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What’s your Good?

Psalm 73: 28

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.

This verse is simple and to the point. One of the reasons I love it! But even more I love the point it’s making. And as Christians, most of us would say that we believe that….but do we really? Well, of course!

Then if that’s true, why are we always wanting more? More money. More prestige. More things.

Then if that’s true, why are we always complaining? But I need….fill in the blank.

Then if that’s true, why are we not filled with God’s peace and joy? Because…I want…fill in the blank.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.

It seems as if there’s a disconnect between our words and our actions. We say the nearness of God is our good, but our actions say something different. So how can we close the gap between our words and our actions? I believe being truly thankful for we do have will go a long way.

It can be hard to find the gratitude when life isn’t going our way. Believe me, I know that after spending the past five years battling brain tumors and yet…it is possible. It really is as simple as looking at the positive instead of the negative. Here’s a few examples from my own life:

I’ve lost a lot of my hearing but I’m thankful I still have some usable hearing still left.

My balance and my neuropathy makes it difficult for me to walk but I’m thankful that I still can even if it’s difficult.

In spite of all my health issues, God still gives me stories to write and the ability to write them!

God has given my a loving husband who takes wonderful care of me–and without complaining.

So what are you thankful for even in the midst of your trials?

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

I Did It! 3 Keys To Success!

I did it!

I wanted to get back to the weight I was when my husband and I started dating and….I did it! Almost 40 pounds. I still would like to lose a few more pounds but my I met my original goal! It wasn’t easy and it took me a lot longer than I expected and I had a lot of setbacks along the way.

Still I did it!

Today I’d like to share 3 keys to my success.

  1. DON’T QUIT! Proverbs 24: 16 says: for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. Whatever it is you want to happen, it won’t if you quit. That makes sense, doesn’t it? You might fail or stumble but you have to get back up and keep going.
  2. BE TEACHABLE. Most of us think we know more than we do. Whatever your goal is, you will need knowledge and wisdom to make it happen. Proverbs 15:22 says: Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. It took me 15 years to be published by a traditional publisher. Why? One of the reasons was because I was doing it alone. After I joined American Christian Fiction Writers, it took me less than two years to get a contract. But if I hadn’t been willing to learn from all the wonderful resources available through the organization, I’d still be waiting.
  3. MAKE GOD YOUR PARTNER. God loves you and cares about you and the things you care about. Mark 10: 27 says: Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Go to God with your concerns, ask for wisdom to learn, strength to endure, patience to wait.

I did it! And so can you!

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, these three principles will help you get there. It doesn’t mean it will be quick or easy but that will only make your success sweeter. It took about 5 years to lose the almost 40 pounds.

Yes, that’s a long time. It only averages out to 8 pounds a year but it didn’t happen that way. I joined a national weight loss group in January of 2012 and in May I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors (non-cancerous) and had my first treatment in August. Then for the next 8 months I was on steroids so I gained back about half of what I lost.

At that point I rejoined and started losing weight again and then I had my second treatment and then I had to go back on steroids so  the whole process repeated itself. Then I had to start chemotherapy and steroids to try to save my hearing. This happened three times over three years. So I would lose weight and then gain a lot of it back because of my treatments.

But I didn’t quit, I kept learning, and God is definitely my partner in all things. So I kept going to meetings as much as I could and kept following the program as much as I could and prayed for strength and endurance and… last week, my official weight put me a little bit under what I was when I started dating my beloved husband.

I did it! And so can you–no matter what your goal is.

PS. Of course, we all know the hard part is keeping it off but with the three biblical principles I can do that as well!

 

Fake it?? Good idea or not?

Proverbs 17: 22 (NLT)

A cheerful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

I’ve discovered that when a person doesn’t feel well over an extended amount of time, it’s really hard to be cheerful and upbeat. And yet the Bible says a cheerful heart is good medicine. As with any medicine you have to take it first and then wait for the results. So how is one supposed to act cheerful when they aren’t?

Fake it, of course!

I’m not advocating you lie about your condition, but what I am asking is that you force a smile now and then. In other words act a little cheerful in spite of your circumstances.  Put another way, act as if you trust God in the hard times as well as the good times.

If all you do is whine and complain or even worse get angry and bitter, that’s called a broken spirit. And a broken spirit saps a person’s strength while a cheerful heart is good medicine.  It’s really all about the biblical principle of sowing and reaping. Sow cheerfulness and you’ll get more cheerfulness. Sow a broken spirit and all you’ll get is more broken spirit.

The choice is yours.

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

But He Was A Good Person…

Rocko Smith III was born a fortunate man.

One could even say born with a silver spoon in his hand.

 

But he was a good person.

He didn’t squander or waste.

Instead he did his best posthaste.

 

Unlike others in his class.

He didn’t party hard and fast.

 

He worked hard and did good deeds.

He truly was a good person but…

 

One bad choice he made.

Or should I say one good choice he didn’t make.

