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Monday, December 17, 2018

Something New


Hello Readers, 

Please stay tuned for a new look and more In the Way content in the New Year. I'm taking a Christmas break and working on something fun and inspiring.

Have a lovely Christmas season!
Lou Ann


Monday, December 10, 2018

Where is the Power?



We often hear about the power of a praying wife, mother, or grandmother. You might listen to a powerful sermon. You may recognize that a certain preacher has power.

Where is the power?

It's not in what people do. It's from a source.

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

What was Jesus talking about? What power?

The Greek word used in this verse is dynamis, which means "force, miraculous power, ability, abundance."* It is force that comes from an inherent source. Do you see the similarity of this word with "dynamite"? It comes from the same root.

The power is in the Lord. When He gifts power to Christians, through the Holy Spirit, it is still His power. And He can do amazing things!

Yes, there's power in prayer, and there's power in a sermon, and there's power in people—but all of that power isn't in the person's prayer, sermon or the person himself. It's in the power of God that is leant to him. It's God working through him. It really doesn't have anything to do with the person except that the person is a willing vessel that God can use.

It may sound like I'm just parsing words, but it seems to me that when we hear phraseology such as:
  • You are a powerful woman of God.
  • You can do all things through Christ.
  • Never underestimate the power of a praying wife/mother/grandmother.
  • The power of God is on this preacher.
  • He/she is a powerful Christian.
                 … maybe, we're misrepresenting the power.

The power comes only from God. It's His. We are mere nothings who rely totally on Him. God gives us life, health, provision, and any talents we might have. He is the Source. If He uses us, all glory goes to Him. If He answers our prayers, again, praise Him. If He gifted us and we are serving in an effective way, it's because of Him.

And, the truth is, if we want to get all puffy about our own accomplishments, that's not biblical. Consider these passages:
  • But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:27-31).
  • For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
  • But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Galatians 6:14).
  • (God) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:21).

May we always be mindful that any power is in the Lord, and that, if God uses us in any way, we can humbly recognize that we're foolish, weak, base, and despised. For that reason, God chose to show His power through us.

But grow in grace,
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18)


* from Strong's Definitions.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Looking Heavenwards


The Bible uses some interesting phraseology for heaven:
  • far better
  • glory
  • kingdom
  • the Father's dwelling place
  • People can send treasures up there.
  • no marriage in heaven
  • Angels are in heaven.
  • There's rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents.
  • There's a list of names in heaven.


Do we really believe these? If we do, we'll have a totally different attitude towards heaven.

No one is eager to get there. (Of course not, since no one looks forward to the process of dying.) But, maybe we need to tweak our thinking. Isn't it great when someone goes to heaven?

Yes! Absolutely yes.

While there's sorrow in separation, for believers, it's "see you later" and not goodbye. Never goodbye. It's a pause, a little bit of time, and then eternity …

          where there's no sin

          no crying and sorrow

          no striving to do right and no temptations.

          We'll be surrounded by totally perfected people. (Thank you, Lord!) That alone is heaven.

The presence of our Savior. I have no idea what that will be like. The word awesome doesn't begin to do justice. We will fall at His feet and worship … and worship … and worship.

          We'll sing.

          We'll bask in His light.

          We'll live in harmony and praise.

          We'll rule with Him.
    
          We'll fight beside Him, on horseback, clothed in white.

We'll live in specially prepared homes. The other day, I happened upon an advertisement for a manufactured house. The pictures were gorgeous. I thought I'd ask some questions. It turns out the house I saw doesn't actually exist for sale—but one could have it built. Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2b). I don't even care what my place in heaven looks like, but I can tell you one thing: it will be fabulous. It will be perfect. And, best of all, it will be eternally spotless. No dirt in heaven. Imagine!

What will we do for eternity? We only have hints. We know there's a timetable, which means we'll rule on earth a while, return to fight a battle (and win), and we'll cast our crowns at Jesus' feet. We know the atmosphere will be one of praise and thanksgiving. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8b). The beauty is such that those who've gotten a glimpse of it describe their preview in terms of precious jewels, rainbow colors, streets of transparent, pure gold.

Who wouldn't want to experience this?

The real sadness comes when someone doesn't know the Lord. Of course, only God can judge a heart, and we can't actually know for sure if a person has repented or not. I believe we can share the gospel with everyone and urge them to know the Lord—so that they can go to heaven and live in that wonderful, perfect atmosphere forever with us.

