Monday, August 22, 2011

The World Wide Epidemic - It's Affecting You!

Romans  5:14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

Sin.  We have no idea the true havoc that wreaks when sin enters in.  We see it as a personal issue that we try to avoid - like overeating or going in the sun without sunscreen. But it isn't just a personal issue - it's a global problem that many ignore.

We all know what happened when Eve decided to sin - it didn't just affect her, it affected Adam as well.  It didn't just affect Adam, it affected the rest of humanity.  However, let's be realistic, if it wasn't Eve, it certainly would have been someone - we are drawn to sin naturally - so someone had to take the first bite.

That doesn't make it right to continue to let sin run a muck.  We generally think that if we sin, we're only hurting ourselves - this couldn't be further from the truth.  The wife that cheats on her husband doesn't just hurt herself.  The husband is hurt, the person who she cheated on is hurt.  The children of the marriage are hurt. The grandparents are hurt. The dynamic of the entire family is changed.

The mother who beats her children is not just affecting herself.  The father is affected by this sin.  The children, obviously, are affected.  The walls that are built up and the anger that naturally results can get transferred onto their future spouses and even their children.

There is no wonder why each generation continues to suffer as each sin from the previous generation continues on and on.  So how do we stop this world-wide epidemic?  Kill all the cheating wives and abusive mothers?  No, as seemingly simple as that might sound - one sin on another just continues the epidemic.  The answer lies in God's Word - as it always does: John 8:11 talks of Jesus' answer to the adulterer - "Go and sin no more".  Seems simple enough, doesn't it?  If every one person would recognize sin and make the effort to avoid it, we might find some time to heal and move on.  It has to start with us.  If we make that decision to fight temptation, step away from sin, the result will always be good - because it's what Christ calls us to do.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Satan as Easy As The Pain in Your Back????

According to the American Chiropractic Association, 70 to 85 percent of all people have back pain at some time in their life.
A few interesting facts regarding back pain: Low back pain is the fifth most common reason for all physician visits in the United States. Back pain is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in people younger than 45 years old. Americans spend at least $50 Billion per year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.

When people catch a cold or even the flu, they may wait a few days or even longer to go see a doctor for treatment. Day One of back issues will get you to a physician. Why? Because it hurts!

A few weeks ago, I pulled my back out. I was completely incapacitated. I couldn't move without intense, sharp, jagged pain wreaking havoc on my body. Not a situation a mother of four with two part-time jobs wants to find herself in. Do I have a point to my seemingly self-absorbed pity party? Why yes, yes I do:

The very next morning after I pulled my back out, I attempted to crawl out of bed to use the restroom. I couldn't even stand once I had reached my destination. I called out to my husband who came in to help me stand up, which sent my back into excruciating muscle spasms. What happens next leads into my paralleled spiritual reference - so read on.

While my husband held me in his arms, blackness began to cover my eyes and the shallow breathing began. I warned my husband that I was passing out, in fact, I remember repeatedly saying, "I'm blacking out, I'm fainting, I'm blacking out". When I awoke, I was on the floor of the bathroom, sweating. My husband had placed me there and went to get the phone to call 911. Now what happens next is your typical 'ambulance shows up and takes you to the ER' scenario - but I'd like to focus on the actual act of 'passing out'.

What happened was this: The pain that my back was in was too much for me to handle. My body physically shut down to protect me from the pain.

What if we reacted to sin that way? What if when we come across temptation that normally causes us to sin, our body just passes out until the temptation goes away? Unfortunately, our natural instinct is to gravitate toward the sin, not shy away from it - we have to choose to step away from it. Easier said than done. However, we do still have that option to call 911: 1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

When we are faced with temptation that seems impossible, God tells us that He will provide a way out - Asking Him for the strength to do this on a daily basis is essential in keeping our spiritual health in check.

