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Depression, Insanity, and Fatigue

sad-smileyDecember 1, 2016 – Depression

I walk into the kitchen. I stand there for a few moments, wondering why I came in there. I glance at the sewing area and think “I really need to work on that pile of mending”. Then I turn and look at my plant table and think “they probably need trimming and watering.” As I turn to walkout, I see the dishes soaking in the sink, walk pass them telling myself “I’ll do them in a few minutes”. I walk back into the office, sit down at my computer and remember that I went in there to look for my glasses.

Later on I do the dishes and put a load of clothes in the washer, not because I want to, but because it needs to be done. Then I force myself to go make the bed, straighten up the living, room and sweep the floors. I wander around between the office and the other rooms, doing needed chores, sometimes wishing I didn’t have to.

I used to love keeping the house clean, trying to make it look nice. I was always pleased when someone came over and would mention how nice it looked and smelled, but lately, I just wander around and do what’s necessary. I find no satisfaction in it other than the fact that I refuse to live in a dirty house.

Sometimes I look around at stuff I collected for projects, like fixing new curtains for the bedroom and living room or working on some craft ideas I had, then I just let out a long sigh, walk back into the office or go into the kitchen for another cup of coffee.

It’s the nature of the beast; Depression. And, why wouldn’t I be depressed? I just lost my son, my only son in March and haven’t worked out my grief over him when my older sister gets sick and passes away in November. Add to that different afflictions and illnesses that are popping up causing more doctor appointments, new medications, ER visits and such.

As I write this, I realize this is a type of therapy. Seeing it on paper, writing it out and typing it up later seems to help lift the shadow of grief and despair that often engulfs me. As I am writing this I am reminded that my God is bigger than all my grief, all my depression, all my illness and that still, quiet voice tells me it’s time once more to start counting all of my blessings for they greatly outnumber all the bad things in my life.

Today I am thankful that “My God” is still greater than any sorrow, depression or illness that I have, that he is the mender of my heart and lifter of my soul.

insanityDecember 2, 2016 – Insanity

When I think back to how simple life used to be, I often wish that I could travel back in time, to a time without computers and cell phones, a time when TV night was a special treat because something special was on.

I think about the sunny, quiet days just exploring the three cemeteries that surrounded our house in Pueblo or going for a horse back ride at the last foster home, or just walking through town with my nose stuck in a book. It seems like everything was so much more peaceful back then. You didn’t hear about the atrocities of a war like the one ISIS is waging against innocent people, you didn’t hear about new diseases on the rise causing epidemics or pandemics.

There weren’t any news stories about people rioting over a criminal being shot down by police or because they don’t like the new president elect. As the world seems to escalate in violence, as technology advances in leaps and bounds, so does illness, disease, destruction and man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. There are more addictive substances, more peer pressure, more pressure to acquire material wealth and more inventions and conveniences that are supposed to make life easier, but in fact make us lazier, less caring, less observant and less concerned about our spiritual, mental, and physical health.

Life today just seems insane. People are rushing everywhere, to work, to events, to doctors, shopping, paying bills, checking on loved ones, after school activities, parties and concerts and so on. There doesn’t seem to be many peaceful moments in a day. People are becoming rude and inconsiderate in their rush to get their daily needs met, pushing people out of their way or bumping into them in stores, cutting in front of people, or speeding around them, sometimes causing incidents of road rage or accidents. So many people just seem angry all the time.

Add to that all the drama at home or with relatives, for example, relatives and non-relatives are still fighting over my son’s remains, and he passed away in March. My sisters sons are fighting over what little bit of property she owned “her car” and a few pictures and knickknacks. Relatives are making threats of legal action, calling names and cutting off contact because they can’t have everything their way.

Today I am thankful for the quiet days when insanity decides to pass me by.

sleepy-dwarfDecember 3, 2016 – Fatigue

Do you ever have those days when you are so bone tired that you can’t sleep? You’ve done so much during the day that your body aches, your head hurts, you can barely shuffle along, yet when you lay down to rest, sleep won’t come. You get back up and try to do a few things around the house but you are too tired to do anything except sit in the office or the living room.

