Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resist the Devil, and He Will Flee From You. Draw Near to God, and He Will Draw Near to You

Do you have a “the worst mistake I ever made” moment in your life? I imagine most of us do. I am not sure about you, but I have made NUMEROUS mistakes over the years. One, however, vastly exceeds the rest! What is “the worst mistake I ever made”? I went against God’s word. It seemed small, at the time, but no sin is little. ALL sin is VERY serious to God. And mine, though seemingly tiny, came with MASSIVE consequences! You see, as someone once told me years ago, sin only gets worse! That feels so true, I cannot even begin to tell you!

So, why go against God’s word? That is just asking for trouble, right? YES, it is! DON’T DO IT!!! But I, in my prideful youth, did not heed the warning. I know,
12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12. ESV.)

(B)but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
(C)for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.
(Isaiah 38:17. ESV.)

(C)You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:19. ESV.)
But the consequences are still intense.

The point here is this, I KNEW better but I did it anyway. I wish I could say, “Well, if I knew then what I know now…” But, I don’t know. The most important thing is obedience to God…so I do not think anything would have deterred me at that time in my life given I was (VERY foolishly) rebellious. Ick! I am such an idiot! John MacArthur from “Grace to You” stated the following,
Now, temptation works like that. As long as we stare at it...as long as we look at the baubles or the bangles that Satan dangles in front of our eyes...as long as we entertain ourselves on that and feed on it, we're susceptible, obviously. And temptation is a very common problem for all of us, and perhaps, victory over temptation is not so common…. The problem is we entertain ourselves by looking at the temptation rather than staring into the Master's face. (MacArthur, John. Grace to You. “How to Overcome Temptation”. 1970. http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1205/how-to-overcome-temptation?
Very well said, Pastor John MacArthur. Time for me to concentrate harder on my “Master’s” face!

7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:7-10. ESV.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Earth is the LORD’s and the Fullness Thereof: 50 Things I Am Going to Miss About California (#38-#36)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas, I am listing 50 things I am going to miss about this state. So far, I covered:
50. Earthquakes
49. Traffic

48. The freeways
47. The crazy expensive cost of living

46. The Oakland A’s
45. The Sacramento River Cats
44. The Stockton Ports

43. Disney’s California Adventure Park
42. Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Diablo

41. San Diego, CA
40. Los Angeles, CA
39. Long Beach, CA


Which brings me to the next THREE:

38. The Redwood Trees
Though I have not been to the “Avenue of the Giants” through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I have been to see some of the Redwoods at Big Sur. I am told the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) are not nearly as magnificent as the Redwoods of “Avenue of the Giants”, however I feel they are quite a sight to behold just the same! My only regret (that nags at me to this day) is not taking my dad (who really wanted to see the Redwoods) into the forest of them at Big Sur (on his last visit to Cali). I did drive by them but we did not walk among them. He most likely is not going to get out here, again, before we move.

The first time I ever went to Big Sur, hubs was doing a portable power job for a party or wedding. We seemingly went deep into the massive Redwoods which remind me of the trees in “Lord of the Rings” and we were like the Hobbits. The sound of their leaves rustling and branches cracking as they swayed (or even as they stood still) was enchanting. Their colossal size is (hopefully) forever burned into my mind. In my opinion, the Redwoods are a “must see”! Each states has its charm and alluring qualities!

37. The Beautiful Drive Along Highway 1
Have you ever seen Hearst Castle (which I will cover more extensively at #32) or traveled highway 46 (which was included on James Dean’s last ride? When we did, there was a convenient store which claimed to be “James Dean’s Last Stop”.) But, I am getting ahead of myself, a little. We started at Monterey (about which I will get into more detail at #24), followed Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway), through Carmel and Big Sur, past Hearst Castle, along highway 46 to the 5 freeway and on to Los Angeles. The highway 1 route is simply exquisite! The road winds around and the cliff drops off (on one side) to the Pacific below. The waves crash upon the rocks and the view is nothing short of breath taking. (Each time I have made this drive the visibility was great and it was not overcast. If you want an idea of the scenery, just Google “Pfeiffer State Park”.) The redwoods tower over general stores, small restaurants, and cabins. The sea lions bask in the sun on the coast near Hearst Castle. And a lone convenient store claims to be the “Last Stop”, for James Dean, on hwy 46.

I have never stayed overnight in Big Sur. I believe, if memory serves me well, we did stay in Carmel one night (when hubs was on a work trip--- so long ago I can scarcely remember it--- back when he was a lowly “technician” for a portable power company. He used to do quite a few jobs at Pebble Beach).

36. Big Sur/ Carmel
Our last trip through Carmel and Big Sur was circa 2009, so I suppose we are due for another visit before we move. Perhaps with our moving truck and stuff as we head out of dodge, on our way to Los Angeles. Originally, I figured three days to make the drive (mainly 12 hour days… Northern Cali to Phoenix – day one, Phoenix to New Mexico – day two, and New Mexico to TX – day three. That’s what I did on my road trip across country circa 2008). But, I guess we should take our time and see some sights (and friends) along the way.

While reminiscing about my visits to Carmel/Big Sur, I stumbled across a fabulous article on the “Huffington Post” website. It is called “14 Things You Need to Know Before Driving California’s Big Sur” and it can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/David-Landsel/california-big-sur-driving-the-coast_b_5095299.html. I feel writer David Landsel covers some great information worth viewing, especially if you think you might want to plan a trip!

1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
9Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory!
(Pslam 24. ESV.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

No Temptation Has Overtaken You That is Not Common to Man

Lately, I have been mentioning unhealthy, toxic relationships I am currently phasing out of my life. To be honest, all of them began with sin so, really, why would God bless them? Further, the repercussions (of said sin) have been hellacious! (Please know, I do not take this lightly. I would never distance myself from something or someone simply because I could not be bothered or he/she/it “rubbed me the wrong way”. The unions about which I speak are unkind, ungodly, manipulative, controlling, oppressive, ugly, verbally (and sometimes even physically) abusive, and very unhealthy…and have been such for nearly 20 years.)

(Side bar: Regarding Hell, Tommy Clayton from “Grace to You” states,
…hell is not a state of mind or a hard life on this earth. Your state of mind can change; your circumstances can improve. Hell never changes, never improves. Hell is not chastisement; it’s everlasting, insufferable punishment at the hands of an angry God. (Clayton, Tommy. Grace to You. “The Truth About Hell”. 2011. http://www.gty.org/blog/B110430/the-truth-about-hell.)
I do not want to blur the line with my analogy of “hellacious” strife, etc. in life. This particular post is not about Hell. I am simply using it to paint a picture, this time. For the record, though, I do believe Hell is a real place. One about which I tell/warn those I love. Unfortunately, I feel some of them have come to the conclusion, if that is truly God’s character (to throw people into eternal suffering) they want nothing to do with Him.
Satan continues his efforts to make sin less offensive, heaven less appealing, hell less horrific, and the gospel less urgent. (Clayton, Tommy. Grace to You. “The Truth About Hell”. 2011. http://www.gty.org/blog/B110430/the-truth-about-hell.)
But, that is not what this post is about, either.)

