Posted by: addictedtomylife | October 27, 2012

We Have a Future Because of our Past

Our lives are constantly changing, dreams, hopes, desires, our strengths, and weaknesses, they all change as we grow and experience life.  Sometimes these changes are brought about by the direction life forces us on other times we change because we are tired of working so hard to achieve something that seems unachievable.  Maybe that is why we like those stories that have a happy ending.  Those stories that start with, “Once upon a time…” or “In the beginning…”

I ran across a verse today that made me think abit about our beginning and about who our God really is.  The verse is in John 1:1-2:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was

 with God and the Word was God, He was with

God in the beginning.

There is something mysterious about that verse, it’s full of intrigue and wonder.  Who was it that was with God in the beginning?  Why was anyone with God in the beginning?  Then again, when was the beginning?  Like any story that is really good, this story is full of mystery and drives the reader to want to know more.  In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we are reminded that God has put eternity in our hearts.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

He has also set eternity in the human heart;

yet no one can fathom what God has

done from the beginning to the end.

Your story and mine can be one of those stories.  A story that starts with, “Once upon a time,” and continues a saga of love, joy, and a life filled with relationship and fellowship.

Our story starts in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  It starts with a loving God that intentionally created the heavens and the earth.  Then, He intentionally created man in His own image.  We are not a mistake; we are here because our God created us for a purpose (2 Cor 5:5).

Although, our story starts in Genesis there is a story that predates our story.  The story I am talking about is what John describes in John 1:1-2, an ancient story of our God who was part of a fellowship, a relationship that we call the Trinity.  This struck me because it made me wonder how I perceive God?  Before He created the heavens and the earth and even now do I see him as an all powerful God that is moving pieces around to make all things work together or do I see God as a God that is in fellowship, encouraging, loving, caring, and desires us to know and understand the truth that fellowship and relationship is what He desires for us all?

How wonderful it is to discover that God has never been alone. He has always been the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God has always been in fellowship and eternity started and will always be relational.

What a difference it makes to perceive God as relational, a personality, or better a fellowship of personalities.  He is relational, community, Trinity.  After thinking about this a while I began to see that all that we have to do is look at people to see this truth. Whatever else it means to be human; we know that beyond doubt it means we are relational.  We all want to belong, to be a part of something bigger than our selves, to be invited into the inner circle, to be in fellowship.  Genesis confirms this when it says that we were made in the image of God.  Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image…”

What a comfort it is to know, that in this life, God wants you and me to be a part of it.  He looks forward to you and me being a part of His creation.  He is watching and encouraging us to realize that life does not work right when it is all about you or me.   Instead, it is about relationship and fellowship, sharing stories and living life together.  The life we have today and our future is available because of, and what was prior to, the beginning.

 

 

Inspired by “Epic” by John Eldredge

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Posted by: addictedtomylife | September 22, 2012

You Are Loved Beyond Measure!!!

For some reason we forget that we are loved by God!  We forget that no matter what we do or what we believe He still loves us.  We forget that if we change or don’t change God loves us the same with unconditional love that is beyond measure!  Let’s change that, let’s remember that God’s love in unconditional and let’s spread the word so that others will know!!!  If you ever forget or have a down moment when you need to hear how God loves you, listen to this:

 

Help me spread the word so that others can know God’s love is Beyond Measure!!!

Posted by: addictedtomylife | September 7, 2012

To Know the Heart of the Pilot

I read this article by Max Lucado this morning and thought I would pass it along.  What a great way to explain how we can trust in the covering and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  You can check out his website at http://www.oneplace.com/articles/.

Three passengers share a row of seats in an airplane. As the plane is taxiing for takeoff, their conversation turns to the topic of the airplane pilot.

Stunningly, passenger “A” doesn’t believe one exists. “No one flies the plane. We are guided by a computer system in the terminal. This plane is an occupied drone.  Why should I believe otherwise? The cockpit door is closed. Who can know? There is no pilot.”

Passenger “B” disagrees. “Oh, there is a pilot. Someone sits at the controls of the plane. But, once we take off, he takes a nap. He gets the plane in the air and then goes to sleep.”

The third passenger is shocked by what she hears. “You don’t know what you are talking about. First, there is a pilot. Second, the pilot is alert, competent and kind. I know; he is my husband. He is seasoned and sensitive and has every intention of a successful flight. We are in good hands.”

Three passengers. Three opinions. A plane with no pilot. A plane with a disengaged pilot. A plane with a seasoned and concerned pilot. Fast forward a few minutes. Turbulence shakes the plane like popcorn in a paper bag. Will the three passengers experience the flight in the same way? Of the three travelers, which is most prone to stay calm?

Nothing is more important than the right view of God. Nothing. I’ve seen the wealthy and highly educated crumple like cowards at the face of death. I’ve seen the simple and humble take their final breath with a smile and a song. The difference? They knew the Pilot.

You need to know the heart of the pilot. That is why the story of Jesus is in the Bible. He is the only picture of God ever taken. To know Jesus, is to know God. To know God is to know: this flight gets bumpy, but the Pilot? He knows how to get us home.

Posted by: addictedtomylife | August 24, 2012

5 Things Love Isn’t, By Daniel Darling

I read this article today and found it to be a great reminder about our priorities in loving a spouse.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

 

5 Things Love Isn’t

By Daniel Darling

Perhaps there is nothing the human heart craves more than true love. We are wired to love and be loved. The problem is that we don’t actually understand what love really is. We get all kinds of definitions from the culture and from our own feelings.

In fact, I think it’s helpful to think a little bit, not about what love is but what love isn’t. So here are five things love isn’t:

1) Love Isn’t Having Someone Fulfill All My Fanciful Dreams 

When we think about the love between a husband and wife, we often think of that “soulmate”, that person who just magically fits into all the areas I need and will make my life better. These expectations, which we carry into marriage, do more to derail relationships than anything else. And this is selfish. It’s a humanistic, godless thinking. It views the other person as our benefactor that must meet all of my needs. But God didn’t purpose marriage for my own fulfillment, but as an opportunity for me to a) display His glory b) grow in character and grace by adjusting, sacrificing, and loving another and c) fulfill the mandate by establishing another generation of godly offspring. And here’s a secret of marriage that I’m still figuring out after ten years: my dreams are petty compared to God’s dreams for me. When I hold them loosely and allow God to shape them (by giving me a spouse who bumps up against my desires), I discover a joy and fulfillment I would not have found on my own.

2) Love is Loving the Person I Expect Someone to Be 

This follows closely on the lie of expectations, that I only experience love when someone is everything I expect them to be. A wife gets married, not to a fallen sinner who needs grace, but to an idea of what she thinks this man might be to her. He’s the composite of all the princess movies, romance novels, and stored up dreams. But after the honeymoon is over, she meets another man, the sloppy guys who leaves his underwear on the floor, stays up too late playing video games, and sometimes buys boats without asking her. A husband gets married to a perfectly shaped beautiful goddess, whose every word is inspiring and motivates him to greater heights, who will satisfy his basic needs in every way. Then he gets home from the honeymoon and finds another woman in his home. This girl has occasional mood swings, yells at him for the smallest things like leaving his underwear on the floor, and she often burns the meatloaf. So then the husband and the wife have a choice. They can manipulate their mates into being what they need them to be, spark a lot of useless arguments and friction, and ultimately choose divorce. Or, they can confess their idolatry, realize their own brokeness, and recognize that love is about loving all the parts of those we are supposed to love, even the areas we really don’t like. It’s loving on those days when you don’t want to and loving the person you see before you, not the person who wish or hope they can be.

3) Love is always saying nice, but meaningless things, to each other. 

Love is action as we’ve said. Love is a committment. Which means sometimes we must speak the truth in love. This is not to be confused with tearing down, hurting, destroying someone’s soul for the sake of our own selfish gratification (see 1 and 2 above). This is the love that has the courage to tell someone when they are seriously going down a wrong path. The is the kind of love Jesus demonstrated with his disciples, when he repeatedly corrected their wrong ideas. We have this idea of love that it overlooks sin and that just sort of winks at poor life choices. Ahh, but love is not this way. If you truly love someone, especially someone you are married to your called to care for, you will gently, in the right timing, powered by the Spirit of God, communicate the loving truth. And you will receive correction as an act of love from another. In marriage this means you sometimes hear the hard, but true words of a spouse and take them as God’s loving act of discipline on your soul, shaping you into the character of Christ. I will tell you that this is never my first response to rebuke from Angela. But it should be. And often later the Spirit whispers to my soul, “You know, she’s right and if she didn’t love you, she wouldn’t have said what she said.” Then I have to go back to her and say, “I’m sorry. You’re right. Forgive me. I’ll work on that.” I have to say that after ten years, the person I credit with most of my spiritual growth is my wife. Marriage can and should be a discipleship relationship, provided both are committed to following Christ. As one of my favorite authors, Gary Thomas, says ,”God’s desire in marriage isn’t to make us happy, but to make us holy.”

4) Love Isn’t Conditional On Good Times

Bad times actually test your love, especially in marriage. They reveal our hidden idols. So, for instance, when money gets tight, this is usually a trigger for an epic argument. It’s easy to blame the other person. If she didn’t spend all that money on shoes, we’d be able to pay the electric bill. or If he had a better-paying job, we wouldn’t be in this mess. or If only he’d step up and do the budget, it wouldn’t be so hard on me. or, If she would just be happy with what we have. Or perhaps its trouble with a child. Again, we blame: If he’d get off the iPhone and pay attention, our kid wouldn’t act out so much. or If she’d just loosen up, maybe the kid would respond better. or, If he’d get home at a decent hour. or If she’d stop worrying so much about the house. 

You see what happens. Hard times bring all of our hidden anxieties and insecurities to the surface. The idolatry of financial security. To be financially secure is a good and worthy and biblical goal. But hard times come and threaten that. So if financial security is your idol, when it’s ripped away, you’ll kick and scream and do damage to your relationship. The idolatry of a well-adjusted family. Again, well-behaving kids in a safe, harmonious house is a good and worthy and biblical goal. But it’s a poor idol. And when this is ripped away for a season, if this is the altar at which we worship, we’ll kick, scream, and do damage to our relationships.

The point of all this is this: we think love would flourish if only our circumstances were better. If we had a bit more money, if the kids wouldn’t misbehave so much. But the truth is that real love, lasting, deep, abiding love grows during times of duress. But this only happens if you put Christ at your center and give up on the small, petty dreams and realize God is active in the midst of your hardship, to bring about His glory. Trials can be a catalyst for deeper marital love. They have for Angela and I. We wouldn’t want to repeat any of the terrible things we’ve faced, but we can both look back and say this cemented our love and commitment to each other.

