Day of Reckoning

Prologue 1

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 What’s the phrase?

“Looks can be deceiving…?”

Yes, that’s the one.

From a bystander’s point of view the cabin looked innocent enough.  It had its walls, windows, rooms, and door, but that’s where the similarity ended.  This cabin was old…ancient, and it held within its walls secrets…many bad secrets.

No one knew the cabin’s origin.  Old mountain folk claimed it had always been there just sitting and waiting and waiting and sitting.  Of course, the locals knew better than to enter, but every once in a while, out-of-towners made the mistake of thinking it a nice place to set up camp.  They entered through its only door, the front door, and they were never seen again.

Superstition past down from generation to generation claimed the cabin was the epi-center for a demon virus that infested the surrounding forest.  Everyone took the long way around…it was a gamble no villager was willing take.  In fact, the fear of the cabin seemed to be intrinsic to each child birthed within the area.  There was never a need to say, “Stay away from the cabin.”  No, somehow…somehow, they just knew.

Of course, many a ghost story was spun down through the years.  They were told by the light of a campfire, and always barely above a whisper for they feared the wind would carry their voice to the haunted forest and deliver it to the cabin.

One such story tells of a father who is distraught that his son has caught “the fever.”  In that day there was no cure for the fever, and most who caught it died.  The father makes plans to take his son to an old hag that slept in the cave located on the other side of the mountain.

The old hag, known as Old Mad Molly, spent her days foraging for plants, that others tossed into the fire, to be burned as weeds.  The sanctimonious, and “good people” of the village shunned the old woman.  They called her witch by day, but at night, under the cover of darkness, the very same took their sick and begged her to heal them.

The father held his son close to his chest, and set out into the night for the old woman’s cave.  The path led to outer reaches of the forest that surrounded the cabin, and when the father realized this he stopped.  He could go around the cabin and its god-awful forest, but there was no time as his son was near to death.

Fear gripped the father’s heart like a vise, and his knees buckled beneath him.  He was paralyzed, afraid to move.  He called out to Old Mad Molly; his cries echoed long into the night.  No one was certain if the old hag had heard his pleas, but everyone knew she never came to help.

The father looked down at the dying son in his arms, and he listened to a tiny voice pleading, “…papa please…I don’t want to die.”  But the father was too afraid to go any further, and so he held, and rocked his boy until the cries for help ceased.  Like a zombie, the father rose, and took his son’s lifeless body home.

The father laid the pale body on an old cloth.  The boy’s eyes were open in death and they stared at the father as he rolled his son into a sarcophagus of burlap.  He placed the body inside of the hole he had dug and began to cover his son with the freshly unearthed dirt.  With each shovel full of dirt, the father heard the ghost of his son begging, ‘…papa…no papa its cold…please papa help me…”

When the last shovel of dirt was tossed, the father went home and hung himself.

Now, the old folk claim on certain nights when the wind blows just right the boy’s cries can be heard screaming within the haunted forest.

“Papa it’s cold down here…papa…papa…”

 

(Fast Forward to Present Day)

 Today, the cabin was hungry.  It had been long since it had eaten the bones, and drank the blood of a fresh kill.  The hardwood floors were dry and cracked and ached with thirst.

The cabin, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was in desperate need of a Renfield.  Renfield, Dracula’s insane but loyal servant, guarded his master’s coffin by day, and at night brought tasty treats to satisfy his master’s blood lust.

The cabin was confident it had finally found its Renfield within the body of the abomination.  The abomination had worked diligently to prepare the cabin.  Today he completed the finishing touches by polishing the silver “tools” and laying them neatly beside the chair he had bolted to the floor.  The leather straps at the end of the chairs arms and legs were crisp and new.  They needed breaking in, he thought…his mind went to his prey and he smiled.

He walked slowly to the bathroom and looked at his reflection in the mirror.  He watched his face disappear as he pulled the mask over.   The sinews of the burlap snaked their way over and around the contours of his bony white face…the jagged slits fit perfectly over the red eyes that stared back at him.  The burlap was so old its tattered places were stitched from the hide of pig that had been slaughtered years ago.

The abomination smiled beneath the mask.  He was happy with his new face.

Another pair of eyes, hidden behind dusty rafters, had witnessed the transformation.  It blinked and refocused its black eyes upon its Renfield, and then a rotted smile split its face.

 

Prologue 2

 The Abomination

The abomination grunted and almost fell beneath the weight of the naked woman he carried over his shoulder.  She was drugged so her body hung like a rag doll…her dead weight made heavier by gravity’s pull. The forest floor was littered with amber, red, and yellow leaves, and dried branches and acorns crunched harmoniously underneath his black boots.

Finally, he reached the sacrificial spot so he dropped the woman and postured her in a sitting position with her back against an ancient oak tree, and her legs he crossed Indian style.    A rope was tied tightly to each of her wrists and pulled snug around the tree like a pair of shoestrings, and tied together with a double fisherman’s knot.  Her head hung limp between her breasts, and her long blonde hair acted as a cover to hide her nakedness.

The abomination sat crossed legged in front her…his face so close to hers that their noses would touch if she lifted her head.  There was nothing left to do but sit and wait until the drugs wore off.  As he waited, he adjusted the burlap mask so the eye holes were in perfect position.  He wanted his view unobstructed because he knew the fear on her face would be delicious and he wanted to relish every second.  He sat in front of her patiently waiting for over an hour in which time he never blinked even once.  When he finally sensed the faint stirrings of the woman his lethargic heart quickened, and his pants tightened with the beginnings of an erection.

The woman moaned and his pants tightened even more.  Semi conscience she rolled her head left and then right.  She wondered why her shoulders ached and why her world was black.  Her mind grasped for any sense of reason and as the cobwebs began to clear she realized her world was black because she had yet to open her eyes.  Ever so slowly she began to open them.  At first the view was blurred with hues of brown and red.  She blinked several times to clear her vision…with the last blink she let them fall open.  Only inches away two red eyes, glared at her.  They were so close she could have licked the burlap that shrouded them. His glare bore deep into to her reaching the inner most part where she hid her soul.  Her soul filled with horror and it tried to escape with the scream that parted her lips.  The scream was so deafening the birds scattered; however, throughout the duration of the scream his soulless red eyes never blinked but grew wider in excitement.  Finally, the woman’s lungs begged for air, and so her screams turned to raspy gasps desperately searching for her lost breath.

The abomination waited patiently until the woman gained some sort of composure.  With his red eyes-only inches from her blues, he recognized what he had longed to see…her surrender.  He watched as her eyes welled with tears of acceptance, and he knew that she knew it was over.

“There now,” a sinister voice spoke from underneath the mask, “…isn’t it better when we agree?”  The woman knew this was not a question to be answered but rather a proclamation of his victory statement, and so she remained quiet, resigned to her fate.

“We both knew the day of reckoning would come.”  He chided.

“The Reaper has been waiting, and he’s anxious to begin.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken Down a Notch…Maybe Two

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Tuesday was the last day of my 21-day Daniel Fast.

I confess I finished feeling a little guilty. 

Why? 

Going into the fast my purpose was clear, in that my goal was to become closer to Christ, but as it progressed the purpose began to take on another appearance.  My focus strayed from Christ, and instead settled upon the foods I could and could not eat.  I began to search for recipes as to how I could take the approved foods and weave them together in some fashion as to make them more palatable.  In essence the fast became more about the food and less about Christ. 

How fitting then, as I finished the fast, was I led to this scripture:

 So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important. (Col. 2:20-23) 

 Ouch…

 Believe me, I did not search out this scripture.  I can’t quite remember my steps to it, but I’m sure it went something like this… I was reading elsewhere, perhaps in the book of James, and noticed another passage scribbled with ink in the margins.  I’ve had this particular Bible almost 40 years so the margins are well marked.  Who knows when I jotted the reference…it could have been 30 years ago.  Regardless, I was somehow, someway, led to the book of Colossians. 

 God has a sense of humor! 

He has a way taking you down a notch or two, if need be, and then pointing you in the right direction.  Sometimes God speaks in a still small voice…this was not one of those times.  It was more like a splash of cold water to the face! 

 It seemed as if God was saying, and I paraphrase… “Yes, you fasted for 21 days…you did well, but get off your high horse!  The fast was not about the rules you didn’t break, but rather about seeking me.”

Colossians continues to say…“So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it… See things from his perspective… chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline…. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (Colossians 3:1-14 Message Bible)

Do I think my fast in vain?  Not even close!  

I thank God for each of those 21 days, and I learned a lot!  But even with all I’ve learned, if I forget to couple it with love, then the knowledge I’ve gained is indeed worthless!  

