Thursday, January 3, 2013

Modern Day Pharisees

The Pharisees in Jesus’ time appeared to be doing all the righteous things and obeying all of the Old Testament laws and for the most part they were. But Jesus condemned them because in the midst of all of their religious “doings” and adherence to strict Old Testament laws, they had forgotten the things that Jesus considered most important. Things like love, compassion, mercy and servanthood.

Here is a strong word from Jesus about “appearing” religious. It is from the Message version of the Bible and comes under the heading “Religious Fashion Shows:”
Matthew 23
1-3 “Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It's all spit-and-polish veneer.”

I need to pray that I might never be more concerned about LOOKING religious than BEING like Jesus. Jesus was all about loving people, not condemning them. He didn’t just feel sorry for people’s circumstances. He did something to help them. He was quick to forgive people for their wrong doings and he never put himself “above” others, yet He served them. It is easy for us to act like Pharisees when we are more concerned about going to church, memorizing scripture and always being sure we come across as the ultimate Christians than we are for saving lost people, helping the poor and down-trodden and forgiving those who have hurt us.

While we never want to abandon our Christian principles and our devotion to the Bible and Church, we must be careful that people see us first and foremost as people who love and accept others. I know I am sometimes guilty of judging people because I don’t think they live up to the Christianity I have been taught and that kind of thinking has, no doubt, caused me lose an opportunity to introduce Jesus to someone who needs Him.

Several times through the years I have asked people to church and they have said something to the effect that they don’t come to church because the church is full of hypocrites. My answer usually has been: “Well, I’m sure there are some hypocrites in church, but what better place for them?” Another answer comes to me: “You are right about that, but mostly our church is just full of sinners, like me! Won’t you join us?”

As Christians we need to stand up for the things we know are biblically right, but we also need to love those who don’t share all of our convictions! God, help me to be that kind of Christian and not look like a Pharisee!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Colors of My Life

It’s a crisp mid-October Saturday morning. I look out my kitchen window and see Autumn in all it’s glory. Trees turning and beautiful mums lighting up my landscape! I absolutely love Fall! I love the “middle” temps after hot summers and before cold winters. There is something about it that warms my heart and soul. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t last long enough!

I have always loved the autumn colors. Years ago I was present at a “makeup” party where someone evaluated “my colors.” Turns out I was classified as an autumn. I began trying to outfit myself in those “autumn” colors and before I knew it my wardrobe looked like an Autumn orchard!

While I still love the autumn colors, I find that with the aging of my skin and hair, those colors don’t always bring out the best in me. I find myself wearing colors that I would never have considered right for me in my younger years.

I guess that is sort of the way life is these days. As I “mature” I find myself worrying less about the right colors and just enjoying the colors at hand! You might say that I am finally stopping to smell the mums along the way!

This year has been a strange year for me. 2010 was a year when I felt compelled to try new things. 2011 has been a year where I have not felt motivated to do much more than just exist. I have wasted much of this year worrying about whether I should make major changes in my life. Should I retire from my job? Should I branch out and try a new route for teaching my exercise classes? For some strange reason, turning sixty-two has thrown me into more of a tailspin than any of my previous years.

I feel I have been in a spiritual “winter” as far as the seasons of my life. January to October has seemed like such a long time in some ways. It is as if I have been marking time waiting for some revelation from God to make a move in a different direction!

This week I have been focused on putting together our annual Christian Yoga Retreat. It has forced me to focus on God as I have been listening for Him to tell me what kind of spiritual emphases I need to put on our time together at the retreat. During this focused time I have realized that I have totally been “in a season” of life. But instead of enjoying the colors of the season, I have let Satan drag me down into worry and apathy and hence, rob me of my joy!

Seasons are normal. They are God-ordained. We just need to learn to enjoy them! I am now resolved to do just that!

Genesis 1:14
New Living Translation (NLT)

14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them mark off the seasons, days, and years.

Yep, God invented the seasons!

Happy Fall Y’all!                                                          

Friday, March 25, 2011

Exercise Your Core Muscles

In exercise training today we hear a lot about our core muscles.  Core strength refers to the muscles of your abs and back and their ability to support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced.  Muscles that involve the core are the muscles of the abdomin and the spine.  Weak core muscles contribute to back pain and other ailments.  If your core muscles are weak and you have strong muscles elsewhere, you will suffer ailments because of the imbalance.

Our spiritual life can be compared to our core muscles in that we can look "spiritually" fit on the outside and be very weak in the core of our being if we are not right with God. 

In Psalm 51 David pured out his truly repentant heart to God.  He was fully aware of his gross sin with Bathsheba and was seeking the mercy and forgiveness of His God. Though David was a "man after God's own heart" he had let temptation get the best of him and had sinned not only against himself, Bathsheba and her family and his own family but He had sinned against God.  At the point he let sin overcome him he was "rotten to the core."

Romans 3:23 says "all haved sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  So, though many of us would be quick to condemn David for his sins, we are all sinners!  The good news is that we do serve a loving, and merciful God who wants to forgive us.  However, we must come humbly to him and be truly remorseful about our sins when we ask His forgiveness.  Like David we must ask for God to create a new heart in us - a pure heart.  We can never have a pure heart on our own. 

