Category Archives: Inspiratioal

Are You On The Outside ~ looking in?

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Are you the one who walks into a social setting and can’t find anyone to talk to? It seems all the people there are engaged in enjoyable conversations, but they won’t let you into the discussion. What do you do? Get a drink of something (wine, or a soft drink) and stand against the wall hoping someone will come by you can talk to? Maybe this even happens to you at church. Is that why you tend to come in late so you can slip in unnoticed…because you feel you’d be unnoticed anyway.

I am not a social butterfly. I do much better with the written word than I do socializing with a group of people. I suppose that’s why I’m a writer and not a public speaker. However, I’ve gotten better with people and have discovered there’s a root to this in myself and in others who are even more introverted than I am. It’s fear of man. Some of us have been sorely mistreated by others, absolutely run over (figuratively). We’ve been cheated, lied to, stolen from, and even physically threatened and abused. If we’re in a state of acute anger about this…let me remind you, anger is a cousin to fear.

Fear is the opposite of faith. And so, for believers, faith is the antidote or cure for fear. In any isolating situation, we need to focus on faith.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~ Romans 10:17 [KJV]

Several translations, including the NASB which is my favorite, say: and hearing by the word of Christ. Christians know the Word of God is powerful and can be and should be applied to everyday life There are many places to hear the Word of God. Just turn on any Christian television show or radio broadcast. Or go to that pesky church service, even if you have to sit way in the back at first.

In my opinion, the cure for almost anything is to follow the commandment Jesus gave us to walk in love.

37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22: 37-40 [NASB]

What Jesus is talking about is agape love, or the God kind of love. This is the highest form of love and is sometimes translated as “charity”. We are to be kind and charitable to others and to ourselves. Who are we anyway, to be beating ourselves up with everything we did wrong, every mistake we made, every sin when God has forgiven us and remembers it no more? That self unforgiveness is really a manifestation of pride. We think: I’m so bad God might be able to forgive me because He’s God, after all. But it’s really unforgivable and so I can’t forgive myself. That’s actually funny, sadly funny.

Or, we tell ourselves, what they did to me was unforgivably horrid. How could they do that abhorrent thing? The real question is how could they not? We’re living in a lost and fallen world. Without the restraint of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they are able to commit real atrocities. Just turn on the news.

Whatever you did…whatever they did to you…let it all go and walk in love, kindness, and gentleness toward yourselves and others. This doesn’t mean you should be a doormat for the unrepentant, but you can forgive them and move on. You’ll be better for it. And maybe you won’t be so fearful and you’ll be able to come inside from the cold…even if it’s just a little bit at first. As you trust God’s grace, you’ll trust the God in you, and not be fearful of others.


Blessing Jar 2017 ~ as I start a year with new beginnings

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In many ways 2016 was a year of losses and doors closed, but also with a promise of new beginnings.

So, I prepare my 2107 Blessing Jar, as I do every year. This involves writing out my Prayer of Thanksgiving as well as my Prayer of Petition with its list of my heart felt desires and whatever vision God has given me for the new year. This is far from a new year’s resolutions list. Prayer, thanksgiving, and Scripture reading was an integral part of this process. At the top left hand corner you can see the blessing jar I’ve used for the last two years. My prayer and petitions are in the center. To the right are notes of thanksgiving for prayers that were answered in 2016. I’m sure there were others, but these are the big three.

The written document is two and a half pages long. I signed it and took communion over it. Then I folded it and along with the little notes put them all into the blessing jar.

As soon as I took communion, I received my word for 2017: cherish.

 

img_2261Thus, my Blessing Jar becomes my “war room,” as shown and explained in the amazing movie by that name. As I live in a teeny-tiny house, I don’t have a room that could be my war room. So, I’ve made one side of my refrigerator into that and I’m going to keep the Blessing Jar above it on the top of the refrigerator. This is where I pray for other people and note the Scripture I’m standing on. As prayers are answered, I will take them off the side of the refrigerator and place them into my Blessing Jar. In this way the jar becomes a repository for the record of my answered prayers.


My Church Is Having a ‘Onward’ ~ 2017 New Year 21-Day Fast

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This is a corporate fast with prayer. New Life Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville does this every year 21-days before Superbowl. We break the fast at sundown Superbowl Sunday. And I’m sure everyone has a great time feasting (translate = pigging out) on that Sunday evening.

The focus of this corporate fast isn’t only on cutting out things we could be overindulging in. The emphasis is on fasting and prayer. The pastor gave us a small fasting study guide along biblical lines. For example there is the Daniel Fast which is designed to eliminate meat, sweets, and bread. Water, juice, fruits and veggies are consumed. [Daniel 1: 11-13]

My best friend at church told me she was going to eliminate beef and pork for the 21-days. Anyone who is struggling with something such as quitting smoking might find this a supportive time to stop.

Ushers not only passed out a printed guide with the biblical types of fasts, we were also given a printed “Week One Devotional” with a memory verse, a prayer, suggested scripture for further study, and a place for us to write notes. Of course, week two and week three devotionals will be handed out as we progress through this fast.

We were also given a list of topics to pray and/or meditate upon during the fast.

1. Revival in America

2. Complete Personal Freedom

3. Blessing Over Troubles

4. Wisdom From Above

5. Victory Over Our Enemy

During this 21-day period the church will be open at different specified times, so people can gather and pray together while fasting. There is great spiritual benefit for a church body to enter into this type of fasting and prayer. This is a tremendous opportunity for individual church members to spiritually grow and for the church to spiritually grow as a whole.

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Deep Emotional Pain ~ can create soul wounds

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Intense emotional pain often isolates us. In our society today , which demands an absence of paint and a totally unrealistic demand for ‘safe spaces’, we might not even want to admit our pain to others. Some respond with anger as a way of fending off pain they feel entitled not to have. Both of these responses isolate us from others.

I’m a seasoned citizen and at my ripe, and I hope, discerning age, I’ve met people who have had real emotional wounds inflicted on them by others. They’ve been sexually abused, which is akin to murder of the psyche, except the victim must go on living. They grew up in a home with an abusive alcoholic or drug addict who destroyed everything that was meaningful and good in the family. A parent, or parents abandoned them when they were young. They or a loved one was severely physically injured by the actions of another; or a loved one was murdered or committed suicide. These types of situations cause real, deep emotional pain and often result in lasting soul wounds…damage to the psyche. And, of course, there are other situations, just as emotionally devastating.

I’m talking here to people with real, obvious, deep emotional pain. It is plain to see the world is corrupted by sin. Even the nonreligious will admit this. Jesus said that we would have suffering int this life, in this world.

 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 [NASB]

Over the years, I’ve talked to folks who have had real, deep emotional pain inflicted upon them by others or by life situations. They’re pain is very real. The inciting incident was not imaginary. It did happen. Their family member was maimed or killed by a drunk driver. Their husband did cheat on them and remove all funds from their joint account before filing for divorce. Yes, the pain is very real. But, what I’ve learned is that way down at the bottom of it, shame is attached. People think: if I had been worthy I wouldn’t have been put up for adoption; there was something flawed about me that made him sexually abuse me and in fact he told me exactly that over-and-over.

This attached shame prevents the injured one from sharing with others, or even if they do share intellectually, on an emotional level they continue to condemn themselves. This self-condemnation is a killer. It binds people in heavy emotional chains. What is needed, in my humble opinion, is a total transformation of the mind away from condemnation. Self-condemnation and condemnation of others is a soul killer. No matter who you condemn, yourself or others, you’re destroying your own soul’s health and destroying joy.

As a Christian, I turn to some of the great Christian teachers when I feel a case of self-condemnation or condemnation of others coming on. And I do, and have had cases of self-condemnation or condemnation of others. Of course I have. I’m human. At those times, I click away on my TV remote until I land on a Christian show featuring the teachings of Joyce Meyers, T.D. Jakes, Paul Daughtery, and many others. I personally find a good word for healing there.

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What brought this article on was the passing, three weeks before Christmas, of my husband Joseph D. Chillemi. I, in my human limited mentality, thought this would be the worst Christmas ever. But the whisper of the spirit of Christmas, gently wrapped around me as if I were in swaddling clothes and kept me safe as a baby. It was Jesus,  coming to me as the baby Jesus, who I encountered…as hope, light, love. So, yes, I was in a state of deep soul searing pain, and yet, Christmas was all about love and joy for me. This year, I learned how the spirit of the Christmas season so often touches nonChristians. How is that possible I would experience this when in deep mourning? I have to chuckle here, because my God can do for His people two or more things at once. [a wee jest there] He invented multitasking.

And so, the Lord had me write this article about deep pain as a way to honor my husband.

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Joseph D. Chillemi; July 30, 1951 – December 8, 2016; husband, father, son, friend, social worker

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KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON by Carole Brown ~ a review

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KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON is a a cozy foodie mystery, yes. Yet it goes beyond that to become a psychological cozy tackling the issue of domestic abuse thoroughly, but also in a manner that won’t distress readers of cozies and classical mysteries. This is a well written story.