Through the past 21 days I’ve learned more about the love God has for me, and I’m assured that nothing can ever separate me from his love.  But if I stop there it has all been for naught.  I must live out what I have learned by loving and caring for God’s people. 

James writes, “…faith without works is dead,” and he warns of the dangers of “…being only hearers of the word and not doers…”.  He says, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God…even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it…that person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” (James 1:22-25)

 Our faith must become active! 

If we say we have faith then what are we doing to prove our faith?  The best proof of our faith is LOVE, and THAT is what I have learned from my fast. 

Now it’s up to me to live it…

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This Is Love

 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

(I Corinthians 13)

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Fast Day 14

My mom went through many trials during her life on this earth.  She lived years in an abusive marriage.  Her young son, 23 years old, was killed in a logging accident.  One dark night she stood outside and watched her house and almost everything she owned burn to the ground.  She was a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, and to feed her children. In spite of all these trials my mom was a fighter.  That doesn’t mean she was never knocked down, after all, each of the above horrors would humble even the strongest among us.  No, she hurt, she cried, and she fell many times, but she always got back up. 

As a child I witnessed many of her struggles, and I witnessed the pain she endured through each one.  I remember seeing my mom cry more than she smiled, but the one thing she made sure of was that I knew how much she loved me.  I never doubted my mom’s love.  It was her love that carried me through the trials of my childhood, and even though she has passed, her love still lives within me and carries me every day.  

I am at awe of how she made it through each trial.  Sometimes I try to put myself in her shoes and I wonder how I would’ve handled domestic violence, seeing all that I owned burn to the ground, and the death of a child. I feel confident I would have lost my mind.  

Since I’ve been on this fast, I have been thinking a lot about my mom, and about the testimony she had among those around her.  She was always kind, and always willing to help anyone in need.  Everyone on Wood Street knew if they came to Bessie Hardy with a need that she would do everything within her power to supply that need.  That was just who my momma was.  

There’s one verse in the Bible that I heard her recite over and over again, and I will always attribute it to her.  Ephesians 6:13-14 “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.  Stand therefore…”  I remember my mom saying that one day when she was ready to give in to all the pain God lead her to this scripture.  Verse 14 continues, but on that particular day, God gave her a different perspective and she read it as “Having done all to stand, stand.”  God was telling her to just keep standing, and He would be her strength.  And that is what my mom did her whole life.

While on the Daniel Fast, I’m reading a book that coincides called…of all things…The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory.  Each day, of the 21 days, has its own devotional that is filled with the promises of God.  One being Isaiah 40:31, “…They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” 

On this fast, over and over I am led to the idea that God is working in my life, even if I don’t see it, or feel it.  God has given assurance that He is with me, and that He has plan for me, but I must be patient to wait for his perfect timing.  In the midst of financial insecurity, I feel him whisper, “…having done all to stand…stand.”   Another portion of scripture that has cropped up over and over is James 1:3-4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  

I have a week left of eating a restrictive vegan diet.  That part of my journey has gone well…and I confess my body feels better.  I have lost about 7 pounds which is a nice added benefit.  I’m planning on continuing some of the good habits I’ve learned such as eating more “real” food and less processed food…no artificial sweeteners, to go easy on the sugar…and to nurture the spirit as much as I nurture the body.  

However, I can visualize that first cup of coffee and of it I can’t wait to indulge.

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FOWC-Visualize

Lenten Fast 2020- Day 6

Hello Friends!

As many of you know I am on a Daniel Fast for this years lenten season. This fast is a way to deepen your relationship with Jesus through prayer, meditation, reading, and listening for his voice. Instead of eating the foods your body craves, sugar, bread, caffeine, animal based foods, etc, you forgo these pleasures in order to dedicate your body, soul, and spirit to a higher calling.

I thought this would a difficult task, but God has helped me every step of the way. When I suffered headaches from caffeine withdrawal I went to Him, instead of coffee for my relief. When I wanted to snack all night while watching tv I went to Him for strength, and grabbed a banana or an apple instead of donuts and potato chips.

On this the sixth day of the Daniel Fast I can honestly say I have no craving for coffee or sugar. I’m enjoying the flavors of the food itself. It’s like for the first time I’m actually tasting the foods because I’m not covering up their flavors with meat, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and such. The flavor of the strawberry reigns all by itself. It’s the same with blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, beans, wheat, oats, nuts…

Through the Daniel Fast I’m tasting each grain, vegetable, nut, and fruits God given flavor, and I’m loving it! Since I’ve cut out sugar it’s amazing just how sweet the bananas, oranges, and apples have become!

I’m constituently looking for new ways to experience these flavors. The following recipe is an example of this endeavor.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey.

Fasting Banana Oatmeal

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup of Old-fashioned Oats
  • 1 cup of Water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pat of Earth Balance butter
  • 1 Banana
  • Chopped pecans (optional)
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Silk coconut milk

Directions:

  • Mix oats, water, and salt in a microwavable safe bowl and cook in microwave for 2-2 ½ minutes. 
  • Stir inEarth Balance butter until melted.
  • Stir in one sliced banana.  
  • Add pecans and cinnamon if using.
  • Pour in coconut milk to your desired consistency.

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Notes: This recipe is transient in nature. Feel free to add or substitute ingredients to suite your taste. If I were not fasting I would add brown sugar and substitute regular milk for the coconut milk.

Lenten Fast 2020

I’m on the fifth day of my Daniel Fast and I have 16 more days to go. 

The Daniel Fast is a 21 day fast that mirrors the one done by the prophet Daniel while he was held captive in Babylon (Daniel 1:12; 10:3). It is a partial fast in that some foods are consumed and some are restricted.  There are three types of fasting, an absolute fast, a normal fast, and a partial fast.  The absolute Fast allows no food and no water, and the normal fast allows water but no food.  On the Daniel fast animal products are not allowed including dairy products, eggs, sugar (even honey), artificial sweeteners, and caffeine of any kind.  It is totally plant based.  

It is not meant to be a weight loss plan but rather a way to get closer to God through prayers and meditation.  It is a way to deepen your relationship with Christ…a way to pray for his presence and to be attentive to His voice.  In the Bible God’s voice is defined as still and small, and so it is necessary to quiet the mind in order to hear.  

In my five days of fasting I have deepened my relationship to Jesus, not by praying for hours upon hours, but by just becoming aware of his presence.  I find myself having an ongoing conversation with him throughout my whole day.  In doing this I have discovered peace.

Losing weight is a benefit of the Daniel plan, as I have already lost 4 pounds.  

The crazy thing is I haven’t been hungry!  Going into this I thought I would be, and thought I would die without coffee, but this hasn’t been the case.  The first day I experienced headaches, but after that I truly haven’t missed my coffee.  Instead of coffee I have ginger tea and hot cups of Cranberry Juice…it is delicious. 

On a typical day my meals resemble something like this:

  • Breakfast- oatmeal or grits, fruit/nuts, hot tea with no caffeine or hot cranberry juice.
  • Lunch-hot V8 juice, tossed salad with oil and vinegar, fruit.
  • Dinner-brown rice and beans, steamed cabbage (or another vegetable)
  • Snack-skinny-pop popcorn, fruit/nuts, fruit smoothies 

This morning for breakfast I had Banana Coconut Oatmeal.  It’s my own recipe and it was so delicious I want to share, but alas work duties call so I must say goodbye for now.

I’ll post the recipe this evening.

Friends, thank you for reading my reflections and I hope you will travel this journey with me.

Litmus Test for True Christianity

I’m astounded with those who think they have the “scoop” on God’s word.  Many of whom believe God’s word is cut and dry…black and white with no grays in between.  Most are raised in Christian homes and have been taught the scriptures as a child.  Sunday school classes, Sunday morning services, and Wednesday prayer meetings were the staples of their life.  They were spoon fed not only the word but also the perceived meaning of the word, and the sad thing is is that many have never questioned what they’ve been taught. 

As a small girl I sat on the second pew from the pastor and like a sponge soaked up all the words that fell from his voice.  Sunday after Sunday, week after week, and year after year I was fed the truths of God’s word in accordance with an Independent Fundamental Baptist point of view.

Sitting here typing I can look back and see the wide-eyed girl sitting on the pew…so small my feet barely passing the edge of the pew.  I literally believed it was God’s word I was hearing and of this I should never doubt.

But I did doubt, and guilt became a part of my life at an early age.  

My inner struggle went something like this…. if I have this doubt, how then can I have faith, and if I have no faith how then can I be a child of God, and if not a child of God…how then could I ever be “saved”?  This inner battle possessed me my whole childhood, into my teens, and well into my 20’s and 30’s.  For the most part I kept this secret…never to be told, after all if I admitted to doubt then I was virtually admitting I had little to no faith.    

I’m saddened for the little girl who silently lived in fear day after day.  Sometimes I take her in my arms and hold her until her trembling subsides.  Now, as a 54-year-old, I realize this doubt was not the monster I thought it to be.  My doubt should have been the stepping stone to an even greater faith.  

I believe it is wise and healthy to question your beliefs.  First of all are they really your beliefs or are they your mother and father’s beliefs.  Perhaps it goes even deeper maybe they’re the pastor’s beliefs and maybe mom and dad just took his words at face value…. Even deeper:  maybe it’s the churches fodder handed down from generation to generation, century after century from organized religion?  

As a Christian I want my beliefs to be just that…mine.  I want my faith to be given to me from God himself.  I don’t want to blindly believe something because that’s what mama, daddy, and the preacher said. 

Jesus himself admonishes us to “…search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life.”  The Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and the religious elite felt confident they had the scoop on God’s word.  Why?  They felt this way because they followed the word to a tee.  They like many Christians today, took God’s word literal and failed to see the nuances of grays woven there-in.  They were always questioning Jesus because Jesus refused to take a literal approach to the law established in the old testament.  They were so busy trying not to break the rules that they missed the whole premise of Christianity which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, and to love those around you (everyone) as you love yourself.  Jesus says that the whole law of Moses rests upon these two principals.  Loving God is the greatest commandment and the second greatest is loving your neighbor, and, my friend, for the most part you cannot pick and choose your neighbor. 

You can have neighbors you like and neighbors you dislike…neighbors who believe as you or those who believe differently, neighbors who believe that “this and that” is a sin and neighbors who believe it is not.  This whole idea of loving the sinner and hating the sin is bull malarkey.  Their “sin” is none of your business, it is between them and God.  Your job as a Christian is to love them…period.  

How can I love them?  You love them by treating them the way you want to be treated, and by letting God take care of the rest.  

Our relationship with our God is no one’s business, and when “well-meaning” Christians make it theirs it’s time to shut them down or as Barny Fife says, “Nip it!  Nip it in the bud!”  Jesus says, “Judge not least ye be judged,” and “He that is without sin cast the first stone.”  

Christianity is alive and vibrant.  

Christianity is “your” personal relationship with God.  

Christianity is defined by what you do rather than what you don’t do.  

Christianity is love because God is love.  

As Christians God asks us to feed his sheep.  Three times by a campfire Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  Three times Peter said, “Lord, you know I love you,” and three times Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep.”  

Jesus was saying to Peter… If you truly love me then you will take care of my people.  You will take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.  You will be like the Good Samaritan and cast aside your opinion, in order to lift up the down trodden.

Friends, love is not always a feeling.  It’s wonderful when it is, because it makes loving others easy.  But, the love God calls us to goes way beyond a feeling.  The love God calls us to is active.  Jesus wanted Peter to realize that true love is more than words, for if you love only with words then the object of your love is never really touched…never changed.  True love reaches out, and true love changes lives.   

Christian, are you truly Christian?  

If so then take care of his sheep…the stranger, the hungry, the homeless, the unloved, the immigrant, the addict, the dirty, the poor,  the sick, the refugee, the naked, the prisoner,…the least of these…

Jesus’ litmus for true Christianity:  

[Jesus replied] “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”

Happy New Beginnings!

  

Genesis contains the biblical version of this World’s birth, so how fitting it is to read Genesis on New Year’s day! Genesis 1:1 opens with“In the beginning God…”  The author of this book, Moses, did the best he could, with the knowledge he had, to write the creation story.  In my opinion, Moses gives us an “overview” of creation’s story and not a detailed account.

As I ponder this first day of the new year, I thank God for new beginnings, and today can be one of those beginnings.  Today is a day where most of us make new-year resolutions, whether we want to admit it or not.  We may not verbally express it but the conversations in our mind go something like this… 

“Perhaps I should…

  • make the most of that gym membership
  •  drink more water and less sodas
  • give up those cigarettes
  • start saving money for the future
  • start paying off my debts
  • eat healthier
  • move more and eat less
  • read more

The list is endless and as diverse as there are people in the world.  