It is about how God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13. ESV.)
“The way of escape”? What is that, exactly? G. Gabriel Powell of “Grace to You” offers the following explanation,
This makes me think of the paratrooper dropped into enemy territory who needs to make his way back to safety. He has no trap door or tunnels to crawl through; he won’t be rescued by helicopter or beamed to safety. He has to find a way through enemy territory.

In the same way, God has provided, in every situation, a path for you to take. There is always a choice of roads to travel. When faced with the temptation to sin, you can choose to succumb or you can choose to resist and flee. When you are confronted with a difficult ordeal, you can succumb to despair and anxiety or you can endure with the strength He provides. Whatever your situation, God’s Word will light the way of escape and show you the path to follow to get you through the situation and out of enemy territory.
(Powell, G. Gabriel. Grace to You. “I Can’t Handle This”. 2014. https://www.gty.org/Resources/Print/Blog/B110308.)

I have been walking a very difficult path for nearly 20 years. (I have no one but myself to blame.) And, there have been a multitude of times, during those years, when I felt I could not handle it. I wanted to rebel, yell, scream, sin, etc. (which only would have brought on further horrible consequences). So, I have been sticking to God’s word (with the strength of Christ). And, an escape has been provided…which, of course, I am taking (with gusto)! I am almost “back to safety”! Thank you, Lord!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I Cry Out to God Who Fulfills His Purpose for Me

Every year, for the last 15-20 years has basically been the same. I am determined 2015 is going to be different! It is going to be better! I am FINALLY phasing out the negative influences in my life--- life is too short for that nonsense (James 4:14)--- and building toward the future. The “empty nest” season is creeping up on me and I want to be prepared! Two years ago I started distancing myself from unhealthy, toxic relationships I had allowed to remain in and influence my life for WAY too long. One and a half years ago I went back to school to pursue a law degree. I have roughly 58 more credits for undergrad studies and then I can move on to law school. I am currently working to master blue belt in the Tracy’s system of Kenpo. (Their belt system goes white – beginner, yellow, orange, purple, blue – intermediate, green, third brown, second brown, first brown, first black – advanced). And, in June, my crew and I are moving to Texas. I feel God has provided all of this and I am stronger, today, than I have EVER been! If God grows us through adversity and tribulation, then I have grown BIG TIME over the last 15-20 years!

Every 20 years is like a new season for me. The first 20 were spent studying, learning, traveling, seeing the world, training in dance (with a focus on ballet), working for the Disney company, showing up on television, in the newspaper and TIME magazine…the next (nearly) 20 were spent being a wife, stepmother, and mother. And now, as I get dangerously close to 40 years old, I find myself transitioning into the coming season. I am excited at what God has in store for me! He blesses me abundantly, even in the desert with “storms of destruction”…even with the thorn in my flesh.

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
2I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

4My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

6They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
9I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalm 57. ESV.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Be Gracious to Me, O God, for Man Tramples On Me

I get my heart broken so many times when it comes to this very thing: “Don’t overlook the people who genuinely love and support you, trying to impress the ones who don’t.” I do not understand it. I do not think I ever will! Still, to this day, this happens! And, I tell myself I am a fool for continuously giving my heart to those who do not seem to want it! It is as though I do not exist or have feelings.

But, those days are over! I never thought I would EVER say that…which is actually ridiculous if you know the full story…I should have said it many, many years ago! Yet, here I am, expressing it. “Stick me with a fork, I’m DONE!” After nearly 20 years of serving, unconditional love, forgiveness, heartache, sweat, tears (a multitude of tears), being threatened, yelled at, called unbelievable, despicable names (among “stupid” and profanity), being manipulated, played, taken for every dime, spat on (yes, literally), stolen from, trespassed against, lied about in a court of law (yes, someone perjured themself and was not punished for it…where is the justice?), deceived, conspired against, etc. I am FINALLY setting myself free! I do not feel most (of those who know me) will even notice. And, those that do, I pray might understand. However, I’m sure some will be disappointed. But, I can say without doubt or hesitation, “I tried my absolute best.” And, most importantly, God knows! He was there, every step of the way. He heard my every prayer, kept count of all my sorrows, and put my tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). Our moving to Texas is going to be the BEST thing for us, ever! Unfortunately we are leaving behind dear friends but we are also distancing ourselves from the “bad elements” that are tearing us apart.

This Christmas was the final straw, for me. 2015 is going to be a year full of adventures in a new place far from negative, unhealthy, unpleasant relationships! My cup runeth over! Thank you, Lord, for making it possible!

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
5All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
7For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
9Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
12I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
(Psalm 56. ESV.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

May the LORD rejoice in his works: 50 Things I Am Going to Miss About California (#41-#39)

San Diego Skyline.  Photo Information:
www.freeimages.com/photo/1313570
I have finally finished fall semester and am looking forward to CHRISTmas break! It is overcast and rainy outside, the house is quiet, and I am sitting here with you and a hot cup of coffee. (Which, by the way, I’m thinking it is time I switch to tea. Do you have any suggestions for me?)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas, I am listing 50 things I am going to miss about this state. So far, I covered:
50. Earthquakes
49. Traffic

48. The freeways
47. The crazy expensive cost of living

46. The Oakland A’s
45. The Sacramento River Cats
44. The Stockton Ports

43. Disney’s California Adventure Park
42. Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Diablo


Which brings me to the next THREE:

41. San Diego
Oh, beautiful San Diego…about two or three hours (driving) from Los Angeles! Though (I feel) it is quite pricey, I believe it is a must see (and experience)! I have been there twice since moving here… once for Thanksgiving (circa 1999) when my cousin was living there and once with my parents, sibling, and a couple of my children (circa summer 2009). I would like to go visit one more time before we move. Maybe, I could catch up with a good friend of mine while down that way! San Diego is picturesque and lovely. My cousin’s apartment was in the downtown area when I visited with her and the hotel where my family and I stayed was near the harbor. Actually, come to think of it, I was there one more time when hubs did a job for work…years ago…somewhere between 2001 and 2006. Anyway, the San Diego Zoo is remarkable! It is huge and quite a sight to see! We went there around 2009. I would not mind going back, again. If I had, had the opportunity, I probably would have liked living in San Diego…aside from the cost of living.

