Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9

Living on the Mountain is all about rising above the chaos down here on Planet Earth. I decided to begin this journey into Matthew 5:9 for a column in successandfailure.net . Please visit this wonderfully inspiring website for other articles. Articles under "Bible Study" are quite helpful for daily life. The 500-word articles from this blog will be posted under "Insights for Today".

My online selling adventure began two weeks ago on eBay. So much to learn as a brand-new eBayer! I was excited to be selling many books - 12 in the first week. Yahoo! Score one for my team... Then the peace love and joy all around ended. An unhappy person lodged a dispute against me on only my 7th day of positive cash accumulation in my Pay Pal eBay account.

If you are familiar with eBay, you know there are so many feedback options, ship now, pay later, link to Pay Pal and of course the many 'Messages' in your eBay "Outlook" account. I was so busy with learning the system that I sent my husband off with the already disgrunted person's paid order.

My wonderfully good-intentioned husband forgot to drop off that package at the UPS Store. This person's order was abandoned in the trunk of the car. When I realized the order was still there, I hounded my husband for three straight days before it landed at the UPS Store. Needless to say, per eBay I was officially two days late in fulfilling my seller obligations. I emailed my customer and explained, "I am so very new to Ebay and please forgive me for this order being slightly delayed".

This customer gave no grace. Zero. Zilch. Nada. 

After I finally figured out how to close the case (I finally had a tracking number in process to provide), I prayed he/she would give me good feedback. I would forge ahead to get my blue star. Not that this negativity was a big deal. Repercussions? Possibly my ranking would suffer but eBay selling was not my primary income. I did not plan on paying my light bill with this sale. Thankfully.

Round Two
Thud - my heart hit the floor. My disgruntled, impatient buyer again. I rolled my eyes as  a new case against me flashed in my eBay 'Messages' Outlook. Yikes. This customer now decided there were missing parts and that I had promised him/her something other than what I had listed. Huh?

So much time had been spent learning how to resolve and defend my eBay seller ethics. I realized then that my notes on this column lay untouched on my desk. I didn't blog for three straight days as I complained and questioned how people could be so cruel. I had glowing marks until this cranky customer ruined my good track record. I had such good intentions and had given such a good deal. I was simply done trying to work things out with this person.

Peace? No. I was not peaceful, peaceable or interested in being a peacemaker. I wanted to tell him/her to depart my life forever and that he/she did not even deserve the deal I provided. To take it a step further, I wanted to respond, "YOU are a poison plant that I would like to spray with toxic weed killer!!"(smiling)

I did honestly want to respond with this comment. Sorry Mom. Okay, Roundup. It's safe for animals.

Then the Lord reminded me, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Yes Lord, I remember I was supposed to focus on Matthew 5:9 this week.

And so, I disputed the claim with the truth, prayed for this person, cranked up iTunes and got busy on my keyboard. Of all days, today was THE day to launch this column on peacemakers!!! I did not respond to my customer but instead decided to be silent.

And so this blog series begins with a passionate plea to be given the words to explain the peace as outlined in the Truth of the Gospel of Matthew. You will understand meekness is not weakness, never confuse humility with cowardice - and agree we can only live in peace when looking to The Prince of Peace. As a result of pondering these entries I pray you will respond to God's radical calling. I pray the fact that Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword Matthew 10:34 causes you pause. To reflect, to question, to wear out your Bible. Don't be surprised if you are challenged and yes, a bit irritated as you make your way out of the valley to the mountaintop.

After all, the goal is for all of us to come to the realization that Living on the Mountain isn't impossible when we live in holiness actively pursuing peace in its fullness. Peace in the midst of chaos? Yes! God's perfect peace.


P.S. I promise to continue to pray for my disgruntled eBay customer. Even if he/she causes me to lose each and every Pay Pal privilege I will praise God for this person. Grace - learned from the Prince of Peace. 'Cause everyone knows there's not much of a view from the valley (Philippians 4:7)!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Turducken. I heard the word mentioned recently on the Cooking Channel. Turducken. Could it be what it sounded like? Three birds in one?

So I looked it up. And alas quickly found the 1 reference given. The definition (noun): a boned turkey stuffed with a boned duck that is stuffed with a small boned chicken, sometimes also containing a breadcrumb or sausagemeat stuffing. Cite source

Fascinating. So I googled again. Apparently this poultry invention had been prepared by cooks for centuries. But it was brought to the American table in the 1980's. A company in Louisiana actually prepares around 5,000 turduckens per week around the American Thanksgiving holiday. Oh my! Visions of endless deboning and de-feathering!

Not that I would want to make a turducken, but if I did - who would I call? So I googled instead as I know no cooks with the claim of preparing three birds in one. When in doubt, food network always helps me out! In five hours you can cook like Paula Deen does - Turducken made easy! Click here for the recipe.

And so the poultry mystery - solved.

As I so often question the meaning of words and the importance of doing anything in life I pondered the reason for this creation. Why was one bird not enough on the American family's Thanksgiving table? And why the order of the word - turkey - duck - chicken? I may never know the answer to that question.

Three things all rolled into one when one was good enough on it's own. Some things though need all three to make up the one thing created. If one component is removed, the entire product will suffer as a result. The American flag for an example. Red, white and blue. Necessary to have all three.

Pep Boys Manny, Moe and Jack. How sad if one were not included on a bobblehead? A triathlon. Swimming, cycling and running. Without one of these activities it would have to be a biathlon! One more example? Baseball, hotdogs and apple pie. No 4th of July celebration would be complete without all three of them!

But Turducken? Not sold on the fact that this triune combination is necessary. After all, a turkey is delicious with all the dressings. A duck would be a wonderfully excellent meal on a chilly evening accompanied by hen in the woods mushrooms and wild rice. Chicken? Any day of the week chicken is welcomed by chefs worldwide.

And so I delved deep into my Bible to come up with some necessary truths about the Trinity. As a Christian, I serve a Triune God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. One without the other would never exist. All work together to achieve the purposes and plans for God's people.

The Trinity:
God the Father  John 1:1
Jesus Christ the Son Matthew 3:17
Holy Spirit John 14: 16-17

Matthew 28:19. Some well-meaning people believe God exists to serve them. However, the complete opposite is true. With the Trinity in place, we are able to do anything (Philipians 4:13).

I sure am glad some things are not negotiable in life. What we eat, activities we enjoy, advertising campaigns we embrace, patriotic traditions we uphold - yes all have meaning and value and if one element were removed, we would lose the totality of that established icon. However, nothing, Romans 8:38 & 39 is as crucial to living life the way it was intended to be lived as the Trinity. It must remain together - all three.

The Truth of the Trinity gives the Christian believer freedom and is key to living a victorious life. Knowing this, the choice is simple.

It really is okay to deconstruct a Turducken and still serve a successful Thanksgiving meal. After all, many things in life really are just a fanciful version of something that was just fine on it's own. But, if you are going to prepare a Turducken please consider inviting me. I really would like to see three birds all rolled into one. Just one time I would like to eat a turkey, duck and chicken in one bite.

