The Day The Screen Went Black

iMacClick. Click. Click. I pounded the space bar. I clicked the mouse. My iMac refused to wake up from the sleep I’d induced a few hours earlier. I did the emergency shut down. Waited and prayed. Turned it on. The chime gave me hope.

It’s still alive!

But all I had was a black screen. After going through various ridiculous suggestions and some not so ridiculous, my screen was still black. Time to call a geek.

I can’t describe my devastation. My dependable Mac wasn’t there for me anymore. I knew I needed to update my technology, but it was one of those things that fell into the procrastination pile. Why rock the boat when everything was going smoothly? I prayed that my Mac would be revived and it wouldn’t cost much. Just a few more years of this deliciously large screen, please Lord. I hate change. And I can’t afford a new desktop computer.

My Geek was the perfect caricature of a geek. Small and thin, frail-looking, with no expression on his face, he entered my office with his black valise and a techy gizmo. He proceeded to disassemble my 24 inch darling. Not much later, the skilled surgeon announced the required operation exceeded the value of the patient…er, computer.

“What do you really need to save?” he asked. An interesting question.

Six years of my life were on this hard drive. Fortunately, I did back up most of it. But I was missing a year and a half of pictures. Mr. Geek migrated selected data from the hard drive onto a refurbished laptop I bought on ebay. He advised me on a few things and told me I could start putting things in the Cloud. There’s plenty of storage available on the Cloud.

The Cloud?

So everybody’s pictures, documents, life history is floating around out there on the Cloud? What happened to photo albums and file cabinets? I want them back. I want tangibles. I want paper. Files. Pictures in frames on walls. I need security – the security of knowing where my stuff is.

Deep breath. Wait a minute. The black screen really got me thinking.

social-networking_1100030721-012814-intWe are living in a digital age. A virtual age. Sometimes we can’t tell what’s real or fake, true or false. You would think we’d have more facts with all this knowledge, but we don’t. How bizarre. We’re constantly snapping images with our phones. (Well, I’m not, but maybe YOU are.) And then we share these on social media. Selfies, families, life events. All recorded in an instant and received by thousands of others for accolade. Sounds a bit like idolatry. The old SELF needs to be seen, heard and applauded. I think the just-about-obsolete photo album, kept tucked away in a drawer and brought out for private family occasions, was a better way of being thankful for our families, our lives, our achievements.

When we leave this world, we won’t take the pictures, documents or data with us. We even have to include in our wills (if we’re smart) who will dump our data, erase our technological footprint, or manage our post-humus Facebook page. This is something that never entered my parents or grandparents thoughts. Somehow, the so-called ease and convenience of technology has become a burden even in death.

Your date of death is the day your screen goes black.

You will not take your iPhone with you. You won’t be able to snap and share any longer. You will realize, on the day of your death, that the only thing that matters is belonging to Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Knowing Him, trusting Him and Him alone for your salvation is your only hope of ever seeing light and beauty again. When your life screen goes black, I pray you wake to the Light of Heaven, which is Jesus.

Remember what my Geek asked:

What do you really need to save?

Imagine looking into your soul and seeing all the sin data. Corrupted files take on a whole new meaning. A truly black screen.

I don’t trust the Cloud. Funny how they call it the Cloud. Is it supposed to mimic a spiritual realm, say like, Heaven? I already reserved my space in the clouds. Jesus did, actually. He prepared a place for me in heaven. That’s it. I’m in the Cloud.

Everything looks different on my new (but old, refurbished) MacBook Pro. Suddenly, the Leopard and the Lion got away from me and now I’m forced to climb El Capitan and perhaps the Sierras one day. I may catch up or I may not. I don’t care. All that is not necessary.

Here’s what IS necessary: my salvation. That is secure eternally because Jesus Christ has saved me — from mySELF, my sin and from eternal damnation.

The Lion of Judah is forever with me. He erased all my sin data and keeps my software running smoothly with constant scans and corrections. As I tarry on this technologically advanced earth, He leads me to the Rock that is higher than I.

Before everything goes dark, what do you really need to save?

Losing your data is one thing. Losing your life is quite another.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” –Jesus — Matt. 16:25,26

An Open Letter To The Man Who Left The Wife of His Youth

edmund_garrettDear John,

How are you? I hope you’re doing well. It has been seven years since our divorce. How time flies! It’s still so weird for me. Maybe you’re having the time of your life. Hopefully, you are happy. Because you told me you were not happy with me.

Are you happy now?

For me, happiness is fleeting. I prefer joy. I can be happy one minute, miserable the next. That’s emotion. (And you know how emotional I am.) Joy remains, no matter what. No matter what circumstance, I am always joyful. Why?

Because I am possessed!

