No Substitutes

Have you ever made a recipe and it said, “No substitutes?” Then you know that you have to have the real “thing” or ingredient to make the dish come out right. It’s that way with life, there really are “no substitutes” for having Jesus in your life.

Recently, I have been going through a difficult experience. If it wasn’t for the Lord, I don’t think I would have made it through. What about you? Are you going through a difficult experience? What are you relying on to make it through…drugs, alcohol, or something else to help you cope? If so, why not give Jesus a try? Just call out to Him and He will be there to help you!

He is The Good Shepherd – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.John 10:11

What more can you ask for? God Incarnate became a man who came to earth to lay down his life for all of us. He will always be there to provide for you, to lead and guide you, to heal and help you and to see you safely home.

In whatever situation you are going through, there is Someone who is waiting to walk through it with you; to help you in a way that no other person can. He will be with you every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

HE is there beside you, waiting to be asked into your difficult situation so that HE can be your provision. Why not give HIM a try? There really are no other substitutes for HIM and the help HE can give you!

Image by Jeff Jacobs. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Success vs. Impact

As writers, we tend to judge our writing by the markers of success. We check the likes and comments on our blog posts. As authors, we check our reviews and the numbers of copies we sell. It is normal to look for success in our endeavors, but is that the only measure of their success or worth? What about their impact?

I have read hundreds of books in my lifetime, but the ones that made an impact on me are in a separate category. I love to be entertained by a good historical fiction book and an informative non-fiction book is always welcome but how many have made a significant impact on my life?

“IMPACT – TO HAVE A STRONG EFFECT ON SOMEONE OR SOMETHING.” Oxford Languages

When I think about the books (other than the Bible) that have impacted me in my life, I think about those I read as a teenager. First and foremost was “On the Beach” by Nevil Shute. It gave me an abhorrence for the thought of all-out nuclear war. “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran was a lovely book of poetry and prose that spoke to my soul. And of course, “1984” and “Animal Farm” showed me about the abuses of totalitarianism. Then there were those that spoke to me as an adult. “Hinds feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard taught me about the difficulty of the Christian journey and the faithfulness of Christ. The Zion Covenant series by Brock and Bodie Thoene taught me about the personal costs of World War II. “The Crucifixion of Ministry” by Andrew Purves is teaching me again (as I read it the third time) about laying down “my agenda” and letting Christ work in and through me.

Impact in writing is not always about a book though. Articles in magazines have impacted me at just the right time when I needed help or information on a subject. And blogs, how many times have blog posts spoken to me and encouraged me? One blogger that always informs and educates me is Jack Parquette who writes the “Quo Vadis” blog. I have laughed at his wry sense of humor and been enlightened by his historical view on many of the issues we are dealing with today.

Remember, there is more to writing than the fleeting markers of success, there is the possibility of making a real impact on someone’s life.

Think about those writers, books or bloggers that have made a significant impact on your life. In the comment section below, please share some of them with us.

Image by Rony Michaud. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Emperor Worship

As we know, many of the Roman Emperors wanted to be considered gods during the time they lived. Julius Caesar was declared a god upon his death, while Augustus allowed people in Asia to build temples to him while he was still living. Emperor worship began with the first two emperors of the Roman Empire. Many times, in order to show your loyalty to the state, a person was required to take a pinch of incense and offer it to a statue of whichever emperor was in power.

I doubt if many of the populace believed their monarchs were gods, and surely those closest to them realized their frailty but emperor worship continued on until the reign of Constantine in the fourth century. We look back and know for certain that those men were not gods and we think of it as part of an earlier time in history but emperor worship still continues today.

As we look around the world, we see that there are leaders who wish to be deified and demand worship from the people in their society. We just shake our heads as we watch the populace treat their leader like a god, and yet…

Look at the way some treat our recent presidents. Donald Trump certainly has a cult following. Those in his cult believe him to be a savior of this country and are willing to believe an outlandish narrative that has him returning to office this August. As with previous leaders, those closest to him know his frailties and have no illusions about him being a god or a savior of the union.

