Spiritual Fitness

Did you know there are three foundational things that, if managed properly, will keep one physically fit? Food. Rest. Exercise. Food consumption must focus on a healthy, balanced diet, avoiding processed foods, sweets, and such. Rest, that is, consistent good sleep, can prevent serious physical and emotional illnesses. Nothing beats a good night’s rest. Exercise is the third foundation stone in maintaining a healthy body. The word exercise is distasteful in some people’s vocabulary. But, if done correctly, it helps one live a longer, more energetic and productive life with less anxiety and illness.

Did you know that spiritual women and men also need food, rest, and exercise to be healthy, well-balanced, and spiritually fit? God’s word, if ingested frequently and used properly, is food that fills our souls with everything we need for correction, instruction, and righteousness, so we may be complete, thoroughly furnished for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We must avoid unhealthy books or other things of the world that draw us away from God.

What rest is to the physical body, prayer is to one’s soul. Diligent prayer can prevent serious doubt and anxiousness. Think about it. Prayer reminds us that God is in control of all things, great and small. We have the privilege of taking our joys, sorrows, and everything in between, to our Father. When we do, we find peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:6-7). God’s care and love for you and me is unsurpassed! The One who loves us so deeply promises to provide everything we need, and shower on us rich spiritual blessings that we never dreamed were possible to receive.

The physical body needs exercise to be fit. Likewise, the Christian woman and man need exercise to become stronger each day. Spiritual exercise comes in steps; beginning, intermediate, and adult or full-grown. When we know God’s word and understand His will for us, we humbly obey him with repentance and baptism, then we gradually move beyond the first principles. Growing up in the Lord requires that we begin to feast on the meat of the word, its deeper truths. With greater knowledge and understanding of God’s commands we build spiritual muscles that allows us, by reason of use, to have our senses exercised to help us discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:12-14). Spiritual exercise is not a choice, it’s a must, given the society in which we live.

Some questions remain. Are we feasting on the word of God, or just sampling it from time to time? Do we often come to the Lord in prayer, or just seek him we we are in need? And finally, are we growing spiritually? Have we developed spiritual muscles so we can rightly divide the word of truth? Or have our muscles atrophied due to lack of exercise, leaving us open to every wind of doc- trine (Eph. 4:14)? Important questions, don’t you think?

Today’s Verse: Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).

By Teresa Hampton

Audios available at http://christianwomanaudiodevotionals.abiblecommentary.com.

GREATNESS

Do you know who Darryl Strawberry is? He is, above all things, a man of many talents.

Most people who know his name know that he is a former major league baseball player, playing for such teams as the Mets and the Yankees. He played eight or nine times in all-star games and was an intimidating player.

In the eyes of some, Darryl Strawberry is a great man. In the eyes of others, he was a troubled man who led a troubled life.

I am not concerned with the troubled part of Darryl Strawberry’s life since I don’t know him personally or the true details of the lifestyle he is said to have lived.

What I am interested in for the purpose of our discussion today is a statement I recently heard him make. He said, “Greatness comes when you put the work in.”

What does it mean to be great? The New Oxford American Dictionary gives the following definitions for great and greatness:

Great—“the ability, quality or eminence considerably above the normal or average”
Greatness—“the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent”

If we use the definitions from the dictionary, Darryl Strawberry would, in the minds of some, be considered a great man. But what is great in the eyes of God?

A mother once went to Jesus with a request. She felt justified in her request because her sons, James and John, were disciples of Jesus. She even knelt before the Lord as she asked Him; “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21 ESV).

Simply stated, she wanted her sons to be elevated above the other disciples and be placed in distinguished positions in the Lord’s kingdom. Of course, we must keep in mind that she thought His kingdom was to be an earthly kingdom.

Jesus reacted to James and John with this question, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” (Verse 22). They replied that they we able to do this.

Jesus explained to them that they would drink of the cup of which He would drink, meaning they would suffer as He would suffer. It was not, however, His place to give special recognition.

The following verses are applicable to our topic of greatness. He said, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

On another occasion, Jesus and the disciples were making their way to the city of Capernaum. When they arrived, Jesus asked them what they were talking about on the way. Scripture says that they didn’t answer Him because they had been discussing who was the greatest.

Jesus knew, of course, exactly what they were saying. So, He sat down with them; and this is what He said to them. “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:33-35).

To prove His point, He took a child and put him in the middle of the group. He actually took this child up in His arms, and He explained His previous statement to them. He said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9:36-37).

When we become a servant, we become great. When we do for others, we are doing for God.

Darryl Strawberry was right! Greatness comes when we put the work in. Greatness comes when we serve. Greatness comes when we put others before ourselves.

Sandra Oliver

This Grandmother’s Memories to Her Grandchildren

Ideally every child should know that one of the most lasting friendships he can make is with his grandparents. The best way to build that bond is with memories—perhaps by telling accounts of family history over supper or a plate of brownies, painting the deck, walking or driving down the road, at family devotional times or just sitting in church together. Wherever the family is, it takes time to get to know each other from the heart through daily living. It is little moments of time together that make the ties that bind.

As I look back on my own childhood, I remember with fondness a few photos and recall scattered accounts of what my grandparents did or where they lived and worked. All four of my grandparents died before my parents were married. Growing up, I never had the special privilege of knowing what grandparents could offer me; yet, I loved to hear stories about who those special people were, things they stood for and did. I loved the fact that they were Christians trying to live a life of service to their Lord. I was deeply impressed with their perseverance to do what was right in spite of illnesses or poverty. It was in my early years that I determined to be the best grandmother I could possibly be for my grandchildren and give them all the warmth I had missed.

Fortunately, the Lord has blessed me with quite a few little people to love. I have not always been able to bond with them because I was not where they were when the bonding time was best. As the years have passed, hope for a friendship has grown because their maturity has helped to make them aware of my offers of love.

“Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psa. 78:1-7).

by Beth Johnson, Chennai (old Madras), South India

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All your might

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NASB).

What happens if you start watering but never make it to the far end? What about weeding your garden, but not getting around to mulching? Oops, I think I just stepped on my own toes right there. I’ll tell you what happens then. You get to enjoy a nice-looking garden for about two weeks. In a month, it’s a weed patch, and all your hard work has been in vain.

Speaking of weeding, this particular task often needs all your might . Proper weeding is not for sissies. My Dad’s huge vegetable garden was picture perfect, with neat rows and nary a weed. He spent long hours after work tending it, and it built up his impressive muscles to a point where he never met a man who could best him at arm wrestling.

If you plant a tree, you had better make a hole that is big enough. If you get tired of digging and set the rootball too shallow, it is less likely to thrive.

So when it comes to our spiritual life, why is it that we “wimp out” with so little exercise?

In some circles, if you don’t work out regularly at a gym, you are held in disdain by those who do. But we get a pass if we don’t exercise our spiritual faculties.

“For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

We may start a Bible reading schedule, only to abandon it within a few weeks because we are so “busy.” We might intend to pray regularly for people, for missions, for our own growth; but that sometimes we lose our enthusiasm to do this all the time.

Our benevolent works may start out with a lot of energy, but we lose our momentum. We start teaching a children’s Bible class with armloads of visuals, crafts, and games, only to slow down to a more mundane presentation later in the year.

It is not always easy to keep the momentum up for any good activity, whether physical or spiritual.

But the verse has a deadline. Jesus said, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Since our own personal “expiration date” is not known to us, we tend to act as if it doesn’t exist.

“Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry,” said the man in the parable Jesus taught in Luke 12. But God had more accurate information about this man’s allotted days. In fact, his time was up that very night.

There is a time to rest, and God even commanded it by instituting the Sabbath day in the old covenant.

Since most of us don’t take a full day of rest in this day and age, maybe we tend to work a little slower, or not with our full energy. It is possible also that we do not take our spiritual “work” as seriously as we should.

There are numerous benches in my garden to sit and enjoy the flowers. However, without the hard work, those resting places would not be nearly as enjoyable.

Let’s get to work!

Christine (Tina) Berglund

Life is messy, and for some messier than others.

I have written many times through this medium about my earlier life, but it wasn’t until I read an article the other day which made me, or rather forced me, to see things from a different perspective.  I knew it logically, had heard it preached in sermons, but it didn’t resonate with me until now.  Perhaps in your own life this lesson will help you.

Many times when people asked me about my life, where I came from, where I was born, and who my parents were, I would dodge the question or change the subject.  There was a reason (humiliation and embarrassment).  I believed deeply within myself I was to blame for all that happened and couldn’t bear for anyone to look into my eyes, nor see behind the mask.  I didn’t want them to know, and equal to it was feeling ashamed of where I came from.  These feelings stalked me through congregation after congregation, person after person, with no rest.  Running and hiding, dodging question after question, always frightened they would find out the truth and never accept me.