Wait, it’s not what you think. I am possessed by Jesus Christ. He owns me. He’s the lover of my soul. He belongs to me. He is the only faithful One, my Divine Husband. And He will never let me go.

So I’m doing very well, John, if you care to know.

Do you have joy in your life now?

Are you truly a Christian? Did you pray to God while you contemplated leaving me? Did he say it was okay? Did he say he felt your pain? Did he agree with you on all your complaints against me? Were those things grounds for divorce, in God’s opinion?

Maybe he didn’t even hear you.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

So that’s why I ask. Also, I don’t know how you could possibly have confronted my Lord with your desire to divorce me. Because my Lord hates divorce.

Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

16 For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”   — Malachi 2:14-16

That describes the treachery of infidelity, according to God.

What is it with you men over 40, 50, over 60? Mid-life crises, end-of-life crises, need a new thrill? What elusive thing are you searching for?

What is it?

I’m just asking.

You need Jesus Christ.

If you had a problem with me or my behavior it was your duty to help me change. Even if I resisted belligerently. You’re the man. The godly man is the spiritual leader of his wife. He admonishes her. He protects and provides. Well, he’s supposed to, according to God. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, He shows you the way. He helps you love and lead. But I’m not sure we serve the same God.

Because I don’t understand how a man could leave a wife who shares a history with him, and children.  I can’t fathom how a man who raised a family, went to church for years, listened to preaching, read a Bible, can decide at 40, 50 or 60, that the grass is greener somewhere else. It is baffling.

Yet men like you think it’s okay, John.

A recent post here on DRR talked about the indescribable love of God. To love someone is much like the process of discovering God — knowing God. The more we know about Him, the more we are able to love Him. Knowing is directly related to loving. You can’t love someone without knowing enough about them. John, did you truly know me? Did you truly love me?

Wait. I know the answer. You will say, yes, I did love you. But I say you never did. Because I don’t believe you know the author of love, the essence of love which is God. 1 John 4:8 says:

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Jesus also said, If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). And He said he hates divorce.

He hates it because it misrepresents Him. God is  FAITHFUL. God is LOVE. God is TRUTH. God is JUST. God is RIGHTEOUS.

As a witness for Christ, the husband should also be faithful, loving, true and righteous in Christ.

God created marriage to be a display of His love toward us. Real love doesn’t die. Not if it’s the kind of love we acquire from God above. Supernatural love. He gives us this kind of love so that we can love our spouses unconditionally.

What’s with this middle age divorce madness?

I often think about you (not in that way) and other men who have left their wives in middle age. I’ve heard so many heartbreaking accounts. The women I’ve talked to are Christian women. Their husbands did not have any Biblical reason for leaving their wives. In fact, it was the other way around.

Yet, what is so encouraging to me are stories of enduring faithfulness in marriages where insicknessand healthone partner becomes severely ill, incapacitated, or doesn’t even recognize his/her spouse. Imagine. Imagine a husband saying, she doesn’t even remember my name. She can’t talk to me. She can’t even move. Still, I love her so. I will care for her until the day I die.

Til death do they part. Really.

That is sacrificial, selfless love. Like Christ on the cross, who freely gave himself, for his sheep. Are you one of His sheep? Ponder that this Easter season.

I see you have remarried. That’s why I wanted to bring these things to your attention.

Be happy. Better yet, be joyful.

Love,

The Wife of Your Youth

Save

Save

Off My Chest! Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Sports

March Madness will reach its crescendo of insanity at the end of this week. Perfect timing for my first post in a series of occasional rants called Off My Chest!

I hate sports. As a kid, I hated gym class. I voluntarily accepted an F in gymnastics, reasoning I’m a female human being, not a monkey. I don’t swing on bars. You might say I loathe sports simply because don’t have an athletic gene in me. But wait. It’s much more than that.

Here’s why I hate sports. We will do this Letterman style, with the #1 reason at the end. Fasten your seat belts. And before you exit, be sure to read the Disclaimer.

  • Hearing squeaking sneakers, whistles, fans screaming and droning commentators just bugs me.
  • Pro athletes are greedy celebrities. Many are narcissistic, womanizers, druggies. Some were/are murderers and abusers of women. Most are not good role models for children.  (Tim Tebow might be an exception.) Watching or following sports is no longer a wholesome recreation for children.
  • Like most worthless entertainment, watching sports is mesmerizing and mind-numbing. Think of the ancient Romans and their bread and circuses. Hmmm. What else is going on in the world while Joe Sports is shoveling GMO nachos into his mouth?
  • Game time commercials appeal to the male animal. They are all about partying, women, sex, lust, beer, cars, Viagra, toxic fast food, etc. Need I say more?
  • Watching/playing sports promotes unrealistic body images. Build more muscle, increase strength and stamina. This leads to my next reason why I hate sports:
  • Sports promote drug use for both body enhancement (steroids, etc.) and recovery from sports injuries. So many adolescents have ruined their shoulders, knees, noses, etc., because of sports participation. Painkillers are addictive and millions of millenials are hooked.
  • The Olympics have become a humanistic demonic display, getting more perverse each year. Remember what the ancient Greeks valued: physical beauty and their various idols. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics in recent years have been full of occultism. Flames, circles, painted and feathered androgynous figures. Mystery Babylon is alive and well. Gender blurring is evident in these games, and in all sports as well. Do men who identify as female play on female teams? How can physical competitions be fair if we embrace 41 different genders?
  • There are so many better things to do. Yes, I know, most parents say their kids are in extracurricular sports to keep them physically fit and keep them out of trouble. Sounds good. The result? Very harried parents who run to and fro weeknights and weekends, Sunday games that keep the whole family from Lord’s Day worship services, and kids who never read books, sit still, or do any chores.
  • Women sports commentators. This burns me up. As if cheerleaders shaking their pom-poms are not enough, we now have buxom babes well versed in football strategy manning the games [pardon the pun]. With testosterone and dopamine levels already rising, here’s more fodder for the male animal. And don’t tell me men don’t see it this way. Women sportscasters are not sports fiends or experts, they are eye candy. Sexploitation at its finest.
    Woman_of_the_year_3
    Sam teaches Tess all about baseball.

    In the past, it was cute to be a female who didn’t understand football (or baseball, etc.) Case in point: In the 1942 movie, Woman of the Year, Tess Harding is a journalist (and feminist!) covering international affairs. Sam Craig is a sportswriter. Sam is attracted to Tess and invites her to a baseball game. This intellectual feminist knows nothing about the game. So Sam patiently explains it all to her. How endearing, how darling, how romantic. Even though Tess was a feminazi brat, she still had feminine qualities, and especially integrity. Fast forward to today when guys are turned-on by a beautiful woman sports commentator who speaks his language. This new Perfect Woman makes millions just for looking good while reading a teleprompter. Go grab some more carcinogenic microwave popcorn while I vomit.

  • And the #1 reason why I hate sports:

Sports is a marriage destroyer.

Wives can feel abandoned by sports-addicted husbands. And they don’t appreciate the pornographic ads either. Men who are really hooked follow a couple of sports every season. So it takes up 365 days a year. Fantasy sports plays right into the hand of the mesmerized male animal, adding to his delusions of grandeur as a powerful team manager. It’s fake. It’s a waste of time and money. But it’s addictive. And destructive to marriage.

This short video explains the addictive cycle of watching sports.

This is your brain on sports:

Disclaimer #1: I understand that couples, both husband and wife, may actually enjoy watching or playing sports together. That’s great. This post is addressing professional, televised sports for the most part. Yes, participating in a sport is great exercise. I’m fine with guys getting together to shoot baskets and stuff like that. Don’t get me wrong. As for me, I think the good Lord provided enough ways to exercise just by working – in the garden, doing housework, chopping wood, whatever! — not by peddling on monstrous machines that take up entire living rooms or competitively charging into one another.

Disclaimer #2 – Please disregard the reference to evolution in the above video (the morphing ape-man). UGH.

By the way, I love to shoot baskets with my 30-something son. And yes, I am pretty good at it, even though I’m short.

I’m done. Thank you for listening.

photo credit: screenshot from Woman of the Year, courtesy Wikimedia

Save

Save

Taste and See: The Indescribably Delicious Love of God

Once upon a time TV commercials claimed a certain candy bar to be indescribably delicious.  This commercial has to be the most mouth-watering, appetizing, enticing one I’ve ever seen:

This is the LOVE month. Hearts. Candy. Chocolate. Love. JOY.

But this world knows nothing of true LOVE or JOY. Granted, the Almond Joy brings a momentary party to your taste buds. Yum.

Real love and joy comes from God. The Bible says God IS love. His love toward us as believers is indescribable. Much more indescribable than the deliciousness of this candy bar, which, by the way, won’t be as beneficial to you as the nourishment of God’s Word. Indeed, it is one of the healthier temptations out there, due to the coconut. However, I’m sure the Almond Joy and Mounds bars have been altered with fillers and toxins since that 1961 commercial. But I digress…we won’t go into that.

Let’s get back to eating delicious things.

I love how God uses our senses metaphorically. Jesus is the Bread of Life:

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. — John 6:35

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. – Psalm 34:8

These and many other Bible verses talk about feeding your soul. Spiritual nourishment. This is real deliciousness. Jesus satisfies our deep soul longings. We will never hunger or thirst when we believe in Him.

The Indescribable Love of God

The love of God is difficult to understand. How can the Creator of the universe, the all wise, holy and pure God who dwells in light unapproachable, desire to bring into loving relationship such impure and hateful rebels like US?

My husband and I saw an excellent Christian movie that tackles the complexity of God’s love toward us. The movie Indescribable tells the true story of a hymn written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917 called The Love of God. Pastor Lehman tries to describe the love of God and has difficulty completing the verses. His son, Blynn, sets out to help his father finish writing this hymn. God reveals himself to Blynn through adverse circumstances. (Yes, have tissues on hand.) Blynn comes to know God’s love even as he struggles to understand it in this sweet, humble, and refreshing production. A fascinating part of the hymn’s history is that the third stanza is a poem composed by an eleventh century Jewish rabbi.  The Love of God is a favorite of many and is still sung today.

Evangelicals lacking discernment will soon be flocking like blind sheeple to see the movie version of the blasphemous novel, The Shack. (Please click this link for a review of the book, The Shack, by Albert Mohler.)

I implore all believers to steer clear of The Shack. Instead, learn the history of a classic hymn in Indescribable. You’ll also learn about true love, true joy and the indescribable love of God.

God is love. – 1 John 4:8

Just for fun: History buffs, here’s the history of Hershey’s Almond Joy and Mounds, which by the way, are still said to be indescribably delicious.

Cruising Toward Valentine’s Day: Resolutions for a Happier Marriage

lovein-the-airIt’s February 8th. Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions went?

Hope they are going well. Meanwhile, as we cruise toward Valentine’s Day, why not resolve to enhance your one flesh union?

Disclaimer: My husband and I are not marriage experts. We both failed at it the first time. We are divorced, Reformed and remarried…remember. Here are some things we’ve learned (and are still learning) from this day forward

How can I love thee better? Let me count the ways…

Schedule regular devotions and prayer together. We all know how important this is, but we often neglect doing this as a couple. It is crucial if we want to keep our marriage intact.

Assume the best of him (her). How often do we come to conclusions about our mate before all the facts are in? Ladies, we (well I know I do!) try to read his mind and motivations, then assume the worst. Not good. Stop it.

No dumping. When he calls from work, or comes home from work at the end of the day, don’t dump problems on him. He’s been stressed for 8 hours or more, don’t add to it. Save the problems, discussions, bills for later.

Guard one another’s souls. This would be the opposite of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We all struggle with sin. Confess when you’re curt, wrong, or have lost your temper. Ask for forgiveness and mean it. Ask if your honey has slipped, needs prayer, or needs a broom over his head.

Guard your tongue. This is a biggie. And stop that muttering under your breath. It would be good to do repeated studies on the tongue throughout the year. It’s astounding how many bible verses there are on misuse of the tongue! Many of them come from Proverbs, one of the wisdom books. So here is wisdom:

  • He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3).
  • Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 29:20).
  • Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).
  • Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. . . . A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:1,4).
  • Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:8)
  • For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (1 Peter 3:10)
  • And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. (James 1:26)

sources: Scripture to Help Tame My Tongue and Bible Verses About Power of the Tongue

If those verses don’t convince you to be careful with that tongue, there are many more. Continue reading

2017: A Year of Celebrations

It’s going to be a great year. A tremendous year. We have seen so many disasters in the past. We are going to have a great year. It’s gonna be huge.

It’s got nothing to do with the Trump presidency.

We are celebrating some 5 & 10s and one big 500 in 2017.

It’s a year of big anniversaries! In March, we will celebrate our dog Pignoli’s 10th birthday.

I can’t believe he was ever that small!

 

About two weeks after I relocated to Indy, I rescued this little yellow labrador just in time. He was a sickly pup when I bought him from Uncle Bill’s Pet Shop (of course I didn’t know this) and developed pneumonia right after I brought him home. It was Memorial Day weekend and I found myself running up to a Northside animal hospital where Pignoli was put under oxygen.

4
Pignoli’s first meatball. Doesn’t he look crazed?

People told me to prepare for the worst. I yelled at Uncle Bill’s manager and they told me to return him for a refund. How dare they! I was already in love with him. How could I possibly put him back into their hands and leave him to die? The Lord was good, and Pignoli came home, healed and ready to begin a very spunky puppyhood. He ate part of the linoleum in the sunroom, but I just painted that part with porch paint. He has been a joy in my life since May 2007. He was my ever loving companion during some very lonely years.

And that leads to another celebration. May 3, 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of my move into the Storybook House. What a day that was. I closed on my NY house on May 2, flew to Indy the next day to close on the Storybook House. After months of extreme anxiety, the Lord provided a smooth segue. God is so good.

My Prince (hubby Mike) did not arrive on his white horse until almost 5 years later, in February 2012. This year marks the 5 year anniversary of the day we met! In August, we’ll be married for 5 years, Lord willing.

So much for the personal history lesson. Let’s get to world history…better yet, church history.

This year marks the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

Five hundred years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the castle door at Wittenberg. I am blessed to be a member of a Reformed congregation. Sadly, Lutheran churches have fled back to Rome. Many other Protestant churches are in apostasy. We need a Reformation revival. This will help: The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is hosting a conference called Reformation: Recovering the Essence of the Gospel. We need this badly. We need to redeem evangelicalism from the ravaging wolves (Osteens, Feminazi Charismaniacs, and the Word of Faith pack) in so-called American Evangelicalism, and especially reaffirm the tenets of the Reformed Christian faith.

Raise a glass with us! It’s a tremendous year! It’s gonna be

huge!

img_1609
Pignoli is huge. Happy birthday, big boy!

One Word Resolution: Purge!

dsc05339
My enemy

Here we go again. All that talk about New Year’s resolutions. You turn on the TV where spandex-clad Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb have traded in their wine glasses for hand weights. There are ten new super-foods on my Facebook feed that will melt my belly fat. Eat this, drink that. Ugh. Go away!

Solomon said it best: there is nothing new under the sun. But wait! Yes there is. Jesus said:

Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. — Revelation 21:5

Not that Solomon was wrong, mind you. Not at all. This earth, this flesh, this corruption, this vicious cycle called living serves up nothing new. But if you’re living a life in Jesus Christ and walking in His ways, there is always newness. We renew our minds. Romans 12:2 We behold new mercies every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 He is our hope, and with Him and by His strength, I can do all things. Phil. 4:13

That is why I decided that this is my one and only New Year’s Resolution:

PURGE!

This one word covers so much:

  • Purge my sins – This is God’s work in me, but I pray for greater awareness and conviction of my sins.
  • Purge my body – We all do this one, I’m sure. But I’m not starting a rigid diet or workout plan. After having cancer in 2016, I’m more aware of toxins, pesticides and GMOs. I simply want to get healthy. Yes, I feasted for the holidays and I enjoyed every bite. There is a time and season for everything. ‘Tis the time to get back to healthy eating. Today is January 3rd and I spent one hour this morning in conference with a dietician. Yes! I may have informed her more than she did me (why is margarine still listed as an ok fat?? and canola oil is processed and toxic!!), but I went home with my little food chart and a February weigh-in appointment. I need accountability.
  • Purge the clutter
    dsc05337
    OK, relax. I bought new canvas bins. I have good intentions.

    I’ve been wrestling with this for years. It’s amazing how quickly I can fill space, given the opportunity. It’s coming up on ten years since my move from New York to Indiana. I took a scant amount of furniture with me and slept on an air mattress back then. Now every room is full, including piles of clutter in various corners. Tomorrow I’m attending a webinar called 5 Secrets to Effective Decluttering. Let me guess one of those secrets: throw it out! I’ve also joined the challenge to declutter 2017 items from my home in 2017. You can, too. Click on this link: Decluttering Challenge at Nourishing Minimalism

  • Purge my thoughts, fears and guilt
    dsc05348
    Looking good! Dietician and decluttering in the first week of 2017.

    This is hard. I had cancer in 2016. I praise the Lord for giving me complete healing with no treatments after surgery. Yet I already fear my check-up appointment in February. How quickly I lose my faith and trust in the One who daily sustains me. Then there’s divorce guilt that returns every Christmas season. Both my husband and I go through this. Did I mess up my son/daughter’s life? They probably needed me more than I knew at that time. Every divorce brings horrible consequences for the rest of all the lives involved. But it is not the unpardonable sin. I’ve asked for forgiveness for my divorce countless times. God is not an Indian-giver (can I use that term in this politically-correct era?). He forgives completely. We need to remember that while we continue to pray for our adult children who may still be suffering from our past sin. But it is past. Jesus said, Behold, I make all things new. Another great scripture came to me (providentially posted on Facebook by a believing family member/sister in Christ!) just as I was plummeting into melancholic nostalgia:

18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.

19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. — Isaiah 43: 18-19

Amen to new mercies in 2017! And let’s not forget to binge on the Word of God while we purge. Let’s let the binge and purge cycle work for us, not against us!

Have a happy, healthy, joyful, grateful new year in Christ!

Redeeming Christmas: Yes, Virginia, We Are Free to Celebrate the Incarnation. And Please Stop Whining About Paganism.

img_5182To celebrate or not to celebrate — Christmas. That is the question. I am tired of hearing that it is pagan.

Wait. Before we start, let’s throw ChristMASS out. But not the whole thing!

