Thursday, January 26, 2012

Whole-Hearted Love

Indications of my brothers’ mechanical abilities became evident at a pretty early age. In fact, I had the “privilege” of testing one of their first inventions! I don’t recall how old I was; actually, it is a wonder that I remember anything from that experience onward! :) But…this is how the story goes:

Someone had the bright idea to make a cart from old wheelchair wheels and scrap lumber. The picture that I have of it in my mind looks something like an ancient Egyptian cart which horses pulled. Needless to say, inventors always need a guinea pig. I’m not certain how or why I was chosen as the human subject for the experiment, other than the fact that I was likely too young to understand the potential outcome and would have done just about anything to earn my brothers’ approval.

Once the cart was completed, the laboratory for testing it was the gravel road in front of our home. In order to ascertain the cart’s speed, it was necessary to start the experiment at the top of the hill. While my brothers held the cart in place, I was instructed to climb aboard. When I was in proper position, they gave the cart a shove and down the hill I went! Faster…Faster…Faster! It didn’t take long for the inventors to realize that any future prototype needed something for the passenger to hang on to! Maybe I tried to stop the careening cart with my foot or maybe my weightless body bounced closer and closer to the whirling wheel, but regardless, when my foot hit the spokes, my leg was instantly sucked into the force! Over and over again the cart rolled on top of my body until it finally came to a halt at the bottom of the hill!

Running to my rescue, my brothers’ found their brave little sister writhing in pain with dirt and gravel imbedded in nearly every inch of my flesh and blood flowing freely from who knows where! Uncertain how to help me, they carefully carried me into the house, gently laid me in bed and sweetly tried to console me with, “It’ll be ok Bonnie. You just lay here until Mommy gets home”. My brothers meant well, but…

It seems that brothers and sisters in Jesus often handle one another in a similar way. Without thinking through the consequences of what we say and do, we hurt each other. Once we realize the terrible pain that we’ve inflicted, we are clueless how to offer healing. Consequently, we often leave our victim lying in the aftermath of our foolishness, hoping that it’ll go away if we ignore it or that someone else will come along to bring healing.

Trying to cover-up the hurt which we’ve caused with kind gestures and sweet words often feels condescending to the one whom we’ve wounded. Ignoring the pain as if it doesn’t exist is like pouring salt into open wounds. Assuming that someone else can offer healing balm which only we can impart is simply denying responsibility for the trauma which we’ve inflicted.

When we are truly devoted to others in brotherly love (Romans 12:10), we cannot rest knowing that we’ve caused someone pain (1 Corinthians 12:26). Moreover these unresolved issues interfere with our intimacy with God. Our worship of Him is not acceptable until our heart is right with those whom we’ve injured (Matthew 5:21-24).

His desire is that we be reconciled one to another. So, how do we make things right?

By paying attention to the truth,

you have purified yourselves to the point of feeling sincere love for your fellow believers.

So then, love each other wholeheartedly

(1 Peter 1:22)!

It is fine to say, “I’m sorry,” however I have found that admitting my sin and asking for forgiveness brings deeper healing for both parties involved. In saying, “I sinned against you when I said/did… Will you forgive me,” not only am I acknowledging my sin, I’m admitting to the one whom I’ve injured that I’ve sinned against them. This communicates that I recognize the seriousness of my offense. Asking for forgiveness not only expresses my desire for reconciliation, it also requires a response from the one whom I’ve hurt.

While I may not always receive the desired response, I am able to rest in Father’s nearness again knowing that I’ve been faithful to that which He has called me to.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Whose Will Is It, Anyway?

I’ve always been an “every man has free will” believer.  Like many others, I’ve been known to make statements like, “They just need to turn their life over to Jesus”!  However, “free will” vs. “sovereign grace” is one of many topics that I’ve been re-evaluating in recent years.  As I re-read Scriptures with a new lens, it seems that my long-standing view may be inaccurate.  Would you be willing to ponder this with me for a few minutes?