How can someone know he's going to heaven? The Bible says it's possible. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).

Do you know?

There's only one way, and that is through Jesus. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

How does this happen? How does one go to the Father through Jesus? Jesus said,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:16-19).

Everyone has a choice. Either he remains in condemnation, or he accepts Jesus' death on the cross and His burial and resurrection to provide eternal life. It's a gift, and salvation can be either be received or rejected. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Nobody's good enough to go to heaven, since no one is perfect. God only lets perfect people into heaven. And, Jesus paid the price for your sins so that you could join Him there. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

I hope you have peace in your heart about going to heaven, this incredibly wonderful place. If not, it's a gift. Will you receive this precious gift from Jesus today?

If you do know Jesus and know you'll go to heaven, remember to rejoice in your heart for those who go there before you. You'll see them "soon." For we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope (from 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again
unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,
and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation
ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice (1 Peter 1:3-6a).


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Everything Will Kill You!


Vaccines, GMO foods, dyes, additives, FDA approved and not, sweeteners, agricultural sprays, plastic water bottles, farmed fish, vegetable oils…. I even read that chicken's the very worst meat. It will kill you!*

Back in the day, the main culprits were tobacco and alcohol. Now, it's your soda. The sugar will do you in. You switch to diet drinks and find out they're even worse! In the United Kingdom, they're seriously considering demanding identification for buying energy drinks.

Don't cook in aluminum pans. It rubs off and gives you Alzheimer's. And the list goes on. Everything will kill you!

Did you know there's arsenic in apple seeds? (It will take about 200 to kill you, but who eats the seeds, anyhow?) We won't even start on Romaine lettuce.

I sometimes wonder what to believe. The prohibitions seem to go in a giant cycle that changes completely every 25 years and slightly every five. You're told to ban fats, carbs, and sugar. Then, the culprit is gluten. Seriously, after a while you wonder if you can eat anything at all.

My friends raise their own chickens for eggs and eating. A guy with whom I went to college has won awards for his contributions to organic farming. Several of my friends live on organic farms and sell their produce. My in-laws usually buy veggies from Amish and Mennonite farms.

All this sounds great to me. I think food tastes better as natural as possible. I am also for nutritionally balanced eating and no extremes (unless you have a health issue, which is a totally different subject all together).

But, I believe we've gotten a lot wrong as we're fearful about what we put into our bodies. Don't get me wrong. We should be careful. We should try to take care of our bodies. This is Scriptural** and good. But, many Christians put most of their time and energy caring for their bodies. I know people who've lost mega weight, and they're right to be proud of their before and after photos. Others have gotten healthier and fitter. I'm sincerely glad for them.

At the same time, it seems our bodies, stomachs, and looking beautiful have replaced our desire to be healthy spiritually. Jesus said, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. And Jesus said (to His disciples), Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man (Matthew 15:11, 16-20).

In my experience as a pastor's wife and counselor, the biggest problem faced by women isn't what they eat. It's their hearts.

What's going into your heart?
  • I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope (Psalm 16:8-9).
  • The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:8, 14).
  • Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:8).
  • With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Psalm 119:10-11).

Are you dining on God's Word?

Are your entertainment and leisure choices pleasing to the Lord?

Do you trust in God and pour out your heart*** to Him in prayer?

Do you seek Him with your whole heart and review His Word during the day?

If so, what comes out of your heart will be beautiful.

Let's seek moderation in other areas of our lives (including food) and find our delight in the Lord! God bless you today!

____________

* Please understand. My point is that "they" (whoever "they" are) say all kinds of things will kill you. Have I stopped eating chicken or other things I listed? No. If I believed all the warnings, I'd never eat at all. I make an effort to be healthy but not extreme. There are many businesses that capitalize on food and health fads. They, too, will probably pass in popularity with time.
** 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20
*** Psalm 62:8; Lamentations 2:19

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bored: Seven Tips for Contentment



Children say they're bored. Teens say it. Adults often talk about boredom.

Boredom: "the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

The only time I've ever been bored in my life was when I was too sick to read. Now that, my friends, is boredom! Hours passed and I wasn't able to do anything at all. I always pity those who can't read and write. How much they miss! For me, reading is the first thing I do in the morning and the last I do at night. I read a lot … and fast. I absorb a lot of useful, distracting, educational, and totally useless information each day. (I'm not proud of the useless stuff. But, you've been on social media, too….) Writing is akin to reading, except that it's output instead of input—and it's a lot harder to get right. I am constantly working on bettering my writing. (Please say you notice.)

"Being weary and restless" is a normal result of working and thinking. Boredom is getting to that point because of  "lack of interest." Sad, indeed.

Let's address the problem of "lack of interest" and make some practical applications and helps after that.

I fully believe that children, teens, and adults are bored because they have too much, not too little. Why do women go for "shopping therapy" when there's not a thing they actually need? Why are children bored when they have two hundred toys in their room—and a back yard to play in? Why are teens bored, while they are constantly texting and chatting with friends? Why are men bored, even though they're working all the time? I believe it's because we aren't content. We're not engaged in real life.

The Apostle Paul spoke of contentment—while under house arrest and suffering depravations and cold. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11). But godliness with contentment is great gain. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:6, 8).

The author of Hebrews admonished: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

So, how can we change into being content, happy individuals who actually have something profitable to do and aren't at a loss? Let me share seven principles that might help you.
  1. Less is more. This goes for almost any area in life. Less junk, food choices, furniture, clothing, less on one's calendar, less activities for children, kitchen gadgets, etc. Less is better. When your parents were young, there simply was a different culture, yet they grew up knowing how to play and enjoy life. They read, hiked, biked, and traveled. They had actual—not virtual—friends with whom they laughed, talked, and visited. (They still have those same friends, by the way.) They knew how to put together old and new. Eclectic style was fine—and homey. They bought quality clothes but less of them. They understood how to mix and match. They weren't minimalists, but they understood the value of having what you enjoy but not too much. That went for activities, too. Your parents didn't overcommit themselves or you, and you got to grow up with family times, make memories, have free time to run around outside and be a child.
  2. Contentment can be learned. The Apostle Paul said so, and it's true. If you're not content now, with what you have at this moment, you'll never be content. Contentment begins in the heart, with knowing Jesus. Once your heart is satisfied, you can begin the process of learning to be content in any situation.
  3. Teach your children alternatives to boredom. When a child says, "I'm bored," he needs something to do—hands on and brain engaged. What would interest your child? Your artistic child might need paper and markers. Your musical child might need to be reminded to practice piano. Your mechanical child might enjoy getting out some Legos or K'nex. Read your children a book. Or, maybe they'd enjoy helping you in the kitchen or helping Daddy with a car repair or washing. Involve your children with you in life, and show them what to do when they've lost interest in other things.
  4. Unplug. You may have noticed I haven't recommended handing your kids a tablet, putting on a movie, or uploading another video game. It's absolutely fine to see a movie as a family or play clean video games sometimes, but the best way to learn contentment is to be away from gadgets for chunks of time each day. Really live. Really connect with others. Really enjoy doing normal life skills and work. And, for kids, really enjoy making up their own play.
  5. Learn thankfulness. If you really want to be content, you'll have to learn to be thankful. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Hebrews 13:15).
  6. Make a mental (or physical) list of possible activities you enjoy. When you're bored, what can you do? Take a walk outside—with your phone or camera. Look for beauty. Read that book you haven't gotten to. Write an encouraging note to someone. Organize meals for next week. Visit Aunt Polly. Bake brownies. I don't know what makes you happy, but I'm sure you can come up with at least five or six options for when you're feeling like you need to change things up—and not be bored. You could even make lists for your children of possibilities they may not have thought of.
  7. When you don't know what to do, ask the Lord. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). He will help you think of something that's profitable.

God wants us to be content.

Blessed be the Lord,
who daily loadeth us with benefits,
even the God of our salvation.
(Psalm 68:19)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Passionate About Poop



There's an emoji for it, social media backgrounds full of little piles of it. The poop piles have eyes. Cartoons, sayings, jokes…. It seems the world has gone crazy about excrement.

I don't understand.

Call me old fashioned. Not too long ago, scatological references were taboo. In many parts of the world, they still are. So why the fascination?

Farmers call it natural fertilizer. I seriously doubt that any of them would draw cow pie pictures and give them eyes.

So, why do I bring up this topic at all? (Gross, I know.) Because, though everyone necessarily knows about feces, it's not a lovely subject for our thoughts. It's an ugly way to express ourselves (along with puke and some others). I believe it indicates how far we've sunk. Remember when emojis were basically smiley faces? Case in point.

