Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Problem With Preachers...


For preachers (teachers, apostles, bishops, pastors…whatever the chosen title), James makes it clear that when one steps into this office, they are held to higher standards and will be judged more strictly. I am not sure if James was including the fact that people will judge leaders more harshly as well, or if he is just cautioning people who are thinking of going into ministry of God’s decrees. But people watch, and they can be quite critical. 

It is not just preachers…when we call ourselves “Christian,” we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and rise above what the world has to offer. More plainly, we should strive to act according to that Scripture dictates.

Do you have problems with that? 
The Good Lord knows I do.

I am not very good at turning the other cheek. When someone insults me, my first inclination is to pull out the sword of sarcasm and snark. And even if I don’t say anything directly to my offender, we can be pretty sure I told them off in my head. I’ll have to work on my fleshly humanity…it is a daily battle.

Preachers/teachers live in a body of flesh as well, so like the rest of us mortals, they aren’t going to be perfect. Invariably, however, there will be people who expect them to be, just as they expect perfection out of anyone who says “I am a Christian.” And they will expect the preacher to live up to higher standards… standards they do not live up to themselves.

In a previous post, I mentioned a local (unnamed) pastor and his choices in music. I may have been wrong to write about it. When I found myself even more bothered by one of his subsequent posts, I decided it was time to unfollow him (and pray for him) instead of fighting my feelings and wondering if I am judging him. Pastors do not have an easy job…much is expected of them (often too much) with criticisms that are fast and harsh, but approval and encouragement are often not given.

I said all of the above to get to this point: The world around us is watching. We need to be light to them and not add to the darkness. We can’t lead while we are sitting on the fence wondering what this world is coming to; we must get off the fence and on the path of righteousness! All Christians are called to be leaders, whether or not we hold the official title of teacher.

It is impossible to be light when we become as polluted as our environment. We have to renew our minds daily through scripture and prayer. We cannot renew our minds when we fill up on rated R movies, or television shows and music that promote, glamorize, and glorify sin. If you sit down to pray or read your Bible after the pollution of Hollywood, you’ll find that Hollywood is foremost in your mind, and it will be hard to put those things out of your mind.  Chances are that when you’ve spent hours contaminating yourself, you won’t be spending much time in God’s word. 

We alone must make the decision as to what is more important to us.




Saturday, September 23, 2017

...About the Father's Business...

It's a new day dawning... 
Not everyone wants to hear this, but Jesus really is coming back, and judging from the world in which we now live, His return may be sooner than we realize. The signs the Bible tells us that indicate we are living in the last days are all around us, every day, but we are not following His commandments.  We aren't loving our neighbor as ourselves...we aren't even loving each other so that the world knows who we are (in Him).

Don't you think it's time to put religion aside and make relationship our priority?  Love.  We must learn to love...and Jesus tells us to love even our enemies, and to pray for those who spitefully use us.  Matthew 5:43-48

We can no longer slumber and sleep in a day when we need to be awake and alert to that we are not deceived.

Pray for mercy for the coming days. He is ready and waiting to pour out His spirit on His people in these last hours. In such a busy, clamorous, noisy world, we cannot allow ourselves to be sidetracked from the things He has called us to do.

Pray, brothers and sisters!  Seek His face – listen to His voice and heed His word. (And in order to heed His word, you must read it!)


Are you ready for His return? 
If not, you can talk to Him right now.

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51:1-11



Thursday, September 21, 2017

What Was I Thinking?


When my heart issues kicked in, I couldn’t sleep very well. I could either toss and turn or do something more productive, so I began to pray and read the Bible in the long hours of the night. I would pray for every need I could think of, whether I knew the people or not, if I’d heard of someone’s problems, I prayed for them. I prayed a lot for the people of North Korea, asking God to deliver them from the Kim family dictatorship, to feed the hungry, and for the Holy Spirit to infiltrate the country. I pray for other countries where I know Christians are persecuted.

I pray for our own country…for our president, our leaders…I cannot imagine trying to lead a country of people determined to destroy it from the inside out.

With the pollution of what is called “news” and all the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, eh…blog posts in our faces, there is a constant churning of (not always accurate or truthful) information before our eyes. I am aware that looking at it is of my own choosing. I am reminded of a Sunday school song from long ago, “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see…”

I’m not always so careful. And I believe my spending too much time scrolling social media has affected my attention span, often reducing it to mere seconds. In less than a minute, I can scan 50 or more stories, posts, and advertisements. Is it any wonder my thoughts are out of control and explode in my head like a meteor shower? Sadly, my thoughts are not nearly as spectacular as asteroids and shooting stars.

I had a little more to say, but I’m out of time this morning…
so I’ll leave you with this thought: 

It really is important what I think about, 
and I know I need to choose better thoughts for myself. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

The birds have nothing to do with the post...I just like my zoo photos.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I don’t always talk about my medical issues...

...but when I do, I tell it all.

It hasn’t been a great medical year for me. It all began in February with an iris inflammation that I had trouble getting rid of, the steroid was raising the pressure in my eye, which meant a different medicine for a longer period of time. Around that time, the tooth that I had had a root canal on just six months earlier decided to act up. Then a persistent UTI, something I’d never had to deal with before, attacked me and did not want to let go, even after four rounds of antibiotics…but according to the urologist, I had been on too many antibiotics. (Ya think?) In the middle of that, my knee started really bothering me, so much so that I was limping around (and making plenty of sound effects)…and before I could make it to the doctor to see about my knee, my heart decided to run amok. “Amok” as in beating fast and furious, and for an added attention-getting measure, it would toss in a few definite skips. It started in the middle of the night, and I may have had a panic attack because I convinced myself that I might be dying, so I made Ole Boy take me to the ER…which ended up being an all-night/good-part-of-the-morning ordeal. In all of the testing, they found my d-dimer was elevated (which led to CT scans and ultrasounds to be sure I had no blood clots), and that my aorta is enlarged. 

I had never heard of d-dimer…have you? I had to make him repeat it twice, and even then I didn’t understand. That’s what Google is for. Good ol’ Dr. Google.


It all sounds about as serious as a heart attack, doesn’t it? My knee is bone-on-bone; got a shot for that, which helped a lot. After all the antibiotics, the tooth is doing better. I am on a beta-blocker, which is helping my palpitations/rapid heartbeat, and I am scheduled for a stress test and echocardiogram next week. The enlarged aorta (aneurysm) is not enough to worry about (righhht, because the word “aneurysm” isn’t scary at all), but will be watched.

I just wore myself out telling you all of this.

Thank God for insurance! I cannot imagine not having it. I have not enjoyed all the co-pays and deductibles (I had used up all my medical flex spending money by midsummer). In fact, I really haven’t enjoyed any of this…which reminds me of an Andy Griffith episode (Aunt Bee’s Medicine Man) where Andy told Aunt Bee, “Augusta always enjoyed poor health as long as I can remember.”


Some of the above (the story, not Andy Griffith) may explain why I didn’t write very much over the summer. That, and laziness. But, some days I felt really rough, and a constant heart rate of 98 tends to make me extremely tired. I’ve used more sick hours this year than I have in all the other ten years of my employment combined. There has been a lot of prayer for me, for which I am eternally grateful.

If you toss a few episodes of what can only be described as panic attacks in the middle of the night…you now have my year in 533+ words.

And that’s enough for one post, don’t you think?
When I began this post, I had more to say than just all my issues.
It will keep.


Friday, September 15, 2017

My Judgmental Ways

Me in my uniform
 at the private school
I’m not a people person. The whole “love thy neighbor as thyself” thing can be hard for me, and frankly, there are days I don’t even try. By “not try” I do not mean I am ugly to others, I mean I just don’t engage. Shouldn’t Christians engage with others?

Back in high school, I was a bully. Mostly not, but there was one guy…I’ll call him Mark, because that’s his name…who I didn’t like.  At all.  I didn’t treat him very nice.  For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about him. The reasons I didn’t like him were many, partly because of how he acted, and probably partly because of how he dressed, though I didn’t normally pick my friends by their appearance. Anyway. There were days I was pretty ugly to him, other days I ignored him. Years later, I ran into him while shopping. (He left this area years ago.)  He came over to speak to me…we talked like we had been good buddies. He introduced me to his friend. To my face, he showed grace, and I was impressed with the man he had become. He may have only been nice to me just to make me uncomfortable…but I doubt it. I like to think he really is a nice man regardless of my treatment of him. Long ago, I asked God’s forgiveness. I didn’t think to apologize when I saw him…

…and the school we went to was a Christian school. Maybe I shouldn’t tell y’all about my bad side. Not sure why Mark is on my mind this morning. I prayed for him, maybe that’s why.

Today, I will work on my judgmental ways. But first I need to figure out exactly what is being judgmental. Is it judgmental when I am bothered by the pastor of the largest church in my area who posts on Facebook about his favorite Guns N’ Roses and Pink Floyd songs? He’s not even my pastor…why would I be bothered by it? Is my being bothered by it being judgmental?  Especially since every now and then I crank up the radio to a 70's tune and sing along for all I'm worth.  I may also need to work on my hypocritical ways today, as well.

If I’m in church making mental notes about the way others are dressed, that’s surely judgmental…even if they might reconsider wearing a dress that short ever, much less to church.

Ugh. I’m not going to do well working on my judgmental ways from the looks of it.  It's a struggle to bring my thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).   Am I alone in this fight?

I hope your Friday is a grand one. It’s not even 6 a.m. and I am already struggling with being nice to others and I haven’t even had to deal with anyone yet.




Thursday, September 14, 2017

Disobedience

Huntsville Botanical Garden

We seem to have lost the fear of the Lord. The Bible speaks a lot about the fear of the Lord, and I don’t believe it is telling us we should be terrified of the one true, loving and forgiving God…but to be reverential, to be in awe of Him, to walk in obedience. Perhaps we should be fearful by our disobedience.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). I want wisdom, don’t you? I also want to know Jesus in His majesty. I want to worship God on his magnificent throne…the foundation of which is righteousness and justice (Psalm 89:14), and His throne is where we find mercy and grace in times of need (Hebrews 4:16).   I want to know Him in a way that I am in reverent awe of the One who created this universe with the spoken word (Genesis 1), in His great power and outstretched arm (Jeremiah 27:5).

Just a side note…the earth is not billions of years old. Creation took only six days. It disturbs and saddens me that so many Christians take the world’s view of this earth and make it their own. They will justify this belief by saying, “He did create, but He let it happen over millions of years.”  I fully believe these people have not studied God's word.  But this is a post for a different day.

Where are we disobedient? For me, gluttony is one of my ways of disobedience. It should be more important to me to choose to not overeat because the Bible indicates that gluttony is a sin. I am working on it…not as hard as I should be…but I am trying to make obedience in this area of my life more important than the number on the scale. I need to make the goal obedience, not weight loss.

Most everyone has areas of disobedience in their lives. Another of my areas of rebellion is writing...or the lack thereof.  I know God gave me the talent to write but I mostly “write” in my head and that’s where it stays. If God gives us a talent, He doesn’t mean for us to keep it locked away inside ourselves. The singer should sing! The teacher should teach! The encourager should encourage. Writers should write! We need to be about the Father’s business with our fellow man…and woman, of course. Our talents should be used for His glory.

I don’t want to just be a better person. I want to be a better Christian. I want to live out loud (in actions, not words) and with purpose, so that His light shines in me. The days are becoming colder, my friends. We live in an evil generation, and time is growing short. If there is an area of disobedience in your own life, there is no better time than now to start doing what God has called you to do!

Opryland Hotel, Nashville, TN


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Actions and Choices...ugh!

One of my favorite iris shots for a couple of years ago.


Even if we justify our actions or blame someone else, we are still responsible for the choices we make.

Saying, "I can't help it." or "I can't control myself!" will not wash as a good enough excuse when we are face-to-face with the One who suffered and died for our freedom.

Wishing I wasn't "this way" is not an excuse.

Tell yourself "no." and make your flesh obey.  And if you're like me, tell yourself to shut up even now and again....

...because I have really been wanting to write Ashley Judd an open letter.  But that argument with myself is for another day.

Tulip petals

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