Now what kind of gravy would one serve with this poultry paradise? Paula Deen no doubt will solve that quandary. Or possibly we can concoct  our own. Possibly use churkey stock with duckey giblets and duckling spices - hmmm - save me a seat!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


68 lbs. Impossible! My digital scale must have had a 1/2 of a solar cell operation. Well more than half (gulp!)... Not wanting to (smiling), I stepped off my digital scale, hit reset and got back on. 127 1/4. "Well haleluiah Praise the Lord a 1/4 lost today - NOT!". I was not happy. Why did I do a redo? Couldn't I have just believe the lie? Couldn't I have been 68 lbs. - just for today?

How many times in my life could I have used a redo? For the better, not the worse like today's weigh-in. So many mistakes. So many regrets. So many plates of crow instead of caviar I had to eat because I had not listened, had not used my two ears instead of my one mouth and had not heeded the voice of reason hidden in my heart from God's very Word. I knew what to do - but did the opposite!

Re-do's are those times when the demon sat on one shoulder and jeered at the angel on the opposite shoulder. Each time the angel sat silently but I gave away my attention to the demon - - just because the demon wouldn't be silent.

And the pathetic part is that that angel was likely involved in incense burning on my behalf. Angelic pleading for me to listen to the Holy Spirit instead of pridefully attacking. That angel no doubt cringed as I spewed venom at that innocent soul. Just because the snake provided the poison I took it and flung it far. Had I prayed, had I hesitated, I could have prevented the need for a redo. No doubt as I sat in the dark and hid from God that demon did the victory dance. There was a party in Sheol and a dirge in Heaven.

How many times the saints in Heaven probably hid their faces in their hands and cried out, "No, Christina. No. Not this time. Wait. No! No!.....oh! not this time...why aren't you listening???????"

A redo would have been nice that one sunny turned dark day. The day I decided to take matters into my own hands. Oh, I had taken many matters into my own hands. Many days. But this particular day I made a mistake I will forever regret. And never forget. The demon agreed with me that I was making the right decision that day. Convenience. This was the right decision. But for who? Me. All for me. The demon won that day. The angel had a hard time hanging on.

In Other Words
Redo's could also be called Second Chances. I Googled 'second chances' (why not?!). I found this link Good Second Chances Website. So many verses about men and women throughout the ages needing or desiring a redo!

I love what Jonah had to say in Jonah 2:1-10:

 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head ...

Read on and you will cheer and be happy for him. He had a redo just for the asking.

How about Manasseh? Oh my! He is referred to as the King of Second Chances Learn More About Manasseh. More?
Abraham - He was a lair
Peter - denied the Lord three times

Jacob - He was a cheater
Moses - was a murderer
David - was an adulterer and murdered
Paul - arrested Christians and had them thrown in jail

Wait! Back up. Peter - - denied the Lord - three times? That would be one mess up, first redo, and do the math - that is a second redo!! John 21 - 3 times he answers.


uno ~ And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, “And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.” But he denied, saying, “I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest.” And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. (Mark 14:66-68)

dos ~ And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, “Art not thou also one of this man's disciples?” He saith, “I am not.” And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. (John 18:15-18)

tres ~ And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, “This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the man.” And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, “Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee.” Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, “I know not the man.” And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, “Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” And he went out, and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:71-75)

What happened? Peter took his eyes off Jesus. He heard only the demon. The angel silently wailed as Peter hid in the dark. The demon did a victory dance in the dark that day no doubt just like he still does whenever we fail to hear His voice and heed His direction.

Who will you listen to when the Pastor gives the call? Look forward, not to the right or the left. Listen for the silence. Listen for the voice of the Lord. God is the god of second, third, fourth infinity chances... But why wait til the scale tips in your favor? Today the redo was not better than the original plan. But in God's economy the redo was in our favor for all of eternity.

Romans 10:9-11.

Make the decision today - before the angel leaves your shoulder and it's too late.

Matthew 24:31, "And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

Redo's are possible. And so is Jesus Christ.


Obedience. What does this word immediately conjure up? Say it out loud. Break it down in syllables til it runs off your tongue in segments.

Obedience. Right away I envision a dog sitting at an owner's feet, on a slack leash - a leash that no doubt was not even necessary for the owner's verbal commands are all that are needed in the case of an obedient dog.

Next, I imagine a child at the dinner table without being told - - eating all the peas and carrots before consuming the dessert. Elbows off the table, this is a child happily enjoying being part of an orderly family. This child obediently following the rules. The results? Order and peace in the home.

In regard to the word 'obedience' I have to be transparent here - I was the last person I thought of as being obedient. Why is that? I am not an animal, surely not a child - - why do I not associate obedience with myself? Did I leave obedience at adolescence? Did I merely teach it to my dog so I could be in control?

I questioned, "As an adult, whom must I be obedient to?" Crickets.... More crickets....

In my carnality I logically went down the list. My husband? Well I respect my husband and respond in my role as wife, but obedient to my husband? Surely not.

My parents? I have cleaved and left (Genesis 2:24). I now respectfully honor my parents but since I am no longer under their discipline. I would be required to be obedient to them? Surely not I reason.

How about being obedient to an employer? Submit to the authorities God has placed over you - but obedient?

The word obedient sounds so submissive...

So I looked up the definition:
obedient: obeying or willing to obey; complying with or submissive to authority: an obedient son.
And so - - I realized it sounds submissive because it is!

The child learns from the parent. The animal learns from the master. We must learn from God - from His Word - the Bible.

Obedience 101 - God's Way
Joshua 1:7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Joshua 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

In context, the Book of Joshua is the story of the man Joshua leading Israel from victory to victory as the people follow the Lord and claim their promised inheritance. Joshua is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ who won the victory over sin - over Satan. Joshua is also a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives rest to those who trust Him (Matthew 11:28-30, Hebrews 4).

Joshua knew he was following orders - he was second in command (Joshua 5:13-15). His life was evidence of obedience and out of that faith we realize we too can share victory (1 John 5:1-5).

Faith + obedience = courage

Joshua had all three. God reminded Joshua that Joshua's success came from the Word.

Back to the word 'obedience'. I can only be obedient to what God's Word commands in regard to: my husband, my parents, my employer if I am in the Bible. If I am not in the Word I do not know what is required of me! I do not know how to follow orders. I am living without a compass, without a map.

And so it all made sense suddenly. Obedience to God first. To His Word. Realizing what is required of me helps me to know my role in other's lives. Like Joshua back in the Old Testament, I know I must be second in command with the Lord leading me to victory. In the grand scheme of things I truly am a child. Yikes! I am also like an animal in that I too need a leash at times. Knowing I must be obedient allows me to rest in the fact that I will remain on the winning team - doing the victory dance one day.

How I long to find the Promised Land. How about you? Do me a favor. Say it out loud (deep breath first), "Obedience". Not so hard to say. But very hard to do - - if you attempt to do it without God!

Lord, grant us the faith and obedience that will provide the much-needed courage to enjoy the success that only comes from You! Amen and Amen.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Sunday, October 17, 2010


That is all I need to say today.

Psalm 139

Hope you heart Jesus today too!

Blessings, Christina

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Continuing The Legacy: House On The Sea

This past October my husband and I made our annual trek to our most favorite destination in all of Florida - Anna Maria Island, Florida. Every year in October, we stay at the same accommodations for one week to celebrate our anniversary which is also in October - October 18th to be exact.