 

But he was a good person…

 

 

The car circled the public square for the third time. The Christmas lights sparkled and blinked merrily but Rocko wasn’t there for the decorations. His gaze went past the bright lights and peered into the shadows.

He tapped the driver’s shoulder. “Pull over, Jives.”

“My name’s not Jives, Rocko.”

“I know that but can’t you humor me just once, Martin? I always wanted a driver named Jives.”

“If it makes you happy, I suppose you can. Just tonight since it’s Christmas Eve.”

“That’s a deal, Jives.” He opened his door and picked up the package off the seat.

“Be back in a few.”

“Take as long as you need, Boss.”

“My name’s not boss.”

I know but I always wanted to say that.”

“Fair enough…Jives.”

Rocko chuckled as he made his way toward the alley. With his back turned to the merry lights, the night turned dark. And cold. He shivered glad to have his warm coat and gloves.

He walked into the alley. He saw his target. “Hi.”

“I’m not doing nothing wrong.”

“I know that.  I just wanted to give you a Christmas gift.”

“I don’t need no charity.”

“I’m sure you don’t but still I’d like to give you this gift.” He reached the box toward the man.

“Why?”

“Because I’ve been so fortu—”

Blinding lights came toward them.

 

Rocko stood in a line—a very long line. It went as far as the eye could see and he was at the end of the line. In front of him stood a man in tattered clothes. Rocko still had on his warm coat and gloves. “Hey buddy, where are we? What’s going on? How did I get here?”

The man turned.

“You’re the man from the alley.”

“And you’re the man that was in my alley.”

“What happened? Why are we here?”

“Guess that runaway truck got both of us.”

“You mean I’m dead.”

“It seems to be so.”

“But I was just trying to do something nice for someone on Christmas Eve.”

“Hey don’t blame me. I didn’t ask you to come in my alley.”

“No. No. Of course not. That’s not what I meant at all. I’m just surprised. So then what’s this line?”

“My guess is that it’s the judging line.”

“What’s that?”

“You know it’s where God decides if you go to heaven or hell.”

“I don’t believe in God.”

“Believe or not, I think you’re about to meet your maker.”

“You really think God’s at the end of this line?”

“No, we’re at the end of the line. He is at the beginning of the line. Of course, He is the Alpha and the Omega.”

“You sound like you know what you’re talking about.”

He shrugged. “I used to go to church a long time ago. Of course, I started making bad choices that ended up with me being in that alley. First it was alcohol. Then it was drugs. Then I needed more money to get the drugs and ended up in prison. And then the alley.”

“So things aren’t looking good for you, huh?”

“I guess you could say that. But I made the choices so I gotta face the consequences. Got no one to blame but myself.”

“Sorry about that buddy.”

“It is what it is. How about you? How are you feeling about the whole thing?”

“It’s true I didn’t believe in God but I am…was a good person. For the most part I tried to do the right thing. I was kind to the people in my life, I donated lots of money to charities. And not just money but my time as well. I think I’ll be OK.”

“Sounds like it.”

And then it was their turn.

A man sat on a large golden throne. But not just any man, the Son of Man but also the Son of God. He wore a robe of white so bright it glowed. To his left was brightness and warmth that beckoned all. To his left darkness and death.

The man from the alley fell on his face.

“Stand up, Stanley.”

He lifted his head. “I can’t. I’m not worthy to approach you, Lord.”

“I know you Stanley and you know me. Please stand up. Fear not, you have been made righteous through my blood.”

As Stanley stood, his tattered clothes turned into a glowing white robe. “But I’m not worthy. I’ve done so many bad things. Made so many mistakes.”

“And yet I know you, Stanley.”

Rocko breathed a sigh of relief. It was going to be OK. If someone like Stanley got to go to heaven, surely he would. After all, he was a good person. A really good person.

“Please go to the left, Stanley. There are people waiting for you. People who love you.”

It was his turn. He walked up to the throne with a confident smile.

The man stared at his for several long moments. Then with a booming voice, “Who approaches my throne?”

Gone was the kind loving voice, in its place was a cold angry voice. Something was wrong. Stanley had knelt so Rocko knelt. “It’s me. Rocko Smith III, Lord.”

“You dare to call me Lord. I do not know you.”

“True but I was a really good person.”

“I do not know you and you do not know me.”

“But I want to know you. Now.”

“Did you not have chances when you were alive?”

“Well, sure I had chances but I didn’t think you were real. Everyone said you were a myth. Obviously, I was wrong about that and I’m sorry. But I was a really good person. I worked hard. I was nice to people. I gave money to…”

“Your good deeds are like filthy rags. They mean nothing to me. Please go to the right.”

He looked to his right and only saw darkness awaiting him. “That can’t be right. You let Stanley, the drug addict into heaven. That’s where I belong. In the light. In heaven.”

“I never knew you.” His voice was heavy with sorrow.

“It’s not fair.” Invisible hands pulled him toward the darkness. “But I was a really good pers…”

 

Matthew 3: 3

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

HAVE YOU MADE YOUR CHOICE?

WORRY NOT!

Matthew 6: 3-4

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If you’d asked me last week if I was a worrier, I would have said no. But I found out this week I was wrong! Nobody likes admitting they were wrong and I’m no exception but here I am admitting just that.

Presently I’m doing a Bible study based on Elizabeth George’s book–LOVING GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This week’s topic was worry. I was almost tempted to forego this week’s homework since I don’t consider worrying to be one of my weaknesses. One of the tasks we did was to write down our concerns or worries into one of two categories.

First category was TODAY.

The second was IN THE FUTURE.

I wrote down six things but the shocking thing was that four of them were concerned with the future and only two for that specific day. Wow! That was an eye opener. And the truth was I could have written four or five or even more under IN THE FUTURE. I had no idea how many of my concerns are about the future.

I’ve been in horrible pain for the last several weeks as I go through a treatment regimen for the third time, but this past week has been even worse. The pain has been almost unbearable. I was feeling so discouraged and hopeless. It felt as if I was never going to get better.

As I looked at that list, I immediately changed the way I prayed. Instead of praying for the “big” things–like healing my brain tumors, I simply prayed for enough grace to face the day in a godly way–for God’s favor and mercy for that day.

And you know what?

I did have a better day. And the next day the pain improved a bit more, but even more important I had God’s peace again. So I’m determined to stay focused on this day and only this day. As the verse said, tomorrow will take care of itself.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for the big things because we should, but I’m saying we need to focus our energies on one day at a time, especially when we’re in a difficult time.  When we start to think too much about all the things that might happen in the future, we stop living in the present. We stop living in faith which can lead to us losing our hope, our peace, and our joy.

So…. WORRY NOT!

YOUR TURN: How about you? Maybe it’s time to make your own list and see what category  your worries or concerns fall under– TODAY or IN THE FUTURE.

Dealing with Discouragement

Romans 15: 13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy? Peace? Hope?

Those things sound wonderful. Unfortunately when you have a chronic illness or a long-term situation, it’s so easy to lose them.  Instead of focusing on God and his goodness, we begin to focus on our troubles. Before we know it, we are thick in the throes of discouragement.  If discouragement continues it leads us into a darkness.

That’s where I am right now–in the darkness of discouragement.

But I’ve been telling myself that it’s normal to feel discouraged at the moment. I’ve spent more than four years dealing with my brain tumors when the doctors told me it would only take two years. I’m in the middle of my third round of chemotherapy to try to save what’s left of my hearing–which isn’t much.

It feels horrible! But I realized something yesterday. I’ve set myself up to feel that way. I’ve been telling people that feeling this bad is part of the process and that when the chemo is over I can start to regain my strength, my health, my peace and my joy. 

Proverbs 23: 7 (NKJV) tells us “For as he thinks in his heart so is he.” Wow–talk about setting myself up to feel bad! That’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve been telling myself and everyone else that feeling bad is part of the process, something to be endured and then overcome it later.

That doesn’t sound like me having much faith in God, his love or his power! Instead that sounds a lot more like me believing Satan’s lies that God doesn’t have the power or at the very least he won’t use it on pitiful little me because I’m not worthy.

 In the darkness, we lose our way along with our joy and peace and hope. So how do we get out of that darkness when we’ve lost all sense of direction? We must turn our eyes to our Savior. As we draw near to him, the light will begin to shine. The more light, the easier it is to find our way back to the joy, the peace, and the hope that God promises to each of his children in spite of our circumstances.

That’s what I want! I may still have to endure the side effects of the chemo, but I don’t have to endure the the hopelessness of losing my peace and joy because God is with me always.

ONE THING

Luke 10:42

There is really only one thing worth being concerned about.

Mary has discovered it-and I won’t take it away from her!

 

When I read this verse, I’m always reminded of the movie City Slickers and Jack Palance in the scene where sits on a horse as he holds up his finger and talks about the meaning of life. Billy Chrystal’s character seems confused and doesn’t know what the one thing is.

As Christians, we should quickly know what the one thing is—our relationship with God. Mary knew that it was more valuable to spend time with Jesus than be busy doing other things, even important things.

The way to develop a more intimate relationship with God is by spending time with God. And we can do that through our daily meditation time. For me that includes reading the Bible, meditating on specific verses, and singing.

Now you might be saying:  but I volunteer at church; but I write devotions for a Christian website; but I write Christian stories; but I sing in the choir; but…but…but…Do any of these sound familiar?

Those are all wonderful things, but those are ways to serve God not develop a stronger relationship with him. Unfortunately, we may become so focused on pursuing our God-given dream we forget what the one thing really is our relationship with the Dream Giver instead of the dream.

It doesn’t matter how much money you have.

It doesn’t matter how many friends you have.

It doesn’t matter how big your house is.

It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive.

It doesn’t matter how successful you are.

It doesn’t matter how powerful you are.

Until your relationship with God is right, nothing else will bring true peace or joy to your life. Nothing can replace your relationship with your Creator.

God is the one true thing!