New Habits

When I think of something working from the inside-out, my mind turns to a microwave oven!  I know – weird, huh?  Hang in there with me, I’m making a point.

Those little micro waves begin cooking in the center of whatever is in there.  Just as a microwave heats your coffee or cooks your bacon…  God works on us!  Now you feel like a cup of coffee or a strip of bacon, don’t you?  LOL!  I doubt that God sees you that way.  Nah…  pretty sure He doesn’t.

God begins His work with His precious Holy Spirit – in the center of our being – our hearts and minds.  Renewal begins to take place.  We love the things that God loves and hate the things He hates.  We have to be careful to never hate people – but behaviors we can definitely hate and refuse to participate in.

Because the enemy of our soul is still working in our world – it’s possible to slip and fall.  Even those who belong to God are to some degree vulnerable.  Actually, it seems the more you are trying to work for the Lord, the more that ol’ devil whispers in your ear – and remember – he copies everything that God does.  He’s a copy-catter!  He will do anything to get you off-balance.

God wants us to thrive in this life.  He wants us to lean on Him and learn His ways.  Remember when Nancy Reagan said, “Just Say No” – in her one woman drug campaign?  I was a young teen at the time and thought, “she didn’t go far enough.  You can’t just say no to drugs – you have to turn and say yes to Jesus!”  

There was a time when the 12-step program was centered around a faith and trust in God.  I think they tell you a “higher power” can be anything now – but it was originally all about God.  Lean on God instead of your addiction.  I’ve been through OA twice.  The second time, the leader explained the “higher power” as anything you place higher than yourself.  I wasn’t diggin’ on that, but I wasn’t the leader, so held my tongue.  I did – and yeah, it took a miracle.

Maybe your higher power is your cat…  but the only HIGHER POWER that you can always depend on to come through for you is Jesus Christ!  He will be by your side when temptations arise.

Let Jesus have your heart, soul, and mind…  let Him help you form some new habits – replacing your unhealthy and self-destructive habits.  🙂

Fresh Start

What if I invited you to my house for lunch and decided to serve a salad.  I have every imaginable kind of dressing available to choose from.  I have wonderful homemade lemonade to drink.  I covered the dining room table with nice clean linens and set it with my best silverware and dishes.  I have cloth napkins beside each place setting.  You walk in and stagger back a bit because you are so impressed!

Then after we say the blessing over our little lunch, I bring the big bowl of salad to the table.  You are expecting to see a beautiful green salad with vine-ripened tomatoes and crispy rings of red onion.  Everything else has been so clean and fresh, why wouldn’t the salad live up to expectations?

As I’m walking toward the table with the huge bowl, I start to apologize and explain that I had to use the lettuce and spinach that I bought a few months ago, and the tomatoes had some signs of spoilage, but I peeled all the white stuff off, so they should be just fine.  If the onion rings look a bit slimy, don’t worry about it.  😉  

Once you got over the shock and confusion, I’m betting the excuses to leave would be flowing like water!  Um…  I forgot to feed my pet gazelle – I really need to GO!  My house would be cleared out before you know it!

Everything was so right – but the salad was not FRESH!

As we entered into 2018, did we do so as the same spoiled and stale people we were in 2017?  Did we ask the LORD to make us new and give us a fresh start? 

Let’s break this quote down a bit.  A key word in the first part of the quote is APPEAR.  Some circumstances do seem insurmountable.  They seem irreversible.  Absolutely true!  Some really are, such as divorce, addiction, and loss through death.  I’m here to remind you that even the WORST circumstances can be made better through a relationship with Christ.  He can take anything and make it better.  The pain is not going to leave, but if you will give it to Him, it’ll surprise you because He will help you cope so much better.

And, let’s be honest.  Some circumstances that were not pleasant are brought back to our minds by the enemy of our souls.  Those are the ones we need to give to God and ask Him to take the pain away.  Thinking about them over and over will not change the outcome.  Putting them under the blood and telling the enemy of our soul that he will not win – that will set us free!

Father,  I pray that we will hand our difficult circumstances to You right now so You can give us a FRESH start.  We know that pain will not go away completely, but we know that You make all things new, and You specialize in making our lives better.  As we turn our hearts and lives over to You, I pray You will touch us and begin to do miraculous things, and as You do, we will be careful to give You the praise and glory!  We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,  Amen.

Do whatever YOU gotta do to get through.  Yes, Lord!  We need to say that prayer every day, don’t we?

Your peace is more important than driving yourself crazy trying to understand why something happened the way it did.  Let it GO!  – Chonda Pierce

So true!  In my life, 99% of the stuff I drive myself crazy trying to understand is stuff that the devil has tempted me to think about – again.  It’s always stuff that can’t be changed no matter how often it comes to mind.  I’m convinced that it doesn’t just come to mind – it’s put there by the devil to drag me down.  We’ve got to learn how to take those thoughts captive and say:

ENOUGH, DEVIL!  I’ve put this under the precious blood of Christ – and you need to quit putting it back in my mind.  Go sit on a tack and leave me alone!

We can do that, you know.  There is a reference in the book of Luke, but also one in Matthew where Christ is talking to Peter:

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  – Matthew 16:23

As earnest as Peter was trying to be, Christ knew that he was going to betray Him!  He knew that the devil was being a stumbling block to Him.  In this same way, we are to hold thoughts captive and hand them to God – let them go, saying,

“Get thee behind me, satan, in the name of Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior.”

It’s okay to call him on the bad thoughts he dumps in your mind.

Then invite the light of Christ in to your mind.  Sing songs of praise to Him and pray with a smile on your face!  Make your day all about Him!

Ask Him for a fresh start – each and every day!  🙂

 

 

 

 

EASTER

I have exciting news!  I’m going to start posting a weekly blog post beginning today!  I’ll be covering more Scripture verses and give you an opportunity to study it for yourself for a week.  Obviously, John 20:6 is the Scripture about the resurrection of Christ – HE AROSE!!!  Without the resurrection of Christ, Christmas would be meaningless.

Today we have joy, peace, and HOPE that was not possible before God raised Christ from the dead!  Aren’t we thankful for what Jesus did for us on Calvary and beyond?  When the stone was rolled away and God raised Christ from the dead…  salvation’s wondrous plan was done.  All that’s left is for us to believe and with faith, trust that God through Christ has us in His very capable hands – and with His Holy Spirit, will help us navigate our way through.

I’ve heard so many sermons about this passage of Scripture.  We know that Peter was a bold sort – a fisherman by trade – we might call him rugged, unpolished, a diamond in the rough.  He’s the sort who speaks before thinking and ends up having to apologize later.  That may sound familiar to some.  LOL!

For this week, I want us to think about 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

I was taught that a verse that begins with THEREFORE needs to be investigated further.  We need to know what came before this verse, so we know what it is THERE FOR… so – verse 15 says:

As God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  – 2 Corinthians 4:15

It’s not that I’m against doing all I can to preserve myself outwardly – believe me.  I don’t welcome these crows feet around my eyes at all – but I try to call them smile lines to keep it positive.  The question really is, does your outward maintenance mean more than your inward maintenance?  So much mental struggle could be helped if we’d just put as much importance on studying God’s Word as we do on spa days for the outward body.  Let’s face it, when we get to Heaven, God’s not going to ask me how many spa days I took (which I could count on one hand) – but He will ask how many times I shared the gospel of Christ with others.

True Christianity is about living a balanced life.  God gave us one body and one soul, along with a great owner’s manual, if we’ll take the time to read it.  The Bible teaches us so much about ourselves and how to care for body, soul and mind.

I had a friend who always tried to put things together without reading instructions.  It made me crazy!  He’d end up with extra pieces – or needing pieces, then scratched his head because he couldn’t figure out how that happened.  Really?

Have a wonderful week and leave this blog some love if you like it.  Thanks!  🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (24)1-peter-3-34Remember reading the stories about pirates and buried treasure when you were a kid?  The treasure was always gold coins and expensive jewelry.  The pirates could hardly wait to get their hands on it – not because they wanted to wear it, but because it was something of value they could sell or pawn for cash.

Most women have nice jewelry – because they like to wear it.  Some just feel better when they’re dripping in it, and others – believe it or not, are actually trying to hide behind it.  They don’t feel worthy enough without it.  The more expensive it is, the more they like it.  I have a friend who admits she used to be like that.  She was a bit on the heavy side, and thought if she wore large, gaudy, but real jewels, it would detract people’s attention from her size.

God wants you to know you are fine without the decorations.  He loves the you on the inside and couldn’t care less about all the trimmings.  He isn’t either impressed or intimidated by gold, silver, pearls, diamonds or any other gems you may want to name.  Heaven has streets paved with gold…  that should tell us something.  He uses gold to pave streets like Cornejo uses asphalt.  Ponder that for a while…

The Lord looks on the heart, not the wardrobe, jewelry box, or hair salon results.  Sometimes, the circumstances in life force us to change our priorities about vanity.  I hope you don’t look in the mirror and decide that you’re having a bad hair day, so you won’t leave the house.  My goodness, don’t let that stop you.  Put on your ball cap and GO!  Live as long as you have breath.  God loves you so much and has so much to show you – but much of it is outside your house, not inside.17101674_1899358353641959_272982276_n

If you really want to meet other people where they are, expensive baubles can hinder you from doing that.  Be genuine in your friendship, without pretense, and most people will respond in like.  When people put on airs, that’s when they soon learn that friendship can be difficult to gain.

I’m reminded of my favorite British comedy, “Keeping Up Appearances”.  Hyacinth is what I refer to as “high maintenance” –  but only in the most socially acceptable way, of course.

There are two points to be taken today.  The first is, God loves YOU – not what you adorn yourself with.  And, He doesn’t want you loving your adornments, or depending on them to define you.  He wants you to love HIM above all – and just be your genuine self.  You don’t need make-up, jewelry, a fancy hairstyle or designer clothing to do that.  🙂

WHAT YOU THINK UPON GROWS DAY

TL 5-31 WHAT YOU THINK UPON GROWS DAYFinally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, 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 any praise, think about these things.  – Philippians 4:8

THINK ABOUT JESUS

In case you think that positive thinking is a new thing…  take a look at this Scripture in Philippians, written so long ago by the Apostle Paul!  We’re encouraged to think on the following:

  • THINGS THAT ARE TRUE.  There isn’t much truth to be found in the world today, is there?  If you follow politics at all, you know how often the subject of dishonesty and crookedness comes up.  Sadly, we know more about what truth does NOT look like than what it does look like.  What is true – what do we need to think about and focus our attention on?  Glad you asked.  The same Bible written so long ago is the inspired Word of God Himself.  It is what we trust without question.  We make decisions after consulting it and praying to our God through Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the only One we can depend on completely.  A true thought is one that aligns with God’s laws and ways.
  • THINGS THAT ARE HONORABLE.  Honor is not a word we hear much anymore.  Do people in our world today know what it means?  It is a thought worthy of reputation; a thought that deserves respect or esteem. An honorable thought is what is right while transacting business, but it embraces also much more, and means that the Christian is to show respect to all the venerable and proper customs of society, when they did not violate conscience or interfere with the law of God.
  • THINGS THAT ARE JUST.  A just thought is one that “squares” with God, with your neighbor and with yourself.  It agrees with God’s justice and His righteousness.  It’s not judging, for only God is a judge for humanity – rather it is a thought that never gives up and holds out hope for everyone, for we know that’s what Jesus does.  He wants everyone to come to Him for saving grace.  Whosoever surely meaneth me…  and anyone else who will come to Christ for salvation.
  • THINGS THAT ARE PURE.  A pure thought refers to the state of mind and behavior of the body.  We need God’s help to achieve all of these, but in our day and age, to have pure thoughts is not possible without God’s Holy Spirit.  The moral standards these days do not lend themselves to chastity, but that does not mean that God accepts less than His best from us.  God gave you one mind and one body.  He wants HIS best for you.  He does not want you to settle for anything less.  He wants to help you develop pure thoughts and pray for the right relationship in His perfect time.
  • THINGS THAT ARE LOVELY.  A lovely thought is productive and positive in its intention.  It’s born of a good clean way of living and proper code of conduct.  It has to do with a temperament check that God’s Holy Spirit is happy to perform on His children if they ask Him to.  Think of it this way…  if we are children of a patient, loving Heavenly Father, how does it look to others if we are sour, crabby or irritable?  How confusing that must be to them!  It’s not helpful and does not reflect well on Christianity to find fault with everything, is it?  Keep your temper in check – better yet, ask God’s Holy Spirit to “check” it.  He will.
  • THINGS THAT ARE OF GOOD REPORT.  If you got a bad report card, would you show it to all your friends and family?  Of course you wouldn’t!  You’d possibly want to hide it from everyone.  But thoughts that are of good report are ones that you are anxious to share with others because they are ones that are beneficial for your fellow-man.  I’m sure we can all think of charitable institutions that are highly regarded and of excellent reputation.  These began with a thought of good report!  These thoughts are born of a sense of not only charity, but of courtesy, kindness, and respect.

