Have you ever thought about the way you determine the value of something? Isn’t it usually determined by its cost? Let’s look at a few examples:
MERCHANDISE: Let’s say you get a great deal on something of value; say a ring. You are really happy to have gotten it at such a good price but there is a part of you that doesn’t quite give it the same value it would if you had paid full price for it.It’s just the way our minds work.
INHERITANCE: Have you ever gotten some money through an inheritance? Maybe the people who left it to you scrimped and saved in order to leave it to you. But because it didn’t cost you anything, you may not give the money the same value they did. Possibly you might spend the money on that new truck you have always wanted instead of investing it into your mortgage. You see, free money doesn’t always have the same value as money we had to earn.
SALVATION: We have heard of God’s free gift of salvation many times but because it doesn’t cost us anything, we don’t give it the value it deserves. We want to earn our way to heaven, we want to pay the price for it but that’s not the way it works. Someone Else paid a tremendous cost for it and we must accept it as the free gift it is.
Think about it this way. Someone leaves you a beautiful house. It is free to you but it is going to cost you a lot to live in it and maintain it. That is the way Salvation through Jesus Christ is. He gives it to us freely, but we will be paying a cost as we go along.If we accept it, it will:
Cost us our friends at the bar when we quit hanging around there every night.
Cost us our popularity when we quit sleeping with every person we date.
Cost us our money when we quit selling drugs and have to get a minimum wage job.
Cost us our job when we quit lying for our boss who is stealing from his boss.
The list goes on and on. Each one of us can write a list of things that our salvation has cost us. But the value of it, the sheer eternal value of it is priceless.
Don’t confuse cost with value or you will miss the greatest life-changing opportunity you will ever get.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Matthew 16: 24-26
Friday evening I read a summary of Dana Perino’s book, “Everything Will Be Okay.” She offers advice for young women on how to pursue a successful career. One of her pieces of advice is, “Get a mentor.” She then talked about some of her mentors and then mentioned that one woman was a mentor for her whom she had not actually met. She was inspired by her example and followed her example in giving to others.
As I lay in bed Friday evening, I thought to myself, “Who would have been a mentor for me in my writing journey?” The first name that popped into my mind was Pearl. Pearl? Why I had not even begun writing when I met her and we never even talked about writing. Then I began to think about her life.
When I met Pearl, she was already in her seventies. She was sweet, shy and retiring. If you were in a crowd, Pearl would probably not speak in front of a a lot of people. She was the quiet one in the background. Again I asked myself, “Why Pearl?” And then memories of her came flooding back.
For decades, Pearl had written tracts with Bible verses on them. She started doing this years before the computer age. She would type them out, take them to a printer and then use them to reach others. Her daughter told me she remembered her mom taking her throughout the neighborhood sharing them with the people she met. She also remembers her sharing them with the homeless.
I remember Pearl going to our one and only mall in the small town I lived in. She would go there, sit and visit with people. She would share her faith and share her tracts. If they had a problem, I am sure she would pray for them. She continued to do this even into her eighties when she couldn’t drive. She would get a ride to the mall, stay there for several hours and then get a ride home. She must have impacted hundreds if not thousands of lives.
So why was Pearl a mentor for me? For starters, she began writing on her own. I’d bet money she never took a seminar or class on how to do it. She wrote what she wanted to say, took the initiative and had her work printed. She used her work to share the gospel with those that needed to hear it. Aside from raising her family, I believe this was probably Pearl’s life’s work. She continued doing this until she was no longer able. For me, she was an example of quiet courage.
When I started writing, I didn’t know any woman authors. I didn’t know any one who was doing what I was doing. As time went by, I met people who encouraged me, taught me and helped hone my skills. Eventually, I met authors and writers who were also following their calling and pursuing it. Each one mentored me in their own way, but it was Pearl who gave me the courage to strike out on my own and do what I felt called to do.
So thank you, Pearl. Although, you have gone to your reward. I want to say “Thank you for being such an example of quiet courage.” Your example gave me the courage to start and stay with my calling.
“I really enjoyed this wonderful book with a great story of faith. Also I was really obsessed with experiencing the weaving of hope, loss and love in the lives of people you will come to really care about while reading this book. A highly recommended book and a very well written work of fiction.” Ramona Portelli (for entire review, visit Ramona Portelli.com)
Book Summary: Early in the fourth century, it is a perilous time to be a Christian. Things are about to change as Constantine, the Caesar from the north, has invaded Italia and is about to march on Rome. Livia Arvum, a young grieving widow, is unaware of how these events will soon touch her life. Lucius Marius, a Senatorial Legate, is racing towards Rome with news of Constantine’s plans when he is injured on the Arvum’s property. Recuperating in their home, he becomes infatuated with Livia and decides she is the recompense he wants for the injuries he has sustained.
