"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 24, 2016
Jon and I are in the middle of doing a 9-day cleanse/detox. We (people as a whole, not just the two of us!) put a lot of "junk" in our bodies from eating processed foods, carbonated drinks, fast food, etc. Various information that I've read says that it is healthy for a person to occasionally do a cleanse/detox, while other information says it's all hype and not beneficial. We figure it's not going to hurt us, so we are giving it a try to see if we can tell any difference or see any health benefits afterwards.
Jon and I started the cleanse/detox on Saturday. The booklet we received with the products, informed us that the first couple of days were the hardest, so we were prepared. By late Saturday afternoon, we were starting to feel hunger pangs. I had read through the booklet, but picked it up to make sure we were doing everything exactly as instructed, when I noticed some fine print regarding the first two days. There is a list of "free" foods that we are allowed to eat, in order to help curb hunger, but I had thought that was only for days 3 through 9. The fine print read that we were allowed to eat fruit and veggies from that free list on the first two days, also! Needless to say, I made an immediate trip to the grocery store to shop from that list, so that Jon and I could eat. We were making this much harder on ourselves than necessary!!
One of my sisters did this same cleanse/detox a few days ago. I was telling her about being able to eat from the free foods list those first couple of days. She had also missed seeing that, and had deprived herself of foods she could have eaten. Like us, she had make it much harder on herself than necessarily; unlike us, she didn't find out until she was finished.
There are many situation in life when we make our circumstances much harder than they need to be. Instead of taking time to read what the Word of God says about a situation, we rely on other people's opinions and hearsay. We become anxious and frustrated about unanswered prayers, so begin to try to fix things ourself; ending up making a bigger mess than what we started with. We listen to the perspective of others, and in comparison, feel that we somehow don't measure up, so feel inadequate. We heap guilt and condemnation upon our head when we mess up. We make life much more difficult than God ever intended!
We often do the same thing spiritually. We try to make our relationship with God much more difficult than He intends. That often begins at the point of coming to the decision to surrender our heart to The Lord. Individuals try to clean their lives up, before coming to Jesus, thinking that somehow they're not good enough or He won't accept them the way they are. Perhaps that attitude originates from some christians. There are some well-meaning church people who have been guilty of saying, "You'll have to stop doing this or that when you get saved!" "You can't live like that and be a christian!" "You know that that's going to be unacceptable behavior when you start living for God!" It's almost as if they stand at the altar with a list of rules and regulations that have to be followed, and someone must agree to make all those changes before accepting Jesus. That's not how God works!! We come to Him, just as we are, and as we grow and mature in our relationship, He will place within us the desire and wisdom to make any needed changes. We don't have to try and do it on our own beforehand.
A while back, Jon and I were discussing this and he said that he had heard a christian comedian once say that someone believing that they have to clean up their life before they can get saved is like a person saying they have to get cleaned up first to take a bath. That doesn't make sense and defeats the purpose of bathing. You bathe to get the dirt cleaned off with soap and water; just as you ask Jesus into your heart to get the sin washed away by His blood.
Psalm 51:7 (NLT) says, "Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
It doesn't say that we have to purify ourselves or clean up our own life! We pray and repent of our sins, and Jesus makes us clean and washes us whiter than snow. Many make this much more difficult and harder than necessary! They try and make, what they consider, necessary changes first... fail.... and feel as if they are never good enough to come to Jesus and be accepted and loved by Him. All He really asks is for us to come, just as we are!
As our relationship with God grows, we all fail and try to handle things on our own and get discouraged from time to time. There are times when we feel as if God is far away. We have struggles and face temptations and have times of testing. But the closer we get to God, and the stronger our relationship with Him becomes, it becomes easier and easier to get back up, repent, and move forward.
I heard a great example of living the christian life recently. When a person first gets saved, the path ahead of them is wider and there seem to be roads and detours that branch off. They are trying to find their way and may get on the wrong track from time to time. But when they pray, God redirects their steps and gets them back to where they need to be and they keep heading forward. As they mature and grow in their relationship with God, the path becomes more and more narrow and straighter, with fewer detours and exits.