As a fairly healthy individual, prescription strength ibuprofin, oxycodone, flexerel and six weeks of physical therapy promises to get me back to tip top shape. However, when we let temptation overcome us, we run the risk of not only taking ourselves down to a level that may seem impossible to crawl out of, but we tend to drag others right down with us. Praying for God's strength in my back and against Satan!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

There's Too Many Shoes In Here!

Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I have read a few books, fiction, devotional, self-help, that mention the use of a 'prayer closet'.  A private place to go to spend time alone with God in prayer.  I have often thought how nice it would be to have one.  One small room set aside to spend some alone time with God.

As a reminder, I have four children - extra space in the house is just not happening.  There is not one place I can go in the house that my children aren't willing to follow me into.  Even the bathroom is not a sacred domain.  While they may not follow me in, they are more than willing to stand outside of the door making sure they are getting updates of what I am doing or when I'll be done.

I find that if I want to have some alone time, I need to get up before everyone else and then when I get in the shower, I know that I'm alone.  So, my 'prayer closet' is my shower.  I have heard God speak to me when I take the time to get rid of everything else around me and just focus on my conversation with Him.  While that time may be short, there has been nothing more meaningful than to hear what God has to tell me and the more times I spend having a conversation with Him, the more chances I give Him to offer me His wisdom.  Where is your "prayer closet"?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Get Rich Quick!

John 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

We're all familiar with the story of the nerdy guy in school who grows up to be a big wealthy entrepreneur and all the kids who used to make fun of him are now green with envy.  So many movies have been made and remade with some variation of this plot line.

The child in school who is encouraged to study hard and find the importance in doing the best he can on his school work is often ridiculed by his peers.  His parents continue to support and guide his study habits because of the hope that one day he will be a successful, well established member of society with little financial burdens.  The portion of his life where he prepares and works for the promise of something more grand is accepted and praised in society by those who have seen the success of hard-working students before him. 

So the question is, why is it so hard for society to accept a life preparing for the future that Jesus has promised?  Does the life of the student not parallel the life of the true Christian? 

Like the student, a Christian spends their life working towards the things that Jesus has said are important.  Helping others, building healthy relationships, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, etc.,  many times being mocked by others for their willingness to be a servant.  Being labeled as "weak" or "getting walked on" for trying to live a life according to what Christ has established.  But there is Hope!

Unlike the student, there is no guarantee that he will grow up and make a six or seven figure income, there is no promise that he will find a spouse that will love him unconditionally, there is nothing written in stone that says he will have friends beyond measure.  Jesus says - and it is written - that there is a place for us beyond this phase of life, there is a place of no more sorrow, there is a place where we will be with our Creator who does love us unconditionally.  Wonder when Hollywood will release that film?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Exercise - the new 4-letter word... times 2.

1Cr 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Being a part of the weight-loss industry, no one wants to be told they have to exercise.  it's the 'Voldemort' of the corporation - the word that should never be spoken. We all know it exists, but pretend it's not there.

In January of this year, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to start doing the podrunner - 10 weeks to 5k together. Intervals of walking and jogging to a beat downloaded to your ipod. Needless to say I was reluctant to start this endeavor - I knew it would be a commitment and hard work.  Be that as it may, I agreed to join in and am happy to report that, four months later, I am currently up to a steady 2 1/2 mile jog three times a week.  This half hour of exercise is so much more than just the hope of thinner thighs.  The realization that came to me in the midst of the hyperventilating went beyond just trying to burn calories.

God has called us for a purpose.  To tell others about Him.  What does that mean exactly?  I think it means that no matter where you are, Always Be Prepared.  If God tells you to share Jesus with an elderly person by painting their house, would you?  If God told you to share Jesus by working with inner city youth in a sports league, would you do it? Could you do it?  Would you be physically able to travel to a third world country and hike over dirt roads to deliver the gospel if God asked you to?

When soldiers enlist in the military, they are trained and required to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. Why? Because if they are called into battle - they better be able to complete the task they are called to do.

