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April 24, 2018, 11:42 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…May 2018


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  Potential stress factors surround us all every day. Internationally we hear of wars, rumors of wars and inhumane treatment of citizens in certain locales. Politically, we are subjected to constant pushes, pulls and debates and a plethora of philosophical foolishness. Medically, we face great challenges, either through personal diagnoses or even in the ethical realm of medical possibilities. Educationally, we see the contrast of some areas of excellence and some erosion of high academic standards. Financially, the news is different every day, and most people live from paycheck to paycheck, never seeing the end of indebtedness. Socially, sometimes we see extremely competitive spirits and goal-setting, seemingly offset by attitudes of apathy and co-dependence. Fashion can be a very unkind world. Scientifically, there seems to be increasing disdain for the idea of a holy Creator. Morally, Judeo-Christian ethics seem to be on a very slippery slope. We live by the self-imposed ticking of clocks and resulting calendars in a world guided by instant gratification—at least in this nation. Social media has almost created a monster of disregard for politeness and the feelings of others as criticism spews freely. Even weather brings destructive disasters. Stressed out yet???

  Seriously, if we let ourselves focus upon all of that all of the time, we would not have the courage to get out of bed each day. But, is living under high stress God’s way for us to live? Is that His design or ours? No, His design is for us to live without constant anxiety and lack of peace. We may have pain or discomfort or unhappiness in our lives. But, He has given us encouragement and instruction in His Word.

  In Matthew 6:25, 27 Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life...Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Any doctor will verify that fact—stress reduces life and does not add to it!

  In Philippians 4:4-9, Paul gave some amazing instruction: Rejoice...be gentle...trust in the Lord’s nearness...do not be anxious about anything (at all)...present requests to God with thanksgiving...focus on what is pure/lovely/admirable/excellent/praiseworthy...receive the peace of God and the God of peace. If we expend our mental energies in only those directions, we will not have any time left to worry. It is our choice! 

Marsha Cook, Director               

 




March 15, 2018, 3:12 PM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…April 2018


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  I said last month I would "continue" this month where I left off then. Of course, since that time, the wonderful Dr. Billy Graham went home to Jesus. His death has not only brought renewed attention to the Gospel he preached, but also attention to the Christ-like life he exemplified. I would imagine the most frequently used character traits applied to him in the past couple of weeks or so have been "humble" and "humility." There seems to be no doubt that was at the very core of his being. How many people do you know who will have that said about them at the end of their lives by everyone who knew them? I dare say not many of us!

  In fact, in this day and age, humility is a rarity. That begs the question: What is the opposite of humility? Self-centeredness, intentional criticism, pride and competitiveness, without a doubt! It also sends us right back to what we have talked about the last couple of months...love and the Law (specifically the basic Ten Commandments). Hmmmmm...sound familiar?

  What did Jesus say when questioned about the most important laws? He said ..."Thou shalt love the Lord thy God...and love thy neighbor as thyself' (Luke 10:27). Love God. Love your neighbor. Period. Self-centeredness has nothing to do with either one of those.

Love God? "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 4:15).

Love your neighbor? "Thou shalt honor thy father and mother…thou shalt not kill (murder)...commit adultery...steal...bear false witness...covet" (Exodus 20:2-17).

  Yes, we talked about it last month, but we cannot get away from it, can we? If we want to truly love, then we will keep His commandments. If we live like that, we will exhibit humility, because living like that is considering others and what belongs to them more important than ourselves.

  I suspect all of us who have watched Dr. Graham's memorial services have cause to ask ourselves what our own lives look like. No, he was not perfect, but his life was one from which we can certainly learn. I know it has made me take a much more careful look at my own life and to re-assess how I am letting God use me-not just in the larger sense, but in every single moment. Am I humble, patient, loving, consistent, and growing in the Lord? Every moment? How about you?                                                            

Marsha Cook, Director               

 




February 22, 2018, 1:35 PM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…March 2018


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  Last month I shared how God might be specifically working in our lives on the character quality of patience vs impatience. Remember how we need to learn to let Him exercise His patience on the INSIDE of us, not just on changing our outside behavior? That is the difference between being hypocritical and “real.” But, being truly patient is just one area of many that God wants to shape in our lives to look more like Him.

  Guess what? Those areas are called “sin.” I don’t call them that. God does. And sin is sin is sin. We may look at other people and whatever it is that they do which is labeled “sin” and then say, rather self-righteously, “But, I don’t do THAT!” It doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t look like God, it is sin, no matter what it is or who does it.