Paul knew he couldn’t possibly hit on every single sort of thought a Christian should have, so he added that if any thought holds virtue or is worthy of praise – think on these things.

Negativity equals negative thinking – and that keeps Christians in neutral.  If we ask God’s Holy Spirit to help us, He will help our thinking be so much more positive – which equals productivity – and that keeps Christians pedaling forward, praising God along the way and being the positive influence on the world that God intended us to be!

The best part of all this is, if we ever feel as though we’re falling short of God’s best thoughts (and we all have fallen short) all we have to do is ask God, through Jesus, to forgive us and put us back on track.  He is so faithful to do that for us because He loves us so much!  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (12)

CHOOSE HOPE

When it comes to family, we have a stubborn love – a love that will give anything and defend tirelessly.  You can say anything you want about me, but when you go messing with my family, watch out!  Know what I’m saying? 

Where does this protective (sometimes overly protective) instinct come from?  I’m fast to say it comes from God.  God is love, so it stands to reason that the love we experience with family comes from God.  This tenacity, this willingness to love no matter what – it’s a gift from God.  And when you think about it – isn’t it the same way God loves us?

On a wicker chair in a corner of my Cape Cod office is a profile I wrote about a former Phoenix Superior Court judge, who mentored me in the late ’70s in the art of court reporting.  As she rose through the judicial ranks, the judge instructed me to keep asking questions.  Persevere, she counseled me.  “Keep at it until you get the answers!”  Little did I know how this training would sustain me in times of great challenge.  Today, as I fight the demons of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, I still follow the sage advice of my mentor, Sandra Day O’Connor, who became the first woman justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Justice O’Connor, whose husband, John, died from Alzheimer’s after battling the disease for nearly two decades, has left me an indelible memory.  – Greg O’Brien

Greg O’Brien wrote a book entitled, “On Pluto:  Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s”.  It’s an excellent resource for family directly affected by the disease.

There are about 35 million people worldwide diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.  Five million in the United States afflicted with Alzheimer’s and it’s predicted that 13.8 million Americans could be diagnosed with the disease by 2050.  It is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

After reading the statistics it is likely that you will either be diagnosed or be a caretaker for one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

A few days ago I listened to a sweet conversation between a mother and daughter in my favorite restaurant.  They were sitting behind me, so I could not identify them if I had to, but this is what I heard:

The mother said that there were a lot of nice looking desserts on the menu.  She said, “You know, my very favorite is chocolate…”  Then there was a long pause.  She said, “Oh, what is that word?  You know, since that stroke I just can’t get the words out that I’m thinking.”  The daughter said, “Do you mean chocolate cream pie?”  “No”, the mom replied.  I could tell she was getting frustrated and was embarrassed that the word was not coming to mind.

