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Category Archives: Life

A Sweet Savour

pink flowersGod created us, and he gave us at least five senses to be able to get to know Him through His creation. He gave us abilities to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. And God gave His people work to do, primarily to obey Him and reflect His character.

For the sense of sight, he wants us to be light – like He was in the world. His light can be revealed in us. Light is something that exposes darkness, and causes growth – as in the process of photosynthesis.

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” –John 9:5

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” –John 8:12

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” –Matthew 5:14

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. –Ephesians 5:9-11

For the sense of hearing, God wants us to give the good news of the gospel with a humble heart and pure speech; and to offer praise and thankfulness to God.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” –Colossians 3:16

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” –I Peter 2:1, ESV

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” –II Timothy 4:2

For the sense of touch, God wants us to offer compassion like He did when He healed people. But God separates compassion from taking part with evil or endorsing it.

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” –Luke 10:33-37

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” –II Corinthians 6:17

For the sense of taste, God want us to offer flavor into the world, as He did. Salt, in particular, offers health benefits for the thirsty, intensifies flavor, and is a preservative. It is analogous to wisdom, where a little can go a long way.

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” –Matthew 5:13

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” –Colossians 4:6

There is one more sense to be discussed, and that is the sense of smell. And I’m also including a childbirth story.

How important is the sense of smell? Smells can be powerful as well. They can trigger early and powerful memories and emotions. And smell is an important sense for God. God’s sense of smell seems related to His people’s heart condition. When His people commit evil or harbor hate, self-righteous pride and hypocrisy – he smells a bad smell. When His people are humble and obedient and walk in love, he smells a sweet smell, the fragrance of Christ.

“And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” –Genesis 8:20-21

“For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.” –Ezekiel 20:40-41

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” –Ephesians 5:1-2

Like my mother and billions of women who lived before me, I wanted to have a natural childbirth. Natural childbirth typically takes good preparation during pregnancy, like rest, nutrition, appropriate exercise, practicing of breathing techniques, and having appropriate medical and practical help available and good moral support. One thing that was also encouraged was visualization to take your mind off of the physical intensity and pangs of labor and the pain of delivery. We are encouraged to have a “happy place” to take our mind elsewhere during the hardest parts.

I had tried having a visual “happy place” in my mind for the labor process but it was hard to come up with anything.

I experienced natural childbirth except for a couple tweaks at the beginning and end of labor. My labor had to be artificially induced but when it started, it was incredibly intense. We had family that we intended to notify when labor started but with the intensity experienced – this never happened. For eight hours I required the constant aid and support of my husband and my patient and level-headed mother who was a retired nurse.

When my daughter was about to make her appearance, there was another challenge. My doctor said something was preventing her and advised the aid of a suction cup for the head. I was in no mood to say anything, except, “Go ahead, Doc!”. After the worse moments of pain in my life, my daughter arrived with the first light of the morning. I was filled with joy and love for the new baby immediately placed on my belly. The doctor announced at that moment “It’s a girl!” and I could visually confirm the fact while he said it. She was healthy and vital and in that raw moment, all I could say was to repeat: “She’s so beautiful!” The doctor told us that after delivery that one on my daughter’s hand’s had been flush against her head in delivery, greatly increasing the “ouch factor” of delivery.

So in the preceding chapter of my life, it was hard to immerse myself in a “happy place”, separate from the arduous, intense, sleep-deprived labor and the painful delivery.

But I did have a happy place. In my mind, I was drinking in the smell of my favorite nature park trail where I had spent many hours traversing before and during pregnancy. The unique smell of the wetland trail was a combination of the flora and fauna, the sweet smells of pollinated flowers and forest woods and some not so pleasant smells.  That fragrance was strong and distinct in spring and summer, created and forged after a hard winter with the killing powers of frost and lack of light. New and transformed life came out of the crushed old life. The fragrance of the trail was the fragrance of new life. And it was powerful and sweet.

When Christ became crushed for and crucified for us and rose again in new life, the church really began. The fragrance of Christ’s extreme and unfathomable suffering and death was dramatic and the total message of his life on earth was complete and sealed. Likewise the martyrdom of the apostles and saints was like gasoline to add to the fire of the spread of true Christianity. The apostles and saints weren’t perfect, but their sacrifice after Christ’s example was perfect.

God has respect for the crushed, the persecuted and those under tribulation – and in it, He smells the pure fragrance of Christ.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” –Matthew 12:20

Through Stephen’s vision, we know Christ stood when Stephen was stoned and martyred. And Christ will again stand during his people’s tribulation.

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” –Acts 7:54-60

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” –Daniel 12:1

Christ in all things has given us an example. In our lives we are to take up our crosses and follow Him.

 “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” –II Corinthians 2:14-17, KJV

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Faith, Life, The Bible

 

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Chris Tomlin – Lay Me Down

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Christian music, Faith, Life

 

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Chris Tomlin – Awake My Soul (with Lecrae)

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Christian music, Faith, Life

 

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The Tortoise and the Hare

It is better to be a focused tortoise than a distracted hare.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Career, Life

 

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Video

Matt Maher – Your Grace is Enough

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. — II Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

 
 

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The Middle Path between Strength and Weakness – Following Christ

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But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” —II Corinthians 4:7-8

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” —Philippians 4:13

Spiritual Walk

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

—II Corinthians 12:9-10 (emphasis added)

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. —I Corinthians 1:26-29

“He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.” —Isaiah 40:29 (NASB)

“You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” —Psalm 68:35 (NIV)

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” –Philippians 2:13

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” —I Thessalonians 1:5

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” —Isaiah 41:13

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” —I Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.”

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” — I Corinthians 4:20

Spiritual Warfare

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” —Ephesians 6:12

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” —II Kings 6:16 (NIV)

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” —1 Corinthians 10:13

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” —Luke 18:1

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: —Ephesians 6:10-17

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” —Ephesians 6:18-20

The Overcoming Bride of Christ

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

—Revelation 3:7-8 (emphasis added)

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” —I John 4:4

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” —Romans 8:31

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” —Matthew 24:13

“But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” —Luke 8:15

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” —Isaiah 41:10

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” —Revelation 14:12

“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.” —Psalm 119:114

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” —I Timothy 6:12

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” —Revelation 3:21

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” —Isaiah 40:31

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” —Proverbs 30:5

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” —II Timothy 4:7

“In your patience possess ye your souls.” —Luke 21:19

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” —Psalm 91:1

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” —Revelation 12:11

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Faith, Life, The Bible, Uncategorized

 

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Tips for Maintaining Your Health during Periods of Stress

We all go through periods of stress and it can affect us differently. Stress can cause an elevated heartbeat, headaches, stiff neck and tight shoulders, back pain, sweating and upset stomach. Over time, stress can affect the immune system, muscles, and the heart and other organs of your body. http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-effects-of-stress

Stress often involves change. Some of the most stressful life events include: spouse death, divorce, marriage separation, jail term, death of a loved one, injury or illness, marriage, job loss, pregnancy, and retirement/change of financial status. It is interesting that even events we look forward to like marriage and retirement can be severe stressors.

A stressful life event that I experienced was in taking on a challenging job after being away from the work force for two years. The new job involved a lot of responsibility and a lot of new things that I would have to learn. Although not on the above list, a lot of people develop chronic stress from work. And chances are that if your boss does not handle stress well, that it can also affect you. I did not exactly handle my stressful situation the best. I was drinking tons of coffee, not sleeping well, not making time for exercise, and ended up gaining about 20 pounds. I probably knew better, but you can get on a cycle where you don’t know what else to do. So this article stems from lessons learned.

One other consideration involves the effect of hormones on the body. While there are a few hormones like testosterone in men and women that can aid weight loss, elevated levels of certain hormones like cortisol can cause detrimental effects on the body, including weight gain. http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/cortisol.htm

This article is not medical advice. It is about relating my own lessons learned. Here are some of my own tips for not letting stress take its toll.

  1. Take a walk. Go for one or more short, brisk walks throughout the day for stress reduction and health benefits. http://walking.about.com/od/hearthealth/a/hypertension906.htm   A study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found short walks to have enormous positive benefits. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130901153352.htm
  2. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. When we are stressed we often tend to drink anything but water, but water is exactly what is needed. http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-drinking-water/ 
  3. Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation is a common culprit in most disease from cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Anti-inflammatory foods can include anything from organic fruits and vegetables to fish and fish oil, olive oil, to a glass of red wine. Even though salad can be healthy, most store-bought salad dressings actually increase inflammation. A great simple anti-inflammatory salad dressing is one part rice vinegar, two parts olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. A good book on this topic is The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem. 
  4. Multi-task. It might sound counter-intuitive, but you can reduce stress by keeping busy. You might catch up with a favorite show on Netflix or listen to a book on tape while doing housework. If you sit watching NFL football doing nothing but consuming beer and fatty foods, this can add stress. However if you also fold a couple loads of laundry, change the cat litter and take out the trash in the same period, this time multi-tasking will probably not add to your stress level, even if your team loses. 
  5. Pray. You don’t have to handle your stress alone.
  6. Socialize with supportive friends. Individuals with a support system always fare better than their isolated counterparts.
  7. Exercise. It is a great way to distract us in a productive way, remove tension from our bodies and help us sleep better. Also, if done outside, you can be invigorated with fresh air.
  8. Get restful sleep and a nap when you can. I put this one last because the chances are that if you do the preceding (including the exercise and drinking water) that you will be able to sleep.

Take charge of your own health and take care of you!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Career, Culture, Health, Life

 

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