The Eyes of Christ

homeless-845752_640Several years ago, I was standing at the pharmacy counter waiting for my son’s prescription. For two years, he had been suffering from a migraine pain syndrome set off by a fall on a gym floor. We had been to doctors, neurologists, and a vascular specialist who told us our son had the worst kind of migraines. Nothing we tried seemed to give him relief for any period of time. So there I was, buying yet another prescription that may or may not help. I was feeling sorry for myself because I was putting out more money that was probably being spent in vain that could have been used for something else. As I was spiraling down in the quietness of my own thoughts, I just happened to look out the window. 

There in front of me was a middle-aged man walking by. He was obviously going to the railroad tracks behind the pharmacy hoping to catch a train. He was carrying a backpack as he moved along. Then…he looked up and I saw him…really saw him. He had the saddest eyes I had ever seen. They were filled with pain and suffering and bore deep into my soul. At that moment, I knew I was looking into the eyes of Christ. There, in that man was true suffering. I was immediately taken aback and felt ashamed. I, who had so much, was feeling sorry for myself and just outside the window was a man who had nothing but the clothes on his back. I will never forget his face or those eyes that bored into my soul. To this day, I will never know if that was an actual man or a manifestation of the Lord on earth.

I do know that in his eyes, I had seen the Lord. He was not walking the hallowed halls of government power or sitting in a plush corporate boardroom. He was there with the lowly, the suffering, and the homeless. I know now that if I want to be where the heart of God is, that I must go where the broken-hearted are. That’s where He will be, ministering his love and grace to those who have no hope and need His help. 

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Need a new perspective on Ancient Greece? — Marilyn Yung

The Areopagus in Athens puts Ancient Greece in its proper perspective This morning, we walked through Athens to the Areopagus, the location of a judicial court, where Paul made his “To an Unknown God” sermon to the Athenians with—wait for it— the Acropolis in the background with its temples to Athena, Poseidon, Erechtheus and other […]

via Need a new perspective on Ancient Greece? — Marilyn Yung

Sometimes Bad Advice is Worse Than No Advice at All.

For two weeks, I have been watching the birds on our patio. They have gone from this:

selective focus photography of two hatchling birds in nest

Photo by 42 North on Pexels.com.

To this:

birds feed hunger nest

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The mother and father have been feeding them worms night and day and they have grown by leaps and bounds. They are almost ready to fledge. They’re standing on the side of the nest moving their wings up and down waiting for the day when they can fly on their own. 

Nutritionally, I can see that worms are actually a super food for birds…that’s for sure. But is that something I should be touting for humans? Not necessarily. You can eat worms if you desire but unless they are cultivated on a worm farm and clean, you might get parasites and some pretty bad germs from them.

Diets go in and out of fashion according to the fad of the day. For the past few months, it has been the Keto diet. Every ad seems to be touting it and people are sharing its benefits with others and recommending they try it.  I’m sure that the diet works for some but it may be unhealthy for others. Everyone has the responsibility to check out the efficacy of a diet before they go on it, but as we know, not everyone does their due diligence. 

Last week, I heard of a woman who overdid on the Keto diet. She ended up in the hospital with kidney failure. I was not surprised at the news as my father died from kidney failure. When your kidneys are failing, you must limit the amount of protein you take in. The woman may not have had healthy kidneys to begin with but she was unaware of that fact. 

I guess the moral here is that just because a diet works for some people and does them no harm does not necessarily mean it is right for everyone, especially yourself. I went on the Keto diet a few decades ago when it was called The Adkins Diet. I lost six pounds in three days and knew that something wasn’t quite right. It was not a good fit for me so I immediately went off of it. 

Fad diets come and go and eating trends change every few years. Remember gluten free? It was such a fad that thousands began eating gluten free when they didn’t need to. I’m sure many didn’t check out the downside of eating that way and the nutrients you miss if you leave certain grains completely out of your diet. Let’s be smart about fad diets and eating trends. Just because it is the latest trend does not mean it is necessarily good for us in the long run!

Expiration Dates

E. date

For the last few weeks, I have been thinking about Expiration Dates and the fact that each one of us has one. I see each of us as having an Expiration Date stamped on the back of our necks at the time of our birth. It’s not a visible mark, mind you. You know, one that we can see if we hold a mirror up to the back of our necks. It is invisible and has been stamped there by our Creator.  No one else can see it. He alone knows which day will be our final day. 

The problem is that none of us knows our Expiration Date. If we did, we would live quite differently than we do. Most of the time, we live as if we have all the time in the world, but we don’t, our time is limited here on Earth.  Intrinsically we know this fact but it is hard to incorporate it into our daily lives. How can we live in such a way that we keep our eyes on the Eternal and not on the transient?

If you are like me, it will take intentionality in order to do it. I must remind myself daily that this could be my last  day and I need to do whatever I am supposed to do today. If I live that way, I will be ready when my Expiration Date arrives.

What about you? How do you keep your mortality in mind so that you can keep your priorities straight? Let me know.

“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Lost

Several years ago, my husband wanted to go out in the woods and use his compass to find a lake. We didn’t take a lot of provisions with us or a flashlight because we were just going to hike in and out during the daytime. We also did not tell anyone where we were going; so off we went. Instead of taking the road to the lake, we parked the car a few miles from the lake and my husband looked on his map and took a compass heading. We followed that heading through the woods until we reached the lake. It took a few hours to get in but all in all, it was a successful venture. 