Will Livia have to betray her beliefs and morals in order to protect her family? Is there any way out of the situation? Will she ever find love again? Come join Livia on her journey as she leaves her home and finds God’s unexpected provision for her.
Sometime between 1574 and 1577, St. John of the Cross was in Avila, Spain. He had a vision of the crucifixion of Christ and later made a drawing of what he saw in his vision. Salvador Dali saw St. John’s drawing and then added his own interpretation in order to make this painting. What I love about this painting, is that if you look closely, you will see that Christ is hanging above the earth and has no nails holding His hands or feet to the cross. He is held there by the love He had for humanity. We are looking down on Him and see Him from The Father’s perspective. You will also see seven mountains below the cross which represent the seven continents, signifying that Christ died for the entire world. In the foreground, there is a boat with men standing by ready to go out as they prepare their nets in order to fish for men.
Of all the paintings I have seen of Christ on the cross, including those dating back several centuries, this is my favorite. To me, it signifies the universality of Christ’s death. As you think about Christ on the cross this week, I hope you will keep this image in your mind also. Remember, it was Love that held Him there.
“Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
Has anyone ever said to you, “Just have faith,” when you were dealing with a problem? The phrase sounds nicebut it is vague and certainly uninspiring. Have faith they say but in what? God, yourself, your family, friends, the government…what exactly? Faith is an important factor in our lives and who or what we have faith in will make the differencein our present circumstances and will eventually determine our eternal outcome.
I don’t know about you, but for me to have faith in myself is a little unnerving. After all, I recognize my own shortcomings and deficiencies. Same with my family and friends. For all the love I have for them, they are just as mortal and flawed as I am. And the government…well, there is nothing there to inspire any faith, that’s for sure. So what or who can I have faith in that will really give me the security I need to stay grounded in this life?
For me, that faith resides in the Father and in His Son, Jesus. The faith I have is not a vague faith in some myths or fairy tales from the past. As we enter this most Holy Week, it is a historical fact that Jesus came to earth, was crucified, buried and rose from the dead. There are extra-biblical sources that record this including the writings of Flavius Josephus. Flavius Josephus was a Jew but was NOT a Christian. He served the Emperors Vespasian and Titus and was their historian during the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and later served them in Rome. There was no Christian bias in his writings when he wrote about Jesus.He was just recording the facts as he knew them to be.
Ask yourself where or with whom are you placing your faith? Is the faith you have enough to carry you through the present and into eternity? These are questions that are imperative that we ask ourselves. It is not enough to blow through life like a leaf in the wind hoping that you will land in the right place. Hoping that your vague faith will get you where you want tobewill bring you to a disappointing end.
There is Someone you can have faith in that will provide you with the security you need…why not give Him a try? The Faith Factor, it makes all the difference!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Do you remember a television program called “The Fear Factor?” The contestants faced graduated situations that challenged their fear. The winner was the person who could face his own fears and complete the most challenges.
Fear is a very real thing. Most people have faced it with one kind of fear or another. Fears can be irrational or based on very real situations. I remember being in an abusive relationship with a man. I was threatened, stalked, kidnapped off the street and unable to leave for years because of my fear of him. Oh yes, fear is a very real thing.
Growing up, I don’t remember having a lot of fears. Of course, I faced the usual kid fears. I remember being about five or six and watching an episode of “Sea Hunt” where Lloyd Bridges fought with sea snakes. Before I got in bed that night, I had to check under my covers and then the bed for sea snakes. Fortunately, I did not find any.
Other than that, I don’t remember a lot of fear. I loved to travel and try new situations. I loved to meet people and be in different environments. I had lots of hopes and dreams. After I got out of that abusive situation, I was left with a lot of fear. It was something I had to fight because I never knew if that man was coming for me. Day after day, I had to confront my fears. It was very difficult and the only reason I was able to overcome them was because of the Lord.
By becoming His child, I could rely on Him to take care of me. I had His word to rely on and I would find some verses, memorize them and meditate on them when I felt that fear. Some of my favorites are, “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear. The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27: 1-2. I relied on the Lord and His word to get me through my days and especially my nights.
Since the pandemic, many have had to deal with crippling fears. I know people who wouldn’t leave their homes to go shopping. Some wouldn’t even go outside for a walk for weeks. Fear is a very real thing and if you are struggling with it, there is Someone who can give you peace and deliver you from your fear.His name is Jesus and He is just waiting to help you.
