~reflections~musings~inspirations~insights~and life lessons learned by one who is
whole-heartedly, steadfastly, firmly in HIS grip~

Romans 1:6 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Give Me Jesus!

update on ryan

FROM Elise Wedgeworth Hobson: PLEASE PRAY FOR RYAN! The pneumonia has gotten worse. They are putting him on a ventilator right now. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches Ryan.[posted this morning at 8a.m.]

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ryan Hobson Update

Elise Wedgeworth Hobson They gave Ryan another port, this time in his neck. He's not really happy about that. His fever is still down...that's a praise!! His oxygen levels and blood pressure continue to be low, and that is a big concern. Please pray for these and for white blood cells to multiply quickly so his body can fight the infection.

Thanks for your continued prayers.


It is with a heavy, yet hopeful, heart that I ask you all to stop what you are doing right now and pray for God's touch of healing for Ryan Hobson, and for his mother Elise and his father, Mark.

Mark and I attended school from elementary through high school. His father was our principal and his mother worked in the office while we were in school. Mark is now the assistant principal and his wife is also employed at the school. They are a wonderful Christian family...very active in church and the community.

Their son, Ryan, pictured here with his family, was diagnosed with leukemia this fall. Ryan has been very ill the past couple of days and Elise is keeping us all updated via FaceBook. I have copied her latest status so you will know how to pray. It was posted about three o'clock this morning.

Elise Wedgeworth Hobson Ryan has been moved to ICU. He has pneumonia and is having trouble with his oxygen levels. Very critical. Please pray without ceasing. It breaks our hearts to see him like this. Pray, pray!

Mark 11:24 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

Philippians 4:5(b)-7 " The Lord is near. Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer andpetition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Our God is still in the healing business! He is the same yesterday, today and forever more! He is our hope, our joy, our life. Please join with me as I pray for Ryan, Mark, Elise and the family.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Got Away

Two thousand miles from Arkansas, living on the streets in California, a middle-aged woman lost her battle for a shopping cart and stepped into the street where she died after being struck by a passing car. The story probably didn’t make the front page of the local paper or the five o’clock broadcast news. Just another hopeless, homeless woman come to no good end… people passing by just shake their heads and move on.

But this woman was more than a face among the masses that others try hard not to look at in the eye. This woman had a home and a family. This woman had a mother whose heart never quit loving and never quit hoping her daughter would one day show up… a mother who waited for word and worried what that word would be… this woman’s life meant something to somebody!

I have to be honest, I haven’t really thought of her in a couple of months. We were already adults when her mother married my brother. Around the same age we both had young sons and penchant for pot and tough men. Two girls rebellious and walking on the wild side that, once clean and sober, turned out to be the seedy underbelly of a respectable society.

The last time I saw her she had been out of rehab a couple of months and was on vacation with the family in some state park. I’d gone up there with Mom, Dad, and my little brother and sister for a day. When the boys, younger than two at the time, were down for a nap she rented a paddle boat and we took off to get away from the “little kids.” As we neared the middle of the lake she fired up a joint. I can’t remember the exact conversation but I know we talked of getting out from under our parents roof…the rules there were suffocating and we were treated like children. We talked of what we’d like to do with our lives and the men that were in them at the time.

I married, she married and both experienced everything that marriage was NOT supposed to be and in the horrid reality of our own life choices we lost touch. I’d heard bits and pieces of her life as I was grappling with my own. Fights won and lost, the loss of custody of her three children, jail…then she was gone…disappeared without a trace.

My life moved forward, divorce… military… college… new life in Christ… new marriage… motherhood… career… Sunday school teacher… grandmother… but I never heard news of her again. She disappeared before I got my life together… before I could share my good news… before I could tell her of our Savior and the change that is made in one’s life when we accept Him…

This week her mother finally found out where she was… tragically too late to do any more than what has already been done. Through my mother’s sobs came the words, “What makes one person turn their life around and the other not? Surely it is more than the love of family because she was fiercely loved. Can it be more than hope and prayers begging God to reach out and snatch her from the calamity that is life succumbed to addiction? Is it more than the heartache experienced by her loved ones in the wake of her decisions… more than rehab and interventions?”

Yes, Mom, it’s more than that. While we sit and pray and twist our hands calling out to God for safety, for a change of mind, a change of habit, a change of life… she had to be the one who reached out and took hold of His hand. She simply chose not to.

My heart is in agony today for my dear sister-in-law, my brother and the rest of the family. I am saddened by the fact that while I know she had been exposed to the Love of God, she disappeared before I could personally plant any seeds of His love and I pray that along the path of her short life she experienced bits and pieces of happiness.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'll Stand For You

I love this song! Don't forget to turn the music off to the right.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Am More Than A Statistic - I Am The Result Of Some Potent Seeds!

I was not "raised in church" like many of my friends were. Oh, I had been a time or two. I remember I was about 9 or 10 when Lonoke First Baptist planted a church in our then rural community. That summer Butch, Barbie, and I went to Vacation Bible School. I liked that. I was fresh soil and a seed had been planted.

I've wondered sometimes what life would have been like if I had just kept going to church after VBS that year but for some reason, I didn't. I went back once as a teenager but I had smoked a joint on the way to service. I shudder at the thought now...sitting in a pew stoned, tight lipped as the minister of music lead the congregation in songs I'd never heard. Blankly staring as the preacher talked about a God I didn't know. Trying to look "straight" as people came up to me after the service to shake hands and welcome me. I couldn't get out of there fast enough...but my heart, no matter how fuzzy my brain was, had been stirred and secretly I wanted to know that love they sang about in the last song: Just As I Am.

Now I am sure psychologists could give a long list of reasons why I felt like I didn't quite fit in my peer group at school, why I felt like nothing mattered... like I didn't matter. Worthless, unlovable, unlikeable, untalented, stupid... that's who I thought I was but all I ever wanted was to be someone different...someone special.

Three months after what I thought was the best birthday date ever, I sat in my bedroom, seventeen... shattered and broken hearted... an unwed, pregnant teenage girl. So I ran 600 miles. I was an adult now no matter how young I was I was going to do this and do it my way. It did not take me long to identify the "party crowd" as I attended my last year of high school.

My great-grandfather, Pappa, had been one of those fire and brimstone Baptist preachers and lived in a nursing home not too far from my great-aunt, with whom I was now living. I loved going in there and seeing him... listening to stories from his life... listening to him talk about God and Jesus. One of the conditions of living with my aunt was that I had to go to church on Sunday mornings if I was not working and because I was pregnant I had to wear her old wedding rings.

I liked it... I especially remember the young adults class... college and careers people a little older than me... none unmarried and pregnant... The Kings were the teachers and we did lots of things outside church services...they loved me just as I was and I didn't need to wear fake wedding rings for that acceptance. In that short time those seeds of love were planted deep! I looked forward to those classes and outings while running wild in the world. Unfortunately, my great aunt did not like the wild part and I had to move in with my mother's brother and his wife...abruptly cutting church out of my life. My son, Richard, was named after Richard King, the leader of that group.

As you can probably guess by now...I wasn't really doing this life thing on my own. I moved from relative to relative messing up at every turn and when my baby was two weeks old I did the only thing I knew...moved back home. I took my GED test and got a job making minimum wage so I could at least pay for baby food, clothes, and diapers. Six months later I married an old boyfriend. That marriage lasted about ten minutes and before the summer was over I was back home again. Jobless, skill-less, single mother... just another statistic.

I took a job in a factory making $4.10 an hour because it came with insurance and maybe, just maybe I could get my own place. I started hanging out with some people from work...drinking, smoking grass [I think it's called weed now] and taking pills...but nobody invited me to church. I ended up married again to my supervisor...which not only cost me my job but my freedom. He was the devil in disguise and what ensued was five years of pure brutal hell...

"What will you look back on when you are in my place?" A simple question from a dieing sister who talked of getting her life right with God. Another seed planted...probably her last. After hearing my son tell a friend to hide in the closet because if his daddy killed his mom...then he'd have to kill them too... I crawled out of that marriage weighing in at 95 pounds, scarred and more broken than ever straight to my mom and dads. This time I was determined to do things right. I joined the military and attended college where I made straight A's. I'm not sure if I was trying to prove it to myself or to my parents that I could get control of this life and make them proud...maybe a little of both.