40. Los Angeles (L.A.)
I do not believe it should be any secret I am not a huge fan of L.A. It has its charm, of course. Visiting Hollywood Blvd is fun (but I would not want to live there) and Rodeo Drive is a treat. But, L.A. also has its drawbacks. The two that spring to my mind the quickest are pollution and traffic. There generally seems to be this brown haze that hovers over and around L.A. Most days (when I lived in the area) I was not even able to see the city skyline. It is a stark contrast to Northern California in the quality of air and even the trash that lingers and is scattered about on the ground. And, as I mentioned at #49, traffic is a beast. The 405 is especially bad, in my opinion. I used to have to allow myself two hours, whenever I went from my house in Long Beach to an audition in the L.A. area. My absolute favorite part of L.A. is Santa Clarita. It is right on the outskirts of L.A. near the “Grapevine” (on the 5 freeway). It is close enough to visit all the sights yet, not smack dab in the middle of it all. There is a quietness, a peace and serenity to it. In Santa Clarita there are plenty of hotels (which I highly recommend to visitors of L.A.). There is Six Flags “Magic Mountain” and restaurants close by. Not to mention, relatively speaking, the prices are not too shabby. A word to the wise, though. Please take extra care in driving around in L.A. There are some pretty intense areas (so stick to the ones with which you are the most familiar) and NEVER, EVER tailgate on the freeways! The traffic will seemingly, spontaneously come to a complete stop from 65-70 miles an hour. Stay alert!
(Sidebar: Los Angeles named as one of “the most unequal places in America” (CNN Money).)

39. Long Beach
Oh Long Beach. When I first moved to California (CA), hubs and I lived in Long Beach for about a year. We were just a few blocks from the beach (and breakwater) and magnificent boardwalk (which I will cover at #27). We rented a room in a house with a garage off of an alleyway. I worked at the Rock Bottom Brewery (which is a fun microbrewery, by the way, which I highly recommend). The food and atmosphere there were great! For me, Long Beach was a left exit off of the 710 freeway. I forgot this when I first made the drive and ended up getting lost. Thankfully, one or two of my roommates came to my rescue! (I was not too far away from the house.) I actually liked Long Beach and think back on it fondly. We spent our Christmas there on the beach with our older children (who were about ages four and seven at the time). So, I recall the climate to be a bit warmer than Northern California. In addition to working at the Rock Bottom Brewery, I also held a position with a Real Estate Organization in Huntington Beach. I recall all of the beaches in that area (Laguna, Newport, Huntington, Seal, and Long Beach) to be lovely. We could even see Catalina Island and the Queen Mary from where we used to play in the sand. I also enjoyed strolling down 2nd Street (but I will address that at #28). As I mentioned, our time there was limited but it sure was action (and unfortunately drama) packed. It felt more like three years than just the one. I met a lot of wonderful people there. Sadly, I believe I am still in contact with only a couple. But, I think about all of them from time to time and they each have a special place in my heart.
31May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
35Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 104:31-35. NASB.)


(Click here to go to #38 - #36.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

In All Circumstances Take Up the Shield of Faith, Praying at All Times in the Spirit

This world is unpredictable and, at times, hostile to God’s word. But, I feel, that does not give anyone an excuse not to follow scripture. When hubs and I were first married, he traveled and was gone three or four months at a time. However, just because he was absent did not give me permission to rebel against the word of God. I stayed faithful and steadfast with the strength of Christ. Whenever he has to go out of town on business (or work long hours), presently, it remains the same. No matter what, regardless of any other factors (good, bad, or indifferent), my number one priority is to glorify God.

I believe the same can be said for when someone (a loved one or stranger) sins against us. We are not called to “forget”. No one, no matter how hard he/she tries, is capable of erasing memories from his/her mind. It is impossible. It is my opinion, not even God “forgets”. But, we are called to forgive. You see, regardless of the situation, we are to remain constantly standing on the rock of God, Christ Jesus, and His commandments.

The bible is full of examples of nearly every circumstance of which you can think. Saul killed innocent people who were most likely survived by friends or family members. Has your loved one been murdered? David took Bathsheba as his own then had her husband put on the front lines of battle to die. Has someone committed adultery against you or forced him/herself on you? Abigail had a “badly behaved” husband. God only knows what he did to her. Have you been abused or maltreated by an individual? Delilah deceived Sampson and she was the death of him. Are you being lied to or cheated? (These just name a few and scratch the surface.) It is my opinion God gave us all of the answers (big and small) in His love letter to us. It might take some searching through the text and prayers of wisdom, but you will find it if you look.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11. ESV.)

Whenever I am faced by something…a life choice, a temptation, a difficult decision, strife, tribulation, a problem to solve, etc. I ALWAYS ask myself if I am behaving in manner consistent with God’s instruction. In other words, am I sinning? If my choice is “unorthodox”, out of the “norm” (out of the box), or difficult for others to understand…am I doing the “wrong” thing? No. I learned many years ago to NOT listen to men.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
(Psalm 118:8. ESV.)
As well meaning and with the best of intentions, I (and all human beings) have limited knowledge. We cannot see the big picture or all of the details. There is so much information missing. Yet, God knows and the Holy Spirit directs us.

God NEVER deviates from His word. So, I encourage you and myself to do likewise. And, pray…ALWAYS! Put on the full armor of God.
16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:16-18. ESV.)

Think "outside the box", not "outside the bible". (Okay, that's lame but you get what I mean.)

(Photo Information.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

People Will be Lovers of Self: Identifying Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I have decided to take a “General Psychology” course at university. If schedule permits I would like to go on to the “Abnormal Psychology” class after that. Or maybe it is “Social Psychology” I am interested in learning. I want to cover “personality disorders” like bipolar and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). I have reason to believe I have come across a few, in my life, who fall into these two categories. It would be good to know how to properly interact with them in a healthy manner. If you have ever engaged with someone with one of these disorders you will know how insanely difficult it is, especially with the NPD, to communicate with them. At times it is nearly impossible.

While reading up on the topic I have come across many informative articles on the matter. Is there a husband or wife you do not quite understand? Perhaps he or she appears to do things a particular way. By chance it is in order to try and avoid tirades by his/her spouse. Did you ever ask him/her if his/her spouse resembles this example:
(Think of the man who berates his wife when dinner isn't ready as soon as he comes home. He lashes out precisely because at that very moment, he's forced to acknowledge that he depends on his wife, something he'd rather avoid.)(“5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist: Learn how to spot the red flags for narcissism you might have missed”. Published on June 21, 2013 by Craig Malkin, Ph.D. in Romance Redux. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/romance-redux/201306/5-early-warning-signs-youre-narcissist
So, why would a woman want to be an excellent wife if her husband is going to lash out at her for caring for him and doing what she is taught to be what a good wife does?

But I am putting the cart before the horse, here. First, let us look at the “Mayo Clinic” definition of NPD.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:
• Believing that you're better than others
• Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
• Exaggerating your achievements or talents
• Expecting constant praise and admiration
• Believing that you're special and acting accordingly
• Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
• Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
• Taking advantage of others
• Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
• Being jealous of others
• Believing that others are jealous of you
• Trouble keeping healthy relationships
• Setting unrealistic goals
• Being easily hurt and rejected
• Having a fragile self-esteem
• Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
(“Disease and Conditions: Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20025568

The tricky part comes when trying to have every day, run of the mill conversations with someone who exhibits NPD.
You will find you are always to blame and it is rare that they will be accountable for their actions due to the fact that one of the main characteristics of narcissism is an unwillingness to see symptoms as flaw; experiencing them—believe it or not—as virtues. This is in large part due to an amazing sense of denial that the narcissistic individual possesses in order to maintain their fragile self-esteem. This sense of denial makes it very difficult for them to benefit from treatment or to take criticisms constructively from a significant other.(“Should We Treat Narcissists Like Alcoholics? New use for an old method just might help break through the denial. Published on March 17, 2014 by Neil J. Lavender, Ph.D. in Impossible to Please

There is a vast amount of information out there. What does God’s word say about NPD behavior?
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9. ESV.)
Take my word for it, avoid the narcissist! He/she cannot be reasoned with or changed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Abandoned Disney Parks

I was so surprised and sad to see these two parks at Disney World have been closed. I used to go to each of them, often, when I was a child.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

All Things are His Servants: God Uses Me According to His Will

I have to admit, I do check the "hit counter" for this site. I look to see how many readers have accessed it, etc. But, I remind myself regularly, God does not NEED me. This blog could be gone tomorrow and it would not affect anything. So, my thoughts do not go out into cyberspace. No biggie. God can create followers from the rocks. He does not require my help. So, why blog? Why not? And, because He also gives the "Great Commission",
18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20. ESV.)
This is one of my ways of doing that. Why not use every resource possible?

The computer I am on today is not my own. Ours, as I believe I mentioned before, is having "mother board" issues. It is less than a year old so to say I am disappointed would be a HUGE understatement! My dinosaur Dell, I had before the new HP, is still kind of working (though it seems to maybe have a virus) and it is a 2005! Technology, what a blessing (and a curse).

What should be the scripture to preach to myself, today? How about,
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
9I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalm 57:7-11. ESV.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Lord Gave, and the Lord Has Taken Away

Not spending each morning with God throws my day off. It is like going to battle without my armor. I feel like something is missing. I look forward to this time in His word and would love to spend every waking moment, there. I am feeling a bit out of sorts, out of focus, and chaotic. This week got a little crazy and I am having a hard time adjusting.

Each Monday I create a schedule for myself based on university assignments to complete, my family's activities, my volunteer time at the school my children attend, church stuff, etc. I keep telling myself, "Next week is going to be better." But I have to admit, I am lacking motivation. Not to mention this past Thursday, our home laptop stopped working. It is less than a year old! It looks like a "mother board" issue, I am told. Then, Friday, hubs was bringing home his work laptop for me to use and someone smashed out the back window of his work truck and stole it. Next, I attempted to use my old (2005 dinosaur) laptop and my iPad 1 to get some college work done. Well, the iPad cannot access some stuff because it does not have "flash" capabilities and the dino laptop powered up but would not go on the Internet. I was told it might have a virus. So, I have currently missed one deadline so far (in one class) and I have 11 hours to finish an assignment and test in my Macroeconomics class. Further, I have another deadline this evening for my Instructional Technology course.

But, most importantly, my family and loved ones are healthy! Sure, I am having technical difficulties that are messing with my grade point average (GPA) but those who are dear to me are doing well. For what more could I ask? I need to get refocused and make sure I am keeping the main thing (Jesus) the main thing!

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:11-14, 19, 20, 23 ESV)

And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21 ESV)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Echoes of My Sin Long Ago Are Loud and Relentless

Have you ever had to live with the aftermath of sin? Have you ever sinned and found yourself reaping the consequences many years later? I really feel for adolescents and young adults. I remember those times in my life. I thought I was more knowledgeable and invincible than I was, realistically. I made several mistakes, gave into temptation, and was downright foolish. I look back on some of the things and can see God’s protection over me because I sure am amazed I am still here.

It has been a rough morning. The echoes of my sin long ago are loud and relentless. I pray earnestly but what is there to say? “I knew better, still I did what I should not have done. Fix it, Lord!” Why should He? Then, there is the ugly side of me that says, “I’m already serving time, why not just keep on sinning?” What is that quote? “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Or some such thing. I keep myself very busy. Not the being under satan’s yoke type but always engaged…in God’s word, studying, reading, completing bachelor degree projects, working with my children, volunteering at their school or church, blogging, extra-curricular activities, etc. I do not like finding myself in “the devil’s workshop”.

Someone asked me, last week, why I think I have anxiety. Where do I believe it is rooted? In my heart of hearts I know where. Some nights, I wake up in a cold sweat with an elevated heart rate. Or the stress gives me bad headaches. But, there is nothing I can do about it. I have done everything short of bribing God and trying to bargain with Him to take away the “thorn in my flesh”. Yet, it seems He has no intention of doing so. I find comfort in what Paul says about his,
…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9. ESV.)
I have “pleaded with the Lord” far more than “three times”. I suppose it is a reminder, residue, of my sin from so long ago.