When you are in any situation where you are fearful, call out His name. He has conquered sin and death and reigns over hell and the grave. He can and will help you. Don’t live in a prison of fear. Call out to Him, He will be there for you!
Have you ever experienced The Pharisee Factor? This factor is negative and it can destroy relationships before they even start. A Pharisee is someone who looks down on another because that person doesn’t meet their particular standards. I was hit by it the other day and it almost destroyed a friendship that was just beginning.
I had been chatting with a gal and after a few days realized that perhaps she worked in the sex industry. When I realized it, I wanted to reject her and not speak to her again. Boom! I had been hit by The Pharisee Factor. Fortunately for me, after a few minutes of that thinking, The Holy Spirit began to convict me of my attitude. He made me realize that I was acting like a Pharisee and that my attitude stank. I was judging her and somewhere deep inside of me, I had forgotten about my own sins.
I repented of my bad attitude and began to feel compassion for the woman. For whatever reason, she was involved in a lifestyle that had to be very negative for her. I began to pray for her and am hoping for an opportunity to share the love of the Lord with her. I suspect that before that happens though, I must look at my own life, my own heart, and pray that the Lord will give me a heart like his.
When we read about Jesus in the Bible, we see that He always reached out to those who were lost. When the Pharisees would criticize Him for the company He kept, He would always remind them of why He came to the earth. He would tell them He came “to seek and save the lost.” He would say that “the well have no need of a physician.” He had a heart for those who were hurting and He wasn’t going to let other people’s opinions stand in His way from reaching out to those that needed Him.
Have you been hit by The Pharisee Factor? Do you sometimes reject people for the way they live and the things they do? Do you need a heart of compassion in order to reach out to them and offer help? If so, don’t be afraid to come to the Lord and ask Him to give you a heart like His. If we want to reach those who are lost and hurting, we must be more like Him and less like a Pharisee.
We walked into our favorite travel agency, “Destinations,” with anticipation. It had been a long winter and we were ready for another trip. We were going back to see the family in Italy but every time we go, we like to plan several stops around the country. Our usual agent, Sylvia, was there waiting to help us. There was a new man, Damon, who was also there. She introduced us to him as he was a recent hire.
She handed us a complimentary chocolate as we sat down. She opened her map and we got to work. She asked us where our primary destination would be knowing we would say Milan. Then we got down to business. As we ticked off each city we wanted to go to, she would enter it into her computer and then say, “Next Destination?”
We were just about at the end of our list when I opened up the wrapper on the chocolate and popped it into my mouth. It was soft and creamy and as I closed the wrapper, I got chocolate all over my hand. I was distracted for a moment and I heard her say, “Final Destination?” I looked at my hand and said, “Could you excuse me a moment? I need to use the restroom.”
I walked into the restroom and ran the water. I washed my hands and as I reached for the paper towel, I touched the light switch and the light turned off. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just turn it on again.” I reached for the switch and as I touched it, a spark flew out and the light flickered. “Strange,” I thought, as I waited for the light to stay on. A moment later, the flickering stopped, the light came on and I exited the washroom.
Everything looked a little different as I walked towards Sylvia’s desk. I figured it was just my eyes adjusting to the light. I sat down but nothing seemed to change. There was an iridescent glow around everything. Sylvia looked down at me and again said, “Final Destination?” No longer was there a map of Italy on her desk but a picture of a road with a fork in it. One fork led to a beautiful oasis and the other to the edge of a fiery volcano.
I looked over at my husband and it was as if time had stopped. He sat there but he wasn’t moving. It was just Sylvia, Damon and myself who were having this conversation. Sylvia had the same kind expression on her face like she usually did but Damon had a greedy leering look on his face. It was as if he wanted to make me choose the path whose end was a fiery volcano. I could see his hatred of me and sense that he wanted me destroyed.
I gasped as I realized this really was happening. This was no longer a conversation about our next trip but about which path I would choose that would lead me to my Final Destination. Fear began to grip me as Damon reached for my hand. My heart started thumping in my chest and I wanted to run but I couldn’t move. Instinctively, I knew Damon wanted to take me to Hell. I shuddered and called out the only name I knew who could help me, “JESUS!” I looked up and He stood before me. He took my hand and led me to my Final Destination…that beautiful oasis called Heaven.
Destinations aplenty, but only two choices when it comes to our Final Destination.
Which will you choose?
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3: 16-17.