of infection and virus has caused a AECOPD – Acute Exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. So now I’m on steroids, I lose my breath if I walk to fast or try to talk and walk at the same time.

All the same, we haven’t lost our faith. Some days we find it hard to understand why God allows so much to happen and in so short a span of time but we continue to pray, to put our trust in the lord and do at home what we know we need to, to keep things calm and work on getting better.

I am taking the meds, doing breathing exercises, doing my marching steps and weights and praying that soon, in a day or two, my breath will come back to me as good as it was before. Richard has his ups and downs, his moments of grief, his moments of anger, but he also knows that God is in control.

Sometimes that is the hardest thing for us to try and understand, to accept, God is in control, even during our landslides and the mud will eventually wash away, it is the waiting and insecurity that are the hardest parts.

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Catching up Part 3 – August 17 – August 21

common senseCatching Up Part 3 – August 17 -August 21

Things are starting to look a little better. We have a short window where we can actually pretend we have a life, however we must still be careful until we see what will happen two weeks from now. I am hoping and praying that everything will be back in order by then so we can do away with all of this stress and get back to living normally.

August 17, 2017 – Challenges

We all face many challenges in our lives. Some of them spiritual, some financial and some are emotional. How we handle them will have a lot do with the outcome, but in every challenge there are lessons to be learned. Today I am thankful that the Lord directs me on working through these challenges and learning the right lessons from them.

August 18, 2017 – Logic

I know for a fact that there were many times, when I was younger, that I made rash decisions. Some of them turned into catastrophes and even dangerous situations. Over the years I have learned to use logic when there are big decisions to be made. Today I am thankful that the Lord has impressed on me to be logical about the decisions in my life.

August 19, 2017 – Bricks

There are times in our lives when we feel like we are walking around with a load of bricks on our shoulders. We often feel so weighed down by them that it makes us not only emotionally and spiritually sick but physically as well. Today I am thankful when the Lord knocks those bricks off my shoulders.

August 20, 2017 – Stress

They have proven over the years that stress has a physical effect on your body, not just your mind. It can effect your heart and lungs, it can cause you to gain or lose weight, and it can make your body ache like it has never ached before. Today I am thankful that the Lord is directing me to ways that relieve a lot of this stress.

August 21, 2017 – Answered Prayers

I have heard people complain that their prayers are not answered, but what we seem to forget quite often is that God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way that we want. In stepping back and looking at some of the prayers I have sent up, I see where they were answered better than I had chosen they would be. Today I am glad that God doesn’t always answer prayers the way that I would choose.

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Catching Up – Part Two

turtle speed limitCatching Up – Part Two

The Drama with the medicine continues. Each day I am going back and forth with e-mails, phone calls and research. Our stress level has been so high that I almost had a melt down recently. I’ve wanted to write, but it seems like every moment of my day has been tied up. I am praying that things will get back to what is normal for us soon.

 

August 11, 2017 – Trusting God

We all go through trying times, times when there doesn’t seem to be a solution to a problem or problems we are facing. We pray and pray and pray and yet there seems to be no answer. God does things his way, in his time, for the best of all concerned. Today I am thankful that I have learned how important trusting God is.

August 12, 2017 – Fact or Fear

The news media is big business. Everyday there are stories that just seem to outrageous to believe. We have to be wary of what we believe, what we allow to make us fearful. We have to look inside of ourselves and ask if something can be taken as fact or is it just something to scare people. Today I am thankful for the times I can separate fact from fear.

August 13, 2017 – Patience

Things changed overnight for me when I became a Christian. I no longer desired the things from my old life. I know that many of the changes were brought about by God, not by my own doing. I have been told that I have the patience of a saint, and that is not something I practiced at. There are times I would love to lose my patience and I come very close at time, but today I am thankful for the patience that God has instilled in me.

August 14, 2017 – Holding On

Life is tough. There is no getting around it. It is during hard times that we often turn to family and friends for moral support. It is also during those times that people often get close to God and feel like they are just barely holding on. Today I am thankful to know that he is also, always holding on to me.

August 15, 2017 – Looking out the Window

I’ve lived in some nasty places in my life. Sometimes it is all that I could afford, other times it was because family members decided they didn’t want me in parts of the houses we rented together. Once I lived in a basement with glass block windows. The family room down there was my bedroom and office and it was like living in a dungeon. Today I have a house with many windows. Today I am thankful that I can just stand here looking out the window.

August 16, 2017 – Creatures

I like to research. It was what I did for a living for eleven years. I was born with a natural curiosity about things. I love the creatures that God has created. I like to look up information on the many birds that make our deck their regular dinner spot, the raccoon family that comes to visit later in the night, the possums who take up temporary residence in our garage and the mama cat with her two kittens that has recently moved in make all my days more enjoyable. Today I am thankful to be able to have so many of God’s creatures around me.

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Catching up

eagleCatching up – August 5 through August 10

I heard a pastor preach one Sunday who said that when things start going wrong in your life, when you feel burdened by more than is usual, it is an attack from Satan because he knows God is getting ready to do something big in your life and he wants to shake your faith in the Lord. I heard another pastor preach that when we come under attack it is because we are doing, to the best of our ability, what God wants us to do and Satan still wants to shake our faith. I also heard a third pastor preach that there are no demonic attacks, he didn’t believe people were attacked by Satan and his minions. Everything that happens is just because of our actions or chance.

But I believe that Satan attacks Christians as well as non Christians in every way that he can, He will use what we say against us in the form of rumors, hurt feelings and the loss of friendships and trust. He can use the loss of a friend or family member by urging everyone to fight over what is left instead of remembering the good times and love of that individual. He will use our friends, our finances, our health and even our loved ones to pull us from Christ and to turn those who are ready to turn toward Christ away.

In the years that I have been a Christian, I have been under attack, several times, but I never let it shake my faith. Some attacks were worse than others and some not so bad at all. There have been times that I have questioned God about why certain things happened or why I would have to go through what ever I was going through at the time. Mostly I would pray that he would allow me to have the strength to make it through and allow me to learn something from the experience. We are promised that God will not let us go through more than we can handle, and sometimes he does that by giving us the tools to handle what we are going through.

I haven’t been writing for some time because we have been under attack for the last several months, not because I am giving up on this. My minutes, hours and days have been filled with countering these attacks. It started a few months ago, when the insurance tried to deny payment for a medication that Richard has to have, it is life threatening if he doesn’t get it. No sooner was that finally taken care that the company making the medicine shut down for unknown reasons.

So we have spent the last few months sitting by the phone, making phone calls, doing research, sending e-mails, reading e-mails, talking back and forth to the insurance company, the manufacture of the medicine, the distributor of the medicine, the doctors office and the pharmacist at the hospital and manufacturers of other drugs as well.  I can’t even describe the amount of stress it has put us under, but we haven’t lost faith, and we continue to pray for a good outcome.

In the meantime, since my time is filled up with all this, and we are not out of the woods yet, I haven’t been able to sit down and take time to write. What I am going to do in the interim, since I still list every day something to be thankful for, each day as I can, I will list a few. I will include a sentence or two as to why I am thankful for that particular thing, and I will list a few a day until I am caught up. At some point in time I will come back and embellish on those thankful subjects. In no way, shape or form will I give this up, I will not let Satan steal my joy

August 5, 2017 – Chaotic Days

We all have chaotic days. Days, where nothing seems to go right from morning until night, days where no matter what we do, it all seems to fail. Today I am thankful that the Lord has taught me to how to handle these chaotic days.

August 6. 2017 – Right On Time

Haven’t you ever been surprised by super days, days where you wake up and find out that a prayer has been answered right on time? Today I am thankful for a God who is always right on time.

August 7, 2017 – Energy

It is a proven medical fact that as we get older, our energy fades. We can no longer run the marathons of life as we did when we were young. Today I am thankful for those days when I actually seem to have some extra energy.

August 8, 2017 – Avalanche

Have you ever watched an avalanche? Maybe on TV, where they show one happening in the mountains, where snow is just coming down in truckloads and burying everything? Have you ever been near a rock slide? It is pretty much the same effect. Life will sometimes dump avalanches on us and today I am thankful the Lord helps me dig out of every one.

August 9, 2017 – Waiting On

We lived a very fast paced life today, It is hurry and scurry to get here and there, to get this done or arrive at that destination at a certain time. But sometimes the hurrying and scurrying comes to a stand still and we don’t know what to do. Those are the days we discover that we have to wait on God. Today I am thankful for waiting on God, for he brings the best to us when we wait.

August 10, 2017 – Test of Faith

Every day is a test of faith. Between all the hustle and bustle of this world, we are bombarded from every side with tragedies, threats and temptations. It is during those times that we need to hold firmly to our faith. Today I am thankful that I can pass theses tests of faith.

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Belief and In Gods Hands

bibleAugust 3, 2017 – Belief

Everyone believes in something, even an atheist because they believe there is no God. There are so many different beliefs in this world today that it is hard to keep track of them. It seems that something new is always being added. Besides Christianity, Satan Worship, you also have Hinduism, Islam, Wicca. Agnosticism, Atheism, Celtic Paganism, Confucianism, and Mysticism and Ancestor worship, just to mention a few.

Christians believe in a God they cannot see in physical form, but he shows himself in so many ways in this world he created. Just take a drive in the country on Spring or Fall day or stare at a starry sky at night, and then tell me this was world was all an accident.

Many of these religions involve praying to a man-made statue or deity, rituals that need to be performed at different times of the year, and sacrifices, sometimes animal and in some, human sacrifices. Others believe in some form of meditation to lead them to a spiritual level above their human form and still some believe that the earth is a form of life that should be cared for and worshiped.

I believe in the trinity, God the father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen too many miracles and had too many prayers answered and all without trying to meditate to get to another spiritual level and all without any rituals or sacrifices.

Today I am thankful that every day the Lord increases my belief in him

Hands holding the worldAugust 4, 2017 – In Gods Hands

For much of life, depending on where I lived or who lived with me, all problems that needed to be solved fell on my shoulders. I had gotten to the point where it was effecting my health. I couldn’t sleep at night because I couldn’t get my mind to shut down, always thinking about and trying to find solutions to everyone’s problems.

Even when I became a Christian, I found it hard to realize that I didn’t have to do it all, it wasn’t all my responsibility and much of it was really out of my hands. I couldn’t cure anyone, I wasn’t a millionaire and couldn’t everyone’s bills, I couldn’t mend other relationships, and I couldn’t make people behave the way they needed to.

I wasn’t responsible for the problems that other people created for themselves. I wasn’t responsible for their bad decisions. I could lecture, I could demand, I could threaten but no one was going to change unless they wanted to or were forced through circumstances to change. It took me awhile to realize all this and today I am thankful that I can put a lot of the problems and challenges in this life in Gods hands.

 

 

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Methotrexate Days, Lower Bills, Deliverance and Doubts

sad-smileyJuly 30, 2017 – Methotrexate Days

Earlier this Spring I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It took several months and a lot of my own research to find out that I had it. They keep diagnosing me with other problems like gout and turf toe until I did the research and told them what blood work to run.

I have to travel about 30 miles away to go the rheumatologists in Appleton City. Rich’s mom has been taking me because the car needs some work and we don’t want to risk taking it out of town right now. My doctor out there is very knowledgeable about the disease, he even teaches on it at different colleges.

He put me on low dose steroids, anti-inflammatory meds and methotrexate. At first I was afraid to take the methotrexate because it is also used as a chemotherapy drug for cancer treatment, but at much higher dose. I don’t like to the fact that I have to put chemical compounds in my body to treat my illnesses but unfortunately there is no natural cure for most of them.

While I know that the steroids are not good for me, I am on such a low dose that the side effects have not been that hard to handle. I get the heart flutters once in awhile, it sometimes disrupts my sleep, I get a little edgy sometimes but for the most part I have gotten pretty used to it. I’m praying that eventually that will be one of the medications they will eliminate.

The methotrexate is another whole matter. It takes three days to get past the side effects. The first day is the nausea and general yuckiness. The second day is the overwhelming fatigue and headache and the third day is the mouth ulcers, tenderness and jaw pain. But I make it through. I know no exactly what is going to happen and when and can prepare for the outcome. Today I am thankful that the Lord allows me to make it through these days now without much hassle.

laughterJuly 31, 2017 – Lower Bills

Living on a fixed income has never been an easy thing to do. At first I thought it would be easy, knowing exactly what you had coming in each month and knowing what you needed to spend on what bills. There would no longer be any worry about whether I had any sick or personal days left. I no longer needed to worry about getting my work in on time or whether I would need to ask for overtime.

While the amount I get each month is way below what is considered poverty levels, I have learned a lot about budgeting and stretching that income. I have changed the way I use power in the house, turning off every little thing I can if it isn’t being used, but still the bills climb higher when the air is used or when the furnace is used. I’ve changed the way I buy groceries and I have learned to recycle and reuse many things. All in all, it hasn’t been that bad.

This summer was an odd one. The end of June and the whole month of July seemed hotter than August usually is, so we ended up having to use the air conditioner more often, even at night which was something we rarely did in the past. I was expecting a huge climb in rates and was regretting opening the next bill when it arrived. I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did it not climb higher, but it was lower than the month before. Today I am thankful for lower bills.

Christ of the Ozarks

Christ of the Ozarks, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

August 1, 2017 – Deliverance

I am so surprised at myself, in fact I am disappointed in myself, extremely so. This subject should have been the very first one that I wrote on when I started my “thanksgiving” articles. Besides saving me, allowing me to become one of his children, it is the next most important thing that the Lord has ever done for me.

When I think about the word deliverance, a whole list pops into my mind, because there are so many different times that he delivered me from something, some are small but there are some major ones that I cannot claim to have done myself.

Before I even accepted Jesus, truly accepted him because I don’t count the altar call I went up to in fourth grade as being the day I was born again. It was just an emotional response to everyone else in the church crying, praising and going up to the altar. I just followed the crowd, he delivered me from an almost twenty year abusive situation.

Then he sent a small child to invite me to church and it was shortly after that I became a born again child of God. Immediately after the first time I went with that child to church, before I asked him into my heart, he delivered me from drugs, cocaine in fact and alcohol. I can remember the day. It was New Years Day 1993.

I had gone to the bar with friends as I normally did. I was offered the drugs but refused, and I didn’t drink much. It just didn’t seem to have an appeal to me anymore. I never did drugs or alcohol after that day. Those were huge episodes of deliverance and they were of God, not of my own doing. Not only that, I never suffered any withdrawal symptoms from the drugs or alcohol. It was the next weekend that I accepted Christ.

He has delivered me from a dead end job by sending one of my sisters from church to ask me if I would come to work for them. He delivered me from injury or death on several occasions by urging me to stay home from my on the road job and I would see later that there had been a horrible accident right where I would have been at that time.

He delivered me from uterine cancer by allowing the doctors to find it early and remove it all in one operation. I can’t even count the times he has delivered me and I know there will probably be many more. I can even think of times when I am sure that he delivered me from different forms of evil. Today I am thankful, most thankful for his deliverance from all of this and more.

Jesus with children 2August 2, 2017 – Doubts

I don’t know of any person, alive or gone, in my life, that hasn’t had doubts in their life. Many people, including myself experience doubts every day. It can be small doubts “I doubt if the weather will cooperate” or it can me much bigger doubts like “I don’t think they will last the night”. We doubt the news, we doubt the weather reports, and we even have our doubts about certain people.

Our world is not a perfect world. If it were we would never be filled with doubts. We would know that everything would work like it needs to, people would act and respond like they should, everything would fall into place and all things would work perfectly together. No, we will eventually live in a world with out doubt after Jesus returns, but until then we have to live with our daily doubts.

I’ve learned over the years that allowing too many doubt to clutter your thoughts can bring your mood down, fill you with dread, worry and stress that is unnecessary. It can take over your whole day, all of your thoughts and cause such unbelievable anxiety if you allow it to.

I have my doubts, I won’t claim not to because I would be lying, but when a doubt comes to mind I try to push it out or I try to look at it logically to see if there is a legitimate reason for it to eat up my thoughts for the whole day. More often than not, I realize that in this world, things don’t always work the way you want them to. I’ve also learned that the doubts that enter my mind are usually not worth worrying about so I try not to let them linger.

Today I am thankful that there is one I don’t ever have any doubts about, Jesus