Of course the argument can be made that if God wants you to do something, can't He give you the power to do it or work around it?  (Think Aaron and Moses) Yes, Absolutely. He is God after all.  However, if there was a choice between the lackadaisical Christian who may offer up a prayer every once in a while and the Christian who has studied, made himself physically capable for most tasks and who's prayer life is constantly full of "God, Send Me" - who is God more likely to use?

In my recent prayer life, where I've been questioning why God hasn't chosen to use me in a big and magical way, He has reminded me that I'm in the middle of a task that He has already called me to - raising my four children under His guidance - which is big AND magical.  And He said that's enough for me right now.  But I will still train, I'll still be encouraged by the music I run to, I will still study because I know the war is coming - and hopefully my children and I will be ready for battle.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stolen IPhone 4: Grand Theft (Part 1)

1 Thess 5:2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

My husband's iphone 4 was stolen at Wal-Mart over the weekend. As inconveniences go, getting a cell phone stolen ranks right up there with stolen credit cards, wallets and photo identifications. Services were shut off, employer contacts were notified and police reports were filed. Were you aware that stealing a cell phone that had a purchase value of over $700 makes that act a 'Grand Theft' - which in actuality means nothing if you never catch the thief.

My husband, being the faithful facebook status updater that he is, received several condolence comments, but the most entertaining comments were the ones that told him what he 'should've' done to avoid this. For anyone wondering, NO - he had not downloaded the GPS app that helps you locate a lost or stolen iphone.

He had just finished texting me when he walked into the store and placed the phone and his wallet in the front of the cart. Before he got to the auto parts aisle, the phone was gone. One turn, one blink of an eye, one momentary look away and it was gone. all the contact names and numbers, all 1400 undownloaded pictures of vacations and family holidays, all drafted emails - gone.

Had we taken that one precaution of downloading the GPS app, the phone would've been discovered by now and this would all be an unpleasant memory. This was just a phone, that's all.

There is something much bigger at stake. Jesus is coming, as stealth as that thief. With one turn of the head or one momentary look away, He will return and if we have not taken the one necessary precaution that is needed to ensure that we stay with our rightful Owner, all could be lost. Nothing to download, no contracts to fill out and it's completely free. Romans 6:23 says For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

IPhone 4: $700.00
Salvation: Priceless

Always Be Prepared....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Time Travel - Is it possible?

I have to say - I like time-travel movies. I don't know if it's because it is a true break from reality, or just the imagination that it takes to make a time-travel movie seem. . . well, seamless. I've recently gone back and watched a few films from the early 80's and 90's: Timecop, Back to the Future, Peggy Sue Got Married, etc. Incidentally, apparently back a decade ago, no one could foresee the internet. Not one mention of Google in these early movies, and the silver jumpsuits never really caught on, maybe next year.

That being said, the main theme usually centers around changing the past so that a mistake that was made could be fixed. Somehow, by changing one or two instances, life would be so much better for the main character. Foregoing the obvious dangers of the time-space continuum and mass taking up the same space, having your future self warn you of mistakes that could change the rest of your life, seems to be a situation that draws in an audience. The allure of "what could have been" or "if I had only known".

Scientists spend long hours trying to develop this "future" experiment only to realize that the ripple effect could be catastrophic. It makes for good entertainment, but . . . 'what if?'

What if there was a way that our future self could go back and tell our past self - "Hey, that's not a good idea. When you lie about being sick to your boss and then in two weeks you really are sick and you take off and lose your job - just tell the truth" - there is a way, and it's something better....

God knows what the future holds. The answer to "what's the best decisions I can make so that my future self is right where it should be?" is simple - prayer. If we would stop and simply ask God to guide our decisions so that the choices we make are in line with what God wants - how could we want for anything more (“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8) Who knows us and wants the absolute best for us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

He promises us in Isaiah that he will guide us - “The Lord will guide you continually …” (Isaiah 58:11)

The only thing is, we have to ask. We don't need an old DeLorean or a flux capacitor, we don't need a black hole, a wormhole or even a hot tub. All we need is Jesus.