It kind of reminds me of a baby that is first learning how to walk. They are wobbly and unsteady on their feet and often have trouble walking a straight line. They will fall down, bump their head, run into things, and get boo-boos; but they don't stop walking. They get back up, let Mama and Daddy dry their tears and kiss their boo-boos when they get hurt, set them back on their feet, and keep trying. Parents don't say, "It's okay! This is way too hard for you, so you don't have to get back up and walk anymore; I'll carry you from here on out." That baby is going to grew taller and taller and get heavier and heavier, and there will come a day when Mama and Daddy won't be able to carry them around full-time anymore. That son or daughter needs to learn how to navigate on their own; and it comes by practice and work and patience and time. The parents will encourage and help that child to keep walking until they succeed. They will cheer their son or daughter on, wanting them to develop and grow. Day by day that baby becomes stronger and more confident. The day finally comes when that child goes from walking.... to running.... to skipping and jumping... and they become steady and strong on their feet. Over the years those muscles become stronger and stronger, in accordance to the size of the person.
That's an example of how it should be spiritually. Our Heavenly Father is there to encourage and help us to develop from a baby christian to a mature, strong man or woman of God. It doesn't happen overnight, but is a process. We all start out as immature, spiritual babies, but God has given us the formula on which to grow.
"Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk (God's Word) so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness." (I Peter 2:2-3 NLT)
We grow by reading the Bible, prayer, fellowship with other believers, listening to godly teachings, and putting into practice those things that we have learned.
Don't make life or your relationship with God harder than necessary. Don't struggle and become weak, because you've failed to "read the fine print", so aren't following the instructions. God has given us all a manual for life and for our relationship with Him through His Word! Use it!!
Our family has a fantastic reason to praise this week! My sister has been in the hospital for several days, now, and is expecting to go home fully recovered soon. She had some, er... let's say 'digestive issues' lately. And Thursday night, her sodium levels were so messed up that she passed out. Actually, I'm not sure whether it was a seizure, or what exactly. But her husband called for an ambulance to get her to the emergency room. They quickly decided to take an MRI to see what was wrong. After some analysis, more tests, and debates, they scheduled her for a rush surgery Monday. They removed a cherry sized tumor, and were able to see right away that it was a fairly common benign tumor. It wasn't in her brain, but was pressing against it.
The doctors have a little disagreement about exactly what all was going on. Her symptoms with the sodium levels aren't consistent with symptoms for having the tumor. But last night, as Loretta and I were praying, we both started to wonder the same thing. Maybe the digestive issues caused her to over-hydrate, which we've read can cause sodium levels to drop too low. And very low sodium levels can cause fainting, and even seizures. And if she hadn't passed out, she might not have gotten diagnosed so quickly, when it was easy to fix.
Honestly, we don't know the details or what God's detailed plan was. We just trust that He did have a plan, and were grateful that His plan includes a full healing for my dear sister.
2 cups pinto beans
Ham, Bacon, or 1 Tbsp. Bacon Grease or Oil
Salt, to taste
Rinse and sort beans into a large pot. Add 8 cups of water. Bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the water off and rinse well. Add 6-8 cups of water to the beans, as well as the other ingredients. Simmer about 2 hours until beans are tender and juice is thickened.
My step-mother, June, used to make really good brown beans (pinto beans). She told us that if you don't have any ham or bacon (ham hock or salt pork.....) to add to the beans when you're cooking, to always add bacon grease or some type of oil, or your beans won't have any flavor.
This coming Sunday, August 28th, would have been Mama's 84th birthday. That's really hard for me to even comprehend, considering that she's been in heaven for over thirty-five years!! This is the 35th year that she's celebrated her birthday with Jesus....not that they necessarily have birthday parties in heaven.... but in earth years, it's been that long since she "moved" to her heavenly home. There are times when I've wondered, if God had chosen to heal her from cancer, would she still be here today; or at age of (almost) 84, would she have died from some other cause? Not that it's a question of great importance, because that's not what happened; but I have wondered.
Even though I only got to spend the first 15 years of my life with Mama, she had a great impact on my life. Even though I had to say goodbye to her long before I was ready, I'm still grateful that God chose her to be my mother. Now, I'm 35 years closer to being reunited with her again for all eternity!
Sometimes God closes doors because it's time to move forward.
He knows you won't move unless your circumstances force you.
Trust the transition. God's got you!! - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon