The Pain’s The Thang


My mother would always steer clear of people who gave “organ recitals” as she called them.  They were “downers”, depressing people. Your mistake would be to ask, “how are you”?  They never got better, something was always wrong, yet they were at the mall, in church, at the school function.  They sounded as though they were dying yet they looked and acted fine.  Some people never get enough attention.lookatme

Makes you want to give them their own t-shirt, “here’s your sign”!

Many of us have our issues, our daily battles.  I have to say my chronic condition is a struggle.  Mom and dad raised us that if you were this side of the grass to get on with your life and bear up under what ever it is you’re going through.  Physically it is hard I know, trust me.  (I will not give you an “organ recital” now, so don’t worry :-D).  Unless you had a fever or couldn’t keep your food down, you went to school and later on work.  My father had a great work ethic.  He went back to work a month after he had his right lung removed and worked for many more years.  It is a mind-set, mind over matter… you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Work ethic, seems to be a vanishing concept.  People would rather complain about what needs to be done, how hard it is to do it or even about the paper cut that is going to keep them from doing the job.  “It’s too heavy, I don’t do ladders, my foot hurts, my back hurts ….”.  Down deep I think it simply they need someone to look at them and give them attention.  There is a legitimate time of sickness or injury, but using it for attention or to make your life easier just makes you an HYPOCHONDRIAC!

 

Sadly, many people carry this mentality into their spiritual life as well.  I call them “Spiritual Hypochondriacs”.  hypo It is no secret that in the Christian life we have ups and downs, mountains and valleys.  Some people hit the valley once and get stuck.  They clamp down on the experience and never get better.  They remember when things were better, when God blessed them and everything was smooth.  Every time you meet them they have the same prayer request.  Let me insert here I am not talking about a long time illness, financial situation, loss loved one, etc.  I am talking personal growth.  Many times we do go through an extended time in the valley because we do not grow in the Lord, we do not learn what He brought us there to learn.  Our daily life is about growing more in the Lord.  If we get stuck in the valley, we are not feeding our spiritual life.  We are not reading His word, praying for others, talking with Him daily.  We need to fellowship with other Christians who help pull us along and we in turn pull them along when the road is hard.  If we are not doing His work, helping others then we “are all about me”.  It’s the spiritual version of “look at me”.   These kind of people become cancers and spread through a body of believers, making them all “doubting Thomas’s; woe is us Christians”.  Nothing the devil likes better than to get Christians in to spiritual hypochondria.

Got pain?  Don’t make it the thang.  Take a time of rest if you need it, let it heal or get better, but do not wallow in your illness.  Doctors say that positive attitudes and can do spirit helps people heal faster than many medicines.  For Christians, that same attitude applies.  Sometimes the valley is long, it is a drudgery of day-to-day, never-ending it would seem.  But, the Scriptures tell us,

James 1:2-4(HCSB)Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

Some coach has taken credit for the “No Pain, No Gain” concept.  But it came from the Bible.  Let people hear of your journey, counting it all joy with expectation of what the Lord is going to accomplish in your journey.

Don’t make the PAIN the THANG!

smile-through-the-pain

Rotten to the core


rotten-applesLife's a barrel of rotten apples. Everywhere you move you're touched by rottenness. TV, billboards, magazine covers at check-out; they all are flooding your mind with images.

Even people walking in stores, the way they dress and the way they talk, are constantly bombarding your mind with things of this world. Rottenness and filth are at every turn threatening to take you over, ruining all it touches. The world is subtle and you slowly give way. Christians find themselves reading books, watching shows and going to movies which major content is adultery, crime and greed.  Just as your body is what you feed it (junk food?) so is your mind. 

Colossians 3:2 ESV “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

At first you keep moving pushing the rotten away. But, like the hand in the proverbial potatoes chip bag, "you can't just eat one".  A thought in the mind can become a mindset, a mindset becomes actions, and actions become character.  And then, although you tell people you are a Christian, they do not see Christ in you.  Your mouth tells dirty jokes and spills profanity, your mind goes down the wrong road first without any hesitation to the right road.

When will you discover how much the world has crept into your life?  A young woman came in to the store to pick up her father's order of books, he was a local pastor.  She had on 'cheeky' shorts and a plunging, spaghetti-strap top.  That pastor is not in control of his teenage daughter, the world is in charge of his home.  Obviously he has not discovered the world has invaded his home.  Makes you wonder how he can lead a flock when he cannot lead his home. 

The world - you must keep yourself set apart, pushing it away and not accept its views for your life and or your family. 

Philippians 4:8 (NASB) “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Eventually this rotten world will rot away. Don't get taken with it.

Deuteronomy 26:18 HCSB “And today the LORD has affirmed that you are His special people as He promised you, that you are to keep all His commands…”

Misery LOVES company!


MiseryYou start the day and you wish you did not have to get out of bed. You know it is going to be more of the same.

The kids and your spouse have gotten on your last nerve. You have to go to school with, work with or see someone that is just going to ruin your day all over again. You have lost a love one. You do not have enough money to pay the bills. You have papers to write. You have a love one with terminal or chronic illness, or maybe you are the one that is sick. You are losing your home or have already lost it. You hate your job or you have lost it.

Remember the song you heard as a child, “everybody hates me, nobody loves me, guess I’ll go eat worms …”.  Misery LOVES company, well usually anyway. Sometimes you just want to be left alone. No one has been down the road you are going down. Woe is you. (Remember the old HeeHaw song about right now? “Gloom despair, and agony on me whoooaa.”)

Are you laughing at yourself yet? Laughter is good. Sometimes we laugh just because we do not want to cry. Do you know that He felt all those feelings before you did? The Bible tells us that NOTHING touches us but that it first went through His hands. Everything that hurts you, that touches you, He feels it first. Everything that happens to you is HAPPENING to Christ. Did you catch that? HAPPENING, right then and there. We think of His suffering on the cross, dying for our sins. But, when we are hurting we forget He is hurting right along with us. Jesus wept when Lazarus died. He felt with Martha and Mary. He feels with you. It all passes through His hands long before it touches you.

 Jeremiah 29:11 ESV “For I know the plans I have for you, declares  the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

You are not alone. He knows, He cares. Tell Him how you feel, and feel how He feels with you. You have a Savior that will always be there to carry your load. Concern is okay, worry is not.

REMEMBER:

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful,

and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also

provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

 

Happy New Year, Happy New You!


The New Year has come and I have a resolution …. to make no New Year’s Resolution.  In the 1960’s a popular saying rose up, “today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  I remember thinking, “duh”.  It was a saying born out of a rehabilitation program; another version of the Thomas the little engine’s chuggin’ “I think I can, I think I can.”   And another cliche’ repeated by mothers everywhere, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it”.   All are true in essence, but then life happens.  Statistics show 80% of us fail at our resolutions before the end of February.  I am sure one of the previous schools of thought gave way to the saying,  “the road is paved with good intentions”.

Happy New You!

Happy New You!

When I was a small girl I wanted to be a famous ice skater like the ones we saw each year in Holiday On Ice shows.  As I grew older I wanted to be a famous fashion designer.  I even looked at attending fashion design school.  Reality and practicality set in and I started college in the business department. When my father was diagnosed with lung cancer I dropped out of college for a semester.   With the circumstances at that time, I switched to a local community college and switched to an education degree.   I loved English, thanks to my high school senior English teacher, Miss Fields.  When I graduated I decided to go to Georgia Tech and study industrial management.   Dreams … I had them.  They just kept changing.

We all have dreams, plans for our lives.  Some have plans that were planned out carefully by their parents.  So many people graduate from college with degrees in fields they never enter.   Many never work a day in their ‘chosen field’.  There are so many perpetual students out there, always in school learning something, looking for something, needing fulfillment.   Deep inside we all have a hunger for something, a dream that needs fulfilling.  Many of us will never realize that dream.

Each of us are born with a purpose, a driving plan for our life, God’s plan.  Sometimes family, circumstances or even our own sense of purpose drives us away from His plan.  People dream of being rich, famous and think all of these will bring fulfillment for what they really want, acceptance and love.  It is so simple that many over look that all we need is His son Jesus in our lives providing that acceptance and love that is unconditional.  We are all loved by God.  Sadly, many never discover His love.  Even sadder is that many Christians forget He loves us unconditionally and walk through life defeated.  Are you running around looking for acceptance, that sense of purpose, that plan and totally missing His plan that is wrapped in His love?

Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NLT) “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

I can ice skate for my own pleasure (far from being good enough to be considered for an ice skating  job). I can sew and design and  made clothes for my girls and myself, costumes for school and church plays, and managed the fittings and alterations for 10+ years of choral and band programs.   I have used my business school experience to work in many jobs as an administrative assistant in my over 40 years of working.  I used my English studies  background to help many students, even though I never became an English teacher.  I used my industrial management training in the printing industry as well as my current management job at the bookstore.   I never quite ‘got there’ in any of the ‘dreams’ yet God had a purpose in letting me learn those things even though I never worked in a the field full time as a career.   Has my life been a failure?  NOTE TO SELF:  When things do not turn out the way you planned; when something goes wrong, no matter how bad,  THANK GOD for His plan and that He has one.  Ask Him to show you what you are to learn and which direction He is pointing you.

God’s plan, His perfect plan.   So many more blessings than if I had managed to follow MY plan.   I have been married for 36 years next week.  We have two beautiful daughters and three precious grandchildren (oh, and there’s those two son-in-laws too :-D).   The life that happened to me is filled with blessings and joys beyond my capabilities of dreaming.  I never fulfilled my plan, because God’s plan was the one I really had a desire to find, in my depths of my heart.  He reveals your true dreams down deep inside of you.   You just have to listen.

If you do anything this year, discover Him in you.  Allow His plan and not your own.  When that plan of yours falls through, thank Him and ask Him to reveal His plan.  Our failures are some of our biggest successes.  We learn from them and we learn to let God take control.  God’s plan is never a failure.  God takes everything to the best end.

Romans 8:28 (NASB) “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

LET GO AND LET GOD!  HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY NEW YOU!

It’s 10 AM … does God know where you are?


Made you think about it though.  Of course He does.  As Christians we know this, but do we act like we KNOW this?   Sometimes I believe we are in a “hide and seek” mode with the Lord.  We “hide” in our everyday life and “seek” Him only in our “wants”.  Our actions basically say He’s not there, or we lost Him, or we don’t know where He is in relationship to our everyday circumstances.  Then along comes something serious … too big for us to handle alone … and we start seeking.  “God where are you?  I need you NOW!”

Kind of a sad state of affairs isn’t it?  But, it is what we live and so, consequentially, it is a subliminal lesson we teach our children.   Think about the children you have in your home or have raised.  You are all in the house, you know you are all in the house and the comfort for the kids is knowing you are there IF they need you.  The kids don’t come to ask your advise on getting dressed, or help with homework, or which friends to pick, etc.   You probably would like for them to, you want that kind of relationship.  But, when they need money?  When they need a ride?  Here they come.  Sometimes it is when “he hit me” and they need judgement on another?   Stop and think about the big picture within this little picture.  He is in “our house”, He lives in us … yet, we do not seek guidance and wisdom until we ‘need money’, ‘need the car’, ‘dealings with someone’…. ahhh, the light bulb just turn on?

God knows where you are and what your needs are at any second of the day.  He’s always there for you to lean on … are you leaning on Him, or do you just run to Him in “need”.  Is it really a “need” or is it a “want”?   We are not promised our ‘wants’.

Psalm 23:1 KJV saysThe Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  I prefer the HSCB translation which reads, “The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.”    I also like the NLT version, “The Lord is my shepherd;  I have all that I need.”

Maybe today you just need to stop and listen and lean.  God knows where you are, He’s waiting on you to realize where He is.

“GASP” Oh, no! What just happened?


GOD: “Oh, no.  How did We let that happen?”

JESUS: “I don’t know Father, I thought You knew!”

HOLY SPIRIT (looking at the Father and Son in His reflection): “Don’t look at Me, I am always the last to know!”

….. (silent pause as I allow you to contemplate the above conversation.)
RIDICULOUS! Right? Of course it is.  Yet this is the way so many live their lives.  No matter what you are facing today, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are not looking down out of a window of Heaven and gasping, “how did that happen”.
God knows.  He’s in control.  He’s still on the throne.  He cares for you, loves you.  He wants the best for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB) “For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Romans 8:28 (NLT) “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Are you facing your “RED SEA”… walls of “water” rising up on all sides?  Do you trust the dry land that God has put in front of you?  Are you trying to back up?  Afraid to go forward?  Looking over your shoulder?  Did you hear God gasp, “what happened?”