Lest we look down our noses at Trump’s cult following, we know that Obama had those that believed he was some sort of a god or savior not only of the nation but also of the world. Before he was elected president, he could garner crowds in the thousands in other countries and I believe his cult following continues to this day, hoping that someday he will return to power.

We might think that the people who regard our leaders in such a high capacity have not a belief in any form of religion and so accept these men as their gods or saviors, but that is not true. Many are believers in God but somehow He seems to have been replaced in their thinking by these mortal men.

Why is this important? Because if we believe that any man can save this country or the world instead of the one true God, we have opened ourselves up to a huge deception and we will more easily fall for The Great Deception that is coming on the world. The Bible speaks of a man that will come on the scene who will want to be worshiped as God. In fact, he will demand it and those who will not worship him will be killed. (Revelation 13:11-17)

What is the first step in this false worship? It is looking to another human being as a savior of our country or our world. We need to ask ourselves if we have put any politician on a pedestal in our minds. Do we think that a person can save us from ruin? If so, we better put him back on terra firma where he belongs. If we don’t, we will be part of a modern day version of emperor worship, whether we know it or not.

Photo by Michael Cullers, taken in Ravenna, Italy.

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

AGIA PARASKEVI

Written by Vladimir Moss

John Huston’s film “The Man Who Would Be King” (1975), based on the novella by Rudyard Kipling, has much to teach us about our holy faith…

Two rebel soldiers from the British army, Daniel Dravot (played by Sean Connery) and Peachy Camehan (Michael Caine) seek adventure in an expedition to Kifiristan, somewhere beyond the Khyber Pass. By making themselves indispensable to the villagers, and accomplishing some pseudo-miracles, one of them, Dravot, is acclaimed as king. Moreover, when he is brought to the high priest of the region, who sees a Masonic amulet around his neck, he is acclaimed as a god and the long-expected successor of Alexander the Great (who considered himself the son of Zeus). At first, this new “god” does good to his worshippers, settling their disputes and leading them to undertake useful projects, while becoming very rich himself. When the snows melt, Camehan…

View original post 834 more words

Counting the Cost

My last post was about the different pressures we face in this world. I talked about peer, corporate, political and societal pressure. All real, for sure. I talked about being able to stand against the pressure and how we cannot do it well in our own strength. But there is another part to this equation: when we stand against this pressure, there is going to be a cost, and it is something you have to consider.

Let’s take peer pressure. If you don’t go along with your friends when they choose to do something wrong, you will pay a price. Perhaps, they will snub you for a day or they might call you names. They could drop you as a friend if you won’t go along with them. You could pay a small cost or an even larger cost for doing the right thing.

Think about corporate pressure. If the corporation chooses to do something that you believe is morally or ethically wrong and you choose not to do it, you may pay a very high price indeed. You could be blackballed, fired or overlooked for promotions for the foreseeable future.

What about political pressure? Let’s say your party decides to promote something that you believe is morally or ethically wrong. If you won’t go along with them, again, you may pay a very high price. You may lose funding in the next election or you may lose their support and even their nomination for your position.

Let’s think about societal pressure. You hold a state or national office and the winds of change are blowing and not in a good direction. You are facing pressure to cave into what the mob wants and you know it is wrong. If you stand up for what is right, you many be voted out of office in the next election. You will certainly be vilified by many and your life will probably be threatened by a few if not many…not a pretty picture.

No matter what type of pressure we are facing; if we decide we are not going to go along with it and will have to take a stand, there will be a cost to pay. It may be slight or it may be something life-altering, such as a loss of a job or profession. We would be well advised to consider the cost of the actions we plan to take. We must not be foolish or naive and think that just because we chose to do the right thing, there will be no cost to pay. There will always be a cost.

Even Jesus, told those who wanted to be his disciples, to consider the cost they would pay before they decided to follow him. In Luke 14: 28-33, He talks about a man who wants to build a tower and how he must consider the cost of building it and having the resources to finish the job. He then uses another example: He talks about a king going to war and how the king must consider the forces he has to use to fight the battle and if he has the ability to win.

When taking a stand against the crowd, against the pressure, there are easy answers and there are right answers but there are no cost-free answers. No matter what we decide, we must always count the cost, pray for wisdom and move in the direction we believe to be right.

Peer Pressure

When we think of peer pressure, our minds automatically go to teens. We are concerned with the friends they have because we know that they will influence their decisions, both positive and negative. Peer pressure is real and it begins a lot earlier than the teenage years. Peer pressure begins the moment we begin to make friends. We are only human and want to be accepted by those in our social circles and so from the time we make our first friend, we begin to experience it.

Peer pressure is a strong driving force but it doesn’t end when we graduate from high school. It continues on through college and as we get out into the workforce. Depending on where we find employment, we may begin to experience something stronger than peer pressure; it is corporate pressure. It is the pressure our corporation puts on its employees to think and conform to its particular agenda, political or otherwise.

If you decide you want to go into public service, you open yourself up to a stronger pressure than corporate pressure, it is political pressure. This pressure comes at you from all sides, political and otherwise as people want their agendas enacted by their elected officials.

If you happen to make it into state or national office, you face an even stronger pressure, it is societal pressure. The whole of society looks to you and pressures you to again follow their agenda, whatever it happens to be at the time. As we know, most politicians buckle under that pressure sooner or later. We all remember the name, Pontius Pilate. He was the governor of Judea at the time Jesus was brought before him. The political leaders wanted Jesus crucified but Pilate realized they were jealous of Him and he didn’t want to give in to them. Pilate would not go along with Jesus’ accusers in the beginning, but when the crowd began screaming for His death, he caved into the pressure.

No one is immune to peer pressure, corporate pressure, political pressure or societal pressure. We must all deal with a certain level of it wherever we find ourselves. So how do we deal with it? We can rely on our own strength and hope we can withstand whatever we are faced with, but I don’t think that is a very strong place to stand. We are all human, and we have been dealing with this pressure in one form or another from the time we were youngsters, and we didn’t always do so well when faced with it.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we must recognize that the only way we will be able to stand in a society that continues to deteriorate morally, ethically and spiritually, is to stand in the strength that He can give us. We must look to Him and ask Him for the strength to stand against whatever we are facing each day.

“Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10

Image by Zibal Media, Courtesy of Pixabay.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

Need a good book to read this summer to inspire you to keep writing? I recommend  “7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers.” It is a collection of essays written by writers of InScribe, a Christian Writer’s Fellowship in Canada. I first found it when I was looking through Kimberley Payne’s books on Amazon. Kimberley is just one of the writers of this book.

I would love to introduce you to Kimberley. She is a motivational speaker, author and writer of spiritual and physical fitness topics. Her devotional writings relate to raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle and everyday experiences that include building a relationship with God. Kimberley has written over twenty books (most available on Kindle) for adults and children alike. You can visit her website at kimberleypayne.com.

 

A brief list of her books include: Fit for Faith, Trees in the Bible, Animals in the Bible, Oma Loves Her Grandbug, Feed Your Spirit, Fit For Prayer, The Four Habits of Raising Joy Filled Kids, ABC’s of Psalms for Kids, and Food for Thought.

Why not check them out today on Amazon.com?

Post-COVID Stress Disorder

Have you noticed the news lately? Are you wondering what is going on? We see mass shootings routinely, people on airplanes going bonkers when asked to put a mask on, people in stores attacking others for not wearing a mask. Just a cursory glance at the headlines would make one think that something is up.

There are lots of reasons that crime and disorderly incidents are up and I am not trying to gloss over the fundamental problems of cities that have defunded the police and/or are releasing felons without bail. But I believe that something more is at play here.

Lately when I read the news, I have wondered if many in our nation are suffering from Post COVID Stress Disorder. There is something going on in our society as a whole and I believe that as a nation we have been traumatized by the societal problems created by COVID. I didn’t know if such a condition exists but I recently read an article by Dr. Caelan Soma titled, “Post-Covid Stress Disorder and Pandemic Trauma and Stress Experience.”