  Our nation is frantically trying to figure out why shootings keep happening and how we can prevent them. The talking points are all over the place, but very few are landing on the very real issue of the sin nature of man. In the Ten Commandments, God gave us six simple, clear directives for living, besides the ones pertaining to honoring and worshipping Him...

... Honor thy father and thy mother

...Thou shalt not kill

...Thou shalt not commit adultery

...Thou shalt not steal

...Thou shalt not bear false witness

...Thou shalt not covet.

  Some people think those laws are outdated, passé, over and done with. Apparently. Because there is sure a lot of it going on, isn’t there? Yet, in Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Yes, He expects us to keep the Law...but how? Because He now permanently indwells each believer, bringing inside us with Him the power to keep the Law and gives us His own character for our use!!! He also said murder/killing is the product of hate, adultery is the product of lust, etc. That tells us that all actions of sin start in the attitude of the heart. So, He teaches us the fine-tuning of law-abiding—the inside/out keeping of the Law, which easily translates into the inside/out of loving our neighbors as ourselves—in every way, from being patient to respecting life itself. To be continued...

      Marsha Cook, Director

 




January 23, 2018, 10:17 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…February 2018


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

   Obviously, on planet Earth, perfection never happens. However, Scripture provides examples of many real lives and many truths that tell us that maturity and completeness come through living a whole lifetime of experiences and by faithfully going to God alone for wisdom and refining. Do we commonly think, though, that is accomplished only in major, recognizable markers? Oh! This or that [big] life experience happened to me and I matured in this or that way. Undoubtedly, those experiences do bring tremendous growth in our spiritual lives.

  However, what about our little everyday moments? I saw a picture on FaceBook of a wooden sign for sale for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, available at a store known worldwide. It is designed as home decor. It simply says...LOVE IS LOVE.  That certainly begs for better definition!

  The world at large really does not understand the meaning of the word LOVE. But, the Bible tells us quite simply in 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” If we were to make a substitution and say, “God=love,” then we might begin to understand LOVE better. That would mean, though, that we have to know GOD in order to know what LOVE looks like, right? When we do, then we can allow HIM to shape our everyday moments into reflecting TRUE LOVE in how we think, speak and live.

  I have a confession to make. I am aware that I am often regarded as a very patient person.  Honestly, that is probably one of the areas of life with which I have always struggled the most. Yet, since I truly want to be loving, then I MUST learn to be patient inside and outside, because 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 won’t let me avoid that. I already know that patience is inherently related to everything else in that descriptive list of love characteristics, so there is no skipping it. However, I am becoming more aware that “patience” is not just exhibited outwardly, but that impatience must also not be tolerated inwardly. If we only hold our tongues, but still have impatience causing turmoil inside our minds and hearts, then are we really “being” patient??? I am finally beginning to think not.

Dear Lord, help us all to let YOU truly love others “out loud” through us and give us peaceful hearts inside at the same time!

   Marsha Cook, Director

 




December 20, 2017, 9:49 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…January 2018


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

 HAPPY NEW YEAR! What does that mean to you...to me??? Does it mean that only “happy” things will happen to us all year? Does it mean that last year was “unhappy” and we want this year to be “happier?”

  OR, maybe we should focus on the word “new.” Are all things new in life automatically just because we flip over a page on a calendar? Or are there always “leftovers” that sometimes get in the way of “do-overs?”

  OR, how about the word “year?” Does it seem like that the older we get, the shorter those 12 months just rush by every year? It sure does to me!

  So, what do we do with that cheerful and hopeful greeting, HAPPY NEW YEAR??? Ahhhhh....the key word, I think, is “hope!” Recently I was in a Bible study where we were discussing hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. You know, those kinds of times when hope is hard to come by on a regular basis? But, as believers, we, of all people, have the privilege and gift of being able to live with hope in our hearts because of the precious relationship we have with our Heavenly Father, through the blood of Jesus Christ and the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit! How do we access and experience all of that on a daily basis...in the midst of circumstances that may or may not be “happy” ones?

  We experience it much more fully by recognizing that we don’t have to wait until we transition to heaven through physical death before we experience our ETERNAL lives! The moment we are saved, our eternal life with Christ begins. When I remember that I am already living my eternal life, it puts a whole different perspective on how I choose to spend my time here on Earth. I don’t have to die to experience it. I make better choices now. I live with hope now. I trust God for my everyday nows, not just for my unseen, unknown eternity out there sometime, somewhere. 

  HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can take on a whole new meaning when I realize I don’t have to be dragged down by circumstances but, instead, I can live in daily hope, trust and peace, no matter what. Russell has often said it best: “Happiness depends upon happenings. Joy depends on Jesus.”   

  Marsha Cook, Director

 


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