Repentance must start at the very core of our being, our heart and mind.  When our core is healthy the rest of us will flourish!  Integrity is essential in God's eyes and integrity starts with a healthy core!  Let's exercise our core every day with these verses:

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 19: 14 (NKJ)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Don't neglect your phsyical core muscles or your spiritual ones!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Donating For a Good Cause

After starting my day with a good workout with my aerobics class, having a great lunch with my work family, and a good day at my job, I came home to a nice meal and sat down to watch the news.  Every time I see the films from Japan my heart breaks anew.  I feel so utterly helpless!  I would love to just go over there and help in some way.  But, the thought of going anywhere near the radiation scares me to death! 

So, I ask myself, what can I do?  Jerry and I have decided we can at least give some money through the Ky Baptist Disaster Relief Fund.  I know that all the money will then go directly to aid for Japan.  We need to be careful just where we channel our money.  As a matter of fact, just as I got on my computer I got a message from McAfee Security warning of the many scams right now for donating to this cause!  Scumbags!  I hope they will be caught and prosecuted severely! 

It's been another beautiful day and I thank God that I can enjoy it!  I thank Him that I am safe and secure right now while "all hell" is breaking loose around the world!  Tonight before we go to sleep we need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as well as those suffering in other places.  I also pray that in the midst of their horror they will feel the mighty hand of God upon them giving them strength and courage.

Would you join me in donating to this cause and praying fervently for the Japanese people?

Matthew 9: 36
When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Pursuit of Lady Wisdom

Sometimes I feel like I need the Lord to just give me a "good talking to."  This morning He did just that as I read Proverbs 3!  There are so many "jewels" in this passage that I need to be reminded of over and over.  I am always asking for wisdom.  The point that was made clear to me today is that I probably am not doing enough seeking!  Proverbs 3 is a wonderful guidebook for finding the wisdom that comes from God.   I hope you'll read some of the verses that I particularly like that I have copied from The Message version of the Bible

1-9 Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take to heart my commands.  They'll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.  Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.  Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.  Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.  Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.  Don't assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!  Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. 
11-14 But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;  don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;  a father's delight is behind all this.  The Very Tree of Life
You're blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight.
She's worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary.
Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
She's the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.  Hold her tight—and be blessed!

Yeah, I WILL continue to ask for His Wisdom.....and I WILL actively seek Him! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Awesome and Emotional Day!

As my sisters will readily tell you, I am rarely speechless.  Today, however, I am speechless.  Today I went to "lunch with my sister Billie" (so she told me) that turned out to be a celebration lunch with many of my Energizers friends!

What a wonderful surprise!  There were 26 people present and I have such wonderful memories of all of them.  Two of the original members of what was then known as Body Recall in 1991 were there and one of them is still in the class.  She is going to outlast me! 

The history of this class is one I have previously written about so I won't go there.  But I can't emphasize enough just how much this class has meant to me and how much today meant also.  I just thank God once more for the blessings He has given me through my ministries at our church.  He certainly had a good plan in mind for me and I am deeply humbled that He chose me!  I am also deeply humbled by the tribute paid to me today.  It's hard to feel like I have done anything important in light of the fact that all of these people through the years have inspired me so much and have made my life so much better.

I won't ramble.  I just want to say thanks to Bro. Wayne and Chad for coming over to my class Wednesday and honoring me with a plaque and to once again thank all of the great people who have blessed me so much over the past 20+ years.  I am so deeply touched!

Here are some pictures of my last week:

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

                                                                        Psalm 34:8

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Journey Complete

I've thought about this day for the last couple of years.  Today is the day those thoughts become action.  Today, after 21 years, I am teaching my last class of Energizers.

Energizers began as Body Recall and here is how it came about:

I was teaching aerobics classes at our church in 1990 and our pastor and I began to talk about how nice it would be to offer an exercise class for Sr. Adults.  We had heard about a Body Recall class in Danville so I attended it a couple of times to feel the program out.  I reported back that I thought it would be an excellent class to offer and we needed to start looking for someone to take the training and teach the class.  We looked and asked around but had no takers!  I finally said, "okay, I'll go take the training and start the class and then I'll find someone else to teach it."  Famous last words!  Not only could I not find anyone interested in teaching the class, but I found that I loved teaching older adults!  So, my destiny was launched!

It has been such a good experience.  I have met so many wonderful people and have been inspired beyond words.  The love that people through the years in my classes have shown me has been so encouraging!  I have seen people make such strides in their physical well-being!  I have heard comments such as, "I used to have trouble backing up in my car because I couldn't look over my shoulder, but now I can!" and, "when I fell the other day and was laying there afraid, I remembered how you showed us how to get up, and I was able to get up!"  Those, words, and others have been priceless to me and I thank God from the bottom of my heart for giving me this class! 

It is with mixed emotions that I am giving it up.  I made the decision because I felt I was in a rut and it felt like I was just going through the motions.  That was not fair to my class!  However, giving up meeting with those dear people twice a week is one of the hardest decisions I have made and I will miss them tremendously.

One consolation is that the woman who is taking over this class is someone who is dear to my heart.  She is actually the person I have wanted to take over but I didn't think that could happen.  I just know that God has an amazing experience in store for her and that she will be blessed.  I also know that this kind, gentle lady, Sandy Currens, will bless the participants.  God is good!

I am also excited to see what new adventure God has in store for me!  Hopefully, I can still teach my aerobics classes (my first love) for a while longer.  I pray for the health and strength to be able to do that.
But, I certainly pray that I hear God's voice leading me to be effective for Him in some way in my world! 

Again, Jeremiah 29:11-14a comes to mind:
 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD,