Sunday, February 19, 2017

Who is the holiest in God’s kingdom

Who is the holiest in God’s kingdom? Is holiness what we do or is it where the heart lies? Salvation is a free gift from God, and all He requires is our belief and submission. It is as simple as walking through an open door, and as difficult as trying to get the locked door open. During the average lifetime, everyday living bruises us, and causes us to lock down our hearts. Education introduces alternative thoughts on reality. Society promotes self fulfillment and moral freedom. The truth is housed in shades of gray.

My understanding of salvation is a level playing field. We enter into God’s kingdom by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. God’s love was always with us, and didn’t increase because we are now His child. The faith we have was already measured out by God, and now becomes active. In God’s eyes when we are saved we are as holy as we will ever be.

I have been in the Kingdom for more than 30 years. I have observed many ‘movements’ within the body: the faith movements (name it and claim it), the prosperity movement (honoring those who are well off more than those who are not), and the judgment movement (those who have trouble and illness must be secretly sinning). While faith is the substance of following Christ, prosperity, or righteousness is the strength of Christ in us, and judgment exists within our personal relationship with Jesus, God is in control, and these movements have passed away because they were man-made.

Yet within the individual groups of believers, some of these ideas still exist. I met one woman who vehemently opposed Joyce Meyer, call her a prosperity teacher. I tried to explain that the Word refers to prosperity as righteousness. And this left me wondering: Why is it so hard for people to believe that God wants us to prosper?

I have an illness called positional vertigo. I can get very sick at times, and have to limit my movements. Why am I sharing this? Because I met a woman in a denomination who walked up to me and asked me if I had aids because she heard I was ill. I had never really spoken with her, and only known her a short time. I thought, off all the illnesses a person can have, why did she leap to this one? I honestly can’t look her in the eye. Not because of her question, but because of the heart if sprang from. Who thinks these things? How can a person go immediately to one of the worst conditions in America just because another person has an illness?

I have met believers who have many rules: don’t wear makeup, don’t go to movies, don’t play cards, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fellowship with unbelievers (now that one blows me away, after all, are we only suppose to shine the light on each other?).

I had a conversation with a young woman who had accepted Jesus as Lord. She was thinking of turning back because she couldn’t conquer all the ‘don’ts’ she was being told to do. I shared with her my own salvation experience. I was told by a woman I couldn’t be saved because I was a hippie. I thought about the statement, but knew in my innermost being that Jesus was real and that I decided to follow Him. I didn’t change overnight; it was years of praying, listening, and being cooked in the silver pot, all the dross skimmed off, then being cooked again.

Who is the holiest in heaven? God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. No matter what we do as Christians during our journey on earth, we cannot earn a higher place in heaven. We can draw closer to God always by learning to let our nature, our thoughts, our judgment, and our hearts, give way to what God is doing in our lives.

For me, that is deflecting my pride, keeping my tongue, being submissive to the rules at work, doing good wherever I see to do it, and handing my tendency for melancholy over to God every time I find it swimming in my soul. It is remembering that we live in an imperfect world, shrouded in darkness, and it is my ‘job’ to shine a lot in this darkness. My light is kindness (even when I don’t feel kind), consistency in my actions and reactions (even when I want to slap someone), smiling, and listening for the opportunity to encourage, provide, and perform a good deed for someone. And I do this for unbelievers. Imagine that?  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lifting God Higher

I have to share a song I heard this morning. It’s Higher by Unspoken and it will move your heart and soul. What amazing lyrics. The words are an echo of my heart. I ordered the CD Follow Through tonight.

This is my favorite verse:

“The devil's got a target on my heart and my soul
But let me tell you, brother, what the devil don't know
The lower I go, the more I'm gonna lift you….
Singing hallelujah 'til I hit the dirt, oh...”

Honestly, all that life throws at us, we hit the dirt often. As I am lying in the dirt, I look up. I remember that God is good all the time. Even when it seems so bleak, God is there, and I do need to remember to use these opportunities to lift God higher. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Walgreens balance rewards rip-off

I go to Walgreens for my prescriptions and everyday items. I keep my Walgreens balance reward points to use at Christmas. Tonight I found out that anyone can hack my balance rewards using a phone number. And I learned that Walgreens balance rewards program says “oh, well”. The Walgreens balance rewards program is a rip-off.

I went into Walgreens this evening to get Christmas stocking stuffers. I had $50.00 in balance reward points. As I checked out, my balance reward was only $5.00. The manager was kind enough to let me call Walgreens customer service. I spent two hours on hold, and spoke to two different customer service representatives.

I had to give them my name, address, date of birth, last four of my social, and my membership number before they would speak to me about my Walgreens balance rewards account. It turned out my rewards were redeemed in California (I live in Missouri) by someone using my home phone number. 

When I asked how this could be resolved so that I could use my reward amount, the customer service representative said “You can’t. They have already been redeemed. It seems like fraud, but there is nothing we can do about it”.

So “Between the corner of healthy and happy”? I don’t think so. What’s the point of spending money at Walgreens to build up rewards so that someone can hack them with no consequence, and the customer, who spent the money to build up the rewards, it told “too bad so sad”. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What we can learn from Pearl Harbor Day

Pearl Harbor Day is a remembrance of the attack on the United States December 7 1941. In the early morning hours, Japanese pilots bombed Pearl Harbor, killing 2,335 servicemen and wounding over a thousand others. Sixty eight civilians were also killed. The Japanese attacked with warning. The pilots bombed airfields and damaged eight battleships. Among these is the Arizona, which exploded and sunk killing about 1,100 men on board. The attack on Pearl Harbor marked the entrance of the United States into World War II.

To my surprise, many of the people I work with didn’t even remember Pearl Harbor. One guy responded “Why should I remember something that happened 25 years before I was born?” Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that as an American I should be knowledgeable of my history. I know that America is not perfect, but being aware gives the country a chance to learn from mistakes.

Personally, I am concerned about the state of the nation. There are so many folks who offer opinions without understanding the who, what, when, where and why of the circumstance. I remember what it was like before the civil rights movement in the 60s. I was young, but I remember Martin Luther King’s speech. I remember watching the violence and bigotry in the country, and seeing African Americans leading the way for equality. I remember the Vietnam protests and the brutality of the 1968 democratic convention where protesters were beaten and gassed on national television. I remember the 1970 shootings at Kent State, where the National Guard opened fire on protesters, killing four students and wounding nine others.

When the Twin Towers fell, Americans were firmly behind the invasion of Afghanistan and some wanted to bomb the entire Middle East. The War on Terror was coined, and the United States entered into the global war on terror. But who remembers the bombing at France’s Orly Airport attack on July 15 1983. The bombing killed eight people and wounded 55 others. Terrorists bombed the 1972 Summer Olympics killing eleven Israeli athletes and one German police officer. Terrorism was largely ignored by the United States until it reached our borders, just as it did on Pearl Harbor Day in December 7 1941.

In my home town we experienced unbelievable riots over the shooting death of Michael Brown. This lead to the Black Lives Matter movement. But, at the same time folks were marching for Black Lives Matter, a nine year old girl was killed by flying bullets while she did homework on her bed. Black Live Matter didn’t protest this.

Am I rambling? Some. But all we experience now in America is rooted in what has happened in the past. And, because some have forgotten the past, the country continues in turmoil. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Choosing a heart of peace

We live in a stressful world, dealing with rudeness and a lack of empathy for others. I made a decision some time ago to choose a heart of peace. For a while now, I have been letting God work on my heart to react with peace. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. By choosing peace, people are easier to work with, because they have no cause to react to a peaceful answer. 

Romans 12:18 advises us “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” This can be a humbling process, at least it is for me, because my part is to stand firm and not allow gossip, disrespect, or the need to be right interfere with my peace. I have learned that trying to argue with people leads nowhere. I have learned that gossips and disrespectful people are digging holes for themselves.

I remember poems I have read, and what my Mom always said about me. I march to the beat of a different drum. Henry David Thoreau wrote “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”  Being a Christian I am marching to the beat of a different drum. But God also wants me to walk in the measured beat of the world, understanding that without Christ, we lack understanding.

One of my favorite poems is also a source of advice and remembrance when I am in stressful situations.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute                                                                      
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
 And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! -  Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Choosing a dress for holiday occasions

With the holidays fast approaching, you can expect invitations to holiday parties, galas, fundraisers, and holiday dinners. But who has a closet full of ready to wear elegant apparel? Before you head to the store, consider how to pick a dress for your special occasion.
Choosing the perfect dress can be both exciting and challenging. When you receive an invitation to a special occasion, the invitation may state formal, semi-formal or casual apparel. We all want to look great, but don’t want to be over or under dressed. These simple guidelines for formal, semi-formal, and weddings will help you find the best dress for the occasion.

Formal dresses

When invited to a formal occasion, the invitation usually includes a clue to the dress code, such as 'black-tie' or 'formal'. Usually fundraisers, galas, balls, and formal dinners require formal attire.
Formal dresses can be floor length or cocktail length, but not too short or too revealing. The fabric for formal dresses includes silk, brocade, lame (a metallic fabric) and jacquard. Dresses can be off the shoulder, strapless, or have thin spaghetti straps. Formal colors are white, black, red, gold and silver. Formal dresses should be one color and may have limited patterns. Remember the darker the color the more elegant you will appear. Formal dresses can be trimmed with rhinestones, embroidery or other accents.
It is important to make sure the color of your shoes match your dress. If you cannot find an exact match, the rule is the color of the shoe can match the hemline or be slightly lighter. Formal footwear can be elegant high pumps or dressy sandals.
Choose an elegant small evening bag that matches your shoe color.
For a truly elegant appearance, understate your jewelry. Choose a simple necklace and earrings, and keep bracelets to a minimum.
Semi formal
For a semi formal occasion, choose a cocktail length (short dress) or dressy pants paired with a jacket. The fabric can be the same as for formal dresses; however, semi-formal fabric can includes taffeta, chiffon, and other fabrics that flow.  Avoid fabrics that cling to your shape and dresses that are too revealing.
Follow the same rules as formal dressing when choosing your shoes, handbag and jewelry.

