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November 29, 2011

Finishing Well

by on November 29, 2011. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal, joni

 

Today’s devotional explains something that, over the years, I’ve learned about my own Christian journey. It explains part of the reason why I (usually) don’t get discouraged during those “dry” times in my life. I used to get very discouraged during those times early in my Christian journey. But I’ve learned that even in those times, especially during those times, I learn new things about God, myself, and the people and world around me.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Yes.  Even in the driest of times, even in the most stressful, tense, painful, horrific of times, even when I’m being poured out like a drink offering, yes, even in the valley of the shadow of death, God is with me; I will fear no evil.  Have faith in God, my friends. And praise Him forever!

Please read the attached devotional.   Joni so often says things so well.

Love In Christ,
Ed

June 15, 2010

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me?

by on June 15, 2010. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

People shouldn’t think that I’m always strong. I know how to rise to the occasion. By the grace of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I get up and do what needs to be done. Just going into the kitchen and sitting on a chair with a small blanket over my knees and my feet up on another chair-that’s hard work for me. (It’s worth doing because I can be with my family during meal time.) But that’s not being strong. Here’s why:

We are taught and reinforced to put on a good face. “Smile!” That’s what we hear before the camera flash no matter what kind of mood we’re really in. Hardly without exception we smile.

There is a difference between “being” and “doing”. We’re trained and we force ourselves to “do strong” things. Some of us wake up at 4:30 in the morning, commute several hours to work, work 10 hours, another two-hour commute to get home, and barely have time for dinner before bedtime just to start the whole process over again. Even if it’s not to that extreme most of us know how to “do” strong things.

To give a personal example, no matter how high my pain level is, I was taught to be “polite.” So if I’m miserable with pain, feeling grumpy, maybe I had an argument with a family member, and you come up to me and ask, “how are you doing?”, I might answer by saying, “fine!” I don’t think that lying like that is really polite.

But the real deal that I want to talk about is to “be strong.” That involves something more than the learned external performance which is, in comparison, easy to do. To be strong is a matter of one’s character and one’s relationship to God. It is developed over one’s lifetime. It is very personal as opposed to what we do externally.

Most of the time, I think, by the grace of God, I am pretty strong. God granted me strong faith, given me much grace, and taught me to depend on him. As a result I am able to be thankful, worship God, and encourage others in their faith. All this is an awesome privilege.

There are those times when I’m feeling particularly weak. I can say with Paul, “to be in heaven is better by far.” I won’t go as far as Job who said, “may the day of my birth perish.” But really it’s the same thing. It’s admitting that I don’t want to be around in this world any longer. And that’s completely selfish, lacking in strength. It’s a pity party.

I don’t get envious of people when they get to do good things. But I am desirous of the good things that they get to do. Maybe that’s a kind of envy.

When I hear about somebody who went on a hike in the mountains I long for that joy. When I hear somebody playing guitar as I used to I can become very melancholy missing that joy. When I realize I failed to be a good dad because of my physical constraints and pain I grieve not only for my children but for myself. I have a pity party.

Pity parties occur when I am weak. It does, eventually, caused me to turn to God for my strength. My life is redeemed from the pit. (Maybe pity parties are what you do when you are in a pit. haha) He crowns me with love and compassion. (Psalm 103:4) “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

I’m not strong. But God is awesome. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trust in him, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28:7)

My comfort is that when I’m feeling weak I can call upon God who is always strong. Thankfully my pity parties do not last very long. The Lord is my strength. Please pray for me. We all need to pray for one another!

Alive in Christ,
Ed

September 17, 2009

50 years old and finally something worthwhile to say

by on September 17, 2009. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

Being over 50 years old there are few things I could say that are worthwhile I think. There are a few things in particular I feel I really need to say.

I’ve been married 26 years now. Over all I give our marriage 4/5 stars but I think that  is optimistic, overlooking some serious faults that we had, that I had early on. Our marriage is great now in my opinion. Five out of five stars. Maybe I’m still being optimistic.