We decided to follow the road back to the car and began to walk. What we didn’t know was that the road forked a little bit north of us, and that the road we were on was not the one we thought it was. After a while, we realized that the road was not taking us back to the car. We talked about what we should do since it was going to be dark in about an hour. We decided to backtrack to the place we left from at the lake. We would then follow the compass heading through the woods back to the car.

person holding compass

Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

By the time we got to the lake, it was getting dark. Remember, my husband did not have a flashlight with him. In order to get out, he had me walk fifteen or twenty feet ahead of him, he would take a compass heading and have me move until I was in line with it. He would then come and stand where I was and then I would walk another fifteen or twenty feet. We did that for the next few hours. I would walk ahead, he would take the heading. I would move until I was on that heading, he would walk up to where I was standing and we would do it all over again. Over and over we did those same repetitious steps. 

The moon rose higher and illuminated the woods. I felt better about it, but knew we were “lost” and so I kept repeating Bible verses to myself, holding onto whatever I could until we got out of the woods. My husband wasn’t worried at all because he trusted the compass and knew that if we followed it, eventually we would come out of the woods by the car.

Finally, the woods cleared and we saw the road. We came out of the woods within about fifteen yards of the car. To say I was greatly relieved is an understatement. But I did learn something that day; I can trust the compass, and even if I don’t know where I am. The compass will always point me in the right direction. 

That experience was a great life lesson for me, both practically and spiritually. We, as finite humans, will sometimes find ourselves in situations where we feel we are lost in the woods. We cannot see our way out of it and it feels dark. We need to remember that our sense of direction will lie to us, our emotions will lie to us, but our compass will never lie to us. If we will keep our eyes on the Lord (the compass) and check with the map (the Word) we will be able to walk in the right direction and eventually we will get out of the situation we are in. We must learn not to rely on what we think is happening around us and try to find our own way out of whatever situation we are in. The book of Proverbs has a few great verses that explains this principle:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6.

For me…lesson learned…trust the Compass!

It’s Summer and I am going to reblog a few of my outdoor posts!

Facing the Music

man playing violin on stage

Photo by Gabriel Santos Fotografia on Pexels.com

Every Saturday, I sit down and put all the debit slips from the week in my checkbook; I then balance the checkbook. The next week, same thing. Once a month, we get our bank statement in the mail and I have to “face the music.” Did I make any math mistakes…you know, add the two – carry the one? If so, when it is time to balance the statement, I must “face the music” and make the corrections. Sometimes, I do pretty good and I am about on track with the bank. Other times, I have made mistakes in our favor. That is always a good day when I can add money back into our account. There are other days however, when I have made mistakes that are not in our favor and I must subtract money from our available balance.

If the mistakes aren’t too big, I don’t mention it to my husband. My motto is: No harm, No foul,  but if the mistakes are over about $25.00, I feel I need to let him know. Not that he says anything, mind you. He just gives me that look that says, “Why don’t you use a calculator when figuring the balance?” The problem is: I do use my calculator now, but I can still make mistakes when entering the numbers.  No matter how hard I try, I still cannot do it perfectly.

Last evening, when I was out on my nightly walk, I began thinking about “facing the music” in terms of our trespasses. What if I didn’t confess them to the Lord as they happened, instead I waited until Saturdays to get things right? I would have to start writing them down in order to remember them all. You know how the list would go…I had a bad thought about someone, I had a bad attitude when I talked to my boss, etc… the list would continue on and on.

What if, rather than once a week, I waited until the end of my life to try and get things right with the Lord? What would that look like? I know one thing for sure; there is no way I could remember all of the wrong things I had done. And yet, some people saunter through life like that. They don’t even think about “facing the music” when they die. Surely, there must be a better way.

For daily debits, think in terms of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” For those who are sauntering through life not thinking in terms of “facing the music,” Hebrews 9:27 should give them pause: “And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Let’s face it, there is not a notebook big enough to write down all the sins we each commit in our lifetimes. You see, that’s why Christ came. The next verse says, “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” There is a “Get out of Hell” free card, we just have to be willing to take it. 

The Unwelcome Stranger

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Early in the Fourth Century A.D., 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 knocked off his chariot because of the Arvum’s sheep. 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.

Available on Amazon, print 12.95, kindle .99  and Lighthouse Christian Publishing 12.95 genre: historical fiction romance

First World Problems

architecture building shop shopping

A few weeks ago my son came over to visit. We were talking and he began the next part of the conversation with, “Mom, I know this is a First World problem, but…” He then proceeded to talk about something he was thinking about purchasing. After he left, I thought about what he had said as far as First World problems went.

We know that in the Third World, many people suffer from a lack of basic necessities, i.e., sanitation, potable water, food, shelter, safety,  and access to basic medical care. Most people are just trying to survive in desperate circumstances. When we go to one of these countries, we are shocked by the conditions that people are living in; that’s what characterizes the Third World.

In the First World, the average citizen has most of his basic necessities. There are people without adequate health care and some live in areas where they are concerned about safety, but in general, most of us have our basic needs met. We then deal with First World problems such as: “Which house or car should I buy?” “Which doctor should I go to?” Which job should I take, the one I like or the one that pays more?” We can indeed be stressed when we are in the middle of these decisions, but if we ask ourselves the right question, we can lower our stress level. 

When we are stressing over consumer decisions, it would do us well to change our perspective and ask ourselves what kind of a problem are we dealing with…First World or Third World? If it is a First World problem, let’s take a few moments, breathe and take stock. Usually, we are not facing issues of survivability, we are facing issues of desirability. If that is the case, let’s lower the temperature in the room and get a grip.  Yes, we will have to make a decision but it will be one born of choice not of necessity. That knowledge alone should give us a sense of peace.

What kind of problems are you dealing with today…First World or Third World?