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Friday, April 18, 2014

A Different Perspective of Lenten Sacrifice

When I was a little girl, I attended a church that encouraged going without something during Lent. I always picked chocolate. It was, and still is, my favorite food. It is a food group, right? Of course.
Chocolate Wallpapers - screenshot thumbnail

But I hadn't sacrificed anything for Lent for a long time. But this year, I felt invited by the Holy Spirit to participate. And after wondering what the Lord might desire, I sensed it was to limit my eating; not picking one food to sacrifice, but to eat less with the thought of how Jesus limited Himself by coming to earth. 

Remember Philippians 2:5-8?

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (ESV).
Although Jesus perfectly emptied himself, I've done a poor job of limiting my food intake over these several weeks. I've faced my lack of depending upon the Spirit's help for self-control, but I've also meditated on what it might have been like for Jesus to come to an earth that is so far "less" than the glories of heaven. Tweet that!

What kind of a sacrifice did the Son of God face being a human? Did he ever think anything like, 
  • This meal is nothing compared to the feasts we have in heaven.
  • This sunrise is nothing compared to the colors of heaven.
  • The clothes we wear are nothing compared to the radiant robes of righteousness everyone wears in heaven.
  • We never have these aches and pains in heaven.
  • No one ever stumbles on a rock in heaven.

Well, I could go on and on. Have you ever thought about all the bad things on earth we take for granted—and we'll never experience in heaven? And the good things we experience on earth that are only a small degree of the goodness we'll experience in heaven? Doesn't it make heaven so attractive? And Jesus' sacrifice so meaningful?

1 Corinthians 2:7 tells us, "Our words are wise because they are from God, telling of God’s wise plan to bring us into the glories of heaven. This plan was hidden in former times, though it was made for our benefit before the world began" (TLB).

Psalm 73:24 tells us, "You will keep on guiding me all my life with your wisdom and counsel, and afterwards receive me into the glories of heaven!" (TLB).

And to think Jesus was willing to sacrifice all the glories, joys, and blessings of heaven to order to obey His Father and show His love for His Image Bearers on earth. Tweet that! And not only to sacrifice but to experience the pitiful, painful, grueling death for our sins, though He was sinless and did not deserve any mistreatment at all.

Even though I haven't limited my eating as much as I could, I have become more aware of Jesus' sacrifice in leaving the fullness of His heavenly home. And I'm so grateful that He was willing to experience "less" in order that you and I can enjoy "more" when we reach heaven (and the abundant life here on earth).

And now I'm going to go have some chocolate!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Encyclopaedia Britannica Was Wrong!

Back in the days before the internet, many of us depended upon encyclopedias to find information. And one of the most respected ones was the Encyclopaedia Britannica. We knew we would find accurate information because we trusted the book's integrity and truthfulness.

Maybe it would have looked like this.

At one point, you would have read in the Encyclopaedia Britannica that the Salem Church Dam on the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was 194 feet high and 8,850 feet long. It was located upstream from Fredericksburg and made hydroelectric power and controlled floods. 

But guess what? There wasn't any such dam. Although an Army Corps of Engineers drew up plans for it in 1944, it was never built.

How could this mistake happen within such a respected encyclopedia? "The whole reason for the encyclopedia is accuracy, but we are dealing with 44 million words, and we sometimes do make mistakes," said Larry Grinnell, a spokesman for the book, as quoted in the LA Times. "The error will be corrected in the next update possible," he explained. (LA Times, August 18, 1988).

Even though such a distinguished book made mistakes, you and I are never going to be given an update to correct the facts about God's character or His Word, the Bible. God's qualities of truthfulness, love, compassion, and so many other wonderful characteristics have always been there, and they always will be. They never change. And the facts stated in His Word are timeless and immutable. We may not always understand them perfectly, and at times our explanation of them may have to be altered; but the facts themselves never change.

Deuteronomy 32:4 assures us, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he" (KJV).

Dick Eastman said, "Without the integrity of God, everything He says about Himself in His Word would be open to question."

