Thursday, July 23, 2015

Finding Shelter From The Storm

I met a sweet older couple several weeks ago who were camping with my in-laws.  In my conversation with them, I discovered how that they had survived the April 27th, 2011 tornadoes which struck central and northern Alabama.  Living in Pleasant Grove (just west of Birmingham), they huddled in a storm shelter while these horrendous storms killed 243 Alabamians, including three of their acquaintances.  To their credit, they had the storm shelter installed several years before because they knew their area historically was prone to dangerous storms or tornadoes.  This decision subsequently saved their lives.

It is always wise to have a shelter when the storms come, a good physical structure in which to hide.  Of course, this is applicable to all areas of life.  A financial shelter is nice to provide when the income is low, some good friends to support you when you are down, and, even most importantly, a spiritual shelter to deal with matters of the heart. 

Matthew 7:24-27 says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Clinging to the words of our Savior is the best shelter of all.  No matter how vicious the storm, how frightening the destruction, "the steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Following Through

Golf remains a mystery for me.  I've been playing for about forty years and still am a mediocre player.  As a matter of fact, I have to work at golf just to be lousy.  Hence, I am sometimes looking for ways to improve my game.

Thankfully, with the invention of the internet, I am able to find helpful golfing tips on my computer (these tips even come with how-to videos).  Remedies to practically any kind of golf swing deficiency can be found by a simple internet search. 

I recently found a helpful hint to assist me with my short game.  Gratefully it's a tip which I can put into practice.  Basically I learned that when I hit a chipping shot I need to remember to follow through with the shot.  To a non-golfer, this may not make any difference.  In other words, once you hit the ball, isn't  the ball already headed towards its target?

This is true to an extent.  However, when a golfer follows through with the shot, it helps hit the ball more solid.  More solid hits mean better golf shots.  Better golf shots mean lower scores.  Lower scores mean more golfing enjoyment.  So, it is absolutely, positively, imperative to follow through on my shots.

This applies to health care also.  Having been in the health care field for over thirty years, I am amazed at how many people don't follow through on their health.  They don't take their medicines, don't show for doctors' visits, don't quit smoking, etc.  As a result, their chances of controlling a sickness and living a quality life are reduced.  Why?  Because they didn't follow through.

So, my chances of hitting a better golf shop are improved when I follow through.  Following through with my health care providers for necessary tests and visits has an even better result...sicknesses are kept under check and I can better enjoy the life God has given me.

 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Restoring Your Vision

Noticed something in my daily Bible reading the other day I had not seen before in Mark 10:46-52 regarding a blind man named Bartimaeus.  As Jesus was passing by, Bartimaeus cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (vs 47).  Ultimately, Jesus asks him in simple terms, "What do you want me to do for you?" to which Bartimaeus replied, "Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!" (vs 51).  Immediately, Bartimaeus regained his sight because of his faith and began following Jesus on the road (vs 52).

Great miracle of healing for Bartimaeus but what captured my attention especially was the wording.  I believe every word of the Bible is inspired (to use a great theological term, this is called "verbal plenary").  Notice Bartimaeus said he wanted to "regain" his sight.  Apparently he had vision at some time but it had been taken away, perhaps by trauma or a medical condition.  He had experienced the wonderful gift of vision but now he was desperately blind.  He could no longer see his family or friends.  His previous occupation, whatever it was, had been reduced to begging because of his handicap.  Perhaps he had a lucrative career but now had to ask for charity from travelers along the road for money to fund his basic necessities.  No wonder he cried out to Jesus for help.

Are you blind?  I don't mean this literally, but has your vision been taken away?  I know I've become blind in several ways due to poor choices but also due to unexpected conflicts, e.g. cancer, financial difficulties, etc.  I feel I simply cannot "see" life like I did before.  In addition, in many ways, I've been reduced to begging for daily needs.  In other words, life is not as joyous as it was in days past.

Hence, I can identify with the request of Bartimaeus.  What do I want Jesus to do for me?  If it is God's will, I want to regain my sight.

Promise Keepers has a great song entitled, "Be Thou My Vision", which further echoes this prayer. 
Check it out at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o_Gb0vCx0Q

     

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Thorny Issue

Even though the Apostle Paul was greatly used of God and experienced a vision of heaven, he was still haunted by what he called "a thorn in the flesh" (II Corinthians 12:7).  The Greek word for thorn here is skolops, meaning anything sharp or pointed which can produce pain.  "Thorn" can even mean a "stake", so perhaps Paul's thorn was not just a splinter so to speak but a horrific stake or dagger in his flesh.  What exactly was his thorn?  Some people have speculated that his thorn was a physical illness such as a vision problem or even malaria.  Pastor John MacArthur believes this was an actual person, a demonic fellow who hounded Paul's ministry.  Whatever or whoever it was, Paul said his thorn was a "messenger of Satan" which humbled him and kept him from exalting himself.

As a matter of fact, the thorn caused so much distress that Paul prayed earnestly three times that God would take it away (II Corinthians 12:8).  Yet, the thorn remained, continuing to haunt, continuing to torment. 

Consequently, instead of removing the thorn, God gave Paul something greater, that was, the grace and power to live with the thorn.  As a result, Paul began to actually list the thorn as an asset, seeing how God's "power is perfected in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).  So, in reality this messenger of Satan had a paradoxical or opposite effect.  Instead of weakening Paul and his ministry, it helped him discover God's power in a new way.

Hence, what should we do when confronted with a thorn, whether a physical ailment, emotional distress, financial hardship, etc.?  First of all, pray earnestly for God to remove it.  Nothing wrong with that.  Secondly, and most importantly, pray that God will reveal His power in the midst of the thorn.  Thus, in whatever outcome, we may be able to say with Paul, that "when I am weak, then I am strong."  (II Corinthians 12:10).

    

Friday, May 15, 2015

Get Some Sun Also

It's easy to take for granted.  But every day would be completely dark, cold and dreary without it.  As a matter of fact, the nations of the world would panic (and probably not survive for very long).  I'm talking about the sun, that massive star in our solar system which appears on a daily basis as the earth rotates on its axis.   The sun is absolutely huge, approximately 2,715,395 miles in diameter (over 1 million times larger than the earth).  In regards to distance, it is 93 million miles from the earth.  As a result, it takes about 8 minutes for light to travel from the sun to our planet. Unfortunately, it is speculated that the sun may eventually burn itself out.  However, gratefully, this probably will not occur for another 5 billion years. 

So, for now, the sun is a great thing to have around.  It will certainly last for generations and generations to come.

Hence, we need to take advantage of our glowing friend.  We need to walk in the sunlight, enjoy the growth of trees and flowers due to its warmth and light, and basically soak it in (without overdoing it and leading to sunburn).

Are you cold?  Get out in the sun.  Dreary or depressed?  A little sunlight should help.  Sickly?  Let the sunshine in.  Consequently, as long as it is shining, the sun does us all a world of good.



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Get Some Sleep

I have to admit as I write today that I am very tired.  I had an extremely busy weekend at work.  Long hours...little rest.  Essentially I'm pooped (or "bushed", to use an old term).  Gratefully I was off work today so I've had a little time to recuperate.  Yet, all in all, I'm totally exhausted.  I can hardly wait to go to sleep tonight.

Speaking of which, I did a little research on sleep today since it is so fresh on my mind.  Basically, we all need about seven or eight hours of sleep per night (good luck with that!).  However, there are ample benefits of getting enough sleep.  Some of these advantages of a good night's rest include:

1. Better health.  Lack of sleep can be a link to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
2.  Better sex life.  Sleep loss can possibly lower testosterone levels.
3.  Less pain.  Sleep may work just as well as some medications to relieve pain.
4.  Lower risk of injury.  It is speculated that about one in five auto accidents are due to drowsy drivers.  In addition, lack of sleep can make a person more prone to other accidents, e.g. falling, cutting yourself while chopping vegetables, etc.
5.  Better mood.  Simply, the more exhausted you are, the more cranky you'll become.
6.  Better weight control.  People who don't get enough sleep tend to eat more and exercise less.
7.  Clearer thinking.  Less sleep leads to more clouded thinking.  Have you ever done something unusual like leaving your car keys in the refrigerator?
8.  Better memory
9.  Stronger immunity.  People who get adequate rest are less likely to develop colds.
(taken from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more)

Interestingly, the Bible gives an insight into the benefits of sleep.  After Lazarus had died, Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus had "fallen asleep" (John 11:11).  The disciples subsequently replied, "...if he has fallen asleep, he will recover" (John 11:12). Hence, I get the feeling that the disciples believed in the power of sleep.  If a person was sick, sometimes rest would be the cure.  If you have a hard time making a decision, perhaps the best course to take is to "sleep on it" and wait for your thinking to clear in the morning. Unusually cranky or irritable?  Go to bed.  Becoming more forgetful?  Maybe you need more rest.

Needless to say, sleep is a good thing.  Don't neglect it or you'll suffer the consequences.  As a matter of fact, I probably should write more but I'll be off to bed soon. 

Good night all!



 

 



Friday, April 10, 2015

Seasons Of The Soul

Well it looks like spring has finally arrived.  The weather is warming up.  The air conditioner is being cranked up at my house.  The winter coats and jackets are being stored away in the closet.  The grass is growing (actually more weeds on my lawn are coming up but the grass is soon to follow.  Thankfully, my lawn mower started up a few weeks ago after being idle during the winter).  The air is being filled with pollen (not necessarily a welcome site for allergy sufferers).  The days are getting longer.  Baseball season has started.   

In retrospect, living just north of Birmingham, Alabama, this really wasn't a bad winter.  We had a couple of threats of ice and snow.  I think on occasion the temperature did reach around twenty degrees or so.  But all in all, winter was not bad at all.

Yet, sometimes wintertime is brutal with severe cold.  I can remember one year when the temperature plummeted to single digits in the 1980's.  As a matter of fact, several small lakes on my commute to work completely froze over.  It was a time when I basically went to work and then bundled up as soon as I got home.  There was no thought about lingering outside...it was just too cold.  Much of life was put on hold until the temperature started to climb.

Nevertheless, on March 21st, as it does every year, spring arrived.  What a welcome site to many!  The seasons still seem to come at their appointed intervals.

Life is also full of seasons.  There are those times when life is cold, dark and bitter, similar to the winter.  All you can do is bundle up and hold on.  On the other hand, there are refreshing times in life like spring.  The flowers are growing, the birds are singing, there is a sound of joyous laughter in the air.  Perhaps we would not appreciate spring so much if it had not been for the harshness of winter.

So, ultimately we should rest in the seasons which God provides.   Whether we are in a season of sickness and sorrow or a season of joy and happiness, it is all part of the seasons of the soul.  Michael and Stormie Omartian have a great song entitled, you guessed it, "The Seasons of The Soul".  Check it out below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ453A7rJDU