During my time in the Navy Reserves I would run into these three people year after year. I roomed with Jan who was ranked well above me, her brother...get this a PASTOR, and the youth director from their church...all sailors...just like me! Two weeks every year with evenings spent talking about God, Jesus, salvation...listening to their testimonies and stories of how God was on the move in their church. Watering and fertilizing the hard ground of my heart...tilling the soil... digging up all the seeds planted before them and adding a few more just for good measure.

I didn't date for quite a while. The thought of just going out with someone made me physically ill. I focused on getting my life right and making sure my little boy had a respectable mother and making sure he knew he was well loved. Then I met Jimmy. He was my sister's friend. I stood him up three times. He was not like the other guys and I guess I was afraid. He phoned one Thursday to ask me out again but before I could get to the telephone Richard had asked him to take us to the rodeo. Our lives were on a collision course with Jesus, Himself after that first date.

You see, Jimmy, was a Christian and he went to church every Sunday. We'd been dating about a month when he asked us to go with him the first time. I thought attending was a condition of our dating but I was not going to be one of those at-church-every-time-the-door-was-open-sisters and I agreed to go to the Sunday morning preaching only. Oh but God had a different plan, the final stages were in progress and I didn't even know it.

After several months it seemed every song sung that morning went straight to my heart and the preacher was talking to me just like there was no one else there. I can remember crying and praying as the words please don't pass me by were quietly being sung. I couldn't get to that alter fast enough...I was not going to be passed by any longer!

Jimmy and I were married the following June, Richard was saved, and nine months after we said, "I do." God allowed us to adopt Jacob. A testimony in its own right and one that may be posted at some point in the future.

My life has never been the same...since Jesus came into my heart. God began a work in me that I pray ends only when I see Him face-to-face. Through my relationship with Him I experienced the unconditional love I had been seeking my entire life, I found the ability to forgive not only an abusive ex-husband but myself as well. He has planted in me a love for the lost and hurting and His Word pours out of my soul like tears from the eyes.

I share with you this long, drawn out story...not so you will know me better, know where I came from, know what difference God has made in my life, for surely you all have your own testimony. I tell you this so that you can see that as I traveled the road of my life God had planters posted at strategic points. These people could have brushed past me because of what I looked like on the outside but they did not. They heeded His call, they obeyed His Word, and embarked upon His mission to bring all into the Kingdom of God. They not only changed my life but the lives of others.

While Richard was working to get his minister's license he preached a couple of times in a small community church. Being the supportive parents we are, we would drive the 45 miles and sit in the third or fourth row. One Sunday morning that abusive ex-husband of mine, his wife and his three daughters slipped into the pew in front of us... It was a beginning. He passed away suddenly this summer one day at work, but back in the spring...he had accepted Jesus as his personal savior. Oh the difference one life makes when it has been washed in the blood.

I was on a business trip a few years ago and I ran into Jan, that woman from the Navy, in the concourse at LAX...we ran across to meet each other... as I got closer all I could say was, "I got saved, I got saved...thank you, thank you, thank you!"

I ask you this...are you planting seeds with unwavering faith or are you simply passing by dry ground because the soil does not look fertile enough?

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Year...New You...New Me! The WHY of it All

So far we have identified that to be (or to become) spiritually fit is much like being (or becoming) physically fit. Since we are focusing on spiritual fitness in this series let’s review the three most important aspects.
We are blood-bought and must accept this gift of salvation. Surely without that gift we can be of no TRUE service to our Lord, nor our community, nor the strangers that He has placed (will place) before us. There is no way we can share what we do not have to begin with. Jesus, Himself, has commissioned us to go forth and grow HIS kingdom!
Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We must have a two-way communication with Him through the Holy Spirit…that includes listening and patiently waiting upon the Lord for direction. The Bible is full of stories of people who waited and the consequences of NOT waiting. Isn’t it a good thing that He can come in and straighten out the situation? Let’s face it…HIS WILL will come about no matter the mess I make of things…I just don’t want Him to have to do that… I’d rather be a willing servant than a haphazard-I-can-do-this-on-my-own-in-the-name-of-the-Lord servant; don’t you? We have to go no further than the book of Genesis and the story of Sari and Abram to see what happened when they grew weary of waiting for a child…the consequences of that action/decision remains a vivid reminder for us all in the Middle-East to this day.
Galatians 5:25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
We know we have to have a strong and healthy spiritual backbone… We have to know the Word of God and stand faithfully planted upon that Word. Never swaying or being led astray…always checking what we hear or read against the one TRUE WORD OF GOD…which is the Holy Bible.
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself and God our Father who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every deed and word.”

Now that we have a good understanding of what it means to be spiritually fit…let’s explore why we want to be that way in the first place. Our reasons might differ a little but we all know we have to be fit in order to be of use by God. I like the way that Wiki definition of physically fit put it: You do not tire easily after strenuous activity because you get sufficient rest. Your immune system stays strong against infection so you rarely, if ever, get sick.

THAT’S why I want to be spiritually fit! So I don’t grow weary doing what it is He has set before me whether it is rocking babies in the nursery, preaching a sermon, teaching a class, cleaning the building, taking care of the grounds, feeding the hungry, taking care of the needy, sitting with the infirm… comforting someone with a hurting heart… for they are all strenuous when trying to accomplish them with a less than fit spirit. I want to be certain I get enough rest in Him that I am serving Him and not working for my church.

Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus, Himself, says “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I want my spiritual immune system strong so I can fight the temptations and struggles that will surely come my way once I am whole-heartedly COMMITTED to serving the One True God and God alone…I want to be immune to those spiritual diseases that crop up when the worldly man beats the spiritual man in the daily running of the race. That truly is the WHY of it all!

Galatians 5:16, 17 “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so you do not do what you want.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year...New You...New Me! Back to the Basics; A Stong Backbone

If you have been following along with my posts since January 10 then you know I have begun my quest to physical and spiritual fitness…So far, I know I have to have a clean heart which is in good working order. I understand that I need to ensure that my respiratory system is in shape physically by taking in plenty of good fresh air and that I have to have a true working relationship with God. For as surely as the body needs physical breath the soul needs the living breath experienced only from the Holy Spirit.

As I continue my search for exactly what it means to be physically fit I next examine the musculoskeletal system. This system provides form, stability, and movement to the human body. Not only does the musculoskeletal system consist of bones and ligaments, joints and cartilage it also consists of other connective tissue which supports and binds tissues and organs together. Very interesting… if I do say so myself! So can I apply these three words: FORM, STABILITY, MOVEMENT…to my spiritual fitness?

FORM: The first part of this system, bones (or skeleton) serves as a rigid structure and protects the delicate internal organs and serves as housing for the bone marrow. Most interestingly, bones undergo this process called remodeling. It’s where old bone tissue is gradually replaced by new bone tissue. Did you know every ten years every bone in the body is completely reformed?

Oh, this is a tough one…what is my spiritual form? Is it my spiritual backbone and if so, what exactly is my spiritual backbone? Is it the tenets of faith, the creed, from my denomination? While it might be an important part, I believe it goes much deeper than that. I believe it has something to do with knowing the word of God…whole-heartedly. Knowing it so well that it becomes my second nature…no my first nature. It also includes that one-on-one relationship with God through the Holy Spirit so that when I need to stand…I stand strong. When I need to make decisions, when I need to use discernment…I automatically react and act in a godly manner. When others look at me I want them to only see HIM...now that's the spiritual posture I want to have...How about you?

2nd Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that we live by faith and not by sight. We are also reminded to die daily to self so that we can live for HIM...in that manner(dieing daily) our spiritual bones are remodeled much the same as our physical bones....hummm...now there is something to ponder.

STABILITY: Joints are the junctions between two or more bones. Some joints don’t move while others allow a large and complex range of motions. The components of joints provide stability and reduce the risk of damage from constant use.

So, if joints provide stability in the musculoskeletal system then what is it that provides stability in my spiritual life…church attendance, daily bible study, active prayer life…is there more to my spiritual stability than these? Is it unwavering faith? The praise Him in the good times and praise Him in the bad times kind of faith? The Bible says it so I believe it kind of faith? I think, yes! It is the inexplicable childlike faith that resides in the heart of all believers that provides spiritual stability. Without faith, how can we not become damaged by overuse?

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” ~NIV ~Man that is a good chapter! If you haven’t read it in a while take a minute to read it now.

MOVEMENT: Skeletal muscle is what most people think of when they hear the word, muscle - the type that can be contracted to move the various parts of the body.

The muscles cause movement much the same as the Holy Spirit moves us spiritually…but how are we moved spiritually and how do we know we are moving in the right direction? Is it sending a card to a shut in or to someone who is having a difficult time? Is it rocking babies in the nursery, mentoring a teenager, teaching a class, feeding the hungry? Is it reaching past the walls of our churches and getting down and dirty…in the nitty-gritty of our communities? I think we can all agree with a resounding YES! It is just that and so much more! How do we know we are moving in the right direction? We are known by our fruits, are we not? Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It is by examining our own fruits that we know we are moving in the right direction.

To maintain good bone health (bone density and strength) the body requires adequate amounts of calcium, minerals, and vitamins and certain hormones. Activity such as weight-bearing exercises help bones strengthen by remodeling. Activity combined with the above mentioned items, bones develop into a complex lattice structure that is not only light weight but strong as well.

Much the same can be applied to our spiritual health. I love that term “weight-bearing.” It reminds me of Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

It all goes back to diet and exercise doesn’t it? This…being healthy thing? Let’s take time to examine where we need improvement…for without knowing where we need to improve we will not know what plan of action we are to take.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year...New You...New Me! Back to the Basics; Breathe on Me!

Now that we know our heart is in good condition due to the blood flow we will further pursue this quest to spiritual fitness and what it means as it relates to being physically fit. To refresh your memory; WikiAnswers.com tells us: If you are physically fit, you have well-conditioned cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal, systems in order to perform physically demanding activities such as exercise, sports, or manual work…

The respiratory system consists of organs that deliver oxygen to the circulatory system and assists in the removal of carbon dioxide, thus preventing a deadly build up of this waste product. The air flow begins in the nose and ends in the lungs. Filtering air through the nasal passage prevents airborne bacteria, viruses, smog, dust particles, and other potentially disease-causing substances from entering the lungs.

Much like this system, the Holy Spirit filters potentially disease-causing substances from entering our lives. Not familiar with those spiritual diseases? Greed, apathy, pride, lust, anger, back-biting, envy, despise and yes, even hate…careless actions, words, or emotions that can destroy love in ones heart, is a good place to start. Without the filter the Holy Spirit provides, churches are divided, couples walk away from each other, families are destroyed, and people are eaten alive by their own emotions.

To keep your respiratory system healthy you must exercise…breathe fresh air instead of stale, and a lot of it! The same goes for the Holy Spirit…have you gotten “stale” in your relationship with the Lord? Are you reading with enthusiasm His Word or are you just brushing through a couple of verses a day…cause Christian’s read the Bible daily? Or, tell me, is your Bible collecting dust on the nightstand or do you keep it in the back seat of your car so you have for the next service. OK, don’t tell me… Do you even take it to church with you or since the verses are on the overhead…it’s one less thing to keep up with? I heard a Pastor once say, “If you don’t have your Bible you must have the whole thing memorized.”

Do you have an effective prayer life? You know the kind I am talking about … the two-way kind of communication between you and God. Don’t just give Him your laundry list of bless this person, be with that person, heal the other, give me patience, give me this or that…and oh, by the way, Love ya, Lord, Amen, and think you are good and done. You might be done, but you certainly are not good. Sorry to sound harsh, but you know we have to listen. How in the world can we be led by the Holy Spirit if we don’t listen?

When you sing a “Christian” song are you singing because you like the singer, the beat moves you, or are you singing it as a true praise? When a song brings tears to your eyes, or that twinge of conviction, are you singing along prayerfully?