Talk about security in our lives! God's truth is a strong, rock-like foundation that will always hold us steady. We may have to wonder if an encyclopedia or Wikipedia got the information wrong, but we'll never have to wonder if the Bible is wrong—or God's qualities have changed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Remember Pete Maravich?

With the basketball championship having ended, I was reminded of a professional basketball player from years ago who brought glory to God—in his life and in his death. Do you remember Pete Maravich?

When Pete Maravich died in 1988 at the age of forty, many were stunned, including me. "How can God be good?" I lamented. "Pete is serving the Lord, bringing many to Him. God can't be good to do such a horrible thing!"

After an autopsy was performed on Pete, the coroner determined he died of deterioration of the tissues in his heart because he was born without one of the two artery systems that supply the heart with blood. Doctors were amazed! Pete Maravich should not have lived to be twenty, much less forty and play record-breaking basketball! Tweet That!

Now God's goodness seemed vindicated by that news. He had given Pete Maravich twenty more years than he should have had, plus the time to come to know Him as his Lord and Savior in 1980.

At that time I learned a lesson. God is always good, regardless of what I think.

We've all said things like, "The Lord is so good. He answered my prayer." Or, "The Lord is good. He provided a job." I've said those things, too, but inside I wondered, "If He hadn't provided that job or answered that prayer, wouldn't He still be good?"

God's goodness is not dependent upon our evaluation of how He works in our lives. That's hard to accept when we hear of thousands dying in a flood or a deranged man shooting twenty to death. "Is God good then?" we ask.

Yes, He is. This world is filled with evil and horror, but it is not of God's making. He works regardless, wanting everyone to know Him so that they can spend eternity with Him. There are no guarantees that everything we experience will measure up as "good" in our estimation.

Yet, God is still making right choices, offering love, supplying mercy, and being good. 

What does it mean that God is good? Here's one way of saying it: God's goodness is how He makes the best decision in every area of your life. Tweet that! What He does brings benefit and wholeness. 

Just as Psalm 25:8 says: "Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way."

Friday, April 11, 2014

God Wins the Game!

Assured Victory

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

Even though it seems like evil forces are winning on this earth, God will have the final victory because He’s so much stronger—and He wrote the script! Tweet That!

"God has never lost a game and has never tied one."—Bill Krisher

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Did You Know About Asbestos Awareness Week April 1-7?

Maybe you're like me. When I saw the announcements on TV about those who need to be represented by lawyers if they have mesothelioma, I thought and said, "I've never even heard of anyone with that disease. What's the big deal?" And if anyone was near me, they agreed. They didn't know of anyone who had it.

And then Phil, a friend of ours, suddenly was diagnosed with mesothelioma and passed away within seven months. I felt sad that I'd down-played the devastation of this disease. 

Then this month, I found out April 1-7 was Asbestos Awareness Week and that every year, 3000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Phil had worked with asbestos in the Navy shipyards. He served his country in the Navy, as my father had, but unlike my father, worked in the presence of asbestos. That exposure took his life. 

But asbestos doesn't just take lives from direct contact. It's also believed to be a "second-hand" kind of disease. Here's the story of one survivor, Heather Von St. James:

Heather"In 2005, at the age of 36, and only three months after giving birth to my beautiful daughter, Lily Rose, I was diagnosed with plural mesothelioma. After learning of this life-altering diagnosis, my husband, Cameron and I, embarked on a search to find the best mesothelioma treatment care available. Our search eventually led us to Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"I had never worked with asbestos, but my father did, and secondhand exposure as a child was enough to make me sick decades later. I was lucky, able to make a miraculous recovery through surgery. But I experienced for myself the fear, pain and suffering this disease can cause, and I believe I’ve found my calling fighting for victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases.

"Today, I am an eight-year mesothelioma cancer survivor and have made it my mission to help other mesothelioma victims around the globe. I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness for others going through this, in hopes that one day no one else will have to.