 5) Love Isn’t Found Elsewhere

When you’re in a bad season of marriage, brought on by strife, difficulty, tragedy, it’s temping to think you’d be happier elsewhere. But real love is only found in renewing your commitment to each other in marriage. Love says, “I’m here for the duration. I’m committed. I’m going no where else.” Love is actually living out what we stood and said on our wedding day: “In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, as long as we both shall live.” Love is not saying, “As long as he has a job. As long as we have a house. As long as she our kids our healthy. As long as she doesn’t get sick.”

And here’s the secret: when you are absolutely, 100% committed to each other, it makes it easier to work out your differences. Why? Because you’re forced to. You’ve got no other option. And so each of you must give, bend, sacrifice. You must commit to grow, change, and serve. Now, to be clear: your willpower and commitment to stay alone won’t give you a great marriage. You need gospel of Christ which initiates the cycle of confession, repentance, and forgiveness. But I would argue that the gospel is the very catalyst that keeps you committed, because you realize you are in marriage for way more than your own expectations and self-fulfillment.

Posted by: addictedtomylife | July 2, 2012

A New Start – Inspired by a Blind Man

It has been a long time since my last letter to all who frequent this site, and I believe God has again called me to write and share my thoughts with the world.  I apologize for not being more consistent with my letters to you, I had a few months of transition in my life where I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t have time to spend on writing, let alone anything else.  As I begin a new phase of my life, God is again calling me to share the thoughts that he is putting on my heart, the hopes he is putting in my life, and dreams He has shown me in my mind.

I am on vacation today with the hopes of going fishing for the first time this year.  Theirs a peace about a vacation day where you have no duties or responsibilities yet, I know that with out a plan I will waste the entire day and have nothing to show for it.  These thoughts and many more came to my mind this morning as I sat in my la-Z-Boy recliner with my Bible in hand.  As I read and ponder and pray, there is reflection of the Sunday morning sermon that sits on my heart.  There’s a memory of conversations with friends that seem to be a reminder of the call that God has placed on my life.  The theme is letting go of the past and functioning in what God is guiding me to.  Isaiah 1:19-20 is a good example of this, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Sundays lesson was about a man who was born blind.  He experienced the humiliation and suffering that his blindness brought about, He begged on the side of the road or near the temple courts and hoped to get what he needed to fill his stomach for the day.  As the story goes on we learn that the blind man was this way from birth till adulthood.  Then one day the blind man hears a conversation that a group of men standing near are having.  The topic seems to be him.  Interested in the fact that most people just pass him by without even a look, he quiets his voice, asking for money, so he can here the conversation.  They are getting closer now and he hears the men asking,  “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9).  The blind man gets nervous, he is in the presence a teacher, a wise man that has authority and he is afraid of the answer this teacher will give.  Then Jesus replies to his disciples, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.  As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” The blind man then feels a wet mud-like substance being placed on his eyes, yet he is at peace.  This teacher did not condemn him in front of others or just walk by him, instead the teacher said that he was blind so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.  Then for the first time in months, maybe years somebody touched him and gave him a task to complete.  The teacher said, Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam.” The blind man contemplated this for a moment then as he recalled the kindness that this teacher had shown him he got up and began to head to the pool of Siloam.

The story goes on to describe the man’s site being restored and the repercussions that follow for this task being done on the Sabbath (I will let you read the rest on your own).   But this is where the story starts for me, the blind man made a choice to break the Sabbath due to just a few words from a kind teacher.  He didn’t know what to expect, I doubt that he knew he was about to be healed.  This is where you and I come in.  do we listen to God and obey right away, even though we don’t know what the result will be?  I know I struggle with this and until I make a mental choice to do what God is guiding me to, I don’t do it.   I have no excuse, so I simple ask the Lord for forgiveness and make my mind up to follow His guidance for my life.  The Bible says, There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a right time to hold on and another to let go (Ecc. 3:1, 8).  This is the time to start fresh, to stand up and wash in the pool of Siloam (to be sent).  Isaiah 43:18 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

 

So whatever it is you’ve been dragging along for years, it’s time to let it go.  Its time to choose to obey, ask for forgiveness, and allow God to guide you along the path he has for you.

I will forgive their sins and will no longer remember their wrongs (Heb. 8:12).

Be willing and make the choice to follow God’s Guidance, then watch and see how He blesses you.

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:19-20)

Posted by: addictedtomylife | April 7, 2012

Easter – What’s The Big Deal?

Easter, it’s a holiday, the stores go crazy, the parks are having Easter egg hunts, families are gathering, special meals are being prepared, even the Friday before is called Good Friday.  What’s this all about you may be asking?  The answer to the question is a long one that starts at the beginning of creation, but while thinking about Easter I’ve decided to answer the question differently.  Our society has changed over the last 50 or so years and our holidays on the calendar seem to have less and less meaning to the people of the United States.  50 years ago, nearly every person in the United States would have known what Good Friday was about and they would have known what Easter is the remembrance of.  Today, many will see these days as just another day or another holiday that they get off work.