Choosing a dress for a wedding has only one unbreakable rule. “No one wears white except the bride.” Other than that, dressing for a wedding will depend on the formality of the wedding. If the couple is being married at a park with a barbeque reception, the dress will be much different from attending a formal reception at a hall or hotel. Unless the reception is casual, a cocktail dress, elegant pants, or full-length dresses are acceptable. Good etiquette is to choose an outfit that compliments your beauty, but will not draw attention away from the bride. Other than that, buy a dress that is fun and looks good on you.   

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro dies at age 90
Fidel Castro has passed away at age 90, and with this news, I remember one of the scariest days of my life. I was just 12 years old when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. The US was already a volatile and scary place to live: we watched the riots in the fight to equality, we did duck and cover drills at school, and the nuns had us consider whether we would die for Jesus when Russia invaded the US.

In a TV address on October 22, 1962, President John Kennedy (1917-63) notified Americans about the presence of the missiles, explained his decision to enact a naval blockade around Cuba and made it clear the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize this perceived threat to national security. Following this news, many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

I was home sick from school. I was laying on the floor watch boring daytime television, when the news interrupted with news of the missile standoff between the US and Cuba. The picture shown here is what I saw on television. Twelve in the 1960s was still very young, and I was terrified. I called my mom at work.

After watching for awhile, I went into my room and said some prayers. Then I wrote this poem.

I would hate to be in a war
Even if I didn’t get hurt.
To have some strange man come and say “I won you”,
I didn’t know I was a prize.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Even Jesus had to be patient

I was reading Luke Chapter 12 this morning, and found a statement that surprised me.  Even Jesus had to be patient.
Jesus was talking with his chosen twelve, and shared His personal challenge with stress. I can't say I have ever read where Jesus expressed His own experience with being patient.  I read the Word to discover how to be a better Christian, how to handle a situation, and to strengthen my faith in God. But did you notice: I was reading to find out what I should do and what I could experience. When the Holy Spirit lit up these verses for me, I was filled and thought about this all day.

Jesus was speaking with the crowds “So stop concerning yourselves about what you will eat or what you will drink, and stop being distressed.” Luke 12:29 (ISV). I believe Jesus had stopped speaking to the crowd, because “Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable just for us or for everyone?" Luke 12:41 (ISV)

Jesus answered His disciples: "I have come to bring fire on earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and what stress I am under until it is completed!” Luke 12:49-50 (ISV).

Jesus taught others not to be afraid because the Father would supply their needs. He told them how much God loved them, and how even the hairs of their heads were numbered. Even ass Jesus spoke these words, He was practicing patience. Jesus knew when He started His ministry how it was going to end. Jesus knew He would be crucified and rejected by the very people He was helping. And He helped them anyway.

I spent a portion of my lunch hour today reading different versions of Luke 49 and 50. The words remained the same.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The secrets in aging

Aging is beautiful

Aging is what we do as long as we live. I don't really 'know' how old I am. I am light on my feet, filled with smiles, and mostly pressing forward towards the future. Oh, I do get frustrated, life happens, but there is still an air of excitement.

Aging's Secret

Aging is coveted by small children,
Tall enough to ride, or walk, or simply reach.
Then reaching seems easy and aging turns
Mastering math, catching a ball or boy, and beauty,
Aging is distracted by desire, dreams, goals,
Lost in achieving, gaining, raising kids,
Regaining momentum in attainment, and watching babies
Turn to small children.
Then somewhere in the mix, age becomes a distance,
Disregarded, and conversations skip.
Unseen, unknown, aging is creeping always on the young,
Bending them into worn wisdom, advanced by small children.
Cycling, aging, beauty, achievement, master, wisdom
And a small sly smile.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Worry sneaks quietly into our heart


Sometimes worry sneaks in before you know it. I have been going through a stressful period; don’t we all have these times in life? I came back from vacation in Florida and had some little red bumps on my legs. My doctor sent me to a dermatologist. Turned out, I had squamus cancer on my face and basil cancer on my legs.
I had to go weekly for four weeks to have my skin dug, scraped, and sewn. I found out I am a bleeder, so Waa, this was tough. Then there is the concern of how to pay for all this. Add to this the need to do major and minor repairs on my home. My home had its 72 birthday this year.
I became negative in my thinking, worrying about finances and repairs and cancer. The words of my mouth were complaints and whining. This Saturday I was getting ready to visit my brother for his birthday. I knew he would ask me how things were, and I was rehearsing my problems.
Suddenly the Holy Spirit reminded me “What about God?” This hit me like a brick. How could I go to my brother’s house and complain, when I serve such a mighty God. I realized that over the past few weeks I had let worry creep in like crabgrass. It was choking me and I did not even notice it.
I had to apologize to God right then. I asked Him to create in me a contrite heart and a right spirit. I asked him to restore my salt so that I would not lose my ability to praise God and be a witness with my life.
I felt like going to every single person I whined to and apologize. However, this would not serve a purpose. Instead, I have purposed in my heart to be more watchful. The Word says in life there will be trouble, but God delivers the righteous from them all.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV2011)