Life is messy, and for some messier than others.  We all want to come from great Christian parents who loved us, had a perfect home, a perfect education, a perfect family, no problems, and no scars.  When I would hear stories from others or read bio’s of others and compare mine, frankly,  I just didn’t want to talk about it.  I could look in the eyes of others and read them.  One question would beget another and I looked for an exit as fast as possible.  I became adept at it, and then I just became tired of running.  You may not escape your past, but you do not have to let it define you.  This is the lesson I learned.

I have learned what others can only learn from books, but books cannot give a depth of understanding and compassion for others which I have learned from experience.  My past made me dig deeper into God’s Word for answers.  Those experiences are what made me who I am today.  It formed my character and made me realize I was not responsible for the choices made by others, though I did have to suffer from their choices.  It is my faith in God which drives me onward and shows me a much better way of living and the possibilities that lie within me.

It wasn’t by any stretch a perfect life, but then who has a perfect life?  It was my life, and my story.  Scars were left, but only because the wounds have healed and taught me many lessons.  Trying to cover up my life wasn’t giving others an opportunity to learn, and prayerfully they will not make the same sinful choices in their own lives as my parents did.

I no longer view myself as a scared and scarred woman.  I still have my moments, but now I view myself as God sees me (a faithful child of His).  It is through the death of His Son I have purpose, direction, and meaning in my life.  I know who I am.  I know to Whom I belong, and where I am going.

We all have a story, but it usually isn’t the story we are telling the world.  I know God accepts me, and I don’t have to run from the past any longer.

“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.”     Philippians 3:13-14

“When something bad happens, you have three choices.  You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”      ~ Dr. Seuss

Eileen Light

 

Lives and pine cones

Not long ago I became aware that you could bleach pine cones.  Needless to say, I thought this was a great idea.  East Texas is abundant with pine cones, so I thought I might just try bleaching them.  The photographs that I have seen of them are beautiful and many make wreathes, door hangings with the bleached pine cones, or use them in floral displays the year round. They take some time to bleach, but the end result is worthwhile.

When I submerged my pine cones in water, I had no idea they would close.  When I saw them, I looked back at the instructions to see if I had gone through the process correctly, but they didn’t say they would close.  After twenty-four hours of bleaching, I removed them to dry, just to see what would happen to them.  It took several days, but as the days passed, I noticed again the pine cones were opening, and they had turned out beautifully.

How like our lives those pine cones are when troubles come to us.  When submerged into trouble, sorrow, and grief, we can’t see anything beyond, nor a brighter day.  Our hearts are sorely troubled, and we then wonder why the world goes on spinning, people passing by, life continues to go on, and they don’t stop for us in our hour of despair.  Don’t they know we hurt?  Don’t they care?  Those were my thoughts after the death of my husband.  I tended to close myself off from the world, just as the pine cones closed, not wanting any interaction with too many people.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;   but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”       Hebrews 4:15

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”    Proverbs 3:5-6

We all react to grief and troubles differently, but I believe we are not that much different from one another, just as the pine cones when they were shocked by the bleach.  After time passes, we like they begin to open.  All are different and react to pain and grief distinctly, closing and opening at differing times.

“O Lord my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast heard me.”  Psalms 30:5

“. . . .weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”   Psalms 30:5

As the tears dry and the acceptance of what once was are now just memories, we begin to open to others, and life becomes easier.  Our souls are changed through the process of grief and we become beautiful.  We become different, more attune to those that suffer grief and loss.  We become more understanding of others who are placed in the same circumstances.  Just as the pine cones are changed through the shock of being bleached and became beautiful when dried, we become beautiful souls through grief.

“Real isn’t how you are made.  It’s a thing that happens to you.  Sometimes it hurts, but when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.  It doesn’t happen all at once.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all.  When you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.   Once you are Real, you can’t become unreal again  It lasts for always.”   ~ Margery Williams

Eileen Light

 

STARTING OVER

January is the time most people choose to make New Year’s resolutions. It is a time to start new things and give up old things.

It isn’t necessary to wait until New Years to start over. Each day presents an opportunity to begin again. The key is being able to let go of the past and look to what the future can hold.

Paul said, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV).

Paul was a Pharisee, a Jew of high-ranking authority. He was a Roman citizen, and he had persecuted Christians. Paul could have spent his time feeling guilty for the things he had done. Instead, he wrote in this letter to the Christians at Philippi that he must put those things behind him. He even told them he must forget those things.

Guilt is a terrible feeling. When we examine our lives, we all find things that we would like to change or forget. Being human, it is often hard to do that. We seem to want to hang on to the past, revisiting every mistake, hurtful feeling, and indulge ourselves in self-pity.

Jesus once said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). If we want to be considered fit for God’s kingdom, we cannot look back.

Luke gives us a reminder of someone who serves as an example of looking back when he said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). There is a serious lesson to be learned from Lot’s wife. She and her family had lived their lives in a city of corruption, one filled with all kinds of immorality. God gave her and her family a chance to escape, but the angels sent to help them had to physically remove them from the city. Their instruction was to not look back. Lot’s wife couldn’t resist the temptation to look back on her past life, and we know the results. She was turned to a pillar of salt.

The Hebrew writer says, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Letting go of things that weigh on our minds—our sins, our mistakes, our indiscretions, our guilt—will allow us to run the Christian race. Letting go will allow us to serve God in the most effective ways.

In addition to putting aside guilt, we must put aside our problems. Once again think about the apostle Paul. He enumerates to the Corinthians some of the problems he faced.

Paul said, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:24-28).

I think we can all agree that our problems have not equaled those of Paul. He considered all of these things a joy to endure for the cause of Christ. Can we do any less?

We must also let go of people. I’m not talking about loved ones, but I am referring to those who want to change who we are.

Sometimes, when we are trying to follow Christ, there are those who put pressure on us to become like them, like the world. They may even be fellow Christians who want to live a double life—church on Sunday and in the world the rest of the week.

Paul told the Corinthians, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (Second Corinthians 5:17).

In Christ, we have a responsibility to Him. We belong to Him. We owe Him our allegiance. We should let go of the old man of sin and become a new creature, one who obeys His commandments.

Now that we have talked about letting go of the past, let’s look to the future. Remember that we, as Christians, can start new anytime. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:22-25).

Sandra Oliver

THE SINNER’S PRAYER

The “Sinner’s Prayer” is not without its critics. Because no such prayer or conversion is found in the Bible, some evangelical scholars have even labeled the sinner’s prayer a “cataract of nonsense” and an “apostasy.”  More than one pulpit minister has raised questions over the authenticity of the conversions of people using the sinner’s prayer based on research by George Barna.[i]

An early proponent of the sinner’s prayer was the well-known American evangelist Dwight L. Moody.[ii]

Another version of what some would consider the Sinners’ Prayer is found in Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, published in 1678, Ninth Stage, Chapter 18:

Hopeful: He bid me go to him and see. Then I said it was presumption. He said, No; for I was invited to come.[Mt 11:28] Then he gave me a book of Jesus’ inditing, to encourage me the more freely to come; and he said concerning that book, that every jot and tittle thereof stood firmer than heaven and earth.[Mt 24:35] Then I asked him what I must do when I came; and he told me I must entreat upon my knees,[Ps 95:6] [Dan 6:10] with all my heart and soul,[Jer 29:12,13] the Father to reveal him to me. Then I asked him further, how I must make my supplications to him; and he said, Go, and thou shalt find him upon a mercy-seat, where he sits all the year long to give pardon and forgiveness to them that come.[2]  I told him, that I knew not what to say when I came; and he bid say to this effect:

God be merciful to me a sinner, and make me to know and believe in Jesus Christ; for I see, that if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness, I am utterly cast away. Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Savior of the world; and moreover, that thou art willing to bestow him upon such a poor sinner as I am—and I am a sinner indeed. Lord, take therefore this opportunity, and magnify thy grace in the salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Billy Graham[iii]

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.

Amen.

Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ)

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.

St. Paul Street Evangelization

God our Father, I believe that out of Your infinite love You have created me. In a thousand ways I have shunned Your love. I repent of each and every one of my sins. Please forgive me. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for me, to save me from eternal death. I choose this day to enter into (renew my) covenant with You and to place Jesus at the center of my heart. I surrender to Him as Lord over my whole life. I ask You now to flood my soul with the gift of the Holy Spirit so that my life may be transformed. Give me the grace and courage to live as a disciple in Your Church for the rest of my days. Amen.