Where should our thoughts be? The Bible gives us the best outline: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8). Pure, lovely, good, praiseworthy … think about these things.

Instead of references to ugly stuff, let's focus our thoughts on what's beautiful. And, the next time we want to share something on social media, let's make it praiseworthy.

Let's make this practical.

What does God call beautiful or lovely?
  • Women, such as Rachel, Abigail, Bathsheba, Esther, the Shulamite (Solomon's wife)
  • Men, such as David, Saul, Jonathan, even old men with white hair
  • The garments used in the Tabernacle worship were for glory and beauty.
  • Jerusalem, the city of God. Also, the gate of the Temple was called Beautiful.
  • Holiness in worship: Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29).
  • The Lord Himself: One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple (Psalm 27:4).
  • God's creation: He hath made every thing beautiful in his time (Ecclesiastes 3:11a).
  • Feet: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (Isaiah 52:7)
  • How God "dressed" Israel was beautiful. (Ezekiel 16)

We can rejoice in creation. It points us to the Lord, the Maker of all this beauty. We can praise the Lord.

We can center our thoughts on the Bible. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But; his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).

I'm afraid we're so obsessed with all the crud in the world—and in our own lives—that we forget to discipline our minds to Philippians 4:8 thinking. The next time you think how poopy something is, change your thoughts. Look up. View the clouds, stars, and sunset. Look around you and smell the roses. Praise God in your heart.

That's a great beginning towards having a Christ-like mentality.

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him,
as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation
the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is
created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:21-24).

… if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
(Philippians 4:8)


Sunday, November 11, 2018

When You Mess Up God's Perfect Plan for Your Life (Is There One?)


There's a popular evangelistic tool that begins "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." I was trying to think of any Bible verses about God's plan, and the only one that came to mind was one that says God thinks about us in a positive way.* It's not the same as saying God has a distinct life plan already set for you.

Does the Bible actually say God has a master plan for people's lives? It depends on how you look at it. The word plan(s) doesn't appear in the King James Version even one time. But, the Bible gives us a good idea about God's will—in a more general way. He wants us to:
  • Obey Jesus unto salvation. Hebrews 5:9
  • Put God first. Matthew 6:33
  • Keep Jesus' commandments. John 14:15
  • Recognize that everything that comes into our lives is for our ultimate good. Romans 8:28
  • Display the fruit of the Spirit. Philippians 1:9-11; Galatians 5:22-23
  • Be holy. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
  • Give thanks in everything. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • Do good. 1 Peter 2:15


Instead of a mapped out plan for each person's life, God provides guidelines, and He also promises to be our Guide.
  • He will teach sinful people who are willing to learn. Psalm 25:8, 12; 32:8; Proverbs 4:11; 8:20
  • God will actually light our path step by step with His Word. Psalm 119:105, 133
  • God is our Guide. Psalm 31:3; 48:14; 73:24; John 16:13 (Holy Spirit)
I love these verses: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

But, all of us mess up sometimes. We make bad choices. We sin. We forget about asking God for His guidance, and we might even get away from the Lord, for a time not even considering what He wants.

When we make mistakes, does that mean the whole wonderful plan gets ripped up and thrown in the trash can? Does this mean that we can never have a life that pleases God? Do we have to settle for second best? Do we even get in on God's plan at all?

I am so thankful for God's Word. It says, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price for our sins. All of them. If you have accepted His incredible gift of redemption, you have been saved. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

I believe there's no one so far gone that they can't be turned around and have a happy, victorious life in Jesus.

How can someone who's messed up get back on track? There's a simple little verse in 1 John, Chapter 1 that tells what a Christian needs to do to get back into fellowhip with the Lord. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (verse 9).

Do you remember the Apostle Paul? He was a great missionary, founding churches, strengthening believers, and suffering for the Lord—with joy. But, before he knew the Lord, he persecuted the church and was even responsible for imprisoning and murdering believers. And God chose to use Him.

If you, like Paul, think you're less than the least of all saints (Ephesians 3:8), remember that God rejoices in those who want to do His will. He can lead you and He will guide you.

Is there a perfect plan for our life, all mapped out and waiting for us to do it? No, I don't think so. Even perfect Adam and Eve could not remain sinless. Can God use us from wherever we are at this moment? Of course, if we're willing to trust Him step by step.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18).
________

* Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.