Saturday, May 31, 2014

Really? On Vacation?

Why do we suspend healthy living for vacations?

To make them special?

To disrupt or change normal life?

To taste dishes from other places?

I submit the real reason is that our why isn't big enough, strong enough, or important enough to us.

What is your why?

     Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
     If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
                                1 Cor. 3:16, 17

Enjoy different flowers on your trip

Why do you want to live healthy, lose weight, exercise?

The need to lose weight isn't a laughing matter though many treat it as such. Bible-based churches attract with food more often than prayer. I'm not suggesting that having a pot luck or dinner at church is wrong, but I'm saying that shouldn't be our emphasis. Any compulsion, whether it's to overeat or stick a needle in a vein, defiles the body (God's temple).

When was the last time the church offered a class on gossip or a study on how to gamble? Yet, we trot out our richest cakes and most luscious pies. We offer donuts to an overweight evangelist when he or she is trying to please God with healthy eating.

This may be where I lose a lot of you. Please if you fall on the other side of this controversy, let me know. I want to hear from you.

I can only tell my own experience. Losing weight is a problem requiring physical, mental, and spiritual changes
Look for strange sights to get your mind off food

A diet focuses on the physical, what we eat, how much we exercise, what foods we avoid.

Visualizing, goal-setting, and support groups take care of our need for mental growth.

How do we fix the spiritual element?

We don't.

Only God can fix us spiritually.

Our job is to keep the lines of communication open.

Back to my original question. If the Lord is guiding us into healthier choices to keep His temple clean and useful for His purposes, why should that effort be suspended for vacation.

1. Find other ways to make trips special. Tours, friends, intimacy with loved ones, or even a one time treat of food.

2. Normal life is already suspended. Nothing you're doing on a trip is the same. Using this premise could mean we should also stop being a Christian because that's our normal life.

3. By all means, try out different dishes from other states or countries. An occasional few bites of baklava will not end our weight loss. It's the constant overeating compulsion that throws us off track.

4. Pray more than usual for guidance. Spend quiet time in the mountains or on the beach drawing nigh unto Your Creator.

5. Add extra exercise to your "out of the ordinary" routine.

6. Remember, God loves you. You are special. Take care of you.

Why?    
Meet new friends. Use your mouth for talking.


Because God reigns. He controls you. You are His.

If that's your why,  then overeating on vacation sounds ridiculous.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

June Foster visits today.

Today, I welcome June Foster to Writing with God's Hope blog. We recently became acquainted online. Her latest release might stir controversy, but I doubt the reader will find it boring.

When asked to supply a devotion, I found June "instant in season and out of season." She gave no less than three devotions to peruse. I enjoyed them all, but the one below goes along with Foster's latest release, Ryan's Father. 




Ryan Reid is a first-grade teacher and a Christian with a heart for neglected kids, but a chance encounter during an earthquake with Sandy Arrington, a beautiful young nurse, rocks Ryan’s carefully guarded world and unearths the secret he has held deep in his heart. Though Sandy falls in love with him, Ryan’s forbidden affections lie elsewhere, and he must depend on the Lord to see him through a battle he always hoped he’d never have to face.



Here's the devotion that helps understand where Foster is coming from with this book.
 
Spiritual Armor

I've received a lot of feedback on Ryan's Father, my novel which came out January 15 of this year. Ryan is a young Christian man who loves the Lord and wants to serve Him. But when he is forced to admit he has same sex attraction, he begins a journey he thought he'd never take.

Mostly I've received positive feedback about how this subject needs to be broached from a Christian worldview. I've heard from two gay men that said my book was an encouragement and brought hope. But another gay man who, I might add, is a precious Christian who loves God, told me he no longer believes a homosexual can change and is now living in a relationship with another man. My heart goes out to him.

One of the points he brought up was how he'd gone through ex-gay therapy which only drove him to depression. I looked up this reparative, so called "pray the gay away" therapy. Much of it is based on behavior modification such as spending time with heterosexual men and avoiding women unless it's for romantic reasons.

What does all of this have to do with spiritual armor? I think reparative therapy is missing something. Ephesians 6: 14-17 says, "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."

Romans 1in the Word tells us that men committing indecent acts with other men is a perversion and a sin. But Romans 6 tells us we are no longer slaves to sin. God wouldn't say we are no longer slaves to sin if He didn't mean it.

It seems to me that the ex-gay therapy is lacking an important element. The sword of the Spirit. Prayer is mentioned at the end of the above Bible passage, but as important as prayer is, it's not part of the armor. Hold God to His word. Seek change based on what the Bible says, not emotions or prayer alone. Utilize the Spiritual Armor of God.

I agree, June. Without the Holy Spirit we have no power. I like your use of spiritual armor to combat the sin of homosexuality. It's our only protection against any addiction or compulsion.
June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July.  Ryan's Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives.
Contact June Foster at:
 

Thanks for stopping by Writing With God's Hope blog today, June. I enjoyed making your acquaintance. I'm looking forward to receiving my copy of Ryan's Father.
 
Does anyone have questions or comments for June?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Temperance

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.
                                   Galatians 5: 22, 23

Notice the 9th fruit. Temperance

I don’t know about you, but when I try to list the fruits of the Spirit, I get love, joy, peace, even patience and faith sometimes. The one I forget is temperance.

 

In American society, where we want everything bigger and better, where we preach “doing your own thing,” or “marching to the beat of a different drummer,” where we preach tolerance for all excesses, temperance is an ugly word.

 

What is the definition of temperance?

 
Webster’s New World Dictionary gives this definition: self restraint in conduct, indulgence of the appetite; moderation


Cicero is quoted as defining temperance as the moderating of one’s desires in obedience to reason.

 
Abraham Lincoln said, “The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and generosity.”

 

      Temperance or, as we usually call it, self-control may be good, but it doesn’t come easy. We all have our weaknesses, those things in which we struggle, things that hamper our walk with Christ, limit our witness to others, and trip us up when we need the Lord the most.

     The problems I’ve battled most of my adult life are low self esteem, roller coaster emotions, and compulsive overeating. I’ve encountered others who deal with compulsive spending, out of control anger, hobbies that become their god.

     What brings you failure time and again in your service to God?
 

     Is it your sharp tongue?

     Is it fear, lack of trust?

     Do you love sports so much, or shopping, or the casinos that you allow those desires to take the place of God?

    Are you having trouble forgiving someone, and every time you get around them, resentment hits you in the gut?

    Do you fight depression?

    Does perfectionism hinder your freedom in Christ?


Temperance is a gift from God, a fruit given by the Holy Spirit. Even our faith to believe comes from God. What makes us think it's our willpower or self control that will help us. I think our use of the word self-control confuses us.
Self control is self controlled by the Lord.
 
 True willpower is our willingness to rely on God.
 
Relying on God begins over again every day as if no progress had been made in the past.
 

Have you asked the Holy Spirit to bolster your gift of temperance? In what area do you need it most?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mom, God's got this

     My dreams turned to nightmares. I awoke with a start. The room was dark, and my husband snored softly, but I was wide awake. My daughter floundered in hurt and denial.

     Wednesday night’s class was about the breakdown of love between mothers and daughters and the resulting scars. While sitting in the class, I’d been convicted. Perhaps my daughter’s anger at me came from the judgmental attitude I had toward her—the same condemnation I had felt from my mother. Two days had passed since that class, and I had yet to act.

     At two in the morning, I crept out of the bedroom and to our computer. I typed a letter to my daughter. With every word, a tear fell to the keyboard. When temptation caused me to remember what she had or hadn’t done, I deleted and focused on my actions.

     When the letter was finished and reread, I folded it and put it in an envelope ready to mail.

     Last week, a devotion book had been first to call me to repentance for not forgiving my daughter for her lifestyle. Obviously, God had to hit me over the head several times before I’d act.

     I chuckled at that thought. “I’m learning, Lord.”

     Shadows danced on the wall from the moon shining through waving trees outside our windows. The smell of roses permeated the house. My husband and I celebrated our forty-sixth wedding anniversary yesterday.

     “Teach me, Lord. Forgive me as I forgive my daughter.”

    Last Sunday, the preacher used the text Matthew 28:20 KJV

“…..lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”   To the Christian who has walked away from God, Jesus still stands close, ready to embrace and heal.

    My head rested against the chair. As I floated in a half-awake state, a vision drifted through my mind. Jesus followed my daughter into a bar and sat on the next stool waiting in case she turned to Him. Though I could no longer protect my child from harm, Jesus could go wherever she went.

    My eyes drooped. When I went to bed, my body sunk into smooth sheets. The love of my life covered me with his warm arm. God filled me with peace. My supplication had been heard. Thank you, Jesus.

 I wrote this six years ago, but God prompted me that someone needed to read it today. I'm seeing God working in my daughter's life. I'm still working at leaving my children in His hands. He's faithful.   

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Family for Easter

     "I'm sorry, I ... " Diane ran for the back of the store, feeling another onset of nausea. With each round of vomiting, her anger flared anew. She washed her face and returned to the pharmacy counter. 

     The customer she had been assisting was nowhere in sight. Good thing Diane didn’t work on commission. Quitting time neared but not soon enough for her.

    Climbing the steps to her grandmother’s apartment, Diana choked back conflicting emotions. She and Grandma had never got along, but what would she have done if Grandma hadn’t let Diane and her six-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, live with her until the baby came? When Diane stormed out of her house after fighting with Tony, she had nowhere else to go. Her husband was arrogant and self-centered. The only thing she gained from their last attempt to stay together was this unwanted pregnancy.

    She entered the living room and sprawled into an overstuffed chair to rest her weary feet and aching back. Mackenzie and Grandma’s voices drifted from the kitchen. Diane was thankful tomorrow was her day off work.

    When she awoke the next morning, the small apartment was quiet. A note stuck on the table said her grandmother and Mackenzie were visiting a neighbor.

    Diane added her own note and went for a walk. The baby kicked. The thought of two children to rear alone unsettled her mind and quickened her step.

    Apartment houses blended into a neighborhood of nice brick homes then changed to rundown tenements. Her legs pumped. She sagged against a stop sign and spotted a beautiful old church with stained glass windows and open-wide double doors.

     Diane crossed the street and entered. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, a man stepped out of the shadows near the front. “May I help you? Most call me Pastor Bob.”

     Diane rubbed her back. “My name is Diane Miller. May I sit and rest awhile?”

     “By all means.” The pastor pointed to a nearby pew. He disappeared through a side door and reappeared with a pillow. “This might help.” He indicated the side door again. “I’ll be in my office if you need anything. Stay as long as you like.”

     High above the platform, ivy outlined a magnificent picture of Jesus leading sheep. An open Bible spread out on a table before the podium. The quiet of the chapel cradled Diane like an oasis in the desert.

     After sitting for awhile, she stepped to the Bible turned to the gospel of John. Without touching the book, she read several verses.

    Behind her, the deep voice of Pastor Bob startled her. “Do you have a Bible of your own?”

    Her answer slipped out in a whisper. “No, Sir.”

    He held out a Bible. The black leather cracked around the sides and one page stuck out at an odd angle. The pastor touched it with reverence. “Would you accept this from our church as a gift?”

    She nodded as she took his offering. “Thank you.” The last time she’d read a Bible was the white children’s Bible her father gave her as a child. She thought she remembered selling it in a garage sale.

    Pastor Bob tipped on his toes and held his hands behind his back. “Do you attend church anywhere, Diane?”

    She stared at her protruding tummy. “No, not since I was a child.”

    “You’d be welcome to worship with us tomorrow. It’s Easter Sunday.”

    She’d never even thought to buy Mackenzie an Easter basket. What kind of mother was she? “I have no way to get here.” Heat burned her cheeks. “I don’t usually walk so far, and I have a daughter.”

    The pastor took one step toward her. “My wife and I would pick you and your daughter up if you’d give me your address.”

    Diane stared at him. “You would do that for a stranger?”

    “You’re not a stranger to God.”

    Before Diane refused a ride home and left the church, she gave her address. That night, she lay awake and read in her new worn Bible.

    The next morning Pastor Bob along with his wife and two children picked up Diane and her daughter. Mackenzie bounced with excitement at the new adventure.

     “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” The words read by a Sunday school teacher pierced Diane’s bitterness and sparked her remembrance of childhood teaching. After class, Pastor Bob preached using the same Bible reference. His words haunted her.

    When the service ended, the pastor’s wife, Nicole, made her way over to Diane. “Come have Easter dinner at our house.”

    Her invitation seemed genuine, and Diane accepted.  Watching the family of four interact in a loving manner whetted Diane’s appetite to be part of a family.  
 
     Since Diane’s dad died when she was eight, she’d had no family. Her mother pulled away from her sullen daughter finding merriment among friends. Diane fell for Tony in high school and raced to make a life with him only to be disappointed with marriage and the parenting scene with no help from a selfish husband. She opened up to her new friend while the girls played. “I wish I had a family like yours.”

    Nicole patted Diane’s knee. “We have a lovely family, but it wasn’t always that way. God brought Bob and I back together when our children were babies.”

    Diane’s eyes widened. “You separated?”

    Nicole nodded and told her story not unlike Diane’s own.

    Before the afternoon ended, Diane bowed her head and gave her heart to Jesus.

    Mackenzie and her new friend came hand in hand as Nicole and Diane raised their heads. “Mom, why are you crying?” Mackenzie’s chubby fingers brushed her mother’s cheeks.

    “Because I’m happy.” A rush of love for her daughter left her tingling. She clutched her belly. Mackenzie and this baby were her family. A small cottage loomed in her mind with a man she’d promised to love, honor and obey, but then left. “How about we call Daddy and invite him to church next Sunday?”

    Mackenzie jumped up and down. “Can we? And Grandma, too.”

    Diane nodded. “And Grandma, too.”

    God gave her new life and a family for Easter. She would need His help to keep them together.
            
I hope you enjoyed my short story. Spring and Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day are all times of reflection. I wish you joy, peace, love, and most of all, Jesus.