Early in our marriage I was so very blind in so very many areas of life. One might look at me and think that I had a great work ethic. I knew how to work hard and give everything I had to the job and not be lazy. The problem was that I had my priorities mixed up. I put my work above relationships. I put technology above relationships. I could make quite a list of all the things that I put above relationships.

One of the areas that I was completely blind to-and I thought about this a lot whether or not I truly was completely blind-was how harsh I was with my wife and my children. My loved ones, specifically my parents and my sister,  tried to bring that to my attention. In other aspects of child training I know I did well enough. Any criticism will continue to fall without a response from me. But even if aspects of my child training were correct I went about it in an overly emotional and often times harsh manner. I really didn’t know what I was doing, how I was coming across, how I was affecting and hurting people, the people that I loved the most.

How could I be so completely blind! Seeing it so clearly now as I do helps me to realize more so that there are things that I’m blind to, things where I need to listen to my loved ones who are trying to correct me and bring things to my attention.

This also helps me to see other people and recognize their blindness. By experience I also recognize a certain amount of futility in trying to make them see what they can’t see. I will admit that I was so stubborn and arrogant such that I was less likely to listen to anyone. I now witness in the lives of others humility, a teachable spirit, and genuine desire for maturity and growth. It varies from person to person how willing they are to listen and learn something new about an area in which they are blind.

I have much hope for myself and for others. The others I know won’t have to wait until they’re 50 to learn how to be gentle, patient, and loving even in the midst of whatever sort of chaos sin brings about.

There is always so much more that I’d like to say but my disability greatly limits what I can communicate.

Mercy triumps over judgement.

Alive In Christ, Now and Forever,

Ed Rodatus

July 23, 2009

Just Say “No!” to Distraction

by on July 23, 2009. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

“…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

(James 1:14-15)

Temptation isn’t sin. Jesus was tempted. We, too, are tested in this way. Satan tempts us every day. In doing so our faith is tested and we find out if it is pure; by going through the trial our faith can become stronger.

As it clearly says in James it is by our evil desire that we are enticed. That gives birth to sin and death.

The words that I like to use to help me remember this warning are these:

Distraction, Attraction, and Destruction. They are simple enough for me to remember.

Being alive I can (easily) be distracted/tempted. One can hardly go through the checkout at a grocery store without some magazine that distracts us from our opportunities to glorify God by our life. I can assure you that I am often distracted. But I am to refocus and to take every thought captive to obedience and the submission to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I do not consider that distraction to be sin – unless I allow it to become sin.

When distraction becomes attraction then I have sinned. It is a very short step, so easy to allow, unless I say “NO!” to the initial distraction. It is one of the areas where a knee-jerk reaction is merited, where it is necessary. If I don’t immediately say “No” to the temptation then that becomes sin. And sin brings death – destruction.

Distraction – Attraction – Destruction

That’s the progression as I see it.

Think about the Garden of Eden. There was the command, “don’t eat from this tree.” But Satan tempted. Man (woman) was distracted from their devotion to God. Rather than not allow the distraction they became attracted to the forbidden fruit. And they sinned bringing about the destruction of man.

Distraction – Attraction – Destruction

I repeat it over and over to help me be careful at the point of distraction. I am all too aware of the progression. I’ve personally experienced it. So I will promptly turn away from a distraction. That has kept me from sin on many, many occasions.

There are the blatant, obvious kinds of distractions that entice us by our evil desires and then there are the subtle, stealthy kind of distractions. Cheerleaders are of the first blatant kind of distraction and perhaps football is like the second subtle kind of distraction. I’m not saying that watching football is sinful. But it is sinful if we allow it to take us away (distract us) from our responsibilities. And I would define our responsibilities as they pertain to God, our family, our employer, etc.

If someone watches football when they are supposed to be at work then I expect that person will be fired — Distraction – Attraction – Destruction.

If someone watches football when they are supposed to be spending time with their family then I expect that person will have conflict in their family — Distraction – Attraction – Destruction.

If someone watches football when they are supposed to be worshiping God then I expect — Distraction – Attraction – Destruction.

Go ahead and watch football when it isn’t distracting you from your responsibilities.

