Oh, My Aches and Pains

My body hurts. Well, not really; at least, my WHOLE body doesn’t hurt. My joints ache, especially when I do physical activities I’m not conditioned to do (like running and jumping and lifting heavy weights, and mowing and weedeating. Ugh!) Sometimes my lower back gets so tight I can barely move, or my upper back will spasm so it’s difficult to breathe.

I’m NOT complaining! If I hurt, it’s usually because I’ve been doing something physical. I’m thankful, instead, that I am ABLE and CAPABLE of doing those things, even when the end result is lineament and ice packs. I’m thankful, because I saw my Grandma and my Dad reach a point where they were unable to do even simple physical tasks, and, at least for now, I can still work. I have friends who have been crippled by abuse and who are unable to do seemingly simple tasks, and I am grateful that despite the things I have dealt with in my life, there is still much I can do. I know people who have such severe disabilities that they are confined to a wheelchair, unable to take care of their most basic needs.

I am grateful for my aches and pains. I may complain, and I certainly get frustrated when I find that I am unable to do a physical task that was easy for me a few short years ago. I am envious of the woman who can still grab a 100# bale of hay and load it in the pickup; who can climb onto a roof carrying heavy buckets and roofing material, dig post holes, or work in the garden. It frustrates me that it takes me days now to complete a task that only took a few hours before. But still, I am thankful! Even though I can no longer do what I was able to in the past, I am thankful, because when Jesus returns and I get to join Him and my Dad and my Grandma, and all the others who have gone before me, the aches and pains will be GONE. I will see Z and Lexi, J and C, and all my friends and family who are restricted on earth by physical issues; all of them running and jumping and praising God with perfect bodies and perfect voices. What an absolutely glorious life to look forward to!

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 (http://bible.com/111/2co.5.1.NIV)

Here’s the kicker. Do you KNOW you’ll be there with us? It’s very simple to make sure.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20‭-‬21 (http://bible.com/111/2co.5.20-21.NIV)

“For GOD so Loved the world that He gave His One and ONLY Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life….. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of God’s One and Only Son. John 3:16‭, ‬18 (http://bible.com/111/jhn.3.16-18.NIV)

ALWAYS, and in EVERYTHING…..

“…. ALWAYS giving thanks to GOD the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 (http://bible.com/111/eph.5.20.NIV)

and AMEN!

Waste Not – Or, Let Me Offend You Today….

“God blessed them {That means US, His human creations} and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” Genesis 1:28‭-‬30 (http://bible.com/111/gen.1.28-30.NIV)

“When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” ” John 6:12 (http://bible.com/111/jhn.6.12.NIV)

I’ve had this conversation so many times. As Americans, we are so wasteful that at times I am ashamed to be called one. When I had the opportunities to go to Europe, I was able to see firsthand how restrictive their laws are regarding waste. The result is that people are much more aware of their habits. Rather than throwing everything into one trash receptacle, it was sorted by what could be recycled, what could be composted, and what could be fed to the chickens. My grandma taught me that we should respect the earth, and her garden and root cellar were a wonderful place for a kid. I realize that really, very few Americans get to experience the beauty of rich earth and growing things, and it is such a shame. We grow up watching television and glued to social media, with ads shouting at us that we “NEED” all of these things…. shipped in from other countries, wasting resources. Yes, this is my opinion. We are horribly wasteful. When I moved into my house, the city provided me with two – TWO – large waste bins, and one small recycling bin. ONE recycling bin. Isn’t that a little backward?

Think about what you trash that could be recycled. Paper. Actually, shredded paper is an excellent mulch… but we would rather trash it and create more waste to dispose of instead of sending it to be recycled. Plastic! Oh, I could rant for hours on plastic, but I won’t. It is one item that is easily reused and recycled…. but it’s EASIER to just throw it away. I’ve been told (quite strongly, actually) that it is the JOB of the trash men to sort out the trash. Maybe that was true years ago, but not any longer. I remember going to the dump and seeing where the appliances and other usable items were put out where you could retrieve them, if you were so inclined. Watching the trucks lined up at the modern dumps – excuse me, “landfills ” – you can see how impossible that would be now.

Do you know that you can take in your aluminum and get paid for it? Also other metals?

Then we have glass. I love glass containers. They are non-reactive, so anything can be stored in glass safely. I’d love to see the deposit put back on glass bottles so that we could exchange them. We have a new shop here that sells spices, and she’ll use your glass bottles to put them in for you. Pretty cool, because it saves us both money, and eliminates waste.

Finally, let me touch on water. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink… how dependent we are on water! Without water, there is no life, yet we squander it daily as if it is limitless. There is another water that we desperately need, too, even more than we need the water that flows from our taps. I’m talking about the Living Water of Jesus Christ. Do you know that water?

“In GOD, Whose Word I praise— in GOD I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:4 (https://psalm.bible/psalm-56-4)

We can only reach this fearlessness the psalmist talks about by accepting Jesus’ Living Water. To do that; to never be thirsty again, we have to believe and receive the gift Jesus is offering. Just like the woman at the well, we have to be willing to take it.

Jesus told her, “If you knew the Gift of GOD and Who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you Living Water….. Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the Water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the Water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to ETERNAL Life.” John 4:10‭, ‬13‭-‬14 (http://bible.com/111/jhn.4.10-14.NIV)

Rant over.

The Law

The LAW. Civil, criminal, or spiritual, we love to hate the law.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is Life and Peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to GOD; it does not submit to GOD’S Law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please GOD….. [But] those who are led by the Spirit of GOD are the Children of GOD. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “ABBA, FATHER.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are GOD’S Children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of GOD and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8:6‭-‬8‭, ‬14‭-‬17 (http://bible.com/111/rom.8.6-17.NIV)

“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” In jails and in prisons across the world, the inmates all claim they are innocent (Really. Just ask them!). Christians, and those claiming Christianity, the “religious,” are no different from the worst criminals. We don’t like looking at our (constant) sin – and regardless of what any leader or preacher might say, we are ALL guilty and WILL be held responsible for our sins. Thank You, Jesus, that we have an Advocate Who will defend us when God the Father sits on the Judgement Seat and looks at our lives!

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. CHRIST JESUS Who died—more than that, Who was raised to Life—is at the right Hand of GOD and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of GOD that is in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” Romans 8:34‭-‬35‭, ‬37‭-‬39 (http://bible.com/111/rom.8.34-39.NIV)

Verses 38-39 hold ALL of our hope for our souls. Nothing – NOTHING – can separate us from our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing. Paul wrote it so eloquently and completely! If there is nothing else that I have ever said is worth remembering, these verses should capture your heart and your mind. Once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are safe from the eternity of fire. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal; once saved, always saved. Do you want Jesus to suffer the cross again, every time we tell a “white” lie (a lie is a lie, period…. and I am guilty) or every time we sin? I think anyone would say “NO!”

We are not slaves, to be crushed by the world. Instead, we have received ultimate freedom through His suffering and pain. We are also not immune to the trouble the world (i.e. Satan, the enemy) will dump on us. No, as Paul reminds us, “As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:22) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who Loved {LOVES} us.” Romans 8:36‭-‬37 NIV http://bible.com/111/rom.8.36-37.NIV

The Truth of those words is staggering! “Jesus Loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so.” Still true; Amen.

Challenge

I challenge you to study God’s Word! Even though it was started 4000 years ago and finished 2000 years ago, it is as true and applicable today as it was then! Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, but they are also directed to us today:

“…. to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our LORD Jesus Christ—their LORD and ours: Grace and Peace to you from GOD our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. …. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our LORD Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our LORD. …. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:2‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭-‬9, 17-18 (http://bible.com/111/1co.1.2-18.NIV)

George Orwell nailed it in his statement. As Christians, we must – we MUST – speak truth. I don’t mean we should go stand on the street corner with signs, shouting “the end is near!” No, it’s within our families, among our friends and coworkers, to our neighbors we need to be speaking. These are the people we need to speak God’s truth to. Our freedom is in Jesus Christ, and I will not give up my freedom lightly! I will do all I can to protect yours, too, as I stand with Christ.

Praise the LORD

“Give Praise to the LORD, proclaim His Name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His Holy Name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and His Strength; seek His Face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced…” Psalm 105:1‭-‬5 (http://bible.com/111/psa.105.1-5.NIV)

WHY can’t we just praise Him? Remember this hymn? “Praise Him, Praise Him….” by Frances “Fanny” J. Crosby? (From Psalms 146:2)

  • Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
  • Sing, O Earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
  • Hail Him! Hail Him! Highest archangels in glory;
  • Strength and honor give to His holy Name!
  • Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children,
  • In His arms He carries them all day long.
  • Refrain: Praise Him! Praise Him!
  • Tell of His excellent greatness;
  • Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song!
  • Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
  • For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died.
  • He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
  • Hail Him! Hail Him! Jesus the Crucified.
  • Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
  • Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong.
  • Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
  • Heav’nly portals loud with hosannas ring!
  • Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever;
  • Crown Him! Crown Him! Prophet, and Priest, and King!
  • Christ is coming! over the world victorious,
  • Pow’r and glory unto the Lord belong.

LOVE that last verse! Jesus reigneth forever and ever, He is coming back and will be victorious! ALL Power and Glory to Him belong! ALL Power; ALL Glory, Amen!

Be Still

He [The LORD] says, “Be still, and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (https://psalm.bible/psalm-46-10)

I love how God decides what I’m thinking and writing, sometimes mid-sentence. As I sit outside on the back porch this morning, I was considering how beautiful and unusual it is for the 1st day of August in central Oklahoma. It’s raining; a soft, gentle rain with no wind or lightening, and the temperature is hovering around 70°. More like early March or April, really. Whatever the date, I am grateful for the cooler temps and the rain, and enjoying being outside with the pups. So, gratitude is on my mind…..

As I read and take in the words of Psalms 46, it strikes me again that we humans worry too much. I am all for peace between countries (“Peace on earth!”), and I am adamant about conservation and management of our God-given resources; the plants and animals and the earth itself. It is all here for us to use, not to abuse… and it is critical for us as Christians to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout our neighborhoods and cities and countries.

But be still and read these words from the psalmist:

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging….. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The LORD ALMIGHTY is with us; the GOD of Jacob is our fortress….. He says, “Be still, and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD ALMIGHTY is with us; the GOD of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:2‭-‬3‭, ‬6‭-‬7‭, ‬10‭-‬11 (http://bible.com/111/psa.46.2-11.NIV)

Whatever natural disasters occur, when nation fights nations, He is reminding us again to be still in our hearts, and to take the energy we would spend worrying to instead, worship Him. I really do understand how difficult it can be, and how difficult it IS, to praise God when our lives are in turmoil. I have experienced and witnessed things I couldn’t wish would happen to anyone, but I know that worse things happen to people. There is much evil in this world, and the enemy uses it to try to destroy our faith. It almost worked on me. Years – YEARS – of my life were spent in the enemy’s grasp. It was ugly, at best. Beyond description at the worst, and there are still millions of people caught up by it all. As difficult as it is, I go back to the Psalms to remind myself of God’s power… and to Revelations to see the punishment of evil when God sits on His Judgement Throne. He will reshape the earth and come to dwell with us in the new Jerusalem, the City of God.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” … Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 (http://bible.com/111/rev.21.5.NIV)

LORD, if I am anxious about anything, let me be anxious for Your Return! Amen… He will return like a roaring lion!

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Morning Attitude

Ah. There’s something about that first swallow of hot coffee in the morning, almost indescribable. Of course, if you aren’t a coffee drinker, you’re probably making a face and thinking, “yes, I can describe it – disgusting!” I bet there’s another beverage of choice that gives you that feeling, though. Hot tea, iced tea, milk, Dr. Pepper or Coke (and etcetera….) Maybe it’s just a good long drink of water. It’s a kind of relief that washes over us (ha! No pun intended!); it gives us the feeling that now we can maybe face the day. I confess; I have a morning attitude. Coffee first, THEN talk. I saw the perfect quote the other day, and I’m making it into a sign for my kitchen. “I drink coffee for your protection.” Those who know me well know how true it is. It’s like my mouth doesn’t work, and that’s probably good because my brain can’t dig out anything good.

The other thing I absolutely need every morning is time with God. I know that He doesn’t care if my mouth works or not, He cares that I spend time with Him. When I miss my morning time with Him, my morning attitude morphs into an all day attitude …. and it isn’t pretty. Just like my body needs that “wash” of coffee, my attitude needs to be washed daily by God’s Word and His Mercy. It still amazes me sometimes just how drastic my attitude adjustment can be. Does your attitude need to be adjusted? Spending time with the LORD is every bit as vital to our wellbeing as anything we can drink or eat. Our souls need nourishment, too.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7‭-‬8 (http://bible.com/111/jer.17.7-8.NIV)