That’s the way the first week and a half of the month is like. It seems that we just run and run and can’t get a break. Bills have to be paid, birthday cards sent out, grocery shopping to be done, doctors appointments to be kept, infusion appointments, checking on loved ones, and it all needs to be done withing a certain time.

Then there is the laundry to be kept up, the household chores to keep up on and the smaller chores that just can’t be left until the next day. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs to be done. Where did my energy go?

I used to get up at five am every day, seven days a week. Five of those days I managed to work, shop, cook, clean house and still make it to Wednesday night bible study, and work until eleven at night. Saturday was laundry day and major house cleaning and Sunday was church, what was supposed to be a day of rest, but I kept the grand boys over on Saturday night so I had them for most of the Day on Sunday. I would get tired, but not like I do  now, since I have become disabled and older.

The one thing I know for certain, no matter how fatigued I get, God always gives me the time and energy to get accomplished what needs to be done, and I know when the first week of the month is passed, there will be a break from all of this fatigue. Today I am thankful for the break from the fatigue and the moments and hours of peace he provides.

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Gentleness, Holy Spirit, Prayers, and Perseverance

Jesus with children 2November 27, 2016 – Gentleness

Philippiams 4:5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love

Life is tough; no one has a perfect life. Stress can make us act in ways we really don’t want to, causing us to be less than kind to others, maybe snapping at someone or raising our voice,, or bumping into someone with saying “excuse me”.

We rush around trying to get every thing done that we need to in one day. For those who work and have children it can be especially stressful, taking the kids to school, working eight hours, picking the kids up, helping with homework, making dinner and getting kids off to bed. In between all of this, there are the after school sports and/or activities, mid-week church bible studies or services, grocery shopping, cleaning house, doing laundry and buying groceries. It is real easy to see how simple it is to run out of patience and keep a gentle attitude.

I’m disabled, I can’t work anymore, but I tell you this, it seems like I am just as busy as I was when I was working, and the first week of the month seems like it is straight from hell. Doctors appointments, grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, getting gas in the car, and keeping the house in shape can often make this first week the most stressful out of the month, especially when you suffer from multiple physical and medical problems.

I used to be one of those people who would bowl you over in their rush to get things down, and I didn’t have an ounce of gentleness in me. I was rude, inconsiderate, and even at times downright nasty. It wasn’t until I became a Christian and experienced the gentleness of others around me that I soon learned how to be gentle towards others. Today I am thankful for all the gentle people in my life and thankful that each day the Lord reminds me to be gentle toward others.

heavensNovember 28, 2016 – Holy Spirit

Isaiah 30:21Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever

When I first heard about the Holy Spirit, I was a little confused. I understood that he was the helper Jesus was sending us after he ascended to heaven. As I have studied God’s word over the years, I often associate the Holy Spirit with that little voice that tells us “don’t do that”, “don’t say that” and “don’t think that”, but I now believe he is so much more.

Not only was he sent to help us live and act the way Jesus said us too, but I believe in certain instances he is also our protector. I believe he is what makes the hair on the nape of our neck stand up when we might be going into a precarious situation. I believe he is the voice that says “don’t go out today, the roads are too dangerous” or tells us not to visit a certain place or take a certain route.

When I worked as a court agent, I often drove over 250 miles a day, going in and out of different courts, and I can’t count the times that I felt I needed to stay off the roads or take a different route, only to find out that there was a bad accident or a crime happening on the routes or roads I would normally take. Even though I don’t work anymore, there are times that I still get that feeling that says “don’t go out today”, or “don’t go that way”, and even times a little voice telling me “you need to stop here or there” and every time I find out there was a good reason. Today I am thankful for the Holy Spirit.

older woman prayingNovember 29, 2016 – Prayers

I’ve written about prayers before; how they don’t have to be long or eloquent, that you just need to speak with the Lord as you would if you were telling a friend your problems. It doesn’t matter if you say something like “Father God” when you are praying. No one I know talks that way. The best way to communicate with God is on the level of speaking honestly to someone you are facing or is in the room with you.

You don’t have to set a specific time to pray. Pray when you want, pray when you need, pray anywhere at any time. I pray in the morning as soon as my feet hit the floor “thank you for another day”, and often during the day if something is not going right “help me deal with this”, or if something is going good “thank you”. He knows I am talking to him.

But what I want to talk about now is the prayers of others. I can remember times I would go the altar and be prayed over, and I was so moved by some of the people who prayed for me, they were actually brought to tears. We should always pray for each other. Social Media outlets like Facebook have become extended prayer lines over time, depending on who you are friends with. I never have to worry when I put up a prayer request if anyone will respond.

Sometimes the response is overwhelming as it was when my son passed away a few months ago, and my sister passed a month ago. I always know who I can depend on, who will be the first to lift my requests up to God. There are times I feel led to pray for someone, without them asking, without me knowing what I should pray about. I usually send them a private message, because there are those who will not ask for prayer because they don’t want to burden anyone. I say “burden me”, ask me to pray for you for I certainly will, immediately. Today I am thankful for the prayers of so many loved ones, family and friends.

awardNovember 30, 2016 – Perseverance

Never, never, never give in!”
Winston S. Churchill

January 1, 2016 I started on a journey to find something to be thankful for each day. I put up a challenge for others to join in, but sadly no seemed to be able to find the time or the interest, however I have persevered in this attempt.

I may not get the articles up every day, because like everyone else I sometimes find myself run ragged, but I do list them on a small tablet next to my computer. I know that there are some that are repeated, but each time I find a different reason to be thankful for those same ones. I have to admit, that it has not been as easy as I thought, because, of course, Satan tried every trick in the book to make me quite.

He threw sorrow, depression, illness, financial difficulties and so much more at me, sometimes on a daily basis. There were not many weeks that something didn’t go wrong. Multiple ER visits for Rich, different diseases and illnesses showing up causing more doctors appointments with multiple doctors, and days of depression and sorrow so bad that it was all I could do to get up out of the bed. But, I continued and I have almost reached my goal. In one more month I will have found something to be thankful for 366 days in a row. Today I am thankful that the lord gave me the perseverance to stick with this journey. I can assuredly say that it has opened my eyes to just how blessed I am

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Thanksgiving, Eternity, and Eight Fathers

horn of plentyNovember 24, 2016 – Thanksgiving

As you sit down to your Turkey Dinner with all the fixings, the hot dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, corn or green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, are you thinking about the sumptuous banquet you are about to take part in, are you thinking about the good times with family, and are you truly thinking about what you are truly thankful for. How many things do you take for granted that you should be giving thanks for?

There are people in the Middle East that are thankful to just be alive for one more day. There are hungry children on the street that are thankful for the scraps they find in the garbage from someones Thanksgiving feast. The little old lady down the street is thankful her battery didn’t die when she accidentally left her lights on for four hours the other day.

There’s and old man in a nursing home who is thankful that his grand-kids remembered him and came to visit. There is a parent sitting next to a sick child in the hospital, thankful for one more day to hold that child in their arms, and there are people in homeless shelters that are thankful for the warm blanket they’ve just been handed with the community dinner they are having.

The history of Thanksgiving is usually passed down as a story of the first meal the Pilgrims shared with the Indians after their first harvest in a new land. But actually Thanksgiving is celebrated in almost every country, on different days with different names. God designated two times a year that the people were to gather together to give thanks, Shavuot (the Feast of Pentecost) and Sukkot ( the Feast of Tabernacles), but all through the bible we are instructed to always give thanks to God for everything we have.

It has been my goal since the first of the year to try and post something to be thankful for each day instead of playing the 24 days of thanksgiving that my friends do on Social Media. My thought was that there is something to be thankful for each day that that we should share that with others, maybe to inspire them to look for the blessings that God gives them every day, even the small ones that they may take for granted.

Over the course of these last eleven months, my eyes have been opened to just how much God blesses me, just how much I took for granted. Before I set this goal for myself there were many blessings that I had taken for granted, like running water, heat in the house during the winter and fans and air conditioning in the summer, a car that keeps running, friends, family and loved ones close by and waking up each day in fairly good health. Today I am thankful the Lord has helped realized just how much he blesses me,

heavensNovember 25, 2016 – Eternity

Eternity is forever, it never ends, it goes on and on and on. When we tell someone we love them for eternity, we usually mean we will love them for as long as they and/or we are alive. When we describe something as taking an eternity to happen, we are misusing the word, using it to mean just a long time.

Our life on earth is limited. While reading my bible, I noticed that man used to live a very long time, sometimes over 800 hundred years, but as man kept sinning and turning his back on God, his life span became shortened. It went from 800 years to about 300 years to around 100 years. Back in the earlier centuries, around the times of Robin Hood even up to the days of the old west, people didn’t live much past 50 or 60.

Today people are taking better care of themselves, and many are starting to live well past 90. some past 100. That still isn’t eternity. It’s a long time, given how short our life span was in the earlier centuries, due to illness, crime, wars, and the ways we had to live. Those who lived out in the open, working hard on farms and ranches seemed to age faster than those who lived in the comfort of the cities, unless a plague or severe illness attacked that city.

We can have eternal life though, it is a free gift from God, if we accept his son as our Risen Savior and Lord. If we serve him, believe in him, follow his teachings, we are guaranteed eternal life with him when we shake off these earthly bonds. We will be with him in the Millennium when he comes to earth and rules for 1000 years, and if we remain faithful, we will then live eternally in heaven with him and the father.

You have heard it said so many times “it is never too late to change”, but in truth there are limitations. We know not the hour, nor the second when Jesus returns, and if you haven’t accepted him, then you are out in the cold (or should I say hot, as in Hell?) Today I am thankful that I know I will have eternal life when I leave this dusty, immoral, violent and sinful planet.

Hands holding the worldNovember 26, 2016 – Eight Fathers

Not many of us can say we have had more than one father, but in truth I have had eight fathers. I have learned something different from each one of them. From my second father, by blood father, I learned to listen, to be patient, and to be quiet. I don’t remember much about him except that he put too much salt in the oatmeal, read to us each day from the bible, and took us down to the newspaper building to get scratch paper to draw on. I can still see him sitting in his wheelchair in front of the basement apartment in Chicago. He took his own life when I was five.

From my third father, my first foster father, a strict Pentecostal, I learned discipline. The gun belt that hung on his closet door very quickly became a fearsome sight for if it was taken down, you knew you were in trouble and would be dealt with accordingly. From my fourth father, my second foster father, I learned laughter and humor. Old enough to be my grandfather, he often did silly things just to make me laugh. Unfortunately our stay with him was short because he became ill.

From my fifth father, my third foster father, I learned silence. He never spoke to us, he never had anything do with us. He would play with his sons, do activities with them, but acted like we didn’t exist in the same household. He left everything that had to do with us up to his wife. From my fifth father, my fourth foster father, I learned family values. He was the rock that held the family together. Although a lot of the household problems were left to my foster mother, he was the maker of the rules and the deliver of punishment if needed. He taught us how to be respectful, to be honest, to be obedient and he did it all with love.

From my first stepfather, I learned about disappearing. He was never around that much and when he was, all he wanted to do was go to the bedroom with my mother. I don’t remember him ever speaking a word to us at all. Mom made all the rules and handled all the problems. He was around only when he decided he wanted to be. Maybe it was a good thing that he cheated on my mother, because I just can’t picture what it would have been like growing up around him.

From my second step-father, I learned how to use people. I could see early on how he manipulated my mother. He wanted control of everything. Mom wasn’t allowed to decide any of our punishments, and he made all the rules in the house. I do believe now that she was frightened of him. After all they met in a psychiatric hospital. He was later diagnosed with depression and Bi-Polar disorder and that may have had something to do with the way he acted.

From each of these seven fathers I learned something. Not always something good, but all the same they each showed me different aspects about people that I would notice and recognize in others during my lifetime. But my first father, God, has taught me so much more than all of these together. He has taught me trust, honesty, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and most importantly Love. Today I am thankful for what I’ve learned from all my fathers, especially my #1 Father, God.

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Common Sense, Obedience, and Energy

common senseNovember 21,2016 – Common Sense

Common Sense: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts (Merriam-Webster)

I can remember, as a child and teen, that when I would make a foolish mistake my mother would admonish me saying “why don’t you use the common sense you were born with”. Today I have to ask myself if common sense is something you are born with or is it something that your parents teach you, that you learn through trial and error throughout your life.