If I liked football the way some people do then I would certainly watch it. But the moment it distracts me from what is right to do then I would turn my head and my heart away. When it comes to the cheerleaders, they are always a distraction from what is right. So whether it is football or a cheerleader, don’t let it remain a distraction.  Do what is right. Turn away from a distraction. Just say “No!”  It is a simple technique that works for me most of the time.

September 28, 2008

The Kindness of Others

by on September 28, 2008. Filed under Christian life / church, health / disability / pain

 

I am often reminded of certain instances when we discovered I had cancer.

On the one hand Georgia and I were overwhelmed. Our world was turned upside down. Normal life came to a grinding stop as we were thrust into an entirely new dimension managing my health issues. Words are not enough for me to describe all that occurred during the first few years of our fighting cancer. My youngest son was five years old at the time. In a way he lost both his dad and his mom because we were both called into battle. He, too, was overwhelmed. The battle seemed more than any of us could handle.

But throughout the insanity of our battle with cancer there was another aspect to it which gave us stability, hope and strength. This other aspect wasn’t new to us except that its intensity, efficacy, and preciseness came at a level previously unknown to us. Our insane, overwhelming world of cancer was corrected and controlled by simple acts of kindness given us by unexpected and sometimes unusual sources.

Even at the time it was evident that these acts of kindness, although preformed by the hands of people, had their source and inspiration in the heart of God Himself. There were doctors, chemotherapy treatments, and other instruments of healing that were certainly all part of God’s plan. But in addition to the practical and “indicated” courses of action for my health care were numerous acts of kindness. They were not practical. They were without explanation. Their importance cannot be measured. They were a gift from God.

Medical science has come a long way. The processes for bone marrow transplants are well defined. The prognosis for a positive outcome was very good. However Georgia and I had experienced a roller coaster of hopes dashed. From the first time I became ill, six months and numerous doctors with wrong diagnoses, the eventual diagnosis of cancer, months of chemo only to find out it didn’t kill all my cancer, and now a bone marrow transplant, we have become leery if not cynical. Medical science had let us down too many times to trust it now.

Georgia was understandably discouraged. I was in a hospital bed at Johns Hopkins Hospital, extremely weak, in intense pain, and feeling like I wasn’t going to make it. She had been with me all morning and needed to take care of her own needs. She needed to connect with God in a meaningful way. As I slept with morphine pumped directly into my bloodstream she took the opportunity to find a “lonely place to pray.” She went to the hospital cafeteria, got some tea or soup or something, and found a quiet corner with empty tables where she could sit down by herself.

Another lady came all the way over to Georgia’s quiet corner and with other empty tables in the area this bold woman sat right down across from Georgia. Georgia wanted nothing more than to be alone and connect with God. And this lady disrupted everything. But wait!

I’m afraid I don’t remember the details of this account. But I do know is that this lady ended up to be a Messianic Jew who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and wanted to show kindness to Georgia. The woman talked with Georgia, encouraged Georgia, and, I think, prayed with Georgia. (I said that I don’t remember the details.) Her act of kindness guided Georgia into a meaningful connection with God. We don’t know her name. There is no possibility of my thanking her. But I can (and do) praise God for her involvement in our life during a time of great need.

This is just one example of numerous such instances that occurred not only during the heat of our battle but during my entire life. The older I get the more I understand the miracle of it all. Leo Tolstoy got it right in his most popular of stories. At the end of it he quotes, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25). Read the entire story here at http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Tolstoy.html .

I could never go back, find the woman who encouraged Georgia, and thank her for her kindness. There are thousands perhaps even millions of such instances of selfless love, simple acts of kindness, from the hand of God (not the goodness of man). It is impossible to thank even one of these people and how much more–I can’t even imagine that I could thank all of them. But I can praise God continually and acknowledge Him as the true source even if occasionally at the hands of unbelievers.

Please consider what you can do today to be kind, selflessly love those in your own home or even a stranger. Be a part of God’s miracle in someone else’s life today. I believe this is what it means to offer your body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Romans 12 tells us “love must be sincere”, “be devoted to one another in brotherly love”, “Practice hospitality.” and “Share with God’s people who are in need.”  Our love and worship of God includes such service, such acts of kindness. God is glorified.