Sir Joel Peterman, an actual British knight who is a bonafide gourmet chef, is mistaken for a new hire dishwasher and gets off on the wrong foot with Starli Cameron, the owner of Apple Blossoms restaurant in West Virginia.

Starli has a lot of issues. She was severely abused by her deceased husband and as the novel opens is being stalked and threatened by her police officer brother-in-law. P.O. Roland Stratton, well respected in the town, blames her for his drunken brother’s deadly car crash. Then there’s the sulking assistant chef, the scheming kitchen worker, and the cloying banker who is in love with her. There are more twists and turn and red herrings than you can shake a spatula at.

The novel captures small town business rivalries to perfection. The culinary aspects of the novel ring true. After a break in at the restaurant where the freezer has been deliberately left open, Joel knows exactly how to save the meat. I particularly liked his menu ideas and wanted to eat dinner at Apple Blossoms.

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FAITH IS LIKE ~ walking on water

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I can look back at a number of instances, since I’ve been saved (born again) and have come through a really bad circumstance, and go, “Yeah, that right there was God all right. Boy was that way cool! No mistaking that one. It was God.” But at the time it felt as if high water was beneath me. In fact, waves were crashing all around me. I trusted God, and He moved, and it was awesome. But at the time it was also very scary.

It was as if Jesus was saying, “Follow me in the midst. Walk with me. Take each step with me even if you don’t know where we’re going. Walk on the water.”

The Holy Spirit (Who I often think of as Jesus Unlimited On The Earth) knows where we are going, and all I have to do is follow. I have to fight and cast down my fear of the waves, and also of what might be under the waves and over the waves. I need to build up my faith in Him.

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Under The Waves

 

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Over The Waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the truth is, it would’ve been even scarier without God. The situation was a challenge and without God there might not have been a satisfactory or triumphant ending.  Trials and tribulations come and believers have to make choices. Will we trust in God and follow Him not knowing how and where He will lead us out of the situation? Or are we such control freaks we must be in charge, we must know the battle plan?

How many times do we have to lose a battle, or have a much less than victorious outcome to admit we are not the Commander-in-Chief that God is? The scary part is letting go of the wheel and letting God take over. This doesn’t mean we do nothing. We get still and listen. We pray through. We do what we feel prompted to do by the still small voice. We MUST learn to trust that inner witness.

When we do step out in faith and let God run the show, the outcome may not be what we desire, but it will come with peace. And we just might be amazed how many times the outcome is so much more and superior to we could have imagined. Many, many believers will attest to this.

 


Oy, Another Trial ~ and I’ve been acting like an over-tired baby

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I took a step outside my front door this morning with my trusty gal-pal Sophie, and these words sounded loud and clear inside my head: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I’m facing a particular trial at this time to which these words apply. Let’s see, it’s Thursday, and I’ve got Thursday’s trial. It seems to go that way, doesn’t it.

Anyway, I began to say those words of Scripture from Psalm 23 aloud as Sophie and I walked along, so she could do her business. I must’ve repeated them aloud 35 or so times. You see, I believe the Word of the Lord is powerful and does not return void. These were the “words” He gave me this morning and I wanted to verbally release them into the atmosphere of my life.

When Sophie and I returned to the house, I felt like maybe the Holy Spirit was suggesting I read Psalm 23. Then I did that funny thing Christians do. “What if it wasn’t the Spirit? What if it was just me?” And I had to laugh at how we are. In this case, even if I “missed it,” reading the psalm was a good thing. So, I opened my Bible.

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And the next line hit me as something fresh. It was the Spirit prompting me to read it. He makes me lie down in green pastures. I’ve always seen that line as wonderful poetry emanating from the mind of God through David, lyrical in its beauty, bucolic.

This time I saw the strong arm of God. I’d never seen that before in this line. I had to take another look, and another. It actually says, he makes me lie down, makes me do it. I checked several translations and they all say, makes me. Has a parent or a highly respected dear friend ever said in a tone that brokered no argument, “Go lay down and rest!”? That’s the kind of makes me I saw in this line for the first time today. The Lord can spiritually hit believers right between the eyes and say, “Rest!”.

The Lord’s mind is so all encompassing it’s amazing (in the true sense of the word ‘amazing’), and he can be a bit sneaky too in His intimate relationship with his children, marvelously sneaky. Want to know what I’ve been studying this week? Well, I’ll tell you.

Resting in the finished work of Jesus. ~ The battle is the Lord’s, so let Him fight it.

Of course that implies I’ve been doing all the things God’s been leading me to do in the natural world. Having done all that, I’m to give the battle over to Him. He’s got a much longer arm than I’ve got.


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