I can easily say that there were many mistakes in judgment that I made during my life, I still do at times and there will probably be many more before my life is over, but I can say that for every miss-judgment, every wrong decision I have made, I have learned many things that help me in my thoughts and actions today.

I believe that we are born with a sense of right and wrong, but that sense can be dulled or enhanced by our environment as we are growing up. This would account for the people who grow up with hatred and vengeance in their hearts.

Their judgment has probably been clouded because they grew up around dishonesty, hatred, bias, and crime. They have learned from an early age that in order to survive you have to take what you want, whether it belongs to you or not, that you don’t put up with anything from anyone without striking back, not a harsh word or act is to go without consequences. They are raised in a racially biased atmosphere and grow up hating, despising and wanting to get rid of different races and cultures. The parents pass this heritage down to them.

Because of the surroundings they are raised in, they take time to let common sense kick in, they don’t stop to assess a situation, to look at it from different points of thought, to think of what the consequences of the first actions they think to take can have on them, their children, their friends and relatives or the person they are having the difficulty with. Today I am thankful for the common sense the lord has given me and the future common sense he will teach me.

Proverbs 3:21

My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion,

Proverbs 2:6

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

bibleNovember 22, 2016 – Obedience

We are taught from an early age to obey our parents, our grandparents, our teachers and any one else in authority, at least we should be. But in many households today, children run wild, fighting against any of the rules that have been put in place, even verbally and sometimes physically abusing those in authoritative positions.

Parents aren’t allowed ti inflict any kind of physical punishment on their children without being turned into Social Services for child abuse. If they inflict any punishment such as taking something away from the child, or making them do chores or stand in a corner, then they are accused of psychologically damaging their children. The new generation that is coming up in most homes now are little monsters. They learn very quickly how they can use the system to make their parents do what they want instead of the parents controlling them.

If a child gets into a fight, if he experiments with drugs or alcohol, if he skips school, commits a crime or does anything wrong, the parents are immediately blamed and Social Services come in full force threatening to remove the children, threatening the parents with legal actions. It has gone so far now, that when a child misbehaves, in order to keep Social Services at bay, parents are calling the police on their own children.

I grew up learning respect for my parents, grandparents, teachers, police officers and the like, and it wasn’t beat into me, in fact I cannot remember one time that my mother spanked me. She may have smacked my hands when I was little for pulling nick-knacks off shelves or getting into something I shouldn’t have, but the worst punishment I remember is being grounded or stood in the corner.

God punished the Israelites every time they turned away from him. They had to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until the generation that turned against him had died out and a new generation had taken it’s place. He punished the people in Sodom and Gomorrah by destroying all of them. He doesn’t deal out punishments now, not after he sent his son as the final sacrifice, but we will all stand in front of on judgment days and woe to those who have not accepted Jesus because their punishment will be great and eternal. Today I am thankful for the way I was taught obedience because it makes it so much easier to understand the obedience God demands from us.

John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

1 Kings 2:3 Observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.

lighteningNovember 23, 2016 – Energy

Oh to be young again, to be able to run through the woods, jump over fences and downed trees and rocks, to be able to climb to the very top of the highest trees. Oh how I miss the energy of my youth, when the hours would tick away and I would be so full of energy that I could literally stay awake all night, but those days are long gone and will never return.

As I have gotten older, my energy has been greatly subdued. I can longer run through the woods, let alone run at all, and I know I would fall and break my skull if I tried to climb the highest trees. The days of my youthful energy have long ago faded away. Not only can I not stay up forever, but must lay these weary bones done for a nap each day.

I’m not complaining, I am reminiscing about the days when I had all the strength and energy of a young deer. As we get older though, our bodies start wearing out. God did not intend for them to be eternal, not yet, not on this earth. One day I know I will be with Jesus and I won’t feel so old and decrepit. I will have the energy of youth restored, I won’t be sick or depressed or tired, but will have a new glorified body for eternity. For today I am thankful that he does give me the energy each day to accomplish what is needed for that day.

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Assurance, Bitterness and Cleansing

Hands holding the worldNovember 18, 2016 – Assurance

There are no absolute assurances in this life we lead on this earth. We are not assured that every child will be born healthy, that every marriage will last a life time, that all our children will grow up to be morally minded, respectful adults or that we will live a long and healthy life.

There are no assurances that we will have a good job, enough money for the bills and food, that we will live in a nice house or drive a nice car. No one is assured that they can attend college, become famous, write a book, or even finish high school.

We awake each morning without the assurance that we will make it through the day. There is no assurance that we might not have an accident, be a victim of a violent crime or succumb to a stroke or heart attack. When we go to sleep at night, we are not assured that we will wake up healthy in the morning or that we will even wake up. This life has no assurances.

There is only one assurance available to us and that is salvation and the chance of living an eternal life without evil, illness, pain or sin, a life so full of love that it could very well overwhelm us. If we have accepted Jesus as our savior and lord we are assured of this eternal salvation, this utopia with him as our ruler and king, but we must totally accept him as this and go to him in prayer, repenting of our sins and asking him to live in us. Anyone can say a prayer, but they are simply just words unless they truly come from the heart. Today I am thankful for the assurance I have in Jesus Christ, my lord and king.

Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, of the Father and of Christ.

Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born in his spirit, washed in his blood. Perfect submission, perfect delight, visions of rapture now burst on my sight; angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love. (Frances J. Crosby, 1873 )

anger faceNovember 19, 2016 – Bitterness

There is a list of 5 different definitions for “Bitterness” but the ones I think applies to this article is #5, which is “resulting from or expressive of severe grief, anguish or disappointment and #6 “Marked by resentment or cynicism.”

I don’t often talk about my past with many people. Only those few special friends and loved ones know all that I went through in my life. They also know how God brought me from a dangerous situation and has led me step by step to where I am today. Those who have heard my story are amazed that I don’t show as much bitterness as others would have, given the circumstances I found myself in at young age. All of this due to my own mistakes and letting the wrong people into my life.

Let it suffice to say that I have been through hell and back at an early age, that for many years I feared for my life, didn’t know if I would make it through each day. Even after God moved me out of that situation, there were others who took advantage of my giving nature until they had almost drained me of every ounce of energy I had and every cent I made. It was partly my fault because I wanted to help people so badly I actually became an enabler.

For many months after I got away from the abusive situation, I was a bitter person. For the first time in almost 20 years I was allowed to open my mouth, I was allowed to complain about something I didn’t like, I was allowed to be sick and complain about that. It wasn’t until they hired another woman that sounded just like me that I realized what a bitter person I had become. Just listening to her sounded like a recording of me.

When I accepted Jesus as my savior he gave me peace, peace I had never felt before. I still thought about the past but not with the same bitterness and anger I had felt before, and I stopped complaining about everything. Sometimes I think he put this woman in my life to show me a mirror image of what I was becoming. Today I am thankful that the Lord has taken my bitterness away.

Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

waterNovember 20, 2016 – Cleansing

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things

As I grew up, I often would hear some of the church women state that “cleanliness was next to godliness.” I never quite understood what they were talking about. As I have gotten older and have been studying the Bible in depth, there may be a lot to this saying.

In biblical days, before Jesus arrived on the scene, there rules that God gave the people about cleanliness. The keepers and priests of the tabernacle were to cleanse themselves before performing certain sacrifices on days that God said were holy.

People who were sick with leprosy, were kept outside the city and away from anyone else, but when they were healed, they were to cleanse themselves before appearing before the priest to be pronounced clean. Women stayed outside the city for months after child bearing and for a week during their menstrual cycle before they would be clean.

Baptism was considered an act of cleaning oneself of all impurities that were vile to God when accepting him or Jesus as lord and savior. John began baptizing people before Jesus came to him to be baptized, and the disciples continued baptizing in his name long after he arose to heaven.

But there is another way we must cleans ourselves. In this immoral, vile, violent world we live in, it is so easy to harbor thoughts of anger, hatred, sorrow, unrest and so much more. Sometimes we can carry all of this around with us for weeks, months and even years.

Back in the late sixties and early seventies, when the hippie revolution was going on, people started meditating on the good things in life, like love, forgiveness, nature, and peace, and they had the right idea, although they should have been meditating on God first.

Every so often I do what I call a “Soul and Heart Cleansing”. I step back from the world and take a close look at what thoughts have been going through my head. As I take inventory, I repent of the ones that are not pleasing to God and hold onto the ones that are good. Today I am thankful to the Lord for showing me how to do a cleansing, not just of the body, but of the mind also.

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Grace, Mercy and God’s Love

EasterNovember 15, 2016 – Grace

I’ve heard it in many sermons and even the bible says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8, and yet every time I heard a sermon on Grace I never fully understood all the aspects of God’s grace. Merriam-Webster defines Grace as: 1. Unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification 2. A virtue coming from God and 3. Approval or special favor.

As I read through the verses in the Bible concerning grace and then looked at the definitions I came to a better understanding. We are sinners, we were born sinners, we will always be sinners, we can never be perfect. There has only ever been one that is perfect, Jesus and he was sent as the final sacrifice for our sins.

Just as it says in Ephesians 2:8, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not because of something we have done, but by simply believing on him, simply recognizing him as Lord, God has favored us with this gift of grace. He has given us special favor in his son, Jesus Christ, he has given us a way for regeneration and sanctification so that when we leave this material world we will dwell with Jesus in a perfect world without sin, without illness, without pain and without evil, and that is an eternal gift. Today I am thankful for the Lords Grace.

bibleNovember 16, 2016 – Mercy

Mercy was another word I didn’t quite understand. We are told that God is merciful and that we should be merciful to others. I assumed that mercy was the same as forgiveness or kindness and in a way they are all connected. Any preacher can quote bible verses or read from the bible in his sermon, and he may be blessed with the gift of preaching a great, spirit filled lesson, but there are always those in his audience, who trusting him to teach the right way, don’t always understand what some of these blessings such as grace and mercy actually are. I really think that they should give a definition at the beginning of the sermon for those who don’t understand some of these gifts.

Merriam Webster (again) defines Mercy as a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion. I always thought that it meant an act of forgiveness when some one would preach about receiving Gods mercy. I always knew that it was something good, something you should desire, but until I really got into the Bible and started looking up the definitions of some of these words, I didn’t fully understand them

I would suggest, if you are an avid reader of Gods word, if you are really interested in studying the bible, keep a dictionary near by and “Where to find it in the Bible, A to Z” by Ken Anderson. You will be amazed at how much more you will get out of your studies using these two reference books along with the Word of God. Today I am thankful, ever so thankful for God’s mercy.

Psalm 51:1-2 Have mercy on me, O God, acording to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

loveNovember 17, 2016 – Gods Love

Do we actually understand what love is? When we were young, maybe just getting interested in the opposite sex, some of us believed we were in love with someone if we had a crush on them, even if we didn’t really know them. Unfortunately in today’s world, many teens associate warm fuzzy feelings, good conversation and sex with love, and because of that we end up without a multitude of teen pregnancies, teens having multiple partners, and teens and young adults who do not grow up understanding what love is.

Love begins in the home, before an infant is even born, but in today’s world of material wealth, many parents associate giving their children everything material they want with showing them they love them. Because so many Federal, State and City organizations have interfered with the way parents are allowed to raise and discipline their children, the children grow up thinking that love is being given gifts.

The gift of love is not a material item. God gave us his son Jesus because he loved us, and Jesus gave up his worldly life because he loved us. God didn’t go out and buy us a bunch of toys to show us he loved us, and Jesus didn’t hand out top of the line cell phones, computers, or video games to show us he loved us. Merriam Webster defines love as: strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion. It says nothing about material items. Today I am thankful for love, especially the love of God.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

 

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Trusting God, Courage and Fear

Hands holding the worldNovember 12, 2016 – Trusting God

I was raised with the Ten Commandments. Maybe my mother didn’t completely quote them as they were in the bible, but I was taught that you don’t lie, you do what your parents instruct you, you don’t cheat, you don’t purposely hurt anyone, you were to be kind and polite to everyone, you didn’t take what didn’t belong to you and so on. I trusted mother, I had no reason not to.

Not every parent is like my mother, and unfortunately sometimes good people changed, especially when they are influenced by others. Now don’t get me wrong, my mother was a good woman, but later in life, when I was nearing the end of school, her and my step father did lie to me about one thing, and I found out later that it was my step-fathers idea.

I had been baby-sitting and working an after-school job for the last year an a half, and they were taking most of my money. I was told they were putting it away for me for college. When I moved out at age of 18 I asked about the money and was told that it was used for my room and board, which meant that I was actually paying their rent each month without knowing it. I felt betrayed, I lost my trust in them, but I was young and soon forgot about it as I found work and moved into my own place.

Throughout my life, sad to say, I learned quickly that you couldn’t trust too many people. Many times I would share something private with people I thought were friends only to find that they had blabbed everything I told them. I finally got tired of being lied to and finally chose not to trust anyone. I clammed up, and wouldn’t tell anyone anything, and my circle of friends became very small, even at times zero.

When I first became a Christian I still found it hard to really trust anyone. I tried to make friends but discovered that many “church” people were not as trustworthy as I thought and many of them were “big” gossips. It was heart breaking to have these new brothers and sisters of mine come and tell me they had heard such and such from so and so and wanted to know if it was true. I can’t even count how many tried telling me tales about others and it really diminished their trust in my eyes.

It’s been many years since I had those experiences at the first church I attended. I have found that it occurs no matter where you go, because, after all, they are human and it is one of the pit falls of human nature. I just didn’t give those who gossiped any fuel for their fire.

Over the years, the Lord has shown me that there are still people who are trustworthy. I am surrounded by a few who I would trust with my life. My circle of friends has grown but through hints from God, I have been able to decide how much information I should share with some of them. Through all this, I have learned that there is one whom I can completely trust, one who will not gossip about me or tell my secrets to people who don’t need to know. That one is God and today I am thankful I have learned to trust in him.

awardNovember 13, 2016 – Courage

The dictionary defines Courage as the quality of mind and/or spirit that enables a person to face difficulties, danger and pain etc. without fear. Psychology today says there are six attributes to courage:

1. Feeling fear yet choosing to actually

2. Following your heart

3. Persevering in the face of adversity

4. Standing up for what is right

5. Facing suffering with dignity of faith

6. Expanding your horizons, letting go of the familiar

I don’t know if I would consider myself courageous but I have met a few people that I considered courageous, some who faced one crisis after another without crumbling, standing strong and standing up for what was right. There were others that suffered from debilitating diseases and physical problems, but chose to wake up and face the world each day with a smile on their face and continued doing what they could as normal as possible.

When I think also, of all the soldiers that have gone to war to protect our freedoms and to help other countries fight for theirs, of the injuries and death that they suffered, I see a picture of courageous men and women, and even more so are the ones who return home with loss of limbs and PTSD that struggle each day to live a normal life, never giving up.

In my opinion it takes a lot to be courageous and I am sure that at times in our lives we have to be even without realizing that we are. Life isn’t a promise of Utopia and there are circumstances in everyone’s life where they have to face unpleasant and sometimes dangerous situations. Today I am thankful for the courage God gives me when I need it and for all the courageous people I have been blessed to know.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

lighteningNovember 14, 2016 – Fear

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

We have all been afraid of different things in our lives, in fact some people live with phobias most of their lives. Fear of the dark, fear of heights, fear of failing, fear of never being loved, fear of animals, and fear of going out or being around people are just a few that I have heard of.

There were times in my life that I feared dying, I feared that I wouldn’t live long enough to raise my son, talk to mom or my sisters again. Because of wrong decisions in my life, getting involved with the wrong person / people, there were times that I feared I would not live to see the next day, and this was normal for over 15 years of my life.

But one day God took that fear away and gave me the strength, the courage and the means to get out of that situation. I still have doubts and fears, but nothing like they used to be, and I know that I can take my fears to God. I know that he is in control and no matter how afraid I might be, he will give me peace and he will resolve whatever might be going on. Today I am thankful that I can give him all of my fears.