Cost vs. Value

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

Image by Steve Bussime. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Pearl

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.

Image by M. Magge. Courtesy of Pixabay.

The Pharisee Factor

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.

Image by John Hain. Courtesy of Pixabay.

The Road to Ravenna

In this sequel to “The Unwelcome Stranger,” we find Livia on the run from Lucius Marius. She has escaped the Marius home, married Marcus, and is well on her way to Carthage. A terrible storm suddenly changes everything. Their ship is damaged and they are forced to put in on the coast of Italia. Little does she know that Lucius Marius has come home and discovered her absence. He is on the Emperor’s business moving down the coast and is right behind her. When he doesn’t find her on the ship, he makes other plans to bring her home. He has one of his soldiers, Crispus Cadellus, disguise himself and orders him to find her and bring her back. Marcus and Livia fall for the ruse and take Crispus into their home thinking he is a runaway servant. Will Cripus betray them to Lucius? Will Livia ever be free from her obligation to him? Come join Livia in this exciting story of deceit, betrayal and redemption.

Available on Amazon in print or Kindle. Also available at Lighthouse Christian Publishing.

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A Rorschach Test

Life is like a Rorschach Test. It’s all in how you look at it. For decades, psychologists have given people Rorschach tests. They are shown an image of an inkblot and then tell the psychologist what they see. Everyone perceives them a little bit differently. Life is sort of like that.

Each day, we are confronted with a host of problems and different circumstances. How we navigate them is mostly determined by how we perceive them. For instance, let’s say a truck drove by your house and a small log fell off the back of it. At first you would get the log out of the street and place it on your sidewalk, hoping the truck would come back and pick it up. After a few days however, if it hadn’t been picked up, you would move it onto your property and decide what to do with it.

Some people would just see it as a problem and wonder how they could get rid of it. Others would see potential in the log. One might see it as a plant stand and place it by their front door and put a beautiful plant on it. A woodcarver may see the log and think he could sculpt an image from it. Someone else might think he could cut it up in rounds and make a design on a wall with the pieces. Another might view it as a source of firewood to warm his house. However, if you had a toothpick factory, you would look at that log for what it could yield; hundreds if not thousands of toothpicks. You would view each part of it as having potential. Very few people have the ability to see the log that way.

If only we could only see the problems that come our way with that kind of perspective. Every problem has the potential to help us with our character development and add something positive to our lives. Will we trust God with the problems we face and turn to Him for the answers or will we just gut them out and try to get rid of them? However we decide to face them will ultimately decide the amount of good we will gain as we walk through each one of them.

We all get a choice as to how we view our lives and the problems we face. And just like a Rorschach image, it’s all in our perspective.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Image by Edith Luthil. Courtesy of Pixabay

Heart-jacked

Have you ever had your heart-jacked? We know that when something is hi-jacked it is taken and used for a different purpose. So heart-jacked…what is it? Heart-jacked is when your heart is taken away from the purpose it was set on originally. Think of it this way: you are in a relationship and you meet someone you like better. You break up with the person you are with and start dating another. Voila, your heart has been jacked! Or perhaps you were going to pursue one major in college and you worked in a different field over the summer. You love what you did and so you change your major. Again, your heart has been jacked.

Most of us can relate to how easy it is to have our heart-jacked. In fact, if we are married and we work out of the home, we may have been in a position to have our heart-jacked more than once. It usually starts out very innocently. We start working with a fellow employee of the opposite sex who is attractive to us. We begin to share our personal feelings with that person and we become good friends with them. We continue to become better and better friends until one day, we wake up and find that we prefer spending time with that friend more than with our spouse. We haven’t realized what was happening and now all of a sudden, our heart has been jacked!

Once we realize that our heart has been jacked, we need to take immediate steps to stop the heart-jacking. We have to spend less time with that person and quit sharing personal details with them. If we can’t get away from that person, we may need to transfer to a different department, shift or find another job altogether; otherwise our marriage may end up on the rocks. Heart-jacking is real and it happens every day of the week. Just ask anyone who has experienced it.

As perilous as that example is, there is an equally perilous heart-jacking we must work to avoid if we are believers in Jesus Christ. When we first met Him and entered into a relationship with Him, we were totally in love with Him. We talked about Him with our friends and loved to spend time with Him in His word.

But then after a while, our heart began to get jacked. It may be that our work took primacy in our lives, or perhaps other relationships, hobbies, or even our ministry. Heart-jacking is real and we all have probably suffered from it to one degree or another. When we examine ourselves and find our heart has been jacked, what do we need to do?

In Revelation 3 verse 4, Jesus speaks to this issue when He speaks to the Ephesian church. He tells them, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” His advice to them is straightforward, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.” What exactly does that mean? It means we need to return to the way we were when we first met Him. We need to spend more time with Him in Bible study and prayer. We must focus our thoughts on Him, and be careful about not let our hearts get jacked again.

Heart-jacked? There is an answer…let’s take it! What do you say?

 

Parallel Realities

On Sunday morning, I received a message on Facebook. Normally, I ignore the messages unless they are personal, but this one was flagged and so I looked at it. It talked about martial law soon to be in effect, people getting arrested and President Trump being sworn in again on January 20th.

I was kind of in shock at the thinking and showed the message to my husband. I then called a girlfriend and told her about it. I asked, “Am I living in an alternate reality?” In my world, the message seemed so out of touch with reality than I couldn’t comprehend how someone could believe that it would be happening. On Monday, I heard from a few people that thought that the President might actually be sworn in on the 20th. I then watched the riots on January 6th and heard what some people thought was going to happen when they went to D.C.

It made me realize that we are living in a country where people are living in parallel realities. There is such a divide, such a disparity in the news services that no one really knows the truth. One group listens to one news service and believes what it says. Another group listens to another news channel and believes what it says; hook, line and sinker. What bothers me is that there seem to be so few people in the center, so few people that are willing to look at both sides of the problems and issues. Is there any way we can bridge the divide between both realities?

It seems to me that we must stop getting our news from just one source. We must listen to disparate points of view in order to find the truth. We must stop listening to politicians and believing everything they are telling us is the truth. They should be the last people we rely on for the truth as they have a political stake in most outcomes. We must also stop demonizing people who are on the other side of the political spectrum. No one is all good or all bad. No one person or side has THE ANSWER to all of the problems that we face as a nation. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth and the answer for most of our problems.

Do you see what I see concerning parallel realities? If so, what do you think can be done to help bring our country back together and bridge the divide?

Image by Octavia A. Tudose. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Holding My Breath

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Right now, I am holding my breath and praying:

Heavenly Father,

I pray for a smooth and orderly transition of power in our government. Please place your angels around every elected official and protect them from any workers of darkness who would bring violence against them.

I pray this in the Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photo by Alexandr Ivanov, Courtesy of Pixabay