A well-meaning believer once told me, when I was saved my sin was forgiven and I will harvest good. She/he did not understand why “if” I am, indeed, “saved” do I still have ramifications for my sin. If I am being honest, I will tell you the “thorn in my flesh” hurts. Some days I want to cry. But, a lot of times my pride stops me. So, why do I blog about all of this? Because,
18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20. ESV.)
And, blogging is how I tell people, from all walks of life, about Jesus! Maybe you know me, personally. Perhaps, we have never met. You may even have to have this translated to read it. If you take nothing else from this blog, please hold in your heart,
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17. ESV.)
Despite whatever mess I have made of my life, Jesus died so I can have a wonderful relationship with God. I can (and do) approach His mercy seat whenever (and where ever) I want. So can you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Technology in the Classroom: Blended Learning

I found this video to be very exciting, inspiring, and motivational! Let's bridge the gap of diverse learning in the classroom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The High Mountains are for the Wild Goats: 50 Things I am Going to Miss About California (#43-42)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas, I am listing 50 things I am going to miss about this state. So far, I covered:
50. Earthquakes
49. Traffic

48. The freeways
47. The crazy expensive cost of living

46. The Oakland A’s
45. The Sacramento River Cats
44. The Stockton Ports


Which brings me to the next two:

43. Disney’s California Adventure Park
When one of our kiddos was about six months old, hubs suggested we drive to Anaheim, California (CA) and take the children to Disneyland (which I will cover later at #26) and California Adventure. So, why is California Adventure at #43 instead of closer to #1? It is NOT because I did not like the park. I did. It was a lot of fun! But, to be honest, I have only been there once in the sixteen (16) years I have lived in CA. And, it is not nearly as sentimental to me as Disneyland (or Disney World). I am sure there are many who have never been to a Disney theme park. Truly, I am grateful for the opportunity. Yet, in the scheme of this countdown, I am placing California Adventure at #43. I am certain the kids had a delightful time and my hope is they remember at least a little bit of it. (They were quite young.) Would it be enjoyable to hit it one last time on our way out of dodge? Yes, but I will not be disappointed if we do not. (I highly doubt we will.) But still, I give it two thumbs up.

42. Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Diablo
Back in April 2014, a friend of mine asked if I was interested in hiking Yosemite Half Dome (which I have listed at #16 of my 50). Not knowing anything about Half Dome (or hiking for that matter) I accepted her challenge. We had until June 15, 2014 to prepare. As a training method it was suggested to me, by another friend, to practice hiking to the summit of Mt. Diablo. Our first trek at Mt. Diablo was May 10, 2014 and I wanted to complete it four times before heading to Half Dome…which I did. It may seem a bit over the top but I am so glad I took that advice! Half Dome was a beast! And, so it Mt. Diablo. They call it “devil” for a reason. The terrain is rocky and “slippery”. My first trip to the summit I was wearing the WRONG shoes! I quickly fixed that for the next time. Any recommendation I would give to those who desire to mosey to the summit of Mt. Diablo is to BRING PLENTY OF WATER! Especially, during drought time in CA because the water fountains will be off and there are no rivers or streams along the way! Also, if your body begins to tell you to stop and go back down, heed the warning! A lot of people get stuck because they do not listen to their body…they get dehydrated, heat exhaustion or sunstroke, etc. All in all, Mt. Diablo is definitely an experience on which I am glad I did not miss out.

14He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
15And wine which makes man's heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man's heart.
16The trees of the LORD drink their fill,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
17Where the birds build their nests,
And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.
18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
19He made the moon for the seasons;
The sun knows the place of its setting.
20You appoint darkness and it becomes night,
In which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.
21The young lions roar after their prey
And seek their food from God.
22When the sun rises they withdraw
And lie down in their dens.
(Psalms 104:14-22. NASB.)

(Click here for #41 - #39.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

He Will Give His Angels Charge Concerning You [And Me]

There is a flurry of activity around here, recently, which has me feeling a little…conflicted (I guess would be the best description). Without going into detail, I am not sure how to explain it. I have so much university work to complete yet, my mind takes off in other directions. Perhaps it is my typical, “I’d rather be cleaning when I should be studying and I’d opt to be studying when I ought to be cleaning.” Both have to get done and yet, here I am…blogging at the present.

Where am I struggling? I am walking the path before me but God can hear me grumbling. What scripture is good for me to be preaching to myself, today?
11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
(Psalm 91:11-12. NASB.)
My dissatisfaction is surely grieving the Holy Spirit.
30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Ephesians 4:30-31. NASB.)

I answer to You, oh God…and the authorities you have placed in this world. I get annoyed with those who not answer to anyone, not even You. I despise those who terrorize and speak lies.
28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28. NASB.)
The thorn in my flesh is irritating. I wish I could just remove it, myself! How long must I wait, Lord, for you to do it?
9And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10. NASB.)
I am counting the days, Lord. Forgive me for my discontentment.

But it shall not approach you.
8You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
(Psalm 91:7-10. NASB.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Steadfast of Mind You Will Keep in Perfect Peace

Whew, my goodness, last week was…packed! I helped out at the school, where my youngest children attend, three out of the five weekdays which caused a huge pile up with my university work for the week! And, I believe the school staff would like my assistance with the Christmas pageant, again, this year so that is going to take the place of my morning studying two days a week, soon. (Last year I served as their stage manager for the performance and I was asked to be director this year, but I honestly cannot commit the time it deserves…so I have asked to keep the part of stage manager…with a couple of added duties, like choreographer.)

The days have been hot this week but I know old man winter is lurking about, waiting to pounce and drive me crazy! I desire more time in God’s word. I would also like to go back to reading Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem but I have so much other reading between university classes and the three books on which I am working: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, The Talks by Barrett Johnson, and The Faithful Parent by Martha Peace. I feel like the days slip by without me getting much accomplished. Do you ever have that feeling?

My thinking is scattered. I am distracted and cannot seem to stay focused. My thoughts swirl about in a tornado of musing. I wish I liked tea. I could have a nice, hot cup of it, decaffeinated. I do have wine. Maybe I’ll have a glass, in a little bit. I talk to God, often. He hears my thoughts (as ugly as they are, sometimes) and I’m sure some people must think I am talking to myself, at times. But, I assure you, I am speaking to God. I believe a lot of the time is spent on me asking, “Why?” What would be some good scripture for me, right now?

There is
6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7. NASB.)
Or,
3"The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3. NASB.)
And,
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15. NASB.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

October: Bass Festival

As I have mentioned a few times before, we are moving to Texas (TX) in June 2015! This, for me, is a wonderful thing as I will be closer to family and will get to visit with them more often! On the opposite side of the coin, we are a little sentimental about all of the things we are doing for the “last time”, this year. October is a pretty big one…(which I will cover more extensively in my “50 Things I am Going to Miss About California” countdown).

For the past 12 years we have attended a local event called “Bass Derby” or “Bass Festival”. It is always in October and, for us, includes venders, a car show, a soap box derby, fire engine rides, carnival rides, and fireworks. For fishermen, it involves the adult and kids Bass fishing derby. Each of our kiddos loves Bass Festival and the younger ones cannot remember a time when we did not go. We have even talked about making the trip back to California (CA), each year, for this event. Yep, we find it that much fun!

