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This month’s post differs from my normal blogs. I chose to write a short book review on the newly released Soul Care When You’re Grieving by Edie Mahoney Melson. This third book in the Soul Care series helps through not only the loss of a loved one, but losses of something of personal value, of a job loss, a relationship, or anything of worth to someone. Melson leads the reader through processing grief beyond just words on a page. She includes the reader in interactive exercises, assisting each closer to personal healing.
To quote her, “I’ve learned—-through experiences I wouldn’t have chosen—that joy comes. But it arrives when we don’t expect it. The key to embracing a new attitude is not to squash the joy when it appears. Accept it. Enjoy it! And don’t give into the guilt that hovers in the background. Joy will come more and more often as you travel further away from the furnace and into a new rhythm of life.” (p. 154)
I urge you to purchase not only a copy for yourself, but several as gifts for others as well. It’s available now from Amazon, Bookbub, Christian Book Distributors and Barnes and Noble.
Edie Melson is an author, blogger, and speaker around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply those to life.
Exodus 20: 2-4 NASB
2 I am the Lord your God.
3 You shall have no other gods before me.
4 You shall not make for yourself an idol.
Philippians 4:11 AMP
I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances.
Anytime I feel discontented, I’ve turned my focus from God as my first love to coveting something or someone else more than I do him. I’ve made something else a god in my life. I no longer appreciate what I have or who I am. I’m unthankful. Comfort, money, and self demonstrate just three examples of idols.
The definition of discontent is a restless desire or craving for something one does not have. Gloom, bitterness, chafe inwardly, gripe, grumble, nag, contentious, covetousness, testy, argumentative, and disagreeable all signal discontentment.
“Why can’t she do ….? Why should I do it?”
“Why does she have ….? Why don’t I?”
“Why do I have to live with ….? Why can’t I be the way I want?”
“Why does he act like ….? Why do I have to listen to him?
Contentment. I Can.
I do not desire to love anyone, or anything more than I love God. Not money, possessions, affections, power, or position. I desire love for the Lord God, his love, his presence, and his power in my life. I can make it through anything with and in him. Even if I am penniless and alone, I am rich beyond measure if I am content in Christ alone. When my contentment is in God, I can do everything and anything without complaining or arguing. I can do all things readily and cheerfully, without bickering or grumbling. I can be glad I can do the things I should be doing. I can be a breath of fresh air in this miserable, polluted world. I may be the only glimpse of God others ever see or encounter. So if my contentment is in the Lord Jesus, I can do all things as his representative, give thanks for the opportunity, and the privilege to serve him. If I do and say everything in his name depending on him with a grateful heart, I work willingly and cheerfully at whatever my task may be. I put in my best effort for Jesus. He is my real boss and he will reward me in full when it’s time for my inheritance. I must remember I live for Jesus, not for people. Jesus Christ rewards me from all that he owns. I can be content, knowing I live for the Lord God, Jesus Christ, and his reward is immeasurable. I give thanks for the honor to work for him and serving others… what a privilege.
Thank you, Lord Jesus.
I choose not to love anything or anyone more than I love you, Father God. I do not wish to worship money, relationships, possessions, or positions. I do not wish to covet, but to be content with what I have, where I am, and with who I am. I am thankful you have allowed me to be where I am at this time in my life so I may glorify you.
Thank you, Father, for all I have, and all I am in you. All honor, glory, and power belong to you, Lord God. Amen
But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord. I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand….
Different circumstances than those we expect tumble uninvited into our lives. Not even identical twins live identical lives. Life unfolds sometimes as we hope. Other times it plays out completely opposite of what we desire.
I didn’t plan miscarrying at three months in my pregnancy. I never expected my father-in-law backing his car over my two-year-old daughter. I didn’t schedule breast cancer into my life. We don’t want others to live with diabetes, lupus, epilepsy, or clinical depression. We don’t imagine our loved ones dying from Covid, a car accident, or drowning. All over the world, everyday others experience these same tragedies.
There is no vaccination for heartache and hardship. We live in a world where we and others will encounter painful circumstances. But, praise God! He puts living in perspective from an eternal, holy point of view. He sympathizes with us because He lived through pain and suffering as well. Therefore, His loving kindnesses never cease towards us. He never waivers in His compassion towards us.