"Because of that, Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1 – 7) is very close to my heart. Join me and organizations like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization as a voice for the victims, and together we can work toward an end to mesothelioma and asbestos disease.
"Remember: From awareness grows hope. Each voice could save a life."
In 2005, at the age of 36, and only three months after giving birth to my beautiful daughter Lily Rose, I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Upon learning of this life-altering diagnosis, my husband Cameron and I embarked upon a search to find the best mesothelioma treatment care available. Our search eventually led us to Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women's hospital. - See more at: http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/#.U0MlaVe9a1w

Monday, April 7, 2014

A New Look at the Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.
And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you. 
—James Martin

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Was Wrong, Please Forgive Me! (And another winner!)

(Check at the end of this for another give-away!)

Before we get to my apology, I want to announce the winners of the main prizes for the "Catch Us If You CAN Hunt" that I recently had the joy of being a part of. I hope you were a part of it too. For the overall prizes, the three top winners are:

Grand prize: Esther Fritz! Esther received a $200 gift card and 29 free books from the authors participating in the Hunt.
Second prize: Susan M. Poll!
Third prize: Renee Blare!

Susan and Renee both received a $50 book store gift card of their choice.

For the drawing I ran on my own blog, the winners were:
First Prize of a $10 Amazon gift card and a copy of my book, Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries: Finding Peace in All Kinds of Weather is: Betti Mace!

2nd & 3rd Place Winners of a $10 Amazon card for each:
Angie Young
Natalie Crossan

And just recently, I offered a drawing for a copy of Called to Write by Linda Gilden and Edna Ellison.

The Winner of that book is.....Jennifer Phillips! Congratulations, Jennifer! Linda Gilden will autograph the book to you and mail it to you. Enjoy!

Wow, that's a lot of winners. By now you're ready to hear what all my apologizing is for! Here it is:

I have a confession. In my last post, I "ranted" about a video. (See my post here. See video here.) I confess. I did not watch the video all the way through. Now I have. When I first started to watch it, I obviously turned it off before he started bringing a connection to God after a minute and a half. By then I'd given up. 

As a result, I was inaccurate and concluded there was no spiritual connection in it. So I ask you to forgive me for not speaking of it correctly and I am indeed very glad that "who you are in Christ" was a part of this video.

As I thought about who we are in Christ, I wondered if I could find words to describe our inheritance for every letter of the alphabet. Let's try. (As you can see, I need some help with two of the letters.)

A: adopted: Galatians 4:5-7
B: blessed: Ephesians 1:3
C: cared for: I Peter 5:7
D: died for: I Peter 1:18-19
E: enlightened: Ephesians 1:18
F: forgiven: Ephesians 1:7
G: glorified: Ephesians 1:18
H: holy: Ephesians 1:4
I:  important: I Peter 1:18-19
J: justified: Romans 5:1
L: loved: John 3:16
M: mothered: Psalm 131:2
N: new self: Ephesians 4:24
O: overcomer: Revelation 3:12
P: peaceful: John 14:27
Q: quieted: Psalm 131:2
R: righteous: Ephesians 4:24
S: sealed: Ephesians 1:13
T: tested: James 1:2-4
U: useful: Ephesians 2:10
V: valued: Job 7:17
W: wise: James 1:5
X: excellent (I cheated!): I Peter 2:12
Y: youthful: Psalm 103:5

Now it's your turn. Would you share with me:
Any ideas for "K" and "Z"?
What would you substitute for any of those points as your primary valued "inheritance" to you?
What would you add? 

In fact, here's a challenge. Begin a list of all the "inheritances" you have in Christ that begin with each letter--along with a Scripture for each one. By next Tuesday, April 8, send me your list to kathyspeak (at) aol (dot) com. Whoever has the most items, I'll send a copy of Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries: Finding Peace in All Kinds of Weather. In the comments section, give the number you've come up with. That will inspire others!

(PS Some readers have been having trouble finding where to make comments. Click on "Comments" and that will take you to the opportunity.)

In a future post, I will include the name of the person and their list.