Category Archives: christianity

How are you doing with the Greatest commandment ? Love !

I heard a creative and convicting message on Jonah today while driving , which is when I get to listen to Christian radio. In summary, the prophet Jonah seemed to meet all of the qualifications for an effective missionary and was sent out by God on a mission to save a city that had turned to pagan habits. But Jonah failed miserably in many ways! He didn’t obey God until after first running away, being caught in a storm in a boat, swallowed by a whale and then after 3 days, finally repenting. Then when God decided to forgive the city full of people, Jonah got mad and wanted to die. He also chose to focus on a shady plant that God provided him, instead of the lives of the people who had been spared. In short, he was selfish and stubborn and self-pitying.

The preacher showed how despite his outstanding resume, he was lacking something that did not show up until he was put to the test, love for his fellow man. How could this be? He was a religious person! He knew and quoted scripture! But evidently, he thought God’s ways were not fair and just. He didn’t like that God forgave these sinners. He had no compassion!

How many times have I done the same, chose to judge a person instead of loving them like Christ does, in spite of their sinfulness and possibly very unlikable personality, or physical repulsiveness, and often repeated offenses against God and mankind , or just generally dismissed someone as being beyond God’s help and not even bother to pray for them because I thought they didn’t deserve it? Hopefully I am better about this than I used to be, but the urge can still arise in my flesh to be less than compassionate for people that flaunt their sins or just do self-destructive things over and over and seem to be fine with living in chaos. It can be hard to love and feel empathy with someone whose values are so messed up ! But Jesus did it before he saved us. He forgave us and died for us ‘while we were yet sinners!’ .

Jesus was asked by a sneaky religious person what is the greatest commandment. Jesus recited the usual Jewish response, then added something they weren’t expecting.

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Later, the apostle Paul defined love for us.

I Corinthians 13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

It’s not easy loving like this! But it should be our major goal since Jesus says it is the most important thing besides loving God! May we resolve this year, above all other resolutions and goals and plans, to really demonstrate love and to be ready to tell why we do it, because we are forgiven sinners and we now serve the Lord Jesus who saved us from judgment, despite our sinfulness.

But how ? This is impossible for those under the control of the flesh. But ALL saved believers are given a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit,you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality,impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.

Notice that Paul did not make excuses for sin, but still tells us to love. That must mean that excusing and normalizing sin is NOT how we show LOVE.

Just a little head’s up, if you determine that you want to do better at loving others, you should expect that Satan will make it difficult. Don’t get discouraged. 🙂 Rebuke the Devil and keep on loving!

In Jesus name, I pray that the Lord will strengthen your faith and help you love your neighbor, dear reader. Amen.

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The world is not going to get better in the end, but that’s okay

In my blog feed, I follow two types of writers, believers and non-believers. Within those types I notice two additional types. Believers who faithfully encourage and uplift with hope, trusting that God has things under control , versus the ones who aren’t so sure He can be trusted and have a lot of fear in their hearts. And then there are non-believers who are truly lost and have never had faith,  versus those who used to, or want to believe but for various reasons have decided God doesn’t exist or care about them or this world.

To me the scariest one are ‘Christians’ who think that God needs our help to fix this world and that it can be fixed. These people have not studied the Bible or have been lead astray by false teachers into thinking that God is waiting for humans to do certain things to usher in a new prosperous, peaceful world. That is not what the Bible teaches! This is a false teaching. Things will go up and down as far as war and peace and poverty and prosperity, but they will trend downward until Jesus returns in judgment against Satan and his followers. If you don’t follow Jesus, you follow Satan, whether you believe it or not. Satan has used people to do his earthly deeds of destruction since the beginning, starting with Cain, moving on to Herod, Roman emperors, and modern day dictators like Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. He also works in local governments, schools, churches, synagogues, and mosques. The progressive movement is actually a religious movement disguised as a political one. It is actually the HUMANIST movement which denies the existence of the spiritual world and even believes that religion is the cause of the world’s problems and should be abolished. Progressives have figured out over time that by dumbing down the schools, keeping people focused on the wrong things like celebrities, their bodies, sex, working to maintain a false sense of security,  and now addictive electronics, they can gradually destroy the family, the church and American freedom and government without anyone really fighting back. Based on the last few elections, they have almost succeeded. Christians must guard themselves and their families.

For the lost ones, I pray for you. For the discouraged ones, turn back to God.  For the misled ones, read your Bible.

Counting My Blessings

Rather than tell you all the things that have gone wrong this month, big things that leave me wondering, but also trusting and waiting to see how God is going to intervene this time, I’ve decided I need to share some good things.

1)Running this race gave me a much needed mental boost. I guess I never blogged about it! Brazos Bend 100 was an almost 28 mile long trail marathon complete with people in costumes and distances from a half marathon to 100 miles.  Lots of mud, some sprinkles, huge puddles , and puddles is not really strong enough of a word to describe the mini-lakes on the trail,  a major bonk , and I had to leave early, but I enjoyed my time with other runners/friends in the park. I am still having some leg issues from the mud, but I’d say it was worth it.

2)I posted an anxious post about not having money for Christmas.  You can read it here. Having Joyful Holidays on a tight Budget Well, that is still kinda true, but there are plenty of gifts under the tree! Yes, I did resort to charging some of them on a credit card, but not all of them. The unexpected blessing was that my kids got in the Christmas spirit and bought each other gifts! They came up with this idea on their own. I really underestimated them. I think I mentioned that God provided my 15 year old with a job, well he decided to let his 13 year old brother go to work with him so he could buy gifts. He was willing to split the loot! But thankfully, the very generous man that they are working for paid them both. AND gave them a Christmas bonus to boot! This man is a Christian pastor and I am so thankful God brought them together. My 20 year old also bought some gifts. And my oldest called me from the store where he was shopping, not sure what he is up to. Last year my next-to-oldest son really came through with the big surprise, Playstation 4s for both my youngest sons! So I don’t know if he plans to shell out big bucks this year or take the year off, no word from him. He is the silent type! Each and all of my children are a huge blessing to me .

3)Another good thing, kinda , is that even though my daughter got pretty sick this month, we did not have to spend any time in the hospital. That made a huge difference in how much stress her illness caused since I was able to stay home and take care of her instead of being gone and leaving the rest of the family to take care of themselves while they were all sick with the same thing.  I am very thankful to have the equipment here that she needed, namely oxygen and suctioning.  And I’m thankful that I know how to  use and that I was not sick when she was! I got the virus but I got over pretty quickly.

4)Another somewhat sideways blessing is that even though we ended up having to spend it on plumbing repairs, we were blessed that my husband found some money he had forgotten he had put aside.  He just suddenly one day decided to clean his side of the closet and found it up there. Of course it was a little, or a big, letdown to have to give it all to the plumber, but I am thankful it popped up at the right time. God provides in unusual ways sometimes!

5)Lastly, I’m excited because I had no gift ideas and then they started coming to me in waves of inspiration! I can’t wait to see if they like them. A couple of things have already been given because they were needed, like rubber boots for my son. He loves them. And a robe for my husband because he accidentally saw it. He loves it.  One gift that I hope is well received is matching t-shirts for the whole family. If they will wear them, I’ll share a photo. If not, I may be reselling them! And I’m really excited to give my mom her Bluetooth speaker. She loves gadgets like that, and music.

So , there, you see, it only seems like this month has been terrible. Broken plumbing, illnesses and broken down vehicles , etc, happen to everyone. I can’t let myself be overcome with discouragement at life’s trials.  I will take the bad with the good.  My cozy country home is decorated with a lovely tree and plenty of lights.  I ordered 6 dozen tamales  and we will feast on Christmas Day and celebrate the birth of Christ and the joy and salvation that  only He could bring into the world. The stockings will be full of candy and the gifts will be given with love . My mom and sister and her daughter will be coming over and it will be a good day. I will be thankful for my blessings!

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Reader request Friday

For 007 at https://bottomlesscoffee007.com/: I asked my son about the first birthday he ever planned and he laughed and said, “none , well maybe this one. ” We were sitting at the table eating pieces of a giant cake that his girlfriend had made for him. It was last Friday and he had called me on Tuesday to say he was coming home for his birthday. He brought his musical equipment and computer and his desire was for all the musicians in the family to make a birthday song together. That didn’t actually come together but good times were had.

For Rakellewrites  http://www.racquelwrites.com : Yes, 27 years is a lot of time spent with another human being and many compromises have been made on both sides to keep this ship afloat! While it’s easy for me to think of a long list of things I’ve given up for him, I must admit that he has an equally long list. Both of us are pretty easy-going , as long as we get our way. But , that only works if you both want the same thing! So over the years we’ve had to let go of some things. I think maybe he was the more generous one in the past and maybe I’m paying that back now . But who’s keeping track? Wink wink! One biggie for him was that in order to keep the growing family fed and bills paid he has had to sell some of his toys, as in cars, motorcycles, and other wheeled objects . Not always without some resentment and unhappiness, but we got past it. Another one is he’s been very flexible with me as far as giving me a lot of freedom, as long as all my work is done. In my case, I’ve had to learn to be patient when I want to go and do things and we just can’t afford it. In the past I’ve found ways to make travel and races happen , but it’s getting harder and harder . I have a strong belief in God and I rely on the Bible as my standard of right and wrong, therefore, even in some very trying periods of marriage, I have not felt that quitting was an option . I believe that Satan is real and he wants to destroy relationships. When things get rough , I pray harder! I also avoid people, authors, and other media that do not value the marriage vow. I know how easy it is to get sucked into that way of thinking. I think my husband and I are a good match and we usually enjoy the same things , but not always. And that’s okay. We are both independent and opinionated as well. We don’t always agree on politics but we agree on values and religion. Somehow it has worked for 27 years. When I hear that a couple is struggling, I try to encourage them to 1)remember their spouses good points and 2)remember their own faults. No one is perfect. I’ll finish with an example from real life. The weather is perfect today and I really wanted to go hiking . But I discovered my husband had other plans . Since I’m going trail running tomorrow, I opted to not push for the hike, even though he was willing to try to fit in both activities. There was not enough time in my opinion for both. I’m sorry to miss a day hiking in fall weather, but I had to be honest that I would do better to stay home and do chores. So I guess I’ve gotten better at not getting my way. I want to give God the credit for helping me mature and not be so selfish and stubborn. I have prayed specifically that he would make me a better wife and mother and I trust that he is at work .

I wasn’t expecting that! Or: Churches are made up of People

I think I mentioned that after years of being away from attending Sunday worship services, I had started visiting a local church and really enjoying the peaceful low-key , fairly anonymous time with other believers. I’ve been going for a couple of months I guess . I kept thinking I’d like to make an appointment to chat with the pastor , just to learn more about the Lutheran church since it’s not my usual Baptist denomination.

Well today I got a shock when I sat down and they began the announcements and I heard the pastor say that he had tendered his resignation that week. I can still hardly believe this . Why? Because I really liked him! He preaches good Biblical sermons and he’s a nice guy. I’m sure God has a reason for this and it has nothing to do with me. I just feel sad that he and his family are leaving and that the church is about to go through a transition. I’ve been through that before and don’t look forward to it . But maybe this church needs that . It had a split a few years ago and I guess things never really healed so attendance and offerings are way down. I can see how a pastor might decide it’s time to move on if he feels unwanted.

The sun came out today after weeks of gloomy rain and clouds.

As in everything, I will keep trusting God to show me the way. If he wants me to keep going there , I’ll know. If I start seeing an ugly side of this church , I’ll move on. But I’ve been asking him to show me how I can serve so maybe something will come up .

Do you attend church? Have you ever been part of a church that split ? Have you ever left a church that you had been a longtime member of?