I’d rather refer to it as the Celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic church made a mess…er, mass of it. Protestants do it different. But some Reformed Protestant denominations have held to the Puritan view. They claim the Regulative Principle would not have us add anything to our worship that God did not institute. Thus, since God never told us to make the incarnation a holy day, we simply should not. It is not a part of our corporate worship.

When Divorce Stole Christmas

At one time, I was the ultimate Grinch.  When I was going through my divorce, I didn’t feel like being festive. Our family was split up. There was no Christmas Eve feast with in-laws and no one came over on Christmas Day. It was one of the most miserable times of my life. Joy was at an all-time low. As a new member in the OPC, I researched the origins of Christmas. I know all about Saturnalia and all the other claims ad nauseum. I bought the whole Christmas is pagan thing. Yes, Christmas is pagan when it is celebrated by pagans. But I did hold to that view, albeit briefly. It was convenient to throw away Christmas at that time, so I did. But my heart ached.

From 2004 to 2009, I did not put up a tree.

In 2010, my granddaughter was born with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. She had two surgeries and three treatments of chemo before her first birthday. After our Lord brought her (and us) through that, I decided it was time to rejoice at Christmas. Thankful to my God and Savior, I picked out my first tree in five years.

Yet I still had guilt when I read my beloved Spurgeon’s Christmas quotes. I was shocked to find that he abhorred the holiday.

Gradually, I embraced my Christian liberty to celebrate the Incarnation in a way that is God-glorifying. I would not want anyone to think I was in some cult, like Jehovah’s Witness or something. As Christians, we should be true light, knowing that Satan is an imitator and false light-bearer. I’m thrilled to see many ministries refuting the Christmas is pagan myth this year.

If ‘Christ is the reason for the season‘ make it so!

If our government takes away the crèche, the cross and the ten commandments, who cares? Let them all go. Personally, I think nativity scenes are graven images. And I prefer to dwell on Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and not the helpless babe in the manger.

What do you fear, Christian? If you are in Christ, He should be the reason you LIVE. Not for one day. Not for one season, but every day. Are not His Words written on your heart? Could Jesus ever be taken from you? The Beast can’t take the Holy Spirit from me. Forget the tangibles. Forget the temporal.

The following is the absolute BEST sermon I have ever heard on the subject of Christmas. Please listen while you finish wrapping those presents or while you bake those cookies. And I do hope, dear Christian, that there are presents and cookies, and mostly the JOY OF THE LORD this time of year.

https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/player_embed.asp?SID=1226111531554

From Grace Gems, Don Fortner writes:

We must not, and I trust do not, worship Christmas trees and lights, or even attach spiritual significance to Christmas day. However, I do suggest that we seize this opportunity afforded us by Divine providence to tell people who Christ is, why he came into this world, what he did, and how they may obtain his salvation. It is no accident that once every year every human being in the world is confronted with the fact that the Son of God assumed human flesh and came into the world to save men.

Jesus Christ stooped down toward us. He took on human flesh to redeem us. We should rejoice over this as the shepherds and angels did in that day!

Virginia, stop believing lies. Sorry, but Santa needs to go. The truth will set you free.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He Jesus lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he Jesus will continue to make glad the heart of childhood  hearts of His redeemed saints. -my revised version of that famous NY Sun letter

He came and dwelt among us. And that is something to celebrate. With feasting!

img_3491
Joyous Incarnation Celebration to All!

Repost: Stop the Binge and Purge Cycle of a Bulimic Society

This was originally published on January 21, 2016. I thought it might be a good idea to repost while we are being bombarded with holiday junk mail (both snail and email), extended bigger and better cyber sales, and Facebook feeds that make our heads spin. Sit back, relax, and purge it all right now. Don’t get caught up in it this year!

Bulimia is a serious eating disorder where one gorges on food then force vomits it all up. A rather gross disorder, to say the least. I guess it’s the ultimate way to have your cake but NOT eat it too. Definitely not a good way to prevent weight gain.

Binge and purge seems to be the latest societal dynamic. It pertains to more than just food. Why are we so prone to the binge and purge cycle? We’ve just come off a holiday season — an extreme binge. It’s January and all we hear is health and fitness. So it’s purge time, but with that we are getting a bulimic barrage of excess information on diet and exercise. Now we binge on health and fitness in order to purge. Binge and purge.

Information Overload

In a society inundated and obsessed with information, we can easily become overwhelmed. Take this past Christmas. My head was spinning with so many recipe offerings on my Facebook feed. I am a creature of tradition and habit. I love my old tried and true family recipes. But my heart fluttered and my mind raced as I faced my screen —  is that recipe better? I was sorely tempted! Should I add that to our holiday table? It’s bad enough the Italian in me is naturally prone to excess. And worry. Especially the nagging worry that it’s NEVER ENOUGH. Last year’s vow to bake only two kinds of cookies was broken. I baked five different kinds of cookies. IS IT ENOUGH? IT’S NOT ENOUGH.

 DO YOU THINK IT’S ENOUGH??

Does anyone remember a skit with Dom DeLuise lamenting over a full table,”Do you think it’s enough?” (It might have been a scene from the movie Fatso.)

IMG_3544

Oh my, it was too much. My cookie monster sons are now adult men and they don’t live here anymore. Why am I still baking as if they were?

Two leftover pounds of cookies sit rejected and frozen in my freezer.

We binge on food, partying, drinking. We binge on information. Mass media and especially social media feed us too much. No wonder they call it your Facebook feed, your news feed. We are ingesting too much. It is utterly distracting and a hindrance to productivity. Too many visuals of food, fun, fabulous table settings, best looking home decor. All of that can stir up covetousness, jealousy, and yup, gluttony. We are overfed, overindulged, over-entertained, over stimulated. It’s time to stop the binge and purge cycle. Here’s a few suggestions on how that can be done.

Keep it Simple

It is enough! Keep it simple. Three-word phrases that are almost as precious as I LOVE YOU. How about ALL IS VANITY? There is nothing new under the sun. In fact, lots of those posted recipes are from magazines I read thirty years ago.

Some new recipes in a saturated blogosphere may be worth a try. So even though I’m a sentimental traditionalist, I might add one or two new dishes to my repertoire. Okay, just one. That would be enough. And I will print it out. I will not run to and fro in my kitchen from perched electronic device to stove top. I like paper. Especially printed-out recipes that testify of dried dough and spilled cream and various stains of Christmas past.

Martha, Martha!

For those ladies who were overwhelmed this past holiday season by Pinterest’s homemade snowy pine cone wreaths, felt cardinal ornaments, or Epsom salt luminaries, know this: Martha Stewart lives alone. Only she can tolerate her own perfectionism. Her simple is different than my simple. I prefer a humble but happy table over a high-end haughty one any day. Humph.

What’s more — pioneer women did not do crafts. They were too busy churning butter, making cheese, and rendering fat. They kept busy with the craft of homemaking! Do you think Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards, sewed little birds for her Christmas tree? Is this really necessary? Wait a minute. I’m not bashing crafters here. DIY crafts are awesome. I’m just saying, let’s put everything in their proper perspective. Just because someone is talented in making ornaments does not mean we should feel guilty that our homes lack homemade charm. Don’t be deceived by the craftiness of this delusion. Be careful that these things don’t become idols in our lives.

On Demand in Overdrive

We are entertained until we are zombified (if this is not already a word, I just made it one). Technology  can be dangerous when it enables us to binge watch TV shows on demand. What a spoiled society we are when we can have anything we want whenever we want it, and as much as we want. Demanding bingeing brats!

This past New Year’s Eve I came down with a bug that left me miserably congested and tired. Hubby and I declared a veg out day — which is basically, a binge day. We ate leftover holiday food on demand (whenever we wanted it), enjoyed a movie marathon, and sat on our cozy love seat all day. Sometimes we need this. I was sick, after all. Some circumstances render bingeing okay. But don’t make it habitual!

On Demand Under Control

Streaming devices can be a good thing if we sift out the junk and select what’s wholesome. I highly recommend this little device called Roku that Mike and I received for Christmas. Are you paying a high cable bill but watching a few channels? When I realized I watched about 3 of those channels, it was time to cut the cable. Roku lets you enjoy only what you choose to enjoy. There’s even a sermonaudio channel. Using our Roku will result in a good purging of unwanted smut, mindless TV, and mainstream garbage.

Binge Buying

There are binge shoppers who actually get a kind of high from buying. There are extravagant binge shoppers and frugal ones. Part of the high for the frugal binge shopper is nailing that bargain. Thanks to these folks, we can binge watch episodes of Hoarders. Imagine being buried alive by your own junk. But that’s the sad premise of a reality television series. Bingers who cannot purge.

Binge and purge. Where does it end?

We are prone to excess and idolatry. It’s not easy for us as Christians to resist delving into what this wicked world offers. We are told thousands of times everything in moderation.

Philippians 4:5 – Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand.

The bottom line:

Feasting is fine as long as we keep Christ as Master of our feast. If we truly are celebrating Christ, we need to remember that He is present at our table. He provides all our needs, so don’t forget the gratitude.

In keeping with the theme of redeeming our time well, being productive for God’s glory alone, let’s break the binge-purge cycle in our lives.

Consumerism and greed is behind this cycle. Let’s not soak up media lies like listless sponges. We must sift through everything. We must use discernment in a world where the devil goes about seeking whom he may devour (1Peter 5:8). It’s a deceptive, tainted world.

