Tag Archives: Christianity

Hardscrabble Life

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arid barren clay cracks

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It’s a hardscrabble life.

Sometimes you just get blind-sided and have to right yourself. If you don’t have God to right you, what do you do? Where do you go? Who do you turn to?

I love (not really) how my health always seems to take a turn for the worse all at once.

“You have to have your stent blown out, or get a new one,” says my Cardiologist. The weird thing is, I never have any symptoms so statements like this come as a shock.

“Does your back hurt?” My Hematologist-Oncologist (Hem-Onc) asks.

“No, why?”

“The CT shows some new lesions and one is on your L3.”

My cancer is back. Active. No longer “stable and dormant” which I’d gotten used to saying when people asked me how I was doing.

A PET scan is ordered. A couple lesions in my lungs and one on my spine . . . confirmed.

Sigh. I’d been doing so well for the last year or so.

I close myself off in my room. “Lord?” I whisper. “Do we have to go through this again?”

I don’t hear anything, but He is close, I can tell. That comforts me.

We’ve been through this before, He and I. Then (in 2015) He settled me in His quieting, amazing, and profound peace and I know He will again.

Truthfully, I didn’t think I’d ever want for His peace again. I thought that once it was given, I’d always have it. And I probably do, it’s just that it’s been buried. Down deep in my soul. Covered by the good times, the glory days.

But I find that I do want no, need . . . no, crave . . . the everlasting peace of my Savior. I need it now. I need to be immersed in it again.

In John 14 Jesus is talking to the disciples in the Upper Room when He says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (v. 14:27a)

Jesus gives us His peace. It’s no secret. There is no magic word to bring you the peace. He gives it. Freely. All we have to do is ask for it.

But what kind of peace does Jesus offer us?

In one of my favorite stories of the Bible, Jesus is asleep in the boat while the disciples are fighting a great windstorm that threatens to capsize the boat and kill them. They wake Jesus up wondering how He can be sleeping while they are about to perish. Jesus stands, maybe even yawns, and looks out to the storm saying, “Peace. Be still.” (Mark 4:39) The wind calms and the waves die down.

That, my friends, is some mighty awesome peace.

And that is the peace that Jesus gives us when we ask Him. When we think we’re drowning, when we can’t imagine the outcome, when all hope looks lost, when the winds threaten to capsize us.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” ~ John 14:27

I need your peace now, Lord. Thank you.

 

All of today’s Scripture references came from the ESV.

Old Clothes

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assorted clothes

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Isn’t it weird that we change what we wear based on where we live? Or is that just me?

I’m culling through a storage closet that I’ve had since I moved to Florida and finding clothing that has meaning from days gone by. These leather gloves with fringe I wore in Colorado. That suede jacket was my go-to winter coat in Arizona—unless it was raining. A black duster that today would be suggestive of a school yard shooter but that I wrapped around me for warmth on many a high mountain night.

I knew I was moving to Florida. I was smart enough to sell all my “Western-style” furniture. Why did I even bring these items along? Of course I thought I would eventually return to the West. But as the years stream by, that seems more and more unlikely.

College took me to Colorado and once there, I knew I wouldn’t leave. But I did, 15 years later I moved to Arizona. More Western wear – less weight. Still, I hung on to the gloves and the scarves and the hat and the duster and the boots from my days in the Colorado Rockies.

Deep into the bins I dig, each object taking me back into my past. To another place … to another me.

Even if I never leave Florida while on this earth, there will yet be another me.

The me I will become in heaven. My truest me. When it matters not all the clothes I’ve ever had in my life, I’ll be dressed in white. A bride for my groom.

And once again I’ll have changed my clothes based on where I live.

And I won’t be alone.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands … ~ Rev 7:9 (NASB)

 

Salt ~ A Devo

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aerial photo of boat on sea

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I walked out of my South Florida home this morning and immediately realized that something was different. By the time I got to my car I was licking my lips. Salt. Through some strange atmospheric condition, the air was laden with salt from the Atlantic Ocean.

I drove all the way to church licking my lips and thinking about salt. Jesus told us we were to be salt and light to others (Matthew 5). It’s easy to know what being ‘light’ is, but how do I be salt? Salt melts snow. Salt seasons food.

Imagine my surprise when, during the service, the pastor zeroed in on Colossians 4 verses 5 and 6. “Be extraordinarily different from the world,” he said.

Considering the salt was on my lips, I believe God was reminding me about my speech. I silently thanked Him for reminding me to speak to everyone with grace and love. I looked around the church. It’s easy to be salt to other Christians. I need to be salt to every person I come in contact with. How delightful that He should remind me to be salt to others.

Memory verse:

Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. ~ Colossians 4:6 (HCSB)

Prayer Prompt:

Lord, help me to be salt in this world. Help me learn how to speak to others graciously and with your wisdom. Amen.

 

 

 

 

I’m Back!

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Did you miss me? I’m quite embarrassed that this is my first post in 2019 and it’s already the end of May. For shame!

I may have been away a long time, but I’ve been up to something good! Drum roll please!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733908102I finally published my first book! WhooHoo! Streamers and noise makers!

Announcing “Are You Ready? The story of a runaway girl and a persistent God.” It’s my memoir and even if you’re not Christian, I think it will appeal to you because it’s just a good story (if I do say so myself!).

But I’m not the only one! It’s already received six 5-star reviews and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s taken me a long time to write . . . as a reader of my blog you know that two of the years had me battling cancer and I just couldn’t write when I was on chemo or taking radiation. I was much too weak.

But now I’m doing well, although not completely out of the woods yet, and I wanted you to know that the book was available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon. If you’re so inclined, just click the cover above and you’ll be transported to the right page. I’d love it, if after you read it, if you’d leave an honest review of what you thought. I can’t wait to hear what you say. I really think you’ll like it!

Love in the meantime . . .

Felecia

PS: if you’re in another country (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy or Japan) you can purchase it on your Amazon pages. And the Kindle version is available in those and even more countries (Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and India).

Leading Others in Truth

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002In a bible study last year, we were talking about Ebenezers (or Remembrance Stones) and performed an exercise where we prayed, asking God to reveal to us a verse of Scripture that we could use on an Ebenezer . . . something He would like us to remember.

The Scripture the Lord impressed upon me was Titus 2:1 “But you must speak what is consistent with sound teaching. HCSB” This revelation made me sit up with a jolt. I had just finished telling a story to the group that was extra-biblical. The circumstances had happened to me and I identified them with God or being Godly, but there was no foundation for them in the Bible.

This was significant to me because I’m a true believer in the Bible. I have a friend who makes fun of me because I don’t believe everything she considers biblical when there just isn’t any basis for it in the Bible. It doesn’t bother me that she laughs at me, I decided a long time ago that I was only going to go toe to toe with people over salvation issues.

In Acts 17:11, when Paul and Silas had traveled to Berea, it says:  “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. NIV” We don’t seem to do this anymore. We listen to people say any such silly thing and we believe. If they say it, it must be true. Especially if the person is a pastor!

A friend of mine is in a Bible study group going through a book by a pastor from the Bethel church (Redding, CA). While he was telling me what he was learning, I thought I was listening to the writings of Shirley MacLaine. That’s how “out there” this pastor is … very new-agey. He didn’t call it the astral plane, but he has a notion that our spirits fly all over the place while we’re sleeping. I asked my friend to find biblical support for what the gentleman was teaching and he said he’d look into it. I’m fairly certain he won’t find any.

The writer of Hebrews said:  “Do not be led astray by diverse and strange teachings … Heb 13:9a ESV.” Please be wary of what you’re hearing and reading. Regardless if it comes from a local bible study leader, a friend, or a well-known pastor … does it fit within the teachings of the Bible? That is the only question that must be answered.

Believe only the truth.

Am I Ungodly?

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Am I Ungodly?

 

Well, we’re in Romans at BSF this year. That’s Bible Study Fellowship for the uninitiated. Romans is a wonderful book full of the teaching of Christian doctrine and how to live a Christian life. However I’d completely missed Paul saying in Chapter 1 verse 18:

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

While I initially understood godlessness (or in some versions ungodliness) and unrighteousness as one in the same, Paul distinguishes between the two.

In his book, Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges states that ungodliness is describes an attitude toward God, while unrighteousness refers to sinful actions in thought, word, or deed.

While I usually start chastising myself when I misread Scripture – or don’t read it well enough to begin with – I’m going to let myself slide in this instance. Let’s face it, in the beginning of Romans Paul has been hammering home the “wrath of God” on everyone because we are all sinners. The passage is uncomfortable to read because you know it’s true. But we have to know – must know – what we ought to receive at judgment because of our sinful nature before we can truly appreciate the saving grace of Christ. We deserve nothing short of God’s wrath.

So, am I ungodly? Are you?

Jerry Bridges goes on to define ungodliness as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or one’s dependence on God.

Gulp.

I can see myself in that sentence. I may spend some quiet time in the morning with God but how often do I continue that conversation throughout the day? Some days are better than others. Some days I’m in communication with Him all day long; praying, worshiping, thanking, giving Him glory, talking, and trying to listen for His voice.

But not always and it’s definitely not often enough.

Jerry helps when he says:

Our goal in the pursuit of godliness should be to grow more in our conscious awareness that every moment of our lives is lived in the presence of God; that we are responsible to Him and dependent on Him. This goal would include a growing desire to please Him and glorify Him in the most ordinary activities of life.

After I finished this convicting chapter I knew I needed to seek God’s forgiveness at once. I squeezed my eyes shut, rolled over, and dug my head into my pillow in an attempt to shut out the world and be alone with Him.

Lord, help me to keep you forefront in my mind all day long. Allow your Holy Spirit to guide me, mark my steps, watch my words and actions, and do everything for your glory.

Immediately I received a vision I have not seen since 2008.

All I could “see” behind my shuttered eyes was a glorious swath of deep, rich purple. This has been an indicator that my Lord is with me. Non-condemning. Hearing my plea and cradling me. I was awash in His love.

How is it that we have the maker of the universe listen to and love us so?

His all-consuming love makes me want to not be quite so ungodly.

In His love,

Felecia

PS: the book is almost ready to go to my beta readers and then to editing. Thank you all for being so patient with me. Keep your eye out for a chance to sign up for my email list and receive a couple of chapters – Free!

PPS: Another great book on the subject of becoming more godly is: The Practice of the Presence of God a thin but weighty volume by Brother Lawrence.

It’s Not Goodbye

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Bob and Paula

Bob and Paula Nilsen

It’s hard to cry for departed Christian friends because I know where they are and am confident I’ll see them again. It’s much easier to weep for those they left behind. We must all await our time to enter the realm of God.

My friend Paula left us last month. Paula is a vivacious, generous, and gentle soul who God pulled into my life and became my friend just before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. (If you missed it, here are easy links to part one and part two.)

I originally assumed God had brought us together for me to help her with her cancer diagnosis; but in a short matter of time we could see that we were meant to lean on each other through the suffering of this disease. Two Christian women fighting shoulder to shoulder with the big C.

God’s plan in our friendship really became evident when Paula’s disease metastasized to bone and brain and her faith began to falter. (You can read that here with links to part one and part two.) It scared me because she was one of the most solid women I knew. If her faith could crumble so easily … could mine?

What I didn’t know until later was that her doctors had told her she was incurable from day one.

Incurable.

It’s a hideous word that should not have found its way into our lexicon. I wondered how having that word spoken over you could damage your psyche. Now I could really appreciate just how tough and resilient she was. She’d lasted almost two years with that label slapped on her and her faith had just now had begun to slip. I counted my blessings that no doctor has ever used that word or, the alternate, “terminal” with me. Of course we are all terminal in one way or another.