He does not desire for us to suffer. Nor does He abandon us in our times of need. Our hope and healing, our living, rests in the God who loves us with an unconditional love and never-ending compassion. His love strengthens us to endure the difficulties we encounter. This life is temporary. We can look to living a future of eternal joy with the Lord.
Cosmatos, G. P. (Director). (1993). Tombstone [Motion Picture].
[i] Image by Adam Tumidajewicz, Pixabay
Proverbs 25:4 NASB
4 Take away the impurities from the silver,
And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
Sometimes I imagine myself as if in a washer, tumbling this way and that. And “click,” the spinning of my circumstances pins me to the sideline as I watch my life pass by me.
“Slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh. Click. Pause. WHIRRRRRRRR.” The washer spins until, “Click,” and I drop to the bottom. I feel different than I did before entering the machine. My heart weighs less because the worries and cares attached there rinsed away. My spirit shines brighter, because the grime of resentment and bitterness slid down the drain during the pressure. I leave the appliance cleaner and lighter, ready for serving the Master as needed.
The hotter the fire the more impurities in the silver rise to the top and removed. Then the silversmith takes it and shapes it into a worthy, useful vessel. So too, the more pressure in our lives, the more ungodliness in our hearts burns away, leaving us a tool for the Lord’s purposes.
Father, Creator of all, make me into one through whom you may touch the lives of others. For your glory and in the name of Jesus, amen.
Woohoo! Mash and Smash Again!
“14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’
15 My times are in Your hand’….” Psalm 31:14-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“The results of your mammogram were inconclusive.” Traci nearly always receives this letter, and nothing is found. I returned for another mash and smash session that afternoon. On the black and gray screen, shining bright and white was an M&M sized dot.
A biopsy and three days later my family doctor and friend called to confirm what God had placed on my heart. That bright, white dot was breast cancer. April 2010 was the beginning of another, life-long adventure with my Savior.
No matter where this journey carried me or where it ended my Savior promised me that my times are in His hand. I likened it to being in labor with my first child. I experienced nervousness that I might behave so as not to honor Jesus. I also thrilled that ultimately at the end of this time I would receive one of God’s greatest blessings!
Held in His hand on this new path through mountain tops and valleys, the blessings poured into my life. Deepened relationships. New friends and acquaintances. New experiences.
Thank you, Lord, for the mashes and smashes of life. Thank you that blessings also enter our lives when troubles and hardships come. Thank you we can rest in you because our times are in Your hands. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Do your circumstances define you or are you a reflection of who Christ is and of your relationship with Him?
Have you heard the phrase, “Just make the best of it?”
Have you heard the dry reply, “Yeah, right!”
Rog and Charlie worked in a bakery at which they arrived early to set up, whip up icing, and start the baking before the store opened. Rog, having a mischievous spirit, enjoyed practical jokes especially targeting Charlie and the owner.
One morning Rog decided not to add the sugar to the icing made with shortening. He beat it and fluffed it until it looked like it was ready to put on the cakes and cupcakes. Gentle Charlie warned Rog to rethink his decision. Rog pictured what was about to unfold and his glee grew. The owner came in an hour after the fellows and one of the habits she had was to take her pinky, swipe it through the edge of the icing and stick her finger in her mouth to taste it. That morning Rog received the anticipated reaction. Gagging, spitting and sputtering she spewed not so kind words at the prankster. Rog as a gifted comic soon had her laughing as well.
Not only did Rog and gentle, quiet, Charlie open the bakery they also closed it. That required prepping for the next day, cleaning equipment, sanitizing and mopping. The guys rotated the different responsibilities, but the most miserable task for Rog was mopping. He hated to mop. That one job could just about ruin an otherwise great day.
One night Rog was cleaning equipment. Alternating between humming and whistling Charlie mopped. Now Rog is a type A personality. Gregarious. Practical joker. Hurry-up-and-get-it-done guy. Charlie is a easy-going, quiet and methodical fellow. After ten minutes of Charlie’s cheerful labors Rog grumbles, “You are driving me crazy! Every night when you mop you hum and whistle. What’s with the whistling?” Surprised, Charlie stopped, leaned on the mop, and tilting his head stared at Rog for a moment.
Smiling, he turned back to his task and replied, “I’m not just mopping. Jesus and I are mopping. We are worshiping and praising the Father in song together. Ouch! Rog felt a piercing in his heart.