Paul Harrison Chitwood, in his doctoral dissertation on the history of the Sinner’s Prayer, provides strong evidence that the Sinner’s Prayer originated in the early twentieth century.[iv]  One question we might ask is, “if THE Sinner’s Prayer is a salvation issue, then why are there so many different ones, and how can each denomination claim it puts the sinner into their fellowship?  Another question we must consider is: Why is the sinner’s prayer not found in Scripture anywhere?

I recently saw one well-known, modern day author claim that Luke 18:10-14 teaches the “sinners prayer” because Jesus used the words *justified,* *prayed,* *sinner.Here is the text of that affirmation.  But there is more here than appears on the surface. It is not merely God’s mercy that is needed, for He has already been merciful to let us continue to live at all. His mercy gives us our breath and life and all things (Acts 17:25).

This parable of the Pharisee and the publican is set in the context of the Jewish temple worship, where sinners would bring their sacrificial offerings to cover their sins, knowing that “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). How do New Testament Christians come in contact with Christ’s blood?

When studying Bible subjects, it is always important to distinguish the Old Testament from the New.  A basic dividing line between the two testaments is Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Since the information in Luke 18:10-14 was prior to Jesus, death, this would naturally fall under the covenant God made with the Israelites when He led them out of Egyptian bondage to become a new nation.  Considering the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, “conversions” under the Old Law would not be applicable to New Testament examples today.

Matthew 28:18-20—And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Such is also true for the penitent thief on the cross (Luke 23:32-43).  As you read, be sure you know and apply the difference between the two testaments!  In verse 32, we see there were two malefacors led with Christ to be put to death.  One of the two mocked Christ saying, “If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself (Luke 23:37).  But in Luke 23:38-42 the second malefactor rebuked him saying, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Although this conversation between the theif and Jesus Christ is true and right, it was under the old law and not the new.  Such a situation could not be applicable to today’s salvation.

[i] Viola, F. & Barna, G. (2007) Pagan Christianity? Exploring the roots of our church practices, Tyndale, p.104

[ii] https://www.moody.edu/about/our-bold-legacy/d-l-moody/

[iii] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Billy-Graham

[iv] http://digital.library.sbts.edu/handle/10392/4153

 

–Beth Johnson

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To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity

I know you have one of those days.  We all do.   Anything which can go wrong does.  Sometimes, if I knew what the day held in store, I believe I would just crawl under the bed and forget it.  Some of these vexations we all identify with, and sometimes I believe they rate right up there with major problems in life, though they fall well short of unexpected death.  This week has been one of those weeks.  You may laugh at what happened to me this week, but that’s quite alright.

I had a jar of mayonnaise which was already opened, but I couldn’t find it.  I looked in the refrigerator, pantry, and anywhere I thought I may have left it.  I never found it.  Well after searching, I gave up and bought another jar.  And wouldn’t you just know it.  Suddenly the jar of mayonnaise appears.  I know what it is, a conspiracy to get me to go to the store for another.  Haaaa!  You know the rest of the story.  I had to throw it away for spoilage.  Certainly didn’t need food poisoning.

Wednesday night arrives.  I head for evening services.  I arrive back home and it is dark.  I dropped my keys between the console and the driver’s seat and spent almost a half hour searching for them, in the dark with a cell phone for light.  Being aggravated with myself would be an understatement. People passing by on the highway must have wondered what I was doing.  I practically had to stand on my head searching for those missing keys.  I had an extra set, but that set didn’t have my house key.  So it was either find them or spend the night in the car.  And in 88 evening temperatures.  To top the evening off, I injured my wrist in the process.

I normally leave my cell phone by my bed.  This morning while doing laundry, I suddenly realized I didn’t know where my cell was.  I finally located it in a dresser drawer while putting my clothes away.  Don’t ask.  When one is single, you are apt to do most anything.  Haaaa!

And we don’t want to mention the server for my computer which didn’t want to send an email; it kept on buffering and I had to start over.  Vexations indeed, including a spider I found on my pillow just as I started to bed.  I hate spiders.  If that critter had crawled on my neck, I might have made another passage way to my living room.  They are creepy.  I don’t know if it was poisonous or not, but I wasn’t going to share my bed with a spider.  I suppose it came in to get relief from the heat.  Freeloader.  Haaaaaa!