Anyway, with autumn comes this fair, and pumpkin patches, harvest festivities, and soon trips to the snow. Hopefully, we will find something similar to these in TX or perhaps the state will have all new fun stuff for us to do! One other thing I would like to do before we leave CA sprang to mind, yesterday. I would love to attend John MacArthur’s church and catch one of his messages, in person. I already got to see John Piper a few years ago, at one of his conventions. So, John MacArthur is next on my list. Then, there is a “cowboy church” in Colorado I would like to visit, too. Church home of “The Worst Preacher’s Wife Ever”. Yes ma’am, Ms. Christie, I am still planning to head your way first chance I get!

It's autumn. In fact, it's early autumn. It's October. It's Feast of Tabernacles week when He goes. The harvest operations are all over. The people can take a week off. The tints of gold have just begun to streak the leaves and Jesus moves to Jerusalem. Strangers are there, countrymen from Judea, strangers from Peraea, Galilee, other places mingling in the streets of Jerusalem at the feast time. And they are mingling in the ever-present shadow of the great sanctuary, the temple. Its glorious marble, its cedar wood, its gold, it sits up there high on Mount Moriah and casts its shadow over the whole of Jerusalem, and its shadow is all the more indelible because the Feast of Tabernacles concentrates on it in particular.

And Jesus is also there and He walks in Jerusalem, not so much under the shadow of the temple as under the shadow of a wooden rugged cross soon to be erected high on a different hill, Mount Calvary. And starting with John chapter 7, Jesus begins to walk in the relentless lurking shadow of the cross. He has come to Jerusalem because it is time to come to Jerusalem. He does everything when it is time to do it. He delayed because His time was not yet come. His time has come and thus He has arrived in Jerusalem. He comes to Jerusalem knowing He will die. He comes to Jerusalem knowing He will be hated and persecuted. But He comes anyway because He had to present His truth, and secondly, His death will mean redemption. And so He comes. And from now on, from chapter 7 to the end of this gospel, we are in the shadow of the cross.
(By John MacArthur. ©2014 Grace to You. Website: gty.org. http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1517/the-divine-citizenship-of-jesus.)
33Therefore Jesus said, "For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. 34You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come." (John 7:33-34. NASB.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A Worthless Man Digs Up Evil, While His Words are Like Scorching Fire

18Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
21The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it,
But the discipline of fools is folly.
23The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
25There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
26A worker's appetite works for him,
For his hunger urges him on.
27A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
28A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
29A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30He who winks his eyes does so to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.
31A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.
32He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
33The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:18-33. NASB.)

I have to preach to myself a lot. I remind myself, “Pride comes before a fall.” I struggle with that…stinky self-righteousness. And if I feel “icky” and am not quite sure why, I blame it on that. I pray God will keep me humble. I ask He will keep a guard over my mouth. I trust in the Lord, completely. Anyone who knows my life story (my witness to God’s goodness, mercy, and grace) knows that. I wish people could see my heart. My confining flesh is like a dam…blockading a deep reservoir of love. Love so amazing it wants to burst forth. I love, because God first loved me (1 John 4:19). I wish we could be like in Acts with flames “resting on each one of us” who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. (Acts 2:2-3. NASB.)
Would that be better for followers of Christ or make things more difficult (for those who cannot worship in public)?

This statement from Pastor John MacArthur caught my attention,
Preaching to others, and being disqualified. The landscape of the church. The landscape of the evangelical church is strewn with corpses. People who are laid low, disqualified, because their lives didn't support their message. Paul didn't want to be laid low on the Christian landscape. He didn't want to just become another corpse, just another casualty, just another calamity. Somebody who talks about Christ proclaims Christ, claims Christ, says he loves Christ, ostensibly serves Christ. And then ends up a corpse on the landscape. He didn't want that to happen, and that's why he said at the end of [1 Corinthians 10] chapter 9, "I have to run to win. I have to compete, exercising self-control. I have to run not aimlessly, box not as a shadow boxer. I have to pound my body into submission, because I do not want to be another casualty." And that would be true for any of us. It's certainly true for me. It's certainly true for those in spiritual leadership. But it's true for everybody, because all of us are called to witness. All of us who have ever proclaimed the gospel need to support that with our lives. And it seems to me in the day in which we live, there are more corpses around the evangelical landscape than there have ever been in my life….

The Christian life is an effort to get as close to Jesus Christ as you can. The Christian life is an effort to be as pure as you can. It's not a life that says because God is gracious, I'm going see how far I can go to the edge before he reacts negative. If that's how you're living your life, seeing how close to the edge you can get, you're testing God's tolerance….

Death to the complainers. I like that. I hate complainers. They're so destructive. They're so poisonous. They were assuming that God didn't know what was best. They were assuming that God didn't do what was best. They were assuming that their plan was better than his. There are a lot of terrible assumptions….And here you have the list. Worldliness. Idolatry. Immorality. Testing God. Complaining. We stand warned. If you don't get a grip on your life, and exercise self-denial, self-control, in the spiritual dimension, then all the privileges that you have from God can be diminished, as you abuse those privileges until finally you're just another corpse strewn out there on the landscape, flirting with the world, flirting with its idols, flirting with its morals, flirting with its materials, pushing the patience of God, complaining that you don't get what you want when you want it. This is a tragic way to live your life. You may think that everything is okay, and that you're standing pretty strong, but if these are the kind of attitudes that have found root in your heart, you're about ready to have a fall….

So, it's just when we think we stand that we have to be reminded that we are always necessarily devoted to the spiritual means to win the battle. And as you grow in Christ, and as you mature in Christ, you get stronger. You become a spiritual young man. You become a spiritual father. And you get stronger in that battle. And the Lord will always provide the way out. Nowhere to go. No one to blame but yourself.
(By John MacArthur. ©2014 Grace to You. Website: gty.org. http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-291/avoiding-the-pitfalls-of-spiritual-pride
Yikes! Like Paul, I do not want to be “laid low on the Christian landscape”! Please, Lord, help me to live a life that is pleasing to you!

(Photo information.)

Monday, October 06, 2014

For Those Whom He Foreknew, He Also Predestined to Become Conformed to the Image of His Son

This weekend I heard, “No one gets the glory but God.” Isn’t that the truth? I might feel like I am being the best parent/wife/sister/daughter/friend/blogger ever and that my life screams, “I’m a follower of Christ,” and ponder, “Surely, those around me think, ‘If that is Christianity I definitely want to be a part of it!’” (No, I do not really consider myself the “best” or even close to being an adequate representative of Christ Jesus and God however, I believe you get my point.) But, if God has not called them or stirred his/her heart, then it is just another day…nothing exceptional has happened. Today, I was listening to a radio station that stated, “Donate today! People have been saved because of the music we play!”
For all things are Your servants. (Psalms 119:91. NASB.)
Yes, God uses “all things” for His purpose but, ultimately, He saves…not blogs, my behavior, radio stations, pastors, bands, etc.

At one point in my vapor of a life (James 4:14), this fact was a difficult pill to swallow. My pride kicked, scratched, and yelled, “Then what’s the point in living honorably?! If it is not going to make a difference, then why bother?!” Ick, ugly, disgusting pride! The point, of course, is #1. We were created to glorify God. #2. As a new creature, who has taken off the old, put on the new, was given a new heart, and filled with the Holy Spirit, it is not pleasant at all to sin. So, why in the world would I desire to do so? #3. We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). Someone once gave me the illustration that sin is like a drop of poison in a reservoir of clean drinking water. Just the smallest drip contaminates the entire supply…and is deadly.
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23. NASB.)

One of my favorite verses is James 1:15. Included with the scripture around it, it states,
13Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:13-15. NASB.)

My desire with all that I do in my life (including this blog) is to glorify God and Christ Jesus. To stand before you as a reflection of Christ (1 Peter 1:7). I used to hate affliction. Okay, I still do not like it but I see it, now, for what it truly is. As John Piper states,
He is a refiner's fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner's fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper "fear and trembling" in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it's a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don't fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER'S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.
(By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/he-is-like-a-refiners-fire.)

29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30. NASB.)

(Photo information.)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

"Lean on Me" by DC Talk

This song brings back great memories every time I hear it... and DC Talk is one of my absolute favorites!

Friday, October 03, 2014

You Open Your Hand, They are Satisfied with Good: 50 Things I am Going to Miss About California (#46-#44)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas, I am listing 50 things I am going to miss about this state. So far, I covered:
50. Earthquakes
49. Traffic

48. The freeways
47. The crazy expensive cost of living


Which brings me to the next three I am going to do together (and you’ll see why in a moment).

46. The Oakland A’s
To be honest, I used to think baseball was incredibly boring. Even when my kiddos were in t-ball and little league, I was more interested in just watching them run around than the game itself. But, over the last four or five years, I have actually started enjoying the sport. The Oakland A’s are my #1 favorite team (and no, it is not because of the movie). There is just something about them. The flow of their game. The talent of the players. The meet and greets when they sign stuff (especially for children). I cannot quite put my finger on it, but I like them.

45. The Sacramento River Cats
The Sacramento River Cats are the triple-A team affiliated with the Oakland A’s. One year we went on a guided tour of the River Cats stadium (which included the history of the team) with the kiddos’ charter school. Afterward, we were given four tickets to the game of our choice, during the season. Did I mention how great the seats were? We were close to the field, next to the team dugout! Just watch out for the retractable seats! If you stand up for a second (with the intent of sitting right back down again) just know, the seat will not be there. (You have to pull it back down, again.) I was reminded of that the hard way.

44. The Stockton Ports
The Stockton Ports are the single-A team affiliated with the Oakland A’s. Each year we attend the “Faith Night” Stockton Ports game. Though the games run a bit longer than a River Cats or A’s game, sitting in a block of seats among brothers and sisters in Christ usually keeps one pretty entertained. The first year we went I was uncertain as to what to expect. Now, I find myself looking forward to the event. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend this night of fun, the body of Christ, and baseball.

23Man goes forth to his work
And to his labor until evening.
24O LORD, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.
25There is the sea, great and broad,
In which are swarms without number,
Animals both small and great.
26There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.
27They all wait for You
To give them their food in due season.
28You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
29You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
You take away their spirit, they expire
And return to their dust.
30You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.
(Psalms 104:23-30. NASB.)

(Click here to go to #43 & #42.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Let All the Inhabitants of the World Stand in Awe of Him

I took the morning for myself, today. I have to do that sometimes. Otherwise, I get burnt out, stressed, and eventually am forced to rest (when my immune system gets low and I pick up a cold or the flu). Which reminds me, it is time once again for the flu mist for my kiddos.

There are two books I am trying to read (in addition to the heavy load of reading for university), Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and The Talks by Barrett Johnson. Not to mention this fabulous looking John Piper “lab” entitled “An Abundance of Joy”. But, with Piper, it usually takes a while to grasp, digest, and understand. So, I will have to wait until I have the time that one deserves. I have to admit, I am looking forward to my break from school. I will not be doing the “intersession” as I feel I need a rest. I did summer school this past semester and I am not as focused this term…which, of course, is a problem.

I cannot help but gaze out the window and think, “What a beautiful world God created!”
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. (Genesis 1:1-5. NASB.)
The summer is melting away into autumn.

How magnificent it will be to stand in the presence of the Lord and praise Him morning, noon, and night! That is all I want to do, everyday, as it is. I sing songs of praise in the car and look forward to being in His word first thing each morning. If only I could stay here all day long. I envy the pastors and men of God who get to study God’s word for a living. Growing up, I wanted to be a pastor. Infact, one youth Sunday, I was. But, I know now that is not what God has planned for me…as hard as that is for me to accept.

6By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
7He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
8Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
9For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.
(Psalm 33:6-9. NASB.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Repent in Dust and Ashes

I seem to be having a hard time with coveting, lately. (Or perhaps it has always been but I chose to ignore it. Now, it is pestering me.) To me, this is very serious. God’s word clearly states,
17"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (Exodus 20:17. NASB.)
The fact that I am desiring something belonging to my “neighbor” is bothersome to me.

The words of Jim Elliot are playing in my mind,
Wherever you are be all there.
This is where I am. I may not like it (in its entirety) but I need to be focused on God. One of my favorite quotes is from Alan Redpath and states,
"There is nothing -- No circumstance, No trouble, No testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ. Right through to me if it has come that far. It has come with great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment - but as I refuse to panic, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as come from His throne for some great blessing of purpose of blessing to my heart. No sorrow will disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the Joy of what my Lord is - that is the rest of Victory." (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

I need to stop looking at the lives of others and thinking, “He/she has it so good! I want a little bit of that!” Ick, it is awful to say it out loud. In my thoughts I can down play it but out in the open, it is what it truly is…disgusting, ugly sin! How shameful! Please forgive me, Lord! Pastor Sean said on Friday, “If you are doing something that makes you feel guilty then just stop doing it.” Indeed! This stops right here, right now! Do I have any room to complain? NO!

God is sovereign! Wherever He takes me, that is where I am supposed to be in my life. Am I always going to think it is good, and right, and fair? Probably not but I look to Job. He was a “good” God fearing, God honoring man and God allowed satan to test and torment poor Job. (I do not wish to be tortured like Job!) Nor should I taste discontentment. This pity party is over.