Let’s binge on God’s Word, the Bible, in this new year. That’s the only good bingeing there is. Digest it. Don’t purge it. Write it on your heart:

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. — Deut. 11:18

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: — Proverbs 3:3

Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. — Proverbs 7:3

Pray without ceasing. Especially in a day when true Christianity is increasingly politically incorrect.

And, beware the next binge: red hearts, chocolate and love, love, love. It will attempt to make you feel that your marriage is inferior, your husband is an unromantic boob, or, at the very least, it will make you feel like bingeing on chocolate.

Don’t fall for it.

Save

Sandpaper Spouses: When You Rub Each Other The Wrong Way

img_4601There are many kinds of sandpaper: extra fine, fine, and varying degrees of coarse.

According to Lowes:

One way to determine which sandpaper will work best for a particular job is to know the abrasive materials and their properties.

I have a coarse sandpaper spouse. Let me explain.

One morning I exploded over a crumb-filled, butter-smeared stove cook top. Why on earth he uses the cook top as a counter when we have several feet of decent counter space is beyond me. I told him many times how it’s more difficult to clean that cook top than wipe down a counter. Not to mention how plastic bread bags can melt on it, and paper plates may burn (because he also forgets that the stove top may still be HOT). Yet, the leopard can’t change his spots.

A gas stove is a good solution and it’s been on my wish list but…

…this is only one sandpaper spouse episode. There are others.

He’s a morning person, I’m a night person. He seems to be demon-possessed when he’s tired. The nastiest stuff comes out of his mouth before he finally succumbs to deep snoring (annoying!) sleep.

Mornings in our kitchen: meet the grumpy slug and the energizer bunny. Guess which one I am? He waits and waits for his eggs and toast. And waits.

I am his sandpaper spouse.

Don’t get me wrong. We do love each other. Intensely. We just rub each other the wrong way. But isn’t it said that opposites attract?

He is wooden; I am expressive. I never know what he’s thinking or feeling. My feelings are apparent, and if he doesn’t get them, he will soon, in a very loud way. He is so primal. Scarfs down his food without looking at me, without conversation. I’m slo-o-o-ow. He’s fast, but he rushes, so he’s more accident-prone, and forgetful. I mull over decisions. He’s impulsive.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Sandpaper comes in different grit numbers. According to Lowes:

The grit number of a sanding product indicates the size of the abrasive particles. The lower the number, the larger the abrasive particles — they remove more material but create more noticeable scratches.

I live with a low grit sandpaper spouse. The one with the large abrasive particles, um, er…habits. I am wounded with gaping scratches. My sandpaper spouse makes me explode in anger. Then he softly, calmly asks me, “Did you take your blood pressure pill today?”

More truth on grit:

A higher number indicates smaller particles which don’t remove as much material but leave a finer, more polished appearance. – Lowes

Remove material. Smooth a surface. A more polished appearance. Hmmmmm…

Kinda like the sanctification process, perhaps?

Uses of sandpaper, according to Lowes:

  1. Stripping away_________
  2. Removing flaws
  3. Leveling and shaping wood (perfect for my ‘wooden’ spouse! I do feel like leveling him, sometimes)

As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. – Proverbs 27:17

We are always doing projects in our old house. We never realized that we are each other’s projects. Well actually, we are God’s projects. He does all the work in us.

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; – Philippians 1:6

God definitely uses marriage to refine us.

I love what Tim Challies says in Did You Marry The Wrong Person?:

“But here is what we need to see: The wrongness of our spouse is one of the great formative influences on us. The wrongness and the apparent incompatibilities are the very things God uses to mold and shape us. A few years down the road you will look back on all of that wrongness, all you declared to be wrong about your husband or wife, and find that God was not wrong at all. He knew exactly what you needed.”

It has been said and sung, “you can’t always get what you want…but you get what you need.” I believe our Lord matched us perfectly. We will be refined as gold. That’s what marriage is all about, Charlie Brown. It’s not all fun. Sometimes all that husband-wife-best-friend stuff makes me cringe. It’s not always blissfully agreeing with one another. It’s not the Jungian synchronicity of two souls brought together by serendipity. It’s two souls made one flesh by a gracious God who ordained marriage to be a display of His love.

Ugh, when I think of how poorly we represent that, I am humbled. I want to ease up on that man I nicknamed Pig Man. I’m reminded that we are both sinners saved by grace. I’m willing to be ‘sanded’ for the duration of this marriage. For my good. And he will endure my fiery darts, for his good. All for our good. For God’s glory!

Love God, love one another…

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. – Colossians 3:12-15

Marriage is a vehicle of love. Let’s ride on.

Til death do us part.

%d bloggers like this: