Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summum Bonum- The Supreme Good

Many people have wondered what the greatest thing in the world was. I remember having an argument about which was the greatest motivator- love or fear. We always want to know the highest, best, greatest, most supreme.  So, why would life be any different?
I've spent some time thinking about this question. What is the point of life? What is the greatest thing to strive for? It has brought me to prayerful tears as I pondered this question. From a worldly point, life seems to be nothing but trouble after trial after heartache. You wake up just to put your head down and work through the pain. Why? What is life's goal? The end game? The Summum Bonum?
As I pondered this question I thought about all the books out there written on various topics. But, it seems that most of them have one theme somewhere in their pages- love. To find that feeling. That meaning. That desire that drives you forward even when everything around you is falling apart.
I Corinthians 13:13- And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
The Bible tells us that the greatest of three driving forces is charity. That made me stop and wonder. Charity is the benevolent goodwill toward or the love of humanity. Charity in essence is love. It makes sense, really. When people have nothing to love and don't feel that anyone loves them they kill themselves. Love is something everyone searches for. Everyone desires.
And then I began to really look at the whole chapter of I Corinthians 13. Paul tells us some things about charity, or love, in this chapter. And, I think if we could only grasp this alone we would live our lives much differently than ever before!
First he contrasts it with different things. Eloquence- Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (I Corinthians 13:1). Having the ability to love is better than having the power to rouse the souls and wills of men. That is a powerful statement! There are politicians that would love that power, and yet it is just noise compared to the power of charity.
Then he contrasts it to prophecy- And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge: (I Corinthians 13:2a). We pay so much for education these days. The number of schools and colleges in our country are immense! And yet, without charity (love), it's worth nothing. All those dollars are wasted!
What good is knowing the means but never getting to the end? Faith is a means to an end. Faith  is how we find God and learn of Jesus Christ. But it's love that connects our soul to God. You have to have faith to find love. Obviously, love is greater than faith! and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (I Corinthians 13:2b)
Paul also contrasts love with sacrifice and martyrdom- And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (I Corinthians 13:3). There are people banking on how much they give to get them to heaven. There are those who do good deeds in an effort to gain God's favor. But, without the love of Christ it isn't going to profit them at all!
As if those contrasts weren't enough to get my head spinning! What is it then? What is this Charity? This love? What defines this Summum Bonum? Paul doesn't leave us hanging.
He mentions nine things: Patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, innocence, and sincerity.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. -I Corinthians 13:4-7
Charity goes beyond love in this respect. It's patient, passive, not in a hurry. It's willing to wait!
Charity is kind. It's active, doing the best for others without thought of reward. It's placing the happiness of others before our own desires.
Charity is generous. It doesn't envy. It won't harbor illwill to those who can do something better than we. It's accepting with grace that we each have our own special abilities in different measure and it rejoices when someone else can go beyond our own abilities.
Charity is humble. This love does and then quietly steps back and forgets. It doesn't wait around for applause or acknowledgement. This love steps willingly into the shadows and says nothing about it.
Charity is courteous. It doesn't behave unseemly. It's polite in society. It uses etiquette. It's being a lady or a gentleman- that is a gentle soul.
Charity is unselfish. It doesn't go seeking it's rights. It willingly gives up it's rights, ignores them, for the happiness of someone else. And that is hard! Looking every man on the things of others instead of on his own things. This type of love has found the happiness in giving.
Charity has a good temper. It's not easily angered. It's not easily provoked. The thin skin of our current society has been tempered into a noble character. The sin of our disposition is not seen in this type of love.
Charity is innocent and sincere. They don't think evil of those around them. They rejoice in the truth, even if it hurts. Even if it isn't what they wanted to hear. This love will accept it with a humble attitude.
It is better not to live than not to ever know this type of love! Whether the authors of romance novels know it or not this is the love they want to write about. This is the love that so many crave and seek! This is the summum bonum of our existance!
But how? We understand what it is and what it isn't. We know what it is greater than. But, how do we acquire this love? How do we adapt this into our character?
If we are to look the opportunities are always around us. Life is an education, an eternal lesson on how we an learn to love. Don't laugh!
What makes a football player great? Practice.
What makes an artist magnificent? Practice.
How does a writer perfect his skill? Practice.
What makes a person learn to love? Practice.
It sounds so simple. But, what was Christ doing in the carpenter's shop? Practicing. He was already perfect, and yet the Bible says that he learned obedience, and grew in wisdom and favor with God and man. Practice.
Each day we grumble about those who are rude around us. We begrudge the trials that come our way. We may even resent the temptations that hinder us. But, we never stop to consider that this is the hand of the Almighty moulding us into his loving image. Through these we grow more beautiful, though we don't see it. Every trouble adds to the perfection of becoming Christ-like. Goethe said, "Talent develops itself in solitude; character in the stream of life."
Through practice the light of God's love will shine through us as a glowing, dazzling, element that will bring lost souls to Christ. This is the Summum Bonum. This is the purpose of our lives. We love, because He loved.
If we had this type of love we would never think about lying to the object of our affection. We would never dare to steal any item from them. We wouldn't covet anything they had or could do because we would them to have the best and to be the best. We would definitely honor them in every action and decision we made. Our every thought and desire would be to encourage them to become the best person they could be.
The best part of this love is that it is eternal. Never ending. Forever. Charity never faileth: (I Corinthians 13:8a) The rest of the verse goes on to say that language will end (Latin, Greek, a thousand other ancient languages that are now gone), prophecies will cease (when Christ makes all things new), knowledge will vanish away (it becomes obsolete, something new always comes), but Charity- this amazing love- will endure because Christ is eternal. Because God is love!
The religions of the world can offer many things- peace, not life; faith, not love; justification, but not regeneration. Religion is not the answer- the answer is Charity, true love in it's purest form.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13.
I lived for myself, I thought for myself,
For myself, and none beside-
Just as if Jesus had never lived,
As if He had never died.
-Henry Drummond
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. -I John 4:8

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Healthy Minute- Anemia

Anemia is a condition in the body where you don't have enough red blood cells. The most common symptom of anemia is fatigue, or being really tired. Other symptoms include: paleness, shortness of breath during physical exertion, cold hands and feet, brittle nails and hair loss, dizziness, and headaches.
There are more than one type of anemia. Iron deficient anemia is the most known, and can be overcome with the addition of iron supplements or iron rich foods. However, there are also sickle cell anemia (a hereditary condition), anemia from vitamin deficiency (normally B12 or Folate deficiency), anemia caused by bone marrow or stem cell problems, and more. Aside from sickle cell anemia, most other causes of anemia can be corrected.
Iron supplements are available over the counter at any drug store, but if you're like me they'll just make you sick even when taken with food. The best way to get iron into your body is through iron rich foods like sesame seeds, apples, molasses, spinach, pomegranates, parsley, dates, liver, and oysters- to name a few. You don't have to walk around eating these items all day long or as a single snack. You can include them in some of your favorite meals to add a bit of iron to each meal time.
Another way to help with your iron levels is to take chlorophyll. It has ingredients that your body needs to build red blood cells. The more red blood cells your body can make, the less anemic you will be. Chlorophyll will also help to get oxygen from your lungs to your brain and body which will give you more energy! Many people have found that chlorophyll is actually the best way for them to over come anemia.
For more information, please watch the video below:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Funny Happenings- Predicting Death

One day, two young boys were throwing a baseball back and forth when they got on the subject of death. The one boy said that it was scary how death could show up and take you at any minute.
His friend, Benny, said, "Unlike most people, my grandpa told us the exact year, day, and time of the day he would die. And, he was exactly right!"
The other boy, Louie, caught the ball that was thrown to him and stared in disbelief at his friend, "Wow, that's incredible!" He exclaimed, and as he threw the ball back to Benny he said, "Was he a Psychic?"
Benny caught the ball and sticking out his bottom lip he shook his head, "Naw! The judge told him."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Total Money Makeover book review