As you reflect on your circumstances, what have your “actions” been speaking?  So many times we act as if God gasped when we came to our “Red Sea”, just like He did not know what was going to happen, or what is happening in your life.  We kick and scream like He’s not there.  We act like we are not going to make it,  or we cannot make it.  We revert back to lack of trust and forget to move forward based on what we learned in our last circumstance.  Can you trust your Lord?  Will you wait on Him?  He is going to answer because He has the answer, He has the plan.

The people of Israel had to go through the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17 – 14:29 ESV)  They had to trust; praying on the go… actions to their prayers.  What did they learn?  What will you learn at your “Red Sea”?  Will you have to be taught the same lesson over and over again?  God will continue to teach the lesson until you learn it .. He’s very patient.

“No Fault Insurance”


In early 1970 comedian Flip Wilson’s debuted his famous skit  “The devil* Made Me Do It”.

“___ made me do it”

It was funny but, in a sad way so true.   When we are doing something wrong we blame the devil*.  It’s human nature to blame “the other guy”; your kids do it all the time don’t they?  Where do you think they get it?  Kids learn from us initially.  Oh, sometimes they learn it at school, off the TV or from the videos.  But, it boils down to they learn it from you.  Even if you do not do it, if you do not stop them from doing something wrong, then you have taught them wrong.

It is sad that so many are living in sin when we have the manual on how not to sin in hundreds of languages all over the world.  The Bible tells us who sins, what is sin and what the consequences of sin are.  Blame it on your upbringing?  Blame it on genetics?  Blame it on the devil?

Here is how I explain sin.  My family has a history of alcoholism in previous generations.  My father, the youngest of eight children, watched all of his elder siblings drink themselves to death.  Between the ages of 10-12 years of age, I attended so many funerals of my father’s siblings and offspring … all related to alcohol.  My father never drank.  It was obvious there was a genetic tendency to alcoholism.  My dad chose NOT to give into that tendency and he never allowed alcohol in our home.  He raised us all knowing we had that tendency as a possibility.  My oldest brother chose to ignore dad’s teachings and has ruined his life with alcohol (as well as his family’s lives).  When we choose to disobey, we choose to sin; we choose the consequences.  Sadly, we inflict those consequences on all those around us; family and even innocent bystanders (drunk drivers ruin innocent lives daily and walk away unscathed).  So, who is to blame?  God?  Certainly not.  Genetics … bad home live … poor environment … the bottom line is, it is your choice.  Why would anyone choose to be a drunk, ruin their life, be mocked, hated and shunned?  Bottom line, because they choose to, no one makes them, they choose their life.  I chose never to taste alcohol, never to allow it in my life.  My choice.  I am not perfect.  I have other sins I have to choose not to do as well.  I have an all powerful God to strengthen me and help me with my choices.  I cannot do it in my own strength.  I have to choose to sin; only I can choose to stop sinning.  One step leads to the next but, the first step is always your choice, make it.  Once you make that first step, get help if you need it.  Sometimes people need help and there are wonderful organizations, support groups, doctors, etc. out there to help.  But it takes your choice to take the first step to stop sinning.

WHO SINS?: Romans 3:23(NASB)for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”  1 John 1:8 (KJV)If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

WHAT IS SIN?: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11(ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.    1Timothy 1:8-16(ESV) 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. 12 I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.

WHY IS IT SIN?:Isaiah 59:1-2 (HCSB) “Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear.
But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you
so that He does not listen.”

HOW CAN WE BE SAVED FROM SIN?: 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) “…and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” Romans 10:9(HCSB)If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” 2 Peter 3:9 (HCSB) “The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”  John 3:16 (KJV) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

All sin separates us from God.  There are no ‘worse’ sins, my sin makes me as big a sinner as the next person, although some sins have more consequences here on earth.  If you sin, you chose to sin; you choose to be separated from God.  You, and you alone, choose your consequences here on earth… and ultimately in eternity.  Don’t blame “the other guy, you’re upbringing, etc.”, you have a choice.

*devil, satan – I know people capitalize the “S” or “D” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.