So what is the big deal about this Easter weekend?  In short, Good Friday is a remembrance of the day Jesus Christ allowed himself to be crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for the sin of all humanity.  In itself, it would not be a day of any consequence, but because of Easter, when Jesus Christ came back to life Good Friday is the ultimate act of love that Jesus gave to humanity.  You may be thinking, hold on, when you are dead you are dead!  There is no coming back.  Well that is true, but it is also true that sin is what keeps us dead. You see the Bible (in Romans 6:23) says that the wages of sin is death, another words if you sin you will die and stay dead.  The Bible also says (Romans 3:23) that every man has sinned, therefore every man will die and stay dead.  This is what makes Easter so important, Jesus Christ and God himself declared that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8: 54-59 and Luke 3:21) and many of the disciples (Peter (1 Peter 2:22), John (1 John 3:5), Paul (Hebrews 4:15)), as well as the criminals on the Cross (Luke 23:40-43), declared that Jesus was without sin.  Because he was without sin when he died on the cross death could not hang on to him and on Easter morning (three days later) Jesus was alive again.  This alone made it possible for each of us to have our sins forgiven if we believe in and ask Jesus Christ to be a part of our life.

The Bible says (Romans 5:8) that even though we are sinners, Jesus loves us and that is why he died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.  He loves you so much that he only asks for you to believe in him in order to be called his son or daughter (John 1:12).  When you do this Jesus gives you a gift and that gift is forgiveness for all the wrong you have done in your life, for all the sin you have committed (Ephesians 2:8-9).  God wants to give you a second chance, an opportunity to understand the truth about life.  That is why he gave us the Bible, the book of truth.  He wants us to read it and understand who God is and how he loves us and desires the best for us.  The Bible is clear that we will still have struggles in life, but God promises that he will help us through the struggles and comfort us while we are in them.  Now you have a choice to make.  Will you open your mouth and say, “God I believe in you and want to know you and understand the truth in the Bible, the truth about you and your love for me?” Or will you say, “God I don’t believe in you, but if you are there and you love me like this article says you do, help me to know you are there, give me a sign, something that will tell me you are there and that you love me.”  Or will you say, “God I don’t believe in you and I never will.”

Many have said, “God seems so far away… if only I could see or hear him, then I would believe.”  Have you ever felt that way?  Maybe you are struggling with loneliness, burdened with despair, riddled with sin in your life, or overwhelmed by problems?  We are made in God’s image, created to be in close relationship with God so that he can help us through these life issues.   When our relationship with God is broken or nonexistent we feel a heaviness or like something is missing in our life.  All throughout the Bible God is speaking to his people and telling them that he desires us to speak to him as well.  This is key to any relationship, but even more so with the God of the universe.  He is in control of all that is in existence, yet he still wants to have a personal relationship and help you in your life.

So lets recap, God sends Jesus to be born as a baby (Christmas).  Jesus grows up and lives a sinless life. Jesus tells people of God’s love for them, heals people of many different kinds of diseases, and brings people back to life. God himself declares Jesus his son and states that he is well pleased with him (the baptism of Jesus).  Jesus then teaches the worst of the people as well as the greatest of people about Gods love for them.  Jesus is then crucified on a cross, but declared to have no wrong in him by the judge that put him there and the criminal being crucified next to him (Good Friday).  Three days later Jesus rises from the dead (Easter) and is seen by many people.  Jesus then gives his disciples a commission to tell others about God’s love for them.  God does all this so that you can have a close personal relationship with him because he loves you.  Now go up two paragraphs and make your decision.  Trust me, I’ve known Jesus for 35 years and he has always been there for me in the way I needed him.  He is a good friend and by choosing to follow his guidance in my life he has brought me to a good place in my life, I would even say I’m successful because of my relationship with Jesus.  He gave me a second chance, now it’s your turn.

Happy Easter!  May God bless you and guide you close to his side!

Posted by: addictedtomylife | January 21, 2012

My Cambodia Experience

I have hesitated to write about my trip to Cambodia until now because I have had so much to ponder.  So many details and so many pictures in my head that I needed to develop and find each and every emotion that went along with them.  Since I have been back (its been almost a week now), I have had many people want to hear about the trip, but as I tell the stories I realize there is a lot missing that can only be found from actually being there.  I have wondered in my mind what I would write about and which stories I would choose to tell.  I have wondered how can I write about the depth of feeling and emotion one feels being in a country that has so little yet lives so big.  Are there enough words to describe what I experienced? Are there enough pages to list what I have seen?  It seems I must choose to abbreviate what I experienced for others, in hopes that they too will go and experience the people and nation of Cambodia for them selves.  

It was nearly a year ago when I heard the call to go to Cambodia during a Sunday morning service at church.  If I remember it right, I was a bit distracted in the service because I was sitting near a glass door that clearly showed the day would be filled with rain, again.  I don’t much like the rain so the distraction was enough to make my mind wander.  It didn’t help that we had a guest speaker that was talking about a country on the other side of the globe.  I simply wasn’t interested.  Through the distraction I figured I should pay attention since I was at church and I was a little curious what God was doing on the other side of the world.  God works in funny ways sometimes, because a short time latter I felt my heart being tugged on and the call to go to Cambodia. 

It was like the seen that is described in Mark 16:7, one of those verses that says so much about Jesus’ love for us in just a few words.  Peter is describing his memories about the resurrection of Jesus.  He recalls the story that Mary told about an angel who said Jesus had risen from the dead.  In verse 7 the angel said, “but go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”  Did you see the hidden statement that shows Jesus’ love so deeply?  Look again, and focus on the bigger seen right before Jesus was crucified on the cross.  Who denied him three times? It was Peter!  Who did Jesus specifically mention that he wanted to see in Galilee? It was Peter!  This is exactly how I felt on that day in church.  Jesus wanted a sinner like me to GO and minister to people on the other side of the world he was promising to go before me and prepare the way. 