In each of these vexations, annoyances in life, in the moment they aren’t too funny.  In my case. I have a great sense of humor and laugh, but some of the annoyances, such as a flat I had on the railroad track, which ruined a new tire, and no one stopped to help, was a great disappointment.  I did get my friend to help and he came right over.  It was surprising I reached him by phone.  Other places I tried were short of workers, and you know the story – they couldn’t help.

Just had a flat.  The postman put the long awaited check in a box down the street.  The paper boy failed to throw your paper.  You are ready for breakfast and you’re out of coffee.  The neighbor’s cat spends too much time in your yard.  The car ran out of fuel.  The children next door knock the ball through your window.  You bought tickets to go on a much needed vacation.  The day comes and the airline is on strike.

What do you do about it?

“You accept the fact that life has annoyances as well as uplifting days, then you count to ten, and if you feel like giving up, keep counting.”

~ Leroy Brownlow

“And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret.”     I Samuel 1:6

“To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.”

Eileen Light

 

“When in doubt, pull your Bible out.”

I have made a number of errors in cooking and the following are some of the most humorous.  I’m telling on myself, for there is a lesson here, whether in cooking, building a house, knitting, or whatever we do in life which calls for a pattern.  If we want any of these to turn out well, we must follow the pattern.  Otherwise, as in my situations, things just don’t turn out too well.

My friend called me around midnight three years ago and told me he didn’t know if he was having a stroke.  He got up to go to the bathroom and ran into a door which knocked him down.  As it turned out, when I arrived to check on him, he had broken his shoulder.  He was concerned about his dog, being able to feed his cows, horse, and cooking for himself.  I told him I would take care of his animals and would make some meals for him to freeze and he could have those while recuperating from his broken shoulder.

One day while cooking fried chicken for him, I noticed what I thought was an extra piece of chicken.  I thought to myself:  A bakers dozen.  How nice of that company to do that for the customer.  After preparing his meal and saying his prayer, he reached for a piece of chicken.  He took a bite and told me.  You fried the diaper!  He laughed so hard.  It hurt my feelings at first, but then I thought it hilarious as well.  Everyone in town still brings it up to me.  I just laugh and go on.  No good deed goes unpunished.  Haaaaaa!

Later, I decided to make him a pumpkin pie.  I mixed all of the ingredients, placed the pie in the oven and halfway through the baking process, it occurred to me I had forgotten the sugar (rather an important ingredient in the pie).  Once again he laughed at me.  I haven’t lived that down as well.  And of course everyone in town knows of that cooking error. Haaa!

Then, he told me he had not had a caramel pie in well over 50 years.  His wife made it once.  He told her it wasn’t like his mom’s and he never got another throughout their 60 year marriage, at least until his friend (me).  I got the recipe and made the custard fine, but when it came to the caramelized sugar, well, that didn’t turn out so well.  I never made a pie just like this, and this particular pie called for the caramelization of sugar.  I set off the fire alarms in my house for the heat was too high.  He was pretty good about the pie and didn’t say much.  Probably because his wife never made another and thought his friend might not as well.  Since, I have perfected the pie and it is a requested fairly often.  It pays to follow the instructions in all things, including God’s Word.

When it comes to God’s Word, we must follow the pattern.  Had Noah not followed the pattern of building to the specifications as God told him, neither he nor his family would have been saved during the destruction of the earth by the flood.

“Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”      Genesis 6:22

Nadab and Abihu did not follow God’s pattern and were killed at the altar.

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.”    Leviticus 10:1-2

Naaman had leprosy and was not healed until he followed the pattern.

“Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?  May I not wash in them, and be clean?   So he turned and went away in a rage.  And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?  Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan according to the saying of the man of God:  and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he as clean.”    II Kings 5:12-14

Moses did not enter the Promised Land for his failure to follow the pattern.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes;  and it shall give forth water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock:  so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.  And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He commanded him.  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice:  and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.  And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”    Numbers 20:7-12

Adam and Eve did not follow the pattern God gave them and they, too, were ousted from the garden.

“Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”    Genesis 3:23-24

There is still a pattern for worshiping God.  Worshiping Him is not a matter of how we want, but following His plan of salvation which leads to eternal life.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”   John 10:1

“God is a Spirit:  and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in Truth.”     John 4:24

“When in doubt, pull your Bible out.”    ~ Unknown

“It is better to be a self-made man, – filled according to God’s original pattern, – than to be half a man, made after some other man’s pattern.”    ~ Josiah Holland

Eileen Light