December 2, 2007

God speaks

by on December 2, 2007. Filed under Christian life / church

 

“The heavens declare His glory.”

I used to buy Bible tracts by the hundreds.  One of my favorites was called “The Light.”  In my opinion it gave a simple but clear description of what happens to a person when they are saved.  “I once was blind but now I see.”  First Corinthians 2 also says this clearly when it says how the unspiritual man cannot see spiritual things because they are spiritually discerned.  However in the Bible track and in Scripture even the world can see the reflections of God’s glory.

So I need to be understanding of people who have not yet “seen the light.”  I also need to be patient with my brothers and sisters who have not matured in the faith.  They still have weak faith.  Paul said, I pray that the eyes of their heart will be opened so they can see the power of God within them, that power which raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”

But to those who are passionately pursuing the person of Jesus Christ and pointing others to Him, they must be careful to have a right view of things.  The right view of things has nothing to do with my opinion or yours.  It is God’s view that we must seek.

The finest place to get that view is of course in God’s Word and more specifically, I think, from the Gospels.  The character of God is revealed from Genesis to Revelation and it’s important to get that broad and deep view of Him.  But the most instructive example for me is in the Gospel accounts.  I love the tenderness that Jesus demonstrated to Mary Magdalene and others, the personal instruction He gave to Nicodemus, the great teaching that He did on the Mount, the boldness He had with the Pharisees, His obedience to His father’s will, His relationship to His father God and to His disciples near him.

Does God speak to you?  He does, so the real question is, are you listening to Him?  What have you heard from God lately?  I don’t want you to tell me anything about what you’ve read in the Bible.  I want to know what He has said to you personally.

He talks to me personally.  Does that surprise you?  I hope not.  I used to be afraid of admitting that for several reasons.  One reason was that I really thought people would think I’m crazy if I said it.  Another reason is that I was worried I might hurt the feelings of someone who doesn’t hear from God as if I thought I was better than them or that God loved me more or some other such misunderstanding.  I’m also not sure that I should share with others what God has said to me personally.

There is unmistakable power revealed when God speaks.  His whisper thunders.  His truth cuts deep yet doesn’t hurt.  His touch heels.  Righteousness and holiness go before Him and follow after Him.

Be still, listen, and wait.  When He does speak then worship Him.  I hardly need to say that because that will be your natural response as His child.

————————

I apologize for not keeping up with my journal.  There have been some reasons for my neglect.  For one thing I just recently got my speech recognition software working again on this computer and I’m so happy about that.  Another reason is that I stare at the screen organizing and outlining what I want to say in my mind and never completing that process nothing is written.

I promise that I will write more journal entries but be warned: they may not be all that refined, organize, or well written at all.  We used to joke about quality control being defined in two words, “ship it.”  Well, I’ll run my work through a spellchecker, but please don’t expect much more refinement beyond that.

There’s a reason I’m picking up this journal again, the reason I started it in the first place.  God has laid some things on my heart that I’m supposed to share with others.  Maybe something I share won’t mean anything to you that I believe it will mean something to somebody else.

Note: Just before I published this entry I went back and read it carefully.  It is so lacking in organization and there appears to be no continuity.  So I’ll summarize my message here.

First, the heavens declare the glory of God.  God is speaking and man, all of us, are without excuse.  I’m not surprised when the unspiritual man doesn’t hear or doesn’t get it.  However believers should be hearing from God every day and throughout the day.  We hear when we’re listening.

To live the life of Christ with us we need to have a right understanding of God, His Kingdom, His plan, and much more.  We should read the Gospels again and again to become more like Him.

I vaguely remember a better connection in my mind between reading the Gospels and hearing from God.  But I seem to have forgotten that connection.  I hope you don’t mind.

Ed
 

August 19, 2007

Life and Death

by on August 19, 2007. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal, health / disability / pain

 

There’s no way that I can address or expose much on such a lofty topic, but something came to my heart today that I must share with you.

It seems that it’s when we are confronted with death that we gain some perspective on life. I’ve been so confronted in several ways over the years. The death of a loved one and a personal “near death experience” causes one to reflect and hopefully gain a better understanding of life.

I just have a few short things to share here about life and death. I think that they could be useful to someone. I hope that they are.

As a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I know that I will live eternally with my Savior in Heaven. Until then I live out and hopefully enjoy and appreciate my life here in this world for the short time that I’m here. After all, I am called by God for a purpose-His purpose-while I live out this life. Pain isn’t really relevant (no matter how distracting) compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

In fact, most of the things that we pay attention to in this world are not as important as we make them out to be. It is simply life that is important now and I find it elusive to define it other than it is a gift from God: Life, and the lives that we share with one another: relationships. It is almost comic how we make such things as money so important even while we neglect the best part of life: The beautiful lives of those so close to us, our spouses and children. It would be funny if it wasn’t so terrible. Money, after all, won’t go with us to heaven. (Luke 12:16-40), however what we did with/for/to one another-relationships-our lives will “go with us” into eternity.

Even while we are still here, and, from our current perspective (as people who are still here) it is so very important to lay hold of life as God designed it to be, one of love for one another.

Let me pose a thought to consider: We grieve over the loss felt when a dear one dies and that is okay. But we must not neglect to accept the words of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Grieve, but not like the rest of men, who have no hope. This is one of the Truths about God’s will, plan, and Kingdom that we must take hold of. It isn’t the death of a loved one that we should overly concern ourselves with but the life of that loved one. To explain this I need to mention a dear friend the I miss, (but only for a short while!)

I miss many people that I will soon see again. My dad, my aunt Teti, a dear friend Leo Jett, and a brother who lived near me, Bob Pryor. Bob was so unique, at least I think so. He was a farmer who had done it all. He even worked on a steam boat, as I heard it, as a river boat captian. His life was colorful, fascinating, ..almost unbelievable. He passed on to Heaven, it seems, recently. I don’t really remember when.

There is a choice before me every time I think of Bob: Dwell on what I am missing or revel in the life that we shared, no matter how short of a time it was. And even more important, I must remember that I’ll see him again very soon when I, too, make that journey to Heaven. I don’t know what it will be like when I get there, but I know that it will be a time of rejoicing! Praise God!

We mustn’t dwell on our loss; we must remember and even revel in the life that we shared with one another and, (again), hold on to the hope that we have based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

This is my viewpoint on life and death: Death is only for a short time; it is life that is eternal. And I hope that I can “encourage each other with these words.” God has conquered sin and death. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)  Praise God and rejoice in the life and relationships that we have with one another no matter how short our time is with them. For believers, we will praise God and rejoice together again for eternity.

It is life, not death, that is important. Let’s make the most of it with one another! Love one another!

Love In Christ,
Ed

June 18, 2007

The Prodigal son, (me), or “How did he know?”

by on June 18, 2007. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

Our pastor delivered a great message last Sunday at our church, as usual. The message was on the prodigal son.

The prodigal son parable has such appeal to me. Billy Graham preached on it many times before and I never got tired of hearing him tell it.

At Sunday’s service, one man gave a testimony of his good relationship with his dad, how his career and life were molded by his dad’s. Another man told how he ran away from home and lived as a runaway until he heard God calling him. You can hear the message and these testimonies by clicking here. (The file isn’t up just yet.)

The runaway told how he realized, much later in life, that God was waiting for him, watching for him, and calling for him all along but he didn’t know it. Just like the prodigal, he had to make that decision to go to the Good Shepherd. He wrote a very moving song about this.

How This Relates to Me

God had His Hand on me all along in my youth and adulthood. This is clear to me and I rejoice in amazement at His great love for me-unconditional, everlasting. But I seem to have forgotten this attribute of God still in place for us today.

Last Sunday, Father’s Day, they were giving out free hamburgers to all the men of the church after the services. It was really cool, sort of like an ad-hoc men’s picnic right in front of the church. I knew about this the previous week being on the inside of such things sometimes. So I planned to wrangle two burgers from the grill man and give one of them to my son. This was in my mind and heart all week.

As we were leaving the service, my son, who also has his sources, told me that they might give out a burger to him, too, and asked if he may have one. I told him not to ask and he looked down trodden. Things got a little busy, so instead of my plan to get two burgers and give him one, I just told him to get himself a burger. (I ended up getting two burgers myself after all.)

On the way home, my son asked for something else. I took the opportunity to help him realize that his needs and even his desires are always on my heart, and that I am always looking for good things to give to him. He hardly has to ask for anything. He must learn to trust me more. I also explained that I withhold things from him sometimes because I love him. Sometimes what he wants would be harmful to him somehow. I used the example of bad movies. When I get our Netflix in, I always preview it first. If it would be bad for our family then I return it without watching it.

Even as I was talking to my son I realized that this is how God deals with us in love. He withholds things that would not be good for us; and He already has in His Heart and Mind to give us those things which are good for us, even before we ask for them or realize that we need them.

The Very Personal Gift

Thursday morning the “Joni and Friends” devotional was about the parable of the wedding where the groom invited people who made excuses and wouldn’t come which angered the groom. Friday morning the devotional was on the same subject. Very rarely does Joni cover a subject twice in a row. Even though I spent time with God after reading these devotionals and felt that I understood them, I didn’t see how they could relate to me. After all, I am one of the poor, blind, cripple, and lame people in the alleys that were later invited and did come to the wedding.

Friday afternoon a man came to tell me that someone gave me a valuable gift. There are several aspects of this event that were so personal to me that I felt very shaken when I heard of it. How did this person know the importance of this gift to me? How did they know that I needed it? (I didn’t tell anyone about it except my wife. My children probably overheard, too.) No one outside the family heard me complain that I needed this gift. And it is a gift of some value. I have trouble receiving gifts of value because I feel that I am being a burden to others.

The selfish part of me was going “woo hoo!” but another very dominant part of me was stubbornly and stupidly considering refusing the gift. I knew that this would be wrong and later figured out that refusing a gift could actually be offensive just like refusing to come to the wedding banquet. Forwarding the gift to the church is not receiving the gift.

The parable of the wedding came to mind finally. I was invited. I was given a gift. It is important that I receive it. But I continued to wonder how on earth someone knew about this need in my life? Had I expressed my need to anyone outside my family? Was there a “leak”; did someone in my family tell someone else about it? I didn’t think so.

Then, Sunday, I heard the testimony of how God was watching, waiting, and calling long before the man heard His call. And I thought of the conversation with my son, how his need/desire was in my heart and mind long before he even had the desire. (He didn’t know that there would be burgers after the service.)

God, through His saints apparently, knew that I had this need before I knew it. I’m beginning to realize how stubborn I am about receiving. I figure that I spent the first half of my life chasing, manipulating, conniving, and even stealing what I wanted. Now I just want to let go, give away, and learn to live with less. But God still wants to bless me not because I deserve it but because He loves me.

It has taken days, from Thursday to Sunday, two morning devotionals, a testimony on Sunday, several burgers, and a discussion with my son for me to finally, (I think), accept the gift from God.

Sunday was Father’s day. It was a very good day. I accepted in my heart the gift that was given to me on the previous Friday, a gift that was prepared even before then. My needs and even my desires are always on God’s heart, and God is always looking for good things to give to me. I hardly need to ask for anything. I must trust Him more.

I’ve much more to write but unless I stop and post this I’ll never get anything out. (This is what usually happens and partly why you don’t see more posts from me.) God is teaching this old dog new things. God is refining me (Isaiah 48:10), pruning me (John 15:2), preparing me. I can no longer stay on this plateau of satisfaction. I must allow Him to mold me according to His will. Does this mean more trials for us? Truly, I speak with Paul, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Philippians 1:23) I’m tired; I don’t want to learn new things; I want to be left alone; I want to go home to Heaven. “…but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:24)

I guess I’ll be here a little longer, eat a few more burgers, and, maybe, write again in this journal.

March 2, 2007

Rejoice and be overjoyed!

by on March 2, 2007. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal, health / disability / pain

 

Disabled due to chronic pain I’ve been particularly interested in Scripture regarding pain. There are many verses and even whole chapters relating to pain. Many may be familiar with the “consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials” verses in James chapter 1. But one can gain better understanding when in a painful situation as referenced in Scripture than just reading about it detached from the experience.

Take 1st Peter chapter 4 for instance, almost the entire chapter referencing pain: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Even though my pain level is higher most evenings than anything I’ve experienced before my disability I rejoice and have that “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and the “life more abundant” (John 10:10) that God’s Word says a person can have in this life–all in spite of sin, suffering, loss, and pain.

As for my pain, I can “scorn its shame” and try to reduce or eliminate it, but I don’t know that I should ask God to take it away. I bear my soul to God regarding my pain-only He knows how much I’m suffering. (He suffered much more!) But if my pain is “the race marked out” for me, then who am I to ask God for a different plan?

At times feel myself growing weaker and so I chose the following as my meditation verse for this year. Note especially the “joy set before Him” part:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

My eyes are on Jesus. Although I feel so weary at times I will not grow weary and I will not lose heart. Rather, I will rejoice and be overjoyed! Praise God!

February 19, 2007

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

by on February 19, 2007. Filed under Christian life / church

 

“Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” is a book that we are reading here. It is by Donald S. Whitney published by Navpress, a ministry of the Navigators. ISBN 0-913367-13-3

“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7, NASB

Chapter One: The Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter Two: Bible Intake (Part 1)
Chapter 3: Bible Intake (Part 2)
Chapter 4: Prayer
Chapter 5: Worship
Chapter 6: Evangelism
Chapter 7: Serving
Chapter 8: Stewardship
Chapter 9: Fasting
Chapter 10: Silence and Soliture
Chapter 11: Journaling
Chapter 12: Learning
Chapter 13: Perseverance in the Disciplines

The first chapter gets you excited about this subject and sets forth the premise and purpose of the book. It lists other disciplines such as confession, affirmation, sacrifice, and “watching”. It gives an example of someone who is inspired by a great guitar player and wants to become like him. His guitar lessons and practice no longer become drudgery because the student has direction, clarity, a target. “Discipline with direction is drudgery.”

I liked chapter 8 on stewardship. I thought it was going to talk about money but it instead talked about time. I was quite convicted about how I use (or rather misuse) my time. I’m still working through this.

You can get this book directly for about $11 plus shipping. It retails for $14.

From Navpress click here.
From Christian Book Distributors click here.
From Amazon click here.

Be sure to go through the church website and the youth group will get a small commission.

Remember that being a disciple of Christ, or following Christ, is an active process. We can’t just call ourselves disciples. We have to actively follow and this is done through several means. But I think that the journey begins with basic training in the spiritual disciplines.

Remember that being a disciple of Christ, or following Christ, is an active process. We can’t just call ourselves disciples. We have to actively follow and this is done through several means. But I think that the journey begins with basic training in the spiritual disciplines.

Oops. Somehow in my editing the last paragraph appeared twice. (I use Word then import piece by piece as I write.) Maybe this is an error for someone’s benefit. I know of many “Bible believing Christians” who don’t read their Bibles. Not only are they missing out on the Christian Life but they might be poor testimonies of the true life in Christ. It is a spiritual thing of God that can’t be generated through human means. “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

If we are not careful our religion could become dead. Just like religious ornaments or rituals we could be missing the dynamic abundant life in Christ. If we miss having a genuine, personal, intimate relationship with God then we will have anxiety instead of peace, fear instead of joy, despair instead of power, guilt instead of rest.

There is also a study guide and another version directed towards teens. Oh, and I think that it is essential that we train our teens to have these spiritual disciplines as we develop them ourselves. “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Our children may be the first of the disciples that we make according to the instruction of our Lord.

I’m going to post this now but come back to the online version again and there may be some updates to this journal entry.

All journal entries are copyright by Ed Rodatus - all rights reserved.
(Except the entries in the "joni" category. All the "joni" posts are from the Joni and Friends daily email devotional.)

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