Diet or Life Style?

You know the scenario: you step gingerly on the scales, hoping for a good reading, only to have your hopes dashed to pieces.  Not only did you not lose any weight, you’ve gained!  So, you decide you are really going to get serious THIS time, and you go on a diet.

My life has been a trail of diets:  those times when I count the calories, cut the portion sizes, etc.  I’ve never been one for fad diets – I learned early on that they are just temporary fixes.

Usually a diet is brought on by the above situation or perhaps an upcoming event: a wedding, a reunion, Christmas.  Then we diet, somewhat meet the goal, and then go back to living the way we always did; and before we know it – the pounds are back again.  The same old cycle is replayed over and over again, just with different circumstances and different clothing sizes!

I think I finally get what they are talking about when they say, “Life style, not diet.”  It frightened me a bit.  What!  No more cookies or pizza?  No way! I LOVE to cook.  I didn’t want to change; however, as my body changes, I realize that it’s time for a life style change.  For me, that meant jump starting it with a diet.  If I don’t keep the calories under 1200, I will not lose weight.  (Don’t worry, Mom, I’m keeping it balanced nutritionally!)  So for several weeks I just kept counting and weighing and counting and weighing with little success!  Talk about disappointment! But this time I was determined to stick with it.  Praise the Lord for my husband and kids who kept encouraging me, and I didn’t even have to pay them!  And now it’s happening: I’m not as hungry, in fact the hunger pains are encouraging, AND the pounds are coming off!  Wow!  I’m ready for the plateau that I know will come when the pounds will not come off, but with the help of my family and friends, and most importantly by precious God and Savior and Friend I WILL keep at it!

Do you see the parallel?  Do you have similar roller coaster rides in your walk with God?  Do you have seasons of “dieting” when you purpose to spend more time reading your Bible, praying, getting involved at church?  For a time, you see results, but soon you’re back at the world again and life seems to be falling apart.  You don’t even want to get near the “scales” which happens to be the godly people in your life – you know you’re life isn’t “weighing in” well!

Is it time for a life style change?  The only way we will ever be serious about our walk with God is to have a passion for Him, His Word and His people.  That has to come from within.  I’m determined to lose the weight.  Why?  I’m not really sure, something kicked in to gear and I’m ready for the change.  That is all physical talk; however a godly life style change is a spiritual matter, and praise God we have His Spirit within us, as born-again Christians, to encourage us like no family or friend can!

Are there benefits to my new eating life style?  Absolutely!  You know them:  the clothes fit better, I feel better, I look better.

And the benefits of a new spiritual life style?  They are too numerous to name!  Peace with God, harmony in the home, vision and focus for God’s will in my life; better understanding of Who God is and what His Word says; Joy unspeakable; a better witness which will lead to a passion for souls which will lead to opportunities to share your faith which will lead to the thrill of all thrills: planting, watering and leading a soul to Jesus; Oh, and the best blessing of all:  when I stand before my Savior, He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  It doesn’t get any better than that!

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Phil 4:13

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” 1Pe 1:8

Absolute Surrender

So, I’m heading east on Route 973, a beautiful drive through the countryside, noticing how all the fields are steaming.  After two days of snow (eight inches in some areas), we’ve enjoyed some beautiful sights, albeit strange: like snow on the ground in the mountains, and subtle bright green  leaves on the trees – a beautiful combination!

As I watch the steaming fields, I can’t help think about the fact that God uses the word ‘vapor’ to describe our lives. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Jas 4:14  Those thoughts are particularly on my mind because I attended two funerals last week, and heard of a young man’s death just this morning!  We take life for granted, and often live as though it isn’t a reality that we may meet today!