2"I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
3'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."
4'Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.'
5"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
6Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes."
(Job 42:2-6. NASB.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

The LORD is God, and He Has Given Us Light

I should be grocery shopping or doing school work…or cleaning up the kitchen…or doing laundry. Should I, actually? Or is spending time with God EXACTLY what I should be doing? It is DEFINITELY what I would rather be doing, obviously, here I am. This week is going to be a little crazy, too, so I better plan accordingly. I’ve been thinking a lot about how people can tell whether or not I am a believer. I guess it’s kind of silly, huh? I love the words of the Psalmist:
6The LORD is for me; I will not fear;
What can man do to me?
7The LORD is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.
8It is better to take refuge in the LORD
Than to trust in man.
9It is better to take refuge in the LORD
Than to trust in princes.
10All nations surrounded me;
In the name of the LORD I will surely cut them off.
11They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me;
In the name of the LORD I will surely cut them off.
(Psalm 118:6-11. NASB.)
I love my time with the Lord. There is nowhere else I would rather be…though my family is very dear to me.

At church worship service, Pastor Sean spoke of a dream he had (“dream” not a “vision”). I could not help but be reminded of one I had…about five or six years ago. I have most likely mentioned it before (a few times). The feelings were so intense my words are grossly inadequate. A friend and I were standing at the River Jordan. We were discussing baptism (though I cannot remember clearly what we were saying.) Everything was yellow or gold, in my dream, as if I was looking through yellow tinted glasses. And then Jesus walked up beside me and took my hand. He was standing on my right. And he led me into the River Jordan to be baptized. It felt so real and the love was so powerful it was more than my body could contain. I felt confined by my flesh and as if I was going to explode. It was so beyond amazing. (That word is so small and insignificant in contrast to the feeling I experienced.) My cup runneth over.

24This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25O LORD, do save, we beseech You;
O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!
26Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD;
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
27The LORD is God, and He has given us light;
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
You are my God, I extol You.
29Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
(Psalm 118:24-29. NASB.)

There may not be very many things I can guarantee...but that I am a servant of the Lord is one of them.

(Photo Information.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Global Citizenship in the Classroom

This is another video from one of my Early Education classes in which I am enrolled at university. It is hard for me to imagine that this is not common knowledge...to ask questions. Really? How else do we form relationships?

Friday, September 26, 2014

He Set the Earth on its Foundations: 50 Things I am Going to Miss About California (#48-#47)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas I kicked off this list, last week, with 50. Earthquakes and 49. Traffic. Which brings us to the next two items on my list:

48. The Freeways
I have a love/hate relationship with the California (CA) freeways. When all is well, everyone is being careful, observant, courteous, etc. the freeways move relatively swiftly (65 mph) and are pretty efficient. But construction, someone texting or talking and not paying attention, a nincompoop acting foolishly, fog, someone tailgating (following the car ahead too closely), a car broken down in the fast lane or one of the middle lanes, etc. can cause a huge, very dangerous problem in a matter of seconds. And, what is with so many car fires!!! It was not until I moved here that I began seeing this amount! I should carry around a fire extinguisher with me! We just saw one last weekend on our way home from Santa Cruz. One day, last year, I even saw a motorcycle on fire! And the guy was still riding it! I could not help but wonder if his leg hair was getting singed! I do believe I witness at least one automobile fire quarterly…(one each year at the very least). For me, it is too much.

The 80, 50, 5, 99, 405 etc. range anywhere from four to six lanes across. At certain times during the day they are massive parking lots with vehicles bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see. A fender bender or pile up on the opposite side of the freeway generally means rubber neckers, slow moving traffic, and delays on the clear side. I have to admit, though, I am used to them…it took a little while when I first got here (rule number one my friends told me was “never tailgate!”) but now whenever I go other places I miss the zany CA freeways and their long, well-marked on and off ramps with adequate signage. Oh, and motorists here care about how fast each lane moves. The “fast” lane (far left) is exactly that and mainly for passing. Slower traffic should stick to the “slow lane” (far right). Everyone else is in the middle lanes going with the flow. Oh, and do not misuse the carpool lane!

47. The crazy expensive cost of living. (No way, Jose!)
It is worth being mentioned but I certainly will NOT miss it, at all! I feel it is nearly impossible for a single person to live alone in this state! Roommates are pretty much a given. Our first home was two bedrooms (with a “den” we used as a third bedroom), two bath, and 1151 square feet. It was out in the middle of pasture (so to speak), in a housing development 30 minutes away from pretty much everything (though the small town does have a “main street” area with various shops, bars, etc. and a relatively expensive little grocery store) off of a two lane highway. We paid $204,000 for it in 2001. In 2013 it sold for $210,000. (The price per square foot being $176.) Now, think about the houses in your area that cost $204,000 - $210,000. What does a person get for his/her money? I will tell you in the other states in which I looked, I found twice the house for that cost! California is beautiful, it truly is, but costly.

5He set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be moved.
6You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
to the place that you appointed for them.
9You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.

10You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
11they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
(Psalm 104:5-13. ESV.)

(Click here to go to #46-#44.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

You Have Searched Me and Know Me

Twice this week my faith has been brought to my attention. First, I was told I am a “bad Christian”. Then, I was told I do not act like a believer. Both of these statements are very serious to me. They left me feeling icky and taking a good, hard look at myself. Without considering the source, I need to make sure there is nothing in my “blind spots”. As I went over the writing of Pastor John MacArthur, I made sure to ask myself about each item he addressed. Do I have a distinct testimony? An obedient life? A biblical perspective of money and materialism? Am I sensitive to sin? Do I obey God’s word? Do I see a decreasing pattern of sin in my life? Do I love other Christians? Do I experience answered prayer? Do I experience ministry of the Holy Spirit? Can I discern between spiritual truth and error? Have I suffered rejection because of my faith? (All of these, I have asked myself, are from messages on John MacArthur’s “Grace to You” site I linked to, yesterday.)

In asking myself these questions, I cannot help but wonder if the two statements made to me about my faith fall under “Have I suffered rejection because of my faith?” Perhaps…I have been “rejected” by this particular individual, before, a number of times. History tells me that might not be an unreasonable conclusion. But, again, I am not going to examine the source. I am going to focus on my own behavior. Are those around me able to see a reflection of Christ in me? Do I feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit? I can say, I sure do hate to offend the Holy Spirit. It is the most unpleasant feeling ever! I also know for an absolute certainty that I love God and Jesus with my whole heart! I definitely do not pray enough. That I need to fix. And, I need to be in God’s word more each day! I need to talk about Jesus more in my home and while fellowshipping.
5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9. ESV.)

Admittedly, I was in a yucky mood after the grievous second statement was made against me. And, immersed in deep thought most of the day. I know God will search me and show me my own heart.
1O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalms 139. ESV.)

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