The gospel message is one of hope and second chances for each of us to include the people of Cambodia.  I’ve done a bit of traveling in my time so I was fairly prepared for the sights and feelings I would have once I arrived in Cambodia.  The weather was in the mid 80’s to low 90’s with a bit of humidity.  The people all around seemed to move at a fairly slow pace in every aspect of life except while driving.  Smiles were sparse unless they were first initiated by others.  The buildings are brightly colored and as we drove towards the guest house I could see that the city, as well as the people, were in a run down state.  There seemed to be a lack of hope and little motivation to improve.  I am not saying that all of Cambodia is like this; I am only describing how I saw it in the first hour or two when I arrived. 

Each day of our trip started with a few songs and devotions.  We prayed for God’s protection, healing, and to go before us and prepare the hearts of those we were going to see and interact with.  Then we traveled down the bumpy dirt roads to a village where a bright pink, yellow and red tent was set up to announce our presence.  We would set up each of the stations to include intake, vitals, doctors, dentists, glasses, pharmacy, and the gospel message and prayer.  Then we would start seeing patients.  Each village seemed to have different needs and there tended to be one issue that was more predominant in each village.  One village seemed to need glasses more than the others.  Another village needed their teeth tended to.  And another village seemed to have more medical conditions and needs.  My favorite part of each day was my interaction with the people and their children.  I wanted so much to see smiles on their faces and a glimmer of joy in their eyes.  If nothing else, I wanted them to remember that crazy smiling American man that talked to them and treated them with respect and honor.  I know that most of them could not under stand my jabbering, but the smiles I received in return told me that they understood my heart of joy to be there with them. 

We closed each day by packing up our things and cleaning up the site.  Then we climbed into the two vans and a truck and headed back to the guest house to clean up for the evening.  During our evening hours we did a number of things that were fun.  Some evenings we went to the English school and helped to teach the children.  Other evenings we played games, and talked into the wee hours of the night.  Our meals during the week consisted of a breakfast at the guest house with an omelet (with no cheese), fried rice, bread, and coffee.  Our lunch was a consistent diet of peanut butter and Jelly with a side of various flavors of Pringles potato chips.  Dinner was at a restaurant that was just a couple of blocks from the guest house and the food was a good variety of Cambodian dishes, Yum! Yum!  I actually gained 3 pounds during the trip because I liked the food so much.    

Somewhere in all of the busyness of each day I realized that even though the Cambodian villagers had few possessions, houses that were barely large enough to live in (from a westerners view point), no running water or electricity, and little to no money, that they still had love.  The interaction I saw between moms and children and between the children in the villages showed me there was love among the people.  I also saw that there was fear amongst the people.  In one village the children were so afraid of me and the other team members that even with my back turned to them I could hear them cry and turn away when they noticed me.  I love children, so as the day went on our team gave toys and candy to the children of that village and by days end their fear of us was gone. 

My hope is that the tracts and the message that was shared with them will lead them to the local churches that we partnered with in each village.  That the experience of these Americans that helped them to overcome dieses, regain sight, and the removal of pain will be enough to bring them to the hope that our Heavenly Father offers each of us. 

By the end of the week I wanted to stay longer to experience more, but our time there was done, and the memories I had gathered would have to be enough.  I left my contact information with the Cambodian friends I made and hoped that we will again be in contact.  I said my good byes and boarded the plane for home.  Cambodia, I will never forget you nor will I forget the people within your borders that touched my life. 

Thank you to all who prayed for and financially contributed towards this trip!!!  Your willingness to give of your self has changed the lives of over 700 people that were seen at our clinic and 23 people that went to be a blessing to the people of Cambodia.  Your generosity has changed our lives forever, we will never be the same nor would we want to!  I pray that God will bless you 100 times what you have given be it time or money so that you will give it again next time He guides you to do so.  Again, thank you!!!   

Posted by: addictedtomylife | November 18, 2011

Letter of Hope

I sit here, behind my computer, thinking of a way to explain the thoughts in my mind.   As a brother in Christ I must speak my mind and share my thoughts, but I think that it has more to do with the love of Christ that flows from my heart for all to become closer to Him.  You and your children are precious to Jesus.  Each of you were created and designed for a particular calling and you were each given a hope and a dream to fulfill.  This letter is one that is written to encourage and build you in the faith and I know that you will hear my heart even as I am now pondering your response.

In some of my writings I have presented messages about renewing the mind and becoming all that God wants us to be.  This message is one of hope and a better tomorrow.   The Lord wells up in me as I think of the many people that need to hear this message.  I have chosen to give the Lord my all, my entire life and I will follow Him where he leads me to go.  This is also my hope for others that they may have the peace and love that I feel in me, from Him.

It all starts with a choice!!  What do we choose to allow in our life?  Things that are pleasing to God, or things of this world?  We choose our attitudes, we choose to be happy and grateful or sad and miserable.  We choose our friends, those who build us up or those that tear us down.  We choose the God we serve, Yahweh the creator of the universe and everything in it, or gods of our own making.  We choose the reality we live in, one of the spiritual and the physical or one of just the physical world.  The thing is even if we don’t choose our subconscious chooses for us.

This life is made up of choices that touch every part of our existence, there is nothing in your life that does not require each of us to make a choice.  For this reason I need to also explain that the attitudes in our minds affect the choices we make.

Ephesians 6:10-13

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

The mind is the battlefield, if Satan defeats you in your mind, he will defeat you in your life.  You must choose your thoughts carefully.  You have to learn to recognize the lies of Satan, and you have to stop believing them.

Satan attacks us in our thoughts and our attitudes, he wants us to be held back before we do anything at all.  He wants to defeat us in our minds so that we will not act and be available for God’s work.  Satan wants to steal your dreams away from you, by making you passive.

There is this story in the Bible, about a crippled man who laid by the gate beautiful for 38 years trying to get into the healing pool.  Jesus came to him one day and asked him, do you really want to get well?  It is interesting to notice that the first thing the man does is give excuses why he can’t get into the pool.  The man knew he wanted to be healed, but his attitude about his situation held him back from actually achieving what he wanted.

Are you going to wait 38 years to change your attitude?

The truth is that if we sit passively by, and do nothing, and we wont take responsibility for anything, the Devil has us right where he wants us. But if you are active, energetic, on fire with zeel and passion for God. If you love the word and you pray and you bless other people, the Devil is not going to know what to do with you, because he will be defeated in your life.

I know that each of us has a past that Satan brings up to the forefront of our mind, and pelages us with the memories of it, and how terrible we are because of our past.  But the truth is that, your past does not dictate your future.  God wants to turn the bad in your life into good, but you have to have a Godly mindset in order for that to happen.

Isaiah 61:7-8 

7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

8 “For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.

So I urge you, to give your past to God, sow it as a seed into his kingdom and allow God to bring a harvest of good from it.  Allow God to take the lessons you have learned from the difficulties in your life to help others out of similar situations.

Romans 8:26a & 28

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Do you live your life with the thought that everything is already done, or do you question what possibilities can come about?

Hebrews 11:1

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

From this verse we can say that we must have hope for a future, in order to have faith that we will have a future.

We affect the world around us no matter what we believe, this effect can be a positive affect or a negative affect.   One way that we affect the world is by our words and the thoughts behind our words.  You see our words have the power to build up or tear down.  The same is true with the words we listen to in movies and music. This is why we must sensor what we allow ourselves and our families to listen to.  I guess I think of it like this, if Jesus would be ok listening to the music or watching the movie, then it is ok for me. Otherwise I shouldn’t be listening to or watching it.

The children of Israel took 40 years to make an 11 day journey. Why?? They left Egypt wandered in the wilderness and then finally got to the promised land.  The Bible tells us that only 2 (Numbers 14:20-39) of the original, nearly 2 million people, entered the promised land.  Those two men only entered because they continually put their mind on, and their hope in God.

In our life, the only way to the promised land, is through the wilderness.

How you think, the attitude you have, what you say, and how you act while you are in the wilderness will determine how long you will stay there!

So how long is it going to be for you, 40 years or 11 days?

Proverbs 23:7  for as a man thinks within himself, so he is.

Another words as the man or woman thinks, so a man or woman does.

Colossians 3:2   Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  

We may think that we can control things in life, but we are just placing boundaries on our own heart, we need to give it to God who is in control.

We can not disconnect our heart and our thoughts.  The two run side-by-side.  Being honest with God and ourselves isn’t a sign of weakness.  In fact, it is often harder to see the truth than it is to see a lies.  Living in denial has never worked out to great for anyone.

Psalm 139 helps us to take stock in our relationship with God and encourages us to examine our thoughts.

When we set boundaries on our heart, we also set boundaries on God in our life.  But with a daily choice to give him everything in your life (die daily for Christ, 1 Cor 15:31) these boundaries can be torn down.

Romans 6:11

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 7:21 – 8:17

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.  5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful man is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:26-31

26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.  28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,whohave been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

When we take the gospel seriously, this is what will happen, our psychological needs will begin to be met, our capacity to love will be developed, our appreciation of the miraculous will cause us to expect great things from God, and the Spirit of God that possesses us, will motivate us to give ourselves to those who are suffering in a way that we have failed to do to this day.  And when all of that happens, this is the good news, that even though the world is rotten, as it is right now, we know that we have a savior that lives, and a hope for a better tomorrow.

The Bible tells us that that hope, that character, and faith come at a price.

Romans 5:1-5

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Our hope is to be in God no matter what we are going through in life, the good times and the bad.

We can only lead our children once we understand how our Father in heaven leads us.  Only then, can our commitment to Him affect the lives our children will lead.

My hope is that this letter of encouragement will be exactly what you need at this moment in your life and that it will reach you so deeply that it will grow you closer to Christ.

Posted by: addictedtomylife | October 3, 2011

True Feminine Beauty

I tend to read a veriety of articles and the title of this one jumped out at me.  I just had to read it and once I did I was compelled to pass it along.  Ladies, there is deep truth in this article that I concure with.  A womans beauty is much much more than an outward apearance.

True Feminine Beauty, By Leslie Ludy, GirlsGoneWise.com

For a good portion of my teen years, I was desperately insecure. I remember walking home from school one May afternoon, my skinny legs revealing my glowing white skin beneath a knee-length skirt. A car-load of high school boys suddenly drove by and one of them yelled mockingly, “Get a tan!” I was deeply mortified. (I will spare you the story of my subsequent attempt at using self-tanning cream, which ended up making me look strangely akin to one of those garishly orange Uumpa-Lumpas from that Charlie and Chocolate Factory movie back in the eighties.)

It didn’t matter that my parents had repeatedly told me, “You are beautiful just the way you are!” I spent nearly every waking moment of my life for about two years trying to make myself more appealing to the culture and to the opposite sex. But I never seemed to actually “get there.” No matter how much make-up I put on, I still didn’t look like the cover of Seventeen or Vogue. No matter how much I deprived myself of fries and milkshakes, my thighs never seemed to get as skinny as the girl on the Abercrombie poster. And no matter how many guys showed interest in me, there were always scores of other girls that got far more male approval than I did.

Instead of pursuing the purity, radiance and selfless nobility of a Christ-centered woman, I began pursuing the sensual standard of pop-culture. I traded in my pursuit of true feminine beauty for the cheap counterfeit presented by society. The result was a season of misery; throwing myself at guy after guy, only to be used and carelessly discarded; tossing dignity and modesty to the wind and flaunting my body everywhere I went; exchanging wholesome conversation for profanity and crudeness; ignoring the needs of others and adopting an attitude of selfishness and rebellion; filling my mind and heart with the perverted images of Hollywood and the media. Of course, since I was a Christian, I put limits around how far I let these things go in my life. I always made sure I was a step or two ahead of my secular peers when it came to morality, but that didn’t keep me from being steeped in compromise.

From the world’s perspective, I was on the right track to becoming a desirable young woman; a woman that had forsaken the archaic, restrictive, old-fashioned ideals about feminine modesty and dignity and embraced the “empowerment” of a self-focused, sensual existence. But a couple of years into this pattern, I finally recognized how empty my life was. I had male attention-but it only led to one broken heart after the next. I had a measure of sensual beauty-but it only made me feel like a sex object. I had social status and popularity-but it made me feel fake and shallow. I had parties and entertainment-but they made me feel slimed and dirty.

When I pondered how far I’d strayed from God’s pattern and intent for true feminine beauty, I felt heavy with regret. Could my femininity ever be restored after I had spent years throwing it to the wind?

One night I knelt beside my bed, tears of remorse streaming down my cheeks. “God,” I prayed, “Forgive me for allowing my femininity to become so twisted. Restore me and shape me into the kind of girl You designed me to be. Cleanse me from the filth of the world and make me new.”

God faithfully and lovingly answered that prayer. During the next season of my life, He began to open my eyes to His pattern for true feminine beauty. And here is what I learned:

True beauty does not depend upon clothes, makeup, or malls. It does not come from perfect skin or an ideal figure. It’s not found in the advice of modern magazines. It can’t be seen in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

In 1880, Christina Rosetti wrote these words:

How beautiful are the arms, which have embraced Christ-the eyes which have gazed upon Christ, the lips which have spoken with Christ, the feet which have followed Christ. How beautiful are the hands which have worked the works of Christ, the feet which are treading in His footsteps have gone about doing good, the lips which have spread abroad His Name, the lives which have been counted for Him.

True beauty, in a nutshell, is found in a soul completely surrendered to Jesus Christ, a heart consumed by Him alone, and a life eagerly poured out for His sake. That is when our lives will sparkle with lasting feminine loveliness. That is when we will trade the counterfeit beauty of pop-culture for a beauty that stands out among other women like a lily among thorns. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

 

Posted by: addictedtomylife | September 27, 2011

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Recently, I found myself in a situation where I had to ask what my intentions and my desires for the future were.  My heart was screaming that I needed to start dating again, but when I prayed about it God was telling me to wait.  This has been a common theme in the past year, but as each opportunity came and went I remained faithful and waited.  God has a plan for my life that is way above what I could ever plan or do on my own.  As I look to Him, as my guide through this life, He has been faithful and provided what He shows me is to come.  It is almost like a romance that starts with the questions about trust and the feelings of emotional hope.  Then, as time passes and experience grows trust is gained.  Your faith in each other becomes a bond that is not easily broken. Your heart begins to fill with a peace and comfort when your in the presents of the one you love.  Yes, this is how I feel about my Lord Jesus Christ.  He has been there romancing me through every good and difficult time in my life, guiding me, teaching me, growing me into the man He wants me to be.

With any romance there will be difficult times, this life is filled with them.  It doesn’t take much to find an article in the paper, a show on TV, or just talking to a friend to know that relationships are not easy.  So this article is a look at the guidance that is given in the Bible for starting and maintaining a relationship.  What you choose to do with this information is between you and God, but there is only one truth and one way to live.  Jesus teaches us this truth through the Bible.

The starting point of any relationship is as friends.  If you skip this step many of the foundational areas of the relationship do not occur and the stability of the relationship is in jeopardy.  This is a time to grow in your understanding of the person you are with.  This stage is often a place where you feel like everything is right, like the person you are with can do no wrong.  You are full of hope and your emotions are raging.  This is also a place of discovery, where you seek to understand the person’s desires and who they are.  This is the time to determine if the person you are with loves Christ as much as you do.  The Bible says to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” Matthew 6:33.  This is the call that we are to live by.  We must determine if the one we are with can live by this truth with us and if we will grow closer to God as we grow closer to each other.

The next step is discovering each other.  This step is a part of the first step, but it is more of an active stage where a couple makes the choice to move closer to each other.  In this stage the excitement tends to be somewhat less and the discovery of the person you are with tends to grow.  You begin to see them for who they are, the areas that bug you as well as the areas that you find wonderful.  Your communication depends and you truly begin to feel love and respect for one another.

Then there is the choice of commitment.  This is where a relationship truly starts, till this point either person has the opportunity to back away from the relationship or to stay.  This is a stage that most people rush into in order to be able to relax and feel secure.  This stage is an active choice by both people to promise to be a part of the relationship and to work at the relationship.  In this stage the relationship is settled, you know you both want to be together.  Communication is essential in this stage so that the foundation for your future will be properly built and tended to.

After the commitment stage there are other various stages that occur in a relationship, but these stages tend to be associated with the life patterns of the people involved.  These stages include the honeymoon, power struggle, growth, and having a child.  Some of these stages are repeated over and over depending on the couple.  The important thing to remember in these stages is that you need to be your partner’s number one cheerleader.  You need to take time to be together and you need to actively work to grow your relationship.  In this stage the couple must learn to settle differences in their relationship.  A relationship is not about you, it’s about pleasing your partner, but both people have to live by this motto to make it work.

So where does it all start?  Do people really think it is always going to be perfect?

A relationship starts with a pursuit; Biblically this is supposed to be the man perusing a woman, although encouragement from a women is sometimes what helps a man get the nerve to begin the pursuit.  The Bible is clear about the fruit of the spirit (But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23) and our continual pursuit to guard our heart (Proverbs 4), these aspects of our life help us to choose the person we desire to be in a relationship with.  Yet, if God is all-powerful and if He is big enough to create the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, Job 38-42:6) don’t you think He can provide a spouse designed just for you.  The Bible says that God loves us and wants to provide for our needs (Isaiah 58:11) that He will guide us and give us hope (Exodus 13:21, 15:13, Psalm 23:3, 25:5, 48:10).  If all that is true then why do we worry so much about relationships?  God has a plan that is specifically for you (For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11) and He will bring it to pass as long as you are following His guidance.

Back to a man pursuing a woman, I am speaking from a man’s point of view so ladies let me know what your view is on this subject.  To start, I need to say that every man is a work in progress.  We all are learning as we go through life and as we trust in the Lord’s teachings.  God calls us to fix our eyes on Him and to run the race He has set before us. We are to throw off all the hindrances in our lives and seek Him fervently.

Heb 12:1-2  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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 its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

When we seek Him first in our lives, then we will find out who we are and who God calls us to be.  Our society tells us that to be in a relationship is to be happy.  But the Bible tells us that we are to seek God first then He will provide all our needs.  We must know who we are and love who we are before we become involved with another person.  A person who is insecure with himself or herself, while single, will carry this insecurity into a relationship and tend to look to their partner to solve their insecurities.   This makes for a difficult relationship because God is the healer of our hearts, not the person you are in a relationship with.

A man of intention is a man who is able to lead with a servant’s heart.  He desires to know and understand the woman God has guided him to and he seeks to know her.  A man of intention thinks of ways to please the one he is with.  He desires to provide for her needs, he learns how she thinks, when she needs space, and how she loves God.  But most of all he learns what her actions are saying that she needs emotionally.  A man of intention will never force her to be with him.  He will explain his commitment to her and allow her to choose him.  God calls the man in a relationship to be the head of the house and to love his wife as Christ loves the church.  Therefore, it is only right for the man to allow the woman to choose him once a commitment is established.

Ephesians 5:23  “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.”

 

Ephesians 5:25-27  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

 

Revelations 3:20  “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

To explain further about a man’s role in a relationship, I need to first explain the woman’s role.  A woman is to submit to her husband in everything and she is to respect her husband.  I would contend that it is the same in a dating relationship, but only within the boundaries that are established in the Bible for a dating relationship.

Ephesians 5:24  “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 5:33  “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

This is a difficult subject because our society says and teaches the exact opposite.  I believe that the reason this is so difficult for a women to understand is because they are not looking at the whole picture.  It is so easy for us to get caught up in thinking this is something I have to do and that it is all dependant on me.  I would challenge you to think otherwise.  God created Eve to be a helpmate to Adam, this would imply that they were a team.  For any team there has to be cooperation and working together in order to accomplish a task let-a-lone a lifetime together.  I believe that if a man fulfills his role in the relationship then a woman will feel free to fulfill her role, one role does not work without the other.  There is a risk involved in being vulnerable, but there is also a reward that is inexplicitly beautiful.

What does it mean to be a submissive girlfriend?

*    Letting your boyfriend lead, even when you know the direction the Lord is leading the both of you before he does.

*    Emotionally only linking yourself to your boyfriend after a commitment is made.

*    Respecting your boyfriend.

What does it mean for a boyfriend to court a woman?

*    Cover her spiritually.

*    Protect her emotions.

*    Be the leader in your relationship.

*    Guide your girlfriend in the ways of the Lord.

In closing I know there is a lot questions about compatibility, do opposites attract or should I seek someone who has a like personality.  I would suggest you go with the person that the Lord leads you to.  The only area that two people must be compatible is in their spiritual life.  This is the key factor in making a marriage work.

I’m confident I haven’t learned all I can in life, nor do I believe I am an expert on this subject.  So if there are questions about what is written above please let me know so I can dig deeper into the topic and grow along with you as we continue towards A closer relationship with Christ.

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