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Monday, August 18, 2014

Time To De-Clutter

While on vacation, I visited a friend I had not seen in a long time. After our enthusiastic greeting, my friend took me to her bedroom and showed me her closet. It was crammed from top to bottom with so many things, it was difficult to really see what was in it. In other words, it was like looking at a forest and not seeing the trees. As I stared at her closet, I recalled it had been in the same condition a couple years ago.

She shook her head in dismay. "I have to do something, but I don't know where to begin."

All I could do was nod and agree. And give her the suggestion I've heard so many times on television - if you haven't used it in a year, throw it out.

Do you have a closet like that? Packed with stuff you have forgotten you have? Do you long to throw out some of that junk, but don't know where to start? Do you wish you could just turn it over to someone who knew what to do?

Just as our closets can be clogged with things we no longer need, so can our lives. All that stuff can burden us to the point that we stagger under their weight, and feel anxious and overwhelmed. And like my friend, we may not know where to begin. How do we get rid of jealousy, pride, anger, prejudice, bad habits, bad relationships, and the myriad things that are choking out the good qualities God wants to develop in us?

My friend longs to have some order and space in her closet so she can select her items with ease, and until she begins to ruthlessly throw some things out, she will never have what she needs. As Christians, we are more fortunate. We don't have to do our internal cleaning ourselves. In fact, like my friend, we won't know where or how to begin. But thank God, we have the Holy Spirit who will cleanse us from within and help us breathe freely once more.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Do You Have A friend?

The focus of social media is getting us to establish as many friendships or connections as possible. The founders of Facebook and other social media platforms have capitalized on something the rest of us took for granted, so if you are not on Facebook, you are part of a rare minority. We all need someone to communicate with, to share our joys and sorrows with, and sometimes to vent our frustrations on.

The Bible gives us some examples of true friendships: David and Jonathan, Abraham and God, Moses and God, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and His disciples, Paul and his disciples, and many others. God knows the value of true friendship. He has placed something in us that helps us spot a kindred spirit in unfamiliar surroundings, and if conditions are right, friendship ensues.

But sadly, in my job, I come across many people who tell me they have no friends. This always saddens me, because I can't begin to imagine my life without my friends. And I don't mean Facebook friends, although I love them as well. But there is Someone who will gladly be your Friend, if you will let Him. His name is Jesus. He is a friend of  sinners (Matthew 11: 19); one that sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); He is the One who laid down His life for His friends (John 15: 13) and the One who promises never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Do you have a friend like that? I said earlier I can't imagine my life without my friends, but none of them carry the attributes listed above. They won't be with me forever and they certainly can't die in my place. So today, whether you have tons of friends or not even one, won't you make Jesus your friend?
Just pray this prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe you died on the cross to save me from my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord, Savior and Friend. Amen.


Saturday, August 02, 2014

Why Atheists Do Not Believe In God

Major religious groups
Major religious groups (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For some unknown reason I have been getting into conversations with atheists lately - online and face to face. Needless to say, the views expressed were very painful for me to listen to and to read. My suggestion that atheists should think about what would happen if they were to die and discover that God does exist was shot down as a "fear tactic." One person called it Pascal's Wager.  I checked out Pascal's Wager and found that it "is an attempt to justify belief in God not with an appeal to evidence for his existence but rather with an appeal to self-interest." http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/theistic-proofs/pascals-wager/

The article goes on to point out that "if one believes in the Christian God then if he exists then one receives an infinitely great reward and if he does not exist then one loses little or nothing." In other words, the believer believes in God, just in case. Pascal's Wager is also based on the premise that God may or may not exist, which is not what I, or any other Christian, believe. Christians believe that God does exist based on our faith in Jesus Christ ( who, by the way, Pascal never mentions).

My suggestion that atheists should think about what would happen if they were to die without Christ is no "fear tactic." The Bible tells us, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed" (Romans 2: 5). I don't want to have to face God's wrath, but that's not the only reason I believe. I believe because I have that conviction in my soul that God is real. The way He answers - or chooses not to answer - my prayers, the manifestation of His love in my life everyday, the infallible truth of His Holy Word and the way He has changed my life. I cannot live without Him.

There were scoffers and doubters in the Bible. They needed proof that Jesus was the Christ. Even Thomas, one of Jesus' own disciples, doubted that He had risen from the grave.  When the other disciples told him they had seen the Lord, Thomas replied, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it" (John 20: 25).

So what did Jesus do? He went back to the house just to show Thomas the wound in His side and the nail prints in his hands. Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (v 28 - 29).

An atheist I spoke with recently gave me a fantastic story about Jesus being taken off the cross by Pontius Pilate because he didn't want Jesus killed. Even though this person said he has read the Bible from cover to cover, this is what he chooses to believe. Others have made up similar stories to dispute the resurrection. Why? According to the Bible, "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts --" (John 12 : 40).

Unless God opens the eyes of the atheists and softens their hearts, they will continue to disbelieve God's existence. Therefore we as Christians should not argue with them. We can only pray that one day God will "open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light" (Acts 26: 18).




Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wash Day

മലയാളം: Charcoal Iron Box for ironing the clothes
മലയാളം: Charcoal Iron Box for ironing the clothes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I was growing up, my mother had chores for each day of the week, much like in the little poem below. Some of you may have seen it before, but the words are so cute and so worthy of reflection, I couldn't help posting it on my site. The author is unknown. Read and be blessed.

Monday - Wash Day

Lord, help me wash away all my selfishness and

Vanity, so I may serve you with perfect humility

Through the week ahead.

Tuesday - Ironing Day

Dear Lord, help me iron out all the wrinkles

Of prejudice I have collected through the years

So that I may see the beauty in others.

Wednesday - Mending Day

O God, help me mend my ways so I will not

Set a bad example for others

Thursday - Cleaning Day

Lord Jesus, help me to dust out all the many faults

I have been hiding in the secret corners of my heart.

Friday - Shopping Day

O God, give me the grace to shop wisely so I may purchase

eternal happiness for myself and all others in need of love.

Saturday - Cooking Day

Help me, my Savior, to brew a big kettle of brotherly

Love and serve it with clean, sweet bread of human kindness.


Sunday - The Lord's Day

O God, I have prepared my house for you. Please

Come into my heart so I may spend the day and the

Rest of my life in your presence.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Would You Like A Name Change?

Gheorghe Tattarescu - Magdalena,
Gheorghe Tattarescu - Magdalena, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

Some people find it convenient to change their name for whatever reason. It may be because of marriage, divorce, or they may not like their name or for a host of other reasons. Some writers use a pen name or pseudonym to conceal their identity. Since the Bible is such a relevant book, it too features persons who had their names changed. The only difference is, they didn't do it, God did.

In the focus verse above, the woman referred to is Mary Magdalene, a woman who became a follower of Jesus after He delivered her from demon possession. Some accounts of her life state that she was a native of Magdala, a seaside city whose women were known to be prostitutes.  The Bible does not say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, but it does distinguish her from the other Mary(s) mentioned in the Bible by always referring to her by her first and last name.  

However, on that resurrection morning when Jesus arose from the grave and saw her standing there, her expression anxious and fearful, He said to her, "Mary." At that moment she was just Mary. Not Mary Magdalene, "out of whom went seven devils," (Luke 8: 2) or any past descriptions she may have had. Jesus put all of that aside and saw her only as someone who belonged to Him and someone whom He loved.

Hebrews 8: 12 says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." People will always remember your past, no matter how much you have changed. You can sing in the choir or serve on the ushers' board, but they still see you as Mary Magdalene. But Our Lord forgets our past, forgets our sins and doesn't bring them up anymore.  Know this: if you have given your life to Jesus Christ, you have a new name, "written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21: 27). You are not Mary Magdalene anymore, you are "Mary."

You can read more about Mary Magdalene in my book Women For All Seasons available  here



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Winners And Losers

FIFA World Cup 2014 logo.
FIFA World Cup 2014 logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well, World Cup 2014 has just come to an end, and if you were following it, you know that Germany emerged the winner after more than 100 minutes of excrutiating, nail-biting play. While the German fans celebrate in the stands, the Argentinians wear long, sad faces. I even saw one of the players crying. I feel sorry for them because I know it's not easy to be on the losing side.

Soccer, sport, life itself always has its winning and losing moments. But for us Christians, we don't have to be sad, even when our team loses or we ourselves lose at something. Because in Jesus Christ we are always winners. Remember that the next time you face stiff competition and the odds seem against you. You may lose in this life, but as long as you accepted Christ as your Savior, you are a winner all the way. Your crown is laid up for you in heaven. Isn't that wonderful?

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Through A Child's Eyes

English: fireworks seen across the at Washingt...
English: fireworks seen across the at Washington, D.C., USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fourth of July celebrations here in South Florida usually involve barbecues, picnics on the beach and, of course, watching the fireworks at night. This year, with all the rain we've been having, barbecues and picnics were out of the question. And when night came, we had to be content with trying to get glimpses of the fireworks from our patio.

Still, that didn't stop my five-year-old granddaughter from enjoying the display. Every time the fireworks burst into view, she would clap her little hands and say, "I love fourth of July." Her excitement was infectious, and helped to improve our mood that had been dampened by the dreary weather.

How easy it is for us adults to become dulled by the vicissitudes of life! Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and even Christmas have become occasions to just take a break from our normal routine, and little else. Can we look at a sunset, a beautiful flower or a newborn baby without feeling in awe of its Creator? If the answer is yes, then we need to take another look at ourselves, our values and our relationship with the God of the universe.

Jesus said,  "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted , and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18: 3). On another occasion He said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (19: 14).

We are to become as little children. What does that mean? I think it means we must maintain our sense of awe and wonder at who God is and all that He has done for us. We must have that same childlike faith and trust that children have in their parents.  Many of us have become bitter, cynical and disenchanted with life. Nothing gets us excited anymore. Notice how a child runs to her parent with joy and excitement each time the parent comes home or picks her up from school. We are to run to our Maker in the same way. If we have lost that joy, let's ask God to "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit" (Psalm 51: 12).