When my husband and I first got married, we were living off of love. His first good money making job came after almost a year of marriage, and he was making $300 a week. This was in the late 1990's.
I was pretty pregnant with our first child, and I remember sitting in the trailer that we rented for $275 per month and praying that God would give me wisdom. We had to buy groceries, gas to get around, pay bills, maintain our vehicle, and we had a child on the way- which meant more expense.
God gave me the wisdom I asked for and we had our first budget. It may not seem like much to you, but we were living off of $20 a week groceries. I got very creative with Ramen!
When we moved to Louisiana, the budget wasn't as strict. I still needed wisdom, but I didn't know how badly. We were constantly in and out of debt. The moment we got the car paid off we had to buy another one. There were "emergencies" that had to be paid with a credit card. We didn't know any other way to live.
Recently, I borrowed Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey from our local library. This book has made such a difference in our thinking. We are trying once again to get out of debt. But, thanks to the guidance in this book, we have a plan that will help us stay out of debt.
Dave Ramsey gives a lot of tips along with the proven plan to help you get out of debt and stay out. He also has budget helping tips and tools online- my favorite is EveryDollar, his online budget system. If you're searching for something better than living paycheck to paycheck constantly having debt to pay down, I recommend this book.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oat Groats recipe

2 cups oat groats
6 cups water
3 TBS butter
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook, covered, for 1 hour.
Turn heat off, but leave lid on for another 5 minutes.

Coat the inside the crock pot with butter.
Place all ingredients into the crock pot and cover with the lid.
Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Stir, and serve.

Monday, August 3, 2015

I Know This Face (poem)

Where have I seen this face before now?
So familiar, it seems, but I don't know how.
I should remember this face from the past,
But o're my memory a shadow is cast.

There's something remarkable about this face.
Then why should I find it so hard to place?
Did we sit a table? Did we break the fast?
Did he win the race in which I finished last?

Some things like that it's not hard to forget.
Did he blow out fire that I had just lit?
Wait! Now I remember! He's just bowed the knee.
He prays to my Jesus, here, just like me.

A brother, beloved, he has turned out to be!
Memory now has returned unto me.
Now I can place this remarkable face-
We were introduced at God's Throne of Grace.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

God's Will For Your Life (video sermon)

As we read through the Bible, we see the lives of men of old who left all to serve God. They walked away from what they had known for their entire lives to start a new life serving the Lord. But how did they know what God's will was?

That is the most asked question- what is God's will for my life? How do I know that I'm where God wants me to be?

The first step in knowing God's will for your life is to know God- to be saved. You can't know where God wants you if you don't even know God.

Secondly, God wants us to become his disciple. We are suppose to take up our cross and follow Him, not walk away and live our life as we please. Jesus said that we are to deny ourselves- deny our desires, deny our wants, deny our ways- daily. You can't know God's will if you're busy trying to fulfill your own will.

Too many Christians today whine about not knowing God's will for their life, but they aren't really searching for it. They don't have a relationship with Him, They aren't willing to do the written things that He's asked of them in His word, so He isn't going to give you more until you obey what He's already revealed.

You cannot know God's will for your life if you are living in sin. Each of us know certain sins that are okay with the world, but are wrong in God's eyes- adultery, fornication, pornography, worldly pleasures, etc. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we are to give our bodies as a living sacrifice using them to prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. His will is that everything about us is pure and holy.

You can't have any further light on His will for your life if you are engaged in these sins. But, they aren't the only sins. They are the largest and most noticeable, but there are other sins. There are 10 commandments that lists them out boiled down to the simplest, purest form- don't steal, don't lie, don't covet, etc.

There are many verses in the Bible that tells you what God expects from you- those things are His will for your life. In fact, the Bible mentions God's will for your life around 23 times. These are the basic things that He expects from ALL Christians.

So, if I'm trying to live a clean, holy life and I'm obeying God's commandments, what is God's will for my life specifically? You can't go to the preacher, or your parents, or even your closest friends to find that answer. They don't know God's will for your life because it's personal to you. They can help to guide you and pray for you, but you will only find God's will for your life while you are reading His word and praying for His specific will- and He will tell you if you ask Him!

When Saul was struck down on his way to Damascus he asks God two things- who are you and what do you want from me? God has a plan for your life- it's not a puzzle or a secret. He wants you to know His will for your life. As you walk with Him and serve Him daily, He shows you the next step of His plan for your life.

When you pray and ask God for His will He opens the right doors for you. Only one door opens at a time. It is now your job to decide whether to go through the door or not. The open door is God's will- the next step in His plan for your life. But, you have the choice to go through it or not.

Read your Bible. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Pray. Observe the signs that He puts in your life. Seek guidance and prayers from those who have been living in God's will (they might see some signs from God that you've missed). Little by little, step by step, walking through each open door you will look back and realize that you found God's will for your life and you've been living in His will for your life.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What Will Your Legacy Be?

Do you ever wonder what will be said about you when you're gone? How will people remember you? Will their words be kind? Will you be missed? Or, will there be a sigh of relief that you're no longer around?
There are people throughout history who have left behind a legacy, both good and bad. I want to look at three who are in the Bible. The Words of the Lord are going to last forever, and what is written about these three men will forever be written for all to read.
The first man is Demas. Demas is mentioned around 64 AD in the book of Colossians. Colossians 4:14- Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
Demas is mentioned with the Apostle Paul. He went around helping to build churches and start the church age with one of the greatest missionaries of all times! He hung out with the right crowd. He worked in the right ministry. He had the right Bible.
But, when he is mentioned in II Timothy around 66 AD, Paul had this to say about him- For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; (II Timothy 4:10a).
What happened? In two short years, Demas went from travelling with Paul and Luke to having that legacy. Somewhere along the way, Demas allowed something in the world to get his heart. He started to love the world more than he loved Christ- that is his immortal legacy.
The next man is only mentioned once in the Bible. III John 1:9- I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
If you read farther down in the verses you'll see that Diotrephes not only kept the Apostle John's letters from the church, but he also forbade the members to have fellowship with certain Christians.
We don't know what position he held in the church, but we do know that he was a proud man. He thought he had the right to tell other Christians who they could and could not hang around. He thought he knew better than the Apostle John. He wanted to be the leader.
The Bible uses the word "preeminence". Colossians 1:18 says that Christ is suppose to have the preeminence in all things! For all eternity, everyone will know that Diotrephes loved himself above Christ.
The last person is David.
Everyone likes to remember David's sin, which will be forever in the words of God, but, David also killed Goliath!
Goliath was a giant around 9 feet 9 inches tall who wore brass armor and defied God and the armies of Israel. No one in all the Israelite army had the courage to go up against this beast of a man, not even the king!
But, David, a simple shepherd boy, knew what God was capable of. He knew that God would give him the victory because he had trusted God to help him when a lion and a bear had come after his flock. He knew that if he went in the power of God, that God would give him the victory.
I Samuel 17:46- This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcass of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
Despite what everyone was saying and despite what the circumstances looked like, David put his trust in God.
David had every reason to let someone else handle this situation. He was only there to bring food to his brothers. He wasn't in the army. He was only a shepherd boy, a child. And yet, he was a man after God's own heart. He loved the Lord will everything he had and that would be what people remembered most about him. All the kings that followed were compared to David and how he followed God with a perfect heart.
I Corinthians 8:3- If any man love God, the same is known of him.
Will you be the one that quit because they found something in the world that they thought was worth more than a ministry with Christ? Will you be known as the prideful Christian who hindered others in their walk with Christ? Or, will you be known as person who loved the Lord with all their heart and followed Him despite the circumstance, despite their own short comings, and despite what everyone is thinking or saying?
What will your legacy be?