We stay at a home on the beach. A home in which the original owners also reside. "The Eagle's Nest" at the Adams Apartments is our diamond in the rough - - for which I will not include a hyperlink as I do not want too many to find out about this hideaway on the sea - our private paradise.

A house on the sea is something familiar to me as  I grew up with a beach house almost my entire life. At a very young age, my parents bought a second home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Upon the gas crisis they sold that home but the beach bug bit them later and we enjoyed a summer and weekend home away from home located in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. My parents would fling open the sashes of our home in Beach Haven, New Jersey each spring and me and my three sisters enjoyed the Atlantic Ocean for our backyard.

We spent each weekend at the "shorehouse" and all four girls sans parents in the summer. We stayed until school began and then each weekend until the first Jersey frost of the year. My dad would "winterize" the "Hawke's Nest" as it was aptly named (my maiden name is Hawke) on the last Sunday of the coldest day in the fall. I will never forget having to be told that a bucket was the last resort for a restroom after my dad twisted the water main valve the final time the first time he winterized our shore house. It was kind of a running joke (no pun intended) but after the first year we had to reort to using the bucket we would ask an hour ahead when the final twist would occur just in order to avoid ever having to use that bucket again. In typical Girl Scout fashion we became prepared and the bucket was only a far faraway memory after that first year of winterizing orientation.

I remember the smell of our beach house. The slightly musty, attic-scented beams in the ceiling I will never forget. Each spring we would return before the sun set and wait in the living room with our coats still on. I remember running up to my bedroom and looking for the contents I had left on my bed - exactly where I had last left them- and being surprised they were where I had last left them!! I remember being comforted by the slip-covered couches and how they felt starchy and salty at the same time. That mixture of dry-cleaned and salt-scented fabric stuck with me all these years. After having been laundered and left in fresh air for three months these couches had a scent that could have been bottled and sold as some special scent known only by seasoned beach house dwellers like me.

I recently experienced that same welcome scent this season. However, just prior to opening the door to our "Eagle's Nest" after ascending the deck stairs, the first thing we saw was the glittering, sun-kissed sparkling sea. My husband and I both said at the same time," That's what I'm talkin' about!" for no matter how often we imagine this wonderful home by the sea, the first sight we see after climbing the deck stairs is a breath-taking blue panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico. We are never prepared for how special and how beautiful this little house is each year. Though we are merely renters for a price, we feel this is our second home - our special beach house.

And the reality is that this home is a dream come true that began as a child - a continuation of 'The Hawke's Nest" that inspired my love for my own home by the sea - the musty smell and the antiquated furniture that come with it....We'll rent it all and pretend it is ours. For to rent it is far better than never having entered at all.

As we cross the threshold aptly a sign on the living room wall reads, "Welcome to Paradise" and we know we are home. That sign and the musty slip-covered couch welcomes us another year and for this we are grateful as everything seems to be right where we left it the same time the year before.Our home on the sea. Another year to celebrate. Another October as husband and wife. The "Eagle's Nest" - - our beach home away from home. And we shall never need  a bucket - - other than to build a sand castle on the beach... Seasons change but some things never change and for those things we are grateful!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ministry of Presence

This past Sunday our Pastor spoke of the "Ministry of Presence." I was already listening intently to the sermon, but my mind locked on those three words. Something clicked. Ahh...mercy, serving a meal to the sick, helping the elderly with laundry. All of these ministry activities so important. As Pastor Bernard continued, those three words cleared the confusion in my head. So there is a ministry where I need say nothing, solve nothing, do nothing but be there??? I always thought I had to be a Super-hero, a Mother Theresa born in the good ole' USA - - why try? Usually I would just make a meal and have someone deliver it as I felt inadequate to minister face-to-face.

How often do we not go to a sick person's room, someone losing their hair after chemo because we do not know what to say? We rationalize that we do not relate as we have never been in their situation. Someone else is better able to minister in that capacity. How often have we avoided a funeral service because we felt awkward and unsure about how to approach grieving family members?

I have to admit I am a "No Show" far too many times because I feel inadequate, unprepared and just downright at a loss in the "what to say" and "how to say it" department. So I just don't show up.

But God had a lot to say about "just being present" this past Sunday as our Pastor continued his sermon on "just being there". The Ministry of Presence is sitting quietly and not trying to do anything. You become a human being and not a human doing. A sort of Mary in a Martha world and just as Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and was enjoying His presence we can sit with others (or stand or lie down - no matter!) and be that sweet silent presence to them. For we are there because we care. We are there not to solve their problems but to pray over them and beseech the Only One who can solve their problems and heal them in the first place (physically and spiritually) - the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ahhh! This Ministry of Presence - such a peaceful concept. Where did it begin? I think of John 20:19, "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" John 20:20, "After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord." John 20:21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."  John 20:22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

The disciples no doubt were comforted and encouraged - actually overjoyed no doubt  (I would be! How about you?) when Jesus's presence was apparent. For they had been fearful up to that point, most likely asking "Why?" "What happened?" "What now?" I can envision the Apostles pacing in the room - back and forth - back and forth - back and forth - dirt flying into the air as feet already caked with mud become dusted with more dirt each second.... Then in enters Jesus and all is suddenly well again.

We true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have the power of the Holy Spirit in us that Jesus left the disciples with.We can share Christ's enduring presence in the lives of others. It is an awesome responsibility to go. To be there as we know we are called to do (Matthew 25) and just be present. But the going need not consist of problem-solving, deep counsel or a To Do list as long as your arm. Just go. The Ministry of Presence, the first time I heard it ever this past Sunday - intrigues me and calls my name. I will never be the same! The yoke of doing that I put on myself has now been flung off and I feel free!!!

I don't have to perform. I don't have to be perfect. I don't even have to participate. I just need to be present. The Gospel must also be present in the Ministry of Presence. For if not, consoling and comforting through this silent ministry will not be possible. Christ's powerful presence will shine through a servant in this ministry of mercy, allowing light to overpower the darkness of fear and questions of the future. Perfect love casts out fear and we must invite the Lord in when we minister in this capacity.

A Ministry of Presence helps victims become survivors, which is necessary to recovery and renewal. After all - - there is only Victory in Christ.

How many party invitations have I sent out that I have scribbled at the very bottom, "No presents. Your presence is all we ask." Yet, when we are at our lowest whether it be physically ill, spiritually low or emotionally hurting - - why do we not ask for the presence of others? For the presence of others bringing the sweet perfume of the Lord is exactly what we need at that time. We may receive a bowl of soup but it may be the very hands of the giver of the meal that we need in prayer beside us reaching out to the Lord.

I am so grateful to have heard the sermon this past Sunday. I am excited for what the Lord will do with this Ministry of Presence. There truly is freedom in knowing our present is our presence. True mercy in silence. Sign me up!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tongue

You can tell alot from the tongue. Seriously. Last year I came down with Bronchitis. I felt sick for a few weeks but made it my goal to avoid going to the doctor (I try to avoid western medicine at all costs unless ther is a life-threatening need for it). However, I eventually ended up at an Alternative Medicine/Acupuncturist's office after I began coughing up blood. I figured my chances of not receiving antibiotics or being made to enter the emergency room would be better if I visited an Eastern doctor's office.