And then there’s the whole attending church, being an active participant in the activities that go on there, thing. Just because you are a teacher, or a lay leader, or even a minister does not mean that your spirit can’t get stale…or even stagnant. We sometimes get so busy doing the work of the Lord that we forget to serve Him. He really, really was a servant.... If you have forgotten just how much of a servant he was, I suggest you re-read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

I just don't see how we can be protected from the build up of deadly spiritual diseases if we are lacking exercise in these vital areas. Do you? Examining them (honestly) gives us a good idea of how fit our spiritual respiratory system is and just where we need to apply exercise. Let's face it, how can we assist others in becoming spiritually fit if we are out of shape ourselves? That's kinda like getting dieting advice from someone who is obese...or marriage counseling from someone who's been divorced 5 times!

John 16:7-14 “But I tell you the truth; It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because me do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes He will guide you into all truth, He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”

Acts 2:37-39 “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year...New You...New Me! Back to the Basics; A Matter of the Heart and Blood

Let’s break it down – a little basic biology: the Cardiovascular System – the heart and blood vessels…did you know the human body has over 60,000 miles of blood vessels? This system supplies all cells with oxygen and nutrients as well as removes carbon dioxide and other waste products. More than that, get this, the heart is the driving force for the movement of this cleansing blood. It actively pumps blood out of its chambers and passively relaxes allowing the next fill up. The “fill up” is not due to the heart sucking the blood in, as one would think; rather it is because of the underlying pressure of the cardiovascular system as a whole.

In the same manner, the heart and blood are the driving force behind a spiritually fit person; a repentant heart and the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin.

What struck me in that definition of the phrase physically fit was the fact that you have to have a well conditioned heart to participate in exercise…unlike what most think…you exercise to get your heart in shape; or was that just me? So…we have to begin with a clean heart? Is my heart clean? Is yours? Let’s go for a check-up…

But before we do, let’s remember John 3:16 “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.”

We realize and understand that we were all born into sin…you know it’s that Adam and Eve story we all have heard…the fall of man, the tempting of Eve by the serpent, her giving in and eating the forbidden fruit. There's been movies made about it. It’s in Genesis chapter 3. Take a minute and refresh your memory. Oh, you already believe that one? That’s a good start. But you still think you are a good person? You don’t do anything wrong? You help others do you?

When we talk about sin, what are we talking about? How about the Ten Commandments? How many of those do you know? No stealing, no lying, no other God but the One True God, no murder, no cheating on your wife or husband. That’s only half. Better check out Exodus Chapter 20 verses 1-17 for a refresher. Now, how many of those have you broken? Today? Yeah, me too. Not to worry, it’s our human nature – we were born that way.

Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So now we know and we know why.

Unfortunately, there is always a price for everything up to and including; sin…and it is death. Romans 6:23(a) states “The wages of sin is death.” Physical death was a result of that original sin, but worse than that... is spiritual death which alienates us from God, for all eternity.

In the book of Revelation it mentions the Lake of Fire …Rev 20:14,15 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life he was thrown into the lake of fire.” No, this is not the Biblical version, the Christian version, or the religious version of the televison show “Fear Factor.” I am not trying to scare you into making a decision here and if you have made the decision to follow Christ, as I know most of you reading this have, then thank the Lord, right now for sparing us this fate.

The beauty is in Romans 6:23(b) “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Salvation is free…we can’t earn it, we can’t give enough tithes or money to buy it, we can’t do enough good deeds to have it, or teach Sunday school to grab it, we can't work in the church enough to have it benevolently bestowed upon us...or be good enough…to get it! It’s a fact, we just have to accept it.

Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Thus it spares us from that second death…if only we would believe. You see when He died on the cross it was for all mankind, once and for all. His love poured out in Jesus on the cross is our only hope to have forgiveness. His blood is what saves us…not religion, not being spiritual, not church membership.

Romans 10:13 “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved.” If you believe just a simple prayer is all you need. Need clarification? Not so sure you believe? Start talking to Him, buddy. Ask Him. He will reveal Himself to you.

Ok, so now you believe what's next? Romans 10:9,10 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him (Jesus) from the dead you shall be saved; for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” If you feel God is knocking at the door to your heart – and you will know it is HIM…open up- invite Him in…come on now…let the changes begin!

Jesus said in Revelation 3:20(a) “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…”

Just like in the cardiovascular system where the heart yields to the pressure being built up by the flow of blood , we also yield to the Holy Spirit’s pressure as He knocks at the door of our hearts.

Believe in Him, ask Him to come in to your heart by faith. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you…He will do it! Open the Bible to the Gospel of John and read what God says about Jesus, about you, and about being born again. God will help you…He loves you! Now that's a way to have a good,strong and healthy heart, if you ask me!

For some reason the song, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus is running through my mind even though The Katina’s in the background are belting out a rousing rendition of Yes, Lord.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year...New You...New Me!

I Resolve No Longer To Linger

No matter whether you call yours a New Year Resolutions List or New Year Goals pretty near the top of most people’s list are the words; diet and exercise, lose weight, be more physically fit…or something to that effect. I know it’s on mine every year and sometime around Spring I get around to moving the coats that have hung conveniently on the treadmill throughout the winter. Now, before you think this is a weight-loss post or even a new year’s resolutions post… please, be patient and just keep reading.

I was overwhelmed as I searched the web for information on this subject. I did find an interesting fact discovered by John C. Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. After conducting (at least three) studies on resolutions in recent years he found that six months after January 1, only 46% of those who make resolutions have fulfilled them. Well, there you go; once again, I am in the majority…just normal…an average, ordinary American… that’s me!

But, you know what? I don’t want to be average or ordinary, do you? So I searched even further and found on another psychology website the six stages of weight loss and helping you keep your resolution. Hum….interesting and kind of funny… because realistically, I don’t care if I lose weight or not. What is more important to me is my spiritual health...but I kept reading anyway.

Topping the list of tips was “commitment to change.” Then there were words like: “mindful of your actions and addressing emotions.” Included in this six-step program to achieving your weight loss goals were preparation, action, maintenance, and of course, they covered what to do in the case of relapse.” Praise the Lord!! It’s an outline to improving your spiritual life as well!

Let’s begin with the obvious…COMMITMENT. Duh, ya think? It’s paramount to achieving any and all goals…it is the very root of success… commitment. That I can do! So when I say I want to be more spiritually fit what exactly do I need to be committed to? What is “spiritually fit” anyway and why do I want to get that way in the first place?

I guess in actuality I need to make this phrase more than just words, right? Do I want to memorize more scripture? Check! Do I want to apply more scripture? Check! Do I want to participate in more activities in church? Check! Do I want to help others? Check! Do I want to be used of God to lead others to Him? CHECK, CHECK! Wait a minute… those are actions, verbs if you will. What I need are nouns!

WikiAnswers.com tells us: If you are physically fit, you have well-conditioned cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal, systems in order to perform physically demanding activities such as exercise, sports, or manual work. You also have to have low body fat which means your weight is reasonable with your height, gender, and age. This means you pay strict attention to your diet by eating low-fat foods rich in fiber, potassium, carbohydrates, and calcium. You do not tire easily after strenuous activity because you get sufficient rest. Your immune system stays strong against infection so you rarely, if ever, get sick.

So if that is what being physically fit means can I apply this and define what spiritually fit means? You guessed it…I actually went to ask.com and typed in the same question this time I substituted the word spiritually for physically…you should try it sometimes…you will be amazed and probably even get a laugh or shake your head with concern. I think I will just take my chances and let the Bible and Holy Spirit lead me in defining just exactly what it means.

I invite you to join me in this quest for spiritual fitness as we journey over the next several blog posts. Please use the comments section freely. I am interested in your insight, revelations, and information. I like a good dialog! Together may we embark on a fitness program that will benefit not only us, but all those with whom we come into contact!

Hebrews 12:1,2 "Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witness, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."~NIV

[I apologize to my doctor friends who might be reading this…you know who you are, John and Ken; and to the nurses and nursing students; Kim, Cate, and you other guys. I know the descriptions are very simplistic and not at all as deeply involved as complex as the function of these systems truly are…please feel free to use the comment section to correct any errant facts. It has been a long time since high school and college!] That’s my disclaimer and I am sticking to it!