A Beautiful, Rugged Hike at Lost Maples State Park

I had trouble choosing a title. I wanted to say that God answered my prayers again, gave me the desires of my heart, showed up in a big way as always, because He did! But I’ve become more hesitant about saying that only because I know many people are praying for important , urgent, and much desired interventions and sometimes God waits a long time to answer, but always in His perfect timing. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad that God answers my prayers so often. Believe me, I am still praying, waiting and trusting for many things. Keep trusting and praying! But, it’s true, this time I was praying for the rain that was falling Saturday morning to stop , not flood the roads, not close the trails and for us to have a great day hiking, which was my chosen birthday activity. It all worked out! Here are the photos. Thanks be to God who blessed me once again!

This video is what got me so fired up to go here. Lost Maples SNA Part 1 of 2

 

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We drove through heavy rain to the park.

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Finally we came into view of the mountains!

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Ready or not! Let’s go!

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The trail was wet and rocky all the way.

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And easy section that was NOT in the creek bed.

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Taking a break from climbing up.

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A little more to go to the top.

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This is the trail.

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Octopus tree?!

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We were mostly alone but there was a young couple with two kids following us.

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Clear, clean water!

 

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A lovely pond  in which my husband took a quick dip .

How the day went: Left the house at 7:00. Hit rain about 9:00. Called the park and they said they were still open. Kept driving. Got to park at 11:00. About 80 degrees, breezy and not raining! Drove through some water on the road to get to the park. I started feeling emotional and excited when I spotted the mountains rising up ahead of us. The route is a very scenic road along a river through hunting leases, farms and ranches.  The area is a favorite place for motorcycle riders. We stopped for a quick photo in the town of Utopia. Who could resist?
Parked, got our gear, headed to trail head . We immediately had to cross over water on some large rocks. Looking across to the other side we saw a group of middle aged women ( like myself) laughing and talking and looking our way. We got to them and discovered that one of them had lost her balance crossing the rocks and fallen into the water. She had taken off her wet pants and was just wearing a rain poncho. They thought it was hilarious. We laughed with them,  wished them well and kept going. A little later we came to another crossing of the same creek but no dry way across , so that was the first of many times we got our feet wet.

Another group was heading out in the opposite direction at this point in the loop. I had heard that the clockwise direction was the more difficult way and I picked that . I thought it might be easier to go up the “hard side” and  down the other side. But in reality, I think it may have been just as hard either direction. But going clockwise you do get the hardest parts over with first and then finish on the easy trail, which I liked. There is one relatively big climb  and then you come to a flat spot on the top where we took a lunch break. There’s a chemical bathroom up there as well and primitive camping. Then you go back down which was very technical, but doable, and we were glad we had hiking poles. Then once again you are in the canyon, mostly hiking through or next to the creek bed with canyon walls on both sides. The trail was hard to follow due to a recent flood and leftover debris which made it hard to see a way through in many places. So that added a level of adventure which made it more interesting than your typical groomed trails. You can’t really get lost unless you scramble up the side of the canyon , which would not be easy or wise! We enjoyed the sounds of the bubbling, gurgling creek, the occasional breezes, and lovely variety of trees and rocks.

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I had hoped to hike a little further but we were taking our time and not covering distance very quickly, so we decided at one point in an out and back section to turn around and finish the main loop, knowing we still had a two hour drive back to our hotel. Happily for our tired, sore feet, we found some less rocky trails ahead. My husband took a dip in a lovely pond while I had a snack of Skittles and took in the natural beauty of the canyon. We passed more hikers in this easier section of trail. Finally we made it back to the car ,covering just under 6 miles.  We took the time to visit a small motorcycle museum, where we met a very friendly lady and saw about 50 very cool bikes from all over the world,  before driving back to San Antonio. All told, a wonderful day!

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By the clear pond. Those are green rocks in the water.

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The rocks that the lady fell on. I would have hurt myself if I’d fallen! Glad she didn’t.

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Utopia, Texas, where everything is perfect!

Me-No-Pause: Staying Young at Heart

I started worrying about menopause years ago because I have always suffered in various and often severe ways when my hormones go UP and DOWN. What does the future hold, I worried! Will I go crazy? Will I get a divorce? Will I get fat and lose all my hair? I had those thoughts because I’ve seen women do all of the above.  I know so many women who have become extremely intolerant of their husbands and gotten divorced, been put on anti-depressants after telling their doctors they had no energy and no motivation, gained a lot of weight even though they weren’t eating more and still exercising regularly, quit attending to their appearance because they quit caring what their husbands thought of them, stopped doing anything fun and just stay home ,and just generally changed in many negative ways. This all scared me !

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Knowing of the risks and causes of these life changes, I have been fighting hard to maintain those areas of my life. It’s not easy! I’ve had some very bad weeks and months where I was very focused on everything negative in my life, especially little things that my husband does that annoy me. As a Christian, I prayed hard and asked God to protect me and my marriage, and change my thoughts. It wasn’t instant, but I do see how God has been at work! I believe he used the race training as one means to keep us from going downhill, which I appreciate. As for the other stuff, it’s a daily battle to keep from gaining even more weight. I’ve gained about 10 pounds in the past year. That is a lot for a short person, but I’m still wearing the same clothes, although they feel tight . I recently caved and bought some bigger clothes. It was depressing, but necessary. My husband loves my rounder, softer body, so I guess that’s something. My mood swings and other bodily changes, have been rough to say the least. I don’t have hot flashes but I have long periods. It’s not fun.

But I know this is part of life and I am trying to maintain my sense of self while accepting the inevitable changes. I attempted the Keto diet but I just didn’t feel good . My sister has done great on that diet, lost a lot of weight, has tons of energy.  She is 7 years older than me and now weighs less than me. I was looking at some old photos of us hiking in Moab and she was chubby and I was skinny. The tables have turned! But she gives me hope that I can regain my body eventually. And my 77 year old mother is very petite, although I recall her going through a stage when she gained a few pounds when she had a hysterectomy. Now , my mom eats less than a bird, so that might be one reason she weighs 100 pounds. I know that all of this is vanity, worrying about my weight, but I worked hard to lose those 50 pounds in 2010 and I really don’t want them back! And I want to be healthy and strong enough to run and hike all day long, as well as take care of my family and whatever else needs doing.

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THAT is my awesome 61 year old sister in Moab! I admire her so much. 

 

So I guess I just want to encourage all you 40s to 50s women who are struggling like I am to stay young, vibrant,  and beautiful. I can’t say that I am really embracing this age, but I will say I am trying to accept what I have to and work at the rest. I just started taking a Maca supplement after reading that it is good for menopause. I’ll let you know how it goes. We need to support each other and share information about what helps with these issues. One thing I see happening that really bothers me is women encouraging other women to leave their husbands. I’m talking about women who say they ‘just aren’t happy’ , but their husbands are not abusive or cheating or anything like that.  I’d rather try to help her through her irritable times and get her to the other side of these changes, THEN let her make up her mind. Do not encourage selfish, short-sighted, impulsive behavior that may have serious consequences for them and their families.  I know at least one couple who divorced when she got a hysterectomy and had instant menopause, then they remarried a few years later. Save yourself the money and trouble by staying together! One thing I do is go hiking or running or go read a book if my husband is on my last nerve. Remember, you are probably annoying at times as well. Men tend to be pretty forgiving of (or oblivious to) our grouchy moods, so let’s cut them some slack when they won’t stop talking about sports or politics or whatever their annoying habit is. Last of all, I am trying to remember that selfishness never leads to joy. Joy comes from showing love and kindness, serving, helping, honoring, and giving ourselves to others. Protect your heart and soul from the worldly ideas that are constantly shared in social media, and please don’t LIKE or Share them. We older women are setting examples for the younger ones whether we like it or not. I’m thankful for my mother’s example.

God bless you in your journey! He will keep you safe as you trust Him

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.