As I’m heading down the road, I come to a recent road closing.  I say recent because there were no detour signs.  The road was closed and there was nothing to do but to turn around.  Now, my pastor-husband preached on “Absolute Surrender” this past Sunday, so I’m enjoying talking to the Lord, thanking Him for the fact that for once, I am not in a hurry, and that the delay will not cause a problem. (By the way, you can listen to Andrew Murray’s book: Absolute Surrender on the web. http://librivox.org/absolute-surrender-by-andrew-murray/ – I HIGHLY recommend it!)  I’m working on the absolute surrender thing when I drive past the cemetery where one of the funerals I attended took place.  I did not go to the graveside, so I swing into the parking lot and walk over to the fresh grave.  Cemeteries are great places to put live into perspective!  This one is at the church that I attended as a child.  In the distance I can see the church where this dear lady attended as a child.  She was born in this little town, lived here, raised her children and now is resting here until Jesus returns.  Perspective!  It’s a beautiful place – peacefully situated in the foothills of Pennsylvania.  I wander around a bit and come to another grave.  It is the parents of an old friend that I have determined to visit for the past five years that we’ve been in the area!

As I pull into her driveway, my heart is racing.  I haven’t seen this woman since junior high school!  I’m hoping to share the Gospel with her, but there is no answer so I leave a tract and a note. I’m anxious to see if she will call – we were best friends in elementary school!

Absolute Surrender – I wouldn’t have passed the cemetery if the road wasn’t closed; ; I wouldn’t have stopped at the cemetery if my older friend hadn’t died.  I wouldn’t have thought of my friend if I hadn’t stopped at the cemetery. God leads our paths.  Are we paying attention?

Now, the story would have been better if my friend had been home and I witnessed to her and she trusted Christ, right?  Our part in absolute surrender is to yield to the Master’s leading.  He is responsible for the outcome!

Only to be what He wants me to be,

Every moment of every day.

Yielded completely to Jesus alone

Every step of this pilgrim way.

Just to be clay in the Potter’s hands.

Ready to do what His will demands.

Only to be what He wants me to be,

Every moment of every day.

 

Walk for Jordan

When our oldest son was two, the mother of one of our acquaintances gave her two-year-old son a quarter of an aspirin while waiting in an airport for a joining flight.  It lodged in his throat and the loss of oxygen for those few moments caused sever brain damage.  I empathized greatly with her – the Lord taught me many lessons through that experience.

As I read this story on my niece’s blog, again I empathize.  Our grandson is whole and healthy, and I can’t even imagine living through such an ordeal.  If you would like to read his story and even make a donation, you can find the information here: http://ow.ly/as92X.

 “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” Ro 12:15.

 “And of some have compassion, making a difference:” Jude 1:22

Beauty and the Beast – no matter how much you dress him up, he’s still a beast!

We all have a beast living within – the flesh.  It is the old man that we will not be separated from until our flesh is truly dead.  That beast wants to control our lives – every part of it.  It has a voracious appetite and wants to be fed CONSTANTLY!

As a Christian, we have the beautiful Spirit of God living within us as well.  He is the part of you that weeps over sin and the sinner.  He is the part that is strengthened by the living Word of God.  He is the Spirit that urges us to do right, while the beast storms our castle to get us to do wrong.

Music – it is a great passion in my life. For some of you, it is a nonentity – for me, it is life!

There are three categories of music:

  1. Music that feeds the intellect
  2. Music that feeds the flesh
  3. Music that feeds the Spirit

Intellect-feeders is Classical music.  It teaches us, and the more we know about it, the more we love it.  It can inspire us, frighten us, make us laugh, make us march, but it is generally an intellectual experience.

Flesh-feeders is a huge category.  Rock, country, blues, jazz and a host of other subcategories belong here.  This music, no matter the words, feeds our flesh – the part of me that wants to dance and sway.  The music pulsates in a way the stirs a part of me that I am trying to destroy – THE BEAST!  The words may be ministering to my spirit but the music is feeding my flesh!!!

Spirit-feeders are specifically written to feed the Spirit.  Some try to do that while using a vehicle that feeds the flesh.  I don’t get it!  I try to listen to it every once in a while.  My flesh says “Oh, goodie – I LOVE this stuff,” but my Spirit sticks out His tongue and vomits!

As I write this, I have Steadfast Faith by Soundforth playing (rather loudly!)  My Spirit is soaring, my flesh is humbled.  I nearly cry every time I listen to it – BECAUSE MY SPIRIT IS SO OVERWHELMED BY THE GOODNESS AND MAJESTY OF GOD!  When the music and the words are working together to feed our Spirit and leave our flesh in the dust, we draw into the very presence of God!  Our Spirit rejoices and flies!  We may sit and weep, or we may long to dance in a way that I am CERTAIN David danced, but the partner is God, and the flesh is not a part of this!

As I watch a young Christian walk the halls of our school constantly plugged into his music, which he would probably classify as Christian, I can hear the pulsating noise of it as I pass by, and I am not surprised that he is really struggling to walk for the Lord.  If only he would put the world behind him and embrace Christ in every part of his life, I believe he could succeed; but I know his church is not telling him to do that.

I watch another young man.  His struggle is great.  He is trying to make the right choices as he walks the halls of our public schools.  The girls throw themselves at him.  His friends torment him to go to the prom.  So many of his ‘Christian’ friends are looking and acting just like the world; however, when he comes to me and tells me how awesome the above mentioned CD is – I know there is hope for him!  He is filling his life with music that will strengthen his Spirit while his beast sits by and pouts!

Dear Christian, will you take a serious look at what you are listening to?  Music is one of Satan’s greatest tools, and if you sit back and say, “It’s not a big deal,” beware!  Our children aren’t slipping off into doctrinally weak churches and worldly lifestyles by accident!

Leave it Alone!

My grandson is ten months old.  He can crawl to any destination he desires.  One of his favorite spots is the dog’s dish.  His parents wisely moved some things out of his reach – choose your battles – but the dog dish remains in place to teach him one simple word: no.

When he touches the dog’s dish, Daddy or Mommy says no.  He understands their meaning, but sometimes CHOOSES to touch the dog’s dish anyway.  That’s when his cute little patty gets a little smack.  It does hurt him; there are no bruises – the only thing that is bruised is his sin nature.

So what happens as he nears the dog’s dish the next time?  He stops.  His little hand reaches out and then he pulls it back.  He reaches again, wavering – you can almost see the thought processes!  “I want to touch that dish, but I know Mommy and Daddy don’t like it, and the action will cause me pain.”  Does he understand why they don’t like it?  No.  Does he understand germs?  No.  He only understands that his little patty hurts and his parents do not want him to touch it!

Why are the things that God has placed in the “do not” category entice us so?  Why are we drawn to those things that God has labeled “sin”?  Why do we wrestle so much with deciding what is sin and what is not?  Let’s blame Eve! 🙂 Do you see her hand hovering over the forbidden fruit as she makes her choice?  God and Adam have said ‘no’.  Satan, disguised as her favorite pet, says ‘yes’.  We read about her choice and suffer the consequences.

Dear Christian, are you wrestling with sin?  Has Satan tempted you into doubting God?  I just read an article written by a gay man who attended BJU.  It broke my heart.  He experienced all the dark sides of that institution and others; and many gray areas were tainted because of his mindset.  If only we could see where our sin will take us – it is NEVER closer to God!  Sin will always cost more than you want to pay and take you further than you want to go.  (Thank you Rand Hummel!)  Keep your hands out of the dog’s dish!

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7: 24,25

This is a Toad

If I said, “This is a toad,” you would question my judgment, perhaps even my sanity! You may even argue, “That’s not a toad, it’s a cat.”  If I asked you how you knew it was a cat, you might stare at me in wonder; but to humor me, you might say, “It’s furry – toads do not have fur.  It’s cute – toads are not cute. (Opinion statement!)   “Look at it licking its fur.  Toads catch flies with their tongues.”

So you judge a creature by its looks and actions.

Are we wrong to do the same with Christians?  What does a Christian look like?  If we had a lineup like the police do and only one person was a professing Christian, how would you pick him out of the lineup?

  1. I would like to think that his countenance would speak loudly: a smile, a look in the eye that seems to say, “The Spirit of God dwells within.”
  2. His outward appearance.  Ours is the only century in which this is a difficulty.  Think back to Bible times.  Picture a Christian and picture a Roman.  Picture a Hebrew and picture an Egyptian. There were not just cultural differences, there were serious modesty differences as well.  Think to the 17th or 18th century.  Would you see a Christian dressed in a revealing, immodest garment? If so, she would have been called a harlot.
  3. Could we tell by his speech?  Would there be a difference?

Is it a toad or a cat?  Is a Christian just an inner change, or does having the Spirit of the True and Living God dwelling within make a difference on the outside as well?  Just something to think about; but remember, the world is dying to see something real in a Christian’s life!  “ If you want to make a difference, you gotta be different.”

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  1Sa 16:7

Clopsy, the Carpet Cleaner

His way is best?  Do you doubt that?  Why would we ever doubt that the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Creator God would know less than we do?  Put it that way, and none of us would ever doubt His ways; however, it’s when the rubber meets the road that our doubts fly!   For example…

I own another piece of junk. (Definition: things that are considered to be of no use or value, or of low quality.)  Most of my ‘junk’ was not junk when it was purchased; however, it’s value is almost gone because of all its years of service.

I’ve never named this machine, but if I did, she (notice how all my equipment is female!) would be called Clopsy, the Carpet Cleaner.  Clopsy is short for Cyclops.  She is black and has a big red indicator light front center.  Like most of my junk, Clopsy was given to me and has served me well.  She is a tired old thing.  The handle is broken; the handy piece that holds the manual tool tubing is broken; the fastener that holds the brush bar in place is broken but she still works.  She has a long globby scar beside her eye from a near fire we once had.  Every time I use Clopsy, I have to do some sort of maintenance on her; but, she works…until today.  Today the soap dispenser wouldn’t work and I couldn’t fix it.  It’s not very effective to wash a rug with no soap!  I had already done one room – she does this to me just to entice me!  So, of course, I cried my frustration out to God.  Wouldn’t it be His will for everything in my life to run smoothly?

What would you have done?  Do I have time to mess with this thing? No!  Any of you that know me, know that my house isn’t spotless.  (This is not the time for comments; however, I’ve been meaning to ask you to comment – I’d love to hear from you – just not about my housecleaning skills!! :))

So, I got out the Clorox Clean-up Spray, sprayed the carpet and used the machine to do the rest!  The results were better than the usual cleaning liquid!  What a minuscule way for the Lord to remind me that HIS WAY IS PERFECT!  If I can remember that for the little things, when the big things come along, Lord willing, I’ll be in practice to say, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours – because it is a perfect way!”

To Clean, or NOT to Clean

Having a pastor-husband has many wonderful perks.  We can go to the mall at 1:00 Tuesday afternoon.  (Can’t stand crowds!)  We can spend a weekday with my in-laws who are no longer able to drive to our house.  We can take an afternoon and cut my mother’s lawn.  Our time schedule and our lives march to the beat of a different drummer and is measured by a different clock!

However, one of the “down sides” of having a pastor-husband, whose office is in our home, is that I’m never alone; and I have found that I can be a loner, even though I am in the ministry.  (Or maybe it’s because I AM in the ministry!)

Well, today I am alone!  Now, I KNOW what I should do – CLEAN!  The dust is so thick the plants are choking!  And we do have a Cocker Spaniel – need I say more?  But I don’t want to!  I’d rather do anything but clean!  I LOVE a clean house, and once I get started I’m fine; but sitting here at the computer tempts me with a thousand other desires: most of them are just plain time-killers?

So, is it God’s will for me to clean?  🙂  How do I know?  I’m being a bit facetious, but how often do we wrestle with that question: knowing God’s will?  Is there some secret formula for finding God’s will in our lives?

It’s the week after Easter.  What were the disciples doing?  How did they know what to do?  This one is simple.  Jesus gave them specific orders: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:4) Interesting that Peter went fishing!  I don’t remember seeing any places to fish in Jerusalem!  The command was clear: WAIT – the one thing that is hardest for us to do!  “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Ps 27:14)  When the way is not clear – WAIT!  I’ve made more blunders by pushing ahead to do MY will rather than wait on the Lord’s leading.

So what if we don’t have a clear mandate like the disciples did?  Paul gives us another great example.  When Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, Paul simply says, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6)  Right now, we are dealing with an important decision in our church. I know what I’d like to happen, and I do pray for that situation to come about; HOWEVER, I must always couch it in, “Lord, thy will be done.”  If it is not God’s will, it won’t be right and all will suffer.

Ask and wait, and keep serving the Lord.  When we were in India, we saw a great illustration of this truth.  We were in a nice restaurant.  It was early and the place was not crowded.  As we were seated and then received our meal, there were about 5-8 waiters standing across the room watching us. If we so much as blinked an eye at them, they were by our side, asking if we needed something!  That’s waiting and serving!  May we be so tuned in to our Master!  (And yes, I will clean today!!  As my mother used to say, “We don’t want the Board of Health to come and kick us out!”)

 “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”    Psam 57:7

The Great Divide

ID-100314857Jesus crucified is the true touchstone revealing what the world is: “The people stood beholding” in stolid indifference; the rulers, who wanted religion, but without a divine Christ crucified for their sins, “reviled”: the brutal amongst them mocked or railed; the conscious sinner prayed; the covetous sat down before the cross and played their sordid games.  The cross is the judgment of this world. (Rev. C. I. Scofield)

I’ve been reading the daily accounts of Jesus’ footsteps this week, following along as He rides triumphantly into the city, cleanses the temple, preaches, prays…  As I think of the disciples, I try to put myself in their place.  They saw so much: Jesus healing; Jesus stopping the Pharisees with his words of wisdom; Jesus, as he raised the dead!  And now this!  All their hopes and dreams are lying trampled in the dirt.  They thought He would usher them right into His kingdom; but instead, He was arrested, brutally beaten and whipped, mocked, and most humiliating of all: crucified like a common thief! 

Yesterday, I stopped to see my mom.  I knocked on the garage door.  No answer.  I looked in the window of the garage and saw her car, so I knew she was home.  I walked to the front door.  No answer.  Now I believe my mom will live to be a hundred (don’t we all!), but that moment, a horrible dread went through me.  Where was Mom!  What would I find when I got inside?  I stopped and thought how everything could change in that moment. Then I walked to the side porch thinking she might be working out back.  That’s when I heard the piano.  What a welcome beautiful sound!

For about thirty-six hours, the disciples experienced that dread of the unknown.  It was over.  What would happen next?  Would they all be arrested for treason against the temple?  What would become of them?  Then, early in the morning of the first day of the week, they heard the news.  Could it be true?  Many still doubted, but then He was there in their midst with those reassuring words:  “Peace be unto you.”  What a welcome beautiful sound!

Some may be indifferent to the greatest story ever told; others will count the revenue they can make on this holiday weekend like those who “sat down before the cross and played their sordid games”; some will gather in their places of worship like the rulers, having “religion, but without a divine Christ crucified for their sins”; some mock us, dear Christian and rail on our beliefs – we take the Bible too literally, they say; but the conscious sinner will pray at the cross and walk away rejoicing that his sins are gone because He is Risen!  Praise the Lord!!!  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!!!

…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.  And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20: 29a-31

Master of the Wind

Master of the wind,

Ruler of the stars,

God of the universe

Who dwells within my heart!

How can it be, dear One,

Who spoke the worlds in place,

That You, Almighty Elohim,

Full of love and grace,

Would dwell among a people

So bent to live in sin;

Yea, more than dwell: You conquered death

And come to live within!

How could we think that with our hands,

Our lives could be made clean?

Can deeds of goodness, small or great,

Our sinful souls redeem?

What could I do to ever pay

The debt of sin I owe?

Sin’s stain runs deep and deeper still –

“Condemnation” stamped my soul.

But Jesus!  Oh, Sweet Jesus!

Before the mark of time,

You promised to redeem me

And make my story Thine.

You died; You rose; You offered –

I saw; I wept; I took;

And now, O Blessed Savior –

My name is in Your Book!