The doctor walked in the examining room and asked me to stick my tongue out. I obliged and was told, "Bronchitis". Just like that. This wise woman told me the color of my tongue gave away my condition. I must have looked perplexed because she handed me a mirror to illustrate her point. My tongue was a chalky yellow!! And wouldn't you know it, although I escaped having to check into the hospital, I was handed a Z Pack of antibiotics! So much for alternative medicine.

Yes, I could have avoided the dreaded antibiotics if I had been educated on the complexities of the tongue beforehand and noticed the signs of illness early on. Possibly I could have bulked up on Vitamin C and sunshine. Needless to say, now that I am healthy, I make it a daily habit to not only brush my teeth upon waking, but also I use a tongue scraper with the flipside being an actual wide-angled brush for the tongue. I clean my tongue each time I brush. I am a believer. A healthy tongue = a healthy bod.

If a tongue needs cleaning and rids the body of toxicity then tongue cleaning and tongue scraping is a noble practice and may just possibly help one to avoid many illnesses.

I received an email the other day about - - wouldn't you know it - the tongue! I didn't find this email on Snopes.com so I am just trusting the sender that it is legit. Here is the email:

STROKE: Remember the 1st Three Letters.... S. T. R.

During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ..she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 pm Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ... Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die.. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

If a neurologist can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he/she can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally.. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.

Remember the '3' steps, STR . Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.
T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. It is sunny out today.)
R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher..

New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue

NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue... If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of a stroke.

God's Word Regarding The Tongue
As I often ponder the deeper truths in life, I realized God's Word had alot to say about the tongue. We have choices. Those in the Bible had choices as well. We can know this for sure by reading their accounts as inspired by the Holy Spirit written by God.

We can stay out of trouble by holding our tongue Esther 7:4 as Esther did back in the day. Job knew a thing or two about the tongue Job 6:24. When he asked, "Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?" In Job 6:30 we hopefully pause and ponder the meaning of that question. Another version, the NLT poses this question differently but is just as reliable, "Do you think I am lying? Don't I know the difference between right and wrong?" Yes, Job had alot to say about the tongue (Job 13:19, Job 15:5, Job 12, Job 20:16, Job 27:4, Job 29:10, Job 33:2, Job 41:1).

How does God remind us that our tongue can be a tool to bless or a cruel weapon used for destruction? Hmm...Immediately unloading gossip in the form of a prayer request and criticism in the form of concern come to mind. How cunning Christians in particular can be in disguising a tongue of cruelty as a tongue of kindness! They truly know better yet artfully unleash their tongue to deceive, disguise and disrespect.

The Lord speaks to this matter in Psalm 5:9. He compares our tongue to an open grave or sepulchre. Harsh? No. Not when you read the verse, "For [there is] no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part [is] very wickedness; their throat [is] an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue."

Unfaithfulness, wickedness, flattery. The result of this choice? The next three verses following Psalm 5:9 should surprise no one - for God is a righteous God and there are consequences for good and for evil.

Psalm 5:10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

Psalm 5:11 But let all those who put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

Still with me?

Consider James 3:1-12:
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.

Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

Can both fresh water and salt [fn] water flow from the same spring?

My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Back to Psalms....

Psalm 5:12 For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as [with] a shield.
Oh how I long to please the Lord with my tongue!

Psa 10:7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

Psa 12:3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue

Psa 15:3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,

Psa 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,

More of God's Word concerning the tongue...

Psa 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

Psa 34:13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

Psa 35:28 My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

Psa 37:30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.

Psa 39:1 For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence."

Psa 39:3 My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

Psa 45:1 For the director of music. To the tune of "Lilies." Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil. A wedding song. My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

Psa 50:19 You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.

Psa 51:14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

I don't know about you, but as I daily maintain my physical tongue I also daily seek to surrender my tongue spiritually for I truly want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be pleasing to God. Even if I have to bite my tongue now and then, I will do so in this season and hopefully this discipline will become a part of me.

I am not going to pretend I do not get frustrated or angry by not being able to freely lash out against an injustice. Instead I go into my prayer closet and confess to God how I want to use my tongue as a tool to hurt, control or manipulate and even - - yes to defend myself when I know I must remain silent (nowadays more often than usual [Matthew 24:14].

Because we are human, we all struggle with these behaviors and will continue to do so until the Lord Jesus appears in the sky to take us to our eternal home. Please know that I do not advocate repression as a godly trait. Instead, giving it to God first is wise. Until you spend time in prayer about something which you desire to passionately protest or put down,you will be moved by your emotions and may make a big mistake. Giving it to God in prayer first is always the best choice. He has a way of making our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). God will always tame the tongue....if we allow Him to do this for us.
So - how about you? How is the condition of your tongue? Brother or sister - please don't wait til you are spitting up blood or suffering a stroke to get your tongue examined. Go to the Lord now - Romans 10:9-10. A Z Pack won't save anyone really, it will just merely get one back to where they need to be healthwise so they will have another day, week, year, lifetime to glorify the Lord - another chance at using the tongue to praise Him.

God sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). Did you know that?  We can do the same. We have a choice. We can choose to bless or curse with our tongue. Or we can remain silent Psalm 37:7. When we are in fellowship with the Lord we will know what to do and when to do it and when not to do it (Romans 12:2). We must step out of our comfort zone. Job did. Esther did. Jesus did. We can too. We can sing or we can sin. It's our choice. Choose today.

Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. ~ Psalm 51:14

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jury Duty

No way to avoid it. I put off the date twice. Twice the postcard arrived. My husband saw my procrastination in even dialing the number after 5:00 the evening before I was "to report". "You have to go tomorrow," he yelled from the other room. I thought he was kidding, "No I don't. You never had to report and your name came up three times since we've been married. This is my first time and I know I would not have to go."

Wrong! I slept soundly the night before reporting for jury duty selection. This lack of anxiety was new to me. Why was I not nervous? My aversion to standing in lines and in new places with new faces did not enter my brain. Part of me was actually just wanting to "getter done."

I arrived slightly late. After finding the place, standing in a short line while guzzling the last of my Starbucks and listening to a middle-aged woman directly behind me complain to anyone who would listen that she did not want to be there - - I finally saw the framed picture of The President and his Vice on the wall behind the metal detector. I hand over my possessions, identification and jury duty card to the man at the desk. He takes my possessions and then says, "You're in the wrong building. This is the Federal Building. You are called to State service." Ugh. And I thought I was just about on time. I go through the metal detector anyways, ask for my possessions, bid the President and Vice good day and head out on foot in search of the place I need to be.

My wonderful husband who had just dropped me off does a "U"ie just before hitting the highway home. He stops the PT Cruiser in the middle of the busy road in search of the real place I need to be. Now I am becoming anxious. I really am late!

Fortunately, we find the building, I jump out of the car and try not to jay walk (this time - we had already done that at the Federal Building 20 minutes prior). Walking up the marble steps I see the golden glass doors but this time do not blindly follow the masses. The police officer waves me to the door for which I am grateful. Inside, a roar of voices echo off the very tall ceilings but we move quickly to the metal detectors. I am reminded of the airport and wonder, "Why me?" I see an Amnesty Box to the right. I wonder what that means and have no idea I will be personally acquainted with the Amnesty Box later in the day!

I get through easily enough and follow the line into a glass walled theater. I have to share at this point I believe I will be asked a few questions and "let go". Everyone I have talked to about jury duty shares their tips and tricks to get out of it. I see some men and women headed the other way out of the glass walled theater room. Secretly I agree with the thoughts in my head that they said they wanted to serve and that is why they are sporting a badge that informs they are a "Juror".

I was not prepared for the big movie-sized screen and the sound of bubbles that came from the underwater movie that was being shown on the screen. As I stood in line, I was comforted by the sound of bubbles and the narrator's calm voice explaining what a carp ate while living its life out in the depths of the sea. Surreal! Then the lady cop motioned me over and informed me that I would be a juror at 8:30. I said, "Oh so I have to come back tomorrow?" She said, "No, you have to perform your jury duty in 10 minutes!". I was shocked. I was surprised. I was not nervous in the sense that I usually need to escape. Possibly it was the bubbles ascending to the top of the movie screen that kept my heart from beating any faster in my chest. So this was it. I was going to learn what Jury Duty was all about firsthand. My day was just beginning. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gleaning: Wheat vs. Sea Glass

Today while beach combing the west shore at Riding Rock Inn, San Salvador, Bahamas, I was reminded of the Old Testament principle of "gleaning" which is defined as the custom of allowing the poor to follow the reapers in the field and gather the fallen spears of grain. This concept is strikingly illustrated in the story of Ruth (Ruth 2:2-23) according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; www.bible-history.com/isbe/G/GLEANING/ .

The modern definition according to http://www.dictionary.com/ is: 1. to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit. 2. to gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers.
My husband and I are obsessed with finding as much sea glass as possible each and every day while we inhabit this out-island of the Bahamas.

Just after sunrise each day while I am a guest on-board this beautiful yacht, my husband Vinnie leaves the boat while I sleep in quiet bliss. He heads 200 feet over a small sandune and begins his search for sea glass and other small trinkets.

Within minutes he returns to the boat, stands by my bunk announcing, "I made coffee. Come see what I found." He leaves again before I even open eye. I am not a morning person. Therefore early each morning I wait to get out of bed just until I smell that familiar aroma and linger a few minutes as I hear the water lapping against the side of the hull. This dark coccoon is an oasis I wish to enjoy a bit longer but the thought of Vinnie gleaning glass in the glinting sun calls me out of the darkness.

I swing a leg out of the bunk and head into the salon to have a bird's eye view of the newly-discovered post-sunrise beach treasures which my wonderful husband has so artfully layed out on the counter for me to inspect.

Quickly I slather sun block, jump into my suit and grab a visor. Carefully I jump off the boat onto the dock and I am a woman on a mission. I see my lifetime treasure hunter near the jetty and yell Yo Vinnie! I decide to begin my gleaning 50 yards from him - but right where he no doubt gathered already.

Today was a different sort of beach-combing event. The previous three days there had only been a whisper of wind sweeping through the island so the glass remained hidden under the sand and amongst the rocks. Upon waking on day four, the winds had picked up overnight and the surf began to pound revealing more of the hidden sea glass treasure we had been hunting.

At our beach at Riding Rock, there is a sandy "shelf" in which a 2' drop soon occurs at water's edge. This 2' drop is where the treasure lay just beneath. The heavy surf quickly reveals their hidden location. However, today as the bigger rocks and pieces of coral rolled up and down the slope, my husband realized that these ankle and toe beaters were allies to the glass but  knew exactly what to do.

My husband's ankles already had two bleeding wounds. The blood was slowly trickling into the water. I was surprised I was not bleeding, as several rocks had pelted my ankles and I had run out of the surf in pain. My husband, his ever-caring, always thoughtful self agreed to go get the dive booties that I had worn the day before. Wearing the booties, I knew I could stand among all of the rolling rocks and still glean beach glass without pain.

As he left the beach, I pondered the story of Ruth and Boaz in the Old Testament. Ruth had gleaned wheat in the field - for her very sustenance. Grateful that we were not  dependent on what we were gathering for our survival, I was able to focus on the fact that my husband had just left his beach glass gathering 50 yards ahead and yet I was finding beach glass right where he had just been!

The ever-changing sea, the ever-whirling, swirling living breathing sea had turned and swallowed countless numbers of beach glass in the mere ten minutes that my husband had gathered glass. If I had assumed he had gathered all that the sea would give up, we would not have the hope of more aggressive gathering once I had the dive booties in place.

It was exciting to attack the surf again, this time with my husband in a beach chair, watching me go into the 2' drop precipice into the gin clear turquoise waters. Today there was no calculating the depth after the shelf, which made the booties even more valuable. Crunching rocks underfoot, I dove and stretched, gathered and gleaned. My husband smiled just before dozing off into a slumber in the midday sun.

I thought of Boaz and Ruth once more. Had their gleaning adventure knit them together for their future as husband and wife? Were there times when Boaz rested and Ruth gathered? If Ruth's feet got blistered and bloody, did Boaz bring her sweet relief in the form of booties or some Old Testament equivalent? Did Boaz harvest his grain battered and bloody? Curious what that Old Testament couple endured, I plucked a beautifully ground shard of green glass from the frothy surf and held it high for my husband to see. Surprised that he was awake and looking in my direction, I laughed out loud as 100 feet away my husband formed a thumbs' up high in the air then crossed his arms across his chest as he stared across the wide expanse of the sea. What was he thinking? Was he proud to have a wife who instinctively gleaned? Was I the "Ruth" he had longed for all of his life?

Yes I am. My name is Christina and I am a woman of the 21st century gleaning decorative beach glass. This gleaning is for a display the sun will kiss but hands may never again touch.While I am not a woman of the Bible, the still, small voice I know well speaks loudly to me, "You are My child in whom I am well-pleased."

I ran to my husband, palms up, handing over all that I had gleaned - for him to inspect. Gleaning at it's best. And gratefully, we prepare to head back to the marina for lunch. Hamburgers - which we didn't glean at all but merely thawed from the freezer.

Monday, May 10, 2010

San Salvador Awaits...

My husband Vinnie, a boat captain for Bridgewater, a privately-owned 65' Viking Sport fish yacht was halfway through a month-long stint in the various islands of the Bahamas. Docked at Riding Rock Marina in San Salvador, having had been away for over two weeks, my husband was missing his bride (that would be me).

With the boss safely back in Indiana, the Bridgewater had to be under 24-hour surveillance just in case high winds occurred and lines had to be adjusted. Or worse, the he would need to be on-board at all times in the event the boat had to leave the island for any reason whatsoever. Unlike most marinas, very few dockhands or associates of the marina were able to watch over the Bridgewater, and since Riding Rock is a transient marina, Vinnie was left to man the boat alone.

However, not to be alone for very long, as the ever-so kind and thoughtful boss of his offered to fly me in - on the bosses dime at that!

As all boating-related activities seem to involve evolving itineraries and cancellations, my good news of paid travel included finding a flight for the next day, finding a pet sitter for our five furry felines and packing, cleaning up and finding a ride to the airport. As I scrambled so I could gather my bags and go, I realized I could not google and web surf my way into booking a flight. I called my ever-helpful friend Janet who is a jet-setting fiend. She gave me the number of her travel agent Ralph.

Okay here is where things become peaceful. I cannot explain this other than the peace that transcends all understanding really does exist, as long as we are aware that we are not in control. Such short notice of having to get my act together was the catalyst for realizing this first-time visit to San Salvador was as some would say "in the cards" but I have to state it as it was God ordering my steps (Romans 12:2).

See, when I called Park Avenue Travel Ralph was busy and Elaine was available. Elaine was having a bad day. Elaine sounded like she either just got out of bed or she had smoked and entire case of cigarettes the nite before. And so I smiled so I would convey kindness and happiness through the phone (I do everything online these days to avoid the personalities that tend to damper my mood such as this). I felt a bit of a lightening of Elaine's demeanor and then," My computer just froze. Hold on I have to reboot." I roll my eyes knowing Elaine will not know of my frustration. Then agree these things happen as I look at my To Do list knowing I have nothing to add to my Done list yet. The time on my computer is now approaching noon and I have not made a single phone call to find a pet sitter.

Elaine asks for my phone number and tells me she will call me back soon. I briefly pray, "Lord, she has just told me that no one flies in to San Salvador except Club Med people who spend alot on airfare because - well of course - who wouldn't go to Club Med (money is no object at Club Med - literally).

No response to our usual cat sitter via the email. Sighing, I pick up the phone to call her (again, I am fighting to not use the phone with my limited timeframe but I take a deep breath and smile because I know God wants me to go and He will find a way.) Terry does not answer at the office and I remember she does not work at the office Fridays. I call her home and get her voicemail there too. I do not know where her cell phone number is. So I move on to cleaning up the house - just in case I do find a reasonable flight, a pet sitter, and a ride to the airport.

Elaine calls back and voila! found a non-stop flight to and a connecting flight back and it is right within our boss's allowable limit. That done! I email my husband's friend Kap for a ride but do not expect that he will be available at 10:00 in the morning on a Saturday. So I call the airport limo service and book a ride. Kap emails back that he would love to give me a ride. Hearing this I realize I had been impatient and should have spent my time instead finding a darned pet sitter.

The missing link in my get-away quick plan for early the next morning was a big one. Because we have a security system, five cats with raw dietary needs and a few kitties with maintenance needs I began to email our vet who lives in Alabama. Halfway through my email, I realized what I needed to do. I cancelled the email and picked up the phone (yes! again against my normal behavior I was again employing the out-dated mode of communication.) I called our new vet's office. I was going to ask if they offered in-home pet sitters. Alicia answered. She personally had a pet sitting business and could do it. She came over that nite after work and got the 411.

That nite as my head hit the pillow I realized that nothing was going to keep me from going to San Salvador, Bahamas! That peace that kept me calm had turned into an excitement. I was quite surprised that I got any sleep that nite!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Sneeze Review: When A Woman Trusts God by Sheila Walsh

Truly this author understands coming alongside her reader and sharing her heart in an openly transparent way. Sheila Walsh has done an amazing job in encouraging her audience which is clearly women.

I enjoy a direct - "down-to-earth" read. However, this work is anything but simple. Sheila Walsh incorporates the Bible in each and every chapter. She relates her experiences with wisdom and a peppering of humor. Her writing style leaves the door open for the reader to relate and form their own opinions of what she is sharing.

But don't misunderstand - everything she says is under-girded with the Pure Word of God. No gray areas - no muddy water to wade through. She delivers God's Truth straight up!

One criticism I had (because I am also a writer) is this book could have been edited for correct spelling of numerous words. One example is the word "Crucifixion" was misspelled as "crucifiction." Misspelling that word is tragic as the misspelled word contracts the meaning of the word, which is so important.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I will not soon forget it. Whenever I see a swing I will think of Sheila Walsh. I appreciate her boldness and honesty. I related so much to her struggles with fear, public speaking and being haunted at times with the past. But like Sheila, I have the Lord and know nothing will ever keep me from growing in Christ - and swinging higher and higher..until either my Lord Jesus Christ comes back to get me or I am called to my eternal Home - Heaven. Kudos to Sheila Walsh for reminding me that this is not my final resting place!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a free copy of this book as part of their bloggers book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is There A Single Jewish Person Here?

"Elizabeth, I am heading to Publix to pick up the Seder cookies I signed up to bring tonite."
"Yeah, I gotta go too. I signed up to bring macaroons."
"Hey, I signed up to bring macaroons too. I don't know what they are but Publix has everything. So I might get you a box too because I know how you are going to be short on time tonite." My friend and I laughed because we know it is quite important to bring the food to church that we committed to bring. We hung up and I headed out to Publix.

The reason I was headed to Publix was for our church's Seder Dinner. I was excited to learn about the Jewish tradition of Passover and the Seder Dinner celebration that Jewish families share every year. I heard the symbolism and evidence of Jesus Christ being introduced into what the Pastor referred to as "The Fifth Cup" intrigued me.

However, when I entered the bakery section at my local Publix Supermarket, I was quite surprised to be told that "Kosher" food for Passover would not be available until the next week. In broken English, the Haitian lady pointed me to another table in the middle of the bakery in which she stated, "There are other bakery goods that Jewish people eat." I looked at boxes upon boxes of sugary cookies, bow ties, croissant muffins, merinque cookies. I took a deep breath and knowing the answer asked this dark-skinned well-meaning woman a fifth time, "But how do I know it is Kosher and I can bring to Seder dinner tonite?"

I didn't wait for her to answer. Throwing my hands up in the air, and in an exasperated tone, I loudly growled to no one in particular, "Is there not one Jewish person in this whole Publix who can tell me what I can bring to Seder Dinner tonite?" A woman, the only woman who had been listening to my rant, touched a box in front of her, took a step back and then decidedly dove in to help. She said, "I am Jewish. How can I help you?" I was not surprised actually. My faith dictates that often these types of encounters are part of a divine plan that only the Lord ordains.

This sweet grandmotherly woman agreed with me that nothing on that table was Kosher for Passover. She took control immediately and stated, "There must be a Kosher aisle in this store. Come on honey, we will find it. You will bring something to your Seder Dinner tonite even if it is not macaroons." She touched my arm and steered me to the heart of the store. She interupted a clerk and asked where the Kosher aisle was located. She was on a mission for me - a total stranger - a Gentile no less!

As we were turning down the Kosher aisle, I mentioned I was a Christian and my church was having a Seder Dinner to teach us Gentiles about Jewish tradition. My new friend stopped in her tracks. She planted both feet directly in front of me and asked, "Do you know what Passover is?" I smiled because I did indeed understand Passover was the celebration of the Angel passing over the homes of the Jewish faithful who had painted blood over the lintels of the doors to protect them from death. I also shared that she as a Jew was the chosen one and that I as a Gentile was "grafted in". She was quite pleased with my understanding of Passover.

I was touched by this woman's desire to mentor me in what was appropriate to bring. We decided on a jar of Gefelte fish. I said no to Matza toast - after all everyone would know to bring that! Before I knew it, we were plucking a jar of horseradish off the cooler. I confirmed it was Kosher for Passover and my mentor was pleased that I had made it a point to check for Kosher status. At that point there was not much else to say. I thanked her again. I must have thanked her ten times as I was grateful that she took so much time to teach and share her tradition with me.

I looked at her one last time and I knew it was farewell. I would never see her again. The scavenger hunt was over. Macaroons forgotten. She said to me, "You might come over to the other side. You might become Jewish." Wanting to please her, I did not dive into a salvation message but instead told this kind hearted woman, "You never know - you might see me at  - - at Temple is it?" Grinning from ear to ear, "Yes, yes it is Temple. Maybe I will see you at Temple." I thanked her again and headed to the register. I was still smiling but inside slightly sad.

That wonderful woman knew everything there was to know about Jewish culture, tradition and Old Testament. However, she did not know the Fifth Cup in the Seder Dinner was for available for her to partake of today. Her people still await the return of the Messiah. If only she knew for me to become Jewish was to go backwards but for her to become a Messianic Jew was to have it all!!!

Next blog I will share the Seder Dinner that my church presented that night. It was so amazing to understand the symbolism of the elements and the love for the Word.

When I got home from the store, I called my friend Elizabeth just to let her know I would not be bringing macaroons. I didn't want to let her down! We giggled about my encounter. She told me she had just gotten back from her Publix and she found plenty of macaroons! She had even picked up a box for me.

Needless to say, that night the Gefilte fish remained in my refrigerator. The next day I returned that jar of never-to-be tasted fish. That jar was destined to grace another table for another celebration. Possibly that kind warm and friendly Jewish woman's table or another well-meaning Gentile like myself who had been taught by a loving mentor to properly participate in Passover Kosher-style. It never was about finding macaroons anyway. It was about a Jew and a Gentile enjoying a chance encounter that will stick with both until the Rapture or the last breath either take. I pray this Jewish woman's last words will be "Here I come Jesus my Lord and Saviour". I pray she will embrace Yeshua before it's too late.

No, it never was about the macaroons!!! It was a divine appointment. Happy Passover one and all...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Forgiveness and Adoption = 5 "Alones"

Okay I am going to give it to you straight! Straight from the Bible. I have always appreciated knowing I am adopted into God's family. See, at one time (The Old Testament) only the Chosen People (Jews) were justified. However, as I like to explain, "The Old Testament was the coloring book and the New Testament the crayons. Together the coloring book (OT) with crayons (NT) become a finished work of art (Jesus Christ)."

So many make the Bible to be a complex book of which only the scholarly can comprehend. However, when we have an open mind and an open heart, God will deposit the Truth of the Bible into our minds and will plant a seed which makes its way into our hearts and then becomes a beautifully strong and powerful planting of the Holy Spirit. Only when we realize God Himself wants to teach us what the Bible is all about do we stop fighting man and fearing man's interpretation. God gives us the Truth!!

Here is a word of great significance to those of us seeking forgiveness and adoption into God's Family:

jus·ti·fi·ca·tion –noun

1. a reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends: His insulting you was ample justification for you to leave the party.
2. an act of justifying: The painter's justification of his failure to finish on time didn't impress me.
3. the state of being justified.
4. Also called justification by faith. Theology. the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin.
5. Printing. the spacing of words and letters within a line of type so that all full lines in a column have even margins both on the left and on the right.

As a Christian (which means Follower of Christ) I can confidentially tell you that Justification (applying to number 4 above) consists of 2 parts:

#1. The sinner (which applies to all of us Romans 3:23) is forgiven by Christ's righteousness on the Cross Romans 3:24. I love how Romans 3:23 and Romans 3:24 are right there in two verses! Just so we don't miss them they are written one after the other.

#2. The second part of justification is adoption. How wonderful to know that after a life of just feeling like we don't truly belong anywhere - God teaches us that we can become adopted as a child of God. We have all the rights of heirs (co-heirs with Christ actually Romans 8:17) Just in case you are a bit skeptical about this as if it sounds "too good to be true" check out 1 Peter 1:4

I like to refer to the next five supporting Truths as the "Alones". See, we must trust what God is telling us about "how to be justified" is all we need to understand and heed to be right before a perfect God. It's not how many meals we served the homeless, how much money we gave throughout our lifetimes, or about serving as a deacon or whatever we did. Being justified before a loving God consists of: faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, Grace alone and Glory to God alone.

5 "Alones" = God's forgiveness and adoption into the Family of God. Just be reminded that justification means "right standing" with God - which allows for our entrance into Heaven (according to Christianity) and for a person's name to be written into the Lamb's Book of Life. (I could have also called this category the 5 Solas but I am not really a big fan of Latin ;) so I like to call the following "Alones":

1. By faith alone (Sola Fide)
2. Scripture alone (Sola Scripture)
3. Christ alone (Solus Christus)
4. Grace alone (Sola Gratia)
5. Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

I have come to grieve the fact that man has made a mess of what God had intended to be a very simple plan. I run back to Jesus Christ each time I experience conflict with others as a result of having to defend my faith. I never did find Christ in a church pew. I found Him in the heart of a loving brother who loved God enough and God's creation (me) so much that he shared the simple plan of salvation and the 5 "Alones" that I have come to love as friends.

See, in all the five "alones" God exists. In it we are "justified" because through the "Alones" God pardons, accepts and delivers a sinner to be "just" on the basis of Christ's righteousness (back to Romans 3:23 & 3:24 - see #1 above).

The results of being "just" before God:

God's peace (Romans 5:1) = leads to receiving His Spirit (allowing you to understand what you are reading right now! Romans 8:4) = and then leads to salvation

If you are still with me reading this then allow me to toss one more word out for you to absorb. Sanctification. I love this word!!! Check out Deuteronomy 29:29, John 17:17 and Galatians 3 (particularly the beginning of that chapter).   What I do every day as a "justified" sinner saved by God's Grace is receive forgiveness so that I can keep running the race marked out for me.

Unlike Justification which is a one-time event, meaning grace through faith in Jesus Christ apart from works and merit of the sinner Romans 1:18 and Romans 3:28 Sanctification is a daily occurance. Knowing this has freed me of alot of guilt and tears over not "being good enough". Because I don't have to be good enough or great enough or any "enoughs" to be justified by God. I am justified because of Jesus dying on a Cross - one time for me forever.

Because I have adopted all of the 5 "Alones" above, I will no longer be alone (Hebrews 13:5)!

And so take a deep breath - another and another as you gratefully realize how much you are loved and sought after as all of what I - no not I but what God has said in His Bible about justification (forgiveness) and sanctification (adoption). Again, seek God not man about the matter of salvation.

I am grateful to have had wise parents who imparted their faith and their traditions to me Proverbs 22:6 . As I navigated through life I found knowing of God was not enough for me. I wanted to know Him personally. I wanted to find that which would fill the hole in my heart that existed since before I took my first breath (Psalm 139). And so I sought forgiveness again and again and one day found myself very alone. That time in the desert prepared me to realize I was never alone and lo and behold - today I have adopted the 5 "Alones" for my life.

I am a forgiven sinner saved by Grace and justified by the death of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Daily I am being sanctified and tho I go down struggling at times to justify myself (pride - and not the good kind!) God isn't done with me yet. Do I know everything I need to know? No!

But I can say this: The Bible is my reference point. I no longer am swayed by what well-meaning people speak into my life. I love them and appreciate them. I never want to fight with them because of religion or false claims. Instead I walk on all the while hoping one day they will understand their aloneness and adopt the 5 "Alones" for their life.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Okay I did it!

I finally broke down and bought an immersion blender. Well, actually not just an immersion blender - but the entire Kitchen Aid immersion blender set - including chopper, wire whip and a measuring cup with lid along with a handy-dandy cotton sack in which to store the entire set!

Here is the main reason I gave in and spent the $99 with Chef's Catalog this winter. I can hear her now, "Chris, you just scoop it into the blender and you puree everything one batch at a time until you are all done. Making soup this way is perfect every time!" My well-meaning mother in her attempt to instruct me in the process of pureeing vegetables for creamy vegetable soup left out one important detail - waiting for the soup to cool before pulverizing it!

She should have known that waiting would be the one step I would need to see in bold, italics, and underlined print! I am an impatient person who spills over into my personae in the kitchen. However, because she did not take into consideration the fact that I did not have the patience to wait for the vegetables to cool before I pulverized them into a soupy concoction - after numerous occasions of blender burns and boiling half-pureed vegetables hitting the wall, counter and floor - I empowered myself with a tool of my own choosing. Enter the Immersion Blender!

I chose the flaming-red model. My plan included blending all the vegetables right where they lay - - soft and steaming hot in my turkey-sized slow cooker. Ahhhh - immersion bliss! I plugged in the tool the very first time and enjoyed instant success. I even added nonfat milk to the still-steaming, pureed fare - - with complete abandon may I add! I enjoyed my epicurean delight for days.

As I dove into a medley of boiling hot, soft veggies in my slow cooker this evening, I could not help but wonder - How often am I "burned" by my involvement in situations in which God had not yet prepared me to tackle? I mean, I was burned when I impatiently dove into my first vegetable pureeing project with the traditional blender. Had I let things "cool" awhile possibly my soup would have turned out perfectly, not just that time but every time thereafter, just like my Mom's had.

See, my Mom gave me the directions. But I had never questioned her when to blend the vegetables into a puree fit for a creamy veggie soup. Tonight, as I stood at my counter with my flaming-red immersion blender in hand I could not help but ponder this question, "How often do I ask God for direction in a particular matter and instead of waiting for Him to define a time frame, instead blindly plow ahead?" Unlike my soup success this nite, I have often made a hot mess of a situation that could have instead been a calm, cool, collected adventure for God - all because I did not wait on God for direction.

My Mom has wisdom. Not just in cooking, but in waiting. She waited a long time for me to realize she had wisdom! My mom has taught me many kitchen tricks. Making soup in the tried-and-true blender was just one trick she had shared with me over the years. The old-fashioned blender had always worked for her - not just once - but each and every time she plugged it in and blended. Not for me. I wanted to be "immersed" in my project, waiting for no one.

Yes, the immersion blender worked for what it was intended to do. But did I even need it in the first place? What if I had instead asked the Lord to teach me the art of waiting?

Yes, I enjoyed the convenience of my immersion blender tonight. My soup is now cooling. I do not have to clean a traditional blender and all its parts. The flaming red immersion attachment pops right off and can be rinsed right under the faucet - doesn't even need soap! The handy-dandy cotton sack awaits it. But really - did I have to have it? I don't think so. The immersion blender I believe will always be a reminder to me to wait on God for direction - even if I can proceed - to wait on Him because often the time spent waiting or the "cooling period" is often the period in which wisdom is born.

This wisdom my mom possesses as she puts her old-fashioned blender away after every successful soup endeavor. She secretly smiles because she knows she does not need one more kitchen appliance - even if it does come with a handy-dandy cotton sack and a flashy red facade!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jack Hammer Moments

It's good to be back! Had so many deadlines and obligations to fulfill - - but Praise God He got my attention January 1 and kept communicating the necessity of redirecting my steps for 2010.

He requested not a resolution but a renewing, restoring and rightful request of much-needed reordering of my priorities.

Ahhh - yes it is good to be back blogging.

Contentedly curled up in the well-worn leather wing back my two Persians purred in my lap. The paperback that had lain on my bedside table unread for many nights was now in my hands ready to be devoured. Yes, this book had spoken to me many times. I enjoyed reviewing the basic lesson every servant of God must learn: that to display the fruit of the Spirit in one's life - the breaking of the outward man must occur.

Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee is an anointed book. Each time I pick it up I am blessed. It is always timely. Always relevant with lessons God is teaching me but I am too distracted or stubborn to heed.

Today was no exception. I read two chapters today: "Before and After Brokenness" and "Recognizing The Thing In Hand". You can look inside the book at Amazon ;) click here. Did I care that my coffee was cold? No. That the phone rang and it was right next to me? No. I didn't pay attention to anything but the convicting words on the page before me. That is - - until my eyes landed on page 25, which was explaining how we can remain free of distractions when we are fully in the presence of God under the power of the Holy Spirit.

On page 27 I read, "Through the merciful working of God the outward man and inward man must be separated. Then what affects the outward will not be able to reach the inward. Though the outward may be engaged in conversation, yet the inward man is fellow shipping with God."1

Wow!Bells went off in my head - struggles I had all my life to "be in the moment" and to have full focus no matter what - - were revealed to me as a result of not having my inward man in accord with my outward man. I read on as if my very life depended on it. Clarity cleared the confusion in my head. I took a deep breath and realized I hadn't exhaled. Expectantly, I read on for more....Unconsciously I read the same sentence twice. Then a third time. Suddenly I could not understand the sentence I had read though I read it three times!

Then I heard the noise. Next door a jackhammer reverberated my neighbors concrete. Grrrrrrr. Then silence. I realized the irony in what I was passively participating in at that very moment. I was learning how to not react in my outward man and being put to the test as I was understanding the concept for the very first time. Here I was reading how Brother Lawrence didn't give the clanging dishes in the other room a second thought - for no matter what was happening around him - he was in the presence of the Almighty. He was spirit-led! How exciting!

I chose to appreciate God's humor then and there. I put the book down for a minute and thanked the Lord for His Word, His people like Watchman Nee and Brother Lawrence who under the guidance of the Holy Spirit were obedient to the call to explain the relationship of the inward man versus the outward man. A heavy concept to understand but with God guiding them, they have helped this sinner to understand why I had been struggling with becoming easily distracted and needing to run away from others just to "be" with God.

I decided to finish the chapter I had begun and this time, I had better success reading the sentences. Some sentences I only had to read twice. The jackhammer did what it does best - it made noise. But it didn't bother me so much this time.

I can't wait to walk in this new-found understanding of Holy Spirit living. I truly desire for my outward man to be broken so I can be used of God no matter where or when!I look forward to those jarringly loud "jack hammer moments" when all I will truly hear is God's still small voice.

1 Watchman Nee, The Release of the Spirit, copyright 1965, Sure Foundation Publishers p. 27