Here’s the thing…I don’t like to tag any of these goals as resolutions.  Resolute is final…complete…without mistake going forward.  Resolute is unreasonable.  We will make mistakes and we will backslide into old habits, and we should go into the new year with this knowledge.  If we do, failure will not come as a shock, but rather as a new beginning. 

We are given a new beginning multiple times every day, and with these new beginnings we can live our life with purpose and hope.  

With new beginnings we will never give up.  

Happy New Beginnings, Friends!  

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Honest #FOWC

The Most Precious Gift

Giving to others from your abundance is good; however, giving away something you cherish is better…even Christlike.  Jesus gave up his riches to become a homeless man, and in the end, he gave us the best gift ever given…himself.  

Maybe on this Christmas Eve we should honor him by giving our most precious gift…ourselves.

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Rivers of Water

I was on my way home from the hospital and my first born was lying in an incubator at Pitt Memorial. The last thing I wanted to do was leave her, but circumstances prevailed, and it became something unavoidable. As I lay in bed that night my heart and mind, extremely distressed, I could not sleep. I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong, and thinking that my 3-pound 10 ounce little-one wouldn’t make it through the night. This night was dark and terrifying and I was afraid. But then my mind remembered the stars…those little dots of light sprinkled throughout the blackened sky. I realized these same stars were also watching over my baby, and that their creator was also her creator. Through prayer I placed my baby girl in God’s hands and I slept.

Prayer and meditation can bring us to peace within the storm. For the Christian it’s the fuel that keeps us going. I often neglect this spiritual sustenance and find myself running on empty, however, the stars of that night, thirty-two years ago, reminded me of a power ready for the taking. This power source is not some old grey-bearded deity somewhere beyond our universe. No, this power source is the God within us, the Holy Spirit who has taken up abode within our souls. 

A necessary element to prayer and meditation is time. Without this element meditation of course is fruitless in our lives. Thankfully with our busy lives’ meditation can occur in small increments of time…a few moments with your morning coffee, seconds waiting at the red light, the minutes between the next meeting, quiet moments before you drift off to sleep. All of these snippets can become moments of mindfulness…moments of tapping into the power source within.

I love the picture painted in Psalms 1:3 which likens the one who meditates as a tree planted by the water…

“…we shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in [its] season…” 

We are the tree, meditation the roots, and the rivers of waters the Holy Spirit within us. 

Prayer: Lord, throughout this holiday season let our minds habitually visit the babe in a manger…the very one who bled and died, rose again, and now takes his abode within our hearts. Amen. 

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Settled Within

Yes, I am in a Relationship

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:2

Growing up I was so afraid of hell, that I actually wished I’d never been born. Daily, I was tormented with the thought of the rapture, and being left behind.  

I knew God’s promises but for some reason they didn’t apply to me.  It was none of God’s fault but all of mine.  I knew and believed what God said about salvation, and about his promise of eternal life. 

And yet, I felt sure I would, somehow and some way, mess up my part of receiving His free gift.  What if I believed too hard thus turning my faith into work?  For God says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith…NOT by works…” 

So, what if I put my trust in my faith instead of Jesus?

What would happen then?

Would I be saved?

I was religiously taught the Roman’s Road to Salvation.  This step by step process is found in the book of Romans (of course).  This Road begins with chapter 3 and verse 10 and continues as follows:  Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10, and Romans 10:13.  After each step has been faithfully taken, the sinner, saved by grace, is taken to I John 5:13 to seal the deal. 

I was so afraid I’d screw up one of the steps, and if I did would I be condemned to hell?  

I’m not saying the Roman’s Road is wrong, and if you have come know Christ through this path, I say a hearty Amen!   But for people like myself there is a danger in teaching the Roman’s Road. 

For us salvation does not equate to, “take these steps and get a ‘Get out of Hell Free’ card.”

For those like me there is no wrong or right way to salvation.  We come to know Christ through many paths, and for us salvation is a relationship, and any faith that we have is given to us by Christ.  Therefore, in essence, our salvation depends upon nothing we do but all in what Christ has done.  

So, the question could be asked… “At what point does salvation actually occur?”

To that I say, “I don’t know, and not knowing is okay.”  

I don’t have to know if I’ve dotted all my I’s or crossed all my T’s because I have nothing to do with my salvation…it belongs to God.  

And in that I rest. 

receive love. give love. repeat. 

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Indulge yourself in Peace.