The daughter continued trying to help.  “Chocolate cookies, is that your favorite, mom?”  By now the mother was losing patience with herself.  “I just don’t understand why I can’t say what it is I’m thinking!”  Her daughter kept a cool, even tone in her voice and calmly said, “Well, let’s talk about something else and eventually it will come to you, and you can tell me when it does.” 

I thought to myself, “This is not her first rodeo!”   I said a silent prayer for both.

The topic changed from chocolate to shoes rather quickly.  I was not as attentive when that happened.  The subject of chocolate always makes my ears perk up!

The daughter was talking about flip-flops, when out of the blue her mom yelled “BROWNIES!!!  I like brownies!”  I could hear a smile in her voice, as well as a feeling of great relief that finally the right word emerged from her mind – and out of her mouth!

I don’t write this to depress you, but to let you know how important family is when the difficulties come along.  This love of family – this love that comes from God – that is God – shines forth at times like this.  Alzheimer’s disease affected my family and maybe you have a friend or loved one battling it – or maybe you do.

There is not a cure for this disease, but if you have a loving family surrounding you and supporting you, consider yourself blessed indeed.

I’m reminded of the movie called “The Notebook”.  I think it’s one of James Garner’s best performances.  That is what family is all about.  That is what marriage is.  Remember when he tells their children he won’t leave the facility because “That’s my sweetheart in there” – ???  I cried the first time I watched that scene – okay – I cry every time I watch that scene!

Did you see Glen Campbell’s farewell tour?  There’s a documentary about it called “I’ll Be Me”.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Campbell:_I’ll_Be_Me

Look at the love he is surrounded with.  His loving wife and daughter are so patient and just keep loving him.  I cry when I see love like that.  I believe the love that God puts inside us is the best kind of love.  It’s a love surrounded with hope.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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HIS EYES

All I ever wanted since I arrived here on earth was the same things I needed as a baby; to go from cold to warm, lonely to held, the vessel to the giver, empty to full.  – Anne Lamott

If you could trade places with one person for one year, who would it be?  Maybe it would be your best friend because in your mind he / she has a better life.  Maybe it’s someone you admire and aspire to be like.  It could be someone famous who has seemingly succeeded in life.  Maybe it’s someone in your family, or your spouse.  If I could be my spouse for a year, I’d have a new appreciation for him – having to live with the likes of me.  LOL!

Do blondes have more fun?  Maybe you’d like to be a blonde for a year and find out.  Are brunettes taken more seriously and rise up the corporate ladder more quickly?  Be a brunette for a year and find out.  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be autistic or dyslexic?  Be someone who has those challenges for a year.  As a dyslexic, let me tell you, a year is plenty of time to realize the frustrations.

Are you a boss with employees?  Maybe you’d like to be one of your employees to see just how good a boss you are.  Maybe as an employee, you’d like to be the boss for a year and find out how tough it is to be in charge.

PRAYER ABOUT USING GIFTS

Would you like to be someone rich and have money to help those in need?  Would you like to be one in need so that you appreciate little things after the year is over?  Would you like to be a great evangelist like Billy Graham?

We all have people we look up to and want to pattern our lives after.  I used to wish I could be a better musician.  I didn’t have a particular person in mind, but I knew I wanted to play the piano better than I did.

The stupidest argument to have with somebody is when you tell them what to like.  How can somebody argue with you about what you like?  “Hot sauce?”  Hey, it’s my mouth.  – Andre’ Benjamin

There are very few people who have not wished that they could be someone else at one time or the other.  We are all unique individuals with gifts and talents from our Creator.  Bottom line:  I don’t like hot sauce, but I have absolutely no problem with you eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want to.

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God loves you because you are YOU!

When we get to the point where we like being who we are and accept others for who they are, we begin to find that happy place on the planet.  We snuggle in and start to get comfortable in our own skin and in our own mind.  God loves you because you are – you!  😀