The article was written in February before society began to open up and return to normal. People were feeling this stress then and I believe that many are still suffering from it after almost a year of lockdowns and economic hardships. She states that many have suffered traumatic stress due to: “severe illness, hospitalization, witnessing death and extreme exposure to COVID-19 details.”

Many of us have not experienced that level of traumatic stress but most of us have experienced some of these general stressors she talks about: “COVID-19 exposure and quarantine, social isolation, employment and/or income loss, working at home with children, being a caregiver or making difficult decisions about health, education, finances, etc.”

Before we dismiss the idea that we have not suffered some form of stress from the pandemic, let’s ask ourselves how did it affect us personally? If nothing else, how did it feel to go to the store after the hoarders had bought out the toilet paper, cleaning wipes and most of the canned food? How did it feel to listen to the constant harping about COVID on the news with the death statistics on the screen every minute of every day?

I believe we have all been through a great deal this past year and we should not discount it. Most of us know of someone who died or who became very ill from COVID. Many were unable to work and had to shutter their businesses at great financial cost. We have been through a lot and we have been through it together as a society. Like it or not, the COVID pandemic has affected us all to one degree or another. We will never take for granted buying a package of toilet paper or Clorox wipes at the store. We related to people through a mask for more than twelve months. The social isolation was hell for those who live alone and were not permitted out to visit their relatives or have their relatives in.

While we watch the puzzling behavior of people in the airplanes or at the stores, let’s keep in mind the COVID Stress Disorder. Many are suffering from it and they have no idea why they feel the way they do and why they are acting the way the are. The Disorder is real and many continue to experience the effects of the trauma and stress they have been through.

Photo by Gerd Altman. Courtesy of Pixabay

Broken Crayons Still Color

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Shelley Hitz talk about her story of addiction. She titled it, “Broken Crayons Still Color.” I loved that illustration with the hope it brought to my mind. A few days later, one of my friends was telling me about a daughter she lost. As she was telling me about her, a thought came into my mind and wouldn’t leave, “Her daughter was a broken crayon.”

You see, we are all broken crayons, but some of us are broken earlier than others. Her daughter had dealt with many things most of us don’t have to deal with. She dealt with them from the time she was a child. She was a lovely crayon and her colors were truly amazing when she was younger, but there was a time when she was older that the colors began to darken.

As my friend told us, her daughter dealt with drug addiction for many years. Those of us who have dealt with it or had members of our family and friends deal with it know the darkness that can affect their lives and the struggles they deal with. People outside of the circle of close family and friends may still see their bright colors, but those closest have seen and felt the darker hues as they struggle with the ups and downs, the highs and lows.

When we think of our family and friends who have struggled with those things, let us remember the bright colors they brought into our lives, let the darker hues fade and let’s remember them for who they truly were. Those that wanted to make a clean start and begin a new life each day. The people who bravely faced their struggles and who still held onto hope that someday their lives would be different.

Many of them are whole now; they are no longer broken crayons. They are experiencing the beauty and joy of heaven with a God that loved them from the moment they were conceived. A God who was willing to die for them in order to bring them into his Presence when the time came. For this we can be truly thankful.

As we remember them, let us not forget our own brokenness or that of those around us. Let us love each other and share the beauty of our own colors with each and everyone we encounter. Let us keep in mind that many people struggle in silence and only show us their bright colors but they may be experiencing darker hues in their lives. And above all, let us be kind to each other as we never know how fragile the broken crayon next to us is.

Image by Borka Szalbo’. Coutesty of Pixabay.

Fourth Blogiversary Giveaway

Today is my Fourth Blogiversary! I am so grateful to all of you who have read, commented or shared this blog with others! I want to say a Big Thank You to all of you!

I will be giving away a copy of one of my books to four people.

Rules: You must live in the U.S.

Choose one of the books, comment and choose print or ebook.

I will choose the winners in five days!