Excellent Health

bunch of white oval medication tablets and white medication capsules

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I recently had my yearly check-up (which I try to stretch into two years!) and was asked to rate my health: excellent, good, fair, or poor. Hmm. It’s hard to give myself excellent in anything—that’s just how I’m wired, but as I talked with the nurse she assured me that it was OK! Then, after my exam, the doctor said that I was in excellent health! Really? Excellent? Well…

My biggest problem is my cholesterol at 241. 😦  I’ve struggled with it for the past several years and have been able to bring it down somewhat. I know that the numbers are to be @200, but I REALLY don’t want to be on medication already. So, for the past few months, I’ve worked to take off some weight and am taking Red Yeast Rice. The question is this: Is 241 an acceptable number and how can I say that my health is excellent with high cholesterol. (Oops! That’s two questions!)

Anyway, here are my thoughts: The doctor labeled my health as excellent because of all the other factors: don’t smoke, not diabetic, good eating habits, etc.. Now the question is, where do I go from here? Do I sit back and say, “I’ve made it! Excellent health!” and then stop exercising and eat doughnuts? For me, the report was a great blessing and it has encouraged me to work harder. I’ve hit one goal, so how about five more pounds.  What would that do for my cholesterol? How exciting!

What’s the point? Whether we are ministry leaders, parents, teachers, coaches, or leaders in the community, we need to remember to encourage those who look to us for leadership and example. If we continually say, “Well, it’s just not good enough,” our fellow believers, children, students, team members, etc. will become discouraged.  They may even quit or rebel against our leadership!

What kind of a leader are you? Can you give the truth without crushing the spirit? I believe the reason this scenario spoke so loudly to me is that for the last five or six years I have felt as though my numbers were never good enough.  I wanted to quit and yet I didn’t want to be foolish about my health. Can we look at the whole person and see where they are struggling and encourage them in their Christian walk without excusing sin? I believe we can and the secret ingredient is… the heart. Hmmm, I wonder if that is why “love” is the first attribute mentioned in the list of the fruit of the Spirit?

Tough Love—tough is the adjective, love is the all-important noun (in this case!)

And then there’s one last thought: What good is excellent health if my soul is unregenerate? I may live another 40 years! That would make me 99–29 more years than God prescribed for us in Psalm 90:10:

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

And so…

Having an “excellent” spirit is a hundred times more valuable than physical excellence in this world and the next!

 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalm 14:1

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Back to School or Back to Knowledge?

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Thou Hast Rejected Knowledge

BY HENRY M. MORRIS, PH.D.  | FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 20

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)

This lament over the ancient apostasy of Israel embodies an agelong principle that surely applies to those nations today that once professed Christianity but are now dominated by humanism. Our own nation is experiencing an awful scourge of moral anarchy among our children and young people, and the reason why is because their parents and grandparents have largely “forgotten the law of thy God.”

America—particularly its intellectual leadership—has “rejected knowledge,” so its people are being “destroyed for lack of knowledge.” This ignorance exists despite an abundance of supposed actual knowledge (i.e., “science”) in our educational institutions, for such facts are almost universally taught in a secular context. Our teachers have forgotten that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

Even in evangelical and fundamentalist churches and schools today, there is often too little emphasis on knowledge and too much on experience. Christian faith is not “feeling”; it is a volitional commitment to a true intellectual understanding of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” said Christ (Luke 13:5). The Greek word for “repent” means “change your mind!” One can only believe right if he first thinks right, and this requires true knowledge.

Listen again to Hosea’s warning: “The LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy [i.e., kindness], nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). HMM

 

The Most Beautiful Sight (AKA When Satan trembles!)

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

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This week at our Mom’s Morning, several of the young mothers shared about their mornings—how they got up early (while it was still dark!) and had their devotions. Each one shared the precious wonder of quietness as they drew near to God before little feet began to patter. That is one of the most frightening things on earth in the eyes of our Archenemy. In fact, I can only think of one other thing that would be more frightening to him—fathers having their devotions!

These young women gather regularly to study God’s Word as it is expertly applied to parenting by Paul Tripp. (14 Gospel Principles That Can Drastically Change Your Family). They share their struggles and openly express their failures and shortcomings… and Satan trembles.

Raising children has never been easy. Every era has its own set of challenges. We recently watched a movie as children were pulled from their parents and shipped to another location because Hitler’s army was coming. I can’t even begin to imagine the heart-wrenching horror of having to do such a thing. Sadly, in my home state of Pennsylvania, we read once again about the unspeakable abuse of children in the Catholic Church. How do you parent through something like that? Michael Pearl states that “for the first time in the history of the world, Satan has mainline, 24-hour-a-day, intravenous access to the hearts of children… into the brains and hearts of children” (No Greater Joy, March/April 2018 p. 25). With the enemy’s ability to encroach our homes, we must be doubly on guard to protect and nurture our little ones!

But… there are parents who are fighting back! They are building a wall of protection for their children, staying alert to the strategies of a most artful and expert foe! They fill their homes with the sounds of God’s music. They faithfully come to church with their little ones. They guard the eyes and ears of those precious little souls who are in their watch care. But most of all, they are looking inward and allowing God to change THEIR hearts to be more like the Master, and that, my friend, is Satan’s worst nightmare! When moms make the effort to rise before their children to spend time in the Word, Satan trembles. When they not only read the Bible but apply it to their hearts and lives, Satan shrieks. And when they allow the Holy Spirit to use what they have gained from the Word to change to be more like the Master, Satan fumes. They whisper those sweet words of Jesus into their hearts and then into the ears and hearts of their children, and Satan flees! What a beautiful sight!

Are these moms perfect? They would tell you, no! Do they have perfect children? No again, but they are determined to what it takes to mold their children into soldiers for Jesus Christ, ready to do battle against the Enemy when it is time for them to take up their swords.

As Satan’s time of total defeat draws nearer he is ratcheting up his attacks. We can see signs of that everywhere, but I am so thankful for this next generation who are determining to “hold the line.” It truly is a beautiful sight!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.3 John 1:4

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. James 4:7,8

Press, follow… persecute?

 

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How is your “press” going? Are you “pressing?” I’m not talking about removing a wrinkle in your shirt—I’m talking about checking for a possible wrinkle in your life.

The Greek word for press is more often translated as “persecute” (24 times–the only thing I can figure is, if you are going to persecute someone, it says something about your dedication to a cause!), but it is also translated as “follow” or “follow after” ten times. (I’ll list some of those verses at the end. I thought they were very helpful. Comparing scripture with scripture is one of the best ways to study the Bible and gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.)

Philippian 3: 14 is the only place which translates the word as “press,” and the illustration which Paul is alluding to is that of a runner pushing himself towards the finish line. I’m not a long distance runner (unless you consider running to the mailbox 50 feet away as a long distance!) but I would think that the most difficult part of the race is the middle where you cannot see any signs of the finish line, and isn’t that where we spend most of our time?

people doing marathon

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So, that makes me throw out another question: Can you see the prize? According to Paul, the prize is not just crossing the finish line but a “high calling” or the race itself. Winning the race is not just a single moment of completion but the culmination of hours of running and training!  Commentator Albert Barnes puts it this way:

 

God has called us to great and noble efforts; to a career of true honour and glory; to the obtainment of a bright and imperishable crown. It is a calling which is “high,” or upward—that is, which tends to the skies. The calling of the Christian is from heaven, and to heaven. Compare Proverbs 15:24 (The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath), He has been summoned by God, through the gospel of the Lord Jesus, to secure the crown. It is placed before and above him in heaven. It may be his, if he will not faint or tire, or look backward. It demands his highest efforts, and it is worth all the exertions which a mortal can make even in the longest life. (emphasis added)

We all need to be “pressing,” diligently seeking to finish well. I’m not sure how that translates for you today. It may mean not hurling angry words at a clerk or fellow driver or thinking the worst of someone who chooses not to do what you think they should. OUCH! Or perhaps for you, dear mommy, it means showing patience to those little gems who are driving you crazy!! (Showing them patience does not mean letting them have their way, but guiding them in the right way with a right heart.)

Each of us has a race to run, and every born-again believer’s race should include a local church. OUCH AGAIN! (I’d better stop all the toe-stomping or no one will read my posts!) Seriously though, there are shut-ins, doctors, and other occupations that just cannot be in church on a Sunday morning but too often, we make all kinds of excuses for missing out on the best part of the week! Here’s the last question:

Can you honestly say that you are running your Christian race well and not be involved (concerned, occupied, implicated, immersed, enmeshed, entangled, aboard, participating, on the team, with us, on our side—all synonyms!) in your church? A very famous preacher said this:

Today thousands of local churches are dying because of Christians who are unwilling to serve. They sit on the sidelines as spectators, and the body suffers. God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. He created you for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for you to do (Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.). Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God.

I can certainly “Amen” that statement! Do you need to follow the Nike motto and “Just Do It?”

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Philippians 3:13-15

Here are some of the verses that use theGreek διώκω (diōkō) translated as “follow after:”

Rom 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (This verse actually had the Greek word in it twice.  I’m not a Greek scholar, but it looked as though you would say, “Let us, followers, therefore follow…”)

1Co 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

Phl 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after,  that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

1Ti 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

My Mission Field

 

cogan house viewThis photo is my desktop screen.  I LOVE it! It is also my mission field. You may say, “But where are all the people? What do you have, I ministry to cows?” No, but there are folks in them there parts! God did not call us to the foreign field or to the city.  He called us to a zip code which has about 3,000 spread over approximately 64 square miles. (VERY rough figuring!) That’s not a whole lot of people! But…

  • Are there people who have not trusted Christ as their Savior? YES!
  • Are their families that are broken? YES!
  • Are there families that are searching for the truth? YES!
  • Are there elderly who need to see Jesus? YES!
  • Are there teens who need hope? YES!
  • Are there children who need to hear the Gospel? YES!

What does your mission field look like? Do you have a mission field?  Is there something that God wants you to do? For example…

  • Does the cashier need a friendly word and smile from you? And maybe even a Gospel tract?
  • Does a neighbor need to know that you care?
  • Does a family member need help? Or even a heartfelt Gospel letter?
  • Could you bake a cake for a busy mom or even watch the kids while she goes for groceries?
  • Maybe someone in your church needs a listening ear or an encouraging phone call or a smiley face text.

All of these ideas are little seeds that may someday bring forth fruit! Go! Enjoy the summer! Plant some seeds in YOUR mission field! And maybe, just maybe, the Lord will even allow you to see some sprout!

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Matthew 10:42

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. John 4:35

 

The Best “CLEAN”

 

downloadThis is not an ad for NORWEX, but I must admit—I’m sold on these cloths, and that’s saying a lot. I’m a hard sell, and when my daughter started selling NORWEX, I thought, “I’ll buy a few things just to help her out.” Well, nearly a year later, I’m still overly amazed!

This morning, as I washed my face with a NORWEX face cloth, I thought once again how amazing this microfiber/silver “baclock” cloth is! Lately, I have felt like I have to wash my face several times a day. We live in NE PA at 1700 ft. elevation. There are times when AC is nice, but for the most part, especially in the spring, the cool evening temperatures make life livable without it. HOWEVER, we’ve been having high temperatures and high humidity and my blood hasn’t thinned out yet. (Is that really what happens? :))  Yesterday, the temperature dropped but we literally lived in a cloud for most of the day. When I went down the mountain I was surprised to see that it was just a cloudy day, but then I noticed that the tops of the mountains—the place where I live—were shrouded in clouds!

CLEAN!  What a nice feeling! The dirt and grim (and glistening, if you know what I mean!) are gone! My skin feels fresh… and super clean!  And, of course, that made me think of my soul.

Not only do we get to enjoy the cleansing power of the cross when our souls are redeemed—made completely spotless in the sight of God because of His Son’s ultimate sacrifice—but we are able to enjoy a deep daily cleansing.  I call it Daily Soul Scrub (DA-P3 = Daily, Alone with Paper, Pen, and Prayer, explained in “Still Waters”).

We sometimes think that a splash of the Word to our souls is enough.  You know: you fling open your Bible, read the first verse you see, and yell, “Done!” The Word of God is alive and it is powerful, but it needs to be applied carefully! Some days, that may be all we can afford, but can you imagine the physical example if that becomes our normal habit? Yikes! Peeyoo! Without sounding too harsh… why do we notice when we need a bath but we don’t notice when our spirits are dirty?

Often, we are tempted to sprinkle the Word into our souls, taking in the little bits of Bible that are splattered within a podcast or radio broadcast. We are blessed to have wonderful resources and I’m all for using them, but DA-P3 is like the first scrub of the day.  It’s alone.  It’s personal. It’s essential!

When our daughter smeared margarine on a mirror and then simply wiped it away with a NORWEX cloth, I was stunned. It was miraculous! (Not really.) But I thought, “This must have been how the Native Americans felt the first time they saw a stick shoot fire and bullets!”

Oh, how miraculous is the Word of God! Trying to cleanse our souls with Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, or the Five Pillars of Islam is like trying to wash my face with a mechanic’s rag. It’s a very useful item to the mechanic, but it belongs in the garage, not the bathroom! Those manmade truths may clean up my life, but they will never be able to remove the sin from my heart! Years ago, I had a wonderful conversation with a Hindu woman. She really knew her religion and her sincerity broke my heart. However, when I asked the question, “What do you do to get rid of sin?” she had no answer even though she admitted that she often pondered the question!

Ah… the best clean! Aren’t you glad that it is free and available to all!!!

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:7-10 (Such powerful truths!)

 

 

 

 

 

Burning, Burning, Burning

Candle_(Slava_celebration)“A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.” I saw this quote in one classroom and thought it was worth sharing, but couldn’t we broaden the scope a little:

“A good pastor is like a candle, who consumes himself to light the way for others.”

“A good Sunday school teacher…”

“A born-again believer…”

Isn’t that our calling–to be spent so that others will see the True Light–Jesus Christ? How are we “consumed?” Like that candle, we become consumed as we live and walk for our Lord.  Our testimony shines because we are “consumed” or are willing to sacrifice…

  • Our ways — living in the light of the gospel may require giving up our ways for His Way.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. Isaiah 55:8

  • Our thoughts — EVERYONE has an opinion.  I overheard a 7th grader explaining that she didn’t follow any religion.  She just goes on her experiences. WOW! It made me realize that many people are missing the one essential factor which directs my path. As believers, we are three-part beings: body, soul, and spirit. Our goal is to have the Spirit of God control our mind which, in turn, controls our bodies. When a person leaves God out of the picture, he will listen either to the desires of his flesh or the dictates of his mind.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Below is a chart of the outcomes when we allow either the bodies or our minds have greater sway than God’s Holy Spirit.

Body-controlled Mind-controlled Spirit Flesh wins every time.
Body-controlled Spirit-controlled Mind Spirit is controlling the mind, but only when the body allows.
Mind-controlled Body-controlled Spirit A disciplined person who factors God right out of the equation.
Mind-controlled Spirit-controlled Body A disciplined person, but logic overrules faith.
Spirit-controlled Body-controlled Mind Physical actions overrule common sense quenching the Spirit of God.
Spirit-controlled Mind-controlled Body Spirit has His way in the mind, which, in turn, dictates the body’s actions.
  • Our Expectations — Sometimes we just assume the outcome.  We assume that our marriage will be bumpless, our houses spotless, our children nearly sinless. God’s plan may be different from ours because He sees and knows everything, and His expectations for us to “come forth as gold” often require circumstances beyond our expectations.

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10

A good teacher or pastor gladly pours himself out for his class/congregation, thrilling when he sees a student gain understanding or a church member yield and grow.

Burning with a passion for Christ can cause burnout unless we experience a Maccabee’s miracle! Around 200 BC, a Syrian king took over Jerusalem. He allowed the Jews to stay but prohibited them to worship in their traditional way, encouraging them to worship the Greek gods. Some did, and they were called Hellenistic Jews. However, when this king built a statue of Zeus in the Temple, the Jewish people had had enough and revolted.

When they successfully ousted a much larger and better-equipped army, they cleared out the Temple and rededicated it to the Lord; however, they only had enough oil to burn the Menorah for one day.  Miraculously, it burned for eight, and this miracle is celebrated every Hannakuh.

We will soon be consumed if our strength is not from God.  There isn’t enough wick or wax to finish the course.  Some Christians sputter at the very beginning of their walk, perhaps because they are CINOs: Christian In Name Only. Sputtering is also caused by the splash of the world, our flesh, and Satan who would gladly extinguish our light IF HE COULD! (Praise God, He can’t!) It may be caused because we are too close to the world’s faucet of foolishness, and we are not regularly dipping our candles into the wax of the Word.

Daily, we need to do a self-check to be certain we’re ready to shine brightly, by…

  • Trimming our wicks
  • Cleaning our chimneys
  • Being filled with the Word.

 

“Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.”