If I have “free will,” why was I delivered into this world without a choice to be born?  Why was I affected by the behavior of Adam and born a sinner (Psalm 51:5), yet had no choice in the matter?

I didn’t choose to be hostile toward God, yet Scriptures says that I was born that way.  In fact it says that:

  • I was incapable of submitting to God.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7).

·        The inclinations of my heart are evil

Every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time (Genesis 6:5).

·        I had no power to even repent.

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots?  Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil (Jeremiah 13:23).

What was the cause of my repulsive condition?

  • According to Eph 2:1-2, I was born not only spiritually dead toward God, but with a spirit that desired to follow after another master.

·        1Corinthians 2:14 says, The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

Let’s make sure we are grasping this. 

We are born:

·        hostile toward God

·        without power to repent

·        spiritually dead

·        incapable of comprehending or accepting divine truth

·        with a spirit which inclines our every thought toward wickedness

Is it foolish pride to believe that we are even capable of choosing Jesus?

Some might be thinking, “Well, Miss Bonnie, I know that I, for one, choseJesus.”  If you had the wisdom and will to choose Jesus and I did not, then you have reason to boast.  However, Ephesians 2:8-9 reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I hear a contradiction when people confess that we are saved by grace through faith, yet, assert that we have free will to choose Jesus.  Isn’t choosing “works”?  If Ido the choosing, then who gets the credit?  Me?  The one who “led me to Jesus”?  God?  All the above?  Salvation is either by grace or by works, it can’t be both!

Saying that we have free will to choose Jesus seems to run contrary to Romans 11:4-6, “Just as God reserved for Himself seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal, so too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.  And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would not longer be grace.”

If I were born without the ability to accept the things of God, then how did my relationship with Jesus come to be? Can a dead person willto receive life or like Lazarus is he/she raised from the dead, regenerated by the power of God and then called forth?

By the mercy of the Heavenly Father and power of Jesus’ resurrection, we are given new life (1 Peter 1:3).  It is He who gives us a new spirit and a heart (Ezekiel 11:19) which will respond only to its Master’s voice.

Can we rightfully pat ourselves on the back for “choosing Jesus” while condemning others who have not or is it true that no one can come to Jesus unlessthe Father has enabled them (John 6:65)?

Whose will is it, anyway?



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

A few days ago, Gary and I were with our 4 year old grandson, Dominic, when we ran into an old acquaintance.  After Gary and I shock hands with our friend, Dominic held his hand out to this man and proceeded to say, “Hi, my name is Thomas!”  As the two gentlemen shook hands, our friend smiled and responded, “How do you do, Thomas?  My name is Arnold.”

Arnold had no knowledge of Dominic’s real name, but we could hardly keep from laughing out loud!  You see, Dominic loves to play with trains and his favorite engine is Thomas the Tank.  When we are together, Dominic often pretends that he is Thomas, Gary is Percy, Thomas’ best friend and I’m Emily, the only female on the “Steam Team.”  Even when we are not playing trains, Dominic often refers to us and himself with our engine names.

I recall wanting to be referred to as Annette when my sister, brother and I were playing together.  In my childhood estimation, there was no greater tribute than to be identified with the beautiful Annette Funicello!  My sister and brother had their chosen identities, as well, for very “important” reasons, I’m sure.

Isn’t it interesting how, even as young as four years of age, we begin to believe that we “don’t quite measure up” and long to be identified as the “important” one, the “mighty” one, the “beautiful” one or the “smart” one?  This issue certainly isn’t resolved as we move into adulthood.  It seems that we’re never quite satisfied with our uniqueness.  I observed a prime example of this while in the Philippines where there are as many, if not more, skin whitening clinics as there are tanning spas here in the States!  Why do we go to such great and foolish lengths to be something that we are not?

Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from
the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.
- Samuel Johnson

At a time when he was being teased by his young classmates, I remember telling my son, Jake that the list is endless for those who want to find fault in others.  In the eyes of critics we are too strong or too weak, too pretty or too ugly, too fat or too skinny, too smart or too dumb, too tall or too short, too serious or too silly.  Being surrounded with varying opinions, we could go insane believing that we need to measure-up to others’ expectations!  However, if we consider that God uses each of our differences and “short comings” to draw us into a growing knowledge of how desperately we need Him, then what the Psalmist writes in 139:14-16 can be very comforting and assuring of God’s love and purpose in every strength and “weakness” that is ours:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

When you find yourself in the face of pounding critics, be assured that they have been warned, "Don't criticize people, and you will not be criticized. For you will be judged by the way you criticize others, and the measure you give will be the measure you receive" [Matt. 7:1-2].

While it took me a long time and a lot of distress to come to the realization of this important truth, I pray that you will also rest in the peace of knowing that

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

Our Creator has a perfect plan for what He desires to accomplish in and through each one of us!  Be assured that He will accomplish it using every characteristic that is ours; including those which we or others believe to be faults!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

`Tis the Season - for respiratory problems!

Isn’t this weather wonderful?  We’ve been enjoying outside activity that would typically not be very pleasant this time of year!  However, it seems that every time I turn around, I run into someone experiencing an unrelenting upper respiratory problem!

While we are told that scientists have “proven” that it is more difficult for viruses to spread through warm air, literally hundreds if not thousands of upper respiratory viruses are causing scratchy throats, congestion, coughing, fever and just feeling “icky” in this unseasonably warm winter weather!
Because antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, we often believe that we are at the mercy of the infection until it “runs its course” or… in our effort to find relief, we fill our bodies with pharmaceuticals that generally cause more problems than they help!

While we experience various symptoms with viruses which need our attention, I would like to specifically focus on congestion of the respiratory tract.  Our Creator has given us many wonderful herbs which, when combined, produce enhanced healing benefits!  I’d like to teach you how to make a remedy that can be very effective in relieving respiratory infection and congestion called Lung Blend Tea.

Combine (one part each):
• Echinacea root – stimulates the immune system speeding resolution of the infection
• Elecampane – antiseptic expectorant relieves congestion, local anesthetic soothes throat tissues.
• Ginger root – antiviral and promotes sweating to break fever.
• Pleurisy root – reduces mucous membrane inflammation
• Licorice root – anti-inflammatory soothes mucous membranes and encourages repair of these tissues.
• White oak bark – antiviral, alleviates throat pain and protects against re-infection.
• Cinnamon bark – Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic and expectorant.
• Orange peel – anti-inflammatory and reduces phlegm in lungs and throat.
• Fennel seeds – antispasmodic, calms cough and decongestant.

Preparation: Place 3 tablespoons of herb mixture in a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water.  Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes (several hours or over night is best).  Bring to slow boil; immediately turn down heat and simmer slowly for 20 minutes.  Strain and press all herb residues out into the water.  Add enough water to return tea volume to 2 cups.

Administer:  Chronic problems – 3-4 times daily.
                    Acute problems – small sips every half hour until symptoms subside.

Dosage: Adult - 1 cupful 3-4 times daily.
                Child - divide child’s weight by 150 to give the approximate fraction of the adult dose.  i.e.: 50# child divided by 150 = 1/3.  Therefore the dose is one-third cup 3-4 times daily.

Sweetener may be added, but keep in mind that sugar depletes the immune system and provides an environment that viruses love!  Use honey instead!  It is not only soothing to the throat, but has its own antiviral effects!

Don’t wait for that irritating respiratory virus to “run its course”.  Sip some honey sweetened, Lung Blend tea and get on outside and enjoy the weather!


The author of this article does not endorse everything represented on/in suggested links, books, etc.  Each of us is accountable to God to weigh everything according to His Word.
All content of this article is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. The author sells no hard products and earns no money from the recommendation of products. The information herein is presented for educational and commentary purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice from any licensed practitioner. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.  This is best left to the Creator of the universe.  In all health-related situations, “qualified healthcare professionals” should always be consulted.  The author deems THE GREAT PHYSICIAN to be most qualified.  The author assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material.