Charlie knew how to make the best of any moment. He focused on the Presence of Christ with him. Engraved on his heart were five words from Matthew 28:20 “…I am with you always….” and two words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always.”
Rog recalled Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men….”
After locking up the bakery, Rog threw his arm around Charlie’s shoulder, and as they began their walk home he whistled,
“”Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know.
Fills my every longing
Keeps me singing as I go.**”
*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
**He Keeps me singing by Luther Bridgers, 1910. Copyright: Public Domain
The psalmist states he has “set the Lord” before him. This demonstrates an active relationship with God. He makes a conscious choice to focus his entire self on God alone. He confidently knows he can lean on, depend on and trust in the Lord. With God by his side, no thing nor no one can shake him. To God be all glory, honor, power, and glory alone. He is the Victor.
Savannah and Mimi pulled out the flour, butter, chocolate chips, and eggs for baking cookies. Donning matching aprons they chattered about the yummy confections they soon would enjoy. Bowls, measuring cups, spoons, and baking sheets clattered onto the counter.
Mimi flicked a pinch of flour into Savannah’s hair. “Mimi!” She grabbed her own and tossed it onto Mimi’s face.
Following Mimi’s recipe, Savannah carefully spooned flour into the measuring cups and with the handle of the spoon scraped away the extra flour.
“Mimi, why do we make the flour level with the top of the cup? Why can’t we use more butter and especially more sugar?”
“This helps the cookies turn out the same every time we baked them. The flour, butter, and sugar are like the the ingredients God used when He made us. He says He made us and knew us before we were born. He declares His works are wonderful. He called us by our names.”
Savannah mumbled how some people sure needed more sugar. Mimi chuckled, “Whatever is in our hearts is what is spoken from our lips. Jesus is love. If Jesus fills our hearts, more love and joy flow from our lips.”
“But, Mimi, a lot of people are just mean. It’s hard to talk back to them in a nice way.”
Savannah measured teaspoons of baking soda and baking powder. “Stick your finger into the baking soda and taste it, Savannah.”
Sputtering and running for water she yelped, “Mimi! That’s awful! Don’t put that in the cookies.”
“Ah, but if we leave it out, our cookies will be as flat as paper.” Mimi described the baking powder and baking soda as necessary in very small amounts to help the cookies rise into fluffy, soft treats. She also warned how too much, only one spoonful more, would cause the cookies to taste bitter.
“Wow! That doesn’t make sense, Mimi.”
With sad eyes she turned and faced Savannah. “Sometimes people have too much bitterness in their hearts. Often this causes them to hurt others with their words or actions.”
Savannah added the chocolate chips and stirred them into the batter. “Mimi, what makes a person have bitterness in their hearts?”
“Pain happens in all our lives. I had cancer and my medicines made me lose all my hair. Sally’s daddy left her and her mother, and she never sees him anymore. Sweetie, you know how hurt you felt when Katie told lies about you to the other children in your class? Those are bitter-like life stories. Some people let the anger, hurt, and bitterness stay in their hearts. It grows until it is like poison in their hearts, then they want to make others hurt the way they do.”
“Mimi, you had bad things happen in your life like your cancer, but you try to make other people feel loved and happy. Is it because you have the love of Jesus in your heart?”
Before Savannah could speak again, cookie dough plopped onto Savannah’s nose. “Oh! No you don’t!” And Mimi wore dough her nose as well.
As they scooped the dough onto the pans, Mimi gazed at Savannah “Even with Him in my heart, if I feel hurt or angry, I try to choose to speak and act in kindness.”
They slid the pans into the oven and Savannah wondered why the cookies needed the heat for all those minutes instead of just a couple. “Just the right amount of heat makes the cookies firm enough to hold but still soft enough to eat. Too much heat burns the cookies or makes them hard and bitter. Not enough heat and the cookies are too soft to hold and they still taste like uncooked dough.
“We have heat in our lives too. Remember how you felt when you lost your puppy? Mack cannot walk, because he broke his back. He says he is not handicapped and instead does what he wants to do while sitting. How about twenty-three-year-old Anna who died when her car crashed? Her mom and dad tell others their story, because they rejoice knowing they will be with her again one day. These are the heat in our lives. We can choose to let Jesus use the heat in our lives to help us become more like Him. We can choose to stay in pain from the heat, and then we become hard-hearted and bitter.”
Beep! Beep! The timer shouted, “Time is up!” Mimi slid the pan out of the oven and onto the cooling rack. Savannah swayed back and forth, bouncing up and down with impatience until she could sink her teeth into the sweet treat. She knew from experience biting into one too soon blistered her tongue. Sometimes waiting brings great rewards.
Sliding the spatula under the cookie, she lifted the still warm cookie into her hand. Sinking her teeth into it she grinned at Mimi. As she Swallow she held four fingers in front of her face, and Mimi held out the dish to her. “Want some milk to go with those?”
Chocolate chip cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips, or M&M’s
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
Place rack in center of oven.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl mix together butter and sugars until creamy.
Slowly beat in vanilla extract (but fresh vanilla beans make the best) and eggs.
In a separate bowl stir together dry ingredients.
Stir in chocolate chips or M&M”s.
Slowly mix in dry ingredients.
If possible use an ice cream scoop and place scoops about two inches apart on the pan.
Bake 12-15 minutes depending on desired softness or crunchiness.
Transfer fron pan to cooling rack after two minutes.
How Does It Feel to Fall into the Depths of Depression?
The darkness slithers up behind you, and like a beast opens wide its mouth to devour you… heart, soul, mind, and body.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” John 10:10a
He crushes the joy.
He snatches away hope.
He snuffs out all light.
And then I plummet into darkness.
Tired of deceit.
Tired of denial.
Tired of defeat.
Weary of pretenders.
Weary of hypocrites.
Weary of liars.
Finished with drama.
Finished with pretentiousness.
Finished with impurity.
Quit with barnacles.
Quit with slugs.
Quit with leeches.
Empty of hope.
Empty of peace.
Empty of joy.
I flail in darkness.
I crouch in fear.
I weep in despair.
But God clasps me in His arms.
He lifts me out of the darkness and the miry clay.
He smooths away the tears from eyes.
He calms my anxious heart.
He puts a new song in my mouth.
A song of praise to Abba, Father God.
“Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
For the help of His Presence.” Psalm 42:5
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
Image Posted on
God alone is our source for truth and life. The devil prowls around looking for someone to devour. He is cunning, he and his demons. The powers of darkness and and the powers of God battle for control of our thoughts, because thoughts become actions. Jesus is the only truth. Jesus is the only life. Jesus is the only way to God. We are in a spiritual battle.
12 For our struggle is not against [e]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)
“Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’ “John 14:6 (NASB)
Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (AMP)
And again He declares,
“I will be against anyone who goes to mediums and wizards for advice. Whoever does this is being unfaithful to me. So I will separate them from their people.” Leviticus 20:6 (ERV)
“If a man boweth to astrologers, and to false diviners, and doeth fornication with them, I shall set my face against him, and I shall slay him from the midst of his people (and I shall cut him off from the midst of his people).” (WYC)
Do not be deceived. Understand that mediums, astrologers, spiritists, wizards, and diviners work by the powers given to them from forces of evil. They are the tools through which Satan works to deceive us. God abhors putting anyone or anything between us and Jesus.
Understand, God ABHORS, HATES, DESPISES anything associated with these behaviors. He says we are whores and prostitutes if we participate in any related activities .
“… he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”
2 Chronicles 33:6 (AMP)
“He practiced magic and witchcraft and ·told the future by explaining signs and dreams [divination; augery]. He ·got advice from [dealt with] mediums and ·fortune-tellers [spiritualists; spiritists; Deut. 18:9–13]. He did ·many things the Lord said were wrong [L much evil in the Lord’s sight/eyes], which made the Lord angry.” (EXB)
“What good is it to mouth the words, “Lord! Lord!” if you don’t live by My teachings?” Luke 6:36 (VOICE)
“My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (VOICE)
I urge you to be on the alert for those books, movies, and activities that may deceive you into becoming comfortable with behaviors unacceptable to Jesus. Examine your choices. Bring them before His standard. Choose that which leads you into a closer, more glorifying life to Him. Be transformed from appearing like the rest of the world. Stand out. Stand above the ordinary, for we serve an extraordinary God.
AMP Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved. For Permission To Quote information visit http://www.lockman.org/
ERV) Copyright © 2006 by Bible League Internationa
EXB The Expanded Bible, Copyright © 2011 Thomas Nelson Inc. All rights reserved.
NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserve
WYC) 2001 by Terence P. Noble