Determined to restore her faith, we embarked on a 28-day bible study by Kay and David Arthur called Lord, I Need Answers. I’m not sure if it was the weekly camaraderie or God working through the study itself (or both!), but we were equally refreshed and stronger by the time we completed that study. I cheered as Paula was able to say with confidence the ultimate statement, “I know I’m going to Heaven when I die.” Faith reestablished! Hallelujah!

It wasn’t long though before Paula’s body began to ignore her directives. Since the disease had begun ravishing her body, she slipped into hospice care and friend after friend came by to sit with her, offering their love and support, and praying over her and with her.

It was very tough to witness this vital, faithful, loving woman fade away and I was with her on what was to become her last day. That afternoon I prayed a couple of Psalms over her (something she liked me to do when I’d come over) but found it very difficult to get through Psalm 91, one of our favorites. I dissolved into tears as I prayed God’s undying love over her. I couldn’t be sure she had heard me at all but had her hand in mine and as I was saying goodbye with a promise of returning the next day, she squeezed. I reported it to her nurse as I burst into a fresh round of tears.

Her husband, Bob, let us all know that she passed into Jesus’ arms at about 10pm that evening. I can’t say enough about Bob. He’s a good, godly man and a verifiable rock. There’s no wonder that God brought Bob into Paula’s life for a time such as this. It’s never easy for a man to lose his wife, but really God? They just celebrated their third wedding anniversary in March.

I’m beyond grateful that God brought Paula and I together two years ago. I’m overjoyed that He was able to use her in my life and me in hers right until the end. I’m thankful she heard a few chapters of my book and never once laughed!

Farewell, my friend, I love you.

Three Amigos 2

Me, Paula, and another friend at church.

Three Amigos 1

Three Amigos

“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

~ Richard Bach (Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah)

ScripturePicture: Psalm 103:15

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Psalm 103-15

Some flowers like the Bird of Paradise grow so slowly that we’d be happy to have their lifespan worked out into human years.  But others, like the Hibiscus, bloom and die within one day.

Verse 16 of Psalm 103 goes on to state:  “the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

Our days are numbered on this planet, so make every day count for the Kingdom!

 

Discerning the Spirits ~ 3

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Discerning the Spirits ~ 3

 

This is Part Three of a series.  Please see Parts One and/or Two if you’re lost.  We’ll be right here when you return.

The devotional was given to me some time ago.  I’m pretty sure I asked for it for Christmas one year.  Hey, all of my friends were reading and gushing over it, I had to have it too.

What a mistake.  My unease began with the wording used in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Surely Jesus wouldn’t sound so slick and smarmy.  I remember only reading through a couple of weeks before back-tracking to the Introduction to find out more about the author.  What I found there solidified my distrust of the message.

When I began to point out the obvious weaknesses to my friends, I was met with an attitude of disdain and sometimes downright anger at my suggestion that their beloved book might not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

I was (and am) worried.  Some Christians have become so attached to this book that I wonder if they unconsciously hold it more valuable than the Bible.

It’s my sincere belief that Satan is going to sway the elect with this type of carefully crafted pseudo-Christian rubbish.  We can already see it all around us – pastors who water down the Gospel, churches that completely dismiss parts of the Bible, and writers who say they’re Christian but then don’t hold to a biblical standard.  Regrettably, there are a lot these days … authors you may have come to trust and suddenly go high-right in their theology, walking away from the Truth.

I’m not going to bore you with everything that’s wrong with the book because there are other excellent writers that detail the issues (I’ve given a small list at the end).  But I am going to bring up a couple significant issues that should stand out as red-flag warnings for Christians.  When we read things that raise the hackles on our neck or give us pause – even for an instant – our discernment capabilities should raise up like the robot on Lost in Space flailing its arms, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”

Let’s review a few of the facts:

  1. Sarah Young says she is channeling Jesus.

When I’ve spoken to my friends and acquaintances who are readers (and lovers) of Jesus Calling, this is what I hear as push back:

  • But some of it is soooo gooooood.
  • It’s not all bad.
  • Oh, there are some parts that I gloss over but most of it is great.

These types of statements tell me that the reader has already realized there are issues with the book and yet, is unable to stop reading it.  Doesn’t that sound like an addiction?  “I know it’s not good for me but I still partake.”  Who is the one who wants to keep us in chains?

You’re willing to listen to the devil’s lies because “the rest of it is so good?”  Are you kidding me?

He is swaying … even the elect.

  1. Sarah Young says she is channeling Jesus.

Yes, that was my first point but now the biblical side.  Don’t we read in Deuteronomy 18:10-12a (emphasis mine):

“No one among you is to make his son or daughter pass through the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or a familiar spirit, or inquire of the dead. Everyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD,” 

Why would the LORD, break His own word and come to us through the medium Sarah Young?  It’s absurd.  You might as well just throw away the Bible because Sarah Young and Jesus just conspired to make the Bible what every atheist and unbeliever says it is – just a pretty good novel.

Let’s also remember Leviticus 20:27-28 (emphasis mine):

“You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.  A man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist must be put to death. They are to be stoned; their blood is on their own hands.”

Again, why would Yahweh suddenly change His mind and decide mediums were acceptable?  I thought He was unchangeable? (See Hebrews 6:17-18)

  1. Sarah Young states she was inspired by the book God Calling.

Written in mid-1930, God Calling is a book by “Two Listeners” – unknown women who allegedly sat one day with paper and pen in hand and waited for God to speak to them.  It’s a classic book in the New-Age arena and I stumbled across it in the early 1990’s.  Even though I wasn’t yet born-again, it felt slimy to me and I didn’t read much of it.  One listener writes on their website (emphasis mine):

“We felt all unworthy and overwhelmed by the wonder of it, and could hardly realize that we were being taught, trained and encouraged day by day by HIM personally, when millions of souls, far worthier, had to be content with guidance from the Bible, sermons, their Churches, books and other sources.

Oh, poor us. Forced to be content with guidance from the Bible.  What humiliation!

While I’m not disapproving of devotionals, I’m also not critical of sitting in your quiet time with your journal recording the impressions you receive after bible study or prayer.  But you still have to be cognizant of whom the impressions are coming from, because Satan will worm his way into your mind if he can.  Put on the full armor daily and take every thought captive to Christ! (Ephesians 6:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

I’ve told this story before but one day while living in Arizona, I came through an intense two-hour session of prayer and picked up my journal, chronicling my thoughts and emerged with a step-by-step plan of my future.  Four of the five stages have happened and the last one will conclude soon.  This was personal guidance from God.  The kind of guidance you receive when you read your Bible and pray to your Creator, your Redeemer, your Lord.

I did not have any doubt that what I’d written in my journal was direction from our Lord.  The first three phases were benign enough and I only started to receive pushback from the devil in steps four and five.  If I’d had any doubt, it would have been dispelled then.  Satan tried very hard (and almost succeeded) to end the fourth step before it ever began and has done his best to wreak havoc on the fifth and final step.  To no avail.  My God is stronger.

The main issue with Jesus Calling and God Calling is that I’m not quite sure what spirit is being channeled.  It doesn’t sound like Jesus in the pages, He wouldn’t use a medium to bring His word to His followers, and if He did decide that this was the way to go now – He has just negated His entire WORD.  You can’t just believe part of the Bible and dismiss the parts you don’t like.

Are you willing to continue to take the chance that who you’re reading is really Jesus?

Next week I’ll focus on how to become more discerning; because I believe that only a discerning mind is going to be able to see past the devil’s schemes in these last days.

In the meantime, check out these folks if you’re interested in a better and/or more complete reviews of the issues with this book:

Another Jesus Calling by Warren